The X Factor may have launched the careers of a never-ending supply of pop stars, but as the likes of Cheryl Cole, Dannii Minogue, and Sharon Osbourne will attest to, it's just as efficient at boosting the profiles of its judges, too. N-Dubz vocalist Tulisa Contostavlos is the latest to benefit from sitting on the talent show panel, having gone from chav-rap unknown to potential national sweetheart in the space of a few years, hence this hastily assembled overview of her band's rags-to-riches career. Those who have only become familiar with the group through the Cowell juggernaut may be a little perturbed by the fact that there's very little here likely to end up being performed on the show's singoffs. Indeed, the six numbers from 2008 debut Uncle B bear all the hallmarks of their tough council estate upbringing, from the ghetto grime of "Better Not Waste My Time" to the dramatic R&B of "Papa Can You Hear Me," all of which introduced the world to the cartoonish figure of Dappy and his annoying "Na Na Niii" catch phrase. However, by 2009 follow-up Against All Odds, the trio had been embraced by the mainstream, scoring a number one with Tinchy Stryder ("Number One," featured here in an N-Dubz heavy version), collaborating with Kanye West protégé Mr. Hudson ("Playing with Fire"), and becoming a Radio 1 staple with the likes of Facebook-referencing anthem "I Need You." With one eye firmly on cracking the U.S. market, 2010's Love.Live.Life was an even more polished affair, but the toe-curling slow-jam "Girls" and the clichéd urban electro of "Morning Star" indicate why they failed to do so. Elsewhere, the mashup of Sugababes' "About You Now" and Chris Brown's "With You" alongside a medley of the Script's "Breakeven" and "The Man Who Can't Be Moved" (both of which were recorded for Radio 1's Live Lounge) proves that despite Dappy's recent solo number one (also tacked on at the end) and notorious tabloid presence, it's Tulisa who's the real star of the show. But with no new material and a few notable absences (Top Ten hit "We Dance On" is nowhere to be found), Greatest Hits feels like a cynical cash-in that's appeared way too early in the band's career to make any impact.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien