Ok, so it wasn’t a single, but IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN, so I’m including it in my list on the shallow basis that I’m making up my own rules. Matt remains one of the most talented but most underrated winner of any talent show. This year saw him put in an exquisite turn as Wally Strand in the West End musical Strictly Ballroom. Singing classics such as Slave To The Rhythm and Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps, rarely have I heard such an outstanding live vocal performance as he delivered on that stage. He’s also been chosen by legendary producer Trevor Horn to be part of his 80’s reimagined album, singing The Power Of Love. Yes it was also this year’s X Factor winner’s single – you couldn’t make it up really!
Back to his own music, 2018 saw the release of his fourth album, Time To Be Alive. While Jim Eliot’s production was variable in its impact for me – several songs felt overcooked compared to earlier versions and Matt’s impeccable voice was buggered about with a bit too much – the fact is that the big production worked magnificently on this track, which shows Matt’s true talent as a song writer. The toots and puffing/panting hook is backed up by a tippy tappy drum, a menacing undertone and a big dramatic chorus. The song meaning is pretty clear here – there is no vagueness about the reckless desire for drugs so they can *cough* “muck with your mind” and remove any need to think. For an album about addiction and recovery, this song cuts to the core of the issue with more clarity than the ambiguity that lyrics often give. It’s a song that deserved to be heard so much more widely.