Single Review: Marcus Collins – ‘Seven Nation Army’

“The lack of patience that should’ve been invested in his music has result in a lack of quality”


Digital Release: March 4, 2012

Physical Release: March 5, 2012

When the death knell finally tolls for the already-doomed X Factor, our British TV diet of reality TV and cookery shows will feel a weight lifted from their metaphorical shoulders. But until that time, we must empathise with the hopelessness of the X Factor alumni, all of whom have fallen prey to the belief that a quick stint on tele and a few sob stories is the formula for longevity in the music business. It must be hard, coming out of the biggest reality TV series in history with the expectation of millions being that your spotlight will die a slow and painful death as you fade back into obscurity the moment you’re ousted from the show, winner or not. But that’s before you factor in the hundreds of thousands of cynics and silver-tongued critics ready to sharpen their claws at the very prospect of a doe-eyed, punch-bag popstar who’s just a little bit too manufactured for the digestion of such purists. And then of course, you need to factor in the unwritten law that male X Factor alumni never do well and it appears that Marcus Collins is about to wade his way into the music business with nothing more than a carbon-copy cover of a cover of a cult classic that sounds so pedantically pristine you could hear it’s squeaky leather shoes walking down a polished corridor floor. 

That’s not to say Collins is about to sit back and watch idly as his chart position slides exponentially week-on-week – you get the feeling he really pushed the boat out with this release. But alas, the boat sank, quite spectacularly. Collins’ cover’s only redeeming qualities lie within White Stripes’ original songwriting – the syncopated guitar riff sounding toe-tappingly bouncy in the verses; the same riff demanding attention and effortlessly commanding a bevy of brass; the drums providing the backing rhythm to counteract the syncopation of the melody – it all works for one reason: because White Stripe’s version worked. It could even be said that this version, which is a cover of Ben L’Oncle Soul’s cover of White Stripes’ original, sound more alike the original than L’Oncle Soul’s does. So Collins owes a lot of this song’s flesh and bones to the sensibilities of White Stripes’, because everything he adds just degrades the rawness of the original. The horns sound polished and calculated; his voice is clinically smooth – sterile even; and the whole thing sounds like it was put together by a computer rather than two angsty teenagers with their own instruments; not even Collins’ ad-libbing towards the end adds anything interesting to the song.

And so it already looks as if Collins’ hasty proposal to chase his chart dreams before the likes of Little Mix get their album campaign going are spoilt by his lack of patience. But furthermore, the lack of patience that should’ve been invested in his music has result in a lack of quality. Being a cover, you can’t really criticise it for sounding too similar to the original, but when it sound like the birth child of the original and L’Oncle Soul’s cover, that’s just pure laziness. What we have here, in the form of a rushed-out slap-bag job of what works rather than what works well, is soul music, without any of the soul.



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1 Comment

  1. Gerard McGarry

    Is that even a guitar playing the riff at the start? It sounds so cheap and synthy.

    You’re spot on with this review as always Dara. The surprising thing is that I like Marcus’ voice on the record, but by about midway through I’m bored. I can picture him singing out through that ill-advised Little Richard ‘tache and wearing his bizarre bow tie, and the song loses any edge that it had.

    Watching the video compounds this effect. It’s preppy and lightweight instead of heavy and full of dark intent. Like you could ever use ‘dark intent’ and ‘Marcus Collins’ in the same sentence.

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