Friday's Child
by Will Young, pop (2003)

If he is merely a rung in the manufactured music industry, Will Young, the winner of the Britain's first Pop Idol, isn't supposed to come up with a CD like Friday's Child. The fact that he does come up with this CD that is filled with stripped-down and excellent tracks is a testament that this young man means business and he's taking the opportunity to make music the way he wants it to sound. In my review of his debut CD, I suggested that he sack his entire retinue of songwriters and producers and start anew. And that's what he did, bless him. That means: no Cathy Dennis tracks, no stupid cover versions of songs now played in retirement homes, and everything that debut CDs by Gareth Gates, Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken, and Kelly Clarkson aren't.

Zoning in comfortably on what he wants to sing in his second CD, Young has taken a long year off from the media and pop commitment to travel around, working with people whose music he likes, and comes up with a tracks that could have come easily from a less irritating or monotonous version of Jamiroquai mixed with some soul and a lot of class. Tracks like You're Game, Free, and Out Of My Mind are excellent songs with superb melodies where Young inserts a loss of pizzazz and verve in his delivery to get at the very least the fingers to snap along with the track. Even the obligatory "I'm doing my thing now" affirmative tracks like Going My Way and Stronger come off as sincere because musically, Young is doing his own thing, and how nice that his thing is very listenable music that ooze sensuality and classiness.

Young kicks up the tempo in his cover of the Isley Brothers' Love The Ones You're With - his version is competent as long as one doesn't compare it too much to the original - and in Dance The Night Away, the latter a really sexy song where saxophones and late night club blues come together in one sultry combination. He isn't too bad when he slows down the tempo either: the very successful first single, Leave Right Now, is a beautiful and heartfelt ballad about loving too much that it hurts, while Very Kind is a melancholic song that is a little bit bluesy, a little bit jazzy, and all round fabulous. The only track I tend to skip is the title track. At nine minutes and one second long, Friday's Child is four minutes too long when it becomes obvious that this track isn't that imaginative in its arrangement to sustain its long running time.

If there is a downside to this CD, it's that at the one or two rare moments on this CD where the musical arrangement demands more from Young's vocal range than he can deliver. Leave Right Now is a great track, but there are noticeable moments during the crescendo of this song where Young fails to push his voice to the heights needed to really matter.

The bottom line is, if this isn't a CD by Will Young, it will be a great CD that more listeners will enjoy without fighting too hard to resist because, you know, it's a CD by the Pop Idol winner. Musically, Friday's Child is a feast for the ears. Credibility becomes Mr Young very easily - it's his being a Pop Idol winner that is the albatross around his neck here. If more people will overlook his dubious achievement on that crappy show and give this CD the chance it deserves, he'll have made it.

Friday's Child proves that there is light at the end of the tunnel for Mr Young's US counterparts as long as they have the guts to wrestle for control for their musical direction like Young did. Heck, let's hope that he will keep making good music and we will all eventually forget that he ever graced that horrifying spectacle of a Pop Idol show once upon a time.

Rating: 95

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