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Music Blog - UK Charts 2nd July 2012

posted 2 Jul 2012, 04:17 by Chris Morris

Welcome to Dundee Drum Academy’s first ever music blog! On this blog I will be talking about the latest music in the UK and American charts, discussing the best current drummers, reviewing albums and more.

It’s been a big task getting the first blog together as I’ve had to listen to nearly forty songs. However, as there was quite a bit of bad music (Cough UK Chart Cough), there was also a tonne of really good music, some of which I might have never heard before if it weren’t for doing this blog.

To give you a specific breakdown of how this blog will run, I will be reviewing the UK Top 10, and the American Top 10 in the Rock, R&B/Hip Hop, and Country charts. I will then re-arrange the Top 10 in the order that I think represents the best music. I’m judging music on its creativity, musicianship, and originality. Also, because I run a drum school, I will be giving my opinion on the best drummer from each chart, so hopefully I can find some great new drummers, and who knows, they may even be our Drummer Focus one day! I may also do an album review every now and then, although there isn’t one this week (I had to listen to forty songs, give me a break!)

Okay then, let’s get started. I’ll begin with the UK Top 10, which (From ten down to one) looks like this:

10. 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 chart this week though...

9. 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 cut above the rest.

8. Black Heart – Stooshe

If it’s a drum machine in this song it actually sounds pretty good. Could be an electric kit played by a human drummer but most likely just a programmed thing. However I thought this song was one of the better ones this week. Quite creative and listenable to, but not my cup of tea. Unfortunately the songwriter runs out of ideas after a while and the chorus is simply repeated in slightly different styles.

7. Princess of China – Coldplay & Rihanna

A lot of people think this is a Coldplay song featuring Rihanna, but let me tell you that this is the complete opposite. Rihanna completely outshines Chris Martin in the song in terms of vocals, and the other members of Coldplay are missing in action. It’s strange to see Coldplay mixed with a completely different act like Rihanna and to be honest, I didn’t think it worked very well. Coldplay used to be in the same genre as Travis and Oasis but now they’ve gone a little strange. A shame as well because most of the guys in Coldplay are good musicians.
The song features the same chords over and over and is really unimaginative – Especially the chorus. Not a very good effort from Chris Mar... Uh, I mean “Coldplay” and Rihanna.

6. Feel the Love – Rudimental (feat. John Newman)

Who on earth is John Newman? I tried my best to find out, even Wikipedia’d him and found a list of politicians, a bishop and a mayor among others. I’m guessing he is none of them. But I was listening out for a standout feature for a singer that never came. There was a trumpet solo at one point and I’m wondering if perhaps John Newman is a brass player? Who knows.
This song is terrible. Cheesy sythns, annoying voices, and surprise surprise, a drum machine. The song gets even worse towards the end when the rhythm changes to a shuffle which kills whatever momentum the song had.

5. Call My Name – Cheryl

Not Cheryl Tweedy. Not Cheryl Cole. Simply “Cheryl”. I never understood why Cheryl was a big star in the first place, and the fact that a non-professional can judge a singing competition is a bit of a joke in my opinion. The worst part of this song is the one minute and twelve second introduction which sounds really random and terrible and doesn’t feature Cheryl at all (Why is this under her name when she has nothing to do with the song for nearly the first half?). Of course it’s a drum machine so nothing to analyse there, but the main feature is obviously the vocals – Which aren’t much a of a main feature. I don’t rate Cheryl as much of a singer, especially when you hear her auto-tuned backing vocals in this song.

4. Whistle – Flo Rida

There’s a nice use of guitar in this song and it’s unfortunate that the best drum beat I’ve heard so far is from the drum machine in this song. No prizes for guessing that this is a cheesy song about whistling (Well, we all know what it’s really about but that’s for another blog), involving someone actually whistling. The singer isn’t anything special and my memory tells me that neither is the rest of the song as I can’t recall any lyrics.

3. Don’t Wake Me Up – Chris Brown

Next up is a man who shouldn’t even have a music career, for more than one reason. The least of which not being that this is a terrible effort at making music. It’s a very dancey, electric, factory produced song with the most outrageously bad use of auto-tuning on Chris Brown’s voice. This song has no value musically and is a real slap in the face for any real music fan. Fortunately it looks as though we’ll never get to see Chris Brown live over here in Scotland because the last time he attempted to enter the UK his Visa was declined. I wonder why? Oh, isn’t it because Chris Brown’s music isn’t the only crime he’s committed?

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.  This is Love – (feat. Eva Simons)

This week’s number one comes from the artist with the silliest name – Pretty standard stuff here with a not very exciting drum machine and more electric music going on. However, the piano is really nice (Played by and the singing is pretty good, which confused me actually because I heard this guy singing at the Queen’s Jubilee concert a few weeks ago and he wasn’t very good. There’s a good feature for Eva Simons, but I think should stuck to his rapping as it was definitely better than his singing.

So if I were to re-arrange the charts this week, it would look like this:

1.       We Are Young – fun.

2.       Black Heart – Stooshe

3.       Payphone – Maroon 5 (feat. Wiz Khalifa)

4.       Princess of China – Coldplay & Rihanna

5.       This is Love – (feat. Eva Simons)

6.       Wide Awake – Katy Perry

7.       Whistle – Flo Rida

8.       Call My Name – Cheryl

9.       Don’t Wake Me Up – Chris Brown

10.   Feel the Love – Rudimental (feat. John Newman)

My biggest concern with the UK chart is the lack of musicianship. Most of the music I have just discussed involved a producer sitting with a guy on a computer arranging electronic sounds to use as a backing for the main attraction – The singer. I don’t have a problem with the singer being the main attraction whatsoever, but I do have a problem with music being produced in such an unimaginative, dull, and frankly untalented way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there is no value in the UK Chart – A handful of the songs were well written and involved good musicianship, but it was definitely my least favourite chart to listen to.

The best drummer, unfortunately, is from pretty much the only group who actually used a human 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.

So there you have the UK Music Chart blog for this week. Check back every week for the latest chart reviews and look out for the American music blogs coming later this week.