I am getting fed up of the gutter press circulating rumours about Cheryl Fernandez-Versini's potential pregnancy. The simple presence of a 'baby bump' is not enough to justify jumping to that sort of conclusion; they said this about Diana Ross last year and it transpired she'd just put on weight. The red tops and co have put two and two together to make five; without official confirmation, said rumours are glorified fat-shaming. They might as well splash across their headlines "Cheryl Fernandez-Versini is fat". (My sister advises me that a more reliable way of recognising a pregnancy would be to look at her ankles, feet and fingers; pregnant women hold more water in their bodies.)
Ariana & the Rose has come out with Supercool this week; this is the original, though the Toyboy & Robin remix has been out since 20 October 2016. It's a fairly slow track in which Ariana coos over a succession of synths of assorted inspiration while drums kick fleetingly across the choruses and nowhere else; think an In the Name of Love (Martin Garrix and Bebe Rexha) that goes somewhere. We wish it luck.
Cher Jr. – or as she prefers to be called, Betsy – has released Wanted More this week, a delightfully uplifting track complete with a healthy dollop of strings, piano, upbeat drums and of course Betsy's powerhouse vocals. It's not quite perfect – I'd have repeated one final line at the end of the track – but all in all this is another fine track from Betsy, and her continued absence from the chart confounds us.
Bruno Mars continues his theft from the eighties with his newest track, Versace On the Floor, and holy hell, is it a retreat from the cacophony of 24K Magic! Relaxing keyboards out of a Boyz II Men release climax with a magnificent chorus and eventually give way to guitar from the same source and a solo which sounds like synths trying to be the guitar of Toto's Steve Lukather. The only thing that truly grates is the ending, which sounds a cross between an epic concert ending and the tinny background noise from Sonic R. Otherwise, this is a huge step up from 24K Magic, and we expect it to do a Million Reasons; lower peak, but survives much longer on the chart. (That said, if 24K Magic can go top ten…)
Given the way I routinely savage EPs that reuse old singles and thus tip their duration into exclusion from the singles chart you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise, but this genuinely is my favourite type of EP: I've already reviewed half the stuff on it. Setting Fires – which was rather pointlessly released individually shortly after it appeared on this EP – is a pleasant enough track; pleasingly, only XYLØ's vocals feature on the record, which means it doesn't fall foul of the cloudiness which buffeted Dead End Love. We reviewed All We Know back in issue 14; we stand by our comment that All We Know "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 [which is] a crying shame really, particularly given that outside this formula the Chainsmokers have had some respectable hits", and note that one such respectable hit is Don't Let Me Down ft. Daya that also appears here. It literally is another Closer with a lot more Halsey and at a slower tempo. Speaking of which, we stand by our comment in issue 5 that "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", particularly given that it was a big hit. Inside Out features vocals from Charlee, was released 1 April 2016, and feels like festival fodder where half the audience is baked beyond comprehension and you can get away with playing rubbish without anybody noticing; sandwiched between two smashes, this feels very much like a fish out of water. It's so nice to be able to state with certainty the date of a Daya release – 5 February 2016 – and this one takes a sweltering middle east sound to a standard EDM drop to fantastic effect. Despite being hit and miss, this is probably the best EP I've ever reviewed and thus it's infuriating that it won't chart (it's got a track too many on it).
Not you again! DNCE have released another record, Good Day, complete with a really quite annoying near-acapella chorus (well, with handclaps and the odd guitar strum). The disjunctive links between the chorus and the first verse and the 'ouch' between the third verse and fourth chorus aggravate and make the track sound amateur, like a bunch of musicians messing about in a studio in a session not intended for release (which, given how expensive studio time can be, is bizarre – but not quite as bizarre as the fact that this track was featured in Storks, the same movie which Jason Derulo was only too happy to contribute the funky Kiss the Sky to). I realise its harsh sound is meant to mirror the harshness of the subject matter (i.e. that the singer had a rubbish night and was hungover) but why force innocent bystanders to suffer? It's like walking around with a shirt that says "I'm on my period"; no-one wants to know.
Has anyone ever told gnash that writing in nocaps is the typographical equivalent of foaming at the mouth whilst talking? Anyway, he's released his new single home featuring Johnny Yukon where he raps over a more substantial beat than on i hate u, i love u (this guy has absolute contempt for grammar, that's for sure) comprising of scratchy, scrawny drums and melodic piano for a delightfully upbeat track; even Yukon's nondescript vocal sounds interesting over the top of this. I wonder where it'll chart?
Good lord. Kiiara has released dopemang this week with Ashley All Day. This feels like, and discusses, one of the hardest nights of partying anyone's ever had; the synths have a definite aura of smokiness about them, like the room was full of cannabis clouds when they recorded it. You could be forgiven for thinking that there was only one artist on the record, partly because they're inseperable by voice alone, partly because the female rapper (Ashley All Day) could be anybody (and in that sort of environment where the men are off their faces might as well be). Give her a solo, or something…
Laura Mvula has covered the Delfonics' Ready Or Not Here I Come (Can't Hide From Love) as Ready Or Not, an otherwise droll piece of rhythm and blues/soul previously interpolated by the Fugees for their hip hop hammering of the latter name, shredded by the Course in ghastly rave fashion and converted into a spritely pop song by Bridgit Mendler. Mvula's version is simply horrible; piercing trills give way to the component parts of stuttering bass and monotonous percussion which have their place but have sputtered into action in tandem rather than one at a time like kids on an aeroplane, and the result is a warzone. We listen to these records, so you don't have to.
Mmm, I like this. MK has released My Love 4 U this week with A*M*E, and it is a banger; swirling keys and house-style percussion ring around delightfully, with a tropical, summery vibe about it which evokes being in searing heat rocking violently on a hammock in the middle of a beach. A*M*E's silky vocals only add to the work hard, play hard vibe, and this has the potential to be a big hit. Truly delightful.
Nicholas Littlemore of Empire Of the Sun and Pnau has two releases out this week; Para on his own but featuring Celia Pavey, and Chameleon as half of Pnau. Para personifies the sauna-like atmosphere of a rainforest what with its synths raining down and radiating upon the track while Celia Pavey's vocal meanders about with about as much direction as a balloon drifting around an early afternoon sky while the butter-fingered kid it belonged to bawls its guts out (but not nearly as noisily as I did when I discovered how abysmally cut the ending was), while Chameleon (featuring Lauryn Hill dancer and backup singer Shakira Marshall) suffers from no such deficiencies; it is a banging track which screams 'loud' throughout, which for a track which isn't rock is quite remarkable. Sometimes you want to switch your brain off and enjoy a bit of inanity, and that's when Chameleon really comes into its own.
Nick Murphy has ditched his old moniker Chet Faker as part of a "revolution" in his music and released Stop Me this week. He's released the single as two versions; an edited version, and a far longer eight-minute feast of synths. The short version loses some chorus stuff, an instrumental section, and a bottleneck ballad that feels tacked on that rumbles how badly Murphy slurs when he sings and won't be missed. The remaining five minutes are positively indulgent, and I look forward to hearing more.
Noonie Bao has released Sorry Not Sorry this week. Sorry Not Sorry is an angelic track with heavenly synths and a delightfully high-pitched vocal; if God was hiring for background music (or, more to the point, existed) to play as people enter the gates of heaven, an instrumental version of this would fit the bill, though the lyrics sound like what would be played over the slow descent to hell. A delightful dichotomy, and we look forward to more.
RAT BOY has released LOVERS LAW this week. It's an interesting track; it's sufficiently upbeat as to make you want to move, yet with a certain slick edge found in indie/alternative rock tracks. RAT BOY's Essex vocal is just right for this record, as it adds a certain rugged edge to proceedings; failed forays into rap add a certain rough-around-the-edges feel to the record. This is an excellent record, and we wish it luck.
The embodiment of chalk and cheese, Sigma has teamed up with Birdy for their newest release Find Me; Birdy's vocals are as gorgeous as normal, though it sounds decidedly out of place in a drum and bass record – and bizarrely so, since many artists have for want of better words 'ridden' a drum and bass track to spectacular effect. Distorted vocals over the drop, which I don't remember hearing in any other Sigma song (though may simply have not noticed), rage against each other and it's not a pleasant record to listen to. A shame. That said, and I don't normally comment on music videos but I must get this off my chest; why is the song being lip-synced to by Stranger Things actress Millie Bobby Brown? I only recently turned 21 (29 September), and it's a sad state of affairs when a 20 year old is considered less marketable than, and is thus replaced by, a 12 year old; it's the sort of thing I expect of a Thailand brothel, not of Warner Brothers.
Stevie Wonder has collaborated with Ariana Grande for Faith from the Sing soundtrack; HotNewHipHop.com reckons this is Wonder's first contribution to a soundtrack since 1998's Mulan. It's a rhythm and blues track akin to something he might have produced fifty years ago but slower and less monaural; Grande sounds like a nervous teenager queuing up to meet her idol, but her contribution does make the record more interesting, and overall the record is a breath of fresh air from some of this week's electronic output.
Such as Kaleidoscope by Vicetone featuring Grace Grundy. This track tries to combine the towering vocals of a Florence + the Machine record with gentle electronics and ends up like sounding like an EDM sandwich; Grundy's succulent vocals suit the verses and choruses' light instrumental like a glove, but the drops – and in particular the vocal splicing during – sound shoehorned in, and the result sound like two different songs shuffled. A shame really.
Two weeks ago, I noted that an eighties pop star had suffered heart problems and an oldies-artist had died of Alzheimer's. This week, I present the same news; David Van Day has suffered a heart attack (though at the time of writing he survives) and Kay Starr's dead. She went to number one twice during the 1950s with Comes-A-Long-A-Love and Rock 'n' Roll Waltz. At the time of her death, Comes-A-Long-A-Love was the least recent number one by a living artist; we think its replacement is Broken Wings by the Stargazers (since we think the group's Fred Datchler, father of Johnny Hates Jazz's Clark, is still alive but haven't been able to confirm this). The least recent number one by a living solo artist is Secret Love by Doris Day.
Incidentally, the link between Van Day and Pete Burns from two weeks ago? Both have undergone heavy-duty facial plastic surgery. I don't know why people do it; if ever I go under the knife, it's to remove some sort of nasty from my system – like my Dad's cholangiocarcinoma, for example.
Even with the extra couple of day's sales compared to its big sister Shout Out To My Ex, Louisa Johnson's So Good is only just the highest new entry of the week, at #20. But we could tell this would happen. A recent Spotify advert put the two tracks next to each other, and the upbeat venom of Shout Out To My Ex brings out all the faults of the obsequious So Good. Her début spent just four weeks in the chart; how many will this spend there?
|New peak/previous peak||Floundering||Absent|
|Shout Out to My Ex (Little Mix, #1)
Rockabye (Clean Bandit ft. Anne-Marie & Sean-Paul, #3)
24K Magic (Bruno Mars, #6)
Don't Wanna Know (Maroon 5 ft. Kendrick Lamar, #11)
Mercy (Shawn Mendes, #15)
Love On Me (Galantis & Hook N Sling, #18)
So Good (Louisa Johnson, #20)
By Your Side (Jonas Blue ft. Raye, #21)
Million Reasons (Lady Gaga, #51, re-entry)
Would I Lie To You? (John Gibbons, #53)
The Mack (Nevada ft. Mark Morrison & Fetty Wap, #60)
You Gotta Not (Little Mix, #61)
After the Afterparty (Charli XCX ft. Lil Yachty, #82)
Famous (Nathan Sykes, #91)
All Goes Wrong (Chase & Status ft. Tom Grennan, #95)
|Say You Won't Let Go (James Arthur, #2)
Starboy (Weeknd ft. Daft Punk, #4)
Closer (Chainsmokers ft. Halsey, #5)
Starving (Hailee Steinfeld ft. Grey & Zedd, #7)
The Greatest (Sia ft. Kendrick Lamar, #9)
My Way (Calvin Harris, #13)
Cold Water (Major Lazer ft. Justin Bieber & MØ, #16)
Ain't My Fault (Zara Larsson, #17)
In the Name of Love (Martin Garrix, #23)
This Town (Niall Horan, #24)
Can't Stop the Feeling (Justin Timberlake, #30)
Still Falling For You (Ellie Goulding, #31)
Blow Your Mind (Mwah) (Dua Lipa, #33)
All We Know (Chainsmokers ft. Phoebe Ryan, #39)
Hurts (Emeli Sandé, #40)
Ain't Giving Up (Craig David & Sigala, #43)
Grow Up (Olly Murs, #54)
Love Me Now (John Legend, #58)
Cool Girl (Tove Lo, #63)
Waste a Moment (Kings of Leon, #65)
All Night (Vamps ft. Matoma, #80)
You Don't Know Love (Olly Murs, #83)
Perfect Illusion (Lady Gaga)
Who Do You Think Of (M.O)