Singles Reviews Diary 13 – 3rd May 2010

I’m being extra good this week and getting in what is actually my thirteenth Singles Reviews Diary (I made a misprint on my last one). Summer is here so let’s see what songs we can listen to by the BBQ this week.

Singles Reviews Diary 13 – 3rd May 2010:

01. Aggro Santos featuring Kimberly Wyatt: Candy
Unknown British rapper Aggros Santos and former Pussycat Doll Kimberly Wyatt (the one with the slightly superior dancing to the others) get together for this unoriginal but surprisingly enjoyably infectious dance rap track. Generic as it may be, icy electro beats and a repetitive sexy chorus from Wyatt make this above the average club tracks were all hearing at the minute. Santos is also a pretty decent rapper, being a dead ringer for Sean Paul in looks and fast paced rapping style, although Santos has a London accent instead of a fake Jamaican one like Paul. However with the similar sounding and much more hyped Dirty Picture being released this week also, this is unlikely to do well. This is by no means a classic but it succeeds very well in staying with the now without being irritating. 3 STARS

02. Beyoncé featuring Kanye West: Ego (Remix)
The human machine that is Beyoncé returns with the eighth single from her I Am… Sasha Fierce LP despite not realising that everyone got bored of the era back in August after the release of Sweet Dreams. The album version of this track with Beyoncé should be a classic – old school R&B soul with classy pianos, a loud and boisterous brass section, finger snaps and flawless and sassy vocals from Beyoncé. The song sounds like it was taken from the golden era of R&B music. However, the video for the song is not so golden, more black and white Single Ladies knock off with Beyoncé wearing a dodgy wig. Worse still, Kanye West comes in “to keep the urban crowd” happy with an ill paced rap which he does in a sing-songy way while rambling on about recession and name-checking Beyoncé and Jay-Z. This modern rap sounds completely out of sync with the retro-ness of the song and hence spoils it immensely. Well, at least Kanye gets the rap out of the way at the start and the rest of the ‘should be classic’ can be listened to in peace. 4 STARS (But it would be 5 if Kanye didn’t wreck it!)

03. Biffy Clyro featuring Josh Hommes: Bubbles
I was a bit shocked to find that this was the fifth single from Biffy Clyro’s Only Revelations album but then I remembered Mountains back in 2008 was actually the lead single from the album so I guess they’re well on their way through it. Bubbles features some extra guitar work from Josh Hommes of Queens Of The Stone Age and you can definitely tell as its one of the best tracks instrumentally on the album. Borrowing a little from Kings Of Leon, it’s nice to hear Simon Neil’s Scottish tinged verses but once the chorus hits, the song just doesn’t seem to really go anywhere. The prog rock breakdown at the end though is pretty satisfying. I would love if they release God & Satan as the next single. 3 STARS

04. Estelle featuring Kardinal Offishall: Freak
Oh Estelle! What have you done? After creating a modern classic with American Boy, your following singles from your sophomore album Shine didn’t do so well but at least you maintained your dignity. With the lead single from her third album All Of Me, Estelle enlists David Guetta to help her jump on the dance bandwagon. The song’s main hook “I can be a freak/I can be a freak/every day of every week” is cringeworthy and irritating and overall, the song just sounds a little desperate and calculated. Props to Estelle for still managing to inject a little soul vocally into the track and the jumpy hooks in the song almost make up for it until Kardinal Offishall shows up for his pointless rap and I hate the song all over again. 2 STARS

05. Faithless: Not Going Home
You know this new single can only be bought exclusive to Tesco. For a brief second, I thought the final three words of my last sentence were actually part of the song title which had me intrigued. While the song doesn’t make any references to Tesco, Faithless show us all how good they are with another consistently strong trance track. Perfect for playing at a rave, the calmly spoken verses almost have a disturbing quality to them. Still, great song and the animated and erotic video is another one to add to the list of 2010’s Top Videos (quite a few already actually). 4 STARS

06. Foals: This Orient
I’ve heard a lot of good things about Foals but never actually took the time out to listen to them. Thanks to my writing of these Singles Reviews Diaries, I’ve actually listened to them for the first time. This Orient being the first song I’ve heard from them shows a lot of promise. With an exciting electronic intro, the song opens with a crashing of guitars and drums while the synths continue to play quietly in the background. The song is a definite grower with a catchy yet subdued chorus. I’m going to check out some of their other songs now. 4 STARS

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I have to say that this week’s episode of Glee is probably the weakest and so are the selection of songs. Too many Broadway ballads for my liking. However with the incredibly talented Kristin Chenoweth back this week. Some of the songs are made above average thanks to her contributions. This week doesn’t have as fixed a theme as other episodes but it seems to be about feeling secure in yourself and your home.

07. Glee Cast: Fire
I’m trying to remove images of Will Schuester’s (Matthew Morrison) terrible dancing and portrayal of fake embarrassment when April (Kristin Chenoweth) starts a karaoke rendition of this song. While these two don’t have a patch on the original, their soaring rendition of Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band’s ‘80s hit Fire is probably the best song in Glee this week. 4 STARS

STINKER OF THE WEEK!
08. Glee Cast: A House Is Not A Home
It’s great to see Chris Colfer as Kurt is getting more of a chance to sing this part of the season with only Cory Monteith’s Finn joining in towards the end. It’s probably not so great though if he’s given drippy and cheesy ballads, this one being a 1964 song by Dionne Warwick. Their version is solid but I found myself fast forwarding at Kurt’s cringeworthy longing looks at the permanently confused looking Finn. 2 STARS

09. Glee Cast: One Less Bell To Answer/A House Is Not A Home
This week’s mash-up is just plain lazy because one of the songs in the mash-up was already used in the episode, just before this song in fact. The other song was originally sung by The 5th Element. Credit needs to go to Matthew Morrison and Kristin Chenoweth for doing the best job they could with the rather boring mash-up, especially Chenoweth whose powerful Broadway vocals have a classic, old movie style sound to them. 2.5 STARS

10. Glee Cast: Beautiful
This is the song that’s likely to chart this week. Covering Christina Aguilera’s soppy modern classic is obviously the only singer close enough to rival Aguilera’s powerhouse vocals is Amber Riley (Mercedes). Her rendition is very good and on-par with the original but I could never really stand the song apart from its catchiness. 3.5 STARS

11. Glee Cast: Home
The closing numbers from the last two episodes have been extremely satisfying but this track is another boring but well sung Broadway ballad with lead vocals by April from the musical The Wiz. I found myself drifting away from the song and verbally abusing the TV by telling Will to man up when the overly sentimental teacher began crying again during a performance. 2 STARS

12. Grace Jones: Love You To Life
Lady GaGa’s biggest fan makes a return to the industry with this new single. The track’s production is sparse and haunting yet it still sounds sort of like it belongs on a soundtrack to James Bond with its soulful chorus. Jones’ voice sounds as distinctive and poetic as ever. A fine return for Miss Jones that should keep her fans happy. 4 STARS

13. Hole: Skinny Little Bitch
I do love Hole and Courtney Love. Combining the sound of the Smashing Pumpkins, Joan Jett and Nirvana, Courtney Love’s tobacco edged vocals are the standout point of what is probably the angriest and grungiest moment on Hole’s consistent new albumNobody’s Daughter. If you’re like me and love the 1990s grunge sound, then you will adore this. But in all honesty, this is probably one of the weakest songs on the album and it’s strange that this was chosen as lead single over the much more commercialSamantha. Bring on Pacific Coast Highway3.5 STARS

14. John O’Connor and Audrey Trainor: Falling Up
This is reminiscent of the Waterboys in that it has a very folky sound with a particular emphasis on the violin played by Trainor. O’Connor sings the track in a way that you almost want to chant along with despite its mid-tempo setting. I’ll have to check out more of his stuff. 4 STARS

15. M.I.A.: Born Free
After the surprise commercial success and mainstream attention of M.I.A.’s Paper Planes, this track, a buzz single from M.I.A.’s as of yet untitled third album has divided fans and critics. Well this critic (humble old Randy) thinks the new M.I.A. is fast paced, intriguing and a good indication for the album ahead. Casual M.I.A. fans probably won’t like this but those who have been following her since her Arular days should enjoy this jarring track, made all the more so by the disturbing video. Now bring on the first official single XXXO, M.I.A.! 3.5 STARS

16. Mika: Kick Ass (We Are Young)
I actually have to say Mika kind of does kick ass on this song because I don’t hate it like I hate every other Mika single that followed Love Today. And it’s not the RedOne effect that has made this song great because I’m definitely starting to hear him recycle his beats but rather Mika’s powerful, euphoric and anthemic chorus which really sticks in the head like bubblegum. A great return to form for Mika although I do feel his falsetto may get on my nerves after more listens. Hopefully, this will see Mika’s return to the charts although I doubt it. 4.5 STARS

TRACK OF THE WEEK!
17. Moby featuring Kelly Scarr: Wait For Me
The incredibly versatile Moby releases Wait For Me, an ambient yet affecting track from his album of the same name. Kelly Scarr’s vocals are haunting and beautiful and Moby has designed the perfect backdrop for those fantastic vocals, really setting up a dramatic and atmospheric concept. In an ideal World, this would be a modern classic. 5 STARS

18. Ocean Colour Scene: Saturday
Starting off with the sound of cawing seagulls, the underrated but fantastic Ocean Colour Scene release the first perfect song of the Summer. The song manages to be high energy and chilled out at the same time with a big booming chorus, this perfect for that beach BBQ. This just about missed out on being rewarded Track Of The Week. 5 STARS

19. Pendulum: Watercolour
Pendulum are back! My excitement has waned slightly though as this doesn’t live up to my expectations and I know there capable of much greater. I wouldn’t give it 2 stars like the Big Mac did but Pendulum have released better songs than this. However, with a little drop of angst and racing, fast paced synths… the song still shows why Pendulum are regarded as one of Australia’s greatest bands. The drum and bass on this track has been toned down a lot on this from their earlier stuff though. 3 STARS

20. Sophie Ellis Bextor: Bittersweet
Sophie Ellis Bextor is also back but don’t expect me to cheer. I like her but nearly all her songs sound the same – classy yet icy electropop. As some other ChartBlog commenter stated (can’t remember which one) – the verses on this are fantastic but the chorus is sadly lacking. Not good for a pop song and I’m getting tired of the ‘80s sound. Still I’ll forgive Sophie because this in the hands of someone else could have been disastrous.3 STARS

21. Taio Cruz featuring Ke$ha: Dirty Picture
I really wanted to bomb this because this song is pure and utter trash – complete tripe!!! But I was in a nightclub last night and this came on and it just sounded fantastic to my slightly (very!) intoxicated ears. Cheap and sleazy (like a drunk person) – this song is designed for the nightclubs and does very well at that. Ke$ha really stands out here as her voice really fits the production of the song (her version of this track is far superior to this one) yet Taio bores me to death. We all know you’re not as bad as you say, Cruz. So yeah, this song is the ultimate classic when you’ve downed a few too many vodka and Red Bulls (I’m going to vomit) but is terrible otherwise. So I’m going to give it a safe old in between rating of… 3 STARS

22. Toni Braxton featuring Trey Songz: Yesterday
The original Queen of R&B and R&B newbie Toni Braxton and Trey Songz team up for this R&B power ballad. Generic is a word I throw about a lot but this R&B song isn’t exactly that. It’s more anonymous. A genuinely good power ballad, this could just have easily have been sang by Beyoncé and Chris Brown and no-one would have told the difference. Still decent R&B filler to make up a versatile iPod playlist. 3 STARS

23. Train: Hey Soul Sister
Having hit the Number 1 spot in the US and Australia and even making Number 2 in Ireland before its release, it baffles me that this song isn’t doing better across the pond in the UK. Because Hey Soul Sister is the most catchiest radio friendly record to come out in a long time. Against a slightly folky backdrop, Patrick Monahan, the lead singer, uses his powerful voice to sing out this romantic and cheery ballad. Even though I find it strange that you’d metaphorically call your love interest your sister. Kind of creepy. All creepiness aside, this song is fantastic. Come on, Britain, get buying! 4.5 STARS

24. Two Door Cinema Club: Something Good Can Work
Woah! Woah! Woah! Am I listening to The Kooks or Franz Ferdinand when they were in their prime. Despite their unoriginality, Two Door Cinema Club have created a fantastic indie pop chorus here. Full of bouncy, cheery guitar riffs, a Kook-esque chorus and a melody you want to clap along to, this is another pefect tune for your Summer playlist.4 STARS

25. Vampire Weekend: Giving Up The Gun
This has rather annoying been cancelled as a single despite good radio and music channel airplay, Giving Up The Gun is a fantastic percussion heavy track with loads of twinkling synths and World effects towards the end. The song doesn’t have any real chorus but remains incredibly likeable and listenable probably because of the fantastic band and Ezra Koenig’s soft vocals. Check out the fantastic video which features cameos from Jake Gyllenhall, Joe Jonas and Daft Punk. 4 STARS

Phew! That took ages but I really enjoyed writing that edition of my Singles Reviews Diary. As usual, I want your thoughts on what’s good and what’s not as well as what you thought of the Singles Reviews Diary as a whole.

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