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Wide Awake - Joe McElderry

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3 Reviews

Genre: Pop / Artist: Joe McElderry / Audio CD released 2010-10-25 at Sony Music

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    3 Reviews
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      03.07.2011 16:48
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      Not the album I would have expected from Joe

      A Confession

      Although I've always maintained that I get bored of X Factor after the auditions are over and we're left with only the 'good' singers, that was only true until last year, when I fell ever so slightly in love with a cute little Geordie lad called Joe McElderry and continued to watch the show just to see him perform every week!

      Although not necessarily to my usual tastes, from the first time I heard Joe sing I thought he had an amazing voice, and as well as being a little cutie he seemed like a genuinely nice lad and I really wanted him to do well, so I was very pleased when he won.


      The Album

      Released on the 25th October 2010 under the Sony Music label, Wide Awake can be found on Amazon priced at £8.93 in CD format, or £7.49 to download in mp3 format.

      The cover art is nothing special, just a nice black and white photo of the cute little Geordie lad himself. Good enough for me!


      My Expectations

      The X Factor 'Winner's Single', chosen by the X Factor people to relate to their X Factor journey ('Against all Odds', 'A Moment Like This', 'When You Believe' etc.), is thankfully no indication of the winner's musical style or what to expect from their first album.

      However, there were 2 things I was expecting from a Joe McElderry album; ballads first and foremost, and then cheesy pop. A wholly unfair preconception when you consider the range of songs he tackled during his time on X Factor, but a popular one all the same.

      Then I watched Joe perform his second single 'Ambitions' on the X Factor and I was literally sat there thinking, "No Joe! No, no, no! What are you doing?!". I really thought it sounded awful and didn't show off his great voice at all, which sparked much apprehension about what the album would be like.


      The Tracks

      Opening the album is 'Ambitions', a lively, upbeat, catchy little tune which makes good use of Joe's perfect falsetto and a beat that makes you want to get up and dance. Having already said that I hated this when I saw Joe perform it I'll now happily eat my words as after listening to the recorded version a couple of times it had already really grown on me, and I think it kicks off the album in style, setting the tone perfectly.

      Following in very similar style is 'Someone Wake Me Up', and then a nice little surprise for me in the form of 'Superman'. This has been one of my favourite songs ever since I heard Five for Fighting's version, and whilst at first I thought Joe's version couldn't quite touch theirs I now find it hard to favour one over the other. Sung with all the intensity it needs, it's a powerful and emotive track which utilises the softer tones of Joe's voice to great effect. He manages to make the song his own without straying too far from the original, which is never as easy as it sounds.

      There's something quite Scissor Sisters-esque about 'Real Late Starter', which again sets a good amount of falsetto against a dancy, fun, upbeat backing track. It has an almost comical style and features some interesting lyrics which had me rather amused on first listening, "I'm a genius loser" and "I'm the King refusenik" being 2 of the best lyrics I've heard in a while; give me silly over profound any day!

      'Until The Stars Run Out' samples George Michael's 'Faith' in quite an interesting way, whilst 'Feel The Fire' is yet another upbeat, catchy pop tune with dance-related lyrics guaranteed to get even the most reluctant dancers shuffling their feet or doing the sit-down dance. 'Fahrenheit' shares the decidedly Scissor Sisters feel of 'Real Late Starter', with intentionally squeaky vocals and the most dancy beat yet. I could easily imagine this track, or a remix, would do really well in the clubs. A real get-up-on-the-dance-floor number.

      Something about the vocal effects used in the title track 'Wide Awake' gives it a more raw, laid-back feel reminiscent of certain tracks by the likes of Good Charlotte and Blink 182, a contrast to much of the album. 'Smile' follows in similar fashion, the vocals of the verses again echoing Good Charlotte and Blink 182s' more upbeat tracks in style, this time contrasted against a chorus where I'm almost certain someone was overdosing on the happy pills. Lyrics such as "Cooler than the flip-side of my pillow, that's right" show this as another fun track which doesn't take itself too seriously.

      'Love is War' settles somewhere between the catchy, bouncy feel of the first few tracks and the slight edginess of the 2 it directly succeeds, before the album is rounded off by Joe's debut single 'The Climb', which typifies the cheesy 'inspirational' tracks we've come to expect from the winner's singles, and was previously released by Miley Cyrus. When I first heard Miley's version I hated it, but it slowly grew on me and I came to quite like it in end. Joe sings it well, but for me his version lacks the slight quirkiness that made Miley's more bearable. I definitely think it was a good idea leaving this cheesy Disney-esque number until last, as if it had come earlier I think it could easily have caused a few people to give up on the album and not give it the chance it deserved.


      My View

      This album really surprised me. It's fun and upbeat with only the odd departure into the emotional, and with the exception of the obligatory winner's single there's not a single cheesy ballad in sight. There's nothing truly outstanding or breathtaking, but equally there's nothing really terrible, the only skippable track being 'The Climb'.

      It's all really easy to listen to and, perhaps surprisingly, easy to dance to. Whilst some of the tracks could definitely be described as fairly samey, they're not overly so and as the whole album only runs for about 34 minutes, you're not even given the time to get sick of it.

      Aside from the fact that it simply won't be to everyone's tastes, the only real negative I can point out is that not one track utilises Joe's true vocal ability. It's all pretty easy-to-sing stuff which, aside from possibly the falsetto parts, the majority of people could belt out an acceptable rendition of on karaoke, and it certainly doesn't show off the voice that won him his X Factor title to it's full potential. However, to have done that would have made for an entirely different album which would almost certainly have had much narrower appeal.

      I find it difficult to choose favourite tracks from this album, but I particularly enjoy 'Real Late Starter' and 'Smile' for the fun lyrics, 'Fahrenheit' for the dance factor, and of course 'Superman' which has long been a favourite song of mine.


      The Conclusion

      Obviously it won't appeal to everyone and if you don't like pop music then this won't be for you. However, I think it will appeal to a much wider range of people than I would have thought before listening, so if you're avoiding it because you're expecting a cheese-fest give it a chance, it might just surprise you.

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      • More +
        05.01.2011 19:58
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        Mika meets the Scissors Scissors, fun catchy pop from a rare talent

        Introduction
        Wide Awake is the debut album by 2009 X Factor champ, Joe Mcelderry.
        Back in the 2009 X Factor auditions, Joe wowed the judges with his rendition of 'Dance with my father' and sailed through to the live finals. On the live shows, he won the support of the nation with his note perfect performances.
        Wide Awake a strong debut by the youngster, showcasing a catchy collection of lively pop songs.

        General info
        Audio CD (25 Oct 2010)
        Number of Discs: 1
        Label: Sony Music

        Tracklist
        1. Ambitions
        2. Someone Wake Me Up
        3. Superman
        4. Real Late Starter
        5. Until The Stars Run Out
        6. Feel The Fire
        7. Fahrenheit
        8. Wide Awake
        9. Smile
        10. Love Is War
        11. Bonus track: The Climb

        Best track - It's hard to chose because there are so many strong songs on this album. 'Real late starter' is ridiculously cool and catchy and I love 'Until the stars run out'.
        However, I'd have to say 'Superman' is my favourite overall because it's a beautiful song which Joe's voice really does justice to.

        Worst track - Smile because Joe's voice is barely recognisable on this. I have no problems with the actual song, just the distorted tone it's sung in.
        The Climb is a close second....

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        It's completely different to what you'd expect from Joe as an artist. When he won the X Factor back in December 2009, he was labelled as a one trick pony, beautiful voice but no personality, better suited to theatre, destined to release a dreary album full of ballads and cover versions etc.
        What you actually have here is a selection of brilliant, catchy and up-tempo pop tunes. It's more Scissor Sisters meets Mika than it is Westlife! This shows somebody not afraid to take risks and experiment, even on his debut album and I think that's really brave for such a young artist. I also think there's an element of 'cant win' here because if Joe had done an album full of ballads, as was expected, people would have said he was boring. However by trying something different, I've heard some say he is alienating the fans who originally voted for him.
        Having said that, when 'Wide Awake' does venture into ballad territory, Joe does so brilliantly as demonstrated by his version of 'Superman'. Joe's voice on this song is stunning and he has the maturity to be able to pull off the emotion behind the lyrics in order to make this song really work.
        Out of the entire album. The only songs I find myself really disliking are 'Smile' (the reasons of which I will list below) and 'The Climb' (a poor choice for a winners single in my honest opinion) which is pretty good going for me as most of the albums I own have at least 3 or 4 tracks on which I dislike. This just goes to show what strong track list 'Wide Awake' boasts.

        Disadvantages
        Although I've previously praised the relative lack of ballads on this album, I'm going to contradict myself a bit now by saying that a voice as good as Joe's can only really be fully appreciated on slower numbers. This is because of the bizarre decision to auto-tune and distort Joe's voice on the majority of the up-tempo songs, particularly 'Smile' which is almost unrecognisable as Joe.
        With Joe, you had an X Factor male winner in the same vane as Leona - a winner whose show stopping voice won out over gimmicks and personality. It was this voice which saw millions voting for him every week. Therefore, I cannot understand the decision not to capitalise on it.
        I certainly wouldn't have wanted an album full of predictable, monotonous ballads....I would however, have liked a more balanced ratio of fast/slow.

        Summary
        I feel a bit sorry for Joe. His got off to a rocky start in the music industry due to the backlash against the X Factor and campaign to deny him Christmas 2009 number one spot. In turn, 'The Climb' was a poorly chosen and unimaginative choice of winners single.
        In my opinion, he seems to received hardly any promotion at all and his third single 'Someone wake me up' wasn't give a chance of succeeding due to lack of airplay, despite the fact that it's actually a really good song!
        Joe's been brave enough to break out of his comfort zone and produce an album which completely contradicted everything we expected from him after watching him belt out ballads every week on The X Factor. Sadly this seems to have alienated some of the fans who originally voted for him, whilst I personally think his attitude and bravery should be applauded. Give Joe a chance and you might be pleasantly surprised. This guy has a stunning voice and he knows his way around a catchy pop song. I hope for big things for Joe in 2011!

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          01.11.2010 20:12
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          Have a listen!!

          After a ten month wait, the winner of the 2009 X Factor,Joe McElderry's album is finally here. The album, which is called 'Wide Awake', was released in the United Kingdom in October 2010. The album is available to buy from Amazon for a price of £8.93 which I think is reasonable value.

          1)Ambitions 2)Someone Wake Me Up 3)Superman 4)Real Late Starter 5) Until The Stars Run Out 6)Feel The Fire 7)Fahrenheit 8) Wide Awake 9) Smile 10) Love Is War 11)The Climb
          I liked Joe on The X Factor ; he always came across as really sweet, although I always thought that he seemed more 'musical star' than popstar. By that, I mean that I always assumed that he was the kind of singer who would star in a West End musical rather than in the pop charts, although after hearing his album, I have certainly changed my mind about him!

          When I heard his debut single, and first single taken from this album, 'Ambitions', I was quite shocked and couldn't believe that this was 'little Joe from The X Factor'! At first I was a bit...'oh my!!', but after hearing it and seeing the music video, I think it's great and that the style of music really suits him, and he looks good jumping and dancing around, which I didn't think I would see him doing!
          There are some good songs on here; my favourites being 'Ambitions' and 'Someone Wake Me Up', both great upbeat songs! This album is very lively and so I think that it is aimed at children and teenagers, although I am sure that a lot of 'pop loving' adults' will love this album; it is very upbeat and has a 'happy' feel to it. It is very refreshing and not at all depressing like a lot of other music in the charts at the moment. One thing I must say, I really do not like his version of 'The Climb' ; I loved Miley Cyrus' original version, but Joe's version, is just terrible (sorry!!). I had expected the album to be all ballads, so I was shocked to see that the songs are all upbeat!

          I think that Joe has a good voice, and I do like the songs on here, although I don't feel that they really show Joe's full vocal ability. Yes, the songs are good, and catchy, although it's more about 'the songs' rather than Joe's voice, and that's a shame, as I would like to hear more of his singing ; perhaps some songs which aren't so reliant on heavy instrumentals and backing music.
          The album is just over thirty minutes, which I think is quite short, however, it is a good album which I would definately recommend!!

          Thanks for reading!
          October 31st 2010
          xd-o-n-z-x (also posted on ciao under xdonzx)

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        • Product Details

          Disc #1 Tracklisting
          1 Ambitions
          2 Someone Wake Me Up
          3 Superman
          4 Real Late Starter
          5 Until The Stars Run Out
          6 Feel The Fire
          7 Fahrenheit
          8 Wide Awake
          9 Smile
          10 Love Is War
          11 Bonus track: The Clim