Released: 23rd October 2000
Writers: Evan Rogers / Carl Sturken
Peak position: #2
Chart run: 2-4-8-15-27-35-44-56-57-74
Having carved out a comfortable little niche as a purveyor of soaring ballads, Martine McCutcheon defied expectation and finally turned up to play the pop game with her comeback single I’m Over You.
Martine McCutcheon’s second album Wishing felt like a deliberate attempt to revise and re-frame what sort of artist she was. Having left EastEnders with the promise of launching a pop career, her first few singles had instead taken her down the adult contemporary route. It hadn’t been a disaster by any means; with a chart-topping debut single, two further top ten hits and a #2 album. But having (re)entered the music industry with so much momentum behind her, the middle-of-the-road is surely not where anyone wanted Martine McCutcheon to end up. Nor did it feel like somewhere she belonged. However, there was little expectation for what a new single might sound like, which played into her hand very well. For not only was I’m Over You a killer pop track, but one that took everyone by surprise.
While by no means old at the age of 24, it would nonetheless have been counter-productive to try and position Martine McCutcheon in direct competition with the teen-pop princesses who were dominating the chart. However, it was a smart move to recruit Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers for I’m Over You. The duo was working with many popular acts around the time – including Emma Bunton, Jessica Simpson, Christina Aguilera and Mandy Moore – offering a current-but-retro-tinged sound that will be immediately recognisable to anyone familiar with those debut albums. It fit perfectly with the potential Martine McCutcheon had as a pop star without alienating her existing fanbase, even if they were potentially quite different markets.
I’m Over You is an excellent song in its own right; the track is an embarrassment of riches in terms of its hooks. But they’re further elevated by the fact that it’s being performed by a singer with such versatility. We’re just going to call it now; the pre-chorus contains one of the best hooks of the whole bubblegum pop era: “I gave my all, I gave my trust, I gave my heart, but it WASN’T ENO-OUGH”. The writing and delivery are absolutely faultless, and it also serves as a middle-eight – of sorts – where there’s a clever switcheroo with the lyrics: “I gave my heart and I GAVE my TRUST, I gave my all but it WASN’T ENO-OUGH”. There’s never any real pretence that I’m Over You is deeply personal to Martine McCutcheon, but she’s able to artfully emote where the track demands it.
And that’s the magic she sprinkles over the song; it turns an occasionally whimsical pop number (“Mirror, mirror on the wall, catch me now before I fall”) into a charming performance that is delivered with real meaning. The toe-tapping chorus: “You can fool some of the people, some of the time, but you can’t fool this heart of mine, and it’s sad but it’s true, I’m over you…” isn’t theatrical, as such, but Martine McCutcheon sells the story and takes the song where it needs to go. There’s a warmth and likeability to her vocals; the sweeping key-change – while not necessarily the most technically impressive within her oeuvre – is read perfectly within the context of I’m Over You. In hindsight, it’s entirely unsurprising that Martine McCutcheon’s next move would be into musical theatre (although not without some controversy) because she exhibits a natural ability to get under the skin of a song and turn it into something quite extraordinary.
The music video for I’m Over You reaffirms the attempt to edge Martine McCutcheon towards a broader audience by – quite literally – playing to two different markets. There’s some deep disco styling for the Pink Flamingo ’82 scenes (a concept that might have been better suited to her next single, a cover of Donna Summer’s On The Radio?), mixed with modern-day Martine, sporting a stars-and-stripes bandana and dancing in front of a giant scoreboard. It’s not entirely clear whether the past and present are supposed to be linked in some way, but as with so many other things in the late-‘90s/’early-‘00s, it just is the way it is and who are we to question why; it just made sense at the time. What remains evident is that Martine McCutcheon was tackling the charts from a new angle. As it would transpire, the two aesthetics presented were very much a statement of the direction that the Wishing album would take.
On its release, I’m Over You peaked at #2 in the UK, becoming Martine McCutcheon’s most successful single since Perfect Moment. The album was released shortly afterwards, although it didn’t fare quite so well, reaching #25. It was a bold move to release it into the festive market off the back of one single, particularly when it marked such a shift in sound. But it was arguably the best decision in the long run; Wishing hung around the Top 40 over Christmas and almost certainly ended up selling more than it would have done at any other point. Particularly because after only one further single, the album campaign was curtailed when Martine McCutcheon landed the role of Eliza Doolittle in the stage production of My Fair Lady.
What’s great about I’m Over You is that while it fit perfectly into the pop landscape of 2000, it didn’t really sound like anything else at the time. The track finally delivered on the promise of Martine McCutcheon as a pop star. While Perfect Moment may be the more accomplished performance, this is easily her most enjoyable and an undisputed turn-of-the-century gem.