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This Week’s New Single Releases (10th November 2013)

My round up of the new singles available for digital download this week.

AlunaGeorge – ‘Best Be Believing’ (EP)
Backed up with a selection of remixes, the title track of the ‘Best Be Believing’ EP, AlunaGeorge’s fifth single, is a bit more tangible than their previous hits, and Aluna’s distinctive voice is still a stand out, creating the catchy vocal hooks that the duo are known for. It’s an unchallenging record that’s a little too sweet for its own good, but it’s perky, sunny outlook feels perfect for the darker times of November. Poppier than some of their other hits, this fits neatly into a diverse early discography. (6.5/10)
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Celine Dion – ‘Loved Me Back To Life’
The lead single from the album of the same name, ‘Loved Me Back To Life’ definitely feels like it will become one of Dion’s stand-out songs in her impressive, career-spanning discography. Though its verses perhaps don’t live up to the bombastic chorus and it takes a little time to get going, this mid-tempo power ballad quickly sticks in your head thanks to those larger musical sections. Wisely keeping the production to a minimum and letting her voice do the talking, so to speak, this manages to use its simplicity for the benefit of a song. It’s not as consistently good as some of her songs for the whole of its running time, but the bridge and chorus carry it. (7/10)
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Christina Aguilera – ‘We Remain’
The first of two songs this week from the new Hunger Games sequel soundtrack, ‘We Remain’ sees Aguilera a little more subdued than we’d expect from her. The song is a smooth, semi-dramatic number that feels very much like the soundtrack to a stirring cinematic scene and captures the themes of the film well, but as a standalone piece of music it’s quite middle of the road. Aguilera’s voice is as powerful as ever and the chorus feels like it has power ready to erupt, but it never feels like it fulfils its potential and ultimately just fades away at the end. Will work well on the soundtrack, not sure standing on its own as its own ‘tribute’. (6/10)
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Demi Lovato – ‘Let It Go’
Returning to the flix, ‘Let It Go’ is the lead single from Disney’s Frozen film and, like Aguilera’s cinematic contribution it nails the thematic, lyrical and stylistic requirements of a movie score. Lovato feels on top form here with her voice and carries plenty of power, and it feels a more solid standalone number than ‘We Remain’ and certainly feels rousing, but also is happy to strip back to quieter, more piano-led moments. It’s not the greatest Disney song you’ll ever hear – the bar is very high in this field – and she wails a little too much for my liking near the end, but it’s a cool – pardon the pun – enough record even if the repetitive chorus does quickly become grating. (6.5/10)
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Ellie Goulding – ‘How Long Will I Love You’ (Official Children In Need Single 2013)
Both the official Children In Need single and from a film whose synopsis reads like an unsubtle marketing ploy, ‘How Long Will I Love You’ is a slow, pondering sickly-sweet number tackling some very familiar themes. Keeping things simple to highlight the emotion, you can see this cut to emotive imagery of, well, children in need. Though a record that seems a sell-out in many ways, it’s a ballad that’s difficult to dislike thanks to its touching lyrics and production style and very quick running time, plus Goulding’s voice, which is not always the easiest to listen to, suits it well. (7/10)
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Fryars – ‘Radio PWR’ (EP)
First track ‘The Power’ is a mid-tempo lightly-produced indie number with a subtle Simon and Garfunkel feel with hints of the famous theme from television show ‘Scrubs’ at times. It doesn’t really head anywhere exciting over its three-and-half-minutes but it’s an enjoyable distraction and indie fans will lap it up. Undemanding and pleasant, it has a few flashes of excellence through its time. Check out the EP for a handful of other songs. (6/10)
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George Barnett – ‘Animal Keeper’
Playing all the instrumentation himself, delightfully reflected in the video, ‘Animal Keeper’ sounds like a more experimental Muse, with the chunky synth riff taking centre stage here. With a strong focus on musical hooks, its synth holds it together and the brief call out of the title quickly embeds into your consciousness, but it struggles with a smattering of disparate elements that never quite gel enough. Some good ideas wrapped up in a listenable number, it keeps its head above water, but occasionally less is more. (6.5/10)
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Justin Bieber – ‘Bad Day’
Here we are with number five of his weekly single releases, and the half-way point, and will ‘Bad Day’ prove to be better than the generic identikit RnB numbers released so far? Well, the answer is no, as we get another glorified song that should have remained on the cutting room floor. With a mixture of falsetto sung over a repetitive drumbeat, ‘Bad Day’ has very little to recommend it – only the singing of the title evokes any sort of interest in me – and it lacks much distinction from his other songs, and it can’t even manage passing the two-and-a-half minute mark. Could you get back to your fun pop numbers Mr Bieber? (1/10)
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Keane – ‘Higher Than The Sun’
The lead cut from their pre-split greatest hits album, the first of two this week and the first of two with a disappointing choice of track selection, is typical ‘Keane’; don’t expect a revolution! You can tell it was recorded during their fourth album sessions due to its similar sound, with a big connection to, ironically, ‘Disconnected’. The chorus is traditional, catchy Keane and you can see how it ties in their discography nicely, but it feels like well-worn ground. Still a great listen though, with a strong build-up and singable chorus, that’s up there with their mid-to-top singles. (7.5/10)
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The Killers – ‘Shot At The Night’
As a huge fan of the Killers, ‘Shot At The Night’ was a difficult experience for me as I didn’t like it on first listen and it’s taken me a long time to reach the stage I’m at now. After a disappointing fourth album after the brilliant ‘Day and Age’ (I’m sure there’ll be many people that disagree with that statement though) this felt a little too ordinary to cement their first greatest hits. But after a few listens its chorus shows itself to be worthy of their discography. The song’s production helps the single work and the mid-song repeating of the chorus proves to be the backbone of the record. I have many issues with their ‘Direct Hits’ compilation (where is ‘Bones’? Their brilliant duet with the late-Lou Reed ‘Tranquilize’?) but this isn’t one of them. It’s not their greatest ever single but Flowers’ emotive vocals and the combination of nicely-weaved-in production decisions make it a grower. Give it time. (7.5/10)
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Martin Garrix – ‘Animals’
Taking three months to reach these shores, this song has really only one moment going for it and that’s its exclamation of ‘Motherf***in’ animals’. Elsewhere it conforms to dance music 101 and fails to make any mark, sounding like it’s picked all its elements from other records. It’s not a dislikeable song – as a piece of evocative dance music with a darker tinge it works – it just lacks any crucial moment that makes you think ‘Ah! It’s that song’ outside of the previously mentioned two word lyric sheet. (5/10)
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Robbie Williams – ‘Go Gentle’
The lead single from his brilliantly titled second swing album ‘Swings Both Ways’, this has quickly become one of my favourite songs of the year. Written about his baby daughter, this modern, but retro-sounding song, nails the classic swing-era sound whilst also sounding fresh. Quickly singable whilst also retaining a high level of emotion through the story-telling advice-based lyrics, the swing-production and piano / whistle break-down continue to prove that Williams knows how to create a memorable pop song that sticks in your consciousness. Beautifully written, sung and produced, with fresh elements introduced through the piece that continue the flow. It’s just a shame the ending is quite abrupt. (9/10)
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Sia feat. The Weeknd and Diplo – ‘Elastic Heart’
The second release this week from the Catching Fire OST, ‘Elastic Heart’ feels less like a song from the film, though the Rihanna-esque Sia is a wonder to listen to. Much stronger than the Christina Aguilera song from earlier, the electronic vocal riff in the background, though repetitive, holds the song together up to the powerful chorus. With the supporting artists adding more to the record that doesn’t include a shoe-horned rap section, this is a well-produced number that doesn’t necessarily conform to the clichés of a movie song, though it perhaps outstays its welcome a little. In the end it feels like it captures the feel of the movie and of the seasonal time of year. (7/10)
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Tori Kelly – Dear No One
With its postsecret-inspired video, this light minimally-produced ballad about unfound-love is a sweet number, sung by Kelly whose voice lures you into the record and rewards you with a luxurious, involving range of simple, but smooth lyrics. Her voice has power but doesn’t really kick the song up into a powerful section, but that suits the themes. Keeping it short and very sweet, this is a likeable ballad. (7/10)
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