Well, you missed a great show last night with some classic music. Here's what we played :
Kids In Glass Houses - Undercover Lover (Dirt)
Delorean - Stay Close (Subiza)
M.I.A. - XXXO
Robyn - Dancing On My Own
Katrina & the Waves - Walking On Sunshine
Rolling Stones - Tumbling Dice (Exile On Main Street)
David Bowie - Watch That Man (Aladdin Sane)
The Fab Four Freakout :
Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas - I Call Your Name
Beatles - Your Mother Should Know (Magical Mystery Tour)
Beatles - Not a Second Time (With the Beatles)
Delphic - Counterpoint (Acolyte)
Muse - Neutron Star Colliding (Love Is Forever)
Jonathan King - Everyone's Gone To the Moon
Genesis - In Hiding (From Genesis To Revelation)
Georgie Fame & the Blue Flames - Get Away
Tinie Tempah - Frisky
Will Young - Leave Right Now (Friday's Child)
...and this week's top 5 songs in England :
5). Eminem - Not Afraid (new)
4). Jason DeRulo - Ridin' Solo (-2)
3). Iyaz - Solo (new)
2). B.o.B. - Nothin' On You (-1)
1). Dizzee Rascal - Dirtee Disco (new)
TOP 5 ANALYSIS and REVIEW
There's been a lot of whining this week amongst long-time chart followers about the nature of this week's top songs. All the way back to number ten, all of the songs could possibly be classified as "urban" in nature. This means, basically, that they are R&B or rap or grime related. This has made a lot of people grumble about the nature of the charts nowadays, and how all the "good" music seems to be gone.
Just listen to the diversity of the top 5 this week, with three new entries in it. No, I mean REALLY listen. These songs have little in common, with one glaring exception that we'll discuss shortly. Three of them are by American artists. One is by an artist who traces his ancestry to the Virgin Islands.
And the number one song is by a man from London.
It's the same argument that surfaces regularly; as a new generation begins to buy music, the older listeners feel disenchanted and pine for the days of yore. This has to do with the fact that people tend to form their musical tastes during their tweens and teens, and some just never move on. Therefore, they're not willing to give newer stuff a chance. "It's not even music!" they carp. "Where's the great tunes that were popular when I was young?"
To those of you who get stuck in time, my advice is to get over it. Today's music is no more or less valid that what you listened to in the 1980s, 1990s, or whenever. It's still clever, it's still relevant, and it will continue to evolve. You need to learn to evolve with it, or risk losing the joy of discovering new music. You don't want that, do you?
So with that philosophy in mind, let's look at this week's top five :
He's back again (and again and again, apparently)! Eminem manages to get to number 5 this week with his new single, "Not Afraid". Guess what it's about? I'll give you a clue : Eminem has only ever had two subjects in his music : other celebrities and himself. This one isn't about other celebrities.
We've got BIG vocals, with a whole macho chorus singing parts of the tune. And Marshall Mathers sounds ticked off again. Even he admits that he's been phoning it in for a while, and here he tries to return to his original angry young man status.
Here's the problem - and take this in context with what was discussed above about becoming stuck - he's not an angry young man anymore.
He's an angry middle-aged man. And he needs to deal with the fact that AYM is scary, but AMAM is just whiny and annoying.
This is why this song didn't jump straight away to number one in England. And why - even though it debuted at number one in America - it hasn't had lasting power.
The song is well-constructed, and is interesting for a listen or two, but after a bit it just comes off as a novelty. On the England Swings scale of 1-10, I give this a 5.
Jason DeRulo drops two places to number 4 this week with "Ridin' Solo", and even though he's lost some ground, the song still kicks proverbial butt. It's the catchiest thing out there now, R&B in the British tradition.
But Jason DeRulo is from Florida . . . and that shows that there's been serious crossover lately between UK and USA R&B - witness the rise of Taio Cruz. "Ridin' Solo" is something that Blue or Craig David could have done nearly ten years ago. We've even got the whole part where the instruments drop out and leave a drumbeat and the chorus. Cool!
I give this song an 8 on the scale.
Now here comes purposeful serendipity, as the song at number 3 is called "Solo". It's by Iyaz, who had a hit earlier this year on both sides of the Atlantic with "Replay". Both this song and the Jason DeRulo one before, are bouncy, have "solo" in the title (and both spell it out in the song!). They're both produced by JR Rotem. This one isn't bad either, also being a bit Brit in sound, but I'll give the edge to DeRulo. I'm giving it a 7.
By the way, Iyaz describes his music as "island pop", which pretty much blows the "all the top songs are urban!" deal.
At number two, B.o.B. drops a place from the pole position with "Nothin' On You". I think we can admit that the best thing about the song is the Bruno Mars vocal. B.o.B., like so many rap artists nowadays combining with amazing singers, becomes nearly irrelevant.
Now, all you old people, listen closely to the song. Do you hear it?
That's right! It's a Beach Boys background vocal! So there!
It's hard to dislike this song, no matter your age. It was number one in America for a couple of weeks, and now it's done well in the UK. There's a universality about songs that make it in both places, especially the American ones. How many hits has, say, Ludacris had in England? That just doesn't transfer, but this song does. It gets a 7.5.
As for the number one song this week, Dizzee Rascal continues his evolution from critically acclaimed innovator to pop wastrel with "Dirtee Disco". Sampling the Staples Singers "I'll Take You There", Dizzee has never been catchier - or sillier, either. Not as sonically challenging as most of his other number ones, the song crunches along. I'll admit I have a hard time keeping a straight face when Dizzee gets to the "disco, disco, disco,disco!" part. He sounds so earnest, doesn't he?
Not Dizzee's best, for sure, but also adequate. I give it a 6.5.
Foals - Total Life Forever
The Foals are evolving, but they're doing it slowly and subtly. "Total Life Forever" is not a huge leap from their debut album "Antidotes", but in many ways it's better. It builds on the sound that the group had from its beginnings.
For the most part gentle in inclination and intent, "Total Life Forever" is frequently like a warm bath, with mellow instrumentation and soft, harmonized vocals. We're not talking about the Fleet Foxes, here, though - this album has little to do with alt.folk. We've got odd prog dissonances, eletronic assemblages, and an occasional dose of funk.
Let's start with the obvious : "This Orient" is a classic, and classically beautiful song. Cut-up vocals at the beginning lead into thumping drums and meandering guitar, but the crowning achievement is the vocal. We've got a virtual men's choir throwing out "oh-ohh"s and lead vocalist Yannis Philippakis has developed a soft charge to his voice that works perfectly. He's not an especially flashy or great vocalist, but double- and triple-tracked, that voice is like butter. Perfect, and "This Orient" is one of my favorite songs this year.
The rest of the album veers between electronicallly-driven and anthemic, with occasional funk. The best tracks include "Blue Blood", which has ringing guitars alternating with razor-sharp electrics. By the end of the song, we've got a great cross-vocal going on.
"Spanish Sahara" starts with a heartbeat-like soft drum, simulated ocean waves as percussion, and those soft guitars again. It becomes slowly and steadily more anthemic, building a wall, nay, a whole house of sound, before dissipating in an echoing keyboard.
Open "2 Trees" has bell-clear guitars, reverbed vocals, and is based on pretty much one repeating note. It's a GOOD note, though. There's a dissonance that enters the song early on, making it oddly quirky but still effective.
There's really only one track that "rocks", so to speak, and that's "Miami". A bit reminiscent of "Cassius" from the last album, It's still fairly low-key, but has a killer chorus, guaranteed to thrill indie hearts.
In sum, then, the Foals have not changed in any drastic way from their past, but they've deepened their sound in fascinating and effective ways. I give this album a 7.5 on the England Swings scale of 1-10.
Today on the England Swings show, we've got the best, brightest, newest, and coolest music from the UK! We'll have new tunes by M.I.A., Robyn, and Muse, old tunes by Jonathan King, the Rolling Stones, and Katrina & the Waves, plus lots more both old and new. We'll have our regular features : The Fab Four Freakout : featuring another song that the Beatles gave away UK Music News : Eurovision Song Contest 2010 just concluded - who won? Top 5 Countdown : the Top songs in the UK today, including a new number one! When : 6:00 p.m. ET Where : In Northern Virginia : Cox and Verizon digital cable channels 37 and 837 In Reston, Virginia : Comcast channel 27 Anywhere else in the world : http://www.fcac.org/webr Come and listen!
There's some amazing new music on Sunday's show, including new M.I.A., Robyn, Muse, and more! We'll also pay tribute to the re-released Rolling Stones album "Exile On Main Street", and play some Genesis from their first (and largely unin
The Happy Time England Swings Show was last night, and it was happy. Here's what we played :
Band Of Skulls - Death By Diamonds and Pearls (Baby Darling Doll Face Honey)
Pint Shot Riot - Nothing From You
Coldplay - Shiver (Parachutes)
Fyfe Dangerfield - She's Always a Woman
Squad - Three Lions 2010
Leeds Utd Team & Supporters - Leeds, Leeds, Leeds
Shadows - Genie With the Light Brown Lamp
Walker Brothers - The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore
The Fab Four Freakout :
Beatles - How Do You Do It (Anthology 1)
Beatles - I Need You (Help!)
Beatles - I'm So Tired (The Beatles)
Beatles - Day Tripper
Keane - Stop For a Minute (Night Train)
Laura Marling - Rambling Man (I Speak Because I Can)
Nick Drake - Cello Song (Five Leaves Left)
Fairport Convention - Stranger To Himself (Rising For the Moon)
Corinne Bailey Rae - Paris Nights/New York Mornings (The Sea)
Elllie Goulding - Guns and Horses (Lights)
...and this week's top 5 in the UK :
5). Edward Maya - Stereo Love (-1)
4). Alexandra Burke ft. Pitbull - All Night Long (new)
3). Roll Deep - Good Times (-2)
2). Jason DeRulo - Ridin' Solo (non-mover)
1). B.o.B. - Nothin' On You (new)
TOP 5 ANALYSIS and REVIEW
This week, songs moved down, new entries charted, and Jason DeRulo went nowhere. 'Vantage number one : Usher is gone from the top 5. Let's look at what he left in his wake :
The accordion hit of the decade, Edward Maya's "Stereo Love", drops a space to number 5 this week. The track is a fairly soft mixture of the aforementioned instrument and mellow electronica. Vika Jigulina provides whispery vocals, there's vibes and synth bleeps, and a kicker bass line. Viva Romania!
I like this song, and I'm glad that the British public has taken a shine to it. I'm giving it an 8 on the England Swings scale of 1-10.
Alexandra's back! And she's brought yet another Miami hip-hop guy with her - this time it's Pitbull. Last time, you might recall, it was Flo Rida.
And this may be the track that brings her to the Americas. Over here, most songs by Pitbull at least get some attention, so maybe he can drag Alexandra to American consciousness as well.
It doesn't hurt that the song is one long hook, with Alexandra chanting the title. The Pitbull part is confined to the usual "guest rapper" spot, where he spits a verse about halfway through. In a lot of cases, this manages to stop the momentum of the tune altogether, but this time it doesn't slow down proceedings at all.
The song is an earworm, and one tends to start humming along around the second listen. I'm giving the tune a 7.5 on the scale.
Roll Deep finally relinquishes the number one spot - and they had it for three weeks - and drop to number 3 with "Good Times".
Having become very familiar with the tune over the past weeks, I've decided that there's one part that cracks me up. Listen to the female voice after she does the chorus : she drops into a kind of humming that sounds like SHE FORGOT THE WORDS. It's not noticeable even after several listens, but once you realize it's there, it's funny.
Aside from that, this is an average grime crossover song, with big synths and frenetic (and somewhat squeaky) raps. Not bad, but not a step forward. I'll give it a 6.
Hey, Jason DeRulo! He's twenty years old, he's yet another Floridian (which seems to have become a center of R&B bubblegum rap in the last year or so).
Okay, you want to know why he's so huge in Britain? It's because he sounds like Craig David would've sounded, had Craig managed to keep up on his game and was still making records that people paid attention. DeRulo was, perhaps, "born to do it", yes?
Of the three songs that have charted in the UK this year, I'm beginning to think this one is my favorite. It's complex and beautifully done, with unimpeachable vocals. It's the voice that carries the song, for sure - some of you might know that it originally sampled the Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony" to begin with, but had to replace the not-cleared sample with something else entirely.
Anyway, Jason DeRulo gets an 8 for this song.
B.o.B., from slightly farther north (Atlanta), now has a transatlantic smash with "Nothin' On You". The song has reached the pinnacle in the UK, about a month after it performed the same feat in America.
And the song ain't bad. Following once again the bubblegum R&B/rap formula, it's redeemed by the Bruno Mars vocals, complete with Beach Boys harmonies. Billy Ray (B.o.B. himself) contributes a stuttering chorus, and adequate raps. The lyrics are a little odd, but I'm blaming that on trying to fit the rhyme scheme. All in all, not exactly great, but not awful. Let's give it a 6.5.
Keane - Night Train
Not so much an album as an extended stopgap EP, "Night Train" features Keane taking a few different steps and exploring new directions. Sort of.
It's seven and a half tracks, and three of them are collaborations. Two of these are with Somali rapper K'naan, and the other, odder one with Japanese emcee Tigarah.
The half-song is a minute and a half of blustery noise at the beginning, meant to lead into the "new" Keane. We dive into "Back In Time", which is, um, "old" Keane in a lot of ways.
We've got the swirling synths that marked "Spiralling" on the last album. We've got Tom Chaplin's emotive vocals. We've got a slightly-loud-for-Keane chorus. It's all fairly average, and almost sounds as if they're trying too hard.
"Stop For a Minute" features a very low-key rap from K'naan; other than that, it's still very Keane-ish. It does feature a cool "oh-way-oh!" bit, and the hook is stronger than the previous song.
"Clear Skies" harkens back to the very old Keane, being an acoustically driven track (at least they're using guitars now). Here's the thing, though, the band can definitely write hooks in songs like this, and they do it again. It passes painlessly.
Now we get into truly odd territory for the group with "Inshin Denshin". Most critics have lambasted this tune, but - what can I say? - it works for me! The chorus is irresistable, and the breathy vocals from Tigarah (who sounds a lot like a Japanese Charlotte Gainsbourg) enhance it all. The song features liquid blurping synths (I realize that that imagery is a bit sickening, but that's how they sound). Cheers, Keane!
"My Love" features a vocal from the main songwriter in the band, Tim Oxley-Rice, and he sounds quite a bit like, um, Tom Chaplin. The song has a motorik beat, and squelches along quite nicely.
The second K'naan collaboration - well, all I'll tell you is that it samples a very familiar riff, and whereas many might consider it a bit gauche, I think it's all right! It's not brilliant, but it brings a smile. This is Keane having fun, and there's a certain lugubrious charm in that. It's nice to know that they GOT a sense of humor. The song is called "Looking Back", by the way.
And we end with "My Shadow", which is all sensitive and "Somewhere Only We Know"-like. That is to say, it's the true Keane shining through, and it's still not bad. There were first pegged as Coldplay imitators, lo, many years ago, and here they prove that they can do the best non-Coldplay Coldplay in the business. It's not fun, but it's pretty.
If this is Keane stepping out in new directions, they're taking baby steps. There's much of this album that's still unmistakably Keane, and the innovations that they explore are a bit more like a stoned dream of Keane (and that may be exactly where they got the ideas, really). All told, this is a better-than-average Keane record, with an added dollop of fresh fun. It will be interesting to see what they do next.
I give "Night Train" a 7.5 on the England Swings scale of 1-10.
The Top 5 reasons to listen to the England Swings Show : 5. We offer the best, brightest, newest, and coolest music from the UK! 4. We frequently debut new tracks by British artists that you won't hear anywhere else. 3. We have regular features, including a Beatles set (the Fab Four Freakout!) and cover UK Music News weekly. 2. We play the top 5 songs in England each week. 1. We offer a unique blend of new and old music, providing a weekly snapshot of the state of British music. Nobody else does this, you know. So you should listen to us today and every Sunday at 6:00 p.m. ET (USA). We can be heard : In Northern Virginia : Cox and Verizon digital cable channels 37 and 837. In Reston, Virginia : Comcast channel 27. Anywhere else in the world : http://www.fcac.org/webr Today, we have all of the above, including new tracks by Ellie Goulding, Keane, and Fyfe Dangerfield. We have a couple of football (yes, I mean soccer) anthems to play! And we have lots more, so tune in!
There's a feast of treats on the show this Sunday, including new songs by Band Of Skulls, Laura Marling, and Keane, and more music from Nick Drake, Coldplay, and the Walker Brothers. We'll also be featuring a couple of tracks about football (that's soccer for you Americans). Sunday! 6:00 p.m. ET!
Spectacular show last night featuring the following :
Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster - Love Turns To Hate (Blood and Fire)
Muse - Uprising (The Resistance)
Katie Melua - The Flood
Who - Behind Blue Eyes (Who's Next)
King Blues - Headbutt
Eric Clapton - Wonderful Tonight (Slowhand)
Nat King Cole - Sweet Lorraine
Russ Ballard - Voices (Russ Ballard)
The Fab Four Freakout :
Wu Tang Clan Vs. the Beatles - C.R.E.A.M.
Beatles - You Like Me Too Much (Help!)
Beatles - I'm Only Sleeping (Revolver)
Kele Okereke - Tenderoni
Madness - It Must Be Love
Stornoway - Zorbing
Procol Harum - Broken Barricades (Broken Barricades)
Fugative - Crush
Keane - Looking Back (Night Train)
...and this week's top 5 tunes in the UK :
5). Aggro Santos ft. Kimberly Wyatt - Candy (non-mover)
4). Edward Maya ft. Vika Jigulina - Stereo Love (new)
3). Usher - OMG (-1)
2). Jason DeRulo - Ridin' Solo (new)
1). Roll Deep - Good Times
TOP 5 ANALYSIS and REVIEW
See, this is what I love about the British charts. You really never know what might happen.
Who'd have thought Roll Deep would stay at number one for three weeks? And look at the new songs in the top 5 : one is perhaps expected, but the other? It's odd, odd, odd. Let's take a look at all the songs :
Kimberly Wyatt is the highlight in "Candy", the Aggro Santos tune that stays at number 5 for another week. She sings her part as nearly one note : "Ooh-come-and-get-you-some", while synths run rampant around her. Aggro is not of the whiny Grime variety, and has a propensity for breaking into Portuguese, which is charming. The song is processed to the max, but it all works together and becomes irresistable. I'm giving thie song an 8 on the England Swings scale of 1-10.
Now here we go : the oddity of the week surely goes to Edward Maya and Vika Jigulina, who manage to take the decidedly Eastern European flavored "Stereo Love" to number 4.
With an accordion as the main instrument.
That's kinda ballsy, and it's ineffably cool. It's run through just enough filters to set off the organic main tune.
I'm guessing that there's some sort of musical revolution going on in Romania right now, where Maya hails from. First we had Inna earlier this year, and now this piece of sublimity. We're probably only seeing the surface of this, and I'm thinking there will be more to come.
I'm giving "Stereo Love" an 8.5.
Usher finally slips a place to number three, but that doesn't disguise the fact that this has been one of the biggest British hits of the year. I still think there's a vaguely creepy vibe to Ush nowadays, but the song isn't horrible. It's got killer production. I just wish he wouldn't use the word "boobies" in it.
Notably, the song has slipped from the top in America as well this week, as the new Eminem track debuts at number one. Usher and Eminem, both heroes from the late 1990s and early 2000s : it's all so last decade. I'd like to see a breakdown of the buyers; I'm thinking that the 20s-to-30s age group is holding both of the performers, undoubtedly reliving their youth.
Usher gets a 6.
Now here's at least a modern performer, as Jason DeRulo ends up with a third huge British hit this year with "Ridin' Solo". Both of his former songs - "Whatcha Say" and "In My Head" have done well in the USA as well, but so far this track is hanging around the lower reaches of the top 40. That may change, but here's the thing : DeRulo is doing a very British kind of R&B, jacked up with techno beats and smooth as butter. That's why he's doing so well there. As for here, I'm thinking that America is finally ready for this kind of stuff.
The song is catchy and more than competent. The original version actually sampled the Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony", but that was an uncleared sample, so it was replaced with bloops and blips in the studio. Both versions are good. I'll give the song a 7.5.
Roll Deep manages to hang on a third week at number one with "Good Times", and I can't quite figure out why. There's not a lot of innovation here; the track is nearly interchangeable with a few dozen other grime crossover hits. I'm still convinced that Tinie Tempah set the bar for truly crossing over with "Pass Out", and now all the rest have a challenge to top it. This song doesn't do it. I give it a 6.
What will next week bring?!
Beach House - Teen Dream
Let me start with background for those of you who haven't managed to run across this astounding album.
Beach House is a duo from Baltimore, Maryland who do what is best described as "Dream Pop". If you're British, think Belle and Sebastian. If American, a reference point might be the Flaming Lips or Galaxie 500.
The thing is, Beach House have made the definitive album in the genre with "Teen Dream".
The group consists of French-born Victoria LeGrand and Bawlamer fella Alex Scally. They have voices that perfectly blend, with a similar range, so it's occasionally hard to tell who's singing what. It's like cinnamon and sugar; one flavor complements the other.
If you have any affinity for this kind of music, I challenge you to listen to the first two tracks on the album and try not to fall in love with it. "Zebra" is fairly simple, pastoral, and effective. "Silver Soul" is liquid and twangy. Both are gorgeous.
The album continues just as good, if not better. "Norway" is a bit more electronic, anchored by a strong guitar riff and breathy wordless intonations. There's a lovely slowed down woozy effect throughout the song that provides some interesting tension, but it's all brilliantly controlled.
"Walk In the Park" and "Used To Be" are similar; both begin with a distinctive drumbeat and slide into majesty. By the second or third listen to these tunes, you realize that they're growing on you.
None of this could be called rock, so if that's what you're looking for, perhaps this won't work for you. If you appreciate pop, though - dreamy or otherwise - you'll be richly rewarded. There are a lot of keyboards here, usually with the reverb turned to eleven.
"Lover Of Mine" is a case in point. Somnolent organs lead into a killer hook, and by the end of the song, crossing vocals add a master touch. These guys. Are. Good.
"Better Times" continues the swoon. Remember that period of time when Pink Floyd was doing echoey, rarefied stuff like "Obscured By Clouds" and "Meddle"? At times this is similar, but comes across as more complex and organic.
I could tell you more about the rest of the songs, but I'll leave some of it to your imagination, and hopefully, to your delight when you listen to it. Suffice to say, this is dream pop at its best, absorbing its influences and coming up with something rare and beautiful.
Having spent time at several beach houses in the state of Maryland, I wish I'd had this to listen to while I was there.
I give "Teen Dream" a 9.5 on the England Swings scale of 1-10.
Oh, the treats we have in store today! There will be delicious concoction of the best, brightest, newest, and coolest music from the United Kingdom on today's show, including new music from Katie Melua, Kele Okereke, Stornoway, and Fugative, as well as older tunes from the Who, Russ Ballard, and Madness. There will be some leftover Mother's Day dedications. There will be our regular features : The Fab Four Freakout : The Beatles . . . and Wu Tang Clan?! UK Music News : Keith Richards, M.I.A., and the online release of the Beatles catalogue Top 5 Countdown : The most popular songs in the UK right now! When : 6:00 p.m. ET Where : In Northern Virginia : Cox and Verizon digital cable channel 37 and 837 In Reston, Virginia : Comcast channel 27 Anywhere else in the world : http://www.fcac.org/webr I think you should listen. You'll like it.
Just putting together the notes for Sunday's show. We'll have :
New tracks by Kele Okereke, Keane, and an amazing new song by Katie Melua
Older songs by Madness, Procol Harum, and Eric Clapton
Some leftover Mother's Day dedications
Our usual features!
It'll be great. Tune in, won't you?
Last night, we had a very special England Swings show honoring mothers. The music was interspersed with dozens of voices of mothers and children, some simply giving messages to their mothers, and others requesting songs. It was an all-request show, and here is what we played :
Rod Stewart - (What a) Wonderful World (The Great American Songbook Volume III)
Jay-Z ft. Mr. Hudson - Young Forever (The Blueprint 3)
Spice Girls - Wannabe
James Blunt - You're Beautiful
Beatles - Octopus's Garden (Abbey Road)
Beatles - Yellow Submarine (Revolver)
Beatles - I Will (The Beatles)
Beatles - Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da (The Beatles)
Michael Jackson & Paul McCartney - The Girl Is Mine (Thriller)
Cure - Just Like Heaven (Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me)
Hollies - The Air That I Breathe
Ozzy Osbourne - Mama I'm Coming Home (No More Tears)
Journey - Don't Stop Believing
Beatles - Come Together (Abbey Road)
Beatles - Let It Be (Let It Be)
Beatles - When I'm Sixty-Four (Sgt. Peppers)
Beatles - Penny Lane (Magical Mystery Tour)
Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons - Beggin' (Pilooski remix)
Martina McBride - Anyway (Waking Up Laughing)
Grupo Rana - Colombia Rock
Massive Attack - Teardrop (Mezzanine)
David Bowie - The Prettiest Star (Aladdin Sane)
Vera Lynn - Shine On Harvest Moon
We also did a brief synopsis of the week's top 5 tunes in the UK :
5). Aggro Santos ft. Kimberly Wyatt - Candy (new)
4). Pendulum - Watercolour (new)
3). Plan B - She Said (non-mover)
2). Usher - OMG (non-mover)
1). Roll Deep - Good Times (non-mover)
TOP 5 ANALYSIS and REVIEW
The top 3 songs remain untouched, and for a change, new songs come in at the lower end of the top 5. And what interesting songs they are - ! Let's take a look :
So which one of the Pussycat Dolls is Kimberly Wyatt? Was she the red-headed one? She was HOT. Is she doing a solo album?
Oh, I should pay attention to the fact that the lead on the song is Aggro Santos, and that he has a mercifully forceful style of rapping. So many of the UK's rappers sound like they're just whining, that it's refreshing to have this fellow not taking the same voice. "Candy" enters the UK charts at number 5 this week.
Of course, there's not much to say about the song itself. It's nearly monotonal in execution, and mostly consists of Kimberly going "Come and get you some/Candy!".
It's got a fairly strong synth backing, and Aggro weaves himself in and out of the song. Not . . . much . . . else to say . . .
I guess I'll go with a 6 on the England Swings scale of 1-10.
Pendulum's back, and this time they've hit the big leagues! "Watercolour" lands at number 4, making it the Perthians (Perthese?) biggest hit ever.
It's not bad, yo. It's a bit repetitive, but holds one's interest for most of the time. "Feed your fire/break your vision/Throw your fists up/Come on with me" is repeated several times. The whole thing sounds very synthesized, as if it were created by that songwriting machine in Orwell's "1984". There's not a ton of new stuff here, but it's a pleasant enough distraction. I'll give it a 7.
Now I will repeat what I've said for the umpteenth time about the top three songs because they haven't changed. I'll truncate :
Plan B at number 3 with "She Said" : it's clever and well-constructed. Ben Drew (Plan B) sings in a falsetto that sounds as if his trousers are too tight, but it works. It's an innovative hit, mixing old soul and modern UK rap. Still there. Still good. It's an 8.
"OMG" by Usher remains at 2. Why? Ush himself just gives off a creepy vibe nowadays. The song has also risen to number 1 in the USA this week. The song is a woozy sex tape with the video off and the audio on. It's occasionally sonically interesting, but also just kind of chilly. It gets a 5.5.
Roll Deep, the original grime collective that no longer sounds even slightly grimy, stays at number 1 for a second week with "Good Times". It's a wisp of a tune, sounding much like what now seems like hundreds of counterparts. It's not bad, but it's sure not great. Let's go with a 6.
Kate Nash - My Best Friend Is You
I'm beginning to get worried about Kate's mental state.
There's some decidedly crazy sh*t going on here.
It starts out innocently enough, with "Paris" being catchy and clever as anything. A rolling piano riff, accentuated with strings, and a lyric that manages to capture the wacked Kate chakra : "You'll never listen to me" being the main line. Then there's a pretty section where she repeats "You said you'd loan me anything/I think I'll choose your company". Very nice.
"Kiss That Grrrl" comes next, with a 1960s girl-group feel, and words that are becoming a bit more . . . unhinged. It's all about jealousy, as Kate's guy (Ryan?) meeting another girl at a party and paying just a little bit too much attention to her. When this happens, Kate thinks up all sorts of revenge.
Now the crazy stuff begins to kick in. "Don't You Want To Share the Guilt" is a litany of neurotica that starts with a smooth electric guitar riff playing against a strummed acoustic guitar. The first line? "Barbecue food is good". It goes on to express a twisted relationship in minute detail, including plasters and saying "shut up". Bizarre, but still within the realm of sanity. Barely.
"I Just Love You More". Uh-oh. Deep end! Kate intones, screeches, and squeaks for three minutes, set against chunking guitars. Interesting while you're listening, but not the sort of thing you'd want to hear again. It reminds me a little of Lennon's "Primal Scream" period.
First single "Do Wah Doo" follows. Here we've got handclaps. grumbling guitars, and a semi-normal vocal. It's all about jealousy again, though, and how Kate tries unsuccessfully to deal with it ("I'll just read a book instead..."). It features a catchy "bom-de-bom-de-bom" part, with cool harmonies, and ends (of course) with the words "I think she's a b*tch.".
Kate seems quite mad, in all senses of the word.
"Take Me To a Higher Plane" : imagine a punk song with fiddles. No, not quite like the Pogues, but with Kate screeching "My li-ha-ha-ha-ha-ife" and adding in a few of those squeals.
Let's skip for a bit then, to "Mansion Song".
This could generously be called an "experimental" tune, but it's not really a tune at all. It mostly consists of Kate doing an obscene monologue with much anger (and scratchy operatic singing in the background). Halfway through, drums kick and Kate sings "I don't have to be your baby" several times.
Is this the sign of a healthy mind?
Ms. Nash has some mercy after this, and "Early Christmas Present" is yet another paean to green emotion. This time, though, the tune is gentle. Kate's still majorly ticked off, though. "Later On" is quite nice, with a marching drum, fade-in-and-out chords. It has a power to it that appeals. Of course, it's all about a relationship gone awry.
Have you ever met a person, male or female, that does nothing but create problems in relationships? "Addicted to drama" people, who manage to throw a spanner into the simplest of situtations?
That might be Kate.
"Pickpocket" is jumpy and hesitant, with odd pauses. It's exactly the sort of tune that would expect a institutionalized person to put together. It's just queer enough to be uncomfortable. The chorus is suddenly beautiful, though.
"You Were So Far Away" could be a gorgeous song, too, but the doubled vocals that don't quite match make it offputting.
. . . And we end with "I Hate Seagulls", which is a list of things Kate hates, followed by another list of stuff she sort of likes. It shows that no matter how old she gets, or how many albums she makes, Kate will always write about herself and her neuroticism. In this song, though, the relationship seems to finally go right (Ryan?). Pretty. Pretty disturbing, too.
There's a short hidden track which is probably entitled "You Are My Best Friend" which is praise for . . . someone (Ryan?).
Kate moves through all of these phases on the album, but the ending stays hopeful. Maybe there's hope?
Or maybe the thorazine just entered her bloodstream on the last couple of songs.
All told, this was not the album we were expecting. I think we all expected Kate Nash to mellow out and put together a semi-folky record of pretty tunes. She's defied expectations with "My Best Friend Is You", and has given us her unadulterated self. She ain't mellow. She's occasionally uncomfortably manic.
Much of the album is listenable and worth listening to. Have your remote close by, though, because you'll not want to hear some of these songs again (Okay, you might want to play them to friends just for shock value, but otherwise . . . ).
Kate Nash - a modern conundrum, all wrapped up in a freckled, crazy package.
I'm giving the album a 7.5 on the England Swings scale of 1-10.