There are times during this job of record reviewing that you feel like a really horrible bastard. Admittedly, it’s not quite up there with ordering genocide, torturing cuddly kittens or spending your time deliberately posting spoilers about future episodes of Lost, but just sometimes you know you’re going to upset someone.
Times like when you have to review Shaun Rogerson’s debut album, for instance, and you know it’ll probably make him teary. If you watched The X Factor, you’ll remember Shaun. He was the blond 16-year-old boy who burst into uncontrollable tears after performing two lines of Right Here Waiting and was hugged with rather too much vigour by Kate Thornton. “I just love singing, me” – that was Shaun’s catchphrase.
Of course, Shaun’s battle to conquer his nerves was one of the ongoing stories of last year’s series, and although he didn’t make it through to the live final he did get to travel to the Caribbean with Simon Cowell and be told how great he was. And that, really, should have been it. But no, some evil genius at Calibre Music thought it would be a good idea to offer Shaun a record contract, and now his debut album is upon us.
It is, inevitably, as you’d expect. Thirteen breathtakingly banal cover versions of housewife favourites tunes, all performed with so much politeness, taste and decorum that it makes Westlife sound like Arcade Fire.
Shaun’s voice isn’t too bad. He can carry a tune, but there’s no passion or heart in any of the performances. Basically, it’s listening to somebody perform karaoke for an hour, and quite why anyone would want to buy an album like that is beyond me.
Songs that were pretty horribly bland to begin with – Maroon 5‘s She Will Be Loved, Bryan Adams‘ Heaven, Elton John‘s Can You Feel The Love – are rendered even more crushingly pointless, and some classic tracks, such as The Long And Winding Road, My Girl and Be Young Be Foolish Be Happy are massacred by Shaun’s lifeless vocals.
Possibly the nadir of the record is Shaun’s version of Chasing Cars. Now, Snow Patrol may have their critics, and admittedly they are more guilty than most bands of foisting ‘stadium indie’ upon us. Yet just listening to Shaun breathily whispering his way through Chasing Cars is enough to send you scurrying back to Gary Lightbody and friends.
Shaun Rogerson isn’t to blame for any of this of course. He seems like a decent and likeable lad who is understandably trying to follow his dreams. But if a debut album had ‘bargain bucket’ stamped all over it before it’s even released, it’s this one. In a couple of months, the new series of The X Factor shall be upon us, and people will struggle to remember winner Leona Lewis, never mind kids like Shaun who didn’t even make it through to the final stages.
In fact, maybe there is a more evil job than reviewing records like this. It’s the person who offers Shaun Rogerson a record contract, knowing full well that in less than six months he’ll be forgotten by all the little girls and housewives who swooned over him. Then, they can just move onto the next cash cow while kids like Shaun have their dreams shattered all over again and have to cope with a life back to normality. Now that, my friends, really is up there with torturing cuddly kittens.