Thought I’d just let iTunes pick something on random tonight, and after several rejected suggestions I alighted on this debut (and possibly only) single from Fame Academy alumnus Ainslie Henderson.
I really enjoyed the first of the two series of Fame Academy that BBC ran from 2003-4. Rather than tackling ITV’s Pop Idol and Popstars franchises head on, they went down a more ‘real music’ avenue in their contestant selections, but in a leftfield move they blended the usual weekly performance format with a Big Brother-style twist.
The contestants lived in an old country mansion for the duration of the show, with cameras everywhere (notably spotting several morning woods from contestants) as they prepared for their weekly performances and eliminations. It was a truly interesting format, but the winners only enjoyed modest success. First winner David Sneddon did alright but nothing special, and second winner Alex Parks fared even worse – though indirectly could be held responsible for Gary Jules’ miserable cover of Tears for Fears’s Mad World becoming an unexpected Christmas No.1.
Anyway Ainslie was a contestant on the first series, eventually coming 4th. Contestants were encouraged to write songs too, and together with fellow top 5 contestants Malachi Cush and Sinead Quinn he co-write “Keep me a secret” and ultimately got a surprise top 5 out of it.
He always had an affected accent, and you can hear that pretty strongly on here. He was always a bit of a squirmy strange performer, you can see this from the now rather cheap-looking video. But it’s a refreshing and energising guitar-pop track with plenty of hook to it. It builds nicely from a gentle acoustic guitar to a big layered pop chorus.
It’s a shame he never really managed to follow up this success with anything substantial, choosing to go independent to release his debut album. But at least we’ll always have this song to remember him.