Singles Reviews Diary 17 – 28th May 2010

So here I am with the seventeenth edition of the Singles Reviews Diary. I can’t believe I’ve managed to stick writing these for 17 long weeks but I’ve really found it quite rewarding in the end. So it kind of hurts that this could be the last one I do in a while. I’m moving into a new apartment for the Summer and I probably won’t have Internet! NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Still, I’ll try and work my way round that little problem but there’s no guarantee that I’ll get these out every week like you’re used to.

Singles Reviews Diary 17 – 28th May 2010:

01. Akon featuring Keri Hilson: Oh Africa
This song has been floating around for a while now but with the World Cup getting closer and closer, it looks like the song is getting its official release. Basically ignore Akon and Keri Hilson – they’re on autopilot here. Akon sings away in his nasal tone while Keri croons her drawn out vocals. The only redeemable part of this song is the tribal drums and the African chantings of “weh-oh-weh, weh-oh-weh”. This makes it an infectious World Cup which without them would just be crap.
2.5 STARS

02. Alphabeat: DJ (I Could Be Dancing)
The cheesy Danish band are back with the third single from their sophomore album
The Spell, retitled The Beat Is… for British and Irish audiences. What is surprising about DJis that it’s actually very good. It manages to sound like a feel-good track that would soundtrack an ‘80s rom-com or family film which isn’t a bad thing at all. Perfect for the Summer and a big improvement on their previous two singes. 4 STARS

03. Aston: Rude Boy
Who would have thought that Rihanna’s island jam about boys sticking it in her could sound classy? Well it sure does when Aston cover it. The Australian classical musicians mightn’t try and imitate Rihanna’s distinctive vocals butthey do give us a stunning instrumental instead.Dramatic swooping strings, pounding drums and quick and dramatic piano flourishes turn Rihanna’s shallow pop song into something much more powerful and epic. A talented bunch of musicians, I also recommend checking out their cover of Lady GaGa and Beyonce’s
Telephone. 4.5 STARS

04. Craig David: All Alone Tonight (Stop Look Listen)
After his previous single
One More Lie (Standing In The Shadows) failed to make any noticeable dent in the charts, the R&B crooner has fired ahead with the second single from his Signed, Sealed, Delivered album. Like the previous single, All Alone Tonightsamples retro-soul act, this time The Stylistics Stop Look Listen (Listen To Your Heart), and gives it a modern twist. I didn’t like One More Lie but I actually like this smooth and groovy mid-tempo R&B. Sadly for Mr. David, like everything he’s done lately, it does sound sort of dated. I don’t think this will be a hit. 3 STARS

05. David Guetta and Chris Willis featuring Fergie and LMFAO: Gettin’ Over You
Only two short months after releasing
Memories, David Guetta has gone full steam ahead with the fifth single from his Gold selling album One Love. For this rejigged album track, Guetta is in full recycle mode. The original album version had Guetta and long time collaborator Chris Willis but for the single version, Fergie and LMFAO (are added to…I dunno…give the song more commercial appeal. What we get is a bouncy guitar heavy dance track like what we heard on Love Is Gone and I Gotta Feeling (which sampled the former). Fergie and Chris Willis are vocally stunning and I don’t know whether to love or hate LM*AO’s ‘Party’ breakdown (or LMFAO for that matter). All the same, the song just feels lacking, when Fergie sings the hook from Boom Boom Pow, changing virtually one word, it feels like we’ve heard this all before. 2 STARS

06. The Drums: Forever And Ever Amen
The brilliant Drums are back with a sunny and sonically pleasing track. The fastly strummed guitar work on this track and the slight backing vocals are great. However, I don’t think I could distinguish this song easily from all the other indie offerings at the moment. An enjoyable enough Summer track but nothing amazing.
3.5 STARS

07. Glee Cast: Funny Girl
Idina Menzel channels Barbara Streisand in this by the numbers cover. Menzel has a great voice but I found myself wanting to fast forward through this scene because it just dragged out to long and their wasn’t much performance involved.
2.5 STARS

08. Glee Cast: Bad Romance
Probably my favourite song of the episode, the ladies of
Glee and honorarygirl Kurt perform the song in all its bombastic glory. I wasn’t looking forward to this performance much because we had just got rid of this song from the airwaves but the Glee kids manage to grab the original Lady GaGa version and make it sound…well…gleeful. Amongst the explosive synths, the Glee kids pour their powerful vocals over the song making it nearly as good as the original. 4.5 STARS

09. Glee Cast: Shout It Loud
Who says
Glee can’t rock???!!! It’s great to hear them cover a wide range of music and the Glee boys definitely deliver with this energetic performance of the Kiss hit. 4 STARS

10. Glee Cast: Beth
In the token heartwarming moment of
Glee, Puck sings this Kiss ballad beautifully. He really has a great voice and should be able to highlight that more in the show. Of course, heartwarming is a euphemism for sickeningly cheesy in my book, but those more romantic than me might just love this ballad. 4 STARS

11. Glee Cast: Poker Face
It seems a bit strange that Rachel and Shelby would sing a song about covering up your sexuality and “bluffin’ with your muffin” as the mother and daughter prepare to say goodbye but since when as
Glee being completely logical. Anyways the two look-alikes do a great job of covering the second Lady GaGa song of the episode. Rather than going for the dark electro of the studio version, Lea Michele and Idina Menzel mimic GaGa’s acoustic performance of the song, getting the piano player “whose always around” to play while they bellow out their vocals Broadway style. It’s a terrific performance but it doesn’t sound much different from GaGa’s performance of the song.4 STARS

STINKER OF THE WEEK!
12. Jason Derulo: Ridin’ Solo
I really hate this track. While
Whatcha Say and In My Head were flawed yet extremely catchy, Ridin’ Solo is just pure irritating. It starts of acapella like Lady GaGa singingPoker Face live before breaking into electro heaviness. The thing that irritates me about the song is the stupid faux Caribbean accent Derulo uses to sing the verses and the fact that he substitutes “tholo” for “solo” on parts of the chorus. Since when was it cool to mispronounce words for no reason? Also, like his previous two singles, Ridin’ Solo sounds like it could be sang by any R&B singer and lacks and real identity or anything to shout about. Plus, it’s just such a headwrecker. 1 STAR

TRACK OF THE WEEK!
13. Johnny Flynn: Kentucky Pill
This is just fantastic. The male equivalent to Laura Marling has been lying under the radar for years now so I hope that soon he’ll find some degree of success. Flynn, also a poet an actor, has a rich voiceand this is lyrically brilliant against an organic, celebratory production. I recommend you check him out.
5 STARS

14. Lena: Satellite
Lena deservedly won the Eurovision with this catchy toe-tapper. Many people have been comparing her to Lily Allen or Kate Nash but I prefer comparing her voice to Ellie Goulding, albeit more upbeat and less dreamy. Like Ellie, Lena’s distinctive voice is likely to become annoying if the song gets plenty of overplay but for now the song is a pretty catchy jam that makes you want to click your fingers and direct you to the dancefloor.
4 STARS

15. Miley Cyrus: Can’t Be Tamed
I really hated this track when I first heard it but Miley’s magical powers of persuasion have changed my mind. Miley might hate pop music herself but that hasn’t stopped her following pop trends, ditching her Disney pop rock sound for a more electro sound. Still Miley manages to keep things good with a killer pop tune – toe tapping synths, confident verses, a surging bridge and a bombastic chorus. It’s like a twee version of Britney Spears’
Blackout. There’s even a bit where the vocoder is turned up and Miley sounds like Daffy Duck. If Miley continues a career in music, pop or not, she should grow into an interesting artist. 3.5 STARS

16. R. Kelly featuring Soweto Spiritual Singers: Sign Of A Victory
R&B crooner R. Kelly is another artist with a World Cup song. Against minimal Aficanised production, R. Kelly echoes Michael Jackson in his prime. The Soweto Spiritual Singers provide beautiful ethnic backing vocals. This mightn’t exactly be a song you chant along to but this is one of the better World Cup songs out there.
4 STARS

17. Royal Air Force Squadronaires featuring Stacey Solomon: At Last
Remember Stacey Solomon?! The beautiful and talented yet slightly lifeless performer who takes on a cringeworthy bumbling personality when she isn’t singing? Well she’s appearing on the Royal Air Force’s new album and if you’ve heard her rendition of Etta James’
At Last on The X-Factor then you don’t really need to buy this single – unless you’re a diehard Stacey fan. Her voice is fine and the RAF’s brass instrumentation is rich but I am so sick to death of this song being covered over and over by every able voiced singer. 2 STARS

18. Shakira featuring Fleshlyground: Waka Waka (Time For Africa)
The most danceable World Cup song yet. Electro, folk and African music are combined here against Shakira’s distinctive yet seductive vocals. Like most Shakira singles, this is incredibly infectious although the lyrics are missing the quirkiness affiliated with Shakira. Still, if this gets airplay you’ll be humming along to it all Summer.
4 STARS

19. Stornoway: Zorbing
After failing to make a dent in the charts with their last single
I Saw You Blink, hopefullyZorbing will do better. It certainly seems to be getting more promotion. Singer Brian Biggs has a great voice – so ear snagging. This great track has enough changes in tone and instrumentation, it’s sure to keep you intrigued. I must check out their new album.4 STARS

20. Sunset Hotel: The Bitter End
This is the debut single by Irish indie band Sunset Hotel which recently (out of nowehere) managed to get into the Irish Top 10. What I’m hearing is a lot of angsty whining without any definable chorus. It’s not particularly bad, I can see how radio would pick it up but this doesn’t sound much different from a number of indie tracks that have come and go over the years.
2.5 STARS

So yeah, this week has been a pretty disappointing one for mainstream releases. If it wasn’t for World Cup songs and Eurovision songs, would there be any real singles released this week. Anyways, as usual comments and feedback would be nice. Hopefully, I’ll be back next week with another Singles Reviews Diary.

Selena Gomez to release new album and single

Disney star Selena Gomez has taken to her Facebook page and has announced release dates for her new single and album. The 17-year old, who records as part of the band Selena Gomez & The Scene, will release new single Round And Round on June 22 and the new, as of yet untitled album, will be released on September 28th. Gomez has described herself as “much more comfortable” with her pop career now and said in a previous interview that the sound of the album will be “like old school Britney”.

Now that Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato and Selena have now all reached the grand old age of 17, they are going to be leaving the clean cut realms of Disney pop and try and forge a career outside of that barrier. I imagine that Miley will probably try and explore her ‘more sensual side’, i.e. become a pop slut, while Demi will front some whiny emo band and hopefully become as big as Paramore or No Doubt. I believe it’s up to Selena to remain the good role model and continue to make pop songs that parents will be proud of. Selena lacks the edge of her contemporaries but that’s okay because if she continues to spout out such effortless pop hits like Naturally, I don’t think she’ll have a problem.

Singles Reviews Diary 14 – 7th May 2010

I’m finally free from college! Success! However, what’s not a success this week is the amount of rather boring singles being released this week. Oh well, next week looks much more promising. 🙂

Singles Reviews Diary 14 – 7th May 2010:

01. Ash –Insects
We’re on Single Letter P of Ash’s
A-Z Series and Insects sounds like Ash are, like me, getting into the Summery mood with this mellow guitar heavy new single. Like every other single in the A-Z Series, this is a pleasant but unspectacular listen. 3 STARS

02. Beyoncé – Why Don’t You Love Me
All those sick of Beyoncé, please don’t worry! While the Queen Bee may have released her eight
I Am… Sasha Fierce single Ego in the UK and Ireland last week, this isn’t going to become the ninth single (any time soon). Instead a video was filmed for the song as “a gift to her fans”. If you’re a fan of Beyoncé, then you should love this song which appears as a bonus track on I Am… Sasha Fierce: Super Ultimate Platinum Mega Deluxe Edition. For everyone else, it has to be said that this is a really good disco number from the R&B star. While Ego sounds like it came from the 1960s, Why Don’t You Love Me is rooted in the 1970s with super fast funky production and lyrics filled with Beyoncé’s usual sass. However, if I’m honest, Beyoncé’s harsh oversinging on the chorus can really make the song grating which I find is the case with most of the singles that have been released from this era. Still, this probably won’t get any airplay so head on over to YouTube to check out the super hot and stylish video. Groovy. 3.5 STARS

03. The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster – Love Turns To Hate
The gothic punk band with the incredibly long name is back with this guitar heavy, shout along track that should go down well in the mosh pits this Summer. The chorus on this does get very irritating after a few but thankfully this is a strong comeback single that should keep their fans happy.
3 STARS

04. Fugative featuring Gina – Crush
The 16-year old rapper is very much in the same vein as his contemporary Chipmunk in that he was once a favourite on urban music channels like Channel AKA and Starz but it now looks like he’s going to be the latest ‘it’ rapper with this poppish radio friendly single. While the rapping is pretty much inoffensive rapping about a teenage crush (while sounding eerily like Chipmunk), the standout star of this song is Gina who sings the super catchy chorus with her smooth R&B vocals which can be compared to American singers such as Ashanti or Ciara. This is pure catchy fluff but Fugative looks like he’s pretty much replicating Chipmunk’s formula for getting his rap records on the radio.
3 STARS

05. Fyfe Dangerfield – She’s Always A Woman
Guillemots’ frontman Fyfe Dangerfield covers Billy Joel with this fantastic timeless ballad that is currently being used in an ad for John Lewis. Dangerfield’s vocals are smooth and powerful, the production is classy and dare I say it but I think this is better than the Billy Joel version. A great alternative to all the electro infiltrating the radio at the moment.
5 STARS

I missed Glee this week so I can’t say if the songs used in this week’s episode “Bad Reputation” fit well into the storyline. I can, as usual, review how the Glee Cast has managed to fare up after last week’s bland episode.

06. Glee Cast – Ice Ice Baby
Ahhh, first Jedward and now Will Schuester. While Will rapping and dancing makes me want to cover my eyes with the cringyness of it, thankfully Glee do this song more justice than Jedward because listening to this in audio doesn’t sound bad at all…if you can manage to dispel Schuester’s “trying to act cool” posturing in the video. Perfect party fodder that doesn’t stray too far from the original.
3.5 STARS

07. Glee Cast – U Can’t Touch This
Okay, another cringeworthy video aside, it’s great to see that anyone who isn’t Lea Michelle or Cory Monteith get their chance to shine. My favourite singer in the Glee Club, Artie gets his chance to sign with his fast paced rapping. Again it doesn’t stray too far from the original but this is another solid entry from the Glee Clubbers.
4 STARS

08. Glee Cast – Physical
This much hyped up collaboration between Sue Sylvester and, to sound like Puck, the World’s greatest MILF Olivia Newton John falls a little short for me. Maybe because I’m not a fan of the original but I feel like this lacks the energy of the original and did I just here some really obvious Auto-Tune? Not cool, Glee. Lynch and Newton-John have great voices though.
2.5 STARS

09. Glee Cast – Run Joey Run
This cover of David Geddes’
Run Joey Run is probably the second best song on Glee this week because it takes on the theatrical, narrative sound of the original with some great back-up vocals from Santana and Brittany and the rest of Glee I assume. The video has me intrigued and made me laugh out loud and not ‘cause I was cringing. Rachel was fantastic as ever and so was Puck and Jesse St. James (is that his name?) but they really showed up the male lead Finn whose vocal limitations were noticeable this time around. 4.5 STARS

TRACK OF THE WEEK!
10. Glee Cast – Total Eclipse Of The Heart
The obvious song to chart this week, this has that epic quality of the original. Rachel gives Bonnie Tyler a run for her money with her booming theatrical voice. Jesse St. James is also great with the little bits he does get to sing alongside Puck and Finn. What’s the deal with two songs between Rachel, Finn, Jesse and Puck? Is there some love square going on? Anyway with bombastic production and soaring backing vocals from the rest of Glee, this is another Glee song that will give you goosebumps and a deserved winner of Track Of The Week.
5 STARS

Yes the Glee tracks this week are much more up to scratch.

11. Groove Armada featuring Jess Larrabee – Look Me In The Eye Sister
Another consistently strong single from Groove Armada, the second official single from their
Black Light album. This track finds them in their usual trance mode but freshened up with rocky overtones, fists in the air euphoria and a smooth chorus from Larrabee. Fantastic and one track I’ll be listening to this Summer. 5 STARS

12. Hannah – I Believe In You
A serviceable enough light and colourful dance tune by the Australian newcomer. This actually sounds like a lesser track from Madonna’s
American Life LP. Hannah might sound like Madonna but doesn’t show much innovation with her debut UK single. 3 STARS

13. Kaci Battaglia – Crazy Possessive
This song isn’t very original and lacks depth but it’s actually a great pop song. Sounding very like Rihanna’s
S.O.S. (Rescue Me), it’s a light techno pop tune with a huge expletive filled chorus that should do well on radio because it doesn’t take a genius to understand where the expletives are covered up. This could easily be a Summer smash but the song could easily have been sang by any other American pop/R&B princess because its so anonymous. Battaglia does show some personality in the video though as a crazy possessive yet incredibly sexy woman – don’t get on the wrong side of this bunny boiler. 3.5 STARS

14. Keane featuring K’nann – Stop For A Minute
This is a really strong comeback from the band who release a new EP on 10 May,
Night Train. The song is immediately ear snagging on first listen which show that Keane continue to show the innovation they displayed on last album Perfect Symmetry by reducing the number of piano ballads and going for something a little more so. This is extremely radio friendly pop rock, made all the more so by Somali Canadian guest rapper K’nann who adds a little bit of international feel to the track. If this doesn’t get Keane back in the Top 20 then nothing will. 4 STARS

15. Kelis – Acapella
It’s a testament to Kelis that she cracked the UK Top 10 weeks before official release after previously being brushed off as a fad artist with her breakthrough single
Milkshake. In this classy, energetic and soaring dance ballad with some tribal elements, Kelis sings about how the birth of her baby boy has brought so much more energy to her life. A fantastic lead single to start of the campaign for her Flesh Tones album and one to dispel any sneers from her critics. 4.5 STARS

16. Lee Ryan – Secret Love
Lee Ryan attempts to stay relevant with this by the numbers generic electro dance track. The song has a decent enough chorus and radio friendly but cynical old me is just thinking that this is Ryan trying to add a little extra cash in his pocket. I’d avoid it.
2 STARS

17. LIGHTS – Saviour
The much cooler, female version of Owl City releases her second UK single. I previously compared her to Britney Spears from the
Blackout era. I continue to believe this although this has a more melancholy sound than what we heard from that album. I really like this although many may find LIGHTS really prominent Canadian accent off-putting, as well as the Auto-Tune and wailing at the way. Still this is a great pop song that many others will like. 3.5 STARS

18. Mary J. Blige featuring Jay Sean – Each Tear
Mary J. and Jay Sean team up for this ‘inspirational’ ballad. The song uses every lyrical cliché in the book, classy R&B production and smooth “I’ll always be there for you” vocals from Blige and Sean. The video is hilarious with Mary J. and Jay Sean’s overly earnest expressions. Check it out. The song might be heartwarming for a small variety but won’t do anything to save Blige’s declining career as many of us will be reaching for the sick buckets.
2 STARS

STINKER OF THE WEEK!
19. Miley Cyrus – When I Look At You
Eurrgh Miley. Stick to the up-tempo numbers because “sitting at the piano, sobbing” ballads really don’t work for you. While her last ballad
The Climb was decent enough in a reality TV singer’s winning song kind of way, that was because Miley showed some restraint. For her tragically romantic new movie The Last Song, Miley provides us with the soundtrack’s lead single, an overblown tearjerker that shows Miley really show off her vocal chops. The song made me cry, cry with the overwhelming pain in my ears of listening to Miley’s nails against chalkboard voice. I can’t even hear the lyrics thanks to Miley’s nasal delivery. Obvious stinker. 1 STAR

20. Mini Viva – One Touch
I don’t understand all the critical hype surrounding Mini Viva. Sure, I really enjoyed their flop
I Wish but never really cared for Left My Heart In Tokyo. I think its just that I find the girls’ voices annoying. On this racy number, they are more bearable although I still think this is a by the numbers ‘80s throwback. I don’t think the chorus is particularly strong but I do like the “Hips, lips, fashion status” breakdown. A good enough pop song but not essential in today’s market in my opinion. 3 STARS

21. Sub Focus featuring Coco – Splash
Euphoric drum and bass from Sub Focus and Coco of I Blame Coco equals dance heaven. I don’t know if this has much mainstream appeal but with a fists in the air chorus, this might be one of those under the radar dance numbers to enjoy this Summer.
4 STARS

22. TV Rock featuring Rudy – In The Air (Axwell Remix)
This isn’t remotely original but this will probably serve as the Eurodance song to feature in all the clubs this month with it’s brief vocal sections and big rave friendly dance parts. Decent enough but nothing overly exciting.
3 STARS

Ah, 14 weeks and 360 singles reviewed, I’m quite proud of myself for sticking with it this long. Comments and feedback please.