Saturday, 1 May 2010

2004 Michelle McManus: All This Time

I mentioned back on the 'Leave Right Now' that it would be the last we'd be seeing of Messer's Young and Gates (aka the 2002 'Pop Idols') on these pages. And so it is. It's moot as to whether they simply ran out of steam or were replaced in the affections of a bored by now public craving a new set of idols. Which they were duly provided with - Autumn 2003 saw the screening of the second series of 'Pop Idol' where another brace of hopefuls came forward to chance their arm at a shot at stardom, a series eventually won by Michelle McManus. The Pop Idol is dead, long live the Pop Idol.

Well perhaps not quite 'long live'; in terms of career longevity, McManus would make Gareth and Will look as seasoned as Cliff Richard in comparison - there would only be one more single after this, and that would peak well away from number one and the main point of interest surrounding her seemed to be her weight. So does that make McManus a pop idol fraud who hoodwinked the public into backing the wrong horse? Or was she chosen in a 'welease Woger' moment of mischief? Who knows, and does it matter? Probably not - as per my previous comments on this whole enterprise, I do not believe that a 'pop idol' can be created anymore than an alchemist can create gold out of lead. Instead, it's the audience participation in the shows that seems to count most, to follow the trials and tribulations of the hopefuls each week before finally giving the Nero thumbs up or down at the finalists. Once the job is done, the entertainment over and the 'winning song' dutifully bought then I doubt the viewers gave a tuppeny damn what happened to the victors in the long term any more than Nero cared about what happened to all the dead bodies that littered the Coliseum; there'd be another show along soon enough to maintain the interest.

But that still leaves a single to review, and in this case 'All This Time' was an original song offered up as a 'prize' for the winner's debut single, regardless of whether they were a Jimmy Somerville soundalike or an Aretha Franklin wannabe. McManus is neither, but neither is 'All This Time' a song that plays to her strengths. Not that 'All This Time' itself has that many strengths to play to. In fact, to my ears it sounds uncannily like 'Pure And Simple' redux, albeit re-arranged into a simple dragging beat and re-cast for a solo voice. And as far as that goes, 'All This Time' thrusts McManus's vocal up and over the trenches to the extent she provides both tune and melody to carry it. But she can't carry it far - the bland and faceless shuffle of 'All This Time' offers up little opportunity for her (or, to be honest, any Jimmy Somerville soundalike or Aretha Franklin wannabe) to shine.

Because while the "You kiss my moods away, yesterday's far behind. All these clouds have died, a crater on my mind" has vagaries enough to be interpreted as a typical finding happiness through love scenario, the promotional video (littered with Michelle's 'best of' moments from the series) and her own flat delivery leaves little doubt that this is a self satisfied song of celebration and self promotion made for the series winner. Which isn't particularly endearing, though it does ensures that the hindsight schadenfreude that drips like acid from the "All this time, we've come a long long way, I waited a life time for today, I'm praying this moment's here to stay" line overshadows anything else the song has to say. Which isn't much truth be told and, linked to how short this 'idol' would reign, it kind of makes me wonder why anyone involved bothered at all.

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