Review Summary: This relatively inoffensive debut of original songs from a teenage Australian Idol runner-up contains enough impressive cuts around a dreary middle section to suggest that she has a future.
While it may have been all about winning when the series began, one cannot help but get the feeling that finishing as runner-up may be the preferred outcome of ‘(insert country name) Idol’ contestants nowadays. Without the extra pressure that comes from record labels and viewers, place-getters are often given more freedom as musical artists, while still gaining the priceless exposure from the television series.
With possibly one exception, four out of the first five seasons of Australian Idol has arguably seen the runner-up eventually be more successful than the series winner. On series 4 back in 2006, a diverse final trio saw a South African born male pop-singer, an indigenous female specializing in contemporary R&B, and a 30 year old Irish born crooner. As it was, the latter (Damien Leith) won the series and has gone on to sell over 300,000 albums. However, two years later, 19 year old runner-up Jessica Mauboy snuck up from nowhere and scored two Australian top 10 singles.
Due to the show’s fanbase, it would be foolish to read too much into high-charting singles from former Idol contestants. However, in this case, it is actually deserving as both cuts are quality pop songs that dip their feet into other popular genres. Lead single ‘Running Back’ is one-part smooth ballad with its twinkling piano loop and lovelorn lyrics, and one-part contemporary hip-hop with its deceptively slinky vocals and effective – if phoned in – Flo Rida cameo. Meanwhile, 2nd single ‘Burn’ is almost as good with its restrained use of electronica combining with a contagious chorus to result in a song which will be just as at home on radio as it is in the clubs.
Splitting the aforementioned lead singles and making for an impressive opening trio is the title track which has been released as the 3rd single. However, from there, the middle portion of the album takes a turn towards the pace, style and themes which will be all too familiar for both Idol fans and detractors. Describing the grouping of songs between tracks 4 (ballad ‘Used2b’) and 8 (an unnecessary & mediocre cover of Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Time After Time’) as the “Whitney Houston Syndrome” should sum it up. It is an inoffensive batch of cuts that may have something minor to like which keep them from being awful, but are otherwise close to bordering on the mundane.
Mauboy’s voice is what one would describe as the prototypical Idol voice for a female contestant. During fleeting moments, she may blow you away with her combination of power and emotion. However, for the most part, the wow factor is only fleeting and she will often struggle across all registers. At those times, she actually reminds a little of Paula Abdul and it is not a surprise to hear auto-tune occasionally (if not over-) used. To their credit, the six producers used on ‘Been Waiting’ do a satisfactory job in doing what is required for the betterment of each individual piece.
Thankfully, Jessica leaves us on a strong note with all three final tracks impressing, and showcasing her talent and variety. ‘Back2u’ emits an extremely positive vibe among its smooth vocal harmonies. ‘Up/Down’ is the album’s dancefloor anthem and sees the teenager adapt surprisingly well to its up-tempo nature. While album closer ‘Let Me Be Me’ finishes things off well enough with a nice strings-assisted coming of age tale.
Considering expectations were rather low for this release, it is indeed a pleasant surprise. While there is not anything too original included on it, ‘Been Waiting’ is a cut above the usual Idol fare and contains three or four genuinely impressive cuts around a dreary middle section. Considering Mauboy is still a teenager and shows a relatively good knack for adapting to a variety of particular styles of music, this is an impressive debut (of original songs) which suggests that there could indeed be quality music to look forward to in the future as she matures and gains experience.
Gah, another 'idol' product. Though at least she as some catchy tunes, aka 'Running Back'. Did you hear that she made radio stations take of the single 'Burn' off air during the recent bush fires to try and be respectful to the victims?
Gee, any time you mention the word "idol" around here, you can hear a pin drop. Haha.
Thanks James. Are you certain it was her that made radio stop playing 'Burn'? I thought it was the stations themselves. Because I highly doubt that Kings of Leon would have done the same with 'Sex on Fire'.
I'm not sure James. My guess is that it was the decision of the radio stations. After that, it's not as if any performers would have had a say in it as arguing against it (or KoLeon playing 'Sex on Fire' at Sound Relief) would have been a PR nightmare. But I will stand corrected if I am wrong. Either way, the timing was terrible for her as the song had just gone Top 5.
RedSky, from memory, Lisa Mitchell didn't finish high up though. Just made the Top 10 or something like that. Again, I will stand corrected if I am wrong though as I definitely do not religiously watch the show.
Philly96, put it this way, if you don't like 'Burn', you won't like the album. The whole album isn't similar to that song, but there are enough songs that are that way inclined.
very nice review Davey, pleasure to read. This, I'm afraid is not my cup of tea though, I tolerate pop music only when it comes from Tv, since I just can't imagine myself turning in my computer, opening my itunes and start listening to some pop music.
"very nice review Davey, pleasure to read. This, I'm afraid is not my cup of tea though, I tolerate pop music only when it comes from Tv, since I just can't imagine myself turning in my computer, opening my itunes and start listening to some pop music."
Ahh, it's the man with the Bresciano avatar & profile pic. Haven't seen you around these parts for a while Mr. fromPennywise. Thanks for the comments and yeah, you probably won't like this all that much. Then again, it is Mothers Day coming up.
No MetalStyles, I am almost certain this isn't for you mate.