Archives for July 2010

Flo Rida & David Guetta - 'Club Can't Handle Me'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:26 UK time, Saturday, 31 July 2010

Flo Rida

Well here's an interesting turn-up for the books.

We all know David Guetta is having something of a year, what with the massively impressive phone book of hot R&B stars and the permanent cook-out he seems to have organised in the upper reaches of the charts. But who could've predicted he could go toe-to-toe with Usher AND Max Martin (might have to let Wikipedia help with why this is a big deal), with only silly old Flo Rida for protection, and effortlessly walk away with ANOTHER dance-pop triumph?

I tell you, somewhere in that man's house there's an old dusty copper lamp, which has been buffed to such a sheen you could see your face in it from the moon, and every time a door creaks, if you listen very, very carefully, you can just about make out a tiny, grumpy voice shouting, as if from the end of a very long tunnel: "Not AGAIN! Did I not say it was just JUST THREE WISHES? Why won't you LISTEN?"

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Villagers - 'Ship Of Promises'

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Fraser McAlpine | 12:24 UK time, Friday, 30 July 2010


Oh this is a deep hot bath of a song, isn't it? Feel the sumptuous depths in those drums, pounding away distantly as if from the inside of some creaky old copper pipes. Marvel at the intricate way the guitars mesh together, like the intertwined metal on an ornamental soap dish.

Wade through the murky organ (no jokes, it's only a bath) and whispering steam, sounding as close to a human voice as you could imagine, so close you could swear there were actual words. And then flail around under the surface, to try and locate the melody flannel, which slipped down beneath the harmoniously bubbly waves, never to be seen again.

Oh how we will miss that flannel (which in this slightly overcooked analogy is the tune). It's the only thing which is missing from what is otherwise a perfect bathing experience, and its absence is starting to grate. We need it. You can't really have a good hot bath like this without the means to wash yourself properly, really get into the hard-to-reach areas - like right inside your ears - and the rhythm sponge, while vital, just won't cut the mustard.

Before you ask, no there's no musical loofah. That would be ridiculous.

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Usher ft. Pitbull - 'DJ Got Us Fallin' In Love'

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Fraser McAlpine | 15:45 UK time, Thursday, 29 July 2010


So it's true then. There really is no musical endeavour, no matter how astonishing, no matter how great - or at the other extreme, no matter how half-cocked, ill-thought-out or just plain lyrically lazy - that Pitbull can't make a little bit worse. Even if the song is already running on minus goodness, so that it drags down the reputation of all music ever just by existing, there are always further depths to plumb, and clearly we have found the man for the job.

Actually, IS that his job now? To act as a kind of instant reality check for struggling producers who can't think how to improve their masterwork? Does he get asked to appear on people's records so that the all the bits which had previously sounded a bit rubbish suddenly appear to have the gravitas and quality of Beethoven's fifth?

If not, and assuming he hasn't already, he should definitely put it on his business cards: "Pitbull (rapper) - I can make anyone sound good, without even clearing my throat."

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Arcade Fire - 'We Used To Wait'

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Fraser McAlpine | 12:22 UK time, Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Arcade Fire

It starts and ends with a chattering piano. Pounding away in martial half-beats like Elton John's car alarm.

Someone in Arcade Fire - let's face it, the piano player - is going to wind up with carpal tunnel syndrome playing this every night. They only really get a break about three-quarters of the way through and even then, there are still some feeble stabs every now and then, like the poor agonised pianist is trying, and failing, to raise their swollen claws to the keyboard while the band play on, uncaring and oblivious.

And if that all sounds very dramatic, well it's that kind of song. A gritted-teeth sort of a thing, a marking of diminishment, of the decline in the quality of life since we all stopped writing proper real paper letters to each other. It also takes the form of a list of the normal things you take for granted until you can no longer do them, and then you'd give anything to still be able to.

Scouting For Girls singing about the evils of reality TV, it is not.

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The Hoosiers - 'Choices'

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Fraser McAlpine | 09:23 UK time, Tuesday, 27 July 2010

The Hoosiers

Second-album re-inventions are hard. It's fine if you're an Amy Winehouse, and you suddenly seem to develop massive focus in your music from one album to the next, but if you were any good to start off with, it's always going to be difficult to convince the people who love your atonal indie scree that you were always really into pop-reggae.

2010 has already seen two quite startling sonic shifts from artists with an already-established sonic footprint and accompanying fanbase. The most notable is Plan B, because no-one knew he could (or would want to) sing like that, and also because it has worked incredibly well. Then there's Bombay Bicycle Club, who would definitely be hailed as brave sonic adventurers if Stornoway and Laura Marling and Mumford and Sons weren't already hogging the olden-days hoedown kudos.

The thing with the Hoosiers going a bit electropop is it is in no way a betrayal of the band they were on their first album, nor is it a shameless sellout - a stab at a sound which is more commercial. I say this in the full and certain knowledge that I am not psychic, and the people in the band could well be cravenly chasing the hit sound of the nowadays with no thought of artistic worth whatsoever.

The point is, I don't really mind if they are.

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Magnetic Man - 'I Need Air'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:19 UK time, Monday, 26 July 2010

Magnetic man

I saved this one from yesterday's list of potential future hits for one important reason. It's too good.

A song this distracting and singular deserves a bit of space to run around and be free. I'm not even saying this as part of a build up towards some elaborate literal reading of the song's title and lyrics - y'know "STAND BACK, OTHER CHART RECORDS, GIVE MAGNETIC MAN SOME SPACE TO BREATHE" etc - I'd be saying much the same if the thing was called 'Please Can I Be In A Silly List Of Potential Future Hits?'. It's simply too good to be damned with faint praise like that.

It's so good I don't mind the mush-mouthed autotune. It's so good I can handle the Vengaboys/Lazytown sonic footprint which hovers over the beginning. It's so good I actually look forward to hearing the mournful acoustic/respectful indie versions in the Live Lounge.

Hell, it's so good I could even handle a Bullet For My Valentine cover. But only if they give it the respect it deserves.

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Jason Derulo - 'What If' (And Other Available Future-Hits)

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:24 UK time, Sunday, 25 July 2010

Jason Derulo

So, the other day I was explaining that the current Fugative song lacks a certain something in the hanging-together-like-a-finished-song-would stakes. Jason Derulo's latest is clearly much closer to being fit for purpose. Being a highly polished, beautifully recorded, exquisitely-sung ballad, in which Jason attempts to win the heart of a girl he has only just laid eyes on, forever.

It does, however, still sound like a work-in-progress, and, as is so often the case, the problems lie in the lyrics. As a chorus, "so, Imma say 'do do dodo dodo dodo, baby what if'' spoils the (relative) eloquence of the rest of the song. Jason's going for the big emotive argument here, the last-chance to win someone round, and frankly, he needs to go back to his drawing board and finish the blimming lyric if he really wants to convince this slightly confused lady that he's on the level.

Especially as he's only just met the poor love. She's happily going about her business and some dapper gent in a trilby starts on about beach weddings and fireplaces and three kids, and then interrupts his argument with some scat singing.

Well I don't know about you, but it would not fill ME with confidence in a potential future spouse.

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Travie McCoy ft. Bruno Mars - 'Billionaire'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:43 UK time, Saturday, 24 July 2010

Travie McCoy

If ever there was a sign that the collective economies of the world are in something of a troubled state, it's this. In the past, impoverished pop stars would have wished to become millionaires. They'd have waxed lyrical about the kind of lifestyle that kind of money would bring with it, the swank and the plushness, the shoulder-rubbing and the influence.

Of course, what with the Lottery generation and inflation and the recession and all, being a millionaire doesn't quite have the same clout as it used to. There are people who own tiny flats in Central London who are - on paper at least - millionaires, and they're still searching down the back of the sofa for espresso change.

The best you can expect - and this is if you make quite an effort to publicise the fact that you ARE a millionaire - is for waiters in restaurants to be extra nice, just in case you're a flash tipper. And probably, if you've been going around telling everyone that you are rich, they'd be right.

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Drake - 'Find Your Love'

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Fraser McAlpine | 11:09 UK time, Friday, 23 July 2010


I tell you what, when Drake realises someone left the drum-machine from a Casio home organ on while he was recording this, he is going to be FED. UP.

I mean it's not a bad rhythm, I spose. Probably called something like 'Bossa-2' or 'Samba-nova', but it's just constant and unvarying, and poor Drake is singing his heart out, oblivious to the "ticky-ticky-tick-tick, ticky-ticky-tick-tick" in the background.

It sounds like some enterprising soul has at least had a GO at taking it out here and there, but I'm guessing it must've got stuck on his vocal track or something. I mean it's really persistent. Like a stubborn stain or something. Poor fella.

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Fugative - 'Bad Girl'

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Fraser McAlpine | 14:24 UK time, Thursday, 22 July 2010


You don't get extra points for effort in pop. It is assumed that everyone involved - from Muse to Chipmunk to Katie Price - is trying as hard as they can, and doing the best job that they are able to do. So the only thing that counts is how good the results are. And even then, it's entirely subjective because it's about whether the listener enjoys it or not.

So someone could slave for a year and come up with something most people think is bad, while his neighbour could whack out a tune in 5 minutes on a saucepan and go straight to No.1. It's not fair, but that's showbiz.

I say all this because, well, while there's quite a lot about this record which demonstrates that young Fugative and his procuders have worked hard, there are also signs that somehow, it wasn't quite hard enough.

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The Wanted - 'All Time Low'

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Fraser McAlpine | 17:01 UK time, Wednesday, 21 July 2010

The Wanted

I cannot tell you how much confusion it has caused, simply having a band releasing a song which is also the name of a band who also have a song out. It has felt, at times, like my grip on reality itself is slipping. I look down the list of songs, knowing full well there is a new boyband called the Wanted and there is a pop-punk band called All Time Low, and knowing that the Wanted have a song called 'All Time Low' and All Time Low have a song called 'Weightless'. I KNOW these are two different things. This is not something I have a problem differentiating.

The problem comes when I settle down into the big comfy ChartBlog reviewing suite - it's a plush leather armchair with a matching foot-resting-stool thing - and try to decide which current hot pop waxing I am going to give the benefit of my considerable wisdom.

"All Time Low?", I think, with an addled squint, "they've got a song called 'The Wanted'? Did I miss that?"

or worse

"Now then, let's play this song by the Wanted. Wait, what's this? This isn't pop-punk at all! I should WRITE A LONG BLOG ABOUT THIS VER FAC...oh wait, I've got them muddled up again."

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Marina & the Diamonds - 'Oh No!'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:17 UK time, Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Marina and the Diamonds

I like Marina. I like that she's not afraid of singing in a daft voice, or about silly things, in order to make her pop music. I like that she's trying to critique the world for being a bit shallow sometimes while dancing about in a pink dress and matching boxing gloves. I like that she has so far resisted the lure of becoming just another hypersexualised female pop star.

And most of all, I like her songs. I like that they have these unexpected twists in the melody that turn your insides upside-left. This song, for example, has that whole "gonna da-da-da-DIIIEEE!" breakdown, which is brilliantly unhinged. I like that a lot.

But...with this song, isn't there something a bit familiar about, well, EVERYTHING?

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Gorillaz - 'On Melancholy Hill'

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Fraser McAlpine | 14:47 UK time, Monday, 19 July 2010


True story: When I was at school, the word 'melancholy' was responsible for one of the biggest humiliations of my teenage life. I can say this, of course, in the full and certain knowledge that all teenage humiliations are, like, THE BIGGEST EVAH, and that they don't amount to much in the context of the rest of your life. But it was clearly a big enough deal for me to develop a bit of a thing about the word that has lasted until now.

Where was I? Oh yes, so we were in an English class, we were talking about a poem which was sad, and I said a sentence which contained the word "melancholy". Well, from the reactions of my classmates I might has well have said "my father's Rolls Royce is dirty, so we're giving it away to the poor. Would you like it?"

I think it was as much to do with the fact I could explain what it meant as anything else. I mean it's fine to throw some ten-dollar words around, but to be able to explain them too is just showing off.

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Pendulum - 'Witchcraft'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:28 UK time, Sunday, 18 July 2010


Hey, Shaggy, what's all that banging up at the creepy house on the hill? Can you see the lights are on? But no-one has been anywhere near there for nigh on 20 years. What on Earth could be making such a row? All that wailing...wait, there's more than one voice. Actually, now I come to think about it...are they...singing? Is that harmonies? NICE harmonies?

C'mon Scoob, it's time we went investigating!

Aw...stop shivering, you silly old mutt. Would you do it for a Scooby Snack? No?

OK, We'll just have to put your lead on. Can't waste time mucking about with biscuits, sheesh!

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30 Seconds To Mars - 'Closer To The Edge'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:16 UK time, Saturday, 17 July 2010

30 Seconds To Mars

Some people are irony-proof. What they do is so incredibly sincere, so untroubled by the possibility that they might come across as a bit of a soppy fool, that they're practically invulnerable. Your mocking laughter can't hurt them, it doesn't even exist on the same plane of experience as what they are attempting to do. There is just the moment, the person, and the purity of what they are saying, untainted by any form of self-consciousness whatsoever.

So when 30 Seconds To Mars make videos as if they a miniature movies - with credits and everything - and put in little philosophical vox-pops from the fans who've just seen them live (all incredibly sincere people, all blown away by what they've just experienced) it's because they really mean it. When the same video depicts a pink-mohicanned Jared Leto walking among his band like a God among men, it's not something you can easily sneer away to one side.

The Secs don't have Muse's giggle-clause, where they go beyond histrionics and enormity into an area which is as funny as it is amazing. They always pull back from anything too silly, preferring to linger within the passionate epic hugeness where, even though it's hard to believe anyone can ever mean anything as much as Jared seems to want us to know that he MEANS IT - including Plan B - it's even harder to believe that they're fakers.

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Scouting For Girls - 'Famous'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:12 UK time, Friday, 16 July 2010

Scouting For Girls

Let's get the biggest issue out of the way first: I don't like it when singers criticise people who aren't singers for what they choose to do with their lives.

That applies just as much to anyone who writes a song sneering at people who work in nine-to-five jobs, as it does to people singing about how awful it is to want to be famous in this day and age. It's just plain bad manners.

The problem is, for a song like that to work you've got to take the person who is singing it out of the equation. It's fine to choose not to have a boring job, if that's in your power to do. It's fine to decide that you don't want to chase a life in the limelight, and to worry about a society that elevates public profile over talent and ability.

But it's a bit rich to be told off for being boring by a pop star (who is lucky enough to have a job which is not boring, paid for by boring people with jobs), and it's even MORE rich to be told society is daft because people want to be famous, by someone who wants to be famous.

I would take it from a doctor, or a teacher, but only if they did not put it into song form, as a way of launching a new career in entertainment.

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Paramore - 'Careful'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:48 UK time, Thursday, 15 July 2010


Yup, that's right: MORE Hayley Williams. But this time, it's serious.

If you've been reading the comments over on the blog for the BOB song 'Airplanes', you'll already know there's been a bit of a conversation about Paramore and whether Hayley's dabblings in the hip hop arena constitutes some kind of betrayal of her band's original fans.

ChartBlog commenter Oliviaaa987 summed the situation up beautifully when she said: "As a 13 year old straying into alternative territory for the first time she was it; I wanted to be her in the 'Emergency' video. This isn't alternative and so my 13 year old self wouldn't approve."

I would imagine Olivia's 13-year-old self would find this song to be much more palatable.

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Emimem ft. Rihanna - 'Love The Way You Lie'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:04 UK time, Wednesday, 14 July 2010


I give in. I can't in all good conscience allow this song to continue rampaging around the top end of the Top 10 without at least throwing some love at it, even though it hasn't been properly released as a proper single and therefore - by the Rules of ChartBlog (or something) doesn't officially exist.

Because while love might be exactly the wrong word to describe the emotional response this song deserves, it's closer than almost anything else; fear? Well kinda. Sadness? Oh yeah. Delight? Not even a tiny bit.

It's a tough call working out who is doing whom the biggest favour here. The song would not work if it was just a first-person account of the guilt/need/anger triangle at the heart of an abusive relationship. If it was just Eminem ranting on about how he loves his girl, how he's sorry he ever hurt her, and how he definitely won't do it next time, even though the act of saying that proves there will definitely BE a next time, well, let's just say it wouldn't greatly impact on his public profile. He has been here before, you see...

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Basshunter - 'Saturday'

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Fraser McAlpine | 08:41 UK time, Tuesday, 13 July 2010


Ah, harmless fun. So hard to define, isn't it? The things which tickle your personal funbones could well act as a supreme irritant to everyone else in the entire world, but would that make you wrong? Well, assuming you're not doing anything too weird, it would not.

Also - and this is a general life rule we all should try applying more liberally - when it comes to things which make other people happy but get on your nerves, sometimes it's best just to hold your tongue and let them get on with it. You really don't ever want to be the grumpy adult in the middle of the child's birthday party, sniping at everyone as they run around happily and telling them they're not enjoying themselves properly.

It doesn't matter if the cake wasn't made to Jamie Oliver's exacting standards and will transform anyone who eats it into a whirling dervish for the next nine hours, it's a cake, it's not supposed to be good for you. If you don't happen to like cake, don't eat it. It doesn't make everyone who does want some an idiot.

Speaking of idiots...heeere's Basshunter!

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Plan B - 'Prayin'

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Fraser McAlpine | 13:30 UK time, Monday, 12 July 2010

Plan B

Plan B is a hard man. He wants us all to know this. And if you don't know it, he's going to go to extravagant, sweaty lengths to prove it.

He might sing '60s soul music in a high voice, but in case you may conclude that this makes him a wuss, he does it with maximum, throat-tearing intensity, as if his larynx doesn't wanna do the job, but he's gonna FORCE IT.

He might perform his songs on a stage for everyone to see - just like JLS do - but in case you are under the impression that he NEEDS the approval of an audience, he does it with what the Arctic Monkeys call "the face on" - glowering and furious.

He might wear a suit, but this does not mean he has sold out, to other men in suits - and anyway, his one is tailored to look as if he could rip it off and stuff it into an enemy's windpipe, should the situation arise.

You'd be a fool to mistake him for a banker: he looks like The Accused.

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I Blame Coco - 'Self Machine'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:11 UK time, Saturday, 10 July 2010

I Blame Coco

I love a good metaphor, don't you? When people describe a thing they find hard to define, using the characteristics of another thing that everyone understands? It's an oven in here! She looked daggers at me! I can't quite grasp what you're on about!

The classic metaphor is far more subtle than a simile - which is a type of metaphor - in that a simile is a picture that carries its own frame.

Sorry, that should say a simile is LIKE a picture that carries its own frame. That LIKE is very important, because it allows you, the person who is talking, to explain that just because you have stopped talking about how greedy your brother is, and starting talking about truffle-pigs, it doesn't mean you think that he has grown an actual snout.

But metaphors, because they don't have that signpost, are a little bit harder to spot, they're the Where's Wally of words.

And yes, that was another one.

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Mark Ronson and the Business Intl. ft. Q-Tip & MNDR - 'Bang Bang Bang'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:15 UK time, Friday, 9 July 2010

Mark Ronson

Look at that blog title! Ridiculously long, isn't it? Just an endless list of artist names and a word which does not need to be repeated three times to get its point across. It's just messy. What kind of buffoon makes himself a brand name, adds a band name to the brand name, and then lists the guest vocalists involved in his band's song? What is he trying to do, fill up the internet?

Oh wait, the kind of buffoon who has just made a remarkable record and wants to make sure everyone gets full and equal credit, because he knows it's good, and he's a humble man and anyway he's not jamming everyone into a cartoon concept like Gorillaz (no matter how good a cartoon concept Gorillaz may be).

That kind of a buffoon? Yeah.

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Yolanda Be Cool & D-Cup - 'We No Speak Americano'

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Fraser McAlpine | 09:50 UK time, Thursday, 8 July 2010

Yolanda Be Cool

You might think your bedroom is a messy place. You might think your untidiest friend's laundry pile is difficult (and a bit disgusting) to navigate your way around. You may even conclude that a single bin-bag stuffed full of the entire contents of a block of flats, should such a thing be possible, would be a tight squeeze. But these things are as naught - NAUGHT, MARK YOU! - compared to the higgledy-piggledy, jumbled-up, herd-of-pink-elephants-in-a-single-sausage-skin nature of popular music.

There is so little room between different types of music, different songs, different singers, that to the untrained ear they all start to bleed into one another, even when they are not deliberately trying to. And really, when it comes to an information archive as big, wide and downright strange as pop, everyone has an untrained ear.

This then, comes as something of a relief.

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Diana Vickers - 'The Boy Who Murdered Love'

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Fraser McAlpine | 14:46 UK time, Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Diana Vickers

More death, Diana? REALLY? Honestly, why can't you ever look on the bright side? It's all very well moaning about this fella of yours and how he has killed your amorous feelings forever more, but come on, let's face it, things could be a lot worse.

On a practical level, what if he was The Boy Who Murdered Lunch? That would be awful. You'd be sitting there, all hungry, with your tuna melt in tatters, unable to take so much as a bite. What if he was The Boy Who Munters Love? How could you even get near him, when he's always surrounded by an endless parade of fugly gimmers? I mean that's going to put a dent in your romantic plans, isn't it? Frustrating.

Or worst of all, what if he was The Boy Who Loved Murder? Well that's a very bad thing indeed.

So come on now, chin up. Let's a have a look at the rest of this thing you have made and see if we can't find something to smile about, eh?

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Professor Green ft. Lily Allen - 'Just Be Good To Green'

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Fraser McAlpine | 15:23 UK time, Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Professor Green and Lily Allen

The inhabitants of the British Isles are a ragbag collection of mongrel nations, thrown together by all sorts of rampaging forces. Early invasions - the Romans, the Vikings, the Normans - followed by centuries of trading and travelling around the globe have resulted in a genetic mix which is, if you look at everyone, as varied as humanity itself. It's part of what makes us US. We don't all agree on much (not even THIS. Genetics is a massively hot topic too), but if you know your history even slightly, you'll know that nothing comes from nothing. There was always someone who was here before you, and someone else was here before them, and so on.

Professor Green, although he has yet to reveal what his original doctorate is in, seems to understand this on a pretty instinctive level. He already acts like the scruffy street mutt (think Lady and the Tramp but with less spaghetti) in his songs. And the two songs we have had presented to us for consideration this year have also been the product of VERY mixed lineage indeed.

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Questions for JLS, please!

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Fraser McAlpine | 18:24 UK time, Monday, 5 July 2010


Quick! Quick! EXCITING NEWS! Are you a JLS fan? Have you always wanted to ask them a question? Would you like that question to be put to the boys by Scott Mills on the Radio 1 Chart Show? And SOON?

Well - once we've paused to point out that that's an incredibly specific series of ambitions you've got there - we've got some GOOD NEWS for you.

This Sunday (July 11th), JLS will be coming into the Chart Show studio to talk to Scott, and we actually really DO want your questions. All you have to do is put them in the comments box at the bottom of this blog post (ChartBlog newbies might need to register first), and you can ask as many questions as you like.

EDIT: Well, we did it! Here's the interview if you missed it.
(Online until July 18th)

Play Your Charts Right

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Fraser McAlpine | 12:07 UK time, Sunday, 4 July 2010

Play Your Charts Right

We all think we know how the Top 40 SHOULD go, don't we? We all think we can rank the 40 top-selling songs of the moment in order of merit, according to musical goodness as it occurs to us.

The question is, how many of you are willing to put your pop instincts to the test? To find out how closely your idea of what is hot and what is not accords with everyone else in the UK?

Well now you can. Radio 1 have made a great new game called Play Your Charts Right, in which you're invited to predict whether one song is higher or lower in the chart than another. The more you get right, the higher your score.

So what are you waiting for? Let's PLAY...

(Oh, and if you want to show off your scores, by all means put them in the comments box under here...)

Kelis - '4th Of July (Fireworks)'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:03 UK time, Sunday, 4 July 2010


What? So she's had herself photoshopped as half-woman, half-dog. What's the big deal? Plenty of people do that! Like David Bowie - although he had a painter to do it for him.

Mind you, he ran into LOADS of trouble, and not just because it's hard enough house-training a dog, without having to cater to a pop star's ego too.

No, when Bowie did it, he got complaints because the way his canine derriere was arranged, much like the way the dog end of Kelis is lying here, showed off a certain amount of, ah, undercarriage. Nothing suggestive, you understand, just, yknow, THERE. Back in the early '70s this was considered FAR too racey for impressionable young minds - even among dog owners. So the offending area then had to be painted back out again, rendering Bowie a more gender-neutral sort of half-man half-dog.

It's fair to say you do not get this kind of situation with N-Dubz.

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Florence and the Machine - 'Cosmic Love'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:33 UK time, Saturday, 3 July 2010

Florence and the Machine

Does the world really NEED another Florence single right now?. After all, the album is over a year old, the songs it contains, well-thumbed by listeners and producers of TV trails alike. Florence has been inescapable, for better or worse, ever since the beginning of 2009.

This, then, is the final spin of the wheel before Madame Welch has to go off and find some new base metals to turn into pop gold. It's a wheel that probably did not require an extra yank, but that is what is happening, and there's no point in arguing. So far, so what?

But, earlier this week, a strange thing happened. A close friend, someone who has always shown pretty good taste in music, and who doesn't get excited easily, suddenly announced that he didn't hate this song like he hated all the other FloMash songs. Which immediately struck me as odd, because the overriding thought I had on listening again as a single was how very typically Florence it is.

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Janelle Monáe ft. Big Boi - 'Tightrope'

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Fraser McAlpine | 09:45 UK time, Friday, 2 July 2010

Janelle Monae

We should've seen this coming. The signs were there for anyone to spot, and no-one did.

People have been mucking about with a hybrid of energised '60s soul and pop, fleet-footed '70s funk and startling '50s hair / clothing for quite some time now, almost as if the world was willing this thing to happen. The proportions of each ingredient may have been different from person to person - VV Brown is clearly not Rox, Rox is clearly not the Noisettes etc - but the main thrust is the same. These ladies are on a mission to plunder the past, to see if we can't find a new way to step into the future.

Well, it looks like the search is over. And the person who found what everyone was looking for is a hyperactive, kooky-quiffed, jumpy bandleader with brilliant hair, brilliant clothes, a brilliant voice and a bewilderingly brilliant album - 'The Archandroid'.

Plus the goodwill of Big Boi, and Diddy, and what appears to be everyone on the internet. How can she fail?

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Eliza Doolittle - 'Pack Up'

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Fraser McAlpine | 17:09 UK time, Thursday, 1 July 2010

Eliza Doolittle

When it comes to cartoons, you're either a Disney Person or a Warner Brothers Person.

If you're into Disney, what you like is a direct hit of emotion, from characters who are as real as it is possible to be, given their cartoon nature. You might be attended to by a talking candlestick, you might live with dwarves, but you're a human with human proportions, and when you are in love, it's forever. And musically, you want songs which sound like proper songs, sung by real humans, about the emotions your characters are experiencing.

If you're into Warner Brothers (or, for the sake of this argument, Tom & Jerry), you want spectacle, ideas, thrills. You want madcap plans which can only end in disaster. You want silly voices, silly animals, people who don't look much like people. And never mind love - unless it involves a man in drag, throbbing hearts flying out of eyes, steam escaping from ears, facial reddening, drooling and someone howling like a wolf - what you want is to watch the scheming of rotten swine who only have one goal in life - to eat a speeding prairie bird, to catch a mouse, or shoot a smart-alec rabbit.

And for your musical thrills, you like unusual sounds, funny sounds, designed to make your life seem extra zingy. You want spiralling xylophones, parping brass, a vibraslap, a duck-call, that kind of thing.

Eliza Doolittle is clearly not that much of a Disney person.*

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