Wednesday, 12 December 2012


End-of-year reviews are ten a penny, aren't they? What would be good is if they started in an arbitrarily-chosen month - say February - and continued in a similarly errant fashion until the person writing it stopped for some reason. Maybe, even, after February. With that in mind, here is everything - everything - that happened in February.

February saw the release of's epoch-shattering opus 'THE (The Hardest Ever)'. As with almost all of the 'oeuvre', and indeed most of all he ever utters, the piece was somewhat esoteric, destined to only be understood by will himself and the future generations he will no doubt come to inspire. It's kind of weird, really, that a man so sure that he is an innovative, futuristic trailblazer continues to make music that's almost exclusively derivative and generic. Wearing ludicrous spacesuits while livetweeting television programmes they're a part of does not, unfortunately, make a person Buck Rogers. (Actually he was from the past, wasn't he? You get the idea.)

Fortunately will has always had a back-up plan: if the time-traveller schtick won't wash then you can instead try and convince people that you're British. And so he did. Why else would he afford space to olden-days luddite Mick Jagger on the groundbreaking 'THE' alongside such forward-thinking artists as Jennifer Lopez and himself? In fact why, otherwise, would he allow Cheryl Cole to appear in the background of the videos of some of his solo releases (in selected territories)? And why would he be so willing to spend extended amounts of time with Jessie J and Tom Jones?

As it turned out the UK totally and utterly respected these attempts at absorbing himself into their culture, rewarding him with not one but two Number One singles in 2012, and that's just so far. In fact the country was endeared to him so much that his endeavours culminated with his selection as one of its Olympic torchbearers. Indeed, the people of Taunton's hearts swelled with pride as he paraded through their town with the flame, tweeting as he went, quite literally sending one message as he did the same with the embodiment of another.

So inspirational.

Perhaps the most concise encapsulation of just how British will became in 2012 comes from the fact that by December he was capable of transfusing the nationality to Britney in his latest genre-transcending creation, 'Scream & Shout'.

Of course, this had all been done before by Madonna in her Mockney-marrying period. You know, Madonna - the one with the cones? No? Oh.

Don't worry, that last sentence was a very complicated 'bit of whimsy' (technical term) that was intended to highlight the fact that in 2012 people seemed to stop caring about Madonna's new material. In fact '2012 people' is almost an accurate description of' those in the UK who've actually heard 'Give Me All Your Luvin'.

This apathy was underlined, funnily enough, in February by the nation's favourite Radio One. For whatever reason (there were probably two main ones), they controversially snubbed the aforementioned 'Give Me All Your Luvin'', leaving it off their playlist.

Except it wasn't controversial at all. The media ruckus that some fools predicted might ensue didn't - they saved that for Robbie - and the world continued turning.

And that was everything that happened in February!

Friday, 7 December 2012

LadBanter Reconvene For New Single 'YOLO'; Album '#bantmobile'

Britain's premier bant combo return with new single 'YOLO (You Only Leave Once)' and album '#bantmobile'.

"You only leave once and you never come back; you look better in the dark with a face like that"

After a short period away LadBanter are back - and banter than ever.  It may have only been 9 months since the boys last penetrated the charts, but during that time much has changed.

"Obviously Chris has done his thing," says staunchly heterosexual heartthrob Danny, referring to his bantmate's success with solo effort 'Bernard's Watch', "and I've been away doing my thing, and the other two have been doing their thing, and we just thought, you know, it'd be nice to get back together to do a thing, for the fans, you know."

"A love that festered, grew like mould; you're 23 but you look twice as old"

Says Danny of 'YOLO': "It's an upbeat break-up song. It says: 'girls, we're single!'"

And what a catch any member of the group would be, not least sensitive charmer Chris, who co-wrote the track with up-and-coming production team PMQs, once again proving he not only has the words for head, but also a head for words.

As he explains, the song draws from experience. "I went out with this girl and then she left me," he explains, "and it's true, she was ugly." The split hit him hard. As he explains, "I just think people don't realise how hard it can be to be a man sometimes."

Thankfully, channeling his angst into the track proved a real help in moving on. "I've moved on now," he reveals. It's a process that's been aided, somewhat unusually, by music. "I've been listening to a lot of Dubstep and James Arthur recently. I just think that's what the UK music scene needs at the moment.

"One of the tracks on the album, 'The Mynx Effect', is actually sort of inspired by James," although, he hastens to add, "not in a gay way."

#bantmobile will be released on March 4 and features contributions from P Funktory, Kirk Norcross, Brian May and Tunde from the Lighthouse Family. 'YOLO (You Only Leave Once)' is out on Sunday.

"You only leave once; you only leave once; you only leave once; you better not come back"

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Ahead Of The Curve

Some 'music reviews' from the cutting edge of pop:

Stooshe - 'Waterfalls'
A cover that could well be described as anthemic, if only as a result of a mishap involving autocorrect and the word anaemic. (Seriously if you have spellcheck set to US English then there's potential for anything.) It's not exactly going to send them freewheeling towards the dumper, but only serves to further their potential of prematurely becoming a 'remember them?' act - almost impressive at a time when it seems there are hardly any acts regularly in the charts and on the airwaves anyway. (And that's not just uncorroborated perception either, but something proven by science here.)

JLS - 'Hottest Girl In The World'
This is very enjoyable, and that's a vital quality for a JLS single in 2012 because their time is probably running out - there are no guarantees that their singles will be big hits any more, so it helps to make them good, something borne out by the genuine, lasting success of 'She Makes Me Wanna' and the vanishing act played by charity-propelled nothingathon 'Proud'. And on top of it sounding good, it's brilliant to see a pop act launch an album on such a profound, existential rumination on gender. Well done, JLS.

Steps - 'Light Up The World'
If Radio 2 was a song, this would be it. Amazing. In an alternate universe - presumably one in which H & Claire's letters got lost in the post, leading to Steps dominating pop for an additional ten years - it could be the new Bond theme.

Private - 'Everywhere' feat Genasis
The utter beauty of this is exemplified by its very existence in the face of Genasis' attempt at total and complete destruction. Bluntly, the verse he was for some reason asked to provide features the line "putting my butter all over her muffin" early on, before descending into another that begins with the word sucking and leads into a rhyme with a word that's frankly just too uncouth to be printed on these fair pages, never mind, gentle reader, your imagination. As a whole it's sort of reminiscent of Briskeby's 'Miss You Like Crazy' (another A++ bit of Scandipop, fact fans), just more synthy. And yes, there probably are better comparisons than that but if you're after one then you're very clearly in the wrong place. Just listen to it instead.

Martin - 'Show The World'
Speaking of Private, Thomas Troelsen - aka Private - co-wrote this disco track for Martin, the winner of the first series of the Danish X Factor, four years ago and it is incredible. The production is slightly naff, but Martin's voice sounds very good, which should explain how he won the show aged only 15. It was one of two Number One singles he had from his debut album (also a Number One), after which he disappeared off the face of the earth. Now 20, he declined an invitation earlier this year to reappear on the X Factor final, telling newspaper Berlingske he's happy enough without the whole to-do. "I have my home studio, where every day I produce music... I think it's great [for people] to sit and develop themselves in this way. I feel really fat!" :(

Monday, 22 October 2012

'Two Fingers' Ra Ra Ra

Jake Bugg sold 35,785 copies of his eponymous debut album to make Number One this week. Well done Jake Bugg. Meanwhile, Leona Lewis' third album 'Glassheart' could only manage Number Three, with sales of 27,642.

But oh no! Bugg has said this, apparently ( give no source in their 'report'):
"I guess it proves my point – people still want to hear guitar music. It’s my job to keep that X Factor shit off the top of the charts."
Maybe he should be cut some slack - he's just completed a fantastic moral victory for under-appreciated, under-exposed something blah blah, after all. Simon Cowell acts like Leona have had a monopoly on the charts and radio since he invented Pop Idol - it's about time he got what was coming to him!

So with that dominance in mind, let's see just how Radio 1, the nation's favourite radio station, have 'supported' the unadulterated, real music of Bugg this year compared to Lucifer-powered X Factor hellchild Leona's. (Not that it means much to look at just this one avenue of promotion, but make of it whatever you will alright.)

Jake Bugg
68 plays on BBC Radio 1 in the past 28 days as recorded by
Tracks from the album 'Jake Bugg' played 192 times on BBC Radio 1 this year as recorded by their page (eight of its fourteen songs at least once)

Leona Lewis
37 plays on BBC Radio 1 in the past 28 days as recorded by
Tracks from the album 'Glassheart' played 44 times on BBC Radio 1 this year as recorded by their page (all 'Trouble')

27,000 copies for Leona Lewis isn't really very good, but on that showing 36,000 for Jake Bugg probably isn't either. But anyway, yeah. Rock and indeed roll.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

The Anthem Won't Explain It

Six years ago this week My Chemical Romance's 'Welcome To The Black Parade' took its place as one of the most absurd UK Number One singles of all time.

It's not often that such ludicrous bombast reaches the top of the chart, never mind from a band with only three minor Top 40 hits to their name*, and so looking at it now it seems even more anomalous than it did at the time. Obviously it had context then, representing the peak of the mainstream success of the dreaded emo cult, but it was still a rather odd thing to happen.

It's a good job it did happen. Emo's time as A Thing ended up being very brief; while My Chemical Romance did very well out of it, they didn't have nearly as much success when they returned in 2010. It's a perfect example of a Number One single as a time capsule - if it hadn't have been such a hit, what would be the reference point for emo when Jack Whitehall eventually does some Channel 4 programme feigning nostalgia for things that happened in 2006?

This has all been a load of waffle about nothing, hasn't it. Anyway, it needed ('needed') to be noted that 'Welcome To The Black Parade' is one of the most surreal and best Number One singles ever and if you feel otherwise then you're basically wrong. It's embedded below for proof. You could call it a 'Bohemian Rhapsody' for the MySpace generation*, if that were to mean anything.

Other vital information: 'Welcome To The Black Parade' actually managed to last a fortnight at Number One, selling 33,883 in its first week and 29,201 in the second, figures that would only have scraped a Top Ten place this week.

Also in the Top 10 in the first week were Razorlight, Scissor Sisters and Beatfreakz, appearing with their second single. Second single. The past really is a foreign country, of which Lil' Chris, who was at Number 6, is probably a Junior Minister.

*See? It almost ties together now if you squint.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Some Songs That Were Released This Week

Because it's always good to be ahead of the curve, here is a list of some songs that Woolworths have been selling since Monday.

Alexandra Stan'Lemonade' Surely heading for the top spot this weekend. Even better, albeit lacking any cod cod-reggae, is its b-side, '1.000.000', which features the chorus "milli-million milli-million milli-milli-milli-milli-milli-million, milli-million milli-million milli-milli-milli-milli-milli-million". Consider that a challenge, Him From The Vaccines. (No but really, don't.)

AlunaGeorge - 'Your Drums, Your Love' Sort of pop music but sort of not, so you're definitely allowed to like it. Zane Lowe would merely respect what they're doing with it, while Nick Grimshaw would play it sans irony. But it's nonetheless really good.

Leona Lewis – 'Trouble' feat Childish Gambino It'll be interesting to see how much longer Leona can get by on the patent fact that she is a Global Songstress, given that she is a Global Songstress with only one real hit - a cover - since her first album. Also there's a bit in the non-rap version of this (the "run away now" part known 'in the biz' as the - technical term - 'middle 8') that has exactly the same melody as the chorus of Delerium's 'Silence', which is also a good song.

Loverush UK! vs Tiltin - 'I Wanna Get Out' feat Kitty Brucknell Actually not the worst thing in the world. Nor the best.

Madeon – 'The City' It has noises that sound like bagpipes! But it's struggling to keep inside the iTunes Top 100! What a world.

Shy & DRS - 'The Love Is Gone' feat Sandi Thom If you'd have told Sandi Thom back in 2006 - the year she invented the internet AND flower-toting punks LIVE from her Tooting dungeon - that just six years later her career would have soared to the heights of featuring on the Marillion-sampling debut single of Scottish rap duo Sly & DRS, she would surely have balked. Poor Sandi. Born too late into a world that doesn't care.

Swedish House Mafia - 'Don't You Worry Child' feat John Martin Bosh with an Enrique impersonator trying for SIGNIFICANCE to the point of COSMIC over the top. Totally sincere in its grandiose attempt at grandeur though, a key component of its brilliance.

Well that was worthwhile.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Popstars On Spotify: An Investigation

This is probably one for the file marked 'voyeurism', but interesting nonetheless, especially if you are a voyeur: what lies in the Spotify accounts of popstars? After this piece of soon-to-be-award-winning investigative journalism you are no doubt itching to find out, no? Well anyway:

Stefan Storm (of The Sound Of Arrows stupendousness)
Playlists with titles like 'Sample material', 'KOTA samples?' and 'Potentiella covers/mashups'.

What's in there? The sample ones feature a variety of slightly obscure things - plus bloody 'Little Red Corvette'! - while the covers and mashup one contains 'Wind Of Change' (!), 'Ordinary World', 'King Of My Castle', 'Tom's Diner', 'Sleeping Satellite' and 'Your Woman'. Now yes, that sounds potentially amazing, but there doesn't seem to be any sign of plans for a 'Power Of Love' EP, which is arguably what The Sound Of Arrows should be doing next. (Seriously Stefan, release it at Christmas, split the profits. Everyone's happy.)

What could it all mean? Well with a little deduction you could figure that Stefan is planning to sample, cover or even 'mash up' the songs contained in these playlists, but what KOTA means seems a bit of a mystery. A side project? A new album title? If it is a new album it could be called 'Kings Of The Abyss' or something like that. In fact it probably is.

Steve Brookstein
Playlists with titles like 'caffee nero'

What's in there? Only a karaoke version of Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack's 'Back Together Again'.

What could it all mean? sosad

Unicorn Kid
Playlists with titles like 'Angerfist - Retaliate' and 'Various Artists. - Hardstyle - 2012'

What's in there? Albums of the same name.

What could it all mean? That he is currently enjoying music that goes 'ssssskkkkkk dong bong dong bong dong brrrrrr', presumably.

Olly Murs (NB this is definitely him - it can only be him - he's 'starred' lots of his own material)
Playlists with titles like 'Dave's sikkk choooness'

What's in there? To be honest not much of interest, but putting this bit here padded things out a bit, so you can't really complain. The song he's listened to most in the past week is 'Watchtower' by Devlin and Ed Sheeran, in case you were looking to confirm your prejudices.

What could it all mean? Nothing.

So there you go.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Notes On Number Ones: Florence + The Machine - Spectrum

Florence + The Machine - Spectrum

This is quite interesting. Neither Florence or her Machine are particularly accustomed to the higher reaches of the singles chart. She'd come close to topping it before, with 'You've Got The Dirtee Love' peaking at Number 2, but had otherwise failed to make the Top 10 in 11 attempts.

Things have been different on the album chart - her debut 'Lungs', released three years ago, was a Number One and hasn't left the Top 100 since, selling over 1.5 million copies. Similar things were expected of the follow-up, 'Ceremonials'. Released in November, it debuted at the top, but hasn't sold anywhere the levels 'Lungs' did. Similarly, the singles from it have not exactly performed brilliantly, with only two of four making the Top 40, and only one having any real staying power.

So there's a sense that someone, somewhere has decided that things need to improve. And how, on a fifth single, do you go about that? Rope in Calvin Harris for a remix. It's very pleasant, if a bit by numbers.

Be under no illusion though. This was not a cynical move, purely designed to get Florence a hit and hopefully revive flagging album sales. No, she sought him out because "he has that blend of euphoric and melancholic which as an artist he has managed to perfect", so her intentions can only have been honourable.

This all suggests some 'intriguing' things about both act's respective careers at the moment. Florence, paragon of Real Music and Radio 1 figurehead, feeling the need to jump on someone else's bandwagon doesn't really reflect all that well on her. And does this mark the peak of Calvin Harris' imperial phase? In less than a year he's had three Number Two singles and been credited on two Number Ones, as well as producing another for Cheryl Cole. Chances are his next release, 'We'll Be Coming Back' (featuring another man on top of his game, Example) will also go straight to the summit when it's released on July 30, so he probably has more to come.

Despite what the crediting would have you believe, this song's success is mainly down to Calvin. Though it looks like a boon for Florence's future, the reality might be closer to the opposite.

These Are The Facts
Sales 64,816 (17th highest for a new Number One from 19 this year)  Chart 'Run' 104-1  
Airplay Chart 25 TV Airplay Chart 17 1201st UK Number One
Sources: This, this and this

Sunday, 15 July 2012


The question looms large. Yes, you know that Slovakia is home to the Bryndzové Halušky, and you're well aware of the exploits of Peter Šťastný - not to mention Móric Benyovszky - but what do you know about the music that is popular in Slovakia?

Well a cursory glance at the Slovakian Top 100 airplay chart will reveal that the answer is probably 'quite a lot'. Many of the acts are ones you'd expect to see in the UK or US charts: the likes of Usher, LMFAO, Rihanna and of course Madonna. But there are some less familiar acts too, like Tacabro, whose 'Tacata' is at 13 this week (amazing, saxophone, massive hit everywhere but the UK and US), and this utter dirge.

So now you know. But for a more in depth look at what Slovakia is listening to, you can look at the Top 10 below. It's even got last week's positions in brackets.

10 (13) Nicki Minaj - 'Starships'
9 (9) Featuring Pitbull - 'Back In Time'
Remember the uproar when it was announced that Pitbull and not Will Smith would be performing the new Men In Black theme tune? Riots on the streets. Protests in parliament. No-one foresaw that 'Pit' was to deliver what could well be the best and most ridiculous song of his career. In retrospect it feels like it was all for nothing. With things turning out as well as they have, it scarcely matters. 7.5
8 (6) Peter Bič Project - 'Hey Now
It's bad news unfortunately. Despite the use of the word 'project' in their name, this group are not some ropey-yet-great dance outfit (viz Wamdue, Underdog). If you can imagine 'Slovakian Eurovision semi-finalists circa 2008', then you're probably closer to the reality. Yes, they have a lady with a big voice, guitars, and an incongruous vocodered rap by a man old enough and European enough to know better. And yet despite all that, it's actually alright. The bassline sounds a bit like Fischerspooner or something too, which is nice. 6
(3) Carly Rae Jepsen - 'Call Me Maybe'
Such is life. If Billie Piper had released this in 1999, she would have been derided by the vast majority of all people over the age of 5. Now that we're living in the future - a dystopian future in which shorties pop bottles in the VIzzzz, it feels completely refreshing. 'Serious' critics are falling over themselves to pronounce 'Call Me Maybe' as a work of genius. 'It's just good pop!!!' 'A bit of a guilty pleasure!11' 'You're allowed to like it because it's actually really clever!!!!!' Whatever the explanation, it's clear that Carly Rae has united people across all levels of music snobbery. Whether it be young fools who think The Vaccines are the saviours of British rock, or pensionable ones that claim Oasis are the greatest band of all time; even those that try and convince themselves that tUnE-yArDs is anything more than just a bit of a racket, they've all decided that it's acceptable to like. 'Call Me Maybe' is big, and it is clever. The reception to it, however, is just symptomatic of all the ridiculous connotations that have been ascribed to music, and people's enjoyment of it, since the dawn of time. Oh well. 8.5
6 (2) Featuring Flo Rida - 'Whistle'
Often, the reason given for non-English language hits not transferring over to the UK chart is that, well, they're in Foreign. You do wonder whether there may be other factors at play; deep-rooted arrogance, perhaps. It's funny because Slovakia, for instance, have had no trouble in taking this delicately crafted, subtle and nuanced piece to their hearts, even with its masterful employment of the complexities of the English tongue. They are the open minded ones here and that is why they love this celebration of terrible, terrible innuendo and sexism so much. Well, you assume it's sexism - 'Flo' could very well be 'wooing' a man, not a woman. Truly, we live in modern times. 2
5 (5) Train - 'Drive By'
In which we discover that The Singer From Train is "just a shy guy, looking for a two-ply hefty bag to hold my love". No idea. Fortunately, Google has one. The wonders of the information superhighway. 7
(4) Far East Movement - 'Live My Life' feat The Justin Bieber Experience
'Like A G6' was and is legitimately amazing, but it's also about two years old. Being so committed to a joke is admirable, but it can go on too long. In fact it's not even admirable, really. 3
3 (8) DJ Antoine - 'Ma Chérie'
'Welcome To St Tropez', DJ Antoine's almost-worldwide smash from last year is, as previously noted, one of the single greatest atrocities committed since hyperbole began. For the uninitiated, imagine there was a set of David Guetta Matryoshka dolls. DJ Antoine would be the smallest one. For this track he enlists the help of one of continental Europe's myriad Pitbull impersonators and really there's no point bothering attempting to come up with a 'funny' ending to this 4
(19) Celeste Buckingham - 'Run Run Run'
It's the winner of Česko Slovenskej SuperStar 2011! Soul for the post-Winehouse era, handclaps and all. It sounds like there's a strange amount of autotune on her voice, but never mind. The kind of act that would have been launched by a major label in the UK at the start of 2008, but better than that makes her sound. 8
1 (1) Gotye - 'Somebody That I Used To Know' feat Kimbra 
Alright we get the idea 7

So there you go.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Chris (LadBanter) To Release Debut Single 'Bernard's Watch'

It's a transition that's been successfully navigated by only an exceptional few, from Davy Jones to Antony Costa and Briyan McFadden to Andrew Ridgeley. Now Chris from LadBanter is the latest to take the bold step away from boyband member to bona fide solo star with the release of his heartrending debut single 'Bernard's Watch'.

"See if I had Bernard's Watch we
Would still have our Tamagotchis
And maybe then you'd still love me
Like the song
By Stooshe"

Citing influences as diverse as Feet Foxes, David Grey and Next Of Kin, it's clear to see that Chris has always been a bit different to his LadBanter bandmates. While they spend most of their time insulting women, he can often be found in his room, listening to Ed Sheeran and staring at a wall. It's that kind of sensitivity that earned him the tag of "the one that might find out your name before taking you home", and that he places on show with his solo material.

Says Chris: "I've always written my own songs and I've never really had the opportunity to showcase that with the group. Don't get me wrong, I'm not leaving them (LadBanter's second album, '#bantmobile', will be released in November), I just wanted to do something a bit more real to myself. Real music."

'Bernard's Watch' was co-written by Chris with award-nominated lyricist Jason Toast (Kristian Leontiou, Kubb). Of working with Toast, he enthused: "It was good."

The song is just one of many that the pair have worked on for Chris' debut album, 'Outside Anagram'. Others include the YouTube comments-inspired 'I Remember The 90s (When I Was 3)' and the Twitter-centred '@Notebook', both showing that while Chris always has one hand writing a song or strumming an acoustic guitar or something, he has the other pressed firmly on the zeitgeist.

But what does 'Outside Anagram' mean? When the album title was revealed last week it sent social media sites abuzz with activity. Well, Chris can only further add to the intrigue, mysteriously suggesting that it was chosen because "they told me it and I thought it sounded cool".

'Bernard's Watch' is out on August 6, with 'Outside Anagram' to follow later this year. In the meantime, fans can whet their appetite with this leaked viral clip of Chris' moving acoustic rendition of Flo Rida's 'Whistle'.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

On The Radio One Playlist Right Now

Lostprophets on the A List and Newton Faulkner on the B List. It's what The Kids want to hear!!!

Also on the B List are Santigold, The Gaslight Anthem and Young Guns, while the C List features Kasabian and Lianne La Havas.

Presumably Radio 1's reliance on these type of acts - ie ones that not many young people really want to hear - is due in part to the unique way the BBC is funded. They have quotas to fill, having to prove as part of their remit that what they do isn't being and couldn't be done by a commercial rival. To their credit, they consistently achieve this, through their attempts at producing 'engaging' and 'exciting' 'online content', and the continued employment of Fearne Cotton. But at the same time, also because of the unique way the BBC is funded, they are obliged to ensure that the average age of their listeners falls somewhere between 15 and 29. Last year, some people made a bit of a brouhaha over reports that the figure they were actually pulling in was 32*. One man, a Radio One historian, said this: "there's a difference between what young people want and what hip people think they should want". So that's interesting.

In all likelihood even without the contradictory constraints of having to be 'unique' (playing Ben Howard and The Ting Tings) and attracting a young audience, the playlist would be much the same. If anything the people behind it would be quicker to drop Cheryl than Enter Shikari, because they probably do think their misguided and outdated hipster training school schtick is somehow cutting edge. But it's still a shame that it has to be like this.

Still, at least there's always an alternative in Capital.


*It probably doesn't help that people under the age of 15 aren't included in official ratings, but there we go.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Could This Be The Greatest Album Of All Time? (Or Just A Test Post For The New Spotify Embedding Thing)

Floorfillers Classics, 2006

The Known Facts:
  • Out of 17 tracks, 15 surpass the all important 'good' barrier - that's an 88% hit rate. (Sorry, Byron Stingily and Goldtrix. You do have good names though.)
  • 11 are better than 'very good' - 65%, something 'Bob Dylan' will never manage.
  • At least five - 'Dreamer', 'Set You Free', 'Finally', 'Two Can Play That Game' and 'Pretty Green Eyes' - are genuinely incredible.
  • Bobby's got a brand new swing.
  • You should listen to it. All of it. (If you have Spotify.)

In conclusion: yes, it probably is.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Just An Idea

It's surprising that no-one seems to have done this already really: a 'Power Of Love' EP featuring covers of the songs of the same name by Huey Lewis, Jennifer Rush and Frankie Goes To Hollywood.

Artists that could do it:
  • The Sound Of Arrows - They've already covered the Rush version, so why not the other two?
  • Little Boots - Unlike some artists, has the requisite versatility for all three versions.
  • Leona Lewis - When 'Glassheart' is pushed back another twelve months Leona is going to need something else to tide her through X Factor season. This EP would repeat the trick she pulled last year with the 'Hurt' EP, and that went brilliantly, right?
  • And probably some others.
So come on, 'The Record Industry', get on with it. Some people charge thousands for this kind of consultancy work.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Let's Have A Look At What Songs Are Being Played On The Radio At The Moment

Not that you didn't know already, but there's a thing on the internet called Compare My Radio. What it does is collect all the plays of songs that radio stations across the UK have made in the past 30 days and puts them into charts for the sort of people who like that sort of thing. Let's have a look at what it says at the moment.


All of Azealia's plays were, unsurprisingly, for '212'. It's some radio edit. But what of the yet to be released and seemingly hoped to be forgotten 'Shady Love' with the Scissor Sisters? Well that's had just one play in the last month. Oh well.


Madonna's first single from 'MDNA', 'Give Me All Your Luvin'', is only her seventh most played song on UK radio in the past month. Admittedly there are a few other versions of it with alternate names further down that take its tally ahead of some of the Top 6 but we can gloss over that. One of those in the Top 6 is a new song however, 'Masterpiece', which is also in the UK Airplay Chart Top 40. Funny that, because it's better. A glance further down the Compare My Radio list will show that second single 'Girl Gone Wild' is nowhere to be seen at all. Again, 'funny'.


It may have only been around for less than a month but it looks like the only people currently prepared to play 'iLL Manors' are the apolitical BBC. It's a shame, because it's an important song. For once we have a multi-platinum popstar talking about some of The Things That Matter in a very considered way. It's a brilliantly incisive, insightful and coherent record presented as an angry-at-the-world, stream of conscious diatribe that only needs to be held against the assorted efforts of Barlow and co for it to be obvious just how much it's been lacking. Mainstream musicians don't seem to have much to say for themselves these days, even if some think they do; Plan B is a much needed exception. This would make for a very exciting - and possibly - sound the hyperbole siren - iconic Number One single.


As far as songs about music go, Saint Etienne's new single 'Tonight' is up there with the best. Detailed ruminations on it are available on request, but one of the main things to be taken away from it is its incredible wistfulness, especially the "wish it could always feel this way, and life would never be the same" line that couldn't be any more poignant: you don't necessarily realise it while you're living it, but pop is a moment in time. (Not that pop ever actually ends, but you get the idea.) Unfortunately radio stations have decided that it's just TOO amazing to be played regularly, and as such have rationed it to only six plays in the last month. A wise decision, you'll surely agree.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Something You Should Listen To: Frida Hyvönen - Terribly Dark

This is one of the best singles of the year so far.

Frida Hyvönen is a Swedish indie lady. Until recently the only interesting thing about her music was that one of her songs contained the lyric "Once I felt your cock against my thigh". 

But it seems that she has seen the light. For 'Terribly Dark', the first single from her upcoming fifth album, 'To The Soul', she's gone disco. More specifically it's quite Italoish, in a 'classy' and restrained way. Think of a female, 'indie' and 'quirky' version of much of Will Young's last album and you probably have a pretty poor approximation of what 'Terribly Dark' sounds like. To be honest you should probably just listen to it for yourself. The choruses near the end where she sings over herself are really quite something. 

Amazing. Well done, Frida Hyvönen.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Daniel Bedingfield Needs You

Poor Daniel Bedingfield. Once the James Dean of the music scene, his days of huge chart success are now naught but a fading memory. Getting three Number One singles from a quintuple platinum debut album is no mean feat, but while pop's permanence ensures at least some (well, two) of his hits will endure, its ephemerality played a part in making sure he didn't.

But what is he doing now? Well last summer he released, out of the blue, a dancehall track called 'Sometimes You Just Know'. Set to Justus Arison's Overproof Riddim it was one of the most unexpected releases of the year, and also one of the most overlooked. Still, it's good to know that he's keeping himself busy.

The next stage of the Bedingfield comeback operation will see the release of a new EP and video, something Daniel needs a little help towards. Basically he wants you to give him cash money to fund it via PledgeMusic. Allow the man himself to explain.

Besides my new music, the other big news is that I'm working 100% independently now: no label, no manager, no filter whatsoever between you and I. While this is exciting, it also means that I need your support more than ever. With your help, I’ll be able to fund future tours and release new music videos for you all. Here's the deal... Take your pick from the list of exclusives to the right and pledge away. These offerings are super homemade by ME and you won’t be able to find them anywhere else after this campaign. Once you've made your pledge you’ll be ensuring yourself access to all of the backstage & behind the scenes videos, mp3s, photos, notes, etc.

On the one hand expecting his fans to pay his way seems a bit off, but then there is the promise of homemade gifts in exchange... What exactly is Daniel giving away?
  • A pledge of $25 or more will get you a Daniel Bedingfield T-shirt. This seems a bit expensive for a shirt.
  • For $75 or more you will receive a handmade shirt. This still seems a bit expensive.
  • $250 is enough for the chance to "play a series of drinking games" with Daniel over Skype. That might sound a bit odd but he reassures that although "I’ve never played drinking games online before (yeah right), I have a vague 'feeling' it can be just as much fun!" If you can stretch to $750 and can get to LA then you can do this with him in person, which sounds a bit more exciting but still absolutely mental.
  • In return for a donation of just $500 you will receive the opportunity to visit a fish market with the bedroom genius himself and make sushi. "We'll get my sushi chef friends to nip down to the Fish Market in LA with us reeeeally early when the best fish is getting sold. They'll help us choose the best cuts and then we'll meet back up later to make our own homemade sushi for lunch or dinner! Note: Gotta get yourself to LA or London for this one."
  • Also $500, go shooting with Daniel. "Let's go to the LA Gun Club in Downtown LA and spend an action-packed night blowing some paper cutout's brains out with me and my 2 huge bodyguards! What do ya say? A beer or two after might follow... just sayin'... Note: Gotta get yourself to LA for this one." Daniel's commitment to the words 'gotta get' is impressive.
  • The princely sum of $1,000 earns you a night camping. "OK I have a favourite place. A few great people know where it is and will sit under stars and drink beers and let their aches and pains soak into the earth, awakening fresh and rejuvenated. Pledger travel to and from area is additional. Cost reflects price of overnight stay and stuff. Any necessary gear rental is also additional and the responsibility of the pledger."
  • Finally, the ultimate prize for the ultimate Daniel Bedingfield fan: a performance from him in your living room, $2,500. "I'll come all the way to your house and play a concert just for you and anyone else you choose." Sounds exciting. "Cost reflects price of performance. Travel and/or accommodation is additional, the responsibility of the pledger and to be determined once date and location have been set." Oh.
The nice thing about all this is that 15% of any additional profits made after Daniel reaches his undisclosed target will go to a charity called Stop The Traffik. The unfortunate thing is that with only 20 days to go on the drive and with 99 pledges made since it started on February 7 only 41% of the target figure has been donated. What more do people need? The man is offering camping trips!

Friday, 10 February 2012


You know what's good? The hyphen in Toni Braxton's 'Un-Break My Heart'. It'd be nice to think its inclusion was a purely artistic one, reflecting the drama in the song itself - specifically the pauses in Braxton's wrought cries of 'un-break' and 'un-do', but chances are it's not something anyone involved in its composition or release gave thought to.

Intentional or not, it also makes it look a bit archaic, lending the air of the classic the song by now is from the outset. Madonna's 'The Power Of Good-Bye' did the same to similar effect. Just one small use of punctuation in a title can go a long way to improving the song's whole 'package'. Grammar in general is an important thing when it comes to titling a song.

Ever fastidious with every aspect of their music, Pet Shop Boys probably know this best. Take for example this excerpt from a conversation between them documented in issue 18 of their Literally fanzine. Neil and Chris are discussing Oasis' then brand new 'D'You Know What I Mean?'

"And what happened to the question mark?" Chris queries.
"When I stop doing this," Neil announces, "I'm going to probably devote my life to defending punctuation."
Chris asks Neil the difference between a colon and a semicolon, and Neil explains at some length.
"I've got the Oxford Concise Book Of Grammar," Chris says.

Obviously they were wrong because 'D'You Know What I Mean?' does contain a question mark but that criticism is emblematic of their attitude towards the intricacies of presentation. A Pet Shop Boys song title never omits a question mark - 'How can you expect to be taken seriously?', 'Can you forgive her?', 'What have I done to deserve this?'. You get the idea. Other than it being grammatically correct, it also looks a lot better.

What can also be noted in those examples is their length - Pet Shop Boys titles are often very long, a tendency in stark contrast with their equally distinctive custom of single word album titles only - as well as the fact they are intended to be spelt as if they were sentences (this also seems to be the root of the question mark thing), with only the first word capitalised. Fundamental PSB behaviour, and it sets them apart.

Nonetheless, good song titles can come in many guises. Even though Tennant and Lowe seem to have perfected their own formula there are many features that they don't (and some they would never) utilise. Here is a 'definitive' (not definitive) list of good ones:
  • Verbiage - see 'You only tell me you love me when you're drunk', 'I wouldn't normally do this kind of thing'...  Basically about half of Pet Shop Boys' discography
  • Question marks (inclusion or exclusion) - see 'Will You Love Me Tomorrow?', 'Do You Really Want To Hurt Me'
  • Hyphens - see 'Un-Break My Heart', 'The Power Of Good-Bye'
  • Evocation of explicit scenarios - see 'Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors', 'Dancing On My Own'
  • Explicit evocation of mysterious drama - see 'Love Don't Live Here Anymore', 'I Can Never Go Home Anymore'
  • General drama - see 'It Will All End In Tears', 'Writing's On The Wall'
  • Longing - see 'I Wanna Love Him So Bad', 'Be My Baby'
  • Assertiveness and directness - see 'I Would Die 4 U', 'I Feel For You' 
  • (Parenthesisation) When used well - see 'You Are Loved (Don't Give Up)', 'Where Do I Begin (Love Story)'
  • Clever sounding nonsense - see 'A Whiter Shade Of Pale', 'The Age Of The Understatement'
  • Not sounding like a song title - see 'The Diary Of Horace Wimp', 'The Book Of Love'
  • Including the word 'melody', or 'ballad' - see 'Unchained Melody', 'The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan' (actually this one's quite hard to pin down, but 'Unchained Melody' is an incredible title, even after you find out why the song's called that)
  • Speech and quote marks - whether used for archness - "Heroes" - or weirdness - 'Are 'Friends' Electric?'
  • Exclamation marks - see 'Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)', 'Stop! In The Name Of Love'
Many of these elements cross over, many would never ever work in conjunction, and there's a wrong and right way of going about each one. Oh and there's probably obvious ones missing and the example titles might not be the best choices you could think of. To be honest it's not really the best list in the world but there we go.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

A Song Hasn't Been Added To The Radio 1 Playlist

And that song is Madonna's 'Give Me All Your Luvin''.

This is what is going to happen next:
  • The mainstream media will pick up on it.
  • Mail Online will run a piece questioning whether Madonna has 'lost it'. It will feature sexist overtones, 600x800 pixel photos of her 'veiny arms' and 100 sniping comments from the likes of 'Barry, Ex-Pat in Spain'.
  • The Guardian will run a counter-piece asking if this has anything to do with ageism and more specifically sexism - Brian May and Mick Jagger are currently on the A List, so why hasn't Madonna been added? Her last two comeback singles went straight to the A List after all, and that's quite a rare occurrence. It will also have a dig at the Mail article. Comments will flood in complaining that 'The Guardian should only cover stories on real musicians, like Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin'. Or something.
  • A Radio 1 spokesman will offer up a line about 'demographics'.
  • Mail Online will realise that a) they don't like the BBC and b) ageism aimed at females is, bizarrely enough, one of the sticks they've used to beat them with in recent times. Then they will experience cognitive dissonance when remembering that c) they don't like Madonna either, before settling on their original editorial stance.
  • The Guardian will then run another, more light-hearted piece, listing other occasions on which Radio 1 has 'snubbed' older artists. 
  • Some people will suggest that maybe it wasn't added because 'it isn't very good'.
  • Cliff will chime in.
  • It will be discussed on Loose Women.
  • Radio 1 will add it to their playlist next Wednesday.

Remembrance Wednesday: Mad Donna - The Wheels On The Bus

Yes, your eyes do deceive you. Madonna has never released a cover of 'The Wheels On The Bus'. Mad Donna, on the other hand, has.

Who exactly was behind Mad Donna is unclear (there's some nonsense on their background here), yet whoever it was, they had an inspired idea: to get a Madonna impersonator to sing a nursery rhyme over 'Ray Of Light'. It went a little like this:

It was released in April 2002 (by comedy dance label All Around The World, no less) - either around the height of the whole bootleg 'thing', or three years after the point 'Ray Of Light' was still ripe for parody, depending on your generosity. Regardless, it was a time when any song with just a modicum of promotion could reach the Top 40, and 'The Wheels On The Bus' duly went in like a bullet at Number 17.

This prompted a rather bizarre Top Of The Pops performance. The gimmick now had to be represented physically, and how could that be easily achieved? With a 'band' made up of four Madonna lookalikes, performing to a largely uninterested and mainly baffled crowd.

Following that the track managed another two weeks in the lower reaches of the Top 40, a fortnight that, unsurprisingly, represented the last the world was to see of Mad Donna. If you're hankering for more, there was a b-side, 'Hush Little Baby', set to 'Don't Tell Me'.

It's not as good. Anyway, as you might have noticed 'The Wheels On The Bus' didn't exactly set the wheels (!) of a lullabye-set-to-not-quite-contemporary-pop-hits fad in motion (although another Madonna appropriation, Mad'House's 'Like A Prayer', did go on to be a bigger hit later in the year). Whether that's a good or bad thing is up to you (it's a good thing), but legacy or no legacy it did get a 3/10 from Drowned In Sound, and that's two points more than Calvin Harris got for his debut album, so it's swings and roundabouts.

Friday, 3 February 2012

A Little Mix And Biffco Thing That Might Be Interesting (Or Not)

Look at this thing. It is a picture of a playlist created on Spotify by Brighton based hitmaker Richard 'Biff' Stannard. In case you didn't know, he is working with Little Mix. The playlist is called 'LIL MIX'. Draw your own conclusions.

Other points to note:
  • This might not be something you're supposed to see.
  • Although hardly anyone will see it here, and it's not like it's a leak of their debut single or anything, right? Right.
  • Not really sure what it's meant to represent anyway.
  • But still.
  • In fact doesn't he also work on the X Factor tour (subs please check)? Could just be preparing covers for that. Oh well.
  • There was a shorter playlist called 'AMELIA' too, but it's been made private (that is to say it's not listed and can only be accessed if you have the link to it).
  • The Little Mix one is private now as well, so maybe it was meant to be secret.
  • And there we have it.

Friday, 27 January 2012

15 Things About This Week's UK Top 40*

*Well, the midweek Chart Update at least.
  1. The One Direction single sounds like a mix of Danish Eurovision entry and local radio advert jingle. It's an imprecise science that gives good results.
  2. There are only two songs in the Top 10 that are about The Club. Both are by Flo Rida.
  3. In fact, the chart is very diverse at the moment: Rihanna has three songs in the Top 40, One Direction and Professor Green have two. Lana Del Rey has two in the Top 20 and both Flo Rida and Sia (!) have two in the Top 10
  4. Furthermore, two of the Top 12 ('Good Feeling' and 'Levels') are based on the same song, the singer of which is at Number 30 with a different one. Blimey.
  5. As Rizzle Kicks pointed out, 'Lloyd' is a rather odd name for a male popstar. Probably the least showbiz to hit the chart since 'Eamon'.
  6. 'Gotye', on the other hand, is an amazing name.
  7. The average length of time each song has spent in the Top 200 is 11.35 weeks, and in most instances haven't yet been out of the Top 40 anyway. This is quite a long time.
  8. Given that, Redlight at the lofty heights of Number 16 is a nice surprise.
  9. "You know the bed feels warmer; sleeping here alone" is one of the 592 best opening lyrics of all time. Well done Kelly Clarkson.
  10. Your mum would probably enjoy Numbers 30-21 best.
  11. Skrillex. Seriously, what a racket.
  12. Pixie Lott is going to need a lot more than a new pair of shoes to make her seem any less beige and joyless.
  13. Katy Perry has made a song that actually feels quite sincere.
  14. And there
  15. we have it.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Some Statistics From Which You Could Infer That The UK Chart Is Becoming A Closed Shop Presented With Little Comment

Admittedly the numbers go back up at the end, but there's still something of a visible trend.

Year New Entries
2001 1849
2002 2278
2003 N/A
2004 2301
2005 1710
2006 1186
2007 1349
2008 997
2009 880
2010 1021

All figures are 'courtesy of' (stolen from) chart archive site and account for the Top 200 singles chart (apart from the first two months of 2006, which extend as far as the Top 250). To be honest it'd probably better if they only went down to 40, wouldn't it.

The stats for 2011 are yet to be revealed, but you can be sure that when they are there'll be basis for a spurious and extrapolative article in The Guardian.

UPDATE: There were 952 new entries into the Top 200 in 2011.
AND AGAIN: There were 927 new entries into the Top 200 in 2012.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

A Thing About Some Songs That Were Hits In Romania Last Year

Below are some some words about some songs that were hits on the Romanian Top 100 in 2011.

Lykke Li - 'I Follow Rivers' (The Magician Remix)

It's frankly anyone's guess as to how it's happened, but 'I Follow Rivers' is the current Romanian Number One and has been for 9 (NINE) weeks, albeit in the form of a Magician remix. And that's just as well because it's better than the original. In fact it takes the best part of the original, the 'do-do-do-dada-la-de-do' that overrides the vocals in between every few lines in the verses, and elaborates on it, resulting in a fine Italoish sort of 'vibe'. 7.8/10
Peak: 1 Weeks in the Top 10: 10* (Still in Top 10)
UK Hit Potential: 2/10

Liviu Hodor - 'Sweet Love' feat Mona

Something of a triumph. "Let's fly away together; let's live this dream forever; let's dance like we're in heaven, just give me your sweet love". Generic Romanian dance then, accordion and all, but with a punch, much like the best of Inna's 'oeuvre'. Liviu Hodor is supposed to be releasing a different single, the inferior but still OK 'Happy For You', in the UK at some point this year. If that, by some small miracle, could do well, this might too. 7.7
Peak: 4 Weeks in the Top 10: 11
UK Hit Potential: 4/10

Smiley - 'Dream Girl'

Misogynistic pap from the Romanian Ed Sheeran, a singer who really puts the 'bad' into 'troubadour'. And if you think that play on words is poor, the song is worse. 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." Oh dear. 2
Peak: 1 Weeks in the Top 10: 21 (!)
UK Hit Potential: 1/10

Grasu XXL - 'Lala Song' feat Guess Who

Some Romanian hip-hop. Much like out of date sweet and sour chicken, it's a bit funky - the important difference being that it shouldn't be thrown in the bin, and nor will it give you the runs. It's brilliant, basically, but also in one of those foreign languages, so don't expect it to crossover to the UK. 7.8
Peak: 4 Weeks in the Top 10: 3*
UK Hit Potential: 1/10

Raluka - 'Out Of Your Business'

This is a bit Pixie Lottesque, especially reminiscent of 'All About Tonight'. Raluka 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 bought a new pair of shoes! Could be the next Inna in the UK if a) she has more songs and b) is actually brought over here. 7
Peak: 9 Weeks in the Top 10: 4
UK Hit Potential: 4/10

Guess Who - 'Tot Mai Sus' feat Marius Moga

More Romanian hip-hop from the rapper that featured on 'Lala Song'. It's sort of like if (The Artist Formerly Know As) Frankmusik was Romanian and he featured on an equally Romanian Rizzle Kicks track, ie quite good indeed. And a fact, fact fans, the title means 'Higher'. 8
Peak: 1 Weeks in the Top 10: 23
8/10  UK Hit Potential: 1/10

Dan Balan - 'Freedom'

Dan Balan used to be in O-Zone. Last year he released an absolutely diabolical single called 'Chica Bomb' that made metaphorical waves in mainland Europe, but, aptly, 'bombed' in the UK. 'Freedom' is a massive improvement. Put simply, it's a very intense and exciting song. Dan sounds excited, the music sounds excited and together they create a tune of proportions Guetta can only dream of. That's probably not the best description in the world, but it is very exciting. 7.9
Peak: 4 Weeks in the Top 10: 10
UK Hit Potential: 5/10

Chances are not one of these songs will reach the UK chart this year (Dan Balan might be your best bet), but then you never know what might happen. 'Watch this space' etc.