Polarsea – Don’t Let Me Go

Tim: Strong language ahead from this new Swede, but I hope you’ll agree it’s worth it.

Tom: I’m not sure it is. Why?

Tim: Well, I think it’s just great. Underlying melody, on point vocals and a decent beat underlying it (though I dread to think how many times I’ve written those four words about a song here).

Tom: All that’s true: although like many songs we talk about, it struggles to soar above the wastelands of “decent” and reach the… something… of “memorable”. Look, I’m tired, I’m not good at metaphors, OK?

Tim: I do find it weird when any standard pop song like this does throw in swearing, though – generally it’s happy and in an upbeat style, but then you’re brought right out of it with a “woah, where did that come from?”

Tom: Exactly! That’s why I don’t think it’s worth it.

Tim: Hmm – I don’t think it anywhere nears ruins it or anything, but I will say that while I don’t want to get all Mary Whitehouse here, would “I’m a goddamn ghost” be so bad? Other than that, though: top marks.

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William Ekh & Martell – Diamonds

Tim: So, how about we start our week with some nice banging EDM?

Tom: Tim, you could have not written a worse introduction for me. It’s Monday. I’m exhausted. I’ve got a headache. The last thing I need is…

Tom: Ah, hell, turns out I like it.

Tim: Me too – it sounds great, although I do, oddly, find it a tad hard to take seriously – I know that’s a weird thing to say, and also I don’t know why that is (or at least I didn’t when I was writing that until that 8-bit style ending arrived just now).

Tom: Aww, see I really loved that. Heartwarming.

Tim: It’s nice, yeah, and it rounds off a perfectly decent dance tune, with a more than good enough melody (though I’m not keen on how that line seems to have a seizure on the volume dial).

Tom: Agreed: because everything has to be a wall of sound, it’s overcompressed, and that percussion makes everything else go silent. That’s the only bit of this that makes my headache worse, and it’s a shame, because it’s spoiling what is a really lovely, simple, catchy tune.

Tim: I think the issue, stupid as it may seem, is that everybody was having too much fun with it when making it. The aforementioned volume thing, that closing bit, how you can almost hear a massive smile on Martell’s face while she’s singing and clapping in the middle eight – it’s as though it was thrown together at the end of a party when everyone’s going “YEAH WOOHOO!!!!” That’s not always a bad thing – but it might be worth checking in on in the morning.

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Saturday Flashback: Guru Josh – Infinity (1990’s… Time for the Guru)

Tim: Thursday’s song, Rainbow Sky, reminded me of this because it was by an act called Infinity. Well, more accurately it reminded me of 2008’s reworking by The Guru Josh Project, which stands out today as one of the best reworkings of recent times; nevertheless, let’s talk about the original.

Tom: Do we have to talk about the original? Because, well, it’s not quite as good. And, it makes that wierd, staccato duh-duh double note in the sax theme much more obvious. And… and…

Tim: And it’s…well, it’s a bit all over the place, really, isn’t it? There’s the immediately identifiable saxophone bit (which incidentally a friend at the time pointed out led rather well into the This Morning theme tune), but there’s also the almost a capello vocal section, the bass bit where nothing much is happening, the occasional vocal on top of that, the synthy keyboard section, and then the bit after that from 2:25 where it goes all over the place.

Tom: Too much. Just too much. But then, it was the 90s.

Tim: I’ll be honest: the lot that had a go in 2008, including Guru Josh himself and a few other folk, did a much better job focussing on that sax theme and a less self-important vocal. In fact, let’s play it again.

Tim: See? Better.

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MØ – Final Song

Tom: Danish, if you’re wondering.

Tim: Yes! And YES to a bit of tropical house at the end of the week. COCONUTS OUT PEOPLE.

Tom: Made a couple of “featured” appearances in the char– BLOODY HELL. Sorry, just as I was typing that introduction, the beat kicked in.

Tom: See, I was going to complain about that verse being too damn calm, but if it wasn’t, I bet I wouldn’t have gotten the effect from that percussion. That is aggressive percussion.

Tim: It really is, but to be honest I wasn’t even having a problem with the verses – not great for a dance banger, sure, not not out of place on e.g. a nice tropical house calm point.

Tom: I mean, it’s perhaps a bit too Kygo in places, but I really enjoy it. It just goes for it, and it doesn’t make any apologies.

Tim: Rightly so. Do we know what’s happened to the share prices of e.g. Lilt or Oasis in the past twelve months? They must have shot through the roof.

Tom: By the way, those hovering stunts in the video: I know they’re probably just doing really simple keying and wire removal on them, but there’s something about the speed-ramps and angles that makes that seem really impressive. Is… is that a metaphor for the song?

Tim: Hmm…I’m going to say: no idea. Probably just a bit of fun. That would definitely fit with the song.

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Infinity – Rainbow Sky

Tim: Infinity had a few hits in Norway in the glory Eurodance days of the late 1990s; now they’re back with this. Advance warning: there is a part of this – specifically, the second half of the first verse – that you won’t like. But PUSH THROUGH IT.

Tom: Actually, all that pretty much works for me. I don’t know why: I normally can’t deal with something so endlessly upbeat.

Tim: And oh, that chorus is just so… pleasant. It’s genuinely lovely. It’s the musical version of a cute little puppy, who everybody loves and can’t possibly not love.

Tom: Careful, Tim, that nearly tripped me over into cynicism. Believe me, it’s possible to not love a puppy.

Tim: Well, if you’re a monster, but the metaphor continues. Perhaps it could be described as a bit too saccharine, with a slight Raining Sunshine vibe, but then it goes and does a big poo, which in this metaphor represents the guy with his autotuned singing.

Tom: That’s a terrible metaphor, particularly because I actually think it works.

Tim: Really?

Tom: I don’t mind autotune as a good stylistic choice, or subtly used to fix things: it’s where it just suddenly creeps into otherwise-natural vocals that it bugs me.

Tim: Hmm, fair enough. But the rest of it – well, it’s rainbow skies. Happiness, and loveliness, and all the positive -inesses that there are, really. Just…all the niceness.

Tom: I’m so close to cynicism. So close.

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Justin Timberlake – Can’t Stop The Feeling!

Tim: I know it’s a couple of months old, but this kind of slipped me by and I think we should discuss just what a really, really fantastic track it is. For a Euro vibe, remember when actual Justin Timberlake performed at Eurovision?!?!?!

Tim: Because man, what a chorus that is.

Tom: It really is! I wasn’t expecting much at all from a movie tie-in song, but it’s great.

Tim: Normally, I’d complain about a fairly short loop being on heavy repetition even coming out of the middle eight, not to mention actually before it starts – but damn, it’s just so good, I don’t care that it feels too long. Even if the verses weren’t pretty good, even if the instruments underneath weren’t full of such fun and intense vibes, that chorus might still be enough to clinch it. But as it is, it’s an enormous layer of icing on top of an already fairly large musical cake.

And could there be a better place for this track than Eurovision?

Tom: The strange thing is, yes. Because I think it’s a grower. I didn’t really like it the first time I heard it: it just sort of washed over me. Surrounded by so many other songs, it was too much. Hearing it again on its own: yes, this is good.

Tim: Hmm, you may have a point – but think. It comes with an immense party vibes, and OH just look at that aerial shot from 5:20 – there are bigger arenas, vastly bigger – but how many of them come together specifically for a massive party, in pure celebration of pop music? Not many, I’ll wager. Backing that up, and my particular favourite moment in this performance: the look on his face just after 4 minutes in, where he suddenly seems to realises that actually this twee Eurovision thing’s a bit big, isn’t it?

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DAGNY – Fool’s Gold

Tom: Our reader, Luca, sends in just-released gem — his words — from Norway. Luca also calls it a “climactic banger of titanic ambitions”, which is both a bold claim and an accurate descriptor of your mum.

Tim: Woah, what? Well that came out of the blue, but, erm, okay.

Tim: Ooh, I do like a song that comes in strong.

Tom: That is a pretty good chorus, though, isn’t it?

Tim: Certainly is – I will take that climactic banger, thank you.

Tom: It’s a chorus that sounds like it’d fit in perfectly as uplifting music for the end of a film. That chorus should kick in just in time the final sweeping track backwards, the big dramatic sweeping shot that leaves the main characters looking out onto an uncertain, but promising, future.

Tim: Yes – yeah, that fits. Lyrics would need a rewrite, but musically that sounds about right.

Tom: I know, that’s a specific description, but it’s rare for me to get such a strong image from a song. I think that’s a good sign.

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Ingrid Michaelson – Hell No

Tom: Our reader, Katherine, sends in this textbook example of how to ruin a pretty good song with a terrible video. So do yourself a favour: play this in a background tab.

Tom: That’s a pretty good song, right? Not about to hit number one or anything like that, but a decently fun solidarity-after-breakup song. There aren’t enough of them.

Tim: Also in its favour: doesn’t hang around. Knows how long it can last for, and makes the most of that time.

Tom: But then there’s the video.

Tim: Oh, we are watching. Hang on, brb.

Tim: Huh.

Tom: I know how good that video must have seen as a concept — but good grief, it doesn’t match with the song at all. There are so many ways this could have been done well on a small budget: but what you’ve got instead is a confusing mash that just looks amateur. It’s a shame.

Tim: Sort of – at the end when the chorus goes massive, then it sort of fits because there’s the whole “yes we’re having fun and enjoying life without him”; but you’re right, with the melancholic mood earlier in the song, yeah, just doesn’t go.

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Saturday Flashback: Skylar Grey feat. Eminem – C’mon Let Me Ride

Tom: Always the bridesmaid, never the bride; Skylar Grey’s written a 10x-platinum-selling song and been the guest vocalist on quite a few hits. But she’s never had a big hit herself: and this, her first single from her first album, certainly wasn’t one.

Tim: Okay…

Tom: A few advance warnings: this video is borderline-NSFW. Heck, the audio’s probably NSFW. And more than this is one of the most irritating pop songs I’ve heard in a while. And it interprets a Queen track in a way that’s basically sacrilege. So why have I brought it to you?

Tim: I assume you’ll tell me later, but I’ll humour you first.

Tim: Oh…oh. That’s…somewhat surreal.

Tom: Because of THAT CHORUS. That chorus has been stuck in my head for days. And the bassline that sits under it. Everything about this is good, apart from… well, the important bits.

Tim: Ah, see I hate that baseline. But yep, that chorus is a STONKER.

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Matoma feat. Becky Hill – False Alarm

Tim: Second half of 2016, and despite all that might be going bonkers politically, we still have tropical house to keep us sane.

Tom: I’m not entirely sure that’s valid, but sure, let’s go with it.

Tim: Matoma’s Norwegian, Becky’s from London, and that’s about all you need to know. So grab yourself a 🍍, and use it to whack the play button.

Tim: And that is…perfectly plausible for a middle of the set, the middle of the compilation disc.

Tom: See, I was about to agree with you there, but I can’t actually find anything wrong with it to say why it seems “plausible, middle of the set” rather than anything better. Maybe the verse is a bit slow, maybe it seems a bit long? Either way, every individual part seems good.

Tim: It’s pretty good throughout, but of particular note is her vocal which is just great, and especially notable as such when it’s just on its own like at the start or after the first instrumental chorus. And as for that instrumental chorus: also very good. All in all, I’m very happy with this. Nice one.

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    Tim Jeffries was born in the UK a good few years ago now, and was overjoyed by the news 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.

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