Rest assured that today's post will include no pictures of naked people (I understand, I'm developing something of a reputation!). Instead, I'm continuing my exploration of the floptastic solo careers of the Young Divas. Today it's Ricki-Lee Coulter's turn to be dragged under the microscope. Ricki-Lee immediately stood out from the crowd when she first appeared on Australian Idol. For starters, unlike the other contestants, she wasn't butt ugly and could actually sing. Ricki-Lee looked a certainty to win the second series but in a major upset, she was knocked out early in the competition. However, her potential did not go unnoticed and Ricki-Lee was snapped up by a record label before the series had even ended.
Ricki-Lee's self-titled, debut album is something of a musical dog's breakfast. Shock records obviously couldn't decide whether to market her as a cute pop star, an edgy bad girl or most amusingly, as a gangster ho - so they basically tried a bit of everything. Ricki-Lee sings Mariah-esque ballads, bubblegum pop and funky hip hop tunes (complete with cheap rent-a-rappers!) with varying degrees of success. The album does contain its fair share of excellent songs but the lows are pretty desperate. And yet, "Ricki-Lee" has grown on me immensely since its 2005 release. "Hell No!", the lead single, sounds like a tragic urban-pop version of Alanis Morissette's "Ironic". The song peaked at #5 on the Charts and has become something of an Australian trash classic. The second single, "Sunshine", was also a top 10 hit but unlike "Hell No!", "Sunshine" is sweet and upbeat enough to grace a Young Divas' album!
The rest of the album is such a mixed bag that no particular song is reflective of the overall sound. I have selected three of my personal favourites to share. "Stay With Me" has an Indian vibe and a chorus that involves a lot of "la la la"-ing. In other words, it's fucking fabulous! "Tell Him" is a mid-tempo R'n'B number that wouldn't sound out of place on the US charts. I mean that as a compliment! The song showcases Ricki-Lee's impressive pipes without ever being bland or boring. The final song, "Let Me Hear You Say (Ft. Nitty)" is here for pure entertainment value. I love it when nice white girls hire a rapper and try to sound like a streetwalker. Ricki-Lee's attempt at an urban party anthem is great, although I'm not sure who she thinks she's fooling!
Ricki-Lee's album is still readily available, so if you like what you hear please buy it. You should be able to find it at Sanity or Chaos. Part 3 of my Young Divas special will focus on Paulini's debut album and include Paulini's first tragic cover version of a gay classic!