Posted on Wednesday, November 7, 2012 by Paul in Music
The first rule of Robbie Williams Club is: Do not talk about “Rudebox”. The second rule of Robbie Williams Club is: DO NOT TALK ABOUT “RUDEBOX”.
40. Hot Natured & Ali Love – “Benediction”
Hot Natured are DJs Lee Foss and Jamie Jones, from Chicago and London respectively. There’s no video for this; it’s house music, and while it’s more song-oriented than most, it’s still not especially interested in crossing over to the audience outside the clubs, by all appearances. A rather pleasing throwback to the days of 80s soul-influenced rave tracks heavy on the synth strings.
32. Ben Howard – “Burgh Island” E.P.
That’s the lead track “Esmeralda” above, but since the chart is listing it under the EP name, I presume people have been downloading the whole thing. It’s certainly the sort of brooding affair that won’t have picked up much airplay. The EP is four tracks long and is pushing 25 minutes, so I’m not entirely sure how it qualifies for the singles chart.
The EP is new material, but Howard’s last album “Every Kingdom” was nominated for the 2012 Mercury Prize, awarded this week – which can’t have done any harm in terms of promoting the release. It’s Howard’s second hit; the previous one was “Only Love”, which made number 37 in May. (The Mercury winner, Alt-J, rebounds from 27 to 13 on the album chart.)
30. Asaf Avidan – “One Day / Reckoning Song (Wankelmut remix)”
This song started life as “Reckoning Song” by Asaf Avidan & The Mojos, released in their native Israel back in 2008. I’m not sure how the single did, but the parent album was apparently the biggest selling indie record in Israel that year, so I’m assuming it did alright. The original track is simply vocal and acoustic guitar, which perhaps explains why the Mojos’ redundant credit has been dropped for the remix.
This unlikely version, by German producer DJ Wankelmut (which Google translates as “Fickleness”), has been climbing from the lower reaches for several weeks now, though judging from the midweeks, it isn’t going any further. Then again, it’s been number one in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Holland and Switzerland. What sounds like a truly terrible idea turns out surprisingly well – it successfully recasts the song as a last-track-at-the-rave shutdown, shifting the emphasis from failed relationship to lost youth, and with the original eventually fighting its way back into control as the record ends.
25. Calvin Harris (featuring Tinie Tempah) – “Drinking From The Bottle”
Harris’ album “18 Months” was finally released this week and enters the album chart at 1. This is the track that people are cherrypicking from it, presumably because it’s got Tinie Tempah on it. In all other respects, it’s pretty much what you’d expect from the words “Calvin Harris album track” – the familiar anthemic synth hook whose permutations he evidently considers inexhaustible, a lyric about partying, and basically much the same as his other singles, except with rapping. It’s not officially been posted on YouTube, so I’m not linking to it, but you won’t have much trouble finding it there if you want.
The official current single “Sweet Nothing” is still at 6, and his remix of “Spectrum” by Florence + The Machine is at 35.
That’ll be because they performed it on the X Factor results show. Current single “Some Nights” also rebounds from 38 to 23, and their album leaps from 33 to 4.
3. Wiley (featuring Ms D, Skepta & JME) – “Can You Hear Me (Ayayaya)”
This is the follow-up to “Heatwave”, a number 1 from August. Wiley’s career has reached a strange point where his choruses sound like something Calvin Harris might produce, but his verses still hark back to something a bit more minimal and lo-fi. This is still essentially a party track, in theory at least, but it can largely thank Ms D on the chorus for making it work. As with “Heatwave”, come to think of it. The rest is slightly leaden (though sometimes endearingly wonky) rap as Wiley assures us of his popularity with the ladies, Skepta attempts to pull, and JME – who’s never managed to get a single of his own into the top 40 – openly wonders what he’s doing there.
(Technically this is JME’s second top 40 appearance – the first was as one of the numerous guests who appeared on “Pow 2011” by Lethal Bizzle, which made number 33 last February.)
1. Robbie Williams – “Candy”
Robbie Williams has been out of circulation as a solo act for a couple of years pursuing the Take That reunion, and it seems to have done him some good – this is his seventh number 1, but the last one was “Radio”, and that was eight years ago. Since then, we’ve had the wildly misjudged “Rudebox” album in 2006, and what felt too much like a self-conscious attempt at backtracking with “Reality Killed The Video Star” in 2009. It’s perhaps interesting to note that Britain is getting this song about a month after the rest of Europe, and while that might just be a case of different promotional strategies, you have to wonder if there’s some testing of the water involved.
The good thing about taking some time off is that everyone forgets the stuff that didn’t quite work, and you can sometimes slip more easily back into the familiar role. “Candy” has a lot of familiar features of Robbie Williams’ songs – the character who’s masking deep emotional problems, the ironically sunny arrangement, the light entertainment flourishes, the weirdly random lyrics. Considering that he’s a thoroughly mainstream pop act, his song are often very odd, and while he’s always needed a good collaborator to produce killer singles – it used to be Guy Chambers, and on this one it’s Gary Barlow – his preoccupations come through so consistently that you can hardly doubt that he’s driving things.
“Candy” is a bouncy brass number, and the basic theme is clear enough, but some of the lyrics are downright bizarre. “Mother was a victim / Father beat the system / By moving bricks to Brixton / And learning how to fix them”? Not many acts would dare use that sort of doggerel – not least in a verse which also rhymes “roses” with “roses” – but the off-kilter amateurism fits Robbie Williams’ persona.
That video is awful, though. I see what they were going for, I guess, but they don’t have anywhere near the budget to make it work, nor the ideas to stretch it out for the whole running time. The woman in the video is Kaya Scodelario, by the way, probably best known for playing Effy in the first two series of Skins.
Over in the album chart:
“18 Months” by Calvin Harris at number 1, as already mentioned.
“The Abbey Road Sessions” by Kylie Minogue at number 2, which is what happens when everyone decides you’re an icon. It’s a collection of songs from her 25-year career done with an orchestra, and by all accounts it’s a lot better than that sounds.
“American Soul” by Mick Hucknall at number 6, a self-explanatory covers album.
“The Fire” by Matt Cardle at number 8. The winner of X Factor series 7 was dropped by Simon Cowell after one album, but seems to be doing alright for himself in the outside world.
“Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da” by Madness at number 10. The second album of new material since the band reformed to play the nostalgia circuit (the other being “The Liberty of Norton Folgate” from 2009).
“Psychedelic Pill” by Neil Young & Crazy Horse at 14. Generally well-reviewed double album bringing Young’s total to 35.
“Together” by Jonathan & Charlotte at 15. Re-entry for an opera duo from Britain’s Got Talent who came and went a while ago – I assume they’ve either been on TV somewhere, or they’re being discounted.
“Angels & Demons” by Peter Andre at 18. Nowadays seen more as a derelict of reality TV than an actual singer, the fact remains that Peter Andre does continue to release albums, and some people do buy them. Still, I can never shake the impression of a man clinging to the last vestiges of dignity.
“The Best of Eva Cassidy” at 22. Cassidy only release two albums before her death in 1996 (and one of those was a live album), but her Tupac-like posthumous release schedule has apparently been sufficient to justify this.
“The Soldiers” by The Soldiers at 23. Annual pre-Christmas release from a trio of serving soldiers who record old standards.
“Afterglow” by Black Country Communion at 29. This week’s obligatory hard rock album.
“Skyfall OST” by Thomas Newman at 36. Speaks for itself, really.