Saturday, April 22, 2006

Martika, Inc.

Step by Step, Heart to Heart, Left Right Left, We All Fall Down... The words are still in my head as the little kiddies are jumping around singing. Why was this song so intriguing to me? The melody is slow and the feeling mimics the endiing credits to Lost Boys. All I heard was that this song touched on a taboo subject, making it more discussion for parents and kids, instead of Billboard's Top 10.
A little something about Martika
Not just the Madonna wannabe she is often remembered as, Martika had songwriting skills and enough savvy to choose some of the best hooks of the '80s for her debut album. You'll find yourself singing these songs months after you've heard them. And that's a good thing. Her voice is thin and a bit limited, but she surrounds herself with producers who understand how to put a sheen on a great pop gem. The catchiest song is also the dumbest; "If You're Tarzan, I'm Jane," about a girl willing to adapt to anything her man wants her to be, is somewhat sexist, but it's such fun it's hard to not sing along. The big hit single, "Toy Soldiers," works with its childlike vocals and lyrics, creating a haunting, effective dichotomy with its subject of drug addiction. Martika even has the chutzpah to cover a Carole King song -- "I Feel the Earth Move" -- and actually does it justice. Producer Michael Jay -- writer or co-writer of "Toy Soldiers," "If You're Tarzan, I'm Jane," "More Than You Know," "Cross My Heart," "You Got Me Into This," "It's Not What You're Doing," and "See If I Care" -- shows he has the ear of an amazing pop artist à la Bernie Taupin. The melodies and productions make this album a major success, but if pop isn't your thing, you might not care that these are hooks many superstars would kill for. (All Music Guide)
Marrero got her start as "Gloria" on the Disney Channel kids show Kids, Inc. about a group of neighbourhood kids who rose to local fame by singing staged productions at a corner malt shop. At around the same time, Martika and many fellow cast members from Kids Incorporated starred in the musical numbers from the Mr. T motivational video "Be Somebody or Be Somebody's Fool", which also aired in 1984. Shanice as well as future Black Eyed Peas member Stacy Ferguson also had singing parts in the video.
Marrero also had a role in the 1982 motion picture Annie as one of the orphan girls.
Following her role in Kids Incorporated and "Be Somebody", Martika was quickly snagged by CBS Records as a potential, Madonna-esque pop star. Her first album, Martika, spawned the number one hit of 1989 the anti drug abuse song "Toy Soldiers", but was, as is often the case with American pop stars, an even larger success abroad. She had foreign hits with "Water", "More Than You Know", "I Feel the Earth Move" and "Alibis". "More Than You Know" and "I Feel The Earth Move" (a remake of Carole King's Tapestry album classic) were also U.S. Top 40 hits (#18 and #25, respectively). In 1991, she was approached by Prince and became one of the so-called "Prince Protégés". Her second album, Martika's Kitchen, was an American flop (but for the radio favourites "Love...Thy Will Be Done," her second and final U.S. Top 10 single, and the title track). However, the album was again a huge success abroad, though on a lesser scale, spawning hits with the songs "Coloured Kisses" and "Temptation". However, it faded fast on the charts and went out of print.

Won't you come out and play with me Martika?


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