Monthly Archives: February 2014

Coldplay – Midnight

Today Coldplay released the video for ‘Midnight‘, a totally unanticipated new song. Beyonce did it with her latest album and everyone seemed to think it was a masterstroke. I’m all for surprises, but I’m also struggling to see the advantage, apart from rewarding fan’s patience with a few pleasurable minutes of realising their favoured artist hasn’t just been swilling Gout de Diamants for a couple of years.

I’m writing this after one listen, and as I like to think everyone knows, opinions of songs can change quite drastically the more they are listened to, but there’s no harm in chucking out some first impressions and early musings.

‘Midnight’ opens with an enchanting electronic aroma, which remains throughout, and is soon joined by some quite heavily modified vocal harmonies. Layers of simple electronic noise are built up over the next couple of minutes, though not so much that we begin to expect a classic Coldplay climax. That never really happens, and I almost wish it did. It continues with some largely inaudible vocals and builds a little bit more, but runs out of gas before anything memorable can happen.

Coldplay is made up of four proven talented musicians, listen to any of their previous albums (especially the first four) and you’ll realise that, but I can’t help but feel they’re trying too hard to be different, all while retaining their humongous popularity, which really isn’t going to happen after five albums without sacrificing an awful lot. Fair enough the piano and bass are audible, but that’s about as far as the showcase of instrumental ability goes, which I think is a complete waste.

The song doesn’t feel like a single to me, I can’t see it being released, it’s too forgettable, largely down to the absence of any lyrical substance. Chris Martin has an unprecedented knack for writing a lyric or a song that you will never forget. EVERYONE can sing a bit of Yellow, EVERYONE can sing a bit of The Scientist, EVERYONE can sing a bit of Fix You, EVERYONE can sing a bit of Viva La Vida, and EVERYONE can definitely sing a bit of PARADISE, they are (as much as some may wish they weren’t) incredibly well written and unforgettable. ‘Midnight’ does not stick in my head one bit.

When you’re a band as unquestionably massive as Coldplay, you can do pretty much whatever you want, so I can’t fault them for doing just that. But it pains me to see them throwing away some of their well-earned integrity just to keep up with the times. As I said earlier, this could well just be a one off release to make people aware they are still going, and as a legitimately obsessive Coldplay fan, I really fucking hope that’s all it is.

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Rock? Pop? Does it matter? Not at all, but I’m going to say it anyway

Last week I read this article on the BBC website claiming rock music had overtaken pop music in the UK album chart. My immediate thought was that this seems unlikely, but I’ll read it and see if this bold and broad statement has any weight.

“Rod Stewart’s ‘Time’ was the best-selling album to be classified as rock by the Official Charts Company, followed by Arctic Monkeys and Bastille”

Got to be classified as something right? Just makes things a bit easier. But where do you draw the line? And who gets to draw it? Is it fair for Rod Stewart to be in the same classification as Behemoth, who are the current number 37 in the Rock & Metal album chart? I’d argue that Rod Stewart’s music is far more similar to the likes of James Blunt, who finds himself in the top 20 of the pop album charts. My point is, I think, that genres are so crazily difficult to categorise accurately that statements such as “rock overtakes pop” are drastically too broad and vague to be considered accurate, and are frankly better off just being ignored.

The charts are something I struggle to take seriously, as you probably know, and I’m somewhat out of touch, but I think it’s worth pointing out that the music in the charts doesn’t even come CLOSE to covering the illimitable array of music that is out there that doesn’t receive the same publicity, and perhaps as a result does not appeal to as many people.

“Woolly definition”

It would appear Mark Savage, a BBC news entertainment reporter, agrees with me to an extent, as he claims that “Rock’s resurgence is helped by the Chart Company’s rather woolly definition – which includes Mumford and Sons (surely a folk-pop band) and Rod Stewart (better suited to the MOR category)”. Woolly is an interesting term, but I’d take it a step further and just describe their whole definition process as irrelevant and meaningless. If you’re going to cram anything with even a faint murmur of a guitar sound into the ‘rock’ genre, I say don’t bother. It’s as useful as a marine biologist comparing red fish to blue fish, when there are 35 million different sub-types of each.

I’m not saying “oh that’s not rock music, that’s just shitty old pop”; as easy as that would be, I certainly don’t have the right to make such a spunky claim, but I also don’t feel anyone else really does, apart from the artists themselves. But even then, if Katy Perry decided to claim she was a pig metal artist, well that would just be outrageous and fantastic, but she clearly isn’t, so there has to be a line somewhere. Either way genres exist, whether they can be categorically defined or not, and are an unavoidable aspect of music.

Both the BBC article, and the Chart Company’s genre’s are in my opinion complacent and inattentive. If I was in a self proclaimed metal band, and found myself sandwiched in the ‘rock’ charts between Rod Stewart and some other has-been with a marriage repertoire comparable to Henry VIII, I’d be pretty pissed off.

Should these two be classified as the same genre? Listen for yourself

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The Top 10. An Analysis Of The Pretentious Kind (part 2)

As was evident in part 1, I didn’t have the stamina to get through the whole of the top 10 in one go, so I split it in half, and here’s the second for you to waste time reading. These are the 5 most popular songs in the UK right now, let’s see how much respect for the population I lose (or gain, let’s not be too pessimistic (definitely lose)) over the next few songs.

5. Katy B – Crying For No Reason

This is a comparatively good song. The piano backing gives solid foundations to a reasonably well written and interesting song, that doesn’t follow the same formula of verse, build up, drop, chorus that a worrying majority of popular songs seem to stick to. Lyrically it’s simplicity done well, and is probably easy to relate to if you find yourself crying at things like standing on a woodlouse, waving goodbye to someone you’ll definitely see later that day, dropping toast butter-side down, mistyping the word ‘ok’, losing an eyelash… the possibilities are endless. Good work.

4. Gorgon City & MNEK – Ready For Your Love

Another mindless classic. This song was actually something of a guilty pleasure before I considered it properly. Painfully predictable and uninspiring lyrics, featuring a completely irrelevant astrological observation at the beginning of the breakdown, lend themselves to this song being a hit for any zombie in a dank and depressing nightclub. If you manage anything more than a slow sway to this poor excuse for a house tune, you’re trying too hard, and you know you are.

3. Pharrell Williams – Happy

I don’t know where he’s come from, but Pharrell Williams has managed to go from moderately successful beginnings, to basically being the king of pop music. He’s always there, sometimes with nice harmless songs such as this, but more often with quite unnervingly popular songs such as ‘Blurred Lines’, which miraculously got away with being a blatant display of male chauvinism. His domination is similar to that of Sebastian Vettel in Formula 1. Yeah well done mate, you’ve got to number one with a little help from mountains of cash and electronic equipment you pretend to know how to use, AGAIN, lend me a tenner you clever bastard. Admittedly though this is a nice song, almost impossible to dislike, as hard as I’m trying.

2. Will.I.Am – Feelin’ Myself (ft. Miley Cyrus, French Montana & Whiz Kalifa)

Where, the fuck, do I begin. Will.I.Am has written the two worst songs I have ever heard, and this perverse cacophony of immeasurable hogwash has made it a trio of abhorrent sounds coming from that parasitic wart claiming to be an ‘artist’. This ‘song’ has literally made me a little bit angry. Do people really enjoy such thoughtless and hollow drivel? It pains me to inform you that this is about Mr Am being present in a nightclub and flashing his unjustifiable wealth around, in an evidently successful attempt to impress Miley Cyrus and these other two cretinous oafs who have turned up. As if this wasn’t cocky enough, he persists to tell us about the love affair he has with his reflection, proclaiming he is “da shit”. You are “da shit” that is clogging up the airwaves with your contemptible sound which only serves to highlight your grotesque lack of integrity. I could go on for hours, but I’ll save it for another time. This heinous excuse for a piece of music makes me seriously fear for the people who enjoy it.

1. Clean Bandit – Rather be (ft. Jess Glynne)

The number one then, does it deserve to be? Let’s put it this way, if Will.I.Am is deserving of number two, even the sound of John Prescott masturbating deserves to be number one. This song though is actually quite interesting. A reasonably complex electronic backing and excellent vocals provide welcome relief from the aforementioned abomination which I can’t let go. The video is fun, and again quite interesting, which I like. But I’ll tell you what I don’t like, Will.I.Am. What a class A cunt he really is.

Da Shit

There we go then, that was fun. This brief snapshot of popular music has suggested to me that although there are clearly some talented people there, they are being forced to pander to the will of the masses, who just want to listen to something that requires no thought or proper engagement. As long as there is a beat and some easy to remember words to slur at each other, people will enjoy it, which I think is a complete waste. If people enjoy listening to this sort of stuff, that’s fine, I just wish they would spend a minute or two thinking about it. Music has SO much more to offer than this lot. Think about it

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The Top 10. An Analysis Of The Pretentious Kind (Part 1)

I know I’m not alone in feeling completely left behind by the ‘Top 10’ chart. There was a time not long ago when I could reel off the top 10, perhaps even the top 20 just from memory. I’d like to say this is because I just had lots more spare time on my hands back in 2001, but I fear that is nowhere near true. Instead my tastes, and the tastes of the masses have changed, though for the latter, the overly simple term ‘change’ is arguably not the correct way to describe the drastic musical shift that shapes the charts year after year (I’ll try to clear that one up another time).

So I thought it might be fun and enlightening to listen to the top 10 as it is right now this minute. Modern music is one of very few areas of popular culture that I actually have a strong opinion on, and though I will try my best to be positive and open-minded, I can’t promise I’ll refrain from tearing whoever is responsible for a song I don’t like a new fuck.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/chart/singles

10. Jason Derulo – Trumpets

When an artist’s career peaks 3 seconds into his first release because of the way he said his own name,  you can’t blame him for becoming lazy with his lyrics. Mr Derulo decides to refer us to someone else’s songs, rather than thinking of his own lyrical assessment of the songs subject matter. Flattering for Kanye West, Katy Perry and Coldplay I’m sure… Come on JD, at least have a go, it doesn’t even have to rhyme. As for the ‘instrumentation’, it all sounds suspiciously like no real instruments were used during the recording of this song. I feel my point is proven by the final chord being the Windows 3.1/95/98 ‘Tada’.

9. Beyonce – Drunk In Love (ft. Jay Z)

I have a huge amount of respect for Beyonce. In my opinion she is the most talented female entertainer on the planet. Jay Z, phenomenally successful man, excellent rapper, but this song just makes me wonder, surely I’m not the only one who doesn’t particularly want to know about their drunken private lives? The simplistic beat is great, but leaves no escape from the onslaught of personal information hurled at us, with little or no attempt at a metaphor that would usually make songs of this ilk far more acceptable. Fair enough Jay Z’s verse probably does have plenty of meaning behind it, but I’m struggling to work out what else “your breastases is my breakfast” can really represent. A bit more subtlety and this could be neat.

8. Avicii – Hey Brother

As much as I want to hate it for being pretty boring and generic, I can’t deny this songs likeability. Frustratingly catchy lyrics, a simple and infectious melody (this is something I really need to get used to) add up to a song that’s very easy to mindlessly listen to. If in 30 years anyone has any clue who Avicii was, I’d be very surprised. But fair play, he’s hopped on the grossly overloaded bandwagon driven unrelentingly by David Guetta and isn’t harming anyone. High praise indeed.

7. Neon Jungle – Braveheart

Struggling with this one. I don’t get it at all. Erm ok, the first verse makes use of a new grammatical trend I’ve noticed. “I’m on that…” is used in several sentences that if said in normal conversation wouldn’t make any fucking sense at all. “Hey, what are you wearing tonight? Any idea what time you’ll be staying out till?” “I’m on that ripped jeans cigarette, I’m on that 3am bizarre”, “Ok thanks, see you later”. Tragically I have a bad feeling this will go the same way as the previously incorrect use of the term “literally” and actually become the norm, just because so many people say it, and have subsequently forgotten how this sort of sentence is supposed to be put together. That’s the best I can do, I’ve bored myself there.

6. Pitbull – Timber (ft. Ke$ha)

I’ve tried to be positive, really I have, but my patience is wearing thin. Pitbull has displayed his unparalleled genius via this songs awe-inspiring link between the word “down”, and the term “timber”, known popularly as the word lumberjacks would shout as a felled tree plummeted down to the ground. There’s the link, just there. That’s it. Right there. Brilliant. The song itself, I’ve pretty much already heard it 3 times today, and it’s had a different name each time, it’s boring. This song is utter horse shit. I’m going to stop now as I’m annoying myself.

This has been an interesting exercise, I’ll attempt the top 5 in the very near future

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