Coldplay – A Sky Full Of Stars

Tim: We’re a bit late to this (although it is technically still their current single), but it’s worth a feature on here just because it’s the most enjoyable track Coldplay have put out in ages, largely thanks to a certain Swedish dance producer and keyboard player.

Tom: Crikey, that’s… well, that’s Coldplay mixed with Avicii. Which is to say, VERY GOOD INDEED.

Tim: So this is their Shot At The Night, except rather than go to M83 for assistance they went to Avicii instead, because who wouldn’t, especially if you might become friends and then one day be able to wrangle a stay at his LA apartment (totally not jealous).

Tom: Fifteen million dollars. That’s about a downpayment on a one-bedroom flat in London.

Tim: They have EMBRACED THE LIGHT SIDE, even if it is just for one track and stands out like something of a sore thumb on the album that’s otherwise full of standard Coldplay fare, and it’s worked out brilliantly.

Tom: Agreed: that’s a concert-stopper, assuming the audience don’t just go “that’s not what you normally do”.

Tim: More proof of how great Swedes are when it comes to music.

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Saturday Flashback: Phillip Phillips – Gone, Gone, Gone

Tim: Tom, what song is this please?

Tom: Oh. Oh, damn. I… oh, no, I can’t place it.

Tim: I ask you because (returning to a theme) it got added to the work playlist recently and when it came on I recognised it immediately and thought it should have foreign lyrics, but then when I listened closer it didn’t.

It’s a very good track, with a remarkably earnest set of lyrics and a great middle eight, but is the chorus line very very similar to a track we’ve featured on here in the past, please?

Tom: I got two mental connections: the phrase “firelight”, and James Blunt, which indicates Bonfire Heart: it’s got the same guitar sound, the same return into the chorus, and the same three-stab structure to the key lines in that chorus. But I’m betting that’s not what you’re thinking of.

Tim: It’s not, no. Gah.

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Hanna Sørvaag – Rain Checks

Tim: Tom, it’s a gloriously sunny day, let’s have a nice weather-themed (ish) happy track to go with it, such as this, which has been sent our way.

Tom: If it wasn’t called “Rain Checks”, that’d almost be a sensible introduction.

Tim: Yes, it would, wouldn’t it? Dammit.

Tom: The first line of the chorus — that “no more rainchecks”? For some reason, that grates. Just the first line. I can’t think why: is there something odd or special about it?

Tim: Not that I can tell, no. I think my favourite thing about this is the way it suddenly breaks down after each chorus, as if to say “okay guys let’s not get ridiculous here, it’s time to take a break” like an iPhone if it gets too hot.

Tom: Yes! Normally that doesn’t work, but here it does! It takes a hell of a verse to pull that off, but that country-music guitar under it works perfectly.

Tim: It knows it’s a big excitable chorus and that it can’t really carry on the whole way. To be honest, I wouldn’t remotely mind if it did, but I suppose it might get a bit tiring, especially with all the effort they’re putting in in that video.

Tom: Speaking of which, why are they filming the audition as the music video? Did they just invite a load of dancers in for an “audition”, say they’d call them back, film it, and not pay them?

Tim: I suppose that’s one way of saving money. And even with the pause to calm down, the song’s still great – there’s certainly no lack of energy to those dialled down verses that I can complain of, so I’m very happy with this. Sorted.

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Unnur Eggerts – Dansa til að gleyma þér

Tim: We got sent this, so I though it only polite to have a listen; I’m quite glad I did, as it happens.

Tim: It’s kind of pretty, isn’t it? If you think I’m going to type all those lyrics in to see what they mean you can properly do one.

Tom: That’s our commitment to serious music journalism, right there.

Tim: But I’ve at least found out that the title means Dancing To Forget You, and the “sjálfa mig” that sounded like it might be meaningful in the middle eight actually means “myself”, so it isn’t really. It’s probably along the same lines as yesterday’s track, actually, with a “being on your own’s alright, really”.

Tom: I reckon that’s a decent message, actually. Better than Robin Thicke’s new album, certainly.

Tim: Erm…hmm…sorry, you’ve got me trying to think of something that’d be worse that that, but I’m not sure I can.

Tom: Musically, this seems to come up a bit short for me — it could be any one of hundreds of tracks, and I couldn’t remember the hook after listening to it.

Tim: Perhaps not, but in the moment I like this – it’s danceable, it can easily be beefed up a bit with a remix or two if you want to celebrate being on your own while you’re out having a proper party, but otherwise it’s pleasantly understated – less yesterday’s “LEAVE ME ALONE, I’M HAVING FUN” and more “look, just sod off would you? And close the door on the way out.” Works well.

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Meow – Nobody

Tim: Remember these guys from a couple of months back? Well, here’s their new one.

Tom: Huh. All the arpeggiated noodling-about in the background is a bit Owl City-ish (and the “good time” helps with that too).

Tim: Hmm, you’re not wrong there. Turns out we’ve not moved on from piano dance music like I thought we had, but if it currently sounds like that I’m very happy for it to hang around a bit longer, because it’s just great. The pounding bassline through the chorus stands out as being particularly nice, as does the melody in general.

Tom: You’re right about that, although good grief, is that ever over-compressed. That pounding bassline makes everything else in the track go silent to a ridiculous extent — it’s almost as if everything else keeps dropping out. I don’t think I’ve ever heard that effect so strongly.

Tim: Then let’s have the “I don’t need nobody to have a good time” as a nice and somewhat solitary anthem for the time being. I could jump around to this in my room for a long time, and I’d be happy to. Because I DON’T NEED YOU. LEAVE ME ALONE, I’M HAVING FUN.

Tom: Well, how rude.

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“Weird Al” Yankovic – Tacky

Tom: I’ve previously opined that any song parody should last no longer than 30 seconds. There is one person that I’ll make a consistent exception that rule for.

Tom: Because every line’s a joke. Because it’s been honed over years. Because, god damn it, the man’s been making song parodies for nearly forty years and he is, undisputably, the best in the business.

Tim: Can’t disagree with any of that of that, I think – it seems to be a long-established fact that if you want a song parody, you go to Weird Al.

Tom: He’s got a new album, is releasing eight videos in eight days, and frankly that’s all I want to say. Musically? Yep, it’s a great song, but it always would be. But Al’s clearly still got it, too.

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Pixie Lott – Lay Me Down

Tom: This one’s sent in by a reader, who says “didn’t like it at first, but it’s all good between us now”, which I think implies a somewhat closer relationship to Pixie Lott than one would otherwise suspect.

Tim: Perhaps a briefly disappointed father?

Tom: I wasn’t sold on this either until that surprisingly flatulent-sounding brass section hit, along with the whistling and woah-ohs that came along in the middle eight. It’s like they steadily built everything up, in order to make the final chorus properly exciting.

Tim: Hmm – similarly with you, I wasn’t hooked at first, but dissimilarly, I got it at the first chorus, and after that thought it was great, both with and without the flatulence. As for the build up? Well, that’s the point really isn’t it, and it certainly does build up because ‘properly exciting’ is a very good way to describe that last chorus.

Tom: Pity it took so long to get there, though.

Tim: Seems we have have different ideas about where ‘there’ is.

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Saturday Flashback: Porter Robinson – Sea of Voices

Tom: I need you to listen to this one without distraction, Tim. Headphones on, sit back, and listen. It’s five minutes long, and most of it’s build, but…

Tom: …it has been a long, long time since a song has made me exclaim out loud, and this did that. That build, that drop, everything, absolutely bloody everything to do with this.

Tim: Good lord, man, do you need to go somewhere to clean yourself up now?

Tom: Oh, come on, compared to the gushing praise you’ve given tracks before, that’s practically restrained.

Tim: Maybe, though I do often need to go and clean myself up. You’re right, it is very nice. Pretty, almost. The sort of music a developer might use in a trailer to show off the beautiful artwork in a new game.

Tom: Ouch, that’s harsh. It’s pretty good to listen on its own.

Tim: Oh, it’s in no way a criticism – actually meant as a compliment, because some trailers are lovely.

Tom: Porter Robinson dropped this, his own track, in the middle of his two-hour, astonishing, genre-clashing Essential Mix a few weeks ago, and it’s been haunting me since. I don’t even want to listen to it too much, in case it spoils the magic. Right now, listening to it as I write this, it sent shivers up my spine one more time, and I don’t want it to lose that ability.

Tim: Hmm. I see exactly why it would do that, and why you’d feel that. Can’t say it grabs me in exactly the same manner, but I’ll grant you it’s a very nice listen.

Tom: This isn’t dancefloor EDM — this is the pinnacle of electronic music as art, and it’s beautiful.

Tim: This is not just music. This is Porter Robinson music.

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3Logy – The Banjo

Tim: Let’s pretend we plan this sort of thing in advance and follow up from the past couple of days with this. Much like Wednesday, it’s Norwegian and a tad silly, and like yesterday it features a typically irritating instrument.

Tom: “Play that banjo” and “lose control” are not really phrases that go together.

Tim: The verses are comprised of entirely standard and generic lyrics, and then we hit the chorus and start singing rapturously about the banjo. Because, in this age of farmhouse music, that’s exactly what we’re meant to do. Is it silly? Of course it is. Does that stop it being a decent track? Not really, no.

Tom: It’s a moderately good track, sure, but ‘standard and generic’ still sums it up — apart from that banjo part, which admittedly sets it apart.

Tim: If you get your kicks listening to Avicii’s Wake Me Up, then as far as I can tell this is just as good so you should be fine.

Tom: What the hell? No it’s not. It’s no Wake Me Up. It follows the same formula, but in much the same way as a 1980s Lada follows the same “four wheels and a steering wheel” formula as a Porsche.

Tim: Maybe, but wherever you gets Porsches, you’re going to get Ladas – this is what society gets if it starts embracing genre mix-ups, isn’t it. SLIPPERY SLOPE. You only have yourselves to blame, all of you.

Tim: But anyway, the intro also sounds a bit like Aqua’s My Oh My, and that’s always a bonus.

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Kate Havnevik – Micronation

Tim: Sometimes, I would love it if I didn’t hate ukuleles as much as I do. Take this, for example.

Tim: Because, dammit, that’s really quite a lovely track, with the chorus going on about pirates (no idea why) and a lovely string following section.

Tom: Now, that’s where we disagree. Because the ukulele perked me up, but after that it all just sort of descended into a bit of a background mush.

Tim: It seems we do disagree, yes, because the intro with the solo strumming? God, it kills me, and makes me want to skip the entire track. They’re just SUCH POINTLESS INSTRUMENTS.

Tom: There’s someone who’s never listened to Me First and the Gimme Gimmes doing I Believe I Can Fly.

Tim: Oh, fine, yes, they have their uses. But here? No. Coming back to the second verse it’s not so bad, because there are other bits there that I can pay attention to, and like I said everything about the chorus and what follows it is lovely. When it gets going, I love it. I just really, really hate that intro.

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    Tim Jeffries was born in the UK a good few years ago now, and regularly dreams of a Busted reunion.

    Along with good music, things he appreciates include the use of correct grammar, well-made banana daiquiris and shampoo for men that smells nice (which he still hasn't found). His favourite colour is what Dulux call 25YY 49/757, and his favourite member of the Felidae family is the snow leopard.

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    Tom Scott is a techie with extremely questionable taste in music. In his spare time, he has too many plans and a worrying tendency to make them happen.

    His greatest achievement was getting five gold runs on Blockbusters, which he still harps on about to this day.

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