Paul Potts: One Chance - Christmas Edition
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In 1990, the joint efforts of the World Cup and the Three Tenors provided opera singing with its biggest ever foray into the pop charts. Unassuming tenor Paul Potts, originally from Bristol, took opera back to the very top of the charts with the album One Chance 17 years later, and he too had a helping hand from the enormously popular television talent show Britain's Got Talent. There is no denying that Paul Potts has indeed got talent, but is he a better singer than any of the Three Tenors? Certainly not. Still, a TV talent show captures the public almost as much as the World Cup, and Potts rides this wave extremely well. He began his trip into TV stardom singing that staple of operatic performance Nessun Dorma, and this aria opens the album too. The problem is that by 2007 the song was so famous that Potts openly invites comparisons with a multitude of operatic tenors who have sung it before. Not that this is any bad thing; it's a difficult song to sing well and Potts does sing nicely in tune, every note well rehearsed, but there is a lack of real feeling and emotion that betrays his rapid rise. In fact, One Chance is not really an opera album at all, and the millions of people who bought it thinking they were buying into a slice of high culture got an album filled with tracks like "Time to Say Goodbye" (Con Te Partirò), a hit single from Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli; "Everybody Hurts" (Ognuno Soffre), originally by R.E.M.; and versions of "My Way," "Cavatina" (the theme from The Deer Hunter), and Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Music of the Night" from Phantom of the Opera. The track "Caruso" had been recorded by almost everyone in this genre from Russell Watson to Il Divo, and in a similar way that Vittorio Grigolo took a modern pop song, Keane's "Bedshaped," and made it sound like an operatic aria, so Potts translates Westlife's "You Raise Me Up" into Italian and produces a sound far removed from the Westlife hit. One Chance was the sort of album that had the stamp of Simon Cowell all over it, very similar to his Il Divo projects. Cowell had an ear for a good tune, and knew what would sell and how to package the moment to maximum effect. This is the type of album that comes along every so often and persuades people that they like opera, when previously they might have thought they did not. If it went on to introduce anybody to other singers in the genre aside from Paul Potts, no doubt he would be one of the first to cheer, but unfortunately, as with the Three Tenors, once out of the spotlight, so was the music. [In 2007 Syco issued a two-disc edition with a five-track bonus CD.]
Born: 13 October 1970 in Bristol, England
Years Active: '00s, '10s