Galantis and East & Young – Make Me Feel

“I can identify two things wrong with this.”

Tom: Another EDM track sent in by one of our readers, with some very guarded praise: it’s good for “some middle-of-the-set action”.

Tom: And again, our reader isn’t wrong. There’s nothing wrong with this at all – Galantis know what they’re doing, and whoever East & Young are, they do too. But for some reason, it isn’t as fun to listen to as yesterday’s collaboration; what’s missing?

Tim: See, I’d dispute the “nothing wrong with this”, because I can identify two things off bat that link directly to your lack of fun comment. First up: the verses. The chorus is happy, chirpy, pleasing. The verses, though, despite having a similarly almost unintelligible vocal, comes across very much more low key, bringing a bit of a downer every time one comes along. Good intro, downer, improvement in the pre-chorus, great chorus…and then right back down again.

Another thing: it stops too early. I don’t mean that in a time way, because three and a half minutes is plenty long enough for a good track, but structurally. After that second chorus, the downer kicks in again and we’re hopeful this upcoming middle eight will build it up into something magical for the final chorus; instead, nope, that’s it, and you’re left on a downer and, possibly only subconsciously, knowing you’ve been robbed of something to make that go away.

And that’s why it’s not fun.

Porter Robinson & Madeon – Shelter

“Repetitive but fun to listen to.”

Tom: Our reader, James, sends in this, saying “it sounds exactly like you might expect… tad repetitive and not lyrically adventurous, but what makes up for it is how fun it is to listen to”.

Tom: I do like it when people who send in tracks do the review for us. He’s not wrong.

Tim: No, it’s a good track all round. Might not be any particular moments to get massively excited about, but enjoyable nonetheless.

Tom: To be fair, ‘repetitive but fun to listen to’ sums up a lot of popular EDM. This seems to be a cut above most, though: it’s well composed and well produced. Sure, it’s by the numbers, but as ever from these two, they’re really good numbers.

Tim: Absolutely – nothing to complain about here.

Saturday Flashback: Moby – Extreme Ways (Bourne’s Ultimatum)

“Smaller differences that make it my preferred version”

Tom: I’ve been watching all the Jason Bourne films recently, since there’s a new one out and I want to be up to date, as you do. They all use Extreme Ways in the closing credits, and, FUN FACT, from the third one on they’ve got Moby to redo it each time, fiddling it slightly. Such as this, my favourite of the bunch.

Tim: You may want to refresh your memory of the original, since it wasn’t one of his best performing releases.

Tom: No, I don’t. Because this song means something very different to me: it’s the “reveal-music” from the brilliant, smart Korean reality-game show The Genius. That opening string sample means something big is about to go down (that video’s a minor spoiler, obviously).

Tim: This one still uses that opening string sample, and still that same percussion sample, but there are smaller differences that make it my preferred version – for starters the piano line the kicks off the main line is funked up a notch, the vocals are less distorted and there’s a female vocalist joining in later.

Tom: I’m so used to the original that I’m not sure it improves it: there’s certainly more, but is that a good thing?

Tim: For me yes, because of the most noticeable thing: the drums are brought in a whole lot more prominently. Originally they just kicked in at some point underneath the main line, but here everything drops off and we get a “right, let’s GO” moment.

Tom: For me, that first string sample has always been the “let’s GO” moment, but that’s because of the context I find it in.

Tim: Yes, but like you said, they’re an “about to happen” noise – that drum intro is an “it’s ON”. The rolling strings come along, the vocals follow soon after, and we’re know we’re off to a good start. Or, if you’re in the cinema, a good ending.

Calum Scott – Dancing On My Own

“Some songs should be be held on a pedestal, and rendered immune from John Lewis-ification.”

Tim: Thomas. You know very well that (a) Fridays are currently reserved for tropical house and (b) this song is a crime against the entirety of Scandinavia, so you’d better have a good reason for wanting to post this today.

Tom: The first part, I’ll resolve later. The second part… well, our anonymous reader sends this in, saying “a piano-ballad-cover of a Robyn EDM track: What can possibly go wrong”?

Tim: Everything. No, seriously, EVERYTHING.

Tom: Well, for starters, this:

Tim: Most sensible tweet of the year, that.

Tom: He’s got a great voice. I can’t fault that voice. It’s a heck of a performance, perhaps apart from that glottal stop on “better”. And I think there’s a lot of room for interpretations and cover versions of songs, even if “emotional male piano ballad” is a bit overplayed. But the original of this is — let’s be clear here — a BANGER, and just because you’ve lost some of the instrumentation it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily more emotional.

Tim: No; it does, on the other hand, mean it’s necessarily more boring. And you’re right, there is a lot of room for reinterpretations, but some songs should be be held on a pedestal, and rendered immune from John Lewis-ification. Dancing On My Own is one of them.

Tom: And let’s face it, even if I don’t agree with some of the Internet that this cover version is necessarily a crime against music, that hanging, unresolved ending certainly is.

Tim: Yes. So let’s not do the same with this post. Let’s resolve it properly. First, we’ll add a bit of bio by pointing out that the most interesting sentence on Calum Wikipedia page tells us he “won a local competition, Hull Daily Mail’s Star search 2013, after which he joined a Maroon 5 tribute band, called ‘Maroon 4’” and second, realise that that tells us all we need to know about him. And then finish with this.

Tom: And then, let’s finish with this. Because, yes, you could argue that Calum’s cover is unnecessary — but you know what’s definitely unnecessary? Adding beats back in by getting Tiesto to do an uninspired remix of it. If you want a proper comparison, this shows just how much better the original is.

Tim: Oh. Oh, man.

John Lundvik – All About The Games

“I can’t help thinking that we’ve heard it all before.”

Tim: The Olympics are in full swing, which can only mean one thing: it musical cash-in time! Here’s the official song of Team Sweden, because apparently that’s a thing now.

Tom: This had better not be a Meghan Trainor cover.

Tim: Oh, that’d be wonderful, but no I’m afraid it isn’t.

Tim: And, well, if this wasn’t stuffing SPORTS OLYMPICS LOOK I’M ABOUT WINNING AND TAKING PART I’d mark this off as an Eric Prydz album track, largely because of the Pjanoo ripoff going on through the chorus (because surely no serious dance producer would listen to that without thinking “oh hang on”).

Tom: It’s uncomfortably close, isn’t it? I assume they’ve run it past the lawyers, because let’s be honest, anything to do with the Olympics gets run past a lot of lawyers.

Tim: It’s alright, I suppose, but I can’t help feeling that way more effort has been put into it than it actually deserves. For all that’s going on in there, I can’t help thinking that we’ve just, well, heard it all before, and not just because of the aforementioned chorus line.

Tom: Let’s not forget that the official song for London 2012 was genuinely original, emotional and stirring. This… isn’t.

Tim: It also doesn’t help that it does sound past its sell by date – an Olympic tie-in track should sound current, and this style of EDM’s been and gone. Distorted vocal samples and light tropical beats are where you want to be right now, not EDM from London 2012. I get the intention; I really don’t get the end product, though.

Galavant – Lightweight

“The style John Lundvik should have been aiming for yesterday.”

Tim: Galavant are a Swedish production who have very occasionally featured here before, and today we have a prime example of the style John Lundvik should have been aiming for yesterday. Pay attention, John, because you’ll no doubt want to use this come Tokyo 2020.

Tim: And I think that’s a really good instrumental chorus line.

Tom: I think the first half of it is excellent, but that odd, double speed section afterwards just sounds a little bit unpleasant.

Tim: It’s taken me sometime to get on board with this style, but I am all in right now, and this is a great example of using it without thumping beats underneath, without it becoming a bit of a racket and sounding overcompressed.

Tom: I know we spend a lot of time complaining about that style, the same way we spent a lot of time complaining about dubstep five years ago, but that’s because it sounds bloody awful.

Tim: See, I’ve made the switch already. As long it’s it’s not just loud from the melody, down from an excessive drumbeat, I’m fine with it, and here that’s what we’ve got.

The vocals surrounding it are good as well, and the intermediary verse beats, but that major synth line is where it’s really at, and is very good being there. I LIKE it.

Virtual Riot feat. Madi – Flutter

Tom: An anonymous reader sends this in, describing it as “a sweet chord progression combined with nice and crisp vocals”. Now that sounds more like they’re tasting wine to me, but let’s give it a listen.

Tom: That’s the most disappointing post-build chorus I’ve heard in a long time.

Tim: I read that sentence before I heard the chorus, and I’m not sure I’d agree with you, or at least not in the way I’d expected to. It’s not exactly a let-down – it still keeps the energy going, but it just goes nowhere near where we’d expect it go.

Tom: I realise there’s an argument that this is a deliberate genre choice, not just a poor selection of samples, but that doesn’t change the fact that it doesn’t sound good to me. That loud horn sample is discordant; the chorus sounds more like a disappointingly experimental middle eight; the chip tune samples are just overly harsh.

Tim: It is quite the mish mash, certainly – probably why the first chorus was so disappointing. You’ve got that first verses and pre-chorus being your standard electropop fare, but that drops off in favour of what’s left of dubstep these days, then moving on elsewhere into drum & bass territory with a few random bits chucked in here and there for balance.

Tom: Sorry, anonymous reader. It might be your sort of thing, it isn’t mine.

Tim: Wrong site, I think.

Tegan and Sara – BWU

Tom: Our reader, Alan, sends this in, saying it’s “one of the best tracks off their recent album”.

Tom: Now, that’s not a message you hear from a song very often, and it’s a good one.

Tim: Yeah, I can see why people might go for that – and your right, it’s not very common, though I’d say it’s more likely just that it’s not a widely-held enough view to be worth singing about.

Tom: The chorus is catchy, and manages to get an appropriate amount of happiness and wistfulness to match the lyrics. I can’t remember the verse, but then if you can remember the verse after one listen, then you’ve basically got a number one hit on your hands.

Tim: Or certainly one that deserves to be.

Tom: Maybe it outstays its welcome a little; but that’s always a problem when you’re trying to do a song like this. Nicely done.

Tim: Indeed. Did annoy me that it took me a while to work what BWU stood for, mind.

Saturday Flashback: Runaway Zoo – Youngwildblood

“There’s nothing I want from this song that isn’t already there.”

Tim: Concluding our review of this lot’s Mess Without You on Tuesday, I remarked I wanted to hear more. Well, here’s more – their previous track, from back in May.

Tim: And, to quote that wonderful Saturdays song, I just can’t get enough.

Tom: That’s wasn’t… you know what, their version was better, I can live with it.

Tim: It so was.

Tom: I can also live with this song: that’s one of the best introductions and first verses I’ve heard in a long while.

Tim: Isn’t it? Admittedly, lyrically it could be describe as a bit wanting, but on the other hand that single call and refrain repeated so many times is so effective with the build underneath it up to the thumping, beating chorus. We get so many songs of the “we’re young, we can do anything we want” variety, yet I can’t remember it ever being drilled in so definitively or maturely – a weird description perhaps, especially as I’m not quite sure how I mean it, but it’s one that springs to mind.

Tom: It is a really, really effective build. We’re seeing more and more songs that effectively have two choruses, and this is one of them.

Tim: And returning to that thumping, beating chorus: I like it a lot. It teeters on the edge of the boom-wherp thing–

Tom: “Overcompression” is the term, but yes. It’s close, but not quite enough to hurt. I can live with it.

Tim: Me too, because here the song knows exactly how not to do it badly, and how to make it sound good instead. On Tuesday, I had just one complaint, which wasn’t even really a complaint. Today: I got nothing. There is nothing I want from this song that isn’t already there.

Oh, and also, nothing to do with the music, but at the bottom of the video description: “Youngwildblood by Runaway Zoo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.” How often does that happen?

Tom: For anything that isn’t stock music? Very, very rarely.

Juno Im Park feat. Hannah Trigwell – Never Gonna Give You Up

“TROPICAL – they’ve got palm trees in the video and everything.”

Tim: WELL THEN. Juno Im Park are a German duo, Hannah’s British and off YouTube, and this song is, well, I’ll copy and paste:

“With Rick Astley having just secured both a UK no.1 album and a silver record, alongside British supporters of the European Union unofficially adopting the song and slogan as “Never Gonna Give EU Up”, the long-planned collaboration has unintentionally surfed the zeitgeist to become extremely topical.”

Tom: I dislike pretty much everything about that statement. Does it get worse?

Tim: Topical (as long as six weeks afterwards still counts as topical), and TROPICAL – they’ve got palm trees in the video and everything.

Tom: Okay, I’ll say this much: those are lovely vocals, and the retiming and occasional changed notes work really well.

Tim: Hmm, yes, that’s all true, but it doesn’t help with my biggest problem, which starts with the “long-planned” bit. Why? That implies there was a distinct importance to this, and yet let’s face it that there is a cover that never, ever needed to happen. I’m going to be harsh about this, because, well, it deserves it.

Tom: Why?

Tim: I don’t often think this about a track, but I genuinely can’t imagine any situation where anybody would ever think “I want to listen to a tropical house version of Never Gonna Give You Up”. What was the thinking behind this, beyond “that song was big on the internet for all the wrong reasons, so we should absolutely rerecord it in a modern yet increasingly stale sound”? I can’t fathom it, I really can’t.

Tom: See, I think there’s almost always room for a good cover, and this is at least a cut above the normal.

Tim: Oh, sure, it’s competent enough – decent vocal, above average production values – but just… why?

Tom: You could ask that about any human endeavour, Tim. Because it was there.