Released- 24th July 2015
Listen to To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar. It’s so good. Also, Zayn leaves One Direction, and as I write this, 60’s pop star Cilla Black has passed away. Her music was much better than her telly, and some of it was written by two underrated scouse musicians, John and Paul.
It’s summer! Since last I wrote one of these, I have run for election and lost, been a zombie in a zombie film (more on this next year), watched England play in the Ashes, and quit smoking. And started again. Quite a good few months in all! Also, my wife has gotten hooked on bad EDM, so the following may not be unbiased, as I swear she is using it as some kind of Guantanamo Bay style torture… or revenge for my Billy Joel binges.
If I had to save one track from this album, and the rest were bitten, turned and became part of the hungry horde bearing down on your door, that track would be… I Really Like You. I really really really really really like it.
Track by Track Breakdown
Ellie Goulding – “Love Me like You Do”
The song from a book that got a long way on some piss poor writing, performed by someone who got a long way on a piss poor voice (and a John Lewis advert).
Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth – “See You Again”
A mawkish, Coldplay meets Pittsburgh downtown track, in tribute to Paul Walker, who did a Dennis Wilson and died doing what he was known for, driving too fast and furious. Less good than I’ll Be Missing You. Better than Candle in the Wind ’97.
OMI – “Cheerleader” (Felix Jaehn Remix)
Probably this year’s ‘song of the summer’, and pulls off a clever trick by sounding like it’s going to be sexist crap, then turns out to be quite sweet and about supportiveness and stuff.
Jason Derulo – “Want to Want Me”
It’s got that summer feeling, but otherwise, good for nothing but background music for Argos adverts in a month or so.
Little Mix – “Black Magic”
Sounds like a nightmare world where Brian May is a session musician for Katy Perry. Which might be the world we currently inhabit… Despite this, very likeable in an 80’s way.
Tinie Tempah featuring Jess Glynne – “Not Letting Go”
It’s been four years or so since he managed to put anything out worth listening to. What the hell happened?
Major Lazer & DJ Snake featuring MØ – “Lean On”
Not up there with Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do era material, but the mix of squarking synths and cultural appropriation is still pretty good.
Years & Years – “Shine”
Pleasant instrumentation, a touch of Running Up That Hill ruined by a bedwetting vocalist and his lyrical cliché farm. Feels longer than its four minutes.
Aston Merrygold – “Get Stupid”
I was never big on JLS, but this is great. And contains a reference to a Batman villain, by his real name no less. You’ve won me over, sir.
Walk the Moon – “Shut Up + Dance”
Wow. How quickly did Future Islands’ sound get repackaged and sold as pop? I’m sure this process of alternative to played out used to take longer! Average.
Rita Ora – “Poison”
I still can’t work out her purpose. Deeply average ballad, which tries to hide behind some vague EDM noises, like a fat kid trying to hide behind a lamppost.
Natalie La Rose featuring Jeremih – “Somebody”
Hell, if you’re going to make a completely unoriginal song, a hybrid of Whitney Houston and Art of Noise is a pretty good place to start!
Nick Jonas – “Jealous”
Pointlessly sweary, as if he feels the need to prove a point, but not irredeemable. Nice steady groove, could be a goodish Robin Thicke song.
John Newman – “Come and Get It”
Sounds like a big soul funk jam. Except instead of being loose and fun, it feels as though it were put together by a committee. Still good, but too regimented to be great.
Ed Sheeran & Rudimental – “Bloodstream”
Gap year toff and obvious drum and bass merchants team up to create something that sounds almost exactly as you’d expect.
Carly Rae Jepsen – “I Really Like You”
As good, if not better than Call Me Maybe. She is a genuine pop genius. If I gave one criticism, the line ‘Who gave you eyes like that/Said you could keep them‘ sounds less romantic, and more like something a serial killer would say.
Meghan Trainor – “Dear Future Husband”
It’s niche and a bit novelty, but I like her niche enough that it’s enjoyable. 50’s bubblegum pop with modern production values and social views. All good by me.
Iggy Azalea featuring Jennifer Hudson – “Trouble”
She can’t rap, but the chorus, piano and horns hide her sins. Could have been a classic with a good rapper.
Jessie J – “Flashlight”
It’s fairly pleasant to hear she can sing and hold a song, rather than just do it (like a dude) over a bag of production tricks. Not for me, but I can appreciate it.
James Bay – “Let It Go”
Awww. I was hoping it was the one from Frozen! This sounds like someone trying to do Bon Iver, without the distinctive voice or gorgeous pastoral feel.
Florence and the Machine – “Ship to Wreck”
After loving Modest Mouse’s ‘We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank’ for years, all other nautical metaphors sound loboured. One of her best songs in recent years though.
Hozier – “Someone New”
Lyrically it’s great, but musically, it’s halfway between Enya and stodgy pub blues.
Lost Frequencies – “Are You with Me”
Anonymous female vocalist. House beat. Could be any one of thousands of this song. Yawned three times while listening.
Kygo featuring Conrad Sewell – “Firestone”
He seems to have one trick- the bouncy synth riff. So far I still like it, so he’s spared for now! Check out his remix of Sexual Healing. A must for the summer.
David Zowie – “House Every Weekend”
A call back to 90’s dance, but in a fairly good way this time round. Wubby and anthemic.
David Guetta featuring Nicki Minaj, Bebe Rexha & Afrojack – “Hey Mama”
David Guetta practises his usual trick of getting really good guest stars, then making a song that sounds like a piss poor Black Eyed Peas B-side.
Flo Rida featuring Robin Thicke & Verdine White – “I Don’t Like It, I Love It”
I don’t love it, but I like it. Summery, with dopey whistling and jittery guitars abound. I may also feel that old Bob Thicke deserves a break after the misandrist hate, huge financial losses, divorce and flop album. Keep on keeping on. And maybe try less sinister lyrics than, ‘I know you want it’ in future.
Galantis – “Runaway (U & I)”
Screeching EDM horrors abound. I don’t hate EDM as a rule, but this is what people are thinking of when they write the whole scene off.
Jack Ü (Skrillex & Diplo) featuring Justin Bieber – “Where Are Ü Now”
Even at half effort, Diplo can still knock together some pretty good stuff. Swirling, attractive dance music. In spite of the guest!
Krept and Konan featuring Jeremih – “Freak of the Week”
Sounds like very tired bashment that can’t be bothered to go HAM. Not terrible, but a waste of a promising instrumental.
Fifth Harmony featuring Kid Ink – “Worth It”
A dirty sax line, and a possible bit of shoplifting from the Luniz, no real skill at rhyming, but gets by on a sense of energy.
Deorro & Chris Brown – “Five More Hours”
It’s pretty much what you’d expect from a meeting of minds like this. Would you really want Chris Brown at your party? With that unconfortable moment when he ruins the fun by beating the shit out of a woman. I hate Chris Brown. He was never going to get a fair hearing.
LunchMoney Lewis – “Bills”
Great fun. A rant about poverty over what sounds like a cut up of the piano line from I Wish I Knew how it Feels to be Free. If it is, bonus points for the ironic point about modern day wage slavery.
Avicii – “Waiting for Love”
How did Chris Martin get from likeable to incredibly punchable? Songs like this, I suppose.
Clean Bandit – “Stronger”
Probably from a Marks and Spencer or Windows advert. Pants.
Sam Feldt featuring Kimberly Anne – “Show Me Love”
Do Ministry of Sound still do chill out albums? It’s perfect for that. Not really for listening to, but perfect for drinking cold drinks on a sunset beach in the background.
Blonde featuring Alex Newell – “All Cried Out”
Clearly confused. This is Now 91, not Now 1991. As if 20 plus years of advancement hadn’t passed since.
Kygo featuring Parson James – “Stole the Show”
Very similar to his other song on this volume, but bouncy piano replaced by… pan pipes. Still, nowhere near as loathsome as that sounds, so he clearly has some talent!
Rudimental featuring Foy Vance – “Never Let You Go”
Rudimental, continuing to do for my love of drum and bass what Rolf Harris has done to my memories of Rolf’s Cartoon Club.
Pep & Rash – “Rumors”
A mix of early 90’s Moby and early 10’s James Blake, with a bit of two step for good measure. Manages to be both bleak and funky.
Dr. Kucho! & Gregor Salto featuring Ane Brun – “Can’t Stop Playing (Makes Me High)” (Oliver Heldens Vocal Edit)
Slightly darker and more low end than the seemingly never ending stock of house music, and as a result, a touch more enjoyable.
Lethal Bizzle featuring Diztortion – “Fester Skank”
Okay, so if you remember Mo’ Fire Crew, this is not a patch on that stuff, but it’s an alright effort, fun beat, lazy but enjoyable rhymes, does the job!
Martin Garrix featuring Usher – “Don’t Look Down”
There’s a whole lot of R&B singers what don’t know good house music. This is okay. Usher’s quality carries this otherwise sub Coldplay go house mess.
Tove Lo – “Talking Body”
Incredibly okay sex pop. Scrapes the metaphor barrel with the stinker of a line, ‘We fuck for life’.
21.5 out of 44. 48% of this was actually pretty good!
This article is part of a series, chronicling a foolish attempt to chronicle the history of modern pop, through the Now That’s What I Call Music series. All the previous articles, and some other fun stuff, can be found here.