Zedd, Elley Duhé – Happy Now

“Plinky xylophone not-quite-tropical synths.”

Tom: This song’s been around for ages, but they’ve just released a new video, so that’s good enough for me to feature it here. Yesterday we talked about a song that didn’t reach its full potential, and I think this is the same — but I’m worried that, both here and yesterday, “full potential” just means “not enough bass”.

Tom: Because that vocal chorus is so incredibly good, even down the 80s-style synth vocoder. And then just as you’re preparing for a big chorus, you get… plinky xylophone not-quite-tropical synths. It’s like a kid’s toybox suddenly got a “half-arsed remix” button.

Tim: I know exactly what you mean, and you’re not wrong – that did seem like a sudden anti-climax. On the other hand, it’s there as a style, and people like it a lot.

Tom: I know, this is what Zedd does sometimes, and I know, this song is astonishingly popular. But you know what? I think it needs to be more like Hourglass, which is still my favourite track off Clarity.

Tim: ‘Needs’ is a strong word there, even though I agree with the sentiment. It’s fine as it is – though I too would like more.

Tom: Maybe it didn’t reach its full potential. Or maybe I just like different things.

Tim: Crazy, this subjectivity thing, isn’t it?

Saturday Flashback: Interactive – Forever Young

“I’m fairly sure even I dance better than that.”

Tim: Remember a few days ago, when I said that it was sad that John De Sohn didn’t give us a dance version of this song? Well, guess what I’ve found! I said when we covered the One Direction version that it sounded exactly like you’d expect a One Direction cover of it to sound like; Interactive were a German dance group active in the mid-nineties.

Tom: And, you’ll probably not be surprised to learn, I know this track well.

Tom: …or, apparently, I don’t, because apparently I’ve always heard a remix of this that added a Proper Thumping Techno Bass. That was confusing.

Tim: Confusing perhaps, but also FABULOUS. It has everything you need in there, and nothing you don’t need. Sure, it’s a bit disappointing that at the start you get just a few syllables before cutting off to a seemingly unrelated dance tune, but aside from that I love this.

Tom: Full marks for the music video just being whatever dancers they could get in front of a green-screen, though. Are any of them actually the vocalist? No idea, don’t care.

Tim: Doesn’t matter in the slightest. And since you mention them, I am ALL HERE for the Greg James look-a-like in the red shirt, because I’m fairly sure even I dance better than that. As I write this, I have a bajillion and one things I need to do, and I was feeling a bit lazy, but this has got me RIGHT GOING. Put me in a club, get this on the speakers, and I’ll be ON THAT FLOOR, because with this track in mind, we can be whatever we want to be. We can, basically, absolutely be forever young.

John De Sohn feat. Liamoo – Forever Young

“I have a feeling it’d be one of those songs where the best bit is the middle eight.”

Tim: Sadly, this isn’t a dance version of the One Direction classic; nonetheless I think you’ll like it.

Tom: You made my eyelid twitch slightly there, Tim. Well done.

Tim: You think I’m joking, but I do listen to that version way more than is probably healthy.

Tim: I’m sure I’ll get bored of moaning about it eventually, but I’m still not enjoying the habit of cutting off the song before a middle eight comes along.

Tom: There’s probably some thoughts to be had there about reducing attention spans, about the requirement of always-on streaming where your audience can’t get bored, about the slow death of the album… or it might just be fashion these days. I can’t say I like it either, though.

Tim: Sure, we shouldn’t necessarily keep doing things just because they’re traditional, but they’ve always provided opportunity for messing around a bit, getting a little bit more creative, or revealing that the target of the song is also a teenage dirtbag. Abandoning that makes the songs that much less interesting, and it is a shame, particularly when the rest of the song is as good as it is.

Tom: Is it really, though? That chorus is basically just going up and down scales. It’s not bad, but I have a feeling it’d be one of those songs where the best bit is the middle eight.

Tim: And yet we’ll never know. I want to hear more, I want to see what else is possible, because the track’s great – it’s just too short.

Saturday Flashback: Alan Walker feat. Gavin James – Tired

“The white guys are magicians or something, showing how mystical things can happen, and presumably improve lives by making everything look fancy, with the power of Alan’s logo?”

Tim: OKAY THEN so let’s have a look at this, following up from Wednesday’s post. I thought we’d covered all of Alan’s tracks, so it surprised me when I discovered this existed; it made me happy, partly because it’s a good song and partly because it goes some way towards explaining exactly what’s happening in the other videos.

Tim: At least, a tiny bit of the way. We’ve what is definitely a scientifically plausible extinction level event happening, and also a building’s exploded, and there are a lot of people working underground to survive, or at least preserve whatever’s in those boxes, and she seems to have changed sides at point or another because is there another group of people also trying to survive? To be honest I kind of wish the pair of them had just stayed in bed together while it all happened and accepted it, because then I could make a brilliant joke about at least one of them going out on top HERE ALL WEEK, TRY THE VEAL.

Next we’re up to All Falls Down, the official first part, and let’s watch the video because we didn’t actually mention it when we reviewed the track.

Tim: Society is on the way up again, and I think they’re digging up one of those boxes, and opening it up with a circular saw even though there doesn’t seem to be any electricity anywhere else on the planet, but never mind that, because we’ve got some nice merchandise and cult material in there, but then people get bored because there’s nothing to actually do with them, until is that now the other group coming along to educate them? Anyway, now at least we know why they were trying to save what was in those boxes, slightly, because they do look proper fancy.

Part two, now, and let’s put the video here again for simplicity’s sake.

Tim: And…and no. I give up, I really have no idea. The white guys are magicians or something, showing how mystical things can happen, and presumably improve lives by making everything look fancy, with the power of Alan’s logo? God, I hope part three explains stuff.

Tom: Reader, I’m going to be honest with you: I got about two minutes into the first video and just gave up, so I handed this post over to Tim.

Tim: No one blames you. Starting to wish I’d never got involved, to be frank.

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.

Shady Moves – Top Of The World

“It’s actually pretty good.”

Tom: Let me guess: this isn’t an England United cover?

Tim: Got sent this a couple of days back, by a Swedish DJ and producer who’s known to friends and family as Johnny Bergström and to the rest of us as, erm, Shady Moves. Here’s his first original release, after a good few years of doing rather decent remixes.

Tim: And despite having a stage name that sounds like he’s Jay off The Inbetweeners getting into DJing purely to seem cool and impress the girls, it’s actually pretty good.

Tom: Harsh, but not unfair. The pre-chorus reminds me a lot of late-90s and early-2000s guitar-pop — and then it goes into a modern instrumental chorus as well. You’re right: for a debut release from someone who’s not a big star, this is better than it has any right to be.

Tim: The vocal (it’s not specified whose) is entirely acceptable, the piano is present and playing the correct notes, and getting suitably loud at the right points, and most importantly of all it’s got those swooshy noises at the right intervals to indicate when we’re meant to get excited.

It may sound here like I’m being a bit glib, but actually, yes, that’s exactly what I’m being.

Tom: This is a rare moment: when I like a song more than you! Admittedly, even at three minutes, it outstays its welcome a bit — but it’s not actually doing anything wrong. This is a solid “plays over the golden buzzer slow-mo on Britain’s Got Talent” track.

Tim: Nonetheless, it’s still very listenable and danceable, even if it is completely by the numbers. They’re good numbers, after all.

Saturday Flashback: Alex Ross feat. Dakota, T-Pain – Dreams

“Oh, it’s that Dreams!”

Tim: Funny how coincidences happen: yesterday we discussed Jonas Blue kickstarting the tropical-covers-of-classic-pop trend, and yesterday afternoon I heard this for the first time in bloody ages.

Tom: Oh, it’s that Dreams! I thought it was going to be a Fleetwood Mac cover. Or a Cranberries cover.

Tim: In fact, probably the first time since it was a first released last March, actually, since who the hell jumps on a bandwagon six months after everyone else has stopped, launches a summer track in the middle of flipping March and then expects it to get played? Well, Alex Ross, apparently.

And credit where it’s due it’s not a terrible rendition of the song, at least given the questionable target it’s aiming for.

Tom: Interesting choice adding T-Pain in there, too; this didn’t need his middle eight, but I’ve got admit it actually improves what was originally a fairly dull song to cover. You’re right: this hits the target.

Tim: We may not approve of that target (nor, indeed, may anyone else in their right mind), but since FastCar came along it’s right there and ready to be hit. In fact, if I’m perfectly honest, if I were to remove my ‘tropical covers are unnecessary and frequently awful’ blinkers, I might even approve of it as a remix.

Tom: I think I’m with you there. I think I might actually like this?

Tim: Because it does sound nice and summery; it’s a listenable enough version of the track; it’s entirely inoffensive; and occasionally if it comes on in the background you’ll think “huh, this is quite nice”. At least, that’s what I did yesterday.

Saturday Flashback: Nakatomi – Children of the Night

“I could RAVE ALL NIGHT to it.”

Tim: It’s mid-90s Dutch happy hardcore!

Tom: YES.

Tom: I listened to the intro of that, and thought “where have I heard that before”? The answer: this exact song, which has dredged up a huge amount of memories from when I was a teenager. (Also, a load of other places, because that’s a really obvious chord progression, but still.)

Tim: So I’ve Shazammed this twice in the past fortnight, partly because I’m forgetful, but also because it’s somehow ended up on the list of tracks that my work’s HomePod thinks we all really enjoy so plays it a LOT, and I LOVE THAT.

Tom: I haven’t heard any happy hardcore tracks in so long, and I think it’s going to be the soundtrack for my entire workday today.

Tim: Aw, good good. It never really troubled the charts over here, though it hit number 2 there on its 2002 re-release, so it’s not all bad news. I think, for me, it’s the delightful mix of ludicrous beats with an attempt at meaningful lyrics that I love so much, and the backing choir of kids at the end is the wonderful cherry on top. I could RAVE ALL NIGHT to it, and to be honest I would really quite like to.

Tom: Someone’s got to be doing retro raves these days, surely?

Tim: You’d think, wouldn’t you? But I honestly can’t find anything. I’ll let you know, though.

Kygo & Imagine Dragons – Born To Be Yours

“That is exactly what I expected.”

Tom: Huh. Those names are…

Tim: Not the likeliest of bedfellows, no, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work. An open mind, then, please, as we delve right in.

Tom: That is exactly what I expected.

Tim: Isn’t it just? For better or worse, you generally know what you’re going to get with a Kygo track: largely unremarkable verse, fairly invigorating chorus and a post-chorus that’s heavy on the marimbas, and if you’re lucky you might get a middle eight. Here, well, we’ve no real middle eight to speak of, but the rest of it all passes with flying colours.

Tom: There’s even a vague hint of a string section here and there. I’ve got to say that the “you, ooh-ooh” really doesn’t work for me — it doesn’t kill the entire track, and I’ve grown to like odd features of Imagine Dragons songs before, but it does grate.

Tim: Huh, I don’t actually mind that at all. And while the verse might still be unremarkable, the chorus is well on the way to being very good, and those instrumentals have a decent melody. Well, I’m fairly sure they do – to be honest, I’ve played it three times now while writing this and I’m still not sure I could reliably remember it, but I do enjoy it whenever it comes round. And that’s kind of what counts, right?

Tom: Absolutely not.

Tim: Yeah, it’s not, is it? Dammit.