Single Review: The WANTED – ‘All Time Low’

“Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable we feel we have to change it every six months”.

I thought that famous Oscar Wilde quote would be an apt start for this review because there are many forms of fashion, not just in clothing terms. Fashion is also found everywhere, from the design of a car to the newest MSN abbreviations for teenagers, it exists everywhere and influences our lives greatly, as we see something either as either ‘in fashion’ or ‘out of fashion’. And it does indeed change constantly, forever catching out those who can’t keep up with the times, forcing us guinea-pigs to ridicule anyone who falls short of the ‘perfect aesthetic’ of the Now. It’s not just materialistic or visual things that can be described as ‘out of fashion’, people’s livelihoods, lifestyles, attitudes etc, could all be ‘classified’ as to whether they are ‘in the fashion’ or not; esteemed sexologist and all-round controversial, Alfred Kinsey, even suggested that homosexuality was “merely a very normal kind of love that is unfortunately deemed out of fashion”, seeing as there were times when it was regarded ‘normal’ to be homosexual, because one could argue that nowadays it isn’t so obviously accepted.

In the music world, there is also a plethora of things that are seen or regarded as ‘out of fashion’, for instance, an artist’s sound can be out of fashion, so could their image, their lyrics, their aesthetic etc, etc. But what if the artists themselves are ‘out of fashion’? What hope do they have on influencing our lives? We’d certainly get a good laugh out of it; these people are just embarrassing themselves because they’re choosing to be ‘out of fashion’? Well that would be the case if The WANTED were so apocolyptically bad but the truth is, they’re not, but how are they going to prove to more than just a few that they can bring back a whole movement in music history single-handedly?

Well, the best way is plenty of promotion, live performances, a strong début single, marketability, and that all important idea of being ‘in fashion’ in the music as well as areas other than music e.g. hairstyles, personalities, looks etc.; all the shallow yet very important things needed to become successful in the music business these days. If you do this, the public know a bit about you; they know whether you can sing live; they’d hopefully like your début single and most importantly: just by looking at you they should be able to tell whether you fit the ‘perfect aesthetic’ you must conform to get anywhere nowadays.

The WANTED are a new musical project which unfortunately have one of the hardest jobs in the music business. Five ordinary lads, are going to attempt to bring boy-bands back ‘into fashion’. Britain has not had a fresh-faced boy band since 1993, when Boyzone stepped out onto the scene for the first time. Since then, Take That and Boyzone both made comebacks but they’re hardly boy-bands now. And I do not consider JLS a boy-band, they are X Factor trash who have not worked to bring back the image of boy bands, the got their career and success handed to them, being the Record Label puppets they are, but they have indeed made boy-bands a more credible concept, making The WANTED’s job a little easier… sort of.

Because JLS had X Factor, they were going to be huge from the very off thanks to it’s over-exposure and it being the only thing anyone talks about during August-December, and it’s run by the man to blame for single-handedly killing the music industry bit by bit, but it is ‘in fashion’, and JLS were the ‘perfect aesthetic’ in terms of marketable Record Label puppets who’d do anything to sell records. With them, it’s not about the music, and don’t try to say it is, because I’ll set my good friend Kutox on you.

It’s actually quite interesting, none of our boy-bands have made a successful comeback without some form of marketing tool – Take That re-united after a 7 years split, making all the woman who remember them from the first time round nearly explode with happiness. Boyzone had sympathy for the death of Stephen Gately, and Westlife and The Backstreet Boy’s comebacks have been quite awful, as they had no marketing tools. Blue are attempting a comeback this year, and just WHERE are 5ive in all of this? Hmm?

Having consulted the near-impossible task ahead of them, let’s see whether The WANTED can serve up the goods and prove to the masses that boy-bands are here to stay.

The song starts with what’s going to fast become one of the most recognisable first two seconds of any song released this year, with an echoey string refrain, we hear Max George’s deep vocals croon somewhat emotionally over it before Tom Parker takes over and continues. The song does appear to go nowhere by the time James (Jay) McGuiness sings his two lines for the bridge, but the chorus lifts up proceedings with the next set of verses increasing the drama and introducing the dancier part of the song. Soon after the song instantly switches from whiny ballad in the vein of Pixie Lott’s ‘Gravity’ (trying to be two genres but failing), into a massive anthemic track armed with a brilliant middle eight that should get a BRIT Award for being so good despite only repeating the word “low”. Then, because The WANTED clearly know what makes a strong début single, they repeated the trance-ish riff with the some brilliantly internal lyrics that’s as easy to miss as a London Underground train.

“I’m in pieces, seems like peace is/The only thing I’ll never know”, and “‘Till it ceases I’ll never know/How do you get from an all time low?”. Nifty eh? Could you imagine JLS singing something like that? No, they’ll just stick to whining about some girl in a glossy magazine or how there’s “shawties” (Oh look, the shawties are back) all around.

Ermm… Does anyone else remember what happened the last time a Record Label tried to bunch together their own group of pop wannabes and made them shoot their first video in a dump? They were called ‘Girls Can’t Catch’.

As a song, it would get five stars because of it’s massive crescendo toward the end and fist-in-the-air production, and the fact it’s managed to pole-volt over the trap of sounding dated, so it’s most definitely ‘in fashion’. But as a début single, it’s not as instantly catchy as say… Girls Can’t Catch’s 5-star lead single ‘Keep Your Head Up’, and we all know how they ended up (mind you, if any of their songs were sung be Girls Aloud, they’d been #1 for weeks), so I doubt this will stamp The WANTED’s logo all over the Top 10 and their pin-ups on every girls wall in the same way Take That or Boyzone did, but they should definitely be in for quite a bit of success if they keep up the idea of keeping their songs unique, and ‘in fashion’.

This song is not going to single-handedly rescue the chart’s current nose-dive in quality, nor is it going to steal JLS’s consistent chart-topping crown (unrightfully owned of course) but for now, it’s a good sign of better times to come. Here’s to more of this.

Rating: 4.0 STARS

Download: July 26, 2010

Featured Album: Untitled As Of Yet

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