Who will provide the winning soundtrack to London 2012?

This Friday sees the grand opening of the 2012 Olympic Games hosted by the city of London. Alongside the official ceremony curated by none other than Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle, the London Live Celebration concert on the 27th will act as a  musical buffer and alternative to any torch action. In an attempt to showcase the best of British, BT have lined up acts which they feel represent different corners of the UK; such as Stereophonics (Wales), Duran Duran (England) and Paolo Nutini (Scotland). A nice albeit simple idea, regardless of whether you’re a fan of these musicians or not.

But that’s not where the music ends for London 2012.

The main anthem from the Rock the Games playlist is ‘Survival’ by rock wizards Muse. Sir Elton John and Australian dance duo Pnau, Dizzee Rascal, The Chemical Brothers and Delphic have also created official tracks especially for this summer’s extended sports day and will resound at all Olympic venues.

So of these five efforts, who takes home the gold?

Bronze Medal

When I first saw the list of five bands asked to contribute music the Games, I was slightly taken aback when scanning Delphic‘s name. This is not to say that their past work isn’t any good, merely that in comparison to the other household names in the line up their presence was fairly unexpected. Nevertheless, they have certainly delivered. It’s a great track in its own right and has bundles of energy which is an ideal tone to set for London 2012. Any athlete hearing this track would feel pumped, let’s just hope they don’t dance too much during the archery…

Silver Medal

I’ve always had a soft spot for Pnau. Their self-titled album released in 2007  was a deliciously spiky affair with plenty of electronic cheer, so it’s fantastic to see them working with living pop legend Sir Elton John. ‘Good Morning To The Night’ is an undeniably toe-tapping hybrid of two very different genres that complement each other wonderfully. This is possibly the most renowned track linked to the Oympic Games as a result of  being taken from the collaborative album of the same name, which reached number one in the UK album chart this week. Certainly a crowd-pleaser and set to keep spectator spirits high over the summer.

Gold Medal

The Chemical Brothers simply have to take away the gold medal with their London 2012 soundtrack effort. It may not win any awards for depth or variety, but it truly commits itself to the Olympic Games. ‘Theme For Velodrome’ seems to be one part bicycle, two parts Tron. It’s impossible to listen this without picturing hordes of cyclists powering round the track with focused faces and legs pedaling so fast that everything’s become a blur. Admittedly this is not the best stand-alone release, but there’s no mistaking how perfect it is for the job at hand, bringing the Olympics to life through music.


Top five music tips for: Truck Festival

Apparently summer has hit the UK and festival frenzy is sweeping the nation. With so many opportunities out there to lose a weekend to live music, rolling fields and questionable takeaway food, how do you know which festival is right for you? Well there’s something for everyone out there and I’m here to give you my top five music tips for upcoming events, starting with this weekend’s Truck Festival.

You’ve bought your ticket and now you’re struggling with the overwhelming array of acts to choose from. Don’t worry, here’s a helping hand to point you in the direction of your pop priorities.

About Truck Festival

Set up in 1998, Truck Festival is the brainchild of Robin and Joe Bennett, former members of the band Goldrush. After finding festivals such as Glastonbury too mainstream and commercial, its birth was an act of rebellion and its initial success spawned the Truck Records label based in Oxfordshire. Now under the management of Y Not Festival, it’s set to be a cracking weekend.

So who should you be listening to during the Friday and Saturday festivities?

1. Man Like Me

Insanely energetic London outfit Man Like Me are a treat for the eyes and ears. If their set at The Great Escape Festival was anything to go by, you best be wearing your dancing shoes (or wellies) when they take to the stage. Known for their highly infectious pop tracks and a cameo in the advert for a very popular Scandinavian store, Man Like Me are a must-see at this year’s Truck Festival. The Camden duo are signed to Mike Skinner’s record label, The Beats, and their latest single ‘Squeeze’ is a summer anthem if ever there was one. Vibrant, synthesized and with bravado by the bucket load, you need to get involved.

2. Villagers

Following the critical success of their 2010 album debut Becoming A Jackal, Villagers have spent the past few months in the studio rustling up their next offering. Now ready to unleash themselves unto the world once more, the band, who hail from Dublin, are sure to sooth the soul. Front man Conor J. O’Brien offers delicate yet powerful vocals, particularly haunting during live renditions of ‘Memoirs’; a track he originally penned for Charlotte Gainsbourg who released it as a limited edition single for Record Store Day 2011. It’s a rare yet spectacular band that can deliver songs which leave you feeling raw and exposed, cushioned in-between bouts of quick Irish wit. Villagers are not to be missed.

3. Lucy Rose

Fresh from touring with Bombay Bicycle Club and Noah and The Whale over in the US, Lucy Rose is now descending upon Truck Festival. Steadily infiltrating the popular consciousness, her latest single ‘Lines’ has received plenty of airplay and praise. All of which stands her in good stead for her debut album which is due to drop in September. If soaring melodies and folk influences are your cup of tea (an ironic turn of phrase as Rose created her own blend named ‘Builder Grey’), then make time to catch her set this weekend.

4. Frightened Rabbit

Frightened Rabbit offer indie rock with Celtic charm. It’s been nearly a decade since the band first formed and their A Frightened Rabbit EP released in 2011 exudes growth. The guys are currently working on another EP, speculated to be made available in September, and their fourth studio album, due out next year. Take this opportunity to get lost in their toe-tapping rhythms and elegant poetic lyricism. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

5. King Charles

Charles Costa aka King Charles is a natural showman. He counts Mumford & Sons and Laura Marling as pals, the former of which can be heard on Costa’s current single, ‘The Brightest Lights’, currently doing the rounds on BBC 6 Music. Loveblood, his debut album, was released back in May on Island Records and demonstrates a catchy blend of dreamy surf rock and addictive pop. His back catalogue is full of songs assured to get your earworms wriggling and to put a smile on your face.

My gripe with Grimes

A few months ago my Twitter feed went crazy. Everyone was talking about Grimes. Now at the time I had no idea who or what that was, I just knew that I had to check it out. The first I saw and heard of Grimes aka Claire Boucher was a video to ‘Vanessa’, taken from Darkbloom; a collaborative album with fellow Canadian musician d’Eon. A fairly ethereal track strung over black and white moving images of women playing with make-up and dancing backwards, filmed by Grimes herself. The first thought that popped into my head, and remained, throughout the 5:48 minute clip was ‘how pretentious’.

As someone who prides herself on an eclectic music taste and open mind, I gave Grimes the benefit of the doubt. It’s not her fault, I thought, average artists blow up all the time and it’s difficult to live up to the hype. When this hype continued, I figured I had best give her another shot.

This time I listened intently to ‘Oblivion’, a track from her latest album release Visions, now inescapable to avid listeners of BBC 6 Music and the like. It had potential. It was ‘boppy’, a fun beat that the hipster kids could bounce around to without messing up their hair. But I still didn’t understand. Even when word spread at The Great Escape Festival of her jam-packed set at Brighton’s Digital and the appearance of two male backing dancers, I didn’t understand. She’s not the first musician to infuse live music and dance routines, even if you did think it was ‘totes amazing’.

By all means there’s a lot worse out there and there are many artists I also lump in this same category (The XX). It all seems like a lot of effort with little reward. A bit too much style over substance, which in some circumstances can be pulled off well but I find Miss Boucher lacking. She appears to me as a slightly disturbed Cyndi Lauper for the digital age, just a lot less ‘Girls Just Want To Have Fun’ and a lot more ‘Girls Just Want To Look Like Me’.

Maybe one day it’ll click, maybe it won’t. Perhaps one evening you’ll find me front row and centre at a local Grimes gig, perhaps (and more likely) you won’t. I haven’t written her off completely, but as it stands, right here, right now, I don’t get Grimes. And I don’t feel I am missing out because of this.