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Album Review

Natalie keeps good company. The urban pop singer from Houston is part of Latium Entertainment, which is headed by hitmaking producer Happy Perez and is home to balladeer Frankie J and ladies' man Baby Bash, both of whom were riding high on the pop charts alongside Natalie when she made her self-titled debut in May 2005. Her lead single, "Goin' Crazy," was giving J's "Obsession (No Es Amor)" and Bash's "Baby I'm Back" a run for their money on the Billboard Hot 100 at the time, all three songs within the Top 50 the week Natalie hit stores. Clearly the folks at Latium were onto something with their rash of high-riding chart hits, and after a close examination of Natalie, that special something seems to be a fine-tuned sense of popcraft, especially on behalf of Happy Perez. This guy made a name for himself producing hardcore Latino rappers in the late '90s, but in the few years running up to the release of Natalie, he began branching out and producing all sorts of hits. So it's not really a surprise to see him produce the bulk of this balladic urban pop effort — every song except "Goin' Crazy" and the pair of bonus tracks on this reasonably brief 12-song album. He brings a bit of a hip-hop vibe to the proceedings, but he mainly sticks in contemporary pop territory. For instance, think Beyoncé or Ciara or Ashanti with a Latina twist. Better yet, simply think Frankie J with a feminine twist. For sure, Natalie fits right into the contemporary pop star template circa summer 2005, and there's a wealth of pop star-worthy music here. The first two songs — "Goin' Crazy" and "Energy," the former a lovestruck ballad, the latter a boy-girl slow jam graced with a dope beat and a Baby Bash feature — are well-crafted pop songs so sticky sweet they alone should make this album successful. But there's more, including another beat-driven boy-girl slow jam ("Better Get It Right" featuring Max Minelli), a seductive late-night come-on ("Ooh"), and a fun '80s-throwback cover ("I Can't Wait," a club favorite from Nu Shooz in 1986). If you're down with the other Latium artists, or if you like fellow urban pop sweethearts like Ciara, Natalie is tailor-made to suit your taste. Plus, there's a curious pair of covers that make the album all the more inviting: an American Idol-style number featuring Justin Roman of Making the Band celebrity ("Where Are You") and a Spanish-language version of "Goin' Crazy" that just might top the original.


Born: 02 September 1978 in Clear Lake, TX

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '00s

Few singers can say that basketball is responsible for their quick rise to pop stardom, but if it weren't for the NBA, the sultry Natalie would probably have a desk job. The sounds of Jadakiss, Usher, Gwen Stefani, and Beyoncé filled the headphones of the Clear Lake, TX, resident as she was commuting back and forth to school. She dreamed of becoming a singer, but without knowing anyone connected to the music industry, she chose to study criminal justice. One of Natalie's rare whims told her she should...
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Natalie, Natalie
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