NDubz – Love.Live.Life Throwback Review

Love.Live.Life

This takes me back to my teens. I’m not going to lie I was a big fan of N-Dubz back in the day however I realised how cheesy they were. However I can never say I ever got the urge to listen to their full album let alone buy it. So today I am reviewing their 3rd album before going on hiatus and all trying solo careers. I know very few of the songs on this album. This album also came at the height of their pop sound and a lot of street edge was mostly gone.

Intro /Outro

With a song to start of the intro you get a full blast of 2010 in your face. With the cheesy piano laden pop backing. Oddly Dappy raps about how life can be hard and name checks Gaza and Basra. Honestly these are not the people I come to for social commentary. It sounds like the snippet of a song that did not make it onto the album.

Best Behaviour

Before I play the song for myself I’m not going to lie I was a massive fan of this song back in the day. It still should be on my iTunes somewhere however I have not listened to it in a while so here we go. (Three Minutes Later) Well the autotune use on this is criminal. However as much I enjoy there are many flaws. This song came out at the height of their crossover appeal the pop cheese that infects this track is serious. And the chorus kills any street credibility they thought they still had at this point. On a positive note Fazer’s productions here though cheesy is quite good.

Took It All Away

With a distorted guitar starting the track I was not sure to expect with this track. Another track about breaking up. This is a solid track. Tulisa and Dappy have great interplay on songs. Also Tulisa sounds much better when she has to go the straight pop route and not try to edge to her lyrics.  Producer Zero Gravity helps Fazer on this track as it still sound like a pop track but that guitar in the back really brings it together. Also there is a guitar solo as the outro never thought I’d be saying those words

Living for the Moment

Listen here folks this is what happens when you overuse autotune. This makes it sound like Tulisa can’t sing. And to be honest the chorus isn’t great, the way she is singing it making worry that they needed overdubbing and autotune to cover. Dappy raps are serviceable for this track. Also I am not a fan of this beat either it’s just far too American and generic. Tulisa’s verse on the other hand is a highlight of the track and is possibly one of her best verses. Fazer has a quite good verse showcasing his underrated rap skills. The track really picks up in the second half.

Love Live Life

This is a generic 2011 dance track with Tulisa singing the vocals. It barely counts as an N-Dubz track. Not surprisingly the producers on this are free school. The amalgamation of electronic songwriters and producers which just seems like a suggestion from the label. The song is soulless and boring

Scream My Name

So shockingly Fazer actually begins this track.  His verse has absolutely nothing to do with anything. The chorus seems a random inspirational chorus. Dappy’s verse also has nothing to do with anything either. I’m so confused also both verses are like 8 bars long the chorus is double that. I’m sensing laziness as none of the elements of the song sound right they just sound like they were pressed for time nd grabbed a random chorus and random lyrics.

Toot it And Boot It Ft YG

What? I looked at the track list and had to double-check. This was the first YG song I ever heard but I did not realise N-Dubz had a version let alone on their album. Also this track was penned by Ty Dolla $ign. I love this song also Dappy holds his own on this version. You learn something new every day.

Skit ft Fearless

This is a formula that works just give Dappy a fast-moving beat and let him go. It is songs like this that reminds people still has bars. This is just a showcase for Dappy and fearless. This fearless guy is really good it’s a shame nothing happened with him as he has bars. Good hard track

Love Sick

This is a Tulisa solo track. Like I said earlier Tulisa had the potential to be a proper pop start if she had stayed straight pop like this track. This is where she excels as her vocals lend themselves well to this type of music. It’s such a shame as she had it all there in front of her to be big. The song is decent the chorus is really catchy and you might catch yourself singing along.

So Alive

A completely different sound however that is not surprising as the Don Skepta produced this track. The beat is dark and interesting. Skepta has never disappointed with his verses. This is a good song in which everyone brings their A games. Fazer especially rises to the occasion as he shows he can rap much better than he usually shows.  From what he has said interviews that whenever he is in a room with other MC’s especially grime MC’s he raises his level.

Girls

I hate this song. I hated it then I hate it now. The reason is sonically it sounds horrible. From the bullshit lyrics to the generic beat to the droning autotune chorus

Cold Shoulder

This is dance party song. The song itself is decent. Both Dappy and Tulisa are great on the track however the song doesn’t say anything about anything. The beat is probably the most interesting about the song as you could listen to it alone without the vocals

Morning Star

Another Free school production and another generic soulless pop song. My god do these guys just suck the personality of songs. I’ve decided how to describe their production

Boring

Laborious

Arduous

Non-song

Dull

Bonus track – We Dance On

Ah who could this gem of a song? I absolutely hate this song. A song about generic song about standing up for something. I hate everything this song stands for. Also how dare you use Pachelbel’s Canon in D like that and think it is ok. One journalist for the BBC likened the bridge to BOB FUCKING MARLEY! I kind of hope the guy got fired. Just joking but seriously though Bob Marley. This song sounds like it was written by a group of executives looking at spreadsheets.

 

Final Thoughts

This Album received mixed reviews at the time and that is so true. This album has shining moments then it is also littered with crap. However after listening to interviews and just generally being a fan for years this album just scream label meddling. The both songs that were penned by Free School are no surprise a label idea as that year they were on fire with Nearly everyone in that camp winning some kind of ASCAP which is the songwriter awards. Therefore from a labels point of view if they pay these record producers for track they will get instant hits. Unfortunately these tracks have nothing in them other than standard pop formula. I wouldn’t be surprised if they gave them tracks on a memory pen and told them to add vocals.

Around this time there was talk in the media of Tulisa being the breakout star of the group as she had been in Dubplate Drama and other acting gigs. She had also been announced as the new judge on the X-Factor in May of 2011. I never understood this as she was always the expendable one of the group. However you can see the potential for her to be a breakout star on this album

I think the biggest surprise on the album is how better N-Dubz work better themselves than with other producers.

Overall an ok album. To be honest at this point a hiatus was best for their careers because both Dappy and Tulisa had ambitions of solo stuff. For Tulisa it was to be a popstar, for Dappy it was just to make his own music. Also at this point Fazer was first being burnt out as the primary songwriter and producer and second he needed to step back from N-Dubz as his production work and rapping ability were both quite underrated when he was in the group.

So it is 2016 and honestly with the legal trouble all three have been through in the five years since breaking up I honestly think now is the time for them to get back together. Fazer is going to release new solo stuff soon so I am for one looking forward to that.

 

Flow – 7.5/10

 

Lyricism –  6/10

 

Beats/ Production – 7/10

 

Songcraft – 7.5/10

 

Concept/ Originality 7/10

 Final Grade

35/50

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Billboard Trawl – Ep 1 August

Billboard Trawling

So in this monthly article I am going to trawl through billboard genre by genre choosing a song by an artist and reviewing it randomly.

I’m going to try to do as many genres as possible

However there are simple rules to Billboard Trawling these are

  1. The artist can only be reviewed Once
  2. Chart position does not matter
  3. It is by billboards definition of genres not mine

Pop

This is the most boring genre to review as I know most of these songs so I’m going to try to choose one I don’t know

Kent Jones – Don’t Mind

This is a ridiculously feel good song. This song has summer banger written all over it. The instrumental is simple however it works so well showing a summer song can be understated. That chorus is a literal earworm. Good luck not getting this sh*t stuck in your head. Now onto the lyrics which unfortunately they completely let the song down. Did some not tell Mr Jones here that when a song sounds this happy with catchy hook that there is a place for sexual innuendos and unnecessary swearing. Also this guy is a terrible rapper point blank period

Flume ft Kai – Never Be Like You

Hmm where to begin. Well will start with the instrumental. It sounds like the producer just listened FutureSex/LoveSounds by Justin Timberlake, went home downloaded a Timbaland sound pack and then went to work. This is of course then put through the 2016 pop filter because god help me if all the songs don’t sound the same. That is such a shame as it is the most interesting part of this song. Let me clarify I dislike this song but not because it sounds bad it actually sounds acceptable. My problem is this like many other songs in pop nowadays is that it is uninteresting to the point of being insulting. Flume said this about the track

“We laid down some chords and started an idea but weren’t feeling inspired. So we went out into the night for a few hours and when we returned, it all started to come together.”

Unfortunately for her and Kai this still sounds uninspired.

Country

A genre that I grew up around however I’m going to be honest I do enjoy Bro-Country. I know I know but sonically I just enjoy the songs. Now I have a whole list to choose from because I do not pay attention to the country charts so here we go, also weird observation but there is only 3 women in the top 25

Jake Owen – American Country Love Song

With this title there was no way I was ignoring it. It honestly starts the verses with Talking! From that point onwards it is a standard country pop tune. Simple 4 chord structure, Overlaying guitar riff, super vague lyrics that will always have the song’s title in the chorus. All in all it is actually a solid song if you don’t mind country pop. However to some people this style of country music is just pop with a southern twang

Kelsea Ballerini – Peter Pan

This is not a country song. I don’t mean that in the way I mentioned before about country pop this song is actually just a straight pop song. There is literally nothing that makes this country she’s probably signed to a country label or from the south or something let me check ……….. (Three minutes later) yep just as I expected she is from Tennessee and signed to a country label. My question is that all it takes to be considered country nowadays. Anyways onto the song I actually like it. I like the lyrics and I like how it sounds. However the only problem is that the song is devoid of personality it honestly sounds like any random female from Disney/Nickelodeon. But hey I don’t mind that type of pop music.

 

Rock

Hello my old friend. I think the noughties hit rock music super hard in a way that it has truly not recovered. Even looking at the chart is a bit depressing. Firstly let me say this just because you are a band and use instruments does not make you rock music. Let’s proceed shall we

X Ambassadors – Unsteady

I will start by saying this I find the song personally ok but I can see why people like it. Music like this always sounds to me like the promo song for a TV drama that’s about to start a new season. I will say this though the song is enough to catch your attention enough to want to listen to their other stuff.  The song also could lend itself to being remixed quite well. Sam Harris’ vocal abilities are on full display here and he kills it. The backing is understated but powerful. So all in all check it if your into alternative rock.

Ben Rector – Brand New

If the last song was promo a TV drama this one is basically saying to “Join Sky now”. Honestly it’s not even that bad of a song however it just lacks balls. I feel like I just listened to the soundtrack to a teen romance movie. From some comments I’ve read underneath the video people are saying they think this sounds like a Christian song. And that is spot on this song is so light and airy with no real substance like a badly made cake.

R&B/Hip Hop

Here it is, my bread and butter. No introductions needed however if I’m more critical it is only cause hip hop is my shit

D.R.A.M Ft Lil Yachty – Broccoli

I had to listen to the song three times before I wrote something down. At some point in the timeline we messed up. The reason I’m saying is because WTF is this bullshit. I can’t fathom what I’m listening to. Now I could be a hipster and say this an Avant-garde re-imagining of standard hip hop tropes and in that way it subverts conventional sound that in itself makes it unique track but alas im not a douche and I’m going to call this song out for what it is, absolute garbage

Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa & Imagine Dragons With Logic, Ty Dolla $ign & X Ambassadors – Sucker For Pain

Just sneaking in the chart here at the bottom. Tis was in the rock chart but because I had already wrote about X Ambassadors already I couldn’t write it. However Buddha has listened to my prayers. With 2 bands and 4 rappers this is a combined total of 12 musicians. Oh god does this mean this could be some sort of topical message record. (5 minutes later). Holy Fuck how did they manage to make a good song in which every single person held their own . I’m genuinely shocked Wiz had a decent verse, logic’s verse was ok perfectly acceptable, I don’t listen to much of his music so I don’t know if this was underwhelming of or not. God dammit Ty Dolla $ign has gone from strength to strength in the last year showing he is now pop music’s go to rapper a spot that used to be held by the next man. Lil Wayne has fallen off in the last two years, personally I believe it’s more to do with his personal problems than his actual ability, This is the best Weezy has sounded in over a year, If he can keep this up he should have no problems going back to the top of the mountain. Both bands where quite good. Their sounds are similar so it doesn’t seem too difficult for them to collaborate however managing to also make a great backdrop for the rappers to shine that is artistry. I was honestly expecting something super ridiculous but im left here eating my words because this song is good, very very good

Dance/Electronica

I enjoy electronic music however with it being completely mainstream to the point that the pop chart is either an electronic/ hip hop chart it feels kind of redundant to review it ah well I could find a Gem.

Galantis – No Money

This is a summer tune. I dare you not dance to this. That hook is so catchy. The kid’s chorus of voices works well for the track. The thing that gets me the most is the piano in the track it instantly reminds of early nineties dance music with its use of syncopation. All in all great song. Good Work Galantis

Cheat Codes x Kris Kross Amsterdam – Sex

This is not a great song, it’s kind of boring and it has a massive sample that’s kind of used in a crap way. I honestly have no idea if this song is supposed to be sexy or? I’m generally confused at what tone they were going for. This is one of the least sexy songs if have ever heard about sex. You could literally sing about anything in this song and it would have the exact effect. Also the instrumental is kind of boring. The whole track sounds looped like they created the 1st 64 bars and just repeated them. There is nothing wrong with that it just leads to really lazy, boring dance music. Also the singer literally sounds like he has never had sex before.

Latin

Latin music has always kind of bored me because they love their ballads, however Spanish hip hop is quality so lets find out si mierda está haciendo estallar

Nicky Jam – Hasta La Amanecer

This right here is my new shit. This song is literal fire. I does not matter what he is saying when it sounds this good. Pay attention pop charts this shit is how it is done. From context it sounds like a simple R&B pop song. However that latin beat in the back just gets. That part of the globe just knows it percussion. It also just breaks down into a straight hip hop instrumental in the middle which shouldn’t work but it does. This is gonna be in my head for days

CNCO – Quisiera

So I have chosen what seems to be a boy band a Latin one D if you must, let’s check this out. (5 minutes later) What was I expecting, yep it is a standard pop boy band shtick. The Latin flavour of the track is kind of let down by the singers with their super soft super weak vocals, but hey I’m not a 12-year-old girl so each to its own. It’s not great it’s not terrible.  

Final Thoughts

Worst Song

D.R.A.M – Broccoli Ft Lil Yachty

Hands down worst, Literal no contest, (Mortal Kombat Voice) You Win ! If Someone decides never to listen to that song based on my words then I will receive eternal salvation. But seriously don’t listen to this garbage.

Best Song

Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa & Imagine Dragons With Logic, Ty Dolla $ign & X Ambassadors – Sucker For Pain

Honestly I couldn’t heap anymore praise especially considering it is a soundtrack song. Good Job guys Bravo

Honourable mentions

Nicky Jam – Hasta El Amanecer, Galantis – No Money

 

So there it is my thoughts on random songs by acts in the billboard chart this month. Honestly I can say I’m pleasantly surprised and a couple of these acts I definitely will be checking out.  This was surprisingly fun to do so check out monthly as I intend to do this every month.