Single Review: Olly Murs – ‘Dance With Me Tonight’

“It’s hard to not to believe there’s a little substance starting to appear behind that wide grin of his”

3 STARS

Digital Release: November 20, 2011

Physical Release: November 21, 2011

There’s a taboo that appears to have hung around like a bad odour over males singers refusing to bump themselves into the 21st century. The kind of artists who cling religiously onto 50s quiffs, magpie brogues and rich, soulful harmonies aren’t the best-celebrated nor the most popular. Most of that’s down to a certain Michael Bublé and his slick reinvention of the 50s male singer having already comfortably settled into that narrow niche, pretty much batting away any contender for the title of smooth-crooning swing king with his suitably diluted form of jazz and swing covers, happily selling by millions to a reliably stable demographic.

And while newcomer and youngster Olly Murs is still wedging himself awkwardly into his place on the commercial market – with naturally far more avail than his practically pensionable X Factor companion Matt Cardle – his output up to now has been so colourless it’s been hard to tell exactly where he wants to be placed within said market. However, just when it looked like we were going to have to endure a second album of slacked-jawed grinning, hopelessly desensitised ‘emotion’ and material that probably cost a lot to make, but ended up sounding depressingly cheap, ‘Heart Skips A Beat’ (if we ignore the heinous crime of shoe-horning the frat-rap goon duo, Rizzle Kicks into proceedings) at least gave us a subtle nod to where he’s heading.

New single ‘Dance With Me Tonight’ seems to straddle somewhere between the blandness which failed to colour in much of the basic melodies of his first outing and the elative, jazz-pop fervency of ‘Heart Skips A Beat’. The verse shine with charismatic energy; you really feel like Murs has managed the balance between confident and charming without blasting his ego through the ceiling and ending up having to spin out some ineffectual metaphor of love to come off as genuine (ironically, he achieved the very opposite most of the time). Sure, there’s glimpses of his inexperience in this sector – his useless introduction from an unnamed compere and the brief moments of glassy hoarseness during the chorus (not to mention the overall feeling of slightly kitschy sentiment), and it never really feels like the genuine article because of the telling clarity of the song’s production. It’s fine enough having a faux-crepitate introduction, but when songs like these were performed with live bands in rooms full of cigarette smoke and liquor, the sparkling gloss over ‘Dance With Me Tonight’ simply doesn’t cut it. But, unassuming the pedant’s stance, one manages to give Murs grace because he’s evidently still finding his feet here. And even though ‘Dance With Me Tonight’ often reveals, underneath it’s contemporary-posing-as-vintage exterior, that it’s tailor-made to appeal to those with undiscriminating taste, it’s hard not to believe there’s a little substance starting to appear behind that wide grin of his.

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