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Feb 18

DARIUS – “Colourblind”

Popular40 comments • 5,152 views

#932, 10th August 2002

9107BD35-B240-405A-9FD3-5D696EB34B86 Such was the grip of Pop Idol on the singles-buying imagination that two winners weren’t enough – bronze medalist Darius Danesh got a career too. But “Colourblind” is not just a participation medal. In Darius we see not one but two of the classic reality pop tropes make their appearance. First of all – in his note-strangling debut on the Popstars series, wrestling “Baby One More Time” to the ground like prehistoric man tackling an aurochs, there’s the Freak: the terrible performer armoured in their own self-confidence who we indulge because we want to see what on earth they’ll do next.

There’s little question that if the public had been given any say in things we’d have seen more from Darius in Popstars. But by the time they got a chance to vote for him and carry him to third place in Pop Idol, he’d reinvented himself to fit the second trope, the Artist: the figure who is Actually Talented but who must yet put themselves through the circus of a singing competition to gain recognition. “Colourblind”, fittingly, was a self-penned composition he’d been ‘working on’ before Pop Idol. (Actually this is entirely believable – its procession-of-colours lyric certainly feels like the kind of solid but banal structure a beginning songwriter might try.)

In general the Freak and the Artist are separate reality-show characters, and compared to the real maestros of each form – Jedward on the one hand, James Arthurs on the other – Darius is far milder. But his trope-switching shows the basic linkage between the two ideas – in the sense that both need unusual reserves of self-belief, but also in the role both play in the keyfabe of reality TV. “Colourblind” became a hit partly because it was rejected by Simon Cowell, who decided Darius’ self-penned material didn’t cut it. The Freak and the Artist are both presented as rejections of Cowellism, one via excess, one via authenticity – they are useful parts of the reality show narrative because they preserve the illusion of autonomy, the idea that the story can be disrupted. We’ll come back to this bit of theatrical play again and again in 00s Popular.

All of this is a lot more interesting to me than the actual song. “Colourblind” shoots its creative bolt quickly – you get the basic lyrical conceit immediately, and in any case whatever promise and momentum the verses build is frittered by the chorus. The emotional core of the song – D has lots of ambiguous negative feelings about his relationship but can’t sustain them in the face of her smile – just doesn’t fit the treatment he gives it. The sense of the lyric suggests something dark, helpless and conflicted, but Darius, eager to please his crowd now he’s finally got one, belts out a big jolly chorus. (It’s also not clear he knows what colourblindness is.) The arrangers do a creditable job gussying up slim ideas into something listenable, but not for the last time Simon Cowell is right: willpower and good intentions aren’t enough, and even next to “Anyone Of Us” or “Light My Fire”, this is muddled and thin.

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Comments

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  1. 31
    Steve Williams on 20 Feb 2018 #

    #27 The other thing about the Waller “conspiracy” is that they seemed really upfront about it – one of my favourite things about the first series of Pop Idol is that it seemed to be really honest about the whole business, so when it was initially announced that Waller was going to get a bye, they actually discussed it on air and invited the audience to comment and ask questions to the judges, and it felt really refreshing on a Saturday night to have a programme that would actually discuss its machinations on air, whereas before it would have been totally swept under the carpet. It really felt like the programme was on the audience’s side, so it always seems a bit of a shame now when The X Factor is consistently accused of manipulation and it comes across as really brash and arrogant.

    That said, the second series of Pop Idol was accompanied by Pop Idol Extra on ITV2 for three hours a day, five days a week, so it’s perhaps not surprising they used to talk about absolutely everything to do with the programme.

    I seem to remember at the time everyone assumed Darius would walk it into the live shows because his heat seemed extremely weak, it was him, Waller and eight other people who hadn’t made any kind of impression whatsoever in the series, so it was a huge shock when he lost and Aaron Bayley, whichever one he was, got through instead. In the second series there was the Wildcard round introduced to stop that kind of thing.

    I quite liked Darius, all told. It’s a further example of how the format worked because both he and Will Young benefitted from being able to grow over the series. Whereas if it had been a straightforward six-heats-vote-for-your-favourite-winner-goes-through-to-the-final format, like New Faces or something, Gareth would have walked away with it as the most immediately interesting.

  2. 32
    Ben on 26 Feb 2018 #

    I think Darius changed his surname to that of his mother’s because he was estranged from his father.

    Also, something to do with it representing his Scottishness. Probably thought it would help his career.

  3. 33
    Lee Saunders on 20 Mar 2018 #

    Elsewhere in the top 40

    Week 1
    3 – Will Smith – Black Suits Comin’ (Nod Ya Head) – A fifth as good as Men in Black, quite like how, as a film, MIIB was a fifth as good as MIB. In a shoehorned segue, I shall now tell you Men in Black famously sampled the same song as another #1, Fastlove, which apparently brings us on to…
    12 – George Michael – Shoot the Dog – After a top 10 hit several months earlier with ‘Freeek!’ (only the THIRD track on Now 52, odd when it could have been on 51 and was surely off the radio by July), the sluggish build up to 2004’s suitably named Patience continues with a checklist of 2002isms: Bush and Tony, 80s sample and 2DTV video. With the song’s themes would continue to hold weight into 2004, it made the final album undigested, whereas Freeek! had by that stage been curiously updated into an “’04” version. (In March 2003, George would appear on TOTP for the first time since 1986 performing Don McLean’s The Grave, though it wasn’t a single, nor was it on Patience).
    15 – NERD – Rock Star – like hits before and since, this is better known for its Jason Nevins remix I believe. It’s a long road from here til Happy
    36 – Ant & Dec – We’re On the Ball – up from #50 to #36 ???
    (Also, 87 – Korn – Here to Stay – still at #87. Given the name of the song I couldn’t help but point this out.)

    Week 2
    #3 – Madhouse – Like a Dream – once accurately described by Tom I believe as among the epitomes of generic dance covers, I only want to point out that Madge tribute act Mad Donna’s The Wheels on the Bus had made #17 a few months earlier, which I remember my dad buying my 4 year old self the CD single of
    #8 – Bowling for Soup – Girl All the Bad Guys Want – during both of Colourblind’s weeks at the top, the ground is laid for volume 4 of ‘The Album:’ throughout the top 40
    #17 – Status Quo – Jam Side Down – memorably made an appearance towards the end of Now 53. For Now 54 this resident veteran spot would instead be taken by Erasure on their hooky robo-disco take on Solsbury Hill (potentially more on that to come). Def Leppard made #23 this same week with one ‘Now’ but it was deemed by Ashley to not be relevant enough. Hence the Quo instead…
    #18 – Toploader – Time of My Life – the final week of their career in a sense, then.
    #21 – Royksopp – Remind Me/So Easy – So Easy!!! My 5th birthday in miniature, though I’ve already explained the basics of the story in the Elvis vs JXL thread.
    #37 – Raven Maize – Fascinated – During my days in the late 00s browsing the NOW! forums, I was fascinated by the seemingly trivial threads like ‘Now albums where the same artist appears more than once’. One of the ones I was most proud for spotting is that Dave Lee turns up twice on Now 53, in one instance as Raven Maize and in one instance as Jakatta, though whereas ‘My Vision’ was a suitable inclusion (it reached #6), also including a song that barely scraped the top 40 does show some barrel scraping. While Dave had scored hits under both names in 2001, one wonders what the distinction between the two pseudonyms was.

  4. 34
    Izzy on 23 Mar 2018 #

    33: In March 2003, George would appear on TOTP for the first time since 1986 performing Don McLean’s The Grave, though it wasn’t a single, nor was it on Patience

    I thought I knew all of George’s work, but I’d never heard or heard of this. It’s typically beautiful, what a singer he was.

    How did it come about? It seems a brave thing for Top Of The Pops to be putting on in March 2003.

  5. 35
    Lee Saunders on 30 Mar 2018 #

    #34 The Beeb weren’t taking every risk George proposed, preventing him from wearing his “No war, Blair out” T-shirt. I imagine pop’s reaction to the Iraq War will eventually get discussed but its hard to see where at this stage (a #2 single by another 80s veteran in April 2003 would have likely been the place if it had gone all the way to #1, though an actual #1 from later in 2003 is my guess).

  6. 36
    Mark G on 15 May 2018 #

    Eyup, is “Round Round” broken?

  7. 37
    Steve Mannion on 17 May 2018 #

    It was missing the mark…Mark.

    Plus one or two other things, but all seems correct now.

  8. 38

    comments still seem to be closed on round round

  9. 39
    CriticSez on 17 Jul 2019 #

    Synaesthesia seems to be a theme here. I don’t know why, but he sounds like Blue with the vocals lowered in pitch on Audacity.

    What a crumbly yellow voice he has! (Horrible Science quote.)

    5.

  10. 40
    Gareth Parker on 14 May 2021 #

    Perfectly fine and pleasant, in my eyes, but I don’t feel I could give Darius more than a 5/10.

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