Eurovision reunions can be glorious or sometimes it is best to leave that special moment at the song contest untouched. What happens when it is a Eurovision winning duo? The pressure and expectation is more.
Was it worth the 2 year wait for us to see Ell & Nikki reunite? When they decide to sample the King of Pop” – well then they are in treacherous waters, especially with me as I am a Michael Jackson Super Fan!
“Human Nature” was one of 7 singles that Michael Jackson released from the legendary album “Thriller”. The song was sampled by American RnB female group SWV on their re-released song “Right Here/Human Nature” that had the midas touch that brought them global success in the early 1990’s.
Ell & Nikki (Eurovision winners from Azerbaijan 2011) have returned to the music scene with the song “Music Still Alive (Michael Jackson Tribute)” – that samples “Human Nature”. The video took me by surprise as it looks as if it has been filmed in the home of Eurovision 2014 – The B&W Halls on Eurovision Island. Iconic Jackson poses and dance steps help to create the King Of Pop Tribute scene.
The Song – I am biased as I love all things Michael Jackson – I even blagged myself a ticket to the world premier of the “This Is It” movie premier! The first time I listened to “Music Still Alive”, I was just singing “Human Nature” to myself, so I had to hit the replay button to actually see how Ell & Nikki had reinvented the Jackson classic. That is always the danger of sampling such a recognizable song.
All of Jacko’s hooks are still in the song and Ell & Nikki use some subtle key changes in the bridge of the song that work really well. They even use the opening bars of “Smooth Criminal” in the song. In the harmonies of the song they sound strong together. My problem is that Nikki suits a higher register when singing and during the first verse you cannot hear her fully. She comes into her own when she and Ell come together – like at Eurovision. Ell on the other hand I can hear clearly – because the producers have kept him in his vocal range.
Don’t get me wrong, I like this song and I like both of them together as a duo. I liked them in 2011 and felt they were worthy winners in Düsseldorf. However I am very confused about what music direction they want to go down, either as a duo or solo artists. Ell seems to be able to cross music styles with ease and has dipped his toes into the dance arena with the song “Heartbreaker”
Nikki on the other had has experimented with many music genres as she tries to find her own style. From the rock influenced song “Həyacanın Yaşı Yoxdur” to the wonderful RnB duet with fellow Eurovision Winner Dima Bilan – “Come Into My World” – and the Middle Eastern Dub Step gem “Crush On You”
What you clearly hear in both of these songs is the key that Nikki sings in – please stick to that as it works!
What is the future of this duo? Who can tell. There are very few duo bands in the music industry today. One thing for me is that the RnB vibe is definitely the way to go for both singers. They seem comfortable in that genre, it always has a market and it sounds darn good too!
“Music Still Alive” is a welcomed return for both Ell & Nikki and of course Michael Jackson. It will be interesting to see how Jackson fans react to the song – as we are a hard breed to satisfy. Well worth a listen if you are prepared to leave your preconceptions at the door.
Author/Website co-founder and Editor in Chief Garrett Mulhall
Source : Eurovision Ireland and Baku Music Factory