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: Top spot stolen by pop mistress

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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.

Katy Perry. Photo / AP
Katy Perry. Photo / AP

Katy Perry has dethroned Flo Rida, and honestly this could have been a field recording of child murder and I'd probably still be pleased with the outcome. Perry's Part of Me is a classic sixth single, it basically sounds like her people have made some sickly robot out of bits of her previous hits - the remorseless thump of Hot n Cold, the false yearning of Firework - but once a singer's had enough hits that were actually good then even their lesser material starts to feel reassuring on some base biochemical level.

Maybe the best thing about her new entry at the top is that she's merely the first of a clutch of new singles and re-entries to give the chart a much-needed refresh. The key new entries are discussed alongside here - but it's re-entries that make up the bulk of what's new.

The death of Whitney Houston, the seismic Beyoncé grade talent of her day, has seen a bunch of her immortals come back to the charts, and the Grammys see some of the last humans to want-but-not-have Adele singles push them back in.

Ho and hum.

The re-invigorated chart is tinged with sadness for me, as LMFAO's Party Rock Anthem was finally pushed out of the chart, two weeks shy of making a full calendar year. This sucks because A) I grew to adore the song, the most joyously, heroically silly in a long time, and B) it robs me of the opportunity to refer to it as "this generation's Dark Side of the Moon" on account of its longevity, and make the Herald online commenters go fully mental. Very sad about that.

RIANZ TOP 10 NEW ZEALAND SINGLES CHART
1 Katy Perry - Part of Me
2 Reece Mastin - Good Night
3 Flo Rida ft. Sia - Wild Ones
4 Train - Drive By
5 David Guetta ft. Nicki Minaj - Turn Me On
6 Annah Mac - Girl in Stilettos
7 Whitney Houston - I Will Always Love You
8 Ed Sheeran - Lego House
9 Chris Brown - Turn Up the Music
10 David Guetta ft. Sia - Titanium

SINGLE OF THE WEEK: ONE DIRECTION - I Should Have Kissed You
Volume rating: 8/11

From the first chords I was sold. That fake aggressive guitar is just so hilarious. You can just imagine the guys going "yeah - this is like our Enter Sandman". The cool thing about One Direction is that they know what they're about sound-wise. Their whole sonic universe is contained within the first few seconds of the chorus of Since U Been Gone, and as much as Avril, The Veronicas and many others have been to that well there seems plenty more of value down there. So sure, this is music by middle-aged men puppeteering some teenagers, but it's extremely well put together, hooky as hell, and just makes you want to brush the shit out of your hair, metaphorically speaking.

JUPITER PROJECT - Catch Me
Volume rating: 6/11

A New Zealand act I know nothing about (the link is unlisted, and was forwarded me by Hussein Moses at thecorner.co.nz - if you don't regularly check in there, start doing that now), except that if they want to be, they could be pretty huge here. And I think they want to be, as there's no good reason to create this music without stadium-size ambition.

It basically sounds like Kid Cudi (an obvious comparison they'd love) meets Stan Walker (and one they'd hate) - there is very little of either themselves or anyone else evident here. But seeing as both those artists are pretty damn huge it suggests a vast potential audience. I guess it was inevitable that Cudi's style would get appropriated, given that it was both distinctive and successful, but it's still disconcerting to hear it done so slavishly.

Their saving grace is that there's a monster hook in their (that's the Stan Walker part) - with a slightly cleaned-up production this is a top 10 single - and that ability is very rare. I'm not sold yet, but am willing to be persuaded.

CHRIS BROWN - Turn Up the Music
Volume rating: 3/11

I'm trying with this shit, I swear to God. But no part of me will allow that the world is better off with Chris Brown singing this stuff instead of Run It. Unlike most of the world I hold no grudge against him for what happened with Rihanna. I mean, it was awful, but he was a teenager at the eye of a hurricane. The miracle is that more disastrous shit like that doesn't happen. I feel bad for everyone involved. But it has been through the courts, the whole world knows his shame - I don't see why it should stop him making music.

But this music is terrible. You compare it to a song like Forever, paid for by Wrigleys even down to its "double your pleasure/ double your fun" line. Ostensibly that song was much more compromised. But the raw desperation of hearing these natural-born r'n'b guys on this terrible trance-y production is infinitely depressing, whereas Forever felt supple and nuanced. But it's straight in at number nine on our charts - until that stops happening we'll just get more and more of it.

NICKI MINAJ - Starships
Volume rating: 5/11

Speaking of which - here's Nicki Minaj debasing herself chasing the same audience. I guess pop music has always been basically the same as toys or fashion or whatever - you don't keep bringing out board games when everyone wants Bratz. But we pretend that these artists are, like "artists" - that their music means something to them, is the product of their creative urges. And there's just no way an artist who's as deeply in love with rapping as Nicki Minaj obviously is (you just can't get as otherworldly good at it any other way) is enjoying the "higher than a motherf***er" break in this song.

It's not entirely without merit, certainly better than Brown's single above, and the intro's One Direction (obligatory reference) style guitars have a stoopid faux-Caribbean charm. But hearing talent this huge on material this slight, knowing that the window is only ever two or three records at most - that'll drive you to drink at 10 in the morning.

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

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