Playlist, Top 5 and Album Review : June 21, 2010 - England Swings - The BEST music from the UK
Happy Summer Solstice! Here's what we played on the show last night : 

Hadouken! - House Is Falling (For the Masses)
I Blame Coco - Self Machine

Aeroplane - We Can't Fly
Troggs - With a Girl Like You

Rusko - Hold On (OMG)
Pixie Lott - Turn It Up (Turn It Up)

World Cup Special : 

Englandneworder - World In Motion 
Fat Les - Vindaloo

The Fab Four Freakout : 

Beatles - She Came In Through the Bathroom Window (alternate version)
Beatles - Norwegian Wood (Rubber Soul)
Beatles - I'll Be Back (A Hard Day's Night)

Alan Pownall - Colourful Day
Jade Warrior - Waves (Excerpt) (Waves)

Father's Day Special : 

Nizlopi - JCB (Half These Songs Are About You)
Chicory Tip - Son Of My Father

King Crimson - Catfood (In the Wake Of Poseidon)

Robyn - Cry When You Get Older (Body Talk Part 1)

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

5). Tinie Tempah - Frisky (-3)
4). Kylie Minogue - All the Lovers (new)
3). Example - Kickstarts (new)
2). K'naan - Waving Flag (+1)
1). Shout For England - Shout (non-mover)


As the World Cup continues, England's chances are dimming. All of it depends on the game they play this Wednesday, and it will have an effect on the charts in the weeks to come. If they lose, we can expect all of the World Cup anthems to dive, including the two songs at the top of the chart. If they win, there will be more to come.

It's not often sporting events have much of an effect on the music world, but I think we can rank the 2010 World Cup as one of the most influential. We've got a couple of new entries in the top 5 this week, but they had to go up against two anthems, and they lost. Let's run it all down : 

At number 5, Tinie Tempah drops from number 2 last week with "Frisky". Such an innocent word, that - "Frisky". I had a cat named that once. 

The song, though, is smart and urbane, and probably deserved better than it got. There are all sorts of what are becoming trademark vocal effects in this TT song. It's catchy and clever, and like "Pass Out" before it, there are several little things that begin to pop out at the listener over several listenings. My favorite line this week : "Would you risk it for a chocolate biscuit?" 

On the England Swings scale of 1-10, I give the song an 8.

Well, she's back. One of the true bonafide stars of British music has returned, and she's not even British. Since the 1980s, Kylie Minogue has had ten number one songs in England. Her new song, the first release from new album "Aphrodite", is called "All the Lovers", and it's a slow synth based stew with bated breath and a soft chorus worthy of Dido. It's a good song, but not a great one. 

How long can she keep this up?

I'm giving the song a 7 this week. Kylie's hitmaking capabilities have diminished in recent years, so I'll be surprised to still see it in the top 5 next week. Unless, of course, England loses their game on Wednesday.

Example returns to his highest charting point ever with the brilliant "Kickstarts". Low key and a bit motorik, the song is immediate - the first "stop-start" part pulling the listener in. We've got synths, of course, and this time they're high-pitched and tremulous. There's a rap, and a great vocal. All in all, this is a classic. I give it an 8.5 on the scale this week.

There are two World Cup anthems at the top of the chart this week. At number 2, K'naan goes up a space with "Waving Flag". The song works as a catchy tune, an anthem, and a singalong. What more could you want from a song? The lyrics are inspirational, and not syrupy. Backed with the "oh-oh-oh-oh" part, and the primitive marching band drumbeat, it's gorgeous. I give it an 8.5.

As for the chart topper, I wish I could say the same. Dizzee Rascal has a hand in everything nowadays, doesn't he? I'm beginning to suspect he's overextended himself - first with the less-than-sublime "Dirtee Disco", and now with "Shout". 

If you haven't heard it (and you'd have to be, y'know, American not to have), it's based on the old Tears For Fears song. It takes a while to get there, though, and first you have to listen to Dizzee squeaking his way through through several verses. When the "Shout, shout, let it all out" part comes, it's got a counter-shout of "Come On England!" 

It all sounds a bit thrown together and cheap, really. I've become less impressed with the song over time, and I give it a 5.


Robyn - Body Talk Part 1

A confession : I'm convinced that the 2005 album that Robyn did - conveniently named "Robyn" - was one of the best albums of the 21st century so far. There's not a dud there, from "With Every Heartbeat", to "Be Mine" to "Handle Me". Robyn showed all the others how it could be done with that album, and - while it was not a hit in the USA - it's influence continues to be there for everything from Lady Gaga to Ke$ha. 

So I was looking forward to "Body Talk Part 1", and now that I've absorbed it, I can say - 

It's pretty good. 

It's not quite as good as "Robyn", no, but it'll do for now. Robyn's still got some of the best songwriting and hook skills going, and perhaps this time America is ready for her. There's some wonderfully clever and fiendishly twisted songs here. 

It's a short and sweet record, with only eight songs on it. That's because Robyn promises us two more albums this year. 

Impressions : nearly every song is synth based, and the synths are used in visceral, penetrating ways. There's very little else, and that makes me downgrade the record a bit. After all, there was a lot of versatililty on the last album, and that seems to have vanished here for the most part. 

But let's discuss the songs : 

"Don't F---ing Tell Me What To Do" kicks off the record, and is a list of spoken word things that are "killing me" according to Robyn. Backed by deep synths and a "toot-toodle-o" riff, the title eventually takes over the words, run through a filter and letting the synths repeat behind it. Cute!

In "Fembot" the synths get choppy and the more familiar Robyn vocals - double-tracked, filtered, and in both left and right positions - come in. There are all sorts of Easter Eggs in the song as well, and it does a good job of keeping one's interest. 

"Dancing On My Own", the first single from the album, is next, and has one of the best synth lines in recent memory : it kicks in immediately and stays for most of the tune. It's DEEP and relentless. Listen, if you can, on a stereo system or headphones that reproduce bass well - it's scary. 

And here we go on this song with one of Robyn's recurring themes : getting one's heart broken in the club. The partner goes off with, or pays attention to someone else, and the singer suddenly finds herself all alone surrounded by crowds. There's no jealousy, like in a Kate Nash song, there's just a crushing loneliness that only Robyn seems to be able to do. 

"Cry When You Get Older" is another brilliant piece, with swooping synths and perfect pop vocals. The theme of heartbreak continues here : "She said, 'there just must be more to life than this/He said, 'Be careful because you might just get your wish". Yup. She nailed it. 

We continue with special effects and swirls and chops on "Dance Hall Queen". We get a slight reggae feel and all sorts of interjections into the main tune. Again, Robyn keeps interest by adding in little tricks and treats with each second. 

Oddity composers Royksopp get pulled in for "None Of Dem", adding in ghostly pulses and thumping rhythms to the tune. It's the synths again that carry the tune, along with Robyn's vocals. 

The last two tracks finally begin to bring in some of the variety that we'd expect. "Hang With Me" is piano and vocals, with strings added somewhere toward the middle. It's a pretty ballad, but it's not as transcendent as some of Robyn's other songs. 

We end with a Swedish lullaby called "Jag Vet En Dejlig Rosa". This is almost acapella, with occasional resonant electric piano. It's nice, but it's interesting that the two least interesting tracks on the album divert from the synths/pulse/vocals pattern. 

So I guess we wait for Part 2 . . . ?

I give "Body Talk Part 1" an 8 on the England Swings scale of 1-10.

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