Following my review of ‘Marvin Gaye’, the number one track from Charlie Puth (featuring Megan Trainor), I had intended to designate Monday’s slot on the Audio Appraisal schedule to reviewing the current number one (assuming of course that week presented a fresh number one for review). Alas, it appears I have yet to memorise my own schedule; and hence something else took its place. We will endeavour to return to normal next week; however for now, in the interests of sparing you my incessant rambling, it’s time to check out this week’s No. 1; Jess Glynne’s “Don’t be So Hard on Yourself”.
Jess rose to fame following her being featured in Route 94’s single ‘My Love’,, at which point she was approached by electronic group Clean Bandit to feature on their track ‘Rather Be’, a track which debuted at number 1 on the UK singles chart; and became the 3rd fastest selling single, not to mention the most streamed song of 2014. Route 94’s ‘My Love’, which had previously been released on Dj Annie Mac’s compilation album ‘Annie Mac Presents’ was released as a single a month later, and also debuted at number 1, both My Love and Rather be also receiving brit award nominations for best British single.
Since then, she’s released several solo singles, including ‘Right Here’, and ‘Hold my Hand’, as well as collaborating again with Clean Bandit on their track ‘Real Love’ which debuted at number 2 on the UK singles chart. She’s also featured on rapper Tinie Tempah’s number 1 single ‘Not Letting Go’, and has collaborated on projects with artists such as Rita Ora and Rudimental.
The 4th single taken from her debut album ‘I Cry when I Laugh’, Don’t be so Hard on Yourself was released on August 14, 2015 and reached number 78 in the single chart that week based on streams alone. The following week it had climbed to number 1, resulting in a tie between 25-year-old Jess Glynne and Cheryl Fernandez-Versini for the most number 1 solo singles by a British female.
Lyrically, the track can be interpreted in a couple of different ways. Clearly the track is trying to convey a message that everyone makes mistakes (“Everyone trips, everyone falls), and that ultimately you should live the life you want to live, and not that which is expected of you (“I learned to wave goodbye, How not to see my life Through someone else’s eyes”.
The line “I’m standin’ on top of the world, right where I wanna be, So how can this dark cloud keep raining over me? appears to suggest a level of discontent with success; as if all is well yet isn’t well, so to speak. However, “But hearts break and hells a place that everyone knows” seems to imply ‘shit happens’.
A word about the mastering before we wrap up; I was pleasantly surprised upon first listening to this track that it appears to have been mastered rather well. Whereas most mainstream pop (and in fact most music for the matter) is compressed so much as to be virtually unlistenable, this track was fairly relaxed with only a hint of distortion occasionally occurring on the vocals. Whether this distortion was intentional or the result of the levels being pushed into clipping is anyone’s guess; however, distortion aside, the track sounds great.
Don’t be so hard on yourself is another excellent pop song. I’ll admit to not having been a fan of ‘Hold My hand’, though ‘not letting go’ was one of my favourite top 40 tracks of the summer. It might not be as catchy as Little Mix’s recent number 1 ‘Black Magic’, but it marks a welcome departure from 2014’s ‘Rather be’ and the aforementioned ‘hold my hand’. It’s available now on the usual streaming services, from any digital music store including iTunes, or purchase the album from any good music store including Amazon.