Lewis Taylor – Satisfied
It’s generally understood that self-promotion is part and parcel of being a pop star in the 21st Century. Some artists are better at it than others; while a chosen few utilise social media to their advantage and align themselves with products that seem a decent fit for their image, others will associate their name with any brand that bungs them a few quid and consequently end up with an approach to marketing that makes Krusty The Clown look like an anti-capitalist recluse. Here’s looking at you, Miss TUC Biscuits 2015, Jessica J.
As much as people trot out the maxim that it’s “all about the music” and authenticity-peddlers like Jake Bugg repeatedly claim, “I’m just a lad that writes tunes”, it’s far more than that. If the music truly was the most important thing, you wouldn’t be choosing your ten favourite R&B collaborations of the 1990s on Sunday afternoon on 4Music, would you?
Lewis Taylor was an absurdly talented artist who really didn’t want to play the game, which is why he only sold about twelve records during his career. Talked up as the next big thing by names such as Elton John upon his debut, his daring mix of funk, R&B, soul and torch songs never gained attention with the public. Taylor released six albums between 1996 and 2005, after which he simply picked up his ball and went home, exhausted from the pressures of trying to make it big alone.
What’s remarkable about someone who was publicly active relatively recently is that he has practically no online presence. A cursory Google brings up little more than a few promo shots, a Wikipedia page and a number of articles proclaiming his genius. His back catalogue is available on Spotify and YouTube, but there are no promo videos, no live footage, no Twitter account where he enthusiastically retweets praise from ageing hipsters who saw him play The Jazz Café back in the day – nothing.
He created a body of work featuring some truly exceptional songs, and Satisfied – while highly recommended – certainly isn’t his best. So why write about it?
One reason: it would make the perfect X Factor winner’s song.
Having spent over 300 words fanboying Taylor’s under-appreciated prowess, it may seem bizarre to suggest one of his tracks as a cog in the machine of Simon Cowell’s money-making circus. However, it makes perfect sense, and the winner’s song is arguably one of the biggest showcases in UK media.
Give it a listen and you can picture it. The first understated vocal floats in on a wave of wah-wah guitar as the first verse gently shimmers. As the song progresses there are plenty of opportunities for falsetto and vocal gymnastics but as things begin to build, it really gets epic. Strings, lung-busting singing, a filthy squall of a guitar solo – in your mind’s eye you can already see the four judges giving this year’s victor a standing ovation, blurry behind a deluge of confetti.
On the off-chance you’re reading this, Lewis, I’m sorry. I’m almost certain you’d hate this idea. The possibility your lyrics and music could be interpreted by a fame-hungry wannabe and turned into little more than a cash cow is likely the kind of thing that made you run away from the business in the first place. But part of the joy of music is in the sharing. Here at Into The Popvoid, we’re all about bringing music we love to a wider audience. And if this were all to transpire and you sold a few extra records off the back of it, you don’t have to pay me a penny.
To this day, the lack of success of Lewis Taylor remains a mystery. Maybe he was just the wrong person at the wrong time. However, his legacy endures, and tracks such as Satisfied are testament to his abilities. Songs – especially ballads – that try to be sexy are usually fist-bitingly atrocious, but Satisfied never comes close to venturing into R Kelly territory.
More people need to hear Lewis Taylor’s music, and a stint as Christmas number 1 might just be the best way to do it. Obviously, if this plan enrages him so much that he returns to the spotlight in order to make sure things are done on his terms, well, I won’t be complaining about that either.
Entered chart: did not chart
Who could sing this today and have a hit? Whichever unsuspecting youngster wins X Factor this year. Christmas no.1 2015 – you heard it here first.