Single Review: The Wanted – ‘Warzone’

“An achingly tiresome rehash of 90’s pop perfunctories that not even inclusions of dubstep elements can prevent from flat-lining”

2 STARS

Digital Release: December 25, 2011

Physical Release: December 26, 2011

The Wanted have always prided themselves in believing that their music is different to the competition, but what exactly is it that makes them different? And does it work? Well the first thing you should consider is the competition: most notably there’s only the other two big, artificially constructed and promoted boybands JLS and One Direction are potential threats to whether The Wanted are indeed the wanted much longer. But whilst JLS a wandering off blindly into middle-of-the-road pop, happily peddling out whatever will sell until some imminent disaster strikes, and One Direction are busy mastering the hyperactive, American tween bubblegum-pop to make the girls swoon, The Wanted are left with the soft-boy pop. Even when they’re singing about making love by the serendipitous moment that takes them they can’t resist spinning off some ridiculous metaphor like “playing with lightning”. Most of the rest of the time they’re complaining about not being very successful in love, such as in their newest single, ‘Warzone’, where they use another would’be metaphor were it not a recycled cliché, vacuum-wrapped and sucked dry of all possible emotive response.

After little Nathan’s had a good go at some singing that’s all serious and dramatic, (but does a relatively good job because you can actually hear his natural voice), Max squawks in with his strangled mix of auto-tune and the desperate sound of man who’s voice is cracking; Jay is left sounding like he’s gargling a log and on Nathan’s return he’s also been slapped in the lips with auto-tune. Add to that the song plodding along, literally lurching through a colourless concoction of some confusing genre (dub-pop?), and the song – much like ‘Lightning’ in fact – sounds less like something that’s convincingly emotive and more like something prepared to sedate you.

The thing is with a lot of these boybands and their music, is that unless you buy into it and choose to view their music with different reasons for appreciation than other artists, they just sound like a crushingly bland re-invention of genuine musicians; some kind of artificial substitute has replaced the real thing. The pop juggernaut has left behind the sensibility and due respect in knowing your place in the music spectrum. Progression and change is acceptable, but tipping waywards into the realms of another genre without giving the impression of purpose just makes a listener think that somebody’s a little to drunk on fame to realise the impossible. Back in the 90’s with the birth of the pop boyband there was an awareness amongst the pioneers of it all that they weren’t to be taken too seriously as music artists. The interaction between obsessed fans and pretty boy singers came at the cost of an unhealthy appreciation for acts like 5ive, Blue and The Backstreet Boys, but they got away with shameful lyrics and the like before the turn of the 21st century. They were pin-ups and pop peddlers satisfying the dizzied haze of girls for those few years between the ages 10-14, because they hadn’t quite ‘found themselves’ yet; in a bid to conform the teenyboppers just went with whatever was the trend until they realised they didn’t have to. Whilst this is as much a rite of passage as growing up itself even today, boybands like The Wanted are taking themselves far too seriously. To them, the charts are like the some sort of feat that can actually be commended like it used to be. But since now anyone with the backing of a large record label can be crane-lifted to the #1 spot, where’s the sense in ‘Warzone’, an achingly tiresome rehash of 90’s pop perfunctories that not even inclusions of dubstep elements can prevent from flat-lining?

 

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