DERMOT O’ LEARY PRESENTS: The Saturday Sessions

Dermot O’ Leary has a really annoying way of speaking in such a way that his sentences blend into each other without punctuation. It is for this reason that I pretty much cannot abide his Radio 2 programme every Saturday, just in case you hadn’t got the clue from this album’s title. ‘The Saturday Sessions’ is the cunningly-named spot in the show during which our Dermie gets both up-and-coming and established artists to perform exclusive cover versions or renditions of their own tracks (often acoustic), a spot usually accompanied by an interview with a member of the band who drawls their way through as if talking to Dermot makes them the coolest person in the world. But since when was Dermot O’ Leary cool?

That aside, however, he has won Music Programme of the Year in 2008 and 2010, respectively, and his is the most heralded new-music programme on the UK’s most listened to radio station so it can’t all be bad. But rock and roll he is not, hence the music here will be more of a treat for those who like their indie music mainstream, the sort of listener who proclaims vengeance against the X Factor but secretly watches every marathon episode every weekend. Personally, I am a proud fan of such trash TV.

But I digress. This double CD showcases a variety (or, for the more pretentious amongst us, ‘eclectic mix’) of artists, some good, some not so. From rather lacklustre renditions of Britney Spears’ ‘Womanizer’ by Lily Allen and ‘Rocking all over the world’ by the quite frankly evil Scouting for girls, to a more special ‘New York’ by Paloma Faith and effortless ‘Jolene’ by Ellie Goulding, one thing is certain- pretty much each track will have you resigning to the fact that, perhaps with age, a short Irishman who is the darling of all that is generally quite bad could actually know his stuff. Particular highlights include Athlete’s stunning cover of La Roux’s ‘Bulletproof’, ‘Pokerface’ as performed in a similar fashion by Ben’s Brother, Girls Aloud’s ‘Call the shots’ by Fyfe Dangerfield and two very special tributes to Michael Jackson (‘Beat it’ given the rocking treatment by Supergrass and a beautifully sombre ‘Thriller’ courtesy of Imogen Heap). Whilst there’s nothing really to discover here, at the very least, it does make you realise that chart music can actually sound well-written when performed by someone not made of plastic. Hell, even The Hoosiers sound good on this record. And now I can never show my face in polite society again.

Anna C.

Released 4th October, 2010.