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Skylar Grey steps into spotlight at Roxy showcase

November 3, 2011 | 11:30 am

Skylar Grey performs at a showcase at the Roxy
Perched behind a piano on the tiny stage of the Roxy on the Sunset Strip, Skylar Grey reminded the sold-out crowd why she has amassed such an industry buzz.

"Over the past year and a half, I’ve had a fortunate time with music,” she said before launching into a medley of the ubiquitous pop hooks that put her on the map, including Diddy-Dirty Money's "Coming Home," Dr. Dre's "I Need A Doctor," Lupe Fiasco's "Words I Never Said" and Eminem’s "Love the Way You Lie."

RELATED: Skylar Grey's cover-girl transformation for L.A. Times Magazine

After spending her time penning hooks for others as a muse for producer Alex da Kid, who signed her to his KIDinaKORNER imprint through Interscope Records, the 25-year-old Grey is stepping further into the spotlight.

Prerequisite medley aside, Grey previewed tracks from her upcoming debut album, "Invinsible," using her first Los Angeles showcase to illustrate that she's more than just hip-hop's go-to hook girl.

When Grey was the cover girl of L.A. Times Magazine in June, she said she didn't want to be seen as looking for attention by dressing a certain way, and she reinforced this on Wednesday night: With little more than smoke, shadows and a backing band, Grey emerged onstage in her de facto look: a beanie, leather jacket, jeans and boots.

"We've kept a mysterious launch to my whole career," Grey told the magazine. "I want to ease into the view of the world and let my music do the talking." That mystery remains present: She sang most of the thumping opener, "Building a Monster," with her back to the crowd.

Her music pushes and pulls at the edges of pop/rock and peddles the same epic cinematic landscapes as the hooks she penned. Songs such as "Dance Without You," an anthem about independence, and "Weirdo," are radio-ready, while others such as "Tower" and "Final Warning" brim with a dark loneliness that might prove tougher to digest for some.

"Invisible," her somber first single, is instantly catchy, with poignant lyrics of isolation and inadequacy, though it is odd to see the mid-tempo sitting on Billboard's Dance/Club chart alongside Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez and Lady Gaga.

Grey explained this stylistic blend to the magazine, saying she was "able to create a sound that is very commercial, but there are also elements of avant-garde. I don't think anybody's doing what we did on this album." Her appearance at the Roxy didn't completely answer the question of who this singer is -- but maybe she wants it to remain that way.


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-- Gerrick D. Kennedy

Photo: Skylar Grey performs at the Roxy on Wednesday. Credit: Piper Ferguson