Single Review: Alexandra Burke ft. Laza Morgen – ‘Start Without You’

Ahhh, the musical form of a contagious illness… Like a bad cold.

Crazy comparison I know, but if you’re a regular reader you can probably expect it to make a lot more sense once this review is over. So read on, baffled people.

Alexandra Burke has a quality to her voice that, whilst not being as powerful as someone like Leona’s, manages to convey more emotion in one note than Leona or any other X Factor alumni can in a whole song. Sure they can all sing, but there voices are hollow vacuum’s of emotion when it comes to injecting the lyrics with some life, particularly in ballads. It’s a strange thing, because many may be able to sing, but if it comes off as contrived or obviously forced, then all that effort is going to absolutely nothing.

Whilst on the X Factor, Alexandra used to sing some pretty hefty songs – brimming with emotion, not necessarily sad. But imagine singing something like Whitney’s ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ bobbing side to side, arms fixed to your sides – it just wouldn’t work would it? Each of her performances was head and shoulders above the rest, it’s just a shame her voice sounds as hollow as dead tree bark on her singles so far.

Keeping the ballads for Leona, Simon Cowell has resisted the urge to release the stonkingly good ‘The Silence’, which appears on Alexandra’s début album ‘Overcome’, and has in it’s place, released lukewarm songs with electronic productions because that’s what’s big. Last year Alexandra collaborated with RedOne to produce ‘Broken Heels’, arguably MUCH better than ‘Bad Boys’ but still very middle-of-the-road, by-the-book pop. Now, still holding off that elusive ‘The Silence’ (also produced by RedOne, did you know?), Alexandra is releasing a song that wouldn’t sound out of place at New Orleans’ Mardis Gras carnival.

It’s boisterous, bold, and relentless, but because we know what Alexandra can do with real music, it’s very bittersweet because whilst it’s incredibly catchy, it also comes off as very cheap. It’s cheap because she’s gone with the rent-a-rapper option once more (three out of four release so far); because the melody is incredibly cheesy; the lyrics are so bad they could mistaken for innuendos, and the chorus samples The Dixies’ ‘Iko Iko’.

This is the kind of music that can split opinion faster than the turnstiles on London Underground, but the general pattern forming is that, those who get over the fact Alexandra is singing something a child would blurt out on a Haribo-charged day at the beach actually quite like it, and those too shocked by the thought of the thing despise it with a passion.

Overlooking prejudices and bias, what we have here is a typical RedOne, sunny production tailor-made to fit like lock and key onto Radio 1’s playlist, and I really mean that phrase – it’ll be on their playlist forever, locked somewhere obvious, like near the top of the A-List because Alexandra is a good name to have when it comes to alphabetical order. It’s going to be there whenever you check the playlist, as the first thing you see: it’ll be like “HEY! STILL HERE GUYS! STILL DRIP DROPPIN’!”.

But even so, there’s no doubt in hell it’s super-fun production and infectious pop chorus will eat away at your mind; there’s no way you won’t be singing this a few minutes after turning it off. Alexandra nails the verses, however, if you think “Oh! Here I go!/Drip droppin’ way down low” is 2010’s worst lyrical blunder but once you consider this kind of stuff was huge in the 90’s, the award for worst lyricism still goes to Tinie Tempah.

The video is awful though, the working progress one had the makings of a truly original, summery pop video, complete with pink ice cream van. But pushing the release back made some high gits at Syco think twice (Oh, LORD!) and they went for an unoriginal, cringe-worthy video with Alexandra strutting around in nothing but a bit of black lace I could’ve sewn. And what is the point of the gymnasts? They looked like they were hooked in at the last minute and told to do some swinging and weight-lifting because the last video was deemed too expensive… Very stingy. The least they could do is grow some chest hair.

Syco is now trying to make us believe pop is no longer for heterosexual males. I just want to go into the video with a Tazer and stop them all moving… it’s embarrassing to watch. Imagine your dad coming in and seeing you sat watching a bunch of half-naked males exercising to this song… could you imagine the awkwardness? Even if you were female!?

It’s all just a tepid excuse for saving money, and for selling Alexandra as a sexier artist, flirting with buff gymnasts who… *pause and sighs*

Okay I can’t deny it anymore – the video is basically ‘Alejandro’ with all the artistry removed. The men are probably wearing the same Lycra shorts from Primark. Oh, and someone left the lights on so all the men just look boring and over-greased. Alexandra deserves better than this.

Of course, I still haven’t really ‘explained’ that comparison I spoke about at the beginning, so here it is for you in a simpler form: This song seems pretty awful at first, like something you don’t want to be blasting out of your stereo in the car when your best friends walk by. But the problem is, however much you hate it at first, it’s catchy as hell and it’ll certainly get stuck in your head faster than an egg fries on a car bonnet on a hot summer’s day.

Even simpler – it’s something you don’t want to be associated with, but in the end, we all end up contracting the cold at some time or another.

Rating: 3.5 STARS

Download: September 6, 2010

Featured Album: ‘Overcome [UK Deluxe Edition]’

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  1. RandomEnigma

    Wow! I wasn’t expecting 4 STARS although I do agree with what you’ve said in this review.

    I do sort of agree with you that record execs think pop is no longer acceptable to heterosexual males but that’s kind of hypocritical because male popstars always have scantily clad females in their videos.

    Plus Alexandra looks HOT in the video so she’s a nice contrast to all the half naked men. And I have nothing against Alex’s lace ensemble! 😉

    1. Dara Hickey

      I do understand but honeslty… how many POP acts do that? Plenty of R&B, Grime, or Hip Hop artists do it, but when it comes down to it, there are a lot fewer male pop acts who have half-naked women in their videos than there are women with half-naked men.

      And i swear i only gave this 3.5 stars… *changes*

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