Since the inception of television music talent shows, singing stars that were once-glittering have consistently suffered from the fickle fancies of their audiences, now nothing more than the subject of blithe questions on Yahoo! Answers: ‘whatever happened to Michelle McMammoth? Didn’t she win that pop programme?? I really miss her amazing talent.’ Surely this cannot be the fate prescribed to last year’s X Factor winner Alexandra Burke? With such stellar lineage that links her to a former member of Soul II Soul, we can only hope not.
The premise is promising. Overcome benefits from roster of songwriting and production luminaries from Lady Gaga collaborator RedOne to Swedish hit machine Stargate who have produced top ten hits for the likes of BeyoncÃ©, Shakira and Rihanna. Burke’s debut opens with ‘Bad Boys’, her second number one single featuring Flo Rida (aka. Tramar Dillard), the American rapper whose aptitude for rapping appears to be in direct correlation to the inventiveness of his name. Opening the song with a swaggering ‘Alexandra girl, I know what you like’, it would appear that what Alexandra likes is fluctuating siren-like sound effects, sultry bass lines and luxuriant synthesisers in the major key. Songs along the same infectious vein include -All Night Long’, with its shuddering percussion and discotheque-anthemic chorus and -Nothing But The Girl’, a song built for sleazy sweat-fests on the dancefloor.
Yet for some reason, Alexandra Burke decides to diverge from what appears to be a winning combination of electronic pulsations and heroic drumbeats to pay homage to the -power ballad’. -The Silence’ is an outdated -80s pastiche, with the obligatory soft snare that swells to a drum beat that wouldn’t sound amiss in Phil Collins’s -In the Air Tonight’. -Overcome’ itself bears more than a striking resemblance to Michael Jackson’s -Earth Song’, with its grandiose, lush arrangements which break down into thudding percussion and grand vocal harmonies as Alexandra hits the money note (which may or may not be E sharp 7). Burke proceeds to span yet more musical genres, a feat that reeks of over-ambition. Offerings include the bland Motown lament -You Broke My Heart’ and -Bury Me (6 Feet Under)’, a swing jazz pop number with more than a hint of Diana Ross that somehow manages to fall flat.
The problem is that in trying to exhibit her versatility, Alexandra Burke has produced an album whose tracks seem uncomfortable beside one another, an incongruous tracklisting that is lacking in any perceivable fluidity or theme, a notion reinforced by the fact that her record breaking Christmas number one single, a cover of Leonard Cohen’s -Hallelujah’, seems to have been lumped casually onto the end of the record as an afterthought to satisfy Burke’s audience. No doubt they will be satisfied with Overcome and its slick production, but it’s arguable that Burke should stick to carving out her own niche, which from the sounds of things lies more in pounding electro pop, than Phil Collins/ whiney Mariah Carey parody ballads.