The Farr Side: Leona Lewis in line to be next ‘something’

David T. Farr

Sometimes we get so caught up in our own reality that we fail to see what may be going on around us.

This is true in regard to a young woman from across the pond. Her name is Leona Lewis, and soon we'll all know about her.

Lewis won the title of the U.K.'s "X Factor" last summer. "X Factor" is Britain's equivalent of "American Idol." Coincidentally, Simon Cowell also judges on this show. You didn't see that one coming, now, did you?

Cowell seems to have a knack for picking talented hopefuls, whether we like his tactics or not; he's genuinely a smart guy when it comes to that sort of thing. We've already seen the likes of countless Cowell picks rule the radio airwaves and become major successes.

The same rings true for his work on "X Factor." Cowell long predicted that Lewis would become a major success, only no one knew just how big she was going to be.

I've been hearing about Lewis for some time now, which has only made me all the more curious just how good this girl really must be. The fact that Cowell went out on a limb to say she's the next Whitney or Mariah caught me off guard. You don't get much better than those two. So who is this chick, and is she the next "whoever"?

Lewis's debut CD, "Spirit," hit U.S. shelves this week after months of hype, including an appearance on Oprah.

I have to say, the CD is really good. I especially like her debut song, "Bleeding Love." It's pure pop bliss, and that's OK with me. It doesn't come across as campy or fake or manufactured to some degree. It's a classy song, well-suited to capture her crystal-clear vocal style.

"Bleeding Love" became the biggest-selling single of 2007 in the U.K., and the album "Spirit" the fastest-selling debut to date. Again, not bad for a girl who simply won a talent contest. We know a few of them here, too.

OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder wrote the track for Lewis, which explains a lot. You can definitely hear his style and sound within the song.

"Spirit" boasts a fair share of up-tempo songs and ballads, each with a contemporary flair -- in other words, the songs have a "today" feel to them. I like that.

The songs "The Best You Never Had," "I'm You," "Whatever It Takes" and "Misses Glass" all have a soulful, R&B edge to them reminiscent of early Christina Aguilera tracks.

Lewis shines best on beautifully written ballads like "Footprints In The Sand," "I Will Be," "Better In Time" and one of the best love ballads ever written, "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face."

"The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" remains one of my all-time favorite ballads no matter who sings the song. Through the years, artists like Celine Dion, George Michael, Bobby Vinton, Elvis Presley and Vanessa Williams have covered the Roberta Flack hit. Lewis also performs the song well.

"Spirit" is a great debut, but to say she's the next Whitney or Mariah is premature. Both Houston's and Carey's self-titled debut albums were stellar, especially since we're still talking about them today.

David T. Farr is a Sturgis Journal correspondent. E-mail him at