Single Review: Matt Cardle – ‘Run For Your Life’

“Something lacking greatly in freshness, sticking power, and testosterone”


Digital Release: October 9, 2011

Physical Release: October 10, 2011

Given that the Barlow Ballad is enough of a staple to be as predictable as gravity, it won’t take much effort to imagine in your head what a song with a title like ‘Run For Your Life’ will sound like – four-chord piano introduction, spot of falsetto vocals, unabashedly rafter-dwelling chorus, obligatory string section added at the finale. Oh, but this isn’t a typical Barlow Ballad, it’s a rock song after all, for serious new rock artist Matt Cardle who rose to monumental popularity thanks to a few weeks of glorified karaoke and a flaccid cover of Biffy Clyro’s ‘Many Of Horror (When We Collide)’. Right now, his wimpy rock is just about the freshest commodity available, despite a lingering stench of staleness hanging over it.

At exactly 0:36 in to ‘Run For Your Life’, X Factor champion Matt Cardle’s reedy voice croaks out the lyric “There’s no time, there’s no time for this”. His observation, startlingly acute to anyone with a sense of cynicism, sets the tome for much of what isto follow. Amongst other things, his very presence on the track is misjudged. Wielding the rhyming dictionary of a 12 year-old, ‘Run For Your Life’ is an intoxicating mixture of potent nice-guy charm, serviceable song-writing, and inoffensiveness so inoffensive it actually becomes offensive. And unfortunately for Matt, that’s not what makes for interesting music.

‘Run For Your Life’ is more predictable than you think – formulaic staleness owing much to Gary Barlow, it’s tired MOR sound is an embarrassment to rock balladry, celebrating it’s lack of achievements in the verses and nervously self-conscious restraint in the turgid chorus. Barlow can pen pop tunes in his sleep but a rock song-writer he is not, and it really shows, with poor results. 

‘Run For You Life’ is sunk to the lower levels because of Matt’s whining voice. Anyone who’s familiar with Seven Summers will know that he’s capable of sounding vaguely masculine and can, if he’s not trying to make everyone feel sorry for him, deliver an about satisfying vocal, but ‘Run For Your Life’ sounds like any number of cod-rock bands from across the ages being given the inventory of a stadium rock sound but, instead of grabbing the opportunity with thrust and zeal, they opt to be modest and come back from a few hours in the studio with something lacking greatly in freshness, sticking power, and testosterone.

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