Anna Tatangelo

Progetto B

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Her first release since landing a judging role on her homeland's version of The X Factor, 24-year-old Italian pop diva Anna Tatangelo's fifth studio album, Progetto B, is a rather pedestrian affair that suggests she's been too busy mentoring her talent show contestants to concentrate on her own career. Largely penned by her partner, Neapolitan singer/songwriter Gigi D'Alessio, the follow-up to 2008's Nel Mondo delle Donne displays a few flashes of inspiration such as "Non Mi Pento," an infectious slice of Gwen Stefani-esque R&B packed with handclap rhythms, high-pitched synths, and "la la la" hooks, and the playful jazz-pop cover version of Cesare Andrea Bixio's "Mamma," later made famous by Connie Francis. But her ninth-place finish at this year's Sanremo Music Festival (the competition she won at the age of 15) with the album's opener, "Bastardo," is perhaps a fair indication of the album's diminishing returns, as she drifts from overblown power ballads ("Amo la Vita," "Lo Scrigno di Cristallo") to watered-down soul (Mario Biondi duet "L'Aria Che Respiro," "Non Mettiamoci Veleno") to dated pop/rock ("L'Arcobaleno," "Odioso"), without ever really stamping her own personality on proceedings or providing anything that doesn't sound like it's been lifted from the Eurovision stages of the late '80s. Tatangelo's new high-profile TV gig should ensure that Progetto B fares better than its underperforming predecessor, but she'll have to do better once the novelty of her place on the X Factor panel wears off.

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