Singles Reviews Diary 15 – 17th May 2010

Another week of singles, another week of reviews. Sorry it’s a bit late – I’ve been quite lazy the last few days.

Singles Reviews Diary 15 – 17th May 2010:

01. Alexandra Burke featuring Pitbull: All Night Long
Despite a #1 album, a #1 single and another Top 10 hit, Alexandra’s success as the winner of The X-Factor seems to be eclipsed somewhat by fellow contestants JLS and the fact that there’s a new ‘hot’ female artist every week. Thankfully, All Night Long is the most instant hit from Alexandra’s debut album. While previous singles Bad Boys and Broken Heels were pretty hit and miss, All Night Long is a song that makes you want to instantly jump on the dancefloor with it’s hypnotic seductive bassline, Alexandra’s smooth and commanding vocals and its catchy chant-along chorus. The song has a beautiful euphoric feel to it also. However, this has tampered with somewhat by the addition of a rap from Pitbull. This does nothing to help the song and the album version of this track would have done just as well. I guess Alex is just desperate to crack the American market. However, Pitbull’s verse is pretty ignorable so the song still remains a pleasurable listen, especially after a few shots at the bar. 4 STARS

02. Amy Macdonald: Spark
The talented Amy Macdonald might have scored a #4 album in the UK with her sophomore album A Curious Thing but lead single Don’t Tell Me That It’s Over peaked at a disappointing #48. This single doesn’t look like it’s going places either, sadly. Despite a powerful chorus and some Snow Patrol-esque guitar work, Spark kind of paints Macdonald as a one trick pony. Maybe because I was a massive fan of her debut This Is The Life but Spark just sounds like so many other songs she’s done before, one of the many songs from the album that sort of sees one Amy Macdonald song blend into the other. Spark, however, is a decent single amongst an album of lacklustre material.3 STARS

03.Atari Teenage Riot: Activate
German bands are obviously all the rage this week with this being the first of the nation’s band to release a single this week. This is a pretty aggressive house punk track. Nothing particularly original but should be enjoyed by some. 3 STARS

04. Band Of Skulls: Death By Diamonds And Pearls
Britain’s answer to The White Stripes is back with another single from their album Baby Darling Doll Face Honey. I know I shouldn’t make comparisons as often as I do but this sounds like some decent filler on a White Stripes album. In other words, it’s no Seven Nations Army, more a plodding garage rock track that doesn’t go anywhere. Band Of Skulls, of course, are capable of producing much greater tracks – Friends and I Know What I Am being perfect examples so I wouldn’t worry about releasing the odd lacklustre single now and then. 2.5 STARS

05. B.o.B. featuring Bruno Mars: Nothin’ On You
My current favourite rapper B.o.B. releases his debut single over here. With a soothing, Summery mid-tempo production and some romantic croon from the Jason Mraz-like Bruno Mars, this is the perfect single to release for this season. In fairness, B.o.B.’s rapping isn’t anything extraordinary (despite some witty verses about a girl who pays her taxes and comparing their romance t a Nintendo 64.) and like many rappers these days, depends on a guest vocalist for his singles. However,B.o.B. is showing that hip-hop has a future beyond rapping about shawties gettin’ down in a club and he firmly picks up the reins from the increasing quiet yet innovative Andre 3000. 4 STARS

STINKER OF THE WEEK!
06. Boyzone: Love Is A Hurricane
“One step forward and two steps back”
These are two lines of the chorus that sum up this song perfectly. Gave It All Awaymight have been a fairly bland ballad but at least it sort of fit in with the Boyz adult contemporary sound in a Take That kind of way, Love Is A Hurricane is dated and as naff as the video which would put JLS to shame with the amount of skin exposed and cheesy choreography (except at least JLS can dance). It’s more up-tempo and catchy than what we’re used to hearing from and many disagree with me, believing its better than Gave It All Away. Whatever! Once again, Boyzone fail to live up to the standards of their ‘rivals’ Take That in making good quality music since their return. 2 STARS

07. Chemical Brothers: Swoon
Taken from new album Further, the intro to this experimental electronica track faintly reminds me of the Skins theme tune, composed by Fat Segal. Swoon is a strong comeback single from the British duo that is sure to keep their many fans happy. It’s nothing new from them exactly but why fix it if it ain’t broke. 4 STARS

08. Chiddy Bang: Truth
After delighting with their sampling of MGMT’s Kids on previous single The Opposite Of Adults, Chiddy Bang are at again with their second single Truth, this time sampling Passion Pit’s Better Things. The song works thankfully due to Chiddy’s rapping and the slightly euphoric dance sound taken from the Passion Pit song. However, I don’t think their sampling works as smoothly as it did last time and does their over-reliance of sampling affect a long term career in music for the duo? I think so because people are likely to get bored of it quick. 3 STARS

09. Duke Special: Wanda, Darling Of The Jockey Club
The very talented and innovative Duke Special is back with another 1940s inspired gem. This piano laced ditty is actually a pretty nice toe-tapper, made all the more interesting by Duke Special’s Northern Irish tinged accent. 4 STARS

10. Ellie Goulding: Guns And Horses
Now that Starry Eyed is being played on an irritatingly sickening level on radio, it’s great to see that Ellie has a new single out. Guns And Horses is probably my favourite track on Ellie’s debut album Lights, mainly because it injects a very agreeable folk sound into her music and ditches the Auto-Tune which made the formerly good Starry Eyed so unbearable now. Her distinctive vocals won’t be for everyone but there’s a lot of longing and emotion in them so it should keep fans happy. I hope Ellie will do something a little more folky for her next album because I really really like this track and could listen to a whole album of similar sounding tunes to this one. 4 STARS

11. Glee Cast: Jessie’s Girl
One of my most favourites tracks from the 1980s – Rick Springfield’s Grammy Award winning Jessie’s Girl is absolutely butchered by Cory Monteith’s Finn this week. The instrumentation is pretty much identical to the original so that’s a good thing but Finn’s breathless vocal delivery of the song just doesn’t work at all. I know the song fits with the storyline but how about having – maybe Puck or even Artie – to sing the song instead because that was underwhelming. I’ll tell you why Rachel (my future wife Lea Michelle) doesn’t want you Finn, it’s because you’re standing in front of her singing but looking like you want to take a dump on the floor with your constipated facial expressions. Not cool, man. 2.5 STARS

12. Glee Cast: The Lady Is A Tramp
Now, this is more like it. The Puck character (Mark Salling) gets a chance to sound like a modern day Humphrey Bogart in the jazzy 1937 show-tune cover, only to be joined by the soulful Mercedes (Amber Riley) towards the end. What we get is something the right side of retro, love it. 4 STARS

13. Glee Cast: The Boy Is Mine
I had forgotten how good R&B heavyweights Brandy and Monica’s The Boy Is Mine was and it’s brought to justice by Mercedes and Santana (Naya Rivera), who I think we get to hear sing for the first time solo. She has an excellent R&B voice, nothing that could blow Riley’s vocals out of the water but still pretty strong. The two girls’ vocals blend well together. 4 STARS

14. Glee Cast: Rose’s Turn
Could Kurt (Chris Colfer) be the best male singer in Glee? I think so. In this theatrical number taken from the play Gypsy: A Musical Fable, Kurt vents out all the anger and emotion at his father in what is a very good performance full of building tension. It could be the best song in Glee this week. 4 STARS

15. Glee Cast: One
The closing number this week for Glee is a cover of One by U2 (or U2 and Mary J. Blige). Unlike with Jessie’s Girl, Finn gives it all with his constipated vocals and if you don’t watch the video, he actually sounds very strong and powerful. Rachel is also very good as usual and Mercedes jumps into throw some of her crazy ab-libs. Joined by the rest of the harmonious cast at the end, the cover manages to convey a lot of emotion but doesn’t have that goosebump feeling you get when listening to Don’t Stop Believin’or Like A Prayer. Still a very strong effort. 4 STARS

16. Gorillaz featuring Gruff Rhys and De La Soul: Superfast Jellyfish
I’m so annoyed no video has shown up for this single yet. This is a fantastic follow-up to previous Track Of The Week Stylo sees the Gorillaz joined by Super Furry Animals Gruff Rhys and critically acclaimed rapper De La Soul as they satirise commercialism in the developed World. It’s all a bit daft really but while many found Stylo lacked any real chorus or hooks, Superfast Jellyfish is probably the most infectious song on Plastic Beach. All three collaborators shine here – Gruff Rhys with his goofy deep cartoonish vocals, De La Soul with his confident raps and the Gorillaz themselves with their relaxed, nonchalant chorus all amongst a backdrop of aquatic bouncy synths and sampling of an American commercial from the 1980s. Now bring on the video already! 4 STARS

TRACK OF THE WEEK!
17. Katie Melua: The Flood
Woah! Norah Jones and Katie Melua (who I often mix-up both in looks and music style) are really stepping out of the box with their new albums. From her new album The House, Melua ditches the irritating melodies of Nine Million Bicycles for a much more refined sound. It starts off all dramatic with strings which sound rather beautiful, like it would work well for a soundtrack or something. Then halfway through, there’s a major change in tone, synths and electro beats start moving in and Melua suddenly sounds like Kylie, there’s even a slight psychedelic sound to it. I think Melua deserves Track Of The Week for giving us something truly innovative and different. I hope radio picks this up. 4.5 STARS

18. Laura Marling: Rambling Man
The shockingly talented and wise 20 year old Laura Marling returns with a new single, which like its predecessor Devil’s Spoke, shows wisdom and lyrical prowess well beyond her years. It sort of switches between parts that contain quiet and subtle vocals and parts that contain heavy acoustic guitars and Marling’s longing, rich vocals. Almost like folk-grunge (new genre).
It doesn’t quite have that wild, sinister feel that made Devil’s Spoke one of the best songs of the year but it isa song that should make up a pretty cohesive album. 4 STARS
Note to self: By Laura Marling’s album!

19. LCD Soundsystem: Drunk Girls
Well, isn’t this song charming. Lyrically clever and comical, this song is so easy to sing along with it. With a melody that you can bob your head along to and a shout-along chorus of Drunk Girls, I can imagine many people will be roaring out of tune along to this song at the next family occasion or house party. 3.5 STARS

20. Lemar: Coming Home
After the Top 10 success of The Way Love Goes, the first single from his first Greatest Hits compilation, Lemar is obviously trying to strike it lucky again with the release of the compilation’s second single. There is nothing original about this at all – it’s all very synthy and shiny with Lemar being all troubled about those pesky women again – but it lacks the strong hook that The Way Love Goes had. It’s still quite likeable though, Lemar’s deep soulful vocals make it so. I’d imagine this could be decent enough if you let it grow on you. 3 STARS

21. Lethal Bizzle featuring Luciana: Go Go Go
After a very loud and noisy intro, Bizzle raps about wanting Beyoncé and Alesha Dixon in his gruff rapping tone. Underrated dance diva Luciana provides the catchy chorus. Yes, I know we’re getting yet another party rapper who relies on a woman to sing the chorus but this is actually really really good. Mainly thanks to the instrumental which should go down a hit in clubs anyways. Could this be Summer 2010’s answer to Dizzee Rascal’sBonkers4 STARS

22. Michael Bublé: Crazy Love
Housewives will be fanning themselves while swooning, listening to the title track from Michael Buble’s most recent million selling album Crazy Love. Covering Van Morrisson’s classic was a wise choice for Bublé as most of his target audience will love this track. He sings it well, as per usual, his voice is commanding and smooth but nothing we haven’t heard from Bublé before. If you’re a fan, you’ll love this but this track won’t gain him any new fans like Haven’t Met You Yet did. 3 STARS

23. Owl City: Umbrella Beach
After satisfying and then irritating me with his breakthrough single Fireflies, Owl City is back with another melancholy tune over electro beats. While it lacks the catchy nature of its predecessor, give Umbrella Beach a chance, because it’s actually quite a little gem. Granted Adam Young a.k.a. Owl City’s emo whispers are kind of annoying but with lyrics about underwater ferris wheels against a backdrop of bouncy, epic and surging synths and island percussion beats, Owl City is successful in transporting the listener into another World. It’s quite a Summer tune really but expect it to annoy you after a few weeks. 3.5 STARS

24. The Pretty Reckless: Make Me Wanna Die
Gossip Girl’s Taylor Momsen wants to be a credible artist, guys. And how to do that – develop a mildy punkish attitude, mimic P!nk and get yourself a band. Make Me Wanna Die is actually rather good though, Momsen has the same husky vocals as P!nk and The Pretty Reckless are actually pretty good instrumentalists, providing some grungy instrumentation for this angsty number. They actually sound like a watered down version of Hole. I’m a sucker for angsty female rockers though so its only natural that I’d love this – I do think, based on this lead single though, that many other people will have place in their heart for The Pretty Reckless. 4 STARS

25. Rammstein: Haifisch
The second German band to impact the UK release schedules this week, they obviously must have a following over here as this song is sang completely in German. Lead singer Till Lindemann’s deep throaty vocals are actually rather hilarious but the industrial metal band are strangely engaging – I can’t tell why. Maybe I’m just an industrial metal fan and I don’t know it yet. Anyways this gets… 4 STARS

26. We Are The Fallen: Bury Me Alive
Meet Evanescence 2.0 – former Evanescence founder Ben Moody, former members Rocky Gray and John Le Compt, random bassist Marty O’Brien and former Irish American Idol finalist Carly Smithson – together they make up We Are The Fallen. Their debut single Bury Me Alive is so 2003 – it hurts. Well, I thought 2003 was the Golden Year for 21st Century music and this is no exception. Featuring crunching guitars, swooping strings, icy piano melodies and Carly Smithson sounding eerily like Amy Lee in the first two lines of the song before taking on a more Kelly Clarkson vibe to her voice as the song reaches its devastating climax, this is no Bring Me To Life or Going Under. However, no-one has managed to do mainstream goth-pop so well since Evanescene’s first album Fallen so I welcome We Are The Fallen despite their unoriginality and hope there’s a place for both them and Evanescence in the industry. With Evanescence (basically Amy Lee and her guitar playing slaves) promising to go in a more alternative electronic direction with their next album, We Are The Fallen can be a good bout of nostalgia to how great Evanescence were in 2003. 3.5 STARS

So that’s it. Comments and feedback as usual, please? I promise the next Singles Reviews Diary will arrive sooner – but be warned it will be a Eurovisiony one – but also a Musey one! 🙂

1 Comment

  1. Gerard McGarry

    I loved Kurt Hummel’s take on Rose’s Turn on Glee – just perfect. And I agree – he may just be my favourite character on the show.

    You inspired me to write a review of the new Alexandra Burke single. Possibly my favourite track of the moment.

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