Today's issue has come out late for two reasons. I was involved as a volunteer for Simone Benedetti's research study on the prevention and treatment of Type 2 Diabetes and Cardiovascular Heart Disease, and had to come back on Friday because he couldn't get any blood out of me when I saw him on Wednesday. In addition, one of the songs' lyrics made me violently ill, and I have annotated that review accordingly. In a completely unrelated matter, this week's issue contains strong language.
BB Diamond's newest, Praying, combines warm deep house beats with one of the most epic piano lines we've heard in a while with BB Diamond's soaring vocals, but also with overly-aggressive drums. Whereas many of today's records are nods to the nineties, this is a violent headbang to nineties dance complete with the occasional bang-against-a-hard surface and fly backwards in shock. We do find that it runs about eight seconds too long at the end, however.
Two years ago, Banks complained that she was upset to see her "own heartbeats" on Neon Jungle's album Welcome to the Jungle after they included a cover of her Waiting Game. Today, we wonder what sort of beats went into the making of the sultry, explicit, but monotonous Fuck With Myself (which she told Genius she wrote because "we can be our own bullies and our own biggest champions"). The instrumental break in the middle is much needed after Banks' verbal onslaught, which is why it is irritating that it knocks off early.
A far less enervating piece is Make Me… by Britney Spears. Written unsubtly about sex, the song unites mid-tempo hums, lustful coos and occasional lashes of excitement; although Britney's vocals aren't bad either, G-Eazy's lyrics are, and are delivered with the enthusiasm and arrogance of a man who was insulted and can't be fired.
London duo Dusky's bizarrely-titled collaboration with Wiley, Sort It Out Sharon, sounds like a zebra crossing of bog-standard eighties 12" house records; the sections with Wiley on them fizz with a fierce fuzz, while the rest sounds like an extended instrumental that wonders what just happened. Overall, this isn't a bad piece of music, despite the pair opting to trim it to radio length by bluntly truncating it in a weird place (right up until its end, it feels like there's a third verse on its way).
Felix Jaehn teams up with the Finnish ALMA for a record which combines Jaehn's usual percussive sound with ALMA's pungent vocals to create an aggressive piece which at time evokes what life must be like for a snail with a fly in its shell - nice as a bit of company once in a while, but more often than not as annoying as hell. We would be surprised if this was as big a hit as its predecessors.
Hailee Steinfeld has teamed up with LA-production duo Grey and Zedd for her newest single, Starving. It's an unusual record; at heart it's acoustic, with occasional violin stings and barely audible drums. It would have been best left at that. Why, then, they opted to plop out a couple of lines of electronics in the middle of the choruses is indiscernible; there's a reason Steinfeld is Starving, and that's because too many cooks have spoilt the broth.
Somerset duo HONNE have come out with Good Together, the sort of tinny, half-hearted affair a SmartPrice portable keyboard might splutter whilst underwater. Blunt piano strokes, computerised vocals (previous songs included guest vocalists) and sample-pack drums greet each other like three territorial cats from three different gardens finding a new patch and simultaneously spraying to mark their territory. We are not averse to basic-sounding music - we reviewed Vittoria Hilz's Lost in Time very positively last week - but we are intolerant to incompetence, and wonder what possessed HONNE to come out with this.
This is a CD release of Justin Timberlake's Can't Stop the Feeling, released 9 weeks ago and the third of five records deprived of a #1 by the obstinate One Dance; the others are Cheap Thrills (four weeks, three with One Dance on top), This Is What You Came For (two weeks), Can't Stop the Feeling (four weeks), This Girl (four weeks) and Don't Let Me Down (one week). It's not Timberlake's best record - nor is it intended to be - but it is still an effortless if mid-tempo slice of dance. (We do wish the final near-a capella "got this feeling in my body" was twice its length, though.)
The first fifty seconds of Justice's Safe and Sound are like a time-machine; once the funk kicks in at about fifty seconds in, the song sounds like something out of 1976, with twangy guitars towing drums and violins; the vocals, while repetitive, serve as neat, complementary punctuation. We would be surprised if this caused the band to enter the top twenty, but hope it does nonetheless.
Katy Perry released Rise as an image song for NBC's coverage of the 2016 Olympic games. As powerful as its lyrics may be, the song comes across as though a series of vocals were recorded and then a sparse instrumental was hastily cobbled together for the vocals to kip on; indeed, the first few beats are almost as though they were a I Feel For You-style error. We hope that her proper comeback leaves less to be desired.
Tinashe has two records out this week. In the first, KDA teams up with Tinashe for Just Say, a funky slice of four-to-the-floor that wouldn't sound in the least bit out of place on a dance-floor; my only criticism is that Tinashe doesn't really acquit herself properly on the record, because in amongst the beats Tinashe's vocals sound nondescript, and may as though be those of anybody's. The second, Superlove, is a weird record; the synths click with the drums, and work with Tinashe's vocals. But that's all that can be said about the song - there's no fire to the record, no enthusiasm, nothing special about it whatsoever. The lyrics discuss Tinashe's love for a man in a club in sordid detail, running from her bouncing "banana all in that split" (which, I kid you not, is present in the radio edit. I feel ill) to getting jealous when another woman talks to him. He has my sympathy.
Interestingly, the start of this record sounds like the introduction to a hit - but only the introduction. Skrillex produced this record along with M.I.A.'s usual collaborator Blaqstarr, and the result is that this record clip-clops along as clumsily and as calamitously as a horse with four damaged legs. A shame, really, because the ingredients for a hit are all there; they're just very horribly disfigured.
Nelly Furtado's Behind Your Back is a jazzy record; while the guitar gently strums alongside Furtado's vocals and slides of drums, occasional synths prop up, with a nice piano solo at the end to top things off. We have no idea why she has elected to not put this on her new album, since it marks a refreshing change of pace for the singer. We look forward to hearing more from her.
Lady is OMYO (our music, your opinion)'s debut single (and not the other way round as per The Official Charts Company). It is a dulcet piece; simple piano lines complement the soft synths in such a way that they provide the vocals room to shine. We suspect that with the right song, a subsequent record will bring them a hit.
Oh, so that's what she's doing nowadays. Taylor Momsen vehicle The Pretty Reckless have this week come out with an effortlessly menacing piece unlike anything I've reviewed so far; a guitar and a set of drums chug away while her vocals rasp, pausing only to give a guitar a solo. We sincerely hope this is a hit - it deserves to be.
Earlier on, I joked that Justice's Safe and Sound is a trip back to forty years ago. Honey by Shy FX sounds even older than that; it sounds almost exactly like the very earliest reggae coming out of Jamaica in the late 1960s. Chilled out rhythm guitar, miniscule drums and infatuated vocals serenade the titular honey; had this been released in the 1960s, this song would have hogged the charts. Today, it is unlikely to even enter the charts, which is a crying shame.
Snakehips teams up with Zayn for Cruel, which combines Snakehips' usual laid-back sound with Zayn's usual confused sound and some strong lyrics to create a record which attacks the violence of today whilst at the same time describing a girl he met at a party as being a ray of hope in amongst the cruel world.
Torontonians Zeds Dead team up Diplo and Elliphant for Blame, a moody record which combines their signature drums and bass lines with the acquired taste of Elliphant's vocals which discuss her troubled youth and Diplo's ability to delicately shoe-horn in a drop anywhere it isn't wanted. The result is a soundscape that evokes a warzone.
I have definitely saved the best until last here. ZHU's newest, Palm of My Hand, is an extended, humid piece; with its sweaty synths, and soulful electric guitar, the beginning of the song evokes a grimy inner-city street on an unsociably hot day. The rest of the song extrapolates this into "recently bereft Englishman in France", and features brass, piano and violin sections and its only verse in French. (I'm not going to guess what it means because the last time I spoke French I ended up saying "I could order food in France, 'je suis KFC' means 'I want KFC' doesn't it?". It actually means 'I am KFC'".)
Two weeks ago, I said that Fergie's highest chart entries were London Bridge, L.A. Love, Glamorous and Big Girls Don't Cry, at #3, #3, #6 and #2 respectively. This was an error - we forgot to take into account her five #1s as part of the Black Eyed Peas, and managed to ignore her feature on David Guetta's Gettin' Over You (which also featured LMFAO and Chris Willis, although in that case the Official Charts Company had recorded it as just "David Guetta ft. Chris Willis only) for which we humbly apologise. Of the records we reviewed last week, only one has entered the UK Singles Chart: You Don't Know Love by Olly Murs has gone straight to #23. M.I.L.F. $ remains on the chart.
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