Hello once again, for a third time, to another edition of Staring Down the Pit. Known as a place where only the fearless tread, Staring Down the Pit sees The 405 retrospectively analyse what are considered to be the worst albums released since the year 2009, according to Any Decent Music's all-time chart anyway.

I've been down to the very lowest lows of released music twice now and I've come back horrified by Bloc Party's Intimacy Remixed and slightly sympathetic towards JLS' debut album. This time I've abseiled and stopped off at Craig David's Signed Sealed Delivered which has an average rating of 2.9/10 on ADM's list thanks to a handful of fairly negative reviews. Does it deserve such treatment? We shall see.



  • Album: Signed Sealed Delivered
  • Artist: Craig David
  • Rating: 2.9/10

There are several foolproof ways for an artist to regain some of the popularity they've lost over the years: an appearance on a reality TV show (judge or contestant) or a name change (Sugababes are about to do this) are just two examples that have been tried and tested. But of all the ways for an artist to try and propel themselves back into the limelight, Craig David perhaps chose the riskiest. He chose to cover Motown and other soul classics. Why cover canonised classics that have sold and influenced millions when your credibility and popularity aren't totally intact? Even The Flaming Lips' cover of The Dark Side of the Moon didn't go that well, so preparing to listen to an album that sees Craig David attempt to cover singles released by one of the most highly regarded and influential record labels of all time had me anticipating something much more sinister than what we commonly consider to be "the worst". In short, Craig David really should stay the fuck away from Motown and soul.

In the run up to Signed Sealed Delivered David's popularity had plummeted in the UK. His greatest hits album failed to make a mark on the UK Top 40 and his ability to produce top ten singles had diminished significantly to the point where even a single with Tinchy Stryder failed to chart memorably. And so Craig David sat down with his manager and press team before deciding to create what has become arguably one of the worst listening experiences of my short life. Due to their love of Four Tops, Stevie Wonder and The Temptations my family has always made sure that Motown has been a part of my life, so to hear this bloodcurdling attempt at reinventing some of the songs that have shaped my childhood wasn't the best way to spend a weekend.

For starters, I'm not particularly sure what Signed Sealed Delivered wants to do, and I've listened to it three or four times now: David's covers don't come close to surpassing their original versions, nor do they successfully bring the likes of Otis Redding to the modern day. If anything the album exposes Craig David's incredibly limited vocal range and sickeningly dry falsetto, and that's before the laughter-inducing whistled verse from '(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay' arrives to complete a hamper full of disaster. Even some of the subtle instrumental touches that helped to make the likes of 'Just My Imagination' such renowned classics in Motown's history are gone - replaced with plastic, uninspiring reductions that had me dreaming of something that could have at least resembled a cheap imitation.

The initial reaction to this album from The Guardian referred to Signed Sealed Delivered as "over-produced karaoke that should be the X-Factor's sole preserve", and it's hard to find a more concise summation of the album anywhere else. All of the unnecessary squiggles that are added to the instrumentation and each individual, obnoxious, melodramatic vocal space-filler add the final touches to what can only be describe as a horrifying concoction. Around the time of Signed Sealed Delivered's release Craig David expressed his desire to "sing the songs [on the album] exactly as the original artists had" - but doesn't that make the entire project seem like a huge waste of time and money? If you want to "sing the songs exactly as the original artists had" then wander down to a karaoke bar and wow the crowd with your renditions. Don't spend hundreds and thousands of pounds on session musicians, studio time and advertising if all you want to produce are cut and paste jobs.

With that being said, not all of this experience is completely terrible - Signed Sealed Delivered does contain some redeeming features. None of them are contributed by Craig David you understand. It did perhaps raise a smile and improve my overall experience of this album when I remembered that the butcher's job I was listening to only came about because the original classics exist. But the sour taste in my mouth was only sweetened by memories. Memories that were transformed into vivid nightmares as Craig David's attempt to blend a sample of the original version of 'Standing In the Shadows of Love' into a clumsy, over-produced, house-pop mess comes across as a more of a tragic tribute than a respectful homage.

Having read all of that, you'd perhaps expect me to stick this at the very foot of The 405's amended version of Any Decent Music's all-time chart, but the cynicism and laziness that surrounded the creation and release of Bloc Party's Intimacy Remixed results in Signed Sealed Delivered being placed second-to-bottom. If you want cheaply produced, karaoke-style versions of some of your favourite songs then I seriously recommend this to those of you out there who enjoy the experience of having your ears and childhood memories ripped to shreds by a man that has perhaps become one of the most innocuous and fondly-remembered faces in popular music. I'm not angry as such, but I have been left utterly bemused by Craig David's ambiguous intentions with Signed Sealed Delivered. What is the point in doing crap copies other than to make a bit of cash when the course of your popularity has taken a nosedive into a conveniently positioned hole in the ground? I guess I just answered my own question.

When 2014 rolls around and Craig David's next album, entitled Following My Intuition, darkens our door, enough time may have passed for people to forget Signed Sealed Delivered. Unfortunately because I've left it until now to listen to it, rather than when it was initially released, it'll be hard for me to forget the boredom and disbelief I felt when each dreadful cover started and caused me to feel a range of negative emotions before finally allowing me a split second of respite, which I merely used to burn the sound of Craig David's version of 'Papa Was a Rolling Stone' from my recollection. It's dreadful. Just don't bother. I can see the humour in a drunkard wailing out the chorus of 'For Once In My Life', but there's nothing close to humour to be found here. Forget it; I'm going for a shower.

  • The 405's amended all-time chart:

  • JLS - JLS
  • Signed Sealed Delivered - Craig David
  • Intimacy Remixed - Bloc Party