Saturday Flashback: Michelle – Es gibt dich

“A textbook example of a builder.”

Tim: I have no idea where I found this, but I was finally getting round to clearing up my 40+ Safari tabs when I re-found it, and I think it stands up.

Tom: This is the first time in a while that I’ve thought “wow, that’s a voice”. Those first lines, almost isolated, really show off her vocal quality.

Tim: It is, really, a textbook example of a builder. Middle eight aside, there isn’t a single component that isn’t a slightly increased version of what came before – hell, sometimes it increases midway through the verses.

Tom: It almost feels like the producers and engineers were having some fun with this one. I checked the waveform in an audio editor, and it literally increases in volume like someone’s steadily turning up a dial.

Tim: And when we come back from that middle eight, OH, I was absolutely not expecting it, but in hindsight it’s a perfect closing chorus. It’s a lovely song – nothing big or huge, but just really, really nice to listen to. And I like that in a song.

Cascada – Like The Way I Do

“This did manage to exceed my expectations.”

Tom: New Cascada!

Tim: Hooray!

Tom: It probably won’t be nearly as good as their famous tracks!

Tim: True!

Tom: That is… a lot of autotune on the verses. I’m not sure if it’s a stylistic choice or just an overapplied fix. But at least the choruses sound a bit cleaner.

Tim: Hmm, see, I’m not normally that great at hearing autotune, unless it’s cranked up to 2011, but, yeah, it does seem a bit excessive.

Tom: Still, this did manage to exceed my expectations. It’s a solid track: it’s never going to define an entire generation’s clubbing lifestyle, but then very few tracks do. This is a solid dance track from people who know how to make them.

Tim: True, can’t deny any of that. It was never going to be amazing as the earlier work – hell, it could never be – but it’s good enough.

Julie Bergan – Crazy Enough

Tim: New one off Julie, and, well, I played it once and it was still in my head 45 minutes later, so that’s got to be a good sign, right?

Tom: Usually, yes, but that was also true of the Fast Food Rockers.

Tom: Well, that’s a heck of an introduction and first verse, isn’t it?

Tim: Starts out as a fairly simple ballad, chorus comes along and turns up the volume a bit, then hits properly and we are BANGING with an absolutely marvellous track.

Tom: Oddly, it’s the chorus that I find unconvincing: it’s unusual to say I like a verse more. I agree that it’s catchy, I’m just not sure I like it.

Tim: Production is great, her vocal is on point, melody is strong and memorable, and all in all I have next to no criticisms about this track whatsoever.

Tom: I’m not quite that enthusiastic, but, sure, it’s not bad.

Tim: I say next to no criticisms: there’s one part I’m not so keen on, which is the ending. If it’d been a quieter ballad throughout that’d work, but as it is, going from a big hefty number suddenly to a single vocal just seems too abrupt. Not sure how to fix it, mind – maybe stick a minor instrument underneath it, or maybe just cut it off entirely, go straight to zero for even more impact? I don’t know, but that aside, it’s absolutely marvellous.

Lise Cabble – Tjekker Ind Og Ud

“Stick with it because it gets there.”

Tim: Lise’s Danish. and is quite the prolific songwriter, with multiple Danish Eurovision entries under her belt, and more than a few national finalists over the past couple of decades. Finally, though, she’s chosen to take centre stage with some actual singing! I’m fairly sure it’ll start off in your ‘why can’t this dance tune have a proper beat to it’ zone, but stick with it because it gets there.

Tim: Nice one?

Tom: I’m really, really, not convinced it does. Honestly, my attention wandered while trying to listen to it, and when I realised that I started it again. Only to — sorry, while writing that sentence I drifted off to look at some paint dry.

Tim: Seriously, though?

Tom: I exaggerate, but not overwhelmingly.

Tim: For me it’s in a kind of Alan Walker album track type zone – that starts off based on those few seconds after 0:20 into the chorus, which is very much like one of his tracks that I can’t place right now but then when we get our first proper instrumental breakdown it’s fully on board, and you might not believe this, but actually I quite like that.

Tom: I mean, I believe it, but only because we have disagreed about much more interesting bits of music than this.

Tim: It’s perhaps not a song I’ll listen to a whole lot – but I’ll like it when it comes on, and I’m fairly sure that’s good enough. Maybe don’t quit the writing. though.

Cedric Gervais & Chris Willis – Turn Your Love Around

“It’s exactly the sort of middle-of-the-road not-quite-funky-house track that I quite like.”

Tom: I’ll be honest, I mostly clicked on this because I was intrigued by the name “Cedric Gervais”.

Tim: Yep, entirely fair.

Tom: Turns out he’s a Miami-based French DJ, and this sounds like someone’s combined late Motown and early Daft Punk with the song structure from a track on an early-2000s dance compilation.

Tim: That is…yeah, specific but exactly right. A good sound, I’d say.

Tom: It’s exactly the sort of middle-of-the-road not-quite-funky-house track that I quite like, and that will probably be utterly ignored because that’s just not a genre the world’s interested in right now. Which feels like a shame, really.

Tim: Also true. Mind you, earlier today I was listening to a playlist of Ultrabeat, DJ Sammy, Kelly Llorenna, September and the like, and this fits perfectly.

Samir & Viktor – Kemi

“It is a great chorus, I’ll grant that.”

Tim: So, I don’t know why, but I seem to be predisposed to like anything by these guys – objectively awful as they may be, they have enough of a Jedward quality about them to be, well, endearing is the wrong word, but something like that.

Tom: Also, and it’s just a guess, but I suspect the fact they get their shirts off regularly might have something to do with it.

Tim: Anyway, here’s the new one, and you might be able to see where I’m going with that intro.

Tom: It’s like Jedward with less shouting.

Tim: See, from a different artist, there are a number of things I’d dislike here – the excessive autotune, with no attempt to hide it as though it’s still 2011; the lack of a melody throughout a large part of it; in some areas, it just verges into a genre I’m not keen on. And yet, that chorus is so good and happy and uplifting, combined with their textbook enthusiasm, that I can’t dislike it.

Tom: It is a great chorus, I’ll grant that. I’m just not sure it makes up for the rest of the song?

Tim: I’d clarify that a bit: if they hadn’t opened with that chorus, I might have switched off after twenty seconds, so putting that first was a great move. All in all, it’s a song I can’t really bring myself to dislike.

Saturday Flashback: NineOneOne – Can’t Stop Now

“It’s designed to impart a certain emotion and then get out of the way.”

Tim: So, I know basically nothing about this act at all – can’t find any social media, no individuals, no proper albums, nothing. Having said that, the name does crop up quite a bit with two specific composers of TV music, so my best guess is that they exist solely to provide library music that TV shows can use without paying much money for.

Tom: Given that it’s on an album called “indie synthpop 2”, yes, this is definitely Stock Music. However, a lot of respectable composers are now finding that’s a lucrative way of making music: just make it in bulk, send it out, and if you’re lucky, get it used in television or as filler on generic Spotify playlists.

Tim: Right, and conclusive evidence: I found this on an extended trail for a new TV show and, well, I like it.

Tim: Alright, that, isn’t it? It starts out with the bass line very similar to (perhaps even identical to, which is a bit odd) Bright Light Bright Light’s Disco Moment, but beyond that it grows and progresses until we end up with a lovely chorus, very much the MVP here.

Tom: I mean, it’s stock music. It’s designed to impart a certain emotion and then get out of the way.

Tim: Catchy, pleasant, and most importantly, perfectly sufficient for affordable TV music.

Topic x Vigiland x Christopher – Let Us Love

“Shall we see what today’s international cooperation brings us?”

Tim: A German producer, a Swedish musical duo, a Danish singer. Shall we see what today’s international cooperation brings us?

Tim: That’s a nice track, right?

Tom: “Nice” seems about right.

Tim: It does everything it needs to, has a nice tune, good vocals, decent beat to it, enjoyable while it’s playing, I wouldn’t stop dancing if it came on in a club, and I can even remember the chorus of it afterwards. So…why don’t I have anything to say about it?

Tom: Oh, Tim, welcome to how I feel about nearly all new pop music. It’s okay.

Tim: It’s nice, it’s good, it’s fine. It’s just…yeah, no problems.

Arvingarna – I morgon

“DANSBAND.”

Tom: Yesterday, you promised loud, exciting, carefree stuff. GO ON THEN.

Tim: DANSBAND.

Tom: YES.

Tim: And it’s time for us as English speakers to giggle childishly at the pronunciation of the Swedish for ‘tomorrow’.

Tom: I mean, I did smile.

Tim: Yep, figures. I can’t find the lyrics for this online, which is a shame as I’m fairly sure they mention Netflix in there quite a bit and I’d love to know the context. If I had to guess it from words I do recognise, I’m thinking it’s along the lines of “sod this, can’t be bothered right now, I’ll do it tomorrow”. And oh, boy, can we all identify with that.

Tom: What I like about dansband is how it somehow balances a line between cheesy schlager music and the sort of Status-Quo dad-rock that’s still respectable and getting radio play on radio from time to time. Listen to that ridiculous outro!

Tim: And when we combine that with the standard fun and enjoyment that typically comes with the best of the genre, what’s not to like?

Tove Lo feat. ALMA – Bad As The Boys

“Bringing out emotions in all the right ways, and using exactly the right type of music to do so.

Tim: Tove here singing about a summer experiment that didn’t go so great, with ALMA along as a token lesbian (genuinely – Tove says that “since I’m singing about a girl, I wanted another female artist on it who also likes girls; so I hit up ALMA”). Sweet, no?

Tim: And that right there is a really good pop song. It isn’t, of course, our usual preference of loud, exciting carefree stuff (for that, see tomorrow’s post), but it is a lovely melancholy number, bringing out emotions in all the right ways, and using exactly the right type of music to do so.

Tom: I had to reset my expectations, because I thought the chorus was a pre-chorus: given it’s Tove Lo, I was expecting something a bit louder. Once I’d figured out what the song was aiming for… sure. It’s not bad.

Tim: The verses are downbeat, the chorus melody and lyrics explain that and everything melds together nicely, telling a narrative really rather beautifully. Fair?

Tom: Fair, but I can’t help thinking that the last few seconds of vertical video, where it’s being sung as a proper ballad, might actually have been the seeds for a better track.