Agnes - 'Release Me'
Oh hello, what's this? A former TV talent show winner banging out a disco torch song, supported by massed ABBA harmonies and a bass so thick you could use it as a doorstop? A modern day update of 'I Will Survive', which makes up in enormity what it lacks in defiance? A club-destroying barnstormer, worthy of a doffed cap from Dave Pearce himself (even if the hat-removal exercise would require some Super-Glue thinners and a pair of barber's scissors)? The future of all heavy metal as we know it?
Well, yes, yes, yes and no. In that order.
(Here's the video. It contains some strobe lighting effects.)
I would say that 73% of why this is a great song rests with those amazing swooping harmonies. That's not to take anything away from Agnes's vocal talents, it's just her honeyed-rasp, set to a synth-disco backing, is not THAT startlingly new a sound. Whereas those harmonies, particularly around the second and third verses, are astonishing. You could reduce things down to a beat, Agnes and the choir, and nothing would sound amiss.
The only trouble is, once you fixate on the glorious choir, some of the other bits start to sound a bit plasticky and half-arsed. I'd love to hear a version of this where the 'Papa Don't Preach' strings at the beginning didn't sound like a synth preset, where there was evidence of muscle and sinew in among the painstakingly recreated disco fizz.
It's not some rocksnob quest for 'analogue warmth' or whatever, it's just those voices demand utter perfection from everything around them, and that's a tough standard to reach.
Luckily for Agnes, her contribution is not one of the flies in the ointment. And who knows, if this had a more memorable chorus, and even MORE harmonies, why that extra star could be hers for the taking.
I know, I know...she's gonna be SO bothered, right?
ww_adh says: "Reminds me of Anastacia."
Lisa from the Veronicas says: "I think the song is super-catchy but it sounds like she actually wrote it."
Don't Stop The Pop says: "She's got the horseface of Leona Lewis."