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: PNC is ready to soar

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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.

PNC. Photo / Supplied
PNC. Photo / Supplied

As predicted last week LMFAO lasted just seven days atop the charts, falling to number five this week, adding fuel to my conspiracy theory that it was somehow manipulated to the top.

Replacing everyone's favourite party rockers is Flo Rida, whose Wild Ones is sadly not a cover of Suede's doomy ballad of the same name.

Flo Rida might be the most characterless rapper ever created. He makes Pitbull look like ODB. The production's pretty fun - has the hyper-melodic thump that Chris Brown's Yeah 3X had, which recalls some of the giddy Scandinavian thrills of CEO or Junior Senior if you squint hard enough. But I can't endorse anything by Flo Rida if he doesn't have a true fruitcake like T-Pain alongside.

The only new entry is Jessie J's collaboration with Guetta, Laserlight, at 39. Weirdly it takes over a minute to go all big room trance on us, a tease that will always be pretty effective to me. As far as similes go, You're like a laserlight' is in the bottom 10 per cent of available material, certainly not worthy of putting front-and-centre in a song's chorus.

But Jessie J has basically been sprinting downhill ever since she followed up the excellent Do It Like a Dude with that fetid platitudes of Price Tag. This is, better, but still s***.

RIANZ TOP 20 NEW ZEALAND SINGLES CHART
1 Flo Rida ft. Sia - Wild Ones
2 Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa - Young, Wild and Free
3 Coldplay - Paradise
4 Ed Sheeran - The A Team
5 David Guetta ft. Sia - Titanium
6 LMFAO - Sexy and I Know It
7 Rihanna ft. Calvin Harris - We Found Love
8 One Direction - What Makes You Beautiful
9 Six60 - Only To Be
10 Labrinth ft. Tinie Tempah - Earthquake
11 Annah Mac - Girl in Stilettos
12 Bruno Mars - It Will Rain
13 Christina Perri - A Thousand Years
14 Gotye ft. Kimbra - Somebody That I Used to Know
15 Pitbull ft. Chris Brown - International Love
16 Gym Class Heroes ft. Neon Hitch - Ass Back Home
17 Flo Rida - Good Feeling
18 Cher Lloyd ft. Mike Posner - With Ur Love
19 The Babysitter's Circus - Everything's Gonna Be Alright
20 LMFAO - Party Rock Anthem

SINGLE OF THE WEEK: PNC - As I Fly
Volume rating: 10/11

The second free track from PNC's forthcoming "album with the soul of a mixtape", As I Fly cements what its predecessor Stranger Pt. 1 & 2 strongly hinted at - that is, there's a stone classic looming.

Stranger was brilliant in so many ways - the pulsing delicacy of newcomer Matt Miller's revision of Gotye's Somebody I Used to Know made Pt. 1 sonically enigmatic, with PNC revealing more of himself than anyone this side of Drake (maybe more again). Then the beat and tone switched violently on Pt. 2, a naked, wounded rage exposed. It was rap music with limitless ambition. Which is to say that As I Fly needed to be great just to hold position.

Beat-wise, Miller is perfect again - airy, candyfloss synths with a boom clap that hits just right. The lyrics match the astral tone, dark shadows fall across it - "been on the verge of ending it all" - but PNC just floats, separated from reality's weight by drugs or thoughts... it's not really clear.

What is manifest is that PNC is back in the kind of form which birthed Bazooka Kid, his dazzling second LP. There's no higher praise available than the sense that Under the Influence might top it.

VAN HALEN - Tattoo
Volume rating: 7/11

Reunited with David Lee Roth for the first time since the mid-'90s, when the world could not have cared less about solos and spandex, Van Halen's return is oddly welcome. Oddly in the sense that, while there's no pressing need for this music, they've made some very good calls along the way - the sound is pure mid-'80s lite-heavy (no goatee-and-piercing update), Eddie peels off a killer solo, and they remain funny to listen to without vamping à la the post-Darkness diaspora (Shotgun Alley, anyone?).

Plus I'll always have time for anyone who writes a memoir as entertaining as Crazy from the Heat.

MARY J BLIGE FT. DRAKE - Mr Wrong
Volume rating: 8/11

The first minute of Mr Wrong features Drake on autopilot - which is to say it's incredible. The guy is peaking so hard right now that just doing him is fantastic.

Mary always sounded best over stripped back, muscular productions, and she's got one here, allowing her immensely emotional vocals to take centre stage.

"Me and Mr Wrong got a thing going on," she laments, but so long as it gets us music like this, we've got to hope they stay steady.

TRAIN - DRIVE BY
Volume rating: 3/11

Train come back with another of their trademark gritty street anthems, lamenting the loss of another corner soldier to the titular Drive By.

JAY-Z - Glory
Volume rating: 5/11

Neptunes and Jay-Z together! That would've been exciting 10 years ago, now it's kinda vomitous. "Did yoooou wiggle your hands for her?" he coos over his new daughter Blue Ivy Carter.

Sweet sentiment, and this isn't actually all that awful, but I have a bad feeling that it signals the end of Jay's brief Watch the Throne-era renaissance.

I don't think I'm alone in not wanting to hear any more raps about domestic bliss and how great his kids are.

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

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