Album Reviews

Kelly Osbourne – Sleeping In The Nothing

(Sanctuary) UK release date: 23 May 2005

Kelly Osbourne - Sleeping In The Nothing Wasn’t there a time when the Osbournes were just the stars of a mildly amusing reality show concerned mainly with the excretory habits of their many pets? Since then, while Ozzie has remained content to plod on as before, taking only the occasional tumble from a quad bike, the rest of his brood seem to have been on a quest for world domination, what with the Channel 4 idents, the talent show panels and the West End non-appearances. Despite all this, Kelly Osbourne comes across as far less irritating on this, her second album, than one might expect.

She’s wisely ditched the faux-punk approach of her rushed and messy debut, Shut Up, and opted for – a no less artificial – vaguely eighties new wave vibe which capitalises on the fact that, though somewhat pasty and podgy, she does possess an undeniable bratty glamour. Appearing on the sleeve with sleek black hair and femme-fatale eyes, the worryingly-monikered Sleeping In The Nothing succeeds in putting some necessary distance between Kelly the recording artist and her shrill, spoilt screen persona.

Opening track (and recent single) One Word sets the tone with its drum machine and snatches of sampled French. Even though, overridingly, it’s also just a smash ‘n’ grab of Visage‘s 80s hit, Fade To Grey.

Vocally she proves herself to be far less objectionable than any of the former Spice Girls; the songs have been well-tailored to her strengths. The album moves on in a similar vein, lots of synthy bleeps and pouty lyrics of the “catch me, I think I’m falling” variety. There’s a few nods to early Madonna, Duran Duran and, unexpectedly, in the middle of Secret Lover, a snarled, tuneless reference to Willie Wonka And The Chocolate Factory (“I want the world, I want the whole world”, you know the song) which pokes fun at her on-screen antics without doing so in too heavy-handed a manner.

And just when things seemed to be going so well, along comes track eight, Don’t Touch Me, a lovely little ditty about date rape. My first response, after playing the track over to make sure it was actually saying what I thought it was saying, was that this was about as misjudged as Asda’s decision to hire her mum as the voice of the modern British housewife. Then I rationalised that, considering the likely market for this album, an aggressive anti-victim stance on the issue couldn’t really do any harm and that an assertive feminist message, however crudely done, was a welcome novelty in a world of seemingly up-for-anything Britney Spearses and Christina Aguileras.

The track in question is unfortunately the least mature song on the album – angry yes, but musically simplistic and expletive-ridden. It also sounds more like television Kelly than any of the other songs. If it’s an attempt to say something that matters to her than I guess that’s to her credit, albeit flawed and poorly thought out. But if it’s just an attempt to generate a little controversy than that’s a very real shame.

With Sleeping In The Nothing, Kelly has taken all the right steps to turn her reality TV notoriety into a workable musical career. There may be far too many unmemorable moments for a ten-track album, but she’s achieved a sound and look that work well for her.

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Kelly Osbourne – Sleeping In The Nothing