Yet another Monday beckons in a whole new week of work ahead, but before you get caught up with the Monday blues, why not take a few moments with a hot cup of caffeine to peruse this week’s choices for Singles Of The Week.
This week we have a rather international menu, with the latest single from a popular k-pop act, two big American acts, as well as the debut single from a homegrown dance act. So without further ado, here are our selections.
‘I Love You’ – 2NE1 (Rating: *****)
Reviewed by Elliot Robinson
‘I Love You’ is the latest single release from 4-piece, k-pop girl group, 2NE1, and is produced by long-term producer and label mate, Teddy Park. It also serves as the lead single for their forthcoming, second Korean album, which is as yet unnamed.
The song opens in a rather sultry, low-key fashion with group member, CL, almost whispering the rather melodramatic lines, ‘When you feel like there’s no way out / Love is the only way’. Fellow 2NE1-er, Minzy joins in, and the pair exchange rhyming couplets, cooing over oriental-tinged synths that lead their way into the stomping chorus.
Lyrically speaking, ‘I Love You’ is nothing wildly original, rather, a standard pop song about love, with the tone being slightly laced with jealousy and obsession; in a word the girls sound a little needy. However, the production as a whole is so brilliant, that any hints of Bunny Boiler potential are quickly overlooked.
The single is a brilliant slice of electro-pop, something the South Koreans seem to be ace at doing, perhaps second only to the Swedes. The song is a slight change of direction for 2NE1, as it places greater emphasis on their singing abilities, a move that pays off in spades. The soaring notes that the girls do on the chorus as they sing the words ‘I love you’ are delightful, bringing that touch of delicacy which perfectly complements the electronic beats.
The stripped-back parts of the song work well as contrast to the more energetic sections, like the chorus. Indeed, this contrast is used to great effect towards the middle-end of the song when CL barks ‘Bring it back’, interrupting the momentum of the song while it’s in full swing, effectively resetting the song to bring back the clipped synths that ushered in the track. ‘I Love You’ is a superb track, and increases our anticipation immensely for their next album.
Download the single from iTunes now.
‘One More Down To Go’ by Blue Angel (Rating: **1/2)
Reviewed by Greg White.
Blue Angel is an electronic London-based duo of Bella Bennet (vocals) and Jason Newton (production, song writing). They describe their songs as ‘dreamy ambient electronic pop with a few dancier tracks’. This is their third single and the first release from their upcoming album.
‘One More Down To Go’ is an entrancing little dance number, although also a bit forgettable. Bella’s vocals smoothly deliver the hypnotic melody, but come across as somewhat emotionless, since her delivery never changes throughout the track. The song does suffer a little bit by sounding very similar from beginning to end. Perhaps a key-change, beat drop, or more adventurous vocals could have helped liven it up a little. The lyrics seem to be a call-out on a certain person’s various gluttonous habits: ‘You never have enough of all those boys you love / You never could say no / Just one more down to go’.
The accompanying video is a still-animation of photographs taken by Jeremy Williams, who has worked with the likes of Wynter Gordon and Bright Light Bright Light. It’s a colourful affair that features a brightly feathered Indian headdress, a very bad wig, and a pair of hipster specs.
Despite the tracks flaws, the melody and production are quite good and we’re interested to hear more from them. Blue Angel’s debut album, Envy of Angels, is set to be released this Autumn.
Download the single now from iTunes.
‘Never Close Our Eyes’ by Adam Lambert (Rating: ***1/2)
Reviewed by Scott McMullon
Adam Lambert has never been known for pulling his punches in his music, and his latest single is no exception, as it as he exudes power and pride in this classic electropop explosion.
‘Never Close Our Eyes’ is the latest single to be taken from Lambert’s second studio album, Trespassing, containing a terrific hook and beat that manages to get under your skin within seconds. The fast beat also manages to get the heart pumping and the feet itching to get out onto a dance floor and wave your arms like a loon. The former American Idol runner-up’s vocals add another brilliant layer to this piece which is already dripping with high quality production.
The lyrics are performed brilliantly, but when you take the time to listen to it, they are sadly a little derivative and definitely made us feel like we were having a touch of déjà vu. It’s not as if we are sick of songs like this, or that the subject matter is getting tired, it’s more that we were expecting something a little more experimental from someone as brave and intense as Lambert has been.
The music video that partners the single is so well made it almost looked like a film trailer, and with such high production values we could not help but be impressed by the treatment. The dystopian backdrop feels organic and as the track launches into the chorus we all want to be right there with the oppressed masses as the flash mob kicks in. We were forced to wonder what the thematic design had to do with the premise of the lyrics as they seemed mismatched, but it has been a joy to watch so we forgive it for that.
The real bump in the road for this song is the fact that it plays things far too safe. We know that Lambert can get people on their feet and listening without even really trying, but we love it when he dares to be in your face and pushing boundaries. We don’t think we saw that with this track, which could have easily been cut and pasted to any number of other pop performers. We wanted Adam Lambert, but instead what we got amounted to a paint-by-numbers song, which while good, fell short of being great.
Dont worry Adam we still love you. We just want something a bit more ‘you’ next time.
‘National Anthem’ by Lana del Rey (Rating: *****)
Reviewed by Jon B.
‘National Anthem’ is the fifth single release from Lana Del Rey’s number one album, Born to Die, following the limited release of ‘Summertime Sadness’. Unless you’re Rihanna, it is often difficult for an artist to maintain the momentum with five single releases from such a commercially successful album, so we at So So Gay were curious to check out this latest offering.
As choices go, however, ‘National Anthem’ is both an obvious and shrewd one. An obvious choice due to the timing of the release around 4 July, but shrewd because, for those unfamiliar with Born to Die, its hip-hop influenced beats might come as a surprise. Rey skilfully combines these beats with a string arrangement which is both simple and captivating, right from the initial hook, which the listener may find reminiscent of The Verve’s ‘Bittersweet Symphony’. For those less enamoured with the theatricality of Rey’s music, the marrying of the strings and the beats will provide an interesting lure.
In terms of vocal delivery, the track showcases the artist at her best. Soft, low tones that ooze sexuality are juxtaposed with higher, thinner tones that suggest longing. As with much of the writing on the album, the listener is left with the impression of an artist who knows life beyond her years. She declares to her lover that she is his ‘National Anthem’, but as much as there is a yearning for ‘someone to hold me’ there is also a shrewd disdain for the fakery of the material word and the idea that ‘Money is the anthem of success / everyone knows it is a fact’. With equally infectious and tongue-in-cheek lyrics such as ‘Money is the anthem of success / so put on mascara and your party dress’ the listener cannot help but be drawn in to something which feels both powerful and sad. The track builds to a bridge which, in keeping with the hip-hop vibe, features Rey delivering a quick succession of lyrics outlining the excesses of the modern age ‘Wining and dining, drinking and driving / Excessive buying, overdosin’, dyin’ / On our drugs and our love’ and it is a style of vocal delivery which works for her just as well as the style of her previous material.
‘National Anthem’ combines the best aspects of an artist with a fresh musical twist. Rey’s trademark smooth and seductive tones evoke both sexuality and vulnerability. It is all these layers than make her such an interesting artist, and ‘National Anthem’ an incredibly infectious song.