Kygo & Ellie Goulding – First Time

“Hi, Ellie, I’ve always wanted to work with you…”

Tom: Kygo continues his tour of female pop vocalists – and this time, one with a distinctive voice.

Tom: Somehow, Ellie Goulding singing “ten dollars was a fat stack” in her English accent sounds very wrong. I mean, none of those lyrics are great, but I feel like they gave the wrong track to the wrong singer there.

Tim: Yeah, that stuck out for me as well – almost as if someone else was lined up, they dropped out, and then Kygo went “Hi, Ellie, I’ve always wanted to work with you…”

Tom: I guess this is Kygo doing a more chilled-out sound — there are still his trademarks, like that jingle-bell-like sound that marks the start of the second verse, and a middle eight using resampled vocals from elsewhere in the song. But other than those, this sounds… well, a bit generic, really. I guess chillout dance just isn’t for me.

Tim: The first time I heard this last week I didn’t think much of it; hearing it now, though, I like it quite a bit more. It’s not a classic, and it sure as hell isn’t an It Ain’t Me (that song just keeps growing on me, even now), but it’s a good track. I’ll take it.

Miley Cyrus – Malibu

“It’s no Wrecking Ball. Hell, it’s not even The Climb.”

Tim: We’ve all done it – been through parts of our lives that we now regret, become different people, want to move on.

Tom: And don’t I know it.

Tim: Sadly for Miley, she reckons she’ll never be able to move on from Wrecking Ball, which she apparently now hates because of the video – “I will always be the naked girl on the wrecking ball”. Shame, but there we go. Here’s her new one.

Tim: Now, I get why she might not like the video for Wrecking Ball, but no-one can deny it’s a stunner of a song.

Tom: Yep. The video may have driven its popularity, but it’s still a belter. And, heck, it’s not as if this new video isn’t at least “a bit racy”.

Tim: This, on the other hand, is…nice, and there’s not a lot else to be said for it. It’s good, it’s cheery, it’s lovey dovey, but it’s no Wrecking Ball. Hell, it’s not even The Climb. From a new artist I’d probably say “yeah, I’ll take more of this, let’s wait for her second”; with Miley, there’s more a sense of disappointment, and that makes me sad.

Tom: Agreed. I actually skipped forward to see if it actually went anywhere — and it sort of does, but it’s very much an Album Track, isn’t it? That “dream come true / Malibu” rhyme is disastrous.

Tim: Apparently this is where we are now. BOOO.

Cheat Codes feat. Demi Lovato – No Promises

Tom: The big questions here: who are Cheat Codes, and how on earth did they get Demi Lovato? I don’t actually care, I’m just asking a rhetorical question to provide an introduction to this post.

Tim: Never let it be said we’re not brutally honest.

Tim: Yeah, that is quite prevalent, certainly. Any other views?

Tom: …sorry, that’s all I can hear, really.

Tim: Fair enough. Not a bad song, though.

Saturday Flashback: Katrina & The Waves – Love Shine A Light

“And that’s how you do Eurovision.”

Tim: Tonight, the big night, the second biggest night of the year in European music television, and largely very disappointing indeed. Therefore, let’s not finish off with a similarly disappointing reject, but instead celebrate and think of what Eurovision should be, with one of the greatest winners. Ever.

Tim: And that’s how you do Eurovision.

Tom: With a live orchestra, a song that was designed as an anthem for the Samaritans, and one missing shoulder pad.

Tim: And a small ‘woo’ as the main guitar kicks in.

Tom: We’ll be that good again, someday, Tim. Someday.

Tim: Someday.

Niall Horan – Slow Hands

“That’s an improvement.”

Tim: On Friday we wrote about Katy Perry going from a great track to a terrible track. Niall’s debut track, as we’ve already detailed, was utterly atrocious, which leads me, pleasingly, to be able to say that there’s only (wait for it) ONE DIRECTION (hahahahahahah you see it’s funny because he used to– yep– oh, you’ve got– okay, fine) he can go from there.

Tom: Well, like you guessed, that’s an improvement. I don’t think it’s all that good — it’s one of those songs where the middle eight is the best bit, which isn’t a great sign — but at least it’s not a dirge.

Tim: Indeed, and so the question on everybody’s lips is WHY THE HELL wasn’t that the lead single? This Town, deservedly, barely scraped the Top 10; it was beaten comprehensively by James Arthur, for God’s sake. This, on the other hand, is an enjoyable track, with life to it, a funky personality, and a happiness to hear it again.

Tom: I don’t think the phrase “funky personality” has been used outside early-90s episodes of Blind Date, but you’ve got a point there.

Tim: Apparently he wrote about 70 tracks for his new album, so hopefully he took the lesson from last time and will be binning off all the dreadful melty ballads in favour of lively music like this. Come on Niall, do the right thing.

Lea Michele – Run To You

“She has a style, and it works.”

Tim: Lea (off Glee, and Cannonball) has a style, and it works. It is demonstrated by this, and also by all but two of the tracks on her new album.

Tom: Yep, that’s a rejected Adele single right there.

Tim: She has a strong voice, and she knows that. She doesn’t want any big instrumentation to take attention away from it, so beyond a piano line, occasional drumbeats and the odd string section, it’s all her, right up until the closing chorus when we’re all in for the big finish. And my word, does that work.

Tom: It does, and you’re absolutely right about her voice — and she’ll be able to do it live, too — but it’s impossible not to compare this against other Big Vocal Tracks, and I can’t help feeling that the producers should have gone for a big chorus on the first verse. The energy it has just slips away.

Tim: Perhaps, but that almost makes it better when it does come back at the end. And so while it does make for a same-y album, if same-y is this strength of ballads, I really don’t care.

Katy Perry feat. Migos – Bon Appétit

“It starts low with the mandatory school register, and never really improves.”

Tom: Chained to the Rhythm“, while we never wrote about it here, was a brilliant first single from the upcoming album, matched with a creative video. So surely the second one’s going to be at least clo– well, you can probably see where I’m going back to this.

Tom: Full marks for including the acute diacritic in “appétit”. No marks for basically any other part of this song.

Tim: Yeah. It starts low with the mandatory school register, and never really improves.

Tom: No melody to speak of. Repetitive as hell. Really dire lyrics that are just a series of bad food/sex metaphors. The unnecessary, but inevitable, rap middle eight.

Tim: You know it’s coming, you don’t want it to, because you know it’ll sound bad, but there it is anyway, adding absolutely nothing to the song at all.

Tom: The final chorus isn’t that bad, but by the time it arrives, I was more than ready to skip.

Tim: NEXT PLEASE.

Buster Moe – Drowning

“Fancy some light-hearted guitar pop?”

Tim: Fancy some light-hearted guitar pop? Well, light-hearted instrumentally, at least.

Tom: Blimey, the guy from Keane’s aging well.

Tim: Lyrically we’re pretty much as down as we can be, but at least we’re talking about our problems, which is something. Mind you, I do wonder if you’re allowed to call it a lyric video if you only show about a tenth of the lyrics – surely something for trading standards to get involved in.

Tom: And given that it stars him, singing the song, this is… well, it’s a music video, really.

Tim: But to be honest, with the music as it is I can put aside my pedantry, because I quite like this. As I said earlier, it seems a bit jaunty, and right now jaunty will do me just fine.

Tom: It’s not going to hit my playlist any time soon, but that’s more because it’s not my type of music, rather than anything that’s wrong with it.

DNCE feat. Nicki Minaj – Kissing Strangers

“But then, there’s that middle eight.”

Tom: If you’re wondering what the chord progression — and maybe some of the verse melody — remind you of, I think it’s probably Mika’s “Relax (Take It Easy)”.

Tom: Thing is, aside from that irritating resemblance, and those questionable “ayyyyy” sounds from Joe Jonas — for it is he — this is a really, really good song. Enough retro influence to be friendly, modern enough to sound good on the charts, and it can definitely be danced to.

Tim: Well, it actually doesn’t remind me of that song, but that might be because it’s ages since I’ve heard it. It is a good song, though. Well, mostly. I think we’re in agreement on that.

Tom: But then, there’s that middle eight.

Tim: Yes. Or rather, no.

Tom: There are some songs where Nicki Minaj fits. (Bang Bang. Back Together.) This… well, I don’t think this is one of them.

Tim: No. Nooooo, nooo, no.

Tom: Also, I’m fairly sure someone’s just put all her previous guest verses into a Markov chain so she doesn’t actually have to perform any new ones.

…actually, that’d be a pretty good idea.

Tim: Certainly save a lot of time. And it might make featuring her a bit less attractive an idea. I’m up for it.

Bruno Mars – That’s What I Like (Alan Walker Remix)

“Bruno Mars just deciding to freestyle over the quiet bits of an otherwise-OK Alan Walker track.”

Tom: So we’re pretty much agreed that Bruno Mars, while incredibly talented, has recently been making songs with irritating lyrics and kitsch retro-sound. And Alan Walker, while incredibly talented, has basically been making the same song.

Tim: Can’t disagree with either of those, particular with this song’s, for example, “Take a look in that mirror, now tell me who’s the fairest.”

Tom: Together, they are…

Tom: …not together at all?

Tim: No, but I quite like that in this case.

Tom: I say that because this sounds like two separate songs that happen to be played at the same time. Or, rather, Bruno Mars just deciding to freestyle over the quiet bits of an otherwise-OK Alan Walker track.

Tim: Yes, and I’ll tell you why I like it: however terrible the Bruno Mars bits are (or rather, I’ll concede, however irritating I find them), there’s the knowledge that Alan (seriously, still no stage name?) will come along soon to make it better.

Tom: It’s always a risk with remixes, I guess, but still: perhaps at least one of them should have adjusted their style a little?

Tim: Perhaps, as long as the one to do that is Bruno.