Great Sounds Great; Bad Sounds Bad: Jackie Thomas ‘It’s Worth It’

Jackie Thomas - It's Worth It

Great Sounds Great; Bad Sounds Bad is a column which sees a panel of writers for The Corner review a range of local singles and grade them out of 10. Check out the song below, read through their opinions and let us know in the comments section your own thoughts and what you’d like to see reviewed next time around.

[YouTube / iTunes]

[Grade: 4.4]

Matthew McAuley: You know how sometimes you have a dream about writing a great song / poem / American Novel, and you wake up at like 3:45 AM in a dazed sweat and scrawl whatever shit your subconscious came up with on last month’s power bill, and then you find it like a week later and realize that you’re less brilliant than just borderline insane? This is like that, except missing the last part. It’s actually a shame, because although I’ve made very well known my ongoing ambivalence towards Ms. Thomas, I was really hoping for something good here. ‘It’s Worth It’ is a serviceable power-pop song, something like a Linda Perry-penned Pink track recorded specifically to soundtrack a Home and Away ad, but almost every single aspect – other than Jackie’s actually quite impressive vocal – sounds endlessly phoned in. None of the instruments sound anywhere close to real, the hook is jarring both in its clumsy rhymes and in its blunt force arrival, and the bridge is actually nothing. Locally, this won’t impact on the song’s performance at all – it’s already a smash, and will likely stick around for quite some time – but I can’t help but wonder if it’s going to prove too weak for that coveted Australian market. The DNA writing and production credit is obviously a move for that territory, and they have a great track record in the lucky country, but this isn’t close to their best work. I may be underestimating Australia’s well-documented love of gutsy female vocalists, but Jackie doesn’t yet have close to the cachet there that she does here. If success over the Tasman is what Syco are hanging their hopes on – and it seems likely that it is – this isn’t a great start. [3]

Leilani Momoisea: This sounds like something The Edge or ZM would jizz all over, so in that regard, it works? I know nothing of music, but I know what I like, and it’s not this – probs cos I’m not a fan of uplifting songs about bad relationships. Her voice as always though, is pretty and strong. So, while this is not my cup of tea, I ain’t mad at it. So I give it a [5]

Vincent Michaelsen: I saw a couple of X Factor episodes and always liked Jackie. This is pretty alright too. The instrumentation is terribly boring but the vocal melody is emotive enough and definitely up with what you’d expect from a current pop song. Coming into the chorus I can’t help but expect Adele’s “We could have had it all” to kick in, but I suppose that’s what you get when you’re buying tracks from commercial songwriters. All quite stock standard really, but I’m glad she’s around. [5]

Nick Braae: My abiding impression of post-talent show singles is of inspirational and uplifting songs that are about as inspirational and uplifting as a roll of tin foil. With these low expectations, Jackie Thomas’ ‘It’s Worth It’ was worth a listen or two. The brooding verses were a nice touch, giving the song some much needed shape, and if the chorus was a tad predictable, then at least Thomas delivered on vocal strength. (One would bloody well hope so!) This is a song that sounds contemporary, drawing on the instrumental textures and vocal styles of Adele and Rihanna, while lacking any of the former’s perceived emotional rawness and the latter’s brashness. ‘It’s Worth It’ will slide seamlessly into the commercial popular music landscape, which is perfect for the X Factor and Sony executives, without disturbing or altering the musical status quo, which, unfortunately, does not bode well for Thomas’ career prospects. But, hey, if things don’t work out for her, there’s always New Zealand’s Got Talent. [5]

Robyn Gallagher: Blame your uncle. Jackie was always most popular with older viewers, so it’s no surprise that her winner’s single has an ’80s rock chick style to it. It’s completely inoffensive Australian pop-rock, the sort of song that any down under reality show winner could effortlessly take to number one. There’s a bit of sass lurking in the song, but it runs out by the time the anticlimax ending comes. Also, what is going on with the mismatched hair extensions on the cover photo? [4]

Sally Conor: Despite being in no way a Jackie fan, I am disappointed by this. I feel bad for her that the best the X Factor producers/Sony executives/whoever’s in charge here could do was to pick this watery fart of a song and craft it to sound as much like Adele’s ‘Rolling In The Deep’ as possible. Also, I don’t get why they chose such miserable fucking lyrics? Sounds like it’s sung from the point of view of a person who’s in a completely joyless relationship and yet refuses to admit her own misery.

Sample lyrics:

“We fall so fast but crash so slow”
“Down, down, down”
* Interminable extended ocean metaphor *
“I don’t know how much longer I can hold my breath”
“Nobody’s perfect!”

Jesus gurl, get out of there! He’s just not that into you. [4]

Lauren Clark: Let’s start with a disclaimer: I’m not living in New Zealand at the moment, so I haven’t been following X Factor. I don’t know what differentiates X Factor from Idol from The Voice, and I don’t care. I also don’t listen to the radio or watch regular TV so I’m not forced to listen to Top 40 music at any point during my day, which makes me feel completely out of touch at the office, let me tell you. But I do like good pop music, and if I won X Factor and the computers-that-be manufactured this song as my first single I would be pretty stoked. It’s just a nice track – it’s wholesomely upbeat without becoming sappy. It’s totally country… in fact it sounds a lot like something from Nashville (the TV show, but the city also, I guess). Her voice has a nice warmth and power to it that holds up to the song really well. This song absolutely won’t stand up to the amount of airplay it will get – I’m already sick of it after three listens, but for all intents and purposes it’s pretty impressive. [7]

Luke Jacobs: I don’t have a television in my house so I didn’t watch any X Factor, and I know nothing about it other than the very general gist. This single is quite interesting, not because the songwriting is novel or the production is unique but because it feels like a major misstep. Jackie has a strong style with good delivery but I felt almost zero emotion from her. In fact, for all the tension built in the song there is very little in the way of pay off. The chorus is so weak I doubt this is going to be remembered in 10 months time let alone 10 years.

This style of music relies on one of two things – novelty or personality. This song has neither and that’s not a good start for a career. Other talent shows in New Zealand have produced no real long lasting stars and the situation overseas is similar – for every Kelly Clarkson there are a hundred Rueben Studdards. I don’t hate pop music and I don’t hate talent shows but the faux drama of reality TV does not translate easily into music, and for an outsider like me I can only judge her on the three-odd minutes of her song. I’m sure she has worked her arse off to get to win the X Factor but that means nothing to me. All I’ve got is a song with no hook and, crucially, no emotional anchor. Sadly Jackie, I don’t think it was worth it. [2]

Elizabeth Beattie: I really dislike the whole process of selecting talent on X Factor so I find it difficult to listen to this song in an unbiased way. It’s essentially Stage Challenge for University students and procures about the same amount of national respect. Jackie Thomas’s vocal performance on this track is strong and well executed, but the lyrics are not poetic or poignant in anyway, which in turn makes the emotion expressed in this song appear phoney. It’s an unfortunate first single as it’s not powerful or memorable in anyway, but Jackie does have a very good voice – it just feels rather wasted on this empty song. [4]

Hussein Moses: A good-not-great start, which is the result of pretty measured production work teamed with a basic-ass narrative. But that’s barely the point right now – the momentum of Jackie winning is simply overshadowing whether this song is good or bad, whether it even matters if it’s good or bad, whether she’ll outlast Dan Beddingfield’s hilariously ambitious second run at pop stardom, or whatever other notion people care to throw out there. Let’s just hope #teamjackie regroup and, time-willing, pull it together for single no. 2. She deserves it. [5]

13 Comments

  1. You guys crack me up…. I am not normally known to comment on another persons opinion, especially the wise and wondrous “so called experts” of this world, but the ridiculousness of this article drove me to express (like you lot) an opinion.
    I know nothing of the business you people are in, but as an avid fan of all forms of music it seems incredulous to me that “The Corner” would indulge such a pack of unintelligent narrow minded fools as you.
    Get real! Face some Facts! The NZ music industry has never been nor will be an easy market.
    I don’t recall ever having seen a song written by or sung by any of you making headlines….
    I personally (see an opinion – that’s all it is!) think the song is very catchy…

    What would you people have rather seen Jackie do? FFS it’s her first go at it! Given the acute and immense pressure she has obviously been under while trying to win, it’s a bloody amazing example of young fresh musical talent and hard work….

    You opinionated fools are a waste of space!
    Give credit where credit is due, can any of you hold a tune? How much work ethic do any of you have? I’m a kiwi bloke… I work long hours and achieve my goals…..

    Jackie is a Kiwi gal, with the same driven mentality that a lot of us in this country are borne to! She will prove you all fools for writing such dribble…. I can’t wait to see it…. Rant over.

  2. Nick Braae says:

    I sincerely hope this comment is a clever parody of other online comments, but I suspect it isn’t. There are so many accusations flying the critics’ way, I’m not sure where to begin a reply — perhaps, I should question the idea that you can have a valid opinion, but if ours is negative, then we cannot? — but it is worth mentioning one thing. In my mind (I can’t speak for my fellow critics, but I think we’re thinking along the same lines, judging by their comments), the problem is not so much with Jackie but with the song. I don’t think anybody has questioned her commitment or work ethic, but rather, we are disappointed at the rather bland material given to her by her producers. Furthermore, I think most of us are skeptical about whether she will have lasting success, implicitly, because of this arrangement. From where we’re standing, it looks and sounds like the producers of X Factor/Sony probably wanted something that would make a lot of money fast, from whomever won the competition, thus they needed a song that would be a safe bet. Sure, safe is good (hence the average mark around 5), but it’s rarely a quality on which careers. None of this is, in any way, a slight on Jackie, but rather, I think, a reflection of where the commercial music industry is at these days. I hope, also, that this placates some of your anger and disbelief over our humble thoughts.

    • Nick Braae says:

      **a quality on which careers are built**…..

      • Benza says:

        Shot Nick.

        DVS my bro, if this was a taking shots at Jackie page, we would be on facebook trolling on everyone’s timeline to like our page.

        I’m not one of the critics but regular round here & seems you are not. Check out a few other articles & you’ll see this what it’s all about.

        God Bless you DVS & Jackie….she’s not a relative is she?

  3. Marvin says:

    Written by DNA, a song factory in Australia. Go NZ music…

  4. Gareth Shute says:

    FYI: Auckland residents can download all the X-Factor finalist’s singles for free through Auckland Libraries’ Freegal service:
    http://www.aucklandcitylibraries.com/DigitalLibrary/resourcepages/Freegal-Music.aspx
    Then you get it for free, but it’s legal and paid for by the library. Whether any of these singles is worth downloading is another question altogether…

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