Pop music is an extremely competitive field of the entertainment business, especially for the ladies. You not only have to sound good, but you have to look good too. One only needs to observe how the Beyonces, the Katy Perrys, the Rhiannas, Taylor Swifts and the Lady Gagas present themselves to their audiences and it’s apparent that the time, care and concern given to their “look” equals the concern, care and time spent on how they appear in public. It’s not an accident. I know for a fact that these women and their teams leave nothing to chance, because the stakes are just too darn high in this industry.
Since I don’t usually write for many mainstream magazines I tend to receive a lot of CDs and EPKs (electronic press kits) from independent labels and directly from artists. Before I even download their audio files, or pop their CDs into my player, most times I take a good look at the packaging and graphics that accompany them. Many times I’m left to wonder what they were thinking when they put on their make up, selected their wardrobe and chose the photographer. And who the hell were made those decisions regarding the final layout.
So it’s a refreshing breath of fresh air when I get a submission from a small company that seems to know what it’s doing. California’s Kick-A-Beat Records, an indie label, had their east coast publicist send over one of their artists EPK. The artist I was asked to review was Mina Alali who has a new album out titled Something About Her. Upon opening her EPK I immediately took note of the pains taken with this presentation. Her cover photographic was shot with the intention of conveying a cool sense of confidence and the single short paragraph below it was concise but attention grabbing. Reading it provided a very precise idea of what I as someone in the media could expect even before I clicked on the EPK links to download Mina’s files.
What I heard and saw after downloading only encouraged my belief that this was a project worthy of the time and consideration. It didn’t so much scream that they spent a lot of money to do this as it sent a message that a lot of forethought was invested into what was being presented. The consistency in the relationship that existed between her music, which was solidly in the pop market pocket, and the imagines and information that accompanied it was more than a hint that this was more than just some empty hype. And I was happy to discover that I was right.
Mina Alali’s music is polished without coming across as overly slick and with a smart balance between fun and serious. Songs like the title track and No Lovin’ Me gave the singer an opportunity to showoff her vocal abilities and the listener a chance to get into a groove with her. The more socially conscious 22 Cents Less (about the eternal and institutionalized battle between the sexes) and Wake Up provided more than just something to sing along with and dance to.