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Music Blog - Billboard Top 10

posted 5 Jul 2012, 17:04 by Chris Morris
The Billboard top 10 is an interesting mix of music as it takes into account not only sales, but radio airplay and even online streaming across the world. Some of the music here is pretty good. The top 10 looks like this:

10. Scream - Usher

This lively song from Usher (Who I thought was a rapper? I’m so out of touch with these chart thingies) sticks in the head a little but that’s not to say that it’s very good. The singing is good but sounds like it may have had the auto-tune treatment at some points. The drums are nothing exciting either, programmed electric sounds keeping the heads nodding. The sythns are never too loud however, hanging nicely in the background of Usher’s voice. 

9. Titanium - David Guetta (feat. Sia)

When this song started I thought I was listening to Every Breath You Take by The Police ... Is it a sample possibly? The song is among a few out there at the moment to feature Sia who is the artist behind some great music like Breathe Me, not sure what she’s doing in this type of music. The electric noise in the chorus of this song is enough to give you a sore head. There are some pretty neat little sounds coming from the drum machine but I would have preferred to hear a human drummer. 

8. Starships - Nicki Minaj

I was really enjoying the funky guitar at the start of this song until Nicki Minaj’s annoying rap spoiled it. After that the song falls into a generic dance song – Synths, silly noises, a boring drum machine, you know the drill. This is all pretty standard stuff although there is a groovy little bassline at some points. 

7. We Are Young - fun. (feat. Janelle Monae)

What a nice wee treat it was listening to this song from the group known as “fun.”.  The first thing that struck me about this song is that it is performed by a group of musicians (Isn’t that how music is supposed to be produced?). The drums are quite rhythmically interesting at the beginning but then lose a bit of momentum going into the chorus. The chorus is very striking and dramatic, and sounds inspirational. There’s a nice feature for Janelle Monae too. However, she is almost drowned out by the rest of the band during her part. 
The song is nothing extraordinarily special, but among the other songs in the Top 10 this is definitely a stand out.

6. Lights - Ellie Goulding

Ellie Goulding’s voice is really nice but the backing music in this song is a little bare. Drums are a standard machine-generated beat and there isn’t much music played by a human in here at all. There’s actually quite a nice little ringing sound through this song which gives a sort of majestic sound, but the songwriting is very basic. 

5. Where Have You Been - Rihanna

Nothing stand-out about this effort from Rihanna. This fits right in with the UK Music chart – Electric music produced by someone sitting at a computer (Which, you got it, means no drummer). Rihanna’s voice is okay but this song does nothing to showcase exactly what she is capable of, especially because it is fiddled with here and there by said man on computer.

4. Wide Awake - Katy Perry

This song has moved into the top ten this week most likely as people gain more interest in “Katy Perry: Part of Me” which comes out in cinemas on the 5th July. I found this song to be pretty standard electric stuff – There was no human drummer... In fact the only musician involved in this song is Katy Perry herself as the rest of music is made by man on a computer. 
The chord progression remains the exact same throughout the verse and the chorus. And speaking of the chorus, I found it pretty bland in comparison to the verse. So all in all this song involved a guy sitting at a computer laying down a simple chord progression then adding sound effects, and then getting Katy Perry (Who, don’t get me wrong, is a good singer) to sing over it. Actually one of the better one’s from the UK chart this week though...

3. Somebody That I Used To Know - Gotye (feat. Kimbra)

Glad to see this song so high up in Billboard's top 10, I really like this unusual song from Gotye. It starts very quietly and almost bare but for an uncharacteristic xylophone melody ringing out. The drummer stays very subtle and grooves nicely with the guitarist. The chorus breaks out into a more lively emotional sound but retains it's mysterious atmosphere. The feature for Kimbra is very nice, showcasing some ace vocals. She also puts in some nice backing vocals afterwards. Definitely a great single and it makes me want to listen to more from Gotye.

2. Payphone - Maroon 5 (feat. Wiz Khalifa)

If you go to Google Images and type in “sell outs”... You get a picture of a jar of peanut butter. But there should be a picture of Maroon 5. Back in 2002 this band were a semi-promising act with a couple of hit songs. Now they play standardized pop music so that they can shoot to number one, which I know I know, this is number two... But it was number one last week! The vocals are pretty shocking in this song – They sound auto-tuned and there is a lot of very unnecessary swearing – I’d expect this in a gangsta rap song but it just sounds very out of place here. The drums have a very weird rhythm all the way through and sounds again like it may be a drum machine. The snare falls on the 4th beat making the music lose a bit of momentum. 
Again, this is a song which features someone who is better than the main act – Wiz Khalifa. The rapping is certainly the best part of this otherwise forgettable song.

1. Call Me Maybe - Carly Rae Jepson

The electric strings at the start of Call Me Maybe sound like a bad imitation from a student version of Sibelius. They get a little better during the energetic chorus though, but don’t do much to set this standard electric song apart from others in the charts. The singer is good, but is shown singing with a band of human musicians in the music video which unfortunately aren’t present in the actual song.

If I could re-arrange the Top 10 in order of quality, it would look like this:

1. Somebody That I Used To Know – Gotye (feat. Kimbra)
2. We Are Young – fun. (feat. Janelle Monae)
3. Lights – Ellie Goulding
4. Payphone – Maroon 5 (feat. Wiz Khalifa)
5. Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepson
6. Scream - Usher
7. Wide Awake – Katy Perry
8. Where Have You Been – Rihanna
9. Titanium – David Guetta (feat. Sia)
10. Starships – Nicki Minaj

I've noticed there are a lot of artists being featured in other people's songs. I think this is a great way to get people to know your music and it's done wonders in the past for the likes of Dido who sang part of her song in Eminem's Stan. Just so long as they don't outshine the artists themselves like pretty much anyone who's ever sang with Shaggy (That may even include Ali G). It's a shame to see such good artists being poorly represented though in cases like David Guetta's feature of the hugely talented Sia.

Best Drummer - Jack Antonoff from fun.

Antonoff doesn’t play anything too exciting in We Are Young, although if you listen closely you can hear some nice rolls and ghost notes on the snare. He plays a very basic beat using only the bass drum and snare drum without any hi-hat. For what it’s worth, you could say the beat serves the song well enough but I personally think there is scope for much more.

That does it for this week's music blogs. The next blog will be on Monday where I will review the UK Charts. Here's hoping there's something good to review in there...