This week, the entirety of Weeknd's new album Starboy entered the singles chart. All eighteen tracks. Starboy climbed slightly (but not matching its peak), while False Alarm resurfaced and I Feel It Coming and Party Monster have reached new peaks. To the best of our knowledge, this is the second time an entire album has infested the singles chart like this; Justin Bieber's album Purpose did the same thing just over a year ago. There is an argument that streaming shouldn't have ever been added to sales totals; we disagree, we believe that the purpose of the chart is to accurately represent what the public listens to, and thus if the public are binging on Weeknd or Bieber then the charts should represent it.
Alan Walker's released Alone this week, and it's more of the same of the stuff he's best known for; progressive house licks and battering ram drops that sound like an infant's first babblings concatenated by self-righteous parents in a vain attempt to make it look as though she's speaking whole sentences at the age of six months when in reality we all know what's going on. That said, this is still a pleasant enough track, and I wish it the best of luck.
Er, I just missed the top ten with a song from a soundtrack. Releasing another track from a soundtrack will put me in the top ten, won't it?
Evidently that's the thought process behind Imagine Dragons' Levitate released Tuesday 29 November 2016, from the original motion picture Passengers; their last record Sucker for Pain from the Suicide Squad soundtrack saw it peak at #11, a new high for the band. With their trademark 'slurred' vocals attempting a whisper and delightful strings of keys running for much of the record, it's a dreamy track which contrasts with meandering synths for a jubilant juxtaposition. They may have a point.
My longest review of anything yet, since I've a lot to say on the subject. I was wondering when Jessie J was going to rear her head again, since she's not entered the UK Singles Chart in over eighteen months, and (in this column's opinion) deservedly not in over two years. This time round, she hopes to have a hit with a cover of Can't Take My Eyes Off You, the much covered Frankie Valli opus (versions by Andy Williams, Boys Town Gang and Pet Shop Boys have charted), with which she's advertising the French cosmetics line Make Up For Ever to the extent that the song even leads with a plug for the firm. The original's the pre-rock pop equivalent of All I Want For Christmas Is You; it's perhaps the most belonging track of the genre, though caught the tail end of the genre's popularity. This version was once used in an attack advert by the 2008 Republican candidate John McCain; with the 2016 Republican candidate, Donald Trump, you're lucky if his eyes are all he puts on you!
Andy Williams' first version is a tender track which builds into a cracking crescendo; though the studio version is perfectly serviceable, this column prefers the live version released in 2001 on the album Andy Williams Live: Treasures From His Personal Collection. Although both the studio and live versions sound tender and delicate, it is Williams himself who sounds tender and delicate on the following year's version with Denise Van Outen; Van Outen adds a crowded quality to the track, and it feels like a schoolkid bringing her grandfather round for show-and-tell. That said, it did get Williams into the record books; him and Van Outen were the most disparately aged duo to enter the top 40, and it is nice to hear news of an elderly musician releasing music without dying shortly afterwards.
Boys Town Gang injects disco stylings into it with their version whose recent performance on Top of the Pops showed absolutely everything you needed to know about the programme (they cut it at the exact same point Valli's and Williams' versions ended), while the Pet Shop Boys shoehorn in the second part of the chorus and the bridge for their cover of U2's Where the Streets Have No Name like a naughty boy eager to plug their connections to the industry for a school talent competition; the bridge sounds like an accordion at a second-rate pier, and would not sound out place on an episode of Pingu. Horrible. To ears unfamiliar with previous versions Jessie J's version would sound like just another upbeat cracker; to those familiar with any previous recording, this version is slander. It tries to take Mariah Carey-like dance-pop stylings to it, but runs out of record, and frankly the phrase "take a long walk off a short pier" springs to mind. I hope never to hear such an execrable knock-off of anything again.
Hot Chip's Joe Goddard's come out with Lose Your Love this week. It's a delicious chunk of deep house with a rather odd combination of vocals – very heavily autotuned solo vocals and high-pitched soulful vocals that wouldn't sound out of place on Diana Ross' Ain't No Mountain High Enough – topped off with a spunky synth right at the end. Unfortunately, the single version cuts way too much out, and doesn't really allow enough time to get into a proper groove; there is a music video edit which is longer, but it plays second fiddle to the really rather bizarre happenings of the music video and you can hear much of what's happening interfering with it. An excruciating shame.
Laura Marling's Soothing does a better job of reviewing itself with one word than we can in several sentences: Gorgeous layers of bass and acoustic guitar melt into Marling's sugar-sweet vocals with occasional nibs of strings and pastel percussion just oozing silkiness around it. It's just beautiful. You could listen to this while sleeping on a bed of nails and still relax.
I can't remember the last time a record made me stop speechless. (Probably because I'm getting forgetful in my old age, but still…) In either case, MUNA's I Know a Place is a really rich record, combined with noisy 1980s synths, loud drums, political lyrics, deep vocals… as a package, it's just too much in one sitting, and at four and a half minutes long, by the end of it, by the end you're gagging for relief. [Ed: No.] There is certainly potential here, but it's not here.
Another week, another Sia soundtrack release (actually, that's not entirely fair, since she didn't release one last week); this one's a very slow ballad. Sia's crackly vocals are at their best here, unadulterated by any serious instrumentation (save for a bit of piano throughout and a few drums over the choruses), and it's a walking advertisement for keeping it simple. A bit too niche for the charts, perhaps, but otherwise pleasant.
Sigala has produced Only One this week, a collaboration with Digital Farm Animals, which combines the signature, piano-led tropics of Sigala with the squeaky, clamped cojones vocal of Digital Farm Animals. That Sigala can make almost anything worth listening to – except perhaps Digital Farm Animals' tendency to screw his vocals. Both their last singles nestled into the mid-twenties of the charts and we anticipate similar behaviour of this record.
I don't understand XYLØ. The first of their tracks we reviewed, Dead End Love, had enough fog to rival the streets of London, even in the week its mayor issued pollution warnings. The second, Setting Fires with Chainsmokers (issue 19) had been cleaned up enough significantly enough to propel it into the charts. Yet they've reverted to their old ways with Get Closer, a record with piano lines which pitter across the track like turds on whey and percussion which sounds like it was produced for another record and cut and pasted badly across this one. It's a shame that all they've taken from their stint as featured artist is a title (the Chainsmokers topped the charts with a record called Closer).
I've jested a couple of times now that the Americans have money problems. It turns out we've got money problems domestically as well. The vegetarians are up in arms over the fact that the new batch of five pound notes contains just over half a cow. Unbelievable really.
Oops! Readers with small screens have notified me that there's a slight problem with the tables which is causing the text to become unreadable. This should solve your problem.
|New peak/previous peak||Floundering||Absent|
||Trust Nobody (Cashmere Cat ft. Selena Gomez & Tory Lanez)
Redbone (Childish Gambino)
Should've Been Me (Naughty Boy ft. Kyla & Popcaan)
Ain't Giving Up (Craig David & Sigala)
Just Say (KDA)
Copyright Thomas Sales, 2016; contact form copyright 123contactform.com. Any text this colour links to another, possibly external, site, while text this colour may be hovered over for more information and text this colour are links that can be hovered over.