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N-Dubz - 'I Need You'

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Fraser McAlpine | 11:07 UK time, Tuesday, 3 November 2009

N-Dubz

I love N-Dubz. I don't think I've managed to ever quite make this clear, probably because I always end up trying to analyse why I love what they do, and get stuck trying to define how different they are from, say, the Black Eyed Peas or something. Usually it's all about the funny, strange or downright slapdash things which appear in their songs, and that always comes across like a criticism. It's not meant to. Character is very important, and perfection is dull.

What I love most about N-Dubz is that all three of them throw very different points of view into the same song, and only come together for the chorus. This is a great example. You've got Dappy being all lost and lovesick because he met a girl and she wandered off before he got her deets. Then there's Tulisa, who has much the same story although it's a little more graphic (we'll get to it in a sec).

Fazer's job seems to be to stand at the back shouting abuse at womankind in general. It undercuts the romantic element a bit, but what the heck, some people like shouting.

(Here's the video. I wish I was small enough to fit inside a toy helicopter.)

So, just so that we're clear, here's two examples of why this is a great song by a band that I love.

Example of N-Dubz being very good at their job:
Dappy: "I went to go on Facebook, trying to get a face-back
Looking for you is like a needle in a haystack"

What you've got here is a slice of real life, followed by a pun, and then a well-known phrase used as perfect poetry - like they teach in schools - to hammer the point home. A swing and a hit.

Example of N-Dubz being preposterously real:
Tulisa: "Popped to the ladies for a sec
[spoken] Er, I'll be back in five, yeah?
But when I came back out he left"

Can anyone else remember the last time a pop song mentioned going to the toilet? EVER? I mean people talk about keeping it real, but there's pop song real and then there's actual reality. If Fazer's jibes hadn't already popped the romance bubble, this would have finished the job off.

I guess they'll have been trying to avoid expressions like "powder my nose" because they can be deliberately mis-interpreted (by people like me), and anyway, it's mum-talk. AND it's clearly important to the plot of the song that Tulisa turns her back on the man she's just met, for a reason which can't be interpreted by him as a dismissal, and he disappears...but STILL...

It's this kind of bonkers happenstance which I love. I basically do internal bogglejumps whenever they do something like that. Pop songs are so safe, and N-Dubz seem to wander over the lines of acceptable behaviour almost as if they don't realise they are there.

Docked one star for the b-word bit.

Four stars Download: Out now
CD Released: September 28th
www.umtv.co.uk/n-dubz
BBC Music page

(Fraser McAlpine)

PS: Heh..."popped to the ladies for a sec". Amazing.

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