If you were a Mad Scientist and were looking to create the Perfect Pre-Teen Pop Star in a laboratory, your end result would probably look something like Britain’s Got Talent finalist Ronan Parke (that is, if you were any good at being a Mad Scientist). He’s got Justin Bieber‘s adorably dreamy hair helmet, Greyson Chance‘s vocal range, and the irresistible British accent of a young Davy Jones. However, unlike those other teenage dreamboats, there’s an undeniable air of melancholy that permeates all of his performances, which has us wondering whether he’s cut out for international superstardom.
Take his cover of Lady Gaga‘s “Edge Of Glory,” for example. Whereas Gaga’s song wears its anthemic qualities proudly on its sleeve (regardless of whether you’re listening to the album version or her acoustic take on Howard Stern), Parke’s take is stark, haunting and dripping with sadness. Gone are the joyous, celebratory punctuations of Gaga’s original (“Alright, ALRIGHT!”), which makes us wonder why this 12 year-old boy is so darn depressed!
And it’s not just this song. He chose to perform Kelly Clarkson’s ballad “Because Of You” on the finale of Britain’s Got Talent, but rather than concentrating on emphasizing the air of defiance present in Clarkson’s anthem, he made the creative decision to instead sing it from the perspective of someone who feels defeated. And Parke’s take on Adele’s “Someone Like You” makes Adele sound positively chipper.
Now, don’t get it twisted, we’re not haters. Parke’s vocal chops are undeniable (at least until he hits puberty and his voice breaks), but right now, he’s little more than a chameleon. He doesn’t yet have the life experience to understand the underlying themes of the music that he has been covering—don’t EVEN get us started on his take on Bob Dylan’s “To Make You Feel My Love”—which is why his cuts feel just a bit off, emotionally speaking. Time will tell as to whether he’ll be able to capitalize on the fame that his Britain’s Got Talent appearance netted him, but if he is to succeed, his minders would be wise to have him concentrate on laying down some more age-appropriate tracks that will hit his target audience of teens and tweens right where it counts — their wallets.