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November 4, 2019
November 4, 2019
In this week’s edition of B-Side Weekly, we ask the question of what would an Indie downtempo electropop band have any connection to a pop star of yonder? The band in question is our friend’s from the “Eurozone” as they call it — Shine 2009; the pop star in question? Well, our friendly and flighty friend from American Idol seasons one to five: pop star Paula Abdul. Every week in the column, I always try to add a bit of exposition to the artist so people who actually read this won’t guffaw at it and wonder what I’m talking about, but what about a song that has almost little to no information about the collaboration other than, happened.
That is a fact: according to Wikipedia, there was a 2011 collaboration between Shine 2009, who represents a synth-pop style that draws influences from the early 80s precursors to synthy tunes, and pop star Paula Abdul appearing nowhere in the music video, but contributing light coos and backup vocals that round out the song and give it a more contemporary sound. In one of the few articles you can find about the song upon it’s release, Rich Thane of the blog, The Line Of Best Fit insinuates that Paula possessed connections related to their label, Cascine, as well as being a genuine fan of the band. Aside from a few fan reviews here and there, PaulaAbdul.net (the apparently foremost source for everything Paula Abdul, you know, if you need something like that) gives a more detailed tale of Paula Abdul sharing a brief relationship with the founder of Cascine, Jeff Bratton, and eventually was approached by Sami Suovo, one of the band members to record some vocals to lay down on the track.
Shine 2009 – So Free (Feat. Paula Abdul)
As luck would have it, sometimes asking a pop star who hasn’t produced as much material as she did in the past can sometimes be fruitful: Paula gladly accepted their offer after listening to the track (definitely jiving with it because of its older influences and heavy rhythm), mailed in the vocals from Los Angeles to her friends in Finland. While the source of the story comes from a fansite, we can surmise that this is the most legitimate tale we can attribute to the track. Upon first Google search, one will only find a collection of dated music reviews from the year it was released, and with little pitter-patter after that. While PaulaAbdul.net is a fansite, I feel that you can’t be picky on terms of relevant information when it comes to artists that have taken a more relaxed approach in recent years to their original careers. Yes, Paula is busy with….. — whatever Paula is doing right now, but it is understandable that her dedication to her original craft of music and dance isn’t as strong as it once was.
What can be said about “So Free” as a musical effort, is that it possesses all the right Acid Jazz elements of yonder but combining modern music sensibilities. Even Shine 2009’s music video (which sadly does not feature Paula breaking out her best moves) reflects a cool funky collaboration that doesn’t try to make Abdul relevant, but instead plays on her best elements as she takes a quick tour through the track. While this isn’t a club thumper or a bass blaster, “So Free” represents an era in synth music that could easily fit in with the past as well as sounding contemporary to this era. You may be like me, and be slightly disappointed that you can’t hear her vocals that well, or that she doesn’t feature a verse in the main melody, but that small inclusion of Paula is what makes the song.
2011 was also an interesting year for Paula, as, in the last few years, she had released a few comeback singles that gained a good following, but sadly did not result in a new album. Although Paula Abdul may not be as involved in the music scene as she once was, “So Free” is a brilliant example of post-90s Paula giving it her best shot after the vocal lessons and training she received to get her pop-star title back. “So Free” with Shine 2009 and Paula Abdul combine perfectly in harmony, and never poses the question, “what has she been doing,” but instead makes us want to beg and ask her, “what have you been doing and why aren’t you doing more of this?!”