Brian McFadden - Real To Me


On the 18th September 2004, Brian McFadden succeeded where Geri HalliwellRobbie Williams, and H and Claire had all failed - a debut number one solo single on the UK single charts. McFadden had left Westlife earlier that year to pursue his solo career, and indeed did very well to achieve a number one single in the very same year, so well done to him etc.

Ten years later I have found myself lying awake night after night musing about how this song ever achieved the UK Number One. I am not too proud to say that I was a contributing sale in this farce. In September 2004 I was 14 and had a friends' birthday approaching. Me and another friend went to Woolworths (sadface) to search for an appropriate gift. We decided to buy the single Real To Me by Brian McFadden (on CD, no less) because we thought it was so hilariously shit it would be a really funny present. When I was 14 I thought this song was beneath me; and to emphasise the significance of this fact, as I grew older I became a Razorlight fan. 

Songs tackling the subject of fame tend to either be amazing or terrible and unfortunately for Brian (called 'Bryan' in Westlife as easier for autograph signings, fact fans) this veered toward the 'frighteningly awful' side of the spectrum. A quick watch of the video will reveal a tramp playing a guitar following around Bryan from Westlife musing on "bullshit dinners and free champagne", "men in suits who think they know it all" and "dying flowers in a dressing room". "That's not real to me". Brian goes on to suggest that "see[ing] [his] babies run" and "when [he] raise[s] [his] family and live[s] in peace" is in fact, what is real to him. Unfortunately a basic understanding of metaphysics will reveal that champagne, flowers and his babies are equally "real", unless the lyrics are in fact a clever interpretation of Plato's Theory of Forms

As the video comes to progress Bryan from Westlife realises the possible tenous and abstract nature of his surroundings and runs away. Brian McFadden, dressed as a tramp, sits on a bench on Hampstead Heath cradling yet not playing a guitar and cracks out possibly the worst middle 8 lyrics of all time.

Picnics in the garden and the children they can play
The first day of the summer and I'll laze here all day
We'll invite the family round and drink some English tea
[Intake of breath ready for dramatic delivery]
Then I'll raise up my finger and watch football on TV. 

The question we must ask ourselves is how did a song so objectively and abjectly terrible ever reach number one? 

Let's have a look at the rest of the top 5 at the time. 

A mixed bag, including one Amazing song, two Good and possibly one of the worst songs of all time. Real To Me, perhaps ahead of its time in terms of  "guitar stroking anthems with cringeworthy lyrics" does not appear to fit in well with the guitar pop and R 'n' B jams. The question is, apart from 14 year olds buying a joke present for their mates, WHO WAS BUYING THIS SONG? (Note: Isn't it quite interesting that ten years ago was when McFly started getting popular, as we have now come full circle in terms of guitar pop boybands with the current popularity of The Vamps, 5 Seconds Of Summer and Rixton? Food for thought.) 

Brian's eventual chart run wasn't bad, at 1 > 6 > 6 > 13 > 28 > 30 before dropping out of the UK Top 40. Yes, I know we've all seen better chart runs, but given that apparently no one except me ever seems to remember this song existed, it could be worse. 

With a little bit of impressive investigative research, I have uncovered that this song was in the UK Top 40 at a time when Brian was very much in the news as in September 2004 he separated from his wife and mother of two of his children, the equally if not more famous Kerry Katona. I am not one to speculate on whether a person's relationship status impacts on their chart position but it is a definite extenuating circumstance which may tend to explain why this pop anomaly ever occurred and why anyone, ANYONE would ever purchase this song. 

This is my conclusion.

Brian went on to release songs focusing on the cheerful lyrical topics of religion in Ireland and date rape.

This is the best song Brian McFadden was ever involved in.

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