The beginning of the year is always something of a drought for quality pop and 2008 has been more barren than most. With the exception of Kylie's various international singles and Korea's fabulous Wonder Girls nothing has really grabbed my attention - until now. Kate Alexa's poptastic cover of Womack & Womack's "Teardrops" is the three minute serve of catchy pop fun that I've been hungering for.
The most exciting thing about "Teardrops" is the exciting new direction of Kate's music. I enjoyed the guitar pop sound (think pre-"Dignity" Hilary Duff) of "Broken & Beautiful" but it did come across as a slightly desperate attempt to crack the teen market. "Teardrops" is a complete rebirth for Kate - her voice is better suited to the material, the sound has a much needed contemporary edge and she looks comfortable with her glamorous new image. Womack & Womack's 80s classic is one of my favourite songs, so I was somewhat concerned about the song selection. Germany's No Angels butchered "Teardrops" last year, stripping every ounce of soul from the track with their flat vocals and cheap dance beats. Kate's version is softer and sweeter, replacing the melancholy of the original with sheer youthful exuberance. I particularly love the cameo by American rent-a-rapper Baby Bash. Instead of spoiling the song, the quirky rap interlude breathes new life into "Teardrops", giving this very poptastic track the slightest sheen of urban credibility.
The video (below) is also surprisingly excellent. I recently read that Kate hired William Baker to revamp her image. I'm not sure if that's true but I wouldn't be surprised. There is more than a touch of Kylie in Kate's new look and the video clip is very reminiscent of "Spinning Around" - only with a trashtastic ghetto interlude and some fabulously cheap special effects! I really hope Kate gets a fair go this time around. Her first album was unfairly dismissed as an act of nepotism by her father (Michael Gudinksi - the founder of Mushroom Records and the man who first signed Kylie way back in 1987), which is just ridiculous. If my dad ran a record company, I'd expect him to help me out too. "Teardrops" is a spectacular single regardless of Kate's connections and deserves to be judged on its merits.
"Teardrops" hits stores on the 3rd of March. Pre-order your copy here and check out Kate's Myspace for more information.