Singles Reviews Diary 17 – 31st May 2010

So here I am with the seventeenth edition of the Singles Reviews Diary. I can’t believe I’ve managed to stick writing these for 17 long weeks but I’ve really found it quite rewarding in the end. So it kind of hurts that this could be the last one I do in a while. I’m moving into a new apartment for the Summer and I probably won’t have Internet!NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Still, I’ll try and work my way round that little problem but there’s no guarantee that I’ll get these out every week like you’re used to.

Singles Reviews Diary 17 – 31st May 2010:

01. Akon featuring Keri Hilson: Oh Africa
This song has been floating around for a while now but with the World Cup getting closer and closer, it looks like the song is getting its official release. Basically ignore Akon and Keri Hilson – they’re on autopilot here. Akon sings away in his nasal tone while Keri croons her drawn out vocals. The only redeemable part of this song is the tribal drums and the African chantings of “weh-oh-weh, weh-oh-weh”. This makes it an infectious World Cup which without them would just be crap. 2.5 STARS

02. Alphabeat: DJ (I Could Be Dancing)
The cheesy Danish band are back with the third single from their sophomore album The Spell, retitled The Beat Is… for British and Irish audiences. What is surprising about DJis that it’s actually very good. It manages to sound like a feel-good track that would soundtrack an ‘80s rom-com or family film which isn’t a bad thing at all. Perfect for the Summer and a big improvement on their previous two singes. 4 STARS

03. Aston: Rude Boy
Who would have thought that Rihanna’s island jam about boys sticking it in her could sound classy? Well it sure does when Aston cover it. The Australian classical musicians mightn’t try and imitate Rihanna’s distinctive vocals butthey do give us a stunning instrumental instead.Dramatic swooping strings, pounding drums and quick and dramatic piano flourishes turn Rihanna’s shallow pop song into something much more powerful and epic. A talented bunch of musicians, I also recommend checking out their cover of Lady GaGa and Beyonce’s Telephone4.5 STARS

04. Craig David: All Alone Tonight (Stop Look Listen)
After his previous single One More Lie (Standing In The Shadows) failed to make any noticeable dent in the charts, the R&B crooner has fired ahead with the second single from his Signed, Sealed, Delivered album. Like the previous single, All Alone Tonightsamples retro-soul act, this time The Stylistics Stop Look Listen (Listen To Your Heart), and gives it a modern twist. I didn’t like One More Lie but I actually like this smooth and groovy mid-tempo R&B. Sadly for Mr. David, like everything he’s done lately, it does sound sort of dated. I don’t think this will be a hit. 3 STARS

05. David Guetta and Chris Willis featuring Fergie and LMFAO: Gettin’ Over You
Only two short months after releasing Memories, David Guetta has gone full steam ahead with the fifth single from his Gold selling album One Love. For this rejigged album track, Guetta is in full recycle mode. The original album version had Guetta and long time collaborator Chris Willis but for the single version, Fergie and LMFAO (are added to…I dunno…give the song more commercial appeal. What we get is a bouncy guitar heavy dance track like what we heard on Love Is Gone and I Gotta Feeling (which sampled the former). Fergie and Chris Willis are vocally stunning and I don’t know whether to love or hate LM*AO’s ‘Party’ breakdown (or LMFAO for that matter). All the same, the song just feels lacking, when Fergie sings the hook from Boom Boom Pow, changing virtually one word, it feels like we’ve heard this all before. 2 STARS

06. The Drums: Forever And Ever Amen
The brilliant Drums are back with a sunny and sonically pleasing track. The fastly strummed guitar work on this track and the slight backing vocals are great. However, I don’t think I could distinguish this song easily from all the other indie offerings at the moment. An enjoyable enough Summer track but nothing amazing. 3.5 STARS

07. Glee Cast: Funny Girl
Idina Menzel channels Barbara Streisand in this by the numbers cover. Menzel has a great voice but I found myself wanting to fast forward through this scene because it just dragged out to long and their wasn’t much performance involved. 2.5 STARS

08. Glee Cast: Bad Romance
Probably my favourite song of the episode, the ladies of Glee and honorarygirl Kurt perform the song in all its bombastic glory. I wasn’t looking forward to this performance much because we had just got rid of this song from the airwaves but the Glee kids manage to grab the original Lady GaGa version and make it sound…well…gleeful. Amongst the explosive synths, the Glee kids pour their powerful vocals over the song making it nearly as good as the original. 4.5 STARS

09. Glee Cast: Shout It Loud
Who says Glee can’t rock???!!! It’s great to hear them cover a wide range of music and the Glee boys definitely deliver with this energetic performance of the Kiss hit. 4 STARS

10. Glee Cast: Beth
In the token heartwarming moment of Glee, Puck sings this Kiss ballad beautifully. He really has a great voice and should be able to highlight that more in the show. Of course, heartwarming is a euphemism for sickeningly cheesy in my book, but those more romantic than me might just love this ballad. 4 STARS

11. Glee Cast: Poker Face
It seems a bit strange that Rachel and Shelby would sing a song about covering up your sexuality and “bluffin’ with your muffin” as the mother and daughter prepare to say goodbye but since when as Glee being completely logical. Anyways the two look-alikes do a great job of covering the second Lady GaGa song of the episode. Rather than going for the dark electro of the studio version, Lea Michele and Idina Menzel mimic GaGa’s acoustic performance of the song, getting the piano player “whose always around” to play while they bellow out their vocals Broadway style. It’s a terrific performance but it doesn’t sound much different from GaGa’s performance of the song.4 STARS

STINKER OF THE WEEK!
12. Jason Derulo: Ridin’ Solo
I really hate this track. While Whatcha Say and In My Head were flawed yet extremely catchy, Ridin’ Solo is just pure irritating. It starts of acapella like Lady GaGa singingPoker Face live before breaking into electro heaviness. The thing that irritates me about the song is the stupid faux Caribbean accent Derulo uses to sing the verses and the fact that he substitutes “tholo” for “solo” on parts of the chorus. Since when was it cool to mispronounce words for no reason? Also, like his previous two singles, Ridin’ Solo sounds like it could be sang by any R&B singer and lacks and real identity or anything to shout about. Plus, it’s just such a headwrecker. 1 STAR

TRACK OF THE WEEK!
13. Johnny Flynn: Kentucky Pill
This is just fantastic. The male equivalent to Laura Marling has been lying under the radar for years now so I hope that soon he’ll find some degree of success. Flynn, also a poet an actor, has a rich voiceand this is lyrically brilliant against an organic, celebratory production. I recommend you check him out. 5 STARS

14. Lena: Satellite
Lena deservedly won the Eurovision with this catchy toe-tapper. Many people have been comparing her to Lily Allen or Kate Nash but I prefer comparing her voice to Ellie Goulding, albeit more upbeat and less dreamy. Like Ellie, Lena’s distinctive voice is likely to become annoying if the song gets plenty of overplay but for now the song is a pretty catchy jam that makes you want to click your fingers and direct you to the dancefloor. 4 STARS

15. Miley Cyrus: Can’t Be Tamed
I really hated this track when I first heard it but Miley’s magical powers of persuasion have changed my mind. Miley might hate pop music herself but that hasn’t stopped her following pop trends, ditching her Disney pop rock sound for a more electro sound. Still Miley manages to keep things good with a killer pop tune – toe tapping synths, confident verses, a surging bridge and a bombastic chorus. It’s like a twee version of Britney Spears’ Blackout. There’s even a bit where the vocoder is turned up and Miley sounds like Daffy Duck. If Miley continues a career in music, pop or not, she should grow into an interesting artist. 3.5 STARS

16. R. Kelly featuring Soweto Spiritual Singers: Sign Of A Victory
R&B crooner R. Kelly is another artist with a World Cup song. Against minimal Aficanised production, R. Kelly echoes Michael Jackson in his prime. The Soweto Spiritual Singers provide beautiful ethnic backing vocals. This mightn’t exactly be a song you chant along to but this is one of the better World Cup songs out there. 4 STARS

17. Royal Air Force Squadronaires featuring Stacey Solomon: At Last
Remember Stacey Solomon?! The beautiful and talented yet slightly lifeless performer who takes on a cringeworthy bumbling personality when she isn’t singing? Well she’s appearing on the Royal Air Force’s new album and if you’ve heard her rendition of Etta James’ At Last on The X-Factor then you don’t really need to buy this single – unless you’re a diehard Stacey fan. Her voice is fine and the RAF’s brass instrumentation is rich but I am so sick to death of this song being covered over and over by every able voiced singer. 2 STARS

18. Shakira featuring Fleshlyground: Waka Waka (Time For Africa)
The most danceable World Cup song yet. Electro, folk and African music are combined here against Shakira’s distinctive yet seductive vocals. Like most Shakira singles, this is incredibly infectious although the lyrics are missing the quirkiness affiliated with Shakira. Still, if this gets airplay you’ll be humming along to it all Summer. 4 STARS

19. Stornoway: Zorbing
After failing to make a dent in the charts with their last single I Saw You Blink, hopefullyZorbing will do better. It certainly seems to be getting more promotion. Singer Brian Biggs has a great voice – so ear snagging. This great track has enough changes in tone and instrumentation, it’s sure to keep you intrigued. I must check out their new album.4 STARS

20. Sunset Hotel: The Bitter End
This is the debut single by Irish indie band Sunset Hotel which recently (out of nowehere) managed to get into the Irish Top 10. What I’m hearing is a lot of angsty whining without any definable chorus. It’s not particularly bad, I can see how radio would pick it up but this doesn’t sound much different from a number of indie tracks that have come and go over the years. 2.5 STARS

So yeah, this week has been a pretty disappointing one for mainstream releases. If it wasn’t for World Cup songs and Eurovision songs, would there be any real singles released this week. Anyways, as usual comments and feedback would be nice. Hopefully, I’ll be back next week with another Singles Reviews Diary. 

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