Wednesday, 3 February 2010

2001 Westlife: Uptown Girl

For a band whose very name and operating genre is enough to generate an automatic turn off for many, I think I've been more than fair to Westlife over the past few months. Without prejudice, each song has been taken on its own terms and, wherever credit was due, credit has been given. But I can only take this so far - I knew there would come a point where lines would be crossed, sharks would be jumped and patience would be at an end. Like here; 'Uptown Girl' is basically a straight re-reading of Billy Joel's 1983 hit, no more and no less. And by 'straight' I mean straight; Westlife add not one iota of originality or personality of their own to the mix and instead content to follow Joel's trail with the dilligence of a dog tracking a fox.

Which begs the question - what is the point? Whatever you thought of Joel's original (which in my case wasn't much), at least it had the smug purpose of showing off his trophy wife behind it whereas I can only presume that Westlife were just attracted by a catchy tune. But even those with a desperate itch to hear Westlife sing 'Uptown Girl' will feel short changed by the slavish attention to mimicry on display here (they even mimic/parody Joel's rolling Noo Yawk R's). And for those on the other side of the fence harbouring no such desires, it's simply petrol for their already blazing bonfire of boyband vanities. And yes, I know it was the 'official' 2001 Comic Relief single so there was at least some 'point' to it all, but in truth any Westlife single would have done the same job and so any philanthropy is tainted by a cheapskate, bare minimum of effort diversion of royalties (which the band wouldn't have seen anyway) from a lazy cover version to a good cause whilst keeping their profile high ('Uptown Girl' would appear on their forthcoming 'World Of Our Own' album, proudly advertised as containing four number ones). In short, 'Uptown Girl' does neither Westlife or boybands any favours and no credit is due to them for it. None at all.


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