Label: Syco/Sony Music
It would be very easy to dismiss Ronan Parke‘s eponymous debut album, comprised mostly of covers, as a cheap cash-in by Simon Cowell’s Syco label on the success he had on Britain’s Got Talent earlier in the year. And to be fair, maybe that’s what it is – he’s a popular chap after all, so why wouldn’t a businessman of Cowell’s calibre snap him up? – but all the same, it’s a very difficult record to dislike.
The thing is, no matter what he tries his hand at, Ronan’s just so damn good. His voice knocks many of his contemporaries out the water (pretty much all of One Direction, for starters) and, what’s more, he can play with emotion and attitude like a seasoned performer and work the vibratto like a young (male) Leona. Seriously, like it or not, you can’t deny that his voice is incredible on ‘Feeling Good’.
But it’s also hard to deny that a lot of the production sounds like it was done on a £20 keyboard from Argos. Or as if the producers forked out a few quid on karaoke versions to popular hits, complete with lifeless backing singers, and just left it to Ronan to do all the work. Even the backing track to ‘We’ll Rock The World’, which isn’t even a cover, sounds like a polyphonic ringtone.
But all that aside, whilst a few tracks are straightforward covers-by-numbers, there are a couple of songs that actually do hold their own. ‘Make You Feel My Love’? Yes. ‘Fix You’? No. ‘Songbird’? Yes. ‘Because Of You’? No. In terms of the two originals, ‘We’ll Rock The World’ is, as mentioned above, rather weak; but the Gary Barlow-penned ballad ‘Stronger Than I Am’ is a delightful little heartwarmer.
I’m reminded of Joe McElderry’s Classic with this disc, though they are obviously vastly different. I think it’s because they both feel like inexpensive and hastily-recorded fanbase-pleasers rather than culture-defining works of art, and also perhaps because both are reality-born singers who deserve serious kudos for their incredible voices. But in contrast to Joe’s Classic, Ronan Parke is targetted very specifically at a much younger audience (‘Ronanators’, as he calls them), and, for them at least, this is a perfectly harmless record sung by a lovely young role model.
Read my recent interview with Ronan here.