Thursday, July 28, 2011

Single Reviews 31/07/11

We had planned to squeeze in some sort of little tribute to Amy Winehouse here, but given this week’s Single Reviews come in the form of an X Factor Special, it’s safe to assume she wouldn’t be too chuffed with that. So let’s just push on with dissecting the selection of X Factor alumni who are flooding the singles market in one go. Mind you, we reckon only one at a push will even make the Top 40, so it’s not what you’d call a monopoly. With no further ado, it’s time! To face! The music! *roll titles*

Opening the show – in the death slot, no less – are Belle Amie, hotch-potch girlband from 2010, albeit one member down. The fact they’ve even reached a debut single despite having no identity as a group or apparent cohesiveness with each other is impressive; Girls Up itself is most certainly not impressive. The objective is apparently a quirky, catchy, uplifting girl power anthem – but the result is a disarray of awkward, artificial, tuneless irrelevance. Geneva Lane had a very lucky escape indeed. It’s a no from us.

Faring slightly better are fellow 2010 contenders The Reason 4, the blue-collar manband ditched at Judges' Houses. On the strengths of debut single Take It All, there’s some definite talent on board – soaring choruses and glossy production make this a power ballad very much in the vein of Nu Take That, even if they do have a penchant for a lyrical cliché here and there. It’s intriguing to consider what they might have achieved had they been given an opportunity in place of the appalling groups that did make the cut.

Single of the Week is bestowed upon Ruth Lorenzo, a singer we have no problem labelling as our favourite X Factor finalist of all time. Yes, even greater than Addictiv Ladies. However, we’ve not let that cloud our judgement – debut single Burn wins our approval entirely on its own merits. An earnest, passionate, timeless rock ballad with a captivating melody, it perfectly accommodates her impressive pipes and genuine artistry. It’ll probably sell diddly-squat, but Lorenzo makes a lot more sense doing this than having to kneel down in front of Simon Cowell.

Next is a member of the Hard-Done-By Winners’ Club paired with a faceless dance diva. Must Be A Reason is a peculiar entity courtesy of J Pearl featuring Shayne Ward, though the credits went the other way round when it was merely an album track from the Series 2 champion. Based heavily on the Wamdue Project’s 1999 hit, it’s a house-lite summer stomp with vocals so tweaked it sounds like a swarm of bees got into the studio. And while the chattering, breakneck vocals, which teeter on the verge of rapping, showcase an interesting side to Shayne, it’s probably too little too late.

And we close with perhaps the most talked-about song of the year. A track which doesn’t even polarise opinion so much as stir up venomous hatred across the whole of humanity. Yes, it’s Swagger Jagger, the unreservedly shocking debut from the unmistakeable Cher Lloyd. From its Western folk sample to its electro-twizzle breakdown to its social media lyrical splurge, it’s all hideous stuff. And yet, it feels like that was the intention from the outset. With millions of views, people casually (if ironically) quoting from it left right and centre, and Cher Lloyd’s name on everyone’s lips, mission accomplished.

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