Jul 15

Popular Crystal Ball: 2015 – What Are You Waiting For?

FT47 comments • 2,088 views

king1985 I’ll let you set the paaaace…. what? Only eight new number ones? Well, we’re not trying that again.

In order, best to worst. The usual caveats apply: don’t expect this to be much of a prediction of final verdicts when I eventually write about them! And obviously it’s a much shorter list than the last two – since the first two months, pretty much, were gobbled up by “Uptown Funk”. The number one position finally starting to match the sclerotic progress of the charts as a whole, then.

What did we get?

1. YEARS & YEARS – “King”: I feel hustled into this one a bit – BBC Sound Of Winner, Popjustice endorsements – especially as I can’t quite work out why I like it so much. Is it the rare hint of something unhealthy, unwholesome, mildly consumptive in the singing that’s getting my Morrissey glands twitching? Or is it just the way the hook threatens to break into “Tarzan Boy”? The stats don’t lie – this is certainly my most played of the year’s hits. Anybody’s guess how it’ll sound later.

2. JASON DERULO – “Want To Want Me”: Perennial will-this-do merchant comes good with a jump into electropop. Aims for Prince, ends up at Minor Royal, but if you set yourself high standards you might end up somewhere catchy. A future “oh it’s THIS one” floorfiller.

3. ELLIE GOULDING – “Love Me Like You Do”: An unpromising premise to say the least, but the best bit of the 50 Shades franchise is the one with no writer credit for EL James. The singer/producer combination is exactly right for this to work as softcore high-gloss escapism, a bonkbuster take on the “Show Me Heaven”/”Take My Breath Away” soundtrack smash.

4. OMI – “Cheerleader (Felix Jaehn Remix)”: This is the first reggae number one since… how long? Man! In the grand tradition of reggae number ones, remixed to fuck to make it sound less weird. Luckily, they haven’t totally succeeded. Potentially very annoying, but there’s enough going on and the ingredients are strong enough to make this potent in small exposures.

5. JESS GLYNNE – “Hold My Hand”: After the knock-down, drag-out, deep house death arena that was 2014’s number one line-up, a victory lap is only deserved. Huge, strutting, one eye on the sports montages. Not sure why I don’t like it more – a bit bludgeoning, perhaps?

6. TINIE TEMPAH ft JESS GLYNNE – “Not Letting Go”: Hard not to feel Tempah’s career has panned out disappointingly overall. Here he’s fake geek girling a lady who doesn’t know the verses to R Kelly songs. Oh, Tiniepaws. Jess Glynne provides chorus hook and datestamp.

7. WIZ KHALIFA ft CHARLIE PUTH – “See You Again”: The most indelible hook Puth is ever going to write – one of those that sounds like it’s always existed waiting for some chancer to grab it. Far weaker hooks get made to stand on their own, so I dunno why this one gets smushed into exhausting stadium rap. When I first heard this I thought it would be number one forever, but we seem more restrained now. A good thing. It’s still not going away any time soon.

8. SAM SMITH ft JOHN LEGEND – “Lay Me Down”: The first half of this is aggressively, suffocatingly worthy. The second half at least offers spectacle – a great half-British abase-off, Smith and Legend using melisma to tunnel under each other in their pleas for what sounds like ultimately quite awkward spooning. And there, with the future of British pop, the balance of payments’ darling, we shall leave it.


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  1. 31
    Phil on 14 Jul 2015 #

    CDs can be fetish objects if the packaging is well enough produced (see other thread), but I agree that it’s not the same as vinyl. As for cassette, I’ve only ever bought a handful of pre-recorded tapes, and I think this one is the only one I’ve had any investment in as a thing. (Came with download code. I’ve played the actual cassette about twice, partly because the deck in my main system seems to have silted up beyond my power to clean it.)

    Not ignoring you, Punctum, but I’m really not sure what you’re challenging. What was ‘meant to be obvious’ was that I miss a way of listening to music that I’ve mainly given up on for reasons of convenience.

  2. 32
    punctum on 14 Jul 2015 #

    That’s the problem right there. “For reasons of convenience.” So it doesn’t matter how much music you download, it all becomes wallpaper which you can ignore or pay attention to as you please.

    I have, possibly uniquely among my generation, no emotional attachment to vinyl at all. That’s infantile looking back and covert fear of death – you’re never going to be sixteen again, get over it – and it’s good to see so many solvent mugs having to hand over £25 for a slightly cleaner version of something they shouldn’t have got rid of in the first place. CDs are great; you can stack/shelve more of them, much easier to handle than hoary old LPs, they don’t smell of digestive biscuits and provided you don’t skateboard over them they don’t scratch. Cassettes are fab too but then Kids Today don’t even know about things called CDs, have only ever known downloads, so whom am I kidding?

    Totally agree with Tom’s PAYMENT thing, though; if more people had thought about that back in 2000-1 rather than lazily downloading everything for nothing then maybe things wouldn’t be in the mess that they are in now.

  3. 33
    thefatgit on 14 Jul 2015 #

    I can confirm Marcello’s point @22. I have recently been going to the gym (yes, the gym…end times coming, etc.) which pipes Capital all the freakin’ time. I’m usually concentrating on my workout, until it’s time to go to the changing rooms and Marvin Humes plays the same bloody songs again and again. I don’t normally listen to radio for this very reason.

  4. 34
    flahr on 14 Jul 2015 #

    I’d like to see a logical extension of this where you make music less convenient to listen to in order to make it better. Maybe glue razorblades to the CD case.

    Although it occurs to me that live music is a sort of maximally-inconvenient flipside to digital music; you have to actually travel somewhere physically in person after forking over a large amount of money, someone spills a practically full pint over your snazzy Helen Love t-shirt, the space between you and the stage seems to be filled exclusively with basketball players, you don’t have any choice over the tracklisting (or, if you bother to turn up for them, the support acts), Grace Chatto is on the side of the stage furthest away from you and thus can’t hear your devotional pleas, and you don’t even get to listen to the music more than once. And, indeed, live music is, I think, doing pretty well at the moment, although this may as much be because it’s the only thing musicians can do right now that is actually profitable. (Wasn’t it the case in the recent past that touring was a lossmaking activity you carried out to sell records?)

  5. 35
    Tom on 14 Jul 2015 #

    From my memory of the few times I had jobs which played Radio 1 in the late Smashie/Nicie era there wasn’t much more variety! (Though there was Bates, I guess.)

  6. 36
    StringBeanJohn82 on 14 Jul 2015 #
  7. 37
    Phil on 14 Jul 2015 #

    Punctum, with the greatest of respect, you don’t know me. I’ll unpack ‘for reasons of convenience’: I work and listen to music in a rectangular room with the desk on one of the long walls and the speakers, until recently, standing in front of the other long wall. A while ago I noticed that I was getting a better sound entering the room or standing in the doorway than I was while sat at my desk. This struck me as unsatisfactory, so I read up on speaker placement and concluded that the best option would be to stand the speakers in front of the short wall and listen from the sofa in front of the other short wall, with the length of the room making for a fairly tall isosceles triangle. On the rare occasions when I sit on the sofa and listen to music this works great. However, it means I can never listen to music while using the Mac, except through my Mac’s speaker or through headphones. I’ve got a large head & find most headphones pinch my jaws uncomfortably; I’ve shelled out for what seemed like a comfortable pair in the shop, but still find them a bit much to wear for any length of time. So, while I’m working – but not while I’m concentrating too hard to listen to music – I tend to play music on my Mac rather than through headphones. For reasons of convenience.

    I’ve probably downloaded about 1000 tracks (out of a total of 8000-odd), although half of those are from two sources*. And no, it’s not all wallpaper. To a surprisingly large extent they’re songs that I learn and end up singing.

    *Jon Boden’s A Folk Song A Day project and this American set.

  8. 38
    Phil on 14 Jul 2015 #

    FLAHR – it’s not the difficulty as such, although getting that Durutti Column album out of the sleeve unscratched was always interesting (after a while I told myself the inevitable scratches added to the, er, ambience, kind of thing). Just that you have to make your own sense of occasion.

    Live music, as you say, is all occasion. Not sure it makes money, though – much more money (than none at all) going in, but much more going out as well. AIUI merch (and ltd ed box sets ect ect) is where the money is, what money there is anywhere. One of the moments I felt most alienated from Damon Albarn* was an interview when he talked about his father’s experience doing the lights (I think) for Soft Machine. Damon mused on how different the gig-going experience was back then – as in, you went to a gig and that was pretty much it. The band didn’t have special pressings on sale, they didn’t have tour posters, they didn’t even have official teeshirts. “The idiots!” he concluded. Hands across the decades.

    *Can’t help feeling there’s a feature in there, or possibly a series.

  9. 39
    pink champale on 14 Jul 2015 #

    Ha, I like Damon for concluding that, rather than some rosy nonsense to show he’s all sensitive like.

  10. 40
    punctum on 14 Jul 2015 #

    #37: What have you learned from all of this? I see a lot of Hi-Fi News stuff about set-ups and placements but nothing to indicate that you’re actually touched or moved by listening to music, if listening is indeed what you’re doing (for you could be listening to your sound system rather than what it’s playing). Music isn’t there to make your life easier but to help make your life worth living.

  11. 41
    Tom on 14 Jul 2015 #

    We’re moving into pointlessly ad hominem territory here, I think. Phil’s very lucid and interesting comments have proved he’s just as much a music lover as anyone here.

  12. 42
    James BC on 15 Jul 2015 #

    My rank – Tom’s rank – Track – Thoughts

    1 – 4 – OMI – Shades of No Letting Go here. Beautiful. My love for chart reggae cannot be conquered.

    2 – 5 – JESS GLYNNE – Something about this seems a bit rote, but it’s still good. The post-chorus is the thing, and Jess sounds infectiously happy.

    3 – 1 – YEARS & YEARS – These guys are really good but I don’t think they’ve released their classic yet. How come this can be number 1 when the Delays never got anywhere?

    4 – 6 – TINIE TEMPAH ft JESS GLYNNE – I’ve only heard this a few times so it might be better than 4th later. I do like Tinie’s lyrics.

    5 – 2 – JASON DERULO – This would be miles better if it was sung by someone with a bit more charm, namely Olly Murs. Never mind though, I’m sure Olly will be bringing out a copy in a few months’ time, shortly after his Uptown Funk copy, also eagerly awaited by me.

    6 – 7 – THE WIZ – Echoes of Hope (Twista) or See You When You Get There (Coolio!) but doesn’t quite sweep me along with it they way they do. I have a family, but I find the intense way Wiz (and Vin Diesel) talk about “family” a bit alien, and alienating.

    7 – 3 – ELLIE GOULDING – I’ve just discovered that Tove Lo wrote this. I’d assumed from the repeat-one-line-again-and-again chorus that it was Ryan Tedder (or Sting). Bit dreary, anyway. “Love Me Like You Used To” might have had more mileage as a title.

    8 – 8 – SAM SMITH ft JOHN LEGEND – I much preferred the novelty song approach to Comic Relief singles. This is about as funny as it is erotic.

  13. 43
    Mark M on 15 Jul 2015 #

    Re: 42 It has to be Love Me Like You Do for the purposes of the movie – she’s saying ‘I’m OK with the fact that you are a fifth-rate Patrick Bateman wannabe with a thing for whips’.

    (The sons of Bateman are plentiful: as well as Christian Grey, there’s the Michael Fassbender character in Shame (oversexed Bateman), Barney Stinson in How I Met Your Mother (Comedy Bateman), the main character in Nightcrawler (part-Bateman, part Norman Bates, part Rupert Pupkin) and the bloke in that London property promo, just for starters).

  14. 44
    Phil on 15 Jul 2015 #

    Barney as comedy Bateman is an excellent spot. I think it’s partly the actor, tho. Have you seen NPH’s “choose your own autobiography”? I was going to get it for my son – a massive and proprietary HIMYM fan – but then I read a bit of it. Um, no.

    The Delays! They should so have been huge. I’m playing that single when I get home.

  15. 45
    mapman132 on 20 Jul 2015 #

    And now a new candidate for Shortest Book Ever Written, The Hot 100 Number Ones of 2015 So Far:

    “Uptown Funk”: I initially liked this song and was glad it hit #1, then got sick of it, then got concerned it would actually break the weeks at #1 record, then wondered what was so sacred to me about the bland mediocrity known as “One Sweet Day”, which caused me to accept the inevitable, and then it fell short of the record after all. 14 weeks seems to be some sort of invisible barrier: something like eight songs now have reached it, only OSD has passed it. And so just like last year, the race for top single of the year is over before it began. Ho hum.

    “See You Again”: Mildly surprised to see the negative reaction to this here. To me, this is as good as Diddy circa 1997 was terrible. Puth’s part in particular sells it for me (apparently he was inspired by one of his own friends who was killed in an accident). That being said, 12 weeks at #1 was perhaps a tad excessive.

    “Bad Blood”: I don’t hate Taylor Swift, but I don’t quite buy into the hype surrounding her. Is she really so much better than a lot of other female performers of the moment? The one week break in SYA’s stay at #1 was due to the much-hyped release of the BB video, which I haven’t bothered to view myself yet. Anyone want to start a betting pool as to when (or if) Taylor gets bunnied?

    “Cheerleader”: One week at #1 so far. The obvious candidate for Song of the Summer (something that Billboard seems to want to make the US version of Xmas #1). Certainly a much more authentic sound than last summer’s reggae Rude-ness. Jury’s still out: I’m either going to grow to love this dearly, or want to smash the nearest speakers every time I hear it.

  16. 46
    Phil on 3 Aug 2015 #

    Finally got through all 8. The Wiz Khalifa was the only one that prompted an “oh, it’s this one” reaction – and that one sounded so familiar that I was almost convinced I was being reminded of another song (one I could actually put a name to). Jess Glynne is OK, Derulo is adequate, OMI is inoffensive (musically at least), and Years & Years are ace. The other three… meh at best. Ellie Goulding kept asking me what I was waiting for; by the fifth repetition I was waiting for her to finish.

  17. 47

    Sorry if this is hardline bunnying meets Schrodinger’s Cat, but on the last three weeks’ evidence the best is yet to come. There, I said it.

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