Okay, so at 6:00 p.m. ET,  what will you be doing? Undoubtedly, you'll have hordes of small ghosts and goblins (goblets?) coming to your door and shrieking demands for candy. You can't watch TV, because you know you'll keep getting interrupted.

So the perfect solution? Listen to the England Swings Special Halloween show! Not only can you listen and still be interrupted, but we'll be playing the ideal soundtrack for an evening of rushing to the door. That's right - The England Swings show will be playing a soupcon of spooky music tonight, with some classics and some rarities, all hosted by a ghost. 

We'll even be doing a Fab Four Freakout this evening, but what Beatles songs are suitable for Halloween . . . ? Hmmm.....

Tune in beginning at 6:00 p.m. Eastern USA time (that's 11:00 in the UK, 5:00 in Chicago, and 6:00 in the morning in Laos) :

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

Happy Halloween!

Pity the poor Kings. When I last reviewed an album by them, they were a cultish concern, just beginning to take off ("Sex On Fire") in the United Kingdom, but still sadly ignored in their home country. 

Since then, last album "Only By the Night" has gone multiplatinum, the band has conquered America by sending a song into the mainstream top ten, and has moved from small venues to huge, pigeon-infested arenas. 

All of this would have scared the #@$! out of me, if it WERE me. Once you become one of the biggest bands in the world, the expectations of others - not to mention yourself - become overwhelmingly greater. Now you're on the same level as U2, Coldplay, and even (gasp) the Rolling Stones : so what do you do?

Other groups have approached the sudden leap to success by becoming even more esoteric; witness what's happened to MGMT this year. And others, perhaps including the Kings Of Leon, begin to tread water, and churn out more of the same. 

In the case of KoL, that's pretty much what has happened. New album "Come Around Sundown" (and could it have a more smoldering, macho title?) explores no new territory, develops no new methods of operation, and generally is unthreatening and oddly unassuming. 

But unless you've tired of the KoL sound (and that's unlikely; chances are you've just heard that one song ad infinitum), then this album kicks the proverbial butt. Inasmuch as we don't have twelve retreads of "Use Somebody" here, we're looking at a band that has become comfortable and a bit complacent, but far from lazy. 

There are some absolutely marvelous tunes on this record. First single "Radioactive" is a perfect example. Featuring a deep, tight guitar sound, along with great rapid-fire cowbell and a "whoooo" background vocal that's the icing on the cake, the song choogles magnificently along. Caleb mumbles most of the vocals, sure, but he's one of the best mumblers around. 

Some other firecrackers on the album include : 

"Pyro", which has a high lonesome feel while still remaining vastly commercial. Again, the guitars move the song along, but something is becoming evident here : the Kings have learned to use their vocals and harmonies much more effectively than in the past. The band sounds tight and whip-smart. 

Somewhat reminiscent of the Tornado's "Telstar", "The Face" features wonderful bending guitar notes, reverbed just the right amount. The vocals remain strong here, with Caleb wailing through his usual murmur. 

"Back Down South" is a tribute, perhaps, to the Kings' country roots, and actually has a subtle violin and plaintive slide guitar. 

"Birthday" is blustery, full of machismo, but with a tenderness at its heart. The guitars play a choppy riff with a smooth center. 

It's not all Guns and Roses, though. Some of the repeating tricks become annoying at the second or third listen. including another song with that "whooo" thing going on, some calculatedly "wild" guitar solos, and - most unforgivably - the repeat of the "Use Somebody" structure on "Pickup Truck". 

Yes, the Kings are treading water, but there's gold in them there waves. We've got a band here at the top of its form, doing what it does best. What more can we expect? 

I give "Come Around Sundown" an 8 on the England Swings scale of 1-10.
Playlist and Top 5 : October 25, 2010The playlist from last night's show : 

Vaccines - Wrecking Bar (Ra Ra Ra)
Vaccines - Blow It Up

Bullet For My Valentine - Fever (Fever)

Faces - Stay With Me (A Nod's As Good As a Wink...To a Blind Horse)
Joy Formidable - Don't Want To See You Like This

Take That - The Flood
Joe McElderry - Ambitions

Mooche - Hot Smoke and Sassafras
Action - Follow Me
Hollies - Bus Stop

The Fab Four Freakout : 

Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas - Do You Want To Know a Secret
Beatles - She's a Woman
Beatles - Only a Northern Song (Yellow Submarine)

Rye Rye ft. MIA - Sunshine

Elton John & the Leon Russell - If It Wasn't For Bad (The Union)

Diana Vickers - My Wicked Heart
Dusty Springfield - Wishin' and Hopin'

Kate Rusby - The Cobbler's Daughter (Sleepless)
Robin & Barry Dransfield - Scarborough Fair (The Rout Of the Blues)

...and this week's UK Top 5 : 

5). Katy Perry - Firework (new)
4). Cee-Lo - Forget You (-3)
3). Duck Sauce - Barbara Streisand (non-mover)
2). Wanted - Heart Vacancy (new)
1). Bruno Mars - Just the Way You Are (+1)


A couple of new entries near the top of the charts this week, and the remarkable climb of a former number one to the top of the pack again. 

Two of the  songs can be attributed almost exclusively to the effect of X Factor, the British singing competition run by Simon Cowell and his cohorts. It's hard to underestimate the influence of the show at the time of year when it's running on the television; it seems like each week an old song returns to the charts, or a new one by a performer who did a guest stint on the show manages to turn up. Even though X Factor missed out on the vaunted Christmas number one last year, it makes up for it each week as songs connected with the show leap up the charts. 

Number 5 this week, to no one's surprise, was performed by Katy Perry on last weekend's show. "Firework" is not quite as full of SFX as Katy's two previous tunes, but it does feature a competent (if occasionally out of tune) vocal and a semi-catchy hook. Lyrically, it compares her lover to a display of the title object, which makes it all a bit cliched. All said, though, it's not awful. I give the song a 6.5 on the England Swings scale of 1-10.

Taking a somewhat surprising deep dive, Cee-Lo's "Forget You" goes from the top of the chart to number 4 this week. A soul extravaganza, the track was at number one for two weeks. It features a performance from Cee-Lo himself that's a bit cracked, but works beautifully most of the time (I take exception to his baby-cried "Wwhhhyyy!" part). The song is slowly creeping up the American charts as well, but I'm not sure how much farther it will go (it's at number 17 this week). Make no mistake, it's a great song, but Americans have shown only mild interest in retro-soul concoctions. Even Amy Winehouse's "Rehab" only made it to number 10 in the USA. I'd like to see it succeed more, but it may not. 

I like it. I give it an 8. 

The only non-mover in the top 5 this week is Duck Sauce's "Barbara Streisand". The song is irresistable, with beautiful production, a twisted surf guitar riff, and a plethora of "oooh"s. The kicker, of course, are the seriously intoned words of the title. A bit more commercial than much of what Armand Van Helden's done in the past, this song sets the pace for modern techno. And it's fun! I give it an 8.5.

The new track by the new prefab group The Wanted comes in at number 2 this week. Not nearly as successful as "All Time Low", it sounds sketchy and unpolished. I'm thinking that there's a massive surge of physical sales with a track like this, bought by the fans, and then . . . not much else. I'm thinking it will take a precipitous drop next week. For those of you who haven't heard it, it's a mostly acoustic number that goes into a ballady thump with the chorus. Not so great. 

I give it a 5, and I'm a bit disappointed. 

Bruno Mars reclaims the top spot, and it's mostly due to a performance by one of the X Factor finalists last Saturday. Oddly enough, the song has dropped from number 1 to 2 this week in America, displaced by Far East Movement. This is the only time this year, I think, that a song has returned to number one in such a manner. The song is now everywhere, so I won't bother describing it - just turn on any radio anywhere and you'll hear it. 

It's turning out to be one of the biggest hits of 2010; I give it a 7.

Album review here tomorrow, so tune back in, huh?

You know how every once in a while, a band comes along that gets that "official" stamp of "BIG things are happening!"? The Beatles, the Stones; more recently the Arctic Monkeys? Well, it's happening again. 

There's an inordinate amount of hype about a band that not too many have heard of yet. Some of the terms being bandied about include "Saviors of British guitar rock!". I know we've heard it before, but if you'd like to check it out for yourself, we're starting the show with them. The band is called the Vaccines, and we've got their first single - both tracks - to play for you. Listen and judge for yourself, won't you?

Besides that, we've got new music from the Joy Formidable, Take That (yeah, WITH Robbie Williams!), Elton John (with Leon Russell!), and more. We've also got some old tunes, including a psychedelic set featuring the Mooche and the Action, classics from the Faces and Dusty Springfield, and all our special features :

The Fab Four Freakout : Beatles, with another song they gave away.
UK Music News : U2 - currently working on THREE new albums.
Top 5 Countdown : the best-selling songs in the UK TODAY.

We are the England Swings Show, playing the best, brightest, newest, and coolest music from the United Kingdom. You can hear us at 6:00 p.m. ET today, cablecast and webcast :

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

Come and join us for a couple of hours of entertainment!

Three dubstep producers get together, with the express purpose of broadening the reach of their genre and bringing it some commercial credibility. Scream, Benga, and Artwork call themselves Magnetic Man, and they've just released their debut album. 

First of all, let's define dubstep as it has been in the past. One of the few new kinds of music to emergy from the 21st century, dubstep is a slow and bass-heavy form of techno best exemplified by Burial and Rusko. It's generally instrumental, with occasional sampled vocals. It has a ghostly, minor-key sound to it, most of the time. 

That's a generalization; dubstep has been around for nearly a decade now, and - like any form of music - has mixed itself with other genres and extended itself a bit. 

Now we have Magnetic Man, where the three initial producers bring in all sorts of guests, while trying to stay true to the essence of the sort of rhythms that they've already been immersed in for several years. 

First and most important question : does it work? 

The answer : sort of. The basics are there. There's monstrous bass, and repeating, echoing drumbeats. There's an occasionally spectral sound. 

But for the most part, a lot of the collaborations with various vocalists are probably closer to other forms of techno than they are to dubstep. And unfortunately, when the group does an instrumental piece, it's sometimes not very interesting. 

That's not to say that there's not several killer tunes on the record. Chances are, though, that you've already heard most of them. The ephemeral, yet coiled "I Need Air" with vocalist Angela Hunter is a marvelous piece of music, produced beautifully with winking synths and a choppy, irresistable rhythm. It's not terribly dubsteppy, though - the bottom line is much too light. "Perfect Stranger" with Katy B's voice is also nice, but again suffers a bit from lack o'bass. It's a bit like drum 'n' bass without the bass. Nice, but perhaps not subtle enough. 

The purely instrumental tracks are not bad, either, and are closer to the spirit of their origins, but songs like "Anthemic" are not terribly successful, and sound like they should be soundtracking a B-level thriller. "Ping Pong" is a bit better, mostly because of the oddly slurping synths and some rapid vibraphone work. 

I have a quibble with the synths in general here. Magnetic Man can frequently think of nothing to do with them except to have them oscillate up and down. It sounds awesome the first couple of times, but the motif is repeated ad infinitum. You'd think with all their experience, they could innovate a little, huh?

There's one instrumental track, though, that's brilliant. That's "Karma Crazy", where an entire orchestra is brought in, only to be subverted by a squelch followed by the monster bassline one expects from dubstep. Good stuff. 

Back to the vocal tracks, the most famous name they could line up is saved for last, as American R&B singer John Legend stretches his legs and saunters over to the dubstep camp. It's not a bad idea, really, but the execution is somewhat lackluster. 

Another vocal track which does succeed features Sam Frank. It's called "Boiling Water", and is odd enough to catch the ear. It's like they got Joe McElderry to sing along with a chopped, rusty backing. 

Successful dubstep crossover? Magnetic Man's debut album is good, but it's not great. I'm guessing that they'll attract even more guests in the future, and that the killer genre-crossing album is coming sometime in the future. 

Can they get Robbie or Leona?

I give Magnetic Man a 7.5 on the England Swings scale of 1-10.
Last night's show was a box o'wonders. Here's what we played : 

Little Comets - Isles
King Blues - Holiday

Richard & Linda Thompson - Shoot Out the Lights (Shoot Out the Lights)
Hoosiers - Unlikely Hero (The Illusion of Safety)

An Army Of Lights - Thelma (An Army Of Lights EP)
An Army Of Lights - Dungeons and Dragons (An Army Of Lights EP)

Moody Blues - The Actor (In Search Of the Lost Chord)
Gerry & the Pacemakers - I Like It
Adam Faith - What Do You Want

The Fab Four Freakout : 

Beatles - Leave My Kitten Alone
Beatles - Mother Nature's Son (The Beatles)
Beatles - Till There Was You
Beatles - Love Me Do (original single)

Magnetic Man - Karma Crazy (Magnetic Man)

Mystery Jets - Show Me the Light (Serotonin)

Merseys - Sorrow
Animals - Bring It On Home To Me
Beau Brummels - Laugh Laugh

Rachel Unthank & the Winterset - Blue's Gaen Oot o'the Fashion (The Bairns)
Steeleye Span - Copshawholme Fair (Hark the Village Wait)

...and this week's Top 5 songs :

5). Tinie Tempah - Written In the Stars (-2)
4). Swedish House Mafia - Miami 2 Ibiza (+1)
3). Duck Sauce - Barbara Streisand (new)
2). Bruno Mars -Just the Way You Are (+2)
1). Cee-Lo - Forget You (non-mover)


Only one new entry in the top 5 this week, and that seems paltry because we're spoiled for new songs lately. The week also witnesses a rise in the fortunes of two songs - one of which has scaled the heights before - and a non-mover at number one. 

At number 5, Tinie Tempah drops two more spaces with the former number one "Written In the Stars". It's a glitzy song, with all sorts of keyboard tricks and vocal gymnastics. All in all, it's a pretty good song, although it's obvious that Tinie has taken the American template of hiring a singer (in this case, Eric Turner) to provide the hook, while he raps in between it all. 

The song has a good message, though - while ostensibly it's all about Tinie's success, there's also some inspiration there ("Everyone is the kid that no one cares about/You gotta keep screaming 'til they hear you out"). 

On the England Swings scale of 1-10, I'm going with a 7 this week. 

Swedish House Mafia (featuring Tinie Tempah, by the way) rises a place to number 4 this week with the kinda fun "Miami 2 Ibiza". The song has a lackadaisical musical quality, with the synth at the beginning supplying a deliberately wimpy riff. That makes it better when the deep synths kick in after the verses. 

Here, Tinie uses all sorts of initials to tell the story. This works pretty well, but some of the references are pretty obscure. I get "BB" (Blackberry) and CK (Calvin Klein), but there are some others I'm not so sure about ("LV"? Anyone?). I give the song a 7 as well.

Now speaking of fun, Duck Sauce's "Barbara Streisand" comes in at number three this week. This is one of the silliest songs I've ever heard, and I love it. The kicker, in case you haven't heard it, is the frequent interruption of the technofireworks with a very earnest fellow simply saying the title of the song. No, no, come back! It's cool!

The tune also samples a classic Boney M song from the 1980s, which provides it some flash as well. Ridiculous. But effective. I give it an 8.5

Bruno Mars, tenacious fellow that he is, climbs again this week to number 2. That makes the chart performance of "Just the Way You Are" 1-2-4-2 in the four weeks since its release, which is unusual in the UK. There didn't seem to be any contributing factors (particular of the "X" kind) which led to the rise; the song just had a mini-comeback. 

It's been at number one in America for the space of those four weeks, making it one of the biggest hits of the year in the USA. It may be on its way to doing the same in the UK - already some are expecting another rise to the top. 

The song is ubiquitous at this point; if you're in the USA or the UK and haven't heard it yet, then you must ignore all popular music with a passion. For those of you who are like this : it's a bit of an old-school R&B slow song, and while it doesn't grab the listener right away, it's a challenge to listen to it more than twice without waking up in the morning with the tune in your head. 

I give it a 7.5 on the scale. 

Cee-Lo manages to hold onto the number one slot for the second week with the euphemistically named "Forget You". In case you weren't aware of this, the first-released version of the tune had another "f" word replacing the "forget" part. Either version is irresistable, with Cee-Lo going for big drama by using old soul music. Between this song and "Crazy", he's established a certain bonkers style of doing songs that's all his own. Listen to it, you'll love it. I give it an 8. 

Album review tomorrow!

Good day, peoples : We are here to represent the auld country, United of Kingdom, by playing music and gen'rilly paying tribute to the music thereof. This week, we back up to the Fifties and Sixties, as well as play some new tunage that's as recent as a newborn lamb. We are the England Swings show, once again playing the best, brightest, coolest, and newest music from the UK. We can be found each Sunday (including this one) :

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

Here's the important part : the show begins at 6:00 p.m. ET.

We have new music today from Little Comets, the Hoosiers, Magnetic Man, and more, and we have older music from the Moody Blues, Gerry & the Pacemakers, Adam Faith, and more. Plus more : 

 - a couple of great songs from An Army Of Lights, an unsigned band from Northampton

 - The Fab Four Freakout, with tunes from those Beatle fellows

 - UK Music News, with an update on X Factor

 - The Top 5 Countdown, with the most popular songs in the Kingdom today

 - a couple of auld British folk songs

Plus : More! Tune in. Tune on. Drip oot. 

Imagine that, in some alternate universe, urban music was first created in the United Kingdom. The American market caught on years later, but made a poor homegrown imitation of the British genre. There was no Jay-Z, Tupac, or Biggie to push the form into new shapes and ideas. Instead, urban music evolved by the first year of the 2010s to merge with grime, techno, and R&B and become the mainstream form of UK music. 

Can you imagine that? If so, you're ready for Patrick Okogwu, better known as Tinie Tempah. His new album "The Disc-Overy" is light-years beyond what has been produced in British urban music in the past, as if the genre took a quantum leap into the future in the space of very little time. 

The album is decidedly mainstream, and yet manages to hold onto all of the eccentric tropes of the UK Urban scene from the past. It's grimy. It uses several truckloads of synths. There's all sorts of guest appearances, drawing from R&B, indie pop, and house music. 

The production is impeccable as well, with nearly every song having a complexity that's been pretty much unheard in this type of music until now. The songwriting and the lyrics are smart and cynical, most of the time. 

Yes. It leaves Dizzee Rascal in the dust. This is what Dizzee was going for when he morphed from odd indie grime artist into a pop star. Tinie Tempah figured it all out. 

All of this doesn't mean that this is in the running for Best Album In the World, but I think it may prove to be one of the most influential, in the long run. 

From the moment Tinie burst onto the scene earlier this year, it was obvious that he was taking things several steps beyond. First single "Pass Out" is here on the album, with it's brilliant synth riff, slides into reggae, and versatile vocals - it's the song that even those who hate all urban music would have to admit is a monster. Listen to it again here, in expanded form : everything from the skittering drums to the rap cliche "Aaayy"s add into a gorgeous composition. And now : extra added obscenities, not evident on the single version!

"Frisky" is nearly as clever. Here the synths are as light as air, and the "BOO-la-la-la-la" chorus sucks the listener in. There's a ton of other stuff going on in the song; the filtered vocals, Labrinth's performance, etc. etc. Cool. And the great line : "Would you risk it for a chocolate biscuit?"

The third single you've all heard as well : "Written In the Stars" features a Bruno Mars cloned vocal from Eric Turner, and follows the "Empire State Of Mind" idea that Jay-Z did with Alicia Keys last year. All three songs are full of the kind of rap braggadocio that's more common to American artists than to British ones. Of course, the Americans have moved a bit beyond that now, and into a more introspective lyrical line in popular songs. That's all right; in every other way, Tinie Tempah matches his American peers. 

Then there are the songs you haven't heard. For the most part, they're nearly as complicated as the hits; it doesn't look as if Tinie will run out of ideas soon. "Simply Unstoppable" is grimy and a bit spooky, mixing genres right and left. "Illusion" has a happy little riff, and bounces into a tinkling piano and another of those trademark staccato drumbeats. 

"Just a Little", featuring vocals from Range, is more than likely a future single, similar in many respects to "Written In the Stars", and this time tells a love story rather than a list of why Tinie Tempah is great. It's epic, and will also become a concert anthem. 

There's all sorts of women who have jumped onto the TT bandwagon. The last three songs on the record feature a different female vocalist. "Invincible" features Kelly Rowland, and may be a shot at the American market. It's not bad, but Tinie still sounds very British, and that may be a detractor. Ellie Goulding turns up on "Wonderman", all about how Tinie is actually a superhero. Ellie's vocals are twisted, filtered, and strained through a cocktail mixer, so that the song sounds like Tinie with an even more digital version of Ellie than usual. Finally, Emeli Sande provides a vocal for "Let Go", which sctually doesn't seem to feature epic synths. 

There are some tracks on here which are worth one listen, and that's it. "Snap" is ill-conceived, as if it was an early song which was added in as filler. It's got that scratchy, Wu-Tang kind of sound to it, and also has the simplest structure of anything here. "Obsession" is choppy and intense, but here is just a bit annoying, as if the spirit of Eminem had taken over. 

All in all, though, Tinie Tempah has put together an impressive debut. If you're already a fan of urban music, whether it be the American or British variety, you'll be happy with how this album takes it all to the next level. If you can't stand this sort of stuff, then try it anyway; you might be surprised at how all the sound collages and dynamics merge to make an occasionally confusing, but cohesive whole. 

I give "The Disc-Overy an 8.5 on the England Swings scale of 1-10. 
Wonderful show last night with all sorts of new music, including tracks from a couple of unsigned bands, noted below : 

Ou Est Le Swimming Pool - The Key (The Golden Year)
Klaxons - Twin Flames (Surfing the Void)

Status Quo - In the Army Now
Scouting For Girls - Don't Want To Leave You (Everybody Wants To Be On TV)

Fran Healy - Buttercups (Wreckorder)
June Tabor - Geordie (Silly Sisters)

 . . . an unsigned band from Toronto :

Clockwise - Opposites Attract (Faders On Stun)
Clockwise - Water On the Moon (Faders On Stun)

Mahogany Rush - Roadhouse Blues (What's Next)

The Fab Four Freakout, featuring John Lennon : 

Beatles - Bad To Me (demo)
John Lennon - Look At Me (John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band)
John Lennon - Imagine (Imagine)

Chapel Club - All the Eastern Girls
Devlin - Runaway

...an unsigned band from Newcastle, UK : 

Hexachord Hex - Shout It Out Loud
Hexachord Hex - Keep the Faith (Holy Island)

Donovan - There Is a Mountain

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

5). Swedish House Mafia - Miami 2 Ibiza (new)
4). Bruno Mars - Just the Way You Are (-2)
3). Tinie Tempah - Written In the Stars (-2)
2). Robbie Williams & Gary Barlow - Shame (new)
1). Cee-Lo - Forget You (new)


There's a considerable amount of nepotism in the top 5 this week. Get this : of the 5 songs, two of them feature Tinie Tempah. Two of them were at least co-written by Bruno Mars. And one of them features the collaboration of former bandmates for the first time in fifteen years. 

All of this makes for an interesting top 5, as we have yet another three news songs entering near the top again this week. Say what you will about the British charts, they're much more fascinating to follow because of their changeability than their American counterparts, where a given week frequently doesn't even see one new entry into the Top TEN, let alone the top five.

The track at number 5, Swedish House Mafia's "Miami 2 Ibiza", is an old-fashioned club slammer. It's still a lot of fun, though. It features Tinie Tempah adding occasional vocals, and has nice deep synths. The lyrics are almost comical ("She wants to see what's hiding in my CK briefs"), and the whole song just flies along. I'm currently listening to the longer version, and it's not wearing on me. Yet. 

I give the Mafia a 7.5 on the England Swings scale of 1-10.

Bruno Mars drops another couple of spaces this week to number 4, while maintaining supremacy for the third week in the USA. The singer performed the song this weekend on Saturday Night Live, so that gives the song even more prominence in America. 

The song, unimpressive at the first listen, grows on the listener over time and becomes inevitable. There's doo-wop backing vocals, a tinkling piano, and a syncopated drumbeat that adds urgency to the tune. 

As I've said before, there's a certain R&B style becoming prevalent nowadays that doesn't know as many boundaries as the past. The international nature of this sound is evident in the hit status of this song in the UK, and of Taio Cruz and the like in America. I'm anxiously waiting for other countries (France, maybe? Maybe not) to pick up on it and add to the diversity of modern performers. 

Anyway, it's a boss track Bruno did, and it gets an 8 on the England Swings scale. 

Tinie Tempah has a ways to go yet to achieve international (i.e. American) success. He's very British, you know, and I'm not sure how that will play in Iowa. "Written In the Stars", featuring Bruno clone Eric Turner, drops two places this week from the top of the charts to number three.

The song has the insistence of Tinie's other hits, but with extra added R&B feel. It tells the story of Tinie's rise to success. This is not necessarily an original idea, seeing as every rap star from Jay-Z onwards has done the same thing. Tinie Tempah executes it well, though. 

See tomorrow's post for a review of his new album, won't you?

In the meanwhile, I give "Written In the Stars" a 7.5.

Oh, look at this! Robbie and Gary, together again! And what a cute song they've made!

"Shame", by the above-mentioned Misters Williams and Barlow, enters the chart at number 2 in the UK this week, and there's already a backlash. Somehow people must have expected more, because the general consensus seems to be "Okay song, kinda boring". 

I can see that, for sure, but I like the track. It's self-referential, all about the sundered relationship between Take That and Robbie himself. That makes it slightly clever, and slightly funny ("So I got busy throwing everybody under the bus"...). It's got a pretty clopping horse, and some "Blackbird" guitar. All of that ends up getting swallowed in sappy strings by the middle of the tune, but it still is kinda okay and kinda nice. I give it a 7 on the scale.

Cee-Lo has come up with a song to rival Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy", co-written by Bruno Mars. "Forget You" is the radio version of a song initially titled, um, something else. It's a funk-soul tour-de-force, sung beautifully and arranged for maximum effect. It's immediately lovable, this song, and a deserved hit. It's going to have some longevity, I think, so we'd best get used to hearing it. It's a happy-sounding song, purposefully done to disguise the meanness of the sentiments expressed. 

It's a hit!

I give it an 8.5 on the scale this week.

Album review tomorrow, same place as this!

Would it be too hyperbolic to describe today's show as SPECTACULAR? Maybe. 

But I don't think so! We've got such wonderful stuff going on today, you've GOT to tune in and appreciated it all with us. 

For example : 

- A track from the debut album of the late, lamented Ou Est Le Swimming Pool

- TWO unsigned groups that have sent us great music - 
      - Clockwise, from Toronto, Canada
      - Hexachord Hex from Newcastle, UK
        . . . and they're both REALLY good!

- The Klaxons. Scouting For Girls. Fran Healy!

- The Fab Four Freakout, which can actually be described as the Fab ONE Freakout for today, as we'll be honoring John Lennon

- UK Music News : digital album sales in the UK pass 50 million!

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

- Donovan! Enough said!

The England Swings show plays the best,  brightest, newest, and coolest music from the UK, and you can listen in 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

Cablecasting and webcasting from the beautiful Fairfax Radio studios, the England Swings show has entered its fourth year, and is better than ever. Come join us today!