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Music Review

Alexandra Burke: 'Overcome'

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Alexandra Burke: 'Overcome'
Released on Monday, Oct 19 2009

How many up-and-coming popstars thank Beyoncé, Dolce & Gabbana and the celebrity editor of The Sun in their liner notes? How many get to collaborate with Ne-Yo and Flo Rida after releasing one single? And how many are so laden with choice material from the likes of RedOne and Stargate that Xenomania and Neptunes productions don't make it onto their debut album? It's not hard to work out what's going on here. With reigning X Factor champ Alexandra Burke, Simon Cowell reckons he can pull a Leona.

That is, in terms of making the garrulous Londoner an international pop sensation - not in terms of Burke's musical remit. Overcome does feature a couple of Leona-ish power ballads, 'The Silence' and the title track, and there's a stripped back number designed to show off her vocals at the end, but the real meat lies in its uptempo cuts. Trailer single and current UK No.1 'Bad Boys', an electro-R&B stomper with a heroically catchy chorus, is very much a preview of forthcoming attractions.

Impressively, these uptempo cuts tend to be more memorable than those their overworked producers give to other artists. RedOne's 'Dumb' has verses that recall Ace of Base, a tempo change that could raise the dead and a furious, almost Cascada-ish chorus. 'All Night Long', written and produced by Louis 'Battlefield' Biancaniello, refuses to settle for one chorus when it can have two. Even samey old Stargate pull their fingers out, giving 'Nothing But The Girl' an appealing technopop throb and 'Good Night and Good Morning' loads of drum & bassy beats.

In fact, these quality pop bangers are so satisfying that the album's pair of retro moments - a Pixie Lott offcut called 'You Broke My Heart' and the Winehouse-lite 'Bury Me (6 Feet Under)' do rather smack of bets being hedged. Then again, you can't blame Cowell for wanting to offset the risk of his investment, just as you can't deny that both songs have pretty decent choruses.

And Alexandra (girl) herself? Well, she's not required to show much individuality - unlike Leona, she bags no writing credits first time out - but she certainly makes a favourable first impression. She carries off everything from sassy ('Broken Heels') to saddened ('They Don't Know'), has more fun with a RedOne shout-out than any other artist, and gives 'The Silence' the mighty vocal performance it deserves. The result isn't just the best X Factor album yet, but a cracking pop record by anyone's standards.


> Click here to watch our recent video interview with Alexandra Burke

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