Some people like porridge in the morning, some prefer a nice bit of toast with Marmite. Some people foolishly leave the house on an empty stomach. Whatever you have for breakfast, it all goes down that little bit better if you’re reading So So Gay‘s weekly summary of new single releases. Have fun!
‘This is Love (featuring Eva Simons)’ by will.i.am (Rating: ***)
Reviewed by Elliot Robinson
‘This is Love’ is the second single to be released from will.i.am’s upcoming fourth solo album, #willpower, which is due out in September.
With its opening being a softly twinkling piano, you are initially thinking, perhaps hoping, that will.i.am is taking a change of tack with his music, moving away from the usually brash noise of his previous efforts, solo and otherwise. Sadly, however, his vocally-tweaked voice starts to chirrup and all hopes are dashed. One of these days it would nice to hear will.i.am deliver some singing in a normal manner, rather than like he’s a malfunctioning robot.
Also featured on ‘This is Love’, is Dutch singer-songwriter, Eva Simons. Her presence here is basically to deliver some powerhouse vocals across the chorus. Simons’ voice has quite some oomph to it; indeed, judging from the video, it appears to have scared her hair to the top of her head, leaving it looking like some La Roux-esque horn of hair.
‘This is Love’ has a rousing beat and the typical, well-polished production one expects from a song will.i.am has had his hand in making. However, it isn’t a remarkable song and has fairly serviceable lyrics, interspersed with the crowd-pleasing ‘hell yeah!’s. That said, it is a good song ahead of, or even during, a night out – just a good party song, something that will.i.am continues to make with ease.
‘Don’t Wake Me Up’ by Chris Brown (Rating ***1/2)
Reviewed by Elliot Robinson
Chris Brown has been a controversial figure in the last few years, but it is good to see that his personal problems have not affected his music which has managed to remain strong and, in the case of latest single, ‘Don’t Wake Me Up’, delivers a sure fire summer hit.
It did worry us at first when we heard an opening monologue which was wrapped in religious elements, and made us feel like we had accidentally turned on a B-grade Madonna track. However, the slow start succeeds in giving way to a well paced and highly charged opus which blends elements of electro and R&B in a complimentary fusion of the styles. The chorus in particular is a well orchestrated element which gives the track a more powerful hook which is surprisingly addictive. The vocals are also some of the strongest we have heard from Brown in a long while and we can not help but be impressed by his ability.
The song however is beset by one fundamental problem, in that it feels quite divorced from any real emotive connection we would expect. It plays well as contemporary art and certainly looks and sounds good, but beneath the veneer there really is not a lot for us to keep us interested in the artist’s work. The lyrics are also decidedly derivative and are quite contrived and when we listen closely we realise that Brown is not telling us anything we have not heard a hundred times before by better artists.
The video itself is just as well constructed as the song. By using a unique blend of thematic elements which seem to borrow from religion and contemporary ideas of constructed reality, Brown’s video manages to make a strong and lasting statement. But much like the song itself there seems to be nothing but statement and no real meaning behind it. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but considering the song and video’s surprisingly short run time we wonder if his heart was really in it.
‘Don’t Wake Me Up’ is a more than competent track and manages to work well at blending so many different styles and thematic elements. We were just hoping for something a little bit more than spectacle.
‘There She Goes (featuring Pitbull)’ by Taio Cruz (Rating: **)
Reviewed by Elliot Robinson
‘There She Goes’ is the third single to be released from Taio Cruz’s third studio album, TY.O.
The first thing that immediately hits you when listening to Cruz’s latest effort is the lyrical calibre, or lack thereof. The opening gambit being ‘There she goes / Looking like a star / With her body shaped / like a rock guitar’, hardly Ivor Novello worthy, and a good indication of the song that will unfold in the following three and a half minutes.
Still, not every song has to set the musical world alight with its creative genius and certainly the production on the song is solid and has all the standard hallmarks of a dance floor filler. Cruz’s singing is serviceable if a little uninteresting, though perhaps the juvenile lyrics, with their boy-like wonder and casual objectification of a woman, didn’t overly inspire him to give 100% on his vocal performance.
Sometimes, needlessly generic tracks can be lifted by a superb vocal or fresh new sound; however, ‘There She Goes’ has neither of these going for it. That’s not to say it’s terrible, it would probably work well as background music in the Queen Vic pub on Eastenders, but it’s not something to pay much attention to. It does have a certain ‘easily gets stuck in your head’ quality, though not in a desirable way. If you wish to make the song even better/worse you can always opt for the version that features ubiquitous rapper du jour, Pitbull.
It is perhaps worth remembering while listening to ‘There She Goes’, that Cruz also helped write Will Young’s excellent, Brit Award winning single, ‘Your Game’. In summation, Cruz could and has written much better. Let’s hope the generic dance song phase is reaching its imminent conclusion.
Download the single from Amazon.
‘Conquest’ by Sound of Arrows (Rating: ****)
Reviewed by Greg White
Swedish electronic music duo Sound of Arrows (Oskar Gullstrand and Stefan Storm) released one of the best electro-pop albums of last year titled Voyage. It is an epic and cinematic pop journey, and ‘Conquest’ is the fifth single to be lifted from it.
Written by the band and co-produced by Dan Grech-Marguerat, ‘Conquest’, is a groovy mid-tempo number. Sound of Arrows’ music has an other-worldly quality to it; this is actually one of their more straight-forward songs. Loads of layered synths, a great bass rhythm, and the boys’ deep and mysterious vocals create this mystical sound-scape. It’s a dark pop gem with a slight nod to 90s Pet Shop Boys. The lyrics seem to literally be about a fantastical quest with the band themselves cast as the unwavering heroes. It’s one of the best tracks from their album and an excellent choice as a single at this point in the album campaign.
Shot in Barcelona, Spain, the video for the song (featured below, slightly NSFW) continues to supply the dreamy visuals the band have become known for. Directed by Ernest Desumbila, this visual features a horse, a delorean, and a painted topless dancing woman. It is quite a sight indeed. Sound of Arrows are sadly quite unrepresented in mainstream music at the moment, but we’re glad they’re around and continuing to promote their fantastic album.