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Rhydian Roberts was a contestant in the 2007 UK X-Factor and this is his debut album which he released after coming second in the competition. Rhydian performed all manner of songs on the X-factor but his more outlandish choices (ie. Pet Shop Boys' 'Go West' or Pink's 'Get The Party Started') don't appear on this album. It's a tad disappointing that the quirkiness I loved in the white haired Welsh boy has been cast aside to make way for the more obvious, sensible song choices. There isn't any track on this album that I'm suprised to see or that I wouldn't expect artists like Rhydian or Aled Jones or Russell Watson to cover. It's definately a big move away from the hype and circus of the X-factor though. It's an album that sees Rhydian incoporate his strong religious faith this into his musical choices.
'Impossible Dream' is the perfect song for Rhydian as his voice can be tender as well as tough and the lyrics in this song demand both of an artist. The beginning of the song is tinged with romance and sadness whilst the latter half of the song is performed in the traditional style like it is originally in the musical 'Man Of La Mancha' with more pomp and bravado. Being slightly obsessed with the original musical I've heard this song done a thousand times by various artists and this is one of the best renditions I've heard. When I hear this I like to believe that the artist is really feeling and interpreting the words as a Don Quixote style character and I do feel that from Rhydian. I like that Rhydian doesn't bombard us with the operatic stye of his voice here but actually holds back and is quite whispery and soft at moments. The choir add-on at the end isn't needed but heaps on the drama and the overall piece is very moving and breathtaking.
'To Where You Are' is a beautiful song made famous by Josh Groban. I would say it's a little more gentle than Groban's version but that this gentler style gives it a sweetness and softness that is appropriate considering the flowery lyrics. It's a romantic piece and there is a lot of vulnerability in Rhydian's voice that helps to convey the meaning of the words. A great track that when you listen to it you could never imagine someone with a voice like ever needed the X-factor to promote themselves.
'What If' is performed as a duet with a female singer, Idina Menzel, who Rhydian refers to as 'stunning'. I love that Rhydian's natural accent comes through on this track as this personal touch makes it feels like more of a credible love song. Menzel has a strong voice with a slightly annoying American twang. Her voice has a toughness, modern and almost streetwise quality to it that contrasts with Rhydian's voice which seems to be that of a rather fragile, thoughtful and spiritual man. It's an interesting dichotomy that works well.
'The Prayer' is a more austere number and Rhydian's voice is deeper and darker with a more mature, paternal style. The style reminds me of Colm Wilkinson from Les Miserables. The lyrics are hopeful and talk of 'mended hearts' and an end to suffering through God's influence but it's a rather heavy going song and is more heartbreaking than celebratory. The latter half of the song is brought to life by a fabulous gospel choir.
Rhydian's version of 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' is touching and emotional and although this is another song that's been covered many times by other artists I must say that this version offered me something new, something that made me appreciate the song anew. I love the forcefulness in the voice especially singing the refrain at the end of the track. Go Rhydian!
'There Will Be A Time' is a song I'd never heard before. The lyrics have religious and spiritual qualities and like 'The Prayer' it is like a call for worldwide peace and love. These sentiments are certainly moving and the gentle instrumentals and hopeful expressions in the voice are perfectly executed. Rhydian hits a high note in this song that is quite stunning to hear!
'Somewhere' from West Side Story is performed with a kind of sadness and Rhydian captures the sense of dreamy ambition in his performance that is referred to in the lyrics. The children's choir at the chorus near the end changes the whole meaning and approach of the song though, turning it into another prayer for mankind rather than a romantic love song. A different version of the song, to be sure, but a tad corny.
'Not A Dry Eye In The House' was originally performed by Meat Loaf and when Rhydian sings this I really get a sense that he is either copying Loaf's style or can't help sounding like him because this song is typically a Meat Loaf number. I am not convinced by Rhydian's handling of the lyrics here - he seems to be forcing it a little bit, playing at karaoke almost.
'I Believe' is another track that allows Rhydian to merge music and faith. This song has a beautiful, almost lullabuy style melody and that is lost a little bit here. Instead Rhydian plays it so hard and sings so ardently that this song comes off like something that might be performed at a big church event. It's a little over the top for me.
'I'm Coming Home Again' sounds a little like the theme tune music from 'Braveheart' as it uses panpipe music to create that sense of yesterday. The music conjures up Celtic ghosts and inspires imagery of misty mountains and lakes. It's a great, spiritually rousing track.
'Who Wants To Live Forever' sounds more modern and theatrical compared to the other tracks on the album. I like the drama in the music and although it's performed in typical Rhydian style the song never totally loses it's rock roots with electric guitars bursting into life near the end of the song in addition to the dangerous James Bond style piano music and the slick, attitude-laden drums. The voice is at it's best here - totally authentic, strong and able to convey the emotion in the lyrics.
Overall this is a brilliant debut album by a valid artist and one that I'm glad I bought as it is a pleasure to listen to. If you are one of these people who turn their nose up at the X-factor machine, try listening to this and you may be surprised.
=== Who is Rhydian? ===
When Rhydian first appeared on X-Factor in 2007 I can't say that I was particularly fond of the guy. I agree he had a brilliantly powerful voice but he was eternally cocky and that just didn't endear him towards me. As the programme progressed however Rhydian's real character began to shine through and it became apparent that he was quite a sensitive young man with a super talent. By the final show I really wanted him to win. Unfortunately this was not to happen but he was still my favourite and his album now firmly sits in my collection.
=== RHYDIAN - The Album ===
The self titled album 'Rhydian' is the artist's first and only album to date and was released in November 2008. The album charted at number 3 in the UK album charts and peaked at number 29 in the UK Year-End Albums Chart. The album is in mnay ways a blend of different music genres and contains many popular and well-known tracks, each sung in Rhydians own rather unique style.
=== Track Listing ===
1. The Impossible Dream
2. To Where you Are
3. What If (Duet with Idina Menzel)
4. The Prayer
5. Bridge Over Troubled Water
6. There Will Be Time
8. Not A Dry Eye In The House
9. I Believe
10. I'm Coming Home Again
11. Who Wants to Live Forever
=== Track Breakdown ===
ONE - THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM
The Impossible Dream was written for the 1965 musical 'Man of La Mancha' and became the musicals most popular hit. The song was also used in the 2005 Honda advertisement. Rhydian's version is in my opinion a very strong one and whilst keeping the flavour of the original version adds something of his own to this powerful song. The backing music is simple yet effective and Rhydian's voice really does emanate and resonate throughout. He manages to keep the verses smooth and emotional whilst making the chorus powerful and imposing.
'To try when your arms are to weary
'To reach the unreachable star
'This is my quest
To follow that star.'
TWO - TO WHERE YOU ARE
To Where You Are is a contempary song by American Josh Groban and appears on his 2001 debut album. Rhydian is one of two artists to re-release this song - the other being X-factor band G4. This song is really beautiful to listen to, as the backing track is exceptionally relaxing and enhanced by the soft and delicate vocals. Despite the vocals being delicate Rhydian manages to put not only an immense about of emotion but also power behind them. Unfortunately towards the end of the track the vocals do seem to get a little screechy.
'Are you gently sleeping
Here inside my dream
And isn't faith believing
A power can't be seen'
3 - WHAT IF
'What If' was originally sung by Kate Winslet for the 2001 animated film Christmas Carol: The Movie. I personally though had never heard this track before but upon hearing it on this album immediately fell in love with it. The lyrics are superb if you listen to them properly and the backing track one that really enhances the whole mood and atmosphere of the track. Furthermore Rhydian's powerful yet masculine vocals are equally matched by Idina Menzel's powerful yet uniquely female ones. The pair sing wonderfully together and compliment and contrast the others performance to provide a perfect song in my opinion.
'Many roads to take
Some to joy some to heartache
Anyone can loose their way'
4 - THE PRAYER
The prayer is originally a duet and was performed by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli. It is in my opinion a tremendously uplifting and beautiful track and I must admit I wasn't sure how well it would work as a solo piece. I must say though that I was pleasantly surprised as Rhydian does a tremendous job with it. He brings emotion and soul to the lyrics and really gives it his all. The choir harmonies towards the end are also lovely to listen to. I do however stand by my feeling that the piece is better suited to a duet.
'We ask that life we kind
And watch us from above
We hope it so we'll find
Another soul to love'
5 - BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER
Bridge Over Troubled Water is the title track from Simon and Garfunkel's last album and has been a popular track since it's release. I must say though that I can't say that the song is a favourite of mine and unfortunately Rhydian's version of it has done nothing to endear me towards it. I must admit that he does give a very powerful performance of the track but something is just missing for me and the high pitch of the piece isn't something I can say I'm fond of.
6 - THERE WILL BE A TIME
There Will Be A Time is another really beautiful track to listen to and has some wonderful lyrics that Rhydian adds emotion, power and feeling to. His vocals are solid throughout the track and really shine at some points. These sparkling moments however don't transcend the song and so at times it does feel it is missing a certain something.
'That's we'll rise
Higher than the highest mountain
That's we'll reach for
Stars we never knew where there'
7 - SOMEWHERE
Somewhere is a song from the 1957 musical West Side Story and was also used in the 1961 film of the same name. The song has since then been performed by many artists and is a beautiful piece of music. I am therefore very pleased to say that Rhydian pulls out an amazing performance of it and gives us a track that is well worth enjoying. The backing track is a superb instrumental piece and Rhydian really pulls all the emotion that the track professes into his vocals and holds the magical feeling of the music and lyrics throughout the whole track.
'There's a place for us
A time and a place for us
Hold my hand and we're halfway there
Hold my hand and I'll take you there'
8 - NOT A DRY EYE IN THE HOUSE
This track was recorded by Meat Loaf in 1995 and to my knowledge had not been released by anyone else until Rhydian made it a feature on his album. I personally think this a tremendous cover version and in many respects matches Meat loaf's original. My dad, a massive Meat Loaf fan, disagrees but did concede that this is a brilliant version worthy of praise. Rhydian's vocals in this track sound different to how they do in the others on the album but the sound really suits him and the ultimate outcome is a superbly enjoyable track.
'The greatest story was you and me
We had it all we had everything
But now the story's done its just history
The last act is over'
9 - I BELIEVE
This is a song that I have always loved and therefore I wasn't sure how I would take to Rhydian's version but I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it the first time I heard it and have continued to do so on further listening. The backing music for this track is simple and subtle but suits Rhydian's style on the whole. Like in previous tracks he performs this one with a great deal of emotion and knows when to show off his powerful voice and when to leave the tenderness of his vocals to shine through.
10 - I'M COMING HOME AGAIN
This track is an original written for Rhydian and is one of my favourite tracks on the album. From the first bars of the backing track you just know it's going to be different. The opening music has a real folk feel to it and this is something I quite like. From this point on the backing music is rather subtle and doesn't impose on the lyrics but Rhydian doesn't need musical support of this sort anyway and this track highlights that. He really does have a tremendous voice and the power and emotion that he expresses is immense. This track is a beautiful and relaxing one to listen to on all counts.
'Echos, they travel so fast
Speaking so clear of the past.
Telling me I have a long way to go
Before I will find you at last.'
11 - WHO WANTS TO LIVE FOREVER
Who Wants to Live Forever is a power ballad by rock band Queen and was released in 1986 and was written for soundtrack of the film Highlander. Rhydian performs this track very well and certainly does this well-known song justice. Personally however I would have ended the album on the original song, which precedes it as vocally I think Rhydian, does a better job there. This track however is still powerfully song and the vocal strength is brilliant but some little spark is lacking.
== Final Comment ==
In my opinion this is a superb album. It is filled with emotion and power and Rhydian performs some well known tracks with gusto and conviction that make them all truly enjoyable to listen to.
I was never a fan of this music before Rhydian burst onto the stage on X Factor in 2007 and then I was converted! He done some incredible performances on the show including Go West, You Raise Me Up and I Will Do Anything For Love. I was eagerly awaiting this album after seeing him on the X Factor tour and hoping to hear some great X Factor songs as well as some originals.
For anyone who has not heard of Rhydian, he is a mixture of classical musical/opera but with his own slant on it.
He didn't disappoint, although I would have rather have had You Raise Me Up on there but oh well. His voice is highlighted beautifully and the power and range his voice has, these songs have shown it very well.
The tracklisting is as follows:
1. The Impossible Dream -
2. To Where You Are
3. What If (Duet With Idina Menzel)
4. The Prayer
5. Bridge Over Troubled Water
6. There Will Be A Time
8. Not A Dry Eye In The House
9. I Believe
10. I'm Coming Home Again
11. Who Wants To Live Forever
The Impossible Dream is a beautiful opening track, and really does hold a special meaning for him. As it starts off gently before his voice gains more power. The duet with Idina Menzel fits together so well and their voices blend brilliantly together. Including X Factor tracks Bridge Over Troubled Waters and somewhere are much better than the live shows.
The Prayer is fantastic, with the added choir to give it much more depth to the song. Although the choir in the background is not to everyones taste.
Not A Dry Eye In The House is an amazing song and he moves from genre to genre effortlessly and proves he could sing just about anything and make it his own.
My favourite song is I'm Coming Home Again, written especially for him, it reminds you of you his Celtic roots and when he performs this in Wales I'm sure it will go down a storm. Who Wants To Live Forever is a great cover of a Queen classic, one again showing how he can go from a emotional song to belting out a rock classic to round off a great album.
However if you are looking for an album with much more upbeat songs then Id look elsewhere as he is only singing slower songs on this album. It would have nice to break it up with Go West or Get The Party Started but maybe on the next album.
The whole album shows off his vocal talents and how much emotion he can show on songs. Whenever his next album appears it will be hard to beat this one, but I'm sure he will be able to do it. With strings, guitars and pianos and choirs accompanying him on many of the songs it gives the album much more depth than just himself singing.
I would have liked more originals tracks, less covers, but what he has covered he has not done it half efforted he has put his own stamp, his heart and soul into making it his own and not just another boring cover. So you will remember his renedition of the song!
If you loved him on the X Factor give this a shot, its available from Amazon, Itunes, HMV etc for around £8.
Now i dont like Rhydian much, in fact i dont like his charachter much and i'm not in to opera music or music like this at all. The only reason i'm even giving this a chance is because he is the runner up of the X Factor. I think Leon Jackson is the better winner in my own opinion, but sales wise, fanbase and radio/tv support wise Rhydian is the real winner beating Leon and Same Difference.
This self titled debut has sold 350,000 copies whilst Leon's debut album is struggling at 160,000 after nearly 4-5 months of sales.
I think The Impossible Dream, was the obvious choice as a single, although it isn't a single but his X Factor performance will have helped him quite alot. I think the album is overally quite good, some highlights mainly Bridge Over Trouble Water and the duet. Abit shocked not to see You Raise Me Up on here, it's one of his best. I like that there is a combination of original and covers at the right level. I think maybe a single should have been released though.
I think He could have done a duet with Katherine Jenkins, that would have been great. I think lyrically it's all meaningful, and production is quite spectacular although with Rhydian i think it could have been even better.
The album is quite good and it flows really well. It's a good debut record X Factor or not, i like it but personally i prefer Leon as a person, singer, album wise and as a X Factor winner. I think Rhydian's the rarity in which the runner up outperforms the winner but i think this is an impressive debut by any standard.
I was a huge fan of Rhydian on The X Factor and was eagerly awaiting his album, particularly as I had heard that it was going to be a Meatloaf-esque pop-rock orientated. When I finally got hold of a copy of the album, I was a bit disappointed. The only track on the album that really lived up to that description was the cover of Meatloaf's Not A Dry Eye In The House, which I absolutely love.
The rest of the album is a perfect demonstration of his vocal talents, including The Impossible Dream, The Prayer and Somewhere. Given the length of time it took to make the album, I was surprised that it contained so many covers. As far as I aware the following tracks are covers: To Where You Are (Josh Groban), What If (Kate Winslet), The Prayer (Andrea Boccelli), Bridge Over Troubled Water (Simon and Garfunkel), Somewhere (Barbara Streisand), Not A Dry Eye In The House (Meatloaf), I Believe (Robson and Jerome, amongst others) and Who Wants To Live Forever (Queen). While there is no denying how emotive and impressive his vocals are on each of the tracks, I would have liked to have seen more original tracks. My favourite tracks on the album are the Meatloaf cover and the duet with Idina Menzel.
If you enjoyed listening to his renditions of covers on The X Factor (excluding performances like Phantom of the Opera and Get This Party Started, as showman tracks like this are few and far between on the album), you would probably enjoy the album too.
Russell Watson has always been known as 'the voice' I believe there is a new contender for the title now, Rhydian Roberts from last year's X factor. Throughout the series last year, he did some incredible performances showing his voice to its best, and many were surprised when he didn't win the show. It didn't matter though, he was signed up, and his album has recently been released. If you like this kind of voice and this kind of music, then you will love this album. The singing is wonderful, the arrangements all that you could wish for, and the song choice, whilst safe, very enjoyable. I have to be in the mood for this kind of music, but when I am in that mood, this will be an album that I will enjoy listening to, again and again.
The impossible dream
A beautiful rendition of a very well known song, originally from the show "Man of la Mancha". A gentle piano starts with the familiar tune, the wonderful voice of Rhydian joins, building and building, with the orchestra in the background, then quietening again, as the song speaks of his heart being peaceful and calm as he's laid to his rest. Strings build again behind the stunning voice, to a dramatic climax, with a choir.
To where you are
The piano opens this one again, with Rhydian's pure clear voice singing softly. Choral singing and orchestra accompany him, with a much louder section in the middle, dying back to his voice and the piano once more.
What if, featuring Idina Menzel
Idina Menzel is a Tony Award winning American actress singer and songwriter, best known for performances in American musical theatre. Their voices perfectly compliment each other on this duet. Superb, raises goosbumps whenever I hear it.
The song is from the animated film Christmas Carol: the movie, and was originally sung by Kate Winslet.
Strings start this one, a song made famous by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli. Another beautiful sweeping song done great justice by Rhydian's incredible voice.
There is lots of choral singing in the background with the orchestra, and bells chiming, all add to the religious feel. Another one that raises the goosebumps.
Bridge over Troubled Water
The Simon and Garfunkel classic. Rhydian's voice accompanied by piano starts it off, then the orchestra comes in, and again there is use of chiming bells. A great cover version, done in Rhydian's own style. There is a great orchestral break before the last verse. The choral voices accompany the climactic last verse.
There will be a time
This song shows the range and power of Rhydian's voice. A complicated song with key changes, Rhydian sings it beautifully. There is a top note that is absolutely stunning, and the accompanying strings add to the soaring majesty of the sound. Amazing. I find the key changes in the song a little strange so not my favourite, although the singing is superb.
The famous song originally from the musical West Side Story. A children's choir gives this a different slant, which I suppose was necessary as there have been so many versions of this song. I reckon Rhydian's voice holds its own with the best of them though. A sweeping soaring arrangement.
Not a dry eye in the house
A change of pace and style with this Meatloaf song. It really shows the versatility of his voice, as he covers this rock classic superbly. I really like this, but then I like Meatloaf, and Rock.
Another standard, made popular by Frankie Laine originally. Lots of orchestral and choral backing, make this another soaring rousing rendition. Not my favourite song, but he does it very well.
I'm coming home again
A beautiful song, written for Rhydian. It is given a Celtic feel with the use of pipes, and the choir accompanying him. A soaring uplifting song, which I wouldn't be surprised to see in the charts as a single.
Who wants to live forever
Rhydian's incredible rendition of the Queen Classic. It's very different from Freddie Mercury's wonderful version, but equally powerful in its own right. A Brian May type guitar in the background adds to the Queen feel.
The album is available from Amazon for £8.98. or for download for £6.49
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM
2 TO WHERE YOU ARE
3 WHAT IF (DUET WITH IDINA MENZEL)
4 THE PRAYER
5 BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER
6 THERE WILL BE A TIME
8 NOT A DRY EYE IN THE HOUSE
9 I BELIEVE
10 I'M COMING HOME AGAIN
11 WHO WANTS TO LIVE FOREVER