When Kelly Osbourne released her debut, Shut Up, at the end of 2002, much
of the world gave a collective shrug. It seemed almost too obvious that Kelly
would release an album of her own, particularly after the soundtrack to her
family’s TV show, The Osbournes, spotlighted her cover of Madonna’s “Papa
Don’t Preach.” (It was actually a pretty serviceable version.) When Shut Up
came and went and sold too few copies for Epic’s liking, it ended up being
re-released by Sanctuary Records, who added six bonus tracks and re-titled it
after one of them: “Changes,” a cover of the Black Sabbath ballad which found
Kelly performing a duet with dear old dad, Ozzy. (Released as a single in the
UK, “Changes” actually topped the UK charts!)
While Shut Up / Changes was predominantly a punk-pop affair, Sleeping
in the Nothing is all about the new wave revival. If you think it’s a
coincidence that Osbourne’s albums just happen to follow the latest musical
trend, then, on behalf of Bullz-Eye.com, please accept this complimentary
five-second grace period, during which time you should probably think again.
Has it been five seconds yet? Great, let’s continue.
In her down time between albums, Osbourne was apparently busy taking Terri Nunn
101, as many of the songs on Sleeping in the Nothing could pass for early
Berlin. The most blatant offender is “Secret Lover,” which features keyboards
sounding so instantly reminiscent of “The Metro” that it cannot be coincidental,
but “Redlight” also sounds as though it would fit in nicely on Pleasure
Victim. “Uh Oh,” meanwhile, has a guitar riff that seems modeled on
Given that Sleeping in the Nothing’s first single, “One Word,” recently
topped Billboard’s Dance Radio Charts, it seems that there’s at least a certain
degree of commercial potential to be had with Ms. Osbourne’s new direction.
Thanks, then, should go to the ubiquitous Linda Perry (Pink, Gwen Stefani,
Christina Aguilera), who, in addition to serving as producer, either wrote or
co-wrote every song on the disc.
The press release refers to the album as being co-written by Osbourne, but,
while that’s not exactly a lie, it is, shall we say, more false than true. In
fact, on only three of the ten songs does Osbourne receive a co-writing credit.
Of those tracks, the aforementioned “Secret Lover”…well, chalk it up to cynicism
if you must, but one wonders if her contribution to the song was the portion of
the final verse where she sings, “I want the world / I want the whole world / I
want to lock it all up in my pocket / It’s my bar of chocolate.” If the lyrics
ring a bell, here’s why: they’re lifted wholesale from Veruca Salt’s big number
in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” “I Want It Now.” Unfortunately,
however, there’s no credit, not even a token “special thanks,” given to the late
Anthony Newley, who composed the couplet in question. Given that the “borrowing”
is less than subtle – Osbourne does her best Veruca when singing the words –
methinks I doth smell a future lawsuit.
The biggest disappointment of the album comes from the fact that there’s a song
entitled “Suburbia” that isn’t the Pet Shop Boys song of the same name, a track
which would’ve fit the synthesizer-based feel of the record perfectly. It’s some
consolation, however, that the track features lyrics like, “In your dreams /
You’re fabulous / But in your life / Ridiculous,” which sound like something
Neil Tennant could easily have written himself.
Sleeping in the Nothing isn’t the most substantive album, and no one’s
ever going to make the claim that Osbourne is a strong vocalist, so it’s hard to
give the disc a full-on rave, but it’s consistently entertaining...well, minus
the ghastly “Don’t Touch Me While I’m Sleeping,” which is surely the least
subtle song about date rape ever written. (With lyrics such as “I went straight
to his work / And shoved his head through the wall / ‘I hope you had a good
time, motherfucker / Now it’s time to say goodbye to your balls,’” it should be
heard to be believed, but just the once will be quite enough.)
Barring that exception, however, Sleeping in the Nothing is a pleasant
piece of highly danceable faux retro.