Single reviews – 3 June
This weeks notable single releases reviewed by Philip Lickley.
Coldplay feat. Rihanna – ’Princess Of China’
Buy: Princess Of China
Though the official video has yet to be released, here is the latest single from Coldplay as the follow up to ‘Charlie Brown’ with Rihanna on guest vocals, further cementing her as one of the most over-exposed acts around. The record is built around a dirty-sounding synth tune but it lacks the immediacy of ‘Paradise’ or ‘Charlie Brown’. Musically it works and sounds different to what both artists have done and the mix of vocals add a different feel to what you’d expect. What it lacks in structure, direction and a distinct chorus it makes up in atmosphere but I expected more from a collaboration between these two powerhouses. It starts as a mix of interesting ideas but somewhere along the line the recipe gets a bit blurry, bland and indistinct.
Aiden Grimshaw – ’Is This Love’
Buy: Is This Love
A former X-Factor contestant, this debut single from Grimshaw doesn’t sound like the usual reality television fodder with its more urban stylings and grittier focus. Kudos for doing something a little different and the style of production has its moments but it doesn’t particular stand out as a must listen. With far too much autotune and off-key lines and no discernible structure to it, next to the releases of Matt Cardle, Rebecca Ferguson and One Direction it is the weakest.
DJ Fresh feat. Dizzee Rascal – ’The Power’
Buy: The Power (Radio Edit)
Dylan Mills is back after a couple of years to collaborate with DJ Fresh on his ‘Hot Right Now’ follow up. Spending the first forty seconds of a short three minute song establishing the heavily autotuned hook, Dizzee spits some fast-paced rapping over the beat before getting back to the catchy, hook-based chorus with Daft Punk-edited elements and random soundbites from Mills. Bringing in elements of both contributors work, it’s an interesting idea but one that doesn’t really pay the expected dividends. I can hear the chorus really sticking it out there but it’s certainly not got the staying power of the excellent ‘Hot Right Now’ – with it often sounding like a poor DJ unwontedly chipping in over that song you really want to hear in the club.
Dot Rotten feat. TMS – ’Overload’
Dot Rotten’s third single suffers from the one problem that rap music often becomes the victim of: using a sample that is so famous it overshades what they’re trying to do. Heavily using Robert Miles’ 1996 hit ‘Children’ and loosely rapping over it, it lacks the magic of ‘Are You Not Entertained?’. The quieter, more subdued chorus is not so bad and the new lyrics and sample work in harmony but elsewhere it’s just a little bit messy as the two competing elements are shoe-horned together, not particularly fitting. ‘Overload’ doesn’t do Dot Rotten’s talent or the original sample any justice.
Katie Melua – Moonshine
The follow up to her cover of ‘Better Than A Dream’, ‘Moonshine’ is another cut from her cover album, this time of the closing song from Fran “Travis” Healy’s 2010 solo album. A jaunty, stripped-back tune that mixes nursery rhyme lyrics with other themes, ‘Moonshine’ is perkier and bubblier than the Healy original with more of a thirties feel to the music, but it’s as good in a different way. A fun listen with some great instrumentation and her voice shines like the moon of the title.
Kovak – ’Killer Boots’
Buy: Killer Boots
Mixing in the synth of Sparks with the cheesiness of a Europop band mixed in with Alphabeat, this short two-and-a-half minute song doesn’t have long to make an impression but it does its damnedest to stick in your head. It’s a little bit formulaic and camp but as far as cheesy Eurovision-esque pop goes it’s up there and will be one of those summer-time ear worms that will be everywhere in a few weeks. Enjoyable Euro synth.
Kylie Minogue – ’Timebomb’
Sneaking into the single releases list with little fanfare, the best export from Australia since cheap lager is back with ‘Timebomb’, a release to mark her twenty-five years in the industry. Very much in her disco-pop style of a few years ago, on first listen it’s not a particularly strong single but the throbbing bass, chorus ‘whoops’ and kick from the bridge to the main body of the song make up for the merely average verses. Minogue’s vocals get a little lost in the chorus music and at times it does come across as a cheap rip-off of a Madonna or Britney Spears track, but it’s a fun enough entry to her discography.
Marcus Collins – ’Mercy’
After his by-numbers cover of Ben L’oncle Soul’s White Stripes re-imainging, X-Factor contestant Marcus Collins is back with ‘Mercy’, a jazz-infused retro-sounding tune. All the better for being an original release, backed by a powerful brass section and a great showcase for Collins’ powerful voice, this is a welcome mix of styles, particular focusing on a modern gospel vibe. Collins has certainly nailed his musical style and giving something fresh to the charts. It’s not as distinctive as his debut but it has a great beat and feel to it, bringing a toe-tapping entry into this week’s releases.
Maximo Park – Hips and Lips
Buy: Hips And Lips
Geordie band Maximo Park are finally back with this lead single from their fourth album The National Health. However, and this is a difficult sentence for me to write as a long time fan of the band, ‘Hips and Lips’ is not as strong a song as I’d have hoped for, certainly the weakest of the four first cuts from their albums. The chorus does sound better after a few listens with its rhyming hook and the track builds in quality, but it doesn’t have the pop hook of ‘Our Velocity’ or even the less obvious appeal of ‘The Kids Are Sick Again’ that kicks off on that record. If you are a fan of their third album in particular then there’s parts to enjoy here and it gets better with each listen, but it’s perhaps not the best showcase for the group.
Nelly Furtado – ’Big Hoops (Bigger The Better)’
Buy: Big Hoops (Bigger The Better)
Her first English single in six years, ‘Big Hoops’ is certainly rooted in 2012 with Rihanna influences on the music and her voice. The ‘Bigger The Better’ hook is the focal point of the record and the urban stylings suits her, but it does occasionally drop into the world of parody as if someone was producing her to sound like a stereotypical 2012 urban artist. That said, it embraces its familiarity and will slot nicely into the clubs and radio station playlists – but it could also get lost amongst the familiar sounding songs out there. At the moment I like it due to its variety of hooks and attitude and the faster dance section that concludes the record after the possibly mis-judged speaking bit and the slow-down ending, but feel it could quickly get irritating.
Professor Green feat. Ruth Anne – ’Remedy’
Buy: Remedy (Feat. Ruth Anne) [Explicit]
The third single proper from his At Your Inconvenience album, ‘Remedy’ has been given a big club makeover for its single release. There’s not many credible artists that could get away with TV presenter Bill Turnbull appearing in their video but here it is. Green’s familiar rapping does get a little lost in the new music, thus the lyrics are to a point lost but it sounds like a faster paced ‘Monster’ from his first album – which is always a good thing. Standing out from his typical single releases it’s a change of pace from something like ‘Read All About It’ and works as a clubbier track and moves along well, complimenting his other singles.
Usher – ’Scream’
The second cut from his upcoming seventh album, ‘Scream’ is, as you might expect, another slice of sound-a-like dance pop. When he’s on form Usher can create some great stand-out music but unfortunately this is not it. Though the chorus does hit you as he shouts its arrival, there’s nothing on the record to convince you it’s not a carbon copy of any of his previous hits.