The strategy behind Natasha Bedingfield’s sophomore effort takes the popular trend of marketing albums differently in various geographical regions to obscene new levels. Rather than simply promoting the singer’s latest record with singles targeted to various demographics and cultural tastes, Bedingfield’s record label has released one version of the album, last year’s N.B., in her native U.K. and a second version, Pocketful of Sunshine, in the U.S. Sunshine retains six of its predecessor’s 13 tracks, but with the exception of the more urban-leaning lead single “Love Like This” and the Rodney Jerkins-produced “Angel” (not to be confused with N.B.‘s hipper “Tricky Angel”), the inclusions and exclusions only seem to make the album marginally better suited for American audiences. (Ironically, a track featuring Eve was excised from the U.S. version.) It took almost two years (and a few hair-color commercials) before I finally submitted to the simple-pleasure vanilla-gospel appeal of Bedingfield’s hit “Unwritten,” but despite some attempts at quasi-uplift (“Freckles”) and childhood nostalgia (“Backyard”), there’s little here that’s likely to reprise the slow-burning success of that inspirational smash. The title track, on the other hand, is easily the strongest of the new songs, evocative of Nelly Furtado’s Loose, and though the album’s pedestrian lyrics don’t do Bedingfield’s voice real justice, the way she sings “Oh, somebody tell me why I’m on my own?” on “Soulmate” is admittedly pretty devastating. If there were a discernable difference between N.B. and Sunshine, either in quality or marketability, the dual album approach might seem like a stroke of marketing genius; instead, the whole enterprise reeks of an artist too willing to be packaged and sold like assorted incarnations of Barbie.
- Slant is reaching more readers than ever before, but advertising revenue across the Internet is falling fast, hitting independently owned and operated publications like ours the hardest. We’ve watched many of our fellow media sites fall by the way side in recent years, but we’re determined to stick around.
We’ve never asked our readers for financial support before, and we’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what we do, however, please consider becoming a Slant patron.
You can also make a one-time donation via PayPal: