Joe McElderry - The Climb
So...the X Factor winner, South Shields finest, has unleashed his debut single - or rather Simon has unleashed his debut single which he had no choice in recording, and it happens, as previously rumoured, to be a cover of Miley Cyrus' #11 hit from the summer, The Climb, taken from the Hannah Montana movie. Joe's angelic vocals make this song slightly better than the original, but it is still one of the least interesting pop songs of the year, and certainly the blandest ballad of 2009. The formula is really starting to wear thin now - the intro to the song sounds exactly like every other X Factor winners's single, every Westlife single, and more hilariously, Geraldine's The Winner's Song, a parody of these awful songs which was a hit for Peter Kay's alter ego last year. Joe is locked in a fierce and hugely publicised battle for the Christmas #1 with Rage Against The Machine's 90's rebellion rock anthem Killing In The Name. As it stands, Rage are slightly ahead but with Joe catching up quickly now that the physical CD has been released. Who will win the battle? probably the X Factor yet again, the unstoppable juggernaut that it is. But it really doesn't deserve to because this single is absolutely mind numbingly boring, utterly generic and sounds like it was produced in 5 minutes with a rent-a-gospel-choir on standby for the key change. I like Joe and voted for him in the final, but I won't be buying this single - Rage for the win!!!
I Blame Coco feat Robyn - Caesar
Sting's daughter unleashes her best single yet, thanks largely to a fantastic chorus delivered by pint sized Swedish popstar Robyn. On first listen I found this incredibly annoying, largely due to Coco's raspy vocals. As soon as Robyn comes in the song suddenly feels like a modern pop masterpiece with a brilliant melody and an energetic bassline, by the third listen I was hooked - as is the case with nearly everything associated with Robyn. A great pop/indie hybrid - it could become a bit of a cult hit with attention in the right places.
Ne-Yo feat Cassandra Steen - Never Knew I Needed
The official single from the new animated Disney film, The Princess and the Frog, the first 2D animation from Disney in ages and #1 at the US box office already, is by Ne-Yo, arguably one of R&B's biggest stars. With his smooth soulful vocals, he is like the unofficial successor to Joe. To market the film in Germany, German star Cassandra Steen, who has had one of the year's biggest hits there with the fantastic Stadt, has been squeezed into the song (and video) for German audiences. I'm a big fan of Cassandra and it's nice to hear her sing in English. She is almost like the female Ne-Yo in fact - calm, smooth, soulful, beautiful vocals without over expressing herself vocally or sounding strained or over the top at any point. Never Knew I Needed is my favourite Disney film song since Carrie Underwood's Ever Ever After from 2006's Enchanted. A brilliant R&B song with a simple piano melody playing over a typically 2009 heavy bassline, Cassandra's vocals complement Ne-Yo's excellently and the melody of the song is lovely - in fact the chorus reminds me a lot of Shakira's power ballad The One so I was bound to love it!!!