If you think I'm being unnecessarily harsh in my reviews, my Programming lecturer – the man who helped me set up the out-of-order list for my chart summaries – described Ten Green Bottles as a "hideous dirge". Leave the reviewing to the professionals, methinks.
Also in the hands of the professionals: Kanye West. He was hospitalised on 21 November 2016 after a bizarre rant culminating in him storming off the stage after just thirty minutes. The official prognosis was psychosis caused by sleep deprivation and dehydration; my prognosis is the stress of being $53,000,000 in debt. Curiously, the day after he was hospitalised, an episode of Dave Gorman: Modern Life is Goodish broadcast 22 November used Kanye's debt for one of Gorman's Found Poems. This can't be a coincidence, surely?
But at least he hasn't gone the same way as the then Colonel Abrams, best known for the #3 hit Trapped. Last year, he was revealed to be homeless and in very poor health; we know he suffered from diabetes then, and that he died after "a long battle with an unnamed illness". Hmm. According to a Wikipedia account purporting to be his sister, Wanda Abrams, he lived from 18 July 1952 and died 24 November 2016; sources printed after the morning of 27 November have given the death date of 25 November (and the birth date of 22 May 1949!) because they have copied from Wikipedia (see my comments on the talk page of his Wikipedia article).
Also dead: 44-year old Craig Gill, the drummer for Inspiral Carpets who charted at #14, #12, #20 and #18 with This Is How It Feels, Dragging Me Down, Saturn 5 and I Want You, and died on November 22. In tribute to him, there's a petition to make Saturn 5 Christmas number one. Good luck with that. According to The Official Charts Company, this year's other Official Christmas Number 1 Contenders are One Day I'll Fly Away by The Vaults (issue 20), The London Hospices Choir ft. Paul Carrack's The Living Years (cover of Mike + The Mechanics' The Living Years on which Carrack performed the original vocal), James Corden's The Greatest Gift for Christmas is Me, Sir Cliff Richard's It's Better to Dream (which I'll review later this issue), Anna Kendrick & Justin Timberlake's True Colors (issue 12), The King Lot ft. The Jollyboys' Wings, The X Factor Winner's Single (I told ITV to broadcast the final on Thursday to get the whole chart week's sales and they haven't listened, so I may or may not review it), Terry Wogan's The Floral Dance (following his death on 31 January 2016), Southend News Network ft. Annie Humphrey's Dartford Tolls, Norwich-based church choir network Proclaimers' as-yet-unwritten record, Kylie Minogue's Everybody's Free (To Feel Good), James 'SHINNy' Davenport's Christmas Number 1, something by Gareth Malone (possibly Paradise Street ft. Ricky Wilson) and Robb Johnson and the Corbynistas' JC for PM for Me. I won't be putting money on any of them.
Gaaah! Angel Haze has put out Resurrection this week. It's a confused track built on dank synths complete with strings tossed on to the track like lettuce on a meat feast pizza. Angel Haze's at times very shouty flow is the rap equivalent of Jeremy Kyle; pouring scorn at anything and everything, and from a great height. A good deal of the track could (and should) be removed at the end; by the end of the track, there hasn't been a verse of any description for over a minute. No thank you.
Interesting. The sound of summer 2016 Calum Scott has released a new record this week called Rhythm Inside, and it's a danceable track with reverberating piano and nibs of acoustic guitar. Scott's fluffy vocal decorates this track like whipped cream on top of a gateau; it's delicious. My only moan is that it feels too short, at just two verses and two choruses, though otherwise it's perfectly enjoyable.
Sir Cliff Richard, who my sister and I have had the pleasure of meeting (he attended Cheam Park Farm Junior School, as did the pair of us, and he visited the school at the time we were there; I can't remember the specifics, but I think it was mid-2006, and he took an acoustic guitar out and played Summer Holiday) has employed an unusual tactic; release a remix, specifically the Christmas Mix, of It's Better to Dream, having released the original on his album Just… Fabulous Rock 'n' Roll. The original's a slow guitar-based track with choirs making select complements throughout the track, while this remix replaces much of the lyrics with those relating to the festive season and the guitar solos have been replaced with xylophone plinks (though all four solos are too short for my liking). My one bone of contention is that the Christmas Mix doesn't actually sound that festive; any one of his previous three Christmas chart toppers could chew it up for backside paper. Still, given the context of Sir Jimmy Young in issue 20, it's nice to be able to review a release by a Sir rather than have to write him an obituary…
Double trouble much? G-Eazy has released two songs this week; Bone Marrow with verses from Danny Seth, and Still with female vocals from Ashley Rose. Bone Marrow is a dark track which suits G-Eazy to a T, and allows him to shine; Seth's verse adds an alternative to the middle of the record, though you have to question the mentality of a man who thinks appropriate thanks to G-Eazy for letting him add a verse to his track is to spit sexual schadenfreude and thinspiration. As for Still, it's an autobiographical record with a trip-hop beat, but it's almost as though Ashley Rose was late into the studio and carried on with the second and third verse while he was waiting; frankly, he should have ended the track after the 'third verse' because nothing Rose offers masks the downhill slide the record takes after she takes over. Not for me, thank you.
What, again? John Legend's got a new record out this week, this time called I Know Better, this time alone like on Love Me Now. It's a simple record; Legend's soulful vocals croon over a slight beat of piano and occasional organ licks, and hover over the track like a beverage with a dozen muscovado sugars in it. It's not my cup of tea at all.
Lex Low released Drifting on 21 November. It's a departure from his organic sound, though that's because he had time to kill in a coffee shop and only had a laptop to hand. Frankly, this sounds a bit like a coffee shop; the low-fidelity fade-in at the start evokes that sort of cacophonous atmosphere. Even for a computerised beat (literally), this sounds cold; assorted noises chucked down sparsely with no scope for reasoning. Certainly, the final bar sounds like Low desperately trying to reboot a dead computer. I think Low needs to stick to his usual sound and do something else when he has time to kill in public.
Martin Solveig has collaborated with Ina Wroldsen this week for Places. It's a concatenation of dynamic synths, pugnacious percussion and furious drums with a gutter of electro along the choruses and all sorts of artificial acrobatics richocheting throughout. Wroldsen's vocal seems too tender and fraught to support such an onslaught of electronics. A shame, really.
Otto Knows has produced Not Alone this week, and it's the sort of music you might hear if a bad acid trip was a jukebox; the frog in this woman's throat is even bigger than the one in Ellie Goulding's, while the instrumental on it is barely existent. There's a few eighties-ish guitar chords here and there, and some keys butter up the bass. That said, the introduction feels as perplexed as pears and pilchards, and frankly the whole record has the feel of a person with agoraphobia stepping out his house for the first time in God knows how long. No chance.
The Christmas records have arrived: Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas Is You is at #72. It's spent six or seven weeks on the chart every year since 2007. I'm not complaining; it's nice to hear a fourty-something woman get airplay nowadays. Also of note is the fact that last week we reviewed a record with Sean Paul and Tory Lanez on it; this week, records by Sean Paul and Tory Lanez have charted. But they are not the same record: No Lie by Sean Paul ft. Dua Lipa's in at #53, while Cashmere Cat's Trust Nobody ft. Selena Gomez and Tory Lanez entered at #92.
|New peak/previous peak||Floundering||Absent|
||One Day I'll Fly Away (Vaults)
Breathing Underwater (Emeli Sandé)
Waste a Moment (Kings of Leon)
Setting Fires (Chainsmokers ft. XYLØ)
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