Mr. Swygart’s Month Off: Week 2
elcome one and welcome all to Mr. Swygart’s Month Off: Week 2. Bizarrely, William asked me, clueless me, of all his adoring fans, to be amongst his special guest presenters. This was made even more frantic by my current residency in Ghana, where finding a computer besides the one in my uncle’s perma-locked study in the house that uses Real Player was like searching for a tasteful outfit in Jodie Marsh’s wardrobe. In the end, I got the use of his comp in exchange for some promises to be nicer around the house. No matter, on with the show!
Album Chart Notes: I went for a driving lesson and cut it short after realizing I’d forgotten which way the time difference between here and home swings (the UK’s an hour ahead, fact fans). Got in to hear a snatch of Alexander O’ Neal’s deathless ‘Criticize’ and felt swollen with hope until the rest of the chart unfolded. New top 20 entries from…Dizzee Rascal #8 (incidentally, “COME ON!” Wes introduces the album with Dizzee’s real name, which makes me consider if he’s the first rapper in forever whose nom d’ everyday is repeated by media types as much as his nom de rap), Alison Moyet #7 (“Wow! Jazzy!”), Kasabian #4 (“intriguing indie synth-pop. New Primal Scream, maybe?” Wes notes that they live in a remote farmhouse in Leicester, which is probably a snide way of admitting they don’t return his calls) and (”WHICH MEANS!”) Natasha Bedingfield #1 (“inevitable/illogical”). We get Natasha doing a week-old spot for the album (“Tomorrow, an amazing event is happening, millions of people will flock to record stores in all areas cos they’re gonna buy my new album!” Wes: “TERRIFIC!” ‘Single’ is played and suddenly my mild crush on her is completely cured, even when Wes reveals she still hasn’t found a man since he “exclusively revealed” her unattached status, oh, seven days ago). Before I get to the meat of the chart (and Wes, and not out of choice), I must note that the songs played off the album chart are probably a mercy considering what I’m gonna be putting myself through (Will wondered who he pitied the least and I mailed him to demand the most pity—I got none). A nice ditty from The Killers, Kasabian aren’t bad and “Mary”by The Scissor Sisters, which means I owe Swygart a drink when I come home next—very nice. A “surprising” for JoJo, who only made it to #22.
New Entries Outside The Top 20: Slow week. The Delgados didn’t even chart inside the top 40, which may possibly mean we’ll get guest curated chart write-ups for the next year while William hangs out with his therapist and takes regular shots of Thorazine. We got Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds #37 (you know the score); Jet #34 (“Cold. Hard. Mmshff”, says Butterboy, effectively admitting that R1 will never play Meredith Brooks again. The sort of pub-rock they display in Manchester’s tiny Whitworth Gallery); and Soul Control #25 (Why is this comedy gold here, in this week of all weeks, when that Caspar dork went to no. 2 and 1? Scooter go raggaglam and sing about chocolate better than Kylie does to the tune of “La Bamba”. Holy crap, this is funny. Imagine if Krusty The Klown was a gay German producer and Sideshow Mel was alternately the big guy from Aqua and the lead singer from Aswad and you’re still nowhere near close!) I shouldn’t type this when Miss Beddo is playing. During the countdown, Rachel Stevens isn’t played in full (in fact, most of my faves aren’t), but O-Zone are and for that, I’m considering keeping the black market anti-Wes weaponry I promised William for myself, though I suppose he’s earned the right to them, really.
Wes has been offering up an mp3/CD/radio player and he puts a nice lass named Becky on the phone to tell him where Franz Ferdinand’s album charted to win, though given the state of the man’s charisma, there’s no way any sane person would want to phone him. Poor Becky has to convince Wes repeatedly that she’s been listening to the show since four o’clock, though I’m doing this for a write-up. What’s her excuse? She answers “10” only to get Wes attempting to become Prince’s Camille and repeating “10! 10! 10! 10-10!” at her until he puts her out of her misery and awards her the prize. Someday, someone will sue him for mental distress. Later, he actually says “I am WES, and I am YOUR SAVIOUR”, which is tantamount to discovering God is dead and Jesus was a massive universal hoax perpetuated by the funny faction of Ancient Rome. To prove he’s the opposite, the comp promptly crashes. Overdramatic. But effective.
In footy news, Arsenal have been unbeaten for 45 games. But Uncle has stopped paying for his satellite telly again, meaning I have to, ugh, leave the house to watch it elsewhere. Boo.
THE UK TOP 20: NOBODY WAS SUPPOSED TO GET HURT or "CRAZY! CRAAAAAAZY!"
20) KANYE WEST – Jesus Walks
I slated him recently for wearing a “so 2002” Jesus Is My Homeboy t-shirt, which I find irritating for aesthetic and bad trend reasons. Besides, you’ve never met him! Just because he’s all loving and his Dad changed his mind about the car crash and left your face in a state more puppet-like than that episode of Angel and everything doesn’t mean he wants to hang with you on Sundays and listen to what you’re doing to Millie Jackson’s voice. Besides, deep down, you know he’d disapprove. Song’s basically alright, though. In honour of Kanye, here’s a pic of The Great Gonzo:
19) PAUL WELLER – Wishing On A Star
I love strings. I love harps. I love the original to death. But this is a disappointment. This is to the original what Tom Jones’ cover of “Kiss” is to Prince—a feeble insult to someone you’ll forever envy.
18) BUSTED – Thunderbirds
Perfect pop-assembly instructional, but with an exuberance that is currently unmatched. And I have a weakness for horns, unless the Thrills are paying. I haven’t liked sympho-indie-pop this much since I discovered Cornelius. I really like this in spite of Charlie’s voice. James Bourne’s youthful exuberance and general silly sense of humour has placed him high in my list of top 10 UK popstars. I’m worried that Matt will return from America fully transformed into one of the trannie twosome from Good Charlotte, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. I should start getting dressed to this tune and as I dance across my bedroom and get dressed simultaneously, credits will roll past my shifting body. The words “Directed by Amy Heckerling” will be the last you see before I exit on my merry way to work.
17) ARMAND VAN HELDEN – My My My
Dance in 2004 is in a curious state. While it partly has to do with the move, I have bought the least amount of singles in 3 years, as it’s become apparent that these are the slow times. This is thankfully not part of the malaise, as it’s pretty decent in a nice NYC disco/house pop way. Curiously, the video, in spite of the bevy of bikini babes, is curiously unsexy, unless I’m thinking of the last single. I also quite like the Cagedbaby remix, even though it does little different to the tune other than turn it into a mainroom mantra of mildly sub-Together proportions.
16) MOUSSE T feat. EMMA LANFORD – Is It Cos I’m Cool
Not a chance.
I found a year-old GQ last week, with a feature on “The young talent of the UK”, a title that certainly doesn’t cover Vernon Kay, let alone… Wes. As with the others, Butterboy had a full page photo spread taken in the Saatchi Gallery* (ugh, used “spread” and “Butterboy” in the same sentence. Must…die...now), during which he attempted to justify his existence (“I’m the voice of the charts”, a stark clue to his current messiah complex). Apparently, R1 made him drop his surname after he refused to present under a different name**. Getting the call from R1, he said, “was like the best orgasm of my life!”, though it doesn’t take a genius to realize he only achieved it on his own. The next page had Aqualung on it, so there ya go.
*Incidentally, Wes was photographed next to David Falconer’s “Vermin Death Stack”.
** You’re all welcome to theorise what it might have been, but I’m sticking with “Butterboy.” Aw man, I did it again.
15) THE MUSIC – Freedom Fighters (NEW ENTRY)
This is my first listen. It sounds like Roxette from the get-go, even when the singer opens his mouth. I liked Roxette in small doses and this is not bad as far as Roxette singles go (actually, it’s Xtina’s “Fighter” as far as Roxette singles go). Not a big fan, and a lot of that has to do with the singer having a face even Ashlee Simpson doesn’t envy. I guess I’ll just point out here that I like the Mousse T intro a bit and the drums are fairly driving, but otherwise, please quit exhuming Rod Stewart’s corpse for your lonely Friday nights, you horny bugger.
14) PETER ANDRE – The Right Way (NEW ENTRY)
Sadly not a cover of New Edition’s Johnny Gill. Once again, Peter fails to better “Flava”, with a “song” that resembles a mashup of all of George Michael’s worst moments, the sound of Justin Timberlake if he was still with Cheiron and not Timbaland and the Neptunes, the present incarnation of Gabrielle’s “Give Me A Little More Time” without the Motown affectations to earn it any affection. I don’t even have the energy to hate on this properly.
13) GOLDIE LOOKIN’ CHAIN – Guns Don’t Kill People Rappers Do
It’s the Furious Special Needs Cheeky Crew Plus 1! Mark B perfected these beats 7 years ago, then refused to go any further. The first verse puts me in mind of Urkel (except white). I would laugh, but you are not beating Soul Control, not this week, nor EVER.
12) EMBRACE – Gravity
We’re graced with an exclusive interview with Embrace, which was painful to read at the best of times in 1998 and worse to listen to. The admission that it took them 3 years in absentia to write the new album fills my head with suppositions as to what took them so long, chief amongst them being Danny’s attempt to get Chris Martin to leave Gwyneth for him. I can almost imagine the soap opera that might have been, played out in the pages of Heat with a supporting dramatic photo comic from The Sun. “We promised ourselves we wouldn’t come back until this album was our best.” “You had help,” Wes points out. See above.
11) HOUSTON feat. CHINGY, NATE DOGG & I-20 – I Like That (NEW ENTRY)
This is crunk with sung vocals, but seeing as Houston has XY chromosomes, we should award it a new micro-genre title. And seeing as it isn’t really very good (when I saw the video, I wondered if Chingy was trying to reinvent himself as Pharrell until I worked out Houston was a separate person “entirely”), how does “butterboycrunk” sound? To be fair, it has some nice synth effects and it can rock a party, but there are better tunes to seek those pluses from.
I’m not even gonna mention the download chart, except to point out that it has 2 new entries from Green Day. Whoa.
10) THE 411 – Dumb
A special surprise from The 411 is promised, but I don’t remember if it was revealed. Nevermind, I still got to hear the tune again. The sound of Javine rendered totally obsolete. I admit to crushing on at least 2 of them, naturally (getting their phone numbers would have been a nice surprise, hey). This isn’t better than Sarah Whatmore’s “Automatic”, which it resembles, but it has a nicely nonsensical chorus, a general addictive tech-crunchiness and a gurgling synth bass that makes you wanna wiggle a little bit. It’s perfect for your school disco and EastEnders’ background music, and in fact, I really like this and the late 80s evocations with matching black dresses and I hope they have better in store but they should watch their backs—their self-styled rivals, The Sirens, have a heavy (like punchbag heavy) new single coming out, with freestyling dancers in the video and some alright hooks. I reckon it’s a lock for top 15 at least, even though it might be “too American hip-hop” for some pop pickers. I didn’t hear too much, but I reckon a moonlighting Magoo will be on it.
9) THE PIRATES etc. – You Really Should Know (or We Have One More Guest Than The Houston Single, Beat That!)
They looked like they were having loadsa fun on TOTP for sure. I’m mildly giddily nostalgic at having Shola back, though I have no basis for this whatsoever. I'm not like other guys.
8) MAROON 5 - She Will Be Loved
At this point, the comp distorted the radio stream, submerging this little number in a pool of echoing sonics, tinny sonic mangling and squeaky pitched vox and is indeed the best Maroon 5 will ever sound.
7) NATASHA BEDINGFIELD - These Words
Distorted and Screwed Natasha is also a better proposition than listening to her entire album. “Aww bless her,” Wes says. Dude, she’ll never say those words to you, anyway, so what’s the use?
6) TWISTA - Sunshine
I have a soft spot for “Lovely Day” and I’m both surprised this hasn’t been done already and that he beat Nate Dogg to it (unless of course, I’m thinking this because Nate has done it, but I’m definitely not confusing it with the terrible slow jam version my local net café likes to torture me with). This is also in that zone of lightweight frothy fun that will be annoying next week, though Warren G and Nate perfected and killed this kinda thing 10 years ago. Nelly will be doing this sub-P. Diddy shtick in 2 years, probably.
5) 3 OF A KIND - Babycakes
It’s fun. So let’s leave it at that.
4) JOJO - Leave (Get Out)
My JoJo theory is twofold: she’s either really 15 or Leann Rhimes advertising both pioneering cosmetic surgery and the Witness Protection Program’s special new identity deal for "'celebs' who just want a new life". Otherwise, putting my cynicism over the lyrics and her scary deep speaking voice aside, I find her absolutely adorable. And if you go to WireImage and do a search, you’ll find Usher does too, which had me flashing back to her hitting on him from the MTV VMAs stage very recently. Bring on Confessions Part 5…
3) McFLY – That Girl (NEW ENTRY)
Wes attempts to build anticipation at this point with an annoying electro-whirring noise as he phones the unlucky “second highest new entry” popstars (would his hands make that sound when placed in a Cuisinart? Keep a good thought). It would’ve been nice if it was Bryan McFadden, but no! It’s Tom McFly. Wesley rattles off McFly’s achievements thus far, to which Tom responds flatly with “Yup” twice and, even flatter, “Thanks, we’re all over the moon at the moment” once informed. During this, Wes also asks Tom if he’s going to cry, which Tom sadly fails to reply to with a rather flat “F*ck off”. He invites Wes to come to their tour in 10 days, to which he replies in the affirmative, notably with such desperate, palpable enthusiasm that my suspicions as to his social life/skills multiply tenfold. I wonder if he’s stealing “Vermin Death Stack” for the occasion.
Moving on, “That Girl” has some mondo moments, which are the count-offs at the beginning and in the middle. Oh, and surf guitar. Nice hooks, natty background harmonizing, “She rocks my world” sung in a manner that recalls Michael Jackson—James Bourne co-wrote this, right? These guys could have replaced Brendan Fraser in the very much forgotten Blast From The Past to the same effect (dunno if Alicia Silverstone does groups though). That’s a great idea for the next video, actually, treading the same paths as Weezer and Andre 3000 without emulating them completely. It’s a time capsule exercise, but it’s all hooks and that’s what counts.
2) NELLY - My Place/Flap Your Wings
More “anticipation”—“McFly aren’t—so who is no. 2?..Nelly! Sorry.” “My Place” is played and the only thing of note I have to say about it is that I watched Nelly and Sleepy Bro—erm, whoever, were prancing about TOTP’s official swimming pool in Miami for last Friday’s show. I was amused because it had all the production values of a (non-South) African music video and with exactly the same amount of charisma missing. Sadly, Nelly is not as funny, either in a culture-mocking or amateurish enthusiasm way, though he has it where it counts (taking himself seriously).
Dave Pearce shows up to do a little spot for Dance Anthems, which follows after the chart, and the gulf between himself and Wes is horribly clear. It's not much unlike the gulf between Nelly and...
1) BRIAN McFADDEN – Real To Me (NEW ENTRY)
Wes phones Brian. Unlike Wes, I can’t understand a word he bloody says as he sounds like he’s phoning from a deep, dark cellar in Kazakhstan. My blood chills when Wes threatens to talk to him afterwards. I met his wife once and found her surprisingly charming. My sister drew her a portrait of Kerry on TV, which she checked out for a few seconds, sweetly thanked her and placed in her handbag (we were in Benihana, so she didn’t run off, but she did seemed flattered. She was with Bri’s sister, who was obviously the sibling with the looks) Now, the song. Ooo, a doomy piano! Now fuzz guitars! Is Brian the new Meatloaf (but not as good?). Actually, on further listening, I now understand why Robbie’s changing direction, as Brian has played the part of understudy on “Angels” to a tee. Did he really just sing “We’ll invite the family round for English tea?” Eww. Well, if that’s real to you, dude.
After the song’s merciful ending (the verses of Avril’s “Complicated” but with Brian’s breathy, earnest whine), Wes and Bri are back again. Wes asks if he’s used to no. 1s and Brian’s all like, “no, I’m on my own now and I have a “different sound” and yadda yadda yadda.” On the way to describing him ”a hero” now for some random recent act, Wes describes him as “a mega rich A-List superstar”. Huh. Ha. Ha ha. AHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
I am outta here. I totally envy next week’s guest presenter, The Lex, who gets Eric Prydz, Girls Aloud AND Annie! Damn thee, and damn thee thrice. As for William, I say what I expect all us guests will say at the end of each week—“How do you do it, you poor, poor man?” I have nothing left to do now except set deathtraps for the neighbours, so for the UK Top 40, I’ve been William Barima Swygart and I’m Audi.
By: Barima Nyantekyi
Published on: 2004-09-13