The Singles Jukebox
Week Four of the No-Swygart Zone



hello and welcome to your final week of Swygart's Month Off—after the ever-excellent Ed O, the massively cool Barima, and the unfairly brilliant Alex Macpherson, you're left with me, and the most boring chart ever. It's the week of People Who Really Should Have Stopped Recording About Ten Years Ago, Rubbish Indie And Nothing Else. Except Alcazar.

Album Chart Notes:

Seems to be some reluctance to play any tracks off the new entries—I'm not arguing, though, because for every John Denver Best Of (#18) there's a Status Quo's Greatest Hits even higher (#16). #14 is Jean-Michel Jarre with Aero! Wow. I want to hear some of that; or some Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (#12). What I don't want to hear is The Music, new at #8 due to some kind of incredible taste drought among the record-buying public. So of course Wes plays it. It sounds like The Seahorses. With less of a tune. At least he leaves alone the Bryan Adams. (#5).

Embrace slip to #2, which is surprising. Not that they lose the top spot to Green Day—foregone conclusion much?—but that they're still selling after the first-week diehard spike. It can't be on the strength of “Gravity”, surely: such an horrible, hollow song, perfectly designed to emphasise every one of Embrace's bad points. That dirge of overslow simplistic verse, the huge holes in the structure that the half-hearted string section just can't fill, the dead-eyed plod of piano... must be a slow week. “American Idiot” is played to celebrate Green Day's #1. I can't hate it, despite the distressingly lame lyrics and self-parody chug of the tune.

Next week, will it be Joss Stone or Marylin Manson at number one? The world waits with bated breath.

Entries Outside the Top 20:

Wes believes that this is "the chart that pop stars listen to—without fail!" I'm beginning to believe, with all his exhortations of the listenership to join his chatroom (that sounds surprisingly dirty), that no-one else does. Except me.

Isn't it great how you can sing “In Da Club” over that Cassidy song? Not that that's a new entry, I'm just bored. Bodes well, doesn't it? Mark Knopfler is in at #34 with “Boom Like That”, disproving my theory that all songs with 'boom' in the title must automatically be genius (examples: Vengaboys, Fresh Prince, Outhere Brothers). There is no boom to this song. I'm trying to think what it reminds me of, but alas my knowledge of MOR whinge is a little patchy: really, so generic it could be anything. He's trying to drawl like a low-rent Dylan or Petty and sounds more like Jimmy Nail, an obnoxious croon of guitar popping up every so often. I feel faintly sick.

#29 is Brian Wilson, with “Wonderful”. Which it ain't. Twee twinkle of spinet or something; the melody leaping and straining about aimlessly, never quite resolving itself into the semblance of a tune; no chorus, just a wibble of 'wuh-wuh-wonderful'. No charm, no excitement and certainly no genius. You have to feel for those Beach Boys fanboys waiting anxiously upon Smile in album form, although they've probably convinced themselves that it's a work of such massive importance that whether or not it's actually any cop is irrelevant.

The Ordinary Boys' “Seaside” is at #27. He's trying to convince someone to leave the house? After even one note of that sub-Morrissey yodel I'd be in the next county.

The Band That Charlie Busted Named His Rabbit After are at #24. That's Biffy Clyro to everyone but me, then. The song's called “My Recovery Injection”, which sounds like the name of a bad emo band, and is surprisingly decent. Indie rock, a little angular, guitar sound straight out of math-rock but without being rhythmically complex or jam-band-y. It has this lovely jagged little twitch of guitar in the verses, and some of the chorus is quite charming, vocal line traded between singers. Busted are better, though. Someone needs to tell Charlie Simpson that before he gets any more ideas. Finally, at #21 we have Paul McCartney with “We all stand together / Tropic island hum”. Wes plays the latter. As far as smug rinkydink children's music goes, it's not the most offensive thing I've ever heard, but it comes pretty damn close. Go back to trying to write classical music, McCartney. “Leaf” wasn't that bad. Better still, RETIRE.

Meet the New UK Top 20, same as the old UK Top 20

20. THE PIRATES feat. SHOLA AMA: You Should Really Know

The problem with response songs is that you kind of need to like the original musically, if not in sentiment. And. Well. When's Lady Sovereign going to release “Sad Ass Strippah”? That's what I want to know.

19. THE 411: Dumb

It's just so smooth: that squelch bass and end-of-phrase doubleclap, the beebling treble synth, the overprecise vocals. But I really resent the calling your bloke "my baby boy" thing—it makes me think she's checking her watch so she can get back to relieve the babysitter. Which would be a far more interesting topic for a song, really.

18. IAN BROWN - Keep What You Got (NEW)

Wes knows "for a fact" that Ian Brown is listening. Well, I know for a fact that Ian Brown is a talentless, tuneless bilge-merchant, and it's never helped me any. You can tell Noel Gallagher's on it, the chorus sounds like Oasis and he's only got one way of playing the guitar, just like Ian Brown's only got one way of singing and that way is out of tune. The coda to this feels like water torture, the same unmelody droning around and around and around and aaaaaaaaaaaargh. Can you both just go away? Please?

17. MCFLY: That Girl

Thank god for McFly. The Chuck Berry guitar! The early-Beatles chorus harmonies! The stupid lyrics! Oh maybe it's generic and maybe it's a bit Britpop (though not even Britpop was this brazen) but it's a group of silly skater teenagers making sixties beat-group music, and it makes me dance in my seat, and I could only love them more if they prevented the pretty one from ever doing a guitar solo ever again. What I want to know is—if they stick around for more than a few years, are they going to have to change the "she looked incredible, just turned seventeen" bit to "just turned twenty-threeeeee"? Because otherwise it'd be pretty skanky.

16. MAROON 5: She Wiiiiill Be Loved

Floats by inoffensively. Which is to say: I really, really hate it. But I can't be arsed to say why, because

15. ALCAZAR: This Is The World We Live In (NEW)

is next, and:
Why is this not number one? Why why why why why why? It's just so effortlessly great: the 'upside down' sample, the self-namecheck in the bridge, the disco double-handclap. Oh, the disco double-handclap!

14. MUSE: Butterflies and Hurricanes (NEW)

Starts off quite promisingly, all paranoia and quivering piano: then the mediocre drums kick in and it turns into the same wailing thrashing semi-operatic tripe as every other Muse song. With a twiddle of piano before one of the verses, for extra pretentiousness points. I don't know if it's that they're trying too hard or not at all, but it leaves me completely cold.

13. JOSS STONE: You Had Me

I'm sorry, we're supposed to believe that Joss Stone is mildly annoyed? She tries pretty damn hard, gasping for breath and grasping for emotion, but the arrangement lets her down. It's this sort of cocktail-bar cod-funk, all wakachika guitar and strangled high Hammond organ, the stuff that soundtracks the wet dreams of middle-aged Peter Gabriel fans.

12. FATBOY SLIM: Slash Dot Dash (NEW)

Wes has "the biggest Fatboy Slim fan in the world" on the phone. He sounds like a bit of a twat: you know, the kind of bloke who's “a bit mental” and likes practical jokes in the office. Not the Fatboy Slim fan, that is, Wes. And this song is his musical equivalent. “slash dot dash dot slash dot com! slash dot com! dot com dot com!” SHUT UP.

11. GROOVE ARMADA: I See You Baby (NEW)

Am I the only person in the world who finds that advert unpleasant? Oh, look, some posteriors, mostly female. How groundbreaking. Horribly ugly car, too. What does that say about Renault Megane buyers, that they like their automobiles with an articulated arse? The song's alright, in an anchronistic big-beat sort of way: against “Slash Dot Com” it sounds like a classic.

10. NATASHA BEDINGFIELD - These Words

Up one, and still number one in the download chart. For the third week, no less. Feels like it's been about since the dawn of time: iloveyouiloveyouiloveyou, those three words becoming more devalued by the second.

9. TWISTA: Sunshine

I like the way the word “sunshine” never actually appears in the song. I like the way the hook isn't the chorus from “Lovely Day”, that even when the sample appears they never get to the line “Just one look at you / And I know it's going to be a lovely day”. I like the way Twista drastically slows into time with the glorious laid-back bassline for a couple of lines. I like the way the song feels like it's embracing the world, so cheerful and summery, when really all he's saying is: “money? It's good”.

8. DONNY OSMOND: Breeze On By (NEW)

Which is just what it does. Five seconds after and I've no idea what it sounded like, except I think there was some flute in there somewhere. Pointless. Also, the last new entry to the chart—the next seven songs' chart places are virtually unchanged from last week. I didn't lie when I said this week was a slow one.

7. 3 OF A KIND: Babycakes

I can't believe I still like this. But I really do. Still cute, after all that overplay, the rickety drum machine and music-box jangle. Especially that bit where everything gets all chopped up and fragmented.

6. BRIAN MCFADDEN: Real To Me

It apparently took four days of "sitting about at home" for Brian McFadden to decide that he wanted a solo career. Sitting about at home? I bet he was doing just that—his wife probably suggested he change a nappy or do the hoovering for once, maybe wondered that now he was a house-husband they could get rid of the nanny, and he panicked. Listen to him: "I laze here all the day"—what's real to him is lying about doing nothing, the lazy sod. No wonder he couldn't get a real job and had to foist this godawful twaddle on the listening public.

5. GREEN DAY: American Idiot

Okay, bored now. If they had any sense they'd have played a different Green Day track earlier. What's the one that goes “in the end you're such a perfect gu-u-uy”? It's that one this most sounds like. Think it's off Nimrod.

4. JOJO: Leave (Get Out)

“Nice Guys Finish Last”, that's the one. She really doesn't have a twelve-year-old's voice—you can hear the training in every note. It's very interesting. About the only thing interesting about the song, really.

3. NELLY: Flap Your Wings / My Place

My most disappointing comeback single of the year so far. “Flap Your Wings” is remarkably dull. Are a girl's “wings” supposed to be her thighs or that bit of jiggly flesh on a not-so-well-toned arm? Sounds like he's suggesting she do the funky chicken. Which is not sexy, Nelly, I don't care what you've been told.

2. GIRLS ALOUD: Love Machine

The video for this is great: vaguely French-looking barmen dancing with cocktail shakers, the Girls looking lovely as ever, and Cheryl overacting like crazy. She flutters her eyelashes, she fans herself, she rounds her mouth into a perfect O of surprise... she's great, is our Cheryl. And of course the song is genius—the Frankie Goes To Hollywood ref, the gift-wrapped kitty-kats, the shuffle of beat and swing of hip and trip of overwordy lyric on lip. If there were any justice in the world, this would have sneaked up to number one while no one was looking. (well, if there were any justice in this world Alcazar would be number one, but I would have settled for the Girls Aloud!)

1. ERIC PRYDZ: Call On Me

It's not a surprise. And I think that's why I suddenly, now, can't stand it. A little too competent, perhaps, pulsing away and that hook digging itself into your brain, but I rather liked that up until this moment.

The thing is—I don't think it deserves to be number one two weeks running. Or not that it doesn't deserve it, but that there seems to have been no reason for it. It's number one for a second week because the whole top seven is sticking about for another week, shifting positions a little, maybe, but essentialy not doing much. And I feel cheated. I want singles to peak the week of release and then freefall; I want it to be a shock every time a record climbs a place in the chart instead of it being some kind of musical-chairs shiftabout; I want the number one spot to be hard-won between champion and challenger, not just passed on week-to-week by the same stale set. Without that, why listen to the chart at all? Why bother paying any attention to pop music, if nothing's going to change?

Released tomorrow: Ashlee 'sister of Jessica' Simpson, The Streets and Jentina's awesome “French Kisses”. Which will, given the idiocy of the record-buying public, probably only get to about number sixteen, making the chart as dull as this one if not identical. But at least Swygart will be back!


By: Cecily Nowell-Smith
Published on: 2004-09-27
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