Friday, 30 September 2011

A Clip Of Frankmusik On A TV Talent Show From 2006

Back in ye olde days of yore (2006), there was a talent show on BBC2 in the afternoon called Let Me Entertain You. It was presented by a fading Brian Conley and an emerging Christine Bleakley and basically boiled down to various people trying to impress an audience of geriatrics sufficiently to last 3 minutes on stage without more than 50% of them pressing a button on a keypad to vote them off. Simple, right? Right.

One notable contestant was a beatboxer going by the name of Mr Mouth, whom about five people now know as Frankmusik. Amazing. Well now, in a de facto EXCLUSIVE  for this sub-mediocre blog (no one else has ever put it on YouTube), you can watch it below and see how he fared. This is the kind of footage that would be used on one of those 'before they were famous' programmes, if only Frank had ever really become famous at all :( .

You can read Frank's account of what happened next here, if you care. There was also a Mr Mouth website selling personalised ringtones, but even can't seem to bring that one back so what can you do.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

What's Happening In Romania?

Well quite a bit, since you're asking.

But that's not really very important. Certainly not in comparison to what's going on in the potentially made up Charly 1300 Romanian Airplay Charts. Accordingly, it's about time to have a look at how they've changed since they were last covered on this so-called 'music' so-called 'blog' (last Friday).

In at Number 40 we have Adele, with 'Someone Like You'. She's also at Numbers 43 and 68 with 'Set Fire To The Rain' and 'Rolling In The Deep' respectively - minor successes, but welcome ones nonetheless for a somewhat overlooked talent.

Further up the chart there's a (vaguely) notable entry from Mory Kanté - he of 'Yé ké yé ké' 'fame'. 23 years on and he's quite figuratively had a fight with rent-a-remixers Loverush UK!. The result of that gargantuan tussle is 'Yé ké yé ké 2011', credited to (bear with the analogy here) 'Mory Kanté versus Loverush UK!', which slides 4 places to 21 this week. It's basically the original reswizzled in a 2011 fashion, and while it isn't brilliant, it still counts as another important addition to the tightly woven tapestry of popular song. Music, if only metaphorically, is the winner.

Elsewhere there are significant climbs for David Deejay, whose P Jolie and Nonis-featuring 'Perfect 2' is up 11 to 22 (it's not very good, so don't bother), and Andra's 'Telephone', which takes the Inna formula and adds skittery sax and guitar samples AND a sort of marching band bit - amazing - which jumps eight places from 18 to 10. Disappointingly, however, there's also good news for the utterly deplorable Smiley, the man who puts the 'bad' into 'troubadour'. 

Yes, 'Dream Girl' has risen from 13 to 7, and while that troubadour joke was more than a little ropey it's certainly no worse than any of Smiley's own musings. Take, for example, the opening verse: "I'm sitting alone, drinking alcohol; writing a song about you; I know it's so sad, maybe even mad; but I know what you do behind my back". That right there is an almost cataclysmically terrible collection of lyrics, and one that even David 'two coffees' Sneddon would sneer at. Worst of all is its misogynistic tone, something that would be overt, if only it wasn't so appallingly written ('You're one to talk' - The World).

Anyway, here's the big bit: affixed below is your handy cut-out and keep guide to this week's Top 10, along with the definitive judgements on how good they are.

10 (18) Andra - 'Telephone' VERY GOOD INDEED
9 (14) Jennifer Lopez - 'I'm Into You' feat Lil Wayne PASSABLE
8 (9) Rihanna - 'Man Down' GOOD
7 (13) 'Smiley' - 'Dream Girl' UNBELIEVABLY AWFUL
6 (6) DJ Antoine - 'Welcome To St. Tropez' feat Kalenna THE END OF POP
5 (5) Guess Who - 'Tot Mai Sus' feat Marius Moga BRILLIANT
4 (3) Deepside Deejays - 'Never Be Alone' PARTICULARLY LOVELY
3 (4) Alexinno - 'Senorita' feat Starchild NOTHING SPECIAL
2 (2) Pitbull - 'Give Me Everything' feat Ne-Yo etc FEATURES PITBULL 
1 (1) Don Omar - 'Danza Kuduro' feat Lucenzo AMAZING

'And there,' as they say, 'we have it'. Except...
  • Akcent are getting a UK 'push' of sorts, courtesy of the often fantastic and only occasionally abysmal All Around The World label, who have had big hits in recent years with Inna, Alexandra Stan and Edward Maya. It's yet to be seen whether this will be a full-blooded thrust or just a gentle shove, but it's definitely good that there's at least one relatively large record company in the UK willing to take a chance on foreign acts. Right? Right.
  • 'Danza Kuduro' is also about to hit the UK, but only with the accompaniment of Pitbull on a new edit for the nation's simpletons.
  • And YouTube commenter templar990 has taken to Andra's 'Telephone' video to inform the world that they "love romania video, most of them made me erect :]". At the time of going to press that breezy bon mot had accumulated 25 likes.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Amazing Obscure Pet Shop Boys Things - No. 3: The Interview Sampled In Paninaro

"Well I don't like country and western. I don't like rock music... Erm, I don't like, I don't like rockabilly or rock and roll particularly... I don't like much, really, do I? But what I do like, I love passionately."

 From 1:20 onwards 

RWC 2011: England vs Romania

Tomorrow, England will face Romania in their third match of this year's Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. Now, while rugby is obviously quite important, it's not as important as pop music. Thus, the true winner of the match will be decided right here, right now, on this ramshackle blog. The method? Well, as in rugby, the nation's chosen XV (the Top 15 in their charts, homegrown or otherwise) that scores the most points (out of ten for each song) will win. Admittedly the English charts also represent another two and a half other teams at the World Cup but there we go.


15 - Rihanna - Cheers (Drink To That)
As a whole, Avril Lavigne's 'I'm With You' is fantastic and easily her best single. Cut down to just the 'yeah, yeah, yeah' bits, it's just annoying. Not Rihanna's finest hour, but then by the time this has climbed a few places further up the charts next Sunday she'll probably have released another 5 albums or something, so it's not like she won't ever make up for it. 2.5

14 - Ed Sheeran - The A Team
Oh God. 2

13 - Bruno Mars - Marry You
On occasion, Bruno Mars deserves more credit than he gets. 'Grenade', for example, is quite an odd song to have such a massive hit with. Where with 'Just The Way You Are' he was erring on the side of a little cloying, 'Grenade' was a portrait of an absolute psychopath. Who else could have such success with a song asking someone why they wouldn't be prepared to kill themselves for his love? No-one, that's who. At other times, however, he is a blight on the airwaves - see 'The Lazy Song'. 'Marry You', unfortunately, while not hitting the lows of 'The Lazy Song' is certainly nowhere close to a 'Grenade'. As an instrumental it'd probably work nicely in the background to practically anything a TV person could care to montage, but with Bruno's sickly-by-numbers lyrics it wouldn't. Which leaves nothing. 2.5 

12 - Ed Sheeran - You Need Me, I Don't Need Zzzzzz

11 - Sean Kingston - Party All Night (Sleep All Day)
Originally overlooked in both the UK and US, and you can see why. Its unexpected surge in popularity is due to its featuring in the credits of the Inbetweeners movie (Kevin & Perry for the Nando's Generation). It's not very good. To think that Stargate once produced Richard Blackwood, and now they've been reduced to this. Such a shame. Bits on the chorus are a bit Freemasons-esque, however, which earns it an extra point. 3

10 - Leona Lewis / Avicii / Penguin Cafe Orchestra - Collide
Leona goes dance, and The Public are uninterested. This wasn't in the plan. The appropriated appropriation of Penguin Cafe Orchestra's 'Perpetuum Mobile', courtesy of Avicii, is nothing revelatory, and nor are the controlled explosions of Leona's big Global Songstress™ voice, but placed together they work very well nonetheless. Actually, those bits specifically - the 'crash into me' bits - don't really work as a metaphor for falling in love. 'We can collide'? Sounds dangerous as much as anything. But then again, it's not as if that extended metaphor is the crux of the whole song or anything. 7.5

9 - Will Young - Jealousy
Definitely one of the singles of the year. The vocals are restrained yet strained, elegant yet faltering and Richard X's production is... Well it's Richard X's. Just beautiful, really. 9

8 - Christina Perri - Jar Of Hearts
An example of the chart's current diversity, a passive-aggressive ballad. Contains the rather laughable line "You're gonna catch a cold; from the ice inside your soul", which suggests its intense, wrought delivery and sparse, 'haunting' arrangement are tricking the listener into thinking that it's more substantial than it actually is. If you don't pay too much attention to the lyrics then that emotional manipulation is quite successful - the final 'who do you think you are?'s are particularly sad sounding - but when you do the aura of seriousness etc is sort of lost. 5

7 - Calvin Harris - Feel So Close
Recently Calvin has claimed that he would no longer sing on his own tracks, and so with 'Feel So Close' he's essentially reneging on a promise, but that's a good thing. He might not have the strongest vocals - in fact they're terrible live - but by this point they're something of a trademark of his. Something that isn't one of his trademarks is songs like this, with a central guitar riff and a sort of late-summer 'vibe', if you'll allow for that kind of preposterous terminology. It works quite well, despite it now being autumn. 6

6 - Example - Stay Awake
Won't somebody think of the children? 3.5

5 - The Saturdays - All Fired Up
A glorious mess. Upon cursory inspection this could be anything from the Guetta 'oeuvre', but in truth it's been designed specifically by the geniuses that are Xenomania and Space Cowboy, and TBC genius MNEK, to sound similarly generic, while also avoiding conformity with any of its structural norms, and those of most pop songs to date. Well that's probably what happened anyway. 8

4 - Olly Murs - Heart Skips A Beat feat Rizzle Kicks
Murs certainly seems to like his reggae, and he likes it with cod. The Rizzle Kicks effort is perfunctory to say the least, but it does prevent Olly from spoiling the track as he probably would, given the breathing space. DUBSTEP INFLUENCE. 7

3 - Pixie Lott - All About Tonight
'All About Tonight' is quite a nifty song really, but its performer is anything but. Popstar in nothing but name, Pixie Lott is one of the most gaping charisma vacuums to have hit the charts in a very long time. She can't even sing very well, never mind convey any semblance of emotion. But hey! She's got a new pair of shoes! 6

2 - Maroon 5 - Moves Like Jagger feat Christina Aguilera
The UK charts have seen a bit of a sea change of late. The Guetta House influence is still all too noticeable, but rather than spreading further, as some people predicted it would, it is now being complemented in the higher reaches of the Top 40 by songs, and artists, of the like that haven't been seen there for quite a while. Moves Like Jagger is a brilliant example of this: Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera's albums were both flops of significant proportions here last year, enough for ever-circling internet ne'er-do-wells to pronounce their careers dead as a doornail. Not so. Unfortunately, while the appearance of both acts here is certainly something to be pleased about, diversity comes at a price. This song quickly becomes a bit of an irritant. Still, it's the cause that counts. 5

1 - One Direction - What Makes You Beautiful
It's a sentiment that comes off as slightly insincere when delivered by the repellantly laddish Curly Haired One, but it's a very nice, and in fact important one for the One Direction demographic (the Youth Of Today): 'You're ugly, but that doesn't mean I might not fancy you'. Problem is it veers slightly too far into more sickly - nay, creepy - territory, ie 'You're ugly and chronically shy and that is why I fancy you and don't you dare change that'. Presumably this is what the group's fans want to hear. It's good though, a bit like a boyband song from ten or so years ago, but with guitars. Talking of which, guitars better not be in everything One Direction do, because Busted did that and a few years later Landfill Indie became popular. And don't try and say that wasn't Busted's fault.  7

And now to Romania. Given what the rest of the world knows about their music scene, it'll all be Inna and Edward Maya type stuff, right? Right? Well, Romania doesn't have an official chart, so for the purposes of this post, the Charly 1300 Airplay Charts will be used. Apparently they contain the most played tracks on all radio and TV stations, and while they could easily be completely made up, they seem to be in line with other similar charts, so here we go. 

15 - Dan Balan - Freedom
Dan Balan's greatest success to date came as part of Moldovan boyband O-Zone, whose 'Dragostea Din Tei' was all kinds of fantastic and became a worldwide smash. That was 7 years ago, and now he's gone solo. Last year he released an absolutely diabolical single called 'Chica Bomb' that made metaphorical waves in mainland Europe, but, aptly, 'bombed' in the UK. Well, he's had a chance to think about where he was going wrong, and 'Freedom' is his effort at redeeming himself. Unfortunately, it's a mess, with lyrics like "She says 'love sucks this way'", unnecessary repetition of the word freedom and sub-Guetta bleepitybloops. There is something there though; with a bit of tweaking it could be a one fist in the air style Eurovision anthem. That would be amazing. 4

14 - Jennifer Lopez - I'm Into You feat Lil Wayne
'Love controller' is an improvement on 'disco stick', but no match for 'madness thing'. 5.5

13 - Smiley - Dream Girl
Bluntly misogynistic pap from a man who can only be assumed to be the Romanian Ed Sheeran. The titular Dream Girl has cheated on and left Smiley, who, in his fury, rhymes "sitting alone" with "drinking alcohol". "You're nothing but a whore, always ready to go", he croons. "You sold your soul for a little dough." Smiley: stop moping. Maybe she just left you because you're a bit of a pillock. 1
12 - Akcent - Feelings On Fire feat Ruxandra Bar
Reasons why Akcent are amazing:
  • They have a song called 'Kylie'. It's about Kylie. It's really good.
  • Another of their hits, 'That's My Name', features a prominent harmonica. It's also really good.
  • They also released a single called 'Stay With Me' which features a prominent flute. Well, it's probably not actually a flute, but it's still an 11 out of 10 kind of song.
'Feelings On Fire' doesn't quite hit the heights of the aforementioned masterpieces, but it certainly sounds very Inna-esque, which is the least you could hope for, and keeps up their tradition of choosing, seemingly arbitrarily, one particular instrument to feature prominently. This time it sounds a bit like a xylophone, and is somewhat reminiscent of Dario G, which is always a positive. 8

11 - Nicole Scherzinger - Right There feat 50 Cent
In which Nicole pretends to be from the Caribbean. It's not right, but it's okay. 5

10 - Luckyman Project - Pumpin' 
"Cine a dat dislike, sa isi dea doua castane...:D" says manemos92 in a comment under the 'Pumpin'' video on YouTube for which they have received 2177 thumbs up, and it's hard not to see why. Features a man with an uncanny vocal resemblance to Pitbull. 4

9 - Rihanna - Man Down
This would have made an infinitely better single than 'Cheers'. In one corner you've got "TGIFETC", and in the other you've got a story of Rihanna killing somebody, and for once not metaphorically. There's no contest really. 7

8 - Raluka - Out Of Your Business   
Stealing 'Clocks' is so commonplace these days that it's akin to basing a track on 'Canon In D', but while here it does work quite well, 'Out Of Your Business' doesn't feel so much Coldplay as Pixie Lott, specifically her similarly carefree 'All About Tonight'. Raluka, with her weak vocals whose slight croak, as with Pixie's, are presumably intended to somehow suggest personality, tells of how "day and night I leave it all behind; 'cause I got my own piece of mind" and how she's "out of your business". Now, these lyrics are questionable, because 'out of your business' isn't really a phrase that often crops up in English vernacular, but hey! She's got a new pair of shoes! 6.5

7 - Jeremih - Down On Me feat 50 Cent
"Girl all I really want is you down on me."  :( x a million. 2.5

6 - DJ Antoine vs Timati - Welcome To St Tropez feat Kalenna
"Mad bitches, so much brought; spendin' like when I wanna fuck them all; get mad brain in my very fast car; Ferrari v12 Maranello on my arm; ladies can't resist the charm; haters, kiss the ring of the Don; and we do this all day, welcome to Saint Tropez." And with that right there, ladies and gentlemen, we have The End Of Pop. 0.5

5 - Guess Who - Tot Mai Sus feat Marius Moga
Laurenţiu Mocanu (born June 2, 1986), better known by his stage name Guess Who is a Romanian rapper. He is one of the most successful artists from the new wave of Romanian hip hop. Later this year he will release his second album, and this is the first single from it. It means 'Above All' (translated lyrics here) and features Marius Moga, a Romanian producer, composer and singer,[1] famous in Eastern and Central Europe, who, in the video, is seen playing the piano on top of a lorry while it hurtles across the motorway. It's sort of like if Frankmusik was Romanian and he featured on equally Romanian Rizzle Kicks track, ie quite good indeed. 7.5

4 - Allexinno - Senorita feat Starchild
Sax on the beach. Presumably Alexandra Stan was 'busy'. 4.5

3 - Deepside Deejays - Never Be Alone
This is lovely. Like Raluka, the Deepside Deejays' grasp on the English language is a bit weak ("You give me sunrise with your smile"), but really they're all the more endearing for it. There's no subtext here, no braggadocio, no laboured Club nonsense, just 3 minutes and 30 seconds of complete serenity. And fiddles. And let's be honest, those are both things that everybody needs more of. 8

2 - Pitbull - Give Me Everything feat Ne-Yo, Afrojack and Nayer
There's a version of this with just Ne-Yo on. It's not bad. The original itself features a plug for a camera company, a plug for a car manufacturer, and Pitbull, who is not only responsible for said plugs, but is also Pitbull. 4

1 - Don Omar - Danza Kuduro feat Lucenzo 
Reggaetón! Accordions! Oy-oy-oy! You don't need to know anything about any of those things to know that 'Danza Kuduro' is amazing. 8

And there we have it. Was that a complete waste of time? Probably. But anyway - here's the exciting bit: after tallying each nation's scores up, England have 74 points (at an average of 4.93), and Romania have 76 (at an average of 5.07), meaning Romania win, and are officially better at music than England. Well done, everybody.


Monday, 12 September 2011

Remembrance Monday: Mattafix - Big City Life

Mattafix, in case you didn't know, were a UK duo made up of Marlon Roudette and Preetesh Hirji. Their sound was a fusion of hip hop/rap, R&B, reggae, dancehall, blues, jazz, soul and world. (Cheers Wikipedia.) Anyway, 'Big City Life' was their one and only UK hit, and was, cleverly, about life in a big city. The lyrics are all rather universalist ('People in a show; all lined in a row; we just push on by; it's funny; how hard we try', 'Don’t you ever get lonely; from time to time; don't let the system get you down') but then that's what helps people relate to them, innit? It wasn't anything revolutionary (although Mattafix apparently had some kind of political delusions), it was just a lovely, autumnal (yes, 'autumnal') song. Somewhat accordingly, it's chart success in the UK was rather limited, reaching Number 15 and spending 5 weeks in the Top 40 in August 2005.

That all seems simple enough: another instance of a one (moderate) hit wonder. The full picture is actually a bit bizarre. 'Big City Life' wasn't huge in Britain but was elsewhere, hitting Number One in Austria, Germany, New Zealand, Switzerland and Italy. (Cheers Wikipedia.) Two years later, 'Living Darfur', the first single from the pair's second album, made Number 3 in Italy. As it goes, they're quite popular in mainland Europe, much like Hurts, or [Note: check Wikipedia for something funny that's popular in mainland Europe]. Best of all, Roudette, the group's singer, is the son of Cameron McVey - a producer known for his work on Massive Attack's 'Blue Lines' and both the Sugababes' and All Saints' debut albums - and the stepson of Neneh Cherry. Neneh Cherry!

Last year Mattafix split up (due to 'creative differences' or something) and Roudette is using some of the material planned for their third album as part of his own solo career, which is a bit cheeky considering a fair bit was probably written by Hirji. His first single is called 'New Age', and like 'Big City Life' is all very gentle and nice, meaning it will probably wash right over quite a lot of people. On the other hand it is, at this very moment, in the iTunes Top 10s of Switzerland and Austria, and heading the charts in Germany. Well done, Marlon Roudette.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Real Music Roundup

From the frontlines of Real Music:

The Actor Justin Timberlake said some rather silly things at a gig for some band or another in New York recently. As a former Mickey Mouse Clubber you'd have thought that he'd have learned from an early age that statements like "I just wanted to take an opportunity to show you a Real Band with some Real Music" are utterly, utterly wrong, but there we go. On the plus side he did perform 'Cry Me A River' and 'Like I Love You', so it was a swings and roundabouts sort of affair overall.

Some Pillock Off American Idol wants "to do Real Music, I want Real Instruments and I want Real Musicians to be a part of it". As opposed to pretend music and pretend musicians? It's a good job he doesn't "want to be known for being a pop star" though really, because he wasn't very good on the show at all, and further exposure to him would not be something to welcome.

Beyoncé deserves some congratulations. Recently she's not only turned 30, but also gone and got up the proverbial duff. To do both of those things while juggling a rather impressive pop career is no mean feat. Unfortunately, neither achievement exempts her from criticism for this comment at a recent gig in New York: "('4' is about) being brave, managing myself... Giving myself artistic freedom to make Real Music for you." Oh dear.

As a result of their foolhardy comments, these Very Real People now find themselves here. Well done to all involved.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Remembrance Monday: Blue Adonis - Disco Cop

In 1998 Blue Adonis (AKA Dirk De Boeck and Wim Perdaen) released an instrumental house track called 'Disco Cop'. Indisputably, it's an eleven out of ten kind of record, a fact of which below can be found proof. (It's a 2:45 edit which doesn't really do it full justice but still, we're all busy people etc.)

Chances are that won't have been familiar to you. On the off chance it was, it could be because you heard it used every year on ITV's Eurovision-esque Record Of The Year show. Or it could be from the opening few bars of Duffy's 'Mercy', an act of shameless misappropriation on her part that resulted in levels of bad karma sufficient to see her second album practically end her career. Or it could be from the opening few bars of Marianne Rosenberg's 'Ich Bin Wie Du', a 70s schlager hit from Germany that Blue Adonis had every right to sample. It could even be from when they took it, put some ropey diva's vocals on top (if only two words worth), made a rubbish video and sent it rocketing to Number 27 in the charts.

Or, again, in all likelihood, you might never have heard it before at all, which is fine. For the record, Blue Adonis was only one of many pseudonyms that Messrs De Boeck and Perdaen worked (and still work) under. Others include Synergy, Unison and Warriors Of Eloy, all of which sounding a bit like names for a team on The Apprentice. They're not, but they might as well be - God knows what their music sounds like. (If you really want to know then you're probably best off asking Judge Jules or something.) Regardless, 'Disco Cop' will remain amazing. Hurrah.