Yeah, so the quality slides yet further. I thought that seeing as I am actually quite charty sometimes it might be nice to talk a little about some singles that I have either been feeling or not feeling in the last week. It might even become a regular thing. To be fair, I don’t think anyone reads this anyway, so who’s going to complain? Besides, it can’t be any worse than the one in The Guardian’s Guide. And here’s a revised (as of 25th April) version, to make it less dodgy.
This week I have probably been most impressed with Rihanna’s latest. Her debut single, ‘Pon De Replay’ was one I have a fondness for, due to the cool rhythm and tight, blatantly studio-created, harmonies. I was disappointed with her followup, which I remember little about, other than the video was on a beach. There was no attitude to it.
It was with much relief that I heard ‘S.O.S. (Rescue Me)’, then. In terms of modern updates of the ‘Tainted Love’ cover, it destroys the Marilyn Manson version as the mix is far more hectic and has this ‘Sad But True’* kind of rolling incessance to it. I think what I like most about it is the fact that until the very end there is no pause in the vocal. Verse-pre chorus-chorus, with no purely instrumental sections to detract from the addictive volition of the piece. The best bit is the non-segue of ‘You got me tossing and turning, I can’t sleep at night / This time please someone come and rescue me’. The ‘bwoy’ segment about halfway through is really saucy, too.
The mix really makes the most of the ‘Tainted Love’ ‘BOOP BOOP’, as well as the multi-tracked vocals, and just rolls on like a locomotive. It’s briliant, and thankfully there is no guest rapper (a la ‘Check On It’, ) to break the flow of the song and muck things up with stilted rhyming. Granted, there have been some great guest spots like Redman on Xtina’s ‘Dirrty’ and Ludacris on Ciara’s sexy-as-hell ‘Oh’, but in general the guest rappers pollute female-led pop songs far too often.
That is a fate which sadly befalls this next female-led pop song. I say ‘sadly’, on account of this being an otherwise prime slab of pop brilliance. I was very pleasantly surprised with ‘Say I’, by Christina Milian (featuring Young Jeezy, who is now presumably now able to ‘take it easy’). I’ve never been a particular fan of hers, though a couple of her singles were innoffensive enough. So I didn’t think this would be much of a song when it started, but it has a very smart choice of main sample (I forget where from) and a killer hook. Who could have known one letter could be so thrilling?
Rather than the smooth and sultry confidence of recent high-points of neo-R&B ‘Oh’ and ‘SOS’, this is instead an emotionally charged call-to-arms which actually recalls prime Aaliyah at times. And from me, that is about as high praise as this genre can receive. While this is not quite an ‘Are You That Somebody’ or ‘Try Again’ in terms of genre classics, there are moments like the second verse that really set the ol’ juices flowing. I dare you to really listen to the passion in the otherwise formulaic ‘You wanna dance then get down / You wanna chill then sit down’ line and not be feeling it.
Then we get to the guest spot, and it drops off. I’m sure his own material is fine enough (I have never heard it), but slo-mo lines like ‘The media talk so bad about me / But the streets they do so bad without me’ are so awkwardly-rapped (even with ‘clever’ splicing) as to make the mediocore stylings of 50 Cent come off like Ghostface covering Rakim lines. Poor is most definitely the word.
Thankfully, The Other Xtina brings the quality back with some Aaliyah-sounding ‘oh’s, ‘we can make it if we try’s and that briliant, minimalist chorus, and this is undoubtedly her best single yet. She looks like Toyah Wilcox at points in the video; not sure whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s a thing nonetheless. And not even the mumbling of Jeezy can bring it down.
And Infernal’s ‘From Paris To Berlin’ has really been growing on me. It’s like a Scissor Sisters song, but without the overt coolness, and is much catchier. I think someone high up must have been unimpressed with Chris Moyles hating on it the other week (he said it was rubbish. Which it really is, but then he went on to champion those Brighouse bores, Embrace), as it’s got a massive push this week from Colin & Edith. You’ll hate yourself for liking it, but you’ll like it anyway.
Obviously, none of these singles are anywhere near as good as ‘Crazy’ by Gnarls Barkley, but that goes without saying. Can’t write it up here, though, as I got it in December. Still, it’s received deserved success, and is the best ‘hit’ single in years. And I heard the album on my semi-pimpin’ hi-fi (fully pimpin’ when I get that Cyrus CD player to match my amp) yesterday and it is grand.
There seem to be a couple of issues with it in terms of some songs ending prematurely, and the quality dipping a tad in the middle, but as a whole it is an album that is great. And at 37 minutes it is of a refreshing and perfect length for a poppy album. If only Outkast might learn from their Dungeon Fam brother…
And I have no idea how recent it is, but new to me is a song by the beautifully-voiced Feist, by the name of ‘Mushaboom’. I actually haven’t heard the original tune, but a Postal Service remix. Now, I like Postal Service (especially their ‘Such Great Heights’ single), and this remix is good, but I dunno. There is something very twee about the whole thing and it repels me ever so slightly.
I should hear the original (and the album, for that matter), as I really liked her cover of ‘Inside And Out’ from last year. And fool that I am, I only realised it was a Bee Gees cover recently. Erk. And in searching for a pic for this blog, I have discovered that she is not only talented but also pretty.
And deserving at least a slight mention is ‘Bjorkbeat’ by The Calico Sequence. It is, as the moniker implies, a slightly more dancey take on the lovely Ms. Guðmundsdóttir, mixing the excellent ‘Joga’ with the equally excellent ‘Pagan Poetry’. It’s short and somewhat throwaway, but is definitely worth a listen. Google their name, as they’ve stuck the song on their website for free.
* That’s a Metallica single (1992, off the top of my head), for those who do not know things they should know. Listen to it, and the self-titled album from whence it was pulled.