Tag Archives: frank ocean

My albums of 2012: Games & Puzzles special

Can YOU solve Plan B’s logic problem, spot the ball with Frank Ocean or help Usher find his climax? Find out in my Albums of the Year Puzzle Special!

10. Jessie Ware – Devotion

9. Bright Light Bright Light – Make Me Believe In Hope

8. Gossip – A Joyful Noise

Three very thoughtful, quietly euphoric albums to start us off. So let’s have a thoughtful and quietly euphoric teaser:

buffet riddle

You are queueing for the buffet at a music industry awards ceremony with Rod Thomas, Jessie Ware and Beth Ditto. You know that one of them always tells the truth, one of them always lies, and one can either lie or tell the truth as they choose. Rod says “The salmon en croute is nice! Don’t listen to Beth by the way, she always lies.” Jessie says “The profiteroles are lovely. And you can trust Rod, he always tells the truth.” Beth says “I do lie sometimes but I can tell the truth too if I want to! By the way the mushroom vol-au-vents are delicious.”

Which is the only food you can put on your plate with confidence?

7. Usher – Looking 4 Myself

I’m on my own with this one, I think. At least, I haven’t seen anyone else raving about it in end-of-year lists. Too much dance-pop for the R&B crowd? Too R&B for the pop crowd? Too cheesy for everyone else? Actually that last one doesn’t need a question mark. But I like it a lot. The centrepiece is of course Climax, a cleverly named song as Usher never actually reaches one. But can YOU help him get there?

ushers climax

 6. Angel Haze – Reservation

It’s not until you put an album on at work and everyone goes rigid with horror that you notice quite how sweary it is. The words in the puzzle are all taken from Angel’s lyrics. When fitted correctly into the grid, the shaded squares will reveal a special bonus word! What is it?

angel haze cross words

5. Frank Ocean – Channel Orange

franks ballsCan YOU see Frank’s balls in this picture? Mark with a cross where you think they are.

4. Plan B – Ill Manors

It’s a horrible world depicted in the film Ill Manors, with relentlessly awful things happening to everyone in it. The accompanying album is just as revolting and upsetting, but of course it’s all set to brilliant music. Plan B has drafted his plans for the sequel in the form of a logic problem – solve it if you dare!

ill manors

3. Tyson – Die On The Dancefloor

Here was a 2012 surprise – a concept album about morbidity delivered as a series of falsetto Hi-NRG bangers. Bloody great. So here’s a puzzle based on Tyson’s twin obsessions of disco and death.

tyson puzzle

2. Metric – Synthetica

I think Metric’s dark, sugary synth-rock is sounding better than ever, and these songs haunted and inspired me all year. Join the fun by solving the riddle to find a word associated with metric measurements.

metric riddle

1. Cassie – The Unreleased Classics Trilogy

CASSIE MYSTERYWell here’s a puzzle. A singer releases a very good first album and goes on to record stacks of even better material for a second album which six years later shows no sign of ever materialising. No don’t write in, there isn’t an answer to this one. But Cassie’s work since 2006 has now been collated and packaged up as a set of three downloads comprising 66 tracks. That’s right, my album of the year isn’t even a proper album and some of the tracks are years old. But to my tastes, out of this bonanza of material you could get at least two full albums that would wipe the floor with anything else from this year. It’s a collection of cold, sexy, sweet and surprising electro that at its best makes me think of Janet Jackson singing her way through Britney’s Blackout. But don’t take my word for it – it’s free!

If you want solutions to the puzzles, they’re here. And if you want a soundtrack to working them out, my songs of the year are in a playlist in the previous post. Happy New Year x

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Favourite tracks of 2012

It’s a Spotify playlist! With a bonus YouTube link for a big favourite that wasn’t on Spotify. These are the tunes that have kept me going all year…

If popstars were… Olympians

When pop and sport meet, it can make for a nasty mess. Chart history is littered with appalling anthems for official athletic events. But what about when our stars, in the course of their everyday pop lives, sing about the actual grunting, shoving and leaping that goes on at the Games?

Girls Aloud – Jump (2003)

What’s the discipline? Trampolining

Does it sound right? Yes. Xenomania give the dusty old Pointer Sisters song a chrome finish that turns it into something exhilarating and pneumatic. Listen on headphones and you’ll believe you can fly. Let it take you in the disco and you’ll have someone’s eye out. ‘If you want more, more, more… then jump!’ shriek the Girls, in fine competitive spirit. Gold medals all round.

 SNOW PATROL – RUN (2004)

What’s the discipline? The 200m.

Does it sound right? Hell no. What a dreary trudge. No-one in their right minds would run in a serious competition to this. In case  you think I’ve been unfair assigning this song to a sprinting event rather than a long-distance one, bear in mind that the key lyric is ‘And we’ll run for our lives,’ delivered with none of the urgency that implies. Cut to Gary Lightbody standing around with flares on the Olympic track, singing ‘Slower! Slower!’ He DID have a choice. Disqualified.

GOLDFRAPP – RIDE A WHITE HORSE (2005)

What’s the discipline? Dressage.

Does it sound right? Yes, it really does. The beat’s prissy but determined; the perfect soundtrack to prancing around on a long-faced friend. ‘I want blisters, you’re my leader!’ breathes Alison, demonstrating the commitment to training that will take her as far as she likes in the competition. Silver.

FRANK OCEAN – SWIM GOOD (2011)

What’s the discipline? Men’s Freestyle.

Does it sound right? As soft and seductive as the sea. Frank sings about driving off into the ocean and seeking a personal transformation in the vastness of the water – perhaps death, perhaps enlightenment and rebirth. In other words no, this is hardly suitable subject matter at all. The dirty old ocean is no clean purpose-built swimming pool and the Olympics are all about certainty, endurance and strength. Away with your beauty and ambiguity Frank Ocean. Away.

USHER – DIVE (2012)

What’s the discipline? Diving.

Does it sound right? ‘These waters can get a little busy but I got experience!’ boasts Usher. It’s a promising start from this well-practiced performer. ‘I don’t need a life saver, baby going deeper ain’t gon’ kill me!’ he goes on promisingly, presumably readying his position on the board. ‘It’s raining inside your bed,
no parts are dry, loving makes you so wet, your legs, your thighs…’ he adds, as the commentators begin to exchange worried looks. ‘I’m in so deep, it’s up to my waist… I don’t mind playing in the rain!’ he concludes, at which point we must all accept that Usher is diving in a different Olympic ring to the rest of our competitors and turn sadly back towards our lives.

Justin Bieber’s guest rapper romances

There are four guest rappers on Justin Bieber’s new album Believe and that means only one thing – four love duets! But who’s most likely to stick around?

Ludacris (All around the world)

How does Justin sound? Breathy, and very excited to tell Ludacris how beautiful he is. (I suppose at this point some of you will be thinking ‘No, stop! Justin’s straight! Poor Selena! He mentions a girl in the lyrics! He must be singing to a girl! Ludacris must be rapping about the same girl!’ Well I suppose if you find the idea of Justin Bieber and Ludacris going sloppy seconds on Selena Gomez more wholesome than a nice bit of consensual man-love you’re very welcome to that interpretation. It’s a week since Frank Ocean, people. Anything goes now.)

How does Ludacris sound? He’s in awe. ‘I love everything about you, you’re imperfectly perfect!’ he gushes. (Yeah, really, if they’re both supposed to be addressing their lyrics to the same girl it’s at worst pretty squicky and at best especially awkward, even in MTV awards circles. And let’s not forget, Ludacris is a master of this sort of thing. It’s him who got T-Pain on a track a few years ago so they could drawl ‘If I take one more drink, I’m gon’ end up fucking you!’ at each other after all. If you’re in any doubt about THAT one go and listen again – the ‘Who else?’ ‘You too!’ banter at the end clears things up pretty definitively.)

How’s their loving? Both lads are keen to stress their love shouldn’t be taboo. ‘Why you acting so shy, holding back? We’re not the only ones doing it like that!’ says Justin. ‘People say you don’t deserve it! Don’t give in, hate may win some battles, but love wins in the end!’ adds Luda. (Seriously, people. Channel Orange.)

Big Sean (As Long As You Love Me)

How does Justin sound? A bit moody. He’s picturing how love would survive even if he and Sean were starving, homeless, or – apparently the worst of the three as it’s the climax of the line – broke.

How does Sean sound? Startled, to be fair, but whether from the buzz & chop production or the sudden realisation of his love for Justin it’s hard to say. ‘I know we got issues, but I’d rather work on this with you than go ahead and start with someone new,’ he says, although it’s delivered in a gabbled, insincere rush.

How’s their loving? Not the best I’m afraid. Sean just brings out Justin’s petulance and neither of them really convince us that they’d stick together through anything other than habit. ‘The grass ain’t always greener on the other side, it’s green where you water it,’ says Sean. To be honest, if his water is turning Justin green down there they should probably pop to the clinic.

Nicki Minaj (Beauty and a Beat)

How does Justin sound? Eager to impress. ‘I’m coming for you!’ he claims, before saying they’re going to party like it’s 3012. She’s not THAT much older than you, Justin!

How does Nicki sound? A bit frosty but definitely up for some fun. ‘Justiiiinnnnn,’ she warns at the start, before later rhyming ‘Justin Bieber’ with ‘Buns out, wiener.’

How’s their loving? ‘I gotta keep my eye out for Selena,’ tuts Nicki and her heart doesn’t seem to be in it apart from the buns & wiener action mentioned above. As both she and Justin talk about ticket sales and world tours in their lyrics it feels more like a commercial compromise than anything else.

Drake (Right Here)

How does Justin sound? Completely infatuated. ‘Lost in your eyes every time that you look in mine – I promise to be all that you need,’ he sings dreamily.

How does Drake sound? Needy, conflicted and also completely infatuated. ‘Selfish of me to ask,’ he apologises before going on like Nicki to address the Selena-shaped elephant in the room. ‘Good girl got her mind right, she been raised right, being patient, I know you waiting on a good thing… When the time’s right you should let me get to know you, baby.’ Blimey.

How’s their loving? There are lots of little moans and gasps buried in the background production of this one, just in case it wasn’t all homoerotic enough to start with. ‘I just want to put it on you!’ ejaculates Justin. ‘Wish that you knew all that I do to make this thing go right,’ rasps Drake, referring perhaps to Justin’s lack of experience. It’s so steamy I think we should discreetly drape a Canadian flag over the pair of them and leave them to it.