The Big Hurt: Think of England

‘Who Charted?’: The UK edition
By DAVID THORPE  |  October 6, 2009

Although we like to think of ourselves as having an ironclad hegemony over the pop of the Western world, those plucky Brits like to rise from their misty bog and tweak our nipples with a pond-crossing chart smash once in a while. And though the rate of barn-burning British exports has slowed in recent years, I’m sure they still have a surprise or two for us. Could the next Beatles be lurking in the UK charts at this very moment, just waiting to conquer America? No!

Still, let’s see what’s up in the Official UK Charts Company singles chart this week. I’ll skip all the non-British stuff, just to heighten the concentrated UK-ness:

TAIO CRUZ | “BREAK YOUR HEART” | Gently Auto-Tuned, skittishly synthed, and totally lacking in substance — just the sort of thing that might hit big in America, except that we’ve already got 50 of them. Taio boasts of being a rakish piece of shit: “If you fall for me/I’m not easy to please/I’ma tear you apart/Told you from the start, I’m only gonna break break ya break break ya heart.” The profligate premise might have been cocky enough to hold your attention for a minute, but the whole thing is dragged down by a pitifully unambitious tune — it’s not quite intellectually nourishing enough to make a great ringtone, but it might work as something a little less weighty, like a doorbell, or an end-cycle buzz on a dryer.

PIXIE LOTT | “BOYS & GIRLS” | This one starts off with some promise, as clattering drums and ’80s horn stabs make you think you’ve stumbled into a genuine production, but then darling 18-year-old Pixie steps to the mic with a voice as tangy and distinctive as a well-refrigerated slab of Velveeta. Yes, her workmanlike vocals do as much as the tune requires, and she treads water through a noticeable chord change or two. But just when you’re thinking the thing might spring into a huge hook, it retreats into a dismal chant of a chorus and you have to stop dancing and walk off the blue balls.

DIZZEE RASCAL | “HOLIDAY” | I remember this s’posed-to-have-been as having been good a few years back, if you’ll forgive my tortured verbs, so it pains me to hear him rapping a boring-ass vacation invite to no lady in particular. Even if he were one-on-one inviting me to go on a tropical vacation with him, this shit wouldn’t hold my interest — it’s like Ludacris with all the sex and the jokes taken out. I’ll give “Holiday” this, though: it sounds like a great backing track for a video with lots of girls in it. The end spirals into bizarre Italo-disco, too, and that at least puts a little bump on an otherwise featureless topographical map.

MINI VIVA | “LEFT MY HEART IN TOKYO” | Know what I love about the English language? When words like “harebrained” exist, you don’t even have to write reviews of this kind of shit. Your work is already done.

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