“A more sophisticated effort. It recalls the sound of girl bands from the 90’s, perhaps a little too much”
Digital Release: June 5, 2011
Physical Release: June 5, 2011
Louis Walsh’s and Kian Egan’s “Next Big Thing”: a talent search that called for “real, undiscovered talent”, and the fruit of said talent scouting are the five girls that comprise Wonderland, a name which the group claim took them over a year to come up with. It’s hard not to chuckle to one’s self even at the thought of Louis Walsh and Kian Egan – who aren’t the most successful names in the music industry right now – mentoring a girl band in this day and age, where sexualised lyrics and performances is what’s selling. It’s most amusing though, because you just know Walsh and Egan will try and go a more dignified route and refrain from sexualising any of the girls and still wonder why they haven’t had so much as a thread of success outside Ireland, where people still buy Westlife albums.
And after the moderate success (#22 in Ireland; it didn’t chart in the UK) of first single ‘Not A Love Song’, a chunk of lukewarm folk-pop drivel that was so typically Louis Walsh in it’s lack of commerciality it only made his and Egan’s efforts even more laughable, they’re moving on to release number two. And now we see that their – or Walsh’s – desire to have them taken seriously as a fresh-faced girl-band, ready for chart domination has been replaced with a more sophisticated effort. It recalls the sound of girl bands from the 90’s, perhaps a little too much, and at times it sounds like an outdated disaster that gets very tiresome by the end of the first listen, but at others, it can be a warming, summery up-tempo ballad. The majority of the time though, this schizophrenic nature doesn’t bode well with the ears, as there are moments where it’s very good (the clarity of the un-tampered vocals) and moments that aren’t so good (the overpowering vocal developments towards the end), leaving a harsh dichotomy that doesn’t make ‘Starlight’ as enjoyable as it could’ve been.
It’s a refreshing summer song for sure, but you get the feeling they’re still holding back vocally; their rather demure delivery creates a reservation, which is reflected in their lyrics –“Do you see me standing here?/With a heart full of fear?”, and whilst they can be said to happily illustrate the emotions of the song, it means they’re once again disallowed to show some individuality; Wonderland is still five similar-sounding girls, rather than five distinct personalities and voices. For commercial success to permeate the group, they need to connect more with the fans as individuals, or else continue releasing average singles that could’ve been sung by any one the four other failed girl-groups Walsh has tried to manage.