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By Osama Rahman

RNB wouldn't be complete without their share of Divas, who not only conquer hearts and mesmerize us with their voices, but they also leave us star and awe struck with their sheer confidence and poetry respectively. Here's 3 of them, in no particular order, of course.

Rihanna- The only second person from Barbados to have received a Grammy, Rihanna came into the industry in 2005 with her debut album 'Music of The Sun' and even though the album did well enough, she only lived up to her potential in later years, hinting superstardom with the hit-song 'Unfaithful', by Neyo in her April 2006 album titled 'A Girl Like Me.' Although her first album did very well, it was more reggae. Her 2nd album brought her to the R&B limelight. The focus was so intense that she followed 'A Girl Like Me' with the chart topping album 'Good Girl Gone Bad' which was released in June 2007. The album contained the duet song with Jay-Z, titled 'Umbrella' which stayed a record 10 weeks in the UK's charts at the number 1 position. It also ended 2nd in Bill Board's Hot 100. The song was the arrival of a new queen in R&B who had managed to sing out 'Umbrella', the sexiest song of the year.

Songs 2 Listen- 'Unfaithful', 'Hate That I Love You', 'Break it Off' and 'Umbrella'.

Beyonce- Actress, Singer, Song writer and beautiful, are some synonyms for Beyonce. Hitting the scene with Destiny's Child, Beyonce went solo in 2003 with 'Dangerously In Love', which became an instant hit. And given her star-power and growing fan base added with stunning looks and a most beautiful voice, that was no surprise at all. Her first solo, 'I Got That' with rapper Amil, failed to make an impression but she set tongues wagging and ear pricked when she appeared in '03 Bonne&Clyde' with Jay-Z and the song went on to become a chart topping hit. 'Dangerously in Love' had a strong string of guest appearances, including the lead single 'Crazy In Love', featuring Jay-Z. The song became the biggest hit of the summer staying at the top of the billboard for 8 consecutive weeks. She won 5 Grammies in the 2004 edition. She went on to release another hit song titled 'Check on It' featuring the wordsmith Slim Thug and the loony Bun B. September 2006 brought about her album 'B'day' which boasted the record-breaking single 'Irreplaceable', which stayed at number 1 position for ten consecutive weeks, staying there at the year's end. Beyonce had more than sealed her legacy…

Songs 2 Listen- 03 Bonnie and Clyde, Check On It, Beautiful Liar, Irreplaceable Cassie- My current favorite, Cassie broke into the scene with her 2006, Us Bill-Boards#3 entry, titled 'Me & U', which had commendable lyrics, complimented by her sensuous voice. Not well known in the R&B mainstream scene, Cassie's 'Me & U', was enough to seal her stardom and ensure great things to come. Bad Boy Label's recruit did not let them down, as she sold 319,000 on the first week of her album, 'Cassie'. Her gorgeousness helped her to appear in music videos for Kanye West on the song 'Stronger' and also Jay-Z. Her music video for 'Me & U' is one which must be played a thousand times over, but it is difficult to get enough of her.

Songs 2 Listen- 'Me&U', 'Me&U(remix)'.
And there you have it. Three of the industry's most beautiful sounding divas with looks to match. Check them out because otherwise you would be missing out on the best thing happening to R&B at the current moment.

By Nayeema Reza

Oh how sad it is, the way the guys get to openly drool over magazines and TV shows filled with all those chicks. So unfair. But enough is enough! Just because we are girls doesn't mean we are made of stone! Come on, we like the drooling thing too, not literally though! So to all the women-to-be and women-already…treat yourself to these exquisite banquet of men who we all like, for the endless joy that they bring in our lives!

Channing Tatum

Famous for his boyish and rather comical role in the movie “She's the Man”; Channing Tatum makes it to our list because the image he created for himself in the movie that makes him just so likeable! Channing started his acting career by making an appearance in the television series CSI: Miami, even though he was initially a model.

Johnny Depp
Do I hear a cheer at the mention of that name?! Most girls almost faint whenever the name Johnny Depp is uttered (like my friend Kimi)! But what really makes him so desirable and popular? Those kajol lined eyes (that would have looked weird on most people, but not him) and his terrific versatility undoubtedly make him stand out. From his beautiful movie Finding Neverland to the thrilling Pirates of the Caribbean series, Johnny Depp has done nothing but create an ever growing fan following.

Christiano Ronaldo
If you ever catch a girl watching a Manchester United football match, you'll know one of the reasons: Christiano Ronaldo. He has scored 56 goals for Manchester United (and 20 for his national team- Portugal) since he joined the team in 2003. This major athlete is not just good on the field; he serves as a major eye candy too. Still only 23 years old, we know we'll have more to see of him. Yeay!

Tom Welling
Star of the hit television series Smallville, 6'2” and dark haired, Tom Welling was hard to miss.

Those broad shoulder and gorgeous looks can actually make one forget for a moment that he is not indeed in reality, Superman. Tom Welling also starred in a few movies including Cheaper by the Dozen 1 & 2. And to all the girls out there, beware of his killer smile!

Matte Le Blanc
“How ye doinn'?” the trademark statement made by Matte Le Blanc, aka Joey Tribbiani of FRIENDS, is unknown to very few people. His lazy attitude, hilarious stunts (like the episode where he wore layers of underwear!) and relentless attempts at becoming a famous actor make Joey one of our favorites. Matte, we love you!

Milo Ventimiglia
Anyone who has watched “Heroes” has surely drooled over this man (cast as Peter Petrelli) possessing all the superpowers in existence. His long hair (that used to fall across his eyes, aww!) in Season 1 to his short cropped hairdo in Season 2 proves that this guy can even look breathtaking in a lungi!

James Blunt
“I saw you your face, in a crowded place…and I don't know what to do, cause I'll never be with you…”- You're Beautiful, James Blunt. This is the song that touched several hearts, stayed on the top most position on the charts for weeks! James Blunt is an amazing singer and musician, creating his own genre. Oh yeah, and he's real cute too, but that's not the point.

Tyler Hilton
The blue eyed twenty four year old from Palm Springs, California, also known as Chris Keller from One Tree Hill (season two) is sure creating a buzz! The singer and song writer is already riding on his carriage, heading towards success. Girls, feel free to drown into those pale blue eyes and that gorgeous smile.

Hugh Jackman
This name is sure to make my boss smile. Hugh Jackman, the tall Australian has till date pleased us continuously: voice of Memphis in Happy Feet, Wolverine in X-Men and acting in several Australian tv shows. Even though he is close to reaching forty, he looks better than ever!

Chris Evans
The human torch from the movie Fantastic Four and its sequel is in no doubt, on fire. He even played a few small roles in the tv series “Boston Public”. This dude is good to look at, so why not do just that?! Chris Evans is now 26, with his acting career simply starting off. We wish him all the best!

Reference: Wikipedia.com

By Sabhanaz Rashid Diya

For years, the typical scenario for an average Bangali woman portrayed her as a meek housewife dedicated to sell her soul for the wellbeing of her family. Soon, this image evolved into that of a caring mother and an earning wife, balancing between her home and career. When it came to cultural affiliations, our society could only imagine a classical singer or dancer. 21st century introduced more dynamic changes where women were stepping out of the typical musical scenarios and experimenting with non-classical genres. This, ladies and gentlemen, was the age of girl rockstars!

However, taking all the optimism aside, for the avid observer, has the music industry actually made room for female musicians. Where we have inspiring examples set by Krishnakali, Anusheh, Elita, Roma, Mila, Anila and Punam (to mention a few) who cater to pop, folk fusion or alternative genres; we also have a definite deficiency of the 'complete musician' in a woman.

“There are very few women in the music scene, especially in the administrative sector as well as instrumental accompaniments. Most female singers are very dependent on the support of their band members, who are almost always male. There is no doubt being a female will get a certain amount of attention in the media. The band may devour the popularity at first, but later, be bitter about it,” says one of upcoming female talents. “There isn't any doubt that men who are producers and instrumentalists help build a female vocalist's career. Unfortunately, sometimes their support tends to be strictly musical. In some cases, when a female vocalist is emerging, her band mates themselves are the ones pulling her back down.”

In many cases, nevertheless, although the band members are very supportive, society seems to cling onto the impression of the female vocalist to represent the band. They are treated as solo performers, placed under a 'special' spotlight and sometimes, gaining popularity in a fortnight simply because they're women.

“If a girl is the lead vocalist of a band, she is treated as the frontman and regarded as a solo performer. However, there is a difference between a band and a solo performer,” says Elita Karim from Raaga. “When someone is going solo, say for example Fuad, he isn't only dealing with the vocals. He is also the producer and deals with other aspects of the song. A band comprises of several people, who each contribute to the music it creates. When the vocalist is a guy, the band is treated as a complete band. For example, Cezanne usually speaks for Artcell, although he is the drummer. I think this attitude needs to change.”

It's about time attitudes need to change both at social and individual levels. Although women have taken a substantial step ahead in the music industry and in a society where patriarchy prevails; a revolution is yet to come.

“Female musicians are being listened to a lot more than before. If we could keep up the pace and goodwill, it really wouldn't be far away when we would be treated as equals,” says Sahana Bajpaie Chowdhury, whose sensuous vocals have brought Tagore home to this generation. She adds with a note of hope and glint of pride, “The vocalist of Bangla, Ms. Anusheh Anadil proves this. She not only has been the voice of the band Bangla, but also the voice for Bangladesh when the band performed in the VOICE AGAINST POVERTY Concert, in Rostock, Germany in June 2007.”

Yet, women are held back from being 'complete musicians', developing both instrumentally and in terms of production. Somehow, their voices are less dominant than on stage when it comes to writing the lyrics or arranging the song.

“Our society has existing concepts of developing a girl's cultural sides by sending her to an ustaad to learn singing, whereas the boy is learning guitars or other instruments,” says Elita. “In the long run, it is seen that the more popular male musicians are not only vocalists, but are producers and instrumentalists. It's not because they're men that they're popular; but simply because they are well-rounded and talented musicians. A girl lags behind because of her dependency on others for producing or composing her song.”

Sahana Bajpaie Chowdhury

“Apart from that, we are not in a Western society,” adds another local artist. “Men get more opportunities to travel, work late nights and give it their 110% artistically, while women are still struggling with barriers from other directions. Regardless of how credible they are, they are subject to public gossip about her reputation. People may love the girl's guts, but are more willing to backbite about her. Besides men, women also tend to have jealous instincts towards those beautiful and courageous women who are giving it their best to achieve their goals in any field. This is a huge barrier for any woman who wants to go for the fame and fortune, as she must first and foremost digest the nasty comments and rumours she will definitely have to face.”

In the end, beyond all the controversies, criticisms and obstructions lay a glimmer of sanguinity. Sahana with an undertone of optimism says, “As a woman, I would really like to see female singers bringing out more original songs. Songs that are written and composed by them, songs that talk about them as women and how they relate to their surroundings. Mostly songs that don't only talk about pangs of being jilted in love or excited about being in love or searching for true love. A woman's voice is stronger than that. Her feelings and sensitivity go far beyond her relationship with a man. It'll be great to see songs where we speak of our true and deeper feelings. It's high time our society realizes we are not all about beauty parlours, dresses, Barbie dolls, soft toys, chocolates, love and tears. Music speaks louder than anything else. Hence, music could bring in the change in terms of how we are viewed, scrutinized, judged and subjugated."


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