N-Dubz ft. Mr Hudson - 'Playing With Fire'
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.
(Here's the video. Is it just me or are certain pop stars pretending to be able to pull WAY out of their league?)
With the N-Dubz hookup, much as I love 'em, it's harder to see quite what Mr Hudson is getting from the deal. Dappy and co get to say they've worked with someone who has worked with Kanye and Jay Z. Mr Hudson gets to stand in a video looking awkward (and let's be blunt, ten million years old, compared to his compadres), and then howl wordlessly at the sky for a bit.
Musically, it works fine, although it's not as if N-Dubz were ever short of voices to fill up the gaps where no-one is singing - the amount of "HA-ha" and "nana...nai!" business going on here would be ridiculous by anyone else's standards. As it's the mighty Dubz, it's just slightly over-egged.
And that's another thing. You realise quite how much of N-Dubz's charm rests on them being young scamps. When they write songs about boys cheating on girls, or crossed-wires in nightclubs, it works partly because you believe that's the live they lead. They're clearly not bookish people. As soon as dapper Mr H starts to join in - a man whose previous band was called the Library, let's not forget - there's suddenly a definite whiff of inappropriately randy uncle in the room.
Normally, the crazy, topsy-downsy world of N-Dubz should be able to incorporate such awkwardness with no problem - they got over Dappy's hat fairly quickly, after all - but this is a bad chemical reaction. It's like mixing gravy with drinking yoghurt.
Or, to put it into Dubzpeak: Na-na....no.