Sunday, October 09, 2011

Single Serving

*Beyonce - Countdown. Beyonce gets props for her surprisingly artistic fourth album. The flipside of that though is that it's struggling to find a real hit. "Best I Never Had" took off in the UK, but not really in the US. Doubt this will either, but it's another really fun song, with quite a frenetic production stuffed with beats, horns, keyboards and, of course, that great Boyz II Men sample.

Birdy - People Help the People. Surprising stirring vocal turn from such a young singer. Could be a surprise hit in the UK.

Bombay Bicycle Club - Lights Out Word Gone. This is decent piece of pop/rock. I like the laidback vibe.

*Matt Cardle - Run for Your Life. When it comes to the guys, X Factor has produced more misses (Steve, Leon, Joe) than hits (Shayne). With the epic sweep of this single, courtesy of Gary Barlow, I'm thinking Matt will go in the former category, at least for now. Rousing strings, confident piano chords and chugging guitars recall Brian McFadden's solo work.

*Kelly Clarkson - Mr. Know It All. Kelly doesn't sound like herself on this. I think it's because her vocals have become even stronger, a bit deeper. Not sure this going to reach the top 10, but I still like it.

*Coldplay - Paradise. Some fans may balk at the obvious pop and hip-hop influences here, but I rather like it. Coldplay making a stadium-filler may be a cliche, but they are so good at doing it, that they still make you believe. Fantastic and can't wait for the album.

Taio Cruz (feat. Flo Rida) - Hangover. Cruz hit pay dirt last year with the one-two punch of "Break Your Heart" and "Dynamite," both massive hits. Which makes this shamelessly bad ode to drinking--and not the fun part, but the nasty later part--all the more disappointing. "I can drink until I throw up," he sings. Yuck.

*Dappy - No Regrets. N-Dubz member's solo single is surprisingly decent. The modern production isn't anything remarkable, but I like the big pop chorus.

Gavin DeGraw - Not Over You. When I first heard this I thought "Ryan Tedder," and thus wasn't surprised to find out he produced and co-wrote it. Sounds good on the radio, but it's not really that special of a song.

*Delilah - Go. Delilah, the singer featured on Chase & Status's "Time," steps out on her own, with this clever interpolation of classic "Ain't Nobody" turned into a dark, swirling track full of angsty, breathy vocals.

LMFAO - Sexy and I Know It. The silliest act on the charts seems to have found a winning formula, as this is looking like it will be another big hit. If you like "Party Rock Anthem," you'll probably like this, and if you didn't, too bad. It's probably going to be on the radio for a long time.

*Loick Essien - Me Without You. After the charming introduction of summer's "How We Roll," Loick Essien returns with this nicely realized mid-tempo pop ballad. This showcases his voice even better. Really liking this.

*Florence and the Machine - Shake It Out. I wasn't crazy about her last single, but I like this one a lot better. She goes for a really big sound this time--organ and drums.

*Friendly Fires - Hurting. Friendly Fires is a group I keep hearing good stuff from, but I haven't taken the jump and bought one of their albums yet. After "Paris," this is probably my second favorite song from them. Takes indie pop into the DJ booth for some gentle soundplay that gives this a clubby boost.

Wolfgang Gartner (feat. Will.I.Am) - Forever. The Black Eyed Peas frontman gives a vocal assist to what would otherwise be a pretty nondescript electronic hip-hop/dance pop outing.

*Skylar Grey - Invisible. Shame this wasn't a bigger hit. I rather like it. Sounds like a mini version of "Bleeding Love."

*David Guetta (feat. Usher) - Without You. David Guetta finally put out something this year that I really like. He tones down his usually overstuffed sound, delivering a nice base to Usher's heartfelt vocal.

Enrique Iglesias (feat. Pitbull) - I Like How It Feels. Iglesias and Pitbull team up again and churn out another hit. This is the kind of song you expect will be played at sporting events to whip the crowd up--it even already has the crowd noise.

JLS - Take a Chance on Me. Speaking of which, JLS's new single is, in typical November fashion for them, a ballad. Hits all the right notes, but not quite as grand as last year's "Love You More."

Jessie J - Domino. For her latest US single (not available in the UK), Jessie J sounds more like Katy Perry than ever before, singing sweet nothings over a bold synth-pop melody. It's already reached top 40, but isn't showing signs it will be a big hit.

Lady Leshurr - Lego. One song about Legos is enough. This sounds like a tuneless Nicki Minaj knockoff.

Cher Lloyd (feat. Mike Posner) - With Ur Love. I thought "Swagger Jagger" was terrible. But Cher Lloyd's new single, while no pop masterpiece, is quite a bit better. Also, I heard her interviewed extensively on Radio 1 today and she was hilarious, which made me like her a lot more.

Jennifer Lopez - Papi. After the smoother R&B of "I'm Into You" it's back to the dance floor for Lopez, which is where I like her best. This even has more of a Latin sound, which is nice to hear from her.

Pixie Lott (feat. Pusha T) - What Do You Take Me For. Every Pixie Lott single has been stylistically different from the last, and this is no exception, trading the dance pop of "All About Tonight" for some swaggering hip-hop flash. It's due to go head-to-head with the next JLS single, which should make for an exciting chart week.

Marina & the Diamonds - Radioactive. The songs she put out last year were too quirky to really catch on. This dance pop piece is a more blatant stab at a mainstream hit. I like it better, although it's not a knockout.

Bruno Mars - It Will Rain. For Breaking Dawn Part 1, Mars has recorded this appropriately dark love ballad. In that vein, it kind of sounds like "Grenade," but isn't nearly as good. Not feeling this yet.

*James Morrison (feat. Jessie J) - Up. Expect James Morrison to repeat the popularity of his Nelly Furtado team up with this second single from his new album, due out late next month. This is what the Bruno Mars song should have sounded like.

Nero - Crush on You. Nero interpolates The Jets' "Crush on You" to give his latest single an obvious '80s flavor, making it his most mainstream release yet. It's fun, but I think I like "Promises" better.

Noah and the Whale - Waiting for My Chance to Come. This fourth Last Night on Earth single has a rollicking Tom Petty quality to it. I haven't really been into them, but I like this.

J. Pearl (feat. Shayne Ward) - Must Be a Reason Why. J. Pearl, whoever she is, has churned out a fun tune by interpolating Wamdue Project's "King of My Castle" and adding a new vocal by Shayne Ward (who, regrettably, is overprocessed here).

*Professor Green (feat. Emeli Sande) - Read All About It. This may be a Professor Green single but what makes it special is Emeli Sande, proving that her epic vocal from her summer hit "Heaven" was no fluke. Loving this.

Rizzle Kicks - When I Was a Youngster. Rizzle Kicks get lighter and brighter on this follow up to "Down with the Trumpets," which has a faster tempo and a Caribbean flavor.

Kelly Rowland - Down for Whatever. Although it's about sexual creativity, it might as well be about pop music production methods. The new X Factor judge may continue to strike out in the US with her R&B ("Motivation" was a minor hit, but just), but her dance pop has done well in the UK, so I expect this should do well.

Ed Sheeran - Lego House. Falls somewhere between the gentle acoustics of "The A Team" and the bolder, upbeat "You Need Me." It's a nice song--like the assertive piano and drum melody. Not sure it's going to be another top 5 hit though.

Skrillex - Ruff Neck (Full Flex). Dubstep is all over the place and this guy is being touted as one of its forerunners. It takes some getting used to, but the disco touches are what makes this one stand above the pack.

Snow Patrol - This Isn't Everything You Are. If "Called Out in the Dark" was a bit of a departure for them, this is back at home base, embodying the grand rock sound they've hit gold with before ("Run," "Chasing Cars"). Despite that, there's something about this song that's just not doing it for me. Not bad, but it feels forced.

Sean Paul (feat. Alexis Jordan) - Got 2 Luv U. Sean Paul has never really been my thing ("Get Busy" being his best work, in my opinion). This isn't really doing it for me either even with the delightful Alexis Jordan doing the chorus.

Rihanna (feat. Calvin Harris) - We Found Love. This is calculated to be a major hit, which I'm sure it will. I like it, but I don't love it. It's not up to par with "Only Girl" or "What's My Name." Does the trick though.

*Britney Spears - Criminal. This was a personal favorite from Femme Fatale, so I'm excited it was chosen as the album's fourth single. A slight tweak in the mix keeps this mid-tempo standout sounding fresh. It's darker and less flashy than her last three singles, which is what makes it interesting.

*T-Pain (feat. Lily Allen & Wiz Khalifa) - 5 O'Clock. T-Pain liberally samples Lily Allen's hit single "Who'd Have Known," building around it a sexy hip-hop track with light piano that hits the right notes. One of his best. Recalls the trick Eminem pulled on "Stan" with Dido's "Thank You."

Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs - Garden. Intriguing, but ultimately not particularly memorable late-night "chill" kind of sound.

*The Wanted - Lightning. Eschewing the fall boyband trend, The Wanted follows "Glad You Came" with an even zippier dance pop track. Smart move. It should be another easy hit for them.

2 comments:

Project Mobius said...

Wow. You weren't kidding with "single serving" - 42, to be exact!

So, anyways, I agree with your reviews for "Paradise", "Invisible", and "5 O'Clock". "Go" should be a breakthrough song for Delilah, and Loick Essien could be the guy to bring back R&B, pending on a slight change of genre.

However, I don't agree with your review on "Hangover". I know you don't like the lyrics, but they are little compared to the physical power of the rest of the song. After all, did "Break Your Heart" make a bunch of guys cheat on their girlfriends? I think not.

Also, "Criminal" sounds deadly addictive. I don't know about you, but I'm feeling a bit of retro Britney in this song.

ww_adh said...

I don't object to "Hangover's" lyrics because I think they might influence people's behavior. Quite the contrary: people have been drinking for 100s of years and Taio Cruz will have NO effect on that. I object because I think it's gross that the lyrics celebrate drinking and vomiting. If the theme was "drink and have fun," that would be fine. That's what "Cheers (Drink to That)" is about. But it's "let's drink and get really sick," which is asinine.

Britney's latest singles have been so clubby. It's nice to hear something else. So I think you're right that this hearkens back to some of her really great less frenetic songs like "Sometimes" and "Born to Make You Happy."