Just a word of warning that this issue contains strong language. I was surprised to read the following on page 18 of the most recent issue, issue 87, of The River, my university's local paper, in an article which gave examples of top ten hits which dealt with breakups:
Calvin Harris is another artist thrown into the limelight; guilty of making a revenge song as the producer last month released a single with John Newman called My Way.
It is written from the perspective of a male, which is believed to be aimed at Tom Hiddleston after Taylor Swift broke up with Harris for him.
The single starts with the initial lyrics "Low key, you won't tell none of your friends about me. You won't tell them I occupy your dreams and your thoughts."
Apparently the use of "low key" is a reference to Hiddleston's character Loki, who appears in the Marvel comics - suggesting that this is a single that mocks Swift's new relationship, which Harris reportedly remains bitter about.
I was surprised to read this mainly because it's a load of cobblers. A good amount of this is correct, but it is correct not about My Way (issue 12), on which Harris himself sings, but about Olé (issue 2), a John Newman record which just so happens to include Calvin Harris as a featured artist and promptly flopped. We have asked the editor to print a correction. We've got one to print ourselves; we meant 'infuriating' rather than 'enfuriating' during the review for Alesso's Take My Breath Away.
In other news, this column has been in for a telling off for using words which its readers are not familiar with; we were given a hyper-bollocking. Hyperbolic? Get it? Oh, alright then…
Alex D'Rosso, a male DJ, has confusingly produced a track called Stand By Me and plonked a female vocal on it. I wonder how many people given the unisex forename would get confused if this became a hit? Anyway, the track itself is an empty, spaced out track that feels ill and contains very little energy with the exception of a drone-like drop which buzzes around with all the urgency and panic of a fire alarm needing replacement batteries. There's no chance of anybody getting confused, because there's no chance of this being a hit.
Forever I find myself moaning that EPs with five tracks will not make the charts. Only EPs with four tracks or less collectively of not more than 25 minutes are eligible for chart entry. Alex Marshall, a female singer-songwriter, has ignored this and released the bumper EP Signs this week, comprising of six tracks. The title track is a blues rock track which evokes Black Velvet by Alannah Myles, but without the hooky chorus. People Are Strange is a Doors cover, and as such has a darker, more desolate feel to it; it's what you'd get if you took an electroencephalogram (EEG, it measures the brain's electrical activity) to a suicidal person. Letting You Know is a lairy, guitar-based track; with its what bruv chords and synthesised drums, think a more pugnacious 1st Man in Space (The All Seeing I ft. Phil Oakey). The final three tracks have previously been released as singles; Ghost is a haunting, sparse track comprised of very little other than an artificial hum (which rarely adds anything to any record), a few piano keys and even less frequently percussion and frankly you'd wish it hurried up. No Flight is a melodic track, a middle way between the furious Letting You Know and the barely-there Ghost. Drive's been out twice, first on its own, second as a set of remixes; only the original appears on this EP. Drive has a knackered feel to it, and bizarrely so since it was her first single; with its languid drums and assorted effects, this has the feel of an unreleased demo tacked on by accident. Overall, hit and miss.
Whoops! When we published the chart data for Alicia Keys in issue 15, we noted that she'd had a #6 with the excellent No-one. The correct spelling of that record is No One; we apologise for the typo, but not the compliment. From the superb to the superior, Alicia Keys' Holy War is an earnest piece, consisting of just Keys' sensual vocals musing over some rather idealistic hopes and dreams over a bleeding guitar strum and only occasional percussion; it is effortlessly simple, and it's refreshing. Don't bother squinting to hear the opening piano chords, though, for you'll be shocked when the guitar kicks in; I thought I was being shocked after I forgot to disable autoplay whilst watching ASMR videos and it ticked on to an advert for an action film, but this is worse.
Bebe Rexha has released I Got You this week. It's the bastard child of Tove Lo's sensual stuff and the dancehall sprinkles which spice up some of Justin Bieber's best work (such as Cold Water and Sorry), and sports not just a moombahton introduction a sax short of theft from Major Lazer's Light It Up and enough vocal effects to make Ke$ha's vocals feel naked but also a deeply disturbing dichotomy of love-based lyrics and numerous childish "oh na na na"s at the end of each line in the chorus which tips this into matching the abominability of child pornography. We listen to these records, so you don't have to.
Sporting a similarly puerile vibe to I Got You is After the Afterparty, Charli XCX's collaboration with Lil Yachty. Charli XCX's juvenile cheerleader vocals are undermined by one of the most pathetic instrumentals witnessed in weeks; bits of it sound like the sort of thing a choir might sing during a music lesson in junior school, and the scratches throughout the record feel about as out of place as a sledgehammer in a set of surgical equipment. I hope never to endure Lil Yachty's shambolic autotuned attempt at singing again – I'd expect that sort of lisping from a bloke with braces, not from an apparently professional recording artist.
Well this is an absolute ripoff of Smash Mouth's sound isn't it? DNCE's Blown, featuring a verse from Kent Jones, sports similarly leaden but comparatively lithe surf rock keyboards to the ones Smash Mouth's signature sound borrows from the 1960s, new vocals and more robust drums for a less cumbersome bit of surf. (It has to be said that if surf rock is the vibe they were going for, a rap verse is about as anachronistic as anachronisms get. Mind you, so is talking about the subject matterof this record in public…)
Ah… It is so satisfying to be proved right. When I reviewed Dua Lipa's Blow Your Mind (Mwah) in issue 9, I said that "there probably is a decent record out of this; the single before Hotter Than Hell was a flop". And there was! Dua Lipa's newest record, Room For 2, is a sumptuous feast of a record; Lipa's whispered choruses, powerful verses and cooed bridges sung on top of a gorgeous, silky beat is simply heavenly, like getting in from cold weather into a warm sauna. It is just beautiful, and I knew this was coming. A new, self-satisfied Launchballer starts here!
And ends here. Why in God's name did I credit Lipa with Florence + the Machine's Wish That You Were Here in the index? And why did I repeat the reference for the quoted phrase from Diana Gordon's Woman? Apologies for both.
Breathing Underwater is Emeli Sandé's newest track. It's a relaxing record; it's just Sandé singing on top of a majestic gospel chorus and a percussion track from straight out the nineties. Unfortunately, it just runs slightly too long for me; I'd have cut the choir's third chorus (but kept Sandé's singing, thereby moving it over the top of the bridge) and ended it at the end of the bridge. By the standards of Sandé, this is rubbish, though that's because her previous releases have been the excellent Hurts and Garden.
By Your Side is Jonas Blue's newest record, featuring vocals from Raye. It's an upbeat production, with Raye's vocals adding a hint of sass and Blue's signature paint-like synths adding a hint of mass; the song's piano presents the piece as a less repetitive Sky Full of Stars (Coldplay), whereas the vocals come across as a poor man's Rihanna. The Official Charts Company may have a point that Blue's due a number one given that his previous two singles reached number two, but this isn't it.
Little Mix's new single You Gotta Not divided me and my sister. She says it is kicking Zayn while he's down from Shout Out to My Ex. I disagree; the track was penned by Meghan Trainor– not that I need to tell fans of her work that since it uses a number of Trainorisms (who else discusses dirty laundry in their songwriting) – and her retro, modern-day 1950s-style is evident here, though it stifles Little Mix's crowded vocals and the whole thing comes across as a poor person's Ain't Your Mama (Jennifer Lopez); this is the equivalent of having just bought Mayfair in Monopoly, buying Park Lane as well and in doing so bankrupting yourself. I can't believe I'm saying this, but stick to Shout Out to My Ex.
A couple of weeks ago, X Factor winners Little Mix had a brilliant idea. Release their new record on Sunday rather than Friday, to build up demand, and coincide the release with a performance on the X Factor. The result? A number one record. X Factor winner (and reigning champion) Louisa Johnson has a new single to release. Will lightning strike twice? No, because they've unplugged the sky by releasing Johnson's track on Friday. And it is a shambles! Piercing strings, bellicose piano and antagonistically timid guitar along with Johnson's very strong vocals all at a grossly inappropriate tempo – I mean, who the hell thought this fit for release? There's no flavour to it at all! It's like Alessia Cara's Here, but without the zesty logorrhea that kept that interesting. I might have been unreasonable in writing Johnson off so jeeringly last week, but after hearing this, I'm damned if I'm apologising for it.
You wait ages for an artist to release multiple singles within a short space of time, and suddenly someone releases three in quick succession. Surrender and Runnin' were released on 24 October 2016, with the former being a Lalah Hathaway track on which Pharrell guests. I See a Victory got in just in time to be reviewed on 28 October 2016, and is a Kim Burrell record which Pharrell guests on. Surrender is a fabulously uplifting track which Hathaway's vocals illuminate; Pharrell does make a cameo on it, but you'd have to squint to hear him and I suspect he was simply justifying being credited as a feature. Otherwise, it's a simply joyous listen save for a sharp ending. You can actually hear Pharrell on Runnin', a downtempo track like which tries to be Happy but has a harder feel to it, and ends up sounding Sad. (Sorry, couldn't resist…) It's the sort of thing live bands would play in juke joints if they hadn't been usurped by disc jockeys and jukeboxes. I See a Victory occupies similar gospel territory to Surrender, with similar florid vocal contribution from Pharrell and upbeat piano and blues guitar; it's like the offspring of a impromptu guerrila choir assembled at random from the southern states, and it's gloriously uplifting. Overall, the two gospel tracks are thoroughly enjoyable listens, but Runnin' falls flat.
Professor Green has released One Eye On the Door this week, the follow-up to Back On the Market; that track and this one being swipes at his ex-wife Millie Mackintosh. A thoroughly original concept. This track's a bit more structured than Back On the Market as it has a chorus, though unfortunately falls foul of an irritating fade-out and a wasted guitar solo (it's across the third verse rather than seperate from it). Either way, this one-two punch is certainly more interesting than Little Mix's one-two punch, perhaps it's because there's a bit more variety in the lyrics (the female singing in One Eye On the Door presents an alternative viewpoint), or maybe it's because the instrumental isn't so bellicose that it feels like it's piling on abuse as well, preferring a relaxing guitar and drums. Either way, I wish it luck.
Before I print this week's charts, a couple of corrections; I failed to notice that All Goes Wrong by Chase & Status ft. Tom Grennan (issue 13) entered the charts the following week, and thus failed to enter it into the tables for that week and the next. The same has been true for the last couple of weeks for 24K Magic by Bruno Mars, although how on earth that got in I do not know. In either case, my apologies.
|New peak/previous peak||Floundering||Absent|
|Shout Out to My Ex (Little Mix, #1)
Starving (Hailee Steinfeld ft. Grey & Zedd, #5)
Rockabye (Clean Bandit ft. Anne-Marie & Sean-Paul, #7)
Mercy (Shawn Mendes, #15)
Love On Me (Galantis & Hook N Sling, #27)
Waste a Moment (Kings of Leon, #45)
Love Me Now (John Legend, #49)
Would I Lie To You? (John Gibbons, #58)
Million Reasons (Lady Gaga, #85, re-entry)
Famous (Nathan Sykes, #91, re-entry but outpeaked previous run)
Perfect Illusion (Lady Gaga, #95, re-entry)
All Goes Wrong (Chase & Status ft. Tom Grennan, #98, re-entry)
|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, #8)
My Way (Calvin Harris, #10)
24K Magic (Bruno Mars, #11)
Cold Water (Major Lazer ft. Justin Bieber & MØ, #13)
Ain't My Fault (Zara Larsson, #14)
Don't Wanna Know (Maroon 5 ft. Kendrick Lamar, #17)
In the Name of Love (Martin Garrix, #18)
This Town (Niall Horan, #20)
Still Falling For You (Ellie Goulding, #25)
Can't Stop the Feeling (Justin Timberlake, #29)
Blow Your Mind (Mwah) (Dua Lipa, #31)
Hurts (Emeli Sandé, #33)
All We Know (Chainsmokers ft. Phoebe Ryan, #38)
Ain't Giving Up (Craig David & Sigala, #40)
You Don't Know Love (Olly Murs, #48)
Grow Up (Olly Murs, #53)
Cool Girl (Tove Lo, #63)
All Night (Vamps ft. Matoma, #75)
Kids (OneRepublic, #92)
Who Do You Think Of (M.O, #96)
|Send Them Off! (Bastille)|