Is the world really ready for a Craig David comeback?
Judging by the reaction to his cover version of Justin Bieber’s ‘Love Yourself’ for Radio One, it seems like we’re ready to re-rewind.
The story of David’s career since his 1999 breakthrough is one of a rapid rise followed by a steady decline – some of which was deserved, and some of it not.
Granted, his first two singles (‘Fill Me In’ and ‘7 Days’) were massive number one hits, and, incredibly, his first eight singles all broke the UK Top 10, so it was inevitable that such success couldn’t be sustained forever.
David continued to release music throughout the Noughties, but his efforts to break America never materialised, and it looked as if he was just another by-product of the pop conveyor belt, following the likes of Daniel Bedingfield and Richard Blackwood into the toxic has-been category.
Music moved on, and newer scenes like grime made even his early garage hits seem dated, while there was no shortage of US names like Chris Brown, Ne-Yo and later Frank Ocean and Miguel who were dominating the RnB world he was trying to infiltrate.
Of course, none of this was helped by comedian Leigh Francis, whose Bo’ Selecta! parody of David – complete with pet kestrel and a tendency to repeatedly sing his name and ape Michael Jackson – practically superseded the real Craig David.
Despite appearing as himself on the show on one occasion (which he later admitted to regretting), David told the Sunday Times in 2007 that the caricature hit him hard:
“The whole Bo’ Selecta! thing was killing me for a while because this idiot had a cult following and I was the main caricature. … Inside it was absolutely pissing me off and hurtful beyond belief. There were times when I thought I just want to knock this guy out.”
It seemed like David’s fate had been sealed. In the UK at least, his credibility had evaporated, and he didn’t bother the charts again as he struggled to work out his own musical style – his last studio album was a forgettable collection of Motown covers in 2010 (Signed Sealed Delivered).
But nostalgia is a powerful thing, and now that David has endured his period in the musical wilderness (if by wilderness you mean the Miami party scene), it looks as if the British public is primed for a Craig David comeback.
An early indication came in the form of a single called ‘Cold’ on his SoundCloud last year, followed by the Big Narstie collaboration ‘When the Bassline Drops’, which served as a reminder of his garage heyday alongside Artful Dodger.
It’s already been streamed almost half a million times in two months, with user comments like: “this is so disgustingly good” and “listening every day on repeat”.
And there’s been a similar reaction to his Bieber cover, in which he dusts off his MC skills with a rapid-fire freestyle rap towards the end of the song.
The YouTube video of his Live Lounge performance, where he’s backed by a simple acoustic guitar / drum pads combo, has gone viral, racking up almost 700,000 views since its upload yesterday.
With an album, Following My Intuition, due this year, will it be possible to think about the phrase ‘bo selecta’ again without an image of a plastic peregrine falcon coming to mind?
Main image via Getty