Single: Tyler James – “Why Do I Do?” / “Foolish” (2004/5)

I don’t know if any of you have been following The Voice’s debut series in the UK, but it has dredged up plenty of washed-up popstars from the past. There was a glamorous Denise from 80s family band Five Star, there was the nondescript Sean from 90s/00s boyband 5ive, and amongst others there was Tyler James.

Tyler had a brief time in the limelight when he released a few singles in support of belatedly-released album “The Unlikely Lad”. I really liked those singles at the time, so it was a shame when they didn’t quite reach their potential. Debut “Why do I do?” stalled at #25, while followup “Foolish” managed #16. His unfortunate (and unnecessary) cover of White Town’s cult hit “Your Woman” killed his momentum, flopping in at #60 and scuppering his chances for a good album launch.

A big shame, and we never heard from him until The Voice. Well maybe you saw him as a featured artist at Amy Winehouse’s funeral, as they had been friends since they were teenagers (something the Voice producers certainly got a lot of mileage out of). He was a runner-up in tonight’s final, so I’m hopeful that he can finally get his career off the ground, or at least get a decent attempt at a hit album.

Debut single “Why Do I Do?” has quite a gentle rhythm to it, far from the bombastic throwback sounds of Mark Ronson & co. that would follow a few years after. His voice is very distinctive but you can sort of tell it’s not put on, it’s quite natural and as such a lot more likable than some of the weirdos you get these days.

The chorus isn’t flashy, but it’s really catchy. Less is certainly more, and it’s a real shame this didn’t do better. But at least it got released. These days things are a lot more competitive, and record labels are less willing to experiment than they were 8 years ago I think.

Follow-up “Foolish” at least sounds like it’s trying harder to be a hit. The beat is a bit bigger, and the chorus is a lot stronger. Or at least sounds like it’s supposed to be a great chorus. It maybe falls a little short of that, but his voice is still distinctive.

If anything he’s trying to do a little too much on this one, with his impressive range really being tested out. I was glad to see that his falsetto is alive and well (maybe a bit overused) on The Voice, and he’s at least no worse off than he was 8 years ago. His face might be a bit pointier than it was, but I’m interested to see what he comes up with as he tries to make a second first impression (or third, if you count that Stargate single that I’m seemingly the only one to remember)


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