Seriously Recommended: Jade Valerie’s “Bittersweet Symphony”
Bittersweet Symphony by Jade Valerie is by far my favourite thing to have come out of my Christmas stocking this year. And I am not saying that lightly as I was given over a dozen albums, seven DVDs, a bloody keyboard, a gorgeous photoframe, a custom made calender and a Wall-E toy (it’s so awesome, by the way!)
This isn’t really a review. This is a desperate plea. A plea to every European out there. FUCKING BUY THIS WOMAN’S FUCKING STUFF. Why? Because she is awesome, and is only big in Asia. Asia. How random is that? Why Asia? She’s American, works in Germany and lives in London. ASIA?! Where does Asia come into it?
This is all purely for selfish reasons. I want to see her live. The problem is that no one in London knows who she is. Well, there is this cult group that do. Final Fantasy fans. Final Fantasy fans know of Jade and Sweetbox*, but that’s it. Admittedly, the Final Fantasy fan base is pretty big, but it gets narrowed down since Jade featured on the shittest game of the series that was too girly and put the guys off. That’s the majority of the fanbase gone. Then it gets narrowed down to the people that actually played it, and paid attention to Jade’s contribution, and then cared about it enough to look into her as an artist.
Jade Valerie fronted the Sweetbox project before embarking on a career in her own name, but she is essentially the same as she was in Sweetbox. Jade left Sweetbox butcontinues as if nothing has changed with her long term song-writer and producer GEO (see endnote). The lack of change is good, because the formula of Sweetbox was a fantastic one. Jade usually takes a classical piece and uses it as a base of a pop song.
This video is a typical Sweetbox song; ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Alright’ uses Bach‘s “Air on a G String” as a theme, surrounded by a solid pop song. You may remember it from the mid-1990s, as this was their only hit in the UK (though back then, Tina Harris fronted the project):
Bittersweet Symphony, then, still does the same thing, though the classical influences seem less frequent. Jade uses Beethoven‘s ‘Moonlight Sonata’ and Delibes‘s ‘The Flower Duet’, but that’s it, as far as I can hear. She does sample Christopher Cross‘s ‘Sailing’ to stunning effect on the album’s best song ‘The Last’. Although Jade’s music is rooted in classical, her music is actually very far from it. She is pure, fun pop, and out of eight albums of hers I own, there are only two or three truly slow tempo ballads that I can think of.
I would like to stress that although this is pure, fun pop, that it’s not childish, manufactured or supervicial. She’s no Britney Spears. The lyrics are honest and mature, the compositions are artistic and catchy, and she writes them all along with GEO, her song-writing partner.
Valerie, and Sweetbox when she fronted it, is exactly what is missing from the UK music scene. Music is far too serious as of late, and pop is practically non-existent. Pop has gotten a lot of stick, but it’s the likes of Pete Waterman and Simon Cowell that puts the name through the mud. There is absolutely no reason why pop should not be intelligent, artistic and of good quality, and Jade Valerie proves that.
Credited as Jade Valerie:
Bittersweet Symphony (2008)
Out of the Box EP (2007)
Jade in Sweetbox (studio albums only)**:Addicted (2006)
After The Lights (2004)
13 Chapters (2004)
Some more Youtube shenanigans; the first one is my favourite – it has no theme in it though. The second song is based on ‘Moonlight Sonata’ by Beethoven, the third is based on Vivaldi‘s Four Seasons (Winter) and the fourth is based on Ennio Morricone‘s ‘La Califfa’.
* nb. Sweetbox is a music project created by GEO and Heiko Schmidt in 1995. They have been through several front vocalists, but Jade joined in 2000 and stayed until 2006/2007. However, Sweetbox is simply a name, and everything done in Sweetbox during that time was essentially Jade’s. Therefore, when she abandoned the project she was only abandoning the name – NOT the music. When Jade left, GEO also left and still works with her as he always has done. Heiko Schmidt remained with Sweetbox and it now has a new singer and has nothing to do with Jade anymore.
** nb. There are tonnes of Best Of and Compilation albums, along with a live album and a few rare track albums. The 2004 releases have similar tracklistings – Adagio is probably the most definitive album of the three.