Alexandra Burke feat. Laza Morgan – Start Without You

The first mainstream song about female masturbation since “I Touch Myself”.

Tim: So Alexandra Burke’s bringing out her new single in two and a half weeks, and the video’s so ridiculously gay it’s quite likely this song’ll be the new Torchwood theme.

Tim: The music starts off entirely cack, with a trademark Alexandra moment of self-doubt having everybody else’s name shouted out first*, but then the chorus lands and you feel you should be in Hawaii surrounded by coconuts and pineapples, and it’s rather catchy. The rest of the song improves as a whole, and I think it’s a good’un.

But dear lord, the video… It’s just…I really don’t know. I have absolutely no clue what logical thought process could possibly have led to this as an idea for a music video. It’s not bad, yet nor is it good, and it sure as hell isn’t average. On your standard scale of quality, it seems to defy placement.

* This is the one thing that really annoyed me about Bad Boys, which was otherwise a ruddy marvellous effort. That cock Flo Rida had only a few rapping lines and wasn’t the lead artist, yet it started by him yelling ‘FLO RIDA! Alexandra…’ Nob. And I know RedOne’s good and all that (*cough* Darin *cough*), but since when did the producer ever get a shout out?

Tom: Haha. This is terrible. I mean, there’s nothing particularly bad about it musically, but it sounds like someone took the backing of Agadoo, jazzed it up a bit, and then got Ranking Roger to do a bit of Jamaican sort-of-rap at the start like in mostly-forgotten mid-90s Pato Banton hit Bubblin’ Hot.

Also, as soon as you realise the lyrics are one giant sexual metaphor, the whole song makes sense:

“Oh, here I go, drip droppin’ way down low
You’re ’bout to miss
Winding to this
Don’t make me start without you”

Er, anyone under 12 probably shouldn’t read that last paragraph. Not that they’ll understand it anyway. Actually, let me rephrase: don’t let your parents read that last paragraph, it’ll just be awkward.

Tim: I hadn’t actually looked at the lyrics, and I’m a little disturbed. Not by them, but by you and your choice of lyrics to display the metaphor. You could have had

Body like a weapon that’ll make you go boom
Get like a drum I’ll make you go…boom

or, even more so,

You’re the only one and I’m all on my back
The only one I want on my back

— but no. You chose drip droppin’ way down low. Seriously, man, what’s the matter with you?

Tom: Because all the others are generic, all the others sound like the vague comments made in every other song. There’s no other explanation for that particular verse though – I even checked Urban Dictionary, and the only definition it gave was a visit from Aunt Flo, which frankly turns the song down an entirely different route.

Once you start looking, there’s even more evidence: her hand gesture at 1:51, for example. The only conclusion I can draw is this: Alexandra Burke’s “Start Without You” is the first truly mainstream song about female masturbation since “I Touch Myself”.

Tim: Also from the lyrics comes a massive annoyance that I hadn’t previously noticed, although it’s not just in this song because I’ve had it for quite some time: when the sod did ‘I’m going to’ become ‘Imma’? It’s the most ridiculous contraction since, well, ever. In fact, it’s not even a contraction when you compare it to ‘I’ll’. Utter crap. I blame Kanye West.

Tom: I’m sorry, are you from the past? First, the Black Eyed Peas released a single called ‘Imma Be‘ in May last year – although the cover of that was a picture of a bee, so well done there. Imma is now so common that even I use it on occasion, and (like everyone else on the internet) I’m a middle-class white guy. I tend to use ‘immana’ more, but it’s steadily creeping in.

Tim: I know it’s been around for a while, but it’s one thing that really really gets me, because I just don’t see how it makes sense. Although I did feel incredibly old when writing it, so I’ll accept you have a point.

Tom: One final comment: is Laza Morgan the guy off Mysterious Girl? Because the opening sounds remarkably similar now I think about it.

Tim: Wikipedia tells me the Mysterious Girl guy was called Bubbler Ranx, so no, although we still have the sublime Ant & Seb to link Alexandra and that song.

Tim Berg – Seek Bromance

Here’s a nice Swedish dance choon for you.

Tim: Here’s a nice Swedish dance tune for you, by a new bloke called Tim Berg. Well, mostly. He did the backing music, which – as an instrumental track called Bromance – has been all over Scandinavian clubs and dance radio the past few months. It is rather good indeed on its own.

It’s also been up on YouTube for people to play around with. One such person is Axwell (off Swedish House Mafia and Axwell & Bob Sinclar’s What a Wonderful World), who took it and bunged the vocals of the otherwise largely unremarkable Love U Seek on top of it. That bootleg got very popular, and so, with a bit of rights fiddling and re-recording, has been chosen as the proper UK release, now called Seek Bromance (clever, isn’t it?).

Tom: Bromance is a lovely track, but I can’t help but feel it’s rather close to plagiarising the lead melody from the absolutely gorgeous Still Alive, from Mirror’s Edge – the second best piece of video game music ever (after the coincidentally-named Still Alive from Portal). Hell, even the synth patch used in Bromance sounds similar.

It’s still a great bit of music though. I think it’s better without the vocals, but I understand that you pretty much need them for a commercial UK release. I can see myself listening to the original of Bromance quite a lot.

Tim: Do you know, I agree with absolutely everything you just wrote, and I enjoyed the slight campness of the music descriptions. I hadn’t heard Still Alive, so thank you for introducing me to it. I’ve a feeling most people will think the same about the vocal (especially DJs), so what’ll likely happen is that Seek Bromance will only really be heard on the radio and before old-school CD-buying people skip to track 2, while the original will keep being played in the clubs. A good thing, I believe.

McFly – Party Girl

It’s the British Millennial generation’s version of Bob Dylan going electric.

Tom: Oh blimey. McFly have suddenly gone all Taio Cruz on us. I really disliked this on first listen, but now it’s growing on me. And that video’s a bit more grown-up than the image they used to project. Are they really making a full movie? That’s either Growing the Beard or Jumping the Shark and I’m really not sure which.

What we basically have here is the British Millennial generation’s version of Bob Dylan going electric. I reckon this is a carefully calculated single release: the rest of the album will be more traditional stuff for the long-term fans, but this is meant to attract the kids who’ve gotten used to Lady Gaga and 3OH!3 in the last couple of years.

Tim: Well, apparently they have ‘innovative plans‘ that look all intense, so I wouldn’t count on it being a one-off, especially considering that the next single is actually written with Taio Cruz. That said, I don’t think it’s such a bad thing. If growing up involves making a film with Harry doing the dirty with a vampire, then I say bring it on. It’s only 30 minutes long, rather than a full film, and good or bad I think it’ll be worth watching.

Personally I think their best track was Do Ya (which had the zombie video a couple of years back), and I prefer that style, but this is more up to date and you can tell that they haven’t done it just to be modern, but because they like the stuff. They haven’t sold out or changed dramatically – I like this one, as much as I liked some of their older output – just adapted, and done that fairly well. The main thing is that this passes the biggest test of all, in that you can tell it’s McFly. A different McFly, sure, but still McFly.

Tom: I can’t believe I’m about to have this argument, but: there is no way in hell that Do Ya is McFly’s best single. That’s blatantly Star Girl – and 5 Colours In Her Hair wasn’t exactly shabby either. What song did they choose to duet with the Jonas Brothers on? Not Do Ya, that’s for sure.

Tim: Oh, I’m not saying the others are bad. Star Girl is good, but only really because of the woo-oooh-ooh-ooh. Yes, that’s great, and it’s brilliant to listen to because you can join in and get excited with it (especially if you’re duetting at Wembley in front of a ginormous crowd), but the rest of it just seems to be filler just leading up to the bit that everyone likes to sings along to. 5 Colours, Obviously and All About You were all decent enough as well, but there’s something about Do Ya that I really like. It starts big and never really calms down until the end.

It also has a bit that reminds me of Wizzard’s I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day.

Tom: You know, at this point I’m just going to nod and agree, because I think arguing my point any further would destroy whatever shreds of credibility I have left. Also, let’s be honest, the reason it sounds like McFly is mainly because of whatever Tom’s accent is. (Seriously, I can’t work out what it is, and I’ve got a bloody linguistics degree.)

Tim: The first two notes get me excited because I think I’m about to hear Bad Romance.

Tom: It is very close, isn’t it? It’s like Chipmunk’s Look for Me – everyone goes ‘ooh, it’s I Gotta Feeling‘, and then the woah-woahs start.

Tim: One other thing about McFly is that any time I hear someone say ‘it’s all about you’ I really really want someone to invent something where you can just push a button and a relevant bit of music would start playing and interrupt the conversation.

Tom: You and me both, Tim. You and me both.

Cee-Lo Green – Fuck You

It’s the kind of thing you want to shake a tambourine along to.

Tom: I wasn’t sure whether we could run this on Europlop. Firstly, because I think we’re trying to be vaguely family-friendly, and secondly because it’s neo-soul and completely the wrong type of music for this blog.

But I don’t care. Why? Because it’s genius. I can’t over-sell this. Cee-Lo Green, the singer from Gnarls Barkley, has a song simply entitled “Fuck You”. It’s catchy, it’s happy, it’s the kind of thing you want to shake a tambourine along to. You thought Lily Allen’s “Fuck You” was cheery? You ain’t heard nothin’ yet. And the backing singers! I love profane backing singers.

The release date is October 4th, and the full video – not that this dynamic type one isn’t awesome – is out soon.

Tim: Like it a lot, with special appreciation for the Xbox/Atari comparison and ‘I really hate your ass right now‘. On the scale of Fuck Yous…

Tom: I’m not going to draw a graph of that.

Tim: … it beats Eamon by quite a lot, and Lily Allen by quite a bit, but doesn’t quite match Frankee (due to her incredible vehemence in the chorus and the brilliant lines ‘your sex was whack‘ and ‘I didn’t catch your crabs‘).

Tom: Frankee might have had the novelty lines, but there’s no way a cheap cash-in record – and one that was blatantly a marketing ploy – beats Cee-Lo Goddamn Green.

Yes, that is his middle name.

Saturday Flashback: Eric Saade – Manboy

You know what else no-one’s doing? Raccoons.

Tim: This really, really, really should have been Sweden’s entry to Eurovision 2010.

Tom: It’s Womanizer by Britney Spears, isn’t it? When he started his vocals, I muttered “Superstar, where you from, how’s it going”. Decent choreography though, although he seems to forget where the audience is half way through.

Tim: Perhaps, but this is Melodifestivalen, Sweden’s (vastly superior) version of Your Country Needs You, so he just needs to remember where the camera is. Also, you need to wait ’til after the key change before you can properly judge the dancing.

Tom: Ah, he’s been to the George Sampson school of stage performance then. (Not Daz Sampson, thankfully.)

Tim: Apparently, ‘everybody does fire’ and it’s quite boring.

Tom: He’s got a point there. You know what else no-one’s doing? Raccoons. No-one ever unleashes a hundred ravenous raccoons to attack the singer on the key change.

Tim: True, although raccoons would probably poo everywhere. Just not practical.

Tom: Neither’s rigging up a power shower above the stage, but they manage that.

Tim: Ah, but he practically had to beg them to. (Really, he did.) He probably wouldn’t have been so enthusiastic about unleashing rabid animals to munch on him.

Tom: Not sure about these lyrics either. “You can call me manboy” sounds like an odd way of saying “I have learning difficulties”. Can I do that joke?

Tim: Yeah, why not.

Tom: Hmm.

Manboy, manboy,
You can call me manboy,
I don’t care, I’ll show you how to love.

I’m not an expert, but I’d guess most women would prefer ‘man’ over ‘boy’. There’s not a whole lot of ‘showing how to love’ when your entire experience of love is the Victoria’s Secret catalogue. Or, if you weren’t born in an 80s sitcom, the internet.

Tim: Well I think that’s it. He pretty much is only a boy (19), so he wants the man to shine though. And, after all, what better way is there to prove manliness than stand in the pouring rain?

Tom:Raccoons. Fighting raccoons.

a-ha – Butterfly, Butterfly

It seems, weirdly, almost noble.

Tom: a-ha are releasing their last ever single. This isn’t a comeback – it’s more that they’ve just been trundling on in Norway all these years, while not many people in the UK noticed. They’ve decided to call it a day now, and this is their slightly melancholy last hurrah. It’s called “Butterfly, Butterfly”, and while it’s not going to make anyone dance like an idiot, it does make a rather nice coda to their quarter-century in music.

Tim: Right from the start you can tell it’s going to be slightly downbeat, but it’s nice. There’s not many bands that say, ‘this is it,’ so it seems, weirdly, almost noble. Like, yes, we could keep releasing records, but it’s going to stop at some point, and we’re all getting old, so we may as well quit while we’re still going fairly strong, and thanks for everything.

Tom: I’d bet on a comeback tour in ten years’ time though.

Tim: Good lyrics, as well – they say goodbye, but not in such an obvious way that someone listening twenty years from now will immediately know this was their last single. Only criticism is that is does go on a bit at the end, though, as though they can’t quite bear to let it go.

Tom: Still, after 25 years, I think they’re allowed one more chorus.

Vengaboys – Rocket to Uranus

Oh hell no. There are so many things wrong with this.

Tom: Oh hell no. There are so many things wrong with this: Perez Hilton. The rip-off of “House of the Rising Sun”. Just the fact that the Vengaboys are attempting a comeback.

Tim: The first time I heard this, I thought, “Oh God, the Vengaboys are back, doing a rubbish song filled with cheap innuendo, where they want to say ‘Rock It to Your Anus’ but that would be too rude.” Then, however, I watch the video and I’m pleasantly surprised to discover I was wrong – it is actually a song about a real space mission! As their YouTube channel says, ‘it’s about personal freedom and interplanetary travel.’

I don’t think you can mention Perez (who, it seems, used to be the baby in the Teletubbies – who knew?) without also mentioning Pete Burns, who has an army of bikini-clad warriors trying to destroy a dance party but whose one weakness seems to be dance music – go figure.

It’s a slight shame that they resorted to really really tacky innuendo (a cock-shaped rocket? Seriously?) despite the fact that they managed fine without it 10 years ago, because it means a lot of their old fans now have a(nother) reason to distance themselves from it, but for me, this just about manages to fit in the guilty pleasure category.

INJU5TICE – Long Long Way From Home

It’s just painful, it really is.

Tim: Before we see the video, these people need an introduction, and the first thing you should know is that everything I am about to say is true. I am not making it up, and if I’m honest part of me wishes I was. What we have here is a band that believes (or at least the bloke that put them together believes) that all is Not Right within the music industry, because boybands just aren’t what they used to be. As such, they’ve set themselves up as a Millennium-era Backstreet Boys in an attempt to bring back the Golden Age of boybands. (I’ve actually seen the phrase ‘anti-JLS’ in some of their promo stuff, I think.)

Oh, and they also have the most ridiculous name since Ke$ha.

So, as you can see, it’s all there. The weird dancing, the cheesy music, a ridiculous hook made up of a few random syllables. All that would be well and good, perhaps even laudable, except for the third quarter of the chorus. Or, to be more specific, the lack of autotune in it, as it becomes thuddingly apparent that looks were more important than vocal ability. Because it’s just painful, it really is. Normally I hate autotune, but here… man, what were they thinking? They’ve been touring schools for months trying to build themselves up a good fanbase – why can’t they launch with a single that more than 60% of them can sing?

Tom: No. No. Really? This has to be a parody. The Teletubbies-esque lyrics, the tour of schools, the fact that the first key change takes the song outside their vocal range. And there’s a second key change too! It’s only three minutes in, but it felt like I’d been listening to half an album.

Boy bands, even in their worst days, always included things like ‘harmony’ and at least a pretence of singing ability. Surely this is just an elaborate prank.

Tim: No parody, or if it is it’s a shockingly detailed one. These guys have had a longer gestation period than some babies: they’ve done tours, there’s an album trailer and clips of all their other songs on YouTube, there’s a big website – much as it pains me to say it, this is an actual band. Speaking of their album, if the name of it isn’t a case of wishful thinking, I don’t know what is: ‘World’s Most Wanted’.

However, I do have a theory regarding the painful key change. An alternative interpretation of

I need some loving
I’m a long long way from home

is ‘You know that not-cheating-if-you’re-in-different-area-codes thing? What do you think of that?’ The sudden high pitchedness is then justified by the girlfriend punching them all in the bollocks. How does that sound? After all, we only have to look at Taylor Swift to see how brilliant narratively justified key changes can be when executed properly.

OMD – If You Want It

…makes me go ‘awww’ and ‘yes’ simultaneously.

Tom: OMD have a new single coming out, called “If You Want It” – and the video’s just leaked.

I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for OMD, or at least some of their singles, for complicated reasons that aren’t worth going into here. They’re always good at overblown, heartstring-tugging synthesiser pop, and this is no exception. Yes, the lyrics are a bit trite and the new video’s pretentious rubbish, but I don’t give a damn because that aah-aah break three minutes in bypasses all the rational bits of my music-listening brain and just makes me go ‘awww’ and ‘yes’ simultaneously.

Tim: This is great. As you say, the lyrics are slightly banal, and the video would only mean something to a public school A-level Drama student, but that’s not what the track’s there for. It’s about the music, and the music is fantastic. I’ve listened to this on repeat for the past half hour, and I’m still not tired of it. Aside from a slight low point in the first pre-chorus bit, it’s on the perfect level of energetic, and it doesn’t let up. And yes, yes, yes about the aah-aah.

Come to think of it, this is a perfect comeback track, unlike anything we’ve heard lately. It gives the old fans something to get excited about, as demonstrated by your reaction, and gets potential new fans interested and firing up Spotify to check out their back catalogue, as demonstrated by my reaction (I’d heard Enola Gay, but that was all).

Also, listening back to the Villa Nah remix they put online the other week, I really don’t think it does anything to improve the track. The Chariots of Fire-esque bit that comes in occasionally is quite nice, but aside from that I think the original is better.

Tom: I’ve just found out that OMD appeared at the Vintage Computing Festival at Bletchley Park back in June. I am genuinely gutted – like, need-a-hug gutted – that I missed that, because I think it would have been the greatest gig I could ever possibly have attended and it’s almost certainly never going to happen again.

Eliza Doolittle – Pack Up

It sounds like Lily Allen’s more talented little sister time-travelled back to Motown.

Tom: In other “Songs I’m Incredibly Glad Made It To The British Charts” news: this one’s been bubbling around, peaking at number 5 the other week.

It sounds like Lily Allen’s more talented little sister time-travelled back to Motown. The hook’s sung by a fantastic and incredibly hard-working soul singer called Lloyd Wade.

I reckon this might be concrete evidence that people outside the normal 16-25 teen demographic are downloading music – and, to an extent, controlling the charts – now. Just wait until the Beatles catalogue finally arrives online: I’d be surprised if any other artist gets a spot in the Top 10 that week.

Tim: I’m not so keen on this song – I never really liked Motown/soul at all, and her music, while OK, doesn’t do enough to redeem it for me. You may be right about it being a good sign for the charts though.

Tom: Whoa. Whoa. Hold on. How can you not like Motown at all? Stevie Wonder! Marvin Gaye! The Supremes! The Jackson 5!

Strange person.

Tim: Well, maybe not ‘not at all’ with the Motown, but hearing that part of the track just turned me off the whole thing, really. It’s probably partly because I’ve never really sat down and listened properly to any, but what I have heard has never really made me want to. Maybe that makes me closed-minded.

Looking at the chart I noticed that in this week’s top 15 singles, there are a total of 25 individual artists. That’s less about the diversity of the charts, more about the staggering number of collaborations that seem to be in vogue at the moment. You’re certainly right about downloads changing things – back when Michael Jackson died, his tracks accounted for about a quarter of the Top 40 that weekend.