Sunday, April 11, 2004


Thanks to the ready availability of midweek chart positions and sales figures in this day and age, it probably comes as a surprise to precisely no one that Pop Idol winner Michelle McManus entered the charts at the lowly position of number 16 with her second single, ‘The Meaning of Love’.

The other week we did attempt to express our disgust that after all the “she’ll be a positive role model” gubbins we were fed by the Cowell publicity machine to justify Michelle winning the series, she was substituted for an anodyne blonde in the romantic scenes in her new video. This notwithstanding, we can’t really bring ourselves to be hugely upset by Michelle’s apparent early demise, for the following reasons:

1. What we’ve heard of her album has been awful. Admittedly, it’s not uncommon for debut albums by reality TV show winners to be rush recorded to capitalise on their TV notoriety (cf. Hear’Say), but even Will Young managed to come up with a half-decent debut album despite it containing ‘Evergreen’, ‘Anything is Possible’ and ‘The Long and Winding Road’. And Girls Aloud’s debut album was a shining beacon of pop aceness. If they managed it, we’d like to hear Michelle’s excuse.

2. Actually, come to think of it, Rosie Ribbons managed to come up with a pretty decent debut album (albeit one that never saw a commercial release), despite coming sixth in the original Pop Idol and being signed to a cheapass label whose seminal work consisted of The Greatest Party Hits Ever! Volume 2. So we don’t want to hear Michelle’s excuse, because there isn’t one.

3. Furthermore, Beyoncé managed to hit number ten this week with the fourth? (fifth? sixth?) release from Dangerously in Love, an album that by most accounts bears only one good song, which was released last summer. So having a duff album is no excuse for not hitting the top ten.

4. Michelle, for all her weighty worthiness, has all the stage presence of the prompter’s script. Her attempts to dance on Pop Idol were as embarrassing as her attempts to sing upbeat disco numbers.

It’s not that we wouldn’t welcome some different faces in the charts (“different” according the Cowell Offensive Dictionary meaning “chubby”). It’s just that if they really want to rub their uniqueness in our faces, then some unique songs would be a really nice accompaniment. Grandma-pleasing power ballads just aren’t going to cut it, particularly when sung in an annoying nasal quiver. It’s sad that it had to come to this (certainly, if there had to be casualties from the second series of Pop Idol, we always hoped that Sam and Mark would be the first to fall), but Michelle’s single crashing and burning just demonstrates how little “untapped talent” 19TV managed to unearth this time around. There was no Will – there wasn’t even a Gareth. Only one person had a remotely unique voice – Susanne – and even her biggest fans (us) will admit that she wasn’t exactly versatile and was unlikely to have had much more of a successful career than Michelle.

Though perhaps the bitterest pill to swallow is the story of a friend of this site’s. A proud Scotsman, he could not contain his glee when the first Scottish Pop Idol was crowned. Sadly, he went travelling around Australia shortly after the contest finished, and we can’t bring ourselves to break the news to him in the four months he was away, he missed Michelle’s entire career.


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