September 16, 2002 12:00 PM

Daniel Bedingfield (Island)

Born Down Under (in New Zealand), the London-raised Bedingfield scored a No. 1 hit in the U.K. last December with the clubby title track off his debut disc. Just what the world needed: a male Kylie Minogue. But the tune is catchy without Minogue’s disco glitz: It’s a plucky, tight elastic band of a song, with a kicking hook. Even better is the acoustic version, stripped down to just Bedingfield’s voice and a single guitar, that closes the album, while “James Dean (I Wanna Know)” is electronica with a fierce funk twist.

Bedingfield, 22, draws on the same mix of neo-soul, hip hop and electronica that propelled another London-based act, Craig David, on his first album last year. The only party-stoppers are a few sappy slow jams like the sleepy getting-over-you song “Honest Questions.” Unstick yourself from the treacle and latch on to the beats and Bedingfield’s smooth falsetto.

Bottom Line: Dandy Daniel

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