Album: Alexandra Burke, Overcome (Syco/Sony)
Pop star divas! We like them. So, let's make more of them
Sunday 18 October 2009
Simon Cowell has more in common with Alan Partridge than his once abnormally high waistband. During the "Monkey Tennis" scene, Al pitches
Swallow, a detective series set in Norwich, to a sceptical BBC commissioner, countering the latter's suggestion that there's already an over abundance of such programmes with his own interpretation: "People like them. Let's make more of them!"
Only two years after Cowell's X Factor star-making machine churned out the unfathomably boring Whitney Houston clone Leona Lewis, it gave us Alexandra Burke (a Leona Lewis clone). People like them. Let's make more of them! One of the main problems (and there are many) with TV talent shows is that they inevitably facilitate a reversion to the mean. Anyone with a spark of individuality, such as Rhydian or Diana Vickers, falls at the final hurdle, and the robo-divas triumph.
Alexandra Burke, whose name it is impossible to see without "hearing" it in the booming voice of announcer Peter Dickson, would never have made it in the "real" world, so has been jazzed up a little to distance her from Leona.
Overcome's back cover has a picture of La Burke flashing her bum cheeks, which you can never imagine Lewis doing. She's also been given a higher percentage of uptempo tunes, such as current single "Bad Boys" (feat Flo Rida), a pale imitation of Britney's "Womanizer", and the Primark R&B of "Good Night Good Morning" (feat Ne-Yo; yep, Sony is pulling out all the stops with the B-list cameos).
The Motown pastiche "Bury Me" has potential, but she's absolutely phoning in her performance. And the chart-topping cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" has to be the most extreme example of a song being completely misunderstood by both artist and audience since the charity version of Lou Reed's "Perfect Day". To her, and them, it's just some uplifting and vaguely religious words, not a biblical metaphor about the orgasm.
Oh, sure, she can "sing" in a technical sense, but not in a remotely interesting way. In the normal run of things, Burke wouldn't deserve more than regular session work, the odd stint as the backing singer in a little black dress at the back of a Shayne Ward concert, maybe the occasional uncredited vocal on a funky house single. But we're through the looking glass now, and we're never going back.
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