Happy 5th Birthday The Loving Kind/Memory Of You

It’s been a while. I know I shouldn’t have kept you waiting. But I’m here now.

I do love a good musical reference, if you know the song you get a bonus cookie to go along with the humble pie I have here. It’s been two months since I last updated and I’m not trying to make excuses but going from working on average 17 hours a week to 40+ hours has taken its toll – not to mention Christmas and work experience (full post on that soon, promise!) taking up what free time I have. Anyway, it’s Saturday night and I’m here eating sweets and drinking Fizzy Tooth Rot Max, what better time to talk about the sugary sparkling goodness that is pop music.

Over  the festive period, the music channels love to remind us all of the godawful songs we’ve bought in Decembers gone by – Cascada’s cover of ‘Last Christmas’, ‘Bob the Builder’, ‘Proper Crimbo’, the original ‘Last Christmas’ and yes, the Almighty Girls Aloud‘s ‘tepid’ (I’m being nice) cover of ‘See the Day’.

Being reminded of this song’s existence prompted me to list the Girls Aloud singles in order of best to worst because… why not, I’m a nerd. It was a tough decision over whether ‘See the Day’ or the ‘Walk This Way’ cover with the Sugababes got the dubious honour of worst single (the latter ‘won’) but best single.. that was easy.

‘Sound of the Underground’? Incredible but overrated. ‘Jump’? Great fun, best cover single but nah. ‘Love Machine’? Very good but it annoys me when people say that’s all GA are. ‘Biology’? Not mistaking it. ‘Sexy! No No No…’? VERY close but no. ‘Untouchable’? The album version is my favourite song of all time. The radio mix… no.

My favourite single has got to be:

The Loving Kind

Look at that release date. Now look at the date on your screen. Don’t you feel old now? I know I do.

IT’S FIVE YEARS SINCE THE LOVING KIND WAS RELEASED.

If you don’t remember it, then here it is:

So why do I find this song so fantastic?

Well, it’s a three-way collaboration between three of my favourite entities (for lack of a better word) in pop: the girls on vocals, once again perfect production by Xenomania – who have produced 90% of their output and are the reason GA aren’t another Atomic Kitten – and as the Wikipedia box states, co-written with Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe.

It’s the bloody Pet Shop Boys darling

Some critics wrote this song isn’t as good as an AloudShopBoysmania collaboration could be, whereas others derided it for sounding like a weaker ‘Call the Shots’. I disagree entirely. All parties are at the top of their game here. The girls all get a good share of delivering wistful vocals, with Sarah taking the lead (a rare treat) and Nicola delivering the desperation of her part perfectly. The song wasn’t written for them (but for the Boys own Xenomania produced album, the excellent Yes) but they pull off beautiful Tennant lyrics such as the opening “Sometimes, I watch your when you’re sleeping, I wonder what you’re feeling”. The songwriting captures that horrid feeling when you just know that the romance is fading away. Xenomania are in their element of melancholic electronic and the production is typically layered, such a the faint ‘woahhhh-ohhhhh’s in the background and whooses that lead from one segment to the next. The arrangement isn’t all over the place as something like ‘Biology’, but the  “I’d do anything” part sounds like it would be the middle 8 of a more straightforward song, yet here it’s post-first chorus, keeping the energy going before that wonderful drop into the downtrodden “rush hour of another day” moment.

The Loving Kind video 1

The video is also fantastic, something that can’t really be said for many of the Aloud’s efforts. It’s got a minimalist colour scheme of white, black and red and is wonderfully arty. The girls are in these glass boxes, either looking all sad, doing turns, stretches, pouts and poses (as you do in pop videos) or smashing up old photos and chucking flowers all over the place. It’s pretty simple and sounds dull on paper but the visuals and editing are fantastic. I l-o-v-e (reference!) the bit at the start of the final chorus, where it cuts to each girl all doing the same arms stretched head shaking movement then drop to the floor and back up again.

And also, don’t the girls look stunning?

So many Cheryls! It's like a heterosexual man's dream.

So many Cheryls! It’s like a heterosexual man’s dream.

There's only one Queen Nuhdeen!

There’s only one Queen Nuhdeen!

No pun here, just reiterating how the endless reflections look fantastic.

No pun here, just reiterating how the endless reflections look fantastic.

So yeah, fantastic song, brilliant video, the team-up being the thing of pop nerd’s dreams. But that’s not (just) why I adore ‘The Loving Kind‘ so much. I’d always enjoyed Girls Aloud‘s music on the same level I enjoyed most chart stuff before I really listened to music more in-depth. Catchy stuff, knew the choruses and most of the words (whatever anything in ‘Love Machine’ means), happy to dance to at a party. But then ‘The Promise’ came along and I thought “this is something pretty special”, and a lot of people thought so too, it hit Number One and so did the album Out Of Control. And then I saw ‘The Loving Kind’ video and fell in love. I dipped into some of the album tracks from that album, and never turned back. As I wrote about before, Girls Aloud musically opened my eyes (ears) to a lot more musically, and were my gateway into an online pop community. ‘The Loving Kind’ is where it all started.

Which is a shame that it’s not a massive hit. It was the girls 20th (not counting ‘St. Trinian’s Theme’, sadly counting ‘Walk This Way’) consecutive top 10 – an incredible feat, specially as once an album is out, the singles don’t really do the numbers anymore. It’s in the top ten best selling songs of theirs according to those MTV count down shows and was on the music channels and radio a fair bit when it was out. But it’s not really stuck in many memories five years on (I’m still dumbfounded its been that long) and that’s sadly because it was massively overshadowed by its predecessor. In fact, it may not have even been a Top 10 hit at all (it landed exactly at #10) if it wasn’t for hardcore fans:

Didn’t help that all the promo the girls did for the song was before Christmas. They scraped by this time, but Untouchable wasn’t so fortunate.

Despite it not being critically or commercially Girls Aloud’s crowning glory, I still treasure this song deeply 5 years to the day after it was released as a single. Of course, fans will know it isn’t the only Aloud song released on 12th January 2009…

One of the reasons I love Girls Aloud (and risk sounding like a total hipster) is that their B-sides are all kinds of incredible. Not just their singles (unlike a lot of artists), not just their album tracks (like most artists) but the songs they only put out on CD (remember those?) or vinyl (your parents remember those?). Before 2012 and the bonus disc of their greatest hits TEN, you had to buy a 50 quid limited edition boxset to get this song on disc and therefore; legally onto your iPod. It added to the cult feel on the song, and it really is a fan favourite. In a poll to decide the album tracks and B-sides for the TEN bonus disc, this song was the runaway winner and with good reason.

From the opening stop-start synth lines, to Kimberley’s vocodered, echoey first verse “Late at night I dream I’m falling into love again, twenty five electric angels are dancing in the rain” this track oozes dark and moody, with ethereal qualities Ellie Goulding could only dream of (sorry housemate Jade!). Like ‘The Loving Kind’, it’s full on Melancholic Electronic (if I ever made an album, it’d be called that) but in a much more dancier way. Typically nonsense but intriguing lyrics (“paradise with ice cream skies”, “wondering if sheep count us when they can’t sleep at night” only make sense to songwriter Miranda Cooper), incredibly busy but pin-sharp production and gorgeous solos from only Kimberley and Nicola, the two who are usually seen as the background members of the group by the general public, come together perfectly. It’s so perfect that when Nicola released a solo version, with exactly the same instrumental and just her singing all the vocals, it wasn’t right. Kimberley’s deeper voice opening the song sets the mood, and the contrast between there vocals as the second verse goes into the bridge is one of my favourite bits. I appreciate Nicola for trying to please the fanbase, but don’t mess with perfection.

Even though it adds to the less commercial, more pop-cult feel of the track, I do find it a bit of a shame that song wasn’t given single treatment. It would’ve been a joy to hear in clubs, especially with so much dance pop focused solely on the same old getting drunk and putting your hands up stuff I tired of ages ago. But at the same time it’s cool, in a weird way, to have this incredible piece of music that almost ‘belongs’ to a certain group of people: dedicated pop and Girls Aloud fans.

Five years ago I was just getting into this group and discovering their flawless catalogue, with the promise (reference!) of 3 new albums following a brief hiatus exciting me no end. As we all know, that hiatus lasted 3 years with four new songs (three of them just as wonderful as I was waiting for, and the other being ‘Beautiful ‘Cause You Love Me’) and a tour that wasn’t a farewell tour but was a farewell tour. Obviously they never would have performed ‘Memory of You’, being a HITS tour but I am GUTTED that ‘The Loving Kind’ wasn’t performed. I know it wasn’t their biggest hit and apparently Nicola doesn’t like it very much but to me, of all their singles, it was the most special of all.

If the legacy of these songs amounts to nothing but the following video, then that’s fine:

Happy Fifth Birthday, The Loving Kind and Memory of You.

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So, August…

So August came and went in a bit of a blur, so much so I barely blogged at all (sorry!). So I thought I’d do a reflective post on Things I’ve Been Doing. Admittedly I’ve not done anything as exciting as gone to the MTV VMAs and got everyone talking about my foam finger (I could write an entire essay about Miley Cyrus but in short: she’s not doing anything worse than I’ve seen on many nights out, but she is trying too hard and getting on my goat a bit) but I’m sure I will spice things up with a few pictures and (attempts at) puns.

Most of my time this month has been spent commuting to and from Cardiff for work. I’ve got an enjoyable job and its digging me out of my student debt but obviously it’s not where I want to be in my life. And as graduates know, very few leave Uni and walk into a career. The media especially requires you to know the right people, be in the right place at the right time and/or get shed loads of experience.

Luckily for me and a few of my fellow graduates, this weekend we have gotten some of the latter and it’s been invaluable.

L-R: Leah Coombs, Gwyneth Jane Humphreys, Laura Emily Harris, myself, Jack Perry and Alex Tisley.

We’ve all spent the last few days at Snetterton Race Course up in Norwich for the Citroen 24 Hour 2CV Race. As you can tell by our funky uniforms we were the official media team for the whole race. For us this meant we had to man the Twitter, set up and fix the cameras around the race course as well as vision mix and maintain the online live stream. With the race being 24 hours we each got a chance to try our hand at everything multiple times, and get a few hours sleep. Except for Jack and Leah, who endured the full 24 hours with less pit stops than the cars themselves.

Our office for the race. Surprisingly at the point this photo was taken only one tube of Pringles was open.

Our office for the race. Surprisingly at the point this photo was taken only one tube of Pringles was open.

The event wasn’t as intricate or large as Formula 1, but the experience is very similar (I’d imagine).  Carrying around the roaming camera in the pits we had to be totally aware of our surroundings: what cars were in the pits, who was about come in or leave and where you shouldn’t walk unless you want to get run over. As the audio was handled separately by the radio team and their commentators, we had to try and catch the action on the camera as it was being spoken about. We had walkie-talkies to communicate with the director/vision mixer and at the start found it difficult to communicate, with all the noise of the vehicles and other people around. We learned as we went on to communicate direction using short and to-the-point phrases and assume the camera we were carrying was live all the time.

An example of some of the tweets I made whilst manning the official social media page

An example of some of the tweets I made whilst manning the official social media page

Once we worked out this system, and worked out the rhythm of vision mixing the process ran pretty smoothly. Sure, every now and then one of the cameras would decide to not work (it wouldn’t be a proper live broadcast unless something technological failed) and the amount of sugar and snacks I’ve consumed is disgraceful but it was a fantastic experience and, as the first piece of media work I’ve done since University, I’ve been reminded just why I want to be in this industry. It’s a thrill. And the race was pretty exciting too!

I've discovered a passion for motor racing

I’ve discovered a passion for motor racing

Apart from that, there’s not really much to write about what I’ve got upto, so I might quickly whizz through some music and film reviewsopinions.

Music: apart from Miley Cyrus, August saw (and heard) the return of megastars Lady Gaga and Katy Perry with the lead singles from their third albums. Both are all right I guess, ‘Roar’ is probably the better song but ‘Applause’ is more interesting, if only for some of the lyrics and that accent on the verses. First singles are usually pretty safe, predictable options in today’s overly cautious Top 40 music scene, and I’m hoping there are some genuine classics to come from both. As we move into the last few months of the year, loads of albums are released hoping to be scooped up in the Christmas buying rush. The first one of those is obviously Janelle Monae, who has been pretty much on repeat in anticipation over the last month.

This has also come to my attention recently, and anyone who knows me is well are of my… gripes with the original.  (NSFW)

I’m not sure what’s better: this parody or the comments on the web from men who find watching this uncomfortable. So much irony here I could use it get rid of all the creases in my clothes forever.

Films: I’ve been TERRIBLE with going to the cinema this last month; literally only seeing two films. And no, neither of them were One Direction: This Is Us.

Both The Wolverine and Elysium were, in my opinion, strong solid 7 out of 10 movies. Great films wrapped up in good ones, with their potential just hindered by a few things. The Wolverine starts off as a slow, character piece with a gorgeous setting in Japan and a fantastic set-piece atop a bullet train with physics being thrown out the window. I was actually reminded of one of my favourite films of all time, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children; both have that Japanese sensibility, a mix of realism and stylisation, similar pacing and focus on lonely warriors afflicted with symptoms that cause them to collapse at inopportune moments. But whereas the over-the-top action felt in place in Advent Children, and the set-pieces outdid themselves each time, The Wolverine’s final third just descended into silliness for me, with a gigantic CGI samurai robot. There wasn’t much tension in that fight either, with shots of a character waking up from being knocked out and noticing a weapon they could thrown ruining any element of surprise. The teaser trailer has me very stoked for next year’s X-Men: Days Of Future Past, which is clearly 20th Century Fox‘s answer to Marvel’s The Avengers. Let’s hope its just as awesome but I’ve probably memorised every line of last year’s epic nerdfest and I’m insatiable for more.

(speaking of Insatiable, Queen Nadine Coyle annoucned she’s having a baby!)

Back to films and onto Elysium which, like the Pet Shop Boys album with the same title released last year, wrapped up some social commentary (the film about class divide and capitalism, the album about ageing and fame) in a package that’s easily enjoyable, but leaves you wanting more. I’m guessing that’s what you’d find if you looked up the word in the dictionary.

Oh.

Oh.

Unlike most people I’ve talked to, I had no problem with Jodie Foster at all. In fact, she was one of my favourite aspects of the film. My beef was with Sharlto Copley. He was one of the best things about the incredible District 9 but here, I can’t take him seriously as a villain. I can see what he was going for but I never found him creepy, or intimidating – just a large ham criminally out of place.

Continuing on the theme of enjoying things but finding them a bit disappointing (I am so middle aged…) I’ve been playing a lot of Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch which has sucked up a fair bit of my time. It’s got that irresistable JRPG hook of ‘just one more thing to do before I stop’  but like Level-5‘s previous games Dragon Quest: Journey of the Cursed King and Rogue Galaxy I find as the game goes on it gets too repetitive and its becoming a bit of a slog. The combat is frustrating at times with ridiculous AI and the story I’m not really into.

It is VERY pretty though. I’m a sucker for Studio Ghibli and being able to have a Totoro lookalike on the team is pretty awesome.

I will say though, I’ve pretty much not used a guide at all so far which I’ve purposefully tried to do after realising I’m potentially ruining gaming experiences but using them too much during my first playthrough. Sure there’s a great in-game encyclopaedia and a lot of hand-holding with very little thinking involved for a lot of puzzles, but I’m choosing my own monster team and one of their two final evolutions based on gut feeling, rather than guides and what other people online tell me to. I could go into a LOT more detail but I’m saving this for either a full blog post once I finish the game or get a YouTube channel with one of my friends off the ground.

Eyes on this space, guys. Eyes on this space.

For now, I’m going to sleep some more and recover from the weekend. Comments, likes, follows etc. are all greatly appreciated and have a lovely September. I promise to post more! Joe

New Music: Janelle Monae (!!!) Neon Jungle (Oooh) One Direction (…)

Now that I’ve managed to drag myself away from the Pet Shop BoysElectric’ album long enough to see what else is new and floating around, I’ve come across three songs that are, as they say, ‘worth a listen’:

First up, Janelle Monae – Dance Apocalyptic

You may know of Janelle Monae, or at least I hope you’ve heard ‘Tightrope’. Your life instantly becomes 142.693% better as soon as you do. I only bit the bullet and downloaded the parent album, the ArchAndroid quite recently (its from 2010, bad Joe) and it takes a while to wrap your around. Monae likes to throw everything into her songs, swapping genres on the fly, crazy ad-libs and interesting guest features. Two months ago, the pint-sized pop star launched her new album campaign with ‘Q.U.E.E.N’ featuring Erykah Badu and its nice enough, but ‘Dance Apocalyptic’  is a BEAST! 

There’s hooks aplenty, an insanely catchy beat and a great chorus. I can see Bruno Mars doing something like that, and I hope it becomes as popular as ‘Locked Out Of Heaven’. Just look at the video! Janelle has such tremendous energy, and those vocals, those moves… she is actually the perfect package. And the video is great too, from that intro through the out-of-the-blue interlude to the end. ‘Your chicken taste like pork?’ may be one of my new phrases. ‘Dance Apocalyptic’ is definitely my new jam, and the album ‘The Electric Lady’ (notice how its title is similar to the PSB one?) is one to look out for in September.

Next, Neon Jungle – Trouble

Not a Taylor Swift and no goats to be found. Neon Jungle are basically pre-label Stooshe (or maybe the Dolly Rockers if you remember them) with a pinch of  Ke$ha (the love of whisky, general trashiness) and Icona Pop (just the whole sound of the song). This one should easily be a hit, with club-friendly production and a chorus everyone’s going to be singing along with the first time they hear it. Let’s see if they last and become the fourth Big UK Girl Group right now.

And finally…. One Direction – Best Song Ever

First things first, this is not the best song ever. Not even by ‘1D’ standards, but its going to be everywhere and sell loads so you may get used to it. Also, its not actually meant to be premiered yet but it leaked and has been uploaded/taken down from YouTube many times already. So if the video doesn’t work, sorry. And if it does work, sorry. It’s been pitched up so it sounds a bit weird but you get a good idea of what’s about. ‘Oh Oh Oh’s and ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah’s replace the ‘na na na’s but its pretty standard for the boys: not great lyrics, simple rock/pop production and a… sample of The Who?!? That sounds like ‘Baba O’Reilly’ at the start to me. Maybe that’s what they think the best song ever is. It’s a fair shout I guess. But I’m wondering with the Blondie/Undertones mashup ‘One Way Or Another’ and now The Who sample, are 1D (or rather, the producers/management) trying to appeal to the parents of the kids as well?

Or, more likely, make the fact the kids will constantly demand the boys CD on in the car a little bit more bearable?

Oh and Corrie ‘actress’ Helen Flannigan has a single/music video out. I’m not going to cover it because its a bit ‘NSFW’ and also… I’ve just talked about One Direction, I’m meant to be talking about things I LIKE.

The new Pet Shop Boys album ‘Electric’ is really good, let’s all try and make it Number 1 please

If you didn’t know, the Pet Shop Boys new album ‘Electric’ is out this week. Its being hailed as their big comeback, despite their last album only coming out ten months ago. That’s because last year’s ‘Elysium’ was chilled, reflective and… a little bit boring to be honest. ‘Electric’ is the Boys returns to the dancefloor, and the true sequel to 2009’s FANTASTIC Xenomania produced (the guys behind Sugababes, Gabriella Cilmi and the Almighty Aloud‘s biggest hits to name a few) album ‘Yes’. But not only that, it feels like the album PSB should be making and in fact… the album Daft Punk should have made this year with ‘Random Access Memories’.

This is absolutely amazing, why is this not played everywhere?!?

Don’t get me wrong this album is clearly the work of Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe (y’know, the Pet Shop Boys) and producer Stuart Price (The Killers, Kylie, Take That, Madonna). But it’s got the interesting electronic twists and turns that people who know Daft Punk pre-‘Get Lucky’ are used to. ‘Axis’, linked above, is a kitchen sink affair, and could easily be the work of Godfather of Electronic Music Giorgio Moroder, whilst ‘Shouting In The Evening’ is insane in a ‘Skins party sequence/keep the dubstep kids happy’ way whilst still sampling Lionel Richie. 

Elsewhere, ”Vocal’ is a full on raveathon with lyrics about being in a club and getting lost in the music and ‘Thursday‘ is an ode to starting the weekend early, featuring ‘What We Made’ hitmaker Example. Of the 9 tracks here, 7 are instantly gratifying, with only ‘Inside a Dream’ and Bruce Springsteen cover ‘Last to Die’ being overshadowed by the amazingness of everything else on my first dozen or so listens. But the Boys are (usually) clever with writing tracks that take just that little bit longer to reveal their brilliance, so I’ll get back to you on that one.

And now we come to my highlight of the album; a song with possible the most Pet Shop Boy-ish title of all time – ‘Love is a Bourgeois Construct’. An italo-disco affair that hits the sweet spot on first listen, where we find Neil is disillusioned with love, believing it only exists in books and whatnot. Its all very tongue-n-cheek and bounces along giddily, occasionally blasting off into some computery vocal effects (but tastefully done).  There’s even some classic ‘Go West’ male choirs thrown in for good measure. Listen and love:

Yeah, its that good I put it up there twice.

Now here’s the thing: the album is currently sitting at Number 2 on the album charts. This is great, because although ‘older’ bands like Black Sabbath have done great in the album charts this year, and a lot of old stuff is coming back into fashion, the Pet Shop Boys are seen by people of my age and pretty ridiculously ‘uncool’ (maybe its coolness, not love that is a bourgeois construct). The person keeping them from Number One is… this dude.

I mean, REALLY?!?

‘Blurred Lines’ (the song) has been Number 1 for 4 weeks, before getting knocked off by Icona Pop‘s amazing ‘I Love It (feat. Charlie XCX) and then climbing up to the top spot again last week. Well done everyone. I’m not being funny but whilst the song has a really catchy production, the song is dreadful and like the video, it’s a little bit… rapey.

Maybe since turning 21 I’ve actually become 40 but I find #BLURREDLINES (grrrr) crass and… pretty trashy. And off the back of that, this guy is going to have a Number 1 album over British music legends, with a career spanning 25+ years and legendary songs like ‘West End Girls’, ‘It’s A Sin’ , ‘Suburbia’,’Always On My Mind’ and I could go on but you get the point. So I’m begging of you please, music buying public of Great Britain; put aside your ideas of Pet Shop Boys being too old, boring, posh or… gay and go buy a very good electronic/dance album and enjoy it for what it is. Which is pretty spectacular.

Also, I got my first ever vinyl yesterday:

Iconic.

Pop Partners In Crime ANNIE & RICHARD X are back together with… ‘Back Together’

It’s my 25th blog post! Huzzah! I hope people have enjoyed reading them (or, just read them) as much as I have writing them. So, without further ado…

What a brilliant thing to return from holiday to. Norweigan Popstar ANNIE and My Second Favourite Producer Ever RICHARD X have announced The A&R EP is coming out in August. It features 5 songs the pair have described as ‘dance influenced pop’, ie: the areas they excell in. One song is tantalisingly called Ralph Macchio, about The Karate Kid actor. I can’t wait to hear what wonderfully weird lyrics Ms. Strand comes up with for that one. Argh, hurry UP August!

I imagine many people reading this aren’t going to get why I’m so excited. So here’s a brief history of the both, with lots of embedded YouTube videos of varying quality.

Let’s start with Richard X, who is a producer. But unlike, say, David Guetta, he doesn’t make bad music.

Quite the opposite actually:

He made his name doing 80s sounding mash-ups but he’s done completely original things too, producing a Number One album for this chap, led by this brilliant single:


Another single from that album samples the opening song from Drive and makes its better. Because that’s what Richard X does. He’s also produced songs for Goldfrapp, The Sound of Arrows, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Saint Etienne. He’s also done some fantastic remixes of Pet Shop Boys, Cassie, New Order and Nine Inch Nails. In fact, I may dedicate a future blog post to his best stuff. Or just hijack parties with my laptop and a Spotify playlist.

Onto Annie now…

You may remember Annie from her 2004 minor hit Chewing Gum:

 

or critics favourite Heartbeat:

The former was the first collaboration between Annie and Richard, but in 2003-4 they created two MUCH more interesting songs together. The first, Just Friends is an ambient-y few minutes of gloomy bleeps and bloops where the Norweigan pop princess is having second thoughts about meeting up with a guy she’s chatted to over the internet or some seedy phone line. It’s a great late night track. The other is the totally bubbly and cheesy Me Plus One. The production and ‘Mrs B-E-AUT, Mrs I, Mrs FUL’ chant give it a playground feel but the song is actually a diss track. Ready for some pop facts?

(breathes in)

Basically, and frequent songwriting collaborator Hannah Robinson wrote the classic Some Girls (always get what they wanna wanna, etc) which was recorded and released by Rachel Stevens Of Amazing Second Album Fame. Because it was for Sport Relief it has a pretty naff video, which Rich (rhyme!) apparently hates but that’s beside the point. Ginger Spice Geri Halliwell wanted the song for herself and locked herself in a car in a bid to get it. Whereas Some Girls uses clever wordplay to disguise the fact its on about performing sex acts to get ahead (ermmm) in the music industry, Me Plus One is pretty direct at who the song is aimed at. And its delicious.

Let’s fast forward to 2008/9 where the pair teamed up to create two fantastic icy disco gems, Songs Remind Me Of You and Anthonio.  Here they are you for your listening pleasure. (Not so much visual)

Going by this rule of the pair’s collaborations getting better as the years go on, this year the songs should be so good it isn’t humanely possible to comprehend.

Or at least be as good as my favourite song of the year so far, Take A Look At The World:

Luckily, the first song off the EP has been released already!! Annoyingly, when old Richie X popped it on his SoundCloud he didn’t allow it to be embedded (that or I’m an idiot). Here it is.

https://soundcloud.com/richardxbm/annie-back-together

It was written by Little Boots and sounds like it would fit perfectly on Nocturnes, the album she released a few months ago and you ALL should have bought. I’m surprised that the album didn’t feature any X production, here’s hoping he remixes one for a single release – preferably All For You. That being said, any one would be a killer.

But yes, Back Together is pretty great. It is however, definitely more album (or EP) track than single. Annieponannie has been social media-ing about a new single and video so I’m hoping for something so incredibly everyone else will just give up music and go home (or maybe just will.i.am and Rita Ora at least). That may be a bit far-fetched, so let’s just hope the video is better than this:

2013 will be the year all you ever hear about is Richard x and Norweigan Popstar Annie. From me at least.

Me Top 5 Singles Of 2013 So Far

We’re about halfway through the year, the sun is absolutely shining and here in Wales this rarity is something we should treasure and make the most of. We are country so often shrouded in darkness and what feels like eternal rain that we should take what chances we get to bask in the golden rays of happiness.

So here I am inside writing up a pointless list of 5 songs I really like.

The rules: its Singles of 2013 list so naturally, they’ve got to have been released individually since January 1st 2013. Its getting more difficult to tell what a ‘real’ pop single is because of buzz tracks, artists bopping a song on iTunes for the lulz, music videos but no individual song release, CD or not, mixed up release dates etc etc. I’ve decide to discount ‘Racer‘ by Giorgio Moroder since its more a song from a game/Google Chrome app freebie and I’ve talked about its instant sweet-spot hitting at length. A very close sixth goes to Little Mix and ‘How Ya Doin’?‘, even though it was on their 2012 album, the single was re-swizzled enough with extra chorus bits and a Missy freakin’ Elliott guest spot – but it wasn’t as good as the other five.

Let’s crack on eh?

FIVE

Gentleman

I’ve already waxed lyrical about this one too so I won’t go on about how it reminds me of the Almighty Aloud, brings some much-needed tongue in cheek to band in need of personality, isn’t caked in Auto-Tune or featuring Sean Paul, was the best performance of their Radio 1’s Big Weekend slot which suffered from awkward dance moves, mic issues and not great singing , follows the rule of amazing second single from an album (not counting ‘30 Days’) and has an insanely catchy rap middle eight.

To be honest, it would’ve cracked the top 5 just for the line “Cause most guys just hit it and quit it/and then they wonder why most girls just spit it”

FOUR:

Get Lucky

The one everyone knows about. After four weeks at number one its finally been dethroned. Four weeks at number one and its still not got a proper full music video yet. More importantly, after four weeks at number one it still sounds pretty fresh and not getting on my nerves yet. I’ve given the album a bit of (but not nearly enough time) and its a definite grower, but worth picking up for ‘Giorgio By Moroder’: the best musical monologue about music since… well last year’s ‘Over The Border’ by Saint Etienne.

THREE:

Axis

A divisive one amongst their fanbase (isn’t everything they do nowadays though? :/). For a band whose first hit opens with the lines “Sometimes your better off dead/There’s a gun in your hand and its pointing at your head” and whose lyrics are often so ambiguous people still debate the meaning years after I can see why some people are disappointed. The only lyrics to ‘Axis’ are things like”turn it up”, and “feel the power”. And that’s absolutely fine. Some days (most days) I want to listen to PSB songs that could be about love or a terrorist suicide bomber depending on how you look it at, but some days (also most days) I want to listen to a straightforward, insanely catchy club banger. David Guettawill.i.am and co. can are clogging up the charts, radios and dancefloors but in some parallel world where everything is at it should be; me and my Uni friends would be necking Jagerbombs in a club screaming “ELECTRIC EN.ER.GY., ELECTRIC EN.ER.GY.” at the top of our lungs, rather than me pretending to tolerate “Feel This Moment”. 

TWO:

Live a Little

Three exact minutes of pure joy.

That’s all I really need to say about this one but I like to ramble on. This song is written for some sort of SONY Headphones advert campaign thing – I’m not really sure. All I know is it sounds great with my SONY Headphones (not the ones involved in this campaign, a pair I picked up a year ago in Tesco for a tenner) so I guess this proves great music is great music no matter where it comes from? It is a fact of life great music comes from Florrie and Xenomania, who will surely make up for the whole Amelia Lily disappointment when she releases her major-label debut album.

Clearly Florrie is some sort of heaven-sent angel, with her beautiful voice and gorgeous looks, who has blessed us with three EPs of incredible music completely FREEEEE!!! She also gave us Shot You Down, which is just ‘OK’,  but we can forgive her for that one. She is performing live music for us mere mortals in London on the 25th of June – the EXACT DAY I’M OFF TO TURKEY! Whilst I cannot wait to Live (a Little) up in the sun, I’ll only be ticking skinny dipping off my Bucket List this June, and not ‘Raving like a lunatic to Call of the Wild in front of its (most likely slightly disturbed) performer’.

ONE:

Take A Look

Club thumpers with female vocalists featuring on them usually make me sigh. “A sample of a good song with an annoying Eurodance beat, terrible lyrics about putting your hands up, probably a guest rapper who’s bit is so phoned-in its literally recorded off the answering machine and vocals more processed than cheap hot dogs” I whine to anyone who wants to (or realistic, doesn’t) listen. But then, like a superhero, comes Norwegian Popstar Annie (as I have to call her, because people think I’m on about the musical ¬¬) to rescue me. Teaming up with fellow Norway folk Ralph Myerz, they have created something so wonderful that I think Scandinavians should be put in charge of Earth.  The production is an icy disco throb for the verses, coupled with Annie’s mysterious, sexy voice floating on top before it all lifts off for a euphoric chorus. She cheekily teases “take off your clothes, now come and have a swim with me” and later even thrown in a reference to a song she co-wrote ‘Left My Heart In Tokyo’ performed by the gone-but-never-forgotten Mini Viva. Excellent stuff.

There’s nothing different or quirky about the structure, genre or anything really. It’s a straightforward dance-pop song. The quirkiness is left to Annie’s solo comeback single ‘Tubestops & Lonely Hearts’ which is pretty darn good, but I can’t help but think of the low-budget awkward video whenever I hear it. Sadly you cannot take a look (pun!) at the music video for this song, because its not out yet. Annie promised on Facebook it would be out in June but I cannot wait until then to do this countdown. I’m hoping its epic, obviously but for me, ‘Take a Look at the World’ is so good the video could be someone chopping their toenails and it wouldn’t detract.

Though in all seriousness Annie, please don’t ever make that into a video.

Well, that’s my top 5 of the year so far. If you would like to enquire as to who these artists are and which other songs of their you should check out, or why ‘Scream & Shout’ wasn’t featured then please leave me a comment or get in touch.

The Wanted ‘Walks Like Rihanna’ Music Video Review

 

The clip for the new music video by boyband The Wanted is up online. Here are my thoughts…

In short, I like it. Its got that cheeky playfulness that has made me warm to One Direction in their two most recent music videos. If we are going to compare, I have usually preferred The Wanted‘s music, they do great lead singles but their slowies and album tracks aren’t up to standard. By the title alone you’d think this song would be in the same mould as Maroon 5 & Christina Aguilera‘s ‘Moves Like Jagger‘ but lyrically it has more in common with the Robbie Williams/Pet Shop Boys collab ‘She’s Madonna‘ (go check that one out, Robbie bears a surprising resemblance to Jessie J circa 2011). The chorus is catchy enough and there’s a few ‘boom booms’ and ‘oooh ooooooohs’ but it kind of plods along in my opinion. I think this is definitely their weakest lead single yet, but the music video makes up for it.

The lads parody other boy bands, with my favourite being the Take ThatBack For Good‘ (Take THAT Take That!) spoof with water bottles standing in for rain. Jay even chucks in a little ‘Gangnam Style’ in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment. Its nice to see Nathan looking well, obviously he’s been through a lot since then. I can imagine all their fans are hoping he recovers quickly.

So yes, The Wanted ‘Walks Like Rihanna’ : the song is OK, and the video is a lot better than Annie‘s ‘Tubestops & Lonely Hearts‘ (what isn’t? Seriously Annie, I cherish you and all but what were you THINKING?!?).