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Thursday, March 25, 2004

It's the Mack Daddy of the 1930s!
My second Around The World in 80kbps column is up at Stylus. I've written about Verena Potzl, M-Flo Loves Boa, Leki, Colder, Aldo Ranks, September, Boosta Iconoclash and J-Five. Just pretend it's eight separate posts here or something.
# 5:18 PM []

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

MORRISSEY - Irish Blood, English Heart
Does he still have it? Well, I don't really know because besides the odd one here and there, I've never cared that much for his output (don't DISLIKE it by any means, but other people are clearly hearing something I either don't, or that I refuse to), but putting aside the odd lyrical misfire on this, he has it at the moment.

The only problem is that the bad lyric is where the title comes from, "Irish blood/English heart/This I'm made of" and then rhyming with "afraid of". It doesn't exactly drip with inspiration, and it starts both of the two songs' halves, it's the closest thing there is to a chorus. That said, there's enough hints of something interesting to come to keep you going.

The chorus proper is only used twice, both times with different words, and this is where it gets interesting. Morrissey conducts his anger, not with blind hatred, but with cold, dignified anger, equal parts wise and weary. This is probably not a surprise, but in the years since his last album, it's been popular and widespread to just emote wildly, so it's actually chillingly effective.

As the anger level goes up, the lyrical barbs start too; he's dreaming of a time when the English "spit upon the name Oliver Cromwell and denounce this royal line that still salute him", and the guitars crank into gear, echoing with cold venomous blasts. The words cut out, the riffs charge through, and it's all over in 2 minutes and 32 seconds - the idea taken to its natural length, not stretched further, and replaying repeated listens handsomely.

In fact, it's the best thing he's done in my opinion, but then again up until now my favourite song of his was The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get so make of that what you will.
# 10:55 PM []
And so we come to the leaders of the pack. With strong contenders having stumbled and fallen, they could shoot off to a big lead. Depending on who's been repeated: Marco Borsato/Do (3), Jamelia (10), which is not really much of a help, it must be said.

2. DINAND WOESTHOFF - Dreamer (Gussie's Song). I thought Dinand's voice sounded vaguely familiar, and it turns out he is in Kane, who are of course charting in Belgium with a remixed version of a song that I gather is now quite old in its original version. As far as this sort of sparse, strummed thing goes, this is quite good until the over-excitable chorus comes in. It's all very last track on indie-pop LP, too. 5

4. KURT NILSEN - Old news to long-suffering Norwegians. The man has a fabulous voice - he didn't win World Idol for nothing - but this is a cover of that fucking Tal Bachman song, and as such is not very good. Why the record company isn't rushing out his version of Beautiful Day as an A-side is beyond me. Even his version of Ordinary World isn't half bad either. Obviously this shits on the original version, but it's still not a very overwhelming single release, particularly given how long it's been around for - it was his debut in Norway. 5

5. TREBLE - Ramaganana. A bizarre, joyous moment, where at least three genres of pop collide in a gorgeous explosion. Chanty, world-y but oh so very catchy. 9

6. 3T - Stuck On You. I don't think this is the same 3T that was made up of Michael Jackson's nephews. It sounds like No Mercy-lite, and if you think that I can describe what that sounds like, you severely overestimate by ability at describing tepid slush. 1

7. 3 DOORS DOWN - Here Without You. The last time I was in a record store, the people in front of me - a couple - were buying this single. They both had mullets and were wearing socks with sandals. I think that says it all, really. 0

8. HILARY DUFF - Come Clean. If you ignore the lame aspirations to being a pop-rock thing, this is a fabulous pop record. The Become One version is miles better, because it changes the line "going out is better than always staying in" to "coming out is sexier than always staying in" which scans better, is sung better, and does not try to remotely rock. This is still great though, easily her best single. Not as good as The Math though. 9

9. GARY JULES - Mad World. Impossible to get excited over this. I saw Donnie Darko a long time after it came out and that still predated this single's release by months, so imagine how bored I must be now. 6

10. USHER feat. LIL' JON and LUDACRIS. Usher is crap and looks like a coconut. And he was shit on Bold And The Beautiful all those years ago. Lil' Jon is appalling and Ludacris is far better in theory than he is in practice. Though one day he will do something brilliant. This is better than it should be just adding the elements up, but I have lousy taste so I don't like it anyway. 2

50, much less than expected. 183 total, average 61.
# 5:34 PM []

Monday, March 22, 2004

Strictly speaking this is last week's chart as the new one isn't up yet. Oh well. Repeats are at the top: Kareen Antonn/Bonnie Tyler (6), Black Eyed Peabrains (0), Jamelia (10), and at the tail-end, with Kevin Lyttle (9). Placebo have done a French version of one of their songs, interestingly, although it's only at #19. Bet they'd kill to get that high in England with one in English again, eh?

4. Emma Daumas - Tu Seras. Obviously anyone called Emma can only compare poorly to Emma Bunton and Emma Pollock of the Delgados, but this song is quite likeable. The guitars make you think of The Indie, but Emma puts enough oomph into the vocals for it to be properly pop, like. Actually, the guitars on this are really good, chugging and charging in all the right places. 7

5. Les Conards - Comme Des Connards. A French version of My Sharona. Absolutely nothing wrong with it in execution, but nothing particularly right with it either. If you really want to hear this, the Veruca Salt cover from nearly 10 years ago is miles better, as, obviously, is No Good Advice. 4

6. Tragedie - Eternellement. Opens with clicks. Are songs that open with clicks ever good? No, and this isn't really an exception, despite some nice "whoa"s at the start and some very well done harmonies in the chorus. 4

7. J-Five - Modern Times. Every time I try to write about this I fail. But I'm trying again. I will just say that it's effortlessly addictive and leave it at that. 10

8. Roch Voisine - Tant Pis. Rather standard ballad given a bit of life by nice, tasteful instrumentation, although its refusal to get loud properly annoys. Quite a nice chorus melody, anyway. 6

9. Priscilla - Toujours Pas D'Amour. Rather funky groove not quite lived up to by not very funky vocal turn from Priscilla. An instrumental mix of this would be much appreciated - absolutely loads of good sounds going on in this one, and a mint build to the chorus. 8

Best this round so far, with 64. Most of it down to Modern Times obviously. 156 now, which is an even 52 average.
# 5:13 PM []

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Four more MP3s. I have become extremely taken with TM Revolution. His new album is out now, and picking another track to post was really hard. Eventually I plumped for Uruwashiki Sekai, because it's similarly frenetic and has a golden chorus (I was initially going to put up the almost balladic Tears Macerate Reason but decided against it). Also, given that this is now the second Edo Maajka track I've posted, you'd conclude I'm becoming something of a fan, and No Sikiriki is sweeping and addictive. Also, it is a complete pisser that Sweden is not sending Petra Nielsen to Istanbul, and they've gone for Lena Phillipson's less-brilliant Det Gor Ont, which has just won Sweden's Melodifestival. Lastly, a stuttering, stammering bit of electro-pop excellence called Rock 'n' Roll Robot should also be downloaded by you, now. It's by Boosta Iconoclash, and I'm afraid aside from that I know about as much as you. It's #37 in Italy at the moment.

My umlauts are again being eaten. Boo hiss.
# 1:46 PM []
THE STREETS - You're Fit But You Know It
It was really important that I hated this single, because I despised Has It Come To This? but found Original Pirate Material to be rather compelling once that horrid teaser single had been programmed out), but this is just infectious and adorable.

What's adorable? The repetition of words used to struggle each line to the right length. No, not underwritten, just nicely shambolic. And the rather Parklife-esque chorus. And then, after the second one of those, this fantastic section where it slows down, backing vocals going "leave it out!" and Skinner babbling over the top. The third chorus is over messier, broken-down beats and leads into the best verse, where the quarry (because despite what Mike says, he's almost admitting that he's trying to pull) goes to the arms of a "white-shirted man" and even the last part, where he claims he's already got a girlfriend don't disguise the bitterness.

And the bitterness is nicely pulled-off, thanks. Should go top 10, I'd think. If all the talk about the new album being quiet different from the last are true (and the sources on that score are reliable), this is a fine piece of entryism, as anyone who devoured Don't Mug Yourself shouldn't have a problem with this.
# 11:54 AM []
Again, I have nothing to say. Britney (10) is here as well. The rest is different, or at least heretofore unrated.

1. EAMON - Fuck It (I Don't Want You Back). It's a sad indictment on the record buying public that a bit of swearing is drawing all this attention to what, in actuality, is a fairly average R&B thing without anything bar vulgarity to elevate it. Not that vulgarity is a bad thing, no, it's great, but what makes this better than, say, Usher? Well, aside from Eamon not looking like a coconut... 2

2. IN FLAMES - Quiet Place. Is it emo? I did that Emo test and I'm only 12% emo, so I wouldn't know. It's loud and it has shouting over it. It's not horrible, but perhaps you should distrust what I'm saying because I like Funeral For A Friend. Singer could use a cough drop, though. 4

3. GUNTHER AND THE SUNSHINE GIRLS - Ding Dong Song. All the ingredients are in place for a fabulous novelty pop hit that you love for a while and then get rapidly sick of, and then find clogging up bargain bins. The Vengaboys would have been proud of the beat, the la-la-las by the Sunshine Girls are lovely, but Gunther sounds like the bloke out of The Real McCoy who did that speaking thing, except here he has laryngitis. Sadly, the croaking is more frequent than the la-la-la-ing. 2

5. NINA & KIM - Bortom Tid Och Rum. Yet another song that sounds like Unbreak My Heart given a surface makeover. Except that's just the verses. The chorus springs the whole affair to life, with some ascending noises at the end of each line that the 80s model Trevor Horn would have been proud of. 8

6. SANDRA DAHLBERG - Kom Hem Hel Igen. It's the Swedish Alex Parks! Which means she's worthy but dull, and a bit faster than the English equivalent. And a guitar is the weapon of choice. 2

7. LIMP BIZKIT - Behind Blue Eyes. No points, you know why. 0

8. SARA LOFGREN - Starkare. Still reminds me of True Colours. How long is it going to be before this drops out of the 10? There's actually something quite late-80s/early-90s (i.e. pre-Lillith) female-fronted rock about the bridge and the chorus, now I think about it, so perhaps Sara liked that big Heart single around that time. 6

9. DELTA GOODREM - Lost Without You. I despised this song when it came out early last year, but largely it was only because it followed Born To Try a vile piece of syrupy, quasi-inspirational 80s-soundtrack grossness. Shorn of that baggage (and hearing it again after the wonderful Not Me, Not I took me out of the Delta-haters' camp), it just sounds OK. 6

10. JIMMY JANSSON - Godmorgen Varlden. Another sweeping, charging Scando-rock thing. As you'd know if you'd been paying attention, I am a sucker for this kind of thing, as they're usually dead catchy, nicely structured and loud but polite. The chorus would be fun to shout out loud with, and it fades to quiet before jumping straight into the verses. Good. 7

Down to earth somewhat for dear old Sweden. 47, making them 179 and now behind the mighty Belgium, and giving Norway and The Netherlands a prime chance to get a commanding lead. Or something.
# 11:50 AM []
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