Review of BBC Radio 2 Sounds Of The 80s: Unique Covers Of Classic Hits Album by Various Artists

It's nearly Christmas, that time of year when the music industry deems it acceptable to churn out a barrage of unlistenable dross in the name of charity or some other self-deprecating cause. Where normally serious musicians don paper hats and plastic kazoos as if to say, "We're just like you, really", novelty records clog up the airwaves, TV talent show winners adorn every high street record shop window, and Bono sings that same line AGAIN as Geldof remakes his only memorable song for the umpteenth time. There's a reason I don't listen to what constitutes "new music" in December. Several, and in fact most of them, are listed above. Which brings me onto this execrable collection.

Various Artists BBC Radio 2 Sounds Of The 80s: Unique Covers Of Classic Hits Album

The inevitable covers compilation. Not content with just the Radio One endorsed Live Lounge album it seems, the BBC's sister station Radio Two has also got in on the act. It's inspired by Sara Cox's 'Sounds Of The 80s' show which, in fairness, does what it says on the tin and for the most part, does the job very well. Unfortunately, this collection of awfulness does anything but. It promises "unique covers of classic hits" on the sleeve, and it's difficult to argue with that statement if one's definition of unique reads lifeless, unimaginative, and lacking in any spark or vigour whatsoever. It's hard to envisage what went on in the meeting where such an uninspired concoction of musical inadequacy emanated from. Why anyone would consider Ed Sheeran butchering Bruce Springsteen's 'Atlantic City' or Boyzone turning The Waterboys' 'Whole Of The Moon' into a score piece for a death scene on 'Downton Abbey ' as a good idea, is beyond me. Yet that's exactly what's seemingly happened.

Inconceivably, things get worse. Dido warbles incoherently all over Bronski Beat's 'Smalltown Boy', Olly Murs turns Earth Wind & Fire's 'Let's Groove' into a stag night karaoke while even the normally reliable Kylie tries her hand at being all serious and grown-up on Kim Carnes' 'Bette Davis Eyes' only to fail miserably. Elsewhere, Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott win the award for "Most Pointless Cover Of A Cover" with their take on The Housemartins' version of The Isley Brothers' 'Caravan Of Love'. Meanwhile, Birdy, Katie Melua and Gabrielle Aplin out lickle-ickle-girl each other like a trio of Bonnie Langfords in 1970s period drama 'Just William', turning Madonna's 'Lucky Star', Black's 'Wonderful Life' and Genesis' 'That's All' into steaming piles of unrecognisable tawdriness.

Of course, we'd be lying if we said it was all dreadful. It isn't. Sophie Ellis-Bextor (remember her?) does a fairly passable job of New Order's 'True Faith' while Chrissie Hynde re-enacts Morrissey's 'Everyday Is Like Sunday' as though the words were written specifically for her. London Grammar's icy take on Chris Isaak's 'Wicked Game' and the Manic Street Preachers perfunctory run through The Rolling Stones 'Start Me Up' also manage to steer clear of the excruciating mire that the majority of 'Sounds Of The 80s' falls into.

That 'Sounds Of The 80s' wasn't even conceived in the name of charity makes this compilation's existence even more inexcusable. It represents little more than an expensive vanity project for its curators and a timely reminder that many of its participants have products of their own to shift this Yuletide. Ultimately, there are very few favourable words to say about something that exists purely as a product rather than piece of art. And you thought 'The X Factor' was killing music...?

Dom Gourlay