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Lots of old people and cover versions this week.

We were asked why we don't attempt to plug independent journalism or even local newspapers. Independent journalism is often subject to very little fact checking, and we don't consider it reliable. We won't explain why we don't use local newspapers just yet, however.

An interest to this columnist but not to this site is public transport. We were interested to learn of changes being consulted by Transport for London upon two bus routes in Purley Way, a few miles away from where we live in North Cheam. We learnt of this news at about nine o'clock on the morning of the 24th of January from the Transport for London consultations page, which we track using Follow That Page. When do you think the Croydon Advertiser picked up on the story? That's right, nine o'clock. In the evening. On the 30th of January. That's why I don't use local newspapers.

Falling (Alesso)

Mmm, Alesso's Falling is a pleasurable plunge into an plantation of gorgeous sound effects which thanks to the sumptuously smoky vocals and gently undulating electronic beat has the feel of being half asleep whilst being tenderly tossed around in an ocean in the middle of nowhere. *thumps chest* Marvellous! *rubs chest better*

Beauty and the Beast (Ariana Grande ft. John Legend)

Ariana Grande and John Legend have covered Beauty and the Beast, first recorded by Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson but later covered near-identically to not much less success by H & Claire out of Steps, for the live action remake of the film of the same name. I would argue that there's not much between the first two hit versions – the original has a bit more personality to it, but that's about it – though other reviewers may disagree. The new version is a small-scale Band Aid in that it's listenable, but you would find yourself expecting a bit more given the wealth of talent involved; Grande sounds like stuck in first gear, and frankly she sounds as though she'd rather be singing something else, plus the fact that the instrumentation sounds inappropriate for the job, it's like a modern day K-Tel job. Ghastly.

Some Kinda Wonderful (Betty Who)

Betty Who's new record is Some Kinda Wonderful by name, some kinda wonderful by nature. Who's chatty, high-pitched vocals are perfect for the almost aloof sounding beats, and it's like being chatted up in a nightclub (not that that would ever happen to me in real life, mind). The best of luck to it.

Fun (Blondie)

Now this is a masterpiece on a Where Are We Now scale. Blondie's new record, Fun, is the perfect crossover between Blondie's old disco numbers and modern day electronic pieces, with the lead singer Debbie Harry (who, I might add, turned 71 the day we published our first issue), still sounding as glacially gorgeous as ever. The very, very best of luck.

Living Out Loud (Brooke Candy ft. Sia)

Brooke Candy has released the original version of Living Out Loud featuring Sia; unusually, the KDA remix has been out since 16th December 2016. That remix feels distinctly bottom-heavy, because it feels like an instrumental almost grouted over the vocals, and as a maths student it's really annoying that he's taken out the numbers because it neuters the countdown and turns the rest of the lyrics into meaningless mush. That said, the original isn't much better; think something like No Broken Hearts with a massive block of cheese melted over it with a blowtorch. And why did they leave the countdown unfinished! Grrr!

Digital Love (Digital Farm Animals ft. Hailee Steinfeld)

Ah, yes, I've got a bone to pick with this woman. Three months after I reviewed Starving, it came up on the radio in the car in front of my sister (back when my father was well enough to drive it…) and all of a sudden I heard this excrescent sounding "eurgh!". Being the innocent young man I am, I hadn't noticed the song was about oral sex and to think they were happy to broadcast the lyrics unedited. The standards have fallen, the value has dropped…

Anyway, she's hopped on to Digital Farm Animals' Digital Love; once she gets on, she won't hand the microphone back over which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it would be nice to have a bit more variety. Closer by the Chainsmokers and Halsey – which this record's verses sound suspiciously close to at times – had the best idea; once verse each for the Chainsmokers and Halsey. We do however like the Charli XCX-esque chorus (try saying that while tired and emotional!) and thus it's irritating that the record has three verses and two choruses. You can't help but feel robbed.

Where's the Revolution (Depeche Mode)

Ah, nothing like a bit of politics to get your gears going. These ones come courtesy of Depeche Mode, who ask Where's the Revolution this week but unfortunately they fall flat because there's no fire to it; the gloomy instrumental plus the slow speed and the repetitive chant of the third verse means the record condemns society with the menace of a dyspepsic, demented old man shaking his walking stick at you.

Way You Are (Fetty Wap ft. Monty)

Fetty Wap has again collaborated with Remy Boy Monty for Way You Are, a paean to the opposite gender. Wap sounds entirely home in this dungeon of down-and-dirty beats, while Monty melds into the moisture-laden atmosphere like a pig in mud. Not bad.

Believer (Imagine Dragons)

Imagine Dragon's new record Believer, released 31st January 2017, is the music from the Nintendo Switch advert which will play during the Superbowl, and with its hefty lyrics and easy-but-enormous stadium sound there is the potential for this to be a hit. But we'll have to see.

Mad World (Jasmine Thompson ft. Eden Prince)

Jasmine Thompson has a knack for getting her cover versions of songs remixed; her cover version of the Gary Jules and Michael Andrews cover version of Tears For Fears' Mad World has been remixed by Eden Prince. The original is a product of the eighties, and coarse synthesisers abound the liverish, lyrical logorrhea inspired by the mental health problems of the two writers. Gary Jules and Michael Andrews slow the record right down, allowing time to breathe, and strip out most of the bile, making for a gorgeous bit of easy listening. Jasmine Thompson's cover is an identikit cover, and adds nothing new however Eden Prince's remix of Thompson's version is an enjoyable set of electrics; it's no Ain't Nobody, but it is nonetheless enjoyable. We expect this to chart.

I Think of You (Jeremih ft. Chris Brown and Big Sean)

We were asked during the week why we do not use CSS on this site. We prefer to copy headers each time from previous issues, so we can scan for glaring errors. We found one in issue 25 when we raided the headers for Chris Brown and Big Sean; we spotted that we had mistyped the HTML for 2 Chainz, meaning it wasn't displaying properly. Sorry about that. We are not quite so platitudinising in our praise for Jeremih's new record, I Think of You, where he, Chris Brown and Big Sean lament the departure of an ex-girlfriend over an effortless funky beat lifted from Montell Jordan's Get It On Tonite. But grrr! Why did they shut the record off after Big Sean's verse? I'd have added another chorus to the end of the record because it as though it's half-finished at the moment.

Searchin' (Liv Dawson)

I must begin this review by pointing out that this is not the same Liv who made the midweek Christmas charts last year as half of Liv 'n' G. Disclosure produced Liv Dawson's new track Searchin', and the influence is obvious. Dawson's unassuming vocals flitter atop Disclosure's deep house like a moth to a flame, and the whole thing builds to a crackling, choleric cacophony. Smashing!

Big Picture (London Grammar)

Oh God, this is beautiful! I wish to marry it and have its babies! *clears throat* London Grammar released Big Picture on the 1st of February, and it is simply breathtaking. The crystalline vocals are enough to make your hair stand on end, while the instrumental almost kicks away your stresses. Do I have to move on, or can I just leave this on loop?

Hard to Love (Matthew Koma)

Ah, a Soothing track. By which I mean the title of Matthew Koma's new single Hard to Love sums itself up better than any diatribe of mine can. That's not to say it isn't Easy to Like; there's something kooky about Koma's self-assessment which is endearing, and the near-analogue beats provide an enjoyable backdrop for his grumpiness. If you like Mike Posner's stuff, you'll enjoy this.

I Don't (Mariah Carey ft. YG)

That woman was going to get me to review something of hers in the end. Her new single is I Don't, with a couple of lazy guest verses from YG and sampling Donell Jones' Where I Wanna Be; I Don't manages to berate her ex-fiancé without sounding mentally ill over a sultry beat which is relaxed without sounding monotonous. I wish it luck.

Feed the Machine (Nickelback)

Good lord! Nickelback released Feed the Machine on the 1st of February, and if you are familiar with the band via Rockstar, then this really isn't for you. This is as hard as nails, with pugnacious guitar riffs. The song was published on YouTube at the same time as a trailer for their new album which, if you listen to it, is clearly less compressed than the single version of the track, which is bizarre – why didn't they do the rest of the record like that? Here's hoping a less compressed version turns up when they release the album.

Dark Side (Phoebe Ryan)

Holy hell this is irritating. Phoebe Ryan's Dark Side is enough to make you want to tear your hair out in frustration. Her squeaky vocals might have been the best thing on the Chainsmokers' All We Know but here, where they beg a diabolical boyfriend to remain, they sound at war with the whining bassline, and it sounds horrendous.

Grace (Rag'n'Bone Man)

Ooh, I don't like this. The verses on Rag'n'Bone Man's Grace are as stop-start as you can imagine, while the chorus moves with the enthusiasm of a prisoner of war camp. The instrumental, comprising of piano and guitar and hardly any percussion, just can't hold up Rag'n'Bone Man's vocals and it feels more like something him and his band would play to warm themselves up before a recording session. It shouldn't have been released as a single.

Big For Your Boots (Stormzy)

Wow. Just wow. Stormzy's Big For Your Boots, for nearly four full minutes, snatches your attention with foreboding strings and verses that are probably about as long as they could be without Stormzy's tight flow becoming a stranglehold; it is simply breathtaking. A surefire chart topper.

Dopamine (Tough Love)

Ah, now we're very much in to the kind of music I might listen to for pleasure. I love six minute-plus house pieces, and in fact one of my favourite records, Zoe by Paganini Traxx (Sam Paganini), is over ten minutes long, and fills every single minute of it. Lovely and warming. Tough Love have this week released Dopamine, an almost seven minute house track, so in theory I should enjoy it.

Should do, anyway. I actually really don't like this one much because it leaves me cold, in fact I feel quite horrible from listening to it. The instrumental on it has a horrible icy feel to it, the slowed-down vocals in particular bring me out in a cold sweat and quite honestly I would go so far as to say to listen to this a second time would constitute self-harm. We listen to these records, so you don't have to.

Other notes

We regret to chronicle the death of John Wetton, a bassist who was playing with Asia at the time of his death, from colon cancer aged 66. We believe he played on the following: In My Own Time (#4) and Burlesque (#13) by Family, Nothing to Lose (#67) by UK and Heat of the Moment (#46), Only Time Will Tell (#54), Don't Cry, (#33) and The Smile Has Left Your Eyes (#81) by Asia, but if we've missed anything, then contact us.

Charts

At #11 this week is Be the One by Dua Lipa, familiar to this columnist via its appearance on a Vauxhall Corsa advert but not familiar to this column, as it was in fact released more than six months before this site launched. She's also at #10 and #23 with features on No Lie and Scared to Be Lonely. I thoroughly enjoyed this record; it's fluffy, inoffensive synthpop from the days before she diversified into the truculent tropics of Hotter Than Hell, and it's a breath of fresh air. It is astonishing that this did not chart on first release because I say that if it's marketed correctly, this song could go all the way to the top.

    1. Shape Of You
      (Ed Sheeran)
    1. Castle On the Hill
      (Ed Sheeran)
    1. You Don't Know Me
      (Jax Jones & Raye)
    1. Touch
      (Little Mix)
    1. Paris
      (Chainsmokers ft. Emily Warren)
    1. Call On Me
      (Starley)
    1. Human
      (Rag'n'Bone Man)
    1. Rockabye
      (Clean Bandit ft. Anne-Marie & Sean Paul)
    1. September Song
      (JP Cooper)
    1. No Lie
      (Sean Paul ft. Dua Lipa)
    1. Be the One
      (Dua Lipa)
    1. I Would Like
      (Zara Larsson)
    1. I Don't Wanna Live Forever
      (Zayn & Taylor Swift)
    1. Sexual
      (Neiked ft. Dyo)
    1. Say You Won't Let Go
      (James Arthur)
    1. I Feel It Coming
      (Weeknd ft. Daft Punk)
    1. Bad Things
      (Machine Gun Kelly ft. Camila Cabello)
    1. Starboy
      (Weeknd ft. Daft Punk)
    1. Run Up
      (Major Lazer ft. PartyNextDoor & Nicki Minaj)
    1. Now and Later
      (Sage the Gemini)
    1. Don't Wanna Know
      (Maroon 5 ft. Kendrick Lamar)
    1. Scared to Be Lonely
      (Martin Garrix ft. Dua Lipa)
    1. Closer
      (Chainsmokers ft. Halsey)
    1. Shout Out to My Ex
      (Little Mix)
    1. 24K Magic
      (Bruno Mars)
    1. Love Me Now
      (John Legend)
    1. All Night
      (Vamps ft. Matoma)
    1. By Your Side
      (Jonas Blue ft. Raye)
    1. Text From Your Ex
      (Tinie Tempah ft. Tinashe)
    1. Skin
      (Rag'n'Bone Man)
    1. The Mack
      (Nevada ft. Mark Morrison & Fetty Wap)
    1. Starving
      (Hailee Steinfeld ft. Grey & Zedd)
    1. Don't Leave
      (Snakehips ft. MØ)
    1. After the Afterparty
      (Charli XCX ft. Lil Yachty)
    1. Not in Love
      (M.O ft. Kent Jones)
    1. So Good
      (Zara Larsson ft. Ty Dolla $ign)
    1. Mercy
      (Shawn Mendes)
    1. So Good
      (Louisa Johnson)
    1. Let Me Love You
      (DJ Snake ft. Justin Bieber)
    1. Can't Stop the Feeling
      (Justin Timberlake)
    1. The Greatest
      (Sia ft. Kendrick Lamar)
    1. Talking To You
      (Izzy Bizu)
    1. Cold Water
      (Major Lazer ft. Justin Bieber & MØ)
    1. My Way
      (Calvin Harris)
    1. Love On Me
      (Galantis & Hook N Sling)
    1. Should've Been Me
      (Naughty Boy ft. Kyla & Popcaan)
    1. Samantha
      (Dave ft. J Hus)
    1. Only One
      (Sigala & Digital Farm Animals)
    1. Don't Let Me Down
      (Chainsmokers ft. Daya)
    1. Issues
      (Julia Michaels)
    1. Redbone
      (Childish Gambino)
    1. In the Name of Love
      (Martin Garrix)
    1. On Hold
      (The XX)
    1. All We Know
      (Chainsmokers ft. Phoebe Ryan)
    1. Find Me
      (Sigma ft. Birdy)
    1. Love Me Better
      (James Blunt)
    1. Party
      (Chris Brown ft. Gucci Mane & Usher)
    1. I Got You
      (Bebe Rexha)
    1. Love My Life
      (Robbie Williams)
    1. Party Monster (Weeknd) • Ain't My Fault (Zara Larsson) • Make Me (Cry) (Noah Cyrus ft. Labrinth)

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