We have a new number one. Little Mix's Shout Out to My Ex has displaced James Arthur's Say You Won't Let Go to number two. The Chainsmokers & Halsey's Closer is at number three; we are not aware of any other point where the entire top three have all been independently subjected to complaints of plagiarism (see last week's issue and issue 11 for evidence). This isn't a co-incidence. Shortly before Robin Thicke, Pharrell and T.I.'s Blurred Lines was found guilty of being plagiarised from Marvin Gaye's Got to Give It Up, the decision was condemned as opening up "the floodgates of litigation" and during its appeal over 200 artists rallied to their support. This is the music industry going "it's alright, we're going to get sued anyway, so we're going to go the whole hog" and I pin a generous serving of the blame on the heirs of Ed Townsend, the writer of Let's Get It On, who announced that they were suing Ed Sheeran over similarities between Let's Get It On and Thinking Out Loud in an obviously opportunistic, obnoxious me too move. The whole thing is a sad state of affairs, really, and I dread to think what this will do to the industry.
Amongst the stuff I will be reviewing is Rockabye by Clean Bandit ft. Sean Paul & Anne-Marie, the follow-up to Clean Bandit's Tears ft. Louisa Johnson, on the subject of which I was on the tube back from Baker Street going towards Hammersmith, and the curmudgeonly coot opposite me asked "Where else have I seen an scantily clad teenager getting soaked and loving every single minute of it? Oh yeah – outside any UK nightclub on a rainy day, there's usually hundreds of them." Obviously, as a teenager, jumping on a Clean Bandit record is the best thing for your career – look at the wonders it worked for Sharna Bass! One last thing before I launch into the week's reviews; you can usually tell if I'm feeling stressed or otherwise upset because my writing descends into a breathless spew where my sentence length doubles but the overall length of what I'm writing decreases. Last Saturday (22 October), the wheelchair used by a disabled person in my Scrabble club malfunctioned, jerked forward and knocked me over; see if you can work out which bits of this issue were written before my stress levels increased.
Alesso has teamed up with Dillon Francis for his new single, Take My Breath Away. Although the actual track of it is okay – a bit flat, but nothing so wrong as to be boring – the vocals are as irritating as anything. The "like that" bridge is sung without emotion, and as such is enfuriating. The drop on the record is irritating as well, although that's hardly her decision. The main problem with this track is that Alesso's style and Francis' styles are like milk and juice; individually they're quite serviceable, but together they are nauseating.
Warm was Becky Hill's newest release, released 18 October 2016. It is a gently burrowing record which brings out the toasty sensation of being in front of a log fire in the middle of Autumn. Hill's vocals flitter like butterflies around fauna, and the whole thing is just a delight to listen to. I wish it the best of luck.
From a record I wish the best of luck to to a record which requires all the luck it can get, Busted have released Easy this week. It's a piece of country pop which consists of guitar piano, synths and drums in bizarre quantities; to this reviewer, multiple male vocals on a record of this ilk just sounds like too much going on, and the synths during the bridge jut out like an Amstrad in a room full of Apples; given the choice, I ain't using either. Country is on the rise in this country, but this does its progress no favours.
Clean Bandit have this week released Rockabye, the second single from their second studio album, with vocals from Sean-Paul and Anne Marie; it's a inexorable hodgepodge of elements just chucked down with no regard for where they go. Strings – which admittedly are man down since one of the group's violinists left the band last week – lead the record and then leave it until the end to re-emerge. There's a nasty hole in the record a minute from the end; it's a chasmic version of the gap in their biggest hit Rather Be, and it feels like a premature ending which would have been a welcome respite given that the second 'half' contains an annoying drop on top of which a perfunctory vocal shriek battles with Sean Paul's asinine rapping and what my sister thought was a Sia-like shriek from Anne-Marie, and the result's a musical bloodbath. Worst of all is the lyrics, which have an inane sincerity about them that brings me out in a cold sweat. Stick to the unknown artists.
The X Factor Australia winner 2013 and Australia's 2016 Eurovision entry Dami Im – how she entered the latter given she's from the wrong continent I do not know – has released Fighting For Love this week. It's an electrification of her usual sound that's now reminiscent of David Guetta and Zara Larsson's This One's For You but bolstered by Im's soaring vocal; this is perhaps the first record I've reviewed where the main vocal is more pungent than the drop, and the record works remarkably well despite its topheaviness. I sincerely hope Simon Cowell's listening, because our X Factor winner last year Louisa Johnson went the other way (pulseless stringfest) and became the first X Factor winner to miss the top spot.
Words cannot express just how much of a disaster record Eminem's nearly eight minute freestyle Campaign Speech is. Last week, I said that Nas' verse on Robin Thicke's Deep was the best this site had reviewed; it's difficult to decide which one of this record's verses qualifies as the worst this site's reviewed, because none of them are any good. They're all plonked on top of a beat so minimal as to be virtually nonexistent, and frankly for this to come from the same man who sent a bumper freestyle into the top five less than three years ago is deeply disturbing.
GT (Groove Terminator) and Wildfire have released Not Alone this week. It's a chilled piece of EDM; it's a pleasant piece of music indeed, though with the exception of sax sprinkled across the record the thing is actually as bogstandard as it comes; soulful but repetitive vocals belie the fact that the instrumental is languid and monotonous. There is nothing here to suggest it'll have the slightest impact on the charts.
Oooh, I don't like this record. It's a obnoxiously slow track with tasteless lyrics repeated ad nauseam sung in such a way as to cause maximum annoyance and complete with extravagant but otherwise excruciating effects; the last time I heard a computer sound as ill as that the machine that made it was older than me. I routinely jest that many effects sound like grated cheese; some of the high pitched effects in the second verse sound like grated eardrum. Horrible, in other words, and the fact that a record of barely two minutes can aggravate this much speaks volumes.
Almost as slow is Icona Pop's Brightside; not to be confused with Killers' Mr Brightside which is currently on the charts, this has a definite slow-burn which remains interesting for its entire duration of nearly three minutes. Although I don't like the way Pop's vocals kick off with the record – I would have added an instrumental bar or two to the start of the track – the net is a relaxing few minutes which compared to their best known track I Love It may as well be a ukelele track. Not bad.
Cum Ar Fi?is Inna's newest release, sung in Romanian. It's a delightful but disconcerting release; you know that bizarre rearrangement of sentences that happens when translating sentences into a foreign language? It feels like a similar thing has been let loose on the instrumental, though perhaps its it being in a foreign language which is throwing me. (Or perhaps not – Mangú last week didn't have that problem.) Just as irritating is the fade-out; it feels like there's more coming. A shame.
James Arthur has released Remember Who I Was this week, to which I will happily oblige; prior to him returning to the top spot last month, I remember him for his homophobic rapping and bizarre Twitter rants. This is a combination of his previous two records; its chorus occupies similar territory to the epic but familiar Say You Won't Let Go, whilst having the same dark stylings as Sermon ft. SHOTTY HORROH last week; like the latter, Remember Who I Was needs a good jab in the arm of a rap but unlike the latter, doesn't receive one. (Syco doesn't trust Arthur to provide his own, clearly…) In place of Say You Won't Let Go, Remember Who I Was is a serviceable second.
For a minute, I thought Justice had released a record about a Pokémon called Alakazam, but apparently not. What they have released, however, is a hypnotic disco beat which includes stirring strings and what sounds like slapbass on speed; despite its complete lack of vocals, it manages to entrance for over five minutes. I do wish it did without the massive pauses in the middle of the record, though, since it breaks the flow of the record.
Oooh, now this I do like. Lovestarrs have come out with WTF (Pop Culture), a rambunctious reprehension of pop culture which condemns a selection of today's pop icons, many of whom I've never heard of, amidst a hurricane-like set of synths and densely layered drums. There are some questionable lyrics – there's no excuse for not knowing who David (Cameron) is, nor do many of the singers mentioned deserve being called out because many of them have at least some talent – but these are minor quibbles in an otherwise rich record. The censors in the censored version are as useless as the subjects of this record allegedly are.
Not to be confused with them of the #72 hit On the One, Luk has come out with Movement, a funky synthpop track with an almost tribal edge to it; Luk's vocal glides through the track like a ball on a crazy golf course. It's a bizarre set of effects; the echo at the end of the record shouldn't exist, while the female vocals underneath some of the choruses just feel like too much going on and the stop-start nature of the echo before the second verse is grossly inappropriate. The phrase "a good track spoiled" springs to mind.
Oh, phew! Thank goodness Nytrix opted to leave the Three Degrees classic of the same name alone when recording his new record When Will I See You Again featuring vocals from Neon Hitch and opted instead to produce a driving techno track complete with cello plucks, tender piano plinks and squeaky vocals (think a less nails-down-chalkboard Devyn Rose) for a meandering but melodious piece of music.
Never in all my time have I heard a track which sums up Robbie Williams in a single track; streaky, almost angelic piano lines meet autobiographical, narcissistic lyrics for an upbeat stomper of a record; it's essentially a modern revision of his earlier hit Feel, but with a different set of lyrics and firmer drums. Not bad.
I'll Ride For You is Taylor Colson's début single release; previous brushes with fame have regarded film or YouTube. It's an infuriating record; the vocal promises the vocal acrobatics of any of the artists massive in America but not over here (Tinashe springs to mind), but the instrumental – comprised of a whiny, synthesised guitar and only occasional sprinkles of percussion – sounds half-cocked, and it's a shame because Colson has the potential to become another international diva. Oh well.
Oooh, yes! Tom Aspaul's newest release Burnt Out is a groovy track which leads with a jittery synth line which reminds me at least of I Wish by Stevie Wonder, though this is quickly bowdlerised by garage beats and lecherous-sounding vocals; the record nonetheless skitters around deliciously, and we look forward to hearing more.
|New peak/previous peak||Floundering||Absent|
|Starving (Hailee Steinfeld ft. Grey & Zedd, #5)
Don't Wanna Know (Maroon 5 ft. Kendrick Lamar, #16)
Love On Me (Galantis & Hook N Sling, #37)
Mercy (Shawn Mendes, #40)
All Night (Vamps ft. Matoma, #42)
Waste a Moment (Kings of Leon, #45)
Kids (OneRepublic, #58)
Would I Lie To You? (John Gibbons, #59)
|Say You Won't Let Go (James Arthur, #2)
Closer (Chainsmokers ft. Halsey, #3)
Starboy (Weeknd ft. Daft Punk, #4)
The Greatest (Sia ft. Kendrick Lamar, #6)
My Way (Calvin Harris, #8)
24K Magic (Bruno Mars, #10)
Cold Water (Major Lazer ft. Justin Bieber & MØ, #11)
In the Name of Love (Martin Garrix, #14)
Ain't My Fault (Zara Larsson, #15)
This Town (Niall Horan, #17)
Still Falling For You (Ellie Goulding, #20)
Hurts (Emeli Sandé, #27)
Blow Your Mind (Mwah) (Dua Lipa, #32)
Can't Stop the Feeling (Justin Timberlake, #29)
Ain't Giving Up (Craig David & Sigala, #34)
All We Know (Chainsmokers ft. Phoebe Ryan, #33)
You Don't Know Love (Olly Murs, #39)
Grow Up (Olly Murs, #56)
Cool Girl (Tove Lo, #57)
Love Me Now (John Legend, #80)
Who Do You Think Of (M.O, #91)
Send Them Off! (Bastille, #98)
|Million Reasons (Lady Gaga)
Perfect Illusion (Lady Gaga)
Dead Or Alive? Nah, mate. Dead. Pete Burns, best known musically as frontman of Dead or Alive, died on Sunday after going into cardiac arrest; as a member of Dead or Alive, he went to #1 with You Spin Me Round (Like A Record), a track which later went to #5 after he appeared on Celebrity Big Brother. That's right folks; there really was a time when Celebrity Big Brother had actual celebrities on it. On his own he went to #75 with the Pet Shop Boys produced Jack and Jill Party which this reviewer prefers to the belligerent You Spin Me Round (and so did he apparently, for he wouldn't shut up about it whilst on Celebrity Big Brother). He was 57. Dying the next day at 73 was Bobby Vee, a man responsible for four top four hits; the #4 hits Rubber Ball and More Than I Can Say/Staying In and the #3 hits Take Good Care Of My Baby and The Night Has a Thousand Eyes, the former in both categories frequent You've Been Framed fodder and the latter in the former category best known for a cover version by Leo Sayer which just over a year ago graced the Top of the Pops repeats on BBC4, from Alzheimer's. You wait ages for a notable musician to pop off and then two do so at once.