Dolly Style – Young & Restless

Tim: I’ve lost track of who plays the part of which Dolly (Molly, Polly and Holly, you’ll recall), because they seem to have a higher turnaround time than the Sugababes. Nonetheless, here’s their new one, with a message that’s very à la mode (a prominent line in the pre-chorus being very much so, and it’s the Tinie Tempah one you’re thinking of).

Tim: And that there is pop music, owing a lot to Katy Perry, and others.

Tom: Particularly in the vocals in that first chorus: the vocal quality is really similar. The track’s less bubblegum-pop than they’ve done before, as well.

Tim: But all on its own it is pure, unadulterated pop. It is not ashamed to be that, rightly: it is well aware that pop music is frequently looked down upon, but also that those who do look down just have a colossal lack of a sense of fun.

I’d call this textbook, but it’s not. This is to textbook what the 20 volume Oxford English Dictionary is to that Chambers Pocket thing lurking in a school rucksack.

Tom: There’s a reference from twenty years ago, Tim. Sorry, you were on a metaphor.

Tim: It takes what’s in the textbook, explores it in vast amounts of detail, and then takes in so much more. We’ve discussed previously the idea of ‘perfect pop’ – tracks that go alongside What Makes You Beautiful, Lovekiller and Exclusive Love on a pedestal of greatness – and my God, it’s a shame that these girls aren’t well known outside Sweden. Because damn, this track wouldn’t be too far out of place.

Saturday Flashback: Jonas Blue feat. Dakota – Fast Car

“It took me a while to get used to it.”

Tim: Yesterday’s song reminded me of this track, and I ummed and ahhed a lot about whether to link to Tracy Chapman’s original or this cover; in the end though, it was Friday, so it had to be tropical.

Tim: And yes, I’m well aware that many people think of this in the same way sensible people think about Calum Scott’s version of Dancing On My Own – namely, that anyone who even considers playing it should be hung, drawn and quartered. I, though, disagree.

Tom: It’s changing the emotion, sure, but at least it’s not changing it to Mopey Bloke With A Guitar.

Tim: It’s arguably a not too distant predecessor of the covers of Never Gonna Give You Up and Africa, and for me this is very much on the Africa side of the spectrum, in that I like it. It took me a while to get used to it, mainly because the original was forcibly drummed into my head several times a day on a family holiday in France when it was my sister’s favourite.

Tom: There’s a long history of remixes and covers changing the mood: on a first or second listen, that synth does seem to get in the way rather a lot. It’s loud, it’s reedy, and it’s not entirely pleasant.

Tim: Ah, but after a while, though: it’s good. It has the similar melancholiness to it, but a contrasting beat underneath which helps distract from the incredibly depressing lyrics. And that’s always helpful.

The Veronicas – On Your Side

“And now someone’s given them some tropical synth pads.”

Tom: You mentioned this last week, but I thought we should cover this — because it’s a band we’ve talked about before, and one that’s been going for twelve years.

Tom: And now someone’s given them some tropical synth pads.

Here’s what I’ve noticed about songs like this, where an otherwise-mainstream artist has suddenly hooked into this style a bit too late: they never write a decent chorus with it.

Tim: Hmm…maybe.

Tom: It’s almost like they write the synth melody, figure that it’ll do, and then someone insists they put some vocals in the chorus too: so they sort of mumble something in the background. A pop track doesn’t have to be singalong, of course, but it rarely hurts. In this case, all you’ve got is a few notes of a hook. It’s not a bad hook, as these things go, but it’s not all that catchy.

Tim: I don’t know; you’re certainly right that there’s no shortage of tracks where it seems the composer’s written a dance song and only afterwards remembered that pop tracks are meant to have vocal choruses. Here, though, I think it’s slotted in okay. It’d work just as well if the vocal cut off after “Even if you believe it”, but I think it works as is. Catchiness, I’ll agree with you – the only part that stays in my head “Life isn’t pretty…”, and that’s only really because it comes straight from Fast Car.

Tom: Even at under three minutes, this feels like it outstays its welcome a bit.

Tim: And there I definitely disagree. Whatever you may think of the vocal, the instrumental part of the chorus is a lovely melody. I think I recognise that from somewhere as well, but I don’t mind. It’s great.

Tove Lo – True Disaster

“One of the strongest pre-choruses we’ve had for a while.”

Tim: I’d warn about naughty words coming up, but given the sentiment I don’t think she’d really want me to.

Tim: Well, let’s start with docking a considerable number of points for “I can’t hide my feels”, but then quickly add points back again for pretty much all the rest of it.

Tom: Really? On what grounds?

Tim: We’ve got one of the strongest pre-choruses we’ve had for a while, and that chorus melody is repetitive enough, but not unpleasant enough, to get stuck right in and be enjoyable.

Tom: Ah, it just doesn’t work for me: a bit too repetitive, a bit too monotone. Mind you, I’m mostly just giggling at the album being called “Lady Wood”, so you know, my opinion’s not worth all that much right now.

Tim: Oh, right. Well, it’s my favourite Tove track for a while, and I’m very happy she’s back on top.

Tom: Hurr.

Tim: Boy, you really do just keep coming with those today, don’t you?

Seeb feat. Jacob Banks – What Do You Love

“This is going to be good, surely?”

Tom: I’d have skipped past it, but I recognise that name: Seeb are the Norwegian production team who turned Mike Posner’s whinefest into a big club hit. This is going to be good, surely?

Tom: Yes. Yes it is.

Tim: It is indeed.

Tom: I’m not entirely convinced by those pitch-shifted vocals, but it seems to be Seeb’s trademark and I can deal with it, because the build up into that chorus — the first of the two hooks — is just absolutely glorious.

Tim: That whole chorus is good – I wasn’t sure at first on the wisdom of repeating the same line four times, but then I realised it was all there just to drum it right in, so that come the second chorus, with the more sensible two occurrences, we could chant right along with it.

Tom: I was clapping along and dancing in my seat on the first listen. I immediately hit replay at the end. For me: this is a good track.

Tim: Track: yes. Video: unforgivable. If you’re having a video focusing on a line being drawn, moving around, it’s basically the law that at the end you pull out and show a finished picture, that you’ve cunningly been drawing all along. I realised it was probably going to be this way when it started again for the second verse, mind, and definitely when it all went 3D, but still, NAUGHTY.

Hanne Leland – Queen

“Oh, no, no, no, don’t do that.”


Tom: Oh, no, no, no, don’t do that.

Tim: 💃 💃 💃

Tim: And oh, I should have listened to more than the first thirty seconds before typing that intro, because it started out so promisingly.

Tom: I think you should have taken a few more minutes of reflection before typing that intro, but never mind. The music: and particularly, that terrible chorus.

Tim: Right, because it starts out with almost a nice tropical vibe, happy first verse, all set for an upbeat chorus. But then it happens, and oh, the disappointment. I don’t know if it’s autotuned or some other effect there, but whatever’s ​going on with that vocal just isn’t pleasant to listen to. The second verse is nice, mind, as is the closing fade out section. All in all, though, with the other choruses and middle eight: I never thought I’d ever need to do this, but I’m going to have to retract my earlier YAS QUEEN. I’m sorry, Hanne.

Tom: And all is right with the world.

Anton – Devil

“More effort was put into the video than into the actual track.”

Tim: You may remember Anton Ewald; he’s back after a while off, and has ditched his surname, because why not? Video note: nothing technically naughty, but it’s fairly graphic, and a tad disturbing, so I wouldn’t watch it at work, or with your parents in the room.

Tim: And that’s decent enough, more or less – I can’t shake the feeling, though, that more effort was put into the video than into the actual track.

Tom: Apart from the bit where it just appears to be him dancing with four men who’ve just left the office, yes.

Tim: The first time I played it I was too entranced by the video to pay much attention to the music; the second time and as I’m listening to it now… ehh.

Tom: You’re absolutely right: switching between the tab with the video and the tab where I’m writing this, I find I’m much more interested in the video than the song.

Tim: I’ll happily listen to it, sure (though I’m not that keen on whatever vocal effect they’ve put on him), but only really as a background track. Really, I’m just not as engrossed by it as I think the video thinks I should be. PRIORITIES PLEASE.

Saturday Flashback: Marina & the Diamonds – Savages

“4 and a bit minutes denigrating the entire human race.”

Tim: This was anonymously suggested following our occasional “unconventional messages” theme, and, well, it certainly fits the bill.

Tim: Certainly takes a fair amount of guts to start a song off with “Murder lives forever and so does war”, and even more to spend the next 4 and a bit minutes denigrating the entire human race. It was never released as a single because, well, even if it’s true it’s hardly a message people are likely to rush out and pay to be told. On the other hand: it’s not an unenjoyable track, and after a few listens it’s actually quite catchy, so I’m happy with it.

Tom: It’s a grower, isn’t it? Mind you, a lot of that album is: I remember really disliking it on first listen, but hearing it back months later I can still remember the melodies. I still don’t like it — but I can remember it, and that’s a start.

D-wayne feat. Jack McManus – Love Again

“I think it’s time we had a serious discussion about pineapples”

Tom: D Wayne Love? That’s a reference hardly anyone’s going to get, but I’m going to make it anyway.

Tim: Fair enough. This lad, though, is Dutch, with vocals provided by Jack, from our fine country, and the track popped up on my New Music Mix playlist last Friday. And I think it’s time we had a serious discussion about pineapples and the like.

Tim: First things first: I really like this track. The production’s fantastic, vocals are great, decent lyrics, and a good melody. I like the genre as well, but let’s face it: it’s a ludicrous genre.

Tom: Well, there are a lot of ludicrous genres out there. And is this really a genre, or just a taste for a particular style of synth patch? We didn’t start calling it “questionable-Jamaican-rap-middle-eight-pop” after Peter Andre blazed a trail in the 90s, did we?

Tim: No, but then questionable Jamaican rap middle eights didn’t make their way into multiple tracks every week for over eighteen months (and counting). Maybe I’m only now waking up to the cynicism inherent in the music industry, but I can’t help thinking that if this track had been produced two years ago, we’d have had a country guitar in that post-chorus instead. Suddenly, though, Kygo stuck that Passenger remix online, and everybody’s idea of heaven went from being on a tractor to being on a beach surrounded by cocktails and women in skimpy bikinis, and BOOM.

Tom: And I don’t really have much more to say about this track. It’s a decent track. It’s not going to be a floor-filler, but it’ll do in the middle of the set. You’re right, though: it’s following the path set by others.

Tim: Right, because next stop, every man and his copy of Logic Pro is downloading all the marimba and steel drum plugins they can get their hands on – this week alone, we’ve got soundalike tracks from The Veronicas, The Vamps and Maroon 5, and even I’m getting a bit bored of it. Will it ever stop, and when?

Tom: Whenever someone else releases something new, original, catchy and lucky.

Tim: I don’t know – to be honest, I don’t even know really what kind of point I’m trying to make here, other than playing this stuff out loud when temperatures outside are barely hitting double figures is inherently ridiculous, and inherently relaxing and reassuring at the same time. Until it gets entirely boring and uninspired (like that Maroon 5 track), then: BRING ON TROPICAL HOUSE AND FRIDAYS AND 🍍 AND 🍹.

The Magnettes – Hollywood

“Eurgh, that fade out ending.”

Tim: The Magnettes are a pair from Sweden comprised of Rebecka Digervall and Sanna Kalla, and are here today to present episode two of “Where Else Has Tim Heard That Chord Progression?”

Tom: I mean, technically last time it was a melody, but okay, let’s roll with this.

Tim: Pedant, and either way it’s probably not a game show that has a particularly long lifespan, but then you said that about Tropical Fridays, and who knows what’s coming up tomorrow?

Tom: 🍍

Tim: The third and first half of the fourth section of that bass loop, any idea? Fairly sure it’s some sort of rock track.

Tom: Actually, I was going with the theme tune to Steven Universe, mainly because of those descending sections in the melody, but I think you’re probably thinking of the bass progression from Creep.

Tim: Ah, yes, that’s the one. But also, eurgh, that fade out ending. Come on, people, haven’t were moved past that yet?

Tom: Sia hasn’t. Maybe they’re making a comeback.

Tim: Oh, I do hope not. Aside from that, perfectly decent pop/rock track – I particularly like that rowdy “ah-ah-ah-ah” section out of the middle eight – and there’s not a lot of female-fronted stuff like around at the moment. So welcome along ladies, please help yourselves to a microphone. And a manual on how to write an ending.