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Music Review

Rhydian: 'O Fortuna'

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Rhydian: 'O Fortuna'
Released on Monday, Nov 30 2009

The likes of Leona Lewis, Girls Aloud and Will Young may be among the most successful pop acts of the decade, but reality TV alumni come in all shapes and sizes. Winning public support with his shocking blond hair, big personality and bombastic operatic vocals, Rhydian Roberts came second on The X Factor back in 2007 and was quickly snapped up by Simon Cowell - the latter proving as savvy as ever. His debut album, comprising crowd-pleasing renditions of popular songs like 'Somewhere' and 'Bridge Over Troubled Water', went on to shift a hefty 500,000 copies. Consequently, little has changed on his second LP.

The track selections may be pretty predictable, but Rhydian's distinctive vocals are often enough to give them a stamp of individuality. The album opens with a big, booming rendition of Carmen Fortuna's 'O Fortuna' - now more recognisable as The X Factor theme - that in itself justifies his successful stint on the show. He delivers equally powerful versions of Vangelis's 'Conquest Of Paradise' and 'Benedictus', where he duets with opera legend Dame Kiri Te Kanawa - the equivalent of Leon Jackson getting to trade warbles with Stevie Wonder.

There are also nods to his Welsh heritage in the form of Bryn Terfel duet 'Myfanwy' and a rousing rendition of national anthem 'Land Of My Father', but the cover version format is difficult to sustain throughout. 'How Great Thou Art' lacks the gusto of some of Rhydian's other interpretations, while his take on John Denver's 'Annie's Song' - much like Alexandra Burke's 'Hallelujah' - loses the charm of the original.

Rhydian's classically-trained vocals undoubtedly lend themselves to tackling the big classics better than other X Factor stars who've made Syco a quick buck. Second album in, he shows plenty of poise and conviction in his delivery, but only a hardcore of fans will make it through the entire album without hoping for a little more personality. With only one original song here ('I Won't Let You Walk This Road Alone'), Rhydian still seems to be under the shackles of Cowell's control, making it hard, for the moment, to take him seriously as an artist in his own right.


> Click here to watch our recent interview with Rhydian

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