by / March 11th, 2011 /

Top Story: Singles Of The Week


CocknBullKid – ‘Hold On To Your Misery’ (Moshi Moshi)

This is a pop revelation, downloaders. It’s a bit Cee-Lo Green, a bit Janelle Monae, a bit Lily Allen and a bit Raveonettes for good measure. Spring is in the air, and this single flutters like a butterfly. The chorus is what musicologists would no doubt call “a bit of a stomper” while the verses float hard-bitten wisdom (“What am I owed but certain death?/ It seems there’s nothing more and there’s nothing less”) over a breeze of soul-tinged pop from heaven. This is just the sort of magical record that reminds you how good pop music can be – and that should be enough to see it reach, ooh the top 50 at least. A dab-hand at supporting other artists on their tours, it’s time CocknBullKid stepped out of the shadows and moved centre-stage.


Katy B – ‘Broken Record’ (Columbia)

The latest offering from the Brit school graduate and queen of the London underground Katy B sounds like an amalgamation of everything that’s great about English club-pop. A rhythm track that could have been lifted from a Baby D single circa 1994, assured vocals that hark back to the Sugababes’ astounding debut album One Touch, and all the feel of being in a nightclub – the being in the queue as much as on the dancefloor – without actually mentioning the club as so many popstars these days are wont to. While it lacks the deep-as-hell bass wobble to entice street-tuffs into its little world, bedroom ravers the land over will lap this ‘Broken Record’ up. It doesn’t thwack you around the head and announce its own brilliance in the way ‘Katy On A Mission’ did, but it’s a mid-tempo melancholy belter nonetheless and you know you want it.

Wiz Khalifa – ‘Black and Yellow’ (Rostrum)

In a strong week for singles, Wiz Khalifa just misses out on Single Of The Week – partly because it feels like Black and Yellow, a number one in the US late last year, has been drifting about for an eternity. Lyrically it’s the usual stuff about sipping drinks in the club, girls wanting to ride in his car, complaining about “haters”, bragging about money – you know the sort of thing. In the original version of this he goes on rather a lot about “hoes” too, but for the single he’s thankfully ditched the gardening references and has tethered his lyric to the catchiest of hooks. In all likelihood it will soon dislodge the lachrymose Adele from the top of the charts. The record has all the swagger and poise of 50 Cent’s In Da Club, is just as dumbass, and will sound great booming from car stereos. This isn’t a shy, coy sort of record and is all the better for it.

Willow Smith – ’21st Century Girl’ (Roc Nation)

Taking a well-deserved rest from whipping her hair back and forth, Willow Smith returns with a single which could almost be by Ke$ha – but without the references to partying and puking and vodka obviously because in the mouth of a 10 year old that would just have been harrowing. Instead this is an opportunity for Willow to inform us that she is the “kind of girl who likes to rock the beat” to which I would like to say “well good for you, and sure aren’t you a great lass all the same.” This has all the fun and pep you would expect of a 21st century tweenager, is perfectly bright and cheerful, and only a curmudgeon or a heartless puppy-squeezer could possibly wish Willow ill. Some well-meaning parent will play it for kids who are tanked up on cola at a birthday party and pandemonium will ensue.

Tinie Tempah featuring Ellie Goulding – ‘Wonderman’ (Parlophone)

The spoken intro to this is quite ridiculous but is swiftly brushed aside by another whooping rap and riff from Tinie Tempah, the kind perfectly pitched synth-rap you imagine he can knock out in his sleep. Over the last year Tempah has been the best thing about British pop music by a country mile and the umpteenth single release from his album is quality. Usually umpteenth singles from albums are desperate affairs but this bloke has strength in depth. Ellie Goulding chips in without imposing, the track is memorable enough to linger and rest assured that in most weeks this would be Single Of The Week in a heartbeat. If you don’t already own the parent album I suggest you take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror and shape up!

James Blake – ‘The Wilhelm Scream’ (Atlas)

He’s well spooky is James Blake. He’s not the sort of chap you imagine interrupting the X Factor’s eviction show with a firework enhanced performance of his latest musical platter, in fact he seems ill-equipped for pop stardom at all and yet he has received massive airplay in the UK and enormous amounts of press coverage and an area of internet the size of Wales has been taken up with bloggers’ discussions of his ambient post-dubstep pop. No doubt this record will go down well at dinner parties with its “laid-back,” “hypnotic groove” and “tremulous” vocal. Which doesn’t make for a very exciting single, but you know, it makes sense “in the context of the album” and matches The xx for eerie late-night mellowness. It will also probably send anybody under the age of 30 into a deep and restful sleep but you can’t have it all.

Plan B – ‘Writing’s On The Wall’ (679 Recordings)

Parping brass, rumbling bass, that falsetto – the soul-boy version of Plan B’s singles now sound so much a part of the pop landscape that it’s easy to forget just what a startling stylistic about-turn his last album was. But what to say about YET ANOTHER Strickland Banks single? You could say it’s another well-crafted song, with a tasteful arrangement and solid vocal performance but really you want to say that “Writing’s On The Wall” isn’t the strongest song on the album, and it does feel like one single release too many. But while an air of pointlessness lingers over its release you have to admit that he wears a sharp suit with aplomb so we’ll forgive him. Besides in the video he looks well tough and we don’t want to upset him or any of his equally tough-looking prison mates.

The Naked and Famous – ‘Young Blood’ (Polydor)

Young Blood recieves a re-release – whatever that means these days – and it remains to be seen whether the band will remain a private indie pleasure or whether fame beckons. This single was a number one smash in their native New Zealand last year and in recent months people on this side of the world have been succumbing to the Naked and Famous’ not inconsiderable charms. What ‘white van man’ will make of this slightly uplifting, hazy, indie-sounding single that sounds a bit like MGMT remains to be seen, but if MGMT can connect with the public at large then there’s no reason why The Naked and Famous shouldn’t be able to follow suit. The question is: are you bored of slightly-uplifting, hazy, indie-sounding singles that sound a bit like MGMT yet? If not, dive in.

Cherry Ghost – ‘Only A Mother’ (Heavenly)

Back in 2007 Cherry Ghost was just singer Simon Aldred, who released an album called Thirst For Romance which sounded like the most Northern English record which had ever been recorded. It was the musical equivalent of a rain-soaked weekend spent in a B&B on the edge of a windy moor with only Alan Bennett and Morrissey for company. And if that sounds at all boring, it really wasn’t. Now Cherry Ghost has become Aldred and his band, and oddly they have become a bit boring. Oh it’s pleasant enough, it won’t scare the horses and it would be nice if Cherry Ghost belatedly garnered some of the attention their soundalikes Doves, Elbow and The National have attracted, but not with harmless guitar rock fluff like this they won’t. Of course if we want to we can all help push Cherry Ghost into the limelight by shelling out for this single. Shall we, readers? Or will we save our 79c download money and buy a Curly Wurly instead?

Michael Jackson – ‘Hollywood Tonight’ (Epic)

Exciting! Energetic! Knee-tremblingly, mesmerisingly slamming! Just some of the words that don’t come to mind when you listen to the late Michael Jackson’s latest posthumous single. What they’ve done here, is they’ve taken the drum track from Billie Jean and have whacked some disco guitars over the top to convince us that this is anywhere near as good as MJ’s output from the Off The Wall and Thriller eras. But it is not good. It is dreadfully, terminally, frighteningly dull.

Black Eyed Peas – ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’ (Interscope)

At their best the Black Eyed Peas sound like pop music as imagined by an out of control, crazed cyborg from the year 2525. And in the year 2525 (if mankind is still alive) will they remember this particular single? No they won’t, because this is the Black Eyed Peas at their worst. The problem with this record is it only sounds SLIGHTLY silly, and at times it plods. Sadly, on this outing The Peas have broken the first rule of pop which is Never Be Boring. Come on: the Black Eyed Peas – they’re funny! They’re capable of bonkers records like ‘Imma Be’ and ‘Rock That Body’! Why can’t they make records like that every time? Harumph!

Alex Clare – ‘Too Close’, Cloud Control – ‘There’s Nothing In The Water We Can’t Fight’, Emma’s Imagination – ‘Brighter, Greener’, Good Charlotte – ‘Sex On The Radio EP’, The Hoosiers – ‘Bumpy Ride’, Elton John & Leon Russell – ‘I Should Have Sent Roses’, KD Lang – ‘I Confess’, Sean Kingston – ‘Party All Night’, Avril Lavigne – ‘What The Hell’, Maverick Sabre – ‘Look What I Done’, McFly – ‘That’s The Truth’, Papercuts – ‘Do What You Will’, The Primitives – ‘Rattle My Cage’, REM – ‘Uberlin’, Rival Schools – ‘Wring It Out’, Swimming ‘Sun – In The Island’, The View – ‘Grace’, Wonderland – ‘Not A Love Song’.