Posted on Sunday, November 20, 2011 by Paul in Music
If I’m not writing reviews, let’s see if I can get this up insanely early instead. (Ah, midweek chart update, you make this so much easier…) Settle down, because there’s a lot of videos in this one.
After last week’s snoozefest, this week’s new releases are a decidedly more interesting crop. There are also tons of them. But there’s one thing in common with last week’s chart – once again, a boy band who were number 1 in the midweeks have fallen short in the second half of the week and missed the number 1 slot by quite some way. We’ll come back to that.
Remarkably, “We Found Love” by Rihanna is still number 1. That’s now five weeks in total, which in the current market is sheer dominance. The last record to spend five weeks at number 1 (admittedly in a single run) was “I Kissed A Girl” by Katy Perry in 2008.
That leaves the highest new entry to come in at number two - tying in nicely with my wrestling post, since it’s also being used as the theme for this year’s survivor series – is “Good Feeling” by Flo Rida. Unexpectedly, this isn’t bad. Naturally, there is an explanation for that, and I’ll come to that, because it’s quite an entertaining diversion in its own right.
But first, for comparison purposes, here’s the Flo Rida version. According to Wikipedia, this video “follows Flo Rida on a tour around Europe. A lot of his exercise regime can be seen in detail.” The fans must be on the edge of their collective seat.
Now, if you’re thinking “that’s quite a good backing track but it really doesn’t need Flo Rida on it” – well, yes, that’s what the rest of Europe thought. Because “Good Feeling” is basically Flo Rida rapping over the top of a remix of “Levels” by Avicii, which is currently a hit across much of Europe. ”Levels” in turn samples the 1962 single “Something’s Gotta Hold On Me” by Etta James, though the Flo Rida version gives the sample more prominence.
Quite how this single has ended up being released without a featured artist credit for either Avicii or Etta James is something or a mystery to me, particularly since they’re both credited as co-writers. In fact, “Good Feeling” credits nine writers – the three people who wrote “Something’s Gotta Hold On Me”, two people who wrote the rest of “Levels”, and four more people just to tweak the backing track and write the lyrics.
Had he received credit for it, this would have been Avicii’s third UK hit, following “Collide” (which you may recall was a Leona Lewis single also based on an Avicii single based on a sample, and on which he was given a credit to settle a lawsuit) and “Seek Bromance” (which was a mash-up of one of his singles). He’s developing a weird track record of having UK hits only in mash-up form, with the originals never seeing the light of day. Oddly, Etta James’ only previous UK hit was “I Just Want To Make Love To You”, which reached number 5 in 1996 after it was used in an advert.
But back to “Levels”. Normally I’d just include the official video for it, but, well, there doesn’t seem to be one. Instead, Avicii has run a competition inviting fans to submit their own videos, which have then assembled into something that might loosely be described as a video. Except that judging from the end result, entrants were encouraged not merely to make videos for the existing track, but to submit cover versions, remixes, short films vaguely inspired by the record… basically, pretty much anything that somehow linked back to the original. The end result is a cacophony, but a strangely interesting piece of YouTube ephemera, and a really good example of a better alternative to the dreaded lyric video. Weirdly, it completely omits any version of the Etta James sample.
And since I really should include some version in which the song is decipherable, here’s the full version of the teenage girls from Sweden, who did use the original single, and made a straight video for it, which turns out to be deceptively good. It looks very simple, but it ought to be boringly repetitive, and yet it’s not. I’ve seen this basic idea done a lot worse by professionals. Somebody knows what they’re doing here. It’s certainly more entertaining than Flo Rida’s travelogue further up this page.
But back to the chart. What else?
“Got To Be You” by One Direction is the unfortunate single that was number 1 in the midweeks, but winds up at a mere number 3 – not even the highest new entry. They were the by band assembled by the X Factor producers in last year’s audition phase, who did unexpectedly well in the competition, and reached number 1 in September with their more or less acceptable debut single “What Makes You Beautiful”. That had the highest first week sales of the year, and hung around in the top ten for five weeks, so the failure of “Got To Be You” to repeat the performance will be a disappointment.
It’s boy band single type 2 (Ballad Mode), which maybe has less crossover appeal beyond the core audience of teenage girls. Still, within its genre, it’s above average. (We will come later to an example of its genre which is below average.) The video seems to be under the impression that it’s a photo shoot for a Burton’s catalogue.
At number 12, “Take Care” by Drake featuring the ubiquitous Rihanna. This is their second collaboration (he was on her single “What’s My Name” a year ago). Thus far, Drake has cropped up as a guest star on four hits, but only made the top 40 with his own material once, with last year’s “Find Your Love”. His singles have an unfortunate habit of missing the chart. Perhaps this is a turnaround for him. Or maybe Rihanna’s name just sells records.
Number 15 is “My Heart Takes Over” by the Saturdays, a middling ballad with a video from the One Direction school. Seriously, when the band look like they’re modelling the M&S collection of winter coats, you’ve gone wrong somewhere.
Lady Gaga is re-promoting her album for Christmas, with an appearance on last week’s X Factor results show, and the result is that “Marry the Night”enters at number 18. No video for this yet, but one is apparently coming. This has risen since the midweeks (when it was at 25), so expect it to go further.
Number 24 is “Teardrop” by the Collective, which is a charity release for the BBC’s annual “Children in Need” appeal. It was nowhere in the midweeks, but seems to have a surge of sales following the telethon on Friday night. It’s a loosely adapted cover version of the Massive Attack song (which made number 10 in 1998), and it’s a rather earnest affair with more talking than rapping. Gary Barlow is involved. It’s very odd indeed. Chances are you’ll never hear of it again.
Number 28 is “Who You Are” by Jessie J - technically a re-entry, since it spent a week at number 40 as an album track download in March. It’s the title track of her album, which is being re-promoted for Christmas with the obligatory special edition. It’s one of those songs about the importance of being true to yourself. All very Oprah. Never been quite sure how this line of thinking is meant to apply to psychopaths. Surely we’d all be better off if they were less true to themselves.
Stumbling in at a feeble number 32 is “Lighthouse” by Westlife, which is the bonus track on their greatest hits album (available for Christmas, ladies and gentlemen!), and will supposedly be their final physical release. Westlife had fourteen number one singles when they were active, but it’s pretty clear that most of the teenage girls who had the misfortune to get saddled with their drippy output have long since grown up and don’t care any more. It’s a Gary Barlow song, and you can see why he didn’t feel he needed to record it himself. There’s a sudden burst of interest about 2:40 in, when it suddenly changes time signature and tempo, as if they were Throwing Muses or something. Then it goes back to normal. It’s also mixed metaphor central, with lines like “You’re the light in the dark / You’re the seat in the park”. I know who else writes lyrics like that, Gary.
The bottom end of the chart is particularly crowded this week. Number 35 is the Glee Cast, who haven’t made the top 40 since May. This is their mash-up of “Rumour Has It” and “Someone Like You”. (If you’re struggling to place “Rumour Has It”, it’s an Adele album track.)
At number 36, this year’s now-obligatory folky cover version of an indie song for use in a John Lewis ad: “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want” by Slow Moving Millie. That’s the recording name of actress Amelia Warner. It’s her first hit, following two previous singles which were also used in adverts. Hey, it worked for Moby. The Smiths’ original was the B-side of “William It Was Really Nothing” (number 17 in 1984). As usual, the John Lewis ad is adorable if shamelessly manipulative, and better than the official video.
Number 37 is a re-entry for the current Katy Perry single, which we can skip past, but number 38 sees yet another re-entry for “One Day Like This” by Elbow, which has now managed the unlikely task of spending 6 weeks in the top 40, across five different chart runs, spread over a period of three years, without ever getting higher than number 35. No idea why it’s back this time. Perhaps somebody’s using it in an advert.
The latest Twilight film gets its second hit, barely, with “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri, at number 39. It sounds just like you’d expect a Twilight soundtrack song that could only make number 39 to sound. Her previous single “Jar of Hearts” climbs back into the top 10 this week, rebounding seven places.