Shakira feat. Dizzee Rascal – Loca

They’re going through the motions rather than actually having fun.

Tom: I saw the artists’ names and immediately thought “hell yes”. The woman who sang the best-selling song of the 21st century so far, and the best British rapper ever? (Don’t argue. I’ve seen him live, and I’ve never seen a crowd get quite so excited.)

Tom: It’s a typical Latin-influenced track, with singing from Shakira and verses from Mr. Rascal (as he’s formally known).

Tim: He actually is.

Tom: That’s what you’d expect from a collaboration like this – and there’s even a point where they trade lines as well. But what’s missing seems to be the energy. It almost seems like they’re going through the motions rather than actually having fun recording it.

Tim: One of the problems is that for the most part, Shakira’s getting through so many words that she’s practically unintelligible, so I have no idea what the song’s about. That was particularly the case when Dizzee was talking about feeling ‘el presidente’, and I spent a good couple of minutes wondering what orange juice had to do with anything, before I realised I was thinking of Del Monte.

There’s one time you can definitely understand her though, and it leads to a question I have long wanted to know the answer to: what is it with rappers and wanting to be called ‘daddy’ (or, in this case, ‘papi’)? It’s just plain weird, but it’s all over the place – Usher’s particularly guilty of it. Since when did incest become attractive?

If I was a girl, and my boyfriend said that to me, I would say to him, ‘Okay, I’ll call you daddy, but only if you call me mummy,’ and then I’d watch him run screaming from the room.

Tom: That’s a mental image that’s going to stay with me for a while.

Anyway, the lack of enthusiasm’s the same in the video – him and her have blatantly been filmed separately, perhaps even on different continents with the help of some bluescreen.

Tim: Actually, that is one heck of a distracting video, for a blindingly obvious reason.

Tom: Well, yes, I think anyone who…

Tim: …and that is Shakira’s attitude towards basic safety practices.

Tom: Wait, what?

Tim: She wears kneepads when she’s rollerblading in her very small amount of clothing – looks a bit odd, but it’s okay because it’s demonstrating good procedure for any children watching. However, then she goes on a motorbike without any real torso protection and no sign of any helmet (which is almost certainly illegal, by the way). Totally mixed messages.

Tom: How well will the American market react to “that girl is a nutter” being in there? No idea, but I hope it helps Mr. Rascal crack America. He deserves it.

Shayne Ward – Gotta Be Somebody

He clearly thinks he’s gone back in time five years

Tim: Shayne Ward’s BACK! apparently. Well, that’s what he said on The X Factor on Sunday, so it must be true. Here he is with his very own version of Nickelback’s Gotta Be Somebody.

Tom: Otherwise known as every Nickelback song ever.

Tom: The autotune on that is actually offensive. When used properly, it can be a decent effect. That’s just horrible.

Tim: Now, he clearly thinks he’s gone back in time five years, because let’s be frank: this is not just a song from an X Factor winner – it is an X Factor Winner’s Song:

  • Cover of a fairly well known song.
  • A quiet start then kicking in a little bit halfway through the first verse.
  • Good chorus, leading out to a second verse with considerably more energy than the first.
  • Nice bit of calm in the bridge.
  • Musical exposion to follow.

You may doubt this formula, especially parts two and three, but check any one you want. All it’s missing is Dermot in the video yelling his name.

As a winner’s song. it’s not bad. Decent source material helps, nice bit of synth work in the background brings it up to date.

Tom: I really dislike this, because it’s got the major-key chord structure that forces my brain to get enthusiastic about it. Like you say, it is a Winner’s Song, and for that reason I hate it.

Tim: As an actual song, well, it’s still not bad, but it sure as hell isn’t good. It’s just formula, and isn’t remotely exciting. Even in the loud ending he doesn’t seem particularly energetic – it’s as if he went into a studio and said, ‘This sort of worked last time, let’s have another go. It’ll be something to pass the time.’

Tom: I think that’s the damned autotune.

Tim: Normally, a song like this would have four months of two hour weekly TV adverts, and so success is a given, deserved or otherwise, because it’s been implanted in the nation’s brain. This hasn’t, and so doesn’t get a free pass.

Tom: I’m about to say something that I don’t think has ever been said before: the Nickelback version is better.

Tim: Problem with the video: there is no way Shayne Ward has a stalker willing to take 230 pictures of him.

OMD – Sister Marie Says

I didn’t expect to see a Catholic schoolgirl being beaten in the street.

Tom: Advance warning: this is not a happy video. I’d recommend listening to the song on its own first before watching the full video, because for once the pictures really do put the song in a different light.

Tom: Now, as I said last time we talked about OMD: I’m a fan. The overblown synth melodies, the production, everything. I’m still slightly bitter that I missed the chance to see them headline at the National Museum of Computing in Bletchley Park a few months ago. When I first heard this, I thought “this sounds a bit like old OMD”, and it turns out that I’m right; this track was written in 1981, meant to be released in 1996 but scrapped, brought out as a free download in 2007 and now, finally, it’s the second single off the new album.

This one doesn’t have the triumphant overtones of ‘If You Want It’, and if I’m honest the loud whispering vocal line starts to grate by the end of it. The generic, religious lyrics I can take or leave too – but the operatic bridge and the exit from it are great, elevating it above regular ‘album track’ status.

Tim: My thoughts as I heard this:

0:03 – Ooh, I like this.
0:30 – Ooh, I really like this.
1:03 – Seriously? This is your verse?
1:28 – Hooray, the fun stuff’s back.
1:43 – Do we have to have another verse?
2:11 – Yes. Not long now.
3:05 – This build-up had better be worthwhile.
3:10 – Yes!…although it’s actually just the same as before.
3:22 – Okay, this is definitely Good.

Just a shame about the verses, really.

Tom: The video, though. Well, I was expecting some religious symbolism in there, but after last time I was expecting dancers, high-powered lights and meaningless abstract themes. I didn’t expect to see a Catholic schoolgirl being beaten in the street.

Tim: Yeah, although to be honest it just confuses me – we see her getting beaten up, but it seems as though she started it, which slightly ruins it. Is the idea that an alcoholic mother and boyfriend who leaves her when she says no is enough to start a fight? I don’t know, really, and if I’m honest I don’t like it at all.

Carpark North – Burn It

I feel we may have to disagree here.

Tim: Carpark North are a Danish electro rock band that intended to call themselves Graveyard North but got the translation wrong (seriously), and this is the single release that accompanies their soon-to-be-released greatest hits album.

Tim: I’m not sure why, but I don’t seem to be able to write a normal sentence sentence new paragraph sentence and so on type review for this, so here are my thoughts:

  • There is a lot happening here.
  • The hook is one that you hear, and think ‘Oh, God, that’ll be in my head all day now,’ and, well, it pretty much is. If it isn’t immediately, as it wasn’t when I first heard it, it’ll appear out of nowhere four or five hours from now. Just wait.
  • I’m fairly sure that the intro/backing beat exists purely to screw with anybody trying to work out where the beat lies in this.
  • The dance backing that jumps in for the third minute is unexpected and thus rather pleasant.
  • The final thirty seconds provide possibly the most excited ending to a song I have ever heard.
  • There are almost certainly plenty of good remixes in here, if this gets the attention it deserves.

All in all, I think this is more than a little bit excellent.

Tom: You’re wrong.

Tim: I see.

Tom: Yes, there’s quite a lot happening, but it’s hardly overproduced – and having too much going on isn’t necessarily a good thing.

As for the song itself… it’s an unmemorable dirge. The hook just puts Axel F, the theme from Beverly Hills Cop, in my head. And an excited ending? Have you forgotten ‘Lovekiller’, if nothing else? It’s got some heavy drums, but that’s about it.

Tim: Fair point about Lovekiller – and you’re right, there are others – so maybe I should replace ‘possibly’ with ‘one of’, but I stand by my original sentiment – I think it’s a great energetic ending. As for your unmemorable, I guess we just remember different things.

Tom: I don’t reckon this’ll sit on many playlists – and I’d be surprised if anyone gets a decent remix out of it either.

It’s not bad. A lot of people will like it, most probably; it’s competent at least, and it’s no INJU5TICE. But it’s nothing special.

Tim: In that case, I feel we shall have to disagree here.

Tom: Okay. But you’re still wrong.

Saturday Flashback: DJ Daz – The Woah Song

Enthusiastic but nevertheless slightly creepy.

Tom: You will recognise Daz Sampson. We could write an entire tribute article to his career, and his never-say-die attitude – that’s not sarcasm, the man’s been in more line-ups than a serial mugger. He turns up in the strangest places: on Eurovision, on Dance Dance Revolution games, and in songs with the most bizarre shoutouts I’ve ever heard. (“Jamie – shine the magic torch!“). And throughout all of it, he keeps the same voice and persona: that of the enthusiastic but nevertheless slightly creepy uncle at a wedding disco.

Tom: All that said, I’m not quite sure what he was thinking with this.

Tim: No. Umm…

Tom: Tarzan Boy by Baltimora? Twenty women in lingerie? A blue tracksuit? The shoutout to himself, “the old kung-fu star” – which is followed with a sampled ‘whoo-ha’, just in case you didn’t get it?

Tim: It’s…well, I mean, it’s a bit…sort of…maybe…right, I’ll admit – I have absolutely no idea. I am, however, grateful that it’s only 2 minutes and 44 seconds long.

Tom: Oh, and there’s a brief, horrible moment when he appears to be spanking himself. If you didn’t notice it, don’t go back and look. Just be thankful.

Tim: Believe me, I won’t go back.

Hang on. I’ve just listened to that ‘shine the magic torch‘ track, and it suddenly got me in a fit of giggles. Why didn’t you suggest that one? Not only is there that shout-out, but there’s also the line ‘I’m the UK’s number 4 MC.’ It reminds me of the (sadly long now disbanded) Scooter tribute act Moped, although I doubt either of them would appreciate the comparison.

Tom: Isn’t that the best shout-out ever? The extended version, sadly not on YouTube, also gives shoutouts to non-existent people (followed up with a quiet ‘Who?’ in the background), and includes the enthusiastic line “Ben O’Brien – if you book your taxi, it will come“.

History does not record who Ben O’Brien actually is, or whether he failed to book his taxi.

Katy Perry – Firework

It goes somewhere mediocre.

Tom: All right, it’s new Katy Perry track time. She’s got a fine way with earworms, so let’s see if this one’s just as catchy. It’s called ‘Firework’, but irritatingly it’s not released until the 15th November, far too late for Bonfire Night. Sort it out, Perry.*

* Incidentally, I would watch a show called “Katy Perry Mason”. Probably just the once.

Tom: It starts well, builds and builds, and just as you’re thinking “this has to go somewhere amazing”… it goes somewhere mediocre. This isn’t a summer hit, or even a ‘Teenage Dream’, and no number of string instruments in the chorus will help that.

Tim: The main problem is that the build-up is actually part of the chorus, so it actually disappoints three or four times throughout.

Tom: Sounds like a girl I knew once.

She’s also doing that thing where she just sings syllables rather than words, which is now starting to irritate the hell out of me. And the bridge is appalling – “boom boom boom / moon moon moon”? That’s scarcely Vengaboys-quality.

Tim: It is something Olly Murs could do worse than to take as an example. Just saying.

Tom: If ever there was a song in desperate need of a final-chorus key change, this is it – because it runs out of ideas about a minute in.

Tim: True. However, the lack of ideas does lead to repetition, which means that by the end of the song, ‘fiiiiiiiirewooooooorks’ has worked its way in and is almost enjoyable.

Tom: I wouldn’t go that far.

Broken Door – Angel

There are a lot of ways you can tell someone you love them.

Tim: There are a lot of ways you can tell someone you love them. You can write them a poem. You can take some flowers to their door. You can stare into their eyes and whisper some soft sweet words.

Tom: Lasers. You could use lasers.

Tim: You could indeed. Or, if you’re a Swedish band, you may wish to espouse all those options and write a great big loud song.

Tim: And yes, it is big and loud. The music doesn’t really go with the gentle mood of the lyrics – for that, you’d want Enriqué Iglesias, or Celine Dion or someone. But it’s good loud – you know exactly what the guy’s saying, and why he’s saying it, and from a song like this that seems to be all that matters. It’s a good tune, and it doesn’t get old with repeated listens.

Tom: Really? ‘Cos it got old within the first listen for me. Two minutes in I thought ‘is this all it’s got?’ and skipped forward. It is, indeed, all it’s got, even with the screaming choir at the end.

Tim: Well, whatever you think, it’s definitely one you can sing out loud to when you’re cycling on your way to work early in the morning, should you ever find yourself in such a situation.

Tom: And I’m sure you have been doing.

Tim: Absolutely. I’m quite sure the neighbours hate me for it, but I don’t care. Mind you, nothing will ever quite beat yelling out RELEASE YOUR INNER GLOW.

Pink – Raise Your Glass

There are many things wrong with this.

Tom: Stop everything. It’s a new Pink single.

Tom: I’ll freely admit to being a Pink fan. I saw her perform live at the Wireless Festival, and it was one of the best shows I’ve seen. She sang, quite clearly live, while spinning on aerial silks without a safety net. In her grand finale, she swooped above the crowd on a custom-designed winched harness. It was brilliant.

This new single? Well, there are many things wrong with this. It starts slowly, and the verses – with sparse kick drum and guitar behind them – feel like they need a lot more. The lyrics irritate me: “what’s the deal-i-o”, “if you’re too school for cool”, and “don’t be fancy / just get dancey” are all dire. And the spoken mock-interjections that she’s prone to will grate more and more every time I hear it, like the horrible ‘check my flow / uh’ that blights the middle of ‘So What’.

Tim: I don’t mind most of those things, although you’re definitely right about fancy/dancey, and the interjections do go on a bit. My main issue, though, is that there’s not enough singing in it – the chorus is okay, but the verses seem to have only a very vague sense of tune, with her voice hardly varying and it just seems like a half-hearted rap that she can’t really be bothered with.

Tom: But the chorus… well, the chorus nearly makes up for it. A stadium crowd chanting ‘Raise your glass’ all at once will make this song worthwhile – but this definitely ain’t another ‘U + Ur Hand’.

Tim: No – although looking at her past efforts she does seem to go for quantity over quality, hoping that some will stick. Of the twenty six songs she’s put out over the past ten years, I think I like about seven, yet I would still say I like her music. She’ll come out with a good one soon enough.

As for that video: I think – I think – she might be trying to tell us something, and that maybe everybody’s different and it’s a good thing. That’s just a guess, though – it might be something else completely. Oh wait, actually, no it isn’t something else. And she’s not telling us, she’s SCREAMING IT AT US UNTIL WE BLOODY WELL LISTEN.

On the other hand, getting annoyed with the whole PSA-ness of it all does make it a little easier to listen to the song.

Take That – The Flood

When it kicks in… it’s worth the wait.

Tom: And now, something I never thought I’d write: the five members of Take That have a new single.

Tom: It starts slowly. Very slowly. But when it kicks in – heralded in the video by an actual starting pistol going off – it’s worth the wait.

Tim: Yes. Although I did like the slowness – it was a pleasant calm rather than a boring calm.

Tom: The trouble is, Take That have been gone so long that people only remember the hits and, perhaps, the two decent songs that they’ve had since. All the album tracks have faded into memory – so if they ever come out with a dodgy one, people are going to start proclaiming “they’re past it”. And with high-emotion, choir-filled tracks like Never Forget behind them, this is going to have to be something very special.

And by the end of it, I think it just might be. This one’s a grower.

Tim: I’m not sure about a grower – I think I got pretty much everything from it the first time I heard it, and I think you’re right about it being as good as people remember. I have two criticisms, though. The first just grates enough to be slightly annoying, and it’s that I cannot, however hard I try, ignore the fact that they are pronouncing ‘flood’ wrong. I know, regional accents, blah, but dammit I don’t care. Anybody who speaks properly knows that flood rhymes with mud, not wood. The second is something that will get better over time, and it’s the instrumental chorus that appears near the end. I can best compare it to the ‘light to light the way’ from the backing singers in Love Shine A Light (or, if I feel like shaming myself massively, and apparently I do, the ‘love me, love me’ from Love Me For A Reason) – musically it’s great, but it makes it very difficult to sing along to.

Tom: The video’s a bit strange. They go for a rowing race. They lose, but rather than accept defeat gracefully they continue into a half-CGI London and Thames Estuary, rowing out into a stormy sea where they’ll almost certainly perish. I’m now assuming that when they sing that they were “holding back the flood”, they meant it literally, and as a result of their defeat they’re now planning to summon an enormous storm that will destroy London.

Jimi Constantine – Dirty Cinderella

Seriously, put a t-shirt on, mate.

Tim: Some Finnish pop punk for you, by a bloke who wants to be their entry to Eurovision (although not with this song).

Tom: Amazing how much the definition of ‘punk’ has changed over the years, hasn’t it? Even pop-punk used to have a bit of attitude – Sum 41 may not have been anything near the Sex Pistols, but at least they at least pretended to have the spit-in-your-face attitude. This is more pop than punk.

Tim: The voice reminds me of a couple of Weird Al songs, I think, and the music underneath has a proper tune to it.

Tom: Good grief, now you mention it he does sound like Weird Al. Something about the slightly-nasal tone, I think.

Tim: The autotune’s laid on a bit heavy, but it doesn’t grate too much (except the ‘ella’ on the last proper line of each chorus).

Tom: True, but the chorus itself starts to grate a bit for me. It’s a nice tune, but the lyrics could use a bit of work. Maybe I’m just getting old, but I can’t help muttering “oh, get over yourself”. Also, he says “could care less” when he means “couldn’t care less” and damn it, that annoys me.

Tim: You bastard, I hadn’t noticed that. Still, overall, I think it’s quite enjoyable, even though, like you say, the lyrics won’t win him any awards, and it’ll be good to see what he comes out with in January.

Tom: Get him a decent lyricist, and I’m looking forward to it.

Tim: As for the video…

Tom: It’s very much a “how close can we get to porn before the music video channels won’t show us” effort, isn’t it?

Tim: Pretty much, yeah. Seriously, put a t-shirt on, mate.

Tom: Right there is a man who shaves his armpits. And, one would presume, everywhere else. Now I’m all for a bit of manscaping, but he does look a bit like a Ken doll.

Tim: It’s not the middle of summer, and right now it just looks a bit silly. In fact, my favourite part is when he gets a football kicked at his head for no reason whatsoever.

Tom: The impact’s right on the single drum hit in the middle of the silent bit, though. Top work, editor.