Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Evolution Of Ness Ness

Vanessa Amorosi has been experiencing a major revival on my stereo of late. I've always been fond of Ness Ness but her amazing new track exceeds all my expectations. But more about that later. First, I'd like to pay tribute to one of Australia's realest girls by looking back over her decade long career which has seen spectacular highs, shocking lows and just about everything in between. Vanessa burst onto the Australian music scene in 1999 and immediately stood out from the crowd. Due to both the indisputable quality of her voice and her... unusual image. Kylie's success is often attributed to her everyday appeal but if she's the girl next door then Ness Ness is the girl next to the trailer park on the outskirts of Penrith. While Kylie spun around in gold hot pants and Britney presented herself as the new Lolita in a skimpy school uniform, Vanessa wore a tracksuit in her debut video and spent most of the clip taking various trains around western Sydney before dancing with some homeboys in Liverpool Plaza!

Vanessa's housing commission chic unexpectedly endeared her to music fans and "Have A Look" became a gold selling top 15 hit. I thought that catchy anthem would be hard to top but then "Absolutely Everybody" came along and swept all before it. One of these days I'll get around to making a list of my favourite pop songs of the 90s but I already know that "Absolutely Everybody" will take pride of place next to classics like "Jellyhead", "Disremembrance" and "In The Evening". The track was massive in Australia (spending 6 months in top 50 - a record at the time) but proved to be even bigger overseas. I was living in Germany when the song was released there in 2000 and the extent of her popularity was surreal. Ness Ness was all over radio, in every magazine and appeared on all the major TV shows. The hits kept coming both locally and internationally with the gorgeous ballad "Shine", which despite the uplifting lyrics is apparently about teen suicide. At the time Vanessa appeared unstoppable. Her debut album "The Power" delivered yet another top 10 hit (the funky and sadly forgotten title track), went four times platinum and became the first solo album by an Australian female artist to reach #1.

Vanessa's second album has to be the biggest fall from grace in Australian musical history. I don't even know how it's possible to go from a #1 multi-platinum debut to not even getting your sophomore album released - but that's the fate "Change" suffered in 2002. I blame "Turn To Me" - the shitty compilation album her record company rushed out in 2001 to cash in on her international success. Mostly comprised of remixes and international bonus tracks, that album was widely mistaken by fans as the follow up to "The Power" and was understandably dismissed as being quite shit. By the time her actual second album was ready, Australia had already lost interest. The underwhelming lead single "Spin" stalled at #34 and the album was shelved indefinitely. "Change" did, however, get a German release and even produced two minor hits ("One Thing Leads To Another" and the lovely "True To Yourself") but it was a case of too little, too late. After that Ness Ness seemingly dropped off the face of the earth, only to re-appear last year.

Despite her absence, Vanessa was never really forgotten. Her fans remained loyal and the internet was rife with rumours about her whereabouts - my favourite being the popular urban legend that she had come out as a lesbian and was working as a jillaroo in the outback! Unfortunately the truth was rather more mundane. Ness was simply working on new songs and looking around for another record deal. Things finally fell into place when she signed with Universal in 2006 and eventually released her third album in 2008. I hated "Kiss Your Mama" and still think it's rubbish (with the exception of the amazing Tommy Trash remix) but the rest of "Somewhere In The Real World" turned out to be a return to form. The album's crowning jewel is the amazingly soppy ballad "Perfect", which was one of my favourite songs of last year. It also became Vanessa's first top 10 hit in 8 years and holds the honour of being 2008's most played song on Australian radio. I put the track's success down to trannytastic video! The album produced another minor hit, the bad lyric filled but still cute "The Simple Things (Something Emotional)" and a promo only single "My House". As far as comebacks go, this ranks up there with the best of them.

2009 has been a busy year for Ness Ness. She recorded a duet with shiteous US band Hoobastank called "The Letter" and spent 6 months working on songs for her 4th studio album. If "This Is Who I Am" is any indication, it was time well spent. Instead of repeating the soulful rock-lite sound of "Somewhere In The Real World", Ness has delivered a cracking electro-rock anthem courtesy of Swedish super producer Machopsycho (best known for Pink's "Stupid Girls"). I love everything about "This Is Who I Am". Machospycho's production is fresh and crisp, the lyrics are typically honest ("I don't care if I'm fat or if you think my clothes are bad") and Vanessa looks like a tattooed rock goddess on the cover! The video clip will be unveiled next week, while the single hits stores on the 9th of October. I can't wait! I'm loving the latest incarnation of Ness Ness. "Somewhere In The Real World" was a good record but I have a feeling this new album will be a return to her pop roots. Whatever the case, it's fantastic to have Vanessa back making great music.


John said...

I had no idea who she was before reading this, but while the new track sounds a bit formulaic in song structure, she brings something different to it. Definitely worth looking into.

Paul said...

Love her! Always wondered what happened with the second album, which I still have on the computer somewhere. Love how she bounced back despite the hideous Kiss Your Mama (she really should have just covered Debbie Gibson's Shock Your Mama) and Perfect, was well just that wasn't it? Liking the new single and can't wait for more :)

Craig said...

Vanessa is really cool but her new song is a total Pink rip off. I'm still gonna buy it though, it's catchy as hell! LOL

Poster Girl said...

Having to listen to some shady-quality radio rip of "This Is Who I Am" has been driving me slightly crazy, so Vanessa releasing this new single and another album can't come soon enough. I'm a little bit surprising at how much I like it, considering how underwhelming "Stupid Girls" was (it felt more like an excuse for an attention-grabbing video than a solid pop song, though the album it came from was great)--I like this a lot more.

"Absolutely Everybody" is amazing.

bubu said...

thanks. i had seen her in the ARIA charts, but didn't know anything else. i love the fact that she seems 4 different people in each album cover.

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

I love Ness! It's a shame that her career hasn't been as consistant as it should have been. Back in 2000, she was queen of the airwaves. Then NOTHING for 7 years.

The video for TIWIA is brilliant, can't wait for the new album.

- Petro

bomitoni said...

I remember they tried to launch her in the US w/ her debut, saying she was the next big thing. Sadly she flopped.

Mike said...

Petro, Is the video already out? I'll have to check out youtube. Dying to see it!

And PG - I totally agree. "This Is Who I Am" is so much better than anything Pink has done in years.

Anonymous said...

"Take a Look" is one of my all time fave songs but are you sure that last pic is actually Vanessa? Dear me, talk about photoshop abuse! You can hardly even tell she's ugly in it.

Anonymous said...

Mike, the video is here:

- Petro

BTW, the only pre-"Somewhere In The Real World" material I can tolerate are the five singles from the first album. The rest is dreadful and awfully dated!

Grumpy said...

The song This is Who I Am contains some of the worst writing I've ever heard. Utterly terrible. It reminds me of the time Bart Simpson was moved into remedial class with all the retarded kids. Together they marched around the room singing "I like me, I like me, I'm as good as I can be..." Lyrics only slightly less sophisticated than what ol Ness Ness has vomited up here

Vanessa Amorosi should be arrested and tried for crimes against good taste.