The X Factor should be commended. It manages to produce it’s own breed of popstar, with few exceptions, that all conform to a very specific, very specialised pattern.
The one thing that makes these X Factor alumni more… ‘special’ than others of the same calibre, is that without much effort, they will often try to persuade you to think otherwise about them, almost as if they don’t, at first, seem like they want to be categorised into such a narrow field. Unfortunately for them, this narrow field is a very desirable place to be, and only very few acts have ever and indeed, will ever nestle amongst it’s lush green grass. So what do you do now that you’ve got this title that at first seems like a horribly degrading, cheap ‘fastrack’ if you like, to into The Fame Game, but once you’re there, you suddenly become oblivious as to why you would want it any other way? You can forget popstar friends, or at least those artists who have to earnt their place in The Fame Game but are instead forced to stand in the endlessly winding queue just outside whilst you ride high and claim millions for little expended effort. And you can forget credibility, too. Odds are you’ll have a massive fan base though, and you’ve got even greater odds you’ll be marketed to within breaking point to appeal to this demographic, and this demographic alone, without due care and attention to how bad your material is, because you know they’ll buy it, just because it has your name on it.
And once you’re little stint in the limelight is over, you’ll be booted out of that lovely green field and will probably end up appearing of every Reality TV show going, from All Star Mr. & Mrs. to I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!, as a washed up old has-been looking for some media attention because The Fame Game is, above all, a Dog Eat Dog world where, with the simple swish a Parker pen, you’ll be ousted from the public eye as someone fresher, younger, more current, and more appealing is signed up to a rival label comes and takes your place in the public talk of the Now… which you never really earnt in the first place so whose fault it that, hmm?
And now that JLS are on their second album, it’ll be interesting to see whether they’ve become attuned to this harsh reality, or simply thrown out another amalgam of non-cohesive tracks with little substance or effort and expect millions of sales in return.
Well, if their first two singles are anything to go by, ‘Outta This World’ already shows signs of non-cohesion, with the woeful ‘The Club Is Alive’ and it’s overuse of auto-tune giving the impression the boys seem to have lost their singing talent since The X Factor, and then there’s the dated ‘Love You More’, which is a bearable but mellow affair, sounding like something from a 90’s boyband rather than one of the 21st Century. The album certainly isn’t showing any signs of progression either, like The Wanted’s surprisingly good album, as each track is, as with their last album, about a girl they’ve either broken up with; are happy to be with; are desperate to be with; know they should be with; or are having to part ways with. It’s true, there’s little substance: the biggest message here is that they’ll love you more and more and more everyday.
‘Eyes Wide Shut’ is easily one of the best tracks on here, or at least it would be if it didn’t have the brass neck to go and plagiarise Calvin Harris’ ‘I’m Not Alone’ (seems to be a popular riff to nick this year doesn’t it?). ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ is about looking for a certain lady that has caught the boys’ attention, and there is one particular part where a variety of locations are suggested. These places include London, Paris, LA, New York, Toronto, Chicago, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn or Pluto. Although it is important that we note JLS do not bother looking ‘on the floor’ for this elusive lady, although that is probably where she is. This should be clear by now, because by the Law according to ‘The Club Is Alive’, that’s where the majority of the shawties and the honeys are commonly located.
A much more convincing highlight would be ‘Better For You’, which slots into the Actually Sort Of Good category even if it’s one of the most egotistical songs I’ve heard this year. It combines a much more euphoric, lighter sound typical of something Stuart Price could’ve put his name to, and is overall much easier to listen to than the darker, hard-to-digest auto-tune flooded songs that the rest of the album comprises of.
After ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ and ‘Better For You’, the rest of the album flits in and out of forgettable, formulaic dross posing as R&B (‘Don’t Talk About Love’, ‘That’s Where I’m Coming From’) to moments where you wish the co-writers and producers could’ve just told the boys to stop – “That’s my girl/And she’s the baddest thing I seen in the world”, taken from the trashy ‘That’s My Girl’ which features more pointless auto-tune than a Joe McElderry album track. However, special mention goes out to ‘Work’ which toys around with the border between internal sexual desires and perverse fetishes, as well as hideously cram in references to songs that are far greater than anything JLS will ever produce – “She’s a beauty, like Beyoncé/She’s in all of my sweet dreams/Like Christina, she’s a diva/Ain’t afraid to get dirrty”.
As well as all those previous sentiments, you do, at times, feel slightly… in a very mocking way, quite sorry for the boys, because they have some real stinkers on this album. Songs like the “Take Me Seriously Like A Pimp” ‘I Know What She Like’ and the tragically bad ‘Superhero’ stick out like a moose on a motorway that’s already jam-packed full of crashes and gallant failures at trying something ambitious.
‘Outta This World’ says a lot about JLS and their core fanbase. The omission in the title alone suggests an immature audience who still tink its kl 2 talk lyk dis lol, so don’t expect to find much for those who’re fans of more cryptic lyricism. The album doesn’t really conform to any specific genre; it’s sort of a hybrid genre like the good ol’ cheesy boyband ballad mixed in with heavily auto-tuned dance tracks, diluted with some attempts at R&B. In conclusion, the album is a collection of shallow, multi-layered songs with little substance, or any inclination the boys have put any self-belief into the songs. It’s an ambitious project yes, but it’s one that has backfired in their face, and even as you strive to remain engaged with each successive track, you get the growing feeling that they don’t even care, as long as it sells.
JLS seem to have the clouded, misguided view that fame is something easily obtainable. Don’t be mistaken about this because sometimes – especially now the onslaught of reality TV, particularly The X Factor, is now a near unstoppable force, steam-rolling over any TV competition and exposing it’s glorified karaoke acts – it really is. But there are different types of fame: Andy Warhol once spoke out about how, when the world is about the end, everybody will have fifteen minutes of fame; this is this kind of fame that categorises acts like JLS, who are currently on minute 12; selling their music not because of the music itself, and not because of their love of their music either, but because of their love of money.
Album Rating: 4.5/10
Download These: ‘Eyes Wide Shut’, ‘Better For You’.