“‘Let It Go’ is just another deadpan reminder that music in the Top 40 has never aligned itself with quality”
Digital Release: May 27, 2012
Physical Release: N/A
Syco Records have a lot to answer for following the not-so-gradual demise of Alexandra Burke’s popularity. Once viewed in the eyes of fans as the UK’s answer to Beyoncé and to cynics as the considerably more upbeat, livelier of two cash-cows for Syco Records, the girl looked set to rocket to international success. Although, anyone trying to convince themselves that the wheels of the Burke Bus album campaign didn’t fall off when ‘Start Without You’s juvenile campfest romp made it’s way to radio would probably be well-advised to remove the rose-tinted glasses. The factures that led to her departure from Syco Records were already showing even back with the fiasco that became of the music video, which swapped a street dance routine and a straw hat for a lace bodysuit and greased bodybuilders and subsequently drained Alex of any creative control. Hence, with next single ‘The Silence’ failing to do much in the way of rebooting her credibility, she left Syco and joined RCA, who have the ever-present cynics laughing themselves to the point of seizure at the lack of direction for young Miss. Burke even now.
And it’s this lack of direction that has left her playing catch-up in her months away from the scene, being tossed about like a perishable commodity; a product of a large industrial-scale corporation that specialises in factoring out any individuality, like Burke’s boisterousness. It’s still there to some extent, but anyone who’s got a decent poker face can come across every bit the street-hardened femme fatale in a music video, so it’s hard to pick Burke out from a crowd consisting of far more eye-catching pop personalities like GaGa, Minaj, Ke$ha, Azealia and Jessie J. Around the time of Alex’s first appearance on the scene back in 2009/10, the weirdest thing around was Lady GaGa’s muffin, but the three intervening years between then and now have seen Lady GaGa in an egg, Rihanna as a lesbian, Katy Perry as an alien and a dork, Ke$ha having a laser gun duel with unicorns and Nicki Minaj as an angry homosexual called Roman Zolanski. To have any sort of resonance in today’s market, one practically defined by the unbound alternativeness of commercial theatricality, she’s going to need to do a lot more than what she was doing when she first started. In her forgetfulness to embrace the light-speed pace of the present, she’s come back with two helplessly generic songs – and it’d take even a skilled technician months to dig up Burke’s real voice from ‘Elephant’ and ‘Let It Go’.
The latter, her new single, fails to live up to the title’s suggestion of an avoidance of reality, instead choosing to drum home a message that’s already been in bed for three years; quite literally, letting ‘it’ go. But instead of regressing into one’s mind and enjoying life a little ‘Let It Go’ is just another deadpan reminder that music in the Top 40 has never aligned itself with quality. She doesn’t half try to sexify the clichés and the repetitive chorus with a husky purr but it’s all in vain because the richness of the voice we once heard on the X Factor is long gone under a caking of auto-tune.
Of course, no-one really knows who’s in control when it comes to creative decisions up in the big wigs’ offices. Fans, naturally, and out of ferociously deluded loyalty will claim all decisions are made by their idol and insist that having that creative control instantly ratifies somebody competent and talented. The crux they choose to ignore being that even if Burke writes her own songs, why should she be commended if the best she comes out with are tired out chunks of indigestible handbag house like ‘Let It Go’? And if ‘Let It Go’ was more of a case of ‘Change a word; claim a third’, then it’s release on the eve of a nearly completely leaked album trying to reinvigorate the career of a singer who’s expectations are far aloft of her capabilities is, without question, RCA’s most ill-fated decision since Aguilera’s ‘Bi-On-Ic’, and we all remember how that turned out, don’t we?