Hits and missed opportunities
Every year, UK talent show The X Factor churns out another 'pop star', and 2009 was no different. Joe McElderry released his debut, Wide Awake, in October: a collection of Cowell-spun electro-pop tracks, that are predictably catchy and reminiscent of Mika or Scissor Sisters, albeit with none of their cool or charisma.
McElderry's vibrato-rich and velvety voice, that won him the praise of the public and professionals alike, is wasted, and floats dismally atop over-zealous synth-beats. He even launches into a wince-inducing falsetto in his lead single, an unoriginal cover of Donkeyboy's Ambitions, which can't even be redeemed by the pumping sing-along chorus.
Similarly, his X Factor single, an 'inspirational' version of Miley Cyrus' The Climb, while a much-needed reminder of his stunning vocals, is tad cringeworthy, his cry of 'keep the faith' against the wailing violins a painful reminder of Cowell's love of cheesy ballads.
There are some nice surprises, such as Someone Wake Me Up, which builds from tightly-wound techno verse to uplifting chorus. And his unabashedly flamboyant energy makes the album strangely endearing, such as in the zingy Fahrenheit.
McElderry is not the most marketable pop star, but he does have a soulful and charming voice; it's just a shame Mr Cowell hasn't made the most of it.