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Alesha Dixon - 'Drummer Boy'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:48 UK time, Monday, 30 August 2010

Alesha Dixon

OK, quick discussion topic: what's the best way to tell if you like a song which sounds, on first listen, like a bit of a dog's breakfast?

Is it that you find yourself still pondering it, some minutes after it has finished? Is it that you find you have to immediately go back and listen again? Or are you so overwhelmed that you have to go and put something familiar and soothing on instead? Is it that it makes you laugh? Or cry? Or be sick?

For me, it is simply whether I find I have turned the volume up all the way through the song, all the better to pay closer attention to what is going on. This is so that I can try and divine the heartbeat of the thing, to work out what the people who wrote it think is good about it. To do this you've sometimes got to wade through some of the production murk and ignore the more bizarre bits.

With this song, I ran out of up to turn it before the second chorus. By the end I couldn't tell if my internal joyclaps were enjoyment or relief that the ordeal was finally over.

(Here's the video. I think you need a better painter too. This one is messy.)

I have since revised my opinion and am delighted to report that it is enjoyment all the way.

The great thing about this is it is proof that we've got the bonkers Alesha back from the evil clutches of Those Who Would Seek To Capitalise On Her Strictly Success By Making Her Into A Fully Rounded Family Entertainer. It's time to celebrate her mad brilliance. She was mad and brilliant in Mis-Teeq. Her early solo singles - 'Lipstick' and 'Knockdown' - were both mad and brilliant. Then she had a brief - or possibly ongoing, it's hard to tell right now - dalliance with mainstream success, and apart from 'The Boy Does Nothing', the madness and the brilliance was in less abundance, and this felt like a shame. But now it is back.


Listen to the blessed thing! It's all over the shop! Ten million drummers giving it the full paradiddle apocalypse, and I'm not even sure if all of them are playing in time. Meanwhile Alesha is singing some bits and shouting some bits and going "whaaat?" in a manner which will NOT delight Arlene Phillips fans. She's got some nice harmonies to do, and there are fragments of a complete song being kicked about, but nothing is being treated with due respect. It's fantastic!

Yes, Destiny's Child and High School Musical (and the movie Drumline, from which this is sampled) have beaten her to the marching band drummer gimmick, but they were concerned with respectfully putting that sound into a different musical context. Alesha and her gang just want to rudely plonk themselves on top, fire up the synth brass, and blow off in everyone's faces.

And best of all, there is no possibility that you could confuse this song with anything else in the charts this year. And for that reason alone it deserves top honours.

Not that Alesha cares. She's way too busy throwing toy spaniels into a bucket of gravy with her face, or something.

Five starsDownload: Out now

BBC Music page

(Fraser McAlpine)

So Feminine says: "The colourful, foot-stomping new hit, 'Drummer Boy'... is unlike any other record you'll hear this year."

Madnews says: "I have never rated Alesha as an artist and never well. Her music just does nothing for me. But she seems like a nice woman.."

Kid With The Specs says: "The song has completely grown on me and is very different from everything Alesha has done before."


  • Comment number 1.

    Not at all worthy of 5 stars...a 3 star song at best.
    Yet another female artist trying to jump on the gaga wagon so she can gain sex appeal and become edgy, and she certainly doesn't need anymore of the former ;)
    I just find Alesha and her music very irritating as there's something slightly desperate about her... Might just be me.

    And I'll ask nicely. Fraser please can you fix the Janelle review?

  • Comment number 2.

    And the Michelle Breeze/Branch case of daylight mistaken identity of Hitchcock type proportions !


  • Comment number 3.

    The first 15 seconds or so is one of the worst of any song this year, but other than that I love it. It bounces along well and there are some great hooks that I find myself singing along to. I love the shoutouts of 'Hey!' and 'Ha!' after some of the lines. It's full of innuendo, but in a tongue-in-cheek way which keeps it from being tacky.

    It's very much love-or-hate, and it's either going to be a massive flop or a decent-sized hit. Still, that proves even further that it's a big, bold single for Alesha to return with - no-one can accuse her of playing it safe. And as Fraser suggested, it sounds like her doing things exactly how she wants to, and enjoying herself.


  • Comment number 4.

    It's actually a brilliant pop record, and a real advance in quality from Alesha. And it looks like she's the newest artist to be sexed up, yes?

    Sex sells, guys. Also, notice how she's dropped her last name from the promtion of the single? It's always "the new single from Alesha: 'Drummer Boy', out September 5th", or the like.

    4 stars.

  • Comment number 5.

    I like Alesha but her music is bloody awful!!!

  • Comment number 6.

    Had to make a new account cause my other just STOPPED WORKING.
    Is it just me who sees the oozing sexual innuendo in this song?

    5* just for that.

  • Comment number 7.

    5 stars. That is all.

  • Comment number 8.

    I totally agree with you Fraser. Infact, this song has grown on me so much that I think it may be one of my top 2/3 of 2010 so far.

    I don't get why people don't rate Alesha, she can atually sing live, and despite what people are commenting, this song has no "Gaga" inspired beats, other than the style of clothing she's wearing in her video.

    I hope Alesha keeps this sort of style up, utter briliance!

  • Comment number 9.

    Have I led a quiet life? What an astounding opening to Concert for Heroes with Alesha, Drummer Boy and the precision band and drummers of the Scots(?) Guards, all beating it together. Isn't this a step change in our democracy? That thin red line used to defending Queen and Country but now more especially looking after Alesha Dixon, because crickey she's so much better than anything the Tabiban have got... Fabulous! A huge contribution to the war effort, surely.

  • Comment number 10.

    This is awful and it gets 5 stars. Pendulum - The Island only gets 2? Fraser McAlpine is a joke reviewer

  • Comment number 11.

    The island is boring and euro-visionish.


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