The first Monday of August and the musical offerings still come thick and fast. This week sees new singles from established acts Madonna and Pet Shop Boys, as well as one from the latest UK boyband to capitalise on the current trend, Lawson. Our final selection comes from Bristolian producer and DJ, Redlight. So without further ado, let us give you the run down on this week’s hot releases.
‘Turn Up The Radio’ by Madonna (Rating: **1/2)
Reviewed by Elliot Robinson
‘Turn Up The Radio’ is the third single to be released from Madonna’s 12th studio album, MDNA.
It may be deemed somewhat sacrilegious to badmouth Madonna, and on a website geared towards a gay audience no less, though sadly, with this song it is almost unavoidable. ‘Turn Up The Radio’ is far from awful, though coming from the same artist who has brought us pop gems such as ‘Like A Prayer’, ‘Vogue’ and ‘Frozen’, we do expect more. Perhaps the Queen of Pop has made a rod for her own back due to the strength of her own brilliant back-catalogue.
Madonna has never been an artist who’s primary draw was her vocal prowess, being an all-round entertainer, not to mention a fearless and unapologetic boundary-pusher, she has more strings to her bow. However, with this single, the melody is fairly flat and uninteresting, verging on monotonous; Madonna’s naturally thin voice only makes this worse and is in fact rather grating here. The track’s production by French DJ and producer, Martin Solveig, is decent enough, though again nothing to write home about either.
The rather generic title is indicative of the unimaginative content that lies within the lyrics themselves. Upon seeing the track name, one half expects to hear the lyrics ‘Throw your hands in the air / Like you just don’t care’ and other such well-worn rhyming couplets; thankfully though these don’t appear. The theme of the song paints Madonna as someone trying to find a point of escape from the ‘maddening crowd [that] makes you feel like you’re going to go insane’. This might seem believable coming from an overwhelmed new talent, but coming from a music veteran and one-woman pop behemoth, who’s faced trials and tribulations that would have broken a weaker soul, it all rings rather hollow.
Having a robust music career that has now entered its fourth decade, it’s unlikely that Madonna will be undone by this uninteresting song, especially since an army of fans the world over will buy her music regardless. Although with expectations ever high as the anointed Queen of Pop, she would be wise to avoid releasing such wholly average music as singles in future.
‘Taking Over Me’ by Lawson (Rating: ****)
Reviewed by Ben Egan
Boybands seem to be dominating the global charts at present. With the unsurprising stateside success of One Direction and The Wanted, is there room for another boyband on the already rather crowded scene?
Cue Lawson, a pop-rock British boyband that have already supported both The Wanted and The Saturdays on recent tours. Lawson’s debut single, ‘When She Was Mine’, reached an impressive number 4 in the UK singles charts and the boys are hoping that their follow-up ‘Taking Over Me’ will maybe top that position…
With more harmonies than One Direction’s entire back catalogue and, arguably, a more mature vibe, ‘Taking Over Me’ is a confident second release for Lawson. Lead singer Andy Brown, who coincidentally used to be in Avenue alongside The Wanted’s Max George, has a voice to die for and, as a result, makes the single one that is bound to make you want more.
Upbeat and fresh, Lawson pull out all the stadium-filler tricks. From the gushing and tingling ‘Oohs’ that immediately opens the track, to the guitar-heavy power chorus, ‘Taking Over Me’ indicates that Lawson are no one-hit wonder. However, the chorus seems a tiny bit weak lyrically speaking, especially in comparison to the swooning, often deep verses, ‘I’m in ecstasy / I can’t believe that love, love, love is taking over me’.
With that said, we believe that Lawson are definitely on course for another top 5 hit with this track. The boys continue to show potential and originality, let’s hope this continues (and not to mention, they are pretty cute too, in a rugged kind of way!).
‘Lost In Your Love’ by Redlight (Rating: ****)
Reviewed by Jon B
Anyone with an appreciation of the dance music of the late 1990s cannot fail to be secretly delighted by DJ and producer Redlight, who came into the mainstream earlier this year with his 90s-inspired, top 20 hit, ‘Get Out My Head’. ’Lost In Your Love’ continues on a similar theme, featuring some of the main elements of classic dance music from that era, most notably a trademark 90s piano riff that dominates the entire track and evokes memories for those of us old enough to remember an age when you couldn’t get into a club unless you were wearing black shoes. These riffs are combined, however, with synth ‘crescendos’ that are nothing less than contemporary and used to great effect to build ‘peaks’ in a vein of some of the other big names in dance music at the moment (think Calvin Harris and Rihanna’s ‘We Found Love’). It may sound like a bit of musical mismatch but it works very well, blasting you through proceedings at a phenomenal rate and ensuring that the track never get boring.
Lyrically, there admittedly isn’t very much to go on here. Most of the track relies on a central lyrical hook – ‘I’m lost in your love / When I wake up / The first thing I do think of is you’ – but then does this really matter? We’re not talking about something that sets out to have particular ‘artistic’ value here; this is designed to be a floorfiller, and from that point of view it does not need to be particularly challenging, it simply needs to have a catchy enough hook to be remembered. In this, it succeeds.
This is arguably dance music done at its best; catchy, uncomplicated and not ‘overdone’ (the radio edit of the track is well under 3 minutes long). Compared to ‘Get Out My Head’ it has a more contemporary and relevant feel as a slice of dance-pop, and if you have any love for dance music, ‘Lost In Your Love’ would be more than capable of kicking off your Saturday night.
‘Winner’ by Pet Shop Boys (Rating: **)
Reviewed by Scott McMullon
There is something a little bit sweet and ever so slightly cheesy about this track from the Pet Shop Boys, which comes ahead of their new album, Elysium. That being said, the cute little quirks are not enough to save it from being mostly dull and derivative, and makes us wonder what the point was.
The track itself is not bad, and lyrically there is something unique here. The thing that set our teeth on edge is that it is far too sedate and quiet, and the delivery is rather listless and hard to follow. At times it feels like listening to the sort of non-descript melodies often played in lifts and shopping centres, and did nothing to entertain us. It also commits the cardinal sin of just not having enough heart, and left us wondering if we are meant to care.
The music video that accompanies this piece is by far the most interesting part of the release. It tells the story of a transgender member of a womens roller derby team. It certainly got our attention simply by being unique, and it was good to see a young transgendered person being accepted by a larger group in any medium. The problem is, the pairing with the oft-times boring song has left this feeling like an under produced short movie. Again we feel that there is something special that they are trying to communicate, but it just feels like they are trying to hard to make up for the songs obvious short comings.
The worst part about this track is that it could have been something really special. All the ingredients were here, but the method used just did not implement them to the best of their ability. That being said it is not a terrible song, and would probably appeal to fans of Pet Shop Boys, and could be used as easy listening or relaxation pop (if there is such a thing). We were just hoping for something a lot better, and were left feeling a little disappointed.