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Music Review

Rhydian: 'Rhydian'

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Rhydian: 'Rhydian'
Released on Friday, Nov 14 2008

For a classically-trained, public school-educated former Head Boy, taking part in Britain's biggest reality show wasn't the most conventional career move. But then there's little conventional about Rhydian Roberts. During the boot camp stages of last year's X Factor, his peculiar speaking voice, bizarre hair and arrogant demeanour had him tagged as the show's pantomime villain. However, after a series of powerful and often ridiculously overwrought performances, he proved himself a surprise contender, narrowly losing out to Leon Jackson in the final.

Disappointingly, this unique creature has played it safe with his self-titled debut album, which arrives the obligatory eleven months after his X Factor "journey" drew to a close. "Safe" is actually something on an understatement - of the eleven songs here, only one is an original. Rhydian has said he didn't want to produce an "X Factor tribute album", but oddly enough that's exactly what he's done.

To be fair, his obvious vocal gifts and over-the-top charisma come across well on several tracks. Opener 'The Impossible Dream', as performed on this week's X Factor, is a definite highlight, with Rhydian showing the full might of those classically-trained pipes. His rendition of West Side Story's 'The Prayer' could teach Leon Jackson a thing or two about vocal range, while 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' is a welcome inclusion for those who enjoyed his performance of the Simon & Garfunkel classic on the show.

Sadly, Rhydian isn't quite as successful elsewhere. His take on Meat Loaf's 'Not A Dry Eye In The House' sounds rather too much like the original; he manages to drain the life out of Frankie Laine's 'I Believe', and his rendition of Queen's 'Who Wants To Live Forever?' somehow winds up camper than Freddy Mercury's 'tache. Given the over-reliance on cover versions, it's a nice surprise that the sole original, 'I'm Coming Home Again', turns out to be a bit of a gem. You can already picture it going down a storm during the half-time interval at rugby matches in the Welsh valleys.

It's all too easy to pass Rhydian off as a bit of a gimmick, especially given his reality show beginnings, but sadly this album does little to give him any credibility as a recording artist. The fans who voted for him on The X Factor are sure to buy this album in their droves, but they won't be getting a record that really captures why Rhydian charmed them in the first place.


> Click here to read our recent interview with Rhydian

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