Originally published by Fortitude Magazine – http://www.fortitudemagazine.co.uk.
X-Factor runner up (second is first after first!) Jahmene Douglas has overcome confidence issues, himself and his detractors to release this albums of covers. In keeping with the tradition of this heinous, dream-shattering enterprise, future I’m A Celebrity I Really Am I Promise entrant Jahmeme has enlisted the help of a couple of guests – the first being panel judge and mentor Nicole Scherzinger, and the second being non-sighted iconoclast and hallowed gift to the music realm, Stevie Wonder.
With each track on this record being someone else’s, one must look to Douglas’ interpretations of the source material. An able singer in the gospel/soul style, Douglas is more than capable of taking on this project. The production is very good, mastering the digital emptiness so essential for this sort of release. Everything is as it was intended, with every plugin doing the job for which it was designed.
Effortlessly taking the only good Coldplay song, Fix You, and rendering its deeply affecting, human construct utterly inert with his plunging/soaring Whitney exertions, my soul was prepped for an ever-widening spiral of sterility, and this record did not disappoint. The version of Beyonce’s Halo was completely dead, with the choral backing giving nothing other than the agony of a false smile.
Nothing, however, compares to the anguish of experiencing our shelf-stacking protagonist spending five minutes burying his mentor during their thursday-night-karaoke rendition of Houstons’ The Greatest Love Of All. A truly mind-blowing schmaltz excursion in the much missed hands of Whitney, listening to Scherzinger fumbling in her charges’ shadow was agonising, serving only to highlight Douglas’ prowess. If this was the intention, smashing.
I’d spent the whole record, teeth clenched, waiting for Stevie Wonder’s appearance on Christian traditional Give Us This Day, only to find that he limits his input to harmonica. This was a crushing, saddening moment.
What makes this record such a harrowing listen, is it’s intention. This isn’t about Jahmene Douglas, it’s not about the artists he covers, it’s not about the music – it’s about someone, somewhere, making money from someone elses’ story. In the months or weeks to come, when Douglas is scrabbling around for panto work, those involved in this facile, heartless business will be circling the herd, smacking their lips at the prospect of twisting the heart strings of those who tune in for a bit of hope.
Because what a man like Douglas brings to the world is hope; hope that the ordinary man can rise from nothing to be a star, and that his hardships were not for nothing. This album will be bought exclusively by those who tune in religiously to the X-Factor, leaving the rest of us to get on with our lives. Though this almost negates the necessity of a rating, a five for the singing and a hard zero for the renditions grants it a 2.5.