Friday, October 29, 2010

Single Reviews 01/11/10

Excuse no. 374 for the lack of updates: following James Cameron’s announcement that there’ll be a five-year gap between Avatar and its sequel, we’re taking a leaf out of his proverbial and holding off between posts to allow the creative process. With that, the next Single Reviews will most likely be sometime around Spring 2013. Or, alternatively, maybe we’ll just try to write a bit more often.

Kicking us off, Mystery Jets pluck another fruit from fourth album Serotonin, this time aiming for a peculiar marriage of an engaging, measured backing and cotton-wool-filled, slack-jawed vocals in the form of Show Me The Light. Unsurprisingly, the two fail to fully splice, but nonetheless, the overall result sells the band’s product nicely enough. Just that, y’know, we won’t be buying it.

Next up, the debut solo effort from braindead bellower Nadine Coyle, supposedly the ‘voice’ we’ve all been waiting to hear from. Power she may have, but her oversaturation on every Girls Aloud record makes for a wholly unremarkable tone, not helped by the banal, dated sound of Insatiable itself, every inch an offcut from Kym Marsh’s solo disaster. Further proof that the best thing to ever come out of Nadine’s mouth remains “Mammy, whurr’sh me pyassport?”

The Saturdays and Flo Rida, somewhat bizarrely, team up for the passable Higher. While Flo Rida’s ubiquity shouldn’t throw up any surprises as far as collaborations go, it’s hard to imagine The Saturdays piquing his interest in a musical sense. Still, his faxed-in contribution here actually isn’t too poor, and overall it actually ranks as one of the group’s better efforts. We’ll brush Missing You under the rug for now, shall we?

And finally, Single of the Week, which is awarded to an only slightly less unlikely pairing than The Saturdays and FloRida, namely B.O.B. and Rivers Cuomo. The delightfully poppy electro-crunch of Magic sees an effective fusion of some vigorous, gas-fuelled spitting from B.O.B, and a champion chorus that only Cuomo’s aptitude for a killer melody can create. The greatest single Outkast never recorded.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Single Reviews 25/10/10

Hello! Now, for those of you who’ve been clucking for another X Factor liveblog, we’re afraid it won’t be happening anytime soon. Much as we’d like to blame the Cunting Coalition and their slash-happy cuts, it’s more to do with the fact liveblogging a show that long and that crazy feels like running the London Marathon in a full suit of armour, so for now, you’ll have to make do with the Single Reviews...

We love championing an underdog round these parts, so we begin with some unknown random named Cheryl Cole. Will she ever get any media attention? Sarcasm aside (albeit briefly), Promise This sees her ditch the first-album slink in favour of a more frenetic sound, even if the overall result is largely average. A scrawny, undefined chorus is compensated by the cyclical alouette chant, although that’s as infuriatingly bothersome as it is memorable. Either way, it shits all over that Nadine Coyle monstrosity of a single.

30 Seconds To Mars return to their patented brand of big, theatrical circus-metal following the comparably more approachable Closer to the Edge. There’s nothing wrong with the vivid, reticent intensity of Search & Destroy per se, but, as with much of their catalogue, it all takes itself a tad too seriously. But hey, that’s what gives ‘em their emo mojo. Not everything can be produced by Pete Waterman. (Thank fuck.)

Single of the Week goes to Morcheeba, whose lilting, soothing tones are utilised to great effect on the title track from their seventh album, the superb Blood Like Lemonade. Somewhat peculiarly, it lyrically recounts the tale of a vampire bounty hunter – perhaps not the narrative you’d attach to such a chilled, sun-kissed mantra, but such unpredictability only adds to its beauty.

And last up, a performer – that’s a performer, and most definitely not an artist – who’s only ever as good as her last single. Which is bad news for Rihanna, given that there’s little to get excited about in Only Girl (In The World), a bland Eurodance stomper which would remain entirely faceless were it not attached to this horribly ubiquitous face. Will there ever come a point where the music industry tires of the same braindead, rent-a-voice go-to girl?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Single Reviews 18/10/10

On a week which saw the world wholly enamoured by the joyous news of the Chilean miners being rescued, it’s ironic that the Single Reviews this week boasts three of the most depressing, miserable songs of the year thus far. Mind you, it’s quite nice that there’s at least a theme running through proceedings – how often does that opportunity come around? Time to get your Eeyore on...

Following a rather impressive debut – in terms of both quality and chart performance – mismatched fangirl trainwreck The Wanted fizzle into their rightful place as a smudged footnote in the history of forgettable boybands with the piss-weak Heart Vacancy. Of course, an overly gooey, smooshy love song is never going to blow the doors off the place, but it can be done with character, individuality and conviction. This, however, is just a really, really bad example of pop music. To the dumper with you!

Christina Aguilera’s ongoing journey into total irrelevance continues with the comatose ballad You Lost Me. Kudos to Xtina for convincing an artist as talented as Sia to sully her track record by co-writing this bilge, but attempting to mimic Sia’s voice – one of the most unique and incomparable of her generation – is an even stupider a mistake than Keeps Getting Better. Still, it’s a marked improvement from the outrageously bad Not Myself Tonight.

And, as if to totally come across as NME-tastic muso wankers, Single of the Week is awarded to a demi-obscure indie band immediately after slagging off two pop acts. However, it’s merely a coincidence that Little Comets have provided a rough-cut, unprocessed, almost-industrial rock sonnet in the form of Isles. It’s pretty bleak stuff, admittedly, but in an intentional, very human manner. Now if you’ll excuse us, we’re off to pop a Prozac or five...

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Friday, October 08, 2010

Single Reviews 11/10/10

At this time of year, we’d ordinarily use this little blurb ahead of the Single Reviews to rant and rave about The X Factor and its frankly peculiar activities and/or outcomes. However, the G-word has garnered quite enough attention this week, plus we’ll be storing our venom for tomorrow night’s live blog of the first live episode (N.B. dependent on the effectiveness of several Boots own-brand cold and flu remedies).

So with a certain entertainment show dominating the media, the House of Commons, and watercoolers across the land, where better to begin than with reigning champ Joe McElderry? Impressively, he’s moved on a tad from the corny theatrical vibe he peddled on the show, and Ambitions is a passable little ditty in itself (if nothing groundbreaking), but the cocktail of falsetto, cheese and sexlessness strays far too close to Mika country.

Single of the Week, to the surprise of precisely no-one, is awarded to the ever-marvellous We Are Scientists, who continue to straddle the polar-opposite pigeonholes of legendary genius and lovable indie goofiness. I Don’t Bite prides itself on a spiky, stabbing ohrwurm riff, which melts into a hefty, soaring chorus and adds yet another gold star to a back catalogue incapable of a single dud. Obvious, perhaps, but it’s not our fault they’re so awesome, is it?

And similarly predictable is our disdain for Scouting For Girls, who dare to bother the charts again this week with Don’t Want To Leave You. There’s perhaps a degree of hypocrisy in pointing out their predictability, as our hatred of these fucktards (and our love of We Are Scientists) is as foreseeable as the pedestrian, repetitive excuse of a chorus. Seriously, who continues to part with money for this sewage? If you have one Scouting For Girls song, YOU HAVE THEM ALL.

Closing proceedings is a decent take on the Terence Trent D’arby calling card Sign Your Name, as interpreted by a seemingly-ageless Sheryl Crow. Production-wise, it’s nothing too drastic, leaving the brunt of the update to Crow’s distinctive tone, which the backing vocals from Justin Timberlake actually complement rather nicely. Maybe he ought to stick to such ventures? It’d save us all a world of arrogant Emperor’s-New-Clothes R&B claptrap...

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Honking Box Preview: The X Factor

This year on The X Factor: she punched her in the face! You are right up my street! She punched her in the face! You are right up my street! She punched her in the face! You are right up my street! She punched her in the face! You are right up my street! She punched her in the face! You are right up my street! She punched her in the face! You are right up my street! And a side of Nicole Shitsinger telling someone they could use some work on their vocals.

But after that... er... rollercoaster ride, we’re down to our Final 12. Except it’s not final, and it’s not 12, as THE! BIG! TWIST! that’s been public knowledge since Sinitta opened her useless trap a good six months ago means, supposedly, four wildcard contestants will be put through next week to form a Final 16. We’ll be giving you the lowdown on those in due course, but for now, our take on the somewhat shaky choices thus far...

Katie Waissel
Who dat? Loathsome, self-aggrandising, dramatic, over-accessorised, dwarf-shagging, fame-craven Hoxtonite swamp-donkey.
USP: Few contestants have ever shared Katie’s determination, as documented in her own online series, folks. Make no mistake, this harpy will do anything to reach the final, and if that means playing up to her Marmite factor to garner coverage, then bully for her (and for ITV1).
Ideal Grand Final Celebrity Duet: Danyl Johnson – together, a veritable black hole of cod-thespian odiousness.
Likely position: 5th – the judges’ vote will save her contrived backside week after week.

Matt Cardle
Who dat? Lee De Wyze 2.0, essentially.
USP: There’s his everyman appeal for starters – women will like him, but not to the extent it’ll wind their husbands up; the blokes, meanwhile, will want to have a pint with him. But more importantly, Matt’s got possibly the strongest voice in the competition.
Ideal Grand Final Celebrity Duet: It’d be nice to see Pink, or perhaps Brandon Flowers. But let’s be realistic – they’ll wheel out fecking Bublé again.
Likely position: Winner, if only to see Dannii Minogue snatch the crown back off Princess Cheryl and her undeserving triumph last year.

Mary Byrne
Who dat?
Apparently, the Irish SuBo. Evidently sponsored by Tesco, hence the 23 verbal mentions per episode.
USP: The most honest utilisation of the Overs category since Verity in Series 1 (ie. someone older than 29 being given a lifeline) will go in Mary’s favour, as will her impressive vocals. And hey, don’t rule out the Irish vote. It kept Jedward and Eggnog in the contest significantly longer than deserved.
Ideal Grand Final Celebrity Duet: Perhaps predictably, Susan Boyle. But they would absolutely nail I Know Him So Well, thus forgiving the pairing’s stale obviousness.
Likely position: 4th place would be quite a good innings for such an unconventional finalist.

Belle Amie
Who dat?
A compilation of solo entrants speedily soldered together at Boot Camp.
USP: Only one member – Rebecca Creighton – has garnered screentime of any kind. Aside from that, in the words of the hideous Nikki Grahame, who IS SHE? And she, and the other she? Not that it actually matters who they are: they’re a girl group, and we all know that’s X Factor cancer.
Ideal Grand Final Celebrity Duet: Hope, from Series 4. It’ll be a failed soloist Royal Rumble.
Likely position: Again, they’re a girl group. 12th.

Storm Lee
Who dat? Wizened mid-Atlantic demi-rocker who’s already got Cowell’s back up over his name alone.
USP: Storm hasn’t got a bad voice by any means, but he’s not particularly comfortable to watch. However, his early cut-and-thrust with Cowell will most likely spill over into the live shows, a la previous Simon sparring partners Chico and the Macdonald Brothers.
Ideal Grand Final Celebrity Duet: He’s already commented on Sting's disapproval of The X Factor, so let’s put 'em in a boxing ring and watch with glee as they slug it out.
Likely position: Storm won’t be long for this competition – our Mystic Meg leanings put him somewhere around 9th.

One Direction
Who dat? Curly, Moley, Sea Urchin, If U Can’t Dance, and Ken.
USP: The five-piece Bieberfest will no doubt claim the votes of little girls who’ve heard The Wanted’s second single and realised they need to direct their fandom somewhere less shit.
Ideal Grand Final Celebrity Duet: While a duet with Slipknot would be incredibly entertaining, a team-up with a weathered boyband will be more likely. They can hope for Take That, but Westlife is the cheaper and more viable option.
Likely position: Runner-up. They’ll sail through to the final, Eoghan-style, at which point the British public will hurriedly reach for their phones and vote for the alternative.

Nicolo Festa
Who dat? The cocky Italian one whose screentime thus far has most likely prompted you to go and pop the kettle on.
USP: It’ll be the ‘turnaround’ moment, Rhydian-style. The arrogance will turn out to be insecurity, he’ll drop the haughty swagger and everyone will love him. Even equipped with a decent voice and an inimitable character, it’s his only hope.
Ideal Grand Final Celebrity Duet: They’ll most likely play up Nicolo’s Italian card, much like the Españolisation of Ruth Lorenzo, so he’ll team up with Tiziano Ferro for a haunting version of Shaddap You Face.
Likely position: 6th – a lack of blinkered-to-quality hometown voters means he’s got a tough job on his hands.

John Adeleye
Who dat? Your guess is as good as ours.
USP: Seriously, who IS this guy? Prior to Judges’ Houses, was he even on the show?
Ideal Grand Final Celebrity Duet: Oh, please. As if he’ll get anywhere near the final. But for the sake of this exercise, let’s suggest Daisy Dares You – someone similarly anonymous and irrelevant.
Likely position: 11th. A lack of early screentime destroyed the awesome Rachel Adedeji’s chances last year, and John’s nowhere near her league. (Although they do share a similar-sounding last name, the kind you can tell makes Peter Dickson’s eyes light up when he gets his voiceover script.)

Rebecca Ferguson
Who dat?
Bashful yet likeable Scouse mum-of-two, who’s seemingly being given Rowetta’s hand-me-down weaves from the hair and make-up department.
USP: Rebecca will be this year’s ‘journey’ contestant. Expect clanging judge clichés including “You go from strength to strength”, “You’re a dark horse in this competition” and “The poor boy’s blind, Simon!” (Okay, maybe two of those.)
Ideal Grand Final Celebrity Duet: Corinne Bailey Rae would make for an incredibly well-matched, if slightly yawnsome, pairing.
Likely position: 3rd place, although a shock Maria Lawson-style unceremonious axing wouldn’t be hard to fathom earlier on.

Who dat? Collective of camp twirlers compiled by Brian Friedman, thus making all three groups little more than producers’ human jigsaws.
USP: Their ‘slick’ moves. FYD will be given the toughest choreography out of all the finalists, what with them being PROFESSIONAL DANCERS and all.
Ideal Grand Final Celebrity Duet: Band member Kalvin is, like Big Brother’s Ife, another casualty of the horrific DanceX. Maybe the remaining dregs of the unnamed ‘winning’ group can take a night off from their bar work in TGI Friday’s to regroup for this momentous event.
Likely position: 10th. They’ll be hoping to do an Adam Lambert, but a David Hernandez is far more likely.

Cher Lloyd
Who dat?
The mini-Cheryl whose singing style causes her facial features to overlap, whilst introducing the ITV1 audience to moderately-successful US hip-hop.
USP: Rarely does an X Factor finalist come equipped with such a defined genre – but is Middle England ready for the female Soulja Boy? Or, more accurately, the second coming of Jentina?
Ideal Grand Final Celebrity Duet: Cher’s "URBAN" credentials will be crying out for a co’llab (Tim Westwood stylee) with the likes of Drake or Nicki Minaj, but we’d quite like her to be lumped with an all-pensioner, 80-strong Welsh male voice choir. Try applying yo swagga to that.
Likely position: 7th. That press saturation won’t have done her any favours.

Aiden Grimshaw
Who dat? Mock-nervous whingebag with a voice somewhere between a ewe in the throes of labour and a deflating balloon.
USP: The tweenage vote will most likely go to One Direction, so it’s difficult to determine where Aiden’s forte lies. Perhaps those with a penchant for gawky, unauthentic, bland numbskulls who’ve been sneezed upon by Urban Outfitters will pick up their ironic burger phones?
Ideal Grand Final Celebrity Duet: Cher (as in the real one, not the bony rapping child), doing a duet of Believe. His voice already sounds as though the auto-tune is cranked up to 11.
Likely position: 8th. The viewing audience will soon tire of that arduous bleating.

Of course, all predicted positions are subject to change when THE! BIG! TWIST! kicks in and four wildcard contestants are put through. For what it’s worth, we’d be picking Paije, The Reason, Yuli and Gamu to make up the remaining spots, though we’re also hoping Katie Weasel’s tabloid sexploits see her crudely despatched from the show, thus creating a space for the amazing Keri. Tune in on Saturday for THE! BIG! TWIST! as the remaining acts claw desperately for the last chance at the live shows – we’re imagining a musical interpretation of cross between Total Wipeout and Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus. Here’s hoping.

(And just FYI, if THE! BIG! TWIST! turns out not to be a wildcard round, we have the right to amend the above post to paper over us being horribly, horribly wrong.)

Friday, October 01, 2010

Single Reviews 04/10/10

This week in the Single Reviews, the best use of the word ‘fuck’ in a song title since Eamon; an airwave-staple rock band making their comeback; yet another girl group not as shit as the Splendabots; and a man who’s thrown away all the credibility he doggedly clawed back in order to work with a handicapped chimpanzee. Intrigued? Read on...

Kings of Leon make a return this week, although the bottomless, impenetrable saturation of their Only By The Night singles make it feel as though they’ve never been away. Radioactive has a slightly leaner, less direct, alt-rock vibe – until the children’s choir kicks in, at least, at which point it sounds like the best Children In Need single there never was. Expect to be fully sick of this by Christmas.

Refusing to give up the ghost – somewhat admirably, bless them – are Geordie non-starters Sirens, who’ve ditched their actually rather passable white-bird R&B in favour of the Red-One-by-way-of-Wilkinson’s synth nothingness that is Stilettos. Apparently they’ve decided that if they can’t score a Top 40 hit being themselves, they’ll do it in the guise of a Lady Gaga superfan contest. One in which they’ve been awarded the wooden spoon.

Single of the Week is bestowed with great vigour upon Cee-Lo Green, with the spectacular – in name and in content – Fuck You. Cee-Lo’s production work and Gnarls Barkley output prove he’s a genuine talent, but Fuck You raises the bar. It’s staggering how a song with such an openly vitriolic message can have such an infectious, feelgood quality – people around the globe will be catching themselves singing this in the most inappropriate scenarios.

And we finish on an incredibly low note. They may fancy themselves as a modern day Lennon & McCartney, but the regrouping of Robbie Williams and Gary Barlow cements them as a singing Chuckle Brothers. The aptly-titled Shame is beige of melody, watery of production, and a lyrical mortification. What was Barlow thinking? Is he doing this as some sort of Care in the Community project? Shame, indeed.
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