Newest Review: ... apprehension about what the album would be like. The Tracks Opening the album is 'Ambitions', a lively, upbeat, catchy little tune whi... more
A Surprising Album from the Cutest X Factor Winner Yet
Wide Awake - Joe McElderry
Member Name: dahlin
Wide Awake - Joe McElderry
Date: 03/07/11, updated on 04/07/11 (83 review reads)
Advantages: Upbeat, dancy, catchy tracks, Joe's voice
Disadvantages: Not to everyone's tastes, they had to include 'The Climb' ! , Joe's voice not used to full effect
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Summary: Not the album I would have expected from Joe