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15 Underrated Diva Singles to Always Be Thankful For

May we be forever grateful to each and every single one of these oh, so underrated diva grooves this holiday season.

They all tried really, really hard to have a feel good time and rock the Billboard charts (most of them, sigh, okay all of them didn’t crack the top 50 on the Hot 100) and deserve our immediate attention….because it’s time to dance and party, like….everyday. 

Happy Divasgiving! 

Britney Spears/Tinashe/”Slumber Party”  Get ready to clutch your Godney pearls because the Las Vegas owning diva’s second Glory single only peaked at number 86 on the Billboard Hot 100. And no, it’s not Tinashe’s fault. So, in the meantime, let’s put on that music that makes us go fucking crazy, tho, and watch this lace teddy worthy video on repeat. 

Janet/”All Nite(Don’t Stop)”  Attention….it’s time to dance and not ponder why this scrumptious Damita Jo single didn’t do shit on the charts. Oh, yas, it was 2004 and like, Nipplegate happened and stuff. 

Ariana Grande/Future/”Everyday”  Why this feisty and ferocious Mizz Grande groove from Dangerous Woman couldn’t make it’s way into the top 50 of the Billboard Hot 100 earlier this year is beyond us, but what do know is that’s it’s certainly one of her best bangers. Throw in a video that’s filled with so much love it’ll make you think twice about being an asshole and well, slay, Ary-anah, slay. 

Madonna/”Bedtime Story” No words since, you know, they’re useless and more of getting unconscious and watching Madge give birth to doves over-and-over again. Not only is this one of the music legend’s best clips, but it accompanies one of the most underrated songs of her entire career….and that certainly isn’t a question. 

Alicia Keys/”Girlfriend”  You might not know this, but this Jermaine Dupri produced ditty was actually the first single released from Ms. Keys’ Grammy snatching debut set, Songs in A Minor. But due to the fact that “Fallin” completely took over/destroyed our worlds soon after, it was seemingly forgotten about. But once you start bobbin’ your head to this beat, you’ll remember just how hot Ms. Keys’ “Girlfriend” will always be. 

Whitney/”One of those Days”  While it may be one of the highest charting songs on this list (at number 28 it’s still nothing to sing home about), it’s still easy to under appreciate this oh, so delightful Nippy jam due to the dearly diva’s massive body of work. We still miss you, boo  and it’s grooves like this one where we really understand why. Let’s chill along with Ms. Houston, shall we? Yes. 

Janet/”Rock With U”   Here we have the most underrated single of Janet’s career. And again…stop with those fucking pesky questions and wonder more how Mizz J and her dancing crew pulled it all off in just one take for this fucking brilliant video. 

Xtina/”Dirrty”  At the end of the day, there’s no denying that Mizz Xtina is one of the most underrated singers of our time. Back to Basics, Bionic and Lotus, anyone? Yeah, no. There’s also no denying that this Rockwilder cooked up jam from the kick off to the Stripped era wasn’t well received by the Billboard charts and stalled out at number 48. Now, put that in your assless chaps pipe and smoke it as we get down and “Dirrty” one more time……today. 

Xtina/”Your Body”    Sigh…….and another one. 

Gwen Stefani/”What U Waiting For?”   Not only did this underrated Gwennie groove kick off her solo debut, Love.Angel.Music.Baby, but it’s also the reason all of us stupid ho’s of the world are taking all sorts of chances. Plus, the Alice in Wonderland inspired accompanying video is still beyond are wildest writer’s blocked dreams. So, why did it barely crack the top 50? Guess we’ll never know. But in the meantime look at your watch now…and go. 

Fergie/”Labels or Love”  So, remember when Fergie did a Fergie-fied number that nobody cared about for the Sex and the City movie? Most likely, neither does she. But we still must turn it up and hit the runway because it reminds us of a simpler time when all of the Sex gals got along. And pre-Double Dutchess days, of course. 

Dido/”Nothing to Lose” So, remember when Dido did a Dido-fied number for that Sex and the City sequel that nobody cared about? Most likely, neither does she. But there’s just something (okay, every god damn thing) about this groove that’ll make you feel it all over. And yes, that does say Dido. Just shut the fuck up and….groove. 

P!nk/”Feel Good Time”  With all of her high-flying realness (did anyone else just rip their fucking pearls off this past Sunday night?), Billboard chart shattering prowess and her newfound relationship with Channing Tatum (hey, boo), it’s hard to imagine a time where Ms. P!nk wasn’t having a, um, feel good time on the charts. This William Orbit produced banger from ’03 was the theme for Charlie Angels:Full Throttle, but for the sake of less spilling about how it only tapped number 60 on the Hot 100 and more listening to this underrated Ms. Moore music ride, we’ll just it blame it on Demi Moore. 

Mariah Carey/”You Don’t Know What to Do” The best single MC served out post “Touch My Body”is right here and seriously not enough people care about it. Maybe if she would have done this disco-kissed groove last New Year’s Eve none of that would’ve happened…just sayin.’ It’s that magical. 

Keyshia Cole/Nicki Minaj/”I Ain’t Thru” How the fuck did this powerful diva empowerment anthem absolutely go nowhere on the Billboard Hot 100? Actually…don’t answer that…just raise ’em up to this one and every other diva owned track on this list as we’ll forever be grateful for everything they’ll continue to give us….even after we’re gone. Thank you, ladies. 

Happy Divasgiving! 

Want more divas giving in your life this holiday season, check this, this and this out. Luv you, gals!! 

And while you’re at it become a fan of Philly Mixtape right here! Happy holidaze! 

 

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Cirque Du Soleil Tea w/Bruno Armagnac of ‘Varekai’

“Deep within a forest atop a volcano, exists an extraordinary world, where anything is possible: Varekai… From the sky falls a solitary young man, and the story begins. On this day at the edge of time, in this place of all possibilities, begins an inspired incantation to life rediscovered.”

In other words, get ready Philly and the entire tri-state area because that pulsating phrase above that describe Cirque Du Soleil‘s truly incredible production of Varekai which will no doubt be captivating audiences at the Liacouras Center for a special engagement beginning tonight through this Sunday, November 26th.

And while we may not know just what spectacular stunts and aerial wonders lie in store for us thanks to Cirque’s legendary and delightfully unpredictable entertainment prowess, we can all get a little closer to the wondrous truth by getting tickets right here and by also getting to know Bruno Armagnec, the mega-talented artistic director of this truly incredible show. 

Mr. Armagnec was kind enough to stop by Philly Mixtape for an exclusive chat where he spilled about his role in the production, the show’s most important elements and just where, oh where they find the incredible athletes and acrobats that are guaranteed to make your dreams come alive all week long. 

And it all begins….right now. 

Kicking off our spill, and I truly thank you for taking the time to chat with Philly Mixtape, tell everyone about your role in the show and ho you keep it all together! I’m the artistic director of Varekai. [I’m the] person with the artistic team who is in charge of the artistic quality of the show. And everyday we have to make sure we have the best possible show. I started on Varekai a little bit more than a year ago and I look after all of the artists with what they do on stage with their rehearsal. In collaboration with the head coach, we are a circus [whose stories] are told through acrobatics so we need a specialist, someone who knows acrobatics. I’m coming from dancing so my background is completely different. I actually consider myself the nanny of the show making sure that everybody’s happy and that they have what they need. There are 48 artists traveling together [spread among] thirteen different nationalities, if I’m not mistaken. So you have to make sure that everybody lives in good harmony and I must say that in Varekai, that’s the case. It’s good. Also, when there is a new artist joining the troupe I make sure that this person is well-integrated in the group and the act that [they] to do. And in case of a last-minute change or there might be someone sick or an injury, I must be able to rearrange the show and coordinate with everybody. It’s all so that at the end of the day, we have a good time and that we’re all on the same page. 

How do you personally do with the danger element of the show? I can imagine that it’s a grand task. There is no improvisation because things can go wrong. It’s [not like] when actors miss a line, everybody will be safe. Here there is the danger aspect which is very important and powerful for the show that we must absolutely control. I must make sure that’s the case all of the time! 

Do you feel a lot of pressure doing a show of this caliber? I can’t say there is lots pf pressure. But we do have meetings before each show. And in these meetings, the therapists, who are part of the artistic team, tell us who can do what. That gives us two hours to reorganize the show. Varekai is a production which is fifteen years old. So, there have been lots of times to put in place many different versions. If someone is missing, okay, we know what to do. Each main character has a backup in the cast. So, let’s say that the female lead character calls out, there is another female lead who is trained to do this part and who can jump in at anytime. We are ready for every possible scenario and that makes the pressure a lot lighter when you know you always have a “Plan B.” 

I can imagine that team work is also a key factor in bringing it all together…. It’s immersed. As I said earlier, we all have to be on the same page. Let’s say if the left hand didn’t know what the right can do, then that’s we can have accidents. And when I say everybody, that’s when I mean everybody from the artists on stage to the technicians to the riggers to the light technicians. The team work is on going and we all depend on each other. 

I just have to ask, what’s the “audition” process like for Varekai? Of course, it depends on which type of artist we are recruiting. It’s not the same process as singers and musicians. For [them] it’s kind of the classic way to audition. For acrobats, a lot are coming from the sport world from competition. We have a group from Montreal who go to the different sport competitions and look for people and athletes. They approach them and see if they’re interested in working in show business. It’s very, very different–sport and show business. For those who’re interested, we bring them to [our headquarters] in Montreal and from there it can take a few months, but we teach them how to perform their skills with emotion because that’s what we want to do. Yes, we are a circus and yes, we are using acrobatics, but each person on stage is a character and must be able to show and express this character. So, the athletes [we recruit] are going through workshops, classes, dancing, music and miming so they can deliver their artistic skills. And yes, the process can be longer or shorter for some and when they are ready we send them onto the show! And it can take some time to integrate them into the act because it is a big shift in their way of thinking because when you are doing sport competition, you have to be excellent at one moment. Here at [Cirque Du Soleil], they have to perform everyday. It might not be the same level of risk, but there has to be consistent and real artistic expression. 

So, how does someone of your caliber like to relax during down time? I read. Reading is my thing. And physically, I used to be a dancer so I still have a certain discipline about that and still do different exercises and stretching. I do my own thing by mixing all that I have learned in my life including yoga and dancing. I mix up my own “cuisine” of exercise, I should say. 

One last sip, what is the one thing you hope the audience will take away when they come see Varekai this week?  Varekai is a show which tells a story but we don’t use words. So, it leaves a door open to everyone’s imagination. And a child, an adult or a senior are not going to understand the story the same way….and this is what I like. When everybody leaves the show happy and having the feeling they’ve seen something exceptional, but in each of them it triggered something different. For me, that’s beautiful. 

For your tickets to go witness Cirque Du Soleil‘s Varekai in all of its high-flying glory, go right here, right now. And you better hurry because it’s only here until Sunday and this is one show you and the whole family do not want to miss out on!! 

Cover photo courtesy of leeds-list.com 

 

 

 

 

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‘Off Broadway’ Tea w/Doreen Taylor

Oklahoma!…….The King & I……..State Fair.……South Pacific.…….Carousel.…….Carmen Jones.…..The Sound of Music 

Yes, those are just a few of the award-winning productions of the dearly departed Oscar Hammerstein II, a theater legend (and former Doylestown resident ) whose extraordinary entertainment legacy will certainly last long after we’re all gone.

There’s simply no denying that Hammerstein was a true genius who not only delivered show stopping pieces of life, but he also gave hope for all future show guys and gals of the world. 

In fact, one of those Hammerstein dreamin’ gals has now turned into everyone’s favorite award-winning leading local lady, Billboard Adult Contemporary Artist, Ms. Doreen Taylor.

And guess what? In just a couple of weeks (Dec 8th-Dec 17th, to be exact) she’s about to bring all of that Broadway magic to life once more with AN ENCHANTED EVENING: A NIGHT WITH OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN II, a riveting new doc-musical that will be taking over the 777 Theatre at the Roy Arias Theater Center for what’s already shaping up to be a truly special engagement. 

Not only will fans get treated with the window/soul shattering gifts provided by the vocal prowess of the red-hot chanteuse, but we’ll also get to peak into some personal stories and rarely seen videos of Hammerstein‘s private life. This is certainly thanks in part to Taylor’s budding creative relationship with Oscar’s grandson, William Hammerstein (which he absolutely loves the show, by the way), all to give the audience an intimate glimpse into the late creative mastermind’s magnetic force that will certainly never be reckoned with.

Did we mention that renowned Broadway star, Davis Gaines, whom some of you (okay…all) know from show-stopping performances in Phantom of the Opera, Sweeney Todd and Man of La Mancha? Yes. 

But what makes this show truly special (as if getting “Oh What A Beautiful Morning” stuck in your head once more isn’t enough), is that Taylor has also teamed up with The Oscar Hammerstein 11 Museum & Theatre Education Center for her new venture.

Together they’ll be raising funds to help save Highland Farm in Doylestown, a legendary piece of local property where Hammerstein resided for nearly twenty years and created some his most magnificent work. He even schooled a young Stephen Sondheim who was once and famously spilled, “In one afternoon at Highland Farm, I learned more about songwriting and musical theatre, than most people learn in a lifetime.” 

Unfortunately, the historic lot is being threatened by a sub division, and it’s Taylor’s mission with this show to not only restore the Hammerstein house for tours and prospects for a museum, but she wants to remind all of us with those extraordinary pipes of hers just how magical Hammerstein’s body of work will continue to be and how it can still move you to do extraordinary things…just like she’s doing with her already stunning new entertainment venture. 

And If you would like more information about Highland Farm and the legacy of Oscar Hammerstein II, you should absolutely check this out. 

But absolutely first…..take a lovely seat and warm up with a hot cup of Off Broadway tea because Ms. Taylor stopped by the Philly Mixtape table to spill about it all, including how her new project came to light, how she’s made it through an icky year for all of us, and most importantly…why everyone in the world should go see An Enchanted Evening

Which you absolutely should and you can get tickets right here.

Now, let’s spill. 

Okay, so……first order of business in our little Off Broadway tea………how the hell are you feeling as you’re leading up to the big opening night in just a couple of weeks!? Gotta say, It’s still pretty surreal. There is so much work that goes on behind the scenes that it is hard for me to just sit back and think about how huge this all is. Maybe that is good- I don’t have time for doubts or nerves!

Break a couple of tea mugs for everyone about how this soon-to-be extraordinary show came to glorious light. And also, what does doing this show mean to you personally?  I first met Will Hammerstein (Oscar Hammerstein’s grandson) and his family at my “Unstoppable” music video premiere in March of 2017. We started talking and I learned that Highland Farm in Doylestown, PA (where Oscar lived and wrote all the Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals) was being threatened by a four lot subdivision and on the verge of being torn down. Long story short, I came up with the idea to create this new show “An Enchanted Evening” to not only help raise awareness, but to also help raise the necessary funds to save the farm and subsequently turn it into a place where Oscar can be remembered (a museum) and also a place where young artists can be mentored (Theatre Education). I started my career in opera and musical theatre and this is an extremely important cause to me.

I can imagine this show is a lot of pressure and maybe quite a bit of nerves for you. What do you personally do calm your nerves before each moment in the spotlight? Sometimes the smaller, more intimate things freak me out more than the big performances. I don’t have a secret formula to calm the nerves- I just typically spend about 5 or 10 minutes alone in my dressing room before a show, warm up a little both vocally and mentally and I say a little prayer before hitting the stage. At the point I hit that mark on stage, I let the hours, weeks, months and years of practice take over and I just let the art take over.  

So, there’s an elephant in the room that we just can’t avoid……2017. In the words of Ms. Annie, it’s certainly been a hard knock year for all of us. As a creative artist, what did you personally do to get through these shitty times that have seemed to plague us the last almost 365 days? Professionally I have to say that it has been a very good year from me. I don’t like to dwell too much on the negative because by doing so, you give it the chance to take over and derail you from your real purpose in life. I think that is the key- we all struggle, but we have to find a way to find the positive in every situation that is thrown at us. We have to realize that no matter how shitty life may be at this very moment, there are always more people who are in a much shittier place.

I just have to know……..have you had a chance to sit down at all this year? No, not really! Like a lot of the people out there, I have a hard time decompressing–especially when there is so much going on. I do TRY to set aside some “me” time but to be honest, I simply love what I do and although on the surface it appears to be “work”, to me- it is therapeutic at times. Confucius said, “Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life”- and I have to say, that is spot on…..even if it does sound like a bad fortune cookie! 

We also can’t deny that the holidays are, like, here, and I’m sure you’ll be playing some of your favorite grooves! What are some holiday albums you can’t live without?  Gotta say, I am really not much into the Christmas spirit yet. I think it has a lot to do with corporations pushing Christmas earlier and earlier each year. Thanksgiving has almost become the new pre-party to Christmas and it’s lost all meaning. I know everyone wants to make money- and to that end, I will have to say that my original song “My Christmas Wish” is my favorite holiday groove. How’s that for shameless self promotion?!!! 

So…just a few more sips….with one being–why should everyone in the whole entire world go see your spectacular new Off Broadway show? Why not? It’s a wonderful, new innovative musical experience that has creatively combined curated historical content (video footage, interviews, photos, etc) into a spectacular visual presentation that is then interwoven with over 30 reimagined musical performances of Oscar Hammerstein’s greatest songs highlighting his journey to become musical theatre’s greatest lyricist of all time. Not only is the audience thoroughly entertained, but they also leave the theater learning something too! So far it seems very well received from theater-goers and critics alike. Plus, we are playing in the heart of Broadway and it benefits the Oscar Hammerstein II Museum and Theatre Education Center to help save Highland Farm! Win, win….win!

Lastly…..describe it all in just one word. One-of-a-kind! It’s hyphenated so I am sticking to that! 

For much, much more with the lovely Doreen Taylor, get down to her official website right here.