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The Rest Is History

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Album Review

Brother sister/duo Sean and Sarah Smith aka Same Difference, divided audiences like no other when they finished third in the 2007 series of The X-Factor. To some, their perma-grin, relentlessly upbeat, bubblegum style, which made S Club 7 sound like Nick Cave, was a welcome reminder of the days when pop groups weren't constantly preoccupied with chasing credibility; while to others, they were nothing more than a glorified Butlins redcoat act who got lucky. Three years after their debut album, Pop, attempted to position them as the U.K.'s answer to High School Musical, their follow-up, The Rest Is History, the first release from fledgling label PopLife, sees them ditch the cheerleader outfits, baseball jackets, and Americanized Disney sound in favor of a more mature, club-friendly direction inspired by the schlager pop of Bodies Without Organs and Alcazar. Indeed, the uber-camp "Crying at the Discoteque" trio actually turn up on the album's standout, the Dalai Lama name-checking "Karma Karma," a gloriously infectious Eurovision-style stomper whose carnival rhythms, anthemic piano chords, and soaring "woah-ohs" sounds like Shakira covering Baltimora's "Tarzan Boy" as produced by Alphabeat. The rest of the album is equally packed with stadium-sized choruses, epic key changes, and an unabashed sense of fun which, despite its Scandinavian Euro-dance influences, still manages to incorporate flashes of dancehall ("Emotion"), Cascada-ish synth pop ("Shine on Forever (Photo Frame)"), and acoustic balladry ("Broken Memories") into its 12 tracks. But The Rest Is History is inarguably at its strongest when it has one eye firmly on the dancefloor, such as on the hook-laden trance riffs of opener "Souled Out," the Stock, Aitken & Waterman-esque "Waiting for the Moment," and the funky disco guitar licks of "Best Mistake." Taking a more active role than their Simon Cowell-backed debut, the duo have also co-written five tracks alongside contributions from Topham & Twigg (Steps), Sharon Vaughan (The Wanted), and Tony Nilsson (Joe McElderry), and while the over-earnest ballad "This Is Me" unnecessarily slows down the tempo, the sparkling Hi-NRG of "Heartbeat" and the pulsating bass-led "Superstar" prove they're not the docile pop puppets that their critics have suggested. It's hard to see how The Rest Is History will fit in a chart scene dominated by electro-R&B, but whether it makes any impact or not, there's no denying it's a much-needed antidote which, refreshingly, doesn't feel the need to make any excuses for its unadulterated pure pop sound. ~ Jon O'Brien, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Impressive sophomore effort... Same Difference get to where most X Factor acts have never got close to - their 2nd album. And as a real shocker for y'all, this is an excellent album. Really surpassing expectations and a LOT better than their first album.

Sarah and Sean have cranked up the tempo and most of the album sounds like it could have been written for Kylie or Dannii Minogue, with pop-tastic choruses and dancey-beats to get the party started. Yes, I am talking about the same group that sang High School Musical songs live to millions across the nation just a few years ago - but this really is a different sounding duo now.

Stand out tracks include Karma Karma, which features one of Sweden's biggest exports, Alcazar; the acousticy, but still fun, Emotion; the storming opener Souled Out; and the funky Best Mistake.

If I had to level a criticism, it is simply that the 2 ballads aren't really my cup of tea, but take them out of the equation and this is a near-perfect pop album, which I'd never have predicted a few years ago.

Same Difference

Just to let everyone know --- this album is amazing xxx sean and sarah are amazing xxx

Pop is back!!!

After a long wait, we now have pop back in the British charts!!! Thank you Same Difference for a truly outstanding and fresh sound that your new album brings!! Love every song and the title song is amazing!! Well done guys on bringing pop back!!!


Genre: Pop

Years Active: '00s

With their squeaky-clean image, relentlessly upbeat nature, and pure bubblegum pop sound, brother-and-sister duo the Same Difference became one of the most audience-dividing acts in The X Factor's history. Sean Smith, born in 1985, and sister Sarah, born in 1988, both left home at an early age to pursue their dream of performing. Sean appeared in several pantomimes and landed a job singing on cruise ships, while Sarah attended the Italia Conti Academy, where she finished her diploma. After regularly...
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The Rest Is History, Same Difference
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  • £7.99
  • Genres: Pop, Music, Rock
  • Released: 07 February 2011

Customer Ratings