Online fame proclaims Nadia Ali (birth in Libya, up-bringing in New York, roots in Pakistan) as the empress of dance/club music. Critics say her work is more mature and developed than any other popular artist today. Ali’s latest album, aptly named Queen of Clubs—Diamond Edition, is the third in a trilogy of compilations of her song remixes. The album includes originals of the award nominee tracks “Fantasy” and “Love Story.” The Morgan Page remix of “Fantasy” was nominated for the 2011 Grammy in the Best Remixed Recording category, and “Love Story” was nominated in Best Progressive/Tech House category at the International Dance Music awards. “Love Story” was also announced as the official anthem of the Sunburn—Asia’s premiere dance music festival—in Goa in December 2010.
Nadia’s music has echoes of the other Pakistani pop icon from the 80s, Nazia Hassan (of “Aap Jaisa Koi” from the Bollywood movie Qurbani fame). Physically they could be related; long tresses, a frank open face; and for both, a destiny that made them instant celebrities with popular singles—in Nadia’s case, “Rapture.” MTVDesi says, “‘Rapture’ is still that song dance/trance/house DJs throw into a mix … You’ve heard it remixed, you’ve heard it on compilations, you’ve probably even heard it in your doctor’s office by now. Her remote-yet-alluring voice whispers, commands, and stays in your head for days.”
The story goes that Ali was 17 when she got introduced to Markus Moser, an urban pop music producer looking to collaborate with a female vocalist. “Rapture” was their first white-hot hit globally in 2001, followed by several top singles over the years. Ali’s voice is as sultry as voices can get, which lends a covert sexiness—a necessary ingredient to get feet moving—and cuts the impersonal feel of electronic dance music with a come-hither verve. “Rapture” has remained popular; it has been re-mixed by dance DJ superstars like Stephane K, John Creamer, and Deep Dish among others.
In 2005, Ali charted a course as a singer, song-writer, and producer with her own label, Smile in Bed. Singles from her first solo album Embers were Billboard hits, solidifying her hold on the dance music psyche. It is clear that she doesn’t write just to the beat. Instead, she follows her own rhythm. In “Fantasy” she shares, “I was just fine, yes I was fine I thought/I didn’t think that I would get so lost/To have and not to hold and to pretend I’m cold/It is a lie ‘cause I melt every time?/Stay… away from me.”
After a certain threshold, dance music is fated to sound similar; it is all up-tempo electronic music. Lyrics, vocals, international vibes, and (re)mixing it all up provide an edge, which is why DJs rule in the dance music world. The Queen of Clubs trilogy brings together most of the top DJs of the industry. The Diamond Edition features signature presentations of Ali’s songs by Alex Sayz (Fine Print), Starkillers (Fantasy), and Ned Shepard and Sultan (Call My Name).
Ali is sought after by DJs and producers alike; she provides the instant set-apart quality to their music. Her much anticipated collaboration with Armin van Buuren produced such hits as “Feels So Good” and “Who is Watching.” In an interview with Ascendance Radio, Ali said, “One of my favorite songs is ‘Who’s Watching’ and it’s a track that I did when I first went solo, and this song is really about the experience of getting to the top and doing everything that you can to get to the top and then realizing how lonely it is when you forget your priorities and forget the important people in your life.”
Well, Ali has never forgotten the dance-lovers; the Queen of Clubs trilogy is bound to transport you to a dance-club at the first note.