Simon Vozick-Levinson
June 14, 2007 at 08:42 PM EDT

Pretty much anyone who gets remotely close to the American Idol stage can count on scoring a record deal these days. (Need I remind you of Season 6 auditioner Ian Benardo’s recent debut release?) And yet it’s taken season 5’s Mandisa, who made it all the way to the show’s top 10, more than a year to get around to putting out her first single. Still, she’s reaped at least one advantage from that delay: The controversy surrounding certain unpleasantly narrow-minded statements she made last spring seems to have more or less died down since then. And now that we can listen to her new single “Only the World” with fresh ears, the time is just right for a proper PopWatch Snap Judgment! Check it out for yourself at Mandisa’s MySpace and click through to see our first impression after the jump.

Mandisa still had enough fans left to propel “Only the World” straight to the top of Billboard‘s singles sales chart this week. (Though not nearly enough to get her comparable spots on the more important Hot 100 and Hot 100 Airplaycharts.) I’m not sure, however, why anyone other than a diehard Fandisawould give this more than a couple spins. It’s got a sweet, sunnymelody, and Mandisa’s voice rings out clear and on-key throughout. Butthose motivational lyrics (“It’s only the world I’m living in/It’s onlytoday I’ve been given/There ain’t no way I’m giving in”) sound likethey come from a rejected Hallmark card, and the half-hearted rhythmguitar licks and bobbing bassline provide approximately 95 percent lessfunk than, say, Maroon 5’s last single. As Mandisa herself puts it inthe first verse, “nothin’ new here’s/What I do here.”

I’d be surprised if this song has any legs on the pop charts; Iguess I could see it replacing Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten” as ago-to feel-good tune for romantic comedy trailers. Then again, I’mprobably not exactly Mandisa’s target audience. How does it sound toyou, PopWatchers?

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