And Finally Artist News Beef Of The Week

CMU Beef Of The Week #252: Leona Lewis v Syco

By | Published on Friday 24 April 2015

Whenever Leona Lewis does anything these days, people keep rushing around to point out how it sounds like she’s saying her split from Syco last year was acrimonious.

Leona Lewis

She’s managed all this through the medium of thinly-veiled criticism, veiled just enough that you can’t be entirely sure you’re not imagining it. Hey, it’s a marketing plan. And also, if you were wondering, it’s how you maintain your image of being a nice person while also sticking the boot in.

It all began when she signed to Island last June, and Lewis said in a statement that she’d had “seven incredible years at Sony” but was happy to now be on a label where “artists can really flourish and are encouraged to express themselves” and which “stands for quality music”.

See, I’m picking out the choice words to create my own narrative, she might not have meant anything by it at all. She said her time with Sony was “incredible”, after all.

Then there was that letter she wrote in September, posted to her Facebook page, in which she directly discussed her departure from Syco, saying: “After several years, I thought about leaving over and over again. I was terrified of walking away from a somewhat secure relationship, even though I knew that we were no longer right for each other and at times even bad for each other. However, I clung to the safety net I had grown so attached to”.

She went on: “One day everything changed. For my fifth album, I was asked to make a record that would not have been true to myself. By all means as an artist in this climate, I was thankful to even get the chance to make another record. But I cannot make music that does not speak to my soul, and as scary as it seemed, I could no longer compromise myself, and so I decided to leave”.

She also said that she was “threatened with the fact that if I left, it would come out that I had been dropped”.

That, could, perhaps have been the final word on it all. Though was the disagreement on album five the first falling out or the final nail? And how harsh had that fall out really been? Lewis did add: “The end of a relationship can really burn but underneath it all, there is still love there”. Still love! Yes, it might have gone sour at the end, but they can still be friends. There’s no need to burn bridges and go on about it all the time. Let’s just drop it all now.

But no, things can’t be dropped. People still need to find hidden meaning in things. Earlier this month someone suggested to the Mirror that lines in her first Island single, ‘Fire’ are all about Syco. She was “drowning in quicksand”, she sings, adding: “I’m set free, I begin to spread my wings. I’m happy and I’ve earned this”.

Oh yeah, it could just be a song about a messy break up with an actual romantic partner, but don’t you think it’s more likely that someone would write about their relationship with a division of a multi-national company? And what’s more, the paper pointed out, while previewing the single at a live event in London, she also thanked Island, saying from the stage: “Thank you for allowing me to make an honest and genuine album and show the real me”.

Honest, genuine, and real. It doesn’t mean her albums with Syco weren’t those things, of course. She could just be surprised that Island let her make an album she appears to be happy with. But at the same time, she could totally sticking it to the stifling Syco.

Then this week, Lewis posted a video to her YouTube channel. A simple, innocent, tightly-edited video in which she lists all the ways she has been wronged since her time on ‘X-Factor’, without ever directly saying it.

“It’s like full circle back to where I started and where I began and why I started doing music”, she says of where she’s at now. And please note here point there: she had played music before falling into the jaws of Syco. She continues: “I’ve met people that I respect and love so much doing this, and that have become like best friends to me, and I’ve met people that have come in and taken advantage of me. I always embrace everyone with open arms and see the best in people”.

Well, I think we might have identified the problem. But there’s more: “Having that creative freedom, I’m going out there and doing my own things. A lot of people were telling me how to be and how act and what to say. You should be able to do whatever you wanna do, however you wanna express yourself. No one is one dimensional. I’m gonna say whatever it is I wanna say and I’m not gonna compromise myself anymore and I’m not gonna censor myself”.

So, there you go. I think that’s pretty conclusive evidence that Leona Lewis sees everything that has happened to her since 2006 as terrible and is only now starting her career in music. “Fuck you, Sony”, she seems to say. “And fuck you Simon Cowell. Fuck you right in the eye”.

Hey, speaking of people dishing out sly insults, Calvin Harris tweeted this week that his hit with Rihanna, ‘We Found Love’, “wouldn’t have been a hit if anyone else had sung it”.

Back in 2012, you might remember, Leona Lewis revealed that she’d been the original singer on the track. Honestly, these popstars…