album of the week
The Female Boss
The former N-Dubz singer and current X Factor judge Tulisa Contostavlos has made it in proper 21st-century style. Like Kylie and Britney and Rihanna and Beyonce, she has now joined the mononymous ranks – those whose fame is such that they are recognised by a single name.
Even those who never watch the increasingly jaded television series on Saturday and Sunday nights – which is now in its ninth season – or couldn't name one song from her old band (just about everyone), are likely to have heard of her. The celebrity-osmosis thing is all encompassing these days.
And like most modern-day celebrities, Tulisa is highly attuned to her own brand.
This album – her debut – is just one of a series of items labelled The Female Boss: there's also a perfume as well as a clothing line and – who knows? – there is likely to be other Female Boss paraphernalia heading for a store near you.
But Stefani's album was a marvellous statement of intent, packed with first-rate pop songs.
Tulisa's effort, by contrast, is a decidedly pedestrian affair that no amount of high-gloss production, guest appearances or "urban" stylings can elevate.
The album credits reveal a small army of writers and producers were involved – including Terius " The-Dream" Nash, whose bulging CV includes the aforementioned Beyoncé's Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) – but their over-produced efforts only serve to enhance the notion that Tulisa is a bargain-basement vocalist whose voice lacks character: just the sort of person to be judging a singing competition, right?
Occasionally, she resorts to a spoken-word approach, but there's no profound message to impart.
Instead, she trots out the sort of female empowerment clichés that the Spice Girls trademarked all those years ago.
A handful of songs save the album from turkey status.
The chart-topping up-tempo trance pop number, Young, has a certain giddy appeal, despite its generic sound, while a new single, Sight of You, is a radio-friendly ballad which the singer loftily claims "will stand the test of time".
Hmmm, not sure about that Tulisa.
KEY TRACKS Young; Sight of You