Shine A Light…. on Synthpop? The Transformation of Modern-Day McFly.


I feel no embarrassment in the admitting to the following: five years ago I sat amongst fellow squealing teenage girls, wore an ‘I Heart Busted’ T-Shirt’…and subsequently danced around like a loon to the protégés of these musical messiahs, a then little known band called McFly.

The band’s first single ‘Five Colours In Her Hair,’ released in 2004, had a pre-chorus of playful ‘Do’s’, multi-coloured t-shirts and extras pretending to head-bang…quite simply, I was sold. For the next two years, McFly had two platinum albums, four number one singles, a throng of female teenage fans and the opportunity to make a truly horrendous film debut with a then-sober Lindsay Lohan.

But then, the inevitable. Indifference. Lacklustre sales of a hastily released third album, ‘Motion In The Ocean,’ all led to the same road: cheeky-chappy, safe, pop-rock was officially on its way out.

Feeling disgruntled, and therefore desperately creative, McFly left the safe haven of their long-lasting record label, Island (a subsidiary of Universal) and created their own: Super Records. If the title wasn’t embarrassingly optimistic enough, the subsequent release of fourth album ‘Radio:Active’ as a freebie with the Mail On Sunday spoke volumes: the McFly formula was a bedraggled musical mess.

Desperate times call for desperate measures…Pop Music is no longer calling for people pretending to play guitars, it’s instead calling for blatant auto-tune and a dose of so called ‘cool’ –  Taio Cruz taking a dirty picture, Enrique sampling Lionel Richie, Lady Gaga detailing the deceiving abilities of her sexual organs…McFly needed to get musically dirty  to survive in the contemporary market. Their latest song, entitled ‘Shine a Light,’ not only re-unites the band with their once-abandoned record label, utilises the talents of mega-pop-producer Dallas Austin but features none other than Taio Cruz. Yes. That’s right. US and UK RnB Super-star and man who wears sunglasses indoors, Mr Cruz.

The blatancy and desperation of this ploy would be a little too much to bear….if it weren’t quite so genius. Cruz’s song-writing skills have created slowly simmering synth-pop accompanied by a sultry McFly in monochrome shades. I feel like I’m watching an alien band. They walk around in a cage, rhythmically nod their heads against some flashy, futuristic speakers… meanwhile Cruz resembles a Madame Tussauds waxwork in his scarily over-posed chorus stance.

Whether it’s musical survival…or musical prostitution, I like the fact that ‘Shine a Light’ showcases a stupidly dressed Mcfly feeling far too uncomfortable to dance. McFly may have abandoned their Indie- record label pursuits with their tails between their legs…but maybe this change in direction will finally mean they can stand on them again. The move from Multi-Coloured to Monochrome has never felt this good.


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