Call My Name
Cheryl Cole, to those of you not familiar with the successful British girl group Girls Aloud alumna, is like Beyoncé or Diana Ross or Justin Timberlake – trying to make it without her band hasn’t been all that hard. She’s beautiful (an almost exact remake of Shania Twain sans cowboy boots and Mutt Lange) and an excellent dancer. Vocally, she’s not going to win any awards. Her first two albums, combined, have a total of two good songs and both are on the first album. This review doesn’t really have that much to do with her, though.
She’s the vocalist, a muse, a vehicle. The actual art is being made by the current EDM master, Calvin Harris. Rihanna’s Talk that Talk would be missing its biggest hit without his songcraft. Both [Call My Name] and [We Found Love] feature strong beats and impeccable hook writing. But his real talent is shown in the cathedral heights with which the repeating synths reach, shooting off colorful, blaring notes of mashed overtones, scraping the ceiling of audibility. His almost religious approach to EDM’s model has begun to transform the shape of the current music scene.
Meanwhile, back on the charts… What’s missing from [Call My Name] is soul. Cheryl does an excellent job delivering a dance-worthy vocal line, but misses the passion that Rihanna hit with [We Found Love]. The lyrics talk about losing yourself in a confusion of lust, passion, and angst. [It’s an endless circle of poison arrows to my heart] she expands, trying to explain that she can’t let go of this beautiful darkness he gives her. I want to feel that in her voice, and all I hear is vocal processing and calculation. Rihanna’s voice may be less pristine however she delivers lyrics with growling conviction; whereas Cheryl’s voice is beautiful but robotic. Under another pop diva’s ministrations, this song may have been not just a good dance track (with a gorgeous video), but a good song. As such, it’s delivers dance-floor drama without any of the real emotion behind it. And perhaps that’s what they wanted, but it sure as hell isn’t what I wanted.