Mika – Tomorrow

“Listen to that intro!”

Tim: As promised a few days back, one of the highlights of his largely pretty good new album, and indeed the newest single from it.

Tom: Listen to that intro! There’s some New Order in that, crossed with… well, in my head, a 1999 bit of pop-rock so obscure that our post about it is the third result on Google when you search for it.

Tim: Hmm – the problem with having done nearly 3,000 posts (blimey) here is that I’ve completely forgotten most of them, including that one, even though it’s a pretty nice one. This is also nice: sonically good, lyrically it’s fun, and as far as the narrative goes: hell yeah, I’m on board. We broke up for a reason, we shouldn’t be doing this, but sod it let’s have fun right now.

Tom: I think that swearing in the chorus is the wrong choice here, and it took me a while to work out why. It’s the same reason that “why’d you put a smiley in your message then” grates for me. This sounds like a great pop song from the past that I’ve never heard, and somehow the profanity and tech-reference both place it Here And Now And Dealing With Today’s Problems.

Tim: Hmm, kind of maybe see where you’re coming from, but I don’t have the same issue. To be honest, with all the crap that’s going down here, there and everywhere right now, I like the fun, and combined with everything else in the song: yep, I’ll take it.

Black Eyed Peas & Anitta – eXplosion

“Why, why why why.”

Tom: To get the obvious question out of the way: yes, they’re still going. Albeit without Fergie.

Tim: Sure, of course they are, why not.

Tom: Which leaves the obvious second question: is this one of their greats? Is everyone going to be singing it? Years later, will people still get hyped up when they hear it? Is this a “Where Is The Love”, an “I Gotta Feeling”, a “Let’s Get It Started”? Or is this going to be… well, one of the others?

Tom: Oh no.

Tim: Or, as I thought a mere forty seconds in, and then even more so another twenty seconds later: holy shit.

Tom: It’s a four-minute track, and it overstays its welcome by minute one. Why is will.i.am suddenly putting on an accent? Why is, uh, that other guy’s rap so embarrassingly bad? Why is there a badly green-screened Rio in it?

Tim: And why, why why why, have they sampled Tombo really really slowly and without the melody?

Tom: In short: what on earth were they thinking?

Boy In Space – Drown


Tim: Boy In Space is is the rather silly stage name of Robin Lundbäck, the R of short-lived boyband JTR who’s become a solo singer after spending a few years mostly writing. This song, meanwhile, is one of the best heartbreak songs I’ve heard in ages.

Tom: Hmm. Why’s that?

Tim: First verse: quiet and composed tonally, measured, not too much melodrama, though obviously we need overblown lyrics about ripping the heart. First chorus: up the stakes a bit, show her actually ‘hun, I’m not in a good place right now, you’ve really hurt me’. Second verse: down a bit again, still measured and composed, but again with the somewhat over the top piercing skin vibe. Second chorus: properly up the emotion, bring up the backing, ‘HANG ON LADY I AM IN PAIN HERE’. Middle eight, wait, take a bit of a breath, before coming back for an explosive final chorus when we are shouting ‘YOU HAVE LITERALLY KILLED ME WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO ME YOU EVIL HARPY’.

That’s exactly I want from a heartbreak song, I think.

Tom: Hmm. Whereas it just leaves me a bit cold: yes, I agree that most of the component parts are good, or at least competent, he’s followed that recipe you’ve laid down perfectly. But on the whole it just leaves me a bit cold. Maybe I’m just not the right target for a song like this?

When my main thoughts, after the track finishes, are “why did they leave so much background hiss on this” and “why I can hear the piano keys being pressed so damn loudly”… I guess it’s not for me.

Basshunter – Home

“A perfect example of maintaining your existing sound while also adjusting it enough to keep it fresh.”

Tim: Yep, still out there, still hunting that elusive bass.

Tom: I sort-of assumed he’d have retired or gone into the production side of things by now. Instead, turns out he’s touring the UK. He can’t still be producing good stuff though, surely?

Tom: Well, what do you know? Six composers listed on the track, and unless he’s had a significant change of voice he’s got a session singer in, but sure: this somehow manages to provide a bit of early-2000s cheese and late-2010s dance at the same time. That’s impressive.

Tim: It is: that’s a really good 2019 dance track! What we’ve got here, I think, is a perfect example of maintaining your existing sound while also adjusting it enough to keep it fresh and sounding modern. Part of me was concerned it’d be the same as all his old stuff – after all, Northern Light came out several years after his heyday and sounded exactly the same. Seven years on, though, and something different is needed, and it’s here, and it’s one thing in particular: the effects on the vocal line. The echoing, the layering, the drop to nothing underneath it every now and again.

Tom: Yep. I can’t really fault this. Maybe it’s too schlagery, too bubblegum-Eurodance in melody to be mainstream? That’s not really a problem for me, though.

Tim: Not even slightly. And come the main part, though, the big dance melody: that’s all him, and he’s still here. Or, back here, whatever. Here, anyway, and just a little more modern sounding.

Saturday Flashback: Aqua – Cartoon Heroes

“And then the Spider-Man news happened.”

Tim: Most news right now is distinctly downbeat. Up until about 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon, in fact, I couldn’t really remember the last piece of news that made me absolutely, entirely, 100% unequivocally happy. And then the Spider-Man news happened, and I felt joy like I’d not felt in quite some time. So let’s listen to this great song, and watch the brilliant video, and be happy.

Tim: Love that video, I really do.

Adam Lambert – Superpower

“The victim of a couple of poor decisions.”

Tom: Time for the most disappointing chorus we’ve heard in a while!

Tim: Oh.

Tom: Now, maybe you’ll feel different if I’ve lowered your expectations, but after that cracking pre-chorus with its driving backing and careless profanity, I was hoping for a chorus that was… well, a lot more. I know, he’s going for the 70s-inspired funk sound, but it’s just such a letdown for me.

Tim: Yeah, yeah, I get what you mean. Having said that, I often feel that way with this genre of music – it seems to be a built-in feature that the choruses never quite satisfy me. This is, well, not too different from most.

Tom: It is catchy! It is good! It does exactly what it sets out to do! The middle eight guitar solo is genuinely really good! It’s just, unfortunately, the victim of a couple of poor decisions.

EEVA – Jimmy From The Gym

“I like that it’s entirely unashamed of what it is.”

Tim: Last time we featured a songwriter-turned-singer, I theorised it was because the song was such garbage that no-one else would sing it. I’ll confess I wondered the same thing here to start with, particularly since EEVA (or rather, Emelie Eriksson) says in promo: “It’s definitely a song that’ll divide opinion, but it’s not hate-able. It tiptoes near the line, I admit, but it doesn’t quite cross it.” That sounds like a challenge more than anything, so let’s have a listen.

Tom: I’m just assuming it’s a rewrite of “Jenny From The Block”.

Tim: Fortunately: nope.

Tim: Well, I don’t hate it, so that’s good.

Tom: I hate two very specific things about it: the specific lyrics “Jimmy from the gym” — their cadence just irritates me every time — and the weird, mocking “ha!” sample that follows them. Lose those, and I reckon I could actually like this song. After all, it’s only two and a half minutes long.

Tim: To be honest, I almost find it quite charming, though I’ll admit that may be because the video lightens the narrative a bit to the extent that I almost laughed when Devon came along. I like that it’s entirely unashamed of what it is: it knows it’s silly, there’s no real depth, but it’s up front with it, going straight into the chorus with the simple melody. We get the names, the descriptions, the all-in sense of fun, and I think it works.

Tom: I can’t disagree with any of that. I’m actually a bit disappointed that I find specific nitpicks with this song instead of a more general ‘not feeling it’. Let’s be honest, it’s basically Piña Colada Boy a few years later, and I can understand going for that sense of fun.

Tim: Yeah, I guess there are worse comparisons that could be made. I am missing one thing, though, which is the description of ‘you’, because I feel that’d provide necessary context: basically, is she saying that she’s happy with him even though he’s ugly as hell, or just that no-one yet has come close because he’s actually a proper Adonis? That second option is probably not what she’s going for, mind, but it would explain why she’s holding auditions.

jens – Awkward

“You know when comedians just add profanity in place of a punchline?”

Tom: Two songs in a row with an irritatingly high-pitched vocal sample at the start! And let me tell you, the first verse of this song may have the worst lyrics I’ve heard in ages. You know when comedians just add profanity in place of a punchline?

Tim: That is certainly a lot of profanities, and I’ve definitely never heard anyone try to rhyme ‘shit’ with ‘feet’ until now.

Tom: My reaction to this was pretty much the same as yesterday’s track: it’s got a great chorus. Good message, good production, catchy melody. It’s just a shame about everything around it. Is that chorus enough to redeem the whole track?

Tim: For me: no. It’s too similar to the rest of it. Yesterday’s was kind of a complete break, enabling it to be considered separately. Here, although we’ve a good melody, it’s still easily seen as part of the whole flawed mess.

Saturday Flashback: Subshine – Easy

“Well now, that’s a good chorus, isn’t it?”

Tim: This track was on Shortlist’s Top 50 Tracks of 2018; this video was posted in March; their PR sent us it a couple of days ago. Well done everyone. This Norwegian gent goes by the name of Ole Gunnar Gundersen, who previously fronted a ’00s band called Lorraine, and now he’s out with this, which “embraces his love of 80’s era synthesizers and his unique pop sensibilities”.

Tom: Well now, that’s a good chorus, isn’t it? The word that comes to mind is ‘soft’, but I mean that as a compliment. It’s just genuinely quite nice.

Tim: First forty seconds or so, I was enjoying it, but not particularly enthused – sure, it sounded okay, production was decent, vocal fine and all that, but there was nothing that special. Come the chorus though, or to be more precise, come that guitar, and oh, suddenly that missing component is right in there – which makes it entirely mystifying why they pretty much remove it for the second verse. Sure, it’s common to drop the level after the first chorus back to the original level for the second verse, but when you’ve added that little bit extra, the new 10% that makes the song just click, why remove it?

Tom: That’s fair, although I’m liking the melody of that chorus enough that I can stand it without. This is a really lovely track, and while I’m not going to race to put it on any playlists, I’m not going to object in the slightest if it turns up on one.

As for why they removed the guitar: no idea.

Tim: Admittedly the song isn’t bothered with usual structure – we pretty much go straight to a middle eight after the second verse, and I can’t remember the last time I heard a good old fashioned instrumental fade out – but still seems a very odd decision.

Charlotte Qvale – Turn On The Light

“It’s a stylistic choice that makes perfect sense.”

Tim: Fun thing: the artwork for this looks exactly like the music sounds.

Tim: So, yes, eighties stuff. For me, though, it’s not the instruments, or the vocal effects, or rather, obviously it’s both of those things but nowhere near as much as something else: the volume levels. Unlike pretty much every current-sounding song made in the last thirty years, there’s no big volume jump between the verse and chorus, nor much in the way of excitement build.

Sure, the syllables double in frequency, but her vocal volume remains level and there’s not much of a boost in the instrumentation either. And that’s not a bad thing – it’s a stylistic choice that makes perfect sense, and works really really well when combined with everything else here. Music’s pretty good, production’s faultless.