02/04/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Is Shanice a Marketing Genius?

Do you guys remember Shanice? Oh, you know... she had a big hit in 1992. "I Love Your Smile." Yes? With the catchy chorus and the obligatory 90s rap interlude?

Well, even if you missed her heyday, you should pay attention now. Shanice may have devised one of the most brilliant marketing campaigns of the internet age.

Here's the deal: Like so many faded pop stars, Shanice hasn't stopped making records. She's just releasing them online instead of through a major label.

But it's hard enough to get noticed when you've currently got a song on the radio. (Just ask O.A.R. Who? Exactly.) How's an artist like Shanice supposed to stay relevant?

Well... how about with a "video mixtape?" That's what she's calling a series of low-tech performances she started posting on YouTube about two months ago. In what appears to be her living room, she stands in front of a camera and belts a cappella renditions of current smashes like Beyonce's "If I Were a Boy" and Rihanna's "Take a Bow"

And why is this genius, you ask? For one thing, people searching for the original versions of these hits are likely to stumble on Shanice's covers. Suddenly, even folks who missed her peak could discover her, all because she appended her name to the women who inherited her crown.

Of course, any dweeb can post a karaoke version of a Beyonce song. (And they have.) But since there are bound to be people who remember her, Shanice's videos have a leg up.

And here's the most exciting part: When she sings these songs, Shanice sounds really, really good.

That's no small feat. In a pop age when vocoders and pitch correction and "studio magic" are more prevalent than ever, we rarely get to hear artists singing without help. (And sometimes when we do hear them live, we realize they sound better with technology.)

With her unadorned performances, Shanice proves she still has a textured, powerful instrument. Her online savvy lets us realize she's a excellent singer who deserves a comeback.

And who knows? If enough people get wise to her videos, Shanice actually could recapture the spotlight. If Spaghetti Cat can get a clothing line, why can't a professional performer with stellar pipes earn another hit?

As of this writing, almost 450,000 people have watched Shanice sing "If I Were a Boy." If all those viewers buy her next single, an avalanche of video mixes could follow. The moment we see Lou Bega covering Lil' Wayne, we'll know she heralded the future.