- Alistair Fairweather
Melanie 'Sporty Spice' Chisholm was always the lowest profile of the Spice Girls. Not as pretty as Posh or as sexy as Ginger, not as cute as Baby or as interesting as Scary - Mel C was the boring one with the good voice. And though she has enjoyed the most successful solo career of all the girls, she's still dead boring.
REASON is her second solo album. It following her multi-platinum debut NORTHERN STAR (1999), which was a huge success based on two factors: excellent producers and very wide appeal. The album explored every avenue of popular music available - from the dance-floor hits, to heartfelt ballads - and the slick production kept it catchy. Sadly this is not the case with REASON.
While Mel continues to source talented producers for her tracks, she has also begun to write a lot more of her own material. It's here that she is at her absolute weakest. Even pop music veterans will be cringing at the plain-oatmeal blandness of her recycled 'love is the answer' lyrics.
REASON is also a more downbeat offering than her previous hit. Instead of mixing it up and playing to the crowd, it seems that Mel wants us to take her seriously. Most of the pop-rock backing has pretensions of stripped down Blues or Soul while her vocal style recalls Tori Amos or Fiona Apple.
The first problem is that, while her voice is definitely above average by pop standards, she doesn't have the vocal range to sustain these sorts of tracks. Her voice just isn't strong, melodic or rich enough to deserve its central role.
The second problem is that effort doesn't equal raw talent. Try as she might, Mel can't mix bland lyrics with a bland voice and bland backing music and expect us to be impressed. Instead of Fiona Apple she ends up sounding like The Spice Girls on tranquillisers.
It seems success has gone to Mel's head. She now thinks that she has serious musical talent, not just pop appeal and personality. I suppose a triple-platinum-selling album is enough to make anyone feel clever, even if they sound stupid.
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