Shot Yourself in the Foot Again

I’m not a huge fan of Example. I think he’s a little bit fake (is that really your accent?) and when I saw him at Wireless last year it was all a bit hooligan like (twin set and pearls!). There’s no denying though that Kickstarts is rather a large tune, and now he’s teamed up with Skream to get all dubstep. It’s a really charty ‘phat’ dubstep sound but at least it suits him so is less comedy than Britney’s.

This could be pretty big chart wise I reckon, but instead they’ve decided to release it as a free single via soundcloud, so grab away. The video is directed by Example himself and is great, until the last 10 seconds when it goes TOTALLY DIABOLICAL.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDmWJbN8bDo[/youtube]

Universal and Sony enter 2011

In the age of music downloads, it’s long seemed old fashioned to have release dates for singles that happen 6 or 7 weeks after you’ve first heard the song on the radio. The reason labels do it is simple – it allows them to build a ‘plot’ for a record, gathering coverage and building hype; as well as having what has traditionally been thought of as the best shot at getting a #1. In the last 18 months or so, however, there’s been more of a move to records being released a couple of weeks early and then gradually climbing the chart.

Now Universal and Sony Music have decided climbing the charts is a fine thing to happen and announced that in order to ‘combat piracy’ they will now be releasing singles as soon as they hit radio. Whether this is based on a first play which sometimes happens 12 – 15 weeks before release (see Cheryl’s The Flood on Moyles in September?) or when it is added to a major radio group’s playlist remains to be seen.

It’s a huge deal though and will cause the biggest shake-up for the charts in recent history, combating claims that chart shows are pointless and out of date. Watching a record climb will be exciting. But there will also be lots of other impacts. Does the super fan who buys the single the moment it comes out so they have a copy, then feel compelled to buy it again the week it most looks like it might go to #1 to help it on its way? Will more records completely disappear as not everything that enters at #80 climbs? In terms of promo, labels will probably still have a 6 week off ‘impact date’ but how will radio and television playlists deal with this? How will this impact the other labels not working immediate releases? And how will this impact the A&R cycle of deciding when to drop acts based on their performance? Will the media really be able to get their heads round a record building and building rather than immediately labeling something as a flop?

It’s an exciting time, both as someone who consumes music and loves the chart, and from the other side as someone who works in promo for Sony Music. The use of Jessie J as an illustration about how this can work though is on slightly shaky ground. To your average music consumer it does indeed look like Jessie J has had a magnificent success story and she has done amazingly well entering at #25, dipping to #34 and now sitting at #2 in the official charts. As much as I despise her, that’s totally awesome and shows how given a long promotional campaign you can really build a hit. In reality though, ‘Do It Like A Dude’ has been treated by the Radio 1 playlist team unlike anything I can think of. Normally a record might get added up front somewhere between 6 and 4 weeks up front. It’ll enter on the INDWT or C list depending on the artist (some as big as Britney etc can go straight onto the B). Then depending on how the record is doing with the audience and how much it’s gaining momentum the track will gradually grow. In week of release however, Radio 1 have continually dropped records on that week’s playlist if they aren’t having much of a chart performance. It’s happened time and time again and is rubbish for the bands because it really doesn’t help them gather any momentum but good for the station because it keeps their music fresh. It does show a lack of faith in a record though – I think if you decide you’re supporting a new artist, then support them. Don’t drop them at the first sign of trouble. Give it a chance.

With Jessie J though, the 2nd week dip to #34 should have been enough to bounce it straight off the Radio 1 playlist. However there was no doubt that she was going to win the Sound of 2011 poll, so the record was given extraordinary treatment by Radio 1 as they pushed it further and further up the playlist to where it now sits on the A list, has maximum rotation and of course climbs the chart. Find me another record they’ve treated this well… With this new release method, it’s something they’re going to have to do more and more.

Ditto Goes Dance

When ‘Standing in the Way of Control’ became a huge success, the Gossip, then on their 3rd album were in a difficult situation. They’d always been a noisy, very political type of band that appealed mainly to the gay community. Suddenly they were thrust into the spotlight and the concept of Beth Ditto went wild. She was everywhere, trying to shock by stripping, making celebrity friends and becoming an unlikely hero of fashion magazines. More so than often happens with bands and frontwomen, it felt like The Gossip was entirely about Ditto and when their 4th album ‘Music For Men’ was released, no one really cared.

The best thing Beth has done with her success though is make friends with Simian Mobile Disco. She was undoubtedly the star of their latest album with the struttastic ‘Cruel Intentions’ and now she’s announced details of an solo EP produced by SMD themselves. It’s out on Deconstruction (Columbia) in the New Year and this sampler, particularly ‘Do You Need Someone’ and’I Wrote The Book’ sound worthy of inclusion in a tenuous X Factor ‘Club Classics’ week.

Now to look forward to the Nicola / Metronomy project.

Chico and Rita

I’ll happily admit I’m truly rubbish when it comes to watching foreign language films. They’re not boring, I’m not lacking in the intelligence to understand them, and I’m sure given a bit of practise I would get used to the whole being able to read the subtitles without getting distracted. I don’t have time to watch everything I guess, and this, as far as my brain goes, is my blind spot. My friend Naomi doesn’t like animated films. I think she finds them creepy. I need to lock her in a room and make her watch ‘Up.’

So it’s a big thumbs up to myself (well done me) for heading down to see new Spanish animated film ‘Chico and Rita’. I probably wouldn’t have noticed it had it not had a gorgeous animated poster on the tube which featured the words ‘COLE PORTER’ in large letters. Set in pre-revolution Havana, the story centres around a relationship between two musicians and the pivotal point in jazz music where it exploded into an international scene. At times it’s really beautiful and listening to jazz in the context of this film makes the music make more sense than it ordinarily would.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTWxB9hRjwI[/youtube]

Much recommended.

ADELE

I’ve never really liked Adele.

Well, no, that’s a lie. I love her cover of ‘Make You Feel My Love’, am reasonably comfortable with her debut album, and think Daniel Merriweather duet ‘Water and a Stone’ should have been #1 for 10 weeks.

The problem came with ‘Hometown Glory’. To me it’s a complete copy of Sia’s ‘Breathe Me’ and I fail to see both now and when it came out how everyone didn’t say hello, alert! about this fact.

Forget all this though. Her new single is incredible.

The first release from the forthcoming ’21’, ‘Rolling in the Deep’ is a slice of gruff, bluesy gospel reminiscent of Vera Hall’s Troubled So Hard. Adele lets rip like we’ve not really heard her before, sounding like the less annoying sister of Beth Ditto. It’s also the first Adele song that lends itself to putting on some boots and stomping about in a grumpy fashion. Tonight at Popstarz, I hope someone will do just that.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lazyDlfaptM[/youtube]

One Direction : The Winner’s Song

There’s a dirty rumour going around that Adele’s version of ‘Make You Feel My Love’ is going to be the X-Factor winner’s song this year. This makes sense in that this time last year everyone was predicting Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing. It’s been used the most on the show this series and has been happily sitting in the iTunes Top 10 for weeks now. Well done Bob Dylan.

However, should One Direction beat Boring Matt to claim the trophy (Cher or Aiden for the win is obviously where we’re at though), then there are only three songs that Simon Cowell should be considering. All boyband classics, all with the ability to let Harry look gorgeous and furious at the same time. The top two make me ridiculously wet eyed every time I hear them.

1. BUSTED – 3AM
The last of Busted’s singles before Charlie bogged off and ruined a brilliant band, and also their 4th #1 although it was paired with the regrettably diabolical ‘Thunderbirds’. Also ‘lol’ at Tim Kash’s introduction.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7PZIT5nvJM[/youtube]

2. FIVE – CLOSER TO ME
Sitting on a dusty shelf in the Sony back-catalogue, this comes directly from Cowell’s past. He’s even in the video if you look closely. Released after the band split, this was their last ever single (there’s a running theme here).

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6Q6XLylXbs&ob=av2n[/youtube]

3. A1 – STUCK IN THE MIDDLE
As pointed out by Sir Tom of Gormer, this slightly more uptempo number fits perfectly into the grumpiest boyband hits of all time.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DM8LtBIphL8&ob=av2e[/youtube]

All proper top quality pop songs, and anyone who ignores them just because they were sung by boybands is a prize loser.

CHRISTIAN TV

No, I’ve not discovered Jesus.

Blokey electropop is all the rage at the moment. In the UK, there’s Professor Green, Example and now Ed Drewett emerging looking like Mr Hudson and sounding like Just Jack on the poppy, but pretty average Champagne Lemonade via Virgin Records. Over on Mercury, Christian TV is heading over from early hype in the states with the 3oh!3esque ‘When She Turns 18’. Here’s the Lolita style video. He might as well just be shouting “Hello ladies. I have a cock and I’m not afraid to use it on you!” He’s got another, actually pretty awesome (if you avoid the porny video) low swung sexy number, called ‘Let’s Just Fuck’. What a charmer.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQvGX1IWL7o[/youtube]

‘When She Turns 18’ will be Christian’s first UK single and he’s over playing shows including one at the ICA on October 27th.

THE TEMPEST

At A-Level I studied The Tempest and Othello as our Shakespeare works. I found Othello dark and bewitching, and probably as a teenager, more exciting with its ideas of deception, torment and revenge. How emo. On the otherhand The Tempest felt wet and dull. In fact so much so that I barely remember anything about it. The trailer then, for the new film interpretation out in December is something of a revelation as it looks completely extreme and mental. I never thought I’d be excited by The Tempest, but this adaption (starring Helen Mirren as Sir Ian McKellen and Russell Brand as Russell Brand) looks wild and feels very Baz Luhrmann does Romeo and Juliet. Bring it.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-HIf4VL-7I&[/youtube]

(SOSSERY!)

HOME SWEET HOME

My housemate has made me a bit obsessed with The Barbican (and UNESCO world heritage sites, and Stone Circles, and classic movies etc etc). The awesome Retro To Go often link to a specialist estate agent who look after ‘houses of special design’ and they’ve just posted a new offering at the Barbican itself. The flat brilliantly goes over three floors meaning if you really wanted you could pretty much avoid each other quite well apart from in the common space.

If anyone would like to buy it me for a gift, please leave your details in the comments. Many thanks.