Russell Watson - The Voice
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The liner notes to the powerful tenor's overwhelmingly emotional debut begin with the assertion that "Russell Watson is a freak." Well, he looks like a normal 27-year-old from a working-class town in England, but what makes him "freaky" is having such an intensely powerful voice at such a young age (and his grip of operatic Italian is a bit unusual, too). Most likely, the promotional efforts — which find the handsome singer looking like he's in a GQ ad — will focus on getting this classic opera material to be heard and appreciated by a younger crowd. The concept here is "opera with a twist," a happy idea where "Nessun Dorma" and "Amor Ti Vieta" play comfortably alongside pop standards like Freddie Mercury's 1992 Olympic theme "Barcelona" (a rock-influenced duet with Shaun Ryder) and "Vienna," a number two hit for Ultravox in 1981. Compared to his effortless tackling of so much challenging material — not to mention the beautiful swells by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra — a cover of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" comes across as a bit staid, but it's still a version that brings out as much emotion as possible. Other featured material includes "Nella Fantasia," "Ricordo Ancor" (from Captain Corelli's Mandolin), and duets with Maire Brennan and Cleopatra Higgins. Even if the thought of opera makes you cringe, Watson is still an amazing artist who might just convert you for an hour or so.
Born: London, England
Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s
Top Albums and Songs by Nick Ingman
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