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: Somebody that I almost knew

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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.

Rapper T-Pain's single 'Turn All The Lights On' has leaped to number seven on the chart. Photo / Supplied
Rapper T-Pain's single 'Turn All The Lights On' has leaped to number seven on the chart. Photo / Supplied

Evidently the 60,000 people who had bought Somebody That I Used to Know prior to this week didn't represent market saturation - there are many more unsated who read about its US triumph and dropped a couple of bucks on some bytes. The 36-week-old single has just shot up to number two, which is fine, because it's still a very lovely song, but nothing was going to stop Carly Rae Jepsen from her fifth straight week as our chart overlord. And with a promo visit scheduled for this week, it's fair to assume she'll do a few more, making Call Me Maybe a candidate for the biggest selling single of the year. That would be a wonderful thing.

Lower down T-Pain's mad Turn All the Lights On leaps up to number seven, while Rihanna has her 115th top 10 hit with Where Have You Been?. Deeper in there's some weird shit going on, novelty sounding stuff (Wallpaper.?!), and some super pop kuduro, which was the cool underground world music like five years ago. But it's got Pitbull on it, and right now he could rap over hard house and have a hit.

Oh, that's right...

RIANZ Top 10 New Zealand singles chart
1 Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe
2 Gotye ft. Kimbra - Somebody That I Used to Know
3 Fun. ft. Janelle Monae - We Are Young
4 Nicki Minaj - Starships
5 Chris Rene - Young Homie
6 Justin Bieber - Boyfriend
7 T-Pain ft. Ne-Yo - Turn All the Lights On
8 Train - Drive By
9 Havana Brown - We Run the Night
10 Rihanna - Where Have You Been?

SINGLE OF THE WEEK: CHROMATICS - Back from the Grave
VOLUME rating: 10/11
The '80s have a strange rep. Thanks to Classic Hits and The Wedding Singer and a thousand other after-the-fact totems, we see it as all big hair and silliness, when that's only part of the story, albeit a pretty fun part. The early '80s, though, saw pop music experimenting with a vigour it wouldn't approach again for years, and with a palette broader than it ever would again. Jonny Jewel's Chromatics have returned, after the Drive soundtrack stole their entire aesthetic (albeit with him complicit in the theft), and made a song which feels like it takes a lot from what is still so inviting about the best music of '79-'83. Which is to say that Back from the Grave has a bigger melody than we've ever heard from Jewel, while retaining that narcotic haze and brute simplicity that makes his songs so replayable. Ruth Radalet's vocals are magnificent too, still so soft, but she gives in to populism with some "oooh-ooh-oooh-s" that don't shatter the spell in the slightest. Jonny Jewel's endless project, now encompassing many artists, releases and years, just keeps delivering.

MAJOR LAZER FT. DIRTY PROJECTORS - Get Free
VOLUME rating: 8/11
For all the nominal borderlessness of contemporary international pop music, reggae still feels like a bridge too far for most artists - either you legitimately engage with it à la Nicki Minaj/MIA, or you're just curling a vowel-sound with all the depth of feeling of an "18 Massive Reggae Hits" compilation. I guess in some way that's preferable to the New Zealand style, an abomination all of its own whereby 30 people in cheesecutters and goatees "jam" lustily at Barnaby Weir's feet, acknowledging him as the inventor of Jamaican music and Marvin Gaye 2.0 in one.

Aaanyway. What's good about Get Free is that it shows just how broad the area is, and how much room there is to explore. Here we get a feather-light sound bed, like a less abstract Arthur Russell, with Amber from Dirty Projectors locking in and clocking off as her will dictates. It's strange, but very involving, and will play great with whisky and a late night, rather than summer and a blunt. Because it's not just one thing, right?

MAROON 5 FT. WIZ KHALIFA - Payphone
VOLUME rating: 3/11
... In which Adam Levine shows his age by remembering what a payphone is, and his audience their credulity by not caring that they don't exist anymore. Look for its sequels She Broke Up With Me Via Fax, Morse Code Baby and Deciphering These Hieroglyphics coming in 2015. Chumps.

RITA ORA - How We Do (Party)
VOLUME rating: 4/11
Notorious B.I.G. fans will be super-excited that someone's keeping his flame alive on How We Do (Party), which recycles 'Party and Bullshit' for a bridge. Psych! Of course they won't! They'll get mad that someone is appropriating their god for something as banal as pop music. I mean *sigh* - you're both wrong. Biggie's latter-day fans, who keep dragging him further and further down this Rawkus Records sinkhole, where it's all craft and respect and foundations - you're definitely wrong. Biggie was a pop singer, he had HITS. Sure he was an amazing lyricist, but he was also as mainstream as you could be in his day - that is why he was great. And Rita Ora fans are wrong too. Because while I admire anyone who enters Eurovision, this song unfortunately sucks, so even enjoying it "for what it is" won't work. Because what it is, is average. Which is a shame. Because I really thought, with that title, we were getting a masterpiece.

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