READ HER LIPS: THIS GIRL HAS STYLESophie Ellis Bextor
has been waiting patiently for her time. In her early twenties, she is a veteran in today's ever-changing music scene. It's five years since she started her career as a pop star. But it's only now that this darling of music is enjoying life in the spotlight as a solo artist.
As chart topping disco diva who sang Spiller's 'Groovejet (If This Ain't Love)' she transformed an Italian deep house groove into one of the most enduring records of recent years.
Sophie's solo material has sassy grooves and disco licks a-plenty, but like Madonna's finer work it also balances crisply funky dance rhythms with 80s soul, pop dynamics, and real songs. "Sophisticated pop," is how she describes it. "Stuff that doesn't talk down to people. I just want something that has got a bit of conviction to it and a bit of depth. I don't find there's too much of that around."
There's a bountiful of conviction on Sophie's debut album 'Read My Lips'
which is being re-released on June 24th
with some new additions. The lead single 'Take Me Home'
received a rapturous reception with its cool disco groove, crisp French beats and the mesmerising line: "You deserve a girl like me."
80s soul rhythms jiggle under swish strings and glittery funk guitars for the sassy 'Murder On The Dancefloor'
. With its church bells and sense of broken love, the slower 'Move This Mountain'
is a theatrical pop drama. The dinky electro-pop 'Everything Falls Into Place'
has its tongue in cheek and its white stilettos on. 'Lover'
is a seductive march of a groove with off-the-wall synth and melodies.
It was Sophie's voice that first struck the masses. That voice on Spiller's 'Groovejet (If This Ain't Love)'
was deliciously infectious, with a sexily-composed vocal that sang, "If this ain't love, why does it feel so good?" The question on everyone's lips was who's that girl? Weeks later everyone knew the answer. And Spiller - to Sophie's surprise - were Number One.
And you can hear this distinct personality in those archly deadpan vocals, clever and velvety, that weave themselves over 'Read My Lips.'
This is grown-up pop with a post-watershed groove that tells stories of love, desire and discos with grace and a mischievous tongue in its cheek. "I'm a bit coquettish, it's flirty stuff," chuckles Sophie. "I really like to have a poise when I'm singing, a certain character. Hopefully she's quite bright."WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
Growing up in London, the daughter of a television director and a television presenter Sophie has always had fairly definite ideas about who she wanted to be.
By 16 a love of Madonna and Michael Jackson had been swapped by Britpop as Sophie, clad in Adidas, hung out at West End clubs like Popscene. She'd already started singing and at the club Uncle Bob's Wedding Reception met musician Billy Reeves and handed him a tape.
Two years later theaudience emerged, dressed in black, with spiky guitar pop and a bona-fide star in the shape of chicly glamorous Ellis-Bextor. Sophie had always felt Britpop was too androgynous. "I think whoever's on stage should look like they're supposed to be on stage," she notes. "I think things should be a bit larger than life."
But despite the media acclaim, two Top 40 singles and a breezily confident album that owed more to classic Pretenders than it did Pulp, theaudience crumbled when Billy Reeves, the brain of the band, walked out.
Sophie then turned her hand to modelling. It was during the modelling phase when Sophie's publisher first sent the Spiller track over, then one of four instrumental grooves on the Italian producer's 'Miami' EP. Sophie originally dismissed it but then she started playing around with verses and choruses, eventually writing the final verse and co-writing that famous chorus. "I thought, 'I'll have a nice time doing something, it'll be a real breath of fresh air to do a dance track.' It was still going to be a song-based thing."
Worried about how indie-fans of theaudience might react, she could hardly have been prepared for the way the pop world welcomed her with open arms. Because Sophie Ellis-Bextor can sing
. And when she sings, you can hear she means it.