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Paloma Faith - 'Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful?'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:46 UK time, Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Paloma Faith

Truth please.

(Here's the video. It's theatrical, as you'd imagine.)

If there's one thing you have to admire about Paloma Faith, apart from her satanic grin, it's the fact that she makes an effort. Dressing up, standing on tiny chairs, doing 'scary eyes', bending over, nothing is too much trouble for this already-seasoned pro. And if we're holding Lady GaGa up as an example of why making an effort is important for a pop star, we should give credit where credit is due.

Now all we need is for the same care and attention-to-unsettling-detail to be brought into the music, and all will be well. Fact is, if you're going to look startling, you should sound startling too. This, for all that it is well made and, y'know, a High-Quality Product, is not startling.

It's one of the more Amy Winehousy songs from an already quite Amy Winehousy songlist. It's a torch song, sung with that weird fake s-lisp that comes out when your voice sort of quacks from your chest in a jazzy fashion instead of projecting from your diaphragm like they do in musical theatre. And without any real nods to the modern world, it just feels like an exercise in fancy dress.

So, while the song itself is a sad story of a bickering couple who have to choose between facing an unfortunate truth or fantasising that it isn't there, it is also a perfect illustration of what its singer is all about. She doesn't want us to acknowledge that it's nearly 2010, or that there are other people out there doing what she does, first and better, what she wants is for everyone to swoon over the wondrous presentation she has put together.

Trouble is, the reason everyone fell for Amy Winehouse in the first place is that she told the truth in a beautiful way. John Keats, the 17th century romantic poet and a man who knew a thing or two about the difference between mundane reality and astonishing imagination, nailed the basic idea when he wrote this, at the end of 'Ode On A Grecian Urn':

"Beauty is truth, truth beauty -- that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know"

And he is LOADS more old school than some frumpy old jazzers, so ner.

Three starsDownload: Out now
CD Released: December 21st
BBC Music page

(Fraser McAlpine)


  • Comment number 1.

    It's a nice song but it does sound a lot like a third single. It's not as catchy or as interesting as Stone Cold Sober and New York and seems to pass by without making any sort of an impact. Nice opening and verse but once it gets to the second chorus I found myself bored by it, 'sigh' if only she'd released Upside Down instead because that's a great song.

  • Comment number 2.

    What a business to be in !! Constant school reports about doing better !! A shame Fraser had to get personal about Palomas smile - I suppose if she looked miserable she would get slated for that ! I would think every artist knows there are other people better than them and am sure Paloma is no exception but if people didnt have a go we would have had no one after Amy Winehouse ........ Music in my view can encompass the past, the present and the future . Paloma seems to love the romance of the past and anyway whats so great about 2010.
    I really like this song but its not a POP song and for me thats what makes it refreshing . Each to their own taste but no one can deny Palomas power as a live performer I have been to several gigs this year and the crowds know all the songs - she is spellbinding on stage.
    Have a great Christmas Fraser and whatever you do dont grin !!!

  • Comment number 3.

    Thanks Rev, you too!

    PS: I said her smile was something to admire. And it is. She's got a GREAT smile, honest.

  • Comment number 4.

    There’s no denying the quality of Amy, but the reviewer is clearly missing a trick with Paloma. If you've ever seen the both live you would know exactly what I am talking about. With Paloma you get the full package, a theatrical performance and a consistently amazing voice. Amy may have told the truth in a beautiful way but Paloma kisses, holds it and then delivers it with every lingering note. Who was Keats anyway! Fraser McAlpine (sounds like something to do with double glazing), Happy Christmas! Pete AKA Pookie Phooey!

  • Comment number 5.

    I quite like this song and all in all agree with the review.

    Surprisingly I really liked her and the bloke from Scouting for Girls cover of Fairytale of New York. One of my favourite songs like ever and they did ti justice. Was a nice change from the original. Better than Florence and Billy Bragg anyway.

  • Comment number 6.

    Paloma's version of Sexy chick , retitled "Sexy minx " is one of my favourite Live Lounges of the year.

    To me , she is sexy and oh so stunning. Her theatrical background is a factor in her delivery , choreography and performance .

    This song has a very memorable vocal chorus hook , and I love the way our girl sings...

    "But do you want me ? "

    However it would resound more if the instrumentation was more vivid and less pedestrian , but this serves to focus on the presentation of the vocalist of course . However , yes I listen to this , and the spectre of a tattooed heroine looms large .

    Reviews , it's lovely to have you back , and your passion for Paloma really warms my heart .

    I look at Paloma , and yes , she can pull a rabbit out of a hat for me , anytime !

  • Comment number 7.

    As Spirit said her live lounge was one of the best of the year. I ranted about it at the time so won't go into it again!

  • Comment number 8.

    And of course it was liam who first brought sexy minx to my attention .

  • Comment number 9.

    And voted by Radio 1 listeners , the most popular Live Lounge of 2009 , was the excellent , atmospheric version of Kanye West's number 1 Stronger by.........................................

    30 Seconds To Mars.

    Congratulations Mr Leto !

  • Comment number 10.

    Paloma has had a good Year - hers and leonard Cohens best I went to - if you get the chance see them both. Catch Paloma Faith on the Hootenanny Jools Holland seems to really like her - we all need a bit of luck .........
    Best wishes for 2010 x

  • Comment number 11.

    I thought that Love Machine - Arctic Monkeys should have won the live lounge just because it's so funny.

  • Comment number 12.

    Looking forward to Hootenanny. Nobody will top Annie Lennox from last year though. Her performance of 'Why' was outstanding.

  • Comment number 13.

    And why is in your top 5 songs of all time , I am guessing ?

  • Comment number 14.

    Liam, what the hell were you doing posting on here on Christmas Day?!

  • Comment number 15.

    Interesting! I reckon Fraser McAlpine is secretly in love with Paloma Faith actually. He talking of seventeen century Keats for crying out loud, on a romaintic whim. He's gone soft and daft at the thought of her. And all whilst lamely trying to argue that he just wants the truth rather than something beautiful. But there’s an undercurrent of his real unabated truth that lies poorly hiden in his hearty words. You can pick it up a mile off. The real truth: That Paloma Faith is beautiful: Like the most beautiful woman in the whole entire world: So there!

  • Comment number 16.

    Oh by the way, I think Paloma Faith should be brought up a lot more really...

  • Comment number 17.

    Dave obviously hasn't seen Marina then.

    (not the most beautiful woman in the word either, but easy to compare to Paloma!)

  • Comment number 18.

    I like Paloma more, this song is simply stunning. So are 'Play On' (HUGE CHORUS SHOULD BE NEXT SINGLE) and 'Smoke & Mirrors' (a 'truth hurts' ode to an unfaithful lover).

    It's a shame her last two singles (this one and the 50's cabaret/dancehall-influenced 'Upside Down') failed to chart, only because they were never played and TV or Radio. A real shame.

    A tbh Liam, I think Paloma is gorgeous.

  • Comment number 19.

    EDIT: Not to say Marina isn't, because she is, but Paloma is sexier.

  • Comment number 20.

    No chance!

  • Comment number 21.

    Yes chance!

  • Comment number 22.

    Not really chance

  • Comment number 23.

    Ye boyyyy

  • Comment number 24.

    But really, no. Paloma may be talented, but her strength doesn't lie in her hotness.

  • Comment number 25.

    It's just my opinion. I think Marina's hot but personally I prefer Paloma's almost devilish, teasing grin.

  • Comment number 26.

    I think this is a very clever and well written song, Paloma is not particularly of interest to me but I always sing along when I hear this.


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