It’s a well known fact that – despite the international hype machine that surrounds singing competitions such as American Idol or The X Factor – artists that are birthed from such shows tend to have an unbelievably short shelf life. Considering the few acts of note that have managed to latch onto a career from the latter show (Olly Murs, JLS, Cher Lloyd, Little Mix, Leona Lewis and of course, One Direction) in comparison to those that have fallen by the wayside (winners Leon Jackson, Steve Brookstein, Joe McElderry, not to mention various runners up who signed contracts only to have them snatched away after the first single), it is no wonder that the products of the competition are regarded with such skepticism by public and press – let’s remind ourselves that this is the show that spawned Jedward! It is a sad fact that everyone is waiting for the winner to fail, and with 2012 champion James Arthur yet to release an album, and with third place contestant Amelia Lily having already capitalised and delivered three dance singles, all eyes turn to runner-up Jahmene Douglas.
Mentored on The X Factor UK by former Pussycat Doll, Nicole Scherzinger, Jahmene stunned audiences with his performance of Etta James’ At Last in the 2012 live auditions, displaying an incredibly impressive vocal range and being capable of high notes that could shatter glass. However, all this must be placed to one side in order to regard his début album, Love Never Fails. In a move that can only be summed up as unbelievably lazy in regards to his record label, the album is comprised entirely of covers. Yes, that’s right, not a single original song that Jahmene could call his own, which in regards to promoting the album, makes it almost immediately dismissable.
The album opens with a cover of Coldplay’s Fix You, which – despite Jahmene being capable of holding a tune far better than Chris Martin – pales stratospherically in comparison to the original. The same can be said of Halo because, as the world knows, nobody can compare to Beyonce in terms of vocal power and control, and unfortunately it all gets a little screechy in regards to Jahmene’s higher notes. Things turn slightly more modern in his cover of David Guetta and Sia’s Titanium which incorporates R’n’B beats, and it is probably the only song here that may ever threaten to touch the charts, which is a shame, as nobody needs another Titanium, especially a ballad that doesn’t carry the vocal and dance-club weight of the original. Aside from covers of Emeli Sande’s Next To Me, Bob Dylan’s Forever Young and Sarah McLoughlan’s Angel, four of the songs on Love Never Fails have at some point been sang by the late Whitney Houston, including the songs carrying the album’s two guest features, an unsurprising duet with Nicole Scherzinger (The Greatest Love Of All), and a very surprising duet with one Stevie Wonder, though even the appearance of this Motown legend cannot save this compilation of songs.
After all of this, one can’t help but think that it is a great shame that Jahmene – who possesses a truly capable voice full of diverse range – was essentially left deserted by The X Factor’s ‘after care money spinning machine’; they have practically already hung him out to dry with this album full of simpering covers. Love Never Fails is a Jahmene only edition of the karaoke TV show, with none of the songs raising the tempo, and whilst ballads are definitely what Jahmene is good at, it ultimately results in a lacklustre and boring album.