Single Review: Duffy – ‘Well, Well, Well’

Okay so I’ve been trying, for a good while now, to find a positive approach for this song, and I still haven’t found one as of yet… Oh well, I suppose we could look at it like this:

Duffy had the best selling album of 2008 with ‘Rockferry’, and had some huge hits from it like ‘Mercy’ and ‘Warwick Avenue’, and proved her music to be something that has soul, class, sexiness, substance, emotion and catchiness. It’s a very rare combination. Think of Duffy as a kind of Édith Piaf crossed with Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Vera Lynn, Lily Allen (yes, really), and a poor man’s Adele and that’s about her.

Not that there’s anything wrong with said combination, because usually it works for her, (best-selling album, helloooo!? *points frantically at the BRIT Awards*), although there is one thing that, paradoxically, splits opinion faster than the London Underground turnstiles: the fact her voice resembles Donald Duck with a blocked nose, on helium.

And in Duffy’s shiny new song ‘Well, Well, Well’, we see her exercise said nasal defect to it’s limit, and far beyond sometimes as, during the chorus, she often sounds like she’s blurting out the lyrics and a frenzied wail because someone’s just gone and pronged her with a sausage fork. Add to that the fact she doesn’t seem to know when to stop singing some notes – the result of which is a useless melismatic vocal ornament that gives the impression she’s singing whilst cramped inside a washing machine on spin cycle – “Highly supsiciou-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-ussss”, and the fact that the opening riff has been nicked from Dawn Penn’s 1994 hit ‘No, No, No’, and it does leave you wondering what Duffy’s been doing for the last two years. Counting the sales and awards she achieved over Adele, I suppose? Because if she’d paid more attention on wanting to replicate the success of ‘Rockferry’, I could see her releasing a far stronger lead single than this and- Ohhhhh…

Hmm… Sorry, I had to stop myself there because that approach didn’t work either. I wonder if there is actually anything positive to say about this song? I mean, it’s not like it’s even her or even her fault at times. This is where I’m coming from: Back in 2008, when Duffy first arrived in her black evening dress and began setting men’s shoes on fire, she was just want the UK music industry wanted: something unique. It was this time (late 2006 – early 2008) where the unique acts reigned supreme; The Ting Tings, Mika, Scissor Sisters, Gnarls Barkley, Sandi Thom, Amy Winehouse, and Duffy herself enjoyed huge amounts of success; people welcomed the sound of her mountain goat vibrato, but now, such acts are completely ignored in favour of trashy, simplistic cardboard cut-out popstars with next-to-no substance, or any inclination they’ll be around in five years time. The problem is that people find it easier to listen to this newfound throwaway pop/dance, and so all the unique acts are forgotten about, leaving the pop landscape open to Tinchy Stryders, Taio Cruzes, Jason Derulos, and Roll Deeps.

But none of that even matters in this instance, because nothing about ‘Well, Well, Well’ gives the impression it would’ve been successful even if it had been released in 2006-2008. And believe me, I’m all for a bit of “YES IT’S ME I’M BACK” attitude when it comes to an artist like Duffy, but this is just grating, it’s not even catchy in places and her vocal foibles ruin anything the jazzy instrumentation has going for it.

This is the video.

That was the video. Is it me of is that black dress she wears cut at the wrong point? You’re not supposed to be able to see a woman’s underwear in their evening dress, are you? OR ARE YOU?

I can’t see Duffy replicating the success she had upon her début, not just because there has been a drastic change in what the music industry holds dear, but also because ‘Well, Well, Well,’ looks like it’s going to annoy more people than it is make them get up and dance. Honestly though, because my sister used it as her alarm tone this morning I had to be forced awake thanks to Duffy’s awful quacking. Seriously, it was a near frightening experience: I thought a drunk tramp had stumbled into the house with an entourage of cats, screaming at me whilst I was still in bed.

Oh, and also because Radio 1 have snubbed her on their playlist, and considering they were practically wetting themselves over her in 2008, claiming they discovered her, this must be quite a kick in the teeth for the Welsh songstress.

Rating: 2.5 STARS

Download: November 22, 2010 (OUT NOW)

Featured Album: ‘Endlessly’

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  1. Gerard McGarry

    The biggest fail here – as I see it – is that Well Well Well mirrors the ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah’ in Duffy’s biggest hit, Mercy. I struggled to separate the two songs in my head Although they’re not that similar, punters might think they’re getting the same regurgitated material.

    The song itself isn’t that bad, but as you were alluding to, it’s very 2008. This is the year of the Perry, the B.o.B., the full Take That reunion. Even Mark Ronson has moved beyond his unsubtle nods to the 60s (even if he’s only skipped two decades ahead to creatively rape the 80s).

    What must sting the most – apart from your review, obviously – is getting blanked by Radio 1 after so much critical acclaim. But then can we accuse her of being lazy with her songwriting and failing to acknowledge the changes in the market? I actually believe if Amy Winehouse dropped Back To Black II right now it would flop just as hard.

  2. justME

    Duffys vocals, even in her hit album, always remind me of pinky&perky;i just cant listen to her at all. the backing band were pretty good though.the dress looks like the seamstress missed stitching one of the seams!! i’ve gotta pass on this one- i found it rather nauseating to say the least and couldn’t watch it all way through. mind you like Gerard said the song isn’t that bad- I wonder what a voice like Tom Jones would sound like singing it.

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