Monday, 23 November 2015

Why Justin Bieber's bashment song hitting no. 1 is bittersweet

So, if you follow me on Twitter, you'll know I've been fully hoping for Justin Bieber 'Sorry' to hit number 1 in the UK (it's number 1 song in the world on Spotify too). I was fully annoyed Adele released 'Hello' because it was a sure fire number 1. Well, four weeks into its release it finally reached the summit of UK's best selling singles - without an official video (the online dance video of girls from New Zealand doing dancehall moves doesn't count). Instead of the one week it'll get before Adele reclaims the spot this week, who knows how long it would've held the top for.

This is the third time this year a mammoth song has kept a reggae or dancehall pop song off the top spot. R. City ('Locked Away') were kept at number 2 the week Sam Smith released his boring Bond song, likewise Omi 'Cheerleader' was kept off for about four weeks due to Charlie Puth 'See You Again' featuring Wiz Khalifa (no typo) being a tribute song from Fast and Furious whatever number they're at now. Omi managed to budge that song out of the way and reigned for about 3 weeks.

It's been a mad year for pop-viable dancehall and reggae songs. A fair few smash hits have benefited from the sounds created in West Kingston, Jamaica. I'll give a proper rundown at the end of the year as per usual, alongside my review of Jamaican dancehall and reggae music in 2015.

So yeah, while I'm here seeing the dancehall sound can top charts (albeit coming from pop's coolest pop star right now), I'm thinking about how the aforementioned Omi dropped the chance at becoming a main player because I believe Jamaicans lack the belief of dancehall as a sound (and culture) in the pop music game.

Omi's second single did exactly what I said shouldn't be done in my Don't Go Chasing Cheerleader post back in June. Don't get me wrong, Hula Hoop isn't a bad song at all (it's pretty good for what it is) but its an inferior 'Cheerleader'. On the day the audio dropped I tweeted that following your first hit with a soundalike is one of the easiest routes to becoming a one-hit wonder. The "chasing the dragon" theory. While it's done pretty well in some places like Australia and Sweden, but nothing near what the follow-up to one of the years biggest singles should have.

Omi tried so hard to stay away from being known as a reggae artist because he wanted to be a pop singer that he just became another 0/1 in the matrix. The one thing that would've differentiated him from the pack was looked upon as a hinderance rather than a unique selling point. This year, more than any, has been proof in the sweet potato pudding that the sounds of Jamaica are in demand from a global mainstream standpoint. (There's rumours about Jamaican music and features on Rihanna's new album too.)

I also thought it would've been a lot better with a Jamaican artist feature. The song is essentially a soca song but to everybody else its a pop/tropical house song. It's screaming for a Sean Paul feature to seal the Caribbean link. And never, ever think that Sean Paul is past it. He was on the biggest Latin single 'Bailando', Farruko's smash-hit 'Passion Whine' and the biggest selling afrobeats song in UK chart history 'Dangerous Love', as well as Timaya's 'Bum Bum' last year. He would've sold the song.

Back to Bieber, he took influence from Felix Jaehn's remix of 'Cheerleader' for 'What Do You Mean?' then slapped the follow-up with bashment. Indirectly showed him the way he should've done it with his own country's music. Never would've thought he would checkmate Omi like that.

It's a shame a Jamaican artist didn't benefit from taking a Jamaican-sounding song to number one. First Sean Paul left it for EDM (has since returned with the music fit for him today), Tessanne went straight pop ballad instead of reggae, now Omi's basically finished. All because they didn't see Jamaica as a viable selling point.

Once again, this isn't me hoping Jamaicans make music to chart, I want them to have faith in their product. That Jamaican music is good enough to transcend even at the "highest" height. But nothing can be done to change the past. Once again, I ask for Jamaican artists who get the opportunity to spread the music and culture, please do it. Bring the spotlight so the rest can tour and eat a food. The world loves it.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

What reggae's first Radio 1 playlist in ten years tells me about reggae. Big up Protoje

Once again, I'd like to say mainstream approval is not the be all and end all, however it provides a very important cog in getting my favourite artists the ears they deserve. If a reggae song has the quality and steam to go forward and benefit from the exposure a national radio station, the biggest radio station UK can give, why shouldn't it be taken advantage of? As long as they hold their rights, own their stuff and aren't manipulated out of shape by the industry, I'm all for it. Give them their dues.

Why hold everyone in a corner? It ain't for everyone, but for those who can benefit and help shine a light, go bring that light, bruv. I'm much more against making good music have to jump loads and loads of obstacles because of dated thinking, lack of resources afforded to independents and lack of opportunities given to non-US/UK/EU/AUS music. Fix that.

I'd also like to take a moment to say I gave Protoje his first mainstream mention in 2012 (alongside Konshens, Tarrus Riley, Etana and Popcaan) because I believed in him back then and continue to believe in him now. This is not a case of the bandwagon jumper.

So yeah, Protoje featuring Chronixx "Who Knows" is on the Radio 1 playlist. There are levels, this isn't the first to be on the Radio 1 playlist as Kiko Bun "Sometimes" and "Where I'm From" were on the In New Music We Trust section. Shy FX's Liam Bailey-assisted "Soon Come" was also on the same bit. Those songs don't get anywhere near the same play (in theory) as a full playlist - on the A, B and C. If the INMWT one gives you something like 5 plays a week, C-list is supposed to give like 2-a-day. I can't remember the exact figures but a something like so. INMWT feels a lot more like a nod to the under-represented, whereas a proper playlist suggests it is good enough to sit alongside the best music right now.

Anyone who knows "Who Knows" as last year's undeniably biggest reggae song of the year, knows it should've got it last year. It goes to show the lengths a reggae artist must jump though, because they may not have accepted it or understood the magnitude of the record back then. This year, however, Proto has done one sold out show in March and one tour in October, received press coverage from mainstream stuff like Noisey, Fader, Independent etc., topped the reggae album chart in US, nominated for Best Reggae at the MOBOs and the video sits on 13 million views. Who would dare say no now?

Friday, 13 November 2015

What Lean On's Spotify record-break tells me about dancehall

So, it was announced that Major Lazer 'Lean On' broke the record for most played song in Spotify's history. Small feat in that it's only one platform, but massive feat in that its still the most played song ever on a huge platform.

But what does this mean? Well, what I get from it is confirmation of something I've always known. A dancehall song can rule the world.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

I imagined telling these artists, "mate, you're doing it wrong"

This is just a flush of thoughts. Dunno if it'll make sense in the end but its just a flush.

We're calling this one, know your role. I'm gonna talk about over-hyped artists and artists who need to do certain things to be better, in my opinion.

First up it's Chris Brown. The guy's one of the most all-round talents in the higher echelon's of popular music. He can dance, emotive voice and has a genuinely intriguing life which is perfect inspiration for material. Not a year goes by when Chris Brown isn't on a hit song. But very rarely one of his own. Give this guy a guest appearance or sort him with a guest and yeah. Put him by himself, very rarely produces anyone beyond his core fan base (screaming girls and certain man) care about.