It’s time for my quarterly listen to THE UK TOP 40. Actually it was time a week or so ago but I didn’t write it up until a plane journey yesterday. So this is the Top 40 from 2 weeks ago (when our New Gangnam Overlords had only just entered at #37). As before, tracks are listed from best to worst order. No appeals allowed!
I think the number of records I liked is around the same this time as 3 months ago, but the chart feels more interesting – the grip of EDM is loosening, and it’s one of those charts which has a sense of nobody quite knowing where to go next or what’s going to work. Some of the variety is post-Olympics hang-abouts, though. Over to the countdown:
PINK – “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)”: Best surprise of the year, the heroic, sympathetic fuck-you pop song it feels like Pink’s almost been making for ten years. My favourite bit is the second verse, “Say Hello Wave Goodbye” levels of bitterness and bridge burning.
RUDIMENTAL – “Feel The Love”: Still magnificent, playing its excellent hand with joyful timing – would be on top if I hadn’t played it to death since the last time I did one of these.
TAYLOR SWIFT – “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”: the most enjoyable – and well-crafted – pop performance of the year, maybe? Like, ever.
PUBLIC ENEMY – “Harder Than You Think”: sentimental of course, but also what makes this so great is the slightly rheumy heft Chuck D’s voice has now, he’s as much a soul shouter as rapper and the horns back him up in that.
CARLY RAE JEPSEN – “Call Me Maybe”: It would be rude to quibble.
WILEY – “Heatwave”: wonderfully captures the provisional, melancholy happiness of yet another crap British summer.
PSY – “Gangnam Style”: Enjoy it now before office party season starts, that’s my advice.
TULISA – “Live It Up”: very happy to see the likeable Tulisa make a good record – trap-influenced pop isn’t so much of a fixture in the Uk charts to be predictable yet.
GERRY AND THE PACEMAKERS – “You’ll Never Walk Alone”: yes yes I gave it a 3 on Popular, which says more about me being a fool than anything about the charts now, That said, its strength and conviction would stand out in this chart whatever the circumstances of its being here.
FUN – “Some Nights”: Preferred this big-drums trick in “Love Lockdown” or indeed in any given Red Box song, which is what (as well as Queen) this reminds me of, but it’s its own thing. Tries everything, some of it even sticks.
OTTO KNOWS – “Million Voices”: in its unobtrusive way, perfectly good, and the random occurrence of this bit of trancey techno pop sums up the enjoyably directionless vibe of the charts right now.
LITTLE MIX – “Wings”: The best bits are the ones which sound a bit like “The Clapping Song”‘ but they are a,so the bits that make me want to listen to “The Clapping Song” instead. MORE marching band drums!
COLDPLAY ft RIHANNA – “Princess Of China”: Ponderous, but the distressed synths won me over in the end.
KANYE WEST ET AL – “Clique”: if you didn’t know they pronounce it “click” in the US, well, now you do. Love the gloopy stalking robot bass, the rest just exists for a while.
FLO RIDA – “I Cry”: Flo Rida is very much a safe pair of hands, and the backing here is livelier than you’d actually know from paying attention to him.
DAVID GUETTA ft Sia – “She Wolf”: As with “Titanium”, Sia and Guetta bring out the best in each other. Her best these days is probably better than his, she usually sounds like something in the song might matter to her anyway.
NICKI MINAJ – “Pound The Alarm”: Excellent use of word guzzle, but away from the LP this is left beached by the receding EDM tide.
OWL CITY AND CARLY RAE JEPSEN – “Good Time”: in which feelgood hookiness is a fickle mistress.
STOOSHE – “Black Heart”: Catchy post-Amy bad boy melodrama, though it has the whiff of the focus group about it somehow.
NE-YO – “Let Me Love You”: Bosh-by-the-yard production does’t give Ne-Yo the chance to build on the promise of the intro. EDM totally the wrong look for him.
FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE – “Spectrum (Calvin Harris)”: Huge builds are so much a part of the flo-mac formula it feels a bit weird her outsourcing them to the hired help. She ends up sounding too big for her own song somehow.
MAROON 5 ft WIZ KHALIFA – “Payphone”: Granted they can turn out a chorus, but this is still a dumped-dude song where the reason why dude is dumped becomes more apparent minute on minute, play on play.
CHERYL – “Under The Sun”: harmless, featureless.
AMELIA LILY – “You Bring Me Joy”: A woeful trudge. Though still rocks harder than…
THE KILLERS – “Runaways”: How are they still this popular? Chugalug Brooce pastiche, half-arsed ideas piled on top of each other like a badly made lasagne. Not actively horrible in any way but that’s not enough by itself, surely?
RITA ORA – “How We Do”: Jessie J would have rejected this supposedly party-ready snoozer, perhaps she did reject it! She’d have made it more annoying than the utterly innocuous Rita ORA though.
OF MONSTERS AND MEN – “Little Talks”: No idea what to make of this – a twee Scando Beautiful South? Mumford’s fault? But it’s too bloodless and pleased with itself to be worth the explanation.
CALVIN HARRIS FT EXAMPLE – “We’ll Be Coming Back”: the public keep rewarding Calvin H for his collection of nasty old videogame noises, and I keep being baffled by that.
ELBOW – “One Day Like This”: Nexus of some awful things about British rock – instant dignity! Just add strings! – but mostly I’m just a beard traitor.
DAVID GUETTA – “PlayHard” : suddenly, in the context of everything else going on in the charts, GUetta’s churlish blaring sounds dated not dominant. Whether the moment lasts I don’t know, but let’s hope.
CONOR MAYNARD ft NE-Yo – “Turn Around”: Mini-me of Ne-Yo’s own hit, makes the same mistakes, lacks the same class.
PROFESSOR GREEN – “Avalon”: Of all the things not to be a comedy sample! Chest-thumping serious Brit-hop: Prof G wants us to believe something’s at stake here, difficult to discern what.
SIMPLE PLAN ft SEAN PAUL – “Summer Paradise”: Pretty much every other record on this chart would be a better use of Sean Paul’s guest vocal time than contributing to this awful beach party strumalong. That said the thirty seconds Sean Paul does hand in are first class.
THE SCRIPT FT WILL I AM – “Hall Of Fame”: How come the most forgettable record in the whole chart (and there’s some competition) is also the highest selling?
SAM AND THE WOMP – “Bom Bom”: Balkan knees-up deep sixed by rentakook.
MUMFORD AND SONS – “I Will Wait”: the band doing for folk what Richard Dawkins does for atheism. (I feel bad for keeping this lame zing in from the plane notes but god what IS there to say about them)
ANGEL – “Wonderful”: Has a couple of ideas, uses them quickly, keeps repeating them, honestly they were quite irritating ideas in the first place, stop it, no really, actually stop.
ALEX CLARE – “Too Close”: Dubstep drops at the service of overwrought bro-angst. Maybe there’s a way that could work, he hasn’t found it.
EMILIE SANDE – “Read All About It Part 2”: Olympic legacy alert! A tiresome, wheedling record.
PLAN B – “Deepest Shame”: “She’s in the Plan B team” – B channels his inner Sheeran for a PSA about a junkie prostitute, simultaneously corny and gross.