Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Princess Nyah – Butterflies

In which Alex Macpherson manages to lower the average score for a UK funky track…


Katherine St Asaph: In almost every respect, this is a gorgeous, gift-wrapped piece of late ’90s/early ’00s RnB nostalgia — “Waiting for Tonight” is the closest match, but bits of this remind me of about twelve other things. But then the Auto-Tune shows up, utterly anachronistic. Sure, they used it back then, but it was rarely this overpowering. I feel like a mom telling her daughter to wipe off all that makeup, she’s lovely without it.

Kat Stevens: Despite not really ‘getting’ funky, I rather liked Nyah’s cheeky banger “Big Boys”. I’m not sure about “Butterflies” though – her vocals are as sweet and warm as the weather but the cocktail piano backing (culminating in an awful solo) implies that I am spending my summer evening in an overpriced wine bar with lots of advertising executives. It’s a shame, as Nyah’s daydream romance would work brilliantly with a meaty bassline remix (and provide some relief from all the wronged-woman/heartbreak vocals apparently mandatory for any female-fronted bassline track). Unfortunately, it’s three years too late for bassline, so we’ve only got crappy dubstep mixes instead.

Martin Skidmore: Are we supposed to take the chirping noises as butterflies? Whatever, this is a sweet funky house number, with singing maybe not quite as lovely as required, but it’s a gorgeous summery dance backing, and I found myself fond of it from the start. Very pretty, if perhaps a little insubstantial.

Pete Baran: Its an early eighties Randy Crawford happy album track stapled to a late nineties blissed out summer Buddha Bar special. Which is to say its quality is directly related to the amount of sunlight beating upon your head. Which luckily for the last couple of weeks in the South East of Britain makes it the best song ever. Still, I remember the cold, and know I’ll rue a high score come winter.

Jonathan Bogart: Now this is 90s revivalism I can get behind, equal parts Shanice and La Bouche, with a restrained Eurohouse production and an extended piano break I’m sure I’ve heard before but wouldn’t ever mind hearing again. I have no idea who Princess Nyah is, no scene or genre context for her, but if there’s more where this came from I’m a fan.

Alex Macpherson: Lightly pretty summer drift from a woman usually more at home on something heavier, ruffer and tuffer. Maybe fellow UK chanteuses Kyla or Katie Pearl could have imbued “Butterflies” with that certain je ne sais quoi, but Nyah has to smooth her natural edges, and consequently the song’s only character comes with the dreamy jazz piano interlude two-thirds of the way through. Still, Nyah’s made two of the most essential tracks of the year in her rambunctious “Pon De Floor” and “Pass Out” remixes; she sounds so much more herself leading her girls to the dancefloor, and that’s when your eyes have to follow her: “I’ll make you pass out – you see the heels and the legs, but no arse out!”

Mark Sinker: Actually the nicest thing is her diffidence about herself. And there’s an ever-so-slight clunk in the funk, in a likeable Nyah-from-the-block way.

Michaelangelo Matos: It’s crisp enough to pass as decent pop-funky (it is funky, right?), but aside from the (total cliche of a) titular refrain, almost nothing about this sticks, and even that refrain is iffy.

Ian Mathers: This is a lot housier than I expected, and the beat and the electric piano (I think?) are both very nice indeed. But Nyah’s vocals keep things close to classic verse/chorus/verse, and the tempo never quite ticks over into full dancefloor flight; the result sounds as much like a remix of an r’n’b song as anything else. But I’m not left wanting to hear the original; this feels more like one of those remixes that blots the original out of everyone’s memory. If, like me, you’ve been underwhelmed by the diffuse, extended nature of some of the actual house singles we’ve covered here, “Butterflies” hits a pretty sweet spot.

4 Responses to “Princess Nyah – Butterflies”

  1. Princess Nyah’s first UK funky anthem was the marvellous ryde-or-die anthem “Frontline” – think she’s a lot more suited to that sort of beat, and that sort of approach to romance. Someone like Kyla absolutely nails the dreamy, drifty stuff though, eg “Daydreaming”.

  2. What I hugely warmed to about this — which the video admittedly greatly amplified — was the ever-so-slight hand-madeness of the dreaminess

  3. Actually what I’m calling “hand-madeness” is probably exactly the same as what Lex calls “smoothing her natural edges”: it’s a real-time audible craft effect and I like it…

    (I am still approaching this project from a long time in pop purdah — working backwards to who such-as-such must be from the record I’m hearing now… obviously unless it’s someone who’s been around of 1xmillion years, in which case you get some anecdote of life in pre-roman britain)

  4. I like Princess Nyah a lot more as an MC than a singer, I think. Her Pon De Floor remix is just riotous.