“It’s possible to do covers in an interesting way!”
Tom: I know, I know, we’re meant to talk about europop here. This isn’t European, and it’s not really pop. But I want to talk about Weezer’s Teal Album, because it might be the laziest cover album I’ve ever heard.
Tim: Having heard a couple of songs from that, I’m not minded to disagree.
Tom: I can absolutely see why Weezer released a covers album. Their version of Africa has been getting a ridiculous amount of airplay (despite, in my opinion, not even being the best Africa cover of 2018), and their actual tracks… well, they haven’t. They’ve still got a fanbase that’ll buy it, and the press will cover it: why not do a cover album?
Tom: But take a listen to the tracks. They sound like an imitation of the originals, like a tribute band. Mr Blue Sky even has the same spoken introduction. You might as well listen to the originals, because there’s nothing new here.
Tom: The exception is this.
Tom: Because Stand By Me is a standard. It’s one of the most covered songs in the world. And because the original is so simply produced, it doesn’t take much for a band to put their own stamp on it: even if it’s just replacing the strings with a distorted electric guitar and maybe going to the harmony line a couple of times.
Tim: True. Still doesn’t make this a particularly interesting cover, though.
Tom: It’s possible to do covers well! It’s possible to do covers in an interesting way! The Teal Album is, sadly, neither of those. I’ll bet it’ll sell, though.
Tom: You know that thing when you see that two artists are collaborating, and you think “this is either going to be really good or really bad”?
Tom: Well, look: this is either a track that combines “Let Me Entertain You” and “Love Generation”, or it’s a track that combines “Rudebox” with literally any song Bob Sinclar has made since Love Generation.
Tom: I was driving through Sweden last week, Tim, and somehow I found this on the radio. Wizex have been going since 1973; this 1999 number translates as “Thousand And One Nights”, and it’s your typical dansband track with lyrics about love and devotion. It sounded familiar, but I couldn’t work out why until much, much later. See if you can place it.
Tim: Ah, see this is where me being more of a Melodifestivalen nut than you harms the narrative. I’ll play along for our reader, though,
Tim: Ooh, Tom, I don’t know. Tell me, do.
Tom: Oh, don’t patronise me. Anyway, the next stage along was this version, turned into almost-Christmassy schlager-pop with a near-aggressive key change and credited just to the singer, from Melodifestivalen 1999. And from there: well, you tell the story
Tim: Words are rewritten in English, as per Sweden’s tradition for a non-English victor, and then we’ve (SPOILER for 1999) a beautiful Eurovision champion. Let’s have a watch, shall we?
Tim: Fun education in return for your efforts, though: Charlotte’s the aunt of Sebastian Ingrosso, of Swedish House Mafia and Axwell Λ Ingrosso fame.
Tom: I find it incredibly creepy! It was creepy when CBBC did it, and it’s creepy now.
Tim: Maybe – I mean, sticking googly eyes on fruit and then putting them in a blender is almost as horrifying as that Pixar short that was played before The Incredibles 2, where the woman realises she’s been eating sentient dumplings, but at least the blender gets reversed each time so there’s a sort of happy ending.
Tom: Nope. Not happy with it. It’s just deeply unpleasant. Which I suspect my have coloured my view of the music, too.
Tim: Ah. Well, when I can bring myself to tear my eyes away from the video, I think it’s pretty enjoyable – standard Bastille stuff, with some standard Seeb bits thrown around here and there.
Tom: Mm. I agree that it’s very definitely a mixture of two styles — but it doesn’t work for me in the way it worked for Bastille and Marshmello. Although to be fair, that one may have just grown on me through endless radio repetition.
Tim: Westlife have gone and got themselves a bit modern – isn’t that fun!
Tom: I didn’t even know they’d reunited!
Tim: Me neither, but apparently all it took was Simon Cowell calling them up every six months and offering then £10 million each. Seriously.
Tim: So we both like a song that you can remember afterwards (with some exceptions, looking at you Baby Shark who I once had going round in my head for an entire eight hour shift at work) – but is it good if gets a completely different song stuck in your head? It’s only a few notes, but it’s that progression towards the end of the chorus of “it’s just my” that gets my brain going straight into “driving at ninety, down those country lanes“.
Tom: Oh, you’re not wrong. That’s an unfortunate series of three notes.
Tim: Now don’t get me wrong, I love Castle On The Hill, and any song that sounds like it, such as this one, probably isn’t a bad track. But it’s not really helpful, is it?
Tom: And unfortunately, for me, it’s all that I can remember. Actually, that’s not true, I can remember the utterly clunky line “hair growing where it’s meant to”.
Tim: Yeah, that’s a bit of an awkward one.
Tom: This isn’t a bad track by any means, it’s just cursed with the Comeback Track Problem: for anyone except the fans, it’s got to be a barnstormer of a track, on a par with their best. It’s got to be a Shine. And as far as I can tell, this just isn’t.
Tom: Or “WALK THE MOON” as they’re apparently loudly styled now, but frankly that can do one. The question is, of course, is this ‘new track in familiar style’ or ‘just a slight change Shut Up And Dance again’?
Tim: That is…horrific artwork, once you start to see the silhouette of the guy as if his head’s at the back, the legs are at the front, and the light’s shining out of his, well. But the sound.
Tom: I’ll be honest, I was expecting to be far more cynical about this. I mean, the guitar sound’s the same, and the structure is roughly Shut Up And Dance, but it’s very clearly a different and new track.
Tim: Yeah, it’s pretty good. It doesn’t have the same immediate appreciation from me that Shut Up Dance, Different Colors or One Foot did, but sure – let’s have it.
Tom: And that lead vocal is great, in a way that I’m not sure earlier singles demonstrated: there are shades of Adam Levine in there, and given that he’s one of the best pop vocalists currently working, that’s a compliment. Look at me! I’m complimenting a track! That’s getting increasingly rare!
Tom: Okay, we’re talking about this. I know it’s been months since it came out over here, I know we said we’re not going to talk about this, but we’re talking about this.
Tim: Ugh, WHY.
Tom: Because I drove through Sweden and Denmark the other day, Tim, and this is in heavy rotation on many radio stations. I heard it four times, including once on the shuttle bus back from the airport that was apparently tuned to an easy-listening station. It’s not even in the charts there. The radio just loves it.
Tim: Hmm…ermm…sorry, just trying to think of a time when we’ve ever even slightly bothered about before. Struggling, I’ll be honest.
Tom: And not only that: it turns out there’s a new trend in music videos, which is a separate vertical video. WELCOME TO THE LATE 2010S TIM.
Tom: Okay, let’s get it out of the way: hearing Snoop Dogg shout out Olly Murs is really, really strange.
Tom: Does this track sound a lot like Feels? Yes. Does it have the unmistakable smell of Sheeran all over it? Also yes. Are the lyrics bloody awful in places? Also also yes.
Tim: Yes yes yes.
Tom: But here’s the thing: I didn’t turn it off, at least not the first time I stumbled across it while radio-scanning. It is a very competent track. I’m not going to say it’s necessarily good, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t catchy, excellently produced, and absolutely made for radio airplay. And that’s still a valid way to make a track work: you don’t need to convince the public, just the people in charge of radio playlists.
“Still a largely dull track, but there are significant improvements”
Tom: I’m assuming you know the original Too Good At Goodbyes, Tim.
Tim: Correct. As with much of Sam Smith’s output, it is dull, tedious, insipid garbage, albeit slightly redeemed by the backing choir in the chorus and middle eight.
Tom: In which case, you should get ready for the biggest case of pop mood-whiplash you’ve had in a while. Because Sam Smith’s sad, slow, soppy song is about to become a BANGER complete with a euphoric build that sounds like a washing machine spinning up.
Tim: That…that is an unusual yet entirely correct description of that euphoric build.
Tim: It’s still a largely dull track, but there are significant improvements – not least, chopping over a minute off the runtime.
Tom: Here’s the thing: I have no idea how, but I’d managed to miss the original Too Good At Goodbyes entirely. I just, somehow, never heard it. So when I heard this on the radio somewhere, I remembered the name of the track, searched for it later, and found the original instead of this. It was one of the most disappointing listens I’ve ever had.
Tim: Whereas this is…well, still one of the most disappointing Galantis listens I’ve ever had, but it’s still better than the original.
“I’m well aware I’m going into Grampa Simpson territory”
Tim: It almost saddens me to say this, but we’re dragging out the ‘we’re young so let’s have fun’ trope again.
Tom: Two rhyme schemes I hate in a row! “Young like this / dumb like this” may be the most irritatingly trite lyric I’ve heard in a while.
Tim: I dunno, I think it’s alright. But it’s the message I want to discuss, because, while I’m well aware I’m going into Grampa Simpson territory, here’s the thing: it’s bullshit.
Tom: You are entirely correct, although how much of that is based on the no-doubt-reasonable explanation you’re about to give, and how much is based on me being in my thirties now, I’m not sure.
Tim: Hugo (from Denmark) is university age right now, and yes I will accept that it is good to have fun at university and engage in one’s youth. But it is arguably so much better to have fun in your early to mid twenties, when you don’t have to worry about essays and dissertations, and the worst that’ll happen is you’ll get a stern ticking off for turning up to work with a hangover. You have experience and knowledge under your belt to stop you making a complete prick of yourself and dying, and you’re also not so worried about waking up tomorrow needing reading glasses and a toupee that you feel you need to get it all out of your system.
Tim: But fair. Basically, RELAX HUN, you’ve got at least a decade left of enjoying yourself, so stop moaning.