I don’t know why, Alesha’s been on my mind recently. Perhaps it was the recent Strictly Come Dancing final, as I don’t think I’ve seen her around much since she quit the judging panel last year, defecting from the BBC’s flagship talent show for ITV1’s flagship talent show, Britain’s Got Talent. I try my best not to watch that, it feels my heart with RAGE!
But by all accounts she’s been a welcome addition to the panel there, and is returning for next year’s series. Wikipedia also tells me she was a musical guest on X-Factor Romania last month too, the mind boggles!
Either way, cast your mind back to the last time she got a push to finally capitalise on her significant public goodwill and shift some albums. Her bubbly personality and endearing cackle have made her a fond figure in UK pop culture since her days in urban-pop girlband Mis-teeq. Their career was cut short by the collapse of Telstar, and I suppose I always though Alesha might have retained some of the star power of the trio and launched a solo career.
It didn’t get off to a great start, dropped from her first label after poor sales of her first album. But the following year she won Strictly Come Dancing, which led to getting signed by another label. Second album “The Alesha Show” performed reasonably well, spawning a few memorable and popular singles: the raucous “The boy does nothing” and radio-friendly “Breathe slow”.
Controversially for some, she joined the panel of Strictly Come Dancing, ousting long-time judge Arlene Philips, met with cries of ageism from some corners. She settled into the role, though it made things a little difficult for her to plug her album. The album sales had cooled off, and without a follow-up in the wings, a deluxe edition was released to make the most of this new exposure. So at this point of the tale, she released a Gary Barlow co-written ballad just in time for Christmas.
While I love her frothy personality, it was necessary to prove that she had something more substantial to offer than her high-speed rapping skills, patronisingly loved by the public as a bit of a party trick. Her uptempos are well-executed, but could she make a good ballad? I’d like to think so, and this is possibly one of my favourite of her songs. It took me a while to really like it, but now I love it.
The video is very autumnal and glossy, Alesha looks gorgeous, even despite the rather “Mars Attacks” glide she advances on her lover with in some shots.
The song I think is really quite heartbreaking, she sounds broken-down, tired at the emotional to-and-fro this guy’s put her through. She just wants reassurance that if they are going to get back together, is it for real?
Sure, she doesn’t have a big diva voice, but she has a distinctive tone that suits her well. It’s not like Barlow writes particularly ‘singy’ songs, you just need to nail the key-change, which she does. Say what you like about Barlow (God knows, I do) but this is a great song and isn’t bigger than the performer. That middle-eight into the last chorus really builds beautifully.
It didn’t create quite the anticipated revival to the album, and the third album underperformed, leading to her being dropped again. But she’s back next year with another contract and an even bigger promo opportunity. Labels see something in her, I’ve no doubt that the public will see it too one day.
Christ, how did I write so much!?