The Meaning of Love (album)

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The Meaning of Love
Meaning Of Love Michelle McManus.jpg
Studio album by Michelle McManus
Released 16 February 2004 (UK)
Recorded 2003-2004
Genre Pop
Label 19, S, BMG

The Meaning of Love is the only album by Scottish singer and Pop Idol winner Michelle McManus, issued by BMG. Released on 16 February 2004, it debuted at #3 on the UK Albums Chart and featured two singles: the #1 UK Singles Chart entry "All This Time", and the title track, which peaked at #16. Critics derided the record for its production values and songwriting quality; multiple reviewers also found McManus's singing voice to be unimpressive.

Reception and legacy[edit]

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

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] Guardian journalist Caroline Sullivan also saw McManus's vocals as lacking the "wow" factor, which, she said, "could have enlivened some of these sub-Celine Dion torchers".[7] An critic said that McManus, whose vocal performances "never rise far above the level of a very average club singer", made fellow reality television music competition winners Will Young and Alex Parks "look like worldbeaters by comparison".[6]

Fiona Shepherd in The Scotsman delivered a track-by-track assessment of the record in which she criticised the quality of the material and described McManus as "another chicken-in-a-basket diva" with an "unremarkable" voice. Shepherd expressed a particular loathing for the cover version of Nina Simone's "Feelin' Good", which according to her, had "the guts ripped out of it".[9] The track was derided by multiple reviewers;[1][3][8] Herald journalist Beth Pearson pointed to this cover 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".[8]

Some reviewers, while unfavourable, were more receptive to McManus's vocals. Sharon Mawer in AllMusic saw the bulk of the material as "very bland, tuneless, and unmemorable", but commended McManus's "undoubted talent". She did, however, argue that McManus gained publicity more for "her outsized weight" than her singing.[1] Daily Mirror critic Gavin Martin stressed that she "can actually sing", but observed "some of the most horrifying material ever", with songwriting that is "drowned in cliche, seemingly knocked off with barely a thought".[5] BBC News writer Tom Bishop was impressed by McManus's "soulful" singing on Pop Idol, but felt her vocals sound "muffled and restrained by pedestrian production" on this "dull" album.[3] A Daily Mail reviewer saw McManus as a "talented cabaret singer rather than one with real potential", and said her "ultra-safe" debut record had been "rushed out in haste".[4]

Deviating from critical consensus, BBC Music journalist Ruth Mitchell wrote 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 a 2007 online poll, it was voted the seventh-worst album ever made by a Scottish artist.[12][13]

Chart performance[edit]

The Meaning of Love debuted at #3 on the UK Albums Chart on the 22 February 2004.[14] It fell to #14 in its second week and lasted a further three weeks in the UK Top 40.[15] The record made number one on the Scottish Albums Chart[16] and number 64 on the Irish Albums Chart.[17] It went on to receive a Gold certification from the British Phonographic Industry for sales of over 200,000 in the UK.[18]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "All This Time" Mac 4:22
2. "The Meaning of Love" Robson 4:24
3. "Say It Isn't So"
  • Bottolf Lødemel
  • Lars Aass
  • Ronny Janssen
  • Lars Aass
4. "Emotional"
  • Carlsson
  • Harry Sommerdahl
5. "When the World Is Not Enough"
6. "Too Fast Too Slow"
  • Joanne Jeffries
  • Steve Welton-Jaimes
  • Juliette Jaimes
James McMillan 3:32
7. "Cast the First Stone"
  • Ciaron Bell
  • Danielle Perkins
  • Sean Phillips
Stephen Lipson 3:36
8. "One Life"
  • Dennis
  • Simon Ellis
Lipson 3:36
9. "Feelin' Good" McMillan 3:14
10. "How Can Sorry Ever Mend a Broken Heart"
McMillan 3:08
11. "Invincible" Diane Warren Robson 4:43
12. "I'll Never Know" McMillan 4:19
13. "More Than Anything"
  • Dennis
  • Thomas Nichols
  • Tim Woodcock
Lipson 3:25
14. "Once in a Lifetime" Peden 4:06

Chart performance[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (2004) Peak
UK Albums Chart 3[15]
Irish Album Charts 64[19]
Scottish Album Charts 1[20]


  1. ^ a b c Mawer, Sharon (2004-02-16). "The Meaning of Love". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-05-31. 
  2. ^ a b "The Meaning of Love". BBC Music. Retrieved 2012-05-31. 
  3. ^ a b c Bishop, Tom (17 February 2004). "Review: Michelle's The Meaning of Love". BBC News. Retrieved 20 February 2016. 
  4. ^ a b "New Releases". Daily Mail. HighBeam Research. 20 February 2004. Retrieved 1 March 2016. 
  5. ^ a b Martin, Gavin (13 February 2004). "CD Reviews". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  6. ^ a b "Michelle - The Meaning of Love". 23 February 2004. Retrieved 31 May 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Sullivan, Caroline (13 February 2004). "Michelle, The Meaning of Love". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 May 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c Pearson, Beth (14 February 2004). "CDs". The Herald. Newsquest. 
  9. ^ a b HighBeam Research records the The Scotsman newspaper's original published score as 1/5 stars. The full review, without the star rating, can be read at
    • Shepherd, Fiona (13 February 2004). "An emotional wreck". HighBeam Research. Retrieved 28 September 2016. 
    • Shepherd, Fiona (13 February 2004). "An emotional wreck". Retrieved 28 September 2016. 
  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. ^
  17. ^ Michelle McManus – The Meaning Of Love Music Charts
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Michelle Mcmanus - The Meaning Of Love - Music Charts". Retrieved 2012-03-01. 
  20. ^ 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.