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.

Reece Mastin, the English-born (warning sign) winner of The X-Factor (flashing bright red) opens his new single, which has just topped our charts with this neat couplet: "Let's go back to rock'n'roll/ When people just let go/ And let the music flow, oh oh oh". Last year, when he topped the Australian charts I described this thusly: "a repellent slice of perky plod that has the temerity to yearn for a return to the days of good time rock'n'roll." Nothing has changed. I love TV, but sometimes it can be almost too powerful. If you really hate music, he has a cover of She Will Be Loved further down the chart.

Further down Minaj's end-is-nigh Starships rises from 12 to four, and still sounds like it could displace Mastin at some point. New entry-wise Cher Lloyd's Want U Back is distinguished by this intense, guttural "uugh" that acts as percussion. It's so strange, but it makes me feel very positively toward the song. The number of people who had to approve that weird sound for it to get on our radio... just makes me happy is all.

And Breathe Carolina (GREAT band name, guys) have a song called Blackout. When I saw the sleeve I freaked out and thought it might be the English crew of "donk" fame with a song called Breathe Carolina. But it's an American "electronica" duo instead :-( Still, due to the mental amount of auto-tune they use, I can't stay mad at them. Enjoyably crazy.

1 Reece Mastin - Good Night
2 Flo Rida ft. Sia - Wild Ones
3 Katy Perry - Part of Me
4 Nicki Minaj - Starships
5 David Guetta ft. Nicki Minaj - Turn Me On
6 Cher Lloyd - Want U Back
7 Train - Drive By
8 Ed Sheeran - Lego House
9 Annah Mac - Girl in Stilettos
10 Chris Brown - Turn Up the Music
SINGLE OF THE WEEK: Far East Movement ft. Justin Bieber - Live My Life
Volume rating: 4/11
The only thing that could make Bieber better (oxymoron alert!) is a big dumb pop-house beat, right? It's finally arrived! It's actually not as bad as the whole Guettaverse - the beat has a slight syncopation that stops it being pure dull thud. But Bieber's role here is akin to Rihanna's on the song's near namesake Live Your Life, and it's nowhere near the cold stunner that anthem was. So for the most part it's the Far East Movement doing their sub-LMFAO exhortations. Probably going to make some people involved a lot of money is about the best thing you can say about it.


Ria - The One
Volume rating: 6/11
After breaking out last year with Over You, and with one song becoming basically the most exciting r'n'b singer in New Zealand, Ria struggled a little to follow it up. All My Ladies came toward the end of the year, and now 'The One' arrives, with similar strengths and deficiencies intact. The reason 'Over You' worked was it channelled the late '90s/early '00s US r'n'b sound which is clearly a touchstone for her, and worked so brilliantly with her voice. 'The One' is nominally a more modern sound, leaning far more toward a pure contemporary pop production, but suffers because it doesn't feel like the natural area for anyone involved (ie writers/singer/producer). It's not bad, by any means, and when she really gets to linger on a syllable her voice is still very affecting. But it could be so much better if she just ignored this chart disease and did right by her.

K'naan' ft. Nelly Furtado - Is Anybody Out There?
Volume rating: 7/11
During the last golden era for pop Timbaland had put together two outrageously good albums within the space of a few months. Justin Timberlake's FutureSex/LoveSounds and Nelly Furtado's Loose did everything pop music was supposed to - huge, sky scraping melodies, production that moved the whole form forward, clear interest in a bunch of underground/historical genres without being beholden to any of them. We didn't know how lucky we were.

The crazy thing is that neither singer has released anything of consequence since. And over the six years which have passed the world of pop has been on an increasingly steep slope downward, quality-wise.

One 'featuring' spot doesn't change that trend. But Furtado does a great job on this "uplifting" (that's the feel, not how I felt) ballad, and her instincts around a hook sound as good today as when she last came through. She's supposed to be bringing a new album this year, and you should all hope and pray that it signals the end of this nuclear winter we've endured under the reign of Guetta and the BEPs.

Arctic Monkeys - R U Mine?
Volume rating: 1/11
A one-off single ahead of the shitty English band's tour with that shitty American band The Black Keys. This is the epitome of the flesh-eating virus gnawing at the heart of English rock music - or at least the stuff which gets approving nods from the NME, then Q, Mojo etc. Which basically means that history stopped in 1989, when the The Stone Roses came out. So everything that has come since has had to pick some arbitrary period from the previous 25 years ('64 -'89) to slavishly replicate. This month, the Arctic Monkeys have chosen Thin Lizzy-ish boogie-ish prole rock circa 1976. It's entirely creatively bankrupt, but secret racists who yearn for simpler times will love it.

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

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