Music Features

The Singles Bar: 3rd September 2012

We’re on an unprecedented run of success here at The Singles Bar. After a Number One single for Sam & The Womp last week, Little Mix went to the top of the charts on Sunday to make it two out of two for the column. They say good things come in threes… let’s prove that wrong.

Bob Marley & The Wailers – Jammin’ (Benny Benassi remix)

“You know what the laid-back, reggae sound of Bob Marley needs? Somebody to turn it into an Ibiza trance record.” Those, there, are the words of absolutely no sane person ever. Benny Benassi (last seen collaborating with Singles Bar “favourite”, Chris Brown) has taken the vocals and chord sequence of Marley’s classic, Jammin’, put a load of pulsing Balearic synths behind them and then added an entirely unnecessary heavy dubstep breakdown. This kind of hedonistic dance is only really suitable when off your face in Pacha at 5am but surely, even then, this would sound awful. It’s difficult to believe this was ever allowed to happen, but then again, I bought a can of Bob Marley Mellow Mood drink the other day, so his estate are hardly adverse to a quick buck or two. 0/10

Ne-Yo – Let Me Love You (Until You Learn To Love Yourself)

I have a feeling this could be a pretty big chart hit come Sunday. I say this because fans of Shaffer Smith (yes, that’s his real name) are seemingly so desperate to get their mitts on this song, they’ve already sent a shonky, hastily-released cover version into the Top 100. There really are some enterprising souls out there. It’s hard to see why anyone would be rushing to the (digital) music shop in such a hurry though, as LMLY(UYLTLY) is a fairly generic-sounding R&B/dance single that sounds as if it could have come from any point in Ne-Yo’s career. In researching this single, I discovered that Ne-Yo is now the senior vice president for A&R at Motown. That’s Ne-Yo. At Motown. There are just no words. 3/10

TOY – Lose My Way

TOY have been garnering a fair bit of press acclaim and love in the past few months, but it seems few beyond the media have been getting genuinely excited about them. Lose My Way is a chugging, mid-tempo rock track, with some nice touches and chord changes, but nothing to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. There are elements of shoegaze and psychedelia in TOY’s sound, which are welcome, but the vocals of Tom Dougall are so insipid they threaten to drag the whole track down. It swells nicely towards the end, and there are strong shades of The Horrors as Lose My Way builds, but it’s not quite got that certain something. Still, it’s better than anything Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong ever committed to tape. 6/10

NOFX – Ronnie & Mags

Woah, no way, NOFX are still a going concern! Not only that, they’re still full of punk energy and they’re not going to be quiet about it. Ronnie & Mags is a savage, breakneck attack on the policies of and relationship between Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher that doesn’t pull any punches. Those two political figures of the 80s may seem odd subjects for a song in this day and age, but their actions are still felt in the modern era, and just the mention of their names can stir up strong emotions in many people. Ronnie & Mags is a glorious racket, and seems to be just the kick up the posterior the world needs. Now, if they can just sort out the mess that’s today’s political landscape… 8/10

Papa Roach – Still Swingin’

This is getting silly now. First NOFX and now Papa Roach – is it 2012 or 2002? However, whereas the appearance of NOFX felt necessary and exciting, hearing Papa Roach again will just make you wish you hadn’t. Still Swingin’ is hard, fast, and while not identical to the band’s early 21st Century heyday, it still gives the impression of a lack of progress over the last decade or so. But wait, what’s this in amongst the anger and workaday metal chords? Hurray, it’s some entirely gratuitous dubstep-style noises – the shortcut du jour for those desperately attempting to reclaim some relevance and momentum. Well, at least it’s not a trance reworking of Jammin’. 2/10

DJ Khaled feat. Chris Brown, Rick Ross, Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj – Take It To The Head

It seems like half of Cash Money are on this record and it has all the warning signs of too many cooks. Chris Brown and Lil Wayne are in full slow-jam, autotune ballad mode and it looks like it’s up to Rick Ross and Nicki Minaj to save the day. However, their contributions sound disinterested, tired and phoned in. When even Nicki Minaj is out of ideas, you know you’re in trouble. Presumably everyone in this song is tremendously pleased with themselves thanks to their “hilarious” and poorly-disguised oral sex metaphor, but it’s just tremendously dispiriting. Everyone gets in each other’s way on this track and the only thing they can agree on is that poor attempt at a double entendre? That’s one hell of a poor effort. 1/10

The Vaccines – Teenage Icon

Tiresome rock throwbacks The Vaccines have actually done some decent tunes in their time, thus further proving the adage that even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Teenage Icon sounds as if the verses were written about five minutes before recording and while the chorus is certainly catchy, it could well have come from their last record. A fast beat, some chugging chords and a snappy three minute track that goes in one ear and out the other. There’s nothing inherently wrong with The Vaccines, but they’re so consistently mediocre that their elevation to the saviours of guitar music is just merely depressing. Teenage Icon is by no means a great song but I’m not angry, just disappointed. 5/10

Cheryl – Under The Sun

Long-term Singles Bar fans (yes, both of them) may remember I employed the talents of YouTube user CheekyMonkey12312 to review Cheryl’s last effort, Call My Name. Sadly, CheekyMonkey12312 hasn’t deemed us worthy of their thoughts this time, so it’s up to little old me. After the hi-NRG of Call My Name, Under The Sun feels a little flat, though it is as sun-drenched as its title suggests. There’s an almost Lily Allen feel to the verses (not vocally, obviously) but the chorus isn’t really strong enough to carry the song. It’s all a bit nothing – neither fast nor slow, neither ballad nor dancey, and it commits the cardinal sin of pop music: it’s boring. 3/10

Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra – Want It Back

Though the Singles Bar primarily reviews the music, it’s well worth a look at the video for this track, which – as well as being sadly NSFW – is clever, witty and a wonderful celebration of natural beauty. Want It Back doesn’t showcase Amanda Palmer at her most raw and acerbic, but it’s certainly a great track with her distinctive, clipped vocal style and fantastic way with words. It may represent a slight move towards the commercial middle-ground, but she’s managed to do it while remaining unmistakably her. The synths are a little unnecessary, but the track builds to a wonderful climax and is a helpful reminder that Amanda Palmer is one of the most inventive and thrilling artists operating in music today. We’re lucky to have her. 8/10 – SINGLE OF THE WEEK

Charli XCX – You’re The One

We tipped Charli XCX for big things back at the start of the year but she’s yet to properly break through. Vocally, think Marina & The Diamonds, but there’s a much more icy, electro feel to the music. It’s almost kind of dystopian in the verses, but it breaks through to major chords in the chorus and warm synths that transform You’re The One from something bleak and emotion-less into a radio-friendly hit-in-the-making. The spoken word section towards the end, in her none-more-English accent, is awkwardly charming and hopefully, Charli XCX can finally get some of the success she richly deserves. 8/10

That’s what we think of those tracks but, more importantly, what do you think of them? Let us know using the Disqus form below.