So this is what I know about Pixie Lott: easy-ish on the eye, she falls into that Sugababes, Saturdays genre of ‘girl pop’ that I avoid at all costs, and she released that ‘Mama Do’ track that drove me to the brink of despair a couple of summers ago. That’s my guitar music loving, chauvinistic view of Ms Lott thus far. Oh, and she was a terrible judge on The X Factor. Wait. I don’t watch The X Factor. I’m cool and ‘indie’. Shut up!
Anyway, with my mind opened as wide as a Craig Colton girdle, I approached Pixie’s sophomore release, ‘Young, Foolish, Happy’, and attempted not to be too damning to someone I might want to take on a date in the future. To The X Factor Live Tour. So here goes…
The album opens with Come Get It Now and it is everything I dreaded this album would be. It’s a vapid, Beverly Knight Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda inspired number that leaves you gasping for more. More valium. Because that is surely the only way I’m getting through this album. The general theme of the song seems to be that Pixie’s on the hunt for men. Men who can dance. She commands us to ‘get your sssshhhh together’. Because girls don’t swear. And men can’t dance. The one positive about this track is that it is over in 2.20.
Next up is the albums lead single All About Tonight. It’s about getting over someone by going out to dance. Men still probably can’t dance. And they’re also, now, evil. It’s a catchy track, carefree and girls will no doubt be dancing around their handbags in nightclubs to this for the next few months. Wait, do they still do that? What Do You Take Me For (feat Pusha T) starts with Pusha (who I assume is Mr T’s drug dealer) declaring ‘these red bottoms on our feet looking devilish/we take it to the next level so effortless’ – Christopher Wallace he ain’t. Men are still evil (‘I’m tired of you kicking the dirt just want the dust to settle/I’ll find just what I deserve, if you can’t do better’), however their dance moves are left well alone. Call me an optimist, but this looks like progress.
Nobody Does It Better brings hope of a Carly Simon cover. Sadly it is not. It’s a dreadful mash up of the previous tracks flushed down a garburator and coughed back up. It actually picks up towards the end. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the familiarity. Maybe it’s because just three tracks in I’m already a diehard Pixie fan. Maybe. But probably not.
After all that dancing the storm clouds have passed and Pixie sings on Kiss the Stars that if we ‘hit the switch, push the button, baby, then you’ll see/we can have it all, baby, you and me’. It’s a Vengaboys/Freezepop hybrid, though I suppose if we’re being “current” it evokes memories of a Katy Perry song that I don’t know the name of. It’s irritatingly catchy. I mean that as a compliment (yeah, I owned a copy of The Party Album) and I have a feeling this one will be rattling around my skull for the remainder of the day. It’ll be huge on the continent. However, the lyrics truly are dreadful ‘put the plug in the socket, give me all your power/when you turn it on I can go for hours’. Dear oh dear.
Stevie on the Radio is next and, tee hee hee, it’s a play on TV on the Radio. Which I get because I am, like, so into cool bands. Just like Pixie. Is that really Stevie Wonder playing harmonica? It could be Paul Butterfield for all I care it’s not going to rescue this train wreck. But, stop the press, ballad alert, as Everybody Hurts Sometimes turns the tide of the album. Finally. And there’s a piano and everything. It’s reminiscent of one of those Adele songs. You know the sort. She’s down, and broken, and dumped. But she’ll get stronger. It’s a life lesson. So is this song. And it’s a lesson worth taking. It’s a welcome break from the upbeat dross from before. Love hurts. Sometimes. And it’s a lesson we all need to learn.
This brief reprieve doesn’t last long as a generic R ‘n’ B voice introduces us to Dancing on my Own (feat Marty James). Marty is like Usher. But not quite as successful. Because he’s trying to be Usher. This track still attempts to be a ballad, but where there once was a piano, there is now a monotonous drum beat. Bring back the piano! Ballads need a piano! They love a piano! Not drums. And not a run of the mill R ‘n’ B crooner. He (Marty) also does some kind of singy rap bit too. It’s just awful. As the intro to Love You To Death plays out my excitement increases as I realise we’re still in a ballad-y mood. But oh no. The tempo increases. I don’t know where this track is taking me, us, but wherever it is I know that I like it. I’m 9 tracks in and being far more complimentary than I ever imagined. And then she ruins it. She’s doing a singy rap bit. Who does she think she is? Some kind of Marty James? Give over love. It was bad when he did it. And worse now you have. Do that again and I’m switching off. Ok?! Her voice is far too strained and I imagine live it will be nothing short of an abomination. If this is her idea of loving me to death, I’m happy being unloved and alive.
I’m still finishing off the scathing review of the last song when the intro to Birthday creeps in and I already like it. Genuinely. I do! Why don’t you believe me? Too many of those uh-oh-oh-ohh’s though. She’s happy to be spending time with someone. They make her feel like it’s her birthday. What’s not to like? He’s got her singing like ‘uh-oh-uh-oh-oh-oh-oh’. Not entirely sure why you would want to sing like that but I’m sure the fans will be singing along with her. Bright Lights (Good Life) Part 2 (feat Tinchy Stryder) is the track that kept cropping up when I was researching this album and well, we all loved Part 1 didn’t we? No, I don’t know Part 1 either. But this one features Tinchy Stryder. But I’m not sure if it’s him, or the other one, or the other one. You know the one that was on Never Mind the Buzzcocks the other week. One thing’s clear, you’ve got to be Tinchy, or Tinie, or a Chipmunk to be a rapper these days. They don’t make rappers like they used to. So Tinchy can’t rap, and I’m unconvinced Pixie can sing, but this one is a tuuuuuuuuunnneeeee!!! And it references London at least twice. Which always gets a thumbs up from me. Too many uh-oh’s again though. What is this girl’s obsession? Lyrically it’s probably her best effort. She’s drawn in by the bright lights of London but doesn’t want to become a victim to the city, and wants to find her own way. At least this is what I’ve drawn from it.
Now comes my favourite. Perfect. Whilst it’s far from that, it is my favourite on the record thus far. Instantly recognisable as a Pixie Lott track (are these words really coming from my fingers?). As the album progresses and the break-up gloom has lifted, Pixie is singing lines like ‘love your hair in the morning/your squeaky kiss without a warning’ where once she sang ‘it’s a hard life lesson to learn, when it’s me you’re not getting’. She’s found love. Is it me? Is she in love with me? We’ve not even been to The X Factor Live Tour yet.
Hello!! The piano’s back. You Win has got that ballad feel to it. God I’m a sucker for a ballad. And a pretty face. And this song has both. The uh-oh’s have gone and it’s all ah-ahh-ah-ahhhh la-la-laaa…I love you. And this is my new favourite. Pixie ‘I don’t care anymore/cause who’s keeping score, you win/I love you’. After a very cold shower, I listened to album closer We Just Go On. Oh no. Pixie’s singing ‘what happens when the water runs away?/what happens when the sunlight starts to fade?’. And just when we were turning a corner the relationship appears to be in decline. It’s a ballad. Still. But the tide has turned, and we appear to have come full circle. She’s told a whole story of an entire relationship here, has Ms Lott. Smarter than she looks.
As open minded as I said I’d be when I approached this album, I didn’t expect to even vaguely like any of these songs. In truth, the album’s…..tolerable. It’s not without fault, but there are some genuine gems on this record. It’s just a shame it’s the last four tracks, so you’d really have to stick with it. And if I hadn’t been tasked with reviewing it, would I have made it through the initial atrocities? Absolutely not. But her fans will. She (or her record company) know their target audience and they don’t stray from that. And why should they? People will love it. People will loathe it. But music should always divide opinion. Pixie is young, foolish and happy, and she’s making music for like minded people. And who am I to stand in her way?
P.S. Pixie, do you want to come to watch the X Factor Live Tour with me?
Pixie Lott’s new album Young Foolish Happy was released on Monday.