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X-Factor UK Runner-Up Marcus Collins Covers The White Stripes, Preps for March Album Release

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Saturday, February 4, 2012

X-Factor UK Runner-Up Marcus Collins Covers The White Stripes, Preps for March Album Release

While the UK (and the rest of the world) eagerly awaits new music from Little Mix, winners of The X-Factor series 8, runner up Marcus Collins is already prepping for the release of his own debut single and album, both due this March via RCA Records.  Collins, the openly gay (former) hairdresser from Liverpool, came in second during his season of the popular reality music competition.  While Collins was never really one of my favs, the 23 year old was consistent throughout the competition and always put on a show.

For his first single, Collins is releasing a cover of "Seven Nation Army," a 2003 Top 10 hit by American alternative rock outfit The White Stripes (now defunct).  Certainly an interesting choice for a singer who's genre is pretty tightly confined to pop/R&B.  Collins sings the song well enough, incorporating plenty of funk, flare and a Robin Thicke sort of vibe, (complete with a vibrant horn section) but I can't really get over the oddness of the song choice.  Considering how much flack the contestants got last season for "poor song choice," I wonder who actually selected this song to cover.  Immediately upon releasing the single onto his YouTube page, the negative feedback started pouring in, both from fans and critics alike, with NME calling the song
"Disposable and as forgettable as a McChicken sandwich, yes, but not 'bad'."
Yikes. Not exactly a glowing review.  The magazine goes onto question what exactly has music fans so worked up - the fact that Collins is giving a mainstream makeover ("mainstream pillaging," per NME) to an "alternative" classic or the very fact that he's covering the song to begin with.  What does Collins have to say for himself?
"I’ve always been a fan of the original version of ‘Seven Nation Army’ and hope people like my take on it.”
Ah. So it's the typical "I've always been a fan" defense.  Fair enough, I guess.  In the end, NME decides that Syco/RCA are seeking to capitalize on the musical formula that has served Olly Murs so well these past few years and I happen to agree with that point.  There's no doubt in my mind that Marcus Collins is a talented singer, I'll simply have to reserve any final judgement until after I've heard the full album.  I've learned over the years that you can't really judge a new artist by their first single.

"Seven Nation Army" is due out March 4th (backed by some fierce club mixes by Cutmore), followed by the release of his self titled debut album on March 12th (see album artwork above).  The album was executive produced by Gary Barlow and features additional production from Brian Rawling (Girls Aloud, Kylie Minogue).  The album, in addition to original tracks (thank God), features three covers including the single, a Jackie Wilson cover, "Your Love Is Lifting Me Higher," one of his better X-Factor performances, as well as a cover of "Tightrope," originally performed by Janelle Monáe. Catch Marcus on tour with the rest of his X-Factor finalists throughout February, March and April.

Check out Marcus Collins on the web:

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