Daniel Bedingfield: An Overnight Hit
Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.British newcomer Daniel Bedingfield is shaking up the somewhat over-analyzed, preformatted, almost cookie-cutter process of releasing a single from a new artist. His smash "Gotta Get Thru This" (Island in the U.S., Polydor in the U.K.) raced up the U.K. pop charts, landing at the No. 1 position, and it's now blowing away listeners and programmers at top 40 and rhythm-crossover radio in the U.S. It jumps 77-46 on Billboard's Hot 100 this week.
It all started a little over a year ago, when Bedingfield took a rather obscure (and affordable) computer program called Making Waves Audio and crafted "Gotta Get Thru This," as well as four other songs, on a walloping $1,500 budget.
"I make a track. I pitch the vocal up because I'm not expecting to give it to anybody apart from a DJ," Bedingfield recalls. "I gave it to the world's biggest garage DJ, EZ; he put it on the 'Pure Garage 4' compilation and poof!, it becomes a big dance track and goes to No. 1. It's crazy. It's absolutely crazy."
What's even crazier is that Bedingfield didn't think the infectious, soul-inflected single was even the right track to release. "I was ready for success, but not with that song," he says with a laugh. "Trying to pick another single off the album that will be representative of what the album is about will be tough. It's like Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, and Sting stuck in a room together with some jungle beats."
That's an astute observation. Bedingfield's album, "Gotta Get Thru This" (due Aug. 27), is filled with soulful rhythms merged with hook-laden lyrics and surprisingly mature vocals for a musical freshman. It's the kind of pop musical sophistication that one would expect from a performer who is as seasoned as Jackson, yet one born out of the sheer, youthful thrill of being able to record.
"If you are creative nowadays there is no excuse to not do what you love," Bedingfield says with great enthusiasm. "Other than poverty, there's no excuse. The big studios are shutting down, and the little home studios are taking over."
The first single could easily be categorized as a dance single -- a genre that doesn't often carry the credibility of pop or label appeal for an album commitment. But Bedingfield isn't worried about being seen as a dance-music artist. "The cool thing is people seem to be getting my songs without me really having to do much. All I need to help them understand is that I'm not just a dance artist; I'm more of an R&B artist with lots of dance and guitars chucked in."
He continues, "If the next song is just as good and is not dance, you won't get labeled as strictly a dance artist. I'm pretty damned sure that most of the singles on my album are as good or better as 'Gotta Get Thru This' because I never thought 'Gotta Get Thru This' was truly exceptional. I like being wrong in this case!"
Bedingfield is currently on an American radio promotional tour, "kissing babies," as he puts it, and will be filming a new video for the current single. This one will have a larger budget than its U.K. counterpart. The next Polydor single, due out in the U.K. at Christmastime, is "You're Not the One."
Excerpted from the Aug. 3, 2002, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com members section.
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