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Spirit

Leona Lewis

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Album Review

The truest test of Simon Cowell's power within the music industry circa 2008 was not whether American Idol could produce a star in its seventh season or if its U.K. cousin, The X Factor, would have another success in its fifth season — it was whether he could turn Leona Lewis into the international superstar he so clearly believed she is. Lewis was the third winner of The X Factor — the Cowell-driven replacement to Pop Idol in Britain, a replacement that came to be because he wanted to own a significant piece of the show — and one of the key differences between Factor and Idol is that the judges can mentor the contestants and therefore have a stake in the outcome of the show, more than they do on Idol, where the judges merely comment. Rightly impressed by Lewis' multi-octave voice — reminiscent of a warmer, earthbound Mariah Carey — Cowell continued his mentorship after the conclusion of the show, making her the first contestant in the whole Idol/Factor enterprise that he personally shepherded through the major-label process. He struck a deal with Clive Davis — the executive producer behind all the American Idol projects, the producer who publicly bristled when Kelly Clarkson tried to take control of her career through her original compositions — and the two launched a grand plan to break Lewis in her native U.K. first, then slowly roll her out in the U.S. a few months later, via an appearance on Oprah and a slightly re-sequenced and remixed version of her debut, Spirit.

That U.S. version drops the bonus track of Leona's version of "A Moment Like This," her first hit single that is not so coincidentally a cover of Kelly's first big single. If Kelly became a thorn in Davis' side, Leona Lewis seems happy, even eager, to play the major-label game, singing anything that comes her way, never lodging a complaint when she has to cut a couple R&B-flavored tracks to appeal to the American market. These tunes — "Misses Glass" and "Forgive Me" — are just slightly glitzier than the rest of Spirit, surely bearing heavier rhythms but not to the extent that the beats obscure Lewis' voice, as the whole point of Spirit is to showcase her singing, particularly those high glory notes that are all the rage on Idol/Factor. Unlike most Idol/Factor alumni, Lewis can hit those big notes but make it seem easy, never straining her voice and building nicely to the climax. Unlike most divas, there is a human quality to her voice, as she's singing to the song, not singing to her voice. Then again, this was also true of Mariah Carey on her 1990 debut, which Spirit greatly resembles in how the handful of R&B-oriented songs camouflages how this is almost entirely a stuffy middle-of-the-road pop record. Not only that, but Spirit is so old-fashioned it sounds as if it could have been released in 1990 and compete with Carey's debut for the top of the charts; her first single, "Bleeding Love," opens with a crawling organ that recalls the muted gospel of "Vision of Love," even if the skin-crawling lyric "you cut me open and I keep bleeding love" wouldn't have suited the Top 40 in 1990.

That stultifying adult contemporary atmosphere may makes Spirit stilted, but it's also as savvy a move as you could expect from Cowell: ever since Mariah long ago abandoned AC for the clubs, there has been a gaping need for a vocalist like Leona Lewis, a singer who can belt it out but is safe and tame, having no interest in the perks of stardom that exist beyond the stage. And boy is Leona Lewis ever that — she is blessed with a terrific voice but very little on-record personality, something the very professional, very inoffensive tunes emphasize. Thanks to this collection of calculatingly commercial tracks — tunes crafted to appeal to everyone yet no one in particular — Lewis merely comes across as the most talented and most willing singer to ever play Cowell's game, so no wonder he loves her. But this also points out the big difference between how Cowell has taken Leona Lewis under her wing and how Tommy Mottola watched over Mariah. Mottola married Carey, having both an emotional and financial stake in her career, but those mixed emotions helped obscure the machinery that drove her career. Cowell is only in it for the cash with Lewis, so the machinations are too apparent on this otherwise appealing debut. And that's too bad, because Spirit surely reveals a singer who has a richer tonal quality than any diva to come along in the past 15 years or so — if she had gotten the tunes to match her voice, this would have been a killer record in addition to the international blockbuster that it was so carefully crafted to be.

Customer Reviews

WOW!

Leona Lewis has an amazing voice and this cd is absolutely incredible! More than I had hoped for! So this is what I think of each song, and if you don’t want to read through all of it, the songs at the bottom are the one’s I recommend buying. 1. Bleeding Love – 10/10 – If you haven’t bought this song yet, you should definitely buy it. It’s absolutely amazing! Her voice is pure and beautiful, and the lyrics are really good. It’s one of my favorite songs on the CD. 2. Better In Time – 10/10 – I really like this song. It’s very pretty and has a nice beat, but it’s still calming. Her voice sounds amazing, as usual, and it’s an overall really good song. One of the better tracks. I can listen to it on repeat for a long time. Rumored to be her next single off the cd. The official music video is on YouTube. 3. I Will Be – 9.5/10 – Love this song and the lyrics! The demo doesn’t do it justice. You will have to buy the song to actually hear the best parts of the song. The music is nice and again very calming and pretty. It does remind me a little of “Moment Like This”. Avril sang this song too and there is a remix of this song with Avril and Leona singing together (that one is even better!), so iTunes, put the remix on iTunes! You can hear all versions on YouTube also. 4. I’m You – 7.5/10 – Not my favorite. It’s just a decent song. The thing I don’t like about it is that it sounds like a lot of other songs that are on the radio and it gets pretty boring after a minute of listening to it. I can live without this song on her cd. It’s very average for Leona. (On the other hand, the remix is fantastic! I give it a 10! The remix is on YouTube) 5. Forgive Me – 9.5/10 – I love the music to this song! It’s definitely a stand-out song. It’s really fun and it doesn’t sound like her other tracks. I really like it, very unique! 6. Misses Glass – 9.5/10 – Love the chorus of this song. It’s really nice and a little catchy and I love the beat! Her voice sounds a little weird in some parts of the song though, that’s my only problem. 7. Angel – 9.5/10 – The music and beat remind me a little of “Tattoo” by Jordin Sparks. Her voice even sounds like it too in some parts. Um, it’s a pretty good song. Sounds like other songs on the radio though. Her voice and lyrics are nice too. 8. The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face – 6/10 – This song bores me. It’s a little too sweet and slow for me, although her voice is very honest and calming in this song. It’s not my favorite; not her best. I won’t even bother listening to it again to be honest with you. Worst track on the cd. 9. Yesterday – 9.5/10 – Love this song. My favorite part of the song is the chorus. It’s really nice and there’s something about her voice that makes that chorus feel real. Her emotions in the song shine. Very good. One of the best ones on the CD. Should be one of her singles. 10. Whatever It Takes – 9.5/10 – I like this song. Nice voice, nice lyrics. This song also sticks to you after a while, so you start to like it more each time. Pretty good, and Leona wrote it. 11. Take A Bow – 10/10 – I love this song! Amazing! Fantastic! Outstanding! Omg, just great! Love everything about it! From the violins to the beat to her voice and the lyrics! It has got to be a single of hers! I love the intensity of the chorus! It’s great! Just trust me, you have gotta get this song! Like seriously, you just have to buy this song!!! LOVE IT SO MUCH! Best song I have heard in ’08 so far, that’s how good it is! You will have it on repeat for hours! If I could I would give this song a 100 out of 10! Better yet, a 1,000! BUY IT! 12. Footprints In The Sand – 8.5/10 – Very pure and pretty sound to her voice in this song. Great lyrics and an amazing message! It’s really nice. Not as good as some of her others. The video is so sad and heart-breaking. You will want to cry. I would recommend watching it – YouTube. 13. Here I Am – 7/10 – Another slow song. Not a big fan of this one either, although I love the lyrics. Deluxe Version- 14. The Best You Never Had – 8.5/10 – Good song, although in some parts it sounds like she is screaming at me. Overall, pretty good. Deluxe Version- 15. You Bring Me Down – 6/10 – Don’t really like it, that’s all I can say. (16.) Bleeding Love remix – 8/10 – It’s okay. Not as good as the original, but still fun. Definite Buys (in order): **BUY THIS SONG! -Take A Bow** -Bleeding Love -Better In Time -Yesterday -I Will Be Other Options (in order): -Angel -Forgive Me -Whatever It Takes -Misses Glass -Footprints In The Sand -The Best You Never Had It’s a really nice debut cd. I am really looking forward to her future cds. She’s just absolutely amazing! I would just buy the whole cd if I were you! It’s so great and you will not regret it! And remember to buy “Take A Bow”! That is the Highlight song on her cd!

Best New Artist in a LONG Time

Leona Lewis is praised to be one of the best singers since Mariah and Whiteny, but is she still all that great other than in Bleeding Love? The answer is positively yes. Anyone would be blown away by ANY of her performances on X Factor, and after watching her win X Factor and getting almost 3 number ones in the UK (Better in time hit #2), I feel correct when I say Bleeding the Love is definitely not the end for this girl, but only the beginning. I hope Leona will have one of the US' best songs of the summer... either Bleeding Love, or who knows, maybe even Better in Time. Best of Luck Leona!!!

Welcome to the U.S.

This year so far, we haven’t heard anything new or different on the radio, that was, until Ms. Leona Lewis came and saved the day. This is (so far) the most sincere and most well written album of the year. If this album doesn’t have the same success it did in the UK, I will be extremely surprised, because this blows anything away by miles. From start, to the very end, this shows true lyricism, and it is totally worth the purchase. This is talent right here! Here is my breakdown on all the tracks on this amazing album! Bleeding Love 5/5- You heard it already! The best lyrics of 2008! Must Buy! Better In Time 5/5- FANTASTIC! For some reason this song sounds familiar though. Beautiful voice, beautiful lyrics, must have! I Will Be 5/5- So sincere, and emotional. A very soothing and peaceful track to listen to. I’m You 3/5- OK song. Not the best lyrics, but yet Lewis’ voice still shines as always! Forgive Me 5/5- I really like how Leona got loose in this song! Musical Brilliance! Misses Glass 4/5- I don’t know what to say about this song, I just like it! Angel 5/5- Sounds like something you would hear if you put Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable” and Jordin Spark’s “Tattoo” in a blender. Once again a beautiful track with a true lyricist. The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face 5/5- A great love song, with a beautiful piano feel! Yesterday 5/5- Kind of has that r&b feel to it, don’t you think? Very nice song. Whatever It Takes 5/5- Perhaps the second best song on the album. This is such and amazing song. Another great love song. A song about fighting for true love. Take a Bow 5/5- You really need to take a Bow Leona Lewis, you truly deserve it. Another great track! Footprints in the sand 5/5- Incredible song! Touching lyrics, and extremely emotional! Buy it! Here I Am 4/5- Pretty good. More great lyrics, and even more emotion. You should buy this song! The Best You’ve Never Had 5/5- Extremely catchy song, beautifully written! You Bring Me Down 4/5- Very pop-ish. Nice lyrics, and unique compared to the rest of the album! Video 5/5- One word, beautiful Bleeding Love Remix- Really cool beat, but not as good as the original, which makes this just below amazing! Leona Lewis is the best lyricist of the year by far. All these songs are well written, and Leona has an AMAZING voice. Must Buy! I also want to inform you that the legends are coming back. Check out the new Mariah Carey album and the new Madonna album coming soon.

Biography

Born: April 3, 1985 in Islington, London, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '00s, '10s

A striking young woman with a strong vocal resemblance to the young Whitney Houston and a large mop of blonde corkscrew curls, Leona Lewis won the third series of the British reality talent show The X Factor in a landslide. (For non-Brits: The X Factor is the revamped follow-up to the original U.K. talent search, Pop Idol, of which American Idol is the massively successful U.S. version; AI's Simon Cowell is the show's lead judge and executive producer.) Born and raised in the Islington section of...
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Spirit, Leona Lewis
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