Songs that should have been singles #2
Jamelia: Window Shopping
Her third studio album boasted one of the finest pop singles of the last ten years, but even the inclusion of the #1 single that never was, Beware of the Dog, couldn’t stop Jamelia’s Walk With Me from tanking on its release in September 2006. The follow up to 2003’s Mercury Music Award nominated LP Thank You could only peak at #20 and the following week it tumbled straight out of the Top 40 album chart, destined for the dreaded supermarket ‘budget album charts’ and bargain bins.
Walk With Me represented a marked change in Jamelia’s musical style, as she took a further step away from the R&B sound that had launched her career to critical acclaim. That departure was perhaps the first mistake. Whilst reinvention is expected from artists like Madonna and Kylie who have been around a few years, Jamelia had only just established herself as a potentially successful R&B-lite singer. Her swift departure from the genre in favour of a more generic pop route alienated fans of her previous material, and the lead single from the new album did little to attract any new ones.
Something About You is actually a good pop track but it lacked the cool of the singer’s Top 5 hits Thank You, See It In A Boy’s Eyes and the global smash Superstar. Instead it had the once feisty Jamelia losing all her girl power kudos by showering her man with compliment after compliment. It lacked the urban edge, the credibility and the familiarity of her earlier work and as a result could only peak at #9 on the UK Top 40.
A top ten hit isn’t a bad result of course, but it’s album sales that count and when Walk With Me bombed a few weeks later, it became clear that this campaign needed some work. By the time the fire in her belly had returned with the Depeche Mode-sampling album standout track Beware of the Dog, fickle fans had turned their backs. The commercial failure of the album almost immediately resulted in the price being slashed by most retail outlets which screamed of desperation. Suddenly Jamelia was on the outs.
Had Beware of the Dog been the lead single, would things have been different? Probably. But that was a victim of a poor marketing campaign itself, stupidly being released in December, two months after the album had been and gone. Despite receiving great reviews and being heavily playlisted, it was lost in the glut of seasonal Christmas releases and limped in to the singles chart at #10, never gaining any real momentum. One of the standout singles of 2006 failing to garner such little attention was certainly one of the biggest pop injustices of the year.
The third and final single was No More which most notably sampled The Stranglers’ Golden Brown. The track received generally favourable reviews and was one of the more soulful cuts from the album but that inconsistency with the previous pop releases also highlighted that the album’s biggest flaw was that it lacked cohesiveness.
Rather than reneging on her new commercially unsuccessful pop sound, she should have stuck to her guns and released Window Shopping,an album highlight which fuses pop and R&B lite, and even samples Mrs Slocombe from Are You Being Served? It would have been a bigger hit than No More which became her lowest charting single to date and stalled outside the Top 40 at #43. Jamelia parted ways with her record label and has been residing in pop wilderness ever since.
There’s no need to end on that sad note though, as Jamelia is coming back. After a six year absence, her fourth studio album Rebel is set to be released in 2012 and in September she premiered a demo of her forthcoming single Loving Me. Unfortunately I can’t find a link to it online, so that doesn’t bode well. In December 2009 though, she spoke of her plans for the album in an interview with Nick Levine for Digital Spy. If the material she was working on back then is going to appear on this new release, you can expect a return to her R&B roots, a ‘really exciting’ album and collaborations with producers who’ve worked with Beyonce, Usher and Lady Gaga.
I’ll believe it when I see it.