Friday, October 29, 2010

Perfunctory post about Alesha's new video

After all the saucepans-in-a-cement-mixer bedlam of Drummer Boy, Alesha Dixon has gone for the more playlist-friendly Raveballad option on her new single, Radio. The video was filmed on same the trailer park set The Sugababes used for About A Boy. And we all know how well that story ended, don't we?

Thank you, Alesha Dixon.

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Chasing imperfection: Mistakes in pop music

"In painting, as in everything else, there is a fatal tendency to become accustomed to one's faults."

Those are the words of British author John Collier. They got me thinking about how musicians often become consumed by their worst personality traits. Sting, for example, will no longer record a song unless it's in an obscure time signature from the Byzantine era. His last album was entirely written in π+2(16/72), and played on an Tambur owned by a Sumerian monk.

But it works the other way round, too. Once an artist grows accustomed to a fault, they can tame it and incorporate it into their music.

While recording You Really Got Me, The Kinks wanted to capture the distorted buzz of their live shows, so they slashed their amps with a razor blade. In doing so, according to musicologist Robert Walser, they recorded "the track which invented heavy metal".

The Kinks - You Really Got Me

More recently, T-Pain's entire career has been based on the deliberate mis-use of autotune. One mistake with the settings became an artistic statement, hugely distinctive and widely copied.

Nostalgia for the ramshackle technology of yesterday also affects the way music is recorded.

I'm not talking about Lenny Kravitz buying The Beatles' mixing desk so he can suck John Lennon's spirit out of it like a voodoo priest of tedious soft rock. Instead, listen to the way Norman Cook turns the crackle of a vinyl record into a percussion track on Beats International's Dub Be Good To Me.

Beats International - Dub Be Good To Me

My favourite example comes from The Roots, on their 1999 album track Step Into The Realm.

?uestlove and Black Thought say the song was inspired by their youth, when the only musical "instruments" they owned were tape recorders. They would tape the instrumental sections of their favourite songs onto cassette, several times over, so they could practice rapping. Often, the only suitable sections were on the fade-out, so the music would disappear into the distance when they reached the loop point - then jump back in at full volume on the first beat of the next bar. When they came to record Step Into The Realm, they recreated the effect by sampling and fading their own instruments.

The Roots - Step Into The Realm

In the words of Scott Adams: "Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep". But as the methods of creating music become ever more precise and digitised, I wonder what mistakes will inspire the artists of the future?

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Robyn's Indestructible video

Eventually I'll stop wittering on about Robyn, but only come when she stops releasing amazing records.

Here's the video for her new single Indestructible. It's sort of unsafe for work, but only if you work in a Convent or the Vatican.

Robyn - Indestructible

Man, I used to love crazy straws.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Justin Timberlake's history of hip-hop

This is one of the best pre-rehearsed chat show moments of all time. Jimmy Fallon, Justin Timberlake and the freakin' Roots with a four-minute hip-hop masterclass.

You would not get this on Graham Norton.

Now, Justin, stop mucking about AND GET BACK IN THE STUDIO.

[via the inestimable Hattie C]

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Lykke Li-bido

According to The Independent, Lykke Li is the most-blogged about artist of the last 24 hours, so you're probably already aware of the free download on her website. But seeing as it's fantastic, I'm going to add my voice to the chorus of approval.

The two-track EP is a teaser for the Swede's new album, which is due out next year. Judging by the lead track, Get Some, she's become a filthy saucebucket since we last heard from her. Instead of the breathy love songs of Youth Novels, Lykke is instructing a man to take off his pants while declaring "I'm a prostitue, you're gonna get some" over a lusty, tribal drumbeat.

Well I never.

Lykke Li - Get Some

You can download the track and the slightly more sedate b-side, Paris Blue, by signing up for the mailing list on Lykke Li's official website.

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Introducing Zola Jesus

This Christmas, Florence And The Machine is releasing yet another version of her admittedly-quite-good debut album, Lungs. This third (fourth?) repackage comes with exclusive artwork, new sleeve notes, one new song, that abomination with Dizzee Rascal, a pendant, some remixes, some live tracks, a clod of soil, a breath mint, five stamps, a lithograph of Florence's GCSE art project, a ticket stub, a fairy's tear, a moonbeam, a wheel of brie and, for one lucky recipient, Florence's actual lung.

It's all very exciting, but why not save yourself all that clutter and buy Zola Jesus's new album instead? It sounds exactly like Florence and The Machine AND she promises not to turn up without provocation or invitation to every festival in the universe singing You Got The Bloody Love until the original loses every atom of its power.

Here are two of Zola's songs. They are quite literally embedded below.

Zola Jesus - Sea Talk

Zola Jesus - Night Music

Both tracks are available on the album Stridulum II.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Cheryl on the X Factor: Two questions

Q1) Who genuinely cares whether or not she was miming?

Q2) Who else in the current UK pop scene could carry off a performance at this level?

A1) Nobody.

A2) No-one.

Cheryl Cole - Promise This (X Factor)

Why on earth is this on the front page of the newspapers? There is a recession on, for crying out loud.

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The Beatles and Social Networking

In case you've missed or ignored all the five-star reviews and impressive box-office figures, The Social Network is a very, very good film. Half parable, half character study, the story of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg shows how big ideas tend create an equally big trail of destruction for those involved. No matter how trivial Facebook may turn out to be, there is an echo in its creation of the great intellectual disputes of the 20th Century - Marconi vs Logie Baird, or Rosalind Franklin's often-overlooked contribution to Crick and Watson's discovery of the DNA sequence.

If this all sounds a bit dry, bear in mind that the script comes from West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin - a man with a gift for breathing drama into the dry legalese of backroom deals. The central performances from Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield and Armie Harmer (who plays as both Cameron Winklevoss and his twin brother Tyler) are exceptional, too, dashing off the intricate dialogue as if they were in The Inbetweeners, not a drama about coding a website.

Anyway, this is supposed to be a blog about music and, aside from the fact that this movie has kept Justin Timberlake out of the studio for another six months (booo), there's a lot of great soundtrack action in The Social Network.

Amongst the highlights is a disturbingly dark moog version of In The Hall Of The Mountain King by Trent Reznor. The Nine Inch Nails frontman also compiled the film's licensed music, and pulled off the coup of securing a Beatles track for the closing credits. I have to admit it's one I wasn't familiar with - Baby, You're A Rich Man. A snippet was featured in the Yellow Submarine film back in 1968, but it's more familiar to Beatlemaniacs as the B-side to All You Need Is Love. If The Fab Four were on iTunes, this would have charted after the film was released.

The Beatles - Baby, You're A Rich Man

Sadly, there's no soundtrack album for The Social Network (although there is a CD of Reznor's score available). Luckily, though, movie music blog Reel Sound has compiled a definitive list of the songs in the film, so you can handcraft your own playlists.

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Gig review: Robyn rocks the Shepherd's Bush Empire

Something happened at Robyn's gig tonight that I have never, ever seen before. About three minutes into the show, a couple of dozen people lowered their phones, stopped filming and just watched.

The Swedish singer deserves it. She throws herself into performing with the sort of energy you'd normally associate with a thermonuclear event. "She's the Duracell Bunny of pop", an acquaintance tweeted during the gig. Yes, but it's the Duracell bunny on a Red Bull drip, shadow boxing a pair of scissors on an electrified dancefloor. And that's darned hard work in a pair of skin-tight red leather trousers.

Robyn's setlist is largely drawn from the first two volumes of her Body Talk trilogy. They're powerful songs of rebellion, crisis, heartbreak and hope - and the melodrama is only heightened by the presence of live musicians and dual drummers. They cut loose on the big electro tracks like Cobrastyle and Fembot, but are sensitive enough to rein it in when Robyn needs to emote on Hang With Me... and make no mistake, despite scampering around the stage like an adorable bottle-blonde puppy, Robyn delivers vocally.

This was the last night of the current tour, so we got a slightly extended set - including new single Indestructible, which "we've never done before". Perhaps it's unfair to gripe at the generosity, but I did feel the bonus content exposed a certain lack of variety in Robyn's song catalogue. The button that activates the digga-digga-digga bassline must have had a phone book resting on it to save the keyboard player from RSI.

But by the time we got to the encores, the relentless digital thrum was put to one side. A slyly funky Dancehall Queen had the crowd gyrating and grinding against whatever solid object met with the least resistance. Everyone joined in the call-and-response mayhem of Konichiwa Bitches and, to close the night, a minimalist version of 1997's Show Me Love had long-term fans on their feet, straining for the high notes.

Concerts don't really get much better than this. On a couple of occasions I even experienced that "gig euphoria" where, without the aid of drugs or alcohol, you feel a swelling wave of goodwill towards an entire room of complete strangers. It's the sort of thing that makes you want to put away your camera phone and just watch.

THX Intro
Cry When You Get Older
Hang With Me
We Dance To The Beat / Don't Fucking Tell Me What To Do
Love Kills
The Girl & The Robot
Dancing On My Own
Dream On
With Every Heartbeat

Encore one:
Look Into My Eyes
Konichiwa Bitches / Close To Me (The Cure)
Be Mine

Encore two:
Dancehall Queen
Dancing Queen (Abba) / Show Me Love

PS: If you have any sense, you'll book tickets for Robyn's UK return at The Roundhouse before you get distracted by that squirrel.

[Photos on this post courtesy of NRK on Flickr]

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Cheryl Cole: You can't hold on to water man pet

There's an recurring phenomenon in pop culture, where a bunch of creative people working independently of each other somehow cluster around the same idea.

For example, two meteoroid disaster movies, Deep Impact and Armageddon, premiered within months of each other in 1998. Last year, Guy Ritchie and Steven Moffat both had versions of Sherlock Holmes in production at the same time.

It happens in music, too. Right now, everyone seems to have decided that The Flood is a good name for a single (it is). Katie Melua started it off, Take That picked up the baton and now they've passed it on to Cheryl Cole.

Take That's song is largely nonsense. They're "standing on the edge of forever" and "holding back the flood", whatever that means. The lyrics aim for spiritual mystery, but Robbie & Gary just sound like two mad men with no trousers ranting at traffic.

Melua is more robust. She's talking about a sea-change in her relationship, which turns into a flood, washing away the foundations of her life. She doesn't seem to be that bothered, though. "No-one is to blame," she croons repeatedly.

Plucky little Cheryl is the most proactive of the bunch. In fact, she seems to be deliberately throwing her man to the mercy of a raging storm. "Turn the lights off in the lighthouse," she hisses, "I saw you coming". There follows a shipwreck and a gloomy chorus about love slipping through her fingers like water. Yikes!

There's an obvious way to interpret these lyrics, which I needn't go in to here. The important thing is that this is Cheryl's first BIG BALLAD, and it's surprisingly effective. Emotive, catchy, radio friendly and very, very well sung.

If she doesn't have rain pouring over her in the video, it will be a big mistake.

Cheryl's second solo album, Messy Little Raindrops, is out on 1st November.

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Nero - A terrific cacophony

I'm starting to go boggle-eyed after a week or two of constant, skull-rattling dubstep. But you can't keep a good subgenre down, and I'm inflicting continued distress to my subwoofer right now with the new single from Nero.

Describing themselves as "classically trained musicians writing fucking horrible music", Nero are London-based duo Dan Stephens and Joe Ray. As DJs of great standing and repute, you may have come across them in a club (they're playing the brilliantly-named Bonk in Finland tonight) or remixing the likes of La Roux and Calvin Harris.

But those were mere practice runs.

With some help from vocalist Alana, their new single You & Me takes Dubstep's demonic wub-wub-wub acid bass and shoots it to pieces with a sawn-off synthesizer. For some reason, it reminds me of Paul Hardcastle's mighty Top Of The Pops theme, The Wizzard - not just sonically, but because it triggers the same excited anticipation I used to get just before David 'Kid' Jensen introduced Black Box or Sydney Youngblood to the stage on a Thursday night in 1989.

Basically, right, what I'm trying to say is "I like this song very much, and here is a YouTube clip of it that you may enjoy in your own time".

Nero ft Alana - Me & You

See also: A much more considered write-up of Nero in posho US cultural magazine The New Yorker. Oooh, get them.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Press release vs reality - pt 293

Allow me to introduce up-and-coming artist Roxanne Emery. She's got a beautiful Lisa Loeb-esque voice, and a new single that sounds like this:

Roxanne Emery - Real

Gotta love that cello.

There's a lovely story in Roxanne's official biography, which will be the basis of around a dozen stories in the music press in the next month. Here it goes:

"Until last year [Roxanne] was a trader in the city for Russian firm Renaissance Capital. She repeatedly asked her colleagues to come to her gigs, but when her requests fell on deaf ears she took matters into her own hands, took her guitar to the trading floor and burst into song one morning at 6.30am. Everyone took notice and her boss then said that if music was something she wanted to do, he would support her decision. It's a quite a career change, but the City's loss is definitely our gain because her music is understated, subtle delight, a collection of perfect pop songs, but each concealing a hidden heart."

I'm not saying this touching anecdote is untrue - in fact I have been assured it definitely is - but you're not quite getting the full picture. Before you are inspired to quit your job and pursue a career in music, bear in mind some of the other things Roxanne had going in her favour:

1) Her brother is superstar DJ Gareth Emery
2) She sang on dance act Cosmic Gate's underground club hit A Day That Fades
3) Her manager is Anne Barret - who steered Natalie Imbruglia to fame.

Of course, none of Roxanne's makes her music any less moving or impressive. Check out her MySpace page for another fantastic track, Cold Heart. There is also a foxy picture and a free download. And what could be better than that on a freezing cold Thursday morning?

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Robyn's Body Talk Pt 3 - tracklisting

...And now you may commence the debate on your favourite songs, why they've been excluded or included, and whether this campaign has been a success or a bit of a storm in a blogger's teacup.

1. Fembot
2. Don't Fucking Tell Me What To Do
3. Dancing On My Own
4. Indestructible
5. Time Machine
6. Love Kills
7. Hang With Me
8. Call Your Girlfriend
9. None Of 'Dem
10. We Dance To The Beat
11. U Should Know Better (feat Snoop Dogg)
12. Dance Hall Queen
13. Get Myself Together
14. In My Eyes
15. Stars 4-ever

So that's five new tracks, five from Body Talk Pt 1 and five from Body Talk Pt 2. A kind of mini greatest hits, if you like.

If you've got your own "best of BodyTalk" playlist, stick it in the comments form and let us all have a look...

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A disturbing fact about Willow Smith

Willow Smith, the nine-year-old singing sensation and movie star offspring, has finally got around to releasing her debut video - Whip It. Embedding is disabled but if it wasn't it would look like this:

Willow Smith - Whip It

Clearly, this song is IMMENSE. A crunkified, attitudinal corker, laser targetted at number one. And when it gets there, Willow Smith will be the first ever chart star to be born in the 21st Century.

Stop for a moment and think about that.

I am off to lie in a darkened room and contemplate my impending mortality. In the meantime, and in order to skew the demographic even further towards toddlers, here's a video mash-up of the Willow track and a Sesame Street song called "I Love My Hair".

Whip It - Fraggle Roc Nation mix

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

New music from Pete Wentz. No, wait, come back...

"Try this, you'll hate it," someone wrote to me in an email yesterday. It was the new song from a band called Black Cards, who are fronted by the improbably-named Bebe Rexha and Pete Wentz.

Yes, that Pete Wentz. From Fall Out Boy. With the daft hair and the permanently black wardrobe. Married to Ashlee Simpson. Wrote "This ain't a scene, it's a goddamn arseface". Picture at the top of this post. Him.

So, yes, I was predisposed to hate this new song, Dr Jekyll and Mr Fame. The lyrics appear to be about - YAWN - the dark side of celebrity. Worse still, the band's Wikipedia entry insists they are trying to fuse reggae and electro-pop: The two most misrepresented, misunderstood, and deceptively complex genres in the history of music.

And yet... The tracks on the band's MySpace / YouTube / Facebook web presence are surprisingly good. I'm not sure where the reggae comes in, but the quartet have stumbled on a big-hearted, bouncy, pop groove and Bebe Rexha (23 points in Scrabble) has a pleasingly seductive purr to her voice. Wentz even gives a little tip of the hat to Abba's Gimme, Gimme, Gimme (A Man After Midnight) on the keyboards.

A very pleasant surprise.

Black Cards - Dr Jekyll and Mr Fame

You can download this single if you "like" the band's Facebook profile (if there is a sentence in the English language more vile than the last one, I have yet to hear it).

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Rihanna lyric confusion

What we know: Rihanna's Only Girl In The World is a roaring return to raciness after the bleak-and-potatoes dirge of Rated R (Rude Boy excepted).

What we don't know: The words to the first line.

Various internet lyric sites think Rihanna's opening gambit is "I want you to love me like I'm a hot guy". A striking juxtaposition but probably not what the Barbadan starlet intended.

"Hello, potential suitor. I would like you to pretend for a moment that you are not sexually attracted to hot women like me and instead prefer the cock. Next, imagine that I am not (as previously noted) an hot woman. I am instead a virile man that wants to give you a rough kiss and a firm slap on the bottom. You like that, don't you? Yeah baby. That's right... Now STEP BACK IN AMAZEMENT as it is revealed that I am not a toned and ripped hunk of love, but am in fact internationally renowned pop strumpet Rihanna and I am standing in front of you in only my bra!!! Fancy me now? Or are you just very, very confused and little bit queasy?"

Hmmm... Perhaps not. After studying the video, it seems that Rihanna could be singing "I want you love me like I'm a hot ride", going back to the cars-as-sex metaphors of Shut Up And Drive.

But the following couplet, summoned from my own brain when the song premiered last month, should henceforth be considered the only official version.

I want you to love me like I'm a hot pie

Oh yes, here is the video. She's in a field of her own. The images flash pasture eyes. It's prairie good [I think that's quite enough - terrible pun ed]

Rihanna - Only Girl (In The World)

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

This blog post about Robyn's new single is distinct from every other blog post about Robyn's new single

Because no-one else has inexplicably Photoshopped a Toucan into the artwork.

I think it's a big improvement, don't you?

Anyway, Indestructible is going to be Robyn's third single of the year, from her third album of the year. A collosal, footstomping declaration of love, this has already appeared in orchestral form on Body Talk Pt 2. Similarly, Robyn teased fans with an acoustic version of her last single, Hang With Me, on Body Talk Pt 1. As a marketing gimmick, it's inspired. Why has no-one thought of it before?

The reswizzled version of Indestructible is out on 22nd November, but the Swedish songstress has handily posted the track, and its various remixes, on her Soundcloud account. Hooray for social media.

Indestructible by robyn

Now, it might just be me - but do parts of this song (specifically the descending semitone steps when Robyn sings "not alone, no we're not alone") bear an uncanny resemblance to the "lying here, wishing here, wishing here, waiting" melody in Belinda Carlisle's long-forgotten single Lay Down Your Arms?

Belinda Carlisle - Lay Down Your Arms

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Ch-ch-check it out

Cheryl Cole has been recruited to sing all over the top of's duet with Nicki Minaj. When it is played on the radio, it sounds like this. & Nicki Minaj feat Cheryl Cole - Check it Out

Check It Out is one of those songs that exposes Will's talent as a producer and his weakness as a melodist. It will probably go to number one on the strength of Cole's presence, but does it really deserve to?

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mark Ronson and Boy George video premiere

Somebody To Love Me is without doubt the highlight of Mark Ronson's Record Collection album. Boy George handles vocal duties and, even though eight other people take the writing credits (including Jake Shears and Cathy Dennis), it turns out to be a thoughtful, sorrowful look back at the last few turbulent years of his life.

The key lyric is: "I want someone who'll be nice / See the boy I once was in my eyes". It's powerful enough on its own, but when the vocalist is a "boy" by name, and delivers the line with a noticeable quiver in his voice, it makes your stomach plummet like a brick in a swimming pool.

The video ramps up the poignancy just a little more by using (recreated?) home video footage of Boy George in the carefree days of his youth. Directed by Saam Farahmand - who previously shot 3 Words for Cheryl Cole and Islands for The XX - it has a definite lump-in-throat quality.

And a banana.

Somebody To Love Me is premiering on the Dazed & Confused website right now, so click on the above to watch the full clip - or try following this link.

Once you're done, have a look at this TV advert for Mark Ronson's album. It might cheer you up after all that maudlin self-contemplation.

Mark Ronson - Record Collection advert

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New music: James Blake - Limit To Your Love

With the likes of Katy B and Magnetic Man hitting the top 10, Dubstep seems to have come of age. Which means your woofers are going to get the work-out of their lives over the next 12 months (fnar, etc).

The next act on the poise of breaking through is 21-year-old Londoner James Blake. A gifted piano player, raised on gospel and soul, he veers towards the melodic side of Dubstep - using the genre's convulsive basslines as an unsettling counterpoint to his rich, sonorous vocals.

I first mentioned him back in June when he released an ambient dance track based around a sample from Kelis' Caught Out There. Now he's revealed his first "proper" single, a disquieting, stripped-back version of Feist's Limit To Your Love.

It comes with a video by Martin De Thurah (Will Young's Changes, The Editors' Bullets), who is more than a little influenced by the films of Steven Spielberg. Thankfully, this means Close Encounters and Jurassic Park, rather than Hook.

Warning: The crumbling bass on the following video may cause headphone-wearers to involuntarily evacuate their bowels.

James Blake - Limit To Your Love

The single comes out on Atlas Records in November.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Is Barbra Streisand heading to number one?

Most chart watchers assumed this week's battle for number one would be a three-way fight between Kings Of Leon, Joe McElderry and Cee-Lo Green - but a quick look at the iTunes chart today reveals a fourth contender, released on a tiny, independent record label, that's threatening to overtake the competition.

It's Barbra Streisand.

Okay, it's actually A-Trak and Armand Van Helden, who've cobbled together one of those big, dumb party records that owes a sizeable debt to the filtered disco of Stardust's Music Sounds Better With You. It's based around a sample of Boney M's Gotta Go Home and features a deadpan TV announcer repeatedly intoning the words "Barbra Streisand" over the top.

When I first heard it on the radio, I thought it was a joke. The music dips so dramatically to make way for the voice-over that it sounds like it's being mixed live in the studio. But no - it's a real song, made by real musicians, with the best single cover of the year.

Roisin Murphy has been closing her DJ sets with it and it has made Radio One's A-list. The video also has a scree of celebrity cameos from the likes of Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, Erza Koenig and ?uestlove.

Duck Sauce - Barbra Streisand

To be honest, I'm not massively keen on the song - which starts off brilliantly, but fails to build to a suitable climax. But it would be interesting if this stoopid dance single track triumphed over the carefully stage-managed chart campaigns of the major labels and former X Factor contestants.

What's your preference for this week's chart topper?

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Monday, October 11, 2010

What is going on in Diana Vickers new single?

It's a good job Diana Vickers last single bombed harder than the Luftwaffe, because it sent her scuttling back to the studio to re-imagine what a hit Diana Vickers single should sound like.

Under normal circumstances, this would result in either a restrained cover version of a well-respected 1980s classic or a generic three-minute pop song with a guest rap by Flo Rida.

Luckily for us, someone spiked Diana's orangeade with LSD and she came up with this checklist instead.

The result is a fantastically off-kilter pop song with more yelps and vocal tics than Pete off of Big Brother. It's either terrible or brilliant or stupid or genius or career suicide or the bravest pop song of the year. I literally don't know.

Diana Vickers - My Wicked Heart

Diana's on X Factor this weekend, and the single comes out on Monday 18th October.

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Regina Spektor concert album - tracklisting

This is one for my Christmas list - Regina Spektor Live In London. Out on CD, DVD and Blu-Ray on 22nd November, featuring a clutch of previously unreleased songs.

CD Tracklisting

DVD Tracklisting
1) On The Radio
2) Eet
3) Folding Chair
4) Sailor Song
5) Blue Lips
6) Après Moi
7) Dance Anthem of the 80′s
8) Silly Eye Color Generalizations **
9) Bobbing For Apples **
10) Wallet
11) Ode To Divorce
12) That Time
13) The Calculation
14) Machine
15) Laughing With
16) Man Of A Thousand Faces
17) Hotel Song
18) Us
19) Fidelity
20) Samson
21) The Call
22) Love You’re A Whore **
1) Introduction (November Rain)
2) On The Radio
3) Eet
4) Laughing With
5) Folding Chair
6) Après Moi
7) Blue Lips
8) Machine
9) Dance Anthem of the 80′s
10) Silly Eye-Color Generalizations
11) Wallet
12) The Calculation
13) Man of a Thousand Faces
14) That Time
15) Hotel Song
16) Sailor Song
17) Us
18) Fidelity
19) Samson

Bonus Material:
1) Bobbing for Apples
2) Ode to Divorce
3) The Call
4) Love, You’re a Whore
5) Soundcheck
** denotes new material

To help shorten the wait, there is some live Regina material already available on Amazon.

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Friday, October 8, 2010

And while we're on the subject of great cover versions...

The continuing Robbie'n'Gary promotional tour / mutual love-in is truly a heartwarming thing to behold. Just watch Gary's face in this video from Radio One's Live Lounge yesterday, as he steps back and lets Robbie take the lead on a cover version of Take That's Shine.

There's something parental in that mix of pride and concern in his eyes. And the way he mouths all the words - always on the cusp of intervening, but managing to hold back and let his charge stand on his own two feet.

It's almost as if Robbie's playing Joseph in the school nativity after six months off with whooping cough.

Robbie Williams - Shine (Live Lounge)

"I'm always worried for him," says Captain Barlow at the end. Awwwww.

And don't forget that there's a new Take That single, called The Flood, knocking about this morning. Here's a tiny bit of it.

Take That - The Flood

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The cover version of the year

Bolton folk-rock tunesmiths Cherry Ghost are one of those bands I always see on festival line-ups but never get round to checking out. My mistake, because they've been playing this superlative cover version as part of their live set for years.

I don't want to spoil the surprise - but your breath will be taken away by this moody rewrite of a massive 90s club track. See how long it takes you to guess what it is.

Cherry Ghost - ?????

Pretty special, right?

According to Cherry Ghost's official website, the track will be released on 12" vinyl next month, as the B-side to forthcoming single, We Sleep On Stones. I'm putting my pre-order in today.

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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Oooh, Mona (pt I)

The scene: A record company office, circa September 2008.

Ridiculous haircut 1: "Have you seen this? Kings Of Leon are number one."
Ridiculous haircut 2: "The Kings Of Leon? I'm sorry, I don't recall..."
RH1: "Yes, you do. The band with the guy who sings like he's chewing a squash ball."
RH2: "The ones with the drinking problem and the Yosemite Sam moustaches?"
RH1: "The very same. They're bloody number one."
RH2: "Wait. Let me Google this... Jiminy Cricket, you’re right!
RH1: "And slashdotpitchgumstereohype has given their album eleventy stars. Out of a maximum possible total of three."
RH2: "You know what this means, don't you?"
RH1: "I am booking tickets to Tennessee as we speak."

Fast forward 24 months, and we can introduce Nashville rock quartet Mona.

Mona - Listen To Your Love

The band were signed to Island UK and Mercury US at the end of September, after one of those undignified record label bidding war bun fights. Their manager is Saul Galpern, who also steered Suede to success. He says, unsurprisingly, that they are "incredibly special" and a return "to proper rock and roll". Of frontman Nick Brown, he says: "He reminded me of a boxer, so driven and so ambitious, so hungry for success in a really good way". Sounds like a utter joy to be around.

Cynicism aside, I really like the single - originally recorded live in a basement - and the 1950s boy band promo shots. One to watch out for on the BBC's annual Sound Of poll? I think so.

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Ooooh, Mona (pt II)

Could Craig McLachlan and Check 1-2 be the worst band name of all time?

Craig McLachlan - Mona

Looking back, that song's pretty creepy. I wouldn't be surprised if "down the line" Mona took out a restraining order.

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

New Gorillaz single - The Interweb speaks

I wasn't a fan of The Gorillaz' Plastic Beach album, which strayed too far into "Damon Albarn mumbling aimlessly into a microphone" territory to live up to the band's lofty heritage of pop-indie-hip-hop crossover.

But their brand new, non-album single Doncamatic gets a full-on Fab Macca double thumb salute for its laser blast of Daft Punk synths and smooth, androgynous vocals from Mancunian newcomer Daley.

The song's groove and title were both inspired by the DoncaMatic, one of the world's first drum machines - released in 1949(!!) Much like the Mellotron - the instrument you hear at the start of The Beatles' Strawberry Fields - it used loops of quarter-inch tape to reproduce pre-recorded drum sounds. That's a picture of one at the top of the page.

Musical geekery aside, this is a sparkling return to form for Damon Albarn's cartoon band. Don't just take my word for it. Here is what everybody else on the internet has to say in their charmingly illiterate way.

:: "The jumpy beat sounds like it could have came straight from your favorite 8-bit video game." [Idolator]

:: "Damon Albarn is almost not on it except for a few backup vocals in the middle of the track." [JP's Blog]

:: "It features guest vocals from new British R&B singer Daley. I’ve never heard of him before, but it doesn’t matter. She’s a perfect fit for this effortlessly chill song." (???) [We All Want Someone]

:: "It really gets your mind into the music and puts you in that feel good trance." [It's A Rap]

:: "Watch as your head starts to bob as UK based electro singer Daley starts singing over the beat that I'm pretty sure will be remixed by the end of the week." [Rock It Out]

:: "Trupa a inregistrat piesa acum cateva saptamani si vor lansa single-ul pe 22 noiembrie." [Metalhead]

Gorillaz - Doncamatic (All Played Out)

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Marina pops her cork

This is stunning - an acoustic take on Marina's forthcoming single Shampain, recorded for BBC Radio Nottingham last week.

Marina and the Diamonds - Shampain / Oh No! (live)

You'll be able to buy this version (and a superb Fred Falke mix) when Shampain is released next week. Here's the iTunes pre-order link if you care to hand over some cash right now.

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Don't go on a camping holiday with The Pierces

I rhapsodised about The Pierces new material on the blog a couple of weeks ago, and time has done nothing to dim its appeal. Produced by Guy "I play the bass in Coldplay" Berryman, it'll give your subwoofers a healthy workout, with the added benefit of being very catchy indeed.

Here is the video for lead single Love You More, which features a caravan.

The Pierces - Love You More

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New music from Jessie J

"Stomp Stomp, I've arrived" How's that for a statement of intent?

It's the first line of the debut single from 21-year-old Essex native Jessie J. The track is called Do It Like A Dude, and it's delivered with a preposterous amount of swagger.

Jessie J - Do It Like A Dude

Jessie - real name Jessica Cornish - has spent the last couple of years creating a "buzz" on her Youtube channel and writing songs for the likes of Christina Aguilera, Chris Brown and Miley Cyrus (she penned US number one hit Party In The USA).

According to her official biography, "she may not be able to play the piano [but] Jessie is armed with the chops to blow people away". That's right, she has a gun made of lamb cutlets. How awesome is that?

Answer: Extremely awesome - but not as awesome as Labrinth's remix of her single, which is awesome to the power of infinity. Awes∞me, if you will.

Jessie J - Do It Like A Dude (Labrinth mix)

More info at Jessie J's Myspace page, her Twitter feed or her official website.

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Monday, October 4, 2010

Kylie, The Flaming Lips, Robbie and Gary

With the site out of action for a week or so, there are a few videos I didn't get the chance to mention in a timely and orderly manner. Funnily enough, they're all live performances.

Kylie - Wonderful Life (Live Lounge cover)

Kylie's simmering, orchestral take on the Hurts single is simultaneously uplifting and unsettling. A rare thing of beauty. It's also available on the Radio One website if the YouTube link fails.

The Flaming Lips - The Sparrow Looks Up At The Machine

The Flaming Lips' Embryonic is still one of my favourite "mood albums" of the last 12 months, and this buzzing space symphony is one of the standout tracks. Despite the shaky-cam direction, the above performance video (from Pitchfork) provides a rare opportunity to watch this radical band play their instruments without all the ridiculous animal costumes and fake blood.

Gary Barlow and Robbie Williams - Shame (Strictly Performance)

Their first live performance in more than a decade. The watchful, parental eyes of Mr Barlow seem to be having a positive effect on Robbie - who is trying desperately to contain all of those bad habits and vaudeville tics he's picked up during his solo career. Quite a heart-warming little reunion, all told.

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Get ready to flick your hair: It's Nadine's video

Things I Like
:: The initial shot of Nadine in the rain
:: The shoulder shimmy on the line "my whole world shook"
:: Ms Coyle's feline ferocity
:: The song (still)

Things I Am Less Keen On
:: The frenetic, epilepsy-inducing editing
:: The total lack of ideas
:: The involuntary laughter provoked by the lip-sync at 2'15"

Nadine Coyle - Insatiable

In the "making of" package that preceded the video premiere on Channel 4, Nadine said she was amazed that filming was due to finish at 8:30pm, because she was used to video shoots running through the night. Take a moment to imagine this video with an extra 12 hours work and tell me it wouldn't have been 100% better.

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Sunday, October 3, 2010

New site, new adress, new video

So I jumped the gun when I said the problems with the blog were over and done with. The entire site has just been out of action for nearly four days.

After much deliberation, I've decided to move all of the contents back to Blogger - which should ensure more stability. Some of the older pages may look a bit ropey, and some of the comments and permanent links have changed. I'll try to fix that over the next week or two.

The site also gets a new URL: - so update your bookmarks.

Thanks for bearing with me. As a present and a peace offering, here is the new Shakira video, which is better than a kick in the balls with a pointy shoe.

Shakira - Loca


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