Maggie Kim: Lesson 1
Lesson 1
Maggie Kim: "Lesson 1"

Song List: White Girl, Coo, Just Stay, 2 Drinks In, Raspberry Beret

Lesson 1 began as a demo project that grew into a debut release for Penn grad-turned-burgeoning rock star Maggie Kim. Maggie wrote and produced her 5-song EP with Eve's Plum/Ruth Ruth guitarist Michael Kotch, beginning with rough guitar & vocal sketches and ending up with a tightly knit, loop-based disc of radio-friendly alt/pop songs. Her unique sound and style, reflecting both Missy Elliot and Gwen Stefani influence, comes through on the album as clear as it does onstage--seductive and beautiful, yet also at times flashing a Courtney Love/Wendy O. Williams brazenness (see "electrical tape" below). Somehow, Maggie channels all of her energy, influence and motivation through her deceptively powerful, petite Asian frame.

Prior to releasing her EP, as final touches still made their way into the mixes, "White Girl" won Jane Magazine's Readers Choice Songwriting Contest and landed Maggie a performance at the Los Angeles CD Release Party in front of David Geffen and Virgin mogul Richard Branson. Her Missy-inspired anthem of independence, bearing some melodic similarity to Stevie Wonder's "Pastime Paradise," also won a Shure songwriting contest. These accomplishments become all the more impressive considering that "White Girl" is arguably not even the EP's strongest song. "Coo," with its radio-ready hook, was the track picked up by an indie film producer who volunteered to shoot its video. Already lyrically alluring, the "Coo" video depicts Maggie dancing in sexy underoo-esque panties, which has kept traffic to MaggieKim.com moving quite steadily.

Maggie's raciness does not confine itself to Lesson 1's lyrics and video, however. During one New York City club date, she doused herself with beer then removed her blouse to reveal only strategically placed electrical tape (long live The Plasmatics!). Such an exhibitionist persona has caught more than just the attention of her fans. The Fender Guitar company jumped on Maggie's wild ride along with Cuervo Tequila and the Caffeine clothing company. Her dating diary found its way to Cosmo and she is currently a contributing writer for several prominent entertainment magazines.

Lesson 1 has developed into its own full-blown curriculum, with Maggie Kim stepping in as its irresistible headmistress. She takes it all in stride--the consummate singer, writer, entertainer, sex symbol and newly tapped corporate promotional goldmine. Success, however, has not come without its costs. "Just Stay" laments a lover's departure, which to her legion of adoring male fans smacks of Ed Norton's "dumbest man alive" break-up with Salma Hayek. Maggie's exposure at times transcends mere physicality, as she reveals her innermost thoughts through new song lyrics and her website's online diary (in which recent entries address issues ranging from the conservative persecution of Howard Stern to her own fluctuating breast size).

Aside from a questionable inclusion of her so-so cover of "Raspberry Beret," Lesson 1 holds its own against any independent debut. And to her credit Maggie did not have the Sinéad/Bangles/Joan Osborne luxury of recording a previously un-released Prince song. Lesson 1's strength, however, undeniable. Within 5 songs she has managed to give listeners a thumbnail chronicle of this...this mélange of sex, intelligence, beauty, wit, attitude and independence that manifests itself in human form as Maggie Kim.

Reviewed on 4/4/04