Olly Murs has stuck to the middle of the road for so long he’s basically hazard lines at this point. He’s one of the X Factor’s greatest domestic success stories, though too everyman to jump the pond. He’s tied with Jason Mraz in the Twat in a Straw Hat stakes. For these reasons we have steered clear of the affable chap, cornerstone of Heart FM etc.
However the release of his latest album-cum-compilation gave us a good chance to review the singer’s portfolio.
Readers will notice the relevance of the year 2011 in this story. The release of single ‘Heart Skips a Beat’ with then up-and-comers (now dead-and-goners) Rizzle Kicks suggested a chance to experiment and diversify. He took the easy route. Average pop tunes followed. The rest is history.
Here is the (abridged) Olly Murs back catalogue, ranked best to worst for your pleasure.
20. Heart Skips a Beat feat. Rizzle Kicks
It’s hard not to have some semblance of appreciation for this, a single that was only released a few years ago but feels so remote and dated it might as well be from 1993. It’s corny but a bit lovable. Everything about the song and video from Olly’s vintage Topman chinos (remember?) to the presence of Rizzle Kicks suggests the malaise early-10s generi-pop.
Best of all is the enormous ’45 prop which spins throughout the video – officially the only vinyl copy of this single ever sold.
19. Moves feat Snoop Dogg
I mean I’d rather hear ‘Moves’ than the death rattle of a loved one. But that isn’t saying a whole lot.
The groove is pretty. It’s another of these pop songs to follow Charlie Puth’s ‘Attention’ in aping the aesthetic of yacht rock. Murs is too stiff to make this work, and though it’s clearly aiming for the dancefloor, he comes off sounding like the Mum pleasing has-been he is. The attempt to emulate the hook of Snoop’s ‘Gin And Juice’ on keyb is risable.
In the music video, note Rowan Atkinson’s willingness to do absolutely anything for cold hard cash, in several scenes which were clearly filmed after the fact and haphazardly crow-barred in to promote a Johnny English film.
18. Please Don’t Let Me Go
Music video is a vision of The Good Old Days that only exists in the minds of American tourists and middle-class white women fed up of being served by Poles in Asda. Country Estates, high tea, etc.
This is the musical equivalent of those Great Gatsby staff parties where awful people who work in marketing get pissed in bow ties and suspenders. Evocation of yesteryear via Heart & Soul chords, plinkety plonk piano and vinyl crackle is entirely superficial.
When Olly arrives to assume the role of Cheeky Chap Who Has No Part Of This Nonsense – debarking from a moped and strolling around eye-rolling at the upper crust in their finery – it comes across as exactly what it is: A&R.
Got a lot done waiting for this to finish. Thought about some meal plans for next week, which day to put a whites wash in. Didn’t think it was possible to be this disengaged by a piece of music.
16. Army of Two
What would Olly Murs sound like with his own Sports Division of Olly-likes? Wonder no more.
In the video, a besweatered Olly Murs stalks the bays of an NCP garage, self-replicating constantly like a termite queen.
Everything is borrowed: the chorus from Maroon 5’s ‘Must Get Out’, the beat from ‘Rock DJ’ by Robbie Williams. Lyrics – “Our faith is the bullet, hope is the gun” – sound a tad fash.
Frankly bizarre video for frankly bizarre song about absolutely nothing. I sort of like it for this reason.
15. Right Place Right Time
At least a bit of humility here – Olly Murs is the definition of the phrase.
Without X Factor / SyCo / a good word from Robbie Williams Olly Murs would be playing weddings and working the phones at Plusnet. We aren’t that lucky.
14. You Don’t Know Love
Were you recording music in 2016 if you didn’t open your tune with distorted vocal loops?
Taking the supple electropop Zeitgeist and handling it like stolen goods.
13. Years & Years
Some much needed exposure for little-known indie pop band Years & Years. 2016 was a really quiet year for them.
Not so much a song as a grave misunderstanding of how the Spotify algorithm works.
12. Heart On My Sleeve
Heartbreak = walking through Lambeth wearing H&M’s A/W, apparently.
More proof that Olly Murs takes to balladeering like an anti-vax kid in a sharps bin.
So hard to comment on this at all. Did anyone ever actually listen to this? Lacks anything you could possibly take issue with, or anything you could possibly admire. A dry bowl of Special K.
11. Dance With Me Tonight
Manages to be a poor man’s Paulo Nutini – didn’t think that was physically possible.
Murs can take a soupçon of credit for not making this song as bad as it possibly could be – something Meghan Trainor saw to when she ripped it off to make ‘Dear Future Husband’.
Go back to hosting supplementary programming on ITV.
Not sure exactly what is being ripped off here – Bruno Mars’s ‘The Lazy Song’ or Jason Mraz’s ‘I’m Yours’ – both should call their lawyers to be sure.
9. Wrapped Up feat. Travie McCoy
Far from the only extraneous collab on this list, this time featuring American rapper Travie McCoy who was so energised by the project that he didn’t even turn up for the video.
All the hallmarks we’ve come to expect: funk that doesn’t know how to funk, soul that is completely soulless and pop with as much fizz as week old liver salts.
Yet another Olly Murs song that is aimed squarely and exclusively at filling airtime in Dentist’s waiting rooms, kids birthday parties and the least essential AM radio playlists.
“I’m better than the stories about me“. No one has ever told a story about Olly Murs. Not even his parents tell stories about Olly Murs. Probably sometimes forget he exists at all and have to ring and apologise.
I get that clowning on Capital FM luvies like Olly Murs is picking low- hanging fruit, but there is such a thing as good pop. Just because it’s only kids and old people listening to you doesn’t mean they wouldn’t enjoy something more ambitious.
7. Oh My Goodness
I’d rather contract botulism and die than listen to this.
6. Beautiful To Me
Didn’t foresee this list being such a strain. Problem with a lot of these Olly tunes is they lack anything that truly offends. Beige. Beige everywhere. It’s hard to be mad with something that doesn’t try to do anything besides sit in a corner radiating beige
Another of these inert pop tunes designed in best case scenario to be a top 20 hit and worst case to just slip through the pop innerverse leaving no trace of its existence.
Video is cute. That’s it.
5. Hand on Heart
So joyless, colourless and feeble it borders on homeopathy.
4. Thinking of Me
All the fun of the fair this – literally. Sounds like a Punch & Judy show. Listening to it made me want to follow Mr. Punch and go postal with a 2×4.
There’s nothing wrong with Olly Murs, nothing outwardly bad about his product. His idea of paying homage is to take the soul music he grew up on and diluting it down to nothing. Funny way to pursue your passion.
Heard the word ‘ska’ batting about descriptions of this song, which is a gas. If you want to describe dreadfully boring junk as ska then fine but you’re missing the mark.
3. Dear Darlin’
“Please excuse my writing” – been excusing your shit writing from day one, why stop now?
If you thought Chipper Olly was bad then prepare for Earnest Olly and also to hate yourself.
In no mood for cheeky chap antics, does some class A moping instead. This is deathly serious melodrama – they edit in a chiming belltower just to make sure you get it. Even in grief, he’ll stick on a pair of braces for a rooftop misery sesh.
2. Up feat. Demi Lovato
Keeping track of these guest verses is a good guide to Olly’s position in the biz at that time. By 2014 he’d conquered the Morrisons CD rack and so his label were willing to throw him this Demi collab. She’s too good for it of course, but guess she needed exposure at the time. In 2018 he’s just happy to get the absolute bare minimum from Snoop Dogg.
Either bantamweight pop or cruise ship soul, your preference.
1. Troublemaker feat. Flo Rida
The worst thing Olly Murs has ever done; a statement that’ll still be true if he’s ever convicted of war crimes. Believe it or not this was Murs’ attempt to take America: one that saw him go the way of Pancho Villa, Emperor Hirohito, and other historical figures notable for their failure to take America.
Every single element of this song is absolutely dreadful. Unimaginative stomp of the beat, the swell of digi-strings and ersatz funk of guitars. The production lathers everything in a garish glittery veneer, resulting in truly brainless pop.
Olly Murs as a pop persona is proof in the concept of offence-by-inanity.
Photo credit here