The Singles Bar: 13th August 2012
There's been a definite feeling of gloom sweeping across the nation today. After seventeen days of all-out sportgasm, and a closing ceremony that could be best described as disappointing (yes, it was a slickly put together bit of stadium spectacle, but more fitting for a variety/talent show final rather than the culmination of probably the biggest event to be held in the country in our lifetimes; and there's something a bit depressing about a vision of Britain entirely consisting of The Beatles, Britpop and bloody awful interpretive dance 4/10), the Olympics have left town, taking the sunny weather, and the British people's collective sense of goodwill with it. Even worse, Joe's off in Milton Keynes, so isn't able to man The Singles Bar this week, something which I expect the record industry is very much aware of, judging by the uninspiring nature of this week's releases. Still, maybe snarkily dishing out comments about each one will help us to recapture that fleeting notion of national pride and bring us all together again?
George Michael - White Light
AKA that new track that he was bewilderingly allowed to perform at last night's festivities (not that the gratuitous plug paid off as apparently it's failed to break the iTunes Top 10). White Light makes for a really bizarre choice of Olympic-soundtrack (and not the good "ohmigod they're playing Fuck Buttons!" sense of bizarre), being painfully clear from the opening gasps of a ventilator that this is about his near-fatal bout of pneumonia last year, and while it may build to a big "I'm alive... I've got so much more that I want to do" chorus Michael doesn't ever manage, or bother, to raise himself above navel-gazing misery. The track's nocturnal electro is pretty much Fast Love on a particularly strong course of antibiotics, with George offering occasional dips into bad Bowie/good Jimmy Saville impersonations.
In a way, it's admirable that a star of his stature would feel able to lay his vulnerabilities out so starkly - you certainly wouldn't catch Elton or Madonna doing the same - and, of course, the fact that he's still with us is a reason to celebrate, but White Light is nobody's idea of a celebration. 4/10
Aiden Grimshaw - Curtain Call
So, what is there to Aiden Grimshaw, other than a stint on the X-Factor and a haircut? Based on this I honestly couldn't tell you. He grumbles like a (thankfully) less offensive James Morrison and is completely upstaged by his backing singer on the chorus, and yet where's her single? 2/10
Noisettes - That Girl
I doubt that Noisettes are anybody's favourite band, but they tend to be good for a decent single now and then, and That Girl is very much one of those. There's a touch of doo-wop about it, and a significant amount of borrowing from other artists. In fact I was convinced that it was a cover, but a quick bit of internet-based research suggests that it isn't. Equal parts naggingly familiar (is that rhythm pinched off Stand by Me, or I Only Want to be With You?) and rather comforting. 7/10
Paloma Faith - 30 Minute Love Affair
On first listen it's quite hard to believe that this is Paloma Faith as at no point does it sound like brassy karaoke at the local pub or a foghorn. The mumbled vowels of 30 Minute Love Affair suggests she's attempting to get in on Lana Del Rey's game, which, while preferable to Faith's usual act, does seem rather cynical.
Still a bit rubbish, but not outright annoying, which is something, right? 3/10
Rita Ora - How We Do (Party)
Despite being one of the biggest hits of the year, I don't think I've actually heard RIP, and How We Do (Party) doesn't make me want to correct that any time soon. Right from the off Ora irritatingly over-accentuates every vowel, sounding like a cross between P!nk and a particularly grumpy cat.
Fortunately the track does go against standard pop-writing wisdom by actually dialing things back in the chorus, and at least Ora's setting her goals realistically low in the "I want to party and bullshit" refrain; she might be a long way off being a decent pop-star, but she's already more than achieved her rather modest ambitions. 3/10
Jessie Ware - Wildest Moments
Ware has been riding on a wave of hype and good feeling from the music press (although surely she must be most proud of getting a 9/10 review in her debut Singles Bar appearance) and Wildest Moments just about justifies the hype (*hurrah!*)...
I say just about as while Ware's voice is on fine form, and the drums are attention-grabbingly insistent, the rest of the song's a bit underwhelming in its sketchiness - although the oddly downbeat delivery of its "In our wildest moments / we could be the greatest" message does make it a rather appropriate soundtrack for a country torn between celebrating recent unprecedented sporting success and worrying about where it goes from here. 7/10 - SINGLE OF THE WEEK
Kreayshawn - Go Hard
Proto-Swearwave (I will not rest until No Ripcord's very own pet-genre receives some official recognition) rapper Kreayshawn divided opinions with her breakthrough Gucci Gucci (personally, I liked it and its unrelenting stupidity). With its slightly cheap cartoon graphics and monotone sing-song quality, Go Hard is no Gucci Gucci, but it is neither offensive nor memorable enough to make me change my mind about her either way. Although I am now tempted to declare her America's answer to Cher Lloyd. 5/10
Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo ft. Frank Turner - Fields of June
As if The Singles Bar wasn't looking miserable enough this week, here's the latest from current backlash-magnet Frank Turner, collaborating with an artist best known for providing the theme to the BBC's Wallander, and it's a deadly (in more ways than one) serious murder ballad.
In itself this is no bad thing, but neither Barker nor Turner really have the gravitas or menace to really convince - it's handsome rather than haunting. I think the word I'm looking for is "passable", but there's no real reason for it to exist when The Decemberists have built a whole career on doing this sort of thing so much better. 5/10
Django Django - Hail Bop
To be honest with you, I'm still not really sold on Django Django. Default was good, and there's something goofily pleasurable about their name and image, but, much like their spiritual forebears/actual relations Beta Band, they're a bit too self-consciously wacky for my taste.
Not that that's the case on Hail Bop though, which is rather restrained, summer-y pleasant, and fairly forgettable. 6/10
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Strange Man/Long Progression
The first of a promised/threatened nine double A side singles from the funk-rock veterans. Both tracks sound exactly like what you'd expect a post-By The Way Red Hot Chili Peppers single to sound like. Too grim to consider awarding a mark out of ten/10
Oh well, at least we have the Paralympics to look forward to in a couple of weeks, and Joe's return (should he ever manage to navigate his way out of Milton Keynes) next Monday. I suppose in the meantime we'll just have to go back to whatever it was that we did for fun before sports fest 2012.... see you all at the local Wetherspoons for a few pints and a punch-up in the car park afterwards then, yeah?13 August, 2012 - 22:35 — Mark Davison