Sonique Boom

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As record companies rush to get their wares online, the Internet has quickly mutated from marketing miracle to digital Tower of Babel--overcrowded and overhyped--where finding one's way through the clutter sometimes seems futile. But the success of Sonique may be the first proof that the Web--with a little help from old media--can actually launch and push a deserving artist through the confusion and onto the Top 10.

Sonique is a British dance-pop singer whose grabby new single, It Feels So Good, is scaling the charts with uncommon speed. Just a few months ago, Sonique's fame was limited to the British dance-club circuit. Then, in February, a deejay in Tampa, Fla., received a copy of a Sonique single from a visiting friend. He gave it a spin. The audience that developed around It Feels So Good was large and enthusiastic--and happened to include Universal Music chairman Doug Morris and Jimmy Iovine, head of Universal's Interscope subsidiary. The two record moguls decided to make Sonique's first album, Hear My Cry, the debut release of , the new Internet-based label they launched last winter. Before Hear My Cry landed in record racks, Sonique's music was posted on the label website, and she performed to wild acclaim on Farmclub's late-night TV show. Fans showered the site with hits.

It doesn't hurt that Sonique--who should have stuck with her real name, Sonia Clarke--is a charismatic presence with an appealingly brassy voice. She's also a clever songwriter whose tunes draw on American house music and British trip-hop in fresh ways. Would she have broken through without the Net? Probably. But this fast? No way.