Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Fugative - where it's at

I made a sweetly old-fashioned power ballad called "It Did It for Love" by Swedish actress Jessica Andersson my selection for Week's Best Pop Song but if something more current is your thing then check out Fugative and his new song "Crush". It's not strikingly original or even that good - though with its catchy hook and bouncy rapping it is easy on the ear. But you are looking at that rare thing : an artist on the verge of pop stardom. It may not last very long or raise many ripples of interest outside Britain - he's from Essex - but he's definitely got something started.

He's had a couple of minor hits already - Jimmy Shoe, It's Summertime and Supafly - and they were before he turned 16. By a brief straw poll of YouTube and Blog comments he is widely believed to be a handsome young fellow (example comment: "hes da fittest boy singa eva" ).
He writes his own songs and apparently records them in his bedroom (surely not since he got a bit famous?). His light and bright commercial R&B sound seems like the surest route to pop success these days. See what it did for Jay Sean and Taio Cruz - US no 1s. On that subject he has already been taken under the wing of a big US music manager who is predicting big things for him. Well he wouldn't be doing his job if he didn't big up the lad would he? Actually, hold on a minute. Pop supremo signs up a handsome young white kid to sing black music to sell to young girls. Doesn't sound so modern and cutting edge when you put it like that but here's the single:

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Are The Villagers a new Simon & Garfunkel?

Well maybe, but there are some big differences - they are a 5 piece band from Ireland not a duo from Queens. But have a listen to their latest song "Becoming a Jackal" below and I think you'll agree there is an uncanny likeness in their sounds.

Sure the lead singer has a harder-edged voice which doesn't have the sweetness and softness of Simon and Art, but otherwise there are a lot of echoes particularly in the phrasing, the echoey harmonies in the chorus and of course the folk-style guitar playing.

I don't know whether the similarity is intended or not but I don't remember hearing any other band sounding like Simon and Garfunkel before (and I listen for this sort of thing - see 5 songs that sound like Abba but aren't). The new band will be doing well to match their famous forebears but have made a good start with this song which is raw emotion but very tightly and melodically conveyed.

As for Simon & Garfunkel, I remember being wowed by the Central Park concert they gave when I was young and their famous songs are engraved on my musical consciousness. Go on Villagers, give us another Bridge over Troubled Water or Sound of Silence! As a footnote I just learnt from Wikipedia that Simon & Grafunkel's first band was called Tom and Jerry. Would make a good pub quiz question that.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Kate Nash, Puppets and the battle of the mocknies

This week Kate Nash was my pick as Best Song of the Week with "Do Wah Do". It took my a while to fall for this track even though it is just the kind of fun, witty and likeable fare I usually lap up and it's because of that "mockney" accent.

To non-Brits who don't know what that is, I'll have to explain. She sings like she's a working class Londoner (" a cockney" see left for genuine article) even though she sounds nothing like that in real life. Compare a few seconds of these two YouTube clips, the song and an interview:

You probably now get the idea. It's probably something that just irritates British people (particularly irritable ones like me).

I don't mind singing voice affectations in general just this specific one. After all most British singers from the 50s onwards have tried for an American accent, naturally enough as they are working in an American form. It's just accents which seem designed to give the singer a bit of street edge that seem so absurd and posed. Another example is the white British kids who talk or sing like they are Jamaican despite Ali G having completely called out this nonsense a decade ago.

Pearl and the Puppets - a new mockney low
Actually there is another even more absurd example which again ruins quite a good song. Pearl and the Puppets, a much touted new band for 2010, have a song out called "Because I do". It's a light little ditty which builds into a happy-making sing-a-long chorus (which is why it has already been used in Vodafone ads). But listen to the first lines and you have some classic mockney:

"I saw you the other day, you were dreaming that's O Kay" Acceptable if she's from London but she's from Scotland. I maybe wrong and maybe Scots speak like this but I don't think so. Here's an interview with Pearl (actually Katie) who speaks more like she should be making porridge or shortbread adverts.

On a final note, since I'm moaning, what about being accused of mocknification unjustly? Poor old Eliza Doolittle, a previous best song winner with "Skinny Genes", was roundly slagged off for being a mockney in the music press (and copying Kate Nash) but I can't see it myself. She sounds totally unmockney to me.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Millionaires and the rise of slut pop

If you thought Kesha's music was not exactly wholesome fare for the young girls it targets, wait until you meet The Millionaires. The Californian girl trio are making a big push for stardom this year and, judging by the lyrics of their trashy pop songs, Moms of impressionable teens might not like them.

They broke through last year with their GET F$CKED UP and Just got Paid, Let's Get Laid Tours last year. 2010 sees their first major single releases "Stay The Night" and "Prom Dress". The latter begins with the words:

listen up bitches
i'm your fucking M C
I've got my mind on your goodies
I can see your WEE WEE

and it doesn't get any more highbrow with every verse and chorus on the same theme - no commitment sex. Stay the Night is more or less the same with a some drinking and rough sex thrown in. Maybe it's some kind of post-modern ironic thing but I can't see many young girls listening to lines like this getting the joke:

so if you get me drunk
my uhhh will shut you up
we'll go down
on the ground
play around

Should parents and the rest of us be worried by the likes of Kesha and The Millionaires? I don't think so. Pop has always been about sex at some level (the one that started it all off "Shake Rattle & Roll" was the Millionaires song of 1954) and songs are the least of parents' worries in any case. The songs should be just judged on how good they are as entertainment. They are OK - bright and cheery enough 5/10 - but you do get the feeling that all the sex stuff is a cynical attempt to make bubble gum pop sound edgy and rebellious.

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