Young African Magazine
A plartfoam for young Africans to share!

Jamali – 3rd Base

 

 
Could it be that Jamali, runners up of the initial Popstars competition, are the longest-running, most successful South African group to be spawned by a reality show? There they are, on your radio and the odd kid’s TV talk show, still bringing their three-pronged all-girl pop attack.

 

Jamali Back to Basics?
And what of the group that beat them to the Popstars crown? Ghetto Lingo, was it? And then there was the equally short-lived Adilah? And 101? Ok, so I had to do some serious ‘research’ to even name those other groups. The fortunes of the factory-made pop group sure are fickle, so how have Jamali stayed the course?

Well it helps that these girls have that most important quality of all – talent – and a record company willing to buy whatever the group may be lacking in terms of songwriting skill. But of the 16 (yes, 16) tracks on their new album 3rd Base, only two were co-written by the group – and you can be sure that they were behind “Skut Julle Lywe”, which is actually more of a laidback dance tune than its title suggests.

The thing about Jamali that jumps out at you and makes you pay attention are those elastic vocal harmonies of theirs. It’s pretty impressive, but oh so limited. Each song is approached the same way, every chorus requires a drawn out piece of vocal gymnastics, the beats get more and more sluggish and routine, and before you know it you’ve skipped through the whole album. They’ve even attempted to cash in on the ABBA fever (thanks to Mamma Mia!) with a cover of “Knowing Me, Knowing You” – but beware of the excruciating caterwaul towards the end of the song. It’s an unnecessary and rather embarrassing attempt to show off. Last time I checked, only Mariah Carey tried that and got away with it.

Jamali have been called the poor girl’s Destiny’s Child since day one – and that tag hasn’t sounded more fitting than it does now, despite their glammed up new look. The kwaito edge they’ve injected into their sound will help them find a willing audience, but it’s time they start to think outside the box and make the Mzansi R&B scene exciting again. Our ears would really appreciate it.

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