Thursday, June 22, 2017

Awful pun inserted: This Mini is no 'club-head'

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The Mini Brand offers tons of quirky niche vehicles that are fun to drive. But what if you want the quirkiest of the bunch? The Clubman is the Mini that will appeal to you the most.

Performance: The Clubman comes with a three engine options. The Standard Cooper trim comes with a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder which is our favorite engine choice. The Cooper S comes with a familiar 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 189hp while the JCW uses the same 2-liter turbo pumping out an additional 228hp. You can choose the Cooper and Cooper S with optional all-wheel-drive while the JCW trim comes standard with all-wheel-drive. Pick of the range is the Cooper S trim which offers the best blend between performance, low running costs and price.

Ride & handling: The Clubman is just as fun to drive as the hardtop Mini. Even though the Clubman has a longer wheelbase, the overall feel in the corners and bends is still spot on. Ride comfort however isn’t as disappointing as the Countryman. Although the fun to drive character is still there, it still leaves a lot to be desired when compared to the hardtop Mini.

Refinement: The engines sound sporty and are fun to rev. The Cooper S and JCW versions offer the most engaging driving experience. Wind noise can be heard in the cabin at higher speeds but it’s far from intrusive. Some road noise will sneak into the cabin also. The manual gearbox gear pattern shoves the reverse gear in front of first gear, which makes it very easy for you to select reverse instead of first gear.

Behind the wheel: Even though the Clubman is bigger than your standard Mini hardtop, the seating position and overall view out of the car is still spot on. Only problem we have is the barn doors styled tailgate. It creates an awkward blind spot when parking and looking through the rearview mirror. The dashboard like other Minis is just fussy and fiddly to operate. Many of the controls are jammed in where ever there’s space, which makes it awkward and overly complicated to navigate through.

Space & practicality: This is where the Clubman shines. Thanks to the added length and wheelbase, there is plenty of space for actual passengers in the rear. Two adults can sit comfortably thanks to added headroom, legroom and even hip room. The newest Clubman has conventional rear doors. The boot is also well sized and shaped. The barn doors styled tailgate adds a touch of quirk to the overall appeal of the car.

Equipment: All three trim levels are equally equipped with the same level of kit. You’ll have to pay extra for desired features that should be standard. The Cooper S trim and JCW trim adds special body-kit trim and few other touches to separate them from the Cooper trim. If price is a concern for you, we’d suggest sticking with the Cooper trim and stay clear of the options list.

Buying & owning: The Clubman is slightly more expensive than the hardtop Mini, but in return you do get more space for rear passengers and a distinct image all round. Running costs shouldn’t be too bad thanks to decent fuel economy, while resale value won’t be a problem at all thanks to strong demand for the Mini Badge.

Quality & reliability: The Clubman and all other Minis have a premium small car image. It’s a shame that the interior quality is a big let down. Some switchgear and controls are iffy in terms of quality. Mini Customers are a happy bunch and rate Mini high in customer satisfaction, even though the company’s reliability record is patchy.

Safety & Security: Front and side curtain airbags are standard across the range. As well as traction control, electronic stability program, anti-lock brakes and a tire pressure monitor. An engine immobilizer is standard as well as deadlocks; you’ll have to pay extra for an alarm.

If you want the most distinct and quirky Mini of them all, the Clubman is clearly the choice hands down. It's just as roomy as the Countryman and the boot space is even more generous than it was before. The Clubman may not be as good as the Golf Sportwagen but it does have a strong case for itself.

Devon's Pick: Mini Clubman S is the most fun to drive of the range without being overly expensive like the JCW trim. You still have to pay extra for bits that you may want, but it's still entertaining to drive and the most popular form of the Clubman.

Likes: Fun to drive with roomy interior for four passengers. Decent running costs with quirky club doors and tailgate.

Dislikes: Some controls are fiddly to operate. Desired options push price sky high, while standard kit is considered stingy. Reverse gear too easily selected instead of first gear.

Devon’s Pick: The Cooper S is the best trim to pick. You may have to pay the premium price for it, but it offers the most engaging driving experience. All while offering decent running costs.

Pride Month: Sia Song Facts


In the video The making of Colour the Small One, Sia says: "'Breathe Me' is about feeling worried, generally anxious. Being overwhelmed by your own inner dialogue and having some sort of conniption fit and potentially doing yourself some harm, then asking for help."

This was used on the last episode of the TV show Six Feet Under during the montage where it reveals what happened in the characters' lives and their deaths.

Sia told about recording this track: "It always felt like a good song that one. Sam and Felix had put the drums and bass down, they played it all live together one night after they'd been to dinner, and I was really sick with flu and I walked in the next day and the track was there without me singing on it and it was just so sleek. I don't really listen to my own music. I don't think most people listen to their own music after they've recorded it. Some of my musician friends get really anal and listen to it all the time, analyzing it. But once I've done it, I listen to it once and put it to bed, but with that one I was like, 'yeah! Again! Again!'"


A single from the deluxe edition of This Is Acting, this is a powerful anthem about refusing to give up. The theme of perseverance and resilience is one that Sia has visited several times previously, including on her This Is Acting track "Unstoppable" and the David Guetta single "Bang My Head."

Sia wrote the song with Greg Kurstin. The American producer's other collaborations with the Australian singer-songwriter include her first US #1 hit "Cheap Thrills."

The song features a Kendrick Lamar guest verse in which the Compton rapper testifies to the wisdom he has gained through his struggles and peoples' criticism of him.

The Stacy Moscatelli-directed music video features Sia's dancing avatar Maddie Ziegler. It omits the Lamar verse and - true to form - the shy songstress herself.

For the single's promotion, Sia shared a picture of herself and Ziegler with rainbow makeup on their faces indicating a pro-LGBT message. The nightclub setting at the end of the video with bullet holes in the back wall, appears to confirm it is a message of encouragement to the gay community in the wake of the Orlando nightclub shooting, which claimed 49 lives. There are 49 dancers in the clip, including Ziegler, who wears a black wig in place of white.


This sunny jam finds Sia singing of getting ready to go clubbing:

It's Saturday and it won't be long
Gotta paint my nails, put my high heels on
It's Saturday and I won't be long
Til I hit the dance floor

Like most of the other This is Acting tracks, this was written for another artist but rejected. In this instance, Sia penned the carefree tune with Greg Kurstin ("What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)", "Hello") for Rihanna.

"Her manager said "We want 'Diamonds.'" [Sia wrote "Diamonds" for Rihanna] We need soul. We want some music that has feeling," she recalled to Rolling Stone. "I went to Greg and that's what we came up with. I realized just as soon as I was cutting it that it sounded a little bit too Brit-pop for her. It's more Icona Pop. We did actually send it to her, but they passed on it, and then I just couldn't stop listening to it in the car."

"There's something really uplifting about it that put me in a good mood, and I would just pretend it wasn't me singing [laughs]," Sia continued. "It felt very summer and fun, and I was like, "I'll put that on there."

A remix of the track was released featuring reggae artist Sean Paul. His verse gives the song a whole new dancehall makeover. It was released as This is Acting's second single.

A black-and-white lyric video was released, parodying vintage variety shows with dancing contests. We see a new type of dance break out featuring energetic faceless dancers wearing signature Sia wigs. The visual was directed by Lior Molcho, who also worked on the clip for the This Is Acting lead single "Alive."

Directed by Sia with Daniel Askill, the song's music video is the Australian singer-songwriter's fourth collaboration with Maddie Ziegler. The young dancer previously appeared in Sia's visuals for "Chandelier," "Elastic Heart" and "Big Girls Cry."

The song was Sia's first Hot 100 chart-topper as an artist. She'd previously reached #1 as the writer of Rihanna's "Diamonds."

Sia was 40 years and seven months old when this song topped the chart. It was the first time a woman over 40 had reached the peak position since the 42-year-old Madonna achieved the feat with "Music" back in 2000.

The song was Sean Paul's fourth Hot 100 #1. He previously led with "Get Busy" in 2003, as a featured artist on Beyonce's "Baby Boy" the same year, and "Temperature" in 2006.

Asked by Billboard magazine what his reaction was when Sia first came to him about guesting on this song, Sean Paul replied: "I just thought: 'What a big sound, nice hook and melody she had put down.' I'm a huge fan of her voice. She spans generations. My mum is a big fan of her voice and her songs and writing."

Which song of 2016 had the most people reaching for their phone to find out what on earth it was? According to data released by the music identification app Shazam, "Cheap Thrills" was the year's most Shazamed song.


In this moral fable the narrator finally walks away from her needy friend, as she was tired of the friend using her as a crutch.

Sia told Stereo Subversion that although Some People Have Real Problems was an easy album to write for, "The Girl You Lost" took longer to pen than the other tracks. She explained: "It's like a bath. It's a big bath. I can sit down with my friends and play three chords or whatever or we'll hunt around and find the right three chords. Then they'll tell me what the song's about. Usually a sentence or a feeling will come or I can even just say to the person I'm with to tell me what it's about and give me a theme. Then eight minutes later, there it is. 'Academia' took eight minutes. 'Little Black Sandals' was five minutes. Then there are other songs that might take longer. 'The Girl You Lost to Cocaine' took a bit longer, but I don't remember why. I think I listened to it too much. It's different every time, but usually if it's a good one, it's like a bath."

A remix by Dutch DJ Sander van Doorn reached the Top 20 of the Netherlands charts. Van Doorn told UK dance DJ Dave Pearce how he came to work with Sia: "I got a promo from her with the Stonebridge remix and liked the track so much that I signed it to my label Doorn records for the BeNeLux. I also decided to do my own remix and that's how it came about!"

Sia told about the album title: "It's a note to self that when we're all complaining about our rich people's problems like a bitter latte or sh--ty traffic, there are people with no rice or maybe a lung missing who aren't complaining, if you get me."


This swooping serenade about a party girl's life was the first solo single by Sia in four years, following the release of her 2010 studio album We Are Born. (She did contribute "Elastic Heart" to The Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack in 2013 with Diplo and The Weeknd). Between the two releases, the Australian singer-songwriter "retired" and began co-writing hit songs for the likes of Rihanna ("Diamonds"), David Guetta ("Titanium") and Flo Rida "Wild Ones"). Speaking with Billboard magazine, Sia discussed her decision to remain out of the spotlight. "I don't care about commercial success," she said. "I get to do what I love and communicate whatever I want."

The song stemmed from an impromptu jam session between Sia and pop producer Jesse Shatkin. "I usually think, 'Oh this would work for Rihanna, or this would be a good one for B or Katy,'" Sia said to Ryan Seacrest. "But this time I was like, 'Uh oh I think I just wrote a full-blown pop song for myself by accident!'"

Shatkin and Sia came up with the song whilst working with hit producer Greg Kurstin (Pink, Kesha, Kelly Clarkson). "At some point, Greg had to run out, and me and Sia were in his live room with his piano and drum set and just kind of jammed for a second," Shatkin recalled to MuuMuse. "Greg has a marimba, so I was playing marimba - some weird notes - and Sia was playing the piano."

"She records everything on her phone, so we just kind of figured out a chord progression together," Shatkin continued. "She sent it to me on a voice note, and I turned it into a track. She already had the melody instinctively while she was writing the chords. We were real excited that she wanted to do this for her record, and then Greg added his production. I was really proud of it."

Kurstin explained his contribution to Rock Genius: "'Chandelier' was written by Sia and Jesse Shatkin," he said. "Sia brought it in for me to work on and tie into the other songs on the record. I added some acoustic piano, Mellotron and live drums over the track. I left most of Jesse's production; which was awesome."

The song's music video features a dance performance from a Sia-wigged Maddie Ziegler. The 11-year-old star of Lifetime's Dance Moms was personally asked to be in the clip by the singer. Sia co-directed the visual with Daniel Askill, who previously helmed the visual for her hit single "Breathe Me."

Speaking with Dazed, Sia explained the blonde bob worn by her in the 1000 Forms of Fear artwork and by Maddie Ziegler in the music video is a layer of protection from the outside world. "I already have a much larger concept for this album and for how I'm going to present it and that was: I don't want to be famous," she said. "If Amy Winehouse was a beehive then I guess I'm a blonde bob. I thought 'well if that's my brand, how can I avoid having to use my face to sell something', so my intention was to create a blonde bob brand."

The song is a rejoinder to all those pop tunes that celebrate the non-stop party. It is rooted in the now-sober Sia's past struggles with alcoholism. "That's why 'Chandelier' was interesting to me. I wrote the song because there's so many party-girl anthems in pop," she told NPR. "And I thought it'd be interesting to do a different take on that."

Sia and Greg Kurstin wrote this very quickly. "'Chandelier' took like four minutes to write the chords, then like 12-15 minutes to write the lyrics," she told NPR. "Probably 10 or 15 minutes to cut the vocals."

1000 Forms Of Fear topped the US albums chart. Sia's previous best was 2008's Some People Have Real Problems, which peaked at #26. In addition to reaching #1 on the Billboard list, the LP reached the summit on the iTunes albums chart in 47 countries.

The song was a wordwide hit, topping the singles charts in France, Israel and Poland.

This song featured in a 2014 Saturday Night Live skit where Jim Carrey and Kate McKinnon each show up to a Halloween office gathering dressed as "the child dancer from Sia's 'Chandelier' music video." The sketch resolves with the pair dancing to the song throughout the entire studio.

Billboard magazine chose this as their Best Song of 2014. They said: "The towering YOLO anthem 'Chandelier' took months to reach the Top 10 of the Hot 100 chart, but pop purveyors embraced its sentiment and Sia's performance almost immediately, turning the camera-shy Australian into an American star."

Sia concealed her face during performances of this song. When she was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live, she sang it with her face obscured by her wig while a mine acted out the song next to her. On The Graham Norton Show, she faced a wall while the dancer Denna Thomsen performed. Sia's faceless appearances were her reaction to the soul-sucking nature of fame and predatory, vapid celebrity journalism.

This was nominated for Grammy Awards for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Music Video and Best Pop Solo Performance, but didn't win any as Sam Smith's "Stay With Me" took the first two and Pharrell Williams' "Happy" the later two.

Sia did perform the song, however, singing it while facing a wall in a set that resembled the music video, while Kristen Wiig and Maddie Ziegler did the interpretive dance.

The video was choreographed by Ryan Heffington, who also did Sia's "Elastic Heart" clip. Speaking with Bullett magazine, he explained: "The song is about addiction, yet the video concept is more abstract than just this. What I find important is that this piece of art has so many interpretations. I don't think I could (or in fact want to) create such definition of the plot, it lives much more vibrant if I do not."

He added: "Early on I requested the architectural detailing of the character's living space and what furniture would inhabit it. Like any of our dwellings we spend an absorbent amount of time in, all material components becomes part of the physical dialogue between us and these objects - walls, furniture, hallways. Although muddled in color and sparse in content, it was a choice to have the environment be rich in means of activity for the character. How often do children find a pile of dirt and a hose the most enthralling playmates? Yes, she may be isolated from other humans or environments, but seemingly rich in imagination with the ability to utilize fantasy to entertain herself via exploring new physical conversations with what simply existed before her eyes."

BMW 340i vs Jaguar XE 35t

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BMW 340i vs Jaguar XE 35t AWD

This will be our first ever head to head comparison test. The BMW 3-series holds the benchmark for what a luxury sports sedan should be. It’s been the crème de la crème of the segment. However, the Jaguar XE is here and well it’s ready to shake things up. Let’s see how well these two go head to head and who the winner will be in the end.

Performance: The 340i uses a familiar 3-liter turbocharged six-cylinder pumping out 320hp, which is an increase of 20hp over the previous model year. We love this six-cylinder engine as it is smooth and offers amazing performance. It may seem like the tamer version of an M3, but if you desire all-wheel-drive and don’t want to pay the premium of the M3 this maybe your best bet. We had the opportunity to test drive both the manual gearbox and auto gearbox choices. The auto maybe faster but we would certainly stick with the manual as it is the more fun to drive configuration to have.

The Jaguar XE 35t AWD trim comes with a similar 3-liter six-cylinder but Jag went with a supercharger instead to pull an additional 20hp more than the 340i. The XE is quite literally fast and it doesn’t feel like its short on puff. We love how distinct the engine sounds compared to most turbocharged rivals and the flexibility is nothing to complain of. You’ll enjoy this engine the most because it’s distinct in character and really does match the XE.

Winner: We have to go with the XE on this one. The XE carried the slight edge over the 3-series that we couldn’t ignore. We love the 3-series with that engine but the XE won this by the closest margin we’ve ever seen.

Ride & Handling: The 340i came equipped with the adaptive M suspension which helps the 340i drive and handle like a dream. Steering input is precise and communicative and the suspension soaks up bumps well in comfort mode, while tearing up corners and bends in sport mode. You could quite literally take this to the track then drive it home. Everyone else who won’t drive this on the track will enjoy how easy it is to live with. It doesn’t beat you up on the daily commute and it is such a handsome car to look at.

The XE is also a track king as well. We love how well it handles and steering is actually better than the 3-series. We tried hard to find fault in the XE but came out enjoying ourselves. The XE did come fitted with air suspension which in comfort mode you’ll enjoy the most. We however kept it in sport mode because it felt like it livened things up a bit more. It’s quick in the corners and you feel confident pushing it harder into bends than you’d normally would do. The styling is more discrete compared to the 3-series but it has a level of charm that the 3-series doesn’t have.

Winner: We’d have to go with the XE here again. The 3-series may have the slight edge when it comes to daily comfort, but the XE is a doodle to drive. It really does make the daily grind a joyous experience.

Refinement: (Tie) Both are very refined when it comes to road and wind noise. The engines on both are smooth and the transmission pairing between the two of them are perfection. The 3-series has a slight edge when it comes to the stop/start technology; it seems slightly smoother than that of the Jag.

Behind the wheel: The 3-series has the better interior layout compared to the Jag. The minimalistic approach to the interior has a very classy feel to it while keeping everything within reach of the driver’s hand. The iDrive interface is much easier to use as well.

The XE has the British simplicity that we love but the quality of that infotainment system is what brings Jag down in this. The tester car we had for this review the infotainment system still felt fiddly to use and the several menus made it a tad bit more distracting. We had several issues with it in a previous review and so far things haven’t really changed much going into this one.

Winner: The 3-series hands down won this with flying colors. We hope that Jag does improve this because it would push the XE ahead of the 3-series.

Space & practicality: The 3-series again has the slight edge over the XE. The front seats offer plenty of support, while visibility is good all round. You may feel a bit shortchanged sitting in the rear seat but it is far from a deal breaker. The boot space is generous too.

The XE’s cabin feels narrow and cramped. The front seats offer the best in comfort while those in the back may not want to be back there for too long. While it does offer some space for two passengers, the slopping roofline means headroom isn’t generous and legroom is also in the same boat. The boot space isn’t as generous as in the 3-series either.

Winner: We’d have to go with the 3-series on this one as well. It doesn’t feel as cramped as the XE.

Equipment: Despite the XE being the most expensive between the two. You do get rewarded with plenty of kit standard. Navigation system, perforated leather seats, front and rear parking aids, blind spot monitoring system and adaptive xenon headlamps. The 340i trim we had, several of the features that are standard on the XE and were optional on the 3-series. We just don’t understand why parking sensors are optional on this BMW as it is the most expensive of the 3-series range.

Winner: The XE may be slightly more expensive than the 3-series but at least you are rewarded with more standard kit. The 3-series did mirror the XE in optional extras but parking sensors are optional and the rearview parking camera is an option as well. I know several indirect rivals that have a rearview parking camera standard and aren’t even nearly as expensive.

Quality & reliability: The 3-series holds yet another advantage over the XE. We’ve had several issues with the XE over the infotainment system and not to mention Jag doesn’t have the greatest track record when it comes to reliability. BMW is also in the same boat as well, but at least the BMW feels more substantial in areas that matter the most. The interior quality is far better and the overall impression of the 3-series gives it the win here.

Overall: Whether you choose the XE 35t AWD or 340i. You’ll be greeted with two fantastic vehicles to drive and own. The XE pretty much destroys the 3-series when it comes to performance, driving dynamics and overall value for money. Sadly however we’d have to go with the 3-series on this one. BMW maybe a bit stingy when it comes to standard kit, but the 3-series has the slight edge when it comes to practicality and overall user friendly interior. We were swayed by the XE as it is the best when it comes to overall driving satisfaction but the infotainment system is a nightmare, the cabin is too narrow for our tastes and reliability is still iffy. You’d buy the 3-series as the logical choice and the XE because it leaves you feeling satisfied. This is why we stated this several times, the XE is the only car that can give the 3-series a real run for its money. It truly is a gem.

Current voting status: We asked voters which one is better.

BMW 3-series: 63%
Jaguar XE: 38% 


BMW 340i
Likes: The driving dynamics are what you’d expect from a 3-series. It has the slight edge in practicality and refinement.

Dislikes: You’ll pay an arm and a leg for options that should be standard.

Jaguar XE 35t AWD
Likes: Dynamically and performance wise the XE is by far the best choice. This really does give the 3-series a run for its money.

Dislike: The infotainment system is a disaster and reliability record is iffy.


BMW 340i
3-liter turbocharged six-cylinder, 320hp ($59,140*)

Jaguar XE 35t AWD
3-liter supercharged six-cylinder, 340hp ($61,290*)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Pride Month: Whitney Houston Song facts


This song was co-written and co-produced by Jerry "Wonda" Duplessis, who helmed Fugees' 1996 album The Score and also acted as the group's bass guitarist. Fugees member and Wonda's cousin Wyclef Jean was the other co-writer and co-producer.

Wonda recalled the story of the song in an interview with The Boombox: "It's actually a song that I remember me and Clef cooked the beat for on the bus while we were on tour," he said. "When Whitney showed up, she was with her daughter and I remember when we put her daughter [in front of the mic] and she said, 'Sing Mommy!' She loved it so much, it was like, she'd be like, 'Cue my daughter's voice loud!' We'd turn it up, she'd be like, 'No! Louder! Louder!"'

The tune was a massive hit worldwide, becoming another one of Houston's signature songs. It topped the European Hot 100 Singles Chart for a week and also peaked at #1 in New Zealand.

The song featured backing vocals from The Family Friends Community Choir.

This was sampled by Duke Dumont on his 2014 UK chart-topper "I Got U." He told MTV UK: "With things like that you need to seek permission to use the vocal and Wyclef is kind of quite tough with his music. He doesn't let people use his music for a lot of things but he was willing for us to use the Whitney recording. That was quite nice getting a little bit of respect from his side. So that was a nice touch to it."


This was featured in the movie Waiting To Exhale, which starred Houston as one of four women struggling to deal with the men in their lives. The song reflects the emotional state of the women in the film.

In the US, this spent 11 weeks at #2 after a single week at #1. It marked the longest consecutive stretches that the same two records have been 1-2 on the chart (this and "One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men), and spent the most weeks at #2 after being #1.

According to BBC Radio 2 DJ Paul Gambaccini, the song's writer, Babyface, couldn't call this "The Shoop Shoop Song" as Betty Everett had already recorded a song with that title, so he put "Shoop Shoop" in brackets instead.

Babyface said he included the "Shoop Shoop" part because he couldn't think of any other lyrics. He told Billboard: "It felt like it should groove there. But I knew it couldn't groove without any vocals, so I started humming along with it and that's what happened. The 'shoops' came. But they felt so good, I thought 'Why not?' It doesn't have to mean anything."

This won a Grammy Award in 1997 for Best R&B Song. It was also nominated for Song of the Year, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, and Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media.

Actor Forest Whitaker made his directorial debut with the film and also directed the music video, which features close-ups of Houston singing and includes scenes from the movie. Several US theaters used the clip as a trailer to promote the movie.

R&B singer Robin Thicke covered the song in 2012 shortly after Houston's death.

In an interview with Songwriter Universe magazine, Babyface explained his ability to write songs from a female perspective: "When I wrote for female artists, I knew from being in relationships or having my heart broken, what the woman was feeling, because I would be feeling the same emotions. So when I wrote for a female, I could understand how to write from their perspective, because it was from the heart."


Most definitely not to be confused with the classic of the same name made famous by Elvis Presley, "Heartbreak Hotel" was written by Kenneth Karlin, Tamara Savage and Carsten Schack. Recorded in September 1998, it was released on the Arista label on December 15. The album version runs to 4 minutes 41 seconds, the radio edit to 4 minutes 8 seconds. Though not a particularly memorable song, it may well become Houston's epitaph, because she died in a Los Angeles hotel room on the eve of the February 2012 Grammy Awards.

The song features R&B vocalists Faith Evans and Kelly Price, who offer empathetic vocals alongside the heartbroken Whitney. Faith Evans is best known to many for her contribution to Puff Daddy's tribute to her late husband, Notorious B.I.G, "I'll Be Missing You." Kelly Price also has a connection with the fallen rapper, having provided the female vocals on Biggie's hit single "Mo Money Mo Problems."

Whitney performed the song with Faith Evans and Kelly Price for the first time live on the November 23, 1998 episode of The Rosie O'Donnell Show.


This was written by songwriters Michael Masser and Linda Creed. Linda Creed was recovering from breast cancer when they wrote the song in 1977. Originally recorded by George Benson, his version went to #24 in the US. In 1985, the song was revived by Whitney Houston, and on May 17, 1986, it went to #1 for the first of three weeks.

Creed's cancer claimed her life on April 10, 1986. She was later inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame on the strength of this song and the many hits she co-wrote for The Spinners, The Stylistics, and other acts on the Philadelphia International label. Phil Hurtt, who also wrote for the label, told us, "There are thousands of ways to say I Love You, and the difficulty is trying to find a nuance, a new way to say what's been said thousands of times, and Linda Creed is someone who was able to do that."

Masser and Creed wrote this for the 1977 film biography of Muhammad Ali, The Greatest, and the song first appeared on the film's soundtrack recorded by George Benson. Ali played himself in the movie, essentially recreating his defining moments intercut with clips of his actual fights. Ali was the heavyweight champ at the time of the film's release.

Houston's version was originally the B-side of "You Give Good Love" but the amount of airplay it received persuaded Arista to release it as a single


Dolly Parton wrote this and did the original version in 1974, which went to #1 on the Country chart that year. She recorded another version for the 1982 movie The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas, which also hit #1 on the Country chart. She wrote the song after the breakup of the musical partnership she had with country singer Porter Wagoner. They were never romantically involved.

The lyrics are sad in the sense that the singer will always love the person she is singing to, yet she knows they are not right for each other and must let him go. It is often misinterpreted as a song about people who will be together forever, and even gets played at some weddings.

This was featured in the movie The Bodyguard, which Houston starred in with Kevin Costner. Houston played a famous singer and Costner her bodyguard. Of course, they fall in love. Costner picked it for the movie.

Whitney originally intended to cover Jimmy Ruffin's "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" as the lead single from The Bodyguard. However, after she found out the song had been used just one year earlier in the 1991 film Fried Green Tomatoes, Costner suggested she record Dolly Parton's country hit instead. Houston loved the choice but Clive Davis, the Arista Records boss who acted as mentor for the singer throughout her career, was puzzled by the selection. Costner, who also produced the film, knew it would be perfect for the picture and stuck to his guns. "I said, 'This is a very important song in this movie,'" he recalled to CMT. "I didn't care if it was ever on the radio. I didn't care. I said, 'We're also going to do this a cappella at the beginning. I need it to be a cappella because it shows a measure of how much she digs this guy - that she sings without music.'"

Parton's original version was a country ballad. Houston's recording had more lavish production and became a pop, soul, and adult contemporary hit. The tremendous crossover appeal meant that radio stations of many different formats played the song, giving it a huge audience. It ended up being a groundbreaker, but it was a big risk, as there wasn't much crossover between the country and R&B audiences. "Truth be told, the musical side of her camp was very unsure about this little country song," recalled Kevin Costner.

While she was crushing the convention that a soul singer shouldn't do country, Houston also proved that her fans would accept her in an on-screen interracial romance, which she had with Costner in the movie. In the film, the race issue wasn't mentioned.

This stayed at #1 US for 14 weeks, a record at the time. In 1995, this record was broken by "One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men, which held the top spot for 16 weeks. "I Will Always Love You" does hold the record for the most weeks at #1 for a song that first appeared on a soundtrack.

For a time, this was second only to "We Are The World" as the biggest-selling single ever. It was bumped to #3 n 1997, when Elton John's new version of "Candle In The Wind" became the biggest.

Houston performed this at the Grammys in 1993. It won for Record of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. The song also won the 1992 Soul Train Music Award for R&B Song of the Year.

It did not, however, win an Oscar, since it was not eligible for the Best Original Song award. That award can only go to songs that are written specifically for a film.

According to Kevin Costner, he really wanted Whitney Houston to star in The Bodyguard with him, so much so that he postponed shooting for a year until she was available. Costner was one of the few people in Hollywood who could convince a movie studio to do this; he had lots of sway after his movie Dances with Wolves won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1991.

The Bodyguard is the best-selling soundtrack of all time.

In 2002, while the US was preparing to go to war with Iraq, Saddam Hussein ran TV and radio ads using this song as he prepared to be re-elected. Houston's record label filed a complaint with the Iraqi mission to the United Nations.

Elvis Presley wanted to record this song but demanded half the publishing rights. Dolly Parton refused and was vindicated when years later Whitney Houston's version earned her $6 million. Parton commented to Observer Music Monthly April 2008: "'I think stories like that are the reason why younger female artists say I've influenced them."

In an interview with UK music magazine Q, Dolly Parton said she "was blown away" by Whitney's version. She said: "The way she took that simple song of mine and made it such a mighty thing, it almost became her song. Some writers say, 'Ooh, I hate the way they've done that to my song or that version wasn't what I had in mind.' I just think it's wonderful that people can take a song and do it so many different ways."

David Foster produced this song. When the decision was made to record it for the movie, Foster went to a record store and bought the Linda Ronstadt version so Whitney could learn the song. When he called Dolly Parton to let her know they were using her song, Dolly told him something very important: the Ronstadt version leaves out the last verse ("I wish you joy and happiness..."), which changes the tone of the song. Parton gave him the lyrics and Whitney recorded the full version. Foster had to tell the film's director, Mick Jackson, that he needed an extra 40 seconds of screen time, as it had been placed in the film minus the last verse.

Foster, who has produced Michael Jackson, Celine Dion and Michael Bublé, called it "The love song of the century."

The song returned to the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart following Houston's death. Its comeback was fueled by an enormous resurgence in digital sales in the week after her passing of 195,000, an increase of 6723%, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The song was performed by Amber Riley on the 'Heart' episode of Glee. The tape of the show was delivered to the Fox network the day before the untimely death of Whitney and broadcast four days after her passing. Riley's character Mercedes sings the ballad as part of a plot line revolving around her indecision over two romantic interests.

When this reached #3 in the Hot 100 in 2011, it became the fifth song to become a top 10 hit in two different chart runs. So, what were the other four? They were:

"The Twist" by Chubby Checker - #1 in 1960 and #1 in 1962.

"Monster Mash" by Bobby "Boris" Pickett and The Cryptkickers - #1 in 1962 and #10 in 1973.

"Stand By Me" by Ben E. King - #4 in 1961 and #9 in 1986.

"Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen - #9 in 1976 #2 in 1992.

After Houston died on February 11, 2012, "I Will Always Love You" was used in many tributes to the singer, as it was her best-known song. The night after Houston's death, Jennifer Hudson sang a moving rendition in honor of Houston at the Grammy Awards ceremony.

Pathological goes to Rio with Kia

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The Kia Rio for a while carried the image of being a budget car nothing more. Those who needed a cheap means of getting around considered the Rio because of it's ultra-low base price. Now times have changed however, and the Kia Rio is far from the cheap car that it used to be. It's still affordable and offers much new technology for such a low asking price. Has Kia finally stepped up their game? Or is it a case of all style no substance?

Performance: The Kia Rio only comes with one engine and that's a 1.6-liter four-cylinder producing 138hp. There's plenty of pace for city and highway driving, and fuel economy is really good as well. The engine is paired with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a six speed automatic gearbox. Picking between the two depends on your tastes.

Ride & Handling: The Kia Rio ride often feels firm and never settled over bumps and potholes. If you get the top of the range trim with the low profile tires, the ride comfort will suffer a bit more. Handling is okay, it's not as sporty as a Fiesta but it does offer a secure feeling. The only downside is the steering can often feel numb at times.

Refinement: Wind noise is well suppressed but very little else. Engine noise is often joined by tire noise slapping on the road. The gearshift is a bit notchy too. On long journeys this can make things a bit tiresome unless you turn the radio up a bit to drain out the noise.

Behind the wheel: This car is very easy to get comfortable in because the driving position is adjustable and should suit everyone. The seats are flat and firm. The controls are simple and well placed. The big problem however is the small rear window and thick pillars, which restrict rear visibility.

Space & Practicality: The Rio offers an impressive amount of space for four adults. There's plenty of headroom and legroom to go round. The boot offers plenty of space for its size and the rear seats fold 60/40 for added versatility.

Equipment: The base trim level misses out on power windows and power door locks. But you do get air-con and a CD-player standard. You'll have to step up to the EX trim to get power door locks, windows and Bluetooth connectivity. SX trim adds 17-inch alloy wheels, power folding exterior mirrors, auto headlights with LED day time running lamps and a sports tuned suspension.

Buying & Owning: The Kia Rio is one of the most affordable cars on the market. However, the value factor slowly disappears when you climb up the trim levels. The base trim loses out on features that should be standard, while the top of the range seems rather overpriced for what it is. Running costs should be low thanks to good fuel economy, while resale unknown.

Quality & Reliability: The Kia Rio overall interior quality feels good. The quality of the materials used feel sturdy and long lasting. A huge step forward for the brand. Reliability has been average for the Kia brand.

Safety & Security: All Rios come equipped with front and side curtain airbags. Anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control are standard as well. It should also be as thief-proof as other contemporary Kias.

The Kia Rio has really stepped up its game since it was first released in the U.S. No longer is it the car you'd choose because it’s the cheapest to buy. The new generation of the Rio is stylish, practical and even offers good fuel economy. However, the only disappointing factors are the kit level for the base trim and the disappointing driving experience compared to the Ford Fiesta. If you can ignore these few little faults, you'll find that the Rio is a great car with good value for the money.

Devon's Pick: SX trim may be the most expensive of the Rio range. It's the only version of the Rio that offers the most attractive features such as those LED daytime running lamps and flashy alloy wheels. It's worth spending the extra but it loses the value for money factors.

Likes: Good fuel economy, stylish exterior looks, practical and offers good value for the money.

Dislikes: Not as comfortable or fun to drive as a Ford Fiesta, the base trim is very disappointing.

Pathological Jukes with Nissan [Updated]

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Nissan is known for making bold vehicles like the Murano Convertible. No one was ever expecting Nissan to offer a 4X4 convertible, and that's what makes Nissan stand out from its rivals. The Juke is aimed at the Mini Countryman. It's small, cheeky and affordable. With that said, can its odd ball styling win over buyers?

Performance: You can now choose from two engine options with the Juke. The standard 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder pumps out 188hp and is all the engine you will need with this crossover. The power hungry will want to venture to the Nismo RS which takes the same 1.6 turbo engine and pushes the total output to 215hp.

Ride & Handling: The Juke's tall stance doesn't take away its agility. The go-kart like character will put a smile on your face. Stiff suspension keeps body movement firmly in check, while steering is eager and offers plenty of feedback. The price for such a taut feel is a hard ride, but the Juke stops short of being uncomfortable. The Nismo is best avoided if you don’t want an overly firm ride as the suspension has been stiffened for even tauter handling than the standard suspension configuration.

Refinement: The engines are smooth and refined; you'll have to get used to a bit of turbo whine. Given the car's bluff front, there's not much wind noise. However, road noise is an issue.

Behind the wheel: The interior is inspired by the fuel tank of a motorbike. Many of the controls are clearly labelled and easy to use. The steering wheel doesn't adjust for reach, making the driving position for some drivers a bit uncomfortable. Rearward visibility is poor due to a small windscreen.

Space & Practicality: There's plenty of space up front, but rear passengers will feel cramped in the back. The slopping roofline means there really isn't much headroom for taller passengers. The rear door opening is narrow to climb through, and the boot is quite small. There are useful storage wells under the floor and the rear seats fold down flat.

Equipment: All Jukes come well equipped, even the base model comes with Bluetooth, keyless entry, air-conditioning, side curtian airbags and anti-lock brakes. You'll have to step up to the higher trims to get all-wheel-drive, keyless start and leather seats.

Buying & Owning: The Juke seems like a reasonable value. All but the base trim offers all-wheel-drive, the top of the range offers it as standard kit. Modest discounts are available, and resale values are expected to be strong. Fuel economy is decent too.

Quality & Reliability: There's no doubt the Juke is a distinct looking vehicle, but its a shame some of the plastics used in the interior are a bit cheap on feel. Still, there's little doubt that it will prove hardy. In the JD Power customer satisfaction survey, Nissan finished in the top half of the manufacturers' table.

Safety & Security: Remote central locking with anti-hijack feature is standard on every Juke. There's a long list of safety equipment such as ESP, six airbags and brake assist. The top of the range offers all-wheel-drive that splits torque between the front and rear wheels (and side to side) to help keep the car stable and reduce understeer when cornering.

The Juke is a distinct looking vehicle. Probably one of the most bold vehicles in Nissan's line-up. Headroom for rear passengers is limited, and the boot isn't very large. This all makes the Juke look a bit pointless, but then you'll be overlooking the actual point of the car. It's a small uban crossover that offers distinct styling, decent fuel economy and makes dealing with urban cities a breeze.

Likes: The new turbo engine adds more zest to the range. It handles well and has a decently comfortable suspension. The Nismo editions add the extra sporty looks that were missing.

Dislikes: Firm ride, slopping roof means limited space for rear passengers, poor rearward visbility, bold styling may not appeal to all.

We drive a Mini Hardtop 5-door

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The Mini Hardtop 4-door is positioned to compete with the class leading Volkswagen Golf and Mazda 3. It surely does have a tough gig if it wants to lure those buyers away.

The standard 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder is our favorite engine option. It has the lowest running costs and is the most flexible base engine Mini has ever offered. The top of the range 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder in the Cooper S pumps out 189hp. We’ve driven the Cooper engine in the Hardtop 3-door but hadn’t had the opportunity to drive the Cooper S. Luckily for us we were able to test drive the Cooper S in the Hardtop 4-door and found it to be very joyous to drive. The turbo engine provides the flexibility that you’d desire from the Cooper S while the running costs remain within reason. Steering feedback is communicative and the suspension copes well with most bumps and imperfections. We wouldn’t bother with the standard suspension and just jump right into the sports suspension configuration. It may have a firmer ride but the handling is so fantastic that we can overlook the firmness. It’s not unbearable like some Mercedes AMG trims and it manages to out handle them as well.

The Cooper S is a hoot to drive and there is not a dull moment behind the wheel of this car. It’s not the vehicle for those who are not seeking to be different as the styling stands out in a crowded parking lot. At least the Mini is far more interesting than many small cars. The Countryman for the longest was the only way you could get a Mini with 5-doors. This Mini offers the five-door practicality but the rear seat isn’t even close to being as roomy as the Volkswagen Golf or Mazda 3. You’ll forgive it though because the driving dynamics are superb. The dash board is funky looking but the menus and controls are fiddly to use. We wouldn’t mind a more conventional looking dash, while it is distinct and we love distinct. The user friendly factors are not even there and it’s a little disappointing because we were hoping Mini would’ve had this all sorted out. The boot is okay in space.

Our tester car came equipped with technology package, six-speed auto gearbox and heated front seats. Keyless start, Bluetooth connectivity for your mobile device and a premium sound system were also added. The Cooper S had nearly $7k worth of extra kit added which pushed the price close to $34k before a $3k discount was applied. We know that Minis tend to hold their value as well as BMW but a small car with this price tag makes it a very expensive proposition.

The Mini Hardtop 4-door doesn’t seem like a logical choice unless you are buying this with your heart and not your head. We enjoyed driving it around and loved how fast it was. What we loathe is the fact that it costs an arm and a leg to get one that is considered desirable and also Mini tends to be very stingy with standard kit. You’ll want this because it’s different and we agree with your decision but we just think that there are better options out there that are cheaper and have better reliability record.

Likes: It’s a hoot to drive and won’t hurt the wallet thanks to low running costs. A conventional 5-door hatchback that’ s not a crossover. It’s the most distinct car on the road and has the highest residual value of any small car.

Dislikes: Mini reliability record is iffy. The interior while it is funky to look at is not very user friendly. The price skyrockets when you add on the options.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

We set a new pace with Jaguar

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Jaguar has finally taken a page from Porsche with a crossover, a mighty fine crossover at that. But it doesn’t come without its flaws and those flaws definitely can’t go unnoticed.

There are four engines to choose from. We only managed to test one of them, but we are going to go through all four engine options first. Standard 25t AWD uses a new 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder pumping out 247hp. 20d AWD gets our favorite 2-liter turbo-diesel pumping out 180hp. 35t AWD (our tester car) comes equipped with a 3-liter supercharged six-cylinder producing 340hp while top of the range S AWD uses the same 3-liter supercharged six-cylinder pumping out 380hp. The only vehicle we’ve managed test drive the diesel in is the XF and that had mixed opinions. We loved the 35t AWD in the XE and well those opinions hadn’t changed much when applied to the F-pace.

The engine provides strong pull from a standstill and is actually quite easy to drive around town. We love the raised driving position and despite having a higher center of gravity compared to the XE sedan, the F-pace handles just as well. Our tester car came equipped with an air-suspension which allowed us to slip it into comfort mode. This made the driving experience impeccable. Dare we say it’s better than an Mercedes S-class? Steering feedback is where it should be and the ride comfort can range anywhere from firm to extremely comfortable. Road and wind noise won’t be much of an issue as the F-pace irons out both well.

The infotainment system has been a huge headache for us. It’s not that the interface is hard to use, it’s the quality of it. Several times it would freeze up and sometimes wouldn’t respond at all. The gear selector didn’t rise up from the console until moments after the vehicle has been activated and the auto high beams are overly sensitive. They often confused lightly shaded areas as a need to have headlights on at the highest setting. We were greeted by a few angry drivers who of course were blinded by our headlights. The engine check light activated as well and the rear parking sensors completely failed on us. Prior to returning the F-pace the car completely stalled on us while we were on a busy street. The Jaguar Dealer sent a tow-truck quickly and told us that someone used the wrong grade fuel this is why the engine shut off. We didn’t stop for fuel during our test of the car so we’re guessing it was the fault of the dealer.

Our tester car came kitted with power-folding mirrors, full-LED headlights; navigation system and dual-zone climate control. The optional extra bits included steering wheel memory, Meridian premium sound system and a full air suspension. You’ll have to pay extra for the kit that you’ll most likely want with the F-pace which pushes the price up considerably. The F-pace we had was mildly kitted and seemed priced within reason. We would most likely choose the diesel engine as it has low running costs and seems quite flexible thanks to the high torque at low revs. Sadly we didn’t get the chance to test that one.

The F-pace really does feel different from the Land Rover Disco Sport. It certainly is more entertaining to drive than the BMW X3, sadly we had so many electric issues with our tester car and of course the engine completely stalled on us when we were taking it back to the dealership. It seems as if Jaguar is taking steps in the right direction but the quality we feel needs to improve. Otherwise this is one of the best luxury crossovers you can buy. It’s stylish and easy to live with. It is a great crossover that’s hard to hate.

Likes: It’s fun to drive and very practical. Jaguar did a fantastic job with the styling and on-road dynamics are superb.

Dislikes: It suffered from electrical issues.

Our pick: Sadly since we only could test one of the four engines. We’d say stick with the cheaper turbo four-cylinder (25t) for those who want the F-pace at a decent price. Our tester car came in at over $60k but the amount of standard kit matched the asking price. We just wish that it didn’t stall on our test drive of it. The turbo-diesel option (20d) is the way to go if you plan to do tons of highway driving and want to have the most appealing running costs.

[Look back] review of Saab 9-3 sedan

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Likes: Strong turbo engine, comfortable front seats, Swedish design inside out, smooth transmissions.

Dislikes: Choppy ride, can get expensive at the top of the line, more horsepower would be nice.

Saabs have always been quirky left field vehicles for those who choose to stand out in a crowd. They pride themselves in safety and their aircraft heritage. With distinct styling and quirky interior design, can the 9-3 bring a special offering to the competition?

Performance: There's only one engine available for the Saab 9-3, and that's a 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 210hp. There's plenty of pace for both city and motorway driving. You may desire more power however, with the optional all-wheel-drive system which adds extra weight. The engine never feels underpowered, but many rivals offer more power for the same price.

Ride & Handling: The 9-3 isn't the sharpest handling vehicle in its class. But it does hang on to corners well. The steering often feels dull at times, but its nothing to discourage sporty driving. The 9-3 is fun to drive, but ride never feels settled on rough surfaces.

Refinement: The interior can hush out a reasonable amount of road and wind noise. Models with the sport suspension let in more noise than lesser versions, but it's not too intrusive. At motorway speeds, the 9-3 feels very comfortable and relaxed.

Behind the wheel: The driver's environment is superb thanks to comfortable seats, and a no-nonsense dash layout. There's plenty of adjustment in seat and steering wheel. You'll easily find a driving position that suits you best. The instruments are a paragon of clarity.

Space & Practicality: There's plenty of space in the rear for three passengers. Good headroom and decent legroom, although shoulder room is a bit tight. The large boot can hold plenty of luggage, and the rear seat folds 60/40.

Equipment: No matter which trim you choose, all 9-3's come well equipped for the money. You get premium sound system, automatic climate control and rain sensing windshield wipers all come as standard. The range topping Aero trim adds Xenon Headlamps, sporty exterior trim and twin exhaust pipes.

Buying & Owning: The 9-3 is aimed at German rivals. So you get more power and more equipment for far less cash than many German Saloons. The engine is fairly fuel efficient and offers good performance. Resale value isn't the strongest in its class. However, most Saab owners tend to keep their vehicles longer than German rivals.

Quality & Reliability: The 9-3 has improved over the years in terms of reliability. The cabin materials don't look classy, but they have a long lasting feel. JD Power surveys has rated the 9-3 below average in terms of reliability by its owners.

Safety & Security: When it comes to safety, Saab is class leading. There's front and side curtian airbags standard. Anti-whiplash head restraints are also standard. ESP traction control is standard across the range. The 9-3 has an excellent reputation for keeping theives out.

The 9-3 is a distinct sedan with so much personality. There are German rivals that can out class the 9-3, but you'll be missing the point. It's designed for those who don't want a typical German Saloon. A vehicle that stands out where ever it goes, and whenever a owner talks about their Saab they always seem to have a smile on their face. It's not the classiest sedan among rivals, but it sure does offer a huge bang for your buck.

[Look back] review of Saab 9-3X

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Likes: Comfortable front seats, stylish inside out, roomy and well insulated interior, strong turbo engines, decent fuel economy, very well equipped.

Dislikes: Expensive, needs a more powerful engine to cope with added weight, buying one seems rather risky.

Truck based 4x4s are being replaced by car-based 4x4s and crossovers. The Saab 9-3X is basically a 9-3 sports combi with a raised driving height. It's stylish, and offers more all-round versatility with a splash of off-road capability. But will this be enough to pull buyers from the much cheaper Subaru Outback?

Performance: There's only one engine available for the 9-3X, its the same engine used in the 9-3 range. A 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 210hp. It offers decent pace and is very flexible. Fuel economy is decent too, but a more powerful engine is desired to cope with the extra weight.

Ride & Handling: The ride comfort is good considering the higher driving position. Only the worst of potholes upsets the ride. The 9-3X feels more refined on the motorway than the standard 9-3. It's not a great handler, and the steering is rather numb. There's little confidence and will discourage drivers to push on through bends.

Refinement: The 9-3X is generally a quiet car, you can hear noise from the turbo engine. However, the noise is far from invasive. Saab has done an excellent job of insulating the cabin from road noise, although you can feel the suspension crash on the hardest of bumps, you'll never hear it. There's barely any wind noise either. The gearchanges are smooth, and the switchgear feel durable.

Behind the wheel: The 9-3X shares the same interior decor as the standard 9-3. The dashboard has a simple logical design, with many controls within easy reach of the driver's seat. Night Panel keeps eye strain to a minimal in night driving, and the front seats are the most comfortable in its class.

Space & Practicality: There's plenty of room in the front, and plenty of adjustments to get comfortable. Rear passengers have plenty of room, but shoulder room is tight for three passengers. The transmission tunnel intrudes into space too. The boot isn't as large as an Outback, but there's plenty of space to spare. The seats fold 60/40 for extra space.

Equipment: The 9-3X comes well equipped for the money. You get climate control, steering mounted audio controls, rain sensors and alloy wheels. All-wheel-drive is standard, as well as roof rails and a raised driving height.

Buying & Owning: The 9-3X isn't cheap to buy. Prices are higher than that of the Outback. But the 9-3X has more style and substance than the Outback. It's distinctly designed, and offers plenty of kit for the money. Resale vaule isn't its strongest point, and buying a 9-3X right now seems rather risky. With Saab being in the turmoil of problems its in right now. The fate of the company is still unknown.

Quality & Reliability: The cabin feels well put together. There's an attractive dashboard, but durability is a question. The standard 9-3 doesn't enjoy the best reliability record, and the 9-3X shares much of its mechanicals with the standard 9-3.

Safety & Security: Saab is known for safety and security. Top notch anti-theft alarm, engine immobiliser and deadlocks are all standard. ESP, side curtain airbags and ISOFIX child seat mountings all come standard as well.

The 9-3X isn't the cheapest alternate to the Outback, but you do get a nicely appointed interior and many luxury features standard. The all-wheel-drive doesn't have a low-range, so off-road abilities are limited. Fuel economy is decent, and the turbo engine provides flexible driving performance. For the price, there are rivals that offer the same for less cash. However, the Saab has a charm that no other rival can offer. Distinctly designed and comfortable long journey vehicle.

[Look back] Saab 9-5 sedan review

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Likes: Swedish style inside out, roomy well laid out interior, you'll stand out from the crowd, smooth turbo engines.

Dislikes: May induce sticker shock, some wind and road noise on the motorway, head restraints pushed a bit too far forward.

Saab has been in dire times. With a transition of ownership and many financial problems almost leading to the company's death. But somehow the brand manages to stay alive. The 9-5 is one of the newest Saabs to show the future of the brand, and the direction of the company's styling. Jumping right into the competition with the BMW 5-series and Audi A6. Will Saab be able to keep up?

Performance: There are two engines available for the Saab 9-5. A 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 220hp, and a 2.8-liter turbocharged six-cylinder with 300hp. Pick of the bunch is the 2-liter turbo engine. It's the most engaging to drive, offers decent fuel economy and makes the most sense financially. The six-cylinder offers good pace, but comes at a price that's a little too expensive for some tastes.

Ride & Handling: The 9-5 handles and drives well. The base suspension feels rather softly sprung, so there's a bit of bodyroll. The sport suspension handles well, but the ride comfort is overly firm. The steering doesn't offer as much feel as you'd expect, but its far from disappointing. There's a three-mode electronic suspension system as an option.

Refinement: Wind and road noise is well supressed in town. On the highway, there's a bit of wind and road noise that enters the cabin. This is far from intrusive, and you'll enjoy the 9-5 on long distance driving. Especially on curves with the sports suspension.

Behind the wheel: Saab's interior is designed around the driver. The controls are within easy reach of the finger. Some controls are poorly marked, and are blocked by the gearlever on automatic models. The seats are comfortable, but the head restraints are pushed to far forward. This leaves your neck in a uncomfortable angle.

Space & Practicality: The longer wheelbase means more rear seat comfort than the pervious generation. The cabin is truly enormous, entry into through the rear passenger door is rather low. You'll have to stoop your head down to avoid banging it on the door frame. Rear passenger space is excellent, the the boot is massive. The rear seats fold down to increase space.

Equipment: The base 9-5 comes well equipped. Night panel, electric driver's seat, rain sensors and auto-dimming interior mirror is standard. The six-cylinders offer all-wheel-drive, and the top of the range offers a bodykit with Xenon headlamps and leather sport seats.

Buying & Owning: With Saab's near death in 2010, buying a new Saab seems rather risky. Resale value isn't as strong as its rivals, and finding one won't be easy as Saab isn't currently building any vehicles. But when production restarts, you'll find that Saab's long list of standard equipment is well worth the asking price.

Quality & Reliability: The 9-5 feels well put together. Many materials used feel classy, although some plastics feel hard to the touch. Everything feels quirky like all Saabs should feel. Reliability of the 9-5 has always been higher than the 9-3. So we expect reliability to be about average on the 9-5.

Safety & Security: If there's two things you'll never have to worry about with a Saab, that's safety and security. Side curtain airbags, stability control and anti-whiplash head restraints comes standard across the range. Security provisions include top-notch alarm and immobiliser.

Most people who buy Saab are those who want to stand out against German Rivals. It's distinctly styled, and priced well below that of BMW and Audi. You maybe a little disappointed with this irration of the 9-5. It's not as sporty as the previous form, and the sports suspension has a firm ride. But the 9-5 continues to provide that smile on owners faces that no other brand can provide.

Pride Month: Diana Ross/ The Supremes Song Facts


This was written by the Motown husband and wife songwriting duo Ashford & Simpson. Nick Ashford was inspired by an experience when he first moved to New York. He was walking down a Manhattan thoroughfare, determined that New York City would not get the best of him; the words "Ain't no mountain high enough" popped into his head.

She had many hits with The Supremes, but this was Diana Ross' first US #1 solo hit.

Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell recorded the original hit version peaking at #19 in the US in 1967. Uriel Jones of The Funk Brothers, who played the drums on Gaye and Terrell's original version, recalled in Mojo magazine February 2009: "Ashford and Simpson had written the song and they always came to the studio with charts. This time was no exception; they came with the song fully written out. The lyrics were written out too. They were one of the few producers and writers who had full charts and made us work from them. They knew 95 percent what they wanted to hear. Johnny Bristol and Harvey Faqua were the actual producers in charge of the recording. We did the rhythm track first, then they put the horns on second. Then they recorded Tammi Terrell's vocal, then they did Marvin Gaye's next. Each vocal was done separately, the singer in the studio with the producer on their own, and they put it all together at the end. You know, I never heard the finished song until I switched on the radio and it was playing."

Amy Winehouse's 2007 single "Tears Dry On Their Own" is based around the backing instrumentation of this song. Ashford & Simpson were also credited on Jessica Simpson's 2006 transatlantic Top 20 single "A Public Affair," as towards the end of the song, the background vocalists can be heard singing a few lines of "aaah, aaah, aaah" in a clear duplication from "Ain't No Mountain High Enough."

Diana Ross' second husband, Norwegian shipping magnate Arne Næss, Jr., died in a South African mountain climbing accident in 2004.

With a message of overcoming any obstacle, this song is a great fit for politicians seeking office. Hillary Clinton used it a great deal in her 2016 campaign for president, especially when courting male voters who might not connect with her main campaign song: "Fight Song" by Rachel Platten.

The informal contraction "ain't" is frowned upon by strict grammarians, who would also cringe at the double negative that is "ain't no," but "There Isn't Any Mountain High Enough" doesn't quite have the same ring to it.

Michael McDonald covered this for his 2003 Motown covers album, titled Motown. His version reached #111 in the US and got a Grammy nomination for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance (he lost to Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me A River."

This song has popped up in a number of movies and TV series. The Diana Ross version shows up in these:

Good Times ("The Break Up" - 1976)
Designing Women ("The Rowdy Girls" - 1989)
The Wonder Years ("The Pimple" - 1989)
Nip/Tuck ("Joel Gideon" - 2004)

Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)
Chicken Little (2005)

The Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell version appear in these films:

Stepmom (1998)
Remember the Titans (2000)
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) - This was big: It was part of the soundtrack, which went to #1 in America. Chris Pratt's character plays a mixtape given to him by his mom (the Awesome Mix Vol. 1) throughout the film. Near the end, he discovers Vol. 2. When he pops in the tape, this song plays.

Other movie uses of the song include:

The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), where a Michael McDonald DVD plays the song.
Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993), where the nuns, including Lauryn Hill, sing it over the end credits.

In TV, Nia Peeples and Janet Jackson sang it in a 1985 episode of Fame, and Will Smith did it on a 1992 episode of his series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.


This was the theme song to the 1975 movie Mahogany, staring Ross as Tracy Chambers, a woman from humble beginnings who becomes a glamourous fashion model using the name "Mahogany." The movie was directed by Berry Gordy Jr., who worked with Ross as head of Motown Records.

Mahogany was Ross' second film; in 1972 she played Billie Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues. Both films also star Billy Dee Williams.

Gerry Goffin and Michael Masser wrote this song. Goffin was married to Carole King, and wrote many famous songs with her, including "The Loco-Motion" and "You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman." Masser wrote "Touch Me in the Morning" for Ross in 1973, and wrote several hits for Whitney Houston.

This song was not written for the movie; Goffin and Masser wrote it in 1973 and had Thelma Houston record it, but her version was never released (it did appear on YouTube). When Berry Gordy asked Masser to compose music for Mahogany, he revisited "Do You Know Where You're Going To." The verses were changed a bit to suit the storyline, but the major elements of the song - including the arrangement and chorus - were kept intact.

For Houston, it was another tough break, as she had been recording for years without a hit. She finally came out on top with her 1976 disco hit "Don't Leave Me This Way," which went to #1 in the US.

The song is about evaluating life's journey, asking if what lies ahead is what you really want. It's appropriate for the film, as Ross' character finds that fame and fortune may not be what makes her happy.

This song caused a kerfuffle when it was deemed "qualitatively ineligible" for an Oscar, meaning it wasn't good enough to even be nominated, even though it was one of the most popular songs of the year. The ensuing uproar led to this decision being revoked, and it was nominated for Best Original Song, losing to "I'm Easy" by Keith Carradine (from the movie Nashville).

Diana Ross was on tour in Europe, but performed the song live via telecast, becoming the first singer to do so at the ceremony. She was in Holland and sang it while walking the streets of Amsterdam.

This song makes the bad grammar category because it ends a statement in a preposition. Proper grammar would be "Do you know where you're going?," but that wouldn't scan very well.

Along with Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance," this was one of the most requested graduation songs.


After this song was recorded, the group's name was changed to Diana Ross and the Supremes, something the other Supremes were not happy about. This was their first song to be released under that name.

This was written by the Motown songwriting team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland.

Diana Ross loves this song. When the Supremes re-formed in 2000, they used this to open their Return To Love tour. Ross also sang it on her 2004 European tour.

This was the first foray for The Supremes into Psychedelic Pop. The trippy sound effects on this song were created with a custom oscillator designed by one of The Funk Brothers, who were session musicians for most Motown songs of the period.

This was released during The Summer of Love (1967) when the Vietnam War was raging. This made it an appropriate choice for the theme song of the TV series China Beach, which was set in Vietnam during the war. The series ran on ABC from 1988-1991.


This was the Supremes' first number #1 hit not written by the team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland. They had left Motown.

Motown founder Berry Gordy wrote this with staff songwriters Deke Richards, Pam Sawyer, R Dean Taylor and Frank Wilson. Instead of writing about love, they come up with a much more controversial song about a child born to unmarried parents.

A year after this came out, The Supremes released a sequel song called "I'm Livin' In Shame," which told the story of the child growing up embarrassed by her mother.

Neither founder member Mary Wilson nor more recent addition Cindy Birdsong (replacing Florence Ballard) sang a note on this single. The test run with Motown session group The Andantes as back-up singers was issued as the single. Mary claims that this was a move by Berry Gordy to make clear to her and Cindy that they were expendable and further establish his power over them as well as playing up to his protégé/lover Diana Ross. Mary further says that the miming to the number for the Ed Sullivan Show was particularly difficult in view of this.

When The Supremes performed this on The Ed Sullivan Show, they appeared in sweat shirts and bare feet as opposed to the glamorous gowns and wigs they were known for. This look was more suited to the song.


When Diana Ross left The Supremes in 1970, the group continued with Jean Terrell replacing Ross alongside Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong. Motown head Berry Gordy was much more interested in Ross' solo career, and pulled resources away from The Supremes. With Frank Wilson in charge of producing the group, they defied expectations and had a hit with "Up the Ladder to the Roof." They followed it up with "Stoned Love," which Wilson wrote with a 17-year-old songwriter named Kinney Thomas, who he heard on a talent show on the Detroit radio station WJLB. Wilson tracked down Thomas and asked him if he had any songs. Kinney played him "Stoned Love," and Wilson loved it. He recorded the track with an orchestra, and had The Supremes add their vocals in another session, with Terrell singing lead.

The Supremes' biggest hit without Diana Ross; it was a #1 R&B hit. It was also their last US Top 10 hit.

According to Kinney Thomas, who wrote this song, it has nothing to do with drugs. It's really about the social issues of the time, including the Vietnam War, and the need for compassion. "Stones are forever," said Thomas. "They don't break or come apart. Love will be here forever."

Thomas wasn't unique in assigning an alternate meaning to the term "stoned." Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, and the Chi-Lites are some of the acts who have recorded songs with different meanings of the term.

The song's writer Kinney Thomas was credited on this track as "Yennik Samoht" (Thomas's first and last name spelled backwards respectively). This was something Stevie Wonder had done (credited as Eivets Rednow on his recording of "Alfie"), and Thomas also liked how it sounded a bit like the name of one of his favorite singers: Nina Simone.

There's no Journey with this Dodge

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The one star rating is all you need to know. Look elsewhere!

The Dodge Journey comes with a choice of two engine choices. The standard 2.4 is best avoided as it comes with an ancient four-speed automatic. The engine itself isn’t bad; we just wish that the transmission was more refined. The optional 3.6 is the way to go and is our pick of the range. You get all-wheel-drive standard and a much more refined engine. We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again, the slight spike in running costs are well justified here because this engine is the best of the two offered.

Don’t buy the Journey thinking that you’re going to get a rewarding crossover to drive because you will be bitterly disappointed. We weren’t expecting much in terms of steering feedback and handling, both which are numb at best. What it does do is provide a smooth ride and while the steering is okay for what it is, you’ll probably want to look at a Ford Explorer for better refinement. The 2.4 is noisy at all speeds while the 3.6 is much more refined and is way more flexible which matters the most in our books. After all this is a seven-seat crossover and you’ll most likely use this for ferrying the family around. Why not get the engine that can handle a fully laden vehicle?

The U-Connect system is actually a lot easier to use than we thought it would. However, just like many touch-screen infotainment systems. The vast number of menus can get a little distracting while on the move. The front seats offer decent support while those in the second row won’t have anything to complain about. Passengers in the third row may feel a little shortchanged on space because there really isn’t much of it, kids won’t complain though. The boot space is tiny with the third row in place, fold it down and space opens up considerably. The second row folded down provides space similar to that of a cargo van. Some of its keen rivals have way more space than that but for the size of the Journey compared to others we’ll let it slide.

Our tester car was the SXT which came equipped with the 3.6 six-cylinder and all-wheel-drive. Key standard features include Bluetooth connectivity for your mobile device, keyless ignition switch and dual-zone climate control. A premium group package was also added which came with electrically operated driver’s seat, 19-inch alloy wheels, leather-wrapped steering wheel and a security alarm system. This vehicle came with a steep discount and the dealer was willing to knock off more if we took the vehicle the same day. It was a tempting proposition to say the least, but we don’t need a seven-seat crossover as a vehicle. If we had a need for one; we would’ve strongly considered the offer handed to us. However, the quality issues associated with FCA vehicles would’ve still lingered at the back of our minds.

The Dodge Journey is in desperate need of a redesign. Otherwise you can buy it at dirt cheap prices, but sometimes it’s better to pay the premium for a much better vehicle. The Journey may have ticked all the right buttons when it was first launched, it certainly doesn’t hold that fight like it once did and is best avoided.

Likes: The cheapest seven-seat crossover available, the 3.6 is the best engine to go for and it’s dirt cheap.

Dislikes: The 2.4 should be the better engine but it’s not. It feels far behind competition and the fact that Dodge has yet to give it any significant updates. FCA quality is concerning and residual values are appallingly low.

We say goodbye to the best Chevy ever

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The Chevy SS maybe the best that Chevy has ever released. Here’s why:

The SS came with an insane 6.2-liter eight-cylinder engine which pumped out 415hp. Some may argue that it wasn’t enough or the SS was too pricey for what it was. This engine matched with the SS chassis was the perfect blend of sporting nature and comfort. We finally were able to test drive a sports sedan with a six-speed manual gearbox and well it was probably a winning combo here. We loved how the engine revved smoothly and quickly without it feeling like it was going to get out of control. The lovely snarl from the eight-cylinder engine let everyone around us know that we weren’t just in any Chevy. We also may have frightened a few children when a group of guys asked us to rev the engine.

You’ll love the way the SS feels on the road. It doesn’t feel dull as the exterior looks. The steering feedback is precise and communicative, we felt loads of confidence when we decided it to push it hard through some corners and bends; we managed to get the tail out a little bit. The chassis handled every corner and bend like it were on rails and the fact that the ride comfort is so smooth without being overly firm won us over quickly. We love a firm suspension especially when it is associated with fantastic handling, but some cars (i.e. the Mercedes C-class) have rock hard suspension that is on the borderline of punishing; making it very hard to justify the firm ride on a daily drive.

The interior doesn’t feel all that special when it comes to the touch screen infotainment system and many controls and switches. If you covered the badge on the steering wheel, you’d think you were sitting on one the vast GM Products. We love that GM has taken a step forward with the materials used and overall interior quality, but you can pretty much sit in at least three or five GM products and immediately identify the switchgear and controls without even looking at the badge on the steering wheel. The front seats offer plenty of comfort and support, the driving positing is spot on. The rear seat is plenty roomy and the boot is massive.

There’s only one trim and it’s a well-equipped one at that. Magnetic Ride Control, premium leather-appointed seats, HID headlights, forward collision alert with lane departure warning all come fitted as standard. Side blind zone alert, rear vision camera with cross traffic alert and automatic parking assist is also fitted as standard.

The SS exterior looks don’t really go with what is underneath the hood of the car. It’s the most exciting vehicle you can drive with a price tag that’s well within reason and logic. It’s sad to see this vehicle going away because it is really one heck of a car to drive. Dare we say the best Chevy has ever made in a long time? Yes we dare say it! We loved this sedan.

Likes: The 6.2 eight-cylinder matched with a six-speed manual gearbox is a winning combo. It blends handling and ride comfort effortlessly. The best Chevy we’ve seen in a long time.

Dislikes: Production will end this year for this sedan, it looks rather dull on the outside; while the inside is typical GM.

Monday, June 19, 2017

The M2 maybe the best M-series BMW ever

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Sell the house. Risk everything in Vegas or ask your great auntie for an advance in your inheritance. Do whatever it takes because you don’t want to go to your grave without ever have driven or owned a BMW M2.

The M2 goes back to the days when BMW cared more about driving dynamics than electronic gizmos. The only thing lacking here is the naturally aspirated engine, instead you’ll be greeted by a smooth 3-liter turbocharged six-cylinder pumping out 365hp. Acceleration is wicked fast and it never feels like it’s going to get out of hand thanks to the electronic stability control and the high amount of torque at low revs. This helps the M2 feel very pleasant to drive around town and when you want to put your foot down there’s plenty of oomph to satisfy all.

The steering feedback is the way it should be, communicative which gives plenty of confidence when driving through narrow switchbacks and tight bends. The chassis is what sparks the most confidence because it sticks to each corner as if it is riding on rails. We love the way the M2 feels, it strikes a nice balance between comfort and sporty handling. The ride comfort isn’t overly firm unless you select sport mode, but even in sport mode the ride isn’t overly firm. Road and wind noise is nothing to complain of.

The interior layout feels logical with everything within reach of the driver’s hand. BMW is known for their minimalistic looking dashboard design with an easy to use iDrive interface. We do wish that BMW did spice the interior up a bit more compared to some of its keen rivals. We do love the supportive front seats while those in the rear shouldn’t have too much to complain about, it isn’t the most spacious but it isn’t all that bad either. People who will buy this car won’t really have anyone in the back anyway so there’s no real point in mentioning this. Boot space is decent too considering the small size of the M2.

Our tester car came equipped with power-folding mirrors, Xenon-headlamps, Executive Package which adds rear view parking camera, heated steering wheel, auto high beams and wireless charging for your mobile device with WiFi hotspot. The auto gearbox is optional while the six-speed manual is standard. We weren’t able to find one with the manual gearbox and had the more costly automatic.

We are going to go out on a limb here. The M2 is literally the best M car we’ve driven from BMW. It takes us back to the days of lightweight fun to drive BMWs that could tackle the track with sheer confidence and doesn’t feel like a heavy robot car. You don’t want to go to your grave without ever have driven one.

Likes: Comfortable and easy to live with and is track ready. The turbo engine is smooth and quick. Hands down the best M-series you can buy.

Dislikes: Typical of BMW to be stingy on standard kit and expensive with options.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Pride Month: Destiny's Child Song Facts


This was the fourth and final single from R&B trio Destiny's Child's fourth and final studio album, Destiny Fufilled.

Legal action was brought against the R&B trio by singer/songwriter Rickey Allen, who claimed that this song was inspired by a track he had composed with the same title, which was copyrighted in the mid-1990s. The three Destiny Child stars finally agreed to a settlement behind closed doors in 2009.


Two members of Destiny's Child - LeTavia Roberson and LeToya Luckett - quit the group before the video shoot for this song. They were replaced by Farrah Franklin and Michelle Williams, who were mostly hidden in the video. Franklin was fired a few months later and the group continued as a trio.

This is about a woman who wants to hear her boyfriend speak affectionately to her because she suspects he's in a room with another woman. She says, "When no is around you, you say 'Baby, I love you' Why you playing games?"

In 2000, this won Grammys for Best R&B Song and Best R&B Performance by a Duo Or Group.

In a 2008 interview with Pop Justice, Kelly Rowland revealed that this is her favorite Destiny's Child song. She said: "It was so much fun to record and we crossed over with that song into a whole new world and it was amazing for us. Our audience got bigger."

Luckett and Roberson alleged they didn't know they were out of the group until they saw their replacements, Franklin and Williams, in the video. The clip, which won for Best R&B Video at the MTV Video Music Awards, was directed by Joseph Kahn, who also helmed the promo for "Jumpin' Jumpin.'"

The group wrote this with LaShawn Daniels, Fred Jerkins III and Rodney Jerkins - the same team that was busy preparing Jennifer Lopez for a singing career that same year with her debut hit "If You Had My Love."


This song is about a man who gradually becomes more dependent on his girlfriend for money; he runs up bills and then asks his girl to pay them. Kandi Burruss and Kevin "She'kspare" Briggs, who had already written the song "Bug A Boo" for the group and had worked with TLC on "No Scrubs," came up with "Bills" on their second trip to Houston to write songs for Destiny's Child. Briggs got the idea for the "can you pay my bills?" hook when they were in a grocery store. According to Burruss, she came up with the melody, and made sure the song wasn't about desperate girls looking for a guy to pay their way, but ladies who thought they deserved better than a man who never picked up the tab. Burruss based many of the lyrics on a true story: a guy she dated would drive around her car and use her cell phone while she put gas in it.

When Burruss and Briggs went back to the studio, they had a writing session and worked on the song with group members Beyoncé Knowles and LeToya Luckett, who got writing credits on the song for contributing lyrics (this is something Beyoncé would often do: work with experienced writers and grab a lucrative writing credit on her songs). By the end of the session, they figured out that the reason they were asking a guy to pay their bills was because the guy was running them up, a distinction lost on listeners who heard only the chorus and figured the girls were looking for a sugar daddy.

This was the first single released from Destiny's Child's second album The Writing's On The Wall, and it became their first #1 hit. Beyoncé was just 17 when they recorded it, and was still using her last name. There were four girls in the band, and the song's co-writer, Kandi Burruss, was about 10 years away from becoming a Real Housewife of Atlanta. Burruss did have girl group experience - she was a member of Xscape, who had a hits with "Just Kickin' It" and "The Arms of the One Who Loves You."

This was the second hit for Destiny's Child with a title made up the same word repeated three times. Their first hit was "No No No."

A dancer in the video, Farrah Franklin, joined the group after Letavia Robertson and LeToya Luckett quit in 2000. Franklin was fired a few months later after she did not show up for an MTV appearance.

This is certainly not the first song to find a woman complaining about her man's lack of financial prowess, but it is one of the more audacious takes on the matter, and the only song we've found in the genre to top the Hot 100. One of the first songs of the Rock Era to explore the topic was sung from a man's perspective: "Money (That's What I Want)," a 1959 Motown classic for Barrett Strong. One of the more enterprising lyrics in that one - "Your love gives me such a thrill, but your love can't pay my bills" - was written by a female writer at Motown named Janie Bradford.

Some listeners misinterpreted this song, thinking the girls were demanding that a guy pay their bills, a mistake made by listening to just the chorus and ignoring the verses. The next year, when Destiny's Child contributed a song to the Charlie's Angels soundtrack, they made sure the meaning was crystal clear: powerful women being able to take care of themselves. That song was "Independent Women Part I," a massive hit. Their next album, Survivor, was all about female empowerment.

Before taking up with Jay Z, Beyoncé was subjected to a passel of pick-up lines. One of her least favorites: "I'll pay your bills."


Group leader Beyoncé Knowles came up with the title and helped write this song. She got the idea when she heard the media's sometimes unpleasant comments about her weight and physique. She wanted to write a song that celebrated a curvy, voluptuous figure.

The group says that despite the title, this is a tasteful song. It is about having confidence and knowing you are beautiful.

This samples the guitar riff from "Edge of Seventeen" by Stevie Nicks, and Nicks appears in the video. There's not much crossover between their fans, but the Fleetwood Mac singer and the girls of Destiny's Child share a mutual admiration. They met through a chance encounter: Nicks was at 30 Rock (NBC Studios) promoting her Trouble In Shangri-La album on The Rosie O'Donnell Show when she ran into Destiny's Child, who were rehearsing for their appearance on Saturday Night Live. After a chat, they asked Stevie to appear in the video, which she did.

Nicks has never been accused of bootyliciousness, but she is a visionary songwriter/performer and an independent woman who embodies the confidence Destiny's Child projects in this song. Having Stevie in the video implied her endorsement, which helped appease any of Stevie's fans who objected to the sample.

Beyoncé came up with the line "I don't think you're ready for this jelly" when the group was on a plane trip to Japan. She sang it to the other Destiny's Children as a joke, but they loved it and insisted she use it in the song.

She claims that on this same flight she heard "Edge of Seventeen," and thought the guitar riff sounded like a voluptuous woman.

This was not the first time the word "bootylicious" was used in the lyrics of a recorded song. Snoop Dogg rapped on "F--k Wit Dre Day," a track on Dr. Dre's debut 1992 album The Chronic: "Your bark was loud, but your bite wasn't vicious, and them rhymes you were kickin' were quite bootylicious."

The team of Rob Fusari and Falonte Moore produced this track and also received songwriting credits along with Beyoncé and Stevie Nicks.

They put a drum track together using an Akai MPC 2000 sequencer, and decided to loop in the guitar riff from the Survivor hit "Eye of the Tiger." Just one problem: they didn't have that song handy. Fusari had a Stevie Nicks greatest hits album in his CD collection, so they used the riff from "Edge of Seventeen" instead, figuring they'd replace it with "Eye of the Tiger" later.

The track sat on the shelf for about six months before Fusari submitted it, along with a bunch of other songs, to Destiny's Child when they were looking for material for Survivor. "I didn't think it was appropriate, but it was different from the rest of the stuff I was sending, and I know Beyoncé likes different stuff," he said in The Billboard Book of #1 Hits. "I never thought somebody would want to sing over it, but that's the one that turned out to be 'Bootylicious.'"

The "Edge of Seventeen" sample cost half of the song's profits, according to co-producer Rob Fusari. He knew it would be expensive and lobbied to replace it, but the Destiny's Child team insisted it stay.

Destiny's Child performed this at halftime of Game 4 of the 2001 NBA Finals between the Lakers and Sixers. They were booed after the performance by the crowd in Philadelphia, who were also upset because their team was losing.

The trio got a much better reception when they performed it at the Super Bowl halftime show in 2013. After Beyoncé opened the show with a few of her hits, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams blasted out from under the sage and joined her for this song, "Independent Women Part I," and "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)." it was the group's first appearance since their split in 2006.

Kelly Rowland told the Daily Mail January 4th 2008, "I'm so proud of everything that we did in Destiny's Child. In Destiny's Child, we showed that we could carry ourselves as powerful women, and there was more to us than just our bodies. Some people thought a song like 'Bootylicious' was about being sexy, but it was more about having confidence in your own skin."

The song reached #1 US in August 2001 and stayed for two weeks. It was the second single from the Survivor album, following the title track ("Independent Women Part I" was also included on the album, but first appeared on the Charlie's Angels soundtrack).

Another Fusari/Moore production, "Happy Face," was slated to be the next single, but then September 11 happened. In the wake of the tragedy, their cover of the ballad "Emotion" was issued instead and reached #10 in the US.

Destiny's Child performed this at two Michael Jackson tribute concerts at Madison Square Garden in September 2001.

The first use of the word "bootylicious" in TV or film was on the US TV show A Different World in 1993 when a male character uses it to describe two lovely ladies in the episode "Homie, Don't Ya Know Me?"

"Bootylicious" was added to the revised, third edition of the Oxford English Dictionary Online in 2004. It defines the word as: "bootylicious adjective orig US 1. A term of commendation of rap lyrics. 1992-. 2. Very sexually attractive. 1994-. (Blend of booty buttocks and delicious.)"

Beyoncé told the February 2013 edition of GQ magazine: "Even the silliest little thing that you hear on the radio, it comes from something deeper. 'Bootylicious' was funny, but it came from people saying that I had gained weight and me being like, 'I'm a southern woman, and this is how southern women are.' My motivation is always to express something or to heal from something or to laugh and rejoice about something."

Rockwilder and Missy Elliott remixed this as a slower version that was used on the soundtrack to the movie Carmen.

In 2003, Soulwax created a comical mashup of this with Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" called "Smells Like Booty."


The biggest hit of 2000, this song followed the winning formula of accessible hip-hop/dance attached to a blockbuster movie. In the late '90s, this was the forte of Will Smith, who did it with "Men In Black" (1997) and "Wild Wild West" (1999).

"Independent Women" was featured in the movie Charlie's Angels; the stars of the film, Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy Liu, are mentioned in the song.

The production team Poke & Tone (Jean-Claude Olivier and Samuel Barnes) produced this track and co-wrote it with Beyoncé and Cory Rooney. Poke & Tone were known for crafting Will Smith's hit sound on "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It" and "Miami." They also had some girl group experience, having produced Allure.

Beyoncé came up with the song after having an argument with her boyfriend. She thought to herself, "I don't need a man, I'm independent," and with that went into a studio on her own and recorded vocals for the first version of this song, which promoted female independence, both financially and relationally. A team of producers - Eric Seats, Rapture Stewart, David Donaldson - put the track together using a sample from the Peabody's Improbable History theme song. This version was later used on the 2001 Destiny's Child album Survivor as "Independent Women Part II," but a radically different rendition became the hit.

Destiny's Child's label, Columbia, whose studio division was distributing the Charlie Angels film, decided that it would be a great fit for the movie, which portrayed the lead characters as tough, liberated women. They wanted the hit sound of Poke & Tone, however, so they commissioned the duo to remix the track and have the group alter the lyrics to suit the film. Instead of remixing it, Poke & Tone completely reworked the song, earning lucrative writing credits in the process. This second version of the song was released first, so it was labeled "Independent Women Part I."

There is no mistaking the meaning of this song, which Destiny's Child wanted to make clear following their 1999 hit "Bills, Bills, Bills," where the chorus ("Can you pay my bills? Can you pay my telephone bills?") led some listeners to believe they were golddiggers looking for a man to support them. They left no doubt that they could take care of themselves on "Independent Women."

Shortly before this was released, Destiny's Child went from four members to three when Farrah Franklin left the group, leaving them a trio of Kelly Rowland, Beyoncé and Michelle Williams. This solved a logistical problem, since they could now make the video where the girls in the group took the roles of the three Charlie's Angels.

The song was released as a single on September 14, 2000 in advance of the movie, which opened on November 3. It hit #1 US the week of November 18, and stayed at the top for 11 weeks, a record for an all-female group. The song was still echoing on playlists in February 2001 when Destiny's Child issued the title track of Survivor as the first single from the album. That song kept the female empowerment theme going, which continued with the next single, "Bootylicious."

"Independent Women Part I" appeared as the first track on the Survivor album, which was released on May 1, 2001.

The video was directed by Francis Lawrence, who went on to direct the Hunger Games movies (featuring one of the more independent female characters in fiction: Katniss Everdeen). Scenes from Charlie's Angels are incorporated into the video, but the bulk of it is original footage, showing Destiny's Child in boss mode, calling the shots at a conference table in between dance routines.

Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" (from The Bodyguard soundtrack) spent 14 weeks at #1 in the US, but "Independent Women Part I," with 11 weeks at the top, is the longest-running #1 original song from a soundtrack - "I Will Always Love You" was written and originally recorded by Dolly Parton.

In 2013, Destiny's Child shared the stage at the 2013 halfime show, where Beyoncé was the featured performer. After playing some of her solo selections, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams joined her for part of this song.