Good choices.Normani Shares Playlist of Songs Inspiring the 'Very Clear Vision' She Has for Her Debut Solo Album: 'It's Authentic to Who I Am'
For Normani, working on her debut album means getting a second chance to prove who she really is as an artist outside of Fifth Harmony.
As a result, Spotify’s Secret Genius program wanted to curate an environment where Normani could work with her dream songwriters and producers and create something she’s proud of. Secret Genius, which aims to highlight the contribution these writers and production team members make to the music industry and artists' careers, teamed up with her label, Keep Cool/RCA Records and her management, S10 -- and the Secret Genius Songshop was born.
The three-day workshop in Los Angeles featured four studios with a diverse set of producers and songwriters in each room. Yo Pierre, London on the Track, J White and Jude Demorest were among the "geniuses" there. Normani’s whole team and some friends were present, as well as some of her favorite foods lining a buffet table to build the most comfortable music atmosphere.
“It’s been like being a kid in a candy store,” Normani told Bilboard on Wednesday, her last day of the songshop. “It’s so cool having everybody believe in this project so much and wanting to come out and be part of creating the magic on my behalf.”
Why Normani for this Songshop? Tiffany Kumar, Spotify’s global head of songwriter relations, said it came down to an inspirations playlist she sent over. “Normani’s team sent over a playlist of songs that inspire her, and at that point, I knew we had to partner with her and Keep Cool for a Secret Genius Songshop to make her new music come to life,” she said.
On this playlist of inspirations, shared below exclusively with Billboard, old-school Beyoncé, Mya, Lauryn Hill and Aaliyah blend with Rihanna and H.E.R. to paint a picture of a '90s R&B dream with a modern twist. Of course, Normani’s sultry collaboration with Khalid, “Love Lies,” tops the list.
“I just want to take it back to the music I fell in love with, and what made me fall in love with music for the first time,” Normani said of the playlist. “I grew up with my grandmother driving me to school and my mother listening to '90s music.”
There’s even a hint of New Orleans jazz (“Crack House” by New Birth Brass Band) as a nod to the singer’s hometown. “We have so much culture we have and we have so much to offer,” she said. “I’m grateful being from there and I just want to incorporate that in the music. It’s authentic to who I am.”
Normani definitely recognizes the difficulty and pressure that comes along with pulling inspiration from the past, but she’s more than ready. "Sometimes it can be scary and it’s like, ‘Will it work?’ It’s the risk I’m willing to take because I believe in it so much.
“I’m fearless," she added. "I have a very clear vision of what I want this body of work to sound like and it’s just about execution. I don't care how long it takes, because that first impression is the last.”
Read more below:The Fader wrote:Before Normani came onstage at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards in May, the show was kind of bland. During the intro to “Love Lies,” her duet partner had basic command of the stage and received a relatively muted reception from the crowd. And then, when the stage door lifted to reveal the outline of her silhouette, before she could even get out a note, the crowd, like true stans, went more than a little bit crazy. Normani has that kind of star power.
Rolling around on the floor in a tiny leotard, her dance moves were not only sultry, but executed with the killer precision and carefree attitude audiences have come to expect from the likes of Beyoncé. Somewhat controversially, Twitter has dubbed the 22-year-old Normani — the possible breakout star of her own massively successful girl group — the second coming of Bey. Normani is clearly pleased when I ask her about this during a recent sit-down at a studio in Brooklyn, even if she maintains a modicum of modesty: “It’s flattering but I definitely have room to grow and improve. I want to work for my spot. It’s not fair that I’m the next Beyoncé just yet. But I hope to become that.”
That night was an experiment, Normani was dipping a toe in the waters and checking to see if the world was ready for her as a solo artist. The answer was a resounding yes.
Until now, Nomani has had to walk a certain tightrope, balancing the force of her individual creativity against that of the megagroup that made her a household name, Fifth Harmony. She’s also shed her sanitized girl group image, no longer bound by the attractive-but-not-too-sexy constraint placed on her as a member of the group. There was a lot she couldn’t do and she’s excited to take on the challenge of standing alone. “I’m able to go to the studio now and write about ideas that actually mean something to me,” she says. “I am going back to the music that I grew up with that really inspires me. I get to pull from that and incorporate those sounds into this project. It’s not like somebody else sitting in a chair over at the label has a set idea as to who these girls are going to be and us having to go along with that.”
I agree but I feel like she's still finding out who she is as an artist so I'm gonna give her time to explore her what she wants.GetBack wrote:Adored her performance at the Billboard Music Awards but she is indeed way too Beyoncé. It's like everything she does from the choreography in performing to the very calculated meekness and polished responses in interviews is so Beyoncé.
GetBack wrote:Adored her performance at the Billboard Music Awards but she is indeed way too Beyoncé. It's like everything she does from the choreography in performing to the very calculated meekness and polished responses in interviews is so Beyoncé.
Thank god the good sis follows the example of someone who is in the business for 20+ years, I would have been worried has she been 'too *put here any random one hit wonder* 'GetBack wrote:Adored her performance at the Billboard Music Awards but she is indeed way too Beyoncé. It's like everything she does from the choreography in performing to the very calculated meekness and polished responses in interviews is so Beyoncé.
+1abi wrote:I agree but I feel like she's still finding out who she is as an artist so I'm gonna give her time to explore her what she wants.
I get what GetBack is trying to say. Sometimes, a comparison to other artist could be a bad thing, i.e. "Lady Gaga vs Madonna", "Ariana Grande vs Mariah Carey". The media will be making the comparison over and over again, plus these childish fanwars on Twitter wouldn't look pretty as well. But we'll see.Hugo wrote:
You even tried to make it sound like "too Beyoncé" is a bad thing.
GetReal, "too Beyoncé" is the best compliment you can make to another artist, it means she's a great singer and performer, who actually looks alive on stage and is a perfectionist.
Ugh bitch I been bopping all day to them.Jesper wrote:Two songs damn, love them
Serby wrote:Cuz you ugly and can't relate
IndeedThaInfo1 wrote:Ugh bitch I been bopping all day to them.Jesper wrote:Two songs damn, love them
I love how she sounds on Checklist. I ain't realize her voice can ride a beat so low. She sounds good and confident!
She could even send Slow Down to radio.