Monday, January 24, 2011
She just might be -- Ms. Keri Hilson!!!
Also maybe she's my latest celeb crush, too! She's certainly very easy on the eyes, ain't she?
But what I like the most about Keri is that she writes as well as sings and performs. In fact, she's mostly known as a writer in the industry, having written such hits as "Crazy In Love" for Beyonce, "Gimme More" for Britney Spears, and "Like a Boy" for Ciara, to name just a few.
I have much respect for artists who can actually, you know, write their own music. Not that she doesn't get help on her own works from time to time, like from such luminaries in the industry as Ne-Yo and Kanye West. But being able to write--and write hit singles to boot!--shows she has a brain, which is very, very attractive. Don't you agree?
Anyway, Keri Hilson's been behind the scenes for most of the last decade, making other artists shine bright. It's only been recently that she's ventured out on her own, and so far I have to say she's been making quite a mark. And her latest sophomore effort is an album just released last month, titled No Boys Allowed. Right now I'm getting a huge kick out of her song "Pretty Girl Rock," but even more so out of the video of the song that's been getting a lot of airplay recently. Watch it below, if you will, then read my further thoughts after the jump:
This video is simply amazing, as far as I'm concerned. I've watched it like a billion times already! What mesmerizes me is the reverence Hilson pays to so many important female performers from the 1920s up through the decades to the present day. Women who've played an important part in shaping the artist Keri Hilson is today.
It's simply remarkable!
And I love how Keri embodies each of the performers she acknowledges with this indelible innocence and precociousness that is not so much those performers as reflections of Ms. Hilson's own remarkable humanity and humility. You might find that last part hard to believe, given the lyrics of this song. But in actuality, despite what some clueless critics might claim, the song is not about self-conceit, but rather about black women having self confidence and the ability to say "I am beautiful" when the media, society, and even other black women might proclaim otherwise.
In the video, Keri starts off as Josephine Baker in the 1920s. This is one of my favorite personas of hers, as she's simply delightfully goofy the way Miss Baker was herself in her own youth. Yet despite the hijinks here, she still manages to come across gorgeous and breathtaking. Again, just like the real Josephine Baker! Next up is Dorothy Dandridge and, once more, Keri pulls off an uncanny resemblance to that beautiful, immensely talented Hollywood starlet from the 40s and 50s. She's just divine in both grace and makeup, somehow effortlessly evoking the attitude of that era with nary a hitch in her step.
The most iconic homage--and by "iconic" I mean the part of the video which serves as the anchor--comes next as Keri portrays one of the Andrews Sisters, who also had their heyday in the 40s and 50s. I'm guessing from the blond wig and position at the center that she's supposed to be the group's lead vocalist and youngest member, Patty Andrews. I just love Keri's attitude in this scene! Next up are equally iconic portrayals as first Diana Ross (wow -- Keri's really stunning here!) and then Donna Summer.
Of course, Hilson couldn't skip over the 80s without portraying her self-admitted biggest influence on her career--Janet Jackson (seen here in full "Rhythm Nation" regalia). Don't we all miss those years when Janet was just ON FIRE and could not be stopped? I do!
I thought her next choice for the 90s was rather quirky, but also quite appropriate, as T-Boz from the girl group TLC. Check out that wig and those silk pajamas! It's been a long time since I've seen the "Creep" video this pays homage to, but I think Keri nails it!
Lastly, she finishes out the 00s by being none other than . . . herself. This is actually my favorite part of the video, and nicely caps the whole production. Here we see Keri Hilson as down-to-earth and completely, naturally, herself. If I thought she was adorable as Baker, sumptuous as Dandridge, breathtaking as Ross--then it's as Hilson that she really shines through. Because, of course, admired influences from entertainment's past are all well and good for shaping who you are, but it's when an artist acknowledges her own beauty . . . her own VOICE, that she truly becomes "beautiful" as the song suggests.
So, you see, all the haters out there can stop hating already. This song gets so much flak, with Ms. Hilson being deemed "conceited" and "full of herself," that most casual listeners dismiss it outright without being sensitive to the *real* message here. Which is: as a woman, be comfortable as yourself. Know that many other women before you have been put down by men and society at large, but have succeeded despite the hardships. More importantly, know your own self worth--know that you are BEAUTIFUL--and find your own strength to be who you want to be.
I'm not a woman, but even I can appreciate the impact of this powerful message.
So, to answer my own question in the title heading of this entry: Yes! Yes, I do believe Keri Hilson is my new favorite breakout artist of this year. Is she yours? Well, I can't answer that. But I hope this puts her on your radar, if she's not already. Because I think Keri Hilson is smart enough, talented enough, and "beautiful" enough to become quite the force in the biz. I get the feeling that 2011 is going to be her year.
Now, if you'll excuse me . . . I'm off to listen to No Boys Allowed some more. And, no, the irony of the album title is not lost on me. (hee, hee)