Each week on the FACT Singles Club, our writers rate and slate the biggest new tracks of the last seven days.

This week, Stefflon Don and Skepta get raunchy on ‘Ding-A-Ling’, while Diplo and MØ attempt to ‘Get It Right’ on their new collaboration.

Elsewhere, Miguel is back with upbeat jam ‘Pineapple Skies’, DRAM and Playboi Carti link up for ‘Crumbs’ and dancehall innovators Equiknoxx drop the first single from their eagerly-awaited new album Colón Man. Read on to see how the week’s biggest singles shape up.


Stefflon Don feat. Skepta – ‘Ding-A-Ling’

Chal Ravens: Steff is great, but this sample is possibly the single most irritating thing I’ve heard all year, including, like, roadworks and my next-door neighbours putting up shelves in the middle of the day. It’s making me want to vandalize a school playground. I don’t enjoy this feeling. (3)

Miles Bowe: I like Stefflon Don, I like Skepta, but it’s difficult to enjoy a song built around a Simpsons sample as annoying as this one. That scene where the kid sings “My Dingaling” is pretty funny, but when it’s repeated ad nauseam throughout a song… let’s just say I have a new appreciation for Principal Skinner shutting this performance down. (4)

Claire Lobenfeld: I hate this. The Simpsons sample grates because of the strained little boy peacocking, but also because having to think about Chuck Berry’s saucy pseudo-consent version while we’re in the midst of so many women coming forward about so much sexual misconduct is really not on my to-do list. And on the flip side, hello, what about Trina, Lady Saw and Nicki Minaj’s 2010 sucker-punch ‘Dang-a-Lang’? Seven years in the limelight later, it’s still one of Minaj’s strongest verses, a deft display of her theater school kid abilities to deliver lyrics, however dumb and dirty, in a finer way than almost all of her peers. (4)

April Clare Welsh: *Alan Partridge voice* Ruddy hell, this is a bit steamy isn’t it? Everything from the track title (which is somewhat misjudged, as Claire notes above), to Skepta’s ewwww verse about the kind of marathon shagging that goes on for hours… ‘Ding-A-Ling’ is NSFW and not for everyone. Stefflon Don rages like a force of nature though: “I don’t know if he know who the fuck I am / But somebody best tell him who the fuck I am,” she raps, over some equally hard-hitting beats from Rymez. “See them dick pics, she ain’t really about that life / She’ll gun-butt your mom, then slap your wife.” Moral of the story – don’t fuck with Stefflon. (5)

4


Diplo feat. MØ – ‘Get It Right’

Claire Lobenfeld: Lightning rarely strikes twice and these “tropical house” bangers have had their moment, from Major Lazer’s excellent ‘Lean On’ and the completely underrated, Aqua-referencing ‘All My Love’ from Mockingjay to the undeniable ‘Where Are Ü Now?’. Don’t rest on your laurels, Diplo; as much as I don’t want to admit it, we know you’re better than that. (3)

April Clare Welsh: MØ has one of those annoying Manic Pixie Dream Girl voices and it really comes to the fore on this. I imagine the pressure was on to conjure the monster magic of ‘Lean On’, but lightning never strikes twice and although there’s a whiff of that smash here in the bass-y inflections, ‘Get It Right’ is about as limp as Diplo’s alleged “tiny penis.” It’s a shame this song has been used to soundtrack such an epochal moment in Cuba-US relations. (3)

Miles Bowe: I didn’t see the point of this song until the scratchy vocal-that-doesn’t-sound-like-a-vocal hook, but even that feels like a meager attempt to replicate the effervescent climaxes of ‘Where Are Ü Now’. It’s still kind of cool, but the rest of this song is totally forgettable. I see myself quietly enduring this in a future Uber ride. It’s not good, but it’s not offensive enough to switch stations. (4)

Chal Ravens: Absolutely ready for this to be the late pass banger of the year, because the Diplo x MØ equation is nothing to be fucked with. While this hardly breaks the mold – in fact, it’s cast in an almost identical mold to the brilliant ‘Lean On’, just cooked at a lower temperature – I find it wholly enjoyable, if unremarkable. You can’t deny that the ubiquitous “pop drop” effect is done best by Diplo. Disclaimer: This review is not an endorsement of Diplo. (5)

3.75


Miguel – ‘Pineapple Skies’

Chal Ravens: We’ve reached peak pineapple, haven’t we? It’s my sincere hope that tropical will never die, but 2017 has been so relentless in its celebration of palm trees, pastels and flamingos that the endless summer must finally be coming to an end. Oh, I was meant to be listening to Miguel, wasn’t I – yeah, this is fine, but too flouncy and embellished for me. There are several really nice production touches but they’re incidental to the top line so he’s ended up with something that sounds like a four-minute intro. (4)

Miles Bowe: Holy shit, this song. ‘Pineapple Skies’ bombards you with hard basslines and spaced-out synths, but can just as effortlessly drop to total silence with an equally impactful finger snap. It’s an immaculate backdrop for Miguel’s raw vocal, which hold nothing back with every surging shout, woo and roar. But while it will remind you of Prince more than nearly anyone working right now, it’s a disservice to think of Miguel simply as a master of past sounds. He also balances nostalgia and futuristic production as deftly as his recent collaborators Tame Impala. In fact, his talent is so uncontainable, even praising him feels like putting him in a box. (9)

April Clare Welsh: Interesting titbit – having recently become more engaged with politics, Miguel now walks around with the image of a mushroom cloud on the screen of his cell phone. His forthcoming album War & Leisure explores his newfound passion for politics but “is more about the personal struggle to find our way in the middle of it all,” according to the R&B alchemist, who urges us to “stay positive but be mindful. Not to ignore what’s happening, but not to be bogged down by it and stop our way of life.” ‘Pineapple Skies’ encapsulates this notion in its fruity, springy basslines and funk-pop optimism – a nice song to shimmy away the gloom. (7)

Claire Lobenfeld: I am a rare breed: the type who thinks All I Want is You is Miguel’s best album. It is only now that it feels of this time and it was released in 2010. But I’ve gotta echo Miles here: Miguel is a master of mining gems from the past while looking toward the future and creating something that sounds more innovative than what will be the paradigm then. This is a lovely, optimistic way to close out such a cruddy year. (8)

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DRAM feat. Playboi Carti – ‘Crumbs’

Miles Bowe: ‘Broccoli’ was the feel-good weed anthem of 2016, but ‘Crumbs’ shows DRAM can even have a good time when his stash is running dry. Nobody’s happy about that, and this song isn’t quite the euphoric overload that ‘Broccoli’ was, but like a rushed together spliff, it does the job just fine. Side note: I would absolutely watch a version of Peanuts starring these two. (7)

Chal Ravens: Finally, a Singles Club appearance for DRAM that doesn’t involve cutesy one-finger piano and a bunch of grown-ups wearing kiddie clothes. Playboi Carti doesn’t do himself justice and the beat isn’t much to shout about either, but there’s a DIY vibe to it that I kinda like, reminding me of the Awful Records bunch and the way their tunes feel thrown together to capture a moment. Wouldn’t go back to it though. (3)

Claire Lobenfeld: DRAM sounds great, but this isn’t for me! I like him better when he’s playing in his own sandbox (‘Cha Cha’! ‘Cute’! and OK fine, with Erykah Badu!) than keeping up with the status quo. This is fine, tho. (5)

April Clare Welsh: If DRAM won’t share his drugs (with women), then I can’t give him any points. (0)

3.75


Equiknoxx – ‘Enter A Raffle… Win A Falafel’

Miles Bowe: Even at their most skeletal, Equiknoxx hit with the force of a bone axe. ‘Enter A Raffle…’ isn’t the biggest banger on the group’s stunning Colón Man, but it contains everything that makes them great like a potent primordial ooze. There’s the insistent ticking percussion, the tumbling riddims, throbbing bass, and of course the bird samples which have quickly become an eerie and unmistakable calling card. It’s the perfect choice for a single — a chance to admire the rock solid foundation of one of the year’s best albums. (8)

April Clare Welsh: I spent an afternoon in the company of Equiknoxx’s SoundCloud recently and boy oh boy have they made some serious heaters in the past! With this new single there’s no instant gratification like there is with ‘Bubble’, for example, but that’s where the magic of the crew lies: scratch beneath the soundscape and there’s a whole cosmos of samples stitched together with ingenuity. No one is pushing and pummelling dancehall quite like these guys. (8)

Claire Lobenfeld: A sample treasure hunt with one of the best track names of the year – rivaled only by the rest of the songs on Colón Man. (9)

Chal Ravens: So far, Equiknoxx’s new album Colón Man isn’t having quite the same “Christ on a barbecue, what the hell is THIS?!?!” effect on me as last year’s Bird Sound Power, but maybe I’ve been spoiled so expectations are high. As it happens, this is definitely one of my favorites on the record and I’m dying to know what they’ve sampled here – it sounds like an inkjet printer and a broken clock? But of course. They should collaborate with Micachu. (7)

8


Final scores:
Equiknoxx – ‘Enter A Raffle… Win A Falafel’ (8)
Miguel – ‘Pineapple Skies’ (7)
Stefflon Don feat. Skepta – ‘Ding-A-Ling’ (4)
DRAM feat. Playboi Carti – ‘Crumbs’ (3.75)
Diplo feat. MØ – ‘Get It Right’ (3.75)

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