Matt Cardle – Hole In My Heart

What it shows most of all is his variety.

Tim: Matt Cardle’s had an interesting career – filled with highs and lows, and despite having been ditched by Syco as soon as possible, he’s actually emerged as one of the more successful X Factor winners.

Tom: Strange, isn’t it? I’d have predicted obscurity, but he just keeps going. I’ve got to respect that.

Tim: He won it two years after (the arguably should-have-been-more-successful) Alexandra Burke but he’s got more albums out, and more than Leona Lewis had at this point in her career. Here’s the third single off his new album, and, despite’s Syco’s best hopes, really rather good.

Tom: Hmm. I’m not convinced. What’re the good points for you?

Tim: The sound is great, it’s memorable, it’s loud and not excessively so, and what it shows most of all is his variety. Compare this with High School Musical extract Loving You, or his more recent funk-driven When You Were My Girl, and we’ve clearly got an artist who can do pretty much whatever he wants.

Tom: Of course, you could also spin that as a lack of consistency. For me, this track just doesn’t appeal: when the standout part is the lead into the middle eight, it doesn’t speak well for the rest of the song. But you’re right: he can certainly do what he wants.

Tim: It also gives an insight into both why he was so quick to break from X Factor – I’m guessing not enough artistic freedom – and why they were so quick to wipe him from history – he’s a clear example of what can go right when you don’t stay under the thumb. And it can clearly go very, very right.

Matt Cardle & Melanie C – Loving You

“It sounds like it could be from a High School Musical film.”

Tim: Matt Cardle: one of the less impressive X Factor winners. Melanie C: easily the best post-Spice Girls Spice Girl. So let’s combine the two, and see what happens.

Tim: I promise I mean this in a good way: it sounds like it could be from a High School Musical film.

Tom: Crikey. I know you mean that as a positive thing, but it’s a difficult sell.

Tim: Admittedly “I wanna get under your body” probably wouldn’t make it past the Disney execs, but for comparison, I recommend Can I Have This Dance, the peak of the franchise in terms of cheese (so much so that if you stay with it until the two minute mark you’ll hear Gabrielle singing in harmony with herself).

Tom: More than that: Cardle and C have a patchwork of musical… well, shall we say “homages” to other tracks? I’m sure I’ve heard most of this before, just in a different form, and not put together quite as slickly. You’re right: it’s a Disney number.

Tim: It didn’t hit me until the second time I heard it come back from the middle eight, but it’s got all the hallmarks: a vibrant chorus with a decent earworm for a hook, a pause before said chorus to emphasise said vibrancy, instrumentation that’s as standard as it possibly could be, a quiet middle eight coming back into a triumphant closing section, and then the killer feature of two people singing at each other and not really paying attention to what the other is saying.

Tom: Russell T Davies describes dialogue as “just two monologues clashing”. This pretty much sums that up.

Tim: Top that off with a slight laziness when working the harmonies, and you’ve got everything you need. This is a textbook Disney song, and it’s pretty great for it.

Matt Cardle – Anyone Else

It’s the Curse, you see.

Tom: We keep covering Credibility Cardle’s singles as if they’ll get anywhere.

Tim: ‘We’ do? I don’t think I’ve ever brought one of his to the table. The only way I know he’s still alive is your consistent posting of every track. You’re not on his mailing list or something, are you?

Tom: Don’t worry, I’ve not gone off the deep end.

Tim: Good, because if there’s one thing I could never forgive you for, it’d be being on Matt Cardle’s mailing list.

Tom: It’s interesting – they’re still tracked by the music business because of his history, but the last three didn’t trouble the top 40; heck, two of them didn’t trouble the top 150. Which seems a shame, because he has that nice-guy look around him.

Tim: Ah, the Cheapest Video Method Everâ„¢. Always a good sign.

Tom: But the singles are only ever sort-of-good. With the exception of his winner’s song – a cover – they’ve all been just OK. He’s talented, he’s got a voice that vaguely reminds me of Bruno Mars, and there’s nothing wrong with the music. He will no doubt maintain a core of dedicated fans for years, tour the country successfully, and attain more than most aspiring stars will.

It’s just that… well, he won the X Factor. Olly Murs didn’t manage that. One Direction didn’t manage that. Shouldn’t he be the one breaking America?

Tim: Absolutely not. It’s the Curse, you see. The Curse of The X Factor Male Winner, which takes the form of a destiny. A destiny in which there is never a second number one, and only very rarely a third top 20 hit. Never a second Syco album, and never a sell-out tour. An arena tour? You must be joking.

You’ll be invited back to the show once, to perform your first ‘proper’ single, already destined for obscurity. And then you’ll be forgotten about, and erased from history, as far as the producers are concerned. Erased and forgotten about, like a bowel movement from the day before yesterday. And about as welcome.

Tom: (Oh, the song? It’s OK, I guess.)

Tim: Doesn’t matter what the song’s like. That’s the tragedy of the Curse.

Matt Cardle – It’s Only Love

“Actually got me bouncing around in my seat.”

Tim: Now, this is a surprise. Credibility Cardle ditched Syco about six months ago now (that’s not the surprise – I’m amazed it took him that long), and now he’s come along with this. Which is pretty much everything we didn’t associate with him before.

Tom: My first thought on watching that video: “blimey, Johnny Vegas cleans up well”. Just an unflattering angle, I’m sure.

Tim: Probably – much as the angle on his website might make you think you’ve gone to Coldplay’s site by accident.

When We Collide was a bit boring, Amazing was a bit dull, Run For Your Life was a bit dull. We liked Starlight, which was actually pretty good, but it still didn’t quite match up to this in terms of enthusiasm, or decent backing, or (dare I say it) catchiness. Heck, this is a song that’s actually got me bouncing around in my seat, and that’s a very pleasant feeling indeed. Even more pleasant is the remix the 7th Heaven have done – they can generally be relied upon to give any track a decent overhaul, but it turns out that his vocals actually lend themselves very well to a good dance tune. Have a listen, and tell me I’m wrong.

Tom: Normally at this point, I’d chime in and say “you’re wrong” just to be contrary, but I can’t: that is a very good dance tune. In fact, I’d go so far to say that I prefer it to the original.

Tim: Me too. Neither version will succeed, of course – he’s been largely forgotten about, as with every male X Factor winner, and his last two tracks, Starlight and Amazing, hit the heady chart heights of 185 and 84 respectively. Still, it’s nice that’s he’s trying, and even nicer that he’s actually coming up with the goods.

Matt Cardle – Amazing

Ah, Credibility Cardle. What’s he up to?

Tim: Ah, Credibility Cardle. What’s he up to?

Tom: He’s still going, and probably still a bit annoyed that Olly Murs is doing so well.

Tom: But I’d like to revise my opinion of Matt Cardle: if you file him under what the radio stations refer to as “adult contemporary” rather than “pop”, then he’s absolutely brilliant. He’s not aiming for Radio 1; he’s aiming for Radio 2. You can tell by the nice, probably meaningful, slow video.

Tim: Hmm. If I were you I’d get rid of ‘nice’ and replace it with ‘boring’. Look at me, I’m playing a guitar. I’m not an X Factor winner – I’m a Credible Rock Musician. And just to show how deep and emotional my songs probably are, because people really aren’t going to be able to listen to my lyrics without slipping into a coma, let’s have some people crying for no good reason.

Tom: I think you’re confusing “different” with “bad” there.

Tim: Absolutely not – I’m a Serious Music Reviewer, and I do not confuse those things (much). What I am doing is allowing my personal dislike for Matt Cardle’s attitude to interfere with my discussion of this track. And that is something I am PERFECTLY ENTITLED TO DO.

Tom: It’s a textbook Radio 2 track. It’s great. It’s an anthemic, slowly building, guitar-and-everything track that makes me smile. It’s the kind of thing that Almighty Records will remix.

Tim: Speaking of which, who wants a Christina Perri cover?

Tom: Ooh, good post hijack. Bit of a weird intro, but it picks up fast. A quick warning to readers, though: the video attached to that track is just a scantily-clad arse, so do watch out if you’re at work.

Anyway. In other words, Cardle’s being a bit like Snow Patrol. Probably a bit too much like Snow Patrol, actually.

Still good, though.

Tim: Oh, it’s alright, I suppose. And exactly what an ‘I HATE X FACTOR but actually I owe everything I have to it but I HATE IT’ X Factor winner should aim to come out with.

Matt Cardle – Starlight

Well, I didn’t expect something that good.

Tom: Number 1 last Christmas, of course – but only (only!) number 6 for “Run For Your Life”. How’s the next effort sounding?

Tom: Blimey. Well, I didn’t expect something that good. That’s a proper grown-up pop track, that is, reminiscent of Coldplay and their ilk. That’s not an X Factor winner’s song – that’s a lovely bit of music.

Tim: I’ll say this: whoever chose Run For Your Life to be his first proper release was an utter numpty. Because this is good, and it does a lot more than just exist. It would also have stopped him being part of the New Boring, which would have been nice.

Tom: It’s been getting decent amounts of airplay for a few weeks now, and the pre-orders that have built up over time will guarantee it a decent chart position – but I reckon it deserves more than it’ll probably get.

Tim: Right – because it’s by ‘Matt Cardle – you know, did that fairly rubbish track a few months back?’ and not ‘Matt Cardle – you know, won X Factor’. Numpties, I tell you.

Matt Cardle – Run For Your Life

He’s trying to be Snow Patrol.

Tim: Well, it had to happen sooner or later, I suppose. But first tell me: if you were an X Factor winner, and the nation had already pretty much decided you were fairly damp and boring, would your first proper single be a message of ‘go on and forget about me’?

Tom: I’m both simultaneously disappointed and relieved that this wasn’t a Beatles cover – because, while that would be a fantastic song for him to cover, there’s no way it could be better than the original. So what’s he actually singing?

Tom: Right, he’s trying to be Snow Patrol.

Tim: It’s…well, it’s not terrible, I suppose.It’s certainly no threat to One Direction at the top my my iTunes play count chart, but it’s listenable. It has a James Blunt v2 air about it, really – mostly dull, yes, but a chorus that’s at least 78% more energetic than I imagined it would be, and a closing part that’s almost overflowing with existence.

Tom: Talk about damning with faint praise. But you’re right; the chorus almost justifies the slow-motion verses. Almost. But not quite.

Tim: It’ll probably get at least top 10, but I can’t help thinking we’ve another Joe McElderry or Leon Jackson.

Tom: Who?

Tim: You know, Leon Jackson. Won X Factor, had a song ‘When You’ — actually, you know what? It really doesn’t matter.