Shoulda been huge: Kelly Osbourne's 'One Word'

2014-05-31
Kelly_Osbourne_-_One_WordIn the early noughties you couldn't turn on the TV or open a magazine without seeing The Osbournes. Starring in their own fly-on-the-wall reality show, the rock clan were propelled into the spotlight for their foul-mouthed antics and atypical family dynamics. The show also made huge stars of Ozzy and Sharon’s children, Jack and Kelly. As anyone in her position would, Kelly Osbourne threw herself into a media career - trying her hand at everything from acting to TV presenting to modelling to appearing on the US version of Strictly, Dancing With The Stars. For me, though, it’s one glittering moment in her short-lived music career that really makes her special. Kel released her debut album in 2003 during the height of the Osbournes' reign as the royal family of reality TV. Titled Shut Up, the album was a bit (lot) of a flop, but it did spawn a UK number three hit in the form of a pop-punk cover of Madonna’s Papa Don’t Preach. Later that year, she even reached number one with her daddy-daughter duet, Changes, a cover of a song by Ozzy's old band Black Sabbath. Nevertheless, she was soon dumped by her record label due to poor record sales. Unperturbed, Kel dusted herself off, inked a new record deal and headed into the recording studio with Linda Perry, the producer and songwriter behind two massive recent smashes: Christina Aguilera’s Beautiful and Pink’s Get the Party Started. Two years on from her debut album, in 2005, she burst back onto the music scene with her second album Sleeping in the Nothing. Out went the dyed pink hair and skater shorts; in came a chic black fringe and monochrome colour palette. The first single lifted from the album, One Word, emphasised this switch in style and was completely marvellous. After opening with legato strings, the track bursts into life with a shimmer of new wave synths, giving it an '80s space-age feel. Sophisticated spoken word French (“Avez-vous toutes les informations?”) elevate the track, before Kelly’s vocals kick in. Kelly+OsbourneGone are the shouty cries of her previous efforts, replaced by affectless, monotone vocals with shedloads of froideur. The track has a hypnotic, almost ethereal quality, with Perry's studio trickery turning K-Oz from brat to bot. The accompanying video, a black-and-white homage to French cinema, finds Kelly rocking a fierce overcoat with white fur trimming as she stalks the corridors of what looks like a hotel or embassy. Some might point out that the clip incorporates Dali-like surrealism, with obvious references to the artist’s 1928 film Un Chien Andalou; others would just say it looks pretty fucking cool. Never before had chilly '80s-infused pop looked and sounded so good... that was, until it was noted that the track bared certain resemblances to an actual '80s classic, Fade To Grey by Visage.  In fact, the similarities were so striking that Kelly's team agreed to hand over a portion of the songwriting royalties to Visage... ouch. Anyway, maybe because of the apparent plagiarism, or perhaps the fact that interest in the Osbournes was beginning to wane, the track only just managed to scrape into the top ten, stalling at number nine in the UK despite a semi-iconic lip-synched performance on CD:UK. Disappointingly, Kelly was quick to leave her pop career behind and, to be fair, she's now doing rather well for herself co-hosting Fashion Police on E! with Joan Rivers, as well as featuring as a guest judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race. However, let us never forget that at one point, Kelly was releasing semi-intellectual, retro/forward thinking pop (alleged) rip-offs, and serving some serious icy popstar realness. One word: brilliant. Watch the video for One Word below: More shoulda been huge: Shoulda been huge: Madonna’s ‘Girl Gone Wild’ Shoulda been huge: Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Into the Nightlife’ Shoulda been huge: Spice Girls’ third album ‘Forever’ Shoulda been huge: Jordin Sparks’ Battlefield