Suzie McNeil is a Canadian pop/rock solo artist, based in Toronto, Ontario. Suzie was one of my favorite contestants on the CBS reality series Rock Star: INXS which aired over the summer of 2005. On that show, 15 contestants competed to become the lead vocalist of Australian rock band INXS whose singer, Michael Hutchence, died in 1998. Suzie finished in fourth place, but, in 2005, INXS was irrelevant so, in truth, the winner, Canadian J. D. Fortune, lost. However, Suzie provided vocals on the duet “God’s Top Ten” with Fortune on the album he recorded with INXS, Switch (2005), as well as providing backing vocals on other tracks. On Rock Star: INXS, Suzie performed classics like “Roxanne” (The Police), “Get Back” (The Beatles) and “Start Me Up” (The Rolling Stones), as well as her own song, “Soul Life.” Post-Rock Star, Suzie, in addition to her solo work, was a back-up singer for P!nk on her North American tour in 2006, starred in the 2007 Toronto production of Queen‘s We Will Rock You musical with Mig Ayesa (also from Rock Star: INXS), and was a judge on the first four seasons (2008-2011) of the Canadian YTV reality series, The Next Star, which is like Idol for singers under 15-years-old.
Watch a montage of Suzie performing on Rock Star: INXS here:
Suzie McNeil‘s solo debut, Broken & Beautiful (2007), was ten tracks of radio-friendly pop/rock that should have made her a big star. Some compared Suzie, on this album, to Kelly Clarkson or P!nk, and that’s fitting, mostly, but I think this album is also akin to fellow Canadian Suzi Rawn‘s excellent CD, Naked (2006). Both, together, make an awesome playlist. Most of the songs on Broken & Beautiful were written by songwriter Marti Frederiksen. And, “Lonely (Are You Coming Home?)”, “Believe” and “The One” were co- written by Frederiksen and songwriter Kara DioGuardi. “Believe” was one of two Canadian hits and, due to its uplifting lyrics, was featured on several American reality shows, including “The Biggest Loser”, “Beauty & The Geek”, and others. “Hung Up”, the other hit, was co-written by Suzie, as was “Where Were You?”, the most Kelly Clarkson-ish song. “Skin” is an excellent track, similar to Suzi Rawn‘s “Raw”, in that both songs relate overwhelming desire to permanent skin markings. Other favorites are the soulful ballad “So In Love” and “Poison”. The former was written by Frederiksen with P!nk, and the latter, with John Rzeznik of Goo Goo Dolls. Both songs sound exactly like who co-wrote them. But, regardless who wrote any of these songs, they’re all good, and Suzie McNeil has an undeniably amazing voice.
Watch the videos for “Believe” and “Hung Up” here:
Suzie McNeil‘s second album, Rock-n-Roller (2009) took her a step closer to the pop side of pop/rock, although tracks like “What Ur Getting Into” still rocked. Most of the songs, this time, were written by Suzie with Marti Frederikson. “Let’s Go”, with more uplifting lyrics, was used as the theme song for The Next Star, and “For You” is a cool declaration of intense love, but my favorite tracks are “I Wanna Know”, “Don’t Tell Me Goodbye” and the piano ballad version of “Believe”. The pop-intensive single “Help Me Out” hinted at the direction Suzie was moving in, and a subsequent non-album single, “Supergirl”, a cover of a Saving Jane song, confirmed it. The album was later re-released as Rock-n-Roller: Reloaded to include “Supergirl”.
Watch the videos for “Let’s Go” and “Supergirl” here:
Dear Love (2012) is the where those singles led Suzie McNeil to. Some called this album “forgettable,” but, as far as I’m concerned, it’s a pop masterpiece, from beginning to end, and I don’t like pop all that much. Most of the tracks are synth heavy and danceable, but Suzie’s amazing vocals and her heartfelt lyrics make this my guilty pleasure. The album opens with Suzie calling an old boyfriend to re-connect but she changes her mind, deciding to write her feelings down. “Dear Love” is what she writes: “How long has it really been? / Our tears are far from over / But it’s time to start again.” So, she reflects on their relationship over the next few songs. In “Heartbeat”, their love is fresh, burning: “I’m on fire / You’re gasoline / And the closer that you get to me / The more you feel the heat.” But, in “Drama Queen”, the infectious first single, her quirks show: “Cuz every time you call I’ll ask you where you’ve been / And any words you say I can always spin.” She regrets wearing that crown in “Merry Go Round”, the second single: “Why I’m cryin’ if we’re fine / You should be dryin’ my eyes.” Then, of course, she faces the inevitable truth in “Love Can’t Save Us Now”, a duet with Dave Faber of Faber Drive: “We broke something we can’t fix somehow / And love can’t save us now.” In “One Foot In Front Of The Other”, however, she picks herself up again, post-breakup: “In a full stride now / No one else to slow me down / Far from where I began / I found my feet again.” The ex leaves a message for Suzie, telling her that he misses her, too, before Suzie launches into a cover of Eurythmics‘ “Here Comes The Rain Again”. The rest of the songs, including an acoustic version of “Merry Go Round”, are just as good, but “Tough Love”, the third single, stands above them all. I love when Suzie sings: “I figure I should tell you that tonight this rum and Coke isn’t the only thing that’s going down.” I love this album, and I can’t believe that Katy Perry is all over the radio, but Suzie Mcneil is not.
Watch the videos for “Drama Queen” and “Merry Go Round” here:
2007.04.21 – Broken & Beautiful (Suzie McNeil) [Album]
2007.05.08 – “It’s Christmas Time” (Suzie McNeil) [Single]
2009.02.26 – Rock-nRoller (Suzie McNeil) [Album]
2009.08.18 – “Supergirl” (Bits Productions) [Single]
2009.10.13 – “Help Me Out (Remix)” (Bits Productions) [Single]
2010.05.04 – Live Acoustic (Qster Productions) [Album]
2011.02.11 – “Drama Queen” (604 Records) [Single]
2011.07.19 – “Merry go Round” (604 Records) [Single]
2012.05.08 – “Tough Love” (604 Records) [Single]
2012.08.07 – Dear Love (604 Records) [Album]
2012.11.20 – This Is Christmas (604 Records) [EP]