Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

VV Brown – Game Over

Never mind the sales figures, we still love her — well, sort of…


Anthony Miccio: Suffering from insomnia during a Christmas vacation in London several years ago, I quickly grew tired of the endless stream of mannered British pop singers on the radio. By the end of the week, I would have stood on my head just to hear some proud American mouthbreathers like Puddle Of Mudd. Hearing this self-starter announce her mind’s sobriety over Mark Ronson-lite sure takes me back.

Martin Kavka: I’m an enthusiastic fan of this, which might be aptly described as “1 Thing” with a bit more rabid energy and a vocalist who is every inch the equal of the producer. But wait, there’s more! In addition to being built around a toy piano (for a breakup song??!!??), it has a chorus that for some reason makes me yell out “Tusk!”, and a middle eight that threatens to become Puretone’s “Addicted To Bass.”

Keane Tzong: There is a bit of depressing irony in having VV Brown of all people release a single called “Game Over”; it’s small consolation that that’s by far the least memorable feature of the song. This deserves to do well, though; it’s a wickedly efficient three-minute march of a pop song. Free of excess or superfluous elements, and catchy without being (overly) mind-numbing, it’s gone long before it’s started to wear out its welcome, such that the only acceptable response to its end is to just play it again. Or maybe I’m overrating this one because I stiffed “Shark in the Water” that extra point. Either way!

Alex Ostroff: VV Brown’s Noo-Wop shtick is an interesting take on the retro fetishism of the past few years and a welcome respite from both the 60s Motown vibe of Amy et al. and the 80s revivalism of her fellow Sound of 2009ers. Her outrage is palpable, augmented by the backing “OH NO!”s and horn blasts, which conjure up images in my mind of VV’s ex being flung against a wall by the sheer force of the brass.

Hillary Brown: Mighty short for a 3-minute song, but it’s much thinner and less aggressive with its claws than her previous single.

Edward Okulicz: Very enthusiastic and danceable for a kiss-off. From a famous artist, the opening notes would probably become as ubiquitous as this little motif, and while Brown’s rhyming dictionary could do with updating, the song’s marching urgency wins out.

Matt Cibula: And the Lord said “Let there be hooks, and make ’em big and undeniable.” And the people rejoiced to find it so, and to hear a new pop saviour who understands both sides of the equation.

Cecily Nowell-Smith: This is fantastic, arresting, thrilling retro-pop, built out of bolshy “oh oh oh NO!”s and teeth-chattery handclaps, except the moment you listen closer you’re struck not by the kiss-off poise but by the careless nonsense of the lyrics. Not just throwaway mid-verse lines, either. Take this one from the chorus: “I don’t really care, cos this is my life, not a game of poker.” What does this mean? I have been trying to parse it for days now. For some reason I’m minded to blame Xenomania: they went for a particular kind of lyrical cut-up, a succession of unrelated ripped-from-the-glamour-mags soundbites, like flipping channels on a cable package of infinite chick-flick (I’m thinking, here, of the heady burble of Girls Aloud’s “Love Machine”), and it was an exciting step away from pop’s more usual tendency to mixed and overstrained metaphor, and of course their precedent is very important for all kinds of sorta-sophisticated semi-successful UK pop, but– but, I don’t know, this sort of affectless feistiness is starting to pall.

Rodney J. Greene: Brown’s nasinoid, wannabe-soulful jazz inflections and the production’s sparkly bombast would be working at cross purposes even if they were individually more tolerable.

Doug Robertson: In her head, this is what Pixie Lott thinks she sounds like, full of attitude and sass and all the good things you want your pop stars to have. Musically it’s still the same old retro clichés which seem to be ripping through the charts like an unstoppable cancer these days, but at least it’s done with enough oomph and enthusiasm to make the whole thing a lot more palatable. She’s basically the tomato sauce covering a plate of brussel sprouts.

Additional Scores

Anthony Easton: [5]
Chuck Eddy: [7]
Iain Mew: [8]
Ian Mathers: [7]
Michaelangelo Matos: [5]
Martin Skidmore: [8]

7 Responses to “VV Brown – Game Over”

  1. @cecily: that line does make sense, in an incorrect kind of way:

    she doesn’t care about losing a joker because her life is not a game of cards.

    now strictly speaking i don’t think you need a joker in poker but it does rhyme, and it maks some sort of sense to me. maybe slightly awkwardly, but sense none the less. i just hope that she can manage to make someone care this time around.

  2. I think that ever VV Brown single is really good for about a week and a half. Yet for some reason this one mostly reminds me of Rob Thomas’s Lonely No More.

  3. i thought it was “i don’t want to mess around with a joker”–?

  4. This is only 3 minutes? It felt like about twice that.

  5. Dang, knew I shoulda blurbed this. An easy 8, and I’m guessing Erika would have given it a 10. Which would bring the score to…eh, respectable 7.16. Feels about right.

  6. I wish I’d given “Shark In THe Water” a 10 now.

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