song : Belle Perez, Patrick Renier, Jim Soulier
Producer : Patrick Renier & Jim Soulier
Year : 2000
Record co. : Antler-Subway
Belle Perez was born as Maribel Perez on January 29, 1976,
in a Spanish immigrant family in Neerpelt (in the neighbourhood of the Dutch Philips-factories).
She discovered her singing talent during her flamenco & dancing-lessons, which
she had been taking from the age of 5.
After she started working as a secretary in a Dutch crane-rental
company, her goal remained to become a singer, and to attain that goal she participated
in all the soundmix-contests she could enter. At one of these talent-contests
in 1997, she sang "That's what it takes" and was discovered there
by Patrick Renier. He teamed her up with songwriter/producer Jim Soulier (the
two are known as Pat & Jim) and gave her the artistname Belle Perez.
Pat & Jim did see the talent in Belle, but initially didn't
quite know which direction to head her in. First they tried it with dance ("Me&You"),
then they directed her towards a Céline Dion-ish song "Don't give
up on love".
A third shot at success was the happy popsong "Hello world",
the first one that Belle herself wrote the lyrics for, which they entered in the
Flemish preselections for the Eurovision songcontest
in 1999. As they said to magazine Humo in 2000 "when we had recorded "Hello
World", we still weren't sure where we could lead Belle to, but when we heard
we were among the selected for Eurosong, we started believing for the first time
that we had finally found the right style for her". In these preselections
Belle Perez had to admit defeat to both Fé (Wendy Fierce) and Vanessa Chinitor's
"Like The Wind" (who got on to win the final). Roland Beelen, the big
boss of Antler/Subway about this "For me 'Hello World' was the best song
in 'Eurosong'. Belle had a bit of nerves when she performed, it was her very first
live-appearance on tv. That's why the jury overlooked the quality of the song."
"Hello World" did get released as a single by
Antler-Subway, and became a real summer-hit in Flanders (behind that other flunked
Eurosong-hit "Heyah Mama" by K3 - but the song
did get a summerhit-trophy as "best production"). There was a feel-good
videoclip shot for the song, with not much economies (on the contrary, with a
production cost of about 3 million it was the most expensive video for a Flemish
artist at the time).
Because of this Flemish interest, Belle Perez got picked up by
EMI and was made one of their "international priorities" (read: potential
big bucks). Especially in the States there was quite a bit of enthusiasm for the
product, and she got to do a 3-week promo tour with Priority Records to a series
of American radio-stations and cities, in the slipstream of Lou Bega (a little
bit of Monica ...). In the end, the song didn't exactly manage to force a breakthrough
in the charts there. Still, the song did get used for a number of soundtracks
such as "Down to You" or the tv-series "Felicity".
And in the rest of the world, things faired much better. Especially in Spain and
Italy, she was a commercial success, and in the Latin-American countries, Belle
Perez quickly rose to be a (pop)star.
That not everybody was as enthusiastic about her uncomplicated
pop, can clearly be seen from this review of the single in the British New Musical
Express : "Belle Perez makes Billie and Britney sound like wild inner-city
kids teetering on the edge of heroin addiction. Lobotomised cheeriness aside,
and with brilliant synchronicity, the Belgian popstrel does offer ... some very
sage advice. "Seize the day", she urges, ... "Wear a big happy
smile on your face". Advice that'll also be very handy when she finds herself
flipping burgers in the Ghent branch of McDonald's."
In quick tempo, the trio also put together an album at the beginning
of 2000, which got released under the same title as the hit single. This CD was
first released in Spain and Italy, but from September 2000 onwards she focused
on Flanders again. While internationally only "Hello World" (and "Hola
Mundo") broke trough, she had quickly become one of the top acts in the commercial
pop genre here. This was proven by a series of hits, with the most prominent the
successor to "Hello World", the Britney Spears-clone "Honey
Bee", which faired very well in the Belgian popcharts.
The girl from Limburg also did get the chance from Kanaal 2 to
present an internet-tv-show named Channel E ("the first Flemish television
show made especially for the internet").
At the beginning of 2001, she received a ZAMU-award in the category "popular"
(in front of K3, Helmut Lotti and Gunther Neefs). On the gala "Kom op tegen
Kanker" she surprised everyone with a well-sung versoin of the Pretenders-song
"2000 Miles". In June 2001 the trio presented their first new single
not taken from the debut album: "Planet of Love". In November
it was the turn for another single, "Get Up and Boogie".
Buy CD's of this artist
- Hello World (Antler, 2000) Singles
- Me & You (Pat & Jim) (1998)
- Don't Give Up on love (1999)
- Hello World (1999)
- Honey Bee (2000)
- This Crazy Feeling (2000)
- Kiss & Make Up (2001)
- Planet of Love (2001)
- Get Up and Boogie (2001)
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