Original Me

by: Cascada

Having worked their trance-pop magic on covers of tracks by Rascal Flatts, Savage Garden, and Patti Smith, and with their U.K. number one single "Evacuate the Dancefloor" (which kept the flurry of Michael Jackson songs off the top spot in the week of his death) bearing an uncanny resemblance to Lady Gaga's "Just Dance," one suspects that the title of German trio Cascada's fourth album, Original Me, was selected with tongue firmly in cheek. Even more so, considering its opening track "San Francisco" features almost the exact same floaty synth hook and grinding beats as Katy Perry' s "California Gurls," showing that their ability to borrow from the biggest pop songs of the year remains as shameless as ever. The majority of its 11 tracks are equally derivative with the excessively Auto-Tuned "Night Nurse," and the robotic-sounding "Pyromania" yet again echoing the shimmering electro-pop of Gaga, the slinky Euro-disco chorus of "Enemy" reminiscent of former Swedish Idol winner Agnes' breakthrough "Release Me," and even the obligatory ballad "Hungover" sounding suspiciously like a Ryan Tedder-penned leftover. Indeed, the whole album feels like a cut-price replica of the latest Now compilation, with Natalie Horler's powerful diva vocals and the odd flashes of inspiration, such as the glam-schlager pop of "Au Revoir" and the rock-tinged hip-pop of "Independence Day" its only saving graces. The second greatest-hits disc, which features 15 of their 16 singles (Top Ten hit "Miracle" is bizarrely omitted) is a chance to sample the Cascada formula before its relentlessly pumping beats and floor-filling trance riffs became too over-familiar. Surprise U.S. hit "Everytime We Touch" is still arguably their defining moment, but despite its obvious influences, "Evacuate the Dancefloor" remains an undeniably great pop song, while their reworking of "Because the Night" is nowhere near as unlistenable as you might expect. But there's very little to get excited elsewhere thanks to a constant stream of formulaic covers and generic Clubland anthems which don't really translate outside a crowded nightclub. Five years after bursting onto the scene, Original Me shows that Cascada aren't in a hurry to change their sound any time soon, but judging from its lackluster material, they might not be afforded that luxury next time round. ~ Jon O'Brien

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