Pudgy naïf that I was, I had never heard the term “six-pack” before I encountered Peter Andre splashing about under a waterfall. His granite abdomen was his main selling point. I huffily dismissed him as a chump. Often when you write an act off like that you’re proved wrong – not so here: I might not have had the purest of motives for disdaining Peter Andre but I reached the right conclusion.
Andre is a return to the New Kids or Marky Mark style of male pop star – get the looks right, then the style, then the moves, then the songs, and anything else is a bonus. Not that bonus is the word you’d use for Andre’s ratty, whinging voice. On “Flava” he aims for cool and ends up as petulant, with a nasal, entitled tone that makes partying all night sound like tidying his room. The rest of the song passes ineffectually but not horribly – it’s only the singing that pulls it down.
So he wasn’t a great singer – what about star power? In the same year as “Return Of The Mack”, what struck me about “Flava” was that Peter Andre was trying way too hard. Talent aside, he could have pulled it off – he makes a convincing R&B listener and he’s handsome, which sounds an easy combination to hit but neither Take That or East 17 managed both at once. “Flava”, though, strains so much to be a slick R&B jam that it lands squarely on pastiche. The song is desperate to tell us that Peter is a very cool guy who knows his way round a party – and no doubt he was, but “Flava” spends so much time telling that it never gets round to showing.