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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Track-by-Track: Joe McElderry - Wide Awake

As much as I LOVE X-Factor, the inevitable albums from contestants are more often than not pretty disappointing. I wasn't much of a fan of Joe McElderry on the show (he was so boring), but he's managed to produce one of the more interesting winner's albums. Other than a couple of tracks that go down the easy, predictable route, he's developed a surprisingly uptempo sound.

1. Ambitions - The original was one of the best singles of 2009 and, luckily, Joe doesn't mess it up. It's more uptempo and layered than Donkeyboy's version, which gives it a completely different feel. A good choice for opening single. 9/10

2. Someone Wake Me Up - Coming right off the last track, the sound and structure here is very similar. Putting that aside, it's an example of the uptempo, melodic pop that Joe does best. An obvious choice for the next single (though if the public didn't bite with Ambitions, this is really just more of the same). 9/10

3. Superman - I really disliked this song when it was a hit a few years ago. Schmaltzy, whiny... way overplayed. Amazingly, Joe's improved it and I don't hate this. The production's great and his vocals add some much needed drama to the mix. 7/10

4. Real Late Starter - Another cover, but this one really works. Joe goes all Scissor Sisters here, pumping up the glam strut and using his falsetto to full effect on the chorus. Not sure if he totally sells the lyrics, but it doesn't matter because this is a jolt of pure energy. 10/10

5. Until The Stars Run Out - I wrote about this yesterday. It's not a track that stood out on first listen, but it's the one I go back to most often. The sampling of George Michael's Faith is ingenious, and the soaring melody is dance-pop heaven. 10/10

6. Feel The Fire - It might as well be a rewrite of Alphabeat's Fascination because the sound is so similar. Joe just about gets away with it. It's a pleasant uptempo, but suffers a bit coming after the last two tracks. It's clear he was going with a trend here. Too bad the trend's two years old. 8/10

7. Fahrenheit - This is total over-the-top, Eurovision style pop music. I'm actually shocked that his managers let him record something so campy. It's not a complaint on my end, as I think this is the type of music he's best off doing. From the processed drums to the layered chorus, it's a lot of fun. Some people will hate this! 9/10

8. Wide Awake - The obligatory ballad. It's not a cover, which is promising, but it's not very memorable either. Bombastic production's grafted onto a melody that doesn't quite deserve it. I can't imagine that this is the best ballad that he recorded in preparation for the album, but who knows... 7/10

9. Smile - One of the worst singles in recent memory, and Joe only makes it worse with bland production and vocals. I hate to drag the entire album's grade down with one track, but I literally can't even get through this. Everything I hoped his album would not be. 2/10

10. Love Is War - Whew! Back to some quality. This is a strange uptempo that feels short and unfinished. What's there is quite good, though. The warped hook is one of the most mature and interesting on the album and shows some potential for future recordings. 8/10

11. The Climb - Bonus track, so I won't review. To put it shortly, it's totally unnecessary.

Album Grade: 7.9/10

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2 Comments:

OpenID ryanfebruary said...

I must say, I can not sing, but if I could this is the type of gay-album I would make - hands down.

I find most of this album is heavily influenced by gay music (aka, music I love). From George Michael to Scissor Sisters (on multiple tracks) to Elton John to Alphabeat (they are not gay but their music certainly is) to S Club 7. Yet the whole thing is completely modern and fun.

I agree with you on Smile and The Climb. I almost hate listening to Love Is War because it's tucked at the end with the garbage.

Oh and I hate his cover of Superman. Even more than I hate the previous two songs. I really disliked the original and I feel his voice is not vulnerable to even pull this off (especially with how campy the whole album turns out to be)

8:30 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Totally agree with your review. Smile is ghastly and i can't even listen to the climb. But substitute Smile with his recent b-side and it's a great album (that would surely bring the grade up). It's a shame that the single didn't do so well - hopefully the album is on track to do a bit better?

1:00 AM  

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