It’s the one you’ve all been waiting for – Getintothis’ threesome with pop’s princesses…
X-Factor winner and Simon Cowell-endorsed Leona Lewis‘ debut Spirit goes head to head with Kylie‘s X and Britney Spears’ Blackout.
1. Bleeding Love v 2 Hearts v Gimme More
As reality stars’ first singles go, Leona’s Bleeding Love is as good as it gets, right up there with Girls Aloud’s Sound of the Underground – this is the best song about menstruation. Period.
Kylie’s comeback is all Scissor Sisters camp which feels slightly old hat and uneventful. The same can’t be said for ol’ Britters who’s up for laugh, kicking off with the line: ‘Its Britney, bitch!’ before pole-dancing punchy beats crank out. Sure, its no Toxic or Slave 4 U, but it’s hilariously trashy which is better than bland.
2. Whatever It Takes v Like A Drug v Piece Of Me
Track two and generic gospel-pop pap for Miss Lewis, whose lyric writer’s really drop her in it with this profound bobbins: ‘Whatever it takes, I’ll try and pay no mind, to what other people say, there’s no standing in my way…’
Kylie fares much better with an electro mashup of Saint Etienne and Daft Punk, all robo-beats and plenty of chrome sheen.
MWWWWWWWWWWA. Britney’s CD is literally nine times louder than Kylie’s and my ears almost bleed when Piece Of Me blasts out like a mechanical parrot. She’s bitching about the paps and wailing about stripping while going for her groceries. It actually sounds like Posh’s Out Of Your Mind – but way better.
3. Homeless v In My Arms v Radar
Lookalike time – Leona Lewis/Bullwinkle. Homeless is a BIG violin and piano-assisted ballad which rather oddly begins and ends with police car sirens. Maybe Leona’s message is: ‘Lock up your tramps!’
Brit’s Radar is unlistenable gash; chipmunk voxs, hi-NRG synths and about two minutes too long and the same can be said for In My Arms with its plinky plonky E-rush keys. Sicky-puke.
4. Better In Time v Speakerphone v Break The Ice
Spears’ has gone rave – this is almost Josh Wink territory with her dry-panting – or is that heaving? Reliably she narrates her way through, telling us, ‘I like this part,’ or ‘Its been a while, I’m here now…’ It sounds like a Spectrum computer crashing.
The pace is pretty much relentless on X, Kylie’s in her Confessions on a Dance Floor period, and this one channels Madge’s Hung Up with vocoders aplenty. All a tad samey.
Next to Brit and Kylie, Leona is oozing class. While the competition turns the levels up to 11, Leona’s record breathes and changes tempo. What Better In Time lacks in lyrical substance (more thematical cack along the lines of ‘I’ll be ok in the long run,’) it makes up for in an instantly catchable tune.
5. Yesterday v Sensitized v Heaven On Earth
Leona’s in classic Beyonce ballad territory. Plenty of vocal diva-ing amid pianos, twinkling synths and harmonies. It has hit written all over it – but it’s oh so dull.
Ooo, change in tact from Minogue. How’s this: Mavericks doing Klaxons. Hoedown v Nu-Rave. Probably won’t catch on… Britney’s rehashed the Dr Who theme for strip clubs. It is incredibly nasty and sounds like Timbaland reworking Depeche Mode.
6. Take A Bow v Heart Beat Rock v Get Naked (I Got A Plan)
Leona’s going for the ballads bigtime. This is a bog-standard big beat R&B as Lewis belts out guff about the future changing and a curtain closing. Oh dear.
Kylie’s really running out of steam too, Heart Beat Rock is the dictionary definition of fodder. Plastic beats and coy ‘ooo-yeahs’. Yawnsome.
Get Naked, meanwhile, sounds like an anthem for date-rape. Backing vocalist Corte ‘The Author’ Ellis basically asserts that young Britney’s got no plan and that he ‘wants it inside her’… Riiiight, scared now…
7. I Will Be v The One v Freakshow
Written by Avril Lavigne and her team, I Will Be is another lung-burster. You could imagine it closing a Ron Howard Hollywood cheesefest. It’s that massive and that wince-inducing.
Kylie’s decamped to the 80s, all New Order melodies and neon synths. This has got single written all over it, with more cyberman dancing and new romantic posturing. Brit’s in confessional mode: table-dancing, peep-showing, boozing, fanny-showing – its a bit sad really. And VERY loud.
8. Angel v No More Rain v Toy Soldier
More safe, melodic pop from Lewis while Kylie’s No More Rain calls to mind Madonna’s Dear Jessie; fluffy fairytale pop updated with jazzy motifs. It’s superb. Bright, breezy and a complete contrast to Spears’ terminator-marching beats and metallic riffs. It could be argued The Blackout is the heaviest pop album ever. It’s simply relentless – I’m knackered.
9. Here I Am v All I See v Hot As Ice
It’s hard not to think we’ve all heard Here I Am before such is its trad, soppy pap. It’s classic Celine Dion – you can almost see Louis Walsh nodding his smug noggin in approval. Nuff said.
There’s a distinct slow-down on X and it’s all the better for it. All I See employs finely plucked strings and TLC-like harmonies. Sure its sugary but its cute.
For the first time Britney sings minus heavily-treated vocals with her characteristic squeak and there’s a certain easing off on the punishing beats; so-so.
10. I’m You v Stars v Ooh Ooh Baby
Genuine filler from Lewis while Stars is reminiscent of Love At First Sight, a credible slice of mid-tempo sparkle; Kylie’s really working it.
Ooh… is classic Britney, teasing vocals, overly suggestive lyrics and it’s as catchy as chlamydia.
11. The Best You Never Had v Wow v Perfect Lover
Wow is saccharine Kylie-by-numbers, with only a few production tricks preventing total tedium and the same can be said of the weak pelvic-thrusting of Perfect Lover. Leona’s meanwhile is far better, recalling Robyn at her most FM-friendly; mildly spacey and clipperty-clop percussion.
12. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face v Nu-Di-Ty v Why Should I be Sad?
Popularised by Roberta Flack, this has Christmas #1 written all over it. Slow-burning sloppy mush which will have grannies dribbling into their sprouts.
Kylie’s at her most playful with sonic-brass, vocal fluctuations and plenty of random drumbeats; kinda coming off like a Prince-produced Missy Elliot with Alison Goldfrapp upfront – tasty, hmm?
This is the closest track resembling a ballad from Britney, a kinda confessional ‘so-what’ directed at K-Fed. An underwhelming finish for Ms Spears.
13. Footprints in the Sand v Cosmic
More bedwetting balladry from Lewis, its a bit much now – and there’s no way in hell I’m allowing UK Bonus track A Moment Like This to punctuate my speakers. Kylie’s reverted to signing off on sappy sloppiness too. Why?
Leona Lewis: 3
Britney Spears: 4
So, Kylie scoops pop’s sparkly tiara, but if we’re honest the competition was sadly lacking.
While Leona’s lead single was the undoubted highlight of all three LPs her overall record was lightweight, one-dimensional, and unlike Bleeding Love, completely predictable.
Cowell and co really ought to have stuck their neck out for once and backed her undoubted vocal talent entrusting her with a set of songs to match, instead they’ve yet again pitched firmly for safe supermarket sales.
The same can’t be said for Britney, as The Blackout is singly the most extreme pop record I’ve ever heard. Like her tabloid hell persona it’s a car crash of vice, trash and spontaneity played out very, very loudly. It will polarise listeners, and for me, for the most part, it was obnoxiously insufferable.
That leaves Kylie, playing it relatively straight-bat, X is her strongest set since Fever, while there’s certainly room for improvement, you’ve numerous stylistic changes and in No More Rain her most heartfelt track to date.
But if you want genuine pop perfection you’ll reach for Robyn.