Review: “My First Album” by Lolly (CD, 1999)

Today’s POP RESCUE from an uncertain fate, is the 1999 debut album My First Album, by English singer, dancer, and actress, Lolly. Will this album contain some hot licks, or is it just a Mickey-take? Read on…

Lolly - My First Album (1999) album
Lolly – My First Album (1999) album

This 20 track (yes!) CD bursts open with debut single Viva La Radio. This is an incredibly bouncy euro-dance/bubblegum pop song, and it is musically and vocally very much like something you’d expect from Aqua. The injections of a stabby piano, and brass and percussion works well though, and it’s quite a catchy little song that gave her a #7 UK hit debut single.

Next up is Mickey, a cover of the Toni Basil hit, and it doesn’t stray far from the original. The drums, chanting vocals all sound faithful until some bargain synths drop in, to replace the original’s bargain synths. The playfulness works as well for Lolly as it did with Toni, and it probably didn’t take long to think that this was the best cover version Lolly could do. The track was her second single, taking her to #4 in the UK singles charts, and to be honest, it’s pretty foot-tappingly catchy, certainly aided by the drum-led tempo.

Third and final single Big Boys Don’t Cry takes the tempo down to deliver a ballad. A simple little ticking synth leads us into some almost Steps-esque vocals from Lolly – and she shines really well here – showing off the rich warm vocals, including in the harmonies. The song, released as a double-A side single with non-album track Rockin’ Robin (in time for Christmas) – a cover of the Bobby Day 1958 hit, placed her in the UK Top 10 (at #10) for what has so-far been her final time.

That’s followed by Kiss Kiss Boom Boom, which is an absolute contrast. We have an uncredited discount male vocalist here who gets plenty of lines, including a rap in the middle of the song. He gives a gruff contrast to Lolly’s saccharine vocals – helping to return us back to that female/gruff male vocalist combination that worked perfectly for Aqua (see their hits Barbie Girl or Doctor Jones), ending on the two having a kiss at his request. At times it sounds like ‘kissy kissy bum bum’.

Dance In The Rain allows us hear Lolly on gentle little dance song, and it allows us to almost hear some more of that Steps-esque style pop vocals set alongside some contrasting harmonies. At times, she’s a little buried in the synths and beats, but it’s a pretty good little pop song.

Next it’s Can You Keep A Secret?, and this track almost sounds like something from Stock/Aitken/Waterman – but it’s an original. It comes in waves of acoustic guitar sounds and a wave of synths and percussion. Lolly’s vocals don’t really move much within the verses, but the chorus works really well. It’s a bright little bop.

Then it’s Internet Love (got to love the late 90s!) opening with ‘Woah!, Woah!, Woah!’ as a highly enthusiastic Lolly then tells us that she ‘love to play on the internet’, over a background of ‘superhighway’ modem sounds. ‘I’m stuck on internet love’ she eventually sings, which makes me wonder whether she needs to contact her ISP for a faster speed. It’s a wonderful example of how pop music makes a song about a new technology, and it soon becomes somewhat entertaining.

Next it’s time to get Happy, and this song sounds like it’s been borrowed from a West End stage show, as the vocals are a bit too big, and the lyrics are a bit hammy. Despite this, the vocal harmonies are really nice, and it definitely bounces along wonderful.

That leads on to Telephone Boy, which a tuneful Lolly phoning some boy (or is it the ISP from earlier). Sadly, she can’t get through, resulting in her sounding rather cheesed off. We’re back to bubblegum pop again here, with as many mentions of the song title as possible. ‘He’s my telephone boy’ she excitedly sings over and over, despite never actually speaking to him. I think she’s actually a nuisance caller.

Tenth track Do You Feel Like I Feel? is next and it opens with piano, which is soon matched by Lolly, sounding a bit like Tallulah from Bugsy Malone. Not long after this, it’s awash with synths over a euro-dance styled track, and you could almost imagine Steps recording this early in their career. That said, Lolly holds this track perfectly with some real belting vocals right to the fade.

After this point, the album consists of a karaoke version of the album again, allowing you to sing your own versions, potentially exactly like Lolly had done when she entered the studio. The CD sleeve contains lyrics for all songs, just in case they weren’t easy enough, or catchy enough for you to have memorised or guessed them.

Lolly’s debut single ‘Viva La Radio’, 1999.

Verdict

Over all, this album is sugary enough to rot your teeth out.

Sure, Mickey and Viva La Radio are two very well chosen singles, and Lolly’s vocals works well with this bubblegum pop-fest, but it’s a hard character to sustain. Thankfully, Lolly doesn’t sustain this character all the way through as that would soon make this album quite nauseating. Instead, there’s a slight variation that allows Lolly to show off her vocals in slower songs, and alongside other vocalists.

Can You Keep A Secret? is a great song, and it’s a shame that it didn’t get released as a Lolly single, as it is wonderfully catchy but musically and vocally it may have jarred with her image.

Kiss Kiss Boom Boom and Telephone Boy are the low points here, and Happy isn’t far behind it. The Internet Love song is a marvel, if only to hear modem-esque sounds, and the use of the word ‘superhighway’ again.

The karaoke gimmick of repeating the entire album but without vocals on the same disc as the vocal version, feels odd, and simply feels out-dated even for 1999, but I suspect that it was mostly to ensure that shoppers felt like they were getting an album’s worth of music. With 7 of the 10 songs under 3 minutes long, and 1 being 3m 1s long, a full price CD for 31 minutes of music would not have sold well.

Rated 3 stars! It's a nice album.
  • POP RESCUE 2022 RATING: 3 / 5
  • 1999 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: #21, certified Gold by the BPI.
  • POP RESCUE COST: £1.75 from an eBay seller.

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