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Ones To Watch in 2012: Ricki-Lee

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ones To Watch in 2012: Ricki-Lee

Ricki-Lee is hands down one of my favorite Aussie pop singers today.  Sure, the Australian pop scene is saturated with an abundance of talent, but Ricki-Lee should be right up there in the mix as far as I'm concerned.  The first single off her forthcoming third studio album (her first signed with EMI), a stunning dance/pop jewel called "Raining Diamonds" was released in Australia back in October and went on to peak at #19 on the ARIA Singles Chart.  The song is accompanied by a beautiful Krozm-directed video that contains visual elements from a laundry list of recent popstar videos (i.e. Cheryl Cole's "Fight For This Love" and Rihanna's "Umbrella," to name a couple) showcasing a stunning Ricki-Lee rockin' her moves while looking like a cross between a Fembot and Barbarella.  GORG!

Rising to fame on Season 2 of Australian Idol back in 2004, Ricki-Lee Coulter made a splash from the very beginning, auditioning with a rendition of En Vogue's "Don't Let Go."  Shortly after her untimely sixth seventh place exit, Ricki-Lee started carving out her own pop career, turning down a major label deal with Sony BMG, instead signing with Australian Indie label Shock Records.  When her first single, the decidedly R&B "Hell No" debuted at #5 on the ARIA Singles Chart in the summer of 2005, any doubt people might have had that she could turn herself into a successful pop star was eliminated.  I can only imagine what people were thinking post Idol.  The very fact that she turned down a deal with Sony probably seemed crazy at the time but this girl knew what she wanted and had the guts to go for it.  While her self-titled debut album only managed to peak at #30 on the ARIA Albums Chart, girl landed two top 10 singles, with single #2, the uber-bubbly "Sunshine" peaking at #8.  The album's third and final single, a ballad called "Breathe" didn't fare too poorly either, charting at a respectable #14.

Photo Credit: Cybil Malinowski
2006 saw the formation of Young Divas, a pop supergroup of sorts.  Formed by Sony BMG, the group tapped into past seasons of Australian Idol, plucking out contestants Paulini (Season 1), Emily Williams (Season 3), Kate DeAraugo (Season 3 - Winner) and of course, Ricki-Lee (Season 2).  The reported original purpose of this supergroup was to promote each singer as her own, individual solo artist, and would have the girls go on tour together.  First single, a cover of Donna Summer's disco-pop single "This Time I Know It's For Real" peaked at #2 on the ARIA Singles Chart and went on to achieve platinum certification.  When second single, "Happenin' All Over Again" became a top 10 hit (peaking at #9) Sony decided to have the girls release an entire album of disco/pop covers.  The album was a success, going double platinum and peaking at #4.  So much for promoting their solo careers.   As fantastic as Young Divas' runaway success story was, big-voiced Ricki-Lee was itching to get back to her solo career and ultimately left the group, replaced by 2006 Aussie Idol runner-up Jessica Mauboy, a pop star in her own right.

Ricki-Lee released the infectiously addictive, supermodel strut-inducing "Can't Touch It" as the first single off her sophomore record and it was a hit, debuting at #2 on the ARIA Singles Chart.  The album, entitled Brand New Day, debuted at #37 (seven spots below the debut of her...well, debut) yet still cranked out two more top 10 singles ("Love Is All Around" & "Can't Sing A Different Song").  2007-2008 was overall a very successful period in Coulter's career.  Not only did she sign with UK dance music label Ministry of Sound, but she also landed a prestigious opener spot on U.S. pop star Hilary Duff's Dignity Tour (Australian leg of course).  Ricki-Lee closed out the year with the release of a compilation album and a new single, "Wiggle It," which managed to debut and peak at #11.
While 2009 was a good year professionally for Coulter, musically things started to fall apart.  Serving as co-host on Australian Idol earned her rave reviews, but the first single, "Don't Miss You," from the first incarnation of her forthcoming third studio album (the as of yet unreleased Hear No, See No, Speak No) became her lowest charting debut single to date, debuting at #24.  Single #2, the album's title track, fared even worse, peaking at a disappointing #46.  After the first two singles failed, Coulter scrapped plans to release the album altogether, essentially calling out her label for picking the wrong songs.  Things seemed to continue on, business as usual in 2010 with Coulter supporting the Backstreet Boys on their Australian tour and seeing a version of her hit single "Can't Touch It" appear in international promo spots for Sex and the City 2 as well as on the official soundtrack.  Finally, in 2010 and 2011, Ricki-Lee began to take back control of her career, ditching her long-time manager, management company, record label and signing a lucrative global record deal with EMI

While some might scoff at her decision to sign with a major after her last bout of label woes, bite your tongue.  The girl has now been in the industry for a few years and probably knows a thing or two about the business.  Ricki-Lee still knows what she wants and knows how to get it and from the looks of it, reading her Tweets and such, it's obvious that she's passionate about this new project.  She knows now about both success and failure and because of that, she's giving it 110%.  You go girl. Now watch the stunning video for "Raining Diamonds" below...unless you're in America, in which case you can't watch the video due to international licensing hiccups.  At least you can catch some behind the scenes footage from the video HERE and see her performing the track live (to a backing track) on The X-Factor Australia this past fall.  Hopefully EMI will make the song available for U.S. music lovers soon. Otherwise, what good is a "global record deal?" Just wondering.

Download "Raining Diamonds" on Australian iTunes HERE and Americans snag some of Ricki's older material on U.S. iTunes HERE!

Check out Ricki-Lee on the web:

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