Friday, 27 December 2013

Platnum 'Love Shy (Thinking About You)'

Chart Peak: 12
YouTube

In the wake of their massive No. 2 hit 'What's It Gonna Be' (with H "Two" O) Manchester trio Platnum scored a hit of their own with 'Loveshy (Thinking About You)'... The club smash reached No. 12 in the UK chart in October 2008

The last track here comes from leading lights of the so-called "bassline" scene, which according to Wikipedia was popular partly because of its appeal to both male and female audiences, though it seems that the video for this track is aimed more at the one than the other. The song is of course a cover of a turn-of-the-century hit for Kristine Blond, apparently because there had been a popular remix of the original in this style.

To the uninitiated, bassline sounds very like the UK garage sound of the early 2000s, so it's easy to imagine this being a hit several years earlier - or even several years later as All About She had a hit in similar style in December 2013 - though I'm sure that real fans will notice the differences. Either way, it's not a single that seems to have huge crossover appeal, feeling more like a song for the clubbers than a real pop smash, though it's perfectly listenable. Platnum haven't really been heard much of since, which seems to fit with a lot of this album.

Also appearing on: Now 69 [with H "Two" O]
Available on: The No.1 Bass Album

Monday, 23 December 2013

Taio Cruz 'She's Like A Star'

Chart Peak: 20
YouTube
Rising UK soul star and heavily in-demand producer Taio Cruz scored a Top 20 hit with 'She's Like A Star' in August 2008... Mr Cruz is a popular man at the moment having recently spent time in the US working with Britney, Brandy and Justin Timberlake.
Plenty of scope for tenuous links here, since not only has Cruz worked with Travie McCoy, he also recorded a version of 'Umbrella' that was never released because the writers presumably wanted to hand it to a bigger star, no pun intended. He also has a significant tally of hit singles but little success on the albums market, with at least one his albums so boring they couldn't even be bothered to release the whole thing in the UK.

Possibly part of the problem is that Cruz seems too competent a musician, somebody who knows how to write and produce a hit but not how to add any character to it. This is a sort of sappy ballad that doesn't even quite have the courage to be that, with its resolutely medium tempo and repeated chipmunk-like vocal; Corrine Bailey Rae supposedly claimed that this was suspiciously similar to her own hit 'Like A Star' but he insisted this was coincidental. At one point it sounds a bit like he's singing "she makes me want to be a better man or wife" which is as close as this gets to anything interesting, though the song is really supposed to be about (imagined) parenthood.

Apparently Cruz has said he'll release a single from his next album "before 2014" so he's got about a week left.

Also appearing on: Now 69 [with Luciana], 70, 72 (with Tinchy Stryder), 74, 76 [with Ke$ha], 77, 78 [with Travie McCoy], 81, 82
Available on:

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Gym Class Heroes featuring The-Dream 'Cookie Jar'

Chart Peak: 6
YouTube

Gym Class Heroes' third UK smash 'Cookie Jar', hit the Top Ten in September 2008... The track features vocals from Grammy-Award-nominated singer/songwriter The-Dream, who also co-wrote Rihanna's No.1 smash 'Umbrella'.
Not often you get the lyrics on an official YouTube upload, I suppose that saves you the trouble of watching it. I took one for the team though and sat through all three and a half minutes. There are few more puzzling phenomena of the twenty-first century than the fact that Gym Class Heroes (or as I just typed, Gym Class Herpes, I'm honestly not making that up) have had as many as four Top Ten singles in the UK. Since their albums tend to sell approximately diddly-squat here, it seems unlikely that they have any fans, and this particular song was not a big hit elsewhere in the world but somehow my compatriots in the UK sent this close to the Top 5; it didn't even go Top 50 in the US.

Supposedly written while frontman Travis McCoy was dating Katy Perry, 'Cookie Jar' is a gruesome boast about his inability to resist the temptation of other women while he was in a relationship. Using "cookies" as a metaphor for human beings gives it a rather grubby, objectifying air and the fact that The-Dream and his odd hyphen keep singing "I like girls" in the chorus means it's not even subtle. Seriously, guys, either be metaphorical or don't. And while you're at it, try and think of a band name that's not so reminiscent of of dirty socks.

Also appearing on: Now 67, 80 [with Adam Levine]
Available on: The Quilt [Explicit] [+digital booklet]

Friday, 20 December 2013

Little Jackie 'The World Should Revolve Around Me'

Chart Peak: 14
YouTube [uncensored version]
Little Jackie is not actually one person, but the combination of "genre-defying" singer-songwriter Imani Coppola and multi-instrumentalist Adam Palin.. their besnd of old-school R'n'B/quirky hip-hop/pop, scored a No. 14 hit in September 2008 with 'The World Should Revolve Around Me'.
Coppola is one of those people who seem to re-emerge every couple of years and be tipped for big things, but she's never been higher than 14 on the singles chart, a peak shared by this and her guest vocal on 'You All Dat' by the Baha Men. Apparently she once fell out with a record company over her refusal to use samples, although the co-writing credit for Willie Mitchell suggests to me that there's one on here (I haven't managed to track down exactly what though). The song itself, apparently written after a break-up, is supposed to be full of attitude but there's something a bit too self-consciously cool about it, which also clashes with the attempts to be off-the wall and surreal. You can imagine it being a big hit if somebody like Girls Aloud or the Saturdays had recorded it (presumably minus the swearing) and in some ways I can even imagine it being better that way.

Available on: The World Should Revolve Around Me (Digital) [Explicit]

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Ida Maria 'I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked'

Chart Peak: 13
YouTube

'I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked' became Ida Maria's first UK hit single back in August 2008... The twenty four year old Norwegian rock chick played a host of festivals over the summer and embarked on her own seventeen date UK tour in November.
It's sort of a pity they didn't sequence this song right next to Alphabeat, that would have been an interesting compare and contrast. Two songs from Nordic acts, both with songs (in English) about young love and infatuation. Perhaps we could imagine - or even hope - that this song's protagonist is a little older, smoking to try and look cool and more sexually obsessed with somebody she claims not even to like very much the rest of the time. Mind you it's not totally clear whether she actually has got that close to this guy or whether she just has an unrequited passion for him. It's both exhilarating and slightly disturbing, but part of the reason it works is that she actually does manage to sound just the right side of unhinged.

The song is said to borrow from the Banana Splits theme tuneIf it's good enough for Bob Marley, why not? It's a classic one-hit-wonder that I have to thank my wife for encouraging me to listen to. Until yesterday I hadn't heard any other Ida Maria songs, and I almost didn't want to in case it spoilt this one somehow. Apparently she's released two more albums since.

Available on:Fortress Round My Heart

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Biffy Clyro 'Mountains'

Chart Peak: 5
YouTube
Biffy Clyro are Simon Neil and twins Ben and James Johnston, childhood friends from Ayr in Scotland who formed the band in 1995... Their powerful, anthemic single 'Mountains' is their most successful UK hit to date - it stormed to No. 5 in the UK chart in late August 2008.
A classic case of a band working their way up, Biffy took until 2002 to even release an album, and scored a series of minor Top 40 hits (on the sort of sales that would barely scrape Top 200 these days) but didn't really hit paydirt until their fourth album (and major-label debut) Puzzle. This was their first new material after that and proved to be the first of six hit singles from Only Revolutions. Inevitably they were facing accusations of selling out, but to me they were just doing what they'd always done only slightly better. Not quite as well as the Foo Fighters did it, admittedly.

'Mountains' finds them in fairly typical driving rock territory, with the serious piano intro followed by chunkier guitars in the second verse and big loud chorus, but to me that's pretty much what they always did, they just used to give the songs stupider titles. I did eventually buy the album, though not for full price, but this wasn't my favourite track on it.

Also appearing on: Now 75, 84
Available on: It's A Misery Business [Anti Love Songs] (Digital) [Explicit]

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Alphabeat 'Boyfriend'

Chart Peak: 15

YouTube
Alphabeat describe their latest hit 'Boyfriend' as "an anthem for slightly obsessive mentalists around the world"... It is their third successive Top 20 chart hit single and got to No. 15 in August 2008.
Who now remembers that Alphabeat had as many as four Top 20 singles? After this third one they parted company with their record label but a second album came out on another major label but their third album seems not even to have made it out of Denmark. People seem to have tired of them quickly and I'm not sure I blame them because there was a certain forced jollity I found a bit annoying. Something a bit too self-consciously inane, I always thought. 'Boyfriend' is not a bad song in any way but I can't warm to it.

Also appearing on: Now 69, 70
Available on: Boyfriend [+video]