He still can’t dance…
Martin Kavka: I’m embarrassed to like this as much as I do, but it’s a creative mix of genres. The production (and Dappy’s chorus) reminds me of Simple Minds’ “Promise You A Miracle.” Or is it Peter Gabriel? Or is it not even anything ’80s at all, but rather some slice of handbag house from 1996? And all this behind Tinchy Stryder?? I have no idea in which direction(s) time flows after listening to this.
Martin Skidmore: I always rather liked him: he has the same fun tones as Dizzee, and a tuneful sensibility, helped by Dappy and the pumping and uplifting Fraser T. Smith production. Tinchy seems kind of an unlikely star in a lot of ways, but he may well be cementing that position with this. It’s a touch awkward in places, but I really like it.
Briony Edwards: This song is a mixed bag of awesome and terrible. Awesome: Dappy’s output is, for whatever reason, consistently enjoyable; the intro kind of sounds like The Backstreet Boys, until Dappy starts up with the “N-Dubz” shoutouts, etc.; there’s this one bit where Dappy’s rapping and everything else goes drops out a bit, and he REALLY sounds like Current 93 (seriously!). Terrible: Really cheap and nasty sounding house synths all the way through; the song on the whole is pretty boring and doesn’t particularly go anywhere; lyrics are pretty uninspiring. Overall, more good than bad, but not enough to redeem it fully.
Edward Okulicz: You’re “number 1!”. So what better to rhyme with you than “the one”? Apart from everything ever, that is. Fantastically catchy backing track spoiled slightly by subpar rhyming dictionary lyrics. Fortunately, it’s easier to tune that combination out than it is the reverse, so it’s a yes from me. The synth strings are suitably soaring and if you ignore the words what they’re actually saying, the sentiment is appropriately anthemic. Lighters raised, whistles blowing, crowd happy.
Alex Macpherson: I am never going to root for a grime MC to cross over ever again. I didn’t support Tinchy Stryder for half a decade only for him to turn into some sort of rancid Basshunter/Flo Rida hybrid and start pumping out cheesy electropop bullshit like this. The idea that “Number 1” will serve as an introduction to him for many is so deeply embarrassing.
Jessica Popper: Tinchy and N-Dubz were two acts I had paid no attention to whatsoever until their most recent singles, but I loved “Take Me Back” and “Strong Again” so much that I found myself unexpectedly excited about their collaboration. I love the direction that UK R&B is going at the moment and I hope this is a sign of what’s to come. They combine electro-pop and rap much better than their American counterparts.
Rodney J. Greene: Tinchy’s rapping is no worse than adequate and compliments the electro noises rather well, but this is a bit too reliant on a hook that could use some work or just as well be something else entirely.
Tom Ewing: The unholy alliance of grime and high street trance continues. Here the producer sounds like he’s been told at the very last minute that he’ll have two MCs on his track, and is pushing all the levels to 11 as a kind of passive-aggressive revenge on Tinchy and Dappy. They do their best to assert themselves, but the result is still pointlessly apocalyptic, a bad mash-up of two perfectly viable tracks which will now never actually exist.
Ian Mathers: It actually took me a couple of listens for it to register that the dominant sound during the chorus, especially near the end of “Number 1,” is those massed and trebly strings, but once I did they became sort of hypnotic (and definitely a good addition to the fairly standard buzzy synths that make up the rest of the song). I also like how this is the rare track about falling in love with a friend that doesn’t have any message other than “wow, this happened, it’s awesome, and I can’t quite believe it.” These are small things, but small things matter in pop music.
Andrew Brennan: I love the fake strings and piano beats, I love the vocoder/autotuned chorus, I love the beating synth. (But it should be noted that I loved the radio version of “Take Me Back”, so maybe I’m biased.) Something feels slightly off in the way the chorus is delivered — “I don’t understand. How. You’re number one” — but that’s a minor quibble.
Hillary Brown: Perky, fast-paced, string-heavy, and all that, this should be rather better than it is. It’s just a big old slice of underwhelm.