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Duffy - 'Well Well Well'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:03 UK time, Saturday, 20 November 2010


The word provocative tends to get a lot of positive press within the world of music. Same with the word challenging.

If you can justly claim to have a song which is provocative, you're creating a reaction, you're getting through to people, and that's always good. If you have a song which is challenging, it's even better, cos you're not only demanding a reaction, it's one which your audience would rather not give. They would far rather listen to something which slots in and around their current tastes, something which enhances the world in which they already live, something which adds a new sheen to the flowers in their garden, and here you are, smashing down their boundaries and letting their pets out. How rude. But also, how exciting!

Duffy's new song has the rare distinction of being both provocative AND challenging. But - and I really cannot emphasise this point strongly enough, so forgive the shouting - NOT IN A GOOD WAY.

It's provocative in that it basically has one idea, one note, one refrain, and it stops and it starts and it repeats and repeats and repeats like someone is prodding and prodding at your chest, demanding to know what you are going to do about it.

It's provocative in the way drunken blokes who can't deal with a sudden rush of impotent rage are provocative. It wilfully does not care how monumentally irritating it is, and while that's admirable as an attitude - WHOO PUNKROCK! YEAH! - it doesn't make it any easier to love as a song.

(I can't even show you the video because it's hidden behind adverts. GAH!)

And it is challenging in that it features the voice of Duffy, which is a colossally divisive sound. So divisive, in fact, you could use it to separate oil from salad dressing. Some people love it for its attractive grain and sharp edge, other people hate it for being shrill and quacky.

The challenge for everyone who is in the latter camp is to find a way to endure hearing 'Well Well Well' as they go about their business without becoming overwhelmed with rage at what effectively sounds like an uppity car alarm.

The challenge for everyone in the former camp is exactly the same, because it really is a phenomenally irritating song, no matter who sings it.

Two starsDownload: Out now

BBC Music page

(Fraser McAlpine)

2 Track Minds says: "The truth of the matter is that this song just doesn't go where it needs to go."

There Goes The Fear says: "The opening riff is from Dawn Penn's 1994 reggae hit 'No, No, No'. But as one mate has suggested, like she's on helium."


  • Comment number 1.

    I like the Duffy song and I'm unfazed by the reviewer's superior and snobby ways.

  • Comment number 2.

    Fraser your gradually falling from your perch because to give JLs a five star song and this two is gross misconduct may i say because duffy and adele are back two extremely talented and original artists with massive comebback singles and all they need rely on is talent alone makes a change wouldnt you say and too boot duffy speaks welsh which in my book makes her all the more intresting (its irrelevant i know but im annoyed )cannot wait for endlessly because if this is anything to go by it should knock the 6x platinum Rockferry outta the ball park.

  • Comment number 3.

    Duffy is great... FYI Jessie J “Do It Like a Dude” goes live on ITUNES midnight tonight!!!

  • Comment number 4.

    i think 2 star is being kind. duffy was never any good but this is a shocker. wail wail wail, the main catchlinr sums up how she sings it

  • Comment number 5.


  • Comment number 6.

    This has to be one of the most disappointing comeback singles of 2010, along with Christina's. That voice is just impossible to get past, and the song doesn't even have a memorable chorus. I mean, Duffy's voice was divisive enough anyway, but on this song it's turned just plain horrible, in such a way that it gets right in your ear and you can't ignore it and have to turn it off.

    I just can't believe no-one at her record label pointed out that this song was always going to irritate many people, and would therefore be shunned by radio and not be a big hit. With this song, Duffy's chances of a big return after the massive, 6 million-selling Rockferry, have been doomed. Just shows the importance of a big hit single - just look at the wonders Mercy did for her.

  • Comment number 7.

    Funny thing is, the song isn't even three minutes long but it feels like forever when her voice is stabbing at you like it does on 'Well, Well, Well'.

    Oh, and @ 5:

    Actual lol. Of the highest volume.

  • Comment number 8.

    Loving Adeles new one, Looks like its going to be playlisted as well, considering its Dav's (or Nadal's?) record of the week. Considering the recent surge of interest in Adele thanks to the X Factor (its done something right for once) she might be able to match up to her strikingly beautiful Debut, 19.

    I still think Corrine Bailey Rae has had the best comeback album from a female artist for a long time. Only just being pipped by 'Rated R'.

  • Comment number 9.

    I absolutely LOVE 'Rolling In The Deep', and yes, hopefully with the interest building back in Adele following 'Make You Feel My Love' bungee-jumping around the Top 20.


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