Single Reviews Diary 22 – 2nd July 2010

Again, I’ll have to apologise for my lateness with this one – the twenty-second edition of my Single Reviews Diaries. So this week is actually the week of my 19th birthday and the singles are actually rather interesting. It wasn’t hard to pick my Track Of The Week and Stinker Of The Week because not only are they the best and worst songs of the week but probably the best and worst songs of the WHOLE ENTIRE YEAR. 3 is a magic number and magic begins with the letter M so it’s also intriguing to see that two artists, both beginning with M have released three promo singles each for our listening pleasure. So yep, it’s a peculiar week. Read my reviews below and give me comments and opinions on what you think of this week’s selection.

Single Reviews Diary 22 – 2nd July 2010:

01. 3OH!3 featuring Ke$ha: My First Kiss

3OH!3 - My First Kiss
Eurrgh! These 3OH!3 losers had me guiltily singing along to
Don’t Trust Me andStarstrukk featuring Katy Perry but at least I could admit to myself despite the guys’ obvious stupidity, there were some pop smarts underneath the tripe. Not with this – the lead single from their sophomore album Streets Of Gold. Following off the back of their last Ke$ha collaboration Blah Blah Blah, My First Kiss is just completely dumb. Starting off with a shouty “My first kiss went a little like this” followed by kissing effects, the song continues in the same annoying manner with the boys shouting tunelessly over a cascade of guitars and synths. Ke$ha’s role is pointless, only providing a brief female slant to the track and to attract some additional star power. Sure, this will make all the sweaty pre-pubescents at the teenage disco go crazy but for anyone who has moved well beyond their first kiss, this is pop at its dumbest and most senseless. And clearly 3OH!3 are becoming one trick ponies – using silly sound effects in order to sell their songs seems to be their thing. Plus the blond one (not Ke$ha) comes across totally desperate for attention in the accompanying video. I’ll give it half a point extra for the oooh-oooh hook though. 1.5 STARS

02. Ash: Instinct

Ash - Instinct: 7-inch + Download: £5.00 packshot


Single Letter T (we’re finally getting to the end of them) is a decent pop rock tune with a huge electro influence. It’s perfectly enjoyable radio fodder (not that it will get the airplay) but doesn’t boast any sizeable hook or anything really special. A pleasant listen with a nice long guitar solo towards the end.
3 STARS

03. Bombay Bicycle Club: Ivy And Gold

Bombay Bicycle Club - Ivy & Gold / Flaws
Quirky rockers Bombay Bicycle Club are yet another band with a single that recalls sunshine and school’s out. This has a very folky sound which is pleasant to listen to but I’m constantly reminded of Mumford & Sons. Decent but BBC probably need to broaden their sound out a bit more.
3 STARS

04. Cathy Davey: Army Of Tears


The extremely talented singer songwriter that is Cathy Davey has returned with the second single from her brilliant new album
The Nameless. Amidst marching band beats, ominous guitar and banjo and dramatic strings, Cathy manages once again to take the listener away from their own World and into her own otherworldly one with her soft, endearing vocals. Another excellent single, surely international success beckons. 4 STARS

05. Ciara featuring Ludacris: Ride

Ciara - Ride
Following an underwhelming foray into pop with her last album
Fantasy Ride, the Queen of Crunk Ciara returns to her raunchy roots from her first album with forthcoming fourth album, the aptly titled Basic Instinct. This song seems to be doing relatively well in her native US. Despite the sexual but “nothing new in this day and age” music video being banned in many territories, the song has cracked the US Top 50 and hit the Top 5 on the US R&B/Hip-Hop charts so clearly many urban fans have welcomed back the old Ciara. I enjoy urban music myself but this is a pretty poor comeback single. Ludacris shows up for his fifth CiCi collaboration but really this guy will rap on anything these days! He spends most of the time talking in the robot from Boom Boom Pow’s voice while Ciara croons in the only way she knows how…soft and breathy which sounds sexy alright but shows how limited her vocal range. With a title called Ride, this is clearly a bedroom jam but it’s a very run-of-the-mill bedroom jam rather than a hot steamy one. Maybe on Ciara and Ludacris’ sixth collaboration, they might surprise us? 2 STARS

06. Eliza Doolittle featuring Lloyd Wade: Pack Up

Eliza Doolittle - Pack Up
I think Eliza Doolittle is an awfully contrived singer – one of those ‘kooky’ singer-songwriter types who writes chirpy indie tracks, their bubbly vocals just perfect for the next Apple ad. That’s exactly what Eliza is on this single – chirpy. She even “tweets” halfway through the song. Not actually tweet as in write short messages on Twitter but actually imitates a bird. However, I can’t deny the catchy Summery draw of this track and the fact that Ms. Doolittle thinks outside the box a little by sampling an old World War I tune originally sang by George Asaf. Her friend Lloyd Wade gives a positive and raspy vocals work as a good catalyst to Doolittle’s “love it or hate it” singing voice. I think for this, Doolittle deserves a chance at the Top 20.
3.5 STARS

TRACK OF THE WEEK!
07. Florence + The Machine: Cosmic Love

Florence + The Machine - Cosmic Love
This track continues to give me goosebumps everytime I listen to it, even a year on from first hearing it. One could compare it to
Dog Days Are Over as it has that same Florence structure – starting off all subdued with quiet vocals and tinkling harps before exploding into a flood of heavenly vocals, tribal drumbeats and bombastic production. However, while Dog Days is a great track – it feels more like the type of song you’d dance along to at a festival. It has a real joyous celebratory feel but it never feels extraordinary – at least I don’t think so anyway. Cosmic Love has an ethereal feel to it – like it comes from another planet! Florence sounds like some otherworldly spectre as she bellows out this explosive, romantic tune with a Celtic lilt. The production matches the epic vocals and lyrics perfectly and the oooh-ooohs are beautifully haunting. When Florence hits those two high notes towards the end of song – you realise this song is nothing short of magic. This is without a doubt one of the most underappreciated mainstream releases of our time and it baffles me that it was picked as the seventh single from the album. 5 STARS

08. Foals: Miami

Foals - Miami
Following on from the brilliant
This Orient, the alternative rockers return with a song so sweaty and muscular, it matches the accompanying video to perfection. To be honest, I find this track a little lacking. Despite some funky guitar work, it’s all a bit too plodding and doesn’t pack much bite or promise. The vocals are background noise and the song should have ended 2 minutes earlier than it does. I would definitely check out there other stuff though because, unlike this, it sounds like anything but album filler. 2 STARS

09. Ham Sandwich: The Naturist


The talented band with an unfortunate name return with this soft sing-along track from their upcoming second album Natural Causes. It’s a lot softer than what we’re used to from the group with Niamh Farrel, the band’s frontwoman, packing in lots of angst and vulnerability into this acoustic track which lyrically could be compared to Robyn’s
Dancing On My Own. Irish radio needs to start playing this. 4 STARS

10. Kelis: 4th Of July (Fireworks)


I do believe I said over on the review for this song that I didn’t like this track much but I’m glad I gave it a few more listens before I reviewed it. Because
4th Of July is clearly a grower. It doesn’t have any real discernible hook but Kelis sounds like a lost ‘90s dance diva on this well produced, squelchy house track, yet another lyrical ode to her son Knight. Tying in with the American holiday, this has a misleading euphoric feel – and while it doesn’t quite reach the standards of Acapella – Kelis shows that you can jump on the dance bandwagon without sounding like everyone else out there. 4 STARS

11. Kevin Rudolf featuring Jay Sean, Lil’ Wayne and Birdman: I Made It (Cash Money Heroes)

Kevin Rudolf / Lil Wayne / Jay Sean / Birdman - I Made It (Cash Money Heroes) (Edited Version)
One hit wonder Kevin Rudolf returns with another catchy urban pop rock tune which features old cohort, the incarcerated Lil’ Wayne, pointless music video cameo staple Birdman and US flavour of the month Jay Sean. The track has an upbeat anthemic feel, no doubt helped by Sean’s smooth vocals, and is sort of likeable but is unoriginal with some clichéd and tired lyrics about artists getting to the top. Sorry guys, B.o.B. did it better.
3 STARS

12. Janelle Monáe featuring Big Boi: Tightrope

Janelle Monáe - Tightrope [feat. Big Boi]
Janelle is definitely going to be the next big global star. And well deserved…rather than posing as an oversexed avant garde artist, Monáe is a good old fashioned funky soul babe, dressed in an androgynous suit who sings at a rapid pace amongst some toe-tapping production of guitars, drumbeats and rhythmic trumpets. As much as I enjoy Big Boi for his innovative approach to hip-hop music, his appearance on this track is not worthwhile at all. That being said, Monáe is very special indeed and all eyes are on her to see what she’ll bring out next.
4 STARS

STINKER OF THE WEEK!
13. JLS: The Club Is Alive

JLS - The Club Is Alive
Complete garbage. I don’t care how many hooks this track has, I don’t care how hard JLS have worked, I don’t care how club friendly this track is and I don’t care that many teenage girls will be wetting their panties over how many times JLS pout moodily into the camera or flash their abs. We have enough bland, generic and Auto-Tuned electropop in the charts at the minute – JLS use this template but add some cringeworthy and clichéd lyrics on top of that and their voices remain indistinguishable from each other due to the Auto-Tune “effect”.
”Went to the club, not looking for love”. Who goes to a club looking for love? People go the club for cheap, drunken sex.You can be the DJ, I can be the dancefloor, you can get up on me!” Excuse me while I vomit. ”Shawties all around but I’m focused on you!” Puh-lease you are not gangsta enough to throw the word shawty around – even if Justin Bieber uses it. And good luck, Aston finding a shawty shawter than you. So yup, The Club Is Alive is just a soulless cash-in record to appeal to the teenyboppers who are, no doubt, fuelling this whole generic, soulless electro craze. I know that manufactured acts have been around before but JLS make me so mad because they’re clearly squandering the talent they have for the floods of cash they’ll get in return. There’s nothing wrong with a fun dance track but The Club Is Alive just screams “GIVE ME MONEY!” and nothing more…which is really sad. 1 STAR

14. Lee Ryan: I Am Who I Am

Lee Ryan - I Am Who I Am
After the terribly generic
Secret Love which is being released officially this week, as a double A-side Blue band member Lee Ryan is releasing a ballad. Now I think of Mr. Ryan as being a less desperate male equivalent to Katie Price/Jordan but I have to say I’m surprisingly bolwed over by this heartfelt ballad. Maybe Ryan has a bit of musicality underneath his reality TV friendly body. Beautifully sang, some great lyrics and rousing yet lonely production, this is cream of the crop as far as male pop ballads go. Lee has managed to top Take That at this feat but it’s certainly opened my eyes to the fact that the guy might have talent after all. 4 STARS

15. M.I.A.: Steppin’ Up


And so the onslaught of promo singles begins. M.I.A.’S new album
/\/\/\Y/\ is out next week and alongside buzz single Born Free and the brilliant lead single XXXO we get three taster tracks from the new record. Steppin’ Up reintroduces us to the noisy and busy tracks by M.I.A.. Opening up with incredibly loud and crunchy drill noises amongst a tuneless vocal flow of “Rub-a-dub-dub”, the song isn’t for casual M.I.A. fans. However, once you get passed all the noise, you’ve actually got a gem of a chorus/hook? Basically it’s filled with nonchalant expletives but it has a futuristic paranoia about it that’s just going to fit in perfectly with the album theme and sounds like a good alternative dance track if it gets airplay in the clubs. 3.5 STARS

16. M.I.A.: Teqkilla (sorry no video…yet! Will update!)


I’ve actually just discovered that there’s a remix of this song featuring Nicki Minaj. Jeez, is there anything Nicki isn’t appearing on these days, let alone alternative artists like M.I.A.. Teqkilla is similarly as noisy as
Steppin’ Up but is definitely made for the clubs and raves. Full of loud and noisy techno effects and a trippy production, the song doesn’t have much to say apart from being incredibly infectious. A definite return to the sound of first album Arular. 4 STARS

17. M.I.A.: Tell Me Why (sorry no video…yet! Will update!)


The final promo single from
/\/\/\Y/\, this is definitely more mainstream. Starting off with a rushed intro, this Diplo produced jam quickly descends into a much calmer sound. M.I.A. sings/raps in a slower relaxed voice against a simple yet rhythmic military beat. This could be the second official single from the album. 3.5 STARS

18. MGMT: Siberian Breaks

File:Siberian breaks single.JPG
MGMT might have promised to release zero singles from their second album
Congratulations but clearly that doesn’t apply to promotional singles. Following on from first promo single Flash Delirium, Siberian Breaks is a 12 minute lesson in overindulgent, schizophrenia in music. Frontman Andrew VanWyngarden says that Siberian Breaks is like 8 songs strung together, all lyrically speaking about surfing across the Arctic Circle (as evidenced in the Congratulations cover) and he certainly isn’t wrong. While the track is actually rather great – a psychedelic homage to Beatles-esque pop, albeit with many changes in tempo and instrumentation, it would have been better if the group just split the whole track into several different songs rather than trying to be all “hipster”. Quantity is sometimes as important as quality in music. 3 STARS

19. MGMT: It’s Working

Another psychedelic track from the boys, the opening track from Congratulations is probably one of the more poppier numbers on the album, but nothing in comparison toElectric Feel or Kids. Again, I’m strongly reminded of The Beatles as this has a similar instrumentation of harpsichords, guitars and heavy drumbeats. 3.5 STARS

20. MGMT: Congratulations


This is one of the greater tracks from the album. The title track and album closer is a really laidback, sort of Summery track with watery piano chords, quiet and poetic vocals from Andrew and lightly strum guitars. Definitely the most radio-friendly track on the album.
4 STARS

21. Miike Snow: The Rabbit


The fantastic Swedes that are Miike Snow are back with this glam stomper. This is definitely one of the more commercial tracks on the album and sounds like a less manufactured Adam Lambert track with more intriguing lyrics and some better electro production. I hope radio picks this one up.
3.5 STARS

22. The Muppets: Popcorn

The Muppets - Popcorn
Yup, Kermit The Frog, Miss Piggy and co. are back with their own cover of the easily recognisable instrumental
Popcorn composed by Gershon Kingsley back in 1969. Really this barely differs from the instrumental; it’s all about watching the music video for all its novelty fun. 2 STARS

23. Nathan featuring Flo Rida: Caught Me Slippin’


British R&B singer Nathan returns with a new song which has a sort of old fashioned Summer feel to it, a bit like R. Kelly’s
Ignition but not anywhere near as good. This song just doesn’t really go anywhere. Bar the certain old skool urban charm underlying, this is nearly as generic as they come. Nathan doesn’t show much of his vocal chops off, the lyrics are tired and clichéd, there are no strong hooks and the song opens with an annoying J.R. Rotem siren. It’s surprisingly Flo Rida who steals the show here with his rapping flowing perfectly with the song. But when Flo Rida’s the standout in your song with a disposable rap, I think that means it’s time to go back to the drawing board. 2 STARS

24. Peggy Sue: Yo Mama

Peggy Sue - Yo Mama
The folky Amy Winehouse returns with another single featuring folky instrumentals and Amy Winehouse-esque vocals. It’s a rousing track with some lovely use of accordions but doesn’t sound especially different or likely to blow you away. As I’ve said for previous single
Watchmen though, Peggy Sue shows lots of promise as an artist. 3 STARS

25. Primary 1: Princess

Princess
This has a part naff ‘80s sound and also little parts that have an experimental edge. I shouldn’t like this track but I do. There’s something very listenable about it. The video is also excellent and I recommend you watch.
3 STARS

26. Wiley featuring Jodie Connor and J2K: Electric Boogaloo (Find A Way)

Electric Boogaloo
Sorry Wiley, but Dizzee Rascal did it first. Yet another grimy track desperate for crossover success, Jodie Connor seems to be building a reputation for singing poppy hooks over rap tracks. I will give it a decent-ish score for having a Summery club feel, a decent hook and for being mercifully short though.
2.5 STARS

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Singles Reviews Diary 19 – 11th June 2010

The schedule for singles being released is constantly changing – I checked the schedule for singles being released this week (starting 11th June) on Saturday and some great, well hyped tracks were scheduled for release. I check today and most of these have been pushed back or dropped off with further notice of when they’ll be released. So yeah, most of the singles are a bit more on the alternative side this week. However, I can tell straight off from the 20 singles below which one is going to be my Track Of The Week and which one is going to be my Stinker Of The Week. Might as well, get started. Here are my thoughts on this week’s singles.

Singles Reviews Diary 19 – 11th June 2010:

01. Bless Beats featuring Wiley, Remi Nicole and De La Soul: Let It Go
A choppy, beat heavy collaboration with grime master Wiley, Kate Nash knockoff Remi Nicole and rather brilliant American rapper De La Soul, this track just isn’t memorable. Featuring vague reggae undertones, the production is dull, Remi’s chorus doesn’t have sticking power and Wiley sounds a bit too much like Dizzee Rascal. I have a feeling this track samples some older song but I can’t think what, it raises the song a little. As does De La Soul’s quick rap at the end. Not necessarily a bad song, just a dull one.
2.5 STARS

02. Delays: Unsung
The lead single from Delays’ upcoming album
Star Tiger Star Alien. This is a great synthy pop rock track, it sounds like it could belong to a soundtrack. I love the building guitar, synths and Greg Gilbert’s building falsetto on the bridge. That falsetto has the potential to annoy a few but its nothing as bad as Mika. A terrific return to form for the Southampton band. 4 STARS

03. Eminem: Not Afraid
Also back on terrific form is Eminem.
Not Afraid, the lead single from his forthcomingRecovery LP, doesn’t return to Em at the peak of his career but it’s a major step up from his previous effort Relapse which Eminem acknowledges himself as being a little “ehhhh”. Eminem raps earnestly over the hip-hop beat in this solid yet unspectacular comeback single and you really believe him when he promises to deliver for his fans this time round. I’m hoping this proves as a little taster of greater things to come for the album, which from what I’ve heard of already is shaping up nicely. I want the Rihanna collaboration Love The Way You Lie to follow next. 3 STARS

04. The England Band featuring Joe Public: Cabagna (Come On England)
This is completely naff. However, it’s lively and fun with a chorus that sticks in one’s head like bubblegum. This has a really old fashioned, family friendly feel to it. Probably the most lively English World Cup song to be released this year.
4 STARS

05. Everything Everything: Schoolin’
An intriguing and enjoyable indie rock track from the British band. This is a minimal and understated toe-tapper with little whistle hooks, running falsetto vocals and little guitar licks here and there. It’s a real grower and the track slowly seeps into your brain. I hope this is a sleeper hit like Temper Trap’s
Sweet Disposition because I can see radio picking this up despite not being upfront catchy. One thing’s for sure though, this is a band to watch out for. 4.5 STARS

06. Example: Kickstarts
After scoring a Top 10 hit with
Won’t Go Quietly, Chris Martin lookalike rapper Example with what is bound to be another hit. Combining rapping and singing over squeaky house beats, Example sings about falling in love over and over again. More importantly, Example has managed to craft a radio friendly song that doesn’t mimic his contemporaries like Tinchy Stryder, Chipmunk and N-Dubz. Another great single from Mr. Example, better known to his mum as Elliot Gleave. 4 STARS

07. Fatboy Slim featuring Herve: Machines Can Do The Work
Fatboy Slim is back with a big acid house track. Squelchy synths and a pounding bass with the repetitive hook of “Machines can do the work” (the modern, lazy way of looking at things) is by no means evolutionary but this is pretty much a tune to hit the dancefloor at a rave or pump out of you’re souped up ride. Above most other alternative dance tracks at the minute.
3.5 STARS

08. Green Day: Last Of The American Girls
Green Day have a new single out?! I barely realised. This is due to the rather disappointing commercial reception of Green Day’s most recent album
21st Century Breakdown. When you compare it to American Idiot which was EVERYWHERE in 2004/2005, this album has failed to live up to the height of its former’s glory. The reason for this is that 21st Century Breakdown has no standout songs, it makes an overall cohesive album but Last Of The American Girls is just your stereotypical, recycled Green Day anthem that we’ve heard from them numerous times before. It lacks the humungous draw of singles such as American Idiot, Boulevard Of Broken Dreams, Holiday, Jesus Of Suburbia and Wake Me Up When September Ends and hence just falls into mundanity. 2.5 STARS

09. Green Day: When Its Time
Seeing as the singles following
21 Guns have not been so successful, it looks like Billy Joe and co. are also throwing out another single, this time from the upcoming Green Day musical. The song is a big heartfelt power ballad and like Last Of The American Girls also sounds recycled from some of their older hits. However, lyrically this is very good and Billy Joe’s vocals are in great form, angst and all. A little less mundane than the above single. 3.5 STARS

10. Kele: Tenderoni
Bloc Party lead man Kele is striking out on his own with this electropop track, the first of his solo career. A thumping beat and building dance beats combine with Kele’s endearingly, quiet vocals. The slightly robotic chorus is the standout of this track but I can’t help thinking I’ve heard the majority of the beat on some other track before and I also feel it drowns out his voice somehow. Not as spectacular as I would have believed but a solid debut effort from Mr. Okereke.
3.5 STARS

11. Kids In Glass Houses featuring Frankie Sanford: Undercover Lover
EmoPunk pop rockers Kids In Glass Houses have an unlikely collaborator on this track – why it’s only Saturdays pop vixen Frankie Sanford! The song is a fun, radio friendly pop track with Frankie oddly giving me Natalie Imbrugula vibes. If I were to be cynical,I would say that Kids In Glass Houses only added Frankie to this track so that they could get more radio airplay but you can’t argue with that fantastic chorus, those building guitars and those angsty wails from Aled Phillips and Frankie Sanford. The lyrics are terrible though – “You seem to be a scholar but you’re living here in squalor” is sickening poor. But still – this is a fun pop rock track and its been a while since we last had a rock group team up with a pop singer so enjoyable enough stuff.
3 STARS

12. Macy Gray: Lately
The irreplaceable Macy Gray is back with the third single from her forthcoming album
The Sellout. The track is mildy funky with a modern twist of synths and Gray’s vocals are as distinctive and rich as ever. However, this track is better as album fever because it isn’t very memorable. 2.5 STARS

STINKER OF THE WEEK!
13. McLean: Finally In Love
The incredibly annoying and unoriginal McLean returns with another single after his previous unoriginal effort cracked the UK Top 10. This is so generic it makes me sick. Pounding synths and vocals and heartfelt lyrics lifted straight from the Lemar songbook, this is a dull, throwaway mess!
1.5 STARS

14. Paul Weller: Find The Torch, Burn The Plans
A rousing Britpop tune, this is a potential grower. It’s not spectacular but I do like the combination of more rockier instrumentation with electronic influences. Fans of Weller should check this out.
3 STARS

TRACK OF THE WEEK!
15. Robyn: Dancing On My Own
Critics have always praised Robyn for some reason unbeknownst to me – her voice is hardly Etta James, her songs aren’t Mozart and her lyrics aren’t Bob Dylan. But with this song, I’ve finally got why critics love Robyn so much. This song is just heartbreaking and empathetic all at the same time. Against a cascade of clubby yet strangely beautiful disco beats, Robyn sings in a heartfelt and melancholy way of how the person she’s in love with has no interest in her and would much rather get it on with someone else. Its something we can all empathise with and Robyn brings that emotional heartbreak across perfectly…which just shows you don’t need to have a pair of powerhouse pipes to convey emotion. I hope this is a huge Summer hit for Robyn. In fact I hope it becomes a pop classic…because it deserves that status completely.
5 STARS

16. Seven Days: Outside
Another Irish band to come out of nowhere, crack the chart and will have dropped out of it next week. I really think the Irish charts are fixed. My paranoid conspiracy theories aside, this isn’t much. Not awful, just a dull pop rock song with clichéd lyrics and unexciting instrumentation and vocals.
2 STARS

17. The Temper Trap: Love Lost
Aussie one hit wonders The Temper Trap return with the second follow up single to their spectacular and commercially successful
Sweet Disposition. Dougy Mandagi’s distinctive falsetto is in place but the song doesn’t really gain epic momentum until the final two minutes, a little too late if you ask me…but there’s plenty to love about this track…even if it won’t be a future classic. 3 STARS

18. Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers: I Should Have Known It
From their upcoming album
MOJO, veteran rockers Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers are back with this good old fashioned rousing rock tune. Age clearly hasn’t affected the band on this country tinged tune. Definitely worth checking out although I doubt this will chart. It has a very, dirty American sound to it. 4 STARS

19. Tiffany Page: On Your Head
A sexy new rock singer-songwriter to keep your eye (and ear) on! Lyrically good, this lady has echoes of Amy Macdonald and Laura Marling to her although her influences are clearly more classic rock than folk music. Despite its almost 1990s No Doubt verses, Page isn’t afraid to give us a radio friendly chorus. Expect her to be a breakout star in 2011.
4 STARS

20. UNKLE featuring Sleepy Sun: Follow Me Down
The British trip-hop group unleash this fantastic single on us. The electronica mixed with World instruments and Sleepy Sun’s Rachel Fannan’s primal vocals give this song a sense of urgency and other worldliness. Definitely the alternative track to check out this week.
4.5 STARS

So great, another week of single reviews done.Tomorrow, I hope to get the 20th Diary done (well before Monday) but don’t count on it seeing as I’ve become very lazy lately. Nearly at this for 20 weeks now, I am so proud of myself! As usual, I want comments, feedback of what you think and what your opinions are on this week’s singles.

Singles Reviews Diary 4 – 29th February 2010

Why can’t I ever post my singles review diary on the right day? Oh well. Took me ages to write this one out. And guess what?! These posts are now a month old. Time just flies, doesn’t it? Here are the forthcoming singles.

Singles Reviews Diary 4 – 29th February 2010:

01. Alex Cornish: Scotland The Brave
Nope, this isn’t a cover of the patriotic Scottish song. Instead this is a decent enough but hardly groundbreaking soft rocker by the up and coming Scottish singer songwriter.
2 STARS

Scotland the Brave

02. Amy Macdonald: Don’t Tell Me That It’s Over
It’s all about the Scottish singer songwriters this week, isn’t it? The fabulous Amy Macdonald is back ahead of the release of her second album A Curious Thing. Website We Are Pop Slags have compared this song to Shakira and Muse. True, enough Amy does sound like Shakira on this one albeit with a more Celtic lilt to her voice and the more heavy guitars and strings could be compared to Muse. It’s an interesting new direction for the singer and I’ll keep my ears open but I’m still preferring her earlier folk tunes.
3.5 STARS

File:Amy macdonald-dont tell me that its over s.jpg

03. Ash: Song Of Your Desire
Another melodic song from Ash. This is the 12th single from their A-Z Series so still another 15 singles to go. The lack of hype or the sheer difficulty of being able to find these singles online show that these guys need to seriously start a new project soon.
3 STARS

Ash - Song Of Your Desire: 7-inch + Download: £5.00 packshot

04. The Automatic: Run And Hide
The Automatic are back and sounding better than ever on this uptempo new track from their upcoming album Tear The Signs Down. This is immediately gripping on first listen.
4 STARS

05. Boyzone: Gave It All Away
Boyzone are back after a rough year. This reggae tinged ballad features vocals from late band member Stephen Gately and features him singing the lyric “I will learn to live before I die”. To be honest if this had been released with Gately still alive, I would have considered it a solid rather than spectacular effort from the Boyz. The fact that Gately is now gone, this track holds a lot more significance than it would have originally.
2 STARS

06. Crookers featuring Miike Snow: Remedy
Miike Snow are back with another grim yet enjoyable listen. Italian producers Crookers, probably best known for remixing Kid Cudi’s Day ‘N’ Nite, give the song an alternative club mix.
3 STARS

07. The-Dream: Love King
The producer behind Rihanna’s Umbrella and Beyoncé’s Single Ladies (Put It In A Love Song) releases a new single. Like the two aforementioned songs he produced, this is a fun and catchy if a little repetitive R&B track.
3.5 STARS

08. Eels: A Line In The Dirt
The Eels return with the first single from their fantastic new album End Times. Mark Oliver Everett’s distinctive vocals are in place as usual against this melodic, piano backed song.
3 STARS

09. Fe-Nix: Swagga
Britain’s favourite underground girlband fe-nix come out with a real winner of a urban pop song. It’s really catchy and should make up for the lack of Pussycat Dolls at the moment. A refreshing alternative to all the Sugababes and Saturdays stuff at the moment.
3.5 STARS

10. Glee Cast: Dancing With Myself 3 STARS

Dancing With Myself (Glee Cast Version)

11. Glee Cast: Defying Gravity 4 STARS

Defying Gravity (Glee Cast Version)

12. Glee Cast: Proud Mary 4 STARS

Proud Mary (Glee Cast Version)

Covers of Generation X, Wicked and Creedence Clearwater Revival this week. There’s no real point in me reviewing these songs because with Glee, you get the original song made a little more cheesy, a little more stage schooly and features kooky backing vocals. However, I did sit down and watch the show last night with my sister for the first time. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. For all its cheese, Glee is a show that doesn’t take itself too seriously and is actually quite satiric when it comes to all the typical high school movie/TV show clichés. It’s still a bit too cheery for me so I don’t think I’ll be a long term fan

Anyway I think I should comment on the cast members vocals. I don’t remember any of their names so I’m gonna give them all nicknames. Well, the rulers of the Glee club at the moment are the Uncool Rapper Teacher and the Blond Unsmiling Evil One. Uncool Rapper Teacher is all down with the kids so much so that he raps along to Kanye West and Sisquo tracks. But he’s actually not that ghetto cos he’s afraid of conflict and in an unhappy marriage with Crazy False Pregnant Woman. But the kids of Glee bring out the best in him and all that. But there’s a bit of a love square going on as Uncool Rapper Teacher is secretly in love with Freaky Ginger Woman and she’s secretly in love with too. But too make things even more complicated, Heavy Football Coach is in love with Freaky Ginger Woman too. Like OMG! Drama!

Meanwhile, Blond Unsmiling Evil One is trying to destroy Glee Club for some reason. I like Blond Unsmiling Evil One, she’s really funny in a dry kind of way.

Then meanwhile there’s the kids. There’s the Social Outcast Hot Girl who in real life would never be a social outcast because she’s so hot but she is anyway. Anyway, she’s in love with Tall Jock Guy and I think he’s in love with her. Tall Jock Guy, however, is going out with Pregnant Cheerleader Girlfriend who is like pregnant and prevents Social Outcast Hot Girl and Tall Jock Guy from going out with each other. The drama is just killing me.

There’s also Feminine Guy, Jennifer Hudson Junior, Quirky Asian Girl, Naturally Olive Skinned Sidekick Of Pregnant Cheerleader Girlfriend Who Cries When Her Tanning Products Are Taken Away, Eastern European Descended Sidekick Of Pregnant Cheerleader Girlfriend, Wheelchair Guy and Badass Jock With Mohawk who make up the rest of Glee Club.

Okay, kind of rambled with the plot synopsis. But now that we know all the characters, here’s what I think of their vocals.

  • Uncool Rapper Teacher – his voice is solid, hardly amazing. NEEDS TO STOP RAPPING!
  • Social Outcast Hot Girl – her voice is really amazing, very clear and gives me goosebumps.
  • Tall Jock Guy – his voice has lots of potential. It sounds a bit boybandish at the minute but if he keeps training, his voice could take on a more intriguing husky sound.
  • Jennifer Hudson Junior – the clue is in the name. She has a real soulful powerful voice like J-Hud or Christina Aguilera. Tends to oversing a bit but who cares when ya have a voice like that!
  • Feminine Guy – clue’s also in the name. His voice is feminine from what I’ve heard.
  • Quirky Asian Girl – has a softer voice than the other two girls I mentioned. I like it but it’s not amazing.
  • Wheelchair Guy – I wish he would sing more. He has that real strong, raspy kind of voice that Tall Jock Guy hasn’t developed yet.
  • Pregnant Cheerleader Girlfriend – She has a really good voice too. Kind of has a detached quality to it which suits her character.
  • I’ve only heard Badass Jock With Mohawk, Naturally Olive Skinned Sidekick Of Pregnant Cheerleader Girlfriend Who Cries When Her Tanning Products Are Taken Away and Eastern European Descended Sidekick Of Pregnant Cheerleader Girlfriend on backing vocals so can’t really judge them.

TRACK OF THE WEEK!
13. Gorillaz featuring Mos Def and Bobby Womack: Stylo
Everyone’s experimental group are back. I can’t put into words how excited I am to see the return of the Gorillaz and hope this track gets plenty of airplay and chart successful. Icy, ominous, a little bit funky, sounds like it should soundtrack a video game from the ’80s, this is literally amazing!
4 STARS

Stylo (feat. Mos Def and Bobby Womack)

14. Gramophonedzie: Why Don’t You
More experimental stuff as this song drags us right back to the ’40s with this Peggy Lee sampling tune. I love this entertaining return to the seriously retro and its definitely interesting. But the old jazzy sample doesn’t blend well with the modern production of Gramophonedzie.
3 STARS

15. Iyaz: Solo
Sean Kingston’s replacement, singer/rapper and basically a Virginian Islands junior version of Akon releases his second single. Not to everyones taste but I love Iyaz’s brand of sunny pop/R&B. This has the same level of catchiness as previous single Replay but like Sean Kingston might suffer from sounding too much alike his other material.
3 STARS

Solo

STINKER OF THE WEEK!
16. Ke$ha featuring 3OH!3: Blah Blah Blah
I’ve actually listened to Ke$ha’s Animal album and after a few listens am surprised by what a fun pop album it is. One song that didn’t get my seal of approval though was this monstrosity. Lyrically, its stupid. Vocally, its Auto-Tuned trash. Production wise, it’s all over the place with random bleeps and blips. And 3OH!3 turn up for a cameo where they deliver a robust, gramatically incorrect verse. Can’t believe better songs are stuck on the album while this gets the single treatment.
1 STAR

17. Lil’ Wayne featuring Nicki Minaj: Knockout
The soon-to-be incarcerated rapper drops another single this week. This is from his rock album Rebirth and I’m surprised to find I actually really like this. Against punk pop guitars, Wayne and my new favourite femcee Nicki Minaj warble in Auto-Tune over them. This has major crossover potential. Minaj sounds sexy and Wayne sounds listenable. Might check out his album now.
4 STARS

Lil Wayne ft Nicki Minaj - Knockout

18. LMFAO: LaLaLa
Generic Auto-Tuned R&B. Heard this all from T-Pain before too many times.
1 STAR

Click pic to play "La La La"

19. Ludacris featuring Lil’ Kim and Lil’ Fate: Hey Ho
Funky if a little repetitive new track from Ludacris. Second single from his Battle of the Sexes album. Great fun to hear Ludacris, Lil’ Kim and Lil’ Fate have a big rap battle over who is the better of the sexes.
2.5 STARS

20. Mary J. Blige: I Am
Despite earning the title of Queen of Hip Hop Soul, Mary J. hasn’t had a great run of success with her last few singles. Mainly ’cause they were rather boring. Thankfully, Mary J. is on to a winner with this well, produced, catchy, glossy R&B track. Sounds a bit like Pussycat Dolls
Stikwitu with better vocals. 3.5 STARS

21. Mumford & Sons: The Cave
After the infectious
Little Lion Man, The Cave is a bit of a disappointment. However, it does seem like it could be a grower and I find the folk group refreshing in today’s music industry. 2.5 STARS

22. Nerina Pallot: I Don’t Want To Go Out
A fun, cheery and bouncy pop song that doesn’t sound unlike Little Boots or Lenka. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
3 STARS

23. OK Go: This Too Shall Pass
I know I’m making lots of comparisons but this song sort of reminds me of the White Stripes. Amongst chimes and a marching band, OK Go give us another quirky tune. However, this features childrens’ vocals and I just cannot stand kids singing in songs. Drives me nuts. Not my cup of tea but some people might like it. I’d like it if they’d strip away certain elements.
3.5 STARS

24. Sean Kingston: Hot Like The Summer
More Summery reggae pop from Mr. Kingston. It’s fine, nothing special. Poor guy will probably never have a mega hit like Beautiful Girls again though. The only reason last single
Fire Burning was so successful though was because of RedOne. 2.5 STARS

25. Stunt: Fade Like The Sun
Harmless Eurodance. Should keep Cascada fans and drunken nightclubbers happy.
2 STARS

26. Timbaland featuring Drake: Say Something
Timbaland is back with another promo single. Don’t worry, you probably won’t hear much of it. I really like Drake as a rapper and he provides a solid chorus here. This has a more old school R&B feel to it. One of the better tracks from my guilty pleasure
Timbaland Presents Shock Value II. 3.5 STARS

27. Tinie Tempah featuring Labrinth: Pass Out
Really unoriginal grime track. It’s fine but throwaway. Features cocky rapping from Tinie Tempah and singing chorus by Labrinth.
3 STARS

28. Naughty Boy presents Wiley featuring Emeli Sande: Never Be Your Woman
Wiley may be over to crossover into the mainstream again with Naughty Boy’s garage production and Diamond Rings singer Emeli Sande. Good stuff. I like this. Samples a song from the late ’90s that samples a song itself. Clever. It’s like a sample within a sample within a song.
4 STARS

29. Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Skeletons
Not my favourite track from Yeah Yeah Yeahs criminally underselling It’s Blitz! album but I want this track to do well all the same. Karen O’s voice is just amazingly haunting. Yeah Yeahs Yeahs are like the Blondie of the 21st century. Why can’t people see that???!!!
3.5 STARS

Singles Reviews Diary 1 – 5th February 2010

Every week, I post a diary of single reviews across various sites on the Internet. I’ve decided to add it here so we can all have a good discussion about singles being released each week. I’m from Ireland so naturally the singles I review will have been released in Ireland the date the Diary is named after. Comments and feedback are appreciated.

Okay so, forthcoming singles this week and my thoughts:

Singles Reviews Diary 1 – 5th February 2010:

01. Calvin Harris: You Used To Hold Me (Video)
Mr. Harris is just releasing irritating filler from his album now. Give it up and get back in the studio.
2 STARS

You Used To Hold Me (Radio Edit)

02. Cherri V. featuring Wiley: Skool Daze (Video)
I thought this would be an irritating garage
choon! But this is a pleasant enough mid-tempo, it has to be said. 3 STARS

Skool Daze

03. Erik Hassle: Hurtful (Video)
I really like this Swedish dude. He’s a pop singer that writes intelligent songs. Although they may be too angsty and depressing for most mainstream audiences. Not as good as last single,
Don’t Send Flowers After I’m Dead, but a likeable enough power ballad with sparse synths and marching band drum beats. 3.5 STARS

Hurtful

04. Field Music: Them That Do Nothing (Video)
Reminds me of Mumford & Son even though they’re not really alike. Nice tune.
4 STARS

Them That Do Nothing

05. Glee Cast: Somebody To Love (Video)
I think you’d need to have a heart of stone not to be bowled over by every
Glee cover ever. As much as I hate to admit it, they’re all amazing and offer a refreshing alternative to the original. 5 STARS

Somebody To Love (Glee Cast Version)

06. Helping Haiti: Everybody Hurts (Video)
Although I think REM’s 1993 single being totally inappropriate for the Helping Haiti campaign, this is not half as bad as I thought it would be. Well done to all involved vocally, I actually really like Kylie’s part.
4 STARS

Everybody Hurts

STINKER OF THE WEEK!
07. Jedward featuring Vanilla Ice: Under Pressure (Ice Ice Baby) (Video)
As we’ve discussed already, you’ll either love or hate the hyperactive twins with their mash up of Queen’s
Under Pressure and Vanilla Ice’s Ice Ice Baby novelty tune. As it happens, I hate it. 1.5 STARS

Under Pressure (Ice Ice Baby)

08. John, Shelly & The Creatures: Long May You Reign (Video)
Northern Irish rockers John, Shelly & The Creatures may just hit the big time with this smooth soft rock song that is currently used to advertise tourism in Ireland.
4 STARS

Long May You Reign

09. Johnny Foreigner: Every Cloakroom Ever (Video)
I think they’re Britain’s answer to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs! A short yet sweet tune with quiet vocals amongst noisy guitar intervals.
4 STARS

Every Cloakroom Ever

TRACK OF THE WEEK!
10. The Maccabees featuring Roots Manuva: Empty Vessels (Video)
I’ve never heard rapper Roots Manuva before but he is one talented rapper. He raps earnestly against the Maccabees talented instrumental skills. 5 STARS

Empty Vessels

11. Miike Snow: Silvia (Video)
Miike Snow are amazing and this song proves it. The indie electro band which contains production team Bloodshy & Avant have another winner on their hands.
4.5 STARS

Silvia

12. Rammstein: Ich Tu Der Weh (Video)
Despite this song being 100% German and me not speaking any German whatsoever, I love this song. I discovered this industrial metal band recently and their REALLY good.
4 STARS

Ich Tu Dir Weh

13. Rihanna featuring Young Jeezy: Hard (Video)
Rihanna releases her second promo single this week.
Hard sees the Bajan beuaty show off her more urban new gangsta side with cocky lyrics and a fun repetitive chorus. This might take a while to grow on some people but it should go down well in clubs despite not actually being your typical club banger. 4 STARS

I Heard It Through The Grapevine: Katt Williams, Rihanna V Breezy, Alicia Keys

14. Sade: Soldier Of Love (Video)
Comeback soul queen returns with a beautiful, military percussion track like nothing else in the chart at the moment. This is on constant replay on my iPod.
4 STARS

Soldier Of Love (Single)

15. Taylor Swift: Today Was A Fairytale (Video)
If you’re a fan of Taylor Swift, then you’ll love this. Unfortunately I’m getting a little tired of the 20-year old’s cheesy country lite tunes about princes and princesses. Used to promote the star heavy new rom-com
Valentine’s Day where Swift stars with that other Taylor she used to date.1.5 STARS

16. You Me At Six: Underdog (Video)
British emo rockers You Me At Six return with a solid yet predicatble power popper. Enjoyable with a large chorus but not as good as breakthrough single
Finders Keepers. 3 STARS

Underdog