Sound Of The Overground

Volume's Duncan Greive scours charts from the world, the 'net and NZ in the hope of finding the perfect pop song.

Sound of the Overground: A number one single your mother would understand

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Each week Duncan Greive performs some low grade analysis on the week’s New Zealand Singles Chart and reviews a few new release pop singles.

Taylor Swift's 'Eyes Open' from the soundtrack of 'The Hunger Games' has entered the chart high, at number six. Photo / NZ Herald
Taylor Swift's 'Eyes Open' from the soundtrack of 'The Hunger Games' has entered the chart high, at number six. Photo / NZ Herald

So let's come right out and say it: Carly Rae Jepsen's Call Me Maybe is the best number one single since We Found Love, and in some ways more exciting than that first ballot Hall of Famer, just because it got to number one without a 4/4 beat to help it along its way. It's a restless, besotted pop song, the kind which has been chart gold since, I dunno, The Ronettes at least. Which is to say it's a song your parents could hear and while they might not love it, they'd understand it. After a year which saw that festering turd Flo Rida dominating for weeks on end, this is a moment to be savoured.

The big entry is Taylor Swift in at number six with Eyes Open from The Hunger Games soundtrack, which is looking like out-Twilight-ing Twilight at this point. I like the song, but if I'm honest I feel like this is her reaching for the intensity of the apocalyptic emotions conjured by the story, which is way out of her normal hormonal range. So good on her, but I'm never going to like it so much as the adolescent longing, you know?

The only the new entry is... Kanye West and Jay-Z's N****s in Paris at number 40. I have no idea how it's taken this long for one of the greatest rap singles of all time to break local charts, but as a bookend to Carly Rae at the top it seems somehow apt. Maybe things are going to work out for us after all?

RIANZ Top 10 New Zealand singles chart
1 Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe
2 Chris Rene - Young Homie
3 Nicki Minaj - Starships
4 Fun. ft. Janelle Monae - We Are Young
5 Havana Brown - We Run the Night
6 Taylor Swift - Eyes Open
7 Train - Drive By
8 Emeli Sande - Next To Me
9 Hot Chelle Rae ft. New Boyz - I Like It Like That
10 K'Naan ft. Nelly Furtado - Is Anybody Out There?

SINGLE OF THE WEEK: Trey Songz - Heart Attack
VOLUME rating: 10/11
This comes off like an outtake from Confessions updated for 2012, which is to say that it's one of the best r'n'b singles I've heard in a long time - better than Usher's 'Climax', which means Trey's besting the master at his own game. The beat is stripped cold and bare, with whooshes and bleeps carrying you along, while Trey's multi-tracked vocals soar and sob over the top. "I never knew love would hurt this fuckin' bad/ Worst pain that I ever had", he laments, and you're right there with him.

Azealia Banks - F**k Up the Fun
VOLUME rating: 7/11
Produced by Dutchman Master D in collaboration with Diplo, who seems to be back in something of a creative sweet spot right now, F**k Up the Fun is all drums and vocals. There's literally nothing else, a forced limitation that places (duh) massive emphasis on the quality of each. Banks raps cool and sass-heavy, while the percussion plays like a 3D version of Destiny's Child's Lose My Breath - it's a nice combination, not as mind-blowing as Lil Mama's Lipgloss, but that's the general direction.

Frank Ocean - Thinking About You
VOLUME rating: 9/11
A seriously pretty AOR'n'b jam, the production is all hazy codeine synths, a spacier cousin to his track with Kanye and Jay-Z 'Made in America' though it's even slower and more cutely romantic. Next to the constant provocations of his Odd Future cohorts this sounds ridiculously innocent, but in its references to "my first time" it refracts their teenage exuberance through a knowing, nostalgic lens. When Ocean's locked in he's as good as anyone around right now, and this suggests we could be in for a pretty astounding second record.

Justin Bieber - Boyfriend
VOLUME rating: 8/11
One listen to this and you're taken back to the summer of Justified, when a young, handsome pop star transcended his purported limitations and redefined chart music. Now this is not on that level - but it's a leap from Bieber's toytown beginnings akin to the one Timberlake made from late-period 'N Sync. The production is great, acoustic guitars, strange descending synths and very spare snare-driven beat, with Bieber alternating intimate whisper rapping and multi-tracked come ons. If this became a hit, and surely it must, the world would be a far better place. And if the album has three or four more like it the world will think very differently about Bieber by the time this year's out.

WhEn PEts ATtacK! - Snails IS People Too!
VOLUME rating: 5/11
The second instalment of "I will review anything that gets submitted for review", at least until there's some quantity coming through. C'mon, people - tweet @ me! Anyway, this was emailed through, maybe from Christchurch? Feels unsettling, like that town's denizens can. It's a super weird, shambling, jazzy oddity that wants to be The Fall (I think - hard to say for sure), and has a strong anti-vegetarian message, so as a vegetarian I admire their targeting. I found it super irritating to actually listen to, but intriguing on some level at the same time, so the grade shouldn't be taken as the final word on this band by any means. And please SUBMIT SOME SONGS.

To submit or suggest a track for review email singles@volumemagazine.co.nz or tweet @duncangreive.

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