Pop Idol/Pop Stars have churned out a fair few chart-toppers, each charged with producing a specific image and sound. Just like a range of Barbie and Ken dolls, Will Young is the soul man, Gareth Gates is the pop heart-throb, Girls Aloud are sexy power pop, Sam & Mark are the Ant & Dec equivalents and Michelle McManus is the diva. The latest addition to the collection is Javine, the R ‘n’ B princess.
The stunning, green-eyed 22-year-old was one of the rejects for Girls Aloud in Pop Stars: The Rivals in 2002 and after releasing three singles has now released her debut album Surrender. Her sassy booty-shaking tunes that merge hip-hop with urban contemporary R ‘n’ B have already earned comparisons with Samantha Mumba, Beyoncé and Aaliyah.
Opening track and and UK Top 5 hit Real Things is a real stomper that would sound great at top volume and could get any party started. Javine’s golden voice is clear and sultry above a bass-heavy upbeat dance track and reconfirms that this London lass is a great talent who deserves to be recognised as more than just a reality TV hopeful.
The second track is another single, Best Of My Love, and is again a speaker-pounding pop hit with a catchy Middle Eastern synth riff and funky handclap beats.
Next up is a cover of Jade‘s ’90s pop hit Don’t Walk Away, which has an expected modern R ‘n’ B twist and completes the hat-trick of superb dance-oriented opening tracks. Promise winds down the tempo as a slow-dance soulful ballad that shows Javine ain’t just a one-trick pop pony.
By the fifth track, Millions, things start going downhill. The dynamic start to the album isn’t sustained and the quality of music has dropped a few notches. Catchy hit songs have bowed out to samey bargain bucket R ‘n’ B pop that is readily forgettable. Cheap-sounding synthesisers abound in Definition Of A Man, while Where U Are is a paltry attempt at Enrique Iglesias style easy-listening with a Latino guitar thread, and Think Twice screams formulaic robotic mush.
Hooky ’70s, soul-inspired, title track Surrender (Your Love) brings the energy levels back up to par with a Gospel-style choir, a funky bass and handclaps. Javine stamps her mark as a Brit artist by speaking the line, “You know what, it’s time for you to surrender your love,” in a strong London accent at the start and end of the song.
However, the next three songs, Let Me Go, Messin’ and All About Us are back to the low level of music that people call CD fillers. Final and 13th track Missing You also ends the album on a low with its lightweight cocktail lounge R ‘n’ B.
So the last half of the album reduces Surrender from a full-blown hit-tastic success into a flaccid party balloon. And despite R ‘n’ B greats such as SoulShock, Johnny Douglas, Stargate and Javine’s long term collaborator Eg working with her on Surrender for more than a year, the overall result is a selection of good tunes but with many destined for the skip button on the CD player.