The Meaning of Love (album)

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The Meaning of Love
Studio album by Michelle McManus
Released February 16, 2004 (UK)
Recorded 2003-2004
Genre Pop
Label BMG
Producer Steve Mac

The Meaning of Love is the only album by Scottish pop singer Michelle McManus issued by BMG. Released on February 16, 2004 in the United Kingdom and Ireland, it was Michelle's first album since winning the UK Talent show Pop Idol in December 2003. It yielded two Top 20 entries on the UK Singles Chart: the chart-topping "All This Time", and the title track, which stalled at #16.

The Meaning of Love met with an overwhelmingly negative critical reaction and has since received various "worst album" accolades. Although it entered the UK Albums Chart at #3, the album soon cascaded into obscurity and McManus was dropped by her label.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 2/5 stars[1]
BBC (favourable)[2]
Daily Mail (unfavourable)[3]
Daily Mirror (unfavourable)[4] 2/5 stars[5]
The Guardian 2/5 stars[6]
The Herald 1/5 stars[7]
Q 1/5 stars[8]
The Scotsman (unfavourable)[9]
The Telegraph (unfavourable)[10]

The Meaning of Love was released to near-unanimous condemnation from the music press, with McManus's vocal abilities being singled out for criticism. Lynsey Hanley in The Telegraph wrote: "This whole record smacks of boil-in-the-bag songwriting and lazy, hasty production tarted up with cheesy strings." She stated that McManus's singing "lack[s] any discernible 'wow' factor" and is on par with "a karaoke regular or, at best, a provincial cabaret turn."[10] Scotsman journalist Fiona Shepherd delivered a track-by-track critical assault of the record in which she described McManus as "another chicken-in-a-basket diva" with an "unremarkable" voice. Shepherd expressed a particular loathing for the cover of Nina Simone's "Feelin' Good", which according to her, had "the guts ripped out of it."[9] Beth Pearson in The Herald pointed to this track as evidence that McManus "just can't sing soulfully", which, combined with the album's "tinny production and synths imported direct from the 1980s", made for a "thoroughly boring, unambitious debut".[7]

An review argued that McManus was the single worst winner of the entire Pop Idol series, and that she made fellow reality television music competition winners Will Young and Alex Parks "look like worldbeaters by comparison". The publication asserted that "the project is sunk by McManus's vocal performances, which never rise far above the level of a very average club singer."[5] In an unfavourable review, the Daily Mail called McManus a "cabaret singer rather than one with real potential".[3] Most scathing was the appraisal published in Q magazine, which described the album as "appalling" and its public release as "fiercely malicious".[8]

Conversely, BBC journalist Ruth Mitchell opined that the album is "packed full of dreamy songs" and "surprisingly sounds like a very competent and unhurried effort indeed."[2]


The Meaning of Love won "Worst British Album" at the 2005 Naomi Awards.[11] In 2007, it was voted one of the 10 worst Scottish albums ever in an online poll.[12][13]

Chart performance[edit]

The album debuted at #3 on the UK Albums Chart on the 22 February 2004.[14] It fell to #14 in its second week and lasted only a further three weeks in the UK Top 40.[15] McManus was swiftly banished from her record label, BMG.[16]

Track listing[edit]

# Title
1. "All This Time" 4:23
2. "The Meaning of Love" 4:24
3. "Say It Isn't So" 4:31
4. "Emotional" 3:43
5. "When The World Is Not Enough" 3:43
6. "Too Fast Too Slow 3:34
7. "Cast The First Stone" 3:36
8. "One Life" 3:36
9. "Feelin' Good" 3:15
10. "How Can Sorry Ever Mend A Broken Heart" 3:08
11. "Invincible" 4:44
12. "Ill Never Know" 4:21
13. "More Than Anything" 3:25
14 "Once In A Lifetime" 4:08

Chart performance[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (2004) Peak
UK Albums Chart 3[15]
Irish Album Charts 64[17]
Scottish Album Charts 1[18]


  1. ^ Mawer, Sharon (2004-02-16). "The Meaning of Love review". Retrieved 2012-05-31. 
  2. ^ a b "BBC review". Retrieved 2012-05-31. 
  3. ^ a b "New releases". Daily Mail (Associated Newspapers). 20 February 2004. The 23-year-old Glaswegian's debut plays ultra-safe...[a] cabaret singer rather than one with real potential. Rushed out in haste. 
  4. ^ Martin, Gavin (13 February 2004). "Avoid it - WAFER THIN; (BUT THAT'S JUST THE MUSIC)". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "Review". Retrieved 2012-05-31. 
  6. ^ Sullivan, Caroline (13 February 2004). "Michelle, The Meaning of Love". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 May 2013. 
  7. ^ a b Pearson, Beth (14 February 2004). "CDs". The Herald (Newsquest). It was predictable, but it's still disappointing. Michelle McManus will never cavort to an uptempo, cutting-edge R&B joint, this we know. But did they really have to market her as sub-Steve-Wright's-Love-Songs fodder for the middle market?...Suffice to say, much of this sounds like soft-rock balladry performed to a karaoke backing tape...she just can't sing soulfully (starkly demonstrated on her cover of 'Feelin' Good'). Combined with tinny production and synths imported direct from the 1980s, this is a thoroughly boring, unambitious debut. 
  8. ^ a b Q review, March 2004, p.114
  9. ^ a b Shepherd, Fiona (13 February 2004). "An emotional wreck". The Scotsman. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  10. ^ a b Hanley, Lynsey (16 February 2004). "CD reviews: Viktoria Tolstoy and more". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  11. ^ "Naomi Award 'winners'". London Evening Standard. 8 February 2005. Retrieved 13 May 2014. 
  12. ^ "Texas Album is 'Worst Scottish Record'". Daily Record. 23 October 2007. Retrieved 13 May 2014. 
  13. ^ "Texas top chart.. of bad CDs". Mirror. 23 October 2007. Retrieved 19 May 2014. 
  14. ^ "Album Chart For 28/02/2004". Chart Stats. 2004-02-28. Archived from the original on 2012-07-28. Retrieved 2012-03-01. 
  15. ^ a b "Michelle McManus - The Meaning Of Love". Chart Stats. 2004-02-28. Archived from the original on 2013-01-19. Retrieved 2012-03-01. 
  16. ^ English, Paul (4 September 2010). "Michelle McManus: How I fought back from Pop Idol rejection to sing for the Pope". Daily Record. Retrieved 15 May 2014. 
  17. ^ "Michelle Mcmanus - The Meaning Of Love - Music Charts". Retrieved 2012-03-01. 
  18. ^ Walker, Ruth. "Where are they now? Former Reality TV stars tell of life out of the spotlight - The Scotsman". Archived from the original on 2011-06-04. Retrieved 2012-05-31.