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Monday, 7 October, 2002, 10:36 GMT 11:36 UK
Pop Idol Will makes his mark
Will Young
Will Young won Pop Idol back in February

When toothy-smiled Will Young won the long-running battle to find the nation's Pop Idol, a ripple of surprise briefly touched the nation.

Teenager Gareth Gates, with his angelic voice and hedgehog hair, was largely tipped for a landslide in the public vote - and seemed the perfect pop package to appeal to teenagers countrywide.

But Young, who preferred lounge songs to slices of teen pop, was the housewife's choice - and the record-makers found themselves with a different proposition on their hands.

Tapping into the opening tracks of From Now On before heading into the main territory of this album shows that Young is a Pop Idol with a difference.

Burt Bacharach co-wrote a track on the album
Burt Bacharach is one of Will Young's idols
His victory lap was the double-headed Anything Is Possible/Evergreen, the debut single laid down for whoever won the battle to be made into a star - and he does not sound entirely comfortable with this sweet, candied pop.

It was still a mammoth number one smash, but follow-up Light My Fire was the essence of this young performer distilled into a bottle.

Reshaping The Doors' classic into a bossa-nova cheese fest gives him a chance to stretch his naturally pliant vocal chords and fill his favourite niche.

And if musical cheddar is Young's natural nook, listen to What's In Goodbye, co-written by the songwriting dream-team of Cathy Dennis and Burt Bacharach - the legendary king of the smooth, old-style tune, which the Pop Idol delivers with ease.


Young's debut collection is also bursting to the seams with songwriters of the moment, with mistress of the pop song Dennis enjoying credits on five tracks, and Robbie William's foil Guy Chambers sneaking in there too.

Critics of the whole Pop Idol phenomenon will be greeted with the performer's own name appearing in the writing credits - Young's joint efforts Lovestruck, Over You and Cruel To Be Kind inhabit both lounge-room and silky balladsville.

Will Young
Young seems determined to follow his own musical style
It is the title track - also bearing Young's name - which is a jaunty, breezy slice of pop that would suit rival idol Darius Danesh down to the ground, with a skipping beat which breaks the album's slow tenor.

But part of the Pop Idol deal is that you cannot have it all your own way. Young has to earn his keep, so new tracks which are firmly pop and future hits make their mark felt.

You and I is an especially strong hit-in-waiting, which will have the younger music fans cooing in their droves to the record shops.

This debut offering seems to have struck a balance between making the best of Will Young's particular talents - and the musical niche where he excels.

It should go some way towards silencing critics who said that his individuality was being crushed in a sea of cover versions and pop puppetry.

Inevitably, there are teen-friendly pop ditties, but also a more mature seam of songs to suit the cheesemeisters and lounge lizard lovers.

This man has proved what we already knew - that he is certainly no Gareth Gates and their Pop Idol rivalry is pretty much where the similarities end.

With a strong voice and his own musical ideas, he may yet take charge of his own destiny.

From Now On by Will Young is out now on BMG Records.

Will Young
Hear a clip from You and I
See also:

07 Oct 02 | Entertainment
29 Sep 02 | Entertainment
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02 Jun 02 | Breakfast with Frost
25 Feb 02 | Entertainment
10 Feb 02 | Entertainment
10 Feb 02 | Entertainment
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