Monday, May 11, 2015

The return of Leona Lewis and 10 more songs you may have missed

A semi-regular round-up of songs I've been too busy, lazy, stupid or myopic to blog about in the last week or so.

Today's page sees the long overdue comeback of Leona Lewis, a high school gem from Mark Ronson and a heart-warming performance by the Blur.


1) Leona Lewis - Fire Under My Feet
It's as if Leona Lewis, owner of the world's most pointless umbrella, downloaded the blueprint for Adele's Rolling In The Deep and ran it through a cheap 3D printer.

The results are good - this is a perfectly-rousing slab of gospel pop - but you can't escape the nagging feeling that you've heard it, better, before.

The lyrics are bound to earn a few tabloid inches, given that Leona's new material has been very publicly trailed as a sideswipe at Simon Cowell, whose label she left last year. "Moving on to bigger things, I begin to spread my wings," she sings. "No longer in chains, I'm dancing over these graves."

A return to form, yes. But there's better to come on her new album.

2) Prince - Baltimore
A call for gun control in the US is the centrepiece of Prince's protest song, Baltimore - inspired by the death of youngster Freddie Gray in police custody.

"If there ain't no justice then there ain't no peace," chants the purple one over the sound of marching feet. It's a stirring, timely tune.

3) Lunchmoney Lewis - Bills
Lunchmoney, as well as holding a Guinness record for the worst stage name ever, has worked with both Nicki Minaj and Jessie J. This song sounds more like 1990s novelty abomination Scatman John, though.

A contender for song of the summer, with all the dumb joie de vivre that implies. You are never going to hear the end of it.

4) Mark Ronson and Mystikal - Feel Right
Set in a school talent show, and starring a marvellous mini-Mystikal, this video is a riot.

5) Chemical Brothers ft Q Tip - Go
It's unreasonable to expect the Chemicals to match the lunatic brilliance of Push The Button on this, their latest collaboration with Q-Tip. And so it turns out - Go has a brilliantly nagging bassline, and the duo still know how to build a crescendo, but the chorus falls sadly flat.

It's not helped by an abnormally uninspired Michel Gondry video.

6) Rachel Jane- Awaken
Born in Bristol and raised in Bath, 19-year-old singer/songwriter Rachel Jane is shaping up to be one to watch this year.

Awaken is one of the most surprising, rhythmically complex songs I've heard in ages. Beatboxing, tribal percussion, and drum and bass loops all get referenced in this primal, chanting track that rips up Florence's template and rearranges the pieces into something altogether more lissome.

7) Ed Sheeran - Photograph
Ed Sheeran raids the family archives for this touching little ditty.

Following the singer (who looks adorably like the Milky Bar kid) from cradle to stardom, it ends with the young Ed climbing on a rock and being asked by his father, "Are you at the top of the mountain?" - before cutting to Sheeran on stage saluting a festival crowd. Lucky bastard.

8) Lianne La Havas - Unbreakable (Jungle remix)
Jungle's shimmering, summery funk snuggles up to the supple new single from Lianne La Havas. A clever, thoughtful remix that elevates the original.

9) BenZel - Waiting.... ft Ben Abraham
Jessie Ware collaborators BenZel are in fact super-producers Benny Blanco and Two Inch Punch. Their new single is a stuttering, chaotic electro banger, drenched in pitch-shifted vocals.

Worth sticking around to the end to hear a sample of the common-or-garden soul track the duo ripped apart to make their record.

10) Lyza Jane - If It Hurts
Alt-pop singer Lyza Jane describes this video as "looking like Barbie's bad trip". She's not wrong.

11) Blur - Tender (acoustic with Jimmy Fallon)
You can't help but be buoyed by the irrepressible grins on Graham Coxon and Damon Albarn's faces during this performance. It's nice to know the band - whose Magic Whip album is much better than it has any right to be - are properly enjoying their reunion. Or this bit of it, at least.

And that's your lot for this week. More as soon as I can muster, I promise!

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