Cazzi Opeia – Rich

“A video that looks like a school project demonstrating all the effects a kid can possibly hunt down.”

Tim: Cazzi’s recently been doing a bit of song writing for a couple of K-Pop groups (TWICE and Red Velvet, in case you fancy looking them up), but has now released tis herself, almost a year after her last. Which was pretty decent, as it happens.

Tim: And while we’ve a video that looks like a school project demonstrating all the effects a kid can possibly hunt down (which is pretty impressive if that was the goal), I like the song very much. Bouncy, fun, enjoyable, and a good (and, now I think about it, almost surprisingly unusual) way of dealing with the naughty words in the chorus). That ‘riiiiiiiiich’ is striking and attention grabbing; possibly a little divisive, and I wasn’t sure what to make when I first heard it. A few listens in, though: I’m all on board with it. Nice.

Saturday Flashback: Linda Bengtzing – Jag Ljuger Så Bra

“WHAT A BANGER.”

Tim: So I was out last night seeing Ace Wilder perform, and tbh it was a bit disappointing – despite having a fairly extensive back catalogue of great songs, she only sung Wild Child, Dansa i Neon and Busy Doin’ Nothing, and then for an encore did Busy Doin’ Nothing a second time. On the other hand, the rest of the music played was absolutely cracking, such as this, which I was OUTRAGED to discover we’d never covered. So here it is.

Tim: Finished a close second in its heat in Melodifestivalen 2006, bang in the middle of what could justifiably be described as schlager’s golden age, or maybe its renaissance, and would later come 7th in the final. WHAT A BANGER.

Isle of You – Mindcrime

“Ah, so we’re doing CHVRCHES now.”

Tim: If you’ll recall, Mindcrime (Isle of You’s last track we featured) was absolutely flipping brilliant. This one, well, anything would struggle to live up to that, but take a listen anyway.

Tim: I think I’ve mentioned this before (probably on an Alan Walker track), but I’ll always find it a bit weird how sometimes I’ll immediately associate particular with one single act. Alan has his twiddling volume thing, Kygo has his variant of tropical house, Galantis have got their sound (though Sigala’s starting to encroach) and Avril Lavigne has female-fronted pop rock. And eight seconds after pressing play on this, I thought “ah, so we’re doing CHVRCHES now”. That’s a compliment, really, because if a song gets me immediately thinking of one of the best pop acts around the moment, they can’t be doing much wrong. It takes a while to get going properly, admittedly, but by halfway through when the second chorus around and we’re all in for the rest of the song, well that’s just lovely. Sounding good all round, despite being almost entirely different the S Club stylings of their last track. Nice.

Christopher – Irony

“DIDN’T HAPPEN”

“Can you see the irony?” asks Christopher here in the chorus, or a variety of situations. More important to us, though, is has he done an Alanis Morissette?

Hmm, well, it works some of the time and the video’s good fun, so I’ll let him have it. It does sometimes annoy me with anecdotal lyrics like this, because so often I just want to yell “DIDN’T HAPPEN” at the screen – has he really decided he will never again let his mum see him in a T-shirt (and Selena, did you really have a dream you were sipping whisky neat?)- but again, I’ll give it a pass, mostly because I just really like this song. It’s got a lovely melody, the instrumentation’s a lovely mix of tinkly piano and beautiful strings, and best of all I can actually remember it after it’s finished. Lovely.

Robin Stjernberg – Under Water

“Let’s have some trumpets, because why not.”

Tim: Tom’s off for a bit, so I’m afraid you’ve just got me; as compensation, here’s a new one off Robin, the title track from last Friday’s EP.

Tim: And it’s sounding good, right? That chorus has so many great things going for it – that very first line with the slightly weird vocal, the simple but nice sounding melody, the haunting sound of those backing singers, it’s all good. Come the end of the song, throw in some trademark Robin howling and, oh, let’s have some trumpets, because why not. All in: TOP WORK.

DJ Ötzi – Bella Ciao

“It’s like a better version of Alan Walker’s trilogy.”

Tom: Wait. This isn’t a Flashback?

Tim: Oh, hell no – he’s still going very strong, and in fact in January he’s got a “20 Years of DJ Ötzi – Party Without End” album coming out. Anyway, I had a bit of a rubbish day yesterday, so naturally when I discovered DJ Ötzi had a new track out (the first of the new tracks from the aforementioned album) I thought “oh, this’ll cheer me up”. It took a worrying 55 seconds to do it, but it did.

Tom: Good heavens, it feels wrong for DJ Ötzi to have drone shots in his video. It’s all very… modern. But unlike you, I was cheered up at the start: I trusted that old, clichéd clap sample.

Tim: Now I don’t want to get too deep down into the video, because if I did I’ll ask questions like why are there several dozen people in weird Jeremy Corbyn outfits when there were only five invitations sent out, and then where did they all go?

Tom: It’s like a better version of Alan Walker’s trilogy. But yes, perhaps best not to ask too many questions.

Tim: So instead we’ll talk about accordions, brass, LIVING, chanting, wildlife parks and a pleasantly placed key change.

Tom: “Bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao ciao ciao” is such a terrible chorus melody, though.

Tim: Won’t deny that, and it’ll probably not go down in musical history as an Ötzi classic, but there’s a nice combination of everything here that means it’ll do the job. So in honour of that album coming out, everyone together: “LASS UNS LEBEN!”

Robyn – Honey

“It’s not exactly great as a pop song, is it?”

Tim: So, according to a lengthy interview in The Guardian, August’s Missing U is something of an outlier on Robyn’s new album, out on the 26th, in the sense of it sounding a lot like her older stuff. Most of it is closer to this; see what you think.

Tim: And my reaction to that is distinctly: hmmm. It’s nice to listen to, it’s certainly very Robyn, but it’s not exactly great as a pop song, is it?

Tom: Remember when Calum Scott covered Dancing On My Own, and everyone who knew the original was just incredibly disappointed? That’s how I feel about this.

Tim: The problem for me really is the length of it, or at least related to that: it’s too drawn out, too drifting, too rambling to really get me going at all, to get me singing along to any chorus (is there even a proper chorus? I’ve listened to it three times and I’m struggling to identify one).

Tom: There is one! It’s just far too chilled-out. I assumed the monotone bit at about 2:20 was the middle eight, but no, we’re not even half way through. Never mind “don’t bore us, get to the chorus”, the advice is here is just “don’t bore us”.

Tim: It’s a shame – like I said, it’s nice to listen to, but it just doesn’t do it for me as a great pop song.

Sigala feat. Kylie Minogue – What You Waiting For

“You’ve got Kylie, you want to give her the best track you will ever make in your life.”

Tim: Sigala’s debut album was also released last Friday; given the number of singles he’s already released, it contained a grand total of four new tracks. This was one of them.

Tom: And the Kylie collaboration’s an album track? Blimey. Talk about setting expectations high.

Tim: It’s fair to say Sigala’s established himself as one of the top names in summery tropical dance music, and with his first name being Bruce it was only a matter of time until he landed a prolific Australian.

Tom: I didn’t quite facepalm at that line, Tim, but I did scrunch up one side of my face and lower my eyebrows in a kind of a “huh?” gesture.

Tim: You what?

Tom: I didn’t need to write that sentence out, but I’m hoping that anyone reading it would try and imitate that face. Anyway, yeah, this is… well, actually it’s really generic, isn’t it?

Tim: It does, though, seem a bit of a waste. You’ve got Kylie, you want to give her the best track you will ever make in your life – not this, which as Sigala tracks go is entirely average. It’s not bad by any means – but it certainly doesn’t deserve Kylie.

Tom: Album track.

Alan Walker feat. Sophia Somajo – Diamond Heart

“It’s safe to say the man now has one of the most recognisable styles there is.”

Tim: Whole lot of good new stuff came out last Friday (not least Cher’s ABBA covers album); there was also a collaboration between Olly Murs and Snoop Dogg, but we’ll put that to one side. Let’s start with this, and the video’s a conclusion to that World of Walker trilogy that made basically no sense. Does this video resolve any of it?

Tim: No, of course it doesn’t – though I’m going to see him in a couple of months, and if he doesn’t have any of the flying things on the merch stand I’ll be thoroughly disappointed. But the music – so, it’s good.

Tom: There’s a point, half way through that first verse, where that certain Alan Walker rhythm appears. I don’t possess the musical skill to say what it is, but it’s safe to say the man now has one of the most recognisable styles there is. The question is, I suppose, whether that’s sustainable into future albums, or whether people like the sound and not the artist.

Tim: Bit of both, probably, and I’d put money on it being either updated for the second album or fully changed for the third. But right now, Alan’s one of my favourite DJs around, and as far as I can remember he’s yet to put out a duff track. And yet…I’m not quite so satisfied with this. There’s nothing bad about it per se, but it’s not quite as great – compare it to there massive sounds of Darkside, The Spectre or Faded, and it doesn’t have the sense of majesty those did. Though I can tell you why, immediately: it’s the vocal.

Tom: What, the not-quite-Sia effect?

Tim: No – I’ve no problems with the quality or anything of it. It’s the fact that it stays there, and we never get a full instrumental breakdown. If we did, I’d realise immediately that the music behind this really is absolutely brilliant. Having said that, I don’t want to get rid of the vocal, because it too is fantastic.

Tom: That’s fair. I think the lack of majesty, as you put it, is also a bit due to the composition. Let’s be honest, the melody’s repetitive enough that it could be a playground rhyme.

Tim: Ooh, bit harsh. Basically, my problem is that there’s too much brilliant stuff here. And let’s face it, there are worse problems I could have – could be writing about that Olly Murs track, for starters.

Oscar Zia – Betong

“Not only is this song about pétanque, but they’re using the balls as percussion, too.”

Tim: Title translates as ‘Concrete’; upshot of the lyrics is that he’s carved into concrete that he hates her, but whenever she comes along he can’t resist her. Challenge: despite knowing all that, see if you can manage not to imagine everyone involved playing pétanque.

Tom: I clicked on this before reading your introduction, Tim, and all I could hear was that repetitive clonk. So for me, not only is this song about pétanque, but they’re using the balls as percussion, too. ANYWAY.

Tim: So this has all the hallmarks of starting off as a fairly dull and damp ballad…

Tom: And it stays that way!

Tim: What? No – then that chorus comes along, bangs everything up a bit, and suddenly it all sounds just delightful.

Tom: Really? What on earth makes you think that?

Tim: A melancholy voice becomes angry, a whole new load of instruments all arrive, and the contrast between the two sections is just great. Standard dip down and up again comes for the second verse, but it doesn’t here sound too dull like it so often does. Not sure exactly why, but for me at least it all just sounds good.

Tom: Except for…

Tim: Except for bloody pétanque.