I’ve been a supporter and fan of Amelia Lily since her season of X-Factor but I have to be honest, I’m not THRILLED with the direction of her new music. New single, “California,” co-written by Lily and Tim Woodcock (John Newman, The Vamps, The Wanted) will be Lily’s first since leaving Xenomania/Sony Music and signing with East West Records/Warner Music UK. The single, due out September 7th (iTunes) is a generic, mid-tempo cookie-cutter pop song that does little to showcase Lily’s talent. Sorry. It’s bland. Vanilla. Boring. While I’m happy that she’s actually writing her own music this time around, I was kind of hoping for a flashier vehicle. “California” is a bad road trip.
Following her time on the The X-Factor (where she ultimately finished third), Lily was signed to Sony Music subsidiary Xenomania. Her debut single, the Xenomania-produced “You Bring Me Joy” (written by NINE people…Fred Falke included but STILL!) peaked at No. 2 on the UK Singles chart while follow-up single, “Shut Up (and Give Me Whatever You Got)” (TEN co-writers!) just barely missed out the Top 10, peaking at No. 11. While third single, “Party Over” did give Lily her first official co-writing credit (sharing it with FIVE others but hey!) it was a more or less a bomb, peaking at No. 40 on the singles chart. Her planned debut album, Be a Fighter was scheduled for release in April of 2013. Produced by Xenomania, Lily described the sound of the album as “all over the place” (YIKES), including dubstep and some soul but saying that the album worked as a cohesive collection because, individually all the songs connected with her. Well…the album was never to be. After having it’s release date pushed back to July, it was ultimately cancelled and Lily left her label.
Fast forward to earlier this month when Lily announced her new label home with East West/Warner Music UK. According to Amelia Lily in a statement:
“Life has never been so exciting – I’ve been busy in the studio writing and recording songs for my upcoming debut album and ‘California’ is where we start. I’m so proud to be releasing this music; I have put my heart and soul into writing them. Expect a few surprises along the way though – it’s going to be fun!”
Let me be clear, I DO love Amelia Lily. I just happen to think “California” is a piss poor offering for a first single. For the record, I am completely willing to admit I was wrong should the single go straight to No. 1 on the UK Singles chart but the odds of that happening are slim to none. What about her earlier stuff with Xenomania? Was “You Bring Me Joy” a BRILLIANTLY original pop song? Actually yes! Yes it was. Um…HELLO! Xenomania! These guys are known for their abilities as HITMAKERS. Even if you disagree, we’ve got to both agree that “California” < “You Bring Me Joy.” While follow-up singles were nowhere near as infectious as “You Bring Me Joy,” there was some potential there and as far as I’m concerned, working with Xenomania the potential is unlimited! But to go from a high-energy, dance pop sound to this middle-of-the-road generic pop schlock seems like a mistep on the part of her new label. Just my opinion.
As if it couldn’t get any worse with the single, check out the EQUALLY average video for “California” below, shot in Los Angeles and directed by Charlotte Rutherford. It reminds me of one of those 90’s/2000’s pop videos…kind of like a slightly more young adult version of Mandy Moore‘s “Candy” video. My only hope with Amelia Lily‘s new album is that her new label treats her with the respect that she deserves. While I don’t know details of the behind-the-scenes drama (assuming there was some?) that went down leading up to Fighter getting shelved, I do know that it was handled atrociously. She deserved better. Now, if “creative differences” were behind the split…if that stuff she came up with Xenomania REALLY wasn’t the kind of music that Lily wanted to make, then fine. I hope this new album allows her to make the kind of music that SHE actually want to make. Let’s just hope that the music Amelia Lily want to make is 1,000 times better than “California.”