Aiden Grimshaw risked being remembered as another reality contestant, made slightly worse by his defeat at the hands of the ignominious Katie Waissel. He's since confirmed his struggle with the show's premise, telling of his difficulty adapting to the format and cultivating a persona that would encourage viewers' votes: "I'd been given this opportunity and I didn't want to waste it. But I had no idea what sort of music was really me. Everyone else had their own ideas, but all I knew was what I didn't want."
In light of his musical ambivalence, it seems sensible for him to have delayed his foray into the world of pop. The last couple of years will have allowed him the opportunity to find his voice, but will have also created a distance from his manufactured past. Certainly, these are the issues that Aiden seems to have been toying with. Moving from Blackpool to London, he's writing his own material and discovering his sound.
Of course he's deluded if he thinks his X Factor past can be forgotten, and this new track is not a progressive new frontier for talent contest alumni. It is, however, quite possibly the best X Factor song since its inaugaral series eight years ago.
Revealed yesterday, 'Is This Love' draws its influences from unexpected sources. Any Aiden prejudices existing as of last week were probably invalid given the undeveloped character represented on 2010's series, but still, this track is somewhat of a shock; its quality and influences are certainly not typical of X Factor graduates.
Firstly, it should be commended for being modern and in touch with relevant contemporary pop. We've become accustomed to Christmas/winner ballads, but this slow pace has all too often been maintained. It took Leona Lewis a while to present anything resembling charisma, and the less said of bland Brookstein (and Leon Jackson and Joe McElderry and Matt Cardle) the better. Grimshaw appears to have avoided the pitfalls of say, Shane Ward, by taking the time to actually uncover a sound that is both legitimate and listenable (Ward's attempt at heartthrob status with sunny US video 'If It's Ok With You' is among the most offensive crimes the X Factor is responsible for). 'Is This Love' touches on dubstep and drum n bass sounds while, vocally, his sound matches Kele Okereke. In fact, the whole thing bears resemblance to Bloc Party's latter direction.
Little Mix sold the fewest number of debut singles since the aforementioned Steve Brookstein (shudder), and with Leona lethargic in her musical productivity, Alexandra Burke irritating in a way few others are in the industry (even her being the victim of recent death threats was handled in a way that inspired no sympathy) and Marcus Collins seriously misfiring with his slaughtering of 'Seven Nation Army', Grimshaw has the chance to overtake the competition. 'Is This Love' is a more than competent start.
Listen to 'Is This Love' below. And let us know what you think.