Friday, March 20, 2009

Natasha Bedingfield, "Angel"

Song: "Angel"
Artist: Natasha Bedingfield
Album: Pocketful Of Sunshine
Written by: Rodney Jerkins/Rico Love/Lashawn Daniels/Crystal "Crystyle" Johnson
Year: 2008
Key: Bm
Classification: SF1 variant
Lyrical content: a good man is good to find; pretty much just a sideways "Umbrella," really
Where used: verse, chorus

Natasha Bedingfield is a puzzle to me. She has, to my ears, a genuinely interesting voice, with slight cracks running all the way through it that afford her a tremendous vulnerability and openness, and everything about Pocketful Of Sunshine seems designed to obscure exactly that fact. About halfway through listening to the album the first time, I found myself thinking, "I am only halfway through." The songs are mostly factory readymades, and she's ProToolsed to within an inch of her life. It's as though someone said "So, Natasha, you know your whole selling point, the thing that makes you special in a pop arena populated by the Mariahs and Beyoncés and Christinas and Leonas of the world? Yeah, let's fix that." Making her sound robotic sort of misses her appeal entirely.

Then again, what do I know? "Pocketful Of Sunshine" was a huge hit despite suffering the same affliction as Oasis's "Champagne Supernova" and Fastball's "Out Of My Head," where the songwriters essentially said, "One verse! Done!" (Though it should be noted that "Pocketful Of Sunshine" goes one step further, in that it doesn't really have a verse, either.) "Angel" was less ubiquitous, possibly due to being less catchy than a song that's pretty much all chorus. It's not actually a true SFCP, going the same route as Iggy Pop's "The Passenger" in that it switches between a modal approach (ending on A major) and a tonal approach (ending on F#7) on alternate passes. It's a little unsettling, since both chords lead back to the Bm but in very different ways, so there's a constant shift required to make sense of it. But heck, anything that injects some character back into the otherwise gleaming production surrounding Bedingfield is fine by me.

Full song: Natasha Bedingfield, "Angel"
Listen to the SFCP clip for this song

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