Single Review: JLS – ‘The Club Is Alive’

Nowadays you hear alot of artists attempting to change their muscial direction, either to appeal to a new demographic or simply because they believe in the saying “Variety is the spice of life”. Re-invention of an artist isn’t a particularly new thing, just ask Madonna. She managed to change her every image and musical direction just before it got boring, and it helped her garner worldwide fame. She kept the public wondering what she was going to do, what she was going to be, and what she was going to sing about next.

Well, as you know, when JLS were doing the X Factor they were one of the favourites to win – the had the voices, they had harmonies and (most importantly) the public’s vote – but as you know, especially in today music business: the Voice is not everything.

To make it successful in the music business you need the looks, the personality, the clothes, the fanbase, the physiques, the right amount of swagger etc, etc. And I must admit JLS stood up and rode that wave very well. But you also need to shock, to stun, and to intrigue.

However, you cannot simply change your musical direction just because you think you can do what another, more successful artist is doing. JLS and the record company might have over-looked this Rule of Thumb. They aren’t so much joining Madonna, Kelis and the like, as the likes of Alphabeat, whose three most recent attempts at chart succes after their change of sound left them stranded at #20, #167, and #104 respectively.

Moving back to JLS, and forward a few months, they have now become nearly every teenaged girl’s ideal dream; they’ve had chart success with ‘Beat Again’, ‘Everybody In Love’, and ‘One Shot’, all of which were perfectly good singles in their own right, but they did nothing for the more sane part of the nation, which included myself.

And now, we have the lead single from their new album, which is surprising as only three singles were released from their successful eponymous début, which, when considering La Roux, Alexandra Burke, Paloma Faith, Florence + The Machine, and Pixie Lott all had four or more from their débuts, is a bit odd to say the least… the same thing happened to Cheryl.

This song pretty much nose-dives my stream of respect for them straight into the ground. (Let’s use a bird as a metaphor shall we? They nose-dive.) They then smooshed poor Birdie further into the ground with their feet, jumped on it a bit, spat on it, performed a mimed dance routine on it, set it on fire and then let their record label’s dog eat up the remains, and at the same time, a casual passer-by has recorded the whole thing and put it on YouTube.

But seriously, I cannot begin the find the words that lurk somewhere in my grey matter to begin to fathom this apocolyptically tragic song. When they performed it ‘Live’, (COUGH COUGH ‘Mimed’… ooh but shush) on Britain’s Got Talent, it felt like Eurovision all over again… only it was against America this time – Alica Keys: absolutely fantastic, Miley Cyrus: gave a great performance, Usher: also very good and sang live. But then, just when we expected soemthing from this side of the pond the match that standards that Pixie Lott set, we got a bunch of brainless puppets of Sony Music miming, wearing a few rags that the Haus Of GaGa was probably eye-ing up.

I reckon this is the perfect example of Credit Crunch music – taking a sample of a piece of music that’s pretty much a national treasure (to save having to write a completely new chorus), combine it with some beats (because thats what’s ‘big’ now) shove some lyrics in, including the now ever-clichéd ‘shawty’ (because it’s popular in America apparently) and also some slightly controversial ones about getting “up on me” because “I could be the dancefloor” (ALERT!… someone’s swagger has just been jacked).

And if that wasn’t enough tragedy, that video is horribly cringe-worthy, unoriginal, tried-and-tested, and most annoyingly, predictable dross. I actually did fall asleep. No word of a lie. 😐

What on earth have music critics been taking sniffs of lately? Digital Spy gave it 4/5, BBC ChartBlog gave it a criminal 5/5 stars. I’m sorry but didn’t JLS come SECOND in the biggest singing competetion in the World? So don’t even get me started on that God-awful over-use of auto-tune. Not a single note comes solely from the human voice-box. It’s a steamy hot mess.

The most annoying thing is, that it’s obviously going to chart well – currently A-Listed by the most popular radio in the country, numerous slots on music channels and lots of promotion (including BGT). It sickens me that JLS and their production team probably know it’s crap, but as long as they keep lifting their shirts up the public will buy it, because it’s got their name on it. I wouldn’t be too surprised to find that JLS and their production team are laughing behind cloosed doors about this release. They are the epitome of ‘manufactured pop stars’, whatever happened to the soulful JLS from the X Factor? Wh do they think they need to jump on the dance-pop bandwagon just to ‘re-invent’ themselves?

Clearly recent attempts from Lee Ryan, Christina Aguilera, Alphabeat, Gabriella Cilmi, and Goldfrapp (on her return to dance-pop) have proven it’s not as easy as Lady GaGa makes it look.

Rating: 0.5 STARS

Download: July 5th, 2010.

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  1. RandomEnigma

    Glad to see I’ve managed to influence other ChartBlog regulars over. It’s funny that you just joined now after I put your album review up over here. Just an hour ago. I can delete it and let you repost it yourself if you like.

    1. Gerard McGarry

      Or, if you like, I can do a bit of background jiggery pokery to reallocate the post to OddOne now he (or she?) has an account?

      And welcome to you OddOne – I’m looking forward to reading what you’ve got to say, especially since I get a daily education from RandomEnigma about all things pop! Any help you need with the site, just let me know!

      1. RandomEnigma

        Yeah Gerard, you can use your magical powers as administrator/moderator/head honcho of this site so that the OddOne post goes under his name and not mine. I’m actually delighted to see OddOne on this site. He’s quite opinionated so his blog posts should be a lot of fun to read.

      2. Dara Hickey

        That would be very nice of you Gerard.

        If you can rename it to “Album Review: Scissor Sisters – ‘Night Work'” I’d be much obligied, and thank you again Randy for influencing my joining of this site… “Opinionated” hmm? I love that. I’m glad you find my posts interesting, Randy :L

        I might do daily single reviews akin to Fraser’s and I’ll re-post a water-down version on ChartBlog, but don’t fret, I’m still gunna be a regular over there too.

        And thank you Gerard for your warm welcome and I’ll be sure to ask if I have any queries. 🙂

  2. Gerard McGarry

    Quick aside: I love the mention of Alphabeat, who moved so strangely away from the sound that drew us to them on that first album. Gotta admit, I heard the comeback single and that switched me off enough not to listen again. Shame really, because they could have effortlessly done a few more Fascination style numbers while nudging the audience in their new direction. Clumsy.

    As for JLS. I’ll be the heretic here and say it’s not a total screw-up, given the mis-use of the Sound Of Music chorus. Still, you’re quite right that it’s like someone had a checklist of “wot’s current in music” and was ticking off each cliche.

    Thinking of the fanbase, they’ll probably lap this up. No, they’ll not be the talented group that we’d hoped they be back on X Factor, but I think the commercial reality is that they’re giving the audience what they want. Even if it’s not what we want!

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