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)

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)


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. 

Nobody cares. 

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. 

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