Archives for December 2010

2010: End of A Year(a)

Post categories:

Fraser McAlpine | 10:37 UK time, Thursday, 16 December 2010

Delicious ChartBloggerers, this will be the last time we speak in the year of our Lord 2010. You've got presents to buy, cards to write, best-of-year playlists to compile and friends to see, and so have I (apart from the presents, the cards and the friends, obv).

But I haven't forgotten your insatiable need for musical treats to feast upon, so here's a quick roundup of notable things which are around and about over the next couple of weeks. Feel free to come back to this page again and again during the holiday period, cos if you don't pace yourself, you might find you wind up with the musical equivalent of heartburn. And they don't make a Gaviscon for that.

The big question is: who will win the race for the coveted New Year No.1? Will it be Matt Cardle? Will it be someone else? Or Matt Cardle? Who can say?

Read the rest of this entry

Matt Cardle - 'When We Collide'

Post categories:

Fraser McAlpine | 12:53 UK time, Monday, 13 December 2010

Matt Cardle

Nothing gets in the way of the X Factor. As a TV event that becomes a real-life EVENT event, the show continues to be an unstoppable force which will either squash or absorb everything in its path.

It's like a jelly juggernaut with a blue whale on top, rolling down a steep hill in a paper town, with no brakes and a push at the top from Brian Blessed. Raise a hand in protest, it'll just roll over you. Try and ignore it, and you'll end up with flattened feet. Jump on board, and you become part of its rolling mass, making it faster and heavier than ever before.

Oh sure, it leaves a trail of squashed and bewildered people in its wake. All of whom thought they knew what they were doing when they hitched a ride, and none of whom are quite sure what happened to make them lose their grip so quickly, but there are always more passengers to pick up, more customers to hoick in.

Even the people who stand in direct opposition, the people who wish most to stop the thing, are also adding fuel to the engines by caring about it in the first place. So long as there is attention on this one TV show and the talented people it hopes to find, it will continue to run, and it will continue to do whatever it wants, in the name of satisfying public demand.

What's confusing, especially to someone who can't watch it (I honestly find the mix of ambition, disappointment, ruined dreams, karaoke, deliberate selling-out of your own life history to gain votes, scathing critique, stupid critique, self-regard, smugness, cruelty and freak-show giggling so upsetting it keeps me awake nights) is quite what this Matt fellow has done to win so much public support.

I'm assuming he's been very, very brilliant in the backstage bits, cos on the evidence of this song, he sure as hell can't sing.

Read the rest of this entry

Alexandra Burke - 'The Silence'

Post categories:

Fraser McAlpine | 10:08 UK time, Sunday, 12 December 2010

Alexandra Burke

It's OK, Alexandra, you can come out now. No point in skulking around the lower reaches of the charts for weeks on end, with your download sales and your softly-softly-catchee-monkey stealth attack on the Top 10, when you're effectively melting faces with that heat-blast of a throat.

We know you're there, we can hear you from Timbuktu to Tiverton, you're rattling the paint off the walls in any case, so you might as well come out and say hello to everyone.

What's that? You're a little too upset to be friendly right now? You're all caught up in emoting, and wailing, and attempting to dissolve your bad boyfriend using the erosive power of bellowing alone? Well, alrighty then, you go for it...

Read the rest of this entry

The Drums - 'Me And The Moon'

Post categories:

Fraser McAlpine | 09:35 UK time, Saturday, 11 December 2010

The Drums

I tell you what gets my goat about the Drums, right; nice tunes and all that, a decent, spirited attempt to re-create the murk and thrust of '80s indie; and '80s indie was always half-obsessed with '60s surf-pop anyway. The turn-ups and sneakers are also painstakingly accurate. They've really done their homework.

Buuut, as a group of young men, they so very clearly do not want anyone to make the mistake of believing that they like doing what they do, in case anyone then goes on to extrapolate that this puts them on a showbiz par with, say, Justin Bieber.

(Which is also something of an '80s indie hangover, sad to say.)

And worse, being serious hipsters, they do come across at times as if they're above the people who are foolish enough to be carried away by their music. I really, really hope that this is not the case, they do seem to go out of their way to provide evidence for the prosecution at every turn.

Warm and welcoming performers, they are not.

Read the rest of this entry

The Pretty Reckless - 'Just Tonight'

Post categories:

Fraser McAlpine | 10:43 UK time, Friday, 10 December 2010

The Pretty Reckless

It might just be the festive season, it might be that goodwill to all men is seeping from every shop stereo system, and I'm getting a bit soft, but maybe there is something to this Pretty Reckless malarkey after all.

OK, so she's a bit of a copycat, and possibly should tone down the 'tude a bit until she's found her own voice - instead of using someone else's and pouring withering scorn on the pop world for being shallow and sensationalist - but is anyone else starting to really warm to Taylor Momsen and her band?

You can't really ignore the fact that she's only 17, that probably explains a lot in terms of the OTT gothic nonsense, and the describing yourself according to that which you are not. When you're still trying to work out who you are, using other people as a handrail is very helpful indeed.

Read the rest of this entry

Hurts - 'All I Want For Christmas Is New Year's Day'

Post categories:

Fraser McAlpine | 10:20 UK time, Thursday, 9 December 2010


Poise and mystique are wonderful: more useful to a pop star's life than towels and hot honey drinks.

Sometimes Hurts appear to have struck a deal in which they exchange everything other acts rely on - colour photography, songs about clubs, amazing choruses - for extra helpings of statuesque and aloof. It's not a bad deal, but it does set a high bar for their music to leap over. Unfortunately, as far as these flappy ears can work out, their output thus far has struggled to do much more than knock the thing onto the crashmat with its face, and then, before anyone can giggle, blusteringly pretend that this is what was supposed to happen all along.

There has, however, been something of a penny-drop happening around this song. I'm starting to get what some of the fuss around Hurts might be about.

Apart from the poise and mystique stuff, obv. That was always great from the get-go.

Read the rest of this entry

Shakira ft. Dizzee Rascal - 'Loca'

Post categories:

Fraser McAlpine | 12:23 UK time, Wednesday, 8 December 2010


A confession: I'm not sure if I would recognise a bad Shakira song if it came along and introduced itself, wearing a name-badge and announced that it was following me on Twitter, user name @badshakirasong. I could offer a thought about whether I like it or not, I could have a go at pointing out the bits which do not quite work (like the "awoo" in 'She Wolf'), but I get the sense that the success (or otherwise) of her best and worst work is based on a series of criteria which are very different to those used to judge other music, some of which I'm only dimly aware of.

Or, to put it another way, when she's good, it is sometimes by doing things which would be considered bad coming from other pop stars.

I mean listen to that chorus. The "loca loca loww-ca" bit - or "loba loba", depending on translation - which she delivers with the same deep and trembly seriousness as the "waka waka" in her world cup song. I mean, c'mon, let's face it...that's a bit mad, isn't it? A little too crackers?

But at the same time, it's kind of great. Or is it? I can't tell.

Read the rest of this entry

N-Dubz - 'Girls'

Post categories:

Fraser McAlpine | 10:46 UK time, Tuesday, 7 December 2010


The Story So Far: last time we heard from our intrepid threesome, they were bouncing about in front of a private jet, hoping to find that special someone; a partner for life, a soul-mate...or in Dappy's case, a decent housekeeper. Their loneliness was threatening to overshadow the greatest joy in their young lives, namely being in N-Dubz. Sad faces all round.

Now, everything has changed. Having opened the big wooden gates to Castle Dubskull, and exposed the fragile, sensitive souls within, the huge portcullis has come crashing back down again, and anyone who gets too close risks being shot by archers, or covered in boiling oil.

Not that any of them seem to be any less lonely, you understand. It's just they've found a new way to cope with it. It's called showing off.

Read the rest of this entry

Cage Against The Machine - '4'33"'

Post categories:

Fraser McAlpine | 13:29 UK time, Monday, 6 December 2010

Cage Against The Machine









Read the rest of this entry

Kylie - 'Better Than Today'

Post categories:

Fraser McAlpine | 10:40 UK time, Sunday, 5 December 2010

Kylie Minogue

Had I not actually bothered to check, I'd have said right away that this bears the musical fingerprint of Jake Shears out of the Scissor Sisters. It's got that 'Laura' bounce, that slightly perkier-than-you-might-want electro zinginess, that strutting disco pimp-roll thing. And the bit where Kylie goes way up high? Well you've heard the verses to 'I Don't Feel Like Dancing' right? Sonically similar, is what I am saying.

And we know they're mates, Kylie and Jake, AND they've worked together before. I would be willing to go out on a limb and place (a small amount of) good money on this having a Shears co-writing credit at the very LEAST.

Or at least, I would have if I hadn't gone to investigate a bit first. Turns out it's a Nerina Pallot song, from last year. Bah.

Read the rest of this entry

Patrick Wolf - 'Time Of My Life'

Post categories:

Fraser McAlpine | 10:21 UK time, Saturday, 4 December 2010

Patrick Wolf

I wasn't supposed to be writing about this. There are singles out next week by more notable chart starts with proper pedigrees and stuff; Paolo Nutini, for example, or Plan B. Hell, the Manic Street Preachers have even joined forces with Ian McCulloch from Echo and the Bunnymen (ask your dad), so that's like a dadrock BOGOF right there.

And it's not like songs which share common wordal territory with the theme song to Dirty Dancing have been a big hit in my house recently either. Poor old Wolfy has a big job ahead of him if he's to leapfrog over that lot and secure the all-important ChartBlog seal of approval.

It's a real seal too, with flippers and a honky-horn and everything.

Read the rest of this entry

Kings of Leon - 'Pyro'

Post categories:

Fraser McAlpine | 08:50 UK time, Friday, 3 December 2010

Kings of Leon

Strange things are afoot in the Followill clan. 'Come Around Sundown', their fifth album and the one which promised to rein in their stadium rock tendencies in favour of something more low-key and primal, has not quite managed to fulfil that pledge. People who liked the chicken-scratch, wolf-howl of the first couple of albums are still struggling to match up the new, mature Kings with their backyard, youthful selves, but it's not as if they have suddenly lost all their fans overnight.

In fact, despite the critical headscratching, the band appear to be in rude health. There was a bit of a to-do around the video to this song, when it emerged that someone on the production team had put out an insensitively-worded advert for extras. It asked, among other things, for people who looked "a little slow" and hyper-excitedly concluded that "scars, pockmarked skin, physical abnormalities or deformities are welcomed!!!!"

It's not the band's fault, but it didn't help an already confused fanbase, who felt the kiddypicnic in the 'Radioactive' video was a step into Bono territory from a band who had always been a bit too sexy and a bit too cool to go there.

Read the rest of this entry

Coldplay - 'Christmas Lights'

Post categories:

Fraser McAlpine | 16:13 UK time, Thursday, 2 December 2010


As I write this, the majority of the country is covered in blizzard-skin; once-friendly pavements seek to up-end all but the most careful traveller and the shops are full of things which are sparkly, glittery and festive. It feels, for better and worse, like Christmas.

And now here's Coldplay, with a suddenly-here dusty waltz about using the magical properties of the festive season to try and put a broken relationship back together, in much the same way that the Pogues did what that song about the perils of buying low-cost meatballs.

It's at one and the same time, a cynical song about a romantic situation AND a romantic song about a cynical situation. People who use Christmas as an excuse to bury the hatchet often find someone has dug it right back up again once the New Year hangover kicks in. And bands who make romantic Christmas singles aren't exactly doing it with the purest of motives either. Everyone wants to join Mariah, Slade and Phil Spector in The Pantheon of Christmas songs which come back year after year.

Read the rest of this entry

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.