Single Review: Tulisa – ‘Young’

“Tulisa sings with all the likeness of witnessing the un-anaesthetised vasectomy of a large fruit bat”


Digital Release: April 29, 2012

Physical Release: April 30, 2012

There’s nothing quite like a well-timed promotional opportunity. It works wonders whether the listeners work it out as a huge marketing ploy or not – it’s something both beneficial and detrimental and together makes something ultimately profitable. The choice of ‘Young’ as Tulisa’s début solo single raised a few eyebrows as onlookers sniggered behind their hands at Tulisa’s transparent attempt at some name-blackening PR. Although, instead of what was meant to look like sinner-absolved-of-sin-emerging-out-of-a-year’s-rehabilitation, what we got in the form of Ibiza party-anthem ‘Young’ was the image of a pissed-up woman stumbling home in the early hours whilst tackling cobblestone roads with her heels, slurring out a startlingly poor excuse that the reason for her drunkenness was a lack of experience in life (would have been far better for her to simply admit that, like the rest of, well, everyone since ever, she just wanted a good night out). And alas (for her), this hasty vindication is far less socially causative than Tulisa would like to think. Instead of being an eye-opening revolution that transcends generations and provides the long sought-after excuse for insatiable late-night/early morning debauching, all the song does is solidify opinions and stereotypes that have been set in stone for decades, and it doesn’t even do it subtly. It feels like a sledgehammer to the face of everyone who was ever wronged by the “young”, shrugging of years of guilt in two lines of auto-tuned vocal wailing.

The issues with this song don’t stop there, and usually it wouldn’t matter in such a throw-away, handbag house mess, but Tulisa is clearly attempting a social commentary here (being the good role-model for young women that she is). But there’s a definite stench emitting from this song, and it’s not just the saccharine sweetness of cheap perfumes and hairspray. Constructed on some ill-founded and utterly unconvincing inspiration behind the song’s lyrics (an argument which boils down to “We’re young; we’re bound to make a mess of ourselves. You will deal.”) is the proof that teenagers – and anyone else clinging onto their youth – are all too keen to forgive themselves of past wrongs simply by frantically pointing at Tulisa’s faux-philosophical ponderings and indulging on some great absolution that appears to hold this song together, thinking it will suffice as some godly atonement. But that’s just it – this song works in reverse and is perceived to emit some oblique luminosity because those who listen to the all-loving and all-powerful Tulisa might chance to feel cleansed by her screeching. Unfortunately, these are the kind of people that would like to think this song means anything at all. Oblivious to the real message of the song, Tulisa and her fans will soon realise that there is little life-changing epiphany to be found here, and certainly not the kind of notion that puts one in the apologetic mood. What would usually be a ballad in anyone else’s understanding of song topics and lyrical conventions is a wheezy, breathless mix of anaemic Ibiza synths and crescendos to rival Calvin Harris’ anti-climactic prowess. Tulisa sings with all the likeness of witnessing the un-anaesthetised vasectomy of a large fruit bat, sucking into a vacuum all possible emotion and leaving a residual – but jarring – blandness not too dislike what comes of listening to too much Jessie J – you simply feel shouted at, rather than empathised with, the worst part being that both women want to feel everyone’s pain and believe singing loudly does the trick.


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