Drake – More Life: So Much Background Noise

Drake – More Life: So Much Background Noise

So Drake recently released his latest…thing. Is it an EP? No, it’s too long for that. Is it a mixtape? No, there’s a bit too much production value from the multi-millionaire pop star for that. Is it an album? No, because that’d imply that there’s actually been a significant amount of effort put into it. It seems more like a collection of B-sides than anything. Y’know, those songs that don’t get put on an actual album ‘cos they’re a bit shit. Okay, that’s harsh, being a B-side doesn’t necessarily mean a song’s bad. But there is a higher chance.

To be fair, there’s nothing on this “playlist” (as Drake calls it, the pretentious git), that’s offensively bad. The production has a very smooth and laid back quality to it and it’s easy listening.  But there’s nothing that jumps out at me. There’s nothing that’s making me go “Oh fuckin’ hell that’s bloody good that is”. Nope. It’s just sort of…there. The instrumentals are at best pleasing to the ears, and at worst, are nothing-y. If you want to just have some background noise whilst you’re relaxing or doing something else, you could do a lot worse than this. However, if you want to actively listen to music, then I’d find something else if I were you.

Because if you listen to this actively you’ll notice that Drake is bizarrely trying to incorporate London slang into his music as well as his attempts at Patois. The word “wasteman” or “ting” sounds alright when someone like Giggs or Skepta uses it, but when it comes out of Drake’s mouth it sounds all kinds of wrong. I’m not against trying to incorporate bits of music from other countries, but do that by having features or just take purely instrumental inspiration. If Drake had been significantly involved in London street culture like grime artists have, then it’s fair game, but otherwise, nah. Sounds weird.

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I would tell you in which songs he uses this slang, but in all honesty, I can’t remember (I think the ones which feature Giggs?), and I can’t be arsed to go through all the tracks again. They all blend into this amorphous mass of fairly pleasant but characterless rap/dancehall. Apart from the Skepta Interlude and KMT ft. Giggs, which come sort of out of nowhere. These are also two of my favourite tracks as they sort of move away from the anonymous vibe of the project and are basically grime songs (obvs). And y’all know this middle class white boy loves his grime.

I’m not really that fussed about talking about this anymore as there’s not really much else to say. I just hope Drake’s next project is something a bit more exciting.

Fave tracks: KMT ft. Giggs, Skepta Interlude, Gyalchester, Portland ft. Quavo & Travis Scott

Worst tracks: Since Way Back – PARTYNEXTDOOR, Glow ft. Kanye West, Lose You

Overall rating: 5.6/10

Would I recommend? – My response to this question is…eeeeeeeh? Like I said before, if you want something on in the background that you don’t really want to pay attention to, go for it, but otherwise…just wait for something more exciting.

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Pitbull – Climate Change: God is Dead

Pitbull – Climate Change: God is Dead

This album is something really special. A true musical masterpiece. Do you want to know why I put “God is dead” in the title? Because even the Almighty one was so blown away by Mr. P Bull’s musical talent that he immediately suffered a heart attack. That’s how truly incredible this album is.

Ahaha just kidding, it’s a piece of shit.

If you’re wondering why someone with apparently such a discerning taste in music (yes I am a pretentious twat and what) would listen to something that is evidently designed for a broader audience who don’t really care that much about music, I’ll tell you why.

I was bored and I wanted something to rip into. That’s pretty much it. I also had some kind of grim curiosity as to what a Pitbull album would sound like, having never listened to one before. Obviously I’ve heard him on his countless features with other artists, but I was genuinely interested to see what he could do on his own.

That point was pretty much void as soon as I looked at the track listing and saw that all but one song had at least one feature. Woopy de doo. The featured artists include such luminaries as Robin Thicke (creepiest of the creepier dudes in the music industry), R. Kelly (a nonce), and Enrique Iglesias (Spanish). Now, there’s nothing wrong with having a few features on album, but if you have a total of 16 different artists featuring on 10 different tracks, what’s going to result in an incoherent mess with no one clear defined sound (apart from hearing MR WORLDWIIIDE at the beginning of every fucking song).

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The worst of the Mr Men

Now, to structure this review, I thought I’d do a brief summary of each song in a list format, as most of them don’t offer much to talk about except their blandness or godawfulness.

We Are Strong ft. Kiesza – Shit

Bad Man ft. Robin Thicke and some other randomers – Shit

Greenlight ft. I can’t be arsed – Shit

Ok ok, sorry, I’ll try and take this seriously.

Instead of doing a list, I’ll talk about the songs that really raise the bar in terms of shite.

Bad Man ft. Robin Dickhead, Joe Perry, and Travis Barker – Uninspired, messy, painful instrumentation that underpin a song which is basically about a twat trying to pick up “a goody two-shoes girl”. Slightly creepy vibes. Quite creepy actually. But I mean, what can you expect from a song that features Robin Thicko?

Messin’ Around ft. Enrique Iglesias – Mostly unremarkable but thought I’d put it on here as I genuinely started developing a headache during the horribly noisy chorus.

Sexy Body ft. Jennifer Lopez – This is a cover of the Zara Larsson song of the same name, except with J-Lo instead of Zara and painful Pitbull rapping, which makes it a lot worse than it already was. Seriously, MR WORLDWIIIIDE has as much flow as a river of tar. And also there’s one bit where Lopez just squeals like a pig for no particular reason. Painful.

Freedom – Notable for being the only song which has no features. It’s also the shortest song, funnily enough (and not just by a few seconds, by a good 30-35). This isn’t particularly headache inducing, but fuck me if it isn’t cringey. “I’m free to do what I want, and have a good time” No shit nobcheese, you’re a multimillionaire popstar.

Options ft. Stephen Marley – I was quite interested to hear what the son of the late, great Bob Marley would sound like on this track. It starts off quite promising, with a nice little verse from Stevey boy himself, and the pleasant twanging of a guitar underneath. Unfortunately he then starts singing the chorus. Oh my God. I don’t think I’ve heard a chorus quite as painful for this for a long. His voice is as strained as the National Health Service (OOH, TOPICAL), and there’s definitely some auto tune applied to it. Seriously, if you don’t come away from this song with your ears bleeding after hearing “IGOTIGOTIGOTIGOT OPTIONS” screamed at you numerous times, you’re a stronger person than I.

Educate Ya ft. Jason Derulo – Mainly putting this one on here for the lyric “So sit back, relax and let me lick ya”. Ugh. The whole song’s basically about sex, and I’m surprised it manages to make something so enjoyable sound so fucking dreary. Probably because it follows all the tropes that pop songs about sex tend to encompass (oo ye I’m a bloke I’m good at sex oi maybe bring your fit friend so we can have threesome ehehe I’m not gross) but also throws a faux-romantic vibe on with the Derulo chorus.

Dedicated ft. R Kelly and Austin Mahone – Actually putting this one on here for something positive. I know. Shocking. I don’t mind the instrumental on this. It’s nothing special, it’s generic, but it’s not bad. It gets a B-. The song itself is wank, and R Kelly really can’t sing, but y’know, you’ve gotta find the positives in this big ball of shite.

Lastly of all, why in the name of ever-living fuckity fuck is the album called Climate Change? Is Mr. Bull trying to be edgy? There are literally no political statements on this record (or at least none that I could find) and it’s all just your standard garbage. No comprende, señor.

And that’s all I can be arsed to write for this. Although to be fair, it has been very cathartic. At least it’s easier than talking about an article that’s basically alright but nothing special, because you can rag on all the crap.

Favourite track: Dedicated (if I have to pick one??)

Least favourite tracks: See above, most detestable are Bad Man and Educate Ya

Would I recommend? – If I had a choice between listening to this again and performing a self-castration, the latter would probably be slightly more preferable

Rating: 1.6/10

 

 

Is Modern Music Too Well-Made?

Is Modern Music Too Well-Made?

Hello you,

I thought I’d move away from political topics because a) I can’t be arsed and b) current politics can be pretty much summed up with the words “shit’s fucked, yo”.

Now if you’re confused about the title, you’re probably asking how music can be “too well made”.

Well let me explain rather than interrupting me. God. So rude. Learn some manners. Especially you. Yes, you in the corner. Don’t act all shocked. Where are you going with this James just get on with it you nob.

Yes, anyways.

Today’s music is very well produced. We’ve made huge leaps in technology and you can definitely hear the difference that it’s made. The instruments are perfectly clear, with no faults or distortion to be found. The vocals are perfect, crystal clear, hitting every note with perfection. At the moment, the top two singles on the UK singles chart are 1) Cold Water by Major Lazer with appearances from Justin Bieber and MØ (of Lean On fame), and 2) Perfect Strangers (unfortunately not the brilliant song of the same name by Deep Purple) by Jonas Blue (yeah I’ve never heard of him either). These are both perfect examples of what I mean. Produced to oblivion with angelic vocals and squeaky clean beats. They are, technically, musical perfection.

However, they’re both shit songs.

The only word I can think of to describe them is ‘soulless’. Actually ‘generic’ fits quite well. Also ‘passionless’. ‘Garbage’ is another one. But the main term I’d use is soulless. These songs have no character, no life. If they were a living thing, they’d be a shark. Efficient and tuned to perfection, but with a tendency to eat baby seals a ruthless killing machine. In that they will make a killing commercially. Yes I know this metaphor is a stretch, fight me about it.

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Bet you that shark’s listening to Justin Bieber.

I can just imagine it now, the producer making the beat at their workstation, dollar signs flashing in their eyes as they know their song will have so much mass appeal and be so inoffensively mediocre that it’s bound to make a killing. The singers standing behind the microphone in the studio, drugged up to their eyeballs and…wait a minute what am I on about, if they were on drugs the songs might actually attain some level of character. Let’s change that to sedated up to their eyeballs, practically reading off a script written for them by some nob in a business suit who thinks he’s all that. Either that or they wrote it themselves, but whilst they were half-asleep and losing the will to live. Even though the video for Perfect Strangers shows two young people travelling about the world, falling in love, etc., they still manage to make that generic as fuck. To be fair though, it’s so overdone that probably wasn’t a hard thing to do.

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“OK guys, I’ve got this really original idea, we make a song featuring two popular, inoffensive artists that have less soul than Beelzebub himself”

I just cannot imagine a different creative process for these kinds of songs. You can’t imagine the artists doing anything that involves some sort of character or creativity. They weren’t all sitting about in the same room,  brainstorming ideas, engaging with each other, using their souls (“Oi, James, stop writing like a ponce” Oi, you, stop interrupting me). For God’s sake, this music could’ve been produced in a factory, it certainly feels like it was.

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The thought process of everyone in the pop music industry.

Some may disagree with me. And I wouldn’t blame them, I’m probably quite the music supremacist when I think about it, but when I listen to songs like Cold Water, something just feels off. It’s too well made. It’s too perfect. The subject matter is too vague and generic. You just know it was made to cater to the largest audience possible, and thus get the largest amount of revenue as possible.

This doesn’t necessarily go for every mainstream artist. Let’s take Miley Cyrus for example. This argument could be quite a challenging one to try and put forward because her music is, to put it politely, fucking awful, but hear me out.

You could perhaps levy the same accusations about Miley’s music being too well produced, but there is some sort of bizarre character to the vocals at least. She’s not the best singer, in fact, she sounds like a running washing machine with a brick inside of it, but hey, it’s better than sounding like a machine that was specifically designed to be absolutely pitch perfect. And she chooses topics that would not necessarily be chosen by a soulless producer looking for a quick buck, mostly involving sex and the like. I mean, it does come off as rather try-hard but she is trying. Bless her little, slightly completely mental heart.

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The saviour of the music industry? Maybe not. Definitely not actually.

I know the above argument isn’t the strongest, but what can I say, I like a challenge.

Of course, you can listen to whatever you want, I ain’t gonna stop you, but I feel like this is the way mainstream music has been going for a while now, towards this huge, black, abyss of nothingness, blandness, and Major Lazer. And I don’t want it to carry on going down this path, because then more and more people will only hear this overproduced tripe, and will only find out about good, soulful music by actually having to search for it, which, to be honest, most people do already. So that’s kind of a null point. But you catch my drift yeah? Good.

I could go on but that’ll probably suffice. I might do more stuff on this topic. I’m definitely gonna do more music stuff. I like music. It’s great. Sounds ‘n’ shit. Top notch.

I bid ye, adieu.

James

 

The Language of Music

The Language of Music

Y’alright. I’m James.

Welcome to a blog where I ramble on (coherently and incoherently) for an indeterminate amount of time about either a) a random topic about which I feel very strongly or b) the less likely option, something that’s happened in my life recently that’s interesting enough to talk about. I’m mainly doing this because I wanted to have a platform on which it would be possible to give some opinions on things but it’s too much effort to start a YouTube channel. Like, seriously. YouTube costs money. Buying a camera and stuff is expensive and you have to learn how to edit and urgh. Basically, I just can’t be arsed.

I’ll introduce myself now I suppose. Is this how blogs work? I don’t know. Blog’s a funny word when you think about it. Blog, blog, blog. Sounds like the name of a troll who lives under a bridge.

What was I talking about?

Oh yeah, me.

I’m 18 years old, studying German and Russian at the University of Leeds. I’m just finishing my first year and will be going on my year abroad in Moscow in September. My permanent residence is in the village of Bum-fuck-nowhere in Kent, as southern as can be, to where I’m going back soon for the summer. I’m 6’ 3”, have green eyes, like long walks on the beach, have a penchant for custard creams and…wait am I going into too much detail here?

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Me, “studying”.

I think that’ll do it for my introduction, now let’s get into the actual blog bit.

One thing that’s very important to me is music. Whatever mood I’m in, wherever I am, I’m probably listening to music. And it doesn’t matter what genre either, I can go from listening to Eminem to obscure Russian techno to Rammstein quite easily. This leads on to my next point, that, as a linguist, I’m a massive fan of foreign music.

Yet my multilingual love for music is not commonly shared by my friends.

I am rarely put in charge of the Spotify playlist at any party, even if it’s my own party (true story), because, for some reason, 90% of my friends just don’t go for grimy Russian gangster rap and shit German dance music. Unbelievable I know. The only time I’m let loose with the music is when everyone, myself included, has had a bit (see: a lot) to drink and couldn’t care less what’s playing in the background because they’re too busy being absolutely spannered.

But this begs the question, why don’t more people enjoy music that’s in a different language?

The only foreign music that’s been super popular in the English-speaking world is absolute shit stuff like Gangnam Style and the Macarena, which were passing fads and were only popular because they went along with some god awful dance move, plus in the case of Gangnam Style, a ‘quirky’ music video. Anything else that’s in a different language seems to be shunned by most people. But I have to ask myself: why?

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We let this happen.

I don’t know why I’m asking myself because I don’t have a clue.

In my opinion, the language can vastly improve a song depending on the genre. German metal is fantastic, mainly because German, being a fairly harsh and blunt language, works well with a genre that’s generally going for the same sort of vibe. The same goes for Russian and rap. Russian, spoken in a certain way, can sound like the scariest language in the world, even if you’re just asking where the train station is, and that’s the style that gangster rap goes for. They want to sound harsh and unforgiving like a Siberian winter, and the Russian language can capture that essence perfectly. That is not to say that these languages don’t work in other genres, of course they can (Russian pop in particular is gloriously cheesy), but they work particularly well in the ones I’ve mentioned.

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Terrifying.

“But I can’t understand what they’re saying! WAAA!”

Boo-hoo, suck it up.

For me, the meaning of a song’s lyrics is just a bonus. Sure, some lyrics, no matter what the language, can have really deep and emotional meanings, there’s no denying that. However, I feel that the majority of the feeling in a song is conveyed by the sound of the song itself (and the music video on occasion), rather than the content. I have a song in my library that’s in Turkmen, which is spoken almost exclusively in Turkmenistan (yeah you might need to look that one up on a map, I had to) and I can’t understand any of what the singer’s banging on about, but it’s one of my go-to songs when I’m in a good mood because it’s so upbeat and just goddamned pleasant to listen to. Call me weird but hey, what can I say. Ha, that rhymed.

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It’s basically in Narnia.

Overall, a piece of music could be in the most obscure language ever but if the singer’s got a nice voice and the music’s good, I’ll listen to it. And you should too. But you don’t have to. You have a right to your opinion. Even if your opinion is WRONG. Just kidding, your opinion isn’t wrong. But it isn’t right either. Or it might be. I don’t know. I told you some of my rambling would be incoherent.

Anyway, that’ll do it for my first blog post thing. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it, and if you have any feedback, positive or negative, let me know! Make sure you join me next time when I’ll be discussing…something. I don’t think that far ahead. I live for the moment don’t you know.

See ya ’round.

James