Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The Singles Bar - 19/9/11

There are ten tracks for your consideration this week and, oddly enough, three of them have titles that begin with the word ‘No.’ Thus, they can join the pantheon of great ‘No’ songs, like Robbie Williams’ No Regretsand 2 Unlimited’s No Limit. What’s your favourite ‘No’ record? I think mine would be TLC’s No Scrubs withNo Rain by Blind Melon a close second.
Miles Kane – Come Closer
Former Rascal Miles Kane deals in a particularly retro brand of Brit-rock. Because no-one else seems to be doing this currently, it doesn’t feel like a complete rip-off. Come Closer recalls The Who, The Kinks and T. Rex, without ever reaching the heights of those bands. It’s a perfectly adequate song with a great, rousing climax, but it lacks the impact of past single, InhalerCome Closer has already been released this year and was Kane’s only song to crack the Top 100, so it seems peculiar to put it out again. Ideally, he’ll soon give Alex Turner a ring and the two of them can make another Last Shadow Puppets album. 6/10
Roots Manuva – Get The Get
It’s hard not to feel sorry for Roots Manuva. He paved the way for so many of UK hip-hop’s current stars, yet rarely seems to get the recognition or sales figures he deserves. Get The Get isn’t the best track Roots has ever released, but it’s a good, immediate pop song that would go down well in “the club” or other such fun locations as often referenced in song. The new Roots Manuva album, 4everevolution, is out next month and, on the evidence of Get The Get, looks well worth checking out. 7/10
James Morrison – I Won’t Let You Go
This weekend, James Morrison was spouting off in that well-known music publication, er… The Daily Star, about manufactured music. He said, “People need to keep believing in real music,” and added that if his daughter ever went on The X Factor, he’d tell her, “If you want to sell your soul, don’t come home to me.”What a nice man he seems. It’s good to see people getting their priorities straight, isn’t it? I mean, you could show your daughter love and encouragement, or you could disown her for following in your footsteps in a bid for stardom. Morrison also called boyband JLS “the worst singers I’ve ever heard.” Funnily enough, I’d rather listen to JLS for hours on end than this piece of by-numbers, over-emoting rubbish. Someone in the studio has clearly pushed the button marked ‘epic’ and created a track which seems to do a lot while saying nothing at all. Think the weaker moments of David Gray or even James Blunt. 1/10
Nicola Roberts – Lucky Day
While Girls Aloud bandmate Cheryl Cole has made her life a tabloid staple, Nicola Roberts has decided to go out and make some amazing pop records instead. Well done her. It makes you wonder why more pop stars don’t do things like this – make songs which are playful, engaging and packed full of more hooks than an angling competition. It’s no Beat Of My Drum (but then again, what is?) yet it seems to have been genetically engineered to jump out of the speakers. Fun, danceable and throwaway – everything a great single should be. 8/10 – SINGLE OF THE WEEK
Frankmusik – No ID (featuring Colette Carr)
While we’re talking about great pop stars, here’s No ID by Frankmusik. It’s ludicrously simple and sadly leans a little too heavy on the auto-tune, but has a chorus you’ll find near impossible to shift from your subconscious. Frankmusik and Colette Carr seem remarkably chipper about getting turned away from a club for having – you guessed it – no ID, but luckily they’ve got another party to go to. Phew, that’s a relief. Having just espoused the virtues of throwaway pop, this is sadly a little too dumb and one-dimensional for my tastes. 6/10
Dappy – No Regrets
For anyone not familiar with the oeuvre of the artist known as Dappy, he’s one of those rap singers from an inexplicably popular R&B trio called N-Dubz and is known for wearing silly hats. Whilst they’re on hiatus (Tulisa is an X Factor judge; Fazer is… God knows, trying on sunglasses probably), Dappy has launched his solo career. No Regrets is a song about redemption, with Dappy letting us know how he’s grown up and doesn’t do bad things any more, like – to pick an example at random – get fired as an anti-bullyingspokeman for stealing the phone number of a member of the public who’d criticised him and texting them abuse. Anyway, it’s a terrible song with tired hip-hop production, and Dappy seems to display all the lyrical dexterity of a snooker table. His approach seems to be to think of a line, then name somebody famous after it (“I’m a changed man – Chris Brown,” “Back to the future – Marty McFly,” “I’m flying with the birds – Richard Branson,” “I’ll blow the bloody doors off – Michael Caine.”) which would be hilarious if it weren’t deadly serious. Note to Dappy: if you “look in the mirror” and “don’t even recognise” yourself, but see “the heart of a winner,” then that’s not a mirror; it’s called a window. 2/10
Wiz Khalifa – No Sleep
No Sleep is the fourth single from Wiz Khalifa’s album, Rolling Papers, and it shows. Lacking the energy of Black And YellowNo Sleep is a dull and monotonous track that makes having fun sound like a hell of a drag. The production is actually more in keeping with radio-friendly R&B like N-Dubz than what you’d expect from hip-hop. This may be a short review, but there’s little else to say about it; for a song called No Sleep, it’s remarkably soporific. 3/10
Emmy The Great – Paper Forest (In The Afterglow Of Rapture)
There’s something about Emmy The Great which brings to mind annoyingly, self-consciously kooky singer-songwriters who think they’re Kate Bush but are more Kate Nash. Paper Forest is a well-produced, delicatefolky number that has too many words per line, which sadly spoils the mood somewhat. That said, there are some really nice touches which bode well for further exploration and the last minute or so has lovely harmonies. There’s a nagging feeling that Emmy The Great has sabotaged what could have been a really wonderful track. 6/10
Alex Winston – Velvet Elvis
Now this is certainly interesting, if nothing else. The opening ten seconds sound like a wormhole’s opened to the 1940s before the vocals begin, which are… distinctive to say the least – think Passion Pit’s Sleepyhead or early Joanna NewsomVelvet Elvis is in the same folk-tinged vein as Mumford & Sons or Noah & The Whale, but there’s a more marching, purposeful feel to the music. There are also strong elements of twee pop; as well as the girlish voice, there’s plenty of glockenspiel embellishment. Certainly one to watch for the future, but this kind of precociousness would probably become wearing over the course of an entire album. 7/10
Lady Gaga – Yoü and I
There are many thing to love about 80s music. However, for her latest single, Lady Gaga has focused on two of the worst aspects – dated, overblown production and the power ballad. For some reason, she’s picked the worst track from the patchy Born This Way to release as a single when there are other, more deserving candidates (Marry The Night or Hair, for example). As previously mentioned in the No Ripcordreview of Born This Way, Yoü and I sounds uncannily like Nickelback’s Rockstar, and once you’ve realisedthat, it’s impossible to enjoy it. There are likely to be great things from Lady Gaga in the future but for everyone’s sake, it’s probably best we sweep this under the carpet and try to forget it ever happened. 3/10

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