Rachel Stevens is the lead female vocalist in that vile kiddie-pop group S Club 7, a dire act that appeals mainly to prepubescent kids or gay teens desperate for a modern-day replacement for Stock-Aitken-Watermann music. When the group folded, Rachel Stevens came out with her solo offering, Funky Dory. I manage to avoid it all these years until I come across it in the bargain bin of my favorite music store. Curiosity compels me to give it try.
Funky Dory is filled with inoffensive well-produced pop ditties, just the kind of music that I love, actually. Unfortunately, most of the ten tracks in this CD are obvious fillers, with only a handful of songs that are really worth a second listen. Even so, these stronger tracks are so derivative of the typical pop-princess anthems fished from Kylie Minogue’s reject bin. Sweet Dreams My LA Ex, being a song written for Britney Spears and touching on her break-up with Justin Timberlake, comes off like a robotic by-the-number track penned by Cathy Dennis. The strongest tracks on this CD – the title track, Fools, and Breathe In Breathe Out – fail to make a stronger impression on me because Rachel Stevens doesn’t have the distinctive voice to breathe any distinctive trait into these songs.
Rachel Stevens suffers from the same problem as Emma Bunton, another struggling pop princess – she has so little distinctive personality as a pop personality that her music comes off like musical wallpaper at its best and forgettable wastes-of-time at its worst. But at least Ms Bunton doesn’t pretend to be some angry princess in her music, while Ms Stevens comes off like a kitten pretending to be a tiger in tracks like Sweet Dreams My LA Ex. She is just not convincing, alas.
At the end of the day, while she doesn’t compel me to switch off the CD player, she doesn’t make me want to hear an encore from her. She’s just so ordinary, so… un-Funky Dory.