Friday, April 24th, 2009

Blackout Crew – Dialled

Lots of places have a North…


Mike Atkinson: In olden times, the craft of novelty songwriting was afforded sufficient respect to warrant a regular category at the Ivor Novello Awards. And as someone whose earliest 7-inch purchases were mostly novelty-flavoured (“Johnny Reggae”, “Monster Mash”, “The Ying Tong Song”), it’s a craft for which I’m still prepared to rep quite hard. So I’ve been gagging for a follow-up to the brilliant “Put A Donk On It”, one of the best novelty songs of recent years – but at the same time, I’ve been mindful that novelty follow-ups tend to fall victim to the law of diminishing returns (“Desperate Dan” was hardly the equal of “Mouldy Old Dough”, was it?). Sadly, “Dialled” is another case in point. It’s jolly enough, but the jollity and the wit seem forced at times, and the whole thing lacks some of the precision-honed attack of its predecessor. MC Rapid’s rhymes on the second verse (that’s the “another new track done and dusted” section) seem especially stiff and stilted – but then Dowie MC pulls things back admirably in the third verse, rhyming in the style of a chirpy call centre worker. They also could have done with re-donking their donk, as their existing donk is sounding a bit donked out… but now I’m just being picky.

Alex Macpherson: “Put A Donk On It” paled quickly for me; mostly because of the number of people who used it – and continue, despite my condemnation of the practice, to use it! – as some sort of “wackiness” signifier/humour replacement. Those people need to never say “put a donk on it” again. “Dialled” will probably not get that treatment; having made their mark, Blackout Crew are ~past~ gimmicks now. “Dialled” works even better as a track than as a joke: it’s still funny, but more importantly, it’s banging.

Hillary Brown: You know how a phone no one’s answering is up there with the most annoying sounds in the world? How about setting that to a hyperactive, concrete-echo-sounding beat?

Rodney J. Greene: I applaud the perpetually goofy gang’s dumb donk formulism, but unlike their signature tune, and a good chunk of what I might consider great pop, this fails to bypass the parts of my brain responsible for filtering inanities like this out.

Edward Okulicz: If we accept that this song is destined to only be ringing out of people’s phones as a novelty, or played in terrible clubs, we can evaluate it for what it is: an admission that music might as well be reduced down to its tiniest section and intelligence level for consumption. However, there’s nothing to reduce because it’s arrived straight from the factory floor already degraded – useless, irritating, giving pop music a bad name.

Martin Skidmore: They are geographically and sonically located somewhere between grime and happy hardcore, a marriage made in heaven, and this is irresistibly both banging and boshing. The certainty that it will be widely held in total contempt makes me like it even more, and pushes its score up to…

Dave Moore: Blackout Crew satisfy my slight curiosity about what literal ringtone rap would sound like. It’s… kind of annoying. When they drop the ringtones altogether it turns out the underlying housey track is really boring. See, Soulja Boy serves an important role after all.

Briony Edwards: Oh… My God? This is disgusting. Think Kersal Massive, minus the humour value and with more misguided ambition. Exceptionally bad.

Michaelangelo Matos: If I weren’t already familiar with “Put a Donk on It” I’d think this was a funny one-off, but instead I hear it as progression! Growth! Ambition in action! It’s difficult to resist a record this gleefully obvious, and frankly I think it’s better than “Donk,” though I doubt anyone who loved that record will — the British seem to mistake refinement for redundancy nearly every time. I’m not so sure I won’t agree in six months myself. But now? What a hoot.

Al Shipley: I’m generally allergic to rapping in British accents, and I pretty much steered clear of the whole “Donk” meme. But I have to admit this one has kind of bored its way into my brain and I’m not in any rush to get it out.

Ian Mathers: So this donk stuff, it’s basically just UK rap plus happy hardcore then? I enjoy the lightheartedness Blackout Crew bring to their music (the “I’ve got feelings of anxiety!” bit at the beginning especially), and the MC who spends his entire verse talking about their business plan vis a vis the internet and ringtones is sort of brashly compelling, but the actual chorus of the song is annoyingly repetitive and, well, so is the song itself, really.

Tom Ewing: Fast, funny, in your face, deceptively stoopid pop music: what’s not to love? The Blackout Crew make a great virtue of minutely explaining their distribution and marketing system in every song – this one even has a boardroom presentation in the video! – so I wonder if they’d suddenly run out of things to sing about if they became proper stars. The interlocking phone-tone backing works remarkably well and the hook is completely indelible. A triumph.

4 Responses to “Blackout Crew – Dialled”

  1. I thought I might be in the minority here, but I am disappointed to see only one other mark above 7 – thanks, Tom.

  2. Fear not Matos! Both Lex and I prefer this to “Donk”.

  3. Yay!

  4. “the British seem to mistake refinement for redundancy nearly every time”

    ^^this is all too frustratingly true. but not this british! i apologise on behalf of my compatriots.