Sunday, 8 August 2010

Number One, #3

I am doing this, for the first time, before knowing the result. The chart unfolds before us. Ooh, exciting, eh? So, in the meantime, let's catch up on the missed weeks of hott Number One Hits. Looking at what I've missed, I see I'm going to hate myself for doing this...

FOUR WEEKS AGO
Katy Perry - California Gurls
Again. One time too many, by my reckoning. Was it even still sunny?
perr1
THREE WEEKS AGO
The Club is Alive - JLS
What exactly keeps the pop-Frankenstein that is JLS alive baffles me. What sustenance feeds this monster? The hearts of young gullible girls, and mid-twenties girls who should know better, snatched late at night? When it lifts - argh - it lifts its shirt, to show what lies beneath, is the correct response not to be repulsed?

The Club is Alive is a perfect example of this shambling undead mess. Look how it masquerades as one of us, so desperate to convince us it is 'Alive' at it assembles itself from a set of below-adequate parts. A weird The Sound of Music sample, as shown to be pop-poison by Gwen Stefani not all that long ago. Bargain-bin electro-effects, cheap tinny synths and melting voices. The refrain "you can be the DJ, I can be the dancefloor/you can get up on me" which apart from its failings to make any sense as an analogy, doesn't even sound snappy. 1, 2, 3, bleeding 4...

You question which element, exactly, came first and was considered good enough to have a song built around it. This is not just poorly reanimated pop, it is the Tesco Value Frankenstein, a sellotaped-together selection of dull, unattractive parts that do not add up to a whole.

(The chart countdown reveals that it won't be this
All Time Low song that makes #1. Phew.)

TWO WEEKS AGO

Airplanes - B.o.B. (feat. Hayley Williams)
So, if M.I.A. is Maya, this guy is Bob? That's just not good enough for pop music. Fittingly, neither is this.

Which is where I could finish. It's certainly not as deserving of my ire as JLS, being a moderately good song. Bringing in mediocre female rock vocals in actually hurts the song, which when Bob's flow gets going - apart from the annoying tendency to drop at the end of a line - has a certain urgency to it. But the chorus sounds like generic R&B trying to do Evanescence and, that being the bit we've all heard over and over for the last month, makes this song's ubiquity ... a bit hurtful, really. Did we not learn the first time, people?

(And it's not Eminem which ... I'm actually a bit gutted about. I haven't had chance to take any of the new Eminem stuff apart yet, and I am hungry to do so. Know this, Mr Mathers: I continue to be Very Disappointed in you.)
Yolanda-Be-Cool
ONE WEEK AGO
We No Speak Americano - Yolanda Be Cool vs D-Cup
This is more like it. Summer novelty hit which I can't actually quite get my head round. It's like - along with that Stereo Love song - an attempt to reclaim the viral europop people used to bring back in their heads and their mouths from holidays on the Mediterrenean and have to find on tape back at home, if only to inoculate themselves. Where that song takes a pure retro route, however, this one is that phenomenon described to a DJ of five years in the future, whose record collection only stretches as far back as this January.

It bends, flexes, plays with the raw materials in its metallic paws. It is an effortless Number One. I am congratulating it more than I probably actually like it as a song, because it is a Pop Hit Designed Only For Chart Domination and it is only proper and right that this was achieved.

And we return, just in time for the announcement of This Week's Official UK Chart Number One. And it is...

TODAY
NeYo - Beautiful Monster

The radio announcement that convinced me I had to return to this idea, right now, was that the three possibilities for a number one were NeYo, Flo Rida and Tinchy Stryder. The way they meld into a generic internet-R&B-superstar-name-generator mush. It's the names, for one. I forgot to add the name on first posting, and I genuinely had to check which one it was. I can't tell them apart even by their ridiculous monickers, and the music - of course - doesn't help.

The Worst Bit:
The lyrics, in the opening particularly, are delivered slowly enough to be actively painful. The My-First-Metaphor, the obvious rhymes, are so easy to spot you'd have to be politely looking away not to notice.
The Best Bit:
There are '90s videogame noises which build, chopping, under the song at various points. There's one bit where it actually sounds like it's building to strobing lasers and , but it doesn't go anywhere more than a slightly louder repetition of the chorus. But for one moment, there's a thrilling promise.

...I'm almost upset I used up my Frankenstein's monster analogy on JLS, but maybe it would have been too obvious, given the title. It really does sound like one of the parts that was found at the roadside and stitched together for that monstrosity, though. But here's the thing: while it was never going to reach the Gaga One, the pop-deity its title oh-so-subtly invokes, Beautiful Monster doesn't even have the balls to be as terrible as JLS' beast.

2 comments:

Tom said...

Works such as The Club Is Alive give me hope. They inspire me with confidence that nothing I achieve in life will ever be worse than that.

Christian O. said...

I just want to say that "My-First-Metaphor" is one of the cruelest burns I've read in a while. I applaud you, good sir.

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Videogames, film, music, comics: feed them into the Alex-Spencer machine and out come neat little articles. Like the ones you're looking at here.