At last the second of our July and August YOK artists, Rebecca Ferguson‘s, You Oughta Know Live has, well, gone live! Poised and glowing brighter than her neon orange dress at center stage, she performed for us a stripped down version of her hit single “Nothing’s Real But Love.” She really let the voice that landed her in second place on Britain’s The X Factor soar, growing only stronger and more triumphant where the song gets vulnerability. You can hear both the struggles she’s overcome and the winnings she’s earned, and you can’t help but believe when she preaches that “no money, no house, no car is like love.” She also performed “Shoulder To Shoulder” and a souled-up cover of “Knocked Up” by the Kings of Leon, one of her more surprising but often cited influences.
And! The news gets better: You can download an MP3 of Ferguson’s stunning “Nothing’s Real But Love” performance here on Tuner for free! But be quick — the link expires at midnight on Sunday, July 23rd and you’ll want not to miss it.
Maybe you’ve seen this commercial, the one where the Hawaiian vacation of dreams is planned with the help of his friends and social networks and Bing. And maybe it even inspired you to give Microsoft’s search engine go. Most likely of all, though, it left you with that song stuck in your head and anticipation of the next commercial break when you might hear it again. That oh-so-catchy song is “Ho Hey!” by July and Augusts You Oughta Know artists The Lumineers, and it sounded even better yet when they performed it at VH1 headquarters for their You Oughta Know Live session.
“Ho Hey” swells around the band’s three members, a simple guitar melody, a little kick-drum and a shake of tambourine. It’s the battery of ho’s and hey’s, though, that get into your bones, making the song impossible to shake. Not that you’ll want to.
It’s no secret that we love July and August You Oughta Know artists The Lumineers‘ “Ho Hey!” So joyous and ever infectious, they stomped their way straight to our hearts. We would be remiss, though, if we didn’t share also The Lumineers’ more plaintive side. At VH1 headquarters for their You Oughta Know Live performance, they slowed things down for “Stubborn Love,” a beautiful and yearning song about love that won’t give up. “She’ll tear a hole in you, the one you can’t repair,” it so goes, “but I still love her, I don’t really care.” Refusing to give in and raised by a crescendo of drums and cello, they insist that you “Keep your head up, keep your love” because “It’s better to feel pain than nothing at all.” And when Wesley Schultz wails that, “The opposite of love is indifference,” you can’t help but feel moved.
Meet Rebecca Ferguson, one of our two You Oughta Know artists for July and August. Hailing from Liverpool, the 25-year-old singer made her first big splash on Britain’s The X Factor‘s seventh season, where she won-over the usually salty Simon Cowell and placed second overall. Her successful showing subsequently earned her a record deal. And although her debut album Heaven only hit shelves stateside in May, the lead single “Nothing’s Real But Love” has already found its way to both the top of the UK charts and deep into our hearts. Ferguson’s belting recalls the classic soul of Aretha Franklin as well as that of the quirkier Macy Gray, but she cites also acts like Mike Posner and rockers Kings Of Leon as influences. Here are five things that make us proud to have her as our latest You Oughta Know artist:
1. Earning It On The X Factor
As she explains in her audition tape for The X Factor, Ferguson assumed her dreams derailed when she got pregnant at the age of 17. “I thought, well, maybe I won’t be able to become a singer. Who’s going to want me, now I’ve got a kid? I lost me confidence,” she shared through tears. Not yet ready to put aside her life long dream of being a singer, she climbed the audition stage and hasn’t looked back since.
For her audition, she sang “A Change Is Gonna Come,” and, oh boy, did a change come. Not even the notoriously difficult Simon Cowell could say no to a voice like hers. “You’re voice is totally on the money,” he said. “Let me try to restore that confidence for you,” he told her, sending her forward to reclaim her spirit as well. It was a long time coming, but she knew a change was going to come.
Emeli Sandé’s Our Version of Events has been a constant fixture in the iPod for weeks now. The beauty of her voice matches her incredible songwriting that has the power to make random strangers cry for no other reason than her magical sound. As our June YOK artist we’re happy to share some of our favorite cuts from the album like “Next to Me” or style photos that show her boisterous personality. Today we gift you with her cover of Blur’s “Country House.” Read more…
When our June You Oughta Know artist Emeli Sandé isn’t making people cry from the beauty of her voice and lyrics, her cool, mellow demeanor makes you feel at ease. On the day she stopped by VH1 Headquarters she was spunky and full of energy. Her smile was radiant, her laughter infectious. There was no inner diva with this British soul singer whose debut album topped the UK charts at #1. Our photographer Michele Crowe captured a range of Emeli, from the songstress cackling with laughter before a pose for her live set to prepping for a show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg earlier this month. Speaking of live sets, the strength of her vocals are exemplified in her performance of “Heaven.” The clarity and sound of her voice, yes, heavenly indeed.
When 25-year-old British singer Emeli Sandé visited the VH1 offices a few months back, her performance left several employees in tears. Her live performance of “Clown” at Williamsburg Music Hall moved me to tears as well. Her poignant voice coupled with the mastery she possesses of writing beautiful songs is why she’s our June You Oughta Know artist. Her debut album, Our Version of Events, may be new to the U.S. audiences, but it has already topped the UK Album Charts at number one. Within the first two weeks of release in the UK the album sold 300,000 copies, and has already reached platinum status according to the British Phonographic Industry. Her official U.S. first single, “Next to Me,” is an ode to her boyfriend. Sandé wrote the song because she wanted a radio hit that uplifted good men, which she says there isn’t enough of. Read more…
VH1′s latest You Oughta Know artist is 21-year-old Ed Sheeran, a U.K. based troubadour whose appreciation of musical theory and craft is light years beyond most artists his age. He’s a real throwback to singer-songwriters of yore, the kind of artist who crafts highly detailed and personal stories, as well as someone appreciates those musicians that paved the way for people like him to be successful many, many years before he was even born.
Take, for example, his cover of Nina Simone‘s “Feeling Good.” The song has undergone a bit of a rebirth of late, thanks to being sampled by Jay-Z and Kanye West on the RZA-produced Watch The Throne track “New Day.” Sheeran is able to successfully channel the raw emotion of Simone original, utilizing nothing but his soulful voice and trusty acoustic guitar. It showcases his vocal range in a way that we had not really witnessed before, and is easily one of our all-time favorite You Oughta Know Live performances.
We paired this incredible cover with a series of incredible photographs by VH1′s own Michele Crowe, who trailed Ed for an entire day here in New York a few weeks back to produce the latest addition in our long-running Music Seen series. Enjoy!
Ed’s debut album, +, was released in the U.K. in September of last year, where it entered the charts at #1 and has sold over 1 million copies to date. It is being released here in the United States on June 12, but Ed is currently in the midst of a barnstorming tour of the United States to get the word out in advance of its street date. When we spoke to Ed down in Austin last month, he compared his singer-songwriter sound to other British artists like James Morrison, Damien Rice and David Gray, but we think that he belongs just as much to the burgeoning “realwave” movement, alongside acts like The Civil Wars, Dawes and Mumford & Sons. Decide for yourself by checking out Ed Sheeran’s entire You Oughta Know Live set, including his single “The A-Team”—which, we should note, has nothing to do with Mr. T—a song that went all the way to #3 on the British charts last year.
If you didn’t already know, this is K’naan! We caught up with our You Oughta Know artist of the month at Le Poisson Rouge in NYC’s Greenwich Village earlier this month, where he performed a sultry set featuring his songs “Take a Minute” (which you can watch below), “Bulletproof Pride” and “Is Anybody Out There?” (which you can watch here). Hearing his passionate vocals over live acoustics was musical heaven, and seeing him perform in such an intimate setting really accentuated both the power and poetical flow of his lyrics.
Before, during and after his performance, K’naan proved to be a super friendly and very chill guy. Our ace photographer Colin Gray got to spend some extra time with him for the latest installment of our on-going Music Seen series. Enjoy!