Music Features

The Singles Bar - 18th June 2012

As we approach the halfway point of the year, it's difficult to pinpoint exactly what defines the music of 2012.  The winner of the BBC's Sound of 2012, Michael Kiwanuka, has received little in the way of commercial success or critical acclaim.  There have been no defining sounds or the rise of any particular genres; even brostep and moombahton first rose to prominence in 2010/2011.  And the fastest-selling single of the year, as reviewed in last week's The Singles Bar, is Cheryl's Call My Name, and we can but hope that doesn't come to define 2012.

Perhaps we'll find the answer in this week's Singles Bar, brought to you for one week only by Craig Stevens.

Fiona Apple - Every Single Night

Today is a big day for Fiona Apple fans, with her first album in nearly seven years (the fantastically titled The Idler Wheel Is Wiser than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More than Ropes Will Ever Do) and lead single Every Single Night both receiving a UK release.

Every Single Night opens with a soft, sweet melody and glockenspiel, creating a sound not dissimilar to that of a lullaby. The vocals quickly turn more dramatic, however, both musically and lyrically - "Every single night's a fight with my friends". The range and emotion offered by Apple in this song, coupled with its originality, is more than enough of a reason to listen to her new album. 9/10 - SINGLE OF THE WEEK

Jedward - Young Love

I was not only surprised to discover that Jedward are still releasing music but, upon further investigation, to discover that next week marks the release of their THIRD studio album. Seriously.

The title track from new album Young Love is a more serious effort than Jedward's previous releases and, judging by the change in sound and the fact that the music video features the twins without their trademark "higher than the Eiffel Tower" hairstyle, appears to suggest a change of direction for the Irish twosome.  Young Love is much more "boy-band" territory and is a marked improvement upon previous releases. Unfortunately, in the wider musical world, it's nothing revolutionary, or even that notable. 3/10

Kassidy - One Man Army

Despite being one of the best acts in their genre, Kassidy have never quite managed to gain the mainstream recognition they deserve from their catchy pop-rock. One Man Army is one of those rare tracks that would be equally as well-received on mainstream radio as it would be by the critics. After a simple chord/voice Oasis-esque introduction, the song slowly builds, layering instruments upon one another to conjure the metaphor of an army rising, before dying away for the finale. Hopefully, the band are a Biffy Clyro in the waiting - a few more albums and they'll begin to receive the commercial success they deserve. 7/10

Kindness - House

Despite receiving mixed reviews for his début album World, You Need A Change of Mind earlier this year, Kindness, aka Londoner Adam Bainbridge, seems to be attracting a lot of attention from the British media at the moment. He recently performed a one-hour mix for 6Music, which included tracks by a diverse list of artists including The Beatles, Iggy Pop, Randy Newman and Jai Paul. Kindness' interest in many genres of music is apparent in House; it has elements of chillwave, it has big drum machine beats and it has 80s-sounding electronica. It's a pleasant enough track, with a decent melody and sentiment, but ultimately sounds a little drab and confused. 4/10

Lethal Bizzle ft JME and Fire Camp - Leave It Yeah

Given there is so much exciting hip-hop and rap music around at the moment, Lethal Bizzle's new track comes as a bit of a disappointment. At one time, Lethal Bizzle was helping to drive forward the UK grime scene but Leave It Yeah offers no such progression. An irritating chorus is repeated all too frequently, over dirrrrty bass and ascending scales (of the type last heard in this sort of music around a decade ago). It's really not enjoyable. If nothing else though, it has taught me to investigate the word "dench", a term which I shall endeavour to use next time I find reason to converse with a "youth". 2/10

Maroon 5 ft Wiz Khalifa - Payphone

Those of you who saw the UK chart positions for the week ending 17th June may have been amused to notice that, at number 9 in the Singles Chart, was a "cover" version of Maroon 5's Payphone, by Precision Tunes. The strange thing about this "cover" was that Precision Tunes' version was available for sale, and charted, before Maroon 5's "original" version was even released. Given the popularity of the song, it's surprising that the Maroon 5 version wasn't rush-released (as happened recently with Flo Rida's Whistle). However, there's little doubt that the "original" will chart highly in this week's chart. It's quite a turnaround for the band given that, of the ten singles released prior to Moves Like Jagger, only one charted in the UK Top 20.

Payphone is typical Maroon 5 - catchy enough, but with little substance, and Wiz Khalifa does little to nothing to enhance the quality of the track. Whilst the rap is rhythmically strong, the content offers little continuity from the song and feels tacked-on. Bring back the days of Harder to Breathe. 4/10

Paul Weller - Birthday

You may or may not be aware that today is the 70th birthday of a musician who was once a member in arguably the most influential British band of all time. Nope, it's not Heather Small. Nor is it 911's own Jimmy Constable. It's Sir Paul McCartney. And to celebrate the momentous occasion, Paul Weller has released a cover version of the Beatles' classic Birthday.

Although I've never heard Birthday sung as a karaoke piece, I'm fairly certain that, if I had, it wouldn't sound too different to this. Little has changed from the original, apart from the vocals, which in this version are somewhat less tuneful. Ultimately, Weller has good intentions, and proceeds from sale of the single go to War Child, so it's all for a good cause. However, this is a music review, and musically, Weller's version is far far inferior to the Beatles' original, which itself was once referred to by John Lennon as "a piece of garbage". Eightball69 on Youtube said it best: "I hope Macca kept the receipt so he can get something he really wants". 0/10

Poliça - Dark Star

This is more like it. Poliça's hypnotic, mysterious and instrumentally rich Dark Star is the second track in this week's Singles Bar to demonstrate clear 1980's electronic influences. One of the standout tracks from début album Give Up The Ghost, Dark Star has eerie harmonies, a powerful melody and just the right amount of weird instrumentation to keep things interesting. 8/10

Sam Sparro - I Wish I Never Met You

I was going to start the review of Sam Sparro's latest single by commenting on how sorry I feel for Mr Sparro. About how he's been constantly trying (and, so far, failing) to live up to the huge success that was the single Black and Gold in his early career. About how, although his songs may not be the most exciting or the most innovative, they're far from the weakest in the pop market. And then, listening to I Wish I Never Met You for the third time, I actually listened to the lyrics and heard the lines "You had me feeling like a crackhead. I squeeze you out just like a blackhead" and any semblance of respect I had for this song disappeared. I still prefer it to Paul Weller's Birthday though. 2/10

Zinc - Goin In

And to finish, a single by a drum and bass legend, DJ Zinc. To say that I'm disappointed by the quality of this single would be a gross understatement - it's almost unbelievable that this song is brought to us by the same DJ that gave us the outstanding Wile Out with Ms Dynamite only two years ago. A weak melody and irritating vocals over a beat that even the most crass dubstep producer wouldn't touch, Goin In is quite simply not worth further comment. 0/10

So, it's the first track to be reviewed, Fiona Apple's Every Single Night, that wins The Singles Bar's prestigious Single of the Week this week.  Do you agree, or do you think another song should have won the title?  As always, we'd love to hear your thoughts using the Disqus box below.