Cold Water by Major Lazer, Justin Bieber and MØ remains at #1; Bieber and DJ Snake remain at #2 with Let Me Love You, making this Bieber's forth week at positions 1 and 2 this year and seventh in the last year (by which I mean in the last twelve months and not in 2015 as one particularly obnoxious user of my contact form suggested). Can I legally defensibly start calling him a hog yet? Closer by Chainsmokers and Halsey have, err, gotten closer to the top spot and is at #4, Olly Murs knows what it's like to peak at #19 with You Don't Know Love and Martin Garrix and Bebe Rexha's has gotten to #29 In the Name of Love, while Kids by OneRepublic have landed at #60, A-List by WSTRN is listed at #81 and Bang Bang by Green Day has blown it at #84. Starving by Hailee Steinfeld, which I reviewed back in issue 3, rumbles in at #92. Can't Stop the Feeling by Justin Timberlake, Who Do You Think Of by M.O, Cruel by Snakehips & Zayn, Cool Girl by Tove Lo, Rise by Katy Perry and Don't Need No Money by Imani, Sigala and Blonde remain on the chart.
The Official Charts Company made a mess of this entry. Austin Mahone has released two records this week: Way Up and Send It, the latter (and not the former) features Rich Homie Quan. Those old enough to remember such things: this is what a double-A side looks like nowadays. Scary. Way Up feels like a set of vocals over a Shadows-like lead guitar with crawling, drawling smacks with Mahone's vocals for a record that feels like something out of a horror movie. Send It is a more dulcet piece, with welcoming guitar and chunky, if bloated drums belying a besmirched subject matter (if you have to produce pornography because either side can't be bothered to go round and look for themselves, move on). Neither record could be described as a masterpiece, but neither record does anything wrong.
Which is more than can be said for Mind Games. I mean, for God's sake this is the third week in a row that Banks has released a single and this time she's shoved in front of us some sluggish cacophony of computerised spittle against Chrissie Hynde-like slurring that sounds like it's been frantically retrieved from the bin and haphazardly chucked together. This should be locked away in the depths of the album and the key discarded.
Britney, like Banks, has her third release in as many weeks - Do You Wanna Come Over?. This release sets pulse-like synths against occasional acoustic guitar jabs, which liven up the record but are too few and far between to be of any great use, as well as Britney's vocals and infrequent drums; as much as I am a sucker for tribal drums, here they sound out of place and die beneath a sea of electronics. Close, but no cigar.
Craig David has two records out this week. The first, Ain't Giving Up ft. Sigala, combines David's vocals with Sigala's sun-soaked beats, but sounds way too short (it shuts off abruptly at the end of the second chorus). The second of the two, No Holding Back, is a feature on a Hardwell release that actually premiered on 19 March 2016 as part of Hardwell's set at Ultra Music Festival in Miami and knocked David back to his garage roots with a hunk of funk.
Crystal Fighters have All Night out this week. The song kicks off with a gentle guitar strum and rhythmic thump and builds up over the course of record. Tribal drums litter the record and the song overall has a tropical feel. However, although All Night tries to be broad, it comes across lithe; the solution to that is issue a louder mix. This has the potential to be a big hit, but it feels thin.
Smoke Without Fire is one of two new tracks from David Gray's greatest hits album "The Best Of"; the other will come out the same day as the album. I am in no hurry to hear it - this is an empty record, a spate of synths across Gray's vocals and a section of drums ooze along at a snail's pace, and frankly the record sounds like as though it's only half-finished.
De La Soul have released Greyhounds this week with Usher. The song is a lush record which only really attempts to build up in the third verse, which is basically another chorus. Otherwise, the record provides what is really a very weak backdrop for their powerful vocals. This record contains one of my pet hates - an abrupt ending - and I shall be eager to discover what it fades into. (For this release, I would have faded it out from 5:13 to 5:23.)
A piece of the Bridget Jones' Baby original motion picture soundtrack, Ellie Goulding has Still Falling For You out this week. A slow-burning but energetic track comprising of synths, drums (after a while) and brings out some of the best of Goulding's, err, indie vocals and eventually builds to a smashing crescendo. Very possibly her next #1.
Izzy Bizu has Lost Paradise out this week. A stark, bluesy piece reacting broad, bellicose drums with furious synth flicks, just enough guitar to promise a solo (which the song could benefit from) and Izzy's soulful vocals jogs on like a giant with cerebral palsy. This is one of them songs that should be a hit but probably won't trouble the charts.
Now this is a CD rerelease of Rise by Katy Perry. I make no apologies for copying my review from issue 3.
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.I do apologise, however, for a number of errors underneath the word "Rise" in the previous review - please hover over the word for the correct history.
Kloe has Liability out this week. A slow record, lazy synths slide along inoffensively like a cat in an icy car park against a tarmac of sparse drums. Kloe's sweet vocals decorate the track like streamers on a Christmas tree. This sort of thing would do very well if it was daubed all over an EDM remix; as it stands it is too lifeless to do much.
Oooh, yes! Metallica have Hardwired out this week; a harsh slab of explosive drums, mean guitar riffs and screeched vocals come together in a blitzkrieg of smashes, crashes and thumps over the course of just over three minutes. This record shuts up just as it begins to get boring, which is why it is disappointing to note that not only is their shortest record since "Kill 'Em All's "Motorbreath" in 1983", the rest of their new album will consist of twelve records over eighty minutes. Dear hell…
In what is certainly the first of his records I can find to contain a rap contribution (and yes, I have rummaged through his entire Spotify presence), Michael Bublé has in conjunction with Black Thought released Nobody But Me this week. An upbeat record with a mighty but melodic bass-line comprising of drums, bass guitar and piano intertwine with Bublé's silky vocals and Thought's polyester rap to create a sure-fire hit.
Mollie King has come out with Back to You this week. Beginning with a particularly poorly put together introduction and continuing with boring synths, Mollie's vocals and barely enough vocals to put a dent in to the record, the song trundles along like a milk float on a set of road-humps - i.e. painfully slowly. No chance.
Say Lou Lou have covered the Bee Gees' Stayin' Alive this week. Flickers of guitar and gaunt drums play second fiddle their broad vocals; to me at least, this feels like what Stayin' Alive would have sounded like if the latter's recently deceased mother (Barbara Gibb, 17 November 1920 - 12 August 2016) had recorded it. Where the original was a nonplussed stroll down a New York sidewalk, this is a hot and bothered march down through the Sahara desert: As a contemporary reimagining of the record, it's a bold move. As a cover version, it lacks the precision and grace of the original.
SG Lewis has released an EP this week, Yours. The title track features label-mate Raye, and features an infuriating stop-start introduction - the first half minute could be cut at no great cost - while the rest of the record sounds bedraggled. Holding Back contains a flurry of synths and percussion amongst R&B-ster Gallant's silky vocals. Meant to Be, which bizarrely was released as a standalone single the same day and features Lewis on vocals, continues in a similarly funky manner with softly spoken synths. Gone is an irritating record; the synths are more frenzied than the previous three, and complement Bishop Nehru's rap. However, there is a nasty gulf in the middle of the record which creates an anticlimax.
Shawn Mendes has released a record called Mercy this week. Mendes' Beginning with a slight piano, collecting a bass guitar on the way and building up to a set of drums, Mercy builds up to a crackling crescendo to which Mendes lends his velvety vocals. This is sure to be as big a hit as its two predecessors.
Tough Love has joined up with Karen Harding for this record. This is an irritating record, since it has the potential to be a big hit. Unfortunately, the record limps along with very little energy - there's enough, but only just - and the result is a being in an old car that can only hit 50 on a double-lane motorway (the sort where everyone else is at 70). The phrase 2+2=3 springs to mind.
Emeli Sandé? Oh, yeah - according to Spotify, she hasn't released anything since 2013. She's now back as a featured artist on Wretch 32's I.O.U. A gregarious guitar and dense drums form a suitable bed for Sandé's silky and Wretch's hoarse vocals; although this does run slightly too long, starved fans won't be able to get enough of it. This is a sure-fire hit.
Louise has been confirmed for this year's Strictly, Anastacia's been confirmed for this year's Strictly. And Heavy D's been evicted. No, I'm not talking about a sex change operation - a man called Heavy D has been kicked out of the Celebrity Big Brother house; blokes called Lewis Bloor and James Whale are also out. Two musical institutions restart this week: Top of the Pops is back on the air on 25th August at 7:30pm with an extended broadcast the following morning at 1:40am, both on BBC Four. (Just cut the news down to twenty minutes - all households that get BBC Four also get BBC News, and those that get neither will have caught the news on BBC One an hour earlier.) If The X Factor was sensible, it would go out immediately afterwards, but instead it airs 8pm on 27th August, with The Xtra Factor going out at 9:30pm. (Myself? I prefer to record the late night Top of the Pops and watch it the following morning, and record both The X Factor and The Xtra Factor and watch from the beginning a quarter of the way through - in this case at about 8:35pm - and skip the ads.)