Saturday Flashback: CRO – Traum

“Be careful of falling electrical equipment”

Tim: Sent in anonymously and described as “fun and upbeat”, this here is from a German producer who blends rap and pop and calls it Raop, not sure why. It’s from 2014, is his biggest hit yet, and the title translates as Dream (he’s made an English version if you’d rather, but that takes away the fun a bit).

Tom: Full marks for putting (most of) the English lyrics on the German music video as optional subtitles. More like that, please.*

*Side note: it is completely outside what we normally cover here, but “Immigrants: We Get The Job Done” from the Hamilton mixtape is bloody excellent and does exactly the same: turn on the subtitles and all the Spanish lyrics are translated for you. Codeswitching while rhyming’s a heck of a skill.

Tim: Fun story there in the video – not quite sure what the moral of it is, though I’m fairly sure it’s one of either “don’t go on TV dating shows” or “be careful of falling electrical equipment”.

Tom: I mean, those are both good morals.

Tim: The lyrics come with a disappointingly standard narrative, in contrast – he doesn’t want to be alone, only has eyes for her, dreams about her, ready and waiting. Tad creepy, but there you go.

Tom: Can you still get away with a love song like that in the 2010s? Unless you’re Ed Sheeran, of course.

Tim: The sound is unusual but not unpleasant, and to be honest I’m quite happy with a track that provides that for a weekend. Thank you, reader, for sending that in.

Xander – Ka Ikk Holde Mig Væk

“While someone’s doing metalwork next door.”

Tim: Or, in English, ‘Don’t Hold Me Away’. Xander’s 29 and from Copenhagen, and hasn’t had a hit single since his debut, 2010’s Det burde ikk være sådan her. Here’s his latest, though, so see what you think.

Tom: That is a very… R&B choice for you. Particularly given there appears to be a bloke hammering metal on an anvil somewhere to the right of wherever they recorded the song.

Tim: You what? Look, you may be interpreting that title, given the calm, pleasant and fairly gentle style of music, as a nice message, at a relationship level – a sort of “I love you, we’ve known each other a while, please let’s be together”. Well, I’d like to immediately disabuse you of this notion, because the first line doesn’t mess about: “Take my hand, take your clothes off”. IT’S ALL ABOUT DOING IT.

Tom: While someone’s doing metalwork next door.

Tim: Just…what?

Tom: Sorry to bang on about it, but I actually couldn’t listen to this, that anvil sound grated so much. I had to listen just through my left headphone, where the sound’s still present, just a lot quieter. How did you not notice that?

Tim: Oh…oh GOD why would you point that out to me? I’d not heard that as a thing, but now I can’t unhear it. But I will – MUST – get through this. Because despite that (a consideration made easier by the facts that (a) I don’t speak Danish, and (b) I don’t have to see him looking like a bellend with the cap and sunglasses if I’m just listening), I still like this. That’s largely because of the aforementioned calm, pleasant and fairly gentle style of music.

Tom: DINK. DINK. DINK. DINK. THAT IS NOT CALM AND PLEASANT.

Tim: YES IT IS. It’s chilled out synth work with a good hook and relaxed vocals, and when done perfectly those are ingredients for an excellent song. Here they’re done fairly well, so I’ll happily take this, ignoring the fact that you’ve slightly ruined it for me.

JCY feat. Sisqo – Thong Song

“I’m sorry, WHAT?”

Tom: I’m sorry, WHAT?

Tim: Well, yes. If the question “what irritating late ’90s ear worm would you like to be redone for 2017” was put out to the general public, I’d put money on very, very few people saying Thong Song.

Tom: For me, it’s Aqua. I could go for a full-on remix of Turn Back Time about now. But yeah, not this.

Tim: Ah, see I’d have gone for Cher’s Believe, I could see that working. But no, JCY (pronounced Juicy) decided to get on the phone to Sisqo and say “hey, mate, here’s a thought…”

Tim: To be fair to them, they’ve done a bang on job with the whole bringing it up to date thing, because it does sound entirely 2017.

Tom: I actually had to go back and listen to the original — and I blame you for that —

Tim: You’re very welcome.

Tom: — and I’m surprised by how minimal it is. Maybe I heard a remix or something? Either way, yes, this is Very Much Now.

Tim: It also, though, and rather unfortunately, sounds very very Thong Song, which is just as awful and just plain offensive as it was 18 years ago. I don’t know why they did it – scratch that, I know exactly why they did it, we all do, it was because they figured it’d be easy money – but I really really wish they hadn’t.

Tom: Everything about this is unnecessary, but then that was true of the original too.

Tim: That song was consigned to the dustbin of history for a good reason, and it really, really didn’t need to be brought out again. AAARGH I HATE IT.

HRVY feat. Redfoo – Holiday

“Are those lyrics, or just a Markov chain trained on Thomas Cook brochures?”

Tim: Is 1.2m followers on Instagram a lot? Like, massive?

Tom: I mean, sure. It’s a million. That’s a big number.

Tim: Yeah, but in terms of Instagram celebrity. I ask because apparently it’s enough to get this guy a record deal. Question before you press play: do you think it’ll be any good?

Tom: I get the feeling that’s a rhetorical question.

Tim: Your insight serves you well.

Tom: I dislike him and his floppy undercut hair immediately, and I’m aware how hypocritical that statement is.

Tim: Good, as I was considering pointing it out. Now, it’s almost impressive, really, quite how rubbish this is.

Tom: Are those lyrics, or just a Markov chain trained on Thomas Cook brochures? What happened to the bass? What’s with the bizarre colorised flash effects?

Tim: To all of those questions, I can only answer: I just don’t know. Thing is, it’s not even enjoyably awful, like INJU5TICE (there’s a blast from the past for you) – there’s no way of sitting back and laughing at how terrible it is. It’s just utterly bland – pointless lyrics, no energy in the music, nothing to stand out at all.

Tom: He hits the notes competently. That’s the only compliment I can muster.

Tim: Even Redfoo’s appearance just sort of happens, without bringing anything to the table whatsoever.

Tom: “When I walk the street / all the girls drive by and they go beep beep”. He does bring something to the table, and unfortunately it’s terrible. It’s not even parody-terrible, it’s just terrible.

Tim: I think we may have a total low for the music 2017, right now. And not in a good way.

Tom: By the way, Tim, we wrote that INJU5TICE review seven years ago.

Tim: Yet when I read the lyrics “I need some loving, I’m a long long way from home” the tune immediately came back to me. That’s the sign of a good bad song. This isn’t even that.

Sigala & Ella Eyre – I Came Here For Love

“Bruce”

Tim: Last time we came across Bruce (yep), we pointed out that he had basically produced a Galantis song. His latest is slightly different, in that it actually sounds more like classic Galantis than current Galantis does, so I don’t quite know where that leaves us.

Tom: Better than actual Galantis?

Tim: Ermm…not…hmm…oh. Well.

Tim: Actually, the main thing it leaves us with is a bloody good song, and let’s be honest, that’s really all that matters.

Tom: It should be all that matters. I don’t think it’s massively memorable, but I also don’t think that matters for a track like this — it just sounds good.

Tim: It starts out great with that repetitive but very good synth hook; the chorus is an utter joy, both vocally and instrumentally; and the video is colourful, cheerful and joyously infectious with all its dancing.

Tom: There’s also enough interesting stuff going on in the chord progressions and melody that it doesn’t sound like a completely generic dance song. Even at three minutes it does feel a bit long, though.

Tim: I love this track very, very much, genuinely can’t think of anything bad to say about it, and, with no trace of hyperbole, can’t get enough of it.

The Script – Rain

“Modern enough to slot perfectly well into any standard current generic new pop playlist”

Tim: On Radio 1 the other day Danny said they had to change their sound up a bit for their new album because it’s “difficult for regular bands to get played” which (a) is a bloody odd way of vaguely attacking inauthentic music and (b) sounded utterly moronic two minutes later when they played Arctic Monkeys. BUT ANYWAY, here’s their NEW SOUND.

Tom: …does anyone remember what their old sound was?

Tom: All joking aside, that is a fantastic introduction. That’s one of the most promising piano-and-vocal introductions I’ve heard in a while. Shame about the weird electronic samples, but I can let that slide.

Tim: Yes – but then they’re really the only things that single it out as being different from said old style, aren’t they? I’m struggling to hear any real difference. Though that’s not necessarily a complaint, mind.

Tom: It’s got a catchy oh-oh-oh chorus, and normally I’d slate that sort of thing as being lazy, but… well, it’s really catchy.

Tim: It is. And actually despite my earlier disagreement it is modern enough to slot perfectly well into any standard current generic new pop playlist, so I guess if generic new pop is what they’re going for: good work lads.

Tom: That about sums it up, doesn’t it? “Good work”. It’s not a banger, but it’s certainly not a disaster either. This is a decent track.

Saturday Flashback: American Authors – Best Day Of My Life

“I think I got it when the bells chimed in.”

Tom: I was briefly hopeful this was a Modern Romance cover. It’s not, is it?

Tim: No, but THAT’s a song I’d like to thank you for introducing me to.

Tom: Introducing you to?! Mate, the Baha Men inexplicably covered this in Shrek. Black Lace covered it, unnecessarily. I am baffled that you’ve never heard this before. Anyway. Yes. Sorry. You had the actual flashback we’re doing.

Tim: Yes, and there’s a story to it: for some reason, everyone was a bit miserable today at work (Thursday, as I write this). I, on the other hand, was not, possibly because I heard this blasting out of Jamie’s Italian as I walked past on my way in.

Tom: That sounds a lot like a Fall Out Boy track (with a bit of this one in too). I was about to go off on a riff about that, but it turns out the two songs were released about a month apart, so it’s just two similar bands making similar decisions.

Tim: I’d say that’s fair, although you’re certainly not wrong about that first one, the vocal style’s incredibly similar. But the thing is, I was all set to write a sentence here about having to be in the right mood, because otherwise that twigging banjo might get you in precisely the wrong way, but otherwise it’s chirpy, and generally lovely.

Tom: It is, although I’m so used to this sound being all Angry And Emotional that it took me a while to adjust to that. I think I got it when the bells chimed in.

Tim: Right, and that’s all fine, but then I realised I’d never seen the video for it before, and wow does that take priority. We’ve had folks dressed as animals multiple times previously, but never had a metaphor from the lyrics put literally in the video, or at least not that I can remember. Here, it makes it thoroughly entertaining, and it’s a fantastic idea, because now every time I hear that line, I’ll think back to this video. I’ll remember exactly how much fun it is, and then how much I like the song. It’s genius.

Kelde – No Reason

“You’ll know whether you’ll like this or not within the first couple of seconds.”

Tim: Just to save anybody potentially wasting three minutes of their time, I’ll say this up front: you’ll know whether you’ll like this or not within the first couple of seconds.

Tim: I said that at the top because while those kind of vocal samples have grown in popularity recently, a lot of people (including me, until not too long ago) still can’t stand them, and so there’s not a lot in there for them.

Tom: They’re more obnoxious here than usual — I still have absolutely no idea what the original line was. But I don’t dislike them just for the sake of it; there have been stranger synths in the past.

Tim: Well that’s certainly true, and speaking of strange: there’s also that somewhat bizarre respite of a string section that appears halfway through – different as anything, though I doubt that’d be enough to convince anyone not already on board.

Tom: I was about to say “it won’t exactly fill a dancefloor”, but then that’s clearly false based on prior evidence. Doesn’t really have the same build, though, does it?

Tim: Few things do, because that’s one hell of a tune, good callback. But overall I’m alright with this. I don’t love it – I still find the sound slightly grating – but I’m fairly sure that if I listen to it a few more times I will end up enjoying it, so I guess that’s something.

Galantis – True Feeling

“Actually, there’s not a whole lot going on”

Tim: Galantis here using the appalling cheap and lazy tactic of using tour footage for their music video, but just this once I don’t care, because (a) the London leg of their current tour was one of the most enjoyable gigs I’ve been to, so this is lovely to watch and (b) they have at least done effects and stuff with it.

Tom: And every “old VHS” off-the-shelf filter in the book. That’ll get old at some point, but not yet.

Tim: Another thing the video did, the first time I heard it at least, was help me not notice the fact that, actually, there’s not a whole lot going on in the song, is there?

Tom: There never is, but at least they usually do “not a whole lot” with way more enthusiasm than this.

Tim: There’s a big ramp up at the end of each vocal chorus, but then the big drums drop out and leave us with the steel drums and marimba beats.

Tom: Also, and I realise this is a really specific complaint, that static-whoosh effect they’re using instead of the stock “euphoric build” effects is difficult to listen to.

Tim: Oh, that is specific, and I see where you’re coming from, but that doesn’t bother be so much.

Tom: I mean, sure, the rest of the instrumentation’s good, I guess.

Tim: Yeah, and I think “it’s good, I guess” kind of sums up the track. I certainly prefer the style to many of the more recent tracks, but it doesn’t change the fact that the song doesn’t actually do much. And that’s a big shame.

Kesha – Praying

“The vocals are brilliant, the emotion’s clear, and the music backs all that up.”

Tim: Yesterday was a bit dark, so shall we have some (punctuation-less) Kesha fun to cheer us up, with her first proper song since Timber?

Tom: Given all the news about her over the last couple of days, I suspect this might not be what you’re expecting…

Tim: Yeah, it really isn’t. According to a rather moving piece she’s written about it, this has come from emotions when she was struggling with severe depression, but it’s about “that moment when the sun starts peeking through the darkest storm clouds, creating the most beautiful rainbow.”

Tom: She’s gone full Lady Gaga in the video, then. Religious imagery, minute-long spoken prologue. It’s even filmed at the beautiful Salvation Mountain. Less sure about that mock-Devangari font, but let’s set that aside.

Tim: Takes a looooong time to get going, but I guess that’s somewhat the point – moving through the song, we discover a way through, a way of surviving, a way to be happy. And wow, that really works for me.

Tom: Really?

Tim: Well, as a piece of artwork, which it kind of is. A song on a playlist, oh hell no – but in terms of the song it is, the journey it represents, it’s just marvellous.

Tom: The vocals are brilliant, the emotion’s clear, and the music backs all that up. If this is a permanent new direction, then I reckon her fans will, unusually, be more than willing to change direction with her.