Single Reviews – 11 November
Time for Philip Lickley to pass judgement on the pick of this weeks new single releases. Let us know if you agree with him in the comments at the bottom…
Example – ’Close Enemies’
Buy: Close Enemies
Elliot “Example” Gleave, this time riding solo, churns out another in an endless collection of singles. “Close Enemies” is the second cut from his fourth album, out next week, and is thankfully a little more memorable than his recent singles and stands out from the cookie-cutter previous tracks. Built around the popular turn of phrase, the electronic-string backing fits with his vocals and works well, with a bridge and chorus that compliment each other and build up to a danceable chorus, which includes some dubstep elements. That said, some of the lyrics are a little cheesy and it fits in with the previous heard-it-before structure of his songs – with a rap filling up the gap between the verse-chorus-verse-chorus layout. Better than his previous hits by far but still not up to his second album work.
Lana Del Rey – ’Ride’
Buy: Ride [Explicit]
Another bonus track shoe-horned onto an already released album and renamed as ‘deluxe’, ‘Ride’ is very much in the style of the cuts from her debut album – but is the weakest of the releases so far, lacking the hook and structure of ‘National Anthem’, ‘Born To Die’ or ‘Video Games’, with the samey airy chorus lacking that killer punch. The production work on the backing adds a certain drama to it but the vocals sound fuzzy. There are enjoyable elements and it would work well as an album track but, having heard the original album and thoroughly enjoyed practically everything on it, there were better non-singles on the original edition and this average addition wouldn’t tempt me to pick up the new version. ‘Ride’ is an OK ballad with a pleasant enough atmosphere but lacking the x factor of her other singles.
Little Mix – ’DNA’
Starting off with a slow, music-box and heartbeat opening that sets you up for a ballad, the song then does a 360 and delivers a much beatier song. With more balls than ‘Wings’, it’s a much darker turn for the band and delivers a punchy chorus and some neat production tricks and effects. With some great harmony work and an immediately singable chorus, this is definitely a track you might not want to like but it’ll grab you. It does, at times, feel like they’re trying too hard to rhyme lines of the song but it feels like the X Factor juggernaut is at least trying to make some interesting music at last, boosted primarily by the excellent production by TMS.
Stooshe – ’Waterfalls’
Having established themselves as a ballsy and interesting girl group with edge, Stooshe seem to take the lazy route and cover the 1995 TLC hit. Having said that they have made it their own with stronger harmonies and a more subtle backing, and it comes across as more sophisticated than the original. The adaptation of Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes’ rap into a fast-paced harmony is an intriguing adaptation from the original and though their version is not a massive departure from the original, it sits nicely alongside it and, whisper, might actually be a little bit better thanks to its more mature production and smoother elements, also sounding more poppy and less RnB than the original.
Usher – ’Numb’
After a succession of bland singles it unfortunately doesn’t get any better for Usher. ‘Numb’ is an ok song but that’s a bland description to go with a song that sounds too similar to his previous hits and it washes you over without really leaving an impact. The lyrics are very personal and are worth hearing, and it’s clear he’s pouring his heart out into the record, but there’s nothing to go with it to justify any more than a few listens. Hopefully Usher will soon find his way again and get back to the great dance tunes he used to produce.
Whitney Houston and R Kelly – ’I Look To You’
Buy: I Look To You
An adaptation and re-release of a 2009 single, that naturally takes on new meanings after Houston’s death, ‘I Look To You’ showcases Houston’s powerful vocals over a sombre saxophone soundtrack. R Kelly sounds better on this record than he ever has before, singing in a much more soulful and adult way than we’ve heard him before, and compliments Houston’s vocals well in the call-and-response elements. It’s not the most earth shattering of releases in either of their catalogues but is a well-made tribute and the balance of vocals, lyrics and style all work and it’s a fitting tribute to the singer and very emotive in parts.