Lea Michele – Cannonball
When I first heard Cannonball I rushed giddily onto Facebook, pronouncing how I loved witnessing the moment when a superstar was born, and then sat back waiting for it to destroy the charts, followed by a valedictory Grammys performance a year later. But absolutely nothing happened. Therefore, it is time to look at Why a Great Pop Plan Goes Wrong.
On paper, Lea’s ascendance was a no-brainer. Star of the hugely popular TV show Glee, she’d ably demonstrated a wondrous voice, had countless hits with her fellow cast members and had major songwriting powerhouses contributing to her debut album. Cannonball is unmistakably a Sia number, and it was the perfect song to launch her with, giving the sort of empowerment anthem normally reserved for Kelly Clarkson a much-needed dose of practicality. A cannonball may indeed fly, but it will eventually hit the ground quite disastrously. In essence though, it’s a good old fashioned belter and should really have gone top 5.
So what did go wrong?
The Streisand Expectation
Michele’s Glee character, Rachel Berry, had a Streisand obsession from the very beginning, and this played out over the seasons until she eventually landed the lead role in a Broadway revival of Funny Girl. She was undoubtedly being set up as the “new” Streisand, and nothing gets our hackles up like being told what someone is before we’ve appointed them ourselves (see also: Lady Gaga taking the gays under her wing.) And when she signed to Columbia Records – just like Barbra – it perhaps introduced an element of public resistance.
Too much faffing around with hashtags and instant downloads. Also, don’t “drop” a single two weeks before Christmas in America then wait three months to make it available in the UK. We are not a patient country anymore.
God help us if this is true, but perhaps we were punishing Lea because Rachel Berry wasn’t always the nicest character on television. But since when was niceness a factor in being an amazing pop star? Madonna isn’t nice.
The Cory Issue
I really hope this isn’t the case, but I suspect there was a degree of discomfort around Cannonball‘s appearance just a few months after the death of Michele’s boyfriend and co-star Cory Monteith. Did people find it a little unseemly? If so, it’s a shameful reason not to get behind a potentially very good pop star. Remember, as a nation we sent Spice Up Your Life to no.1 just a few weeks after Princess Diana‘s death – one minute it was all Candle in the Wind ’97 and the the next we were gaily moonwalking the foxtrot. Quite rightly, Lea had to get on with things.
An unfortunate turn of events then, and none of them Lea’s fault. Let’s hope things work out a little better should album no.2 ever surface.
Entered chart: 16/03/2014
Chart peak: 56
Weeks on chart: 1
Who could sing this today and have a hit? This has future X Factor winner’s single written all over it, and surely would have been already had Little Mix not done Damien Rice‘s Cannonball. Give it a year or two.