We’ve all been there. Perched uncomfortably on an itv sofa at seven o’clock in the morning, still tired and groggy but covered in enough make-up to hide it. Chatting to a knackered morning presenter, a Ben Shephard or Kate Garraway, under the hot glare of studio lights, trying to flog a new single that you know deep down isn’t very good. Telling said presenters, for some reason, that you imported the phrase ‘elephant in the room’ from America. Watching as these same presenters consider you with confusion, their heavily made-up faces altering just slightly as the stupidity of what you’ve just said sinks in. Noticing this change and realising with a terrible shame that you did not, in fact, bring the phrase ‘elephant in the room’ to the UK. We’ve all been there.
Hot on the heels of her high-profile turn on Strictly Come Dancing, Alexandra Burke is back with a new single – and thankfully there are no elephants in sight.
‘Shadow’ is a departure from the dance singles that characterised Burke’s pre-Strictly career, a slew of clumsy dance floor flops that saw the X Factor winner nosedive out of the charts and lose her record deal. Taking a different tact, her newest single is a stomping mid-tempo track featuring a stripped back arrangement that positions Burke’s vocals at the forefront. It wouldn’t be out of place on the soundtrack of an uplifting drama, sounding similar-ish to a couple of the songs nominated for Original Song at this year’s Oscars. Its chorus is a cheesy Disney-like affair, aiming to rouse and inspire, but ultimately falling a little flat.
‘Shadow’ makes sense as Burke’s next move. After her appearance on Strictly proved polarising, it’s no surprise she’s keen to stick to the middle of the road. There’s no denying ‘Shadow’ is a more mature affair than, say, ‘Bad Boys’, but it lacks the flair and fun, smothering Burke’s big personality in hokey pseudo-soul. Though there’s plenty of room to show off her vocal prowess, ‘Shadow’ remains a fairly joyless affair, Burke plodding through the lifeless arrangement with gusto, but surely knowing this isn’t the track to restore her to the top of the charts.