You may already know this, but if you don’t I’m going to let you in on a little secret: there’s a World Cup a-happening. That’s right, the cream of international football all get together to compete for a trophy made from chocolate containing bags of Smarties. Now, unless you hate football, or are a staunch Daily Mail reader, this is a rather exciting time. Unbelievably, some artists have the absolute cheek to release music during the next two months. Shocking, I know. In a bid to combat that, I’m going to try and compare this week’s single releases to World Cup sides of the past and present. Partly because it might be an interesting challenge but mainly because I don’t want to take my eyes off New Zealand v Slovakia.
Dizzee Rascal & James Corden HQ – ‘Shout For England’
I remember a time when football wasn’t synonymous with the fat one from Gavin & Stacey. Now he’s everywhere, smooching with the England squad, talking rubbish on ITV EVERY NIGHT during this World Cup thingy and now on this. It would appear that James Corden and Dizzee Rascal are BFFs, as he snuggles up to Dizzee, while the once respected artist raps over a reworking of Tears For Fears’ hit ‘Shout’. Before they both join, shouting in the chorus: “come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough” something which an FA trying to distance themselves from hooliganism of tournaments gone will no doubt LOVE. Simon Cowell is the man behind this, which means it should come as no surprise that it currently sits at number one. Of course, it’s for charidee tho. Ironically, it reminds me of the German sides of World Cups past: ruthless, efficient and, in fairness, full of heart – which in turn makes it a real contender for the final.
!!! – ‘AM/FM’
The end of 2009 was marred by tragedy for !!!, as the band’s former drummer Jerry Fuchs died after falling down an elevator shaft. AM/FM marks the bands first release since that tragic accident. The New York Disco punk have always had a knack of making some exciting and intriguing punk-funk and this track is no different. It’s a wonderful slice of hypnotic, energetic funk that wouldn’t sound out of place amongst the sounds of early Madchester. No doubt this will be filling the dance floors in all the hippest clubs around. The World Cup is littered with examples of teams overcoming adversity and heartbreak to go on to great success, so I’ll leave this one to your imagination.
Scissor Sisters – Fire With Fire
I’m going to be honest. Apart from ‘Laura’, I’ve been disappointed by the majority of Scissor Sisters’ music. It’s a shame as they’ve got all the qualities to be a band I could love – flamboyant tendencies, a strong creative spark and a great pairing up-front. But unfortunately, for me, they’ve never quite been the sum of their parts. Flashes of brilliance marred by large periods of mediocrity, very much like the Spanish you could say… until now. The lead single from their third album hints at a darker, and I hate to use this word but, more mature sound. ‘Fire With Fire’ begins setting the atmosphere of an Elton John ballad, but feels like it’s constantly building to its eventual chorus – and a cracking chorus it is. It’s got a fist-pumping, anthemic refrain that sounds totally familiar, but I’m never sure why – and it’s delivered perfectly by Jake Shears. A catchy, melodic, well-crafted pop song.
Katy Perry and Snoop Dogg – ‘California Gurls’
Katy Perry is certainly an interesting character. It’d be easy to dismiss her as America’s answer to Lily Allen, becoming prominent just as Lily was gaining popularity in America, but surely she’s proved there’s more to her than a shrewd record label executive. However, when Katy comments she wrote ‘California Gurls’ as a response to ‘Empire State Of Mind’, it’s difficult to avoid being cynical. What California Gurls does is take Jay-Z’s subtle ode to a city he loves and turn it into a tacky, shallow, Calvin Harris inspired summer anthem. “California girls we’re unforgettable/ Daisy Dukes bikinis on top sun-kissed skin so hot will melt your popsicle” Perry sings as the chorus becomes forever stuck in my head. It’s the kind of song that leaves me thinking: “how did this even qualify for the World Cup in the first place?” Maybe I’ve missed the point and the style over substance aspect is intentional to represent California. Either way, you know what? I’m not in California; we need a song about Sunderland in response…
K’NAAN – ‘Wavin’ Flags‘
If there’s one thing a World Cup is good at it’s bringing people together. People of all different colours and races join together to celebrate and OMG LOOK IN THE VIDEO, HE’S KISSING LITTLE KIDS AND THERE’S CONFETTI AND OMG IT’S JUST SO JOYOUS AND YAY! And you know what else? I like this. I do. It is joyous and upbeat and, most importantly, fun. Uplifting and positive. “When I grow older, I will be stronger” K’naan sings over a distinct tribal drumbeat. It feels vibrant and colourful, very much like the tournament and our hosts, South Africa.
Holy Fuck – ‘Latin America’
After originally streaming this track over everyone’s favourite penis-hub Chatroulette, one of the highlights of the electronic four piece’s third full-length studio album, Latin, gets a proper release. ‘Latin America’ shuffles over a steady beat as synths and guitars combine to make a healthy slab of post-rock wonderment, before fading out as if it were never there. As far as football sides go, the Latin Americans are renowned for their classy, silky skills and wonderful technique, so take your pick from the likes of Brazil and Argentina.
Micah P. Hinson – ‘Take Off That Dress For Me’
I agree the football links are getting tenuous, so let’s leave them aside for this one. The second track from Micah P Hinson’s recent …And The Pioneer Saboteurs album is a sweet stripped back acoustic affair clocking in at just over two minutes. Micah implores his ‘sweetness’ in a Richard Hawley-esque drawl to “take off that dress for me/against all hope and sense of dignity”, and after a sweet ditty like that, who could possibly refuse?
Now shh, it’s time for Chile v Switzerland.