“I’ll be honest: only the chorus really works here.”
Tom: Sometimes we talk about songs where everything works; this is not one of those. So in advance, I’ll warn you.
Tom: The verses are a little awkward. The lyrics are all entitled-dude-hitting-on-woman. I’m not sure that the speaking-into-singing shtick works. The middle eight is uninspired. The ending is unfulfilling.
Tim: You’re really not selling this to me well, you know.
Tom: I’ll be honest: only the chorus really works here.
Tom: But bloody hell, what a chorus.
Tim: Yes indeed – a lovely surprise, an enormous amount of lipstick on that particular pig.
Tom: A reader called Lukas sends this in, and says “It’s due to be on the playlist of Radio 1Xtra in October. It’s slowly making waves.”
Tim: Huh. Last time I checked, 1Xtra didn’t plan out their playlists two weeks in advance, let alone two months, but okay.
Tom: To which I say: really? I mean, I’m hardly 1Xtra’s target audience, but I thought “calm soul music” was more Radio 2’s domain. Is there a soul show I don’t know about?
Tim: Putting it out there now: I will donate £50 to the charity of Charlie Sloth’s choice if this makes it onto the 1Xtra playlist.
Tom: First of all: that’s a great voice. And musically there’s not much wrong with the track; there’s a good hook, and about as much interesting stuff as you can ever fit in when all you’ve got’s a slow piano-and-vocals song.
Tim: Can’t disagree with the great voice bit, though I should add I’m not sure about the good hook – not saying it’s bad, it might be great, but I actually got a little bit bored, and a couple of minutes in I started reading up on the 1Xtra playlist process.
Tom: But my word, it sounds much longer than it is. I thought I was about five minutes in when I switched back to the video tab and found we weren’t even three minutes in first. Now, partly that’s my lack of attention span when it comes to music, and partly the fact we don’t normally deal with slow, soulful records, but despite all that… damn, this could do with being cut down just a little.
Tim: I couldn’t agree more. I’d consider listening to it again to see if there was more than the standard two verses, two chorus, middle eight and more choruses, but I fear I’d be claiming my pension before I found out.
All that’s beside the point, because she’s an acoustic guitar singer/songwriter. And now she’s featured on a track by – and I’m not making this up – a Scottish “hip-pop-rock” duo. That’s right: it’s Scottish rap time.
Tim: Well, this should be something then.
Tom: “Just say what’s on your mind / like a kid with Tourettes”. Oh boy.
Tim: Yep. Definitely something.
Tom: This sounds like a song that plays over the credits of an early-90s movie.
Tim: That’s…an interesting comparison.
Tom: It’s… it’s cheesy. Power guitar, female vocals, and a rap that just doesn’t sound right somehow, although that might be because Scottish rap isn’t exactly something that’s broken into the mainstream.
Tim: Perhaps you’re right, but is that a bad thing? I don’t really know what to say here, because it’s not something I’d choose to listen to and the artist isn’t well-known enough for me to compare it to anything. Though I will point out that you’re saying ‘Scottish rap” as though it’s a new genre in itself – much as I’d love that to be the case, I’m not entirely sure one regional accent can do enough to create it.
Tim: Fair enough, although I will point out that Wikipedia has a well-referenced five thousand word essay on something as minor as toilet paper orientation; I’m having a slight issue taking a single unsourced article there as proof of a genre, whatever danger it may put me in..
Tom: Anyway, I think it’s the quiet one-liner bits between the chorus and verses that really put it into the ‘closing credits’ genre. It’s competent, it really is, it’s just… weird.
Tom: Yesterday, I described Icona Pop’s new single as “not much of a song”. Earlier this year, I reviewed Chiddy Bang’s first single, (I’m) Ray Charles, with the three-word phrase “no you’re not”.
What I’m trying to say is this: on their own, I haven’t liked what I’ve heard from either of these artists. But together…
Tom: …well, now that’ll do very nicely.
Tim: Sort of – from the first second I saw those guys in white holding what might have been on first glance paintball guns, I was hoping there’d be some MASSIVE PAINT MASSACRE. Even though they were cameras. But they could still have been guns as well.
Tom: Both the song and its video seem to be happy but mostly incomprehensible. I don’t really mind that I don’t understand them, though; I’m too busy being caught up in what is a spectacularly infectious tune. Sometimes, simple and repetitive works.
Tim: Yes – unfulfilled video expectations aside, I can’t really fault this. The whole ‘there is no-one like me’ that seems to NEVER STOP just works really for me, and I like it. Would I like it as much without the video? Not quite as much, probably, but I still would.
Tom: By their powers combined: they’ve made a good track.
Tim: “Being raised on mainstream pop, [Anton] knows the rules well enough to break them.” Worth a listen?
Tom: With a healthy dose of skepticism, yes.
Tim: It apparently comes with “reggaeton-inspired verses and a kick-in-the-gut chorus”, and is about “wanting it all, giving it all, and getting it all”. Also, bear in mind that he “wrote his first song in green crayon at the age of six.”
Tim: Now, I’ve never heard any reggaeton, or even heard of its existence before now, so I can’t judge the first part.
Tom: It’s a bit slow, isn’t it?
Tim: Yeah – I’ve certainly no inclination to check out reggaeton based on these verses, but then there is that chorus, while perhaps not reaching kick-in-the-gut levels, does at least get up to tickle-on-the-tummy, so I’m all for this. It’s got quite a machine-y vibe to it, so it works on that level, and it’s varied enough that it never really gets dull.
It is definitely the choruses that make this, though, what with the slightly uninspiring verses. Those choruses are enough, though. Just about.
Tom: That sums up my thoughts: it’s a bit sparse, which is – as they say – fine if you like that sort of thing.
Tim: Anyway, he’s competing in the Metro On Stage competition, so you can vote for him here if you want. And see all the other entrants, and even submit your own should you be so inclined.
Tom: No, it’s not a more sparkly cover of Sam Sparro.
Tom: A voice right out of Motown. How many other stars would dare to end a track a capella?
Tim: Off the top of my head, quite a few. But it’s a voice that deserves the attention that provides, I’ll grant you that.
Tom: And wonderfully, this isn’t about sex, or relationships, or the love of money. The key phrase is “take care of your soul”, and the video’s a classy piece about rejecting superficiality. I want this to take the charts by storm. I want this to get to number 1 and, specifically, to beat some look-at-me rap star with an autotuned voice and a fancy Mercedes. It’s lovely.
Tim: Well, news for you: Radio 1 will playlist it, Capital will like it and play it a bit, and it’ll get top 10. Number one? Unlikely, but not impossible. You may get your wish.
Tim: Starts out sounding jolly and bouncy, this does.
Tom: And it keeps sounding jolly and bouncy! What a voice. You know, I reckon I prefer the verses to the chorus here – the simpler instrumentation lets her singing shine out, while the choruses seem a bit overcomplicated and repetitive. It’s strange for me to think that way – but then I’m a big fan of the neo-Motown style of tracks like this.
Tim: It continues in that vein, with none of the violence in the music that the video would imply. There’s a weird contrast there – hearing the music on its own gives a sort of ‘I’d quite like to go out with you, but unfortunately I’m just too busy to fit you in my schedule right now’, with it’s gentle lyrics and pleasant backing that you might hear on Strictly Come Dancing, but watching the video implies a ‘Get the hell out of here and if you come back I’ll kick the shit out of you’ that’s more Come Dine With Me.
Tom: Another strange thought for me: I think the video actually takes something away from the song. I reckon I’d be happy with just the verses and nothing else here.
Tim: And shame on her for chucking that iMac off the balcony – that’s a design classic! Jony Ive’s just been knighted, and she’s treating his products like that. Disgraceful behaviour.
Tom: First thought when I saw the title and artist? “This is going to be hilarious.”
Tom: One man whose name sounds like a reject from War of the Worlds. One man who wears a ridiculous hat. And their music video is like ‘I’m On A Boat‘, only serious. Guys: the Lonely Island are making fun of you. It’s not something to emulate.
Tim: But…but…where’s the na-na-nai? There are a few na-nas, sure but THIS ISN’T A DAPPY SONG WITHOUT IT.
Tom: I should probably be a bit less sarcastic, because there is genuine talent here. It’s well produced, the backing’s good, and both of them can rap. But when the entire song is “look how rich we are, come worship us”… well, it does tend to make you see them is a less favourable light.
Tim: I’ve got a fair amount of codeine in me as I’m writing this, which may affect my judgement, but: I actually quite like the chorus. There I’ve said it. Now mock me.
Tim: First off, something that may alienate a few readers: I don’t like cats. Not at all. Really not. So I’m immediately predisposed to not like this song all that much.
Tom: Now, I don’t mind cats, but it’s previously been established that I don’t like talky-songs. Cee-Lo’s got an incredible singing voice; why’s he not using it here?
Tim: Having said that, with it being standard Teddybears fare right from the outset, with genres splashing together all over the place, musically I don’t mind it. Verses aren’t particularly exciting, but I do like the chorus melody, which after a while becomes at the very least something you can bounce your head to.
Tom: Once I got used to exactly what was going on, I found myself… well, ‘liking it’ is probably a bit strong. Let’s go with ‘tolerating it’. It took my brain a good while to get around the fact that this isn’t really a Cee-Lo track, or a B-52s track, or… well, anything like I’d expect.
Tom: And this sounds like seriously old-school Beastie Boys. Decent sample, tight production, and the shouting, distorted multiple-guys-rapping style that no-one’s ever done quite as well since. Technically, it’s bloody excellent.
Which makes it a bit of a shame that I don’t actually like it.
Tim: Really? I think it’s good – lot of energy to bounce along to in your chair, which is always nice.
Tom: That sample grates after a while; even if some of the distortion’s thanks to YouTube compression it’s still a bit too much for me; and when it comes down to it my brain just thinks “it’s very nice, but I do wish they’d shout a bit less”.
Perhaps I’m getting old; perhaps I’m more used to modern production; but despite this being a fantastic record I just don’t want to listen to it. I think that’s my own fault, though.
Tim: It’s not something I’d put on my usual playlist, I suppose, but I’ve certainly got no aversion to it.