After Popstars had re-ignited interest in television talent shows, Pop Idol "was a talent contest to decide the best new young pop singer (or "pop idol") in the United Kingdom, based on viewer voting and participation".* Oh yes, once Hear'Say had rubbed the lamp, this was one particular genie that had no intention of going back in the bottle. Winner of the inaugural series was one Will Young and his reward was a debut single penned by Cathy Dennis (incidentally, all three finalists in the show recorded it too. We'll be meeting the 'losing' members of that trio sooner rather than later).
Dennis reputedly wrote 'Anything Is Possible' in three hours, but if I was paying her by the minute then I'd be double checking her timesheets - 'Anything Is Possible' aims for the peg marked 'smooth ballad' but in execution it plays like a series of off-cut motifs and discarded melody riffs stitched together in an awkward Smorgasbord of ill fitting key and tempo changes that Young has to smooth flat like a cowboy carpet layer disguising a bodge job by hammering the lumps out with a mallet. It's worked in the past, but the fly in this ointment is that Young's voice hardly carries the force of a mallet blow - a steady drip of treacly syrup, Young intones the "I never thought I could be feeling this way, standing here in front of you this perfect day" not as a interpreter trying to breathe life into doggerel but as a man desperate to please but more desperate not to put a foot wrong. And he doesn't really, but in letting the song play him it doesn't make this any more palatable.
Flip side 'Evergreen' was formerly a Westlife album track and sounds exactly like you'd expect a Westlife track to sound**, something I went into on my last review. Again, Young stays faithful to the source and serves up a professional job with a hummable tune that, while not irritating me enough to be able to hate it nevertheless runs over me without trace like water on glass. Taken together, this release has a bleached vapidity that perfectly encapsulates all that I dislike about Pop Idol and its ilk, and it's nothing to do with a snobbish dislike of 'manufactured' music either; in the final analysis, these shows aren't about unearthing fresh talent (and Young himself has all the 'pop idol' qualities of eating porridge for breakfast every single day of your life). Nothing so daring. No, they're about unearthing people with a hardwired desire for fame that's such that they are willing to whore whatever talent they might have and be manipulated into a non boat rocking 'career' that sells the same old mediocrity in exceptional numbers in a way whereby the 'artist' can be controlled in order to generate the maximum revenue for those pulling the strings.
* Thank you Wikipedia.
** "Eyes, like a sunrise, like a rainfall down my soul. And I wonder, I wonder why you look at me like that" - I can probably guess why if that's the sort of bollocks you're going to spout at her.