Here's the playlist from yesterday's England Swings Show : 

Yuck - Holing Out (Yuck)
Radiohead - Morning Mr. Magpie (The King Of Limbs)

Joe Jackson - It's Different For Girls (I'm the Man)
Hurts - Sunday (Happiness)

Ida Maria - Cherry Red (Katla)
Miles Kane - Come Closer

Bee Gees - Lonely Days (2 Years On)
Dave Clark Five - Try Too Hard
Shadows - Rumble (Out Of the Shadows)

The Fab Four Freakout : 

Beatles vs. Beck - Tax Jam Pollution
Beatles - Birthday (The Beatles)
Beatles - Wait (Rubber Soul)

Jamie Woon - Lady Luck

Mogwai - Mexican Grand Prix (Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will)

JLS - Eyes Wide Shut
Housemartins - Caravan Of Love

Patrick Wolf - The City

Travis - Side (The Invisible Band)

. . . and this week's UK Top 5 : 

5). Chipmunk ft. Chris Brown - Champion (non-mover)
4). Adele - Rolling In the Deep (non-mover)
3). Rihanna - S&M (Come On) (new)
2). Jessie J ft. B.o.B - Price Tag (non-mover)
1). Adele - Someone Like You (non-mover)

TOP 5 ANALYSIS and REVIEW

Well, huh. After a couple of suspenseful weeks in the British top 5, this week is simply consolidation. Four of the five songs in the top 5 didn't move at all. The one new entry is already a fair American hit. 

One minor surprise was the fact that the Chipmunk song "Champion" remained at number 5 for another week. The new song by Alexis Jordan was supposed to have taken its place, according to the chart reports through Friday. Didn't happen. And that's too bad. 

I've already expressed a sort of blase dislike for the track. I think that the sincere-whiny style of grime is already on its way out, and Chipmunk can't seem to do anything else. The addition of Chris Brown is actually a plus and adds some interest, because his vocal is the only thing worth listening to here. While Brown warbles, Chippy moans. It all makes for an outdated mess. I give the track a 3 on the England Swings scale of 1-10 this week.

The continued reign of Adele isn't a surprise! "Rolling In the Deep" has stayed in the British top 5 for six weeks now, never reaching the pinnacle. There is something about the song that has given it staying power. It's retro-soul, with a thumping rhythm, and (of course) a great vocal. 

On the American charts, the song has taken another big jump to number 26. Not only that, but it's been consistently near the top of this week's iTunes chart, only surpassed by that Lady Gaga abomination. So I now predict a top ten hit for Adele in America this coming week. That will be her first, I think?

In any event, the song maintains its strength, and I give it a 7.5 on the scale.

Now here's Rihanna again, this time stepping over the line and talking all about her love for whips and chains, sitting at the number 3 position.

Yeah, right. 

"S&M" (euphemistically renamed "Come On" in the UK) manages to pinpoint everything that's right, and everything that is wrong with the Barbadian singer. The tune is irresistable, with it's "Nanana" ejaculations and a killer rhythm track led by a synth bass. As for the lyrical content, putting aside the question of appropriateness, it's vapid and insincere. If there's anyone out there that believes that Rihanna is into kinkiness, I've got a bridge to sell you. This is a marketing ploy to elevate the woman to being the premier sex symbol of modern music. Her performances, her less-than-coy songs that are all about how much she enjoys getting it on - all an act. And with this song, she's jumped the ledge and moved into unbelievability. 

She's using her status as Queen Of the Universe to make even more money for herself. I'll bet she already has the 2012 calendar on lock. 

Even the Americans aren't giving her that much credit; the song has not exceeded number 7 over here. 

So, as a song "S&M" isn't awful, but we'll need to take it as what it is - a commercial (that's "advert" if you're in Britain). For that reason, I give Rihanna a low 4 on the scale. 

Jessie J and B.o.B stay at number 2 this week with "Price Tag". This song I've discussed in some detail, but to sum up : it's clever enough, and bouncy enough, but so much so that maybe the Spice Girls could have made it in 1996. It almost falls into that "optimistic" branch of British pop, along with the Steps, the True Steppers, and S Club 7. Somehow I'm thinking that's not what Jessie was going for. 

I'll be interested to hear her new album this week, but for now, I'm dropping in my estimation of this track and giving it a 5.

Well, Adele's certainly proven herself as a lasting performer, hasn't she? Ascending in America, but not quite in the public consciousness, and in Britain, well. She's taken over. "Someone Like You", by far the best track on her new album "21", remains at number 1 for another week. 

There's been some debate about the live version of the tune versus the studio. Let me come down firmly on the side of the studio recording. The live recording from the Brit awards is remarkable, but she only stretches into those upper reaches on the album version. The only real bit of trickery is a double-tracking of her voice at one point, and that's an enhancement. 

She'll eventually come to the USA and do this live on some venue or other; will it resonate with the Americans as it has done with the British? I hope so, but we're not big on ballads. Doesn't fit the youth market.

I love the song. I'll give it an 8.5. 

Album review later this week, tune back in!
 
 
The excitement doesn't stop on the England Swings show! This week, we have the usual pleasing potpourri of popular tunes, all sorts of new stuff, and all of our regular features : 
- New music from Yuck, Miles Kane, Radiohead (again!), the Hurts - 
- Older tunes from Joe Jackson, the Shadows, the Housemartins - 
- The Fab Four Freakout, featuring a Beatles mash-up - 
- UK Music News : Who is the best-selling British artist in the rest of the world? - 
- Top 5 Countdown : does Adele still rule the charts this week? - 
It's a couple of hours of information, fun, and great music, starting at 6:00 p.m. ET : In Northern Virginia : Cox and Verizon digital cable channel 37In Reston, Virginia : Comcast channel 27Anywhere else in the world : http://www.fcac.org/webr . . . and while you're thinking about it, visit our webpage at http://englandswings.weebly.com, won't you?
 
 
The new Radiohead album, "The King Of Limbs", brings the band full circle back to the sonic sculptures that they were expertly using before "Kid A". 

Kind of. 

I think any casual 'Head fan would definitely say that there is a similarity here between the new album and what the band was doing many years ago. At first listening, the record seems to echo past ideas (albeit GOOD ideas). But subsequent spins reveal that there's a fair amount of subtlety here, including some of the aural adventurousness that the band has explored in more recent times. 

Just to get it out of the way, I'll say that that this is an immediately more accessible and likeable collection of songs than was on the previous album "In Rainbows". That's not to say that Radiohead have begun crafting pop songs, but they've decidedly shied away from more complex and difficult-to-jump-into rhythms. 

But there's still a lot going on on this record. Opener "Bloom" is all skitter-patterned drums and ghostly synth horns, with Thom Yorke's dual-tracked and reverbed voice floating above it all like a dream. 

As a matter of fact, there's a strong dream-like quality to many of the songs on the album. "Feral" sounds wispy and soporific, and boasts no real words - just fragments jumping in and out of the mix. There's more of a reliance on acoustic instruments this time out as well, with the piano of "Codex" providing the base of the song while various electronic effects infiltrate. Yorke's vocal in this tune is particularly effective. 

The acoustic guitar in "Little By Little" sounds detuned, and that fits a song that sounds like classic rock distilled and then deconstructed. "Lotus Flower" has percussion effects that seem nearly tactile. This is some seriously psychedelic stuff. 

My favorite track at the moment is probably "Morning Mr. Magpie", where the drums and guitars skitter all over the place, held together by an amplified acoustic guitar. Added bonus : the song seems to be actually addressed to a magpie : "You've got some nerve/Coming here/You stole it all/Give it back". There's an ominous tone that sets in with the chorus, and Yorke does an amazing job at the wordless crooning he's so good at. Yes, it sounds a bit like "OK Computer", but it also sounds like "Kid A". 

"Give Up the Ghost" begins with filtered birdsong, and the song turns on six words : "Don't hurt me", and "In your arms". An incredible drone sets itself up about a minute and a half into the song, and ends up resolving itself in one's brain after a few moments into a deeply distorted countervocal. Pretty cool. 

Leave it to Radiohead to place the most conventional sounding song last on the album. "Separator" has a nearly traditional structure, but is still made beautiful by Yorke's vocal and some soft guitar work. 

I'm going to venture forth and say that this is Radiohead's most cohesive, successful album in several years. There's not really a song that's offputting or so twistingly odd that a Radiohead listener might wonder, but it's JUST odd enough to be distinctly Radiohead. Kudos.

I give "The King Of Limbs" a 9 on the England Swings scale of 1-10.
 
 
Smashin' show last night with the following tunes : 

Blackout - Higher and Higher
Does It Offend You, Yeah? - The Monkeys Are Coming

Who - I'm Free (Tommy)
Ladytron - Ace Of Hz (Tiesto Remix)

Chromeo ft. Elly Jackson - Hot Mess (Business Casual)
Skream ft. Example - Shot Yourself In the Foot Again

Strawbs - On Growing Older (Grave New World)
Yes - Everydays (Time and a Word)

The Fab Four Freakout : 

Beatles - I'm Down (live at the Hollywood Bowl)
Beatles - I'm Looking Through You (Rubber Soul)
Beatles - Ask Me Why (Please Please Me)

Brother - Darling Buds Of May

Belle & Sebastian - I Want the World To Stop (Belle & Sebastian Write About Love)

Corinne Bailey Rae - Is This Love (The Love EP)

Radiohead - Bloom (The King Of Limbs)

Frankie Vaughan - Tower Of Strength

Scooter - Ramp! (The Logical Song)
Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich - Okay!

...and this week's top 5 songs in the UK : 

5). Chipmunk ft. Chris Brown - Champion (-3)
4). Adele - Rolling In the Deep (+1)
3). Lady Gaga - Born This Way (non-mover)
2). Jessie J ft. B.o.B - Price Tag (-1)
1). Adele - Someone Like You (new)

TOP 5 ANALYSIS and REVIEW

Well . . . wow. The British charts have been even more unpredictable than usual lately, with last week's Lady G surprise, and a surprise this week from another lady. This makes for a lot of interest amongst us chart followers (okay, chart geeks). The surprises have come from completely different directions, and the Wednesday midweek chart update has been completely changed by the time the actual chart plays on Sunday. 

Kinda cool, yeah?

So let's run 'em down : 

Chipmunk and Chris Brown drop three places this week to hang on at number 5. I said last week that the best thing about this song ("Champion") is the Brown vocal, and that Chipmunk is just whiny. 

This week, I haven't changed my mind. The whole Chipmunk/Tinchy/etc. template was broken last year by Tinie Tempah (thank goodness), and shattered even further by Wretch 32. That makes the whole annoyingly sincere-but-squeaky grime pop sound outdated and tired. 

On the England Swings scale of 1-10, I can only muster a 4.5 for Chippy. 

Now comes the Adele invasion, as "Rolling In the Deep", instead of quietly exiting the top 5 this week, instead rises a place to number 4. 

That's okay. I can still listen to the song, and it has lost little of its power. That tom-tom beat, the handclaps, the backing vocals - it all is gorgeous. I give the song another 8 this week, but as you'll see below, we're not done with Adele. 

Lady Gaga, tipped early in the week to ascend to the top, remains at number 3 with "Born This Way". This song, in case you haven't heard it, is an exercise in overkill, busy to the point of being grating. The hook is okay, but it gets buried in all the antics - you would think that someone with the pop sensibilities of the Lady would know better. I hope it's all not indicative of the new album. THAT would suck. 

Of course, the song went straight in at number one in America, but I'm not sure of it's lasting power even there (here, that is). It's almost a novelty song, really. I think it may fade away as the mistake it is. 

I give the Lady a 5 on the scale this week.

Jessie J, along with B.o.B, drop to number two after two weeks at the top of the chart with "Price Tag". I've noticed that the song debuted in the USA at number 88, and has dropped this week to the extreme of the chart, at number 100 exactly. Will it rebound? I think it's possible, but then again . . . I'm still slightly worried about the whole Spice Girls soundalike thing. Not that Jessie sings like a Melanie (well, maybe Melanie B), but the whole structure is a bit late-90s and happy. I'm sure that Jess wouldn't like a comparison to, say, S Club 7, so I won't. I will say that I like the song, and that I give it a 7.5 this week.

And here's our surprise at number one! Here are some facts : 

- This is Adele's first number one. 

- The song took off like a rocket after her live performance at the Brit Awards. 

- I saw on some music site that this was actually a Van Morrison song. No. It's not. 

- The live version of the song sold on iTunes at about a ratio of 3 to 1 with the studio version.

"Someone Like You" is, very simply, a classic ballad that contains nothing but piano and a striking and stirring vocal. It's only in the UK that songs like this get such a buzz, and in this case, it's all well-deserved. Go ahead and YouTube it if you haven't heard it. I guarantee that it's stunning. 

I'm giving it a 9 on the scale. 

So Adele beats out the veteran (Lady Gaga) and the up-and-comer (Jessie J) this week, making for a unique and interesting chart! 

Let's have more weeks like this, okay?

Album review (Radiohead!) later this week . . . 
 
 
We like to say that every show is special, and this week's is no exception! Look at what we've got coming up tonight :

- Debut of new tracks by Radiohead, Does It Offend You, Yeah?, Skream, Corinne Bailey Rae

- Some prog rock (and you should check out the Prog Rock Diner on Radio Fairfax, Mondays at 5:00 p.m., see below for web stream!) from the Strawbs and Yes

- Other older tracks from Frankie Vaughan, Scooter, the Who

- The Fab Four Freakout, featuring a rare live Beatles performance

- UK Music news, with the results of the Brit Awards!

- Top 5 Countdown, with the five best-selling songs in the UK TODAY, with a surprise new number one!

- More good stuff, more good music, and a couple of hours of entertainment!

At the England Swings show, we bring you the best, brightest, newest, and coolest music from the United Kingdom. Weekly. And with love. 

Check it all out this evening at 6:00 p.m. ET : 

In Northern Virginia : Cox and Verizon digital cable channel 37
In Reston, Virginia : Comcast channel 27
Anywhere else in the world : http://www.fcac.org/webr

Hope to "see" you there!
 
 
The highly-acclaimed James Blake released his debut album last week, and I'm not sure how many people noticed. It was released simultaneously in the UK and the USA, and while the UK has some inkling, perhaps, of what he's doing, I'm not sure that the Americans have any clue. 

Blake bases most of his music on dubstep, but he has added what should be the commercial catch of soulful vocals. Much of the time, it works, but at other times . . . well. 

The highlights of the record include the gorgeous "The Wilhelm Scream", with it's slowly building wall-of-noise over a reverbed-just-right vocal which actually consists of only a few words. This is the sort of thing that Blake does best, starting with a sketch of an idea and adding on a full, affecting, and unique mix. 

Another highlight - and there's a similarity to the above track, is "Limit To Your Love", a cover of a Feist song. It starts again with a some simple piano chords and a beautiful vocal, and then - bang! the dubstep kicks in and takes the tune to another level. 

The problem with Blake, though, is that he frequently has that above-mentioned sketch of an idea and then just stays there. Or he occasionally takes an idea in an odd direction that borders on pretension. 

Witness the opening track, "Unluck". Again, we've got piano notes, a skeletal drumbeat, and a noise that sounds like someone blowing into a microphone. Skittery beats enter and never really go anywhere, until finally we get anthemic synth notes. It all ends up sounded disjointed and unfinished, and I think that's what Blake is going for. Unfortunately, it's not terribly listenable. It's one of those oddities that's really only listening to once; I can't imagine many people would want to hear it again. 

The album has several songs that follow the same template. "I Mind" takes the same skitter of drums, and adds in various filtered vocals that don't really seem to ever fall together. "I Never Learnt To Share" bases itself on the lines "My brother and my sister/Don't speak to me/But I don't blame them/But I don't blame them". The song finally resolves into a ghostly dubstep march, but ends up being unsatisfying. 

There are a couple of short tunes that are definitely "unfinished" sketches as well, simply piano and voice. "Give Me My Month" is one of those, and it sounds like it was recorded on the first take. That said, it's kind of pretty. "Why Don't You Call Me" is the other, but it kicks into spectral discord soon enough. 

Blake likes to treat voices, and has put together a song or so based just on that premise. "Lindisfarne I" is all vocoder, as if an android has taken the mic. This isn't so bad, either, but again the whole thing just kind of  . . . lies there. 

I can understand why Blake has received his acclaim. What he's doing is like no one else, but it also has to be said that what he's doing frequently doesn't have a ton of appeal. I can listen to the album and appreciate it as a unique work, but even mass music consumers like me may not stick with it too long. 

I give James Blake a 6.5 on the England Swings scale of 1-10. 
 
 
Happy Valentine's Day to everyone! Here's the playlist from last night's show :

Pulled Apart By Horses - I Punched a Lion In the Throat
Naked & Famous - Young Blood (Passive Me, Aggressive You)

M - Pop Muzik
Beth Ditto ft. Simian Mobile Disco - I Wrote the Book

Glasvegas - Euphoria Take My Hand
PJ Harvey - The Words That Maketh Murder (Let England Shake)

King Crimson - Matte Kudesai (Discipline)
Pink Floyd - Stay (Obscured By Clouds)

The Fab Four Freakout : 

Wings - Beware My Love (Wings At the Speed Of Sound)
Beatles - Boys (Please Please Me)
Beatles - Good Day Sunshine (Revolver)

Streets - Puzzled By People (Computers and Blues)

Gary Moore - Parisienne Walkways (live)

James Blake - The Wilhelm Scream (James Blake)
Robyn - Dancing On My Own (live acoustic)

Correcaminos - Incienso Y Menta

...and this week's top 5 songs in the UK : 

5). Adele - Rollling In the Deep (-1)
4). Bruno Mars - Grenade (-2)
3). Lady Gaga - Born This Way (new)
2). Chipmunk ft. Chris Brown - Champion (new)
1). Jessie J ft. B.o.B - Price Tag

TOP 5 ANALYSIS and REVIEW

It was a top 5 full of surprises this week, as the midweek predictors had no idea what would happen. With the Lady releasing her new track on Friday, and Chipmunk predicted to make the number one spot, the actual falling-out of the tunes was a mystery until it happened. 

There's something to be said for that. It made the chart a lot more interesting this week. Of course, since I play the top 5 on my radio show, I wouldn't want this to become a habit. My show is at 6:00 p.m. USA East Coast time, and the chart in the UK is revealed by 2:00 p.m. That gives me four hours to finish putting the show together (well, less, really, if you include things like travel time). I have to make sure I have the tracks, set them up, burn the discs, complete the playlist, etc. If I didn't have any inkling of songs that would be in the top 5 well before it happens, I'd really have to scramble at the last minute. 

All that said, it did make for a bit of fun this week, and this is how it all ended up :

Adele seems destined to only peak at number 2, and this week "Rolling In the Deep" falls another place to number 5. Just like her other number 2 that stuck around for a while ("Chasing Pavements"), the song doesn't seem to wear itself out - it's one of those tracks that will turn up on shuffle in a year or so, and still make me smile. 

It's having some minor success so far in the USA as well, climbing a few places in the 60s on the Billboard chart this week. Just like Cee-Lo's "Forget You", though, I'm not sure if Americans can manage it. The song could be classified as neo-soul, and has a decidedly old-school-soul sound to it, and Americans don't quite know what to do with that. 

So I'm still liking it, and I give it an 8 on the England Swings scale of 1-10.

Speaking of neo-soul, Bruno Mars drops two places this week in the UK, landing a "Grenade" at number 4. For those of you who saw the Grammy Awards last night, Bruno did an old-school version of the song on the show, turning it into pure doo-wop. Pretty cool. 

Despite the graphic imagery, the song has grown on me over time, and I'll now concede that Bruno's done it again. The song was at number 1 in America until this week, and has now been replaced by Wiz Khalifa's "Black and Yellow". It's going to stick around on the USA charts for quite a while longer, I'm sure, but with all the competition on the UK charts, I think it may be gone next week from the top 5.

I'm giving Bruno a 7.5 on this one. 

Lady Gaga managed a remarkable feat on the UK charts this week, releasing "Born This Way" on Friday (and it was afternoon before it was available in the UK). That gave her slightly over a day's worth of time to sell the record, and she did pretty well - witness the number 3 position of the song this week, and I think it's safe to say it will rise next week. 

I wonder about the song itself, though, and how much lasting power it will have. It has a fair hook to it, but it's really, really busy. It's also very Madonna-like, and I'm not sure all of this bodes well in the long run. 

It's an okay song, but I wouldn't call it great. There's so much stuff going on that it's a bit distracting. On the Grammy show last night, the Lady said she wrote the song imagining Whitney Houston singing it. 

Um. I can't really hear that. I think even Madonna might simplify it a little. 

Maybe it'll feel better over time, but right now I have to give the Lady a 6 on this song. 

Chipmunk, along with the no-longer-pariah Chris Brown, was tipped all week to take the number one spot, but that didn't happen. Instead, "Champion" comes in at number 2. 

Unfortunately, the best thing about the song is Chris Brown's vocal. Chipmunk is among the Grime supernumeraries who sound overly sincere, like (shudder) Tinchy Stryder. As time has gone on, and a few dozen songs like this have hit the upper echelons of the British charts, the sound has begun to wear on me. 

I'm sorry, but Chippy just sounds whiny here. The lyrics don't help much, either, being all about how great Chipmunk is. I'm betting Chris Brown, with the rising hit "Yeah 3X", won't be hanging around British grime stars much longer. Unless he gets a gig with Tinie Tempah. 

The whole song is just blah. I give it a 5.

Jessie J stays at number 1 for a second week with "Price Tag", and - wonder of wonders! - the song has entered the American charts this week at number 88! Will it continue to rise, or is it all too British and Spice-Girly for the USA?

I'm always looking for a new British invasion here; after all, it's been a long time since the Spice Girls were the last British super-group to do a major crossover. Could this be the beginning? 

Okay, maybe not, but the song is fun. The addition of B.o.B adds some cache to it all. If Jessie doesn't make it in the USA with this one, I have the feeling she's got a lot more coming. Sooner or later, she'll become a household name in America. 

I give "Price Tag" a 7.5.

Album review later this week, so come back!
 
 
Every Sunday is a special Sunday on the England Swings Show, as we play tracks you will not hear anywhere else. That's right, it's the best, brightest, newest, and coolest music from the United Kingdom!

And this week promises to be great : just look at all the things we'll fit in : 

- A tribute to the late guitarist Gary Moore

- New tunes from Glasvegas, PJ Harvey, the Streets . . . 

- Older songs from King Crimson, Pink Floyd, and M . . . 

- The Fab Four Freakout, featuring the Beatles

- UK Music News

- Top 5 Countdown : did that new Lady Gaga song make it into the top 5 . . . ? Maybe . . . 

All of this and more this evening on the England Swings show. We begin at 6:00 p.m. ET : 

In Northern Virginia : Cox and Verizon digital cable channel 37
In Reston, Virginia : Comcast channel 27
Anywhere else in the world : http://www.fcac.org/webr

It's free-form, eclectic radio at its best . . . tonight!
 
 
Nobody can accuse Mike Skinner of being less than a motormouth. Listening to the verbal twists and volubility of the new Streets album, I'm thinking that I like the way that he puts stuff together on a record, but if he were out with you at a pub, you'd probably find it hard not to tell him to shut up after a while. 

But the whole ADHD approach to British rap has served him well over the years. When the Streets first burst on the scene in the early 2000s, there was nothing quite like them (him). Smart, frequently funny, and then surprisingly poignant as time went on, Skinner gained expertise at immortalizing little moments in his music. This was in sharp contrast to most of his American counterparts, who almost always went for the big picture and ended up boasting about their own legerdemain. 

It seems that Britain as a nation just got tired of him and his observations by "Everything Is Borrowed", the album before this one. Skinner sounded tired on that album himself, as if he were going through the motions with as little heart as he could muster. Around that time, he promised that the next Streets album would be his last under that name, and he's still saying just that. 

So now that the album has arrived, it looks like Skinner has raised his own expectations in his music, and has delivered a corker of a swan song. 

The lyrics are just as hyperactive as ever, but he's returned to those little moments : witness "Roof Of Your Car". "On the roof of your car/At the stars/the things you think when you're drinking on a bonnet". 

He's kicked up the music as well, and has made some concessions to modern rap/R&B crossovers. For enhancement, he's picked the unlikely lead singer of the Music, Robert Harvey, who adds an odd sort of soul to the proceedings. This leads to odd (but affecting) juxtapositions like "Soldiers", which has a stop-start musical backing, like a march that's been force-fed sedatives. 

His musical palette has expanded to include all sorts of new stuff, including George Harrison-esque guitars ("We Can Never Be Friends"), Plan B ("Those That Don't Know") and down-home funk ("Trust Me"). 

There are quite a few "What the ---- am I hearing?!" moments, too. "ABC" runs through a Skinner-ized alphabet in less than two minutes. "Puzzled By People" sounds a bit like mutant gospel. 

But there are also some classic Streets moments, where it all falls together and coheres, and where the sound of the music could not be anyone else. The above mentioned "Puzzled By People" is one of those : although the subject matter is a bit bigger than Skinner usually tackles, the song holds together beautifully. 

Then there's "Blip On a Screen", a tune that rivals some of the best of Skinner's work. It's all about the pre-birth of his child, and has the great words : "A blip on a screen/You don't know me/I think about you and what you will grow to be". 

Skinner even pulls in hotly-tipped-singer on the last track "Lock the Locks", which features Clare Maguire and serves as a coda to the entire Streets milieu : "I'm packing up my desk/Put it into boxes" . . . 

The Streets began with a bang, and for a while it looked like they might fade with a whimper. But Skinner has carefully re-examined what he's been doing, and has produced another bang to go out on. 

I give "Computers and Blues" an 8 on the England Swings scale of 1-10. 
 
 
Here's the playlist from our Super Sunday Show :

British Sea Power - Heavy Water (Valhalla Dancehall)
You Me At Six ft. Chiddy Bang - Rescue Me

Procol Harum - Whiskey Train (Home)
Noah & the Whale - L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.

Clare Maguire - The Last Dance
Lykke Li - I Follow Rivers

Fairport Convention - Angel Delight (Angel Delight)
New Christy Minstrels - Go Lassie Go

The Fab Four Freakout : 

Beatles - Crying Waiting Hoping
Beatles - Maxwell's Silver Hammer (Abbey Road)
Beatles - Bad Boy
Beatles - All I've Got To Do (With the Beatles)

Modestep - Feel Good

Villagers - Becoming a Jackal (Becoming a Jackal)

Temperance Seven - You're Driving Me Crazy
Frankie Vaughan & Alma Cogan - Do Do Do Do Do Do Do It Again

Clinic - Bubblegum (Bubblegum)

David Bowie - Stay (Station To Station)

...and this week's Top 5 songs in the UK : 

5). Enrique Iglesias - Tonight (I'm Loving You) (new)
4). Adele - Rolling In the Deep (-1)
3). Ke$ha - We R Who We R (-2)
2). Bruno Mars - Grenade (non-mover)
1). Jessie J - Price Tag (new)

TOP 5 ANALYSIS and REVIEW

More new blood near the top (and at the top) of the charts this week, as the "older" songs drop (except for Bruno Mars, of course) and new songs come in at numbers five and one. 

Enrique Iglesias has had more success in the UK than in America. There have been five songs by Enrique in the American top ten, whereas in the UK there have been eight. That includes the new "Tonight (I'm Loving You)", which comes in at number 5 this week. 

It's all part of the Enrique renaissance, where he's remade himself as a club banger perennial. Much like "I Like It" from last year, this song is heavy on the squelching synths and auto-tune. He's even managed to bring in a rap verse done by Ludacris. 

In the meantime, his song "Cuando Me Enamoro" topped the American Latin charts for an incredible seventeen weeks last year. His bread is buttered on both sides, and buttered well. 

All that said, "Tonight" seems oddly soulless. It's like he's trying it all on for size, and will undoubtedly reject it all with the next album. He's been very good at jumping on top of the trend, but his instincts haven't always been like that. As a matter of fact, the "uncensored" version of the song is "Tonight (I'm F**king You)", which says to me that the man has no true discernment, and just leans when the wind blows. I'm not sure his Latino audience will put up with that. 

I give Enrique a squashy 6 on the England Swings scale of 1-10.

Adele continues to dominate the UK, with her new album "21" staying at number one on the album charts, and "Rolling In the Deep" losing only a place this week and sliding to number 4. The song sits on the American charts as well, but only at number 68. To top it all off, I just heard the song used in a trailer for a new movie. 

The song continues to roll along, though, sung with immediacy and impeccability. The background vocals make it even better. I give the song an 8, even after several weeks. 

Ke$ha drops two spaces to number 3 this week with "We R What We R", a song so downright dumb (and so well produced) that it hurts. The tune has had lasting power in America, sitting at number 10 on the chart there after a beginning-of-November release. The song is one that I should hate, but except for that stupid "DJ turn it upupupup" part, I can tolerate it. I give it a 6.

Bruno Mars has not lost any ground this week, as Grenade remains at number 2 in the UK, and at number 1 in America. I was not enamored of the tune at first, and . . . well, I'm still not. I've begun to see why it's a hit, though, and I can listen without gritting my teeth. If you haven't heard it, it's a fairly standard R&B number with rather grisly lyrics : "I'd catch a grenade for ya/Throw my hand on a blade for ya/I'd jump in front of a train for you..." and so on. 

I'll go with a 6.5.

Superstar-in-waiting Jessie J captures the UK number one spot with "Price Tag" this week, and it's as far removed from her recent "Do It Like a Dude" as can be. This song is unadulterated pop, given some personality by Jessie's notable voice. We've got a less-than-obnoxious verse by B.o.B, a monster chorus that's instantly recognizable : "Everybody look to the left/Everybody look to the right". 

What will happen to this song in America? It's still a bit quirky for your average Yank, but who knows . . . ? This one might surprise us. Another point against America success is perhaps the ultra-Pop nature of the tune; I can't help it, but it reminds me uncomfortably of the Spice Girls. 

In any event, I like it, and I give it a 7.5 on the scale. 

Album review coming later . . . !