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Spirit [Bonus DVD] [Deluxe Edition] [Bonus Tracks]

Spirit [Bonus DVD] [Deluxe Edition] [Bonus Tracks]

by Leona Lewis

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The truest test of Simon Cowell's power within the music industry circa 2008 was not whether American Idol could produce a star in its seventh season or if its U.K. cousin, The X Factor, would have another success in its fifth season -- it was whether he could turn Leona Lewis into the international superstar he so clearly believed she is. Lewis was the


The truest test of Simon Cowell's power within the music industry circa 2008 was not whether American Idol could produce a star in its seventh season or if its U.K. cousin, The X Factor, would have another success in its fifth season -- it was whether he could turn Leona Lewis into the international superstar he so clearly believed she is. Lewis was the third winner of The X Factor -- the Cowell-driven replacement to Pop Idol in Britain, a replacement that came to be because he wanted to own a significant piece of the show -- and one of the key differences between Factor and Idol is that the judges can mentor the contestants and therefore have a stake in the outcome of the show, more than they do on Idol, where the judges merely comment. Rightly impressed by Lewis' multi-octave voice -- reminiscent of a warmer, earthbound Mariah Carey -- Cowell continued his mentorship after the conclusion of the show, making her the first contestant in the whole Idol/Factor enterprise that he personally shepherded through the major-label process. He struck a deal with Clive Davis -- the executive producer behind all the American Idol projects, the producer who publicly bristled when Kelly Clarkson tried to take control of her career through her original compositions -- and the two launched a grand plan to break Lewis in her native U.K. first, then slowly roll her out in the U.S. a few months later, via an appearance on Oprah and a slightly re-sequenced and remixed version of her debut, Spirit. That U.S. version drops the bonus track of Leona's version of "A Moment Like This," her first hit single that is not so coincidentally a cover of Kelly's first big single. If Kelly became a thorn in Davis' side, Leona Lewis seems happy, even eager, to play the major-label game, singing anything that comes her way, never lodging a complaint when she has to cut a couple R&B-flavored tracks to appeal to the American market. These tunes -- "Misses Glass" and "Forgive Me" -- are just slightly glitzier than the rest of Spirit, surely bearing heavier rhythms but not to the extent that the beats obscure Lewis' voice, as the whole point of Spirit is to showcase her singing, particularly those high glory notes that are all the rage on Idol/Factor. Unlike most Idol/Factor alumni, Lewis can hit those big notes but make it seem easy, never straining her voice and building nicely to the climax. Unlike most divas, there is a human quality to her voice, as she's singing to the song, not singing to her voice. Then again, this was also true of Mariah Carey on her 1990 debut, which Spirit greatly resembles in how the handful of R&B-oriented songs camouflages how this is almost entirely a stuffy middle-of-the-road pop record. Not only that, but Spirit is so old-fashioned it sounds as if it could have been released in 1990 and compete with Carey's debut for the top of the charts; her first single, "Bleeding Love," opens with a crawling organ that recalls the muted gospel of "Vision of Love," even if the skin-crawling lyric "you cut me open and I keep bleeding love" wouldn't have suited the Top 40 in 1990. That stultifying adult contemporary atmosphere may makes Spirit stilted, but it's also as savvy a move as you could expect from Cowell: ever since Mariah long ago abandoned AC for the clubs, there has been a gaping need for a vocalist like Leona Lewis, a singer who can belt it out but is safe and tame, having no interest in the perks of stardom that exist beyond the stage. And boy is Leona Lewis ever that -- she is blessed with a terrific voice but very little on-record personality, something the very professional, very inoffensive tunes emphasize. Thanks to this collection of calculatingly commercial tracks -- tunes crafted to appeal to everyone yet no one in particular -- Lewis merely comes across as the most talented and most willing singer to ever play Cowell's game, so no wonder he loves her. But this also points out the big difference between how Cowell has taken Leona Lewis under her wing and how Tommy Mottola watched over Mariah. Mottola married Carey, having both an emotional and financial stake in her career, but those mixed emotions helped obscure the machinery that drove her career. Cowell is only in it for the cash with Lewis, so the machinations are too apparent on this otherwise appealing debut. And that's too bad, because Spirit surely reveals a singer who has a richer tonal quality than any diva to come along in the past 15 years or so -- if she had gotten the tunes to match her voice, this would have been a killer record in addition to the international blockbuster that it was so carefully crafted to be. [Sony Europe issued a deluxe bonus track/bonus DVD edition in 2008.]

Product Details

Release Date:
Sony Bmg Europe


Album Credits

Performance Credits

Leona Lewis   Primary Artist,Background Vocals
Vincent Henry   Clarinet,Flute,Saxophone
Bruce Purse   Trumpet,Flugelhorn,Bass Trumpet
Ian Thomas   Drums
Robin Clark   Choir, Chorus
Tawatha Agee   Choir, Chorus
Chris Ballin   Background Vocals
Louis Biancaniello   Keyboards
Michelle Cobbs   Choir, Chorus
Jack Daley   Bass
Benny Diggs   Choir, Chorus
Tammy Lucas   Choir, Chorus
Cindy Mizelle   Choir, Chorus
Steve Pearce   Bass
Salaam Remi   Bass,Piano,Drums
Steve Robson   Piano
Fonzi Thornton   Choir, Chorus
Dave Arch   Organ,Piano
Neil Wilkinson   Drums
Walter Afanasieff   Keyboards
Tony Reyes   Guitar
John Parricelli   Guitar
Billy Porter   Choir, Chorus
Max Martin   Piano
Espen Lind   Guitar
Joy Malcolm   Background Vocals
Vanessa Thomas   Choir, Chorus
Amy Chang   Violin
Wayne Wilkins   Keyboards
Tavia Ivey   Background Vocals
Josh Alexander   Guitar,Keyboards
Chris Laws   Drums
Daniel Laufer   Cello
Phillip Lowman   Drums
Steven Wolf   Percussion,Drums
Paul "Beardy" Beard   Hammond Organ
Karl Brazil   Percussion,Drums
Alonzo "Novel" Stevenson   Keyboards
Carmen Reece   Background Vocals
Ravaughn Brown   Background Vocals
Karen Freer   Cello
William Pu   Violin
Olga Shpitko   Violin
Luke Potashnick   Guitar
Lauraine Bristol   Background Vocals
Marvin Cotterell   Background Vocals
Alani Gibbon   Background Vocals
Jon Garrison   Bass

Technical Credits

Ewan MacColl   Composer
Runaways   Composer
Dallas Austin   Producer
Louis Biancaniello   Composer,Programming,Producer,Engineer
Danny D   Management
Chris Garcia   Engineer
Eric Hudson   Composer,Producer,Instrumentation
Andrea Martin   Composer
Doug McKean   Engineer
Richard Page   Composer
Leon Pendarvis   String Arrangements,String Conductor
Salaam Remi   Producer
Steve Robson   Producer
Robin Sellars   Engineer
Robert Smith   Engineer
Billy Steinberg   Composer,Producer
Ren Swan   Engineer
Terry Thomas   Composer
Geoff Foster   String Arrangements
Dave Arch   String Arrangements
Kara DioGuardi   Producer
Iain Archer   Composer
Brett James   Composer
Taj Jackson   Vocal Producer
David Krueger   Composer
Walter Afanasieff   Arranger,Composer,Programming,Producer
Sam Watters   Composer,Producer,Engineer,Vocal Producer
Tony Reyes   Composer
Carlton Lynn   Engineer
Max Martin   Composer
Chris Brooke   Vocal Engineer
Per Magnusson   Composer
Eddie Horst   String Arrangements
Simon Cowell   Composer
Emily Wright   Engineer
Wayne Wilkins   Composer,Programming,Producer,Engineer
Janne Hansson   Engineer
Jörgen Elofsson   Composer
Josh Alexander   Composer,Programming,Producer,Engineer
Chris Laws   Engineer
Craig Durrance   Engineer
Gary Lightbody   Composer
Mark McClelland   Composer
Josh Wilbur   Engineer
John Reid   Composer
Jesse McCartney   Composer
Nina Woodford   Composer
Steven Wolf   Producer
Jonathan Shakhovskoy   Engineer
Brian Paturalski   Vocal Engineer
Rouble Kapoor   Engineer
Seth Waldmann   Engineer
Ryan Tedder   Composer
Nathan Connolly   Composer
Shaffer Smith   Composer
Aliaune "Akon" Thiam   Composer
Keith Gretlein   Engineer
J.R. Rotem   Arranger,Composer,Producer,Instrumentation
Alonzo "Novel" Stevenson   Composer,Programming,Producer
Matt Beckley   Producer
Ne-Yo   Producer
Tom Syrowski   Engineer
Greg Ogan   Engineer
Chris Soper   Engineer
Claude Kelly   Composer
Mikkel Storleer Eriksen   Composer,Engineer,Instrumentation
Wesley Seidman   Engineer
Giorgio Tuinfort   Composer
Tyler Gordon   Programming
Tatiana Gottwald   Engineer
Leona Lewis   Composer
Tim Blacksmith   Management
Gleyder "Gee" Disla   Engineer
Harry Magee   Management
Jordan Omley   Composer,Producer,Engineer
Nicola Carson   Management
Markus Dextegen   Engineer
Tor Erik   Instrumentation
Pascal Guyon   Programming
Tor Erik Hermansen   Composer
Jonathan Quinn   Composer
Theron Thomas   Composer
Michael Mani   Composer,Producer,Engineer
Chris Holmes   Engineer
Wil Malone   String Arrangements
Lukasz Gottwald   Composer

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