August is almost upon us, but the Olympic Games most definitely, especially are after the breathtaking and superb opening ceremony that happened on Friday night. This week’s Singles of the Week sees releases from a couple of dance artists, a UK grime act and hip-hop/pop-rock collaboration. So take a few moments now to peruse our choice of this week’s notable singles while sipping your morning coffee.
‘We’ll Be Coming Back (featuring Example)’ by Calvin Harris (Rating: ***)
Reviewed by Jon B.
Times are very good for Calvin Harris. In addition to two successful solo albums, his work as a producer and collaborator is certainly keeping him busy and spawning a series of lucrative dance hits for a whole variety of other artists. (Just in case you’ve been hiding in a hole for the last twelve months, we mean the likes of Rihanna and Cheryl Cole to name but the most recent two)
‘We’ll Be Coming Back’ is Harris’ latest solo offering from his upcoming third studio album, featuring vocals by Example. This collaboration delivers exactly what you would expect, with Example’s vocals complementing Harris’s dance track perfectly. The accompanying music video provides a great opportunity for both artists to engage in an exciting and testosterone-fuelled, post-robbery sports car duel, racing through exotic climbs and tearing around narrow corners and winding roads in a race to recover their stolen swag.
This is trademark Calvin Harris: an energetic, pulsing dance track building up to a soaring synth-driven crescendo of heavy beats at the chorus. Musically, it lends itself nicely to the purpose for which it is clearly intended, a dance-floor, and lyrics such as ‘I don’t even care if I know ya / Out of our minds’ and ‘Gonna light up the sky / So ignore the stars’ are suitably catchy enough to encourage you to put down your drink and shake your stuff, particularly after a couple of listens.
Nevertheless, there’s nothing that makes ‘We’ll Be Coming Back’ particularly outstanding from the rest of what is presently a very similar sounding genre, and the Calvin Harris of recent years is certainly less distinctive in sound than the Calvin Harris of 2008. That doesn’t make this a bad track, just average; certainly so in comparison to his other recent collaborations.
‘Heatwave (featuring Ms. D)’ by Wiley (Rating: *1/2)
Reviewed by Greg White
This week, English grime song maker Wiley releases ‘Heatwave’ on WM UK records. Over the last nine years, Wiley has been very prolific in the UK’s hip-hop scene, putting out one or two albums (or mix-tapes) each year. His work tends to be pretty hit or miss; ranging from intelligently written and produced grime, to thoughtless and generic club jams. It’s the time of year when many artists are still trying to launch that summer anthem that will have the youth of today clicking ‘download’ on iTunes while scoping out new music to get drunk at the pool to.
Wiley provides a somewhat catchy, but mostly forgettable party jam here. Nothing but generic beats, synths, and raps, with Ms.D constantly repeating the same vocal hook: ‘I’m gon’ party / I’m gon’ dance / put your hands up on my body / on my body / on my body’. Later on in the track Wiley proclaims, as if it’s the best idea ever, that he ‘wanna get a slush-puppy with both flavours /drink dat – now I’m back in my zone’. A little mindless summer fun can always be great in a song as long as there’s some redeeming feature, like clever rhymes or unique production, but no such trademark is found here, unfortunately.
As far as the video goes it’s just about as uninteresting as the song. We’ve got girls in bikinis, girls in a pool, girls dancing by said pool. We’ve got Wiley looking quite seriously at the camera and aggressively gesturing his arms along to, from what we hear, is supposed to be a fun song. Surely off-camera he’s laughing as the video has already surpassed two million hits on YouTube, and the song debuted at number seven on the hip-hop charts on iTunes. Hip-hop music remains one of the best genres for allowing mediocrity to garner great sales. Why not redirect your hard-earned cash and check out Frank Ocean’s new album instead?
‘Heatwave’ is taken from Wiley’s soon-to-be-announced ninth studio LP.
‘The Fighter (featuring Ryan Tedder)’ by Gym Class Heroes (Rating:**1/2)
Reviewed by Scott McMullon
There is something a little bit special about music which is able to cross the boundaries of different genres. From the intimate poetry of classic R&B, to the soulful ballads of modern pop music, when music is able to find a way to appeal to its audience on multiple levels they all start paying attention. This is the case with ‘The Fighter’ which truly manages to blend its heady mix of pop, rap and rock into a well made and emotive piece, which grabbed us and wouldn’t let us go.
The song ably blends the different styles in a surprising and evocative way, which entranced us with very little effort. From its R&B opening it would be easy to just denigrate it to being ‘just another rap song’, and stop listening. But for those who are patient, they soon hear the rock and pop elements become more prevalent and adding much needed flavor to a well written piece. Lyrically the song is more than a little derivative, using a tried and tested subject matter of fighting to attain your dreams. Maybe it is the recent Olympic spirit, but we did enjoy this new twist. However, we could not help but wonder if there was a small element of the group cashing in on the event in some way, which did feel a little bit cheap.
The problem is, for all of the songs potential, it never manages to make it as a unique song in its own right. It isn’t bad but it is not terribly good either, and while we were impressed we were hoping for a little bit more follow through. There is also a moment where you realise that the song is a little lazy by relying so heavily on its current events to give itself more weight, namely the Olympics. It is good to see them trying to make it more personal and relatable to our generation, but it gives a good song a cheap sheen which it doesn’t need and rather spoils the effect.
When all is said and done, we could quite easily listen to The Fighter again and again. We just can’t find ourselves loving it as a stand alone piece.
‘Butterflies’ by Kamaliya (Rating: ***)
Reviewed by Elliot Robinson
‘Butterflies’ is the fourth single to be released by multi-talented Ukrainian singer, Kamaliya.
Carrying on in the same vein as her previous singles, Kamaliya brings out her latest dancefloor filler, ‘Butterflies’. The song opens with a billowing, operatic vocal over a twinkling piano, though quickly changing gear into your classic dance track sound, being initially very reminiscent of the opening bars from Britney Spears’ recent hit, ‘Hold It Against Me’.
Two problems seem to haunt Kamaliya’s tracks, however, the first being an over-processed vocal, the second being her fairly clunky articulation of the English language. You can understand the reason she sings in English: broadest possible appeal, since many English-language artists have international success.
The lyrics for ‘Butterflies’ are pretty standard fair, covering a moment in time when two lovers are becoming enraptured with each other, getting ‘so high / chasing butterflies’. If one was to be rather cynical and unromantic about it, the words could well be about a one night stand.
The problem is, on all her songs thus far, Kamaliya sounds as if she hasn’t been speaking English all that long. Added to this, the tweaked vocal does occasionally jar somewhat, sounding slightly robotic and noticeably unnatural. It has a strangely digitised, filtered quality about it for much of the song too, which only draws attention to her vocal in a bad way.
That said, ‘Butterflies’ isn’t a terrible song, indeed, the chorus has more sing-along potential than her previous track, ‘Arrhythmia’, and even has some nice harmonising ad libs towards the back-end of the song. The accompanying video is a rather bonkers-on-a-budget affair, with Kamaliya and her dancers dressed up in cheap looking Georgian outfits before entering into what for all the world looks like a school disco. It makes the cheesy hilarity of the Steps video for ‘It’s the Way You Make Me Feel’ (which similarly used Georgian costuming) look like a work of art; although to be fair, for dance tracks, music videos are largely irrelevant.