Scooter & Xillions – Rave Teacher (Somebody Like Me)

“If this had been on the first album, would we be looking back on it with nostalgia?”

Tom: You have my attention.

Tim: Good. Because Xillions, a British/American production duo, put out Somebody Like Me a couple of years back, and Scooter have now done, well, what they do best.

Tom: Well, that’s more like their old stuff, isn’t it? That could happily sit on one of their earlier albums. And Scooter have always been inspired by the KLF; it’s nice that they’re still referencing that in their videos.

Tim: It is a lot more like the old stuff, isn’t it? Take another track and stick a load of RAVE on it, and it’s all the better for it.

Tom: That “sixth chapter” reference is pointing out that there’s been another change of lineup: you’ll be glad to hear that Wikipedia has a handy diagram.

Tim: As ever. So, every now and again I forget that the actual title of Scooter’s biggest hit was actually Ramp! (The Logical Song), and now with this title that makes a lot of sense – make a load of rave stuff and give it a name, and then plonk it on top of a track that roughly fits. Wouldn’t work for everything, of course – I can’t exactly imagine Back In The U.K. (The Miss Marple Theme) gaining much traction – but it does work. As for whether this track works: yeah. Yeah, I think it does.

Tom: It’s never going to be a classic, but maybe that’s more a sign of the times: if this had been on the first album, would we be looking back on it with nostalgia?

Tim: You know, I think that’s quite possible. It’s a decent enough track to start from, Scooter’s gonna Scoot, and together they work nicely. It’s good.

Lydia – Slow Clap

“If you’re trying to get publicity, I guess it’s one way to do it.”

Tim: “Hey mate, it’s Lydia, we met the other night and you said you were a copyright lawyer? Yeah, just out of interest, if I wanted to rip off a bassline but not to pay for it, I’m good to change just one out of every ten notes, right? Cool, cheers.”

Tom: Hey, if the KLF said it was okay, go for it.

Tim: I mean really, this isn’t a case of ‘hope people don’t notice’, it’s a case of ‘we’ve checked, and we think we’re staying the right side of the line’.

Tom: And if you pull down the description to see the credits, you’ll see that none of the Macarena composers are credited.

Tim: This is Scooter copying Otto Knows all over again, and part of me actually admires it, as it takes a special kind of audacity to do it on your debut single.

Tom: Not only are you going to be compared to a song everyone knows, but you’re going to be compared to a novelty hit that a lot of people hate. It’s a bold choice, but if you’re trying to get publicity, I guess it’s one way to do it. Pity it’s not that good a track, though.

Tim: Yes, yes there is that. Still fair play to her – well not fair play, in fact, distinctly unfair play – and let’s see what happens. I’m guessing we’ll either never hear from her again, or three months from now we’ll be discussing a song that is 99% Saturday Night.

Seeb, Highasakite – Free To Go

“I like his style, therefore I like the track.”

Tim: We’ve not featured Highasakite before; they’re a Norwegian indie pop band with dancey undertones, and their lead singer, Ingrid, is featured here, with very dancey overtones.

Tim: Decent dance track, that. Standard Seeb style, and…well, there’s not much else to be said about it, is there?

Tom: I mean, you can sing the hook from Sigma’s “Nobody To Love” over that instrumental chorus, sure, it’s basically just a standard dance track.

Tim: We can note that it does have a middle eight, though, and part of me is tempted to keep track of to how rare that’s becoming; the entirety of the rest of me, mind, is screaming that that’s an entirely pointless and tedious thing to do. But yes, it’s a Seeb track, through and through. I like his style, therefore I like the track. Others may disagree, but I guess that’s subjectivity for you, no?

Why Don’t We feat. Macklemore – I Don’t Belong In This Club

“The word that comes to mind for this is ‘charming’.”

Tom: This played on the radio while I was driving. It’s catchy as hell, but I swear I’ve heard the chorus somewhere before. What on earth does it sound like?

Tom: Even without that: the word that comes to mind for this is “charming”. It’s not a theme I’ve heard before, but it’s properly relatable; the chorus is brilliant; and the music video is in no way self-aggrandising. Like I said: charming.

Tim: Yes. You’re right, it is a bit familiar, in a couple of places, but nothing that I can think of right now. It’s good, though, and very listenable, and yeah, charming works well.

Tom: And then there’s Macklemore, who somehow manages to do a rap bit that doesn’t sound terrible. Aside from the Uber and Red Bull brand shoutouts, but never mind.

Tim: See, the Uber thing I’m actually okay with – sure, it might sting a tad to hear but, for me at least, Uber’s become enough of a word in its own right, like ‘google’ meaning to search, that lyrically I’m okay with it. Red Bull I’ll let you have, though.

Tom: Now, I’ll grant you, the track’s probably a bit too long. It’s basically got three middle eights: Macklemore’s verse, the actual middle eight with a different melody, and the quiet broken-down piano-backed chorus. In a world where the middle eight is steadily going away and songs are getting shorter, that’s a bold move.

Tim: But I like that – the song’s almost four minutes long, but it’s varied enough that I never get bored of it.

Tom: I think it manages to be both interestingly different and immediately catchy, which is a rare thing in pop. Or I just really like whichever song it’s reminding me of.

Tim: Fair.

Saturday Reject: Ingrid Berg Mehus – Feel

“Who takes a fairly strong dance tune and thinks ‘right, what this really needs is her taking time out to play the violin’?”

Tim: “Hmm, it’s not bad, I guess, but it still needs a bit more. Any idea?” “Ooh, Alexander Rybak did well when he played his violin that first time, we could try that again?” “Eh, give it a go, could work. Ooh have lasers. LOTS OF LASERS.”

Tim: It annoys me that NRK don’t release the voting numbers for Melodi Grand Prix, because I’d love to know what happened with this. Out of ten it didn’t make the top four, but I’m wondering if it managed to get, well, any votes at all. Because it’s just weird.

Tom: It is an odd one, isn’t it? At least they’ve managed to contain her in some kind of laser-powered summoning grid. But it’s a strange combination of things that don’t quite work together.

Tim: Admittedly, that doesn’t necessarily make for a bad Eurovision track – Netta was proof enough of that – but seriously, who takes a fairly strong dance tune, with a strong club vibe happening on the stage, and thinks “right, what this really needs is her taking time out to play the violin”? I mean.

Tom: Also: who co-ordinates all those camera moves and then sticks a big bulky mic pack on the dress? I know women’s clothing is a nightmare for microphone staging, but there had to be a better solution than that. Not technically a complaint about the song, but still. Sorry, you were talking about the music.

Tim: No, it’s Eurovision, everything’s up for discussion. But yes, the music, and I guess the violin’s one way of removing the standard EDM failing at Eurovision, where for the instrumental chorus the singer stands around doing nothing, but even so, still weird. Nice lasers, though.

Isle of You – Hold Tight

“I don’t know why on earth they’d want to risk putting off a load of people by describing it as a waffly ‘timeline of emotions’.”

Tim: So, at the risk of alienating you, I’ll quote directly from them PR guff, which says this is “more like a timeline of emotions than a pop song. Instead of writing a ‘verse, pre-chorus, chorus’ song which has already been done about eleven million times, we wanted to create something that sounds like what falling in love really feels like, when all of your worst fears get mixed up with all you ever really wanted.”

Sounds garbage, right?

Tom: Sounds like someone couldn’t make the structure work and decided to go “that’s a feature, not a bug”.

Tim: Certainly not what you want to hear from a group who’ve previously out some great electropop. Except…

Tim: …it absolutely is a standard “verse, pre-chorus, chorus” song, and I think it’s pretty damn great, so I don’t know why on earth they’d want to risk putting off a load of people by describing it as a waffly ‘timeline of emotions’.

Tom: I’m not convinced it “sounds like what falling in love really feels like” either.

Tim: Well, I don’t know about that – for starters, even if the first couple of verses and choruses weren’t enough (which they absolutely are), that middle eight and beyond is one of the best minutes of music I’ve heard this year.

Tom: I wouldn’t go that far, but I’ll agree with you that it certainly kicks in at the middle eight: before that, despite the structure (or lack of), it did feel like a bit of a mess.

Tim: The song is absolutely marvellous, and I’m very upset that there is still no sign of any album on the horizon, because God knows we’ve had enough decent tracks from them. I WANT MORE DAMMIT.

Broiler – Do It

“Blimey, that’s an early ’00s dance trance if ever there was one, isn’t it?”

Tim: Pair of Norwegians here for you, and, well, remember Dave Pearce doing Dance Anthems on a Sunday night on Radio 1 fifteen years ago? This might evoke some feels.

Tim: Because blimey, that’s an early ’00s dance trance if ever there was one, isn’t it?

Tom: Pitched-up vocals and a full-on washing-machine-spinning-up euphoric build and drum fill into the chorus. Yep. The rave revival continues.

Tim: And in a pretty good way as well, which is always nice.

Tom: I doubt it’s going to be on a Clubland compilation in ten years’ time, but it’s nice to hear this sound back. Apart from the fact that one synth patch sounds almost exactly like a raspy kazoo.

Tim: Yeah, there is that. But the big thing to note is just what is the ‘it’ that is being done by the target, and that our protagonist now wants to do? Well, some might leave it ambiguous, or more likely just blindingly obvious from the subtext, but here we go all out with “I just want your sex”, which is entirely fair enough. After all, if it’s early in the morning and you’ve just made eyes at someone on the dance floor, you’ve not really got time for subtlety. You just want their sex, and you’re going to shrug off your friends because they’ll understand, a hookup’s a hookup and it’s what we’re all out for.

Tom: I’ll be honest, Tim, that tells me a little bit more about your life than I wanted to know.

Tim: Oh, come on, we went to university together, don’t pretend you’ve forgotten. Mind you, that’s not all we’re out for – there’s hearing big outright bangers like this as well.

Aura Dione – Shania Twain

“Inspired by the power that Shania sung about in her songs.”

Tim: Meghan Trainor and Charlie Puth gave us one of the greatest tunes of 2015 with their ode to Marvin Gaye.

Tom: I… no, you know what, I’m not going to start arguing before we even get to the song. I will agree, though, that there was definitely a song in 2015 called “Marvin Gaye”.

Tim: And it was a RIGHT BANGER. Anyway, Danish singer Aura is going for a similar vibe, inspired by the power that Shania sung about in her songs.

Tim: And that there is a song that I absolutely and entirely love.

Tom: I know you’re generally more enthusiastic about, well, basically everything, but: why?

Tim: The mix of heavy country and great dance is done so well, and when the two combine for that second chorus and beyond it just becomes absolutely joyous, and the first song in a while that I want to properly shout along to, with those backing vocals. Even the little things, like the ‘Twain, Twain, Twain’ vocal effects, sound great.

Tom: Ah, I just don’t get that. There’s something in the tone of it that just grates on me; and that ‘Shania Twain’ lyric just lands with a clunk in my head. I’ll admit that I can sing the chorus after one listen, though.

Tim: My only problem, of course, is that it’s just too short. So, all together, ALL OF MY LOVERS, ALL OF MY LOVERS, ALL OF MY LOVERS LET IT POUR ON ME, ALL OF MY LOVERS, ALL OF MY LOVER LOVERS etc.

Avicii feat. Aloe Blacc – SOS

“Wouldn’t you want the first one out to be absolutely brilliant?”

Tim: So, slightly odd situation here. Apparently when Avicii died last year, he had about an album’s worth of material on his computer ready to go, and now it seems his family reckons enough time has passed for it to be released without it seeming too ethically dubious.

Tom: Actually ready to go, or works-in-progress that have been picked up by other people? Because if they’re not spectacular, it’s going to seem like an ethically dubious cash-in no matter what. A whole album, then?

Tim: That’s out at the end of June, here’s the lead track.

Tim: And that is, I guess, a perfectly decent Avicii track.

Tom: Apart from the middle eight where it suddenly becomes a mashup of Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” and TLC’s “No Scrubs”. And ‘perfectly’ decent? It’s… well, it’s okay.

Tim: Well, not perfectly decent – for starters, the D on the end of ‘pound of weed’ really should be pronounced more forcefully than it is.

Tom: Oh dear. Yes, it should.

Tim: And that’s kind of my issue. See, if you were part of his friends and family, and you were sitting on a load of good stuff that could have the potential to backfire, wouldn’t you want the first one out to be absolutely brilliant? A ten out of ten, everyone drop what you’re doing, can’t stop dancing type number? And this…well, it’s good. But it’s not that.

Ava Max – So Am I

“Remember that ‘Sweet But Psycho’ song, the one that was so catchy that everyone just ignored the really questionable lyrics?”

Tom: Remember that ‘Sweet But Psycho’ song, the one that was so catchy that everyone just ignored the really questionable lyrics?

Tim: YES, and I still listen to it frequently while feeling ever so slightly guilty every time.

Tom: Well, this is what happens when a record executive says “that was brilliant, let’s have another one that’s exactly the same please”.

Tim: And right now I am imaging that exact conversation, because that is what happens. In a good way, mind.

Tom: There’s a lot to unpack here, isn’t there? The Sid and Nancy reference, the “call me Harley” lyric that acknowledges that, yes, perhaps the stylist might have taken a bit of inspiration from a certain comic book character.

Tim: Yeah – and that’s not helped by the fact that releasing a song titled ‘So Am I’ immediately after one with a main line of “she’s sweet but a psycho” could be read in a way different from how these lyrics portray it.

Tom: And the slightly uncomfortable music-video trope of taking a conventionally attractive artist and putting her in an oversexualised school uniform with some dancers, while she’s singing about how it’s okay to be different.

It’s very much been the Difficult Second Single in terms of chart performance, although it seems to be getting enough airplay.

Tim: Well, its been in the charts five weeks now and is lurking around the lower end of the Top 20, so I’d say it could go either way.

Tom: Catchy, though, isn’t it?

Tim: Yes. It’s still no Sweet But Psycho, though.