#8: Alex Parks - "Introduction" (2003)

Until Fiona mentioned her, I hadn't thought about Alex Parks in a long time, though I remember watching her time in Fame Academy avidly. (I also happen to have a story about another prominent FA student involving a bacon sandwich but then, who doesn't?) With her short hair perfectly styled into the spikes favoured of the day, that wouldn't go amiss sported by Final Fantasy 7-10 characters, Alex was endearingly shy and fantastically talented. Part of what made her such an ideal candidate was precisely because she railed against the very concept of fame. Her dad had entered her into the competition because he knew she never would in a million years. She only went and ruddy won it.

Given her dedication to performing on stage rather than the public stage, it's unsurprising then that Parks wasn't in the forefront of my consciousness. However, in my research (Wikipedia glance ahoy) she still seems to be recording and releasing her own material. But I chose to go back to the start. My pocket money didn't extend to her album when it first came out but I'm an adult now and we all know that being an adult means doing all the things you couldn't as a child.

I digress. Introduction doesn't outstay its welcome. A taut mix of covers well-chosen to suit Parks's voice are interwoven with her own songs that are all co-written but none of them feel dominated by a bland standard of what pop should be. Parks has a husky, distinctive voice, which made me think of Kate Moennig - actually, many things about Parks make me think of Kate Moennig - not only in timbre but also in message. There's a sense of sweet melancholy that is entwined throughout that lingers long after the final - sadly, probably the most lacklustre - track. My recommendation is to go once more from the top and get yourself reacquainted with an overlooked pop gem.