Singles of The Week: WHY, KE$HA, WHY?
Flipping heck tucker, I never thought I’d say this but maybe Bob Geldof had a point when he gurned ‘I don’t like Mondays’ – bar one very special individual, today’s singles are by and large a motley bunch. Maybe not motley enough to induce a psychotic shooting spree á la Brenda Ann Spencer, but certainly motley enough to make one want to burrow under their covers, resurfacing only when the tyranny of the summer singles is but a distant memory – but, hey ho, might as well get the worst over us…
JLS – THE CLUB IS ALIVE
Hear that? Listen closely. That’s the sound of Julie Andrews weeping into her cereal, for this is what has become of her legacy.
And believe me readers – this is not me criticising one of Cowell’s cookie-cutter creations in a failed attempt at sounding fashionably righteous – oh no, I’m well aware of how hackneyed and fuddy-duddy it has become to rant about the X Factor’s tyrannous reign, I might as well pull on my slipper-socks and grab my copy of The Daily Mail now – but this track, this Frankenstein-esque travesty, is simply so rancid, so appalling it’s worth falling into tiresome stereotype for.
Imagine, if you dare, a male Ke$ha but about a hundred times sleazier, dosed up to the bloody eyeballs on auto-tune and raping ‘The Sound of Music’ with gay abandon and you’ve barely even scraped the surface of ‘The Club is Alive’s repulsiveness. It’s everything that is wrong with mainstream R&B neatly rolled up into nearly four minutes (FOUR BLOODY MINUTES! A track this awesomely bad should at least have the courtesy to grant the listener brevity) of undiluted, not from concentrate, unabridged awfulness. The production is stodgy and glutinous, the synths sound like one of those rubbish polyphonic ringtones from the 90’s and the auto-tone – oh, the horror, the horror! At one point, one of those noxiously under-talented cyborgs whines, through a thick smear of cursed auto-tune ‘You could be the DJ, I could be the dance-floor’ – hang on, is he inviting us to stamp on him? Form an orderly queue, music lovers. This track had me close to tears.
JANELLE MONÁE – TIGHTROPE (FT. BIG BOI)
Now from evil cyborgs to an altogether more compelling kind – just when you’d thought David Bowie had perfected futuristic androgyny along comes Janelle Monáe, quiff, tuxedos and larger-than-life ambitions in tow. The minute I heard this track – the minute Janelle came in after Big Boi with a hair-raising ‘WOAHHH!’ – as though she were minutes tipping off the proverbial tightrope herself – I just knew that this track was going to be good. Don’t ask me how – the next four or so minutes could have been bloody JLS for all I knew – but there’s something about Janelle’s voice that instils confidence right from the get-go.
Janelle has the kind of voice that lights up rooms. And I don’t mean with a soothing glow, like some weedy little night-light – I mean that it’s incendiary, blistering, blazing, hacking and spitting like a firecracker. And the track itself is an absolute triumph – it’s deliciously hyperactive, juggling multiple different musical genres and melodies at once and blissfully succeeding, veering from bonkers art-pop to old-school funk to quick-fire, ratatat rap to horn-laden jazz to smooth soul in a matter of minutes. It’s futuristic, it’s retro, it’s everything at once – and through it all, the chorus remains a sublime constant, Janelle’s voice performing the kind of audacious vocal acrobatics Beyoncé would balk at. Forget track of the day, this could easily be track of the year, easy. She may only be on her first album, but Janelle’s already worthy of international – nay, inter-galactic – superstardom. Check out the brilliantly bonkers video:
MYSTERY JETS – DREAMING OF ANOTHER WORLD
I must say, my only prior experience of Mystery Jets is that sweet little duet they released with Laura Marling quite some time back, but ‘Dreaming of Another World’ is quietly lovely, in that way only British indie manages to be – if ‘Dreaming of Another World’ was a potential suitor, he’d be lovely – clean hair and finger-nails, woolly cardigans and square plastic rims, the kind of guy your mother would love, who’d sip tea with one pinky outstretched, and who would far rather gambol through the park with you than sit in, spilling his beer and roaring at the World Cup. He’d share his Belle & Sebastian vinyl with you and always remember Valentine’s Day. Basically, he sounds like a bit of a wimp, but a nice one. Much like this track.
Final Verdict: Wimpy but pleasant.
FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE – COSMIC LOVE
Those who know me will know of my immense disdain for Florence. SHE SINGS TOO LOUDLY, PEOPLE. TOO. LOUDLY. And after watching her hijack the the xx’s lovely Glasto performance of ‘You’ve Got The Love’ with her unearthly caterwauling, I’m feeling not too enamoured towards Florence. I mean, the xx were doing fine on their own. Did you have to, Florence? Did you really have to?
And I’m afraid ‘Cosmic Love’ is same old same old from Florence – the whole ‘oooh, cosmic, stars, moon’ shtick absolutely REEKS of the far superior Bat For Lashes, as does the simpering, fairy-dust production (I believe this is the first time I’ve actually disliked the harp in a track) makes the track half A-Level drama practical, half Dolores O-Riordan stubbing her toe. Avoid at all costs. It’s not quite as savagely unlistenable as ‘The Club Is Alive’, but this faux indie-schmidie nonsense is just as noxious.
At least she isn’t dancing with the cast of Avatar in this video:
KYLIE – APHRODITE
The release of Kylie’s comeback album Aphrodite has been shrouded in mystery so thick it’d put the FBI to shame – EMI have even trawled through YouTube (Oh YouTube! Once a sanctuary of various illegal music releases! Alas, no longer!) and removed unofficial audio of the track, leaving in their wake those little red boxes (‘Due to a copyright claim made by EMI, the audio in this video has been disabled’) and inducing the VERTIABLE WRATH of countless YouTube users – I can just imagine a greying Mr. Emi now, browsing through YouTube comments in his M&S suit and tie: ‘He wants me to shove WHAT up my WHAT?!’ Oh Dear.
But despite all this intrigue, the second single (also titled ‘Aphrodite’) sounds a bit misjudged. Mistake one is the age-old rollercoaster simile – ‘I got you on my side/ It’s just a roller-ride’ Kylie simpers, and if less than 12 seconds into a track you’re already evoking Ronan Keating, then you’re in big trouble – and the lyrical motif ‘Can you feel me on the stereo/ Can you feel me on the stereo’ is as dated as your nan’s old Marconi wireless.
Also, Kylie appears to be half-singing, half-rapping – Ke$ha style. It’s as awkward as your Dad trying to do the Single Ladies dance, and just as cringe-worthy. Is there any cranny of the charts sacred from that drunken wench’s tyrannical reign?! Right, i’m off for a lie-down…