Dissecting the Top 40

For most of us the Official Top 40 chart became a completely irrelevant bore somewhere around the age of 13. Are we missing out on something? For the honourable sake of investigative journalism, Alexandra Wilks sits down to analyse this week’s Top 5.


No.5. Rap God- Eminem
Surely Eminem’s most enjoyable trait is his humour. Who could forget, after all, “vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti”? On the modestly titled ‘Rap God’, he proves he’s still got it: “Rappers are having a rough time period, here’s a maxipad.” Genuinely a bit hilarious. But the homophobia and misogyny that seemed so hip and edgy when I was 14 are a little passé now, and just kind of, well, stupid: “What in the fuck are you thinking?/Little gay looking boy, so gay I can barely say it with a straight face looking boy.” Eminem and his charming fans would clearly disagree but his claim that he is a ‘rap god’ seems irrelevant to me. I liked neurotic Marshall Mathers who kept locking his girlfriend (or mother) in a cupboard. I’d quite like the real Slim Shady back, thanks.

No.4. Bonfire Heart – James Blunt
Kill it. Kill it with fire. There’s nothing redeeming about this song. I don’t know which is more vomit inducing, the lyrics, “Love like ours, you light the spark in my bonfire heart”, or the sickly sweet video (below)? It’s music like this being in the Top 5 that makes me fairly disappointed in the human race. Why this has been in the charts for two weeks and is actually climbing is anyone’s guess. Avoid it. Listen to Miley Cyrus instead.

No.3. Juliet – Lawson
I like looking at Lawson, especially lead singer Andy Brown. I wonder how many other people agree that they basically bought this record because they’d quite like to wake up to Mr. Brown on their pillow. Fresh in at number three, it is possible that this song will eventually hit the top spot. It possesses all the key ingredient, and actually sounds almost alarmingly like OneRepublic’s ‘Counting Stars’. If you liked Maroon 5 in 2002, you’ll probably like this song. Or you’ll shake your head and say, “they just don’t make them like they used to”. Sigh.

No.2. Wrecking Ball- Miley Cyrus
The sexualisation of Ms. Cyrus unravelled rather publicly in the wake of that VMA performance. Whilst just about everyone got their knickers in a twist about her “obscene cultural appropriation” and “blatant hyper sexual behavioural problems” Miley was twerking all the way to the bank. Is she a businessman, or a business, man? Either way, she knows how to sell records. Last week, Miley was the first artist of 2013 to top the Album and Single charts. But is ‘Wrecking Ball’ anything more than just a Disney teen gone wrong? Funnily enough, I think it might be. Miley’s other recent chart contribution, the contrite (and crap) ‘Can’t Stop’ left me cold. ‘Wrecking Ball’, however, has all the elements of greatness: angry/sad girl wronged by errant lover meets shouty exciting chorus that cries out to be sung along with. Miley’s doing it for the girls, in her own hot-pants-and-red-Doc Martens kind of way. Who can’t identify with the surprisingly emotional complex confession, “Don’t you ever say I just walked away, I will always want you”?

No.1. Counting Stars- OneRepublic


It’s clear that OneRepublic, a boy band from Colorado who seem to have unintentionally referenced the Nazis in their band name, have the charts cracked. Already possessing far more number ones than they deserve, ‘Counting Stars’ is another fairly pleasant tune of theirs to reach dizzying heights within the UK Top 40. Their music-by-numbers approach to soft (very soft) rock has proven fairly successful, and certainly makes easy listening. This song in particular has been hovering around the top 40 for the last 12 weeks like a bad case of herpes. There is little wrong with it and very little right with it. Knocking Miley and her wrecking ball off the top spot suggests it is, however, popular. It doesn’t do anything for me. It is not actively awful, but much like all their songs it’s forgettable and also absurdly catchy, and perhaps in this little oxymoron lies its charm. Perhaps.

Follow Alexandra on Twitter @AlexandraWilks

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