BALLSY! That’s no the first word that springs to mind when I think of Will Young. And perhaps BALLSY is the wrong word to append to “Leave Right Now”, a sappy song of monumental wetness. But let me tell you why I have recently realised that “Leave Right Now” is one of the BALLSIEST songs of the noughties. And before you say it, none of the reasons is that the songs is itself BALLS. No, I think “Leave Right Now” is terrific. Its just that’s not the reason why its BALLSY.
Will Young came to pop stardom late, and via a route usually relegated to lousy thrashalong indie bands. NO, I don’t mean Pop Idol, you wouldn’t have got the singer of Midway Still getting past four seconds with Simon Cowell. I mean he was finishing a Philosophy degree at university. This should not, and does not, qualify you in anyway to be a teenage heart-throb singer. Being gay is not usually a detriment, but you’re not really supposed to tell anyone until a small proportion of the countries teenage girls have embarrassed themselves over you. But Will announced his not secret anyway sexuality, got through and was the surprise winner of the first series of Pop Idol (beating the pre-pubescent Gareth Gates with the speech impediment which miraculously disappeared afterwards). Whilst Will was the first winner of Pop Idol, the UK music scene has never been overly supportive of talent contest winners having big careers. Particularly if they make a definite effort to move away from their obvious audience (viewers of Pop Idol).
None of which prepares us for the BALLSINESS of “Leave Right Now”. Sure Will showed a remarkable amount of control, making decisions that weaker PR and managers would have vetoed. As one imagines they would have vetoed the initial release of “Leave Right Now”. What artist in his right mind, having been accused of being a flash in the pan, coming out of that most fickle of backgrounds (Reality TV) and with a definite shift in musical style would release a song whose chorus goes:
“I think I’d better leave right now”
The critics were waiting with their knives, and frankly most of them would not have been able to resist a clarion call like this. And this is a song which creeps in the room to start off with, trying not to offend, trying not to make too much of a fuss about itself. The video for it is perfectly literal, it is the song of a man who is ignored and alone in a crowd. That crowd could and perhaps should have been pop music. But as Will’s voice cracks and then smoothly takes control you realise just how BALLSY this guy is. He took on the power of word-play, but he also took on the big ballad. Its a Careless Whisper for the noughties, one of those lyrics which touches the nerves of everyone who has ever felt slightly left out. Will gambled, and was given a career. Like I say BALLSY.
Of course there is an argument that says that Gareth Gates was even more BALLSY to do “Spirit In The Sky” for Comic Relief with The Kumars. But they’d be wrong. This is where the BALLS joke applies.