Around the World in 80kbps
#007: Dismissive Giggles

no overriding themes or ideas this time around—just some of the best pop in the charts you’re probably not following.

Blacknuss Feat. Awa Manneh & Adl - All Your Loving (Sweden, #45)
Built around what sounds like a milder version of the template used by Truth Hurts' "Addictive"—Awa Manneh's rap isn't even that different from Rakeem's guest appearance, although it comes at the start—the record bears the same Indian-sounding bounce, but floatier and lighter, not unlike what British group The 411 are tryign to do with rather less success. Until the time comes when En Vogue are rightly remembered as the US girl group that should be emulated constantly, singles like this one will continue to remain all-too-infrequent pleasures. What’s more, Blacknuss deliver the chorus with smooth panache, meaning the song is more than its well-processed, clever appropriation of US R&B; styles.

Feminem - Volim Te Mrzim Te (Croatia, #7)
Of course, mimicking Destiny's Child sometimes works too, and the opening harmonies on this are eerily reminiscent of "Independent Women Pt I", although the rest of it sounds like a more skilfully-executed Jennifer Lopez number done by possibly the worst-named group in the world ever—in other words, a good pop song given a very shallow, but rather pleasing Latinization. The clapping and Spanish guitar combination in the middle eight is a wonderful moment, and even the mild histrionics of the final chorus are good-natured rather than annoying due to the fact that they lead into an impish, dismissive giggle to close the song.

Dam Sweet - I Don't Know (various European charts)
Either bubbling under a few charts or on the way out quietly from a minor chart run, this is an almost entirely successful soul-pop/dance collision, a bit Motown-meets-house. In essence, two equally catchy choruses repeated over and over again: "I like to wrestle but I don't want to fall" is repeated enough times to be a chorus although structurally it forms the brief verse that acts as a respite from the otherwise-incessant groove of the real chorus, itself merely a repetition of four lines over a sprightly groove and what must be a well-buried 70s disco nugget that everyone other than me can identify.

Mighty 44 - This Love Ain't Going On (Finland, #42)
A disappointingly minor hit, although perhaps its direct line to early 90s dance with rapping on it—think Snap!—is too pronounced and obvious for the thinking pop fan. The male rapper even sounds like Turbo B doing a generic party jam. That said, the chorus: "Because this love won't bring me down / And I know you know this love ain't going on" is awfully hooky, both for its melody, its lyrical clumsiness and the little drum break that sits beneath the last line of it. Even out-of-place scratching and shrieks of "woo" cannot derail it.

Antzela Demetriou - Gia Sena (Greece, #18)
Stuffed with more reality TV pop singles than you’ve ever seen in one place, the Greek chart throws up sufficiently few surprises as to make a quite ambitious, effective ballad like this worth singling out. Its ambition comes in the way the judiciously restrained opening of effective piano (the melody of this has been stuck in my head for days now) and guitar is swept completely aside for a string-drenched, quite ridiculous and strained chorus. Antzela's voice is actually somewhat annoying as he yells for emotional depth, but when he cuts out and some extremely nasty, farting brass replaces him it seems to make a kind of sense.

Jay Chou - Qi Li Xiang (China, #18)
Threatens to be dull, certainly, but noteworthy for simultaneously sounding like a dull guitar pop song from anywhere, while still making the most of its exquisite, sparing arrangement, with swells of strings in exactly the right places threatening to take the song into the stratosphere at the end of the verses and chorus before disappointingly reining itself in again. It never quite recovers, but Chou sings the song with a great deal of passion and the quiet air of gloom over the whole thing makes a pleasant impression, particularly as the strings close out one last time over the stereotypically Asian music outro.

Toe Tag - Deja Vu (Estonia, #16)
On the basis of this, the Estonians share their neighbour Finland's appreciation for upbeat, catchy hip-hop with well-placed samples that sounds a good few years older than it is without trying to be old-school. The strings over this are like lightning flashes. And it gets through two verses, a breakdown and three choruses in just over three minutes, making it the most focused Euro-hop single in recent memory, if not quite the most inventive.

By: Edward Oculicz
Published on: 2004-10-06
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