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FEFE DOBSON

Before the age of 20, singer/songwriter Fefe Dobson freed herself from a restrictive contract, attracted a second major-label deal, and planted three gutsy pop punk singles in the Canadian Top 20. Those anthems drove her full-length debut, Fefe Dobson (2003), to platinum status in her native Canada, where she earned a pair of Juno nominations. While that success didn't lead to smooth sailing -- among other obstacles, her prospective follow-up was shelved for six years -- Dobson had similar success early the following decade with Joy (2010), and around the same time cracked the Top 40 in the U.S. as a co-writer of Selena Gomez & the Scene's "Round & Round." Following a lengthy break, Dobson has returned in the 2020s with a refined and no-less-spirited approach heard on "Fckn in Love" (2022), an ecstatic single released nearly 20 years after her debut. Born in suburban Toronto, Dobson started recording as a youngster. She was mailing demo tapes to labels at the age of 11, and landed a contract with Jive in her early teens. Frustrated with being developed as a pop-R&B artist, she left the label without having released any music, and later auditioned successfully for Island, a more accommodating label from an artistic standpoint. The album Fefe Dobson -- a highly energized hybrid of melodic rock and pop punk -- was issued by Island toward the end of 2003 with all songs written by Dobson, assisted by fellow newcomers and producers Jay Levine and James Bryan McCollum. In the singer's native Canada, the LP reached number 26 (number 67 in the U.S.) and went platinum on the strength of the hit singles "Bye Bye Boyfriend" (number eight), "Take Me Away" (number 20), and "Don't Go (Girls and Boys)" (number nine). Dobson affirmed her boundary pushing nature by portraying Tina Turner in an episode of the U.S. television series American Dreams. Juno Awards nominations for Pop Album of the Year and New Artist of the Year followed shortly thereafter. Although Dobson soon recorded a follow-up with a deep roster of collaborators filled with the likes Matthew Wilder, Howard Benson, Nina Gordon, and the Neptunes, the project, titled Sunday Love, was put on ice after the release of its first two singles in 2005 and 2006. (Promotional copies exchanged hands and hard drives outside the industry; a digital-only commercial release followed in 2012.) A handful of its songs would be covered by artists across genres and even continents, a testament to the versatility of Dobson's writing. Distinct versions of "Don't Let It Go to Your Head" alone were recorded by acts including the Norwegian band Lilyjets and American Idol champ Jordin Sparks. During the same period, Dobson continued performing, co-wrote and sang background on Miley Cyrus' "Start All Over," and signed a new deal with 21 Music. Dobson also started work on another album, and in 2010 scored a Top 40 U.S. hit as co-writer of Selena Gomez & the Scene's "Round & Round." (Gomez had previously covered the Sunday Love track "As a Blonde.") Later in 2010, seven years after the arrival of the self-titled debut, Dobson released Joy, an across-the-board success with a comparatively polished sound -- and no shortage of attitude despite it. Just like Fefe Dobson, Joy yielded a trio of hits, namely "Ghost," "Stuttering," and "Can't Breathe," all of which went Top 20 and either platinum or gold in Canada. Kara DioGuardi and Kevin Rudolf, J.R. Rotem and Claude Kelly, and Orianthi respectively aided Dobson on those singles. A couple tracks were issued in 2013 and 2014 as previews of the next full-length, Firebird, but Dobson opted to withhold the album, concerned that it wouldn't be received as well as Joy. She later cut another album's worth of material with fiance Yelawolf (whom she married in 2019) and also held onto that. In 2020, she returned with a contribution to the soundtrack of White Line Runaways. Two years later, still affiliated with 21, she released "Fckn in Love."
© Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Discography

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