Single of the Week
Lady Gaga – Judas (Interscope Records)
So this is what it feels like to be beaten about the face repeatedly with a leather-studded crucifix (if such a thing does not exist it will by the time the video has wrapped). Thank Easter it’s Gaga! Having already exhausted the egg motif months previously we are now treated to a tribute to the season’s other signifier: the dirty, cheating, Jesus-kissing Judas. An ode to wrong ‘uns everywhere, essentially this is Gaga’s warped take on ‘Bad Boys’ by Gloria Estefan but y’know, more blasphemous and it possibly wouldn’t be allowed to feature in Three Men and a Baby. Thankfully – taking its cue from ‘Bad Romance’ rather than the free-to-be-you-and-me ‘Born This Way’ – this is a blindfolded walk through a Gothic, tacky-walled, Berlin sweat box. Its dark and demented fierceness shows up Rihanna’s enthusiasm for ‘whips and chains’ for the Sad-Dad bait it is, a hi-energy stomp with Gaga in Mary Magdalene mode screaming about being a ‘prostitute wench’ over a melody which sounds suspiciously like leaked remix ‘Scheibe’. It overflows with lyrics that would make a statue cry blood, including a strange Germanic intonation about wearing an ‘ear condom’. It’s Gaga back to her Daily Mail-terrifying, baby-Madonna best and for this we are truly blessed.
Noah And The Whale – ‘Tonight’s The Kind of Night’ (Mercury)
Ruffly-headed posho, turned Tom Petty tribute troubadour, Charlie Fink and co. deliver their latest slice of faux Americana. If the last single ‘L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.’ sounded like the Cliffs Notes to a Bukowski novel, this one is Deacon Blue on holiday in middle America. A pleasant, radio-cosy plinky-plonky piano tune full of Bruce cliches about ‘the last bus out of town’ and the ‘dancing white lights of the city’. There are more vacant, redundant caricatures in these three minutes than in your average episode of My Family. Someone send him home for a nice cup of tea before he discovers On the Road.
Beastie Boys – ‘Make Some Noise’ (Capitol)
Bouncier than Mr. Blobby on a space hopper falling down a staircase, the Beasties are back and this time it’s classic. Sounding like they never left Paul’s Boutique, the trademark Beasties manoeuvres are all present and correct. Keyboards that sound like something from Columbo? Check! Skittery smile-inducing beats? Check! Ridiculous rhymes about the lambada, casinos and Willy Wonka drinks? Check! And a relentless party-popper of a chorus? Check Bloody Check! Yes, they may at times sound like OAPs having a row at a bus stop and they do stretch that chewing gum sound to its very limits but when the flavour is still as fizzy and fun as this after 20 years why stop?
Arctic Monkeys – ‘Don’t Sit Down Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair’ (Domino)
For ones so young the Arctic Monkeys seem to inhabit a strange netherworld of a fantasised British past coupled with a stoic – some might say, laborious – traditional sound. By now, we are familiar with Alex’s Turner’s terrain, his musical landscape is the antiquated world in the mould of an E.P. Thompson study. It’s populated by shady types who hang about abandoned industrial estates with foaming pints of real ale and shy boys wondering what time the sullen girl behind the broken biscuits counter clocks off at. Now, after Josh Homme’s sweaty-man tutelage he unravels these yarns over meaty, neanderthal mega-riffs – smashing two cultures together that don’t belong. Yes, it’s still Alex grumbling on about chip pan fires and shell suits but it’s terribly unsettling and ill-judged – like Alan Bennett starring in Sons of Anarchy or the American version of Shameless. Some things are better when they’re not so shiny and cocksure.
Sophie Ellis Bextor – ‘Starlight’ (Universal)
Somewhere in a Swarovski crystal-encrusted corner of Beckingham Palace in the year 2000, Posh cast a voodoo spell on her wide-faced ‘Groovejet’-warbling young chart rival. This may be the only logical way to understand the inexplicable obliteration of Sophie Ellis Bextor’s pop career. Scaling such dizzy heights as number two in the pop parade with both ‘Take Me Home’ and ‘Murder on the Dancefloor’ in 2002, she is now a musical footnote, someone who wouldn’t even be considered as a replacement guest for Bubble from Big Brother on Celebrity Come Dine With Me. Where did it all go wrong Sophie? With her cut-glass but nervous, almost faltering vocals she is a shy-wonder, oozing charisma and class over the cheap wine-bar Kylie bleeps. One great tune and she could dig her stilettos heels back into the chart summit where she belongs. Sadly with this effort she’ll barely reach base camp one.
Holy Ghost! – ‘Wait and See’ (DFA)
Clever old DFA. Knowing we’re all still in mourning for the now defunct LCD Soundsystem, they decide to distract our ear holes with this slice of chrome-plated electro bliss. The ’80s-do-oriental keyboards meld with the trademark DFA rippling and whirring beats. It’s a delicate affair; imagine Vince Clarke gently slapping Phil Oakey with a silk pillow. They may not be as cerebral as their lauded label mates, but what Holy Ghost! lack in lyrical book smarts they make up for in beats and exclamation marks. Picking up where Juan Maclean’s exceptional retro-futuristic ‘The Future Will Come’ left off, this is dance music with its eyebrow cheekily raised.
Twenty Twenty – ‘Love to Life’ (Geffen)
This week’s burning question is obviously: ‘who are Twenty Twenty?’ They’re McFly without any naked antics or obvious charm, Busted without the massive eyebrows or addiction problems, One Direction with guitars and lip rings. (Oo-er!) In other words, a pack of backward-haired, freshly minted zygotes vying for a piece of the psychotically intense Bieber empire. Possessing a singer with a tendency for ridiculous Blink 182 style over-enunciated delivery, this is the kind of timid, shouty pop made for Rebecca Black’s-life-endangering teens everywhere.
Jonny – ‘You Was Me’ (Merge Records)
Proof that the world truly is a preposterous place must be the ongoing success of a band of useless drip merchants like Mumford and Sons and the fact that a talent as unique as Euros Childs languishes in near obscurity. Sweet of voice and melodious of tune, Mr Childs has teamed up with another British songwriting wizard, Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub, to form underdog supergroup Jonny. ‘You Was Me’ is the kind of tune you would imagine tumbles out of their giant melody churning brains effortlessly on a daily basis. It’s a breezy summery beauty that they cannot help but write. So they’re not hip new gun-slingers that crave attention and blogspace, they’re something more rare and infinitely more special: master craftsmen of meticulous pop music that should be cherished.
ALSO RELEASED THIS WEEK:
Ke$ha – ‘Blow’, Nicki Minaj ‘Girls Fall Like Dominoes’, Snoop Dog vs David Guetta ‘Sweat’, The Streets ‘OMG’, Sleigh Bells ‘Tell ‘Em’, Kitty, Daisy & Lewis ‘I’m So Sorry’, Yuck ‘Get Away’, Hercules and Love Affair ‘Painted Eyes’