Monday, August 10, 2009

Number 1s of 2009: 9 August 2009

If you enjoyed Tinchy Stryder's previous single, "Number 1", which spent three weeks at the top in April and May - well, good news, because he's basically made it again!

That's Tinchy Stryder featuring Amelle, "Never Leave You". Wikipedia and the BBC News continue to describe this guy as a grime artist, and, uh, no. Grime, as I understood it, was basically an inner city UK rap movement based on dark, minimal lo-fi arrangements. "Never Leave You" is a pop song with a bit of rapping on it. Not that there's anything inherently wrong with being on the ultra-commercial wing of UK rap - it's healthy to have a spectrum. But you can't make records like this and still lay claim to underground credibility.

Stryder is a Londoner with parents from Ghana. His real name is Kwasi Danquah, and I can only imagine what names he must have rejected before settling on something like "Tinchy Stryder", which sounds like it ought to be the double-barreled surname of a character from the Ministry of Silly Walks sketch. Mind you, for all I know it's some sort of incredibly clever piece of London street argot.

Of course, he's hardly the first UK rap act to make a shameless bid for mainstream appeal. Dizzee Rascal's quite open about the fact that he's going for the mass market these days. And Chipmunk's an interesting case - a kid who was winning awards on the strength of his unsigned mix tapes, but whose full scale releases are pretty obviously meant to be a lot more radio friendly.

Anyway, this is Stryder's second number one single. The guest vocalist, by the way, is Amelle Berrabah of the Sugababes (the one who replaced Mutya Buena), making her first appearance as a solo artist. I don't see this lasting longer than a week at the top - it's already on its way down the iTunes chart, which has the Black Eyes Peas set to return to the top for a second run.

Elsewhere on this week's chart...

The next highest new entry is "Get Shaky" by the Ian Carey Project at number 10, a dance record made by an American living in Britain that did well in Australasia last year. Fun little video. Refreshingly straightforward.

Little Boots fans (and her label) can breathe a sigh of relief, as "Remedy" climbs 19 places to number 14. After "New in Town" failed to be the expected smash hit, and her album crashed in sales on its second week, there's a lot riding on this single for her - she's in serious danger of becoming the poor man's Lady Gaga, and boy, that video looks like they've been revising the budget for this project downwards. But it can still be turned round.

And finally, Polydor apparently think the market will support even more girl bands, because not content with Girls Aloud and the Saturdays, their sub-label Fascination is now trying to launch Girls Can't Catch. Awful name, isn't it? In fact, it's a rejected name that was passed over for the Saturdays, which says a lot. Their claim to fame, if you can call it that, is that one of these girls is Phoebe Brown. No? Well, she was in Hope, a girl band who were in The X-Factor two years ago, and got knocked out in week 7. "Keep Your Head Up" isn't such a bad song, but the video is dire (croquet in a scrapyard?), and its chart debut at number 26, despite a big promotional campaign, suggests to me that they're aiming for a gap in the market that doesn't exist.