Usher reveals cheap ‘Versus’ artwork and tracklisting

Usher has premiered the artwork and tracklisting for his new album Versus. The album will act as a standalone EP of sorts while it will also be available, packaged as a Deluxe Edition with his recent album, Raymond V. Raymond. So pretty much like Lady GaGa’s The Fame Monster.

I think the artwork looks cheap as Hell! Considering the success of singles OMG and There Goes My Baby as well as Raymond V. Raymond itself, you’d expect a little more effort to go into the album artwork rather than Versus written seven times vertically against a pink cover with a vague shot of Usher in the background. Usher better put the money into making some decent music videos this era.

Anyways, check out the tracklisting for Raymond V. Raymond. The album will be preceded by two singles. For pop audiences, we have the Pitbull assisted DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love which has already made significant chart impact Worldwide. For urban audiences, Hot Toddy will be sent to US radio on 9th August and will feature Jay-Z and Ciara. That sounds exciting at least.

Versus tracklisting:

  1. Love ‘Em All
  2. DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love (featuring Pitbull)
  3. Hot Toddy (featuring Ciara and Jay-Z)
  4. Lay You Down
  5. Lingerie
  6. There Goes My Baby
  7. Get In My Car (featuring Bun B)
  8. Somebody To Love (Remix) (with Justin Bieber)
  9. Stranger

Raymond V. Raymond: Deluxe Edition tracklisting:

  1. Monstar
  2. Hey Daddy (Daddy’s Home)
  3. There Goes My Baby
  4. Lil’ Freak (featuring Nicki Minaj)
  5. She Don’t Know (featuring Ludacris)
  6. OMG (featuring will.i.am.)
  7. Mars Vs. Venus
  8. Pro Lover
  9. Foolin’ Around
  10. Papers
  11. So Many Girls (featuring Diddy)
  12. Guilty (featuring T.I)
  13. Okay
  14. Making Love (Into The Night)
  15. Love ‘Em All
  16. DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love (featuring Pitbull)
  17. Hot Toddy (featuring Ciara and Jay-Z)
  18. Lay You Down
  19. Lingerie
  20. Get In My Car (featuring Bun B)
  21. Somebody To Love (Remix) (with Justin Bieber)
  22. Stranger
  23. More (iTunes and Japanese bonus track)
  24. Hey Daddy (Daddy’s Home) (Remix) (featuring Plies) (Target, Best Buy, UK and Ireland bonus track)
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T.I. uncages himself for his boring new music video ‘Got Your Back’

T.I. and Keri Hilson in "Got Your Back"

T.I. has come out of prison and is joined by Keri Hilson on new single Got Your Back, the official lead single from his forthcoming album King Uncaged, due to drop on 28th September. Check out the video below.

The song is a cute urban rap tune with a super catchy chorus provided by the ultra fashionable Keri but the video is just boring. I don’t care about T.I. and Keri posing in front of a plain background while a yawn inducing prison subplot occurs in between. With fellow rappers Kanye West, Drake, Jay-Z, B.o.B., Big Boi, Eminem and Nicki Minaj all bringing out the creativity for their clips, T.I. comes across a little backward for someone who proclaims himself as king. While the song is catchy and will most likely be a hit, it’s hardly an explosive “I’M BACK” single. Perhaps he should have chosen I’m Back as the lead single from the era instead of using it as a promo single.

I doubt the album will flop though. T.I.’s lead singles are generally weak anyway and with guest spots from Lady GaGa and Eminem on it, I’m sure Tip isn’t worried.

Single Reviews Diary 23 – 9th July 2010

I know I’m actually incredibly late with this diary and should rightfully be publishing the 24th rather than the 23rd but I’m busy, y’know! This week is actually quite a great week for singles. Singles 01-12 on this list are all fantastic tunes, only ruined by Kate Nash who starts a short trend of bad tunes, making 13-15 pretty much unbearable. However, Mark Ronson then glides into save the day with Singles 16-19 being pretty good until we meet Professor Green who starts a trend of average tunes with singles 20-24. So yeah – the singles go from fantastic, bad, good, average. As usual I want comments and feedback etc. etc. Read my reviews below.

Single Reviews Diary 23 – 9th July 2010:

01. Alan Pownall: Colourful Day


After Britain’s last hyped up male pop singer Alex Gardner underwhelmed commercial audiences, could the newest hyped up British male pop artist fill that gap? I sadly think not. London singer songwriter Alan Pownall releases his second single from his debut EP
True Love Stories, a pristine pop ballad that’s sung with rich vocals well beyond his 25 years. The vocals and string and guitar based production showcase much emotion. This is one great pop ballad to listen to this Summer. Emotion packed, yes! But relaxing enough to play outside in the back garden whilst sunbathing. However, this track will likely not do so well because Pownall lacks anything that truly stands out about him from his average Joe name to the genre of music he’s doing. Still, a hidden gem if you do come across it. 4 STARS

02. Avenged Sevenfold: Nightmare

Avenged Sevenfold - Nightmare
Angsty rock/metal band Avenged Sevenfold are back with their recent US Top 60 hit
Nightmare. The lead single from their fifth album of the same name starts off intriguing with dreamy chimes before crashing into the trademark metal, crunching guitars, deafening drum beats and harsh vocals from lead singer M. Shadows. There’s novelty evil laugh effects and a pop hook hidden in amongst all the heavy instrumentation too which probably explains its high-ish charting position on the mainly rock-less US Billboard Chart. Apart from the expletive word shouted before the title of the track, I find certain parts of this song hard to get out of my head. Well done Avenged Sevenfold on a terrific comeback! 4 STARS

03. Crystal Castles: Celstica

Crystal Castles - Celestica
Canadian duo Crystal Castles present us with this obscure piece of trancey electronica. Atmospheric and ethereal, this proves to be just as good to dance to when ]on a night out in the town. This has a real retro ‘90s Eurotrance sound to it with a mournful, religious, more organic undertone to it. What’s not to love about it?! I feel like I possibly say this every week but one of the best dance tracks of the year!
5 STARS

04. Crystal Fighters: In The Summer


Much like their similar namesake Crystal Castles, Spanish quintet Crystal Fighters make similarly brilliant alternative dance tracks. This has pretty chirpy vocals amongst retro video game type synths and basque instruments. I’m sure I heard some flutes in amongst the drum machines and electronics there. A delightful hipster track, these guys remind me a lot of MGMT and they need to find away to break through to the mainstream.
4.5 STARS

05. Darwin Deez: Up In The Clouds

Darwin Deez - Up In The Clouds
Quirky singer Darwin Deez really impressed me with his last single
Radar Detector and he’s managed to do it again! Amongst Summery, jangly guitars and happy finger snaps, this is yet another fun track for the hot weather ahead. The song falls into the quirky category more than the commercial category and it’s not near as catchy as his previous single but this is still a fun track to listen to when you’re feeling down. 3.5 STARS

06. Esmée Denters featuring Justin Timberlake: Love Dealer

Esmée Denters / Justin Timberlake - Love Dealer (Featuring Justin Timberlake)
Dutch songbird Esmée Denters might be pretty and have a great voice but major pop success has eluded her so far. Is getting her mentor Justin Timberlake a cynical ploy to score a hit? Maybe so. Justin barely deserves a credit on this song, all he does is mumble seductively over the backing track to drive the ladies crazy and add his shining star power. He did a similar thing on Rihanna’s
Rehab last year, uttering only about two words and enjoying a full feature credit when the ladies who do most of the work on new tracks by Basshunter and Dan Bãlan barely get a mention at all. Anyways, I digress. Love Dealer is really refreshing, it really is! Not only is it sunny with a killer melody but it ditches the current dance craze for the more funky edged, Timba-pop that preceded the current trend. Sure it’s in no way original, the lyrics are just begging to be parodied and Esmée lacks the vocal sex appeal of her contemporaries but this is a likeable, light track with some great vocals from Esmée, slick yet giddy production from Timberlake and an overall sense of fun that’s missing in a lot of today’s pop songs. This deserves its inevitable hit status. 3.5 STARS

07. Fight Like Apes: Hoo Ha Henry


The much hyped Irish band (as hyped as Irish artists can get anyway with our crappy promotion techniques in music) have returned with the first single from their as of yet untitled second album. It’s a nice return for the band with lead singer MayKay in top form singing over a bouncy keyboard riff before breaking into a restrained yet still somehow angry chorus while the production remains the same the whole way through. The lyrics are also quintessentially Irish too with lines such as “drinking cans in bed” and namechecking MayKay’s unfortunate love interest’s friends with names like Tagdh. Should keep FLA fans happy and gain them some new ones too.
4 STARS

08. I Blame Coco: Self Machine

I Blame Coco - Selfmachine
Sting’s daughter Coco has to live up to her famous dad’s name and prove to music fans that she’s not a spoiled little brat who just wants to cash in on Daddy’s fame. Well, she’s doing things right so far. Setting up her own band and going for an alternative yet still engaging sound, Coco proves herself as having the talent to back up to her famous family connection. Amongst dizzying synths, Coco’s distinctive vocals are the real ear-snagging part of this song. I’m not quite as bowled over by this track has some others. The vocal distortions are overused and unnecessary and I really don’t think this song sounds immensely different from a lot of other tracks out there but what it does show is promise and I eagerly await Ms. Sumner’s next single,
Quicker. 3.5 STARS

09. Jamie Foxx featuring Justin Timberlake and T.I.: Winner

Jamie Foxx featuring Justin Timberlake & T.I. - Winner
Oscar winner Jamie Foxx shows so much promise as a singer but he often neglects his musicality for terrible urban tracks such as the nasty Auto-Tuned mess of
Blame It. Arguably a scene stealer on Kanye West’s mega-hit Gold Digger, Foxx once again sells himself short on this single, the lead from his fourth studio album. While not as bad asBlame It and mercifully ditching the Auto-Tune, Winner is still a run-of-the-mill R&B track. Featuring some brass instrumentation, classy little piano lines and hip-hop beats, it may sound like I’m saying the production sounds similar to Jay-Z’s Empire State Of Mind or Madonna’s 4 Minutes but it’s actually the typical R&B production that has been done to death. JT is barely noticeable on this track as seems to be the norm for him, if Esmée Denters new single is to be used as an example; and T.I.’s rapping, while more than up to the job is just tiresome, and disjointed from the rest of the song. When will this rent-a-rapper trend end? Everyone’s sick of it and NO-ONE sees it as an incentive to buy a single just because it has a rapper on it. The chorus is anthemic, which is why its been used as an NBA theme tune but overall another disappointing track from the deceptively soulful Jamie Foxx. 2.5 STARS

10. Jerry Fish & The Mudbug Club featuring Imelda May: The Hole In The Boat


The brass intro to this track sounds like the theme to some sinister ‘70s cop drama just before the police uncover the murder. The ominous, sonically pleasing jazzy backing continues as Jerry Fish breathily sings over the production. When powerhouse Imelda May joins in with her soulful harmonies, the song quickly turns into this dramatic yet classic sounding magic. Honestly, this for the next James Bond soundtrack (when MGM are no longer bankrupt, that is)!
4.5 STARS

11. Jet: Seventeen

JET - Seventeen
Australian rock band Jet caused quite a buzz last year with their single
She’s A Genius. Although it only cracked the Top 20 in its native continent of Oceania, the song certainly got them noticed elsewhere. Much like SAG, Seventeen sounds very similar to that track. Crunching indie-pop guitars, an irresistible riff after the chorus, a catchy chorus and an “oooh-oooh” hook, this is a brilliant Summer rock track. My only problem is that these guys might just be one-trick ponies and their Summery rock tracks with pop sensibilities may get a little tiresome after a while. Still, no-one’s complaining now. 4 STARS

12. Joshua Radin: Brand New Day

Joshua Radin - I'd Rather Be With You
Snooze! Come on now, we have enough inoffensive, acoustic radio rock singers, thank you! Jack Johnson has that position filled with his tired material already, thanks! We don’t need an exact carbon copy. There’s nothing horrible about this track, it’s sang nicely but it’s so bland, clichéd and unoriginal. I just hated it from the moment I heard it when I first saw the self depreciating, ‘humorous’ video.
2 STARS

13. Kate Nash: Kiss That Grrrl

Kate Nash - Kiss That Grrrl
Kate Nash has done it again! So impressed am I with the breakthrough singles from your albums, that I forget the follow-ups are always completely dire. Seriously another girl is being catty and stealing your man, Kate? Just have it out with her in the parking lot or use your brain to think of a more underhand way of offing…I mean dealing…with her. This is basically the theme of
Do-Wah-Doo rehashed all over again but without the big pop hooks and with all the lyrical prowess of that ginger Bianca from EastEnders. Kiss that grrrl and I will shrink her!” WTH does that mean? Or are you just throwing it in there for the sake of rhyming. With the word “Grrrl” in the title, I thought this would be one of those punk tracks I heard Nash recorded for the album, which I incidentally haven’t listened too. Yet again it’s more brassy ‘60s pop production, which is difficult to differentiate from DWD. I’ll give her half a point though for the vulnerability at the end of the track. 1.5 STARS

STINKER OF THE WEEK!
14. Katie Price: Free To Love Again

Katie Price - Free To Love Again
Before writing this review, I have not yet heard Katie Price’s new single yet. I wonder if I’ll be pleasantly surprised. *sticks on Katie Price’s
Free To Love Again on YouTube.* KILL ME! KILL ME NOW! Eurovision wouldn’t allow this monstrous, corny dance anthem, which sounds like it was recorded in Katie back shed with her children on backing vocals. Hell, the ‘80s wouldn’t allow it or the ‘90s or any other naff decade in music. Steps, Scooch and Margi Clarke would turn their noses up at it! Is Jordan still relevant enough to get this track published? ‘Cause its about time people got tired off her. She laughably said she wasn’t an attention seeker today. She’s a businesswoman, int’she? Now let’s hope that this song slips even further down the chart and we NEVER EVER have to hear it again!!! 1 STAR

15. Kyrah: Uh Oh

Kyrah1jpg
I’m actually of the opinion that Ke$ha is a great popstar and has some talent, which often leads to me getting the side-eye and sneers from my more hipster friends. God knows though, we don’t need another one and that’s what Kryah is! If you check out the $2 budget music video for her debut single
Uh Oh, you’ll realise that Kryah is also a lady who looks like she just climbed out of a skip, put her make-up on in the dark, stumbled into some strange man’s bedroom and started singing about being so intoxicated that she can barely see and packed a good dose of Auto-Tune in her penniless purse. While Ke$ha’s voice has a yodel-esque, Valley Girl lilt to it which is somewhat bearable or even pleasing, Kyrah doesn’t! Her voice is completely flat and sounds absolutely hideous during the verses. Thankfully for her, the chorus is incredibly catchy. But really, chorus aside, this track does nothing new from the current electropop phenomenon and we have enough trashy popstars already. So unless Kyrah changes her sound and image, I want her to disappear completely. Bring back class (or at least subliminal sexiness) to music! 2 STARS

TRACK OF THE WEEK!
16. Mark Ronson & The Business Intl. featuring Q-Tip and MNDR: Bang Bang Bang

Mark Ronson - Bang Bang Bang
It’s official. Mark Ronson is the standout producer of our generation. After a number of jazzy covers on mega successful album
Version with Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse, Ronson knows that jazz is not where it’s at now and has embraced the new ‘80s trend we’re experiencing at the minute. I would accuse Ronson of jumping on bandwagons but I can’t bring myself to it because this is bloody brilliant! Teaming up with his band The Business Intl., Marky is also joined by sexy secretary type hipster Amanda Warner of electronic duo MNDR and one of the more low-key American rappers Q-Tip. Bang Bang Bang epitomises the ‘80s from its retro, ill-fashioned video to those bouncy synth riffs. But it sounds absolutely flawless. Everything from the infectious synths to the genius sampling of French nursery rhyme Alouette sound perfect. Warner’s scuzzy, catchy vocal suggests that we should all keep an eye on MNDR in the future and Q-Tip’s rapping never sounds phoned in or disjointed, but rather fits with the song as a whole. One of the best mainstream pop songs of the decade, one that both the mainstream public and the hipster groups can all enjoy. I thoroughly look forward to Ronson’s cover free Record Collection on 27th September. 5 STARS

17. M.I.A.: XXXO

M.I.A. - XXXO
I’m wondering when the heck the music video for this track will be released because lack of the Hype Williams directed video will effect its sales. Not that M.I.A. normally cares about sales but with a single as unusually catchy as this, it just has to do well. After the controversial and noisy promo single
Born Free, this – the official lead single from M.I.A.’s third studio album /\/\ /\ Y /\ is one of the few radio friendly songs in her back catalogue. The catchy, melodic and futuristic love song may be more than it appears though with the song’s deceptively catchy hook going ”You want me be somebody/who I’m really not”. Is this a jibe at her record company for making her release a commercial lead single? All the same, M.I.A. definitely hasn’t sold out with this one as the lyrics are ambiguous for the most part and the Rusko and Blaqstarr produced jam has a sense of paranoia about it that fits in with the whole concept of the album. Still, for those of you who don’t care about M.I.A.’s political and conspiracy theory jargon, then this is probably one of the lightest songs she’s released. If you fancy rent-a-rappers, you can check out the Jay-Z remix with a stamped in rap from himself. He’s rumoured to be appearing in the video as a matter of fact. 4 STARS

18. Millionaires: Stay The Night


The Ke$ha imitators are out in full force this week. California trio Millionaires have released a song called
Stay The Night. Like Ke$ha, it’s a little naughty, has Auto-Tuned vocals and is performed in singy/rap voices. It even has a rap breakdown stolen straight from TiK ToK during the middle eight. However, unlike the other Ke$ha imitator Kyrah, Stay The Night is a pretty decent pop tune. The feel good guitar backing track helps, the light yet sticky chorus infiltrates your brain and provided the Millionaires get enough promotion (which I doubt), this could easily be a song of the Summer. It sounds like it samples something too because that chorus is familiar. Plus the band has two cute Asian girls and Asians are rarely ever seen in pop music so I have fingers crossed that this will be a hit. 4 STARS

19. Paramore: Careful

Paramore - Careful
With
Brand New Eyes, Paramore’s third studio album, the band, especially Hayley, progressed massively in maturity and lyrical quality. The male members are often overshadowed (much to their displeasure) by their charismatic and beautiful lead singer Hayley but with this track, the guys overshadow Hayley. Okay, not exactly. But this is instrumentally the strongest track on Brand New Eyes while Hayley is on auto-pilot. With break-neck guitar riffs by Josh Farro and Taylor York, crunchy bass by Jeremy Davis and pounding drum beats by the band’s baby Josh Farro, this is a track that just makes you want to leap around your room, swinging your head around, and probably causing grievous bodily harm to yourself in the process. The instrumentation can best be described as fast, angry and spiky. But the chorus is a bit of a let-down as are the lyrics which are the full on emo of Paramore’s earlier records. Don’t get me wrong, I love Paramore’s earlier records but with other songs on BNE being far more honest, this always disinterests me somewhat. Hayley’s vocals are back to their wail-some self after trying out a bit of restrained melancholy with her cameo on B.o.B.’s soon to be #1 hit Airplanes, but the chorus doesn’t have the massive draw to it that other tracks had and sounds a little samey. Oh well. Hopefully it does well all the same. 3 STARS

20. Professor Green featuring Lily Allen: Just Be Good To Green

Professor Green Feat. Lily Allen - Just Be Good To Green
I don’t believe this is Lily’s last hurrah in music…because let’s face it…pop artists retire all the time. They quickly become irrelevant and their back in the music game quicker than you can say “Jay-Z” or “Eminem”. Basically, I’m in a minority that doesn’t care for this song much. Sure The SOS Band’s sample
Just Be Good To Me is ear-snagging and Lily’s girly, melodic vocals really add to the song but this is more boring radio-rap that has to rely on a guest vocalist, samples and more clichéd raps without a shred of originality. Professor Green’s cheeky personality is quickly grating on my nerves and I can’t stand his helium voiced rapping. Basically, a song that will do for the time being but will quickly be forgotten about by the time Prof. Green moves onto his next gimmicky single. 2.5 STARS

21. Seth Lakeman: Tiny World

Seth Lakeman - Tiny World
One of the many talented folk musicians of the Lakeman family, Seth gets his organic sounding viola out. Unlike many folk musicians, Seth has a really deep and powerful voice that’s just as suited to pop or rock music as it is to folk. As for the track itself, it’s a decent and rousing vocal performance against some creaky violin strings. This won’t set the World alight, not even the folk World but it’s a decent folk track by a talented musician…who’s created a decent comeback single.
3.5 STARS

22. Trey Songz: Already Taken

Trey Songz - Already Taken
R&B singer and judging by his many softcore music videos, sex addict Trey Songz releases this single to correspond with the third
Step Up flick. If you’re expecting a certified club banger like Flo Rida’s Low then prepare to be disappointed. This mid-tempo track is probably played in the movie around the time when the guy realises what a douche he is and runs to the airport/defining event in the girl’s life to please her/make things up to her for being such a douche. This track will probably provide a tense moment at the climax for the film but as far as a standalone single, it fails.Already Taken has no real definable hook and the production and lyrics don’t stand out in any way whatsoever. For Trey Songz fangirls and boys only. 2 STARS

23. Two Door Cinema Club: Come Back Home

Two Door Cinema Club - Come Back Home
After a series of high profile advertising endorsements, it looks like TDCC’s star is rising. Following on from the success of their re-released
Something Good Can Work, the boys return with another bouncy indie pop song. It’s a perfectly fine tune with sharp guitars and an instant enough chorus but it still feels rather run-of-the-mill. Nothing stands out about it really and I sadly think that this single will fail to replicate the success of the last. All the same a pleasant enough listen. 3 STARS

24. We Have Band: Oh!

We Have Band - Oh! EP
The Bloc Party-esque band release this strange little tune. The hook naturally comprises of the word ‘Oh’ but it’s repeated almost to irritation against an electro backing in a number of different voices. The verses are fantastic though with
Crash Bandicoot style blips and bleeps running through it. Add bouncy guitars and an instantly catchy hook, this track might be too weird for the mainstream but once you hear it, you’ll have trouble getting it out of your head! 3.5 STARS

Singles Reviews Diary 20 – 18th June 2010

It’s twenty weeks old! It’s twenty weeks old! It’s twenty weeks old! I am so delighted with the achievement of having written twenty of these diaries now and I think I’ve managed to cover pretty much every major single in them. To add to this being the twentieth (week) anniversary of the Singles Reviews Diaries, there are also 20 singles to review below. Check out my reviews and let me know what you think of the songs or the reviews in general. What’s your Track Of The Week? What’s your Stinker? Which band/artist are you really loving at the moment? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Singles Reviews Diary 20 – 18th June 2010:

01. Adam Deacon and Bashy featuring Paloma Faith: Keep Moving

Adam Deacon & Bashy feat. Paloma Faith - Keep Moving (Explicit Album Version)
While Chipmunk and Tinchy Stryder can be described as the British equivalents to American counterparts Flo Rida and Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em, I think it’s fair to describe Adam Deacon as a British equivalent to T.I. or Jay-Z. Teaming up with fellow occasional actor Paloma Faith, the two create a mature but not entirely original hip-hop track witha soulful chorus. Faith’sbeautiful vocals bring a hint of retro-ness to the track while Deacon is a surprisingly good rapper. Bashy joins halfway through to add a little diversity to the track. What we get in the end is a fairly typical hip-hop track – but a
very good fairly typical hip-hop track at that! 3.5 STARS

02. Ash: Spheres

Ash - S
This is Single Letter S from Ash’s
A-Z Series. They should really get to promoting this single because it’s probably the best track we’ve heard from the singles collection so far. Ash’s music is normally simple catchy pop rock but with Spheres, we see the Northern Irish trio go over to the dark side. Featuring an eerie piano line which runs from the intro throughout the whole song, pounding drums and a hammering bass. It all comes to a stunning climax when the guitars crunch up and the chorus becomes more aggressive. The song is definitely worth a buy. 4 STARS

03. The Automatic: Cannot Be Saved

The Automatic - Cannot Be Saved
The Automatic return with the third single from their
Tear The Signs Down LP. If you’ve heard Automatic before – and many of you have – remember that song ”What’s that coming over the hill, is it a monster? Is it a monster? – then you’ll know what to expect. A song that doesn’t take too seriously, a fun shout-along punk pop track that travels at 100 mph, this isn’t going to be the highlight of the year. But it’s a fun track to add to that Summer playlist. 3.5 STARS

TRACK OF THE WEEK!
04. Big Boi featuring Cutty: Shutterbug

Big Boi / Cutty - Shutterbugg (Explicit Version)
One half of the genre defining hip-hop duo Outkast and the lesser known member to Andre 3000, Big Boi has struck out on his own with new single
Shutterbug and like his band continues to show some innovation in hip-hop. While hiring an R&B singer like Cutty to croon over the song isn’t entirely original, this track is all about Big Boi. Lacking any real chorus, Big Boi raps along with an incredible flow while the instrumentation of funky ‘80s synths, drumclaps and samples of Soul II Soul’s Back To Reality provide the main hooks of this song. I really love this track because it has a chilled out yet cocksure vibe that you rarely hear in rap nowadays. I’m seriously looking forward to Big Boi’s album now. 5 STARS

05. Cypress Hill featuring Pitbull and Marc Anthony: Armada Latina

Cypress Hill featuring Pitbull and Marc Anthony - Armada Latina (feat. Pitbull and Marc Anthony)
Sigh. Another week. Another Pitbull feature. Why must he torment me so?! That said Cypress Hill’s track will provide a little Latin flavour this Summer. With a repetitive “oooh-oooh-oooh” hook running through the song, Jennifer Lopez’s husband Marc Anthony provides the Spanish sung chorus while the rapping is provided in English by Cypress Hill and Pitbull. Cypress Hill’s rapping is fairly passable and Pitbull continues to rap random words in Spanish over an unrelated rap about him not being an “asshole”. Right. *side eye*. Still those oooh-oooh hooks and Marc Anthony’s chorus is what make this must have on the Summer playlist. But then again…I am a sucker for pretty much every Spanish song in existence.
4.5 STARS

06. Daisy Dares You: Rosie

Daisy Dares You - Rosie
This is a pretty catchy pop rock jam with a massive chorus. That said so was her last single
Number One Enemy. And that song drove me mad for a few weeks. Daisy manages to provide radio friendly fodder that will get airplay all over the place before being completely forgotten about in a few weeks. I appreciate the fact that Daisy has said she wants to stay away from the clichéd teen romance lyrics on her debut album, something she’s managed so far, singing about rowing with her sister Scarlet (ginger?) and backing up her friend Rosie (another ginger?)but she hasn’t managed to stay away from the clichéd Auto-Tune. Plus the electro breakdown with the fast paced rap doesn’t really gel well towards the end. All I’m hearing is a Z-grade Avril Lavigne mixed with a Z-grade Lily Allen. But points for only being 16 and making music a little more bearable than other 16 year olds *cough Justin Bieber*cough*.2.5 STARS

07. Dan Balan featuring Katie DiCicco: Chica Bomb


WTH? Why is Dan Balan credited as a lead artist on this track when Katie DiCicco, the sexy, breathy singer isn’t even credited? Last time I looked, practically whispering “chica-chica-bomb” over an unoriginal Eurodance backing constituted this being his song. I would give this Stinker Of The Week but DiCicco’s breathy vocals are seductive (I may be blinded by my urge to have sex with her), the cheesy Ibiza beats are just right for Summer and the middle eight is actually rather gorgeous. Dan Balan is a complete tool though. Many of you will agree with me as he was one-third of defunct band O-Zone (
The Numa Numa Song), possibly the most annoying Moldovan poppers anywhere. 2.5 STARS

08. Declining Winter: Official World Cup Theme 2010


Something for the UK to be proud of, Declining Winter have been given the honourary role of providing the theme song for World Cup 2010. Really it’s a strange choice of theme song, it doesn’t particularly draw you in or have a very celebratory sound. In fact, it’s very ‘indie’ and brooding in its sound. The instrumentation is rather good though with some beautiful string sections. Only the end of the song with some World Cup commentary makes you actually believe this song is for the World Cup though.
3 STARS

09. Dirty Money featuring Rick Ross and T.I.: Hello Good Morning

Diddy - Dirty Money / T.I. - Hello Good Morning (Explicit Version)
Diddy, Timbaland called and asked what you’re doing right and what he’s doing wrong. Because
Hello Good Morning sounds like it could have been released as a single of Timbaland Presents: Shock Value. Seriously? Yup. Diddy and his new ‘band’ of female rappers spit out some clichéd lyrics about being in a club and being so ‘fly’ with a little help from Rick Ross and recently freed T.I. over some wonky synths. It offers nothing new to the table at all but if you liked the singles from Timbaland’s FIRST Shock Valuealbum, then you should like this. Plus the epic breakdown at the end reminds us of why Sean Combs aka Puff Daddy aka P. Diddy aka Diddy is one of the most revered rappers out there. 3 STARS

10. Feeder: Call Out


‘90s rockers make a return with a big heavy rock number that grabs your attention as soon as the opening chords kick in at a lightning speed. Combined with a catchy chorus, Feeder have returned with a solid lead single from the forthcoming album
Renegades. Hopefully with the right promotion and airplay, this track can introduce the band to a whole new generation. 4.5 STARS

STINKER OF THE WEEK!
11. Justin Bieber: Never Let You Go


This is simply being released as a promo single so its unlikely to blow up like previous singles
One Time and Baby, thank goodness. Now I could be nice and say I’m that I’m not 3 years old so I’m not the target market for this audience. However, J. Bieber has just released another stinker that only his die-hard fans can enjoy. I’ll admit Baby grew on me eventually and his forthcoming single with Usher Somebody To Love is actually rather good but this…this is just terrible! Not only is it bland, insipid and clichéd but who wantsto hear an eight-year-old boy sing about heartbreak in the form of an Auto-Tuned ballad. Yeah, we’re really reading into your soul there, Justin. Stick to the catchy dance-pop, methinks! 1 STAR

12. Katy Perry featuring Snoop Dogg: California Gurls

Katy Perry featuring Snoop Dogg - California Gurls (feat. Snoop Dogg)
Despite it’s huge commercial success, this song has divided critics. Probably Katy’s own fault for declaring this as the LA equivalent to Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ timeless modern classic
Empire State Of Mind. Now California Gurls will probably be timeless too – but more in the way of “Oh crap! I can’t believe I actually liked that song” and then giving it a sneaky listen on your iPod or whatever replaces iPods in the future. BecauseCalifornia Gurls is just a fun pop song – nothing more. Combining Calvin Harris like synths, ‘90s wah-wah guitars, sunny melodies, a West Coast rap and a gigantic chorus, I think California Gurls deserves its huge success it will have this Summer. Oh sure, some of it sounds like Ke$ha’s TiK ToK and its clearly gimmicky but that doesn’t matter, as it is the must have song to play at the pool party this Summer. The song is so hot…my popsicle just melted. 4 STARS

13. K’nann: Wavin’ Flag (Celebration Mix)

K'Naan - Wavin'  Flag (UK Version)
The original version. The Young Artists For Haiti version. The will.i.am and David Guetta featured version. This Celebration Mix. I am absolutely sick to my teeth of this song and its many incarnations. Even though a few months – hell, a few weeks ago – I would have being encouraging you all to start checking out K’nann. No need now he’s so well known. Now, I know K’nann wrote this song but nothing for me will trump the Young Artists For Haiti version of this song. NOTHING! I find the verses are a bit lyrically clunky on this but that chorus still gives me goosebumps everytime it’s sung. So credjt to K’nann for writing such an inspirational chorus and introducing this song to the World. A few points off though for the song’s overexposure.
3.5 STARS

14. Pearl Jam: Amongst The Waves

Pearl Jam - Amongst The Waves
The third single from Pearl Jam’s
Backspacer album finds the band in an uplifting mood with some inspirational, gruff yet impassioned vocals from Eddie Vedder. This is a great rock mid-tempo that really picks up towards the end with some great guitar solos from Stone Gossard. One of the standout tracks from the album, this is another Summer playlist option if you want to shake it up a bit. 4 STARS

15. Rihanna featuring Slash: Rockstar 101


This is only being released as a promo single over here so no need to worry if you’re tired of Rihanna overexposure or think
Te Amo has been cancelled. This track is probably one of the weakest songs of Rihanna’s Rated R. Although the prospect of Slash appearing as a feature on this track initially sounds exciting, it wears off pretty quick as this is far more heavy urban than it is rock. Rihanna’s claims of being a rockstar are ridiculous despite her level of swearing, the chorus is repetitive and wears thin fast and the only thing I like about it is the beat heavy production and the guitar solos towards the end. If Rihanna wanted to release some rock numbers from the album, she could have chosen the absolutely brilliant Fire Bomb, Cold Case Love or The Last Song. However, record companies probably thought these ballads would be too depressing after the sunny Rude Boy so have gone with this relatively upbeat track. I’m just glad it doesn’t have an official release over here. Poor America! 2.5 STARS

16. Rusko featuring Amber Coffman: Hold On


Dubstep producer Rusko, who has worked on M.I.A.’s new album and also rumoured to be working on Britney Spears’ new record, provides a bass heavy club track here with some decent yet unoriginal vocals from Amber Coffman. There are a few different layers to the song but overall this doesn’t step out too far from the dubstep genre or do anything new. Good club record though.
3 STARS

17. Scissor Sisters: Fire With Fire

Scissor Sisters - Fire With Fire
Starting off as a subdued ballad, this track quickly takes off and becomes a big, anthemic fists-in-the-air dance rock number thanks to Jake Shears’ uplifting vocals and the synth rock instrumentation from the rest of the band. This a terrific comeback single from the New York quintet and as many people have pointed out, it has a whiff of Elton John to it. My only problem is that it’s a bit subtle. Compared to earlier lead singles like
Laura and I Don’t Feel Like Dancing which were instantly infectious, Fire With Fire takes a few spins to get into. In a year where two of our biggest hits have song titles that are misspelled (California Gurls) or an Internet/text speak acronym(OMG), can this song have any lasting appeal when attention spans appear to be getting lower and lower? 4.5 STARS

18. Shout For England featuring Dizzee Rascal and James Corden: Shout

File:Shout by Dizzee Rascal and James Corden.jpg
The only good thing about this song is the Tears For Fear and Blackstreet samples. The rest of the song is utter cack. This is probably the most creative thing Simon Cowell has put his name to but then again that’s not saying much considering
The X-Factorwinner singles. I’ve lost all respect for Dizzee Rascal as a rapper and James Corden always annoyed me and I don’t find him particularly funny. This is basically a crowd shouting aloud to the rhythm of Shout which I don’t find particularly appealing because I can hear that down in my local at the weekends anyway. 2 STARS

19. Tegan And Sara: Alligator


Fresh from their recent collabo with Tiësto, Canadian duo Tegan and Sara have just released new single
Alligator over here. I’ve just figured that the two girls have those distinctive, borderline annoying vocals that Irish band Heathers have. The song is a catchy little toe-tapper but in all honesty, the girls have brought out much better. This sounds like it should be soundtracking the latest Apple ad…which is maybe T&S’s goal. Either way, enjouable but passable. 3 STARS

20. Wolfmother: Far Away

File:WolfmotherFarAway.jpg
I’m definitely noticing a 1970s Led Zeppelin vibe with this song. Amongst an electric piano, acoustic guitar and laidback drums, lead vocalist Andrew Stockdale sings in a relatively toned down voice compared to what we’re used to hearing from him. His voice definitely has echoes of Robert Plant, Axl Rose and to a lesser extent Jack White. If you’re looking for something that recalls a little ‘70s rock, then this is your song. Although to me, this is kind of your typical indie love song and doesn’t come close to Zeppelin. Still, this Aussie band don’t do a bad job of paying homage to them so I’ll keep an eye out to see if they progress in sound and maturity.
3.5 STARS

T.I. makes comeback with new Keri Hilson assisted single ‘Got Your Back’

Recently released from prison, T.I. is wasting no time with his eagerly anticipated comeback to the music industry. After releasing the rather brilliant ‘buzz single’ I’m Back a few months ago, the Georgian MC is here with the lead single from new album King Uncaged.

Produced by DJ Toomp and featuring Keri Hilson, the track Got Your Back is a decent but hardly groundbreaking urban pop rap tune that should do reasonably well. I have a feeling it will be a real grower in fact.

T.I.P. has also collaborated with woman of the moment, Lady GaGa for the RedOne produced song Lick It. The album will be released on 17th August and will feature other collaborations with Eminem, The-Dream and Trey Songz.

You can listen to Got Your Back below:

Singles Reviews Diary 6 – 12th March 2010

It’s getting even earlier and earlier…but I have my reviews for singles being released on Monday this week. Cos I’ll most likely be busy. It’s a whopping 37 singles I’ll be covering this week (all though not all of them will be major releases).

As per usual, here are my thoughts on all major singles being released next week on:

Singles Reviews Diary 6 – 12th March 2010:

01. All Time Low: Lost In Stereo
Nothing remotely original about this at all, but if you’re like me and into you’re uptempo emo cuts, you’ll love this.
2.5 STARS

02. Ash: Dionysian Urge
I only continue to review/mention singles from Ash’s
A-Z Series because I’m pedantic and can’t bare to leave them out. This is Single Letter L so there’s still a bit to go until Ash finish this project and hopefully release something a little more hyped up. If you like Ash, then you won’t mind spending 99p/99c on this single. 3 STARS

03. Band Of Skulls: I Know What I Am
A big stomping garage rock tune from the up and coming British rock band. It has a great chorus and if radio picks it up, it could be a big hit for the group.
4 STARS

04. Black Eyed Peas: Imma Be
Seeing as the futurtastic
Imma Be Rockin’ That Body mash-up video seems to be getting a nice amount of airplay on the music channels, there is a small chance this song might chart in its own right. Really, its probably a good thing that this song is only being officially released over in North America, because this wouldn’t be an ideal single on this side of the Atlantic. This song is very hit and miss. Like previous hit My Humps, you’ll either find this very catchy, very irritating or both. The BEP repeat the words Imma Be about 100 times throughout this song, they show off some urban swagga, send out messages of positivity (yet again!) and the whole thing has that schizophrenic quality that a lot of tracks on The E.N.D. have, changing tempo about 3 times throughout. If you like what you hear, then get downloading. If not then, don’t.2.5 STARS

05. Black Eyed Peas: Rock That Body
The Black Eyed Peas go all Daft Punk on this David Guetta produced track. While not instantly accessible or poppish as
I Gotta Feeling and Meet Me Halfway, this pulsating electro tune is rather brilliant. Definitely one of the better songs to dance to in a club, this single fits best with The E.N.D.’s futuristic theme. My only concern is a lack of normal voiced Fergie (she been swallowing far too much helium on this song) but the Black Eyed Peas seem to be unstoppable this year with everything they touch turning to chart gold. 4 STARS

06. Cheryl Cole: Parachute
Like
Fight For This Love, this sounds terrible at first. However, after a few listens, this quickly infiltrates your brain until you don’t mind hearing it anymore. I wouldn’t give it 5 stars but this is a pleasant enough listen. Good stuff although ironic at this for Mrs. Cole/Ms. Tweedy. 4 STARS

07. Chris Brown: Crawl
Poor old Chris. Is his career on the downfall because of what he did to Rihanna or is it because his latest LP
Graffiti a substandard bland affair. Good points out of the way first, this has a lovely sparse intro and the strings are suitably dramatic. The video is also rather good too. But this is a ballad that is so generic, so bland, so lacking in any identity with its lyrics and vocals that any R&B singer could have pulled it off. I know I’d much rather listen to Jason Derulo sing this song. 4 STARS

08. Chris Brown featuring L.A. The Darkman: In My Shoes
As well as promoting
Graffiti, Brown has also released the mixtape In My Zone. As you’d expect, this just sounds like an underground version of I Can Transform Ya. Chris sings about a girl with a nice ass and a skinny little waist. Wow, Chris you’ve convinced us all, you’re so ghetto. L.A. The Darkman shows up for the customary rap.1 STAR

09.Craig David: One More Lie (Standing In The Shadows)
For his new album
Signed Sealed Delivered, Craig David will sample old Motown classics and give them a modern twist. On this new single from the album, he delivers by sampling The Funk Brothers Standing In The Shadows over some ravey production. To be honest, I’m done with Craig David. I don’t like his voice and I don’t like any of his new material. This is okay, I can’t see it being a huge hit. 2.5 STARS

10. Delphic: Halycon
The Teens Decade’s (2010-2019) answer to New Order return with this brilliant new single. Like their criminally underselling previous single
Doubt, this takes a few listens to reach its full catchy potential. Hopefully this charts better than Doubt. 4 STARS

11. Drake featuring Lil Wayne and Young Jeezy: I’m Goin’ In
I really like Drake. I really don’t like crude slimy Lil Wayne and horse voiced Young Jeezy. They make an otherwise underground solid hip-hop track less enjoyable.
3 STARS

12. Drake: Over
After months of releasing mixtapes and appearing on other peoples’ records, Drake releases his first proper single from his first proper album. Things look promising with this track, a moody and brooding “fuck you” to all his detractors. Despite cracking the Top 30 in the US, this is more alternative but the wonderful production should see it get some mainstream attention.
4 STARS

13. Elaine Doonan and Pete Fagan: Haiti Child
Another week, another Haiti single. This is a nice yet unextraordinary live acoustic cover by little known Irish singers.
2 STARS

14. Erykah Badu: Window Seat
Wow just discovered this girl and wow she is good! With lovely silky vocals and a smooth R&B production, she sounds like a modern day Macy Gray.
4.5 STARS

15. Glee Cast: Don’t Make Me Over
Jennifer Hudson Junior is perfect for this retro styled cover of the soulful Dionne Warwick track. A great way to start of this week’s episode Hairography.
3.5 STARS

16. Glee Cast: Papa, Don’t Preach
Again, another epic cover by the Glee Cast. Pregnant Cheerleader is perfect for this acoustic cover of Madonna’s 1986 smash. Her voice works so well with this song.
3.5 STARS

17. Glee Cast: Imagine
The Glee Cast are on a roll this week, this is an actually amazing heartwarming cover of the John Lennon classic.
5 STARS

18. Glee Cast: Bootylicious
Glee goes Destiny’s Child with this karaoke rendition. Probably the weakest cover in this week’s episode.
2.5 STARS

19. Glee Cast: True Colors
The Quirky Girl With The Fake Stutter gets her chance to shine with her cover of Cyndi Lauper’s
True Colors. Its perfectly fine but Quirky Girl hasn’t a very distinguishable voice. I would have much preferred if she cover “Puh-puh-puh-poker face, puh-puh-puh-poker face”. 3 STARS

20. Glee Cast: Hair/Crazy In Love
This is another amazing mash-up by
Glee and it features my two favourite characters – The Wheelchair Guy and Jennifer Hudson Junior. It’s brilliant and is the most likely tune to break the chart next week. Hairography is an episode you do not want to miss. 4.5 STARS

21. Groove Armada featuring Will Young: History
Very ’80s and very good. I must go out and buy Groove’s new album
Black Lightsoon…and I recommend you do too. 4.5 STARS

22. Jamie T: Emily’s Heart
Jamie T is a wonderful songwriter and this single from sophomore album
Kings And Queens showcases that perfectly. Sounds a bit like The Streets. 4 STARS

STINKER OF THE WEEK!
23. Justin Bieber and Sean Kingston: Eenie Meenie
I was going to award Stinker of the Week to Justin Bieber’s other song but I decided that this promo single is even more dire. This is a joint collaboration from the tween…sorry teen…heartthrob and the irrelevant Jamacian singer/rapper. Built around the juvenile “Eenie Menie Minie Mo” rhyme, Sean and Justin sing about an “eenie meenie mo lover” (sounds explicit for someone whose not legal yet) and refer to her as “shawty” throughout the song. Yeah guys, cos ye are so tall. This song is terrible. Terrible. Boring R&B. Has a Summery vibe but still crap. Has to be heard (for free) to realise how terrible it is.
1.5 STARS

24. Justin Bieber: Baby
I have nothing personal against the Biebmeister but if he continues to release such generic R&B junk, I’m gonna keep up my criticisms. This, for me, is worse than
One Time. The chorus is just a lazy man’s way of being catchy, repeating “Baby” over and over again. Justin’s voice also sounds weak on the chorus. Ludacris turns up to spit out some uninspired verse about his tweenhood. Can I ask why cool rappers like Ludacris and Drake (who appears in the video) want to hang around with a bunch of 15-year-olds? Like come on! 2 STARS

TRACK OF THE WEEK!
25. Lady GaGa featuring Beyoncé: Telephone
GaGa might be pretentious and fond of using gimmicks but you can’t deny her talent, creativity and her knack for writing some amazing pop songs. This will hopefully be GaGa’s fourth Number 1 in the UK. Originally written for Britney Spears, it’s a good thing GaGa held on to this for herself because only she could pull off the restrained harp backed intro and outro, the speedy club friendly production and sirens, the countless number of hooks and the fast paced verses. Beyoncé almost steals the show with her raspy verse, but after her being the lead artist on their last collaboration
Video Phone(which was a real stinker), it’s only right that Lady GaGa shines on this much better offering from the pair. 5 STARS

26. LIGHTS: Ice
Yes! A brand new find! A much cooler, female version of Owl City. LIGHTS is a one woman band who writes and plays her own New Wavey electropop tunes. Sounds like a bit like
Blackout Britney. 4 STARS

27. Major Lazer featuring Vybz Kartel: Pon De Floor
This combines rave and dancehall quite effectively. Great production but we’ve heard it all before.
3 STARS

28. Michael Bublé: Cry Me A River
Housewife favourite Michael Bublé returns with the second single from his crazy selling album
Crazy Love. The intro to the Canadian crooner’s new song is epically dramatic and his voice is very powerful but this ballad doesn’t really go anywhere. Could be a nice James Bond theme. 2.5 STARS

29. Paloma Faith: Upside Down
Paloma changes pace with the third single from her brilliant debut album,
Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful? After teary eyed ballads like Cold Stone Sober and New York, this is a much more lively track from the multi-talented soul artist. 4 STARS

30. Rod Stewart: (You’re Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher
Rod Stewart releases this solid but really unnecessary cover of the Jackie Wilson classic. Rod Stewart fans will lap it up but for everyone else, this will hardly be a blip on your radar.
1.5 STARS

31. Rowetta Howett: Beautiful Lies
Anyone remember Rowetta? Nope neither did I! She got to the Final 9 (yup, it was the Final 9 as opposed to the Final 12 back in those dark days) of the first ever series of
The X-Factor. She was also the first to be knocked out of those live finals. Her debut single is actually rather nice, nothing out of this World. Showcases that she has talent though. 3 STARS

32. Rox: My Baby Left Me
Much like Noisettes
Don’t Upset The Rhythm (Go Baby Go!), this could be a massive crossover hit if it gets enough airplay. A super catchy soulful indie track! 4.5 STARS

33. Skepta: Bad Boy
A slicky produced grime track. Much like Rox, this could be a massive crossover hit. Much better than Tinie Tempah, in my opinion.
3 STARS

34. Snoop Dogg: Rida Man
Snoopie samples the
Spiderman theme in this novelty promo single. I like it but its nothing amazing. 3 STARS

35. Snoop Dogg: I Wanna Rock
A solid old skool hip-hop track that samples Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock’s 1988 song
It Takes Two. It Takes Two is popular this week has the Black Eyed Peas have also sampled the song for Rock That Body. But while Black Eyed Peas shoot to the future, Snoop sticks to keeping the song in the past. 3 STARS

36. Three 6 Mafia vs. Tiësto featuring Flo Rida and Sean Kingston: Feel It
Wow, I’m pleasantly surprised that a song featuring my “two favourite artists” Sean Kingston and Flo Rida could be so good. Thanks to Tiesto’s fast paced production, this is a great club banger and driving song combined. Love it!
4 STARS

37. T.I.: I’m Back
T.I.’s comeback from prison song. I like T.I.’s so I won’t knock this too much but we’ve heard this kind of track from him (and many other rappers) many times before.
3.5 STARS

38. Timbaland featuring Bran’Nu: Meet In Tha Middle
Timbaland continues to release promo singles from his poor selling
Timbaland Presents Shock Value II album. This is a really great rap track and has that old skool feel of some of his earlier tunes. Brandy (of Moesha fame) also shocks by unleashing her rapping alter ego Bran’Nu and she’s just fantastic at it. One of the few artists who can rap as well as they sing. 3.5 STARS