This week’s Single Club features artists who in their 20s, 30s and 40s – Frankie’s Holly Johnson turns 50 next February, so we just missed out on featuring another decade. Next time. Time to gargle this bunch of new videos and see if they make you belch with pleasure or pain…
Jay-Z ft Alicia Keys – Empire State Of Mind
First up this week we’ve got some fella called Jay-Z taking us on a tour of his hood, propping up underground stations in his woolly hat and shades talking about how he always used to eat at this McDonald’s and how he loves those Yankees. When he stops talking fast a lady called Alicia in tight trousers bangs a piano and tells us to raise a glass to New York – “to noo yoik!” – while singing a rousing chorus which talks about the city’s spangly streets and bright lights. It’s funky, it’s catchy, it’s a nailed down hit before it’s even been released. Watching the video – a homage to NYC – you can’t help thinking too that it was written with a Sex And The City 2 synch-up in mind. Or is that just me being cynical?
Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Relax
25 years on from its original release, Holly Johnson and co are back with a new remix of Relax and a Frankie Say Greatest collection. But before you reach for your Frankie Say T-shirt, lay your eyes on the new video. Like the remix it’s been recorded on super-fast-forward, over-flowing with bronzed blokes and Kelly-McGillis-in-Top-Gun-alikes desperate to shed their togs and lather themselves in giant glasses of champagne. It’s high-gloss overload with Holly orchestrating proceedings from on high, white gloves on just as he did in the original. Beyond the video though, the reason this tune stand the test of time is because it’s a classic – a killer groove any way you slice it.
Paolo Nutini – Pencil Full Of Lead
A plastercine Paolo on heat is the order of the day for the Scottish troubadour’s latest, taken from the hugely popular second album Sunny Side Up. The pliable hero hounds his bunnygirl band until one of them slaps him, rearranging his pudgy face. He’s then chased all around Jessica Rabbit-style, until he’s pulverised by the band and left in pieces while all the while his strange folk-swing ditty plays in the background. It’s certainly original and proves that his success has meant his record company aren’t shy of throwing money at him. Along with girls in fishnets.
So So Glos – My Block
These wannabe punks from Brooklyn have waited a while for the buzz to reach humming proportions, but My Block is a cracking chunk of slap-happy indie-punk with frontman Alex Levine yelping his way through the twisty-turny journey while his band play hard in the background. The video features Alex running around his neighbourhood sans band – it’s all a bit like a jaunty punk episode of Sesame Street minus the muppets. It also brings to mind Preston and his Ordinary Boys, how he used to be before he sold out, became a media whore and wore pink jumpers. Perhaps Alex will also marry a vacuous blonde soon – who knows?
Sweet Billy Pilgrim – Kalypso
You know sometimes when you’re watching the X Factor and you think ‘there’s something missing here, what is it?’ and then you ponder it and you realise that something is depth, soul, heart and raw emotion, music conjured up from all of those places and infused with it? Well, if Jedward and co have left you feeling dirty, play this track and flood your system with a simple, beautiful song that features some smooth, pure vocals from singer Tim Elsenberg. It’s not hard to see why this lot were nominated for the Mercury Music Prize this year and the video that accompanies the track is suitably surreal and freeform, filled as it is with kaleidoscopic images and stories of nature. Grand and melancholy, this sweeps you up effortlessly.