The silly-haired Welshman that came second in 2007's X Factor may not have achieved world domination, but he's doing a fine sight better than Leon Jackson. This is more of Rhydian Roberts' opera interpretations, but it's thankfully a heck of a lot less cheesy than his awful debut.
What's this 'Jedward' business really all about, anyway? Originality? Pah. Long before (OK – two years before) John and Edward took to the X Factor stage with their strangely puppet-like legs and bad singing, there was Rhydian Roberts – a demonic-eyed singer that predated the twins' ridiculous hairstyle, but who could actually belt out a tune or two.
The Welshman is already an anomaly of-sorts; 'O Fortuna' is his second album – a feat not matched by many winners of the talent show, never mind runners-up - and arrives on the heels of his 600,000+ selling debut. Of course, this record sticks rigidly to the 'opera with a twist' formula employed on his debut. Perhaps it's that lack of a new angle that saw it peak at No. 61 and No. 25 in the Irish and UK charts upon its recent release.
Nevertheless, this is certainly an improvement upon that atrocious debut. Roberts – or his producers – have apparently learned the importance of subtlety this time around. To that end, songs like Vangelis's 'Conquest of Paradise', and Carl Orff's composition for Carmina Burana's 'O Fortuna' are measured arrangements, and not overloaded with the forced, hammy vocal delivery that made 'Rhydian' such a musical disaster. It's not enough to make his take on Mike & the Mechanics' 'The Living Years' acceptable, though; in an ideal world, Roberts could flit between the pop world and the opera world, but in reality, the mash-up makes for unconvincing listening all 'round. Plus, when you have opera heavyweights Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Bryn Terfel lend their voices to your album, why bother with pop tunes?
Still, 'O Fortuna' isn't bad (in small doses, that is) - it's just mostly forgettable. Which, in our book, is progress if ever we heard it.