Joe McElderry - 'The Climb'
Here's ChartBlog's resident X Factor expert - Steve Perkins - on the song of the show of the controversy of the moment.
Well, this is a bit of a novelty - it's not often I review the same song twice in the space of a year, unless I'm having a particularly forgetful spell. And interestingly, when I reviewed the Miley Cyrus original (and wow, I really didn't think I'd be using the phrase "the Miley Cyrus original" for at least another five years), I mentioned that it sounded rather like the sort of song they give the American Idol winner to perform.
Okay, so I said American Idol rather than X Factor, but hey, that's too close to be a coincidence, right? Mr Cowell, if you're reading this, I expect either payment for my services or to be credited as 'creative consultant' on series seven. (Or even better, let me replace Louis Walsh on the judging panel. G'wan. Please?)
(Here's a video from some TV show or other. You might have seen it already.)
Anyway, after the general public horror last year that the X Factor winner would get to cover a song so apparently sacred as Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah', it seems sensible that Simon would opt for a song this year that, while doubtless liked by many people, is unlikely to be quite so fiercely protected by its fans (now watch me get proved wrong when the Miley Massive stage a revolt, or something).
What I said about the song when I reviewed Miley's version still absolutely stands - it's one of those conveniently non-specific metaphors about going on a bit of a journey that someone can sing after winning a talent show and make a lot of people who watched the whole series go "aww, he did, y'know". It's not massively deep, but then it doesn't have to be.
As for the performance of Joe himself, it's pretty decent: he sings with a lovely clarity and is still young and green enough to be able to sing something like this with a level of sincerity that, say, Olly Murs probably would've struggled to pull off at the massively advanced age of 25 (which is practically pensionable for someone just starting out as a popstar).
The production on the whole thing does feel a bit rushed, though - just listen to the bit about one minute in where he sings "it's not about what's waiting on the other si-i-i-i-ide" and see if you don't think someone's been both a bit snip-happy with the editing scissors and unnecessarily heavy on the autotune - which is a shame, because his performances on the show never suggested to me he was going to need that much help sounding good on a recording. It sounds a little bit thin, as well - especially if you compare it to Alexandra's effort from last year, though you might argue she had a more epic song to begin with.
Beyond that, it's all business as usual - key change, choir, probably some kind of firework curtain going off every time he sings it, blah blah blah. There are few surprises here, but I doubt anyone was really expecting any. It delivers exactly what it promises, no more, no less: a bit of shiny, slightly hollow, feelgood pop to cap off another successful series of The X Factor. The big test's going to be what his first proper single sounds like in about nine months...