For every Robbie Williams, Westlife and S Club 7, there is a Natasha Bedingfield: someone famous everywhere but
the United States, who finally breaks into the American music scene and actually makes it. You may recognize the last name and yes, she is the little sister of high-pitched crooner Daniel Bedingfield (infamous forthesappy “If You’re Not the One”).
Bedingfield has the powerful vocal chords of Kelly Clarkson, the poetic inclinations of Nelly Furtado and the original songwriting skills of Dido (though let’s hope for a better sophomore effort). Her beatbox infused ballad “These Words (I Love You, I Love You)” off of her debut album Unwrittenhas been steadily climbing the charts, but the cheery love song is just a sample of Natasha’s unique brand of pop.
But Bedingfield’s no stick-thin blonde bimbo wailing about bad breakups and co-dependent relationships. Instead, the woman who says she’s “sick of empty music” is reviving the dying pop genre with fresh takes on what it’s like to be a modern, independent woman, and her music is anything but empty.
“Single” is the independent-girl anthem of the millennium (forget “Independent Woman” – this is no Charlie’s Angels faux-empowerment song), proclaiming to a funky bass beat, “I’m not waiting around for a man to save me (Cause I’m happy where I am)/Don’t depend on a guy to validate me.”
“Unwritten,” the title track and best song on the album, also carries a positive message, along with the addition of a gospel choir on the closing chorus. “Stumble,” a bonus track to the American release, sounds at first like a Kelly Clarkson throwaway, but soon proves as dynamic as Bedingfield’s original material (it’s the only track that wasn’t at least co-written by Bedingfield).
The only song US audiences are missing out on is “I’m a Bomb,” a loud, energetic techno-pop dance track, nixed in favor of the grating “Drop Me in the Middle.”
While every track sounds distinctly different, there is no denying that Bedingfield has cultivated a sound influenced by Euro-pop techno and funky R&B beats – what Kylie Minogue attempted on Body Language only with actual success in fusing two distinctly unique brands of pop.
Bedingfield has said of her music that she wants people to “identify with it, be inspired by it, dance to it.” Unwritten achieves all three of these goals with effortless grace. Take notice of Ms. Bedingfield, as she may just reinvent the American pop music scene.
Welcome to the real new British invasion.