On the liner notes inside Daniel Bedingfield’s debut release, Gotta Get Thru This, the singer writes, “The blazing beauty of a tree, or the magnificent calm of the sky, our treasures are obscured and overshadowed, enveloped, swallowed by the meaningless dirge, the cry of oppression, the hopeless song of confused faces.” But wait, before you number yourself among the confused, there’s more: “I often find myself swept downstream by the song’s aweful [sic] power humming along to its prevailing topline [sic]: Pain. But I also seek to express the whole journey. These brief moments of sight. These points of clarity, these expressions of hope, deliverance and the upward struggle of the searching soul. I point with my broken fingers toward the only safety I know—greater love hath no man than he.”
What the hell? Sheesh, you’re a wannabe Popstar, Bedingfield, not the bloody Dalai Lama.
The 22-year-old Bedingfield has somehow found his way to the top of the charts in the US and the UK with his song Gotta Get Thru This, recorded in his bedroom on his PC. The song found its way onto a local pop record where it caught the attention of big-time record producers. He was quickly signed to the Island label, wrote and performed the rest of his album in his underpants, and took his song to number one. The rest is music history.
This is all very nice for a boy from New Zealand raised in South London, but surely you would think with his obviously overwhelming ability to compose utter claptrap cleverly disguised as serious prophesizing, his lyrics might contain something a little more expressive than “If you’re not the one / Why does my heart feel glad today / If you’re not the one / Then why does my hand fit yours this way.”
Daniel Bedingfield’s rise to the top of the charts, with esteemed publications like Interview, Billboard and USA Today singing his praises, is further proof that standards in the music industry have fallen. Everything on his album is so polished, so “electric,” that even when it sounds good, it’s impossible to distance yourself from how contrived the whole thing is. It’s like the musical equivalent of Pamela Anderson: pretty but fake. It doesn’t matter if Bedingfield can play an instrument, or even sing, because his computer is right beside him, ready to pick up any slack.
To make matters worse, Bedingfield has somewhere found the gall to liken his music to that of music’s innovators, by pompously stating in practically every interview he’s done to promote his album that it’s what would come out if “Sting, Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder were stuck in a room together.” Just where he gets this idea is confounding, as, if such a majestic grouping were to take place, at least one of those guys would surely bring a musical instrument along, as well as a pocketbook filled with fresh ideas. And somehow I just can’t see Sting singing, “You might just accept my apology / Even though it feels funny / ‘Cause when the penny dropped / I’m like, oh my God, I killed Kenny.”
Such idiotic, and not-at-all Sting-like lyrics fill Bedingfield’s album, backed by enough bouncing, robotic beats to make you go blind. The frenetic, reggae-inspired “Friday” begins with “I live in a nice house-a / I never do dance salsa / I’m living in Jamaica / I live in an Ice Breaker / I’m living in Africa / I never do know where-a / Where I’m living / But I’m living in a freefall.” Topping this in the inane department is, “You gotta be the one for me / Or else life makes no sense / So wrap your arms around me / And kiss me till I’m dead” from “Girlfriend”, and then there’s the embarrassing ridiculousness of “Look down and see the tears I’ve cried / The lives I’ve lived / The deaths I’ve died / You died them too” on “Honest Questions”. Oh, and it only gets worse. No Daniel, it’s not life that doesn’t make sense—it’s you. Who let this man loose with a pen?
Continuing the whole bizarre mess is how confident Bedingfield is when he sings such nonsense, as if he is so worldly wise and intelligent. “I could be James Dean / Of the music scene / I could be a big star / Like that man called Queen,” he sings on his latest single “James Dean (I Wanna Know)”, before going on to mention his “Brad Pitt smile” and Versace style. This gi-normous ego is as perplexing as it is laughable, especially when he misuses words and phrases often in his songs, and has apparently never taken classes in basic grammar. Still, he somehow believes he’s God’s gift to music (which he threatens he’s gonna make “till [his] brain is fried”). He even dedicates his album to “the creator, Yahweh” and “the four incredible girls that inspired my songs.” Blah.
While Gotta Get Thru This may feature a couple of toe-tapping moments, it’s ultimately bland and amateur. Bedingfield, who brags that he recorded the majority of the album in his bedroom, should have done the world a favor and taken a nap instead.
// Notes from the Road
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