In review: Same Difference – Pop
As anyone who’s ever watched The Counterfeiters will be aware of, the movements that set out to viciously crush a minority in society end up having to save a small portion of their quarry. The skills that the oppressed possess are usually very valuable due to having been forged in times of strife. No matter how dominant, powerful or bloodthirsty the oppressors are, the canniest of their victims will still find a way for the forces of evil to make their living quarters and sign their checks. Which is certainly one way of looking at the relationship between The X-Factor and Same Difference.
Let us consider Same Difference’s record label for a moment. They’re on Syco, which is the same album that’s given us the fastest selling debut album in world history (Leona Lewis’s “Spirit”); four albums by Il Divo (whose last effort sold four mill, considerably more than any artist who gets any media coverage these days with the exception of Winehouse); “One Chance” by Paul Potts (#1 in 14 different countries including Peru); and top five albums from one-shotters like Angelis, Shayne Ward, Leon Jackson and the like. Same Difference are signed to the same label as these people.
Same difference are two inanely grinning siblings who appear to have travelled in time from the year 1993, where they worked as Butlin’s reps. The fact that they’re signed to a serious big dollar label in 2008, and not working as seventh on the bill at the entertainment for the Northampton Balloon Festival, is a minor miracle. We’re talking seven years on from the death of Steps here, and hegemony would have it that in these iTunes days the idea that a shiny happy smiley pop act for the four-year-olds could make money is dumb. But, I dunno, Miley Cyrus and Zac Efron strike me as two people who aren’t going to need to borrow money to make their mortgage downpayments.
I don’t know if these tactics are going to work with UK players, though. There’s some bet-hedging early on: opening track and lead single “We R One” runs down the usual reality TV debut single “worked hard for this moment, it’s time to take it” seam (sample lines: “I’ve followed my dreams as long as I can remember”, “All the times, all the tears, all the prayers, all these years”) that Peter Kay recently failed to mine any comic material from, almost as if the guys in control here didn’t want to throw their lot entirely behind smiley-smiley twinkly plastic pop. But then they go and cover “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” and somehow make it both shriller and fluffier than the original. Which is some going.
“I Need A House” is a cover of a track by a former member of A*Teens, which instead sounds more like M2M before one of them got blog cred. “Better Love Me” features autotuned vocals (more out of fear of missed notes than any T-Pain tribute, I believe), and a piano roll that sounds a little like Bruce Hornsby, while these two, who are remember brother and sister, sing about how their romantic relationship feels somehow wrong. And “Still Amazed” features lots of “here comes the chorus, key change” moments as if this was still 1999.
“If You Can’t Dance” is probably what this is about though. Robotic vocals, dance routines, a beat that should have been on a #6 hit for 5ive back in 1998, the ghost of the black dude from S Club Seven smiling benignly over proceedings… I’m just not sure any of this is going to play. I can’t actually judge whether this album is any good or not, because my aural qualities don’t stretch to understanding how four-year-olds listen to music, and I’m unaware of what the commercial considerations for this album are. At time of writing it hadn’t yet been leaked to what.cd (bad), but it had also sold out on Amazon (good, unless that means they only stocked five copies because they didn’t think any cunt would buy it). Still, the real enjoyment here is gonna be seeing what the fuck this album does in the charts. Because something tells me Cowell doesn’t sign bands he doesn’t have plans for. Apart from Leon Jackson, obv.