Nelly, Cher, Eliza And The Bear (ooh, that rhymed)...
Eliza And The Bear

Clash’s guest-reviewer-helmed singles columns will return soon enough. But to kick off 2014, it’s muggins in the hot seat. And it is hot. The cat’s been sleeping on it, see.

Inevitably, there’s a pretty paltry selection of singles to work through this week. But work through them we will, together. Please?

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Nelly feat. Trey Songz – ‘All Around The World’

Nelly will be 40 in 2014. Age ain’t nothing but a number, commented one late R&B star. But on this sort of form, the man who once represented the Midwest rap scene with a charts-smashing, cheeky-of-smile swagger is sounding old long before his time. At best, this is music accompanying the end credits of a teen rom-com movie earning a solid 41% at Rotten Tomatoes. At its worst, just effortlessly forgettable R&B slush that leaves as much of an impression as budget chicken nuggets in the same festive spread as a four-bird roast.

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Eliza And The Bear (pictured) – ‘It Gets Cold’

If 2014 isn’t the year when this kind of ubiquitous, so-inoffensive-it’s-abhorrent folk-does-schmindie doesn’t die, gurgling to a final stillness on its own forest-fruits-flavoured vomit (just seems like the kind of flavour such bands would have going on in their gob areas), then someone needs to reinstate archaic hunting laws so that we, the critical community, can at least thin the numbers. Some rather than none, we’d take it. But that said, such happy, shiny people as these guys deserve a fair chance. Ten-second head start. Run, Eliza, run

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Henrik B, Niklas Gustavsson, Peter Johansson – ‘Echoes’

YouTube makes out like this came out in August 2013. Music Week says kinda now. Frankly, it matters little to these ears, which automatically sealed themselves tight after a minute-26 of this drivel. It builds a bit, so you know it’s going to break a bit. And when it does, it comes at you with the force of a stoned Chihuahua, waving its paws in a semi-bothered attempt to alert you to the fact that you’re about to lose yourself to a track with all the singular qualities of a Puffin biscuit bar. Probably sounds great, though, when you’re off your face on own-brand Red Bull-style energy drink mixed with supermarket vodka, dancing around your living room like it’s Pacha Ibiza. It’s not, you gurning prick. And also, it’s a Wednesday, so keep the f*cking noise down before we call the police.

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Armin Van Buuren – ‘Save My Night’

See above, and please see yourself out. (Okay, if honesty is permitted to prevail, this is better than what’s just up there, purely because it’s so bloody pleased with itself. This Van Buuren lad clearly thinks of himself as some sort of DJ messiah – and he’s got enough fans to qualify as a relative leader of men. But he can stay the hell away from my disco, thanks.)

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Saint Raymond – ‘Young Blood’

Twitchy indie. Twitchdie? Nah, that doesn’t work. Y’know what I’m on about though, right? Like, The Maccabees with a little Foals in there. Some pleasant xylophone. Sing-along potential. Obvious crowd-pleasing elements. “Is Saint Raymond the next Jake Bugg?” asked the Nottingham Post last year. On this evidence, clearly not – the man otherwise known as Callum Burrows, hailing from the Nottinghamshire village of Bramcote, is a little more 21st century than that. Like Bugg, he’s not offering anything you’ve not heard before – but at least what he’s doing didn’t die once already, when your granddad was still in short trousers.

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Cher – ‘Sirens’

While we’re on the topic of your granddad, ask him about Cher. He’ll probably smile, softly, and mumble something about gypsies, tramps and thieves. She’s now up to album number 25, ‘Closer To The Truth’, from which this Nell Bryden cover is taken. On her first studio set for over a decade, she enlisted producers like Paul Oakenfold and Timbaland – which would have made it a pretty with-the-times effort if we were stuck in the late-‘90s. And if we really were still knocking about in Kickers and rocking Union Jack-clad parka jackets, we’d be grateful that ‘Sirens’ was everything that 1998’s ‘Believe’ wasn’t – namely a song we can listen to all the way through without seriously considering a scheme to take the evil bastards at Antares Audio Technologies out of business, permanently.

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More singles columns here

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