by Mr Moth
Charlie Simpson – Down Down Down
Oh, Charlie Simpson off of Busted. You broke my heart when you left Matt and James, you really did. Why did you split up the band, just when you were reaching your peak with “Thunderbirds Are Go!”, from Thunderbirds Official Soundtrack? To form Fightstar? Really? No, really?
Anyway, now you’ve put Fightstar on hiatus – literally tens of fanboys will no doubt be rending their clothes as we speak – to, in that dread phrase, “pursue solo projects”. And this is yours. Well done, you. You sure showed us you’re a true renaissance man. Why, this sounds like.. god, Charlie, it sounds like soulful Busted. You can’t help it. Bit of acoustic strumming. KNOT THOSE BROWS. OK, Busted after having listened to a bit of Noah and the Whale or whatever, but still. There’s something inherently naff about all the ex-Busted members – something which Matt Willis has worked to his advantage, but which works against Charlie every time he tries to be A Serious Artist.
And the video isn’t great. The only conclusion I can draw from the subtitled “dramatic” scenes is that the couple were having a bit of a row, words were had, she dialled Pizza Hut and now he’s going to be stuck with the bill for 25 Mighty Meatys while she hoofs it through the woods. That all sounded funnier in my head.
Chris Brown/Benny Benassi – Beautiful People
Chris Brown, I understand, is ‘so over people bringing this past shit up’, so I shall attempt to steer a course around his reputation as a renowned puncher of ladies and vengeful destroyer of dressing rooms.
So, Chris Brown, eh? You can’t keep a good man down, not even with six months of community service. You knock him down, he gets back up again, unlike his girlfriends. After dreary Chipmunk-collaboration “Champion” and the guaranteed hit “Yeahx3”, he is now receiving further validation with a Benny Benassi (you remember, the video with the ladies with the power tools) produced tune which is, you know, fine if you like that sort of thing. I don’t, much; I find it a bit pedestrian. Maybe it plays well in clubs. I don’t know.
It features a video of him larking about with big cheeses in the industry, including the likes of Pharrell Williams, Tinie Tempah, Nelly, Estelle and Timbaland, who should all be applauded for helping to rehabilitate a genuinely repentant convicted partner-puncher. It’s already doing heavy rotation on the music channels; one can’t escape images of Brown goofing around in recording studios and, let it be known, not hitting anyone repeatedly in the face and then abandoning them in his rented Lamborghini.
Bruno Mars – The Lazy Song
BRUNO MARS IS YOUR NEW KING. Bow before Bruno Mars. HE WILL BE MASSIVE. He will sing songs that your mum likes. AND YOU WILL LIKE THEM TOO. And they will be on adverts. AND THERE WILL BE MONKEYS.
I quite like this ‘un. Nice summery pop, slightly reggae-inflected, with a whistly bit that I know has been used for an advert but I just can’t remember what it was advertising. Phones? Anyway, doesn’t matter. The instant familiarity is a good thing in this case. You don’t want to have to think about a song like this. Just nod along.
And what a cracking video, too! I love single-take vids, me. From “Unfinished Sympathy” to “Here it Goes Again”, there’s a real pleasure in watching someone pull off a whole routine in one go. It helps that the men in the monkey masks are proper dancers –Asian-American dance troupe Poreotix, provide the sharp, funky moves needed to keep the viewer entertained by a three minute clip of six grown men arsing around in a bedroom. It’s a bit like a YouTube video of people at home doing their own moves to a pop song. Only the one in the middle is Bruno Mars. Your new king.
Clare Maguire – The Shield The Sword
Call me suspicious, but these days when a solo artist turns up using their full name – and it’s a bit of an ordinary one and not a bit odd like Bruno Mars or Tinie Tempah – I get X Factor alarm bells ringing.
Opening Clare Maguire’s video for “The Shield The Sword” filled me with some trepidation, expecting an autotuned ballad, so it was pleasantly surprising to be faced with… well, not that. Having said that, it’s not like I’m listening to much more than a belted-out Florence and the Machine track, so the surprise wasn’t wonderfully pleasant. But at least it was a surprise.
The video is nicely shot and all, but there’s a nagging familiarity to it all. One minute you’re thinking ‘Oh, is that Adele?’, the next ‘Aha, Poundshop Gaga’, then again ‘Hold on, are those the dancers from “Can’t Get You Out of My Head?”‘. All very rote, then, and even an enormous group of enormous naked men can’t quite give the video anything more than a fairly striking central image.
Jesse J – Nobody’s Perfect
Every year, it seems, there is a May Queen, a King of the Bean, a pop act whose ubiquity seems set to last forever and then… poof! Gone. On to the next one. The “difficult second album” comes and goes without us noticing. Done with you. La Roux, The Ting Tings, Tinchy Stryder*, Kate Nash, Professor Green, the list goes on. So, who is this year’s model? Step forward Jessie J. “Do It Like A Dude”, her stomping, sneering, grime-pop debut single, was released last year but didn’t make much impact. Something about it wouldn’t go away, though, and in February it charted properly and established her as THE UK pop act to watch this year. And we should watch her, because she’s fun and glam and full of energy and, crucially, she won’t be around long.
Third single “Nobody’s Perfect” is the obligatory slightly slower song, but you’d hardly call it a ballad. It has a syrupy energy, an angry, insecure core which keeps interest going for the duration of the song. Sure, it’s her weakest so far, but it’s still about a million times better than anything Katy Perry has put out. It helps that the video is another visual overdose, packed with stuff to look at. And, oh, doesn’t she look funny blonde? Don’t go down that route, Jesse. Not a good look.
*You’re going to mention something about Dappy, aren’t you? Well, you know, don’t bother.