We have a new number one. Say You Won't Let Go by James Arthur has deposed Closer by Chainsmokers ft. Halsey from the top spot. The biggest surprise of the week has to be what's currently at #3; the execrable Starboy by Weeknd ft. Daft Punk. We condemned it last week because it counts among its many faults that it doesn't sound anything like the featured artist Daft Punk.
Bizarrely, this record does. Busted's On What You're On is a funky number chock-a-block with synths which combines the instantly recognisable vocal antics of the Busted bandmembers with deep keyboards and funky but lithe guitar in the background with sloping, shifty but somehow totally appropriate hi-hat cymbals, while the saxophone in the latter half of the final verse and throughout the final chorus is simply heavenly. If this is the sort of pop funk Busted have traded pop punk for, then I stand back, applaud the new change of direction and retract my description of their reformation as "urinated all over my childhood" from issue 11. (We also apologise for a HTML error which meant the word 'Fray' in the header below that review has been the wrong colour for about three weeks.) If a record with Daft Punk's name on it can zoom into the top 3, a record which sounds like it surely deserves to top the chart.
Cashmere Cat has recruited Selena Gomez and Tory Lanez for his newest single, Trust Nobody. The song is designed as a showcase for Selena Gomez, and should have been kept that way because after a couple of minutes of Selena's succulent sass Lanez barges in and proffers some sickening smattering of monotony and smut; his obscene topic matter, sung with with a laboured, almost strained vocal, is the musical equivalent of an unsolicited obscene phone call from one of them overly self-serviced divs on Jeremy Kyle (don't judge me, my sister's a fan), and makes me feel claustrophobic. I'll have a solo version if there's one going.
On the day that they've been deposed from their throne of #1 by James Arthur's Say You Won't Let Go, the Chainsmokers have retorted the follow-up to Closer, All We Know, featuring vocals from Phoebe Ryan. (Actually, it features the Chainsmokers' Andrew Taggart singing the same lines in harmony with Ryan but an octave lower in a practice popularised by the Climax Blues Band.) The problem with this record is that it comes across as a poor man's Closer; Ryan does her best to mask the problem but a lack of Ryan over the bridge unearths a hideous rehash of Closer's bridge. A crying shame really, particularly given that outside this formula the Chainsmokers have had some respectable hits, because this could have been another #1.
It takes a lot of nerve to cover a nineties classic – KSI had a go at Jump Around two weeks ago, and we in turn had a go at it. It takes even more nerve to cover a record that's currently in the charts – most who try that tend to go down the route of throwaway live cover, usually in the BBC's Live Lounge, or have fallen foul of a pre-release cover version. This week, David Guetta has teamed up with Cedric Gervais and Chris Willis to produce an EP of cover versions of Charles & Eddie's Would I Lie to You, of which a version by John Gibbons rose to a new peak of #71 last Friday. The original is a beautiful slice of neo-soul which perfectly embodies but wisely eschews mimicking the soul of the early 1970s, whereas the John Gibbons version is a serviceable second which brings the tune bang up to date, and in turn wisely eschews doing anything with the verses since they're too delicate to be bashed about by a set of electronics. The problem with all four versions is that there is simply not enough texture given the repetitiveness of the lyrics, and actually all the versions except the radio edit fail to remain interesting for the whole record. I'm not reviewing them individually because frankly they're four cheeks of the same backside. Some of the vocals sound as though Willis was singing out of annoyance. Overall, a tolerable third, but only because I'm in a good mood.
DNCE have released Body Moves this week. It attempts funk, but fails because the guitar has a peculiar effect on it that feels like boiled soup; all the flavour's been boiled out of it. That, plain-and-proud drums and deeper-than-usual vocals cause the record to feel as flat as a pancake. There is nothing which redeems this record at all.
Empire of the Sun have roped in Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac to play guitar on their new single To Her Door. After a fairly languid, off-putting, extended false start, the song broadens out into a rather tasty guitar-laden track complete with a solo – although I can't help but feel it's in the wrong order, I'd have put the solo between the second and third choruses and end it after the latter – though you'd have to listen closely to hear it. This is closer to a hit than Two Vines and High and Low, which we reviewed in issue 9, but it'll still need a bit of luck.
Galantis have released Love On Me this week, with contribution from Hook N Sling. It starts off harshly, with the near-acapella vocoded vocal at the start sounding about as welcome as a Count in a council estate, but eventually melds into a delicious slice of summery synths rocked gently by steel drums and largely falsetto vocals; the one male chorus in the middle I would replicate at the start, but otherwise this is a delicious record I can see in the top ten.
In what can only be described as one of the laziest features ever recorded, Kanye West has affixed the princely sum of just over three words ("and I'm ballin', uh, uh") to Juicy J's Ballin', albeit partially repeated ad nauseam. (The phrase "Like getting your money's worth?" springs to mind.) Sandwiched between bowderlised bits of Eddie Holman's I Ain't Gonna Give Up, Juicy J raps two damp squibs of verses and contributes to a particularly monotonous chorus over a drum heavy and particularly weak piano line – this could do with something stronger, because at the moment this just feels cagey. Perhaps a verse from Kanye would liven up proceedings?
Where DNCE's proffering Body Moves was a boiled track, Kimbra's Sweet Relief is a scrambled track. Kimbra's sweet vocals and drums buoy a series of assorted synthesised sound effects which plough through virtually the whole track with only one reprieve, towards the end; it would have made a nice instrumental break, and thus it would have been better to add a chorus or two at the end. Still, this will quench hungry fans' appetites.
Oooh, yes! Metallica have released their latest record, Moth Into Flame. A menacing guitar thrashes out almost non-stop while drums smash away and vocals scream, with the record only departing from this formula on a couple of occasions throughout the nearly six minutes to let the drums erupt. The results are a frantic, fantastic feast of a record which is just a breath of fresh air from some of the other rock releases we've reviewed over the last few months. Absolutely magnificent.
Major Lazer and Showtek have remixed Freetown Collective and Q-Major's Good Swimma for their new single Believer. While the original is a jangly chunk of jungle which runs for just two and a half minutes, Major Lazer and Showtek's version applies a coat of electronics which beefs up the record but unfortunately leaves the record a bit of a mess, since certain elements go together like chalk and cheese; the end of each chorus is appended with a Eurodance-style synth line, which is followed by reggae sampled from the original and next to that trap drums. Not going to happen.
Nathan Sykes has released Famous this week. A bluesy number comprising of drums, Sykes' soulful vocal and bleeding guitar that unfortunatly trots along at such an uncomfortably slow pace as to become ingratiating very quickly; the looped bass guitar at the beginning is poorly looped, and gets irritating almost immediately. This is a pitiful record, and we know Sykes is better than this.
From one solo bandmember to another, this hitherto unknown quantity released This Town on 29 September (mine and Halsey's birthday), in so doing becoming the second record to chart with a record before I can get around to reviewing it. (The other is Sia's The Greatest from issue 11. #100 from one day's sales – not bad!) I suspect this won't actually stay on the chart too long because it's languid and boring, like the bastard child of One Direction's Little Things and Don McLean's Vincent, only without the grace of either record. I suspect this'll do a Perfect Illusion – respectable first week sales, then a massive plummet.
A bizarre record this. OneRepublic has teamed up with Peter Gabriel for a record of two halves called "A.I.". The first half is a hotchpotch of Gabriel's putrid synths and OneRepublic's pop-headed blend of guitars, drums and their synths and both performers' vocals which feels like it's been cut a chorus short (moving the third one to after the final instrumental should sort that out), parts of which resemble the hushed but hospitable rhythms of Room 5's Make Luv. The second is a Gabriel antic, and features him muttering over a din of synthesised spunk; it has the feel of a modern day I'm In Love With My Car. (Queen bandmember Roger Taylor famously locked himself in a cupboard until the band agreed to include I'm In Love With My Car – a track he'd written – as the b-side to their megahit Bohemian Rhapsody.) As a vanity project – Gabriel is frontman Ryan Tedder's idol – this isn't too bad, albeit fauning – but as a single release, this is embarrassing. Keep this as a bonus track on a deluxe version on the album.
Good god, this is noisy! Tigertown have released Papernote this week. This is the third release for the song; the track was released on 8 May 2013 and again in 12 March 2015. It's a light record based on a guitar, drums and assorted synths, alongside falsetto vocals and keys. It's another record with pugnacious bass which makes the whole record seem stodgy, and rereleasing it now is like flogging a dead horse – anyone who would have bought it would have bought it by now. Anything else, or is that the bottom of their barrel?
Never Complaining is Tom Aspaul's latest release. It's a slimy set of synths livened up by synthesised drums and handclaps and Aspaul's self-assured vocal; with its melodic harmonies wrapping themselves together, think a less boring If You Let Me by Sinéad Harnett, especially given that this was cowritten by confederate to said calamity GRADES. Aspaul might well be capable of writing hits for other artists, but as yet we've seen no evidence he can write one for himself.
Vanessa White has offered Low Key featuring Illa J (J Dilla's brother) on rap duties. It's more of what you might expect from her; powerful vocals set against a silky backdrop, this time of excitable drums, osteopathic keyboards and occasional bleeps and bloops combining to produce a dreamy, delicious track. Illa J provides a very tasty verse for someone who could easily be lost from the record without fuss, and this is overall a very pleasant record indeed.
Now this I can't fault. The Weeknd has released False Alarm – a record with the same name by Matoma ft. Becky Hill's at #28 at the time of writing – and it's so much more upbeat than Starboy. Synths and drums are bashed about by occasional licks of organ and The Weeknd's occasional bellows "false alarm!" to combine for a fantastically upbeat piece of synthpop. Although he has redeemed himself for last week's Starboy, there is one fault – the bit right at the end is unnecessary, and has the feel of The Weeknd not wanting to hand the microphone to the next bloke and throwing a tantrum.
XYLØ have this week come out with Dead End Love. It's an unexcitable record, by and large because very little happens in it. Yes, there are synths, but they fog the record like zyklon B in a gas chamber. Yes, there is percussion, but it is buried beneath an abundance of synths. Yes, there is a vocal, and a very competent one, but it is one of the most boring vocals I've ever heard in my life. The whole song's missing something which I can't quite put a finger on – probably because it's been glossed over. Either way, this is a no-hoper.
|New peak/previous peak||Floundering||Absent|
|Say You Won't Let Go (James Arthur, #1)
Starboy (Weeknd ft. Daft Punk, #3)
My Way (Calvin Harris, #4)
In the Name of Love (Martin Garrix, #9)
Still Falling For You (Ellie Goulding, #11)
Hurts (Emeli Sandé, #22)
Ain't My Fault (Zara Larsson, #23)
Starving (Hailee Steinfeld ft. Grey & Zedd, #37)
Blow Your Mind (Mwah) (Dua Lipa, #38)
Cool Girl (Tove Lo, #46)
Mercy (Shawn Mendes, #47)
All Goes Wrong (Chase & Status ft. Tom Grennan, #65)
Would I Lie To You? (John Gibbons, #74)
|Closer (Chainsmokers ft. Halsey, #2)
Cold Water (Major Lazer ft. Justin Bieber & MØ, #7)
The Greatest (Sia ft. Kendrick Lamar, #8)
You Don't Know Love (Olly Murs, #26)
Can't Stop the Feeling (Justin Timberlake, #27)
Ain't Giving Up (Craig David & Sigala, #39)
Perfect Illusion (Lady Gaga, #44)
Who Do You Think Of (M.O, #58)
Waste a Moment (Kings of Leon, #80)
Kids (OneRepublic, #90)
A-List (WSTRN, #92)
|Meteorite (Years & Years)
Cruel (Snakehips ft. Zayn)
Don't Need No Money (Imani ft. Sigala & Blonde)
Cancer (Twenty One Pilots)
I was annoyed during the week to read a story in which a number of record labels including Universal, Sony, Warner Bros were reportedly suing a site called Youtube-mp3.org. Not all of us can afford to shell out for music; on a personal level, my income is just below £4,000 per annum (I am registered disabled with Asperger syndrome, and that is how much Disability Living Allowance pays these days) plus whatever my student loan is, and if I were to shell out 99p for every release I reviewed, I would have shelled out over £100 in September alone, which I can ill-afford. Yes, there is stuff like Spotify Free which can play stuff for free (albeit with ads), but that costs a bomb in data, so some of us have to download it, connect our phones to the computer and transfer any files I'd want to listen to before I left the house. In addition, not every record is on the main streaming sites/download sites due to labels going bust or just not bothering to post their music online (with even fewer tracks on Spotify; many massive artists are missing out of protest). What if I wanted to listen to Get Over It by MC Kinky? Swan Lake by the Cats? Anything by De La Soul released prior to 2004? In addition, the amount actually made by downloading/streaming is equivalent to a fart in a gas chamber; in 2003, it was estimated by Scott Welch, who managed Alanis Morissette and LeAnn Rimes, that "the top 10% of artists make money selling records. The rest go on tour". What Youtube-mp3.org requires is regulation; the way the major labels are behaving is gristle-grabbing, pig-headed and regressive.