Kygo – Raging

Tom: First track from the new album. Given that everyone’s copied his old trick, he needs a new one.

Tom: That is… hmm. Well, it’s a bit of a change in synth pad, I’ll give him that, although it now sounds like… hmm. A slightly downbeat version of something Robert Miles would have put out in the mid-90s? Or maybe Robert Miles meets Aviici, with way too much compression on the track? I’m not sure.

Tim: I don’t know, I really like it. Tropical house arguably had a limited shelf-life, coming as it did from Kygo’s computer rather than any gradual dance club movement like basically every other dance genre has done. Harsh as it may sound, it’s almost the Internet meme of music genres – came from nowhere, a few other people mixed it around a bit, but after a while it’s time to move on. Kyo knows that, and he’s moving on, to this.

Tom: I sound like I’m being massively negative about it: it’s a decent track, and a good direction to go in after there was nothing left in that old pineapple-scented synth. It’s not as much of an immediate attention-grabber, but it’s not bad.

Tim: No – I think it’s a fine way to close off his debut album.

Posted in Dance | Tagged | 1 Response

Bebe Rexha feat. Nicki Minaj – No Broken Hearts

Tom: A name I haven’t seen before, but she’s got Nicki Minaj as a featured artist — and a decent songwriting career. Okay, I’m intrigued.

Tim: Ah, I see we’ve gone back to 2009.

Tom: Harsh, but not entirely unfair. That is an astonishingly good introduction, leading into an amazing hook. And note that they went straight into the hook — no first verse here. It’s a weird combination of upbeat lyrics and melody with downbeat tempo and percussion, and, for me at least, it really, really works.

Tim: Ehhhhh…I quite want to like this, because you’re right, that is a good hook. But the rest of it? It’s just terrible, mate. The verses are tedious, Nicki Minaj’s bit is, well, exactly what I expected, but most of all, that autotune – it sounds like something movie kidnappers use to disguise their voice, it’s been laid on so thick.

Tom: The verses: they’ll do well enough, and as for Nicki Minaj’s bit: well, that was never going to be a good match for either of our tastes, was it? But then we’re definitely not the target audience.

Tim: Understatement of the decade, there.

Tom: I can’t explain why I like this. It’s not even because of the near-nudity in the music video, I had it in a background tab. It’s just the hook: it’s that good.

Tim: As was yesterday’s chorus. But similarly, it’s nowhere near good enough to rescue the rest of it.

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Victor Crone – Feelgood Day

Tim: Second single from Swedish Victor, and before you push play, I’ll ask you not to be immediately put off by the lyrics in the first verse.

Tom: Those are bloody awful lyrics.

Tim: Indeed: let’s face it, the issues are myriad. ‘Shades of grey are more than fifty’ makes it already outdated, the restricted zone metaphor doesn’t make much sense, and I’m fairly sure ‘You’re not answering your phone, right outside and I can hear you’ would be grounds for a restraining order. Add that to the inevitably irritating ukulele twanging, and you’re almost certain to end up with a song I’ll hate.

Tom: “Your life is a restricted zone.” I’d say that’s a translation issue, but I can’t even work out what that might have been translated from.

Tim: Yeah – it’s really quite bizarre. After all that, though, and just as I’m preparing to throw my iPad across the room, that chorus comes along.

Tom: And it could be so trite! The lyrics are sophomoric, the melody is predictable (and has something of the Bublé about it) but somehow the sheer major-key enthusiasm of it saves it.

Tim: It really does just sound so good. Nowhere near good enough to make up for those lyrics, verse instrumentation, the missing space in the title and entire lack of effort from the middle eight onwards, but that it still a chorus that brings along, yup, a ‘feelgood’ day. Nice lyric video as well, so, hmm, 27%.

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Saturday Reject: Freddy Kalas – Feel Da Rush

Tim: 21st February 2016, 21:30 GMT. The wonderful, joyous moment I realised Daz Sampson was not a uniquely British institution.

Tim: Now I watched this, and had that moment. It was wonderful, he was my new favourite, but obviously it’s ridiculous, and it couldn’t possibly get voted through.

Tom: Good heavens, that’s ridiculous. And amazing. And… wait, what happens with that cut at 0:16? Have they got two steadicam operators, both rotating around him? That sort of sums up the whole thing right there. How did that even get to the main show?

Tim: Which was my thought – there were better songs, there were bigger reactions in the crowd – just, why? So I kept blathering on Twitter, made my predictions for the Gold Final (top four), as is my wont during selection programmes, but then after the third only one had got through, I posted “Blimey, I’m having a shocker on the predictions front tonight. Maybe Norwegian Daz will get through.”


Tom: You’re kidding me.

Tim: Actual tears, Tom. So then he performed again, and I realised I’d been paying so much attention to his hat, and the girls with the floral necklaces, and the enormous spark fountains, and the mixing desk disguised as a cocktail bar, and all the very very caucasian people that I had somehow not noticed that he kept that cod Jamaican accent going throughout and that, weirdly, I quite liked it as a track.

Tom: It sounds like someone mixed Aviici with Peter Andre. And gave him some steel drum samples and a ludicrous t-shirt. And then actually made the song catchy.

Tim: It’s utterly ridiculous, but it’s just a whole lot of fun. And then to top it all off – in the end, he actually came second, coming well ahead of even Norway’s favourite boyband, Suite 16. It was absolutely wonderful.

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Bob Sinclar – Someone Who Needs Me

Tom: Occasionally, you get a remix that massively improves on the original, or at least rewrites it into something that’s different and still good. And sometimes, you get… well, you get this. Heads up: this is from a mix podcast, so it’s got some DJ announcements over the top of it. However, I don’t think they’ll massively change your opinion.

Tim: No. No, it doesn’t change my opinion at all.

Tom: He’s just repeating one line over his own instrumentation. It’s not even particularly good instrumentation. Is that all he could license? Was he just lazy? Or did he think that was enough to make a three minute record with? The original is so good, and this… this is just a bit dull.

Tim: There are just no big moments at all – you’ve got that quiet bit, building up to something, and you’ve got that build later on, but each time it just leads to…nothing. Nothing more, nothing less than exactly what was there before. You’re right – it’s dull, as there is literally not a single moment to get excited about.

Tom: And before you think I’m just being staid because I’m a fan of the original: this type of track can absolutely be done well — look at Kygo’s Take On Me, for example, or Sigala’s Easy Love. Both brilliant. Both feel like they’ve had effort put into them. This doesn’t.

Tim: It’s an eight-bar loop with a similar length vocal line. There is basically nothing here at all.

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Mimi Werner & Brolle – Here We Go Again

Tim: Mimi is following up her storming hoedown debut at Melodifestivalen with this, a duet with 2001’s Popstars veteran Brolle.

Tom: Well, that’s not exactly storming, is it?

Tim: And, it’s the disappointing kind of duet where neither is paying any attention whatsoever to what the other is singing, despite them being standing less than a foot away from each other in the video – a shame, really, because tracks like Up and Second Hand Heart show that conversations and narratives can happen, and the song is invariably better for that. Here, we have basically an individual’s song split in two.

Tom: And not a particularly good song at that? At times — particularly that middle eight — it almost sounds like a nursery rhyme that’s been given a bit of production value. It’s very slow, very simple, and just… not enough to get me excited.

Tim: Musically, though, it’s decent enough – I probably shouldn’t have linked to those two duets earlier, actually, because they’re both quite a bit better, but never mind, because the chorus is a fair belter and one I’m happy to listen to frequently. So much so, in fact, that I will actually hope that their relationship can get beyond the fact that they have no idea what each other is saying. GOOD LUCK GUYS.

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Danny Saucedo – Hör vad du säger men jag har glömt vad du sa

Tim: Alternatively, “I hear what you say but I’ve forgotten what you said”, and after a year or so of mostly dull ballads, he’s back to doing what he does best.

Tim: Other lines in the chorus include “who was it who said that, was it you or me?” – basically, this is a great relationship running on full throttle. And it’s a song that reflects that – from the brash singing that’s basically chanting right through to the jubilant woooooooahs that penetrate the latter half of it – along with a video to boot.

Tom: It’s a fine line between “great party” and “what a bunch of jerks” in a video like this, and for me it definitely ends up on the wrong side of it. Interesting to see bits of vertical video actually make it in as a deliberate style choice, though.

Tim: Yeah, I quite liked that – almost made the party seem more realistic.

Tom: I seem to have a lot of opinions about the video and very few about the music.

Tim: I am very, very much in favour of songs like this, to the extent that actually I feel a bit let down that it isn’t even louder.

Tom: And you’re right there — perhaps that’s why I’m not really sold on the music. It’s certainly a Big Party Song, but despite that it somehow leaves me a little bit cold. The words are there, but perhaps not all the meaning.

Tim: I’m not entirely sure what I’d do to make it bigger – maybe it’s just that that’s not quite enough of a jump from the verse to the chorus. Still, while it’s here, let’s enjoy and go full on FUN HAPPY PARTY WOOO!!!!

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Roxette – It Just Happens

Tim: Yesterday Rick Astley, today Roxette. Apparently we’ve fallen through time so, as ever, be careful around your parents and all that.

Tim: And talk about don’t bore us, get to the chorus. It takes guts to open a song with the chorus – it’s a bit like starting a TV episode with a shocking scene and then showing a “48 hours earlier” caption, because if the rest of it doesn’t measure up then your audience will switch off fairly quickly. Here, though, I’ve no qualms with it – it sets up the scene nicely, blasts us in the face with the message and then steps back a bit to explain it.

Tom: “In medias res” is the technical term — by which I mean, the Latin term — and it’s generally a successful gambit in film. If this is the start of a trend in music, I’m happy with it.

Tim: Another nice thing, which is exactly the same that was present during their last revival: a mixture of their originals 80s sound and modern sounds in there as well.

Tom: It is! It’s never going to storm the charts, but it’s a good opener to a new album that their fans will love.

Tim: Hopefully, yes. Modern pop backing, but some distinctly previous vocals in the chorus (to the extent that I’m sure I’ve heard that “if it’s right or wrong”/”will always find a way” lead in to the chorus before in another old song).

Tom: And that chorus does, unfortunately, keep reminding me of the Lonely Island’s “I Just Had Sex”. It’s those aa-aa-aahs in the background.

Tim: I have listened to that song in ages, so can’t remember it; I won’t play now in case it ruins this. Also from the 80s, and less welcome here: the fade out, as it really doesn’t belong in a 2010s song. Basically, that aside, this is more or less exactly what I didn’t know I would have wanted from a new Roxette track. Excellent work, everybody.

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Rick Astley – Keep Singing

Tom: Our reader, Jeff, sends this in. Not quite our usual music, but it seems apt to cover it. And I’ll save his comment for later on: you’ll see why.

Tim: Decent enough Rick Astley song, there.

Tom: Good, calm soul song. Sounds almost like Hozier — and that incredible voice is still there. In fact, it almost sounds like the vocal part from an Avicii track. (Did you know he’s retired, by the way?)

Tim: I did, yes – part of me thinks it’s a shame; on the other hand, it can safely be argued that he peaked a while ago and is getting out just before he stops getting top 10 tracks.

Tom: So this is where I bring in Jeff’s comment: “speed it up by 1.25x”. Click the gear icon at the bottom of the YouTube video, there’s an option to do that.

Tim: Ooh. Oh, that’s interesting, and a whole lot more enjoyable – takes it from slightly dull soul to almost proper pop.

Tom: And now it’s just an Avicii track without the beats. And given that this is Rick Astley, and this is on the internet, I guarantee you that someone will have EDM’d this up by the time this post goes live.

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Saturday Reject: After Dark – Kom Ut Som En Stjärna

Tim: There’s a school of thought that reckons Anna Book actually did herself a favour getting kicked out – as a schlager track, it went down very well as an interval performance, inside the stadium and outside, but would likely have been utterly rejected by the voters had it actually been competing. This track, ending up as it did in seventh place, adds a lot of weight to that.

Tom: Well, that was unexpected. And then, unexpectedly good. That’s a really good chorus: riffing on I Will Survive, and a half-dozen other disco classics, but never actually quite going there.

Tim: A drag act with a chorus of “come out like a star, glisten after dark, take a step into the light as your true self, open the closet, time for your entrance, come out like a star, a true superstar”.

Tom: Mm. I feel I’ve seen that schtick somewhere before. Oh, yes: that would be on stage, in Copenhagen, in Eurovision 2014.

Tim: Yes, and there it was big DRAMA taking itself very seriously; here it’s less so, instead being just plain camp, more for entertainment than for a political statement. Directly talking about how great Lady Gaga, Madonna, Beyoncé and Cher are, and a key change that goes through the ceiling. It brings an enormous reaction in the stadium, but that heart barely starts beating.

Tom: Could you explain that heart? Is it some sort of live-voting thing?

Tim: Pretty much – the intensity of the heart, which goes from grey to lightning-zapping pink, via dark purple and quiet pink, represents the number of app votes that are coming in for each song, which can only be done while the song is on. Brought in a couple of years ago, apparently to make viewers feel more involved with the show. And here it shows – Sweden knows this is a song that would be awful for Eurovision, but is just so enjoyable to watch – and I’m fully in agreement with that.

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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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