Archives for January 2010

Timbaland ft. Katy Perry - 'If We Ever Meet Again'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:15 UK time, Saturday, 30 January 2010

Timbaland and Katy Perry

A prediction: A year or two from now, when we're all bickering about Foosh Ban Tambulance and their amazing/annoying debut album, someone will say something to remind everyone about this song. It will have been a big hit by then, people will have heard it in a huge variety of different situations and it'll have become intertwined with their memories of 2010 like bubblegum on an mohair jumper.

However, rather than causing a spontaneous round of delighted joyclaps, remembering this song will cause nothing more than a sudden lack of eye contact and maybe an embarrassed cough, as if everyone is re-experiencing a recent trauma.

Well, that or the delighted joyclaps after all. What am I, psychic?

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Calvin Harris - 'You Used To Hold Me'

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Fraser McAlpine | 11:04 UK time, Friday, 29 January 2010

Calvin Harris

This is a song which will probably not be the sole reason people rush out to buy 'The Greatest Hits Of Calvin Harris', whenever such a thing appears. It might not even figure in the Top 10 of reasons to rush out and buy 'The Greatest Hits Of Calvin Harris', for all that it has earned the right to be on there in the first place.

In fact, it possibly isn't even among the Top 5 of reasons to rush out and buy Calvin's current album 'Ready For The Weekend', from which it is taken. And that's assuming that people still rush out to buy albums, which apparently they do not.

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I Blame Coco ft. Robyn - 'Caesar'

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Fraser McAlpine | 11:19 UK time, Thursday, 28 January 2010

I Blame Coco ft Robyn

Oh lawks. There's just so much stuff around this record which we are just going to have to get through, stuff which has very little to do with the music itself. Trouble is, without careful handling, it's entirely possible that the song is just gonna disappear in a puff of celebrity association smoke.

Which would be a shame, so here's what I'm gonna do, I'm gonna condense all of the extra-curricular reasons why Coco Sumner's name or face might ring a bell into one concentrated gossbullet, which I then fire into the middle of this review. Then it gets all of that other stuff out of the way in a relatively painless STING'S DAUGHTER/SPECIAL FRIEND OF PETE DOHERTY/BURBERRY MODEL/EXTRA IN THE MOVIE STARDUST way and we can settle down to enjoy her lovely tune.

OK? Let's get to it.

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Editors - 'You Don't Know Love'

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Fraser McAlpine | 12:32 UK time, Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Editors

Curious thing: When Editors were critical darlings and had screechy post-punk guitars like Bloc Party and were generally considered to be the very acme of modern thought in matters indie rock, I was one of the people standing at the back of the room and huffing about Joy Division.

Now they've incorporated synthesizers into their sound - like Bloc Party - and are receiving something of a mauling from snooty music bloggers and possibly a smidge of an indie backlash, I find I'm warming to them.

And it's not just bloody-mindedness on my part either. Probably more to do with not having high hopes for their third album, and those hopes therefore not being dashed by their *cough* 'new direction'.

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Gorillaz - 'Stylo'

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Fraser McAlpine | 16:39 UK time, Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Gorillaz

If it wasn't transparently obvious that he'd just tell you where to stick it and slope off, giggling, I'd be tempted to recommend that Damon Albarn be given some kind of award. If nothing else, he deserves recognition for services to being clever in a medium where clever is the fifth most useful thing you can be after sexy, charismatic, funny and good with a tune.

It couldn't be anything too orthodox, like a knighthood or an Oscar either. I'm talking about the kind of gong you can hand out to smartypantses without making them smirk. It'd have to come with an all-bases-covered, self-defeating, post-ironic, mock-heroic kind of statuette which is at one and the same time too big, too small, too loud, too quiet, silly, floppy, shiny, smeared, uselessly brilliant and brilliantly useless.

And most of all, it would have to be awarded in full sincerity. No giggling. He'd still lose the trophy on the way out of the ceremony, mind, but at least you'd know the point had been made: clever man, deserves headpat.

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Marina & The Diamonds - 'Hollywood'

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Fraser McAlpine | 11:42 UK time, Monday, 25 January 2010

Marina and the Diamonds

I tell you what, Glee could do an AMAZING version of this. As a singer, Marina doesn't so much deliver her lines in one idiosyncratic style as lurch entertainingly from one vocal persona to another, an approach which would lend itself well to a cast of actors.

You'd need one to recreate the glassy moan of the choruses, another for the "up yours, grandad!" Lily Allen voice, then there's the impossibly deep Florence moo of the first verse, and the fiery, shouty, witch-warble of the second - peppered with squeaks, as if she's being tickled. Four voices, one throat.

Rather than making Marina come across as scatty, unable to make her mind up as to what accent, vocal register or tone of voice to sing in, this vocal mucking about serves to prove how important personality is in a pop star's vocal arsenal, even if it's multiple-personality.

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Cookies and chocolates!

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Reggie Yates Reggie Yates | 17:41 UK time, Sunday, 24 January 2010

Check out these delicious homemade cookies from Amy who works on the show - I think I'll save those for Example...but here are Girls Can't Catch tucking into the choccies I bought them...I'm such a smoothy!!

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Here I am with Example, about to play table football - as Arsenal v Fulham - watch the video below to see who won...

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Hear the show in full

Hadouken! - 'Turn The Lights Out'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:45 UK time, Sunday, 24 January 2010

Hadouken

Just let me get one thing out of the way first: it might be in keeping with their provocative past, but any band who wishes to call an album 'For The Masses' is just asking for trouble.

The term "the masses" is a kind of lumping together of people into a group and then looking down on it from above. The person throwing the term around may stand on a lofty height made of money, or education, or just plan snootiness based on personal cool or attitude, but it doesn't change the fact that they're looking down.

Even Karl Marx's famous quip about religion and opium doesn't actually use the term. "Des Volkes" means "...of the people", not "...of the common herd".

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Sub Focus - 'Could This Be Real'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:59 UK time, Saturday, 23 January 2010

Sub Focus

In the spirit of honesty, I have to explain, even if you're reading this late on a Wednesday night, that I'm writing it on a Friday. It's important to listen to records like this on a Friday, because they play with the feelings of freedom, excitement and release that tend to come at the end of a busy week. If you have the kind of life schedule which unleashes weekend endorphins at 10:30 on a Tuesday morning, it'd be an idea to save clicking on the video link until then, just to make the most of the situation.

It's a good Friday (although not actually Good Friday, obv, that's in April). The rain has stopped, the sun is out and there's a definite feeling that good things are on the way. So much so that I'm reluctant to turn Sub Focus off, in case it turns out that this is the musical equivalent of rose-tinted glasses. I mean it is also a bit chilly, and really, when you come to think about it, days of the week are just a frail human construct, an arbitrary, meaningless structure we developed to give our lives some form of shape in a random, chaotic existan...

...hang on, it stopped. Lemme start it again and I'll be right with you.

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Empire Of The Sun - 'Without You'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:18 UK time, Friday, 22 January 2010

Empire Of The Sun

If 2010 is going to be the year in which we reap the benefits of Lady GaGa's hard work, in raising the bar representing what is expected of pop stars - specifically in relation to dressing up like a weirdo and being enigmatic - then Empire of the Sun deserve a special mention for raiding the theatrical wardobe a whole year early.

Even if their music is not for everyone, they do provide a clue as to what the male pop star should be thinking about wearing for the next 12 months if they wish to compete. Never mind the easily-raised vests and low-slung jeans of yer JLS, never mind the Buble suit or the Ne-Yo hat. All of these things are too easy, and therefore officially Part Of The Problem.

2010 is the year in which we should be reasonable, and demand the impossible. We demand a big white stripe across the eyes, we demand vertical hair like Rhydian styling Jedward into a 99 with no flake, and most of all, we demand a huge pair of wings, on EVERYTHING.

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Madness - 'Forever Young'

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Fraser McAlpine | 11:53 UK time, Thursday, 21 January 2010

Madness

It's not often there are two singles vying for chart action with almost exactly the same title, is it? Jay-Z has his 'Young Forever' - in which Mr Hudson sings "forever young" a lot, which makes getting the title right quite hard work, actually - and now Madness have got this, which is in no way related to the Jay-Z song, or even the Bob Dylan song of the same name.

BUT, it will do them no harm at all if there is some confusion as to who has released that big happy anthemic song with the chorus about wanting to be forever young, rather than the slightly doomy reggae song warning young people not to get any older. Might even throw a few extra mistaken download pence their way, which can only help the band's retirement fund.

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JLS - 'One Shot'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:45 UK time, Wednesday, 20 January 2010

JLS

You've got to love a song with two tempos. I mean most songs have just the one. They begin, tick away the minutes, sometimes stopping, sometimes starting up again, but they really don't ever tend to deviate from their one central pulse. But this has got TWO. TWO!

The opening verse is wafty and slow, Aston calmly explaining that he's got his eye on a special someone and he's trying to screw his courage up into a little ball so that he can go and ask her out. Then there's some ravey synth action, which is whizzy and fast and we're into the chorus, which is - and this is where the genius lies - BOTH OF THESE THINGS AT THE SAME TIME!

Phee-yoo! That is some fancy musical wizardry and no mistake!

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Jay-Z ft. Mr Hudson - 'Young Forever'

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Fraser McAlpine | 17:52 UK time, Monday, 18 January 2010

Jay-Z

Do you like waffle? Waffle with plenty of super-sugary syrup? Waffle and syrup and a great big vanillary dollop on the top? You DO? This is great news!

And you're not alone. Lots of people love waffle. In fact, it would be fair to say that someone, somewhere is enjoying a waffly treat right NOW.

Me, I'm not so keen, and I think that's because it's hard to get the mixture just right. Either the waffle is too stodgy, or the syrup is too thick and cloying, or the vanilla is so overpowering, the other stuff might as well not be there.

*switches off clever food metaphor machine* OK, so this song...

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A Frank Exchange Of Views With Daisy Dares You...

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Fraser McAlpine | 13:48 UK time, Monday, 18 January 2010

Daisy Dares You

There's an episode of Friends in which Joey the soap opera actor is being interviewed by the Soap Opera Digest, about his life as an actor in soap operas. She asks him to name his favourite soap and he replies "I don't watch soaps, excuse me? I have a life!"

There's a bit during this interview with Daisy from Daisy Dares You - recently listed in the BBC's Sound of 2010 poll, donchaknow - in which she says almost exactly the same thing about the internet. Which is probably foolhardy in the extreme, given that most new bands these days tend to rely on the web in order to find and build their audience.

There again, if Daisy really is The Future, maybe she's right and we're wrong. Maybe the time of the web is passing. Maybe the next generation of pop stars will look upon the internet the way the web generation look upon public libraries or the ability to write using a pen. It doesn't seem likely, but you never know.

In any case, the band's first single 'Number One Enemy' is out in February, and features a guest appearance from that notorious shy-boots Chipmunk. Lots to talk about then...

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Example - 'Won't Go Quietly'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:55 UK time, Sunday, 17 January 2010

Example

Please don't look at this photograph, especially if you are of a delicate constitution and easily shocked. Someone in this picture - naming no names - has clearly had a bit too much fizzy pop for lunch and is now showing off, trying to look dead hard and stuff, possibly in front of a figure of authority, just to impress his mates.

Frankly, if he is attempting to set any kind of 'example', it's a bad one, and we here at the BBC are firmly against this kind of insubordinate naughtiness.

Hear that, sonny? Put the tongue away and be off with you!

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Filling Up With Glee

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:08 UK time, Saturday, 16 January 2010

The cast of Glee

If you take a quick squizz at this picture, it should cause one of two reactions (or possibly three):

REACTION 1: "Wow, the Arcade Fire Juniors don't look up to much, do they?"

REACTION 2: "Oh look, there's the cast of the popular American TV show Glee, which I love."

POSSIBLE REACTION 3: "Oh God, there's the cast of the popular American TV show Glee, which I cannot bear."

Glee, you see, is everywhere at the moment. It's on telly, it's all over the internet, and now, finally, it's taking over the charts. Whether you see this as a good thing or not may depend on your tolerance for high school musical/comedy/drama TV shows, and radical re-workings of old pop songs as if they were made for the Broadway stage.

But be warned, it may NOT depend on that, and this is what makes Glee so interesting.

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Hurts - 'Wonderful Life'

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Fraser McAlpine | 14:35 UK time, Friday, 15 January 2010

Hurts

I know, I know, ANOTHER one of the blessed Sound of 2010 lot has a single out and of course we've got to talk about it because if the BBC says they're going to be huge well we've all just got to get behind them or get out of the way because after all the people voting in these polls are experts aren't they and if an expert tells you something is going to happen then it very probably will happen, it doesn't do to rock the boat...(and so on and so on).

And if that's close to what you think, all I can say is just you wait until the Daisy Dares You interview goes up next week. We should change our name to PollBlog and have done with it...

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N-Dubz ft. Mr Hudson - 'Playing With Fire'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:33 UK time, Thursday, 14 January 2010

N-Dubz ft. Mr Hudson

Poor Mr Hudson. In many ways this is his time to shine. He's become the go-to guy for rappers who want some Sting-ish singing in their hip hop songs, which means he has the public attention properly for the first time, and who knows where that could lead? Somewhere pretty good, I'll bet.

But these kind of mutual sponsorship deals only tend to work when both sides know they're getting something out of it. Apart from the musical considerations, Mr Hudson and Jay Z works because it's a massive step up the ladder for Huddy, and a generous open door for new talent for Mr Z.

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Owl City - 'Fireflies'

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Fraser McAlpine | 14:13 UK time, Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Owl City

When choosing a name for your band, it's important to remember a few simple rules. Try and avoid words that people can't say on the radio. Don't make it too long, or too silly, or too hard to pronounce. Don't make it too vague, or too forgettable, or too rooted in the now to still be of use in a year or two. And never, ever, ever name your band after an animal and a place. That's, like, a really big rule, OK?

As I say, it's important to remember these rules. It's not important to FOLLOW them, obviously, otherwise Arctic Monkeys would now be called The Valves and we'd probably have never have heard of Oasis.

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Biffy Clyro - 'Many Of Horror (When We Collide)'

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Fraser McAlpine | 12:10 UK time, Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Biffy Clyro

As any teacher of the English language will be quick to point out, words are important. And this holds true even in the upsy-turvy world of pop music. Granted, they're not the only thing that matter in a decent song - you can probably whip up an amazing playlist of songs which do not rely on lyrical brilliance in a hot minute, and if you don't, I will - but a nicely-turned phrase in a song is not to be treated lightly.

In some cases, words can be the only thing that separates the maudlin and the mushy from the beautiful and touching. And this is an excellent example.

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Girls Can't Catch - 'Echo'

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Fraser McAlpine | 15:15 UK time, Monday, 11 January 2010

Girls Can't Catch

The rules of pop demand that, at any given time, 50% of the records which are massive hits, and 95% of the records which are trying to become massive hits broadly share the same musical DNA. This can be for financial reasons, as if every hot new musical idea is like a seam of pure gold which needs to be mined until there's none left. Or, it can be because trying to make pop music without an amazing original idea of your own involves knowing exactly what pop music sounds like currently, and cutting your cloth to fit.

(Amazing original ideas are, of course, incredibly rare. Nobody ever has more than a couple, so it's no insult to point out that most of the time everyone is swimming in the same little pool, creatively speaking.)

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OneRepublic - 'All The Right Moves'

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Grant | 10:00 UK time, Saturday, 9 January 2010

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Growing up in Essex, you learn to dance in a certain way. For some reason Essex boys dance like over-confident, robotic, American R&B stars. If you're looking for an example: think Olly Murs from X-factor fame (but slightly less coordinated).

Now, dancing this way is fine in the Essex clubs, but this New Year's Eve I was invited to a country village hall, in the back of beyond, near my girlfriend's home village. After a few 'shandies' the Essex moves were out in full force and everyone was looking at me like I was diseased. My problem, along with OneRepublic's is that I had all the right moves, but in all the wrong places.

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Plan B - 'Stay Too Long'

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Fraser McAlpine | 15:31 UK time, Friday, 8 January 2010

Plan B

*cracks knuckles* OK here we go. I am writing this in a state of high excitement. Which means I may make a few mistakes, or gush on in a manner which will, when I have calmed down, probably be a source of embarrassment to me in the years to come. Right now though, I don't give a monkey's. Too excited, y'see.

I'm listening to a song which makes me want to play it again, louder, before it has even finished. I'm listening to a song which is close to perfect, while at the same time being scuzzy and dog-eared and scruffy and a bit of a mess. I'm listening to a song which makes me want to break stuff, or dance about at my desk instead of typing...hell, I'm struggling to get my hands to stay still long enough to put finger to keypad, let along construct coherent bandicoots.

No, it's not the new Girls Can't Catch...

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Alexandra Burke - 'Broken Heels'

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Fraser McAlpine | 14:34 UK time, Thursday, 7 January 2010

Alexandra Burke

If you're at all interested in what makes a good pop star, it should seem obvious that the winner of a TV talent show - where they've engaged with the public and the public has got behind them as a person - should really be allowed to express the full range of their personality, with all the attendant complexities. It's the one thing they have left to bring to the table. Up until now it's just been a lot of singing, a lot of big-eyed nodding/welling up and a heap of gritted teeth and speeches about trying hard.

So it seems slightly patronising that, being The Other Talented Singer That The X Factor Has Discovered, Alexandra has been shoehorned so directly away from Leona Lewis's territory. Leona does great big slow songs and Alexandra does slinky fast ones: This is how we, the easily confused pop fans, will be able to tell them apart. Alexandra is officially Not Leona, OK?

Having said that, pop stars doing pop songs you can dance to is always best, so at least SOMEONE'S making the effort.

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Iyaz - 'Replay'

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Fraser McAlpine | 14:56 UK time, Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Iyaz

Oh would you look at that? We were only just talking about people not being able to use the word shawty convincingly, and Sean Kingston's name came up as being a very fine example of this phenomenon in action.

Now he's got himself a little protègè, someone he could probably legitimately call Shawty with some confidence, due to their mentor/pupil relationship (it can mean that or "sexy lady I haven't yet bothered to learn the name of", you see), and what is the very first word on his new BFF's very first hit single?

Well it's not gonna be spatchcock, is it?

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Paolo Nutini - '10/10'

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Fraser McAlpine | 12:44 UK time, Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Paolo Nutini

Even if you don't think you've heard this song, you probably have. It has already been used to sell sofas, soundtracked various television montages (usually of cheery people all pulling together to achieve a difficult job in trying circumstances) and various chirpy promotional trails on TV and radio. It's not quite up there with the FloMash cover of 'You Got The Love' - which has been overused a tiny smidge, it's fair to say - but it's heading out that way.

Incidentally, has anyone else noticed that Florence changed the title of the song from the slangy, gutteral 'You Got The Love' to the grammatically correct, prim 'You've Got The Love'? Frankly, I'm surprised she allowed the apostrophe to stand. If we're going for absolute textbook grammar, it should be 'You Have Got The Love', with maybe a 'Yours Sincerely, Florence' at the end.

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Delphic - 'Doubt'

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Fraser McAlpine | 12:37 UK time, Monday, 4 January 2010

Delphic

Change is afoot. There are pine needles on the pavement, and gaps on window-ledges where a fibre-optic Christmas tree had proudly rested only the day before. Charity shops are receiving bagfulls of unwanted bits and bobs and loft-ladders are creaking under dad's (slightly increased) weight as he puts the decorations away for another year, and rubs his skinned knuckle, grumpily.

2010 is under way, and we're going to have to learn to leave behind some of the habits we picked up in the headiest days of the '09 and start to experiment with new things, in order to evolve into...whatever it is we are going to become in the big one-oh.

This means new bands, new songs, new everything: Business as usual for ChartBlog then.

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Sidney Samson ft. Wizard Sleeve - 'Riverside (Let's Go)'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:19 UK time, Sunday, 3 January 2010

Sidney Samson

ALERT! ALERT! New ground is being broken in the 'Songs About Rivers' genre! People should be told! I'm telling people! You tell people!

Until this momentous day dawned, songs about rivers have tended to fall neatly into the following categories: Songs about a jolly day spent gallivanting in a punt with your spiffing chums; songs about the mighty power of nature washing stuff away while a songwriter - sorry, poet - stands on the shore, moved to tears; songs about the pagan mystery of nature, with specific reference to misty riverbanks; and songs about seeing trouble, up ahead (ask your dad when Top Gear finishes).

This is none of these things. And yet somehow, it is ALL of these things.

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Justin Bieber - 'One Time'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:51 UK time, Saturday, 2 January 2010

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The French have a very handy expression for times like these: "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose".

It means, "the more things change, the more they stay the same, when you come to think about it, yeah?", and it's perfect when you're trying to describe an internet phenomenon which seems very nowadays and new and ground-breaking, but at the same time totally familiar and normal and business-as-usual.

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The Future Is Here: Sound Of 2010

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:36 UK time, Friday, 1 January 2010

Sound Of 2010 artists

Happy New Year! You are now officially farther into The Future than anyone has ever been before, including Neil Armstrong and David Tennant. Or at least, we were a second ago. And now we are again! And again! (repeat times infinity)....

To celebrate, the BBC are taking a look into the even more distant future, and having a guess at which people we will be listening to the most throughout 2010.

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