Single Review: Alesha – ‘Drummer Boy’

In a world where a simple individual can get lost in a sea of stereotypes, all marching to the same tune, it’s very easy for a person to get swept away in it all, rather than do something of their own accord; something that they want to do, and something that came from their own imagination. There’s no question that it is most definitely easier to do what others do, but what if everyone did that?

What if Christopher Columbus believed the Earth was indeed flat? What if Alexander Graham-Bell thought pen and paper would suffice as the best form of communication? And if Alexander Fleming actually was a clean, tidy scientist? If all these people decided to live normal lives, not follow their own decisions and let all their detractors who thought they were completely mad knock them down, where would we be today?

My point is, in today’s music, everything has become very ‘by-the-book’. The typical song structure is as old as time itself but as for the whole package, you can almost hear a song, predict the music video, pinpoint exactly when the seemingly obligatory rap should be placed, and guess who would be a good option for the collaboration.

So, credit where credit is due and all that; Alesha Dixon has returned to the ever stale music scene with a song that takes the ‘book’, tears it up and laughs as it sets it alight. ‘Drummer Boy’ appears to have no particular structure, and any part could be the chorus, as well as this – there’s no definite musical hook; there’s not even an obvious melody – she’s relying on a drum refrain, a simple bassline and her voice to provide the memorable punch. So Alesha’s going very much against the crowd and thankfully not bothering the stumble drunkenly down the generic electropop/dance route like JLS, Christina Aguilera, and Alexandra.

On top of that, has anyone else noticed Alesha and her record label have tried to drop her last name? That, Alesha’s new look, and the sexually charged lyrics for ‘Drummer Boy’ tell me she’s not going to be belting out another Barlow ballad for the album’s re-release any time soon. She’s been – like Rihanna, and more recently, Miley Cyrus – sexed up; it’s almost as if there’s an expiry date on today’s female popstars before they become sexed up because that’s what sells nowadays, like it’s no longer a question of ‘if?’, but ‘when?’.

And what a sexing up it is! The record, whilst unorthodox in giant proportions, has something hugely likeable about it. Alesha’s ropey vocals have been reigned in and we’re left with a fierce, dominant-sounding alpha female giving a vocal performance with more attitude than a hormonal teenager, and the attitude doesn’t stop there: the song has a massive drum production (naturally) and an intimidating bassline marching along, married perfectly with the occasional synth stab.

And the video certainly isn’t your average ‘The Boy Does Nothing’-type affair either. It’s like watching a carnival parade super-charged with testosterone and thigh.

Obviously, the unquestioned highlight of both song and video can be found at 0:40.

Swimming against the tide, Alesha (careful not to add her last name now) has performed a brilliantly unique song that’s still commercial enough to bother the top of the charts. It’s overly-dramatic production; additional vocals at the end of every line; and the addictive, thundering bassline prove that the gal’s not quite out of ideas just yet. Like those scientists earlier, she’s doing something that on the surface is very odd and doesn’t fit today’s pattern of regurgitated pop music, but underneath everyone’s fence-sitting pre-thoughts and the seemingly melodically lacking production, it’s quite the stroke of genius.

Rating: 4.5 STARS

Download: September 6, 2010

Featured Album: ‘The Entertainer’

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1 Comment

  1. Gerard McGarry

    I’m finding it quite impossible to hate on this. Alesha’s vocals are as raspy as they were when she was the ‘rapper’ with Mis-Teeq – a sound that I personally enjoyed. The “say what” bit in the intro feels a little bit novelty value,  but it’s good fun regardless!

    As for dropping her surname, I’m intrigued. I wonder if she’s trying to distance herself from the more homely Strictly judge/TV presenter persona. If so, that’s not a bad thing. I really do prefer Alesha when she’s ‘street’ and a wee bit of a rude girl.

    Not sure that Drummer Boy is as radical a change in style as you suggest though – I’m getting a Beyonce vibe from the costume, and she’s definitely showing more thigh than she used to. Still, the song’s a real treat – vibrant, sassy and above all else, catchier than a dose of the clap. Hooray!

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