Dia Frampton is coming to Manila – she’s performing tomorrow night at the Hard Rock Cafe – and I’m watching, never mind the fact that I’m only really familiar with her stint on the first season of The Voice and the album that came after she finished that show in second, Red. And since I have a feeling that I will encounter some stuff from her days as vocalist of the sister-act-and-then-some Meg & Dia, I decided to get some help and compile this crash course for myself. Good luck, me. Here we go.
“Setting Up Sunday” by Meg & Dia | Sisters Meg and Dia Frampton released their first album, Our Home Is Gone, in 2005. A bit of a rarity – only a thousand copies released – some of the songs there found their way to their major label debut, 2006’s Something Real, which saw the duo turn into a quintet, and their acoustic sound get a bit more oomph, one more towards the pop-punk route, arguably (hear “Monster”). Allene recommends that album’s final track, however: “‘Setting Up Sunday’ got me hooked, first line of the lyrics pa lang,” she says.
“The Last Great Star in Hollywood” by Meg & Dia | Iiman from Singapore sent this next suggestion in, from the band’s third release, 2009’s Here, Here and Here – one that saw less of the literary references and more of the pop rock. I was listening to this and “Black Wedding”, a single from the aforementioned album, and I oddly got a Garbage vibe with less sex and more, umm, more fizz. The band released one more album, 2011’s independently-released Cocoon, which, as it turned out, is the only reason why Dia went on The Voice – to promote it.
“Chicago” by Meg & Dia | The band also released a lot of EPs, compiling B-sides and filling gaps in between releases – they were pretty active on the concert circuit, which explains the odd spacing of it all. And here’s where perhaps the most interesting Meg & Dia song I listened to for this crash course comes in. Anna sent this over – a track from their 2011 EP Be Careful, I Love You, Stay In Touch – promising that I’ll listen to it over and over again. Of course I have. I’m a bit of a sucker for lounge-y arrangements, one. Also, this is a bit of a transition from the pop rock of Meg & Dia to Dia’s “solo” work after The Voice.
“I Won’t Back Down” by Blake Shelton and Dia Frampton | In a past life I only covered The Voice marginally – it was against American Idol and I focused on that more – but I remember Dia suddenly going to the front of the race when she covered Kanye West’s “Heartless”. Of course, she didn’t win – she finished in second to Javier Colon, who’s… nowhere now, I think – but my biases say she made more of an impression. It also helps that she had Blake Shelton as a coach, who turned out to be genuinely concerned for his wards, as opposed to his image (ahem, Adam Levine, ahem, Christina Aguilera). Also, their live performance of the Tom Petty original – an “adorable father-daughter-esque duet” according to my former colleagues at BuddyTV – looks very, very cool. Too bad it’s nowhere online now.
“Bullseye” by Dia Frampton | Red, released late in 2011, was still very much a Meg & Dia affair, even if Dia’s more front and center now. The video for her first single, “The Broken Ones”, features Meg and the rest of the band. But Dia’s “solo” effort is a more charming, indie-pop-ish affair, albeit a bit more assorted, with another Blake Shelton duet (the crushing “I Will”) and contributions from Foster the People’s Mark Foster (“Billy the Kid”) and Florence + the Machine’s Isabella Summers (this track). The band ultimately split ways this year, although they’re more of retiring the original band name, and there will be occasional collaborations. Dia’s coming to Manila tomorrow as a solo affair, more or less. But that sounds a bit unfair, innit?