Billie Piper, is an English actor and musician, she first came to the public attention when she released her debut single ‘Because We Want To’ at the age of fifteen, which made her the youngest female artist ever to enter the UK Singles Chart. She however did not truly come to be a household name until she starred as Rose Tyler, a companion to the Doctor, an alien time traveller, on the first season of the revival of the BBC show Doctor Who back in 2005. Following on from her tenure on Doctor Who she also starred as Hannah Baxter, the titular and main character, on the hit show Secret Diary of a Call Girl. She was also Brona Croft/Lily Frankenstein in the horror-drama Penny Dreadful, and she was nominated for a British Academy Television Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the Netflix Original Collateral, where she played Karen Mars. More recently she co-created and starred in the Sky Atlantic series, I Hate Suzie, a comedy/drama in which she plays the titular character, Suzie Pickles.
As I touched on above, Billie Piper, or as she was known back then, just Billie, is a former musician, having retired from the music business in 2003 to focus on acting, but prior to this point she released two albums, the first of which we are here to discuss today. Yes, we will be reviewing her debut album ‘Honey to the B’ which was released on 19th October 1998.
‘Because We Want To’ opens fast, high energy, percussive beats support Billie’s vocals, she has a nice voice, melodic but fresh, she’s obviously just starting off at this point and yet despite that she has a maturity and strength to her voice that some performers never learn. I like the energy of this track, the fun pop energy, and the back and forth, call and response nature of the chorus. Even the rap sections work well, they’ve got a nice rhythm and structure to them, that make for an overall good track.
‘Girlfriend’ opens with record scratching, and melodic vocal fills that blend into a funky, little tune, that is fun and catchy, and not just in the repetitive, cookie cutter, pop way, it’s just a nice little melody, that again shows off multiple sides to Billie’s voice. I like that even though she has a nice that’s nice to listen to, she doesn’t rely just upon that, instead throughout this song and the rest on the album she experiments with style, delivery and performance.
‘Officially Yours’ has a really nice rhythmic opening, light percussive and beats that lead into some softer vocals, you can feel the soulful delivery of the lyrics, it all comes together really well. This one is a lower tempo track than the past couple, but while it’s not as full of energy it’s still a strong performance, and you get the clearest impression of Billie’s voice throughout the track.
‘She Wants You’ has piano chords building slowly, while beneath it a more upbeat, high energy beat is playing, it then explodes and takes over, and Billie matches it, high energy vocals, but still rich and deep and passionate, you just get caught up in the vibe of this one. I’ve talked about it before but especially for a debut album by such a young artist, she’s got a remarkable range. Perhaps my only issue is that perhaps the subject material of the songs are just a touch mature, but other than that they resonate well and have a nice energy to them.
‘Love Groove’ opens with counting, before kicking into a tight bass and percussive melody, and this one just kinda flows over you, a funky tune and again we see a different side to Billie’s voice, I admire a vocalist that is confident enough to see what they can do musically, I recently reviewed Kat Graham, and I felt very much the same about them, a talented and appealing voice, but she also didn’t steer away from exploring things in her music. I really liked the pipe section towards the end, and the rap breakdown by the guest vocalist, all added to the performance.
‘Party on the Phone’ is a very busy track, it incorporates in phone trills, and a heavy bass driven beat that work to support Billie’s voice, and once again can I say that she’s genuinely a talented singer, her voice is nice to listen to, she’s got a strong range and works well within the structure of the melody. I’m curious, listening to this years after the release, how much creative control she had over this album, whether she had a hand in producing the songs. It doesn’t really impact the quality or my enjoyment of the track but it’s something to think about.
‘Saying I’m Sorry Now’ is maybe my favourite on the album, it’s a relatively simple beat and melody off the bat, especially compared to some of the other tracks, but it has some of the best vocal work on the entire album, and it just flows really well. It’s also a slower track, which is usually my preference, but honestly it’s not even just that it’s more in keeping with my personal musical tastes, it’s just a really strong, even tempo track, with a sharp percussion beat to it, and it just works.
‘You’ve Got It’ opens with a hammering beat that blends out to a sonorous sort of ambient synth melody which works really well with Billie’s voice. It’s got a really nice rhythm as well, and is surprisingly memorable as I found myself humming it a few days after I’d finished writing the review. I think it’s probably my second favourite on the album, after the song directly before it.
‘I Dream’ opens with percussive tones that build, as an electronic guitar is laid over it, it blends to create a really beautiful and filling melody, and obviously Billie’s up to the task vocally, her voice is deep and resonant and you just get caught up in it. Despite having my own favourites, I think I would recommend this song to someone if I were trying to get them to listen to the full album, there’s just something about it that’s not only good, but has mainstream appeal.
‘Honey to the Bee’ kicks off with the sound of nature, and gentle guitar notes and vocals, meshing and bouncing off one another. I really liked this track, it’s very different overall to the rest of the album, and yet it works as part of the greater help. I liked the melody a lot, and I liked the building nature of the track, you just get kinda caught up in it.
Whatcha Gonna Do’ is also different, deeper and heavier, a percussive beat is the driving force behind this track, and unlike the majority of the tracks so far, Billie has another voice to bounce off, it helps to flesh the song out, and add something to it.
‘Don’t Forget to Remember’ closes out the album for us, we are greeted by the sounds of an audience and electronic piano chords, building and creating a soft, melody before breaking, a quick percussive fill changing up the track, and then the vocals kick in. Again, I’m amazed by the range and vocal depth Billie is capable off, especially this early in her career, and I feel like this was a strong track to close things out on.
So that’s what I thought of Billie Piper’s debut album ‘Honey to the B’ and if you want to check that out for yourself then head on over to Spotify. While you’re at it, you can support the artist by checking out their website and by following them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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