You know you’ve made it when you’re asked to record one of your hit songs in Simlish for The Sims 3 soundtrack and The Daily Mail makes a headline story out of you enjoying a midnight snack at Nando’s. It’s not exactly a hindrance if you look like the lovechild of Brigitte Bardot and Ursula Andress either. It simply remains to be seen then, if eighteen year old Pixie Lott’s debut album Turn It Up will confirm her position as the current matriarch of precocious pubescent talent.
Certainly, the two number one hits she has already accrued are redolent of promise for the rest of the record. ‘Mama Do (Uh Oh, Uh Oh)’ unites soulful, blues-riddled melodies with grimy electronic undertones to chronicle the stock teenage act of rebellion- sneaking out late at night to meet a boy. The lyrical content may be light and frothy with an abundance of ‘uh oh, uh oh’s’, but it’s Pixie’s smoky, throaty vocals, the provocative breakdown mid-song that wouldn’t sound amiss in the soundtrack to a burlesque show and the gospel choir hand claps which really hold the appeal. The other chart-topper in her arsenal, ‘Boys and Girls’, is similarly compelling, entertaining a funk-inspired trumpet line, jittering tambourines and drum beats which invoke the desire to dance like a knee-jerk reaction.
It would seem that Pixie’s already enjoyed a host of hits for a reason; she has mastered the art of the Ridiculously Catchy Chorus. Please see: ‘Band Aid’. Opening with warm, lush acoustic guitars that are quickly paired with racing strings, the draw of the song lies in the sumptuous subtleties; from electronic blips to chimes and bongo beats, with full Ridiculously Catchy status achieved when it breaks out into a tropical reggae pop instrumental solo. ‘Here We Go Again’ is equally infectious, a Memphis soul style stomper of a track, all irresistible organs and sultry vocal embellishments.
But before it’s taken for granted that Pixie Lott has the Midas touch, there are a couple of thoroughly throwaway tracks that ever so slightly tarnish Turn It Up. Stirring the melting pot of R’n’B, soul and pop, Pixie runs the risk of sounding more like a horrible mutant Joss Stone/Alicia Keys hybrid than the Supremes. Exhibit A: ‘Nothing Compares’, which sounds exactly like the most boring and insipid Mariah Carey song that didn’t make the tracklisting cut onto the ill-fated, ill-advised, illness-inducing Glitter. Meanwhile, ‘Gravity’ serves as an exercise in the fact that sometimes, vocoders are just sheer self-indulgence. Described as a Jordin Sparks’ ‘No Air’-style power ballad (but nowhere near as good), it’s actually so stylistically similar it’s bordering on plagiarism. Yet Pixie Lott can be forgiven for a couple of dud beats and at times distressing lyrics such as ‘I got your emails you just don’t get females’ (please try harder next time) when she has produced some glittering nuggets of pop gold. All she needs to do now is prove to us that she can do it better next time around.