Friday, 23 September 2011

RWC 2011: England vs Romania

Tomorrow, England will face Romania in their third match of this year's Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. Now, while rugby is obviously quite important, it's not as important as pop music. Thus, the true winner of the match will be decided right here, right now, on this ramshackle blog. The method? Well, as in rugby, the nation's chosen XV (the Top 15 in their charts, homegrown or otherwise) that scores the most points (out of ten for each song) will win. Admittedly the English charts also represent another two and a half other teams at the World Cup but there we go.


15 - Rihanna - Cheers (Drink To That)
As a whole, Avril Lavigne's 'I'm With You' is fantastic and easily her best single. Cut down to just the 'yeah, yeah, yeah' bits, it's just annoying. Not Rihanna's finest hour, but then by the time this has climbed a few places further up the charts next Sunday she'll probably have released another 5 albums or something, so it's not like she won't ever make up for it. 2.5

14 - Ed Sheeran - The A Team
Oh God. 2

13 - Bruno Mars - Marry You
On occasion, Bruno Mars deserves more credit than he gets. 'Grenade', for example, is quite an odd song to have such a massive hit with. Where with 'Just The Way You Are' he was erring on the side of a little cloying, 'Grenade' was a portrait of an absolute psychopath. Who else could have such success with a song asking someone why they wouldn't be prepared to kill themselves for his love? No-one, that's who. At other times, however, he is a blight on the airwaves - see 'The Lazy Song'. 'Marry You', unfortunately, while not hitting the lows of 'The Lazy Song' is certainly nowhere close to a 'Grenade'. As an instrumental it'd probably work nicely in the background to practically anything a TV person could care to montage, but with Bruno's sickly-by-numbers lyrics it wouldn't. Which leaves nothing. 2.5 

12 - Ed Sheeran - You Need Me, I Don't Need Zzzzzz

11 - Sean Kingston - Party All Night (Sleep All Day)
Originally overlooked in both the UK and US, and you can see why. Its unexpected surge in popularity is due to its featuring in the credits of the Inbetweeners movie (Kevin & Perry for the Nando's Generation). It's not very good. To think that Stargate once produced Richard Blackwood, and now they've been reduced to this. Such a shame. Bits on the chorus are a bit Freemasons-esque, however, which earns it an extra point. 3

10 - Leona Lewis / Avicii / Penguin Cafe Orchestra - Collide
Leona goes dance, and The Public are uninterested. This wasn't in the plan. The appropriated appropriation of Penguin Cafe Orchestra's 'Perpetuum Mobile', courtesy of Avicii, is nothing revelatory, and nor are the controlled explosions of Leona's big Global Songstress™ voice, but placed together they work very well nonetheless. Actually, those bits specifically - the 'crash into me' bits - don't really work as a metaphor for falling in love. 'We can collide'? Sounds dangerous as much as anything. But then again, it's not as if that extended metaphor is the crux of the whole song or anything. 7.5

9 - Will Young - Jealousy
Definitely one of the singles of the year. The vocals are restrained yet strained, elegant yet faltering and Richard X's production is... Well it's Richard X's. Just beautiful, really. 9

8 - Christina Perri - Jar Of Hearts
An example of the chart's current diversity, a passive-aggressive ballad. Contains the rather laughable line "You're gonna catch a cold; from the ice inside your soul", which suggests its intense, wrought delivery and sparse, 'haunting' arrangement are tricking the listener into thinking that it's more substantial than it actually is. If you don't pay too much attention to the lyrics then that emotional manipulation is quite successful - the final 'who do you think you are?'s are particularly sad sounding - but when you do the aura of seriousness etc is sort of lost. 5

7 - Calvin Harris - Feel So Close
Recently Calvin has claimed that he would no longer sing on his own tracks, and so with 'Feel So Close' he's essentially reneging on a promise, but that's a good thing. He might not have the strongest vocals - in fact they're terrible live - but by this point they're something of a trademark of his. Something that isn't one of his trademarks is songs like this, with a central guitar riff and a sort of late-summer 'vibe', if you'll allow for that kind of preposterous terminology. It works quite well, despite it now being autumn. 6

6 - Example - Stay Awake
Won't somebody think of the children? 3.5

5 - The Saturdays - All Fired Up
A glorious mess. Upon cursory inspection this could be anything from the Guetta 'oeuvre', but in truth it's been designed specifically by the geniuses that are Xenomania and Space Cowboy, and TBC genius MNEK, to sound similarly generic, while also avoiding conformity with any of its structural norms, and those of most pop songs to date. Well that's probably what happened anyway. 8

4 - Olly Murs - Heart Skips A Beat feat Rizzle Kicks
Murs certainly seems to like his reggae, and he likes it with cod. The Rizzle Kicks effort is perfunctory to say the least, but it does prevent Olly from spoiling the track as he probably would, given the breathing space. DUBSTEP INFLUENCE. 7

3 - Pixie Lott - All About Tonight
'All About Tonight' is quite a nifty song really, but its performer is anything but. Popstar in nothing but name, Pixie Lott is one of the most gaping charisma vacuums to have hit the charts in a very long time. She can't even sing very well, never mind convey any semblance of emotion. But hey! She's got a new pair of shoes! 6

2 - Maroon 5 - Moves Like Jagger feat Christina Aguilera
The UK charts have seen a bit of a sea change of late. The Guetta House influence is still all too noticeable, but rather than spreading further, as some people predicted it would, it is now being complemented in the higher reaches of the Top 40 by songs, and artists, of the like that haven't been seen there for quite a while. Moves Like Jagger is a brilliant example of this: Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera's albums were both flops of significant proportions here last year, enough for ever-circling internet ne'er-do-wells to pronounce their careers dead as a doornail. Not so. Unfortunately, while the appearance of both acts here is certainly something to be pleased about, diversity comes at a price. This song quickly becomes a bit of an irritant. Still, it's the cause that counts. 5

1 - One Direction - What Makes You Beautiful
It's a sentiment that comes off as slightly insincere when delivered by the repellantly laddish Curly Haired One, but it's a very nice, and in fact important one for the One Direction demographic (the Youth Of Today): 'You're ugly, but that doesn't mean I might not fancy you'. Problem is it veers slightly too far into more sickly - nay, creepy - territory, ie 'You're ugly and chronically shy and that is why I fancy you and don't you dare change that'. Presumably this is what the group's fans want to hear. It's good though, a bit like a boyband song from ten or so years ago, but with guitars. Talking of which, guitars better not be in everything One Direction do, because Busted did that and a few years later Landfill Indie became popular. And don't try and say that wasn't Busted's fault.  7

And now to Romania. Given what the rest of the world knows about their music scene, it'll all be Inna and Edward Maya type stuff, right? Right? Well, Romania doesn't have an official chart, so for the purposes of this post, the Charly 1300 Airplay Charts will be used. Apparently they contain the most played tracks on all radio and TV stations, and while they could easily be completely made up, they seem to be in line with other similar charts, so here we go. 

15 - Dan Balan - Freedom
Dan Balan's greatest success to date came as part of Moldovan boyband O-Zone, whose 'Dragostea Din Tei' was all kinds of fantastic and became a worldwide smash. That was 7 years ago, and now he's gone solo. Last year he released an absolutely diabolical single called 'Chica Bomb' that made metaphorical waves in mainland Europe, but, aptly, 'bombed' in the UK. Well, he's had a chance to think about where he was going wrong, and 'Freedom' is his effort at redeeming himself. Unfortunately, it's a mess, with lyrics like "She says 'love sucks this way'", unnecessary repetition of the word freedom and sub-Guetta bleepitybloops. There is something there though; with a bit of tweaking it could be a one fist in the air style Eurovision anthem. That would be amazing. 4

14 - Jennifer Lopez - I'm Into You feat Lil Wayne
'Love controller' is an improvement on 'disco stick', but no match for 'madness thing'. 5.5

13 - Smiley - Dream Girl
Bluntly misogynistic pap from a man who can only be assumed to be the Romanian Ed Sheeran. The titular Dream Girl has cheated on and left Smiley, who, in his fury, rhymes "sitting alone" with "drinking alcohol". "You're nothing but a whore, always ready to go", he croons. "You sold your soul for a little dough." Smiley: stop moping. Maybe she just left you because you're a bit of a pillock. 1
12 - Akcent - Feelings On Fire feat Ruxandra Bar
Reasons why Akcent are amazing:
  • They have a song called 'Kylie'. It's about Kylie. It's really good.
  • Another of their hits, 'That's My Name', features a prominent harmonica. It's also really good.
  • They also released a single called 'Stay With Me' which features a prominent flute. Well, it's probably not actually a flute, but it's still an 11 out of 10 kind of song.
'Feelings On Fire' doesn't quite hit the heights of the aforementioned masterpieces, but it certainly sounds very Inna-esque, which is the least you could hope for, and keeps up their tradition of choosing, seemingly arbitrarily, one particular instrument to feature prominently. This time it sounds a bit like a xylophone, and is somewhat reminiscent of Dario G, which is always a positive. 8

11 - Nicole Scherzinger - Right There feat 50 Cent
In which Nicole pretends to be from the Caribbean. It's not right, but it's okay. 5

10 - Luckyman Project - Pumpin' 
"Cine a dat dislike, sa isi dea doua castane...:D" says manemos92 in a comment under the 'Pumpin'' video on YouTube for which they have received 2177 thumbs up, and it's hard not to see why. Features a man with an uncanny vocal resemblance to Pitbull. 4

9 - Rihanna - Man Down
This would have made an infinitely better single than 'Cheers'. In one corner you've got "TGIFETC", and in the other you've got a story of Rihanna killing somebody, and for once not metaphorically. There's no contest really. 7

8 - Raluka - Out Of Your Business   
Stealing 'Clocks' is so commonplace these days that it's akin to basing a track on 'Canon In D', but while here it does work quite well, 'Out Of Your Business' doesn't feel so much Coldplay as Pixie Lott, specifically her similarly carefree 'All About Tonight'. Raluka, with her weak vocals whose slight croak, as with Pixie's, are presumably intended to somehow suggest personality, tells of how "day and night I leave it all behind; 'cause I got my own piece of mind" and how she's "out of your business". Now, these lyrics are questionable, because 'out of your business' isn't really a phrase that often crops up in English vernacular, but hey! She's got a new pair of shoes! 6.5

7 - Jeremih - Down On Me feat 50 Cent
"Girl all I really want is you down on me."  :( x a million. 2.5

6 - DJ Antoine vs Timati - Welcome To St Tropez feat Kalenna
"Mad bitches, so much brought; spendin' like when I wanna fuck them all; get mad brain in my very fast car; Ferrari v12 Maranello on my arm; ladies can't resist the charm; haters, kiss the ring of the Don; and we do this all day, welcome to Saint Tropez." And with that right there, ladies and gentlemen, we have The End Of Pop. 0.5

5 - Guess Who - Tot Mai Sus feat Marius Moga
Laurenţiu Mocanu (born June 2, 1986), better known by his stage name Guess Who is a Romanian rapper. He is one of the most successful artists from the new wave of Romanian hip hop. Later this year he will release his second album, and this is the first single from it. It means 'Above All' (translated lyrics here) and features Marius Moga, a Romanian producer, composer and singer,[1] famous in Eastern and Central Europe, who, in the video, is seen playing the piano on top of a lorry while it hurtles across the motorway. It's sort of like if Frankmusik was Romanian and he featured on equally Romanian Rizzle Kicks track, ie quite good indeed. 7.5

4 - Allexinno - Senorita feat Starchild
Sax on the beach. Presumably Alexandra Stan was 'busy'. 4.5

3 - Deepside Deejays - Never Be Alone
This is lovely. Like Raluka, the Deepside Deejays' grasp on the English language is a bit weak ("You give me sunrise with your smile"), but really they're all the more endearing for it. There's no subtext here, no braggadocio, no laboured Club nonsense, just 3 minutes and 30 seconds of complete serenity. And fiddles. And let's be honest, those are both things that everybody needs more of. 8

2 - Pitbull - Give Me Everything feat Ne-Yo, Afrojack and Nayer
There's a version of this with just Ne-Yo on. It's not bad. The original itself features a plug for a camera company, a plug for a car manufacturer, and Pitbull, who is not only responsible for said plugs, but is also Pitbull. 4

1 - Don Omar - Danza Kuduro feat Lucenzo 
Reggaetón! Accordions! Oy-oy-oy! You don't need to know anything about any of those things to know that 'Danza Kuduro' is amazing. 8

And there we have it. Was that a complete waste of time? Probably. But anyway - here's the exciting bit: after tallying each nation's scores up, England have 74 points (at an average of 4.93), and Romania have 76 (at an average of 5.07), meaning Romania win, and are officially better at music than England. Well done, everybody.


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