Single Review: Leona Lewis / Avicii – ‘Collide’

“It’s the production that tackles the heavy-duty labour and rescues it from turning a typically stolid Leona”

3 STARS

Digital Release: September 4, 2011

Physical Release: September 5, 2011

Leona Lewis has this covered. She and her new single ‘Collide’ were recently taken to court by a relatively unknown producer who claims that she had plagiarised Intellectual Property (the piano refrain) from his song ‘Fade Into Darkness’. The similarities were obvious, and the two artists and record labels settled to cite Avicii as a collaborator in order to settle the claims. And as a result of two months of tabloid ‘scandals’ and hyped interest, Avicii had gained exposure and Lewis’ dwindling interest had been re-invigorated. And given that second album ‘Echo’ paled in comparison sales-wise with ‘Spirit’ (both were equally tedious and left the listener with a hollowness akin to the kind Lewis would frequently be moaning about in her songs), a change in musical direction was needed, so what better way to re-invent oneself than to follow the popular trend?

‘Collide’ sees Lewis break away from her love affair with overblown Ryan Tedder balladry and attempt an uplifting dance ballad about finding The One. You can only commend her voice, but all too often it’s inability to convey much more than vulnerability is her downfall, especially when she’s belting it because that’s about as far from vulnerable as you can get. However, ‘Collide’ sees her triumphantly master the verses with beautiful clarity and self-control, and one can only be thankful for the lack of auto-tune. The chorus however sees Lewis back to her emotionless beginnings and crowned with the ad nauseam of the pathetic half-gasp at the end of each line. It was always a bona-fide irk with singers like Lewis; incapable of resisting the urge to turn every single note into a melismatic fanfare, but this song sees her simply drone.

In fact, you could say Leona’s vocal are reminiscent of Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’, except for the fact that ‘Firework’ was Katy Perry’s attempt at singing like Leona Lewis, so ‘Collide’ gets by on the fact that Leona Lewis trying to be Leona Lewis sounds more convincing at least. It then strikes you that she’s is merely a passenger on ‘Collide’. It’s the production that does most of the work and rescues it from turning a typically stolid Leona affair thanks to the pulsing undercurrent of flatulent synthesiser and the chiming piano melody with it’s leaped note intervals, successfully counteracting the scarcity of melody in Lewis’ voice during the chorus.

If this is the new direction Lewis is to take, it puts the benefits and losses in a strange juxtaposition. Because on one hand it could at least give listeners a reason to stick around and listen to her omnipotent vocal yearnings, but on the other it could mean she turns into yet another dance-pop ingénue selling the same old sound that a hundred others are.

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