well, it appears that this week is the last show before the big shake-up in format, so let's enjoy what little time we may have left. i'm worried the new format may not allow for such a good listen to all the songs on the chart, and i'm not sure what effect that may have on this weekly update. anyway, lets dive right in...
40. "closest thing to heaven" - tears for fears (new entry)
this isn’t too bad of a song here, its quite solid in that typical over-produced Tears For Fears kind of way – as if we’d expect anything different. the backwards guitar loop weaving its way through the verses is pretty neat, and i’m digging the falsetto thing on the chorus. it’s not particularly exciting, but more importantly it’s not particularly bland either. this is a decent single, much better than I’d be expecting from the band nearly twenty years after their peak.
39. "looking as you are" - embrace (last week's position: 11)
38. "wrap my words around you" - daniel bedingfield (21)
37. "black and white town" - doves (19)
36. "she's got a reason" - dogs (new entry)
British indie-punk tune in which the singer gets all bent out of shape over his ex-girlfriend, as guys like this are wont to do from time to time. but i should say that this is really, really good stuff here – bouncy riffs and angular guitar spikes throughout. this makes me want to jump up and down, especially the breakdown towards the end with the gentle “ooohs” in the background as the circular guitar riff sits on repeat. the singer comes back in to whine and yell about the girl some more, but it’s not annoying – it really works with the song. this is far better than all of that Busted/Noise Next Door stuff, especially that acapella yelling mantra appearing just when you think the song is over.
35. "winter" - dt8 project f. andrea britton (new entry)
and now we get more dance floor fodder by some guy who has apparently recorded under fifteen or so different names. you know, if i was cranking out generic dance tracks like this i’d be trying to cover my tracks and hide my identity as well. this isn’t the worst dance track we’ve heard on the chart this year, but it falls victim to formula way too much. i’m also finding the almost new-age sounding synths in the background very, very annoying.
34. "boulevard of broken dreams" - green day (20)
33. "we close our eyes" - groove cutters (new entry)
trying to contain myself over here as we get another dance track, but wait a minute – this one’s actually not half bad. this one sounds like it has a little bit dirtier production than most of these songs and it serves it quite well. i’m also a fan of the fading-out gimmick that results in the track sounding like it’s coming out of a tin can. they overdo this trick by the end though, but it at least kept me interested longer than most of these dance tracks.
32. "wires" - athlete (25)
31. "bastardo" - charlotte hatherly (new entry)
30. "only u" - ashanti (14)
29. "don't care who knows" - keisha white (new entry)
and the rule of diminishing returns kick in on this song, as we find Keisha giving us some highly forgettable R & B with some help from one-time R. Kelly partner Cassidy. for every hot Beyonce or Kelis single we get, there’s about 5-10 of these bubbling under the surface. i feel like i should give them some credit for trying, but nothing about this makes me want to hear it again – not even the re-use of that sample from the Ginuwine single "Pony" from back in the day. i don’t even think a hot team of producers can help this poor girl out, she just sounds average in every way.
28. "black horse and the cherry tree" - kt tunstall (new entry)
this is definitely a step up from that last track, this is how you really infuse your R & B with some fun and excitement. i could at least picture people wanting to dance this track, in fact i could almost see some line-dancing going on – as this really has some sort of modern R & B meets country mash-up thing going on. again, i think this falls into that trick of simplicity being a good thing for modern pop – some great vocals, simple beat, and just the subtlest of backing sounds and you’ve got a pretty hot track. i can really see people getting into this one in a club, well at least i know i’d love to hear this one next time i’m out.
27. "galvanize" - chemical brothers f. q-tip (13)
26. "cradle" - atomic kitten (10)
25. "angel eyes" - raghav (15)
24. "goodies" - ciara (12)
23. "sunrise" - angel city (9)
22. "out of touch" - uniting nations (16)
21. "numb/encore" - jay-z/linkin park (17)
20. "apply some pressure" - maximo park (new entry)
this is the first single from a new band from
19. "surrender" - elvis presley (2)
18. "sometimes you can't make it on your own" - u2 (7)
17. "soldier" - destiny's child f. t.i. & lil wayne (6)
16. "love steals us from loneliness" - idlewild (new entry)
i was really excited to hear this single, but i’m left feeling slightly disappointed by it. i’ve been a big supporter of Idlewild over the years, each of their albums really hit me in a good kind of way – even though they were all quite different from each other. the last album was somewhat of a culmination of the band’s explorations into grandiose, epic pop music – full of lush instrumentation and huge climaxes. i was hoping the new one would represent another left turn for the band, but instead this single makes it sound like a tamer version of the last album. i’m hearing a mediocre soft-rock tune from a band that is capable of much better, let’s hope this isn’t indicative of the album as a whole.
15. "almost here" - brian mcfadden & delta goodrem (8)
14. "need to feel loved" - reflekt f. delline bass (new entry)
and my disappointment grows with this, yet another mediocre dance anthem. i’m starting to think i shouldn’t even bother to comment on these unless there’s actually something that sparks my interest, you know that whole “if you can’t say anything nice…” line. let’s just move on, shall we?
13. "let's get blown" - snoop dogg f. pharrell williams (new entry)
and now we move on to the follow-up single to one of my absolute favorite tracks of 2004, yet another Snoop/Neptunes collabo. obviously, this is nowhere near as hot as “Drop It Like It’s Hot”, but what is? Snoop kicks some decent verses, he’s still miles ahead of his No Limit days (let’s all just try to forget about those) – while Pharrell and some random girl mix it up on the slow jam tip. the beat is nothing to write home about, proving that the
12. "like toy soldiers" - eminem (4)
11. "don't play nice" - verbalicious (new entry)
wow, this is really awesome. how have i not managed to have heard of this
10. "how we do" - the game f. 50 cent (5)
9. "caught up" - usher (new entry)
it’s somewhat inevitable that by the time you get to the fifth single off an album, you’re gonna have to dip down into the “mediocre” choice of tracks. and that is just what we get with Urrrsherr’s latest single, which still means that it’s miles ahead of the vast majority of male R & B on the charts these days. the shuffling beat works pretty well with the bubbly bassline that perks up from time to time. it’s also nice to hear Usher work a song on his own again, he’s more than capable of carrying a tune without duets or guest rappers helping him along. save those appearances for the Cassidys of the world who really need them. personally i’d rather have seen “Bad Girl” be the next single, what with its super hot beat and all, but i’ll take this.
8. "hounds of love" - the futureheads (new entry)
and the top ten gets better with this amazingly awesome cover of the old Kate Bush alt-radio standard. the call-and-response intro leads into a driving beat that sends this song into an overdrive that it never lets up from. everything about this song just sounds so frantic and wired, which works wonderfully with a tale about being chased by the hounds of love. you can just feel the tension building up higher and higher throughout the song, leaving you with no choice but to shut up and enjoy the ride. by the time the song ends and you catch your breath, you find that you have just bounced yourself silly no matter where you are. this new wave of new wave bands is just about the best thing that has happened to chart pop in some time, and it’s nice to see some major mainstream love as opposed to that whole “dance-punk” movement that never happened. sure, this whole scene has got nowhere to go but downhill from here, but screw it – as long as we get singles like this i’m going to bounce along and enjoy the trip.
7. "hush" - ll cool j (3)
6. "oh my god" - kaiser chiefs (new entry)
oh my God, just when i thought this week’s chart couldn’t get any better – this one has to come along. the verses chug along on an organ drone and peppy guitars during the long ride on the escalator up, up, and further up before crashing all the way down again in that awesome chorus, “Oh my God I can’t BELIEVE it / I never been THIS FAR away from home”. and we jump right back into the second verse, picked back up by that drone and carried a million miles away back to somewhere more familiar. we crash down with the chorus again and spend some time wallowing in the gutter with a greasy guitar solo before we are picked back up and dropped all over again. this time the chorus is even more staccato and raging than before, impossible as that might seem. amazingly, i think this might be even better than that Futureheads single. this is truly a wonderful, wonderful week to be listening in to the UK Top 40. let’s just hope these bands can make as big of an impact in
5. "locked up" - akon (new entry)
and i suppose this is where my hyper high gets brought back down to more manageable levels, as Akon tells us all about his days of being locked up. this is really mediocre, and the annoying overuse of the jail doors slamming sound effect just makes me want to never hear this guy’s voice again. how this song charted ahead of the Futureheads and Kaiser Chiefs is beyond me, but it’s a damn shame. i suppose this says something about the dominance of urban radio around the world, but come on people – no matter what genre we are dealing with, a song this gimmicky and lame should be called out for the pure crap that it is.
4. "wake me up" - girls alound (new entry)
hell yeah, we are back in action with yet ANOTHER awesome single by the ladies of Girls Aloud. you might have heard their cover of “Jump (For My Love)” in the film Love Actually, or if you’ve had your ear to the
3. "marie's the name (his latest flame)" - elvis presley (new entry)
so Elvis gets his lowest chart entry position of the year, which means that we’ve either got J-Lo or another new entry at number one. but we’ll get more on that shortly, as we check out what the King’s got in store for us this week. Elvis is back on the lonely tip after his game of seduction last week, but he’s not gonna be all maudlin on us now – instead he’s going to toss off a half-decent little rockabilly tune. this shuffles along at a decent pace and has the sense to wrap up before it overstays its welcome, if only every artist could learn this kind of restraint when needed.
2. "get right" - jennifer lopez (1)
1. "over and over" - nelly & tim mcgraw (new entry)
so J-Lo gets knocked off the top spot by one of the more unlikely team-ups in recent top 40 history. i’m really not sure what to say about it at this point, as i’ve heard it enough on the radio over here that i could die quite happily not ever having to hear it again. thing is, though, that it really isn’t a bad song at all when the day is done. Nelly manages to keep his delusions of grandeur in check, giving this song just enough space to breathe and take on a life of its own. Tim, meanwhile, keeps himself from overdoing the saccharine sentiments a song like this could have easily called for, especially from someone who readily falls into such a trap (see any song of his that features Faith). the song would probably have benefited from an extra verse or two, as the repeating of the chorus gets very tired by the end, but for all intents and purposes this is a solid pop song that is surprisingly subtle given both artists’ propensity for over-doing things.