Elina – Here With Me

“Here’s a song that doesn’t live up to its potential.”

Tim: So you’re not disappointed when what could happen doesn’t: here’s a song that doesn’t live up to its potential.

Tim: I mean listen to it. The vocal’s great, the backing’s nice, throughout the first verse I’m sitting wondering what’s going to happen in the chorus. The pre-chorus comes along, we get a little extra in the backing, and then her voice ramps up a bit..and then 30 seconds later I’m thinking ‘so, wait, that was the chorus?’. I don’t want to be thinking that.

Tom: I had exactly the same reaction. I did not realise we’d even reached the chorus. And there’s nothing wrong with having a quiet ballad, it’s just that — based on prior expectations — this sounds like it’s going to grow into something bigger.

Once you manage those expectations, sure, it’s a decent quiet song with a bad sound mix. Those clicks from the piano keys and the overly-stereo effect aren’t helping its case.

Tim: I want to be thinking that this is our next Rachel Platten, that it comes with a chorus that is enormous, that leaves me stunned and desperate for more. I don’t want this. I’m upset, dammit.

Beatrice Egli – Was geht ab

“I’m distracted enough by that corset that I’m finding it difficult to complain.”

Tim: So I have a friend at work who is absolutely convinced that She-Wolf by Shakira will go down in history as one of the most under-appreciated tracks of all time, and that twenty years from now it will be treated with as much reverence as classics like Imagine and Hallelujah.

Tom: He’s wrong.

Tim: I, and everybody else, think he’s off his nut, but he won’t listen to reason. Anyway, here, in an attempt to resolve your musical boredom, is seemingly what you get when a German schlager artist tries to do Latin pop.

Tom: I mean, the intro is very Cheap Thrills, but frankly I’m distracted enough by that corset that I’m finding it difficult to complain.

Tim: There’s not a huge amount of depth in the lyrics – it’s basically a case of “I’m feeling proper raunchy right now, so we’re going to have sex”, which fits the genre perfectly well enough.

Musically it gets off a great start – diving in with the chorus is a good choice here, and overall I think it keeps it up.

Tom: I’ll grant you, Tim, I’m not bored, but I think that’s mostly due to– yep, I just put it in a background tab and there’s really not much left here. It’s a solid middle-of-the-playlist dance-pop song.

Tim: I’m not sure Latin schlager works entirely as a sub-genre, but I’ll take it as a bit of fun.

Robyn – Missing U

“Eight years, Tom, it has been EIGHT YEARS.”

Tim: Eight years, Tom, it has been EIGHT YEARS since we’ve had any solo music from Robyn.

Tom: Blimey, how time flies. I mean, that makes sense given what I remember doing around the time Call Your Girlfriend was out, but it doesn’t feel like it should be that long.

But now she’s back with THIS, and good lord I do hope it’s good because otherwise I might burst into tears.

Tom: That’s a pretty good chorus, isn’t it?

Tim: It’s no Call Your Girlfriend, but it is very good and serves as a nice reminder of why Robyn was, until she relinquished her throne to CHVRCHES, rightly seen as Queen of Synthpop. It has all your standard Robyn tropes – upbeat and heavy layered music, counterbalanced by somewhat morose lyrics – and it’s entirely listenable, multiple times with no sign of getting dull.

Tom: My main complaint is that the chorus feels like it’s building somewhere, but that’s never resolved. It’s like there’s a pre-chorus but no actual chorus. On a second listen, I figured out that’s the whole point.

Tim: There is, we’re promised, a full album coming out later in the year, and if the rest of it’s on a par with this, I’ll be very very happy indeed.

Alan Walker feat. Au/Ra and Tomine Harket – Darkside

“Alan’s taken a leaf from Basshunter’s book and is doing a story with his videos.”

Tim: Quick note before we get started: Alan’s taken a leaf from Basshunter’s book and is doing a story with his videos.

Tom: I mean, sure, we could go with Fall Out Boy or Janelle Monáe for that reference, but, yeah, fine, Basshunter.

Tim: Got to stay on brand, Tom. This one’s episode 2 in what will, in due course, be a trilogy. Previously we’ve have a prologue, Tired, and part 1, All Falls Down. Let’s skip over that for today, though, and do the music.

Tom: Bit weird to include a war memorial as part of your sci-fi dystopia music video, even if it does look as strange as that. I wonder if anyone knew what they were working with?

Tim: Had to imagine they wouldn’t – not like you walk out of Zagreb International and find that right in front of you. If I had the time and necessary skills, I would absolutely make a video to fit this chorus over Emperor Palpatine trying to tempt Luke, to try to highlight to weirdness of this being an incredibly upbeat sounding chorus for what the lyrics claim it to be.

Tom: Alan Walker’s style doesn’t exactly lend itself to “dark and brooding” easily.

Tim: True, and it’s absolutely not a complaint: I absolutely love it, and to be honest I almost have the same problem with Alan as I mentioned on Monday with Galantis, although perhaps even more so – this is the twelfth time we’ve featured him and he’s yet to put a foot wrong (hell, I even liked his remix of This Is Me).

Tom: Yep, I’ve got to admit: it’s a style that works.

So I like this. I like it a lot, and to be honest, I was probably always going to. But I’m very happy with that.

Galantis – Mama Look At Me Now

“It’s a good song.”

Tim: Tonight, Tom, is the final of Love Island, and recently the winner of last year’s Swedish version of that brought out a single, so it’d kind of make sense to feature it. However, it is entirely shit, so I won’t force it on you.

Tom: I can’t work out if I’ve just had my expectations raised and then let down, or literally the exact opposite.

Tim: Instead, let’s hear the new track from Galantis – well, one of them, as apparently even in the streaming video age the double A-side is still a thing, or at least EPs of two songs are. Here’s the first.

Tim: I’ll be honest, it’s tricky for me to review Galantis tracks, because, aside from a short period around the latter half of 2016, as far as I’m concerned they’ve barely put a foot wrong since the launch of Runaway (You & I) back in 2014, they do a phenomenal live show and basically they’re brilliant.

Tom: I mean, you’ve been pretty clear about that over the years. I’ve been less enthusiastic, but then I usually am.

Tim: Right here, we have a track that is very much a trademark Galantis track. It has a decent vocal, it has steel drums, it has the painting on the video with backstage tour footage. It’s a song about success, about making it, about being in a good place despite previous assumptions. It’s a good song, and I’m happy about that.

Tom: “It’s a good song.” “A trademark Galantis track.” I agree: but from you, that’s a genuine endorsement, whereas with me, it’s damning with faint praise.

Saturday Flashback: Lady Gaga – The Edge of Glory (Cahill Remix)

“Ten years since the release of Just Dance”

Tim: I realised the other day that April marked ten years since the release of Just Dance, the debut single that catapulted Ms Gaga right to the top of music and everything, which seems worth celebrating and I’m surprised there wasn’t more of a thing about it tbh. Coincidentally, I also heard this remix.

Tim: And oh my days, it’s good.

Tom: It is: but let’s not forget that’s partly because it’s building on the original track and, despite adding instrumentation, it’s still letting those spectacular vocals shine through.

Tim: For all we talk about her frequently re-inventing herself, as far as I’m concerned she never really bettered what she began with the re-issue of The Fame, as The Fame Monster, which added tracks like Bad Romance and Alejandro, and was then followed up by Born This Way, one of the finest albums of the century. On it were fabulous tracks like Born This Way, Judas, Marry The Night, and, of course, this. One of her best tracks, and easily the best remix of a Gaga track. LOVE. THIS.

Tom: The Manhattan Clique remix of Boys would like a word.

Bad Geckos – This Time

“No spoilers for this song out of Norway; just press play.”

Tim: No spoilers for this song out of Norway; just press play.

Tom: I’d already written the words “I’ve heard that introduction before” (as a later part of Primadonna Girl by Marina and the Diamonds, incidentally) but then I heard the first line of the first verse and burst out laughing.

Tim: Fun, isn’t it? Question is, of course, whether or not this has anything about it to rely on beyond the immediate shock value of that line, and happily I’ll say yes.

Sure, it’s still the most memorable part of the song, but we’ve also got a really good dance tune underneath it, with a nicely banging post-chorus, and to cap it all off we’ve the message that, let’s face it, is a pretty easy to approve of. Nice.

Tom: I am all in favour of unconventional, sex-positive, honest messages in songs. Sure, I’m not going to actually add this to a playlist, but I’m glad it exists.

Isak Danielson – Always

“I can appreciate both the vision and the technical skills, and I never want to watch it again.”

Tim: Nice number here for you, with a rather annoying video; you might want to put two-thirds of it off screen.

Tim: You see? I mean, maybe they’ve done it that way to disguise an occasional cut that became necessary, but still, it’s horribly disorientating.

Tom: That’s an absolutely genius effect by the director, I can appreciate both the vision and the technical skills, and I never want to watch it again.

Tim: The song’s pretty nice, though – admittedly the lyrics of the second verse are horrible, and should really be enough to get Isak and his co-writers put in solitary, but the chorus is particularly nice to listen to.

Tom: Yes, they absolutely are. I was put in a grumpy mood by the line “watching an episode of Friends”, which tipped the whole thing so over the line into ‘twee falsetto guitar rubbish’.

Tim: It’s a bit twee, yes, and if was in a grumpy mood this review might be entirely different with me dismissing it immediately as smug garbage, but I’m not in a grumpy mood. I’m in a good mood, and one that has me, on the third listen, swaying a little bit on my sofa as I type this.

Tom: I will grant you that it is a very, very nice chorus.

Tim: So in summary: yes. Most of the time, probably.

Sean Banan – Bananaman

“His Wikipedia page consists of six paragraphs, at least four of which will contain a fact that will irritate you.”

Tim: Sean Banan is a Swedish entertainer and previous Melodifestivalen finalist; his (English) Wikipedia page consists of six paragraphs, at least four of which will contain a fact that will irritate you.

Tom: You’re entirely correct about that. The fact that is definitely isn’t a cover of the Bananaman theme tune will no doubt make it worse.

Tim: Here’s his first song for a good few years, and it’ll most likely either annoy you or delight you. For me, it went from the former to the latter about 50 seconds in.

Tom: It’s ALL THE FORMER, Tim. ALL OF IT.

Tim: First of all, the two things I don’t like: the key change, because although it’s necessary and the song would be very poor without one, it’s very poorly executed, and gives a “wait, was that a…huh” sensation; and the fact that I can’t find any lyrics online for it, because I love the middle eight and would dearly love to know what the Kardashian family have to do with his superheroic activities.

Tom: Nope. I’m all out. This odd, not-quite-bubblegum-pop is a genre that, generally, I have a lot of patience for. I’m willing to give it a lot of leniency — but this is just straight-up irritating.

Tim: I can take or leave the verses (though again, I’m fairly sure a translation would help). I love the chorus, though. It’s fun, it’s ludicrous, it’s weird, it makes me think back to my days reading the Beano (which i am 99% certain this isn’t based on).

And on second listening onwards, when I was actually paying attention, boy is that intro special. The self-aggradisation of it with the drumbeats, the brass and the sirens clearly stating that this is an EPIC NUMBER about an EPIC HUMAN BEING.

Tom: I realise that some songs aren’t meant to be taken seriously, but they still have to be good. What Does The Fox Say was good. This… just isn’t.

Tim: It’s silly, idiotic, and wonderful.

Tom: Two out of three.

Frida Sundemo – Islands

“It starts on a chorus, which is a risky move at the best of times.”

Tim: The second best album of last year, Flashbacks & Futures, got released the day before my sister’s wedding, and if I’m honest it wasn’t entirely sure which I was more excited about. I won’t say which has given me more lasting enjoyment, but I will say that nine months on, one of the better tracks from it has suddenly been given a lyric video.

Tim: Now, I’ll get the obvious criticism out of the way first, to acknowledge it: there’s not much of a journey here.

Tom: I was going with “discount Chvrches”, but sure, that’s also valid criticism.

Tim: It starts on a chorus, which is a risky move at the best of times, dips to a first verse with a quiet first half and loud second half. Then the chorus, second verse, next chorus and middle eight stay at roughly the same volume. Yes, that is a slight flaw.

Tom: I disagree that starting on a chorus is overly risky: “don’t bore us, get to the chorus” has been good advice for pop musicians for a long, long time. And hey, at least I can remember the chorus after one listen this time.

Tim: HOWEVER, I am more than willing to forgive it that because OH, the last section of that song. Volume and energy wise it might not change much, but melodically and sonically it’s just so lovely. The decent, but by this point slightly repetitive, drumbeat makes way for that fabulous synth line, and it’s just great to listen to. By the end, it’s so so worth it.

Tom: And as ever with Frida’s tracks, I’m just not as enthusiastic: again, there’s nothing wrong (and, yes, it’s a good chorus), but there’s nothing that gets me excited here.

Tim: They could have turned up the colour in that video, though.