Good news and bad news. The good news is that Drake's One Dance has finally seeped into the chart, at #5; at #1 this week is Major Lazer, Justin Bieber and MØ's Cold Water, which we reviewed last week. It was the only record we reviewed last week to enter the charts. Fergie's M.I.L.F. $'s dropped out of the chart, while Zayn and Snakehips' Cruel has attained a new peak of #33. Can't Stop the Feeling, Rise and Make Me… remain on the chart (in the latter case, only just). The bad news is that Ken Barrie, who voiced Postman Pat, died last Friday (29 July) after a short battle with cancer; he had a #44 hit with "Postman Pat" in 1982. This issue contains strong language.
Bastille has Fake It out this week. Beginning with a sample of 1971 short film Social Seminar: Changing, Fake It is a sluggish song which crawls along lazily; the synths sound half-asleep, while the drums smack of a drummer desperate to show off what he can do (the computerised smashes between the second and third pre-choruses and choruses sound grossly out of place). Front-man Dan Smith told NME it was one of the "last tunes we made for the album"; this would explain the odour of 'almost done, lads' the record reeks of.
Oooh, yes! The Chainsmokers have featured Halsey - with whom I share a birthday (29 September) - on their newest record Closer; the verses are laid on to a lithe layer of simple synths and claps, while the bridges and choruses build into a smashing climax with a chunky drop. Having two vocalists on this record - the Chainsmokers' Andrew Taggart sings as well as Halsey - provides a bit of variety, and with its evocative lyrics, think a more erotic Up (Olly Murs & Demi Lovato). This is an outstanding record, and we would be disappointed if it did not become a big hit.
Be Here comes out on the 1st of August rather than last Friday - thank goodness for Annie Mac (there's a rip from one of her shows on YouTube) - and features vocals from I Got U collaborator Kelli-Leigh, who yet again is uncredited. Be Here is a chilled hunk of house, the sort that brings up images of flumping down on a deckchair on a beach in sociable weather. I can see this being a hit.
Flo Rida has Zillionaire out this week. Far more poppy than his usual fare, this song sees Rida singing rather than rapping. It's clearly intended as an experiment rather than a proper record, evidenced by Rida proclaiming "that was perfect" between the first and second verses, and we are unsure why it was dignified in this way. We can't fault the instrumental - a laid back, summery piece complete with occasional saxophone pangs and - but unfortunately requires something with a bit more energy to pep it up. (2012's Whistle is a good middle-ground - rapped verses, sung choruses.)
Arrogant much? Jason Derulo is so confident that Kiss the Sky will sell a million copies in America (thereby being certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America) that he's released it the same day as, and as the lead single from, his greatest hits collection Platinum Hits with eleven other records that have sold that well. Well, the song kicks off properly with a bold, brassy introduction, and carries on with a funky guitar-driven beat complete with intermittent cowbells. He has a point, and we agree with it. The song is soon to be featured in animated film Storks.
JoJo seems to have done things in reverse. While most people employ pungent narrative when they're teenagers and then go on to do useful stuff as an adult, JoJo's put out useful stuff as a teenager and brought out Fuck Apologies with Wiz Khalifa as an adult. Aided by a lewd guitar riff and abetted by a crude ...err, not much else. A bit - literally, a bit - of bass, minimal special effects here and there, and percussion that rarely diversifies from claps. JoJo's bland vocals add nothing, and neither does Khalifa's nondescript, boilerplate rap. It doesn't take very long for the record to get very monotonous indeed. Worse still is the ending, which promises a fourth verse but cuts short before it can get into it. All in all, a shambolic effort.
Martin Garrix collaborates with Bebe Rexha this week with In The Name of Love. Rexha's strident vocals ride Garrix's assorted synths, and almost exclusively his synths - there are no drums until halfway through each chorus and during the instrumental interludes. The net result is an empty record, devoid of all atmosphere and energy, lacking in substance and containing no redeeming features whatsoever.
This is a rough mix of Welcome to the Black Parade, My Chemical Romance's only #1 single, released for the first time last Friday as the lead single from the 10th Anniversary rerelease of The Black Parade (and last Friday as a single). This version replaces the ostentatious opening with something shorter, and only actually keeps the first verse. Whereas the hit version was an extended, extravagant affair, this record is far, far more manageable. It'll be interesting to see if this charts.
About the only record I can think of that had a CD release the same day as a digital release, People on the High Line by New Order ft. Elly Jackson is a funky piece; complete with vivid guitar, strong bass and piano reminiscent of Feel by Robbie Williams, the net result is nearly six minutes of solid funk. We would have liked to hear a bit more of Elly Jackson, though, as she only sings one line on the record. The Extended Mix and Radio Edit each creates a problem solved by the other; one cuts out too much, but finishes properly, while the other's a sensible volume, but has an irksome fade-out.
This week, Rumer releases a cover version of (They Long to Be) Close to You. While the original treats the composition as an instrumental first that just so happens to contain lyrics, Rumer treats the record as a set of lyrics first and a song second, overhauling the instrumental. Her version is the equivalent of replacing the heart of a bloke admitted to hospital after a single kidney failed; it combines a droll, pathetic excuse for an instrumental with an all right set of lyrics slowed to smithereens. We may have to retract our criticism of In the Name of Love; at least that went somewhere, albeit lifelessly.
Shires have Beats to Your Rhythm out this week. Syrupy vocals, both male and female, wrap around each other like twisted strands around each other around a hunk of guitar and intermittent injections of bass, piano and drums. Unfortunately, on this occasion, intermittent is the operative word, given that it flies on and off constantly, and its constant downtime starts to grate very quickly. The combination of vocals might lend itself to a hit, but this isn't it.
Sinéad Harnett enlists GRADES for If You Let Me. Now I haven't heard anything else from either artist but I sincerely hope this isn't the pinnacle of either career; monotonous synths, which play for what feels like an age, pool with punctuated but perfunctory drums to dress up Harnett's vocals in shades of tedium, resulting in extreme enervation. There's no danger of either artist troubling the charts any time soon.
Lots of TV news this week. Celebrity Big Brother kicked off last Thursday (28 July), and will last until 31 August 2016. We're following it because one of the participants is Samantha Fox (had a tranche of entries in the last four years of the 1980s beginning and peaking with Touch Me (I Want Your Body) at #3), another two are X Factor alumni Katie Waissel and Chloe Khan (then Mafia) and a fourth is Aubrey O'Day, who was a fifth of US girl group Danity Kane (who haven't charted over here). However, we must take this opportunity to complain that Christopher Biggins narrating It's Not Me, It's You (panel show aired between Celebrity Big Brother and its Bit On the Side) presents an despicable conflict of interest, no matter how few people are actually watching it.
On the subject of The X Factor, however, The X Factor host Dermot O'Leary went on This Morning last Tuesday (26 August). He said that the new series of the show would premiere in "the last week of August"; if so, we can look forward to a double-bill on Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 August since the US network which airs the show, AXS, says it will be airing the show the day after it airs over here and that there will be a double-bill of episodes on 28 and 29 August. Brilliant. The Judges this year are Simon Cowell, Sharon Osbourne, Nicole Scherzinger and Louis Walsh; audience members who attended the filming of the execrable six-chair challenge have stated that they will be looking after the Girls, Overs, Boys and Groups respectively. In addition, The Xtra Factor hosts will be Matt Richardson and Rylan Clark; they can look forward to going out live from the first show, rather than from the start of the live shows. Great stuff. ITV would be well advised to air the final this year on a Thursday so that the winner's single has a full week's sales for its first chart week; we believe this is why last year's winner, Louisa Johnson, only peaked at #9.
Also worth noting is the fact that it is ten years since Top of the Pops' weekly shows were cancelled. The Official Charts Company asked if it was time to bring a music show back to primetime TV; I say absolutely not. Top of the Pops worked because there was no other way to watch music on TV; nowadays on Freeview alone 4Music and Viva broadcast modern music for almost the whole day (with the exception of repeats of an evening). In addition, people seeking a chart countdown can access The Official Chart Company's site for the entire top 100, and there are publications for those seeking top 200. The best way to tackle this is to repeat The Official Chart Show, which airs at about 5:15pm on Fridays on CBBC, at 7:30pm that day on BBC1 since all that airs then is panel show repeats.
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