Tag Archives: usher

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.

Tied up with string: February

SOME SONGS

There have been some amazing songs released this month. Here they are:

Usher’s Climax might well turn out to be the best song of the year.

King of Hearts by Cassie makes me melt.

I love everything about M.I.A.’s Bad Girls. The song, the video — perfection.

A PERFORMANCE

Madonna’s Super Bowl extravaganza was extraordinary. For someone who takes herself quite so seriously most of the time, it’s a relief to see her revelling in her own ridiculousness. The staging! The costumes! The moves! Especially that little ‘doing a quick poo on the move’ move. Love it.

ANIMAL OF THE MONTH

It is this happy and excited DOG, whose DOGCAM ANTICS Kate was lovely enough to make sure I saw. It’s worth watching to the end, to see the FUN THAT DOGS HAVE when ALONE TOGETHER.