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Pixie Lott

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AboutThe tunes are all present and correct, of course, but it's the voice that hits you round the head like a Tom & Jerry frying pan: this potent, rich and addictive voice with the depth and maturity of a soul diva combined with the vim and dexterity of a teenage pop princess, all somehow, almost impossibly, coming from the mouth of a singer so perfectly packaged that people call her Pixie - 18 years old and still buzzing from the novelty of being able to go clubbing without her older sister's ID.

Before she is fifty - the age at which she will officially identify herself as "old" - Pixie Lott has a handful of modest ambitions on her checklist. To meet amazing people, that's one. Performing in amazing places? That's another. She wants to keep all the friends she's got now, but also to make loads of new ones, and she wants to keep writing songs, including a few that change people's lives. Finally, she reckons, she wants "to sing for ever and ever and ever".

When you hear this talented new singer's tunes that doesn't seem like such a tall order and this stylish singer's enthusiasm - buoyed by this catalogue of future hits - is certainly contagious. With a style that turns heads, a voice that raises eyebrows, a dancing ability that wows and a songwriting flair that sets toes tapping, Pixie has certainly spent the last year since signing to Mercury Records bringing out the best in everyone she's worked with. Her personality, her rich vocals and her strangely magnetic persona are all over first single 'Mama Do', an archetypal teenage tale of sneaking out on dates under the cover of night, written with renowned songwriters Phil Thornalley and Mads Hauge.

Pixie's tracks fizz with excitement and represent a good 18 months spent working around the world with the cream of pop's top tunesmiths. Along with Thornalley and Hauge, Pixie's been holed up in the studio with Cutfather and Jonas Jeburg (who've worked with everyone from Kylie to the Pussycat Dolls), Red One (Lady Gaga 'Just Dance'), Lily and Beck collaborator Greg Kurstin, hit songwriter Ruth Ann Cunningham, Toby Gad, the NY-based producer and songwriter behind 'If I Were A Boy' and 'Big Girls Don't Cry', and Kara DioGuardi, superstar songwriter and new American Idol judge.

Pixie is an 18-year-old singer who, refreshingly, sings as an 18-year-old. Hers is a fresh, expressive, fun and free attitude with a vocal style to match. If you've been keeping up with Pixie's lively and occasionally rather deranged YouTube video diaries you might have a fair idea of how the last couple of years have panned out, packed with songwriting sessions, nights out and gatecrashed parties, but for the full picture let's pull back and focus for a moment on the young girl growing up in Kent who found herself nicknamed Pixie at a young age (you can only call her by her real name if she's misbehaved), and who was frequently subjected to her mum's preferred listening of Take That and Diana Ross. Before long Pixie started picking out her own favourite singers - Mariah was an early passion - and at school her interest in singing and dancing had led to an audition for Italia Conti. She bagged a rare scholarship for the stage school which let her pursue her singing and dancing dreams and opened doors to an oddly diverse range of opportunities, from West End appearances in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to recording with Pink Floyd's Roger Waters.

When she was 14, Pixie found herself flicking through The Stage and spotted a classified ad that would set everything in motion. It's sometimes hard to look at these ads and think that anything would ever come from these oddly-worded, sometimes quite suspicious looking requests for young girls and boys, but before long this particular ad had taken Pixie to New York, to begin writing and recording demos. From that point in, things began to snowball.

As time went by and more demos were posted on Pixie's MySpace a bidding war broke out, eventually leading Pixie to sign with Mercury in the UK and Interscope in America. The results, right now, are songs that run the gamut of teendom with songs about hearts skipping and hearts breaking, about crushed dreams and dreamy crushes. 'Turn It Up' tells the story of a teenage couple breaking up but staying friends, while at the other end of a relationship, at the point when belongings are being unceremoniously hurled out of windows onto the street below, we find epic, Alicia Keys-esque ballad 'Cry Me Out'. "'Cry Me Out' is a song which says, 'it's really time to get over yourself'," Pixie smiles. "You could put it right alongside Justin's 'Cry Me A River', telling someone they have to accept the blame, that 'the tears are fallin' mean nothing at all'." Take note: 'Cry Me Out' also features the phrase "I got your emails, you just don't get females", a couplet which somehow encapsulates more than any of us would ever need to know about the precise state of late-noughties teenage sexual politics. 'Gravity', meanwhile, is a 'No Air'-style belter about how easy it is to drift apart, how difficult it is to stay apart, how quickly we're pulled to people and thrown away in the opposite direction. It's a song about love on a bungee rope.

Like many modern music fans, Pixie takes a fond, post-Woolies pick 'n' mix approach to her listening. She admires the style of Gwen Stefani and Rihanna, for example, and she's fascinated by the songwriting craft of Alicia Keys. Then she'll be rocking out to The Strokes and The Kooks. On stage she loves Mariah for the vocals and Britney for the moves and showmanship; off stage she admires Lauryn Hill's independent spirit and Christina Aguilera's commitment to quality. Then to the older school the big voice and dance pop of Whitney Houston to Evelyn Champagne King as a favourite. Representing the boys is Stevie Wonder, with his catalogue of songs still performed and loved around the world decades after they were written. It would be enough to make most of us feel as if we were at the bottom of a very tall ladder, but Pixie's up for the challenge and the result is an artist whose music is fun but not stupid, sharp but not overbearingly cutting edge. Pixie's is music that has genuine substance and soul but doesn't hit you round the head with how staggeringly Important it all is. At the very heart of it all, Pixie's just Pixie. "There has to be an emotional strength and an honesty in what I'm singing, whether they're lyrics I've written by myself or not. I need to mean it to sing it."

We're at an odd point in pop where the success of an artist seems somehow to be measured in their product endorsements, their ranges of perfume or their appearances on reality TV shows. Pixie Lott's ambitions are reassuringly traditional. She'll know she's succeeded, she says, "when I've sold CDs, when I look out and there's a massive crowd." Simple aims, then, and it's no coincidence that her music, too, takes us back to a slightly more carefree time in pop, where all that mattered were big tunes, big ideas, and brilliant singers. "There's a little place for me," Pixie says, hands crossed politely on the table. "I can't wait to really get out there..."

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