Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Notes On Number Ones: Florence + The Machine - Spectrum

Florence + The Machine - Spectrum

This is quite interesting. Neither Florence or her Machine are particularly accustomed to the higher reaches of the singles chart. She'd come close to topping it before, with 'You've Got The Dirtee Love' peaking at Number 2, but had otherwise failed to make the Top 10 in 11 attempts.

Things have been different on the album chart - her debut 'Lungs', released three years ago, was a Number One and hasn't left the Top 100 since, selling over 1.5 million copies. Similar things were expected of the follow-up, 'Ceremonials'. Released in November, it debuted at the top, but hasn't sold anywhere the levels 'Lungs' did. Similarly, the singles from it have not exactly performed brilliantly, with only two of four making the Top 40, and only one having any real staying power.

So there's a sense that someone, somewhere has decided that things need to improve. And how, on a fifth single, do you go about that? Rope in Calvin Harris for a remix. It's very pleasant, if a bit by numbers.

Be under no illusion though. This was not a cynical move, purely designed to get Florence a hit and hopefully revive flagging album sales. No, she sought him out because "he has that blend of euphoric and melancholic which as an artist he has managed to perfect", so her intentions can only have been honourable.

This all suggests some 'intriguing' things about both act's respective careers at the moment. Florence, paragon of Real Music and Radio 1 figurehead, feeling the need to jump on someone else's bandwagon doesn't really reflect all that well on her. And does this mark the peak of Calvin Harris' imperial phase? In less than a year he's had three Number Two singles and been credited on two Number Ones, as well as producing another for Cheryl Cole. Chances are his next release, 'We'll Be Coming Back' (featuring another man on top of his game, Example) will also go straight to the summit when it's released on July 30, so he probably has more to come.

Despite what the crediting would have you believe, this song's success is mainly down to Calvin. Though it looks like a boon for Florence's future, the reality might be closer to the opposite.

These Are The Facts
Sales 64,816 (17th highest for a new Number One from 19 this year)  Chart 'Run' 104-1  
Airplay Chart 25 TV Airplay Chart 17 1201st UK Number One
Sources: This, this and this

Sunday, 15 July 2012


The question looms large. Yes, you know that Slovakia is home to the Bryndzové Halušky, and you're well aware of the exploits of Peter Šťastný - not to mention Móric Benyovszky - but what do you know about the music that is popular in Slovakia?

Well a cursory glance at the Slovakian Top 100 airplay chart will reveal that the answer is probably 'quite a lot'. Many of the acts are ones you'd expect to see in the UK or US charts: the likes of Usher, LMFAO, Rihanna and of course Madonna. But there are some less familiar acts too, like Tacabro, whose 'Tacata' is at 13 this week (amazing, saxophone, massive hit everywhere but the UK and US), and this utter dirge.

So now you know. But for a more in depth look at what Slovakia is listening to, you can look at the Top 10 below. It's even got last week's positions in brackets.

10 (13) Nicki Minaj - 'Starships'
9 (9) Featuring Pitbull - 'Back In Time'
Remember the uproar when it was announced that Pitbull and not Will Smith would be performing the new Men In Black theme tune? Riots on the streets. Protests in parliament. No-one foresaw that 'Pit' was to deliver what could well be the best and most ridiculous song of his career. In retrospect it feels like it was all for nothing. With things turning out as well as they have, it scarcely matters. 7.5
8 (6) Peter Bič Project - 'Hey Now
It's bad news unfortunately. Despite the use of the word 'project' in their name, this group are not some ropey-yet-great dance outfit (viz Wamdue, Underdog). If you can imagine 'Slovakian Eurovision semi-finalists circa 2008', then you're probably closer to the reality. Yes, they have a lady with a big voice, guitars, and an incongruous vocodered rap by a man old enough and European enough to know better. And yet despite all that, it's actually alright. The bassline sounds a bit like Fischerspooner or something too, which is nice. 6
(3) Carly Rae Jepsen - 'Call Me Maybe'
Such is life. If Billie Piper had released this in 1999, she would have been derided by the vast majority of all people over the age of 5. Now that we're living in the future - a dystopian future in which shorties pop bottles in the VIzzzz, it feels completely refreshing. 'Serious' critics are falling over themselves to pronounce 'Call Me Maybe' as a work of genius. 'It's just good pop!!!' 'A bit of a guilty pleasure!11' 'You're allowed to like it because it's actually really clever!!!!!' Whatever the explanation, it's clear that Carly Rae has united people across all levels of music snobbery. Whether it be young fools who think The Vaccines are the saviours of British rock, or pensionable ones that claim Oasis are the greatest band of all time; even those that try and convince themselves that tUnE-yArDs is anything more than just a bit of a racket, they've all decided that it's acceptable to like. 'Call Me Maybe' is big, and it is clever. The reception to it, however, is just symptomatic of all the ridiculous connotations that have been ascribed to music, and people's enjoyment of it, since the dawn of time. Oh well. 8.5
6 (2) Featuring Flo Rida - 'Whistle'
Often, the reason given for non-English language hits not transferring over to the UK chart is that, well, they're in Foreign. You do wonder whether there may be other factors at play; deep-rooted arrogance, perhaps. It's funny because Slovakia, for instance, have had no trouble in taking this delicately crafted, subtle and nuanced piece to their hearts, even with its masterful employment of the complexities of the English tongue. They are the open minded ones here and that is why they love this celebration of terrible, terrible innuendo and sexism so much. Well, you assume it's sexism - 'Flo' could very well be 'wooing' a man, not a woman. Truly, we live in modern times. 2
5 (5) Train - 'Drive By'
In which we discover that The Singer From Train is "just a shy guy, looking for a two-ply hefty bag to hold my love". No idea. Fortunately, Google has one. The wonders of the information superhighway. 7
(4) Far East Movement - 'Live My Life' feat The Justin Bieber Experience
'Like A G6' was and is legitimately amazing, but it's also about two years old. Being so committed to a joke is admirable, but it can go on too long. In fact it's not even admirable, really. 3
3 (8) DJ Antoine - 'Ma Chérie'
'Welcome To St Tropez', DJ Antoine's almost-worldwide smash from last year is, as previously noted, one of the single greatest atrocities committed since hyperbole began. For the uninitiated, imagine there was a set of David Guetta Matryoshka dolls. DJ Antoine would be the smallest one. For this track he enlists the help of one of continental Europe's myriad Pitbull impersonators and really there's no point bothering attempting to come up with a 'funny' ending to this 4
(19) Celeste Buckingham - 'Run Run Run'
It's the winner of Česko Slovenskej SuperStar 2011! Soul for the post-Winehouse era, handclaps and all. It sounds like there's a strange amount of autotune on her voice, but never mind. The kind of act that would have been launched by a major label in the UK at the start of 2008, but better than that makes her sound. 8
1 (1) Gotye - 'Somebody That I Used To Know' feat Kimbra 
Alright we get the idea 7

So there you go.