Why should we listen up to Tricky Stewart, of RedZone Entertainment shouting about his new voice-of-now and Swedish-born beauty Ulrika Lindstrom? That is, apart from the fact that he's bagged hits with Beyonce's "Single Ladies," Mya's "Case of the Ex," Rihanna's "Umbrella," Mary J. Blige's "Just Fine" and Justin Bieber's "Baby"...
It's not a list of accolades to be sniffed at. But the way we all seem to hear about new musical talent is through American Idol, Britain's Got Talent, or another television-based incarnation of musical democracy, laden heavily with Schadenfreude. Average Joe (i.e. not the son or daughter of actor/pop star X) slides through one of these trusted channels, where lives go from mediocre-to-media darling, sparkling with instant overnight fame powder, all double stamped by the singles-buying public. If they haven't got that in their fame passport, how on earth are they found on this over-crowded, hyper-connected planet? (A rhetorical question.) Does old-fashioned hard work and raw talent count for anything these super-networked days? (Not a rhetorical question.)
When I first heard the story of Robyn "Rihanna" Fenty's discovery by aging producer Evan Rogers, I wondered whether such talent-seekers had halted their active search within the United States, the traditional channels perhaps clogged with wannabes and fame monsters. Perhaps the Caribbean was both the getaway paradise for burnt-out producers and the first step away from the US for stardom fodder.
Tricky's new favorite Swede, Ulrika Lindstrom, moved to the US long before her discovery by Stewart. Luckily this migration into the talent-packed (and picked) ring hasn't affected her impression on the music industry. So where do we look when we want to hear about new pop talent? It seems that the producers of America are still doing their jobs well, finding the voices that speak volumes to them, and propelling them into our virtual jukeboxes.
The industry might be pivoting in various directions, trying to find its feet again, but moments like when you hear Ulrika's spine-tingling version of the Cranberries classic "Zombie," or her own pop classic-in-the-making "Time Will Tell," make it seem worth the bumpy ride. One thing we can be sure of -- the music industry is both relying on audience participation and democratic choice to find stars that stick, but they will also be getting pickier (and Trickier?) as they look for pop stars to go the distance and bring bang for the buck they will spend incubating, marketing and finally producing for us, the waiting public, the next voice to shake us down and wake us up.
Next year, Ulrika (I've already dropped the surname) will be launched into our collective media-hungry mouths. Consider this a heads up.