Never Been Better
Marcus Collins' debut album typifies the deleterious effect of The X Factor on British music.
Fairly likeable on the show in a sub-Olly Murs sort of way, the Liverpool hairdresser who came second to Little Mix now unveils a record that is perfectly competent, utterly calculated and has the soul and passion of a used bus ticket.
Despite his occasional cabaret-singer cheesiness, Collins is a decent technical vocalist, and executive producer Gary Barlow ensures his material ticks all the boxes. Pop-soul concoctions such as It's Time and Mercy will delight tweenie fans whose knowledge of soul begins and ends with Adele and Bruno Mars.
Love & Hate is a neat but lesser take on the strain of retro-soul popularised by Amy Winehouse and Plan B, but Collins comes a cropper when his karaoke roots show through. His dogged take on Janelle Monae's Tightrope merely demonstrates why that genius of an artist is infinitely his superior, and unforgivably he turns the lewd throb of the White Stripes' Seven Nation Army into a peevish whine.
It's no disaster, and there is nothing to scare the horses on this tidy debut. But nor is there a smidgeon of originality, wit or soul.