When Canadian teen sensation Melissa O'Neil earned the title of Canadian Idol in 2005, much speculation arose about the pop protégée's bright young career. O'Neil, a Western Canadian singer whose masterful voice carried her through the competition, knocked out her competitors week after week by varying her song choice and using impeccable vocals to translate her from casual pop princess to glamorous young diva. Ultimately, this presented a dilemma in O'Neil's marketing department, now responsible for representing an artist stuck between two realms where her chances of success were probably about equally divided; O'Neil's personality and charm could easily impress older audiences through more adult contemporary tracks, while she could also seamlessly translate onto bubblegum radio with translucent tunes and infectious dance hooks. This dilemma was not assuaged in any way by the launch of her first multi-platinum single, "Alive," which toed the line between effervescent teenage hopes and polished maturity in a flighty manner. In the end, the launch of Melissa O'Neil's eponymous debut is quite frankly a refusal to compromise in either direction. This debut release is obviously rooted in many casual common teenage hooks (specifically on numbers like "Just Like January" and the album's light first single, "Let It Go"), and O'Neil certainly dips into cheeky pop on the album's more breezy numbers. Yet at the same time, O'Neil easily jumps into more dramatic swooping ballads, using heavy drums to perfect a darker sound to balance out the airy singles that support the album. The album shows O'Neil in an excellent light, allowing her to appeal to both younger and older audiences by presenting a pack of tunes that would support neither audience in the album's entirety, yet pleases both sets of listeners in various groupings of songs -- in today's market buoyed by singles, this is a crafty display of marketing genius (nicely noted in the contrast between the aforementioned first single and the album's haunting second radio sampling, "Speechless"). The paradox between genres that O'Neil presents isn't necessarily successful, in the sense that few people will enjoy the album all the way through, yet any fan of O'Neil's icy tones or her endearing personality will appreciate the first sampling by an artist who has displayed mounds of potential in a myriad of genres, and as a winner of a television talent show with a wide audience, O'Neil doesn't leave even her smallest fan without something to love.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Matthew Chisling