Thursday 2 January 2014

Fuse ODG: An Orthographical Investigation

In a pleasing development, Fuse ODG is about to chalk up his third UK hit single in less than a year, presumably earning him the status of Actual Popstar, if only one in the Derulo/Cruz/Lott 'wouldn't know them if they were in the room singing one of their own songs at this very moment' mold. Whatever that means in a time when the avenues for such Europa League hitmakers to show off their hits and indeed face - ie can't you just drop The One Show for one night a week Top Of The Pops wouldn't rate that badly - are thin on the ground, in any case.

Chances are most people who have enjoyed 'Antenna', 'Azonto' and now the deservedly Top 17-bound 'Million Pound Girl' won't even have noticed his signature in-song tag. You, of course, know the one.

"It's Fuse!"

It's Fuse! It does its job in a wonderfully ebullient way, but therein a problem lies: how many us make a Fuse? The Guardian Style Guide doesn't seem to know, and as pop domination awaits they and everyone else are going to need to. So who to consult? Well surely if anyone were to know, it would be the man himself. So is it:

Now that would just be silly Yasmin, even if Fuse does seem to endorse your rendering.

Anyway hope that clears everything up.

Thursday 24 October 2013

Three Is Definitely A Trend: Radio 2 Disco

The two biggest hits of this year have been disco homages. More than that, save for the distasteful bits of the distasteful one, they've both been very tasteful, closer to 'Band Of Gold' than Sylvester. The sort of thing Radio 2 might play. Astutely, at least three musicians have noticed this.

Toploader - This Is The Night

No wait come back - the one with the hair, Gail Porter's ex and their mates have come up with a Motown pastiche worthy of Phil Collins himself, and one with a distinct disco tinge, ready-made for Ken Bruce. And 'Dancing In The Moonlight' is fine in infrequent doses.

Lisa Stansfield - Can't Dance

Radio 2 seem to have removed this from their playlist now, but they were playing it recently and it is straight up R2 disco. Sample lyrics: "slow slow, quick quick slow", "I don't care what people say tonight, gonna do my hair, put on that dress tonight", "we're gonna crucify the dancefloor". The bassline could be Chic, why not.

Dido - NYC

Dido has often dabbled with dance, and this follows a similar 'probably produced by Rollo' path to the one she's previously trod - it's electronic, but there is nonetheless Funky Guitar Work - disco - and it's by Dido - tasteful. Radio 2 'premiered' this earlier today, thus cementing an imaginary trend.

If you, or anyone else for that matter, were to be really bold, you could also make a case for there being an overlap between Radio 2 disco and the decidedly unglam stomp of James Blunt, Texas and Thea Gilmore (via all the Mumford and So Ons) that's also currently getting an airing on the station - the Matt Cardle/Mel C single is probably an even better example, if not as much as his latest one.

Basically it's high time for Frida Hyvönen to re-release one of the best singles of 2012.

Tuesday 2 April 2013

The UK Isn't Completely Averse To Foreign Language Music (Though It Is A Bit)

You won't have noticed, but Sunday marked the end of an important era. After 28 consecutive weeks in which it racked up over a million sales to become the biggest-selling foreign language hit of all time in the UK, Psy's 'Gangnam Style' has left the Top 40.

As most people expected, that gangnamtuan (gargantuan) success has not ushered in a new era of K-Pop hits. During those 28 weeks there's been no sign of Big Bang, Girls' Generation, 2NE1 - NE1, in fact, not performing in the English language. Never mind the next Korean hit, the next big, fully non-Anglo one is still to come - it might even come from Psy himself when he releases his next single later this month; that's if anyone really cares about him any more.

Now obviously the British music industry's inclination towards splendid isolation is well established. Many factors have contributed towards a dearth of foreign language hits since the charts began. Accordingly, your 'Gangnam Style's and 'Dragostea Din Tei's are well remembered, even seen as more than a glut of foreignness in a monoglot market. But looking beyond those, the singles chart reveals itself to be more cosmopolitan than you might think. In fact, there's been what can only be described as a smattering of non-English hits in the past ten years or so alone. The UK music scene isn't as monolingual as it might seem - it's ever so slightly less so.

2002 Preeya Kalidas - 'Shakalaka Baby' Hindi! But Mainly English! (Chart Position: 38)
From AR Rahman's 'Bombay Dreams' musical. Hindi returned in 2009, again courtesy of Rahman; that's if you count the two words 'Jai Ho' as enough to qualify a song as being in a foreign language.

2003 Dare - 'Chihuahua' Spanish! (45)
DJ Bobo scraped into the Top 40 with the original, English recording of this, but Dare's is surely the definitive version. Chartwise, though, they tried to ape Las Ketchup and... Failed, basically.

2004 Nelly Furtado - 'Forca' Portuguese! A Bit! (40)
Whoa, Nelly went back to her roots for the bilingual Official Song™ of Euro 2004. There have been other Portuguese hits, including the also football-related 'Samba De Janeiro' and 'Mas Que Nada' (the latter in various iterations), Junior Jack's 'E Samba', and 'Ai Se Eu Te Pego', which only got to Number 66.

2005 Rammstein - 'Keine Lust' German! (35)
Rammstein have actually had a handful of chart entries. They are all quite loud. 2005 was a banner year for German Top 40 hits, in that there were two: this, and Schnappi's titular ode to a crocodile, 'Schnappi'.

2005 Sigur Rós - 'Hoppípolla' Icelandic! And 'Hopelandic'! (24)
A song most famous for the music rather than the words, but if you listen closely (well, if you can understand Icelandic), you might notice that part of those words are nonsense, written in The Rós's own language of Vonlenska, also known as Hopelandic. Not the only hit written in a made-up language though, for a year down the line...

2006 El Chombo - 'Chacarron' Imaginary! (20)
Released in an attempt for the Christmas Number One, a gibberish classic.

2007 Verka Seduchka - 'Dancing Lasha Tumbai' English! But Also Ukrainian, German And Russian! And Mongolian, Supposedly! (28)
From Eurovision. Partly in English; furthermore some people reckoned the title was meant to be an English double entendre for 'Russia Goodbye'. Verka claimed it was Mongolian for 'Whipped Cream', Mongolians begged to differ.

2008 Tigerstyle - 'Nachna Onda NeiPunjabi! (62)
A minor success after dance duo Signature performed to it on Britain's Got Talent. Not the only Punjabi hit since the turn of the millennium: there's 'Mundian To Bach Ke', Rishi Rich Project's 'Dance With You (Nachna Tere Naal)', Bhangra Knights' 'Husan' and probably some others, but you get the general idea.

2010 Stromae - 'Alors On Danse' French! (25)
Not as massive in the UK as elsewhere in Europe, because foreign.

2010 Die Antwoord - 'Enter The Ninja' Afrikaans! In Parts! (37)
This is like, the only predominantly English rap song with occasional lines in Afrikaans that's been in the chart you've ever heard in your whole life.

2011 Manran - 'Latha Math' Gaelic! (61)
Entered as the result of an organised attempt to get Gaelic into the Top 40. As you may observe, it failed. Back in 1995, however, Runrig succeeded by taking 'An Ubhal as Airde' all the way to Number 18, so there is that.

2011 Paul Mealor - 'Ubi Caritas Et Amor' Latin! (100)
A choral arrangement in Latin! Entering at 100 off the back of some famous people's wedding - a hit in some people's books, if not the one with "Guinness Book Of British Hit Singles & Albums" on the front. (If you were to extend your definition of 'hit' to Top 200 then you'd also have Monkey's Mandarin 'Heavenly Peach Banquet' and God knows what else, but you really don't want to do that.)

2011 Hayley Westenra - 'World In Union' Maori! With Bonus English! (70)
This is debatable. Westenra recorded 'World In Union' in various languages including English and Maori for the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. Whether people bought the Maori version, or even the half-Maori one used by ITV in their coverage, is uncertain (they probably didn't), but the straws are there to be clutched at. Bryn Terfel and Shirley Bassey did chart with a part-Welsh version in '99 though, that's for sure.

2012 The Gypsy Queens - 'L'Americano' feat The Boys Of Made In Chelsea Italian! (53)
It really is a sorry state of affairs isn't it.

Saturday 30 March 2013

How P!nk Could Have Won Eurovision (Obviously)

After finding little success with their choice of a septuagenarian male crooner and his very old-fashioned ballad in last year's Eurovision Song Contest, the UK have taken action to ensure the same doesn't happen again this time, enlisting sexagenarian female croaker Bonnie Tyler to sway her through a quite old-fashioned ballad. This is progress. Said ballad isn't all that bad, more Eurovision-friendly than it's predecessor, and while there might be questions regarding her live vocal ability it may just do alright. But is that enough? Well, it's a start. But it could have been so much better, had the BBC somehow convinced P!nk to enter the contest with her current single, 'Just Give Me A Reason'. Bear with this.

It's almost axiomatic that there is little better in the world of popular song than two people pretending to be a couple shouting at each other about how they don't love each other as much as they used to. It's a tried and tested formula - come on now - with an example of a great execution from Eurovision itself in Lynsey De Paul and Mike Moran's ode to the way relationships erode, 'Rock Bottom', which finished second for the UK. In 1976. But still.

Amazing, no? ("Yes.")

The similarities to P!nk's Man From Fun-featuring hit are obvious (a bit), and so it would have made perfect sense to take things further and follow in its Eurovision footsteps, taking cues from the staging on the way. Here is 'Just Give Me A Reason':

And here is a blow-by-blow account of the completely imaginary performance that would have seen it storm to victory in Malmö:

The song would begin with a close-up of P!nk's face amid pitch black, perhaps slowly panning around her, until she reaches the chorus. At this point things switch to a long shot. She's sat, in profile, at a piano. When the chorus finishes the lights come up on a close-up of Man From Fun, who is also sitting on a piano, facing P!nk. After his second line, "I thought that we were fine", the adjacent pianos begin revolving. There's probably a bit of dry ice around as well. Alecia and Man proceed to sing/shout at each other right up until the big release of her "we'll come clean", upon which there is a slight pause not found on the studio recording which will give time for the crowd to whoop and indeed holler. The pianos, now back in their original sideways position, stop revolving. They're looking each other right in the eye now, pained faces and all, singing a bit more before they start turning again, right up until the singing reaches a suitable conclusion (obviously entering this song would necessitate shaving a whole minute off it, something which would be very easily done) before the piano coda. By the time that has finished the pianos are once again in their stationary, horizontal position, and the two singers look a bit sad. During a long shot of the both of them, it all fades back to black.

And that is how the UK could have guaranteed themselves victory at this year's Eurovision.

(NB: other recent releases that also could have done a good job: Agnetha Fältskog's 'When You Really Loved Someone', Ulrik Munther's 'Tell The World I'm Here' and Stockholm Syndrome's 'Karma'. Yes, there's a pattern emerging there.)

Thursday 31 January 2013

Romania Reloaded

No, your eyes do not deceive you. The world's worst (and perhaps best) English language rundown of the Romanian Top 100 singles chart has returned after a year away. So that's good, probably.

Anyway, when this stream of uninformed nonsense last darkened the internet's door at the end of 2011, Lykke Li was in the middle of a record-breaking 14-week run at the top of the chart with the pretty bloody brilliant Magician remix of 'I Follow Rivers'. 14 weeks! Lykke Li! Incredible. What better place to start then, than with Lykke Li's 'I Follow Rivers'? Almost a year since it was deposed from the Number One spot, it's still as high as Number 37. 37! Lykke Li! Incredible. Bizarrely the Magician remix has been unavailable for purchase in the UK for a good few months now, so an assault on the British charts is no doubt imminent*. (*Never going to happen.)

Also 'of interest' outside the Top 10 - not sure exactly where, apols - is 'Onoare', the latest release from one of Romania's most popular rappers, Guess Who. It's a melancholy affair that sounds a bit like it could have been produced by Rudimental and if you like it then you might also enjoy 'Tot Mai Sus', his long-running Number One from 2011.

One of the more surprising entries in the chart is at Number 9: Bedouin Soundclash's Coeur De Pirate-featuring 'Brutal Hearts', a song that has, until now, elicited little interest anywhere since it first appeared in 2010. A mournful boy-girl duet on the subject of love, it is in many ways like 'Somebody That I Used To Know' (just without the shouting) and even a bit like that Asaf Avidan one (again, without the shouting). The reason why a group only really known by anyone for that one song they had in an advert that time are having such success with it in Romania now is that it has been remixed by someone called Sylvio. All he's really done is make it a bit more propulsive, but it works pretty well.

Ahead of that there's Antonia at 6 with 'Jameia', which is more instant than her next single 'Marabou', though maybe not as good; and at 4, Smiley, who, after tormenting millions with the self-pitying 'Dream Girl' in 2011, has now decided to use his powers for good with 'Cai verzi pe pereți', which, says Google Translate, means 'Goose Wall'. Anyway, it has lots of catchy 'la la la'-ing in it so that's nice.

The best Romanian track in the Top 10, however, lies at Number 3. What's Up and Andra's 'K la meteo' is an absolute triumph, the highlight being the chorus, which has an amazing melody delivered at each other by the two vocalists. Seriously, lovers singing at and over the top of each other in a song can only ever be brilliant. And there's no evidence to the contrary.

But enough of that, what's at Number One? It's only one of the best songs of 2012! It's 'Oliver Twist' by D'banj! Hurrah. Here is the Top 10 in full, alongside some more thankfully brief reviews.

10 Faydee - 'Laugh Till You Cry' feat Lazy J PLEASANT/MISOGYNISTIC
9 Bedouin Soundclash - 'Brutal Hearts (Sylvio Edit)' feat Coeur De Pirate GOOD
8 Rihanna - 'Diamonds' SHE CHOSE TO BE HAPPY
7 Connect-R - 'Love Is The Way' PASSABLE
6 Antonia - 'Jameia' NOT ABOUT JAMELIA; STILL OK
5 Low Deep T - 'Casablanca' CASABLANDA MORE LIKE
4 Smiley - 'Cai verzi pe pereți' feat Alex Velea and Don Baxter LA LA LA L-ETC
3 What's Up - 'K la meteo' feat Andra FANDRASTIC
2 Loredana - 'Apa' feat Cabron JAUNTY
1 D'Banj - 'Oliver Twist' REBETE

And, sadly, that's it. Except...
  • That Sylvio/Bedouin Soundclash remix is available for free from the former's Facebook page (after you 'like' it, anyway).
  • This wasn't as good as the old ones, was it. And that's saying something. Still, you probably haven't read any of them, so at least there's that.
  • And the Toyah song used in the Patsy Kensit Weight Watchers ad really is something. No idea what, but something.

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"