DIZZEE RASCAL FT. PEPPER - SCREAM
Theme for… uh.. what’s a sport that uses the elbow extensively?
Brad Shoup: “People living in crap/No fresh water out of the tap/(pause)/Plus they’re being attacked…” I replayed that section about five times in a row; I expected Dizzee to go humanist, not humanitarian, and I definitely didn’t think it would be this funny. I had quite a close call during the Opening Ceremonies, when my beloved “Heaven” played as Danny Boyle went reverse-Oz on poor Tim Berners-Lee. Soothing harps and screaming hearts: the last refuge of the scoundrel-athlete.
Michaela Drapes: Am I supposed to feel a whisper of “Everlasting Love” here? Can’t fault Pepper, she brings her A game; Dizzee on the other hand, gets bogged down in too many mixed sport and industry metaphors. There is, of course, a whole lot of “keeping it real” re: London urban decay, which is appropriately Olympic in flavor. I can’t help but find it kind of floppy and aimless toward the end, though; points deducted for not quite sticking the landing.
Iain Forrester: I can think of much worse people than Dizzee to do this job, but between “You Got the Dirtee Love” (the harps, the big chorus) and “Shout for England” (the sports, the demands to shout) it’s not even just one dry well that he’s returning to.
Pete Baran: There’s an peculiar irony about Dizzee in that for all the history and street tuff attitude that comes with grime, he never sounds more convincing, or indeed better, than when he is delivering something aspirational, celebrational and fun. Which is why this is a peculiar beast: properly upbeat, with a soaring chorus to get the crowds behind it, with a final verse which reminds you that some people in the world don’t have clean water. It’s the same contradictions Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony had: inspirational, clunky, funny and with loads of references to old films. He’s right: Rocky is the best sports movie.
Alfred Soto: His last album practically made him a star if its UK success is any indication, so why this victory lap looks like running in place is a mystery.
Will Adams: Never quite what the title promises, Dizzee’s rhymes are standard “rise above” blather, and Pepper probably could have done a better take. But the tastefully light instrumental, with layers of harp drizzled over it, make this the G-rated anthem it was meant to be. Can Olympic-themed songs like this pop up every now and then?
Patrick St. Michel: Nobody should expect the official song of the 2012 Olympic Games - an event that has been sandblasted by corporate interests - to be particularly raw, even if the rapper selected to deliver said anthem once put together a gorgeously ugly album zooming in on the less fortunate parts of London. Still, “Scream” is so bogged down in cliché similes and metaphors that it sounds even cheesier than what I expected an Olympic song featuring Dizzee Rascal in 2012 to sound like. Pepper’s chorus, meanwhile, makes me feel a bit like watching that South Korean fencer protesting her match result as tears stream down her face.
Edward Okulicz: It bears the same fussy, ornate and not-as-otherworldly-as-it-thinks arrangement of the first Florence + The Machine album. That’s neither here nor there, and I’d like to hear such a thing done really well, but Dizzee’s rap is perhaps the least-interesting rapid-fire succession of words I can recall. Perhaps he’s proud that this was crapped out for some kind of contractual obligation.
Anthony Easton: Dizzee has not really changed or adapted his skills post-heyday of grime, but this does what it needs to do. The politics are not terrible: banal and obvious, but well-meaning. The points rest on a good use of formulae, and excellent singing by Pepper. Wish there was more of it.