EP REVIEW: District 3
District 3 is an urban district of Ho Chi Minh City, the largest city in Vietnam, with a population of. . . Oh, hang on, my bad!! Wrong Wikipedia entry! . . . Allow me to start over: District3 is a three-piece harmony vocal boy band, the next big thing to originate from X-Factor 2012, and they are poised to finally unleash their highly-anticipated debut EP. Time to totally 3eek out!!
District3 are Greg West, Micky Parsons and Dan Ferrari-Lane (what a name! I only wish the other two were called Porsche-Trail and Bugatti-Alley), who originally met at the Sylvia Young Theatre School and through a shared love of harmony singing and R&B music formed GMD3. What followed were a host of talented cover songs posted to YouTube and an eventual audition for X-Factor, where they made it all the way to the first few live shows under the new moniker of District3. Since featuring to great acclaim in the X-Factor Live Tour, they have steadily built an insatiable following of die-hard fans, with over 7 million YouTube views, nearly a million combined Twitter followers, and a sold-out headline UK tour in May/June of this year.
Collaborating in the studio with the likes of songwriter/producer Dan Havers (who has worked with Example, Maverick Sabre and Professor Green), District3 have put together an accomplished smorgasbord of songs, covering all required bases for a boy band: 3 x up-tempo, beat-driven numbers (‘Let’s Reload’, ‘What You Know About Me?’, ‘Hello’), a strings-&-piano ballad (‘Dead to Me’), a pop/R&B anthem with requisite guest rapper (‘Chasing Silhouettes’ feat. Bigz), and an acoustic vocal-harmony piece (‘More and More’).
The musical production is slick, hook-laden and infectious; D&B/dubstep stutter touches to the beats give the synth-pop sound the definite flavor of now. The boys’ voices are uniformly good and harmonically tight (no duff member of the group here, as is the case in so many other boy bands). Strikingly, their voices range well within each mini-genre, pulling off the breathy sigh-&-moan of ballad ‘Dead to Me’, the clipped, vocal-hook, pop-choral shouts of ‘Let’s Reload’, and the R&B, Justin Timberlake-style falsetto harmonies of ‘Chasing Silhouettes’ with equal skill. The lyrics are solid boy band fare and deal with the old chestnuts of “first dates”, “identity doubt”, “heartache”, “break-ups” and general “get this party started”.
All in all this is an impressive debut EP and judging by the enthusiasm many of these songs were met with recently on tour, the chances of District3 reaching well into the UK Top 10 are high indeed. At the risk of further stoking the initial rivalry on X-Factor and potentially sparking an all-out JCats vs. 3eeks war, let me pose the question: Uhhh, Union J who?! Boom!!
(By the by: If I told you I was going to take the drumline from Michael Jackson’s ‘They Don’t Care About Us’ and mix it with a chorus featuring a section very similar to one from the vocal melody of Avril Lavigne’s ‘Complicated’, you’d surely call me crazy, right? But on ‘What You Know About Me?’ it works. Riddle me that.)