Sep 03

The Ninth Freaky Trigger Pop Music Focus Group

FT7 comments • 25,612 views

Nos. 10-6

10. PHARRELL feat JAY-Z – “Frontin”
Score: 4.80 / Controversy: 2.22

Sac magique… best use of falsetto on a pop single this year (sod off Timbles), smooth as all hell, the bit where thingy mutters ‘So sexy’, the fact that Jay-Z only gets about five lines, one of which is ‘I call you Fo’Real cos you the truth!’, chorus to die for… su-perrrb. 9 (WS)

I think the video sells this song, not because it makes Pharrell seem like a hunk, but because it gives the song a funny, nerd-as-loverman vibe. I wonder if he practiced this stuff in front of his bedroom mirror much before he got famous. Anyway, fun and lightweight. 7 (DL)

Great track, but what was up with Jay Z? Was he just passing through the studio on the way to grab a burger or something? 7 (SeC)

I’m not just tired of the Neptunes, I’m exhausted by them, and yet
somehow I still can’t dislike this. That’s a great trick. 7 (MP)

Ok, my roommate is gonna kill me for saying this, but I’ve come to the conclusion that Jay-Z is damn near useless for guest spots. The beat is everything that Neptunes beats usually get lauded for being (and usually are); I’m not about to repeat the same roll of tired adjectives here, you know the drill by now. 7 (DR)

The scene is the Top Pop Neptunes Studios during taping of the Justin Trousersnake album. ‘Falsetto over one of my beats? Anyone could do that!’ says Pharrell to a passing Jay-Z. He is sadly proved wrong and has to release the results because he lost the bet. 5 (TE)

The artist now to be known as Prince. He wishes. 4 (MA)

The whole world (or at least the part of it that counts, or SHOULD count) is sick of Pharrel turning up in stupid videos and/or singing over them. It doesn’t matter that he’s the billed artist here, he just has no presence on any track he vocalises on, and he looks and sounds silly and out-of-place. Even though, yes, there’s nothing technically wrong with what he’s doing. 3, because at least he does it better than Puff Daddy used to. (EO)

Not the first falsetto we’ll hear today. But probably the worst. 1 (PB)

The riff is like a BUG eating my BRANE bite by microscopic bite. It annoys me all day due to its heavy rotation on daytime radio. Chinese water torture. 1 (KG)

09. MARK OWEN – “Four Minute Warning”
Score: 5.92 / Controversy: 3.03

Bursts in with the chorus to announce – this is pop! And you’re hooked. 10 (MA)

Pop with guitars in it all should sound like this. Mark Owen has a vastly different voice to Robbie Williams, and seems to be much more level-headed – despite never having Robbie’s highs or lows, he writes and sings about them with far more skill and believability. This song is exactly as clever as it thinks it is, catchy as fuck, hooks everywhere and it sounds nice driving down the highway. I think I have a little bit of a non-sexual crush on him, as embarassing as it sounds, but I needed something to balance out my ridiculous Siobhan Donaghy and Kelis love. Joker for the man. 10 (EO)

Second-best apocalypse song ever, yes even better than ‘Dancing With Tears In My Eyes’. Slice of life lyrics like Busted rewriting ‘Eleanor Rigby’. Lisps in pop – classic. Regional accents – even more classic. Tewwific! 10 (TE)

I forgot this existed, but it’s great! It’s also shit! How can this be? 8 (AC)

The great thing about not having listened to boy bands at all is that hearing a single like this is so preconception-free! I had no clue who Owen was until doing a Google search after hearing this. Clever lyrics + catchy music = great track. 8 (SeC)

Isn’t he wuvly? Awww. 8 (RT)

The more I think about, the more I think 2003 is a pretty bad pop year. This is a decent enough MOR type of song. Mark Owen needs direction. 6 (JL)

The song, for all its lyrical clumsiness, was an admirable stab at ‘new millennium, new paranoia’
pondering, and quite heart-warming really. But I cannot stand his voice. 5 (WS)

I fear for the pronunciation of this generation – how many speech defects can one small boy have? 4 obviously. (SH)

Coming on like a very odd crossing of REM, 80s Yes and Midnight Oil, this tune seems a little busy for me. Owen sounds sincere, I guess, but everything seems so slick and television soundtrack-ish. 4 (DL)

My roommate informs me that Mark Owen used to be in Take That. Which means that this is an ex-member of Take That reinventing himself as a post Springsteen/Bon Jovi rocker. Well I never! 3 (DR)

Meta: now officially a playground for the insufferable. Writers, if you
ever make reference to your own word count in a piece, quit. 2 (MP)


08. JAMELIA – “Superstar”
Score: 5.98 / Controversy: 2.88

This is the best song ever this year and gets extra points for actually going UP the charts like songs in Olden Times did. 10 (KG)

Comeback of the year, apart from all the other ones that were better that I have forgotten. But still – one song turns R&B also-ran into full-on pop star, and what a song. Heowwwge bassline, into handclaps, picks up the pace into the kind of fantastic soulful vocal performance that could sink a juggernaut, more hooks than Velcro, the ‘eh-yo eh-yo eh-yo’ at the start of the verses, building up this momentum that it never lets slip throughout the entire duration. Makes you feel alive, happy, and just wonderful. More power to her. 10 (WS)


It’s plucky. I see lots of cute young girls with hairbrushes singing this into the mirror while striking a pose and it warms my heart. 9 (EO)

Not an innovation in sight but a great chorus – good news for UK R&B, plucky Jamelia etc. Will still be in the Top 40 by the time we do the next one of these. 8 (TE)

More proof that Abba is to the 00s what Beatles were to the 90s. 7 (SeC)

The chorus sounds like a decent chorus lead-in. Scratching is very 80s. Would make a good theme tune for a TV Program where sports stars compete, perhaps? 6 (PB)

OK arrangement, but the actual song is very bland. As is Jamelia. I would be surprised to see this be big (at least in the US, maybe it’s already done something in the UK) – but then, it isn’t up to me. 5 (DL)

A bit too smoothed over and midline, especially the prickly guitar bits
that don’t. Feels too much like work – can’t imagine ever getting
excited about this in a club. 4.5 (MP)

07. RICHARD X feat KELIS – “Finest Dreams”
Score: 6.18 / Controversy: 2.61

Has Kelis on it, so automatic 10, but even without her would probably get it. Swirly noises, that heartbreaking descending synth underneath the “you can call me”, the relentless 80s groove underpinning it all.. there’s nothing not to like. 10 (EO)

I adore Richard X and Kelis and Human League, so I’d be crazy not to
adore this. I especially like the way Kelis twigs her delivery so it
tugs more against Oakey’s peeling pan-flute synths in the chorus. Also:
Richard X’s prefatory video game blibbles might be the most exciting
‘signature’ sounds in pop right now. 8.5 (MP)

Richard X has a scraggy beard and knows his way round a cheap 80s box set. He is therefore clearly a Good Thing and so is this record. 8 (TE)

The formula of stapling 80s electro pop to disco songs may seem a limited one, but look how far Aquaman has gone with the power of swimming and talking to fish. Let’s hope it revives Kelis’ career. 8 (PB)

Probably puts the X in Hoxton. 6 (KG)

I’m convinced this beat does more on the dancefloor than it does on the radio. Actually, you don’t even need Kelis to pump this, as the track is great mix material on its own. However, what are people in their cars driving to the supermarkets supposed to do with this? Maybe a few of them jump around in their seats, but if they have inclinations to sing along, they’re going to get bored really quickly. 6 (DL)

Sugababes > Lib X > Kelis. 5 (SH)

Kelis is not as good as the Human League birds who had big handbags. Though she has big hair so not all good is abandoned. 5 as in the height of her hair in FEET. (SC)

06. RACHEL STEVENS – “Sweet Dreams My LA Ex”
Score: 6.26 / Controversy: 2.48

I wish masterers wouldn’t tin can pop songs like this; this is so trebly
and so tightly compressed that I get tinnitus if I listen to it too
much. This wouldn’t be a problem if I didn’t WANT to listen to it as
much as I do. Even the pun isn’t half-bad. 8.5 (MP)

Any song based on such a crap pun deserves 0. But this is quite catchy and I have been known to warble it whilst walking through Hyde Park. The whole thing has more than a whiff of desperation about it, despite my giving it 8. (KG)

I really appreciate this song on a technical level. The melody is strong, and Stevens totally sells it. Also, the arrangement is interesting. You don’t hear very many pop songs now in this rhythm, and certainly not with this sharp, Iberian flavor. Nicely done. 8 (DL)

I never approved of Rachel Stevens in S Club and – despite this song being fantastic – I still don’t. Pete Waterman said about a fat bird on Pop Idol, when was the last time someone looking like that sold a million records? Well, when was the last time someone with a name like Rachel Stevens sold a million records? 8 (PB)

Great waddling rhythm with an OK song attached. But that title – why? If every attempt at a pun was somehow worthy of praise then Carter USM would still be famous. 7 (TE)

Next up ‘Sleep Tight Stansted’ and ‘Goodnight Prestwick Domestic Arrivals’. Well done Cathy Dennis! Some points deducted as R. Stevens is cruel to her dancers who always looks so chilly in their granny pants and Jim Browning style vests. 7 (SC)

Jeremy Edwards is not from LA he’s from Hollyoaks via Holby City. But whatevah. 7 (EH)

I dunno, Rachel you don’t need to be sexy, you don’t have to strip down to your undies. Next time, ask Cathy to write you a better song, okay? 5 (JL)

The backing can’t be argued
with, but you could Turing test the vocals. And that drags it down, along with the way in which a lot of the lines just don’t work – ‘You’ve had your say but now it’s my-y turn’ – erm, thanks, yeah… 5 (WS)

Last night I had this dream, and in this dream Olivia Newton John sang a song about her crumbling relationship with an airport. 5 (SeC)


  1. 1
    Rosalie on 9 Nov 2007 #


  2. 2
    Rosalie on 9 Nov 2007 #

    Ur wrong cause Dido rocks ike she rolls b****!!!!!

  3. 3
    Rosalie on 9 Nov 2007 #

    BTW srry 4 callin u dat. sorry…
    It’s just Dido’s ma couz

  4. 4
    Tanya Headon on 3 Jan 2008 #

    If Dido is your cousin, ARE YOUR THE QUEEN OF NORWAY!

  5. 5
    dbo on 10 Mar 2008 #

    Wrong cd cover for Ultrabeat. That cover is from a Swedish Christian artist also known as Ultrabeat. It is from his cd “Trip to a Planet Called Heaven”. Its not even his most recent album.
    If you’re gonna rip on someone’s music at least know what you’re talking about.

  6. 6
    Unknown on 26 Apr 2008 #

    Go Suck On A Cock :D I Hate You. You’re STUPID :] lol.

  7. 7
    aisha on 9 May 2008 #

    Busted Rocks

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