ILM's 2005 collaborative mix project hoonja-doonja!

March 01, 2005

Sinead Quinn, "What You Need Is..."

Some context might help. Sinéad was the runner-up in the first series of Fame Academy, where her talent was outshone by the charisma of David Sneddon. However, as was the case with all reality TV runners up back then, she got snapped up by a major label and an album got punted out. Ready To Run found itself littered with songs about not giving up and working hard to achieve this pinnacle of fame, seemingly a kneejerk defensive action against supposed ideas that reality TV popstars are yet another example of rip-off Britain’s political correctness going mad with their manufactured pap swamping our charts and killing off home taping. Or something. The story of Sinéad’s struggle and her bleatings that you don’t know how hard she’s worked for this etc. are not the secrets we’re dealing with here, though.

‘What You Need Is’ was Sinéad’s second single and is, by a distance, the pinnacle of her career. This is her stab at being a ‘rock chick’. Your opening couplet:

You’re a junkie for your lady’s (Lead? Lean? Dunno)
You’re so addicted that you can’t get clean

The chorus has her snarling “Well c’mon over here/It’s about time your ass was mine/Don’t you dare say no/Not until you’ve tried it.” The video alternated between her Rocking Out with a Proper Band of Proper Musicians whilst her hair got blown about by a wind machine and what I vaguely remember as her ‘writhing about’ ‘sexily’ dressed in a leather jacket and so on. It was embarrassing how hard she was trying, how desperately it superglued itself to convention, practically screaming “SMELL THE HOTNESS!!!” while desperately wafting the fumes from a stack of burning tyres (the video itself didn’t feature a stack of burning tyres, as that might have got the health and safety people a bit upset). This is a shame, because the song itself is quite fantastic – the lines are all clichés but she sells them like no-one’s business; her little yelps, growls, and in particular the snarl she drops in the middle are all terribly endearing. The helter-skelter synth riff the song’s built upon is marvellous, worthy of Girls Aloud or anyone else for that matter. It rocks, very much so.

And as for the secret? Well, Sinéad was desperately trying to act like this song was it, this being her unveiling of her wild side, her hottnesss. The rest of her album certainly wasn’t it, being mainly comprised of dud-laden ballads and stuff about how hard she’s worked etc. The video was so forced that you could just imagine the director bellowing “MORE SEXY!” at her. The big thing about Fame Academy was that it was showcasing Proper Musicians who Write Their Own Songs and Play Instruments and Are Real, Not Like That Pop Idol Mob. The secret here is that, despite all this, by the end of the whole cycle we only knew Sinéad Quinn as being a nice Irish lass who wrote her own songs about writing her own songs. ‘What You Need Is’ was meant to be the unveiling of Sinéad’s dark side, a dark side that, when we looked for it, just wasn’t there. And now she’s almost completely forgotten – her two fellow FA finalists (Sneddon & Lemar) stole the limelight while this single stalled at #19, her album failed to make the top 40, and she got dropped.

Her first single nearly knocked TATU off number one, y’know. Then again, it was shite.

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