Galantis feat. Charli XCX – We Are Born To Play

“Having Mario shout ‘here we go’ before the drop is ghastly.”

Tom: This is an advert, Tim, and you know how I feel about giving adverts additional promotion, or even listening to them deliberately. But I get the feeling that if I don’t send this to you, you’re going to send this to me, and I don’t think I can deal with the amount of enthusiasm you’d start this with.

Tim: CORRECT! 

Tom: So yes. Galantis got asked to build a track around the Mario soundtrack, for the upcoming Super Nintendo Worlds that’ll be built at the Universal theme parks over the next decade.

Tom: Let’s get the awful things out of the way first: “power up and go” is an awful lyric, and having Mario shout “here we go” before the drop is ghastly.

Tim: Ghastly? Or brilliant? I think brilliant. You see, I’m going to heavily subvert expectation here, and slightly seriously discuss this thing (I know, sorry), because the way that sounds kind of depends how you look at this: it’s clearly not just written as a promo track, because way too much effort has gone into it, but it’s clearly not a proper dance track, even a ‘stick on the album as a bonus track’ one. And so for the hybrid that this is, I think putting Mario in there works, however ghastly you may find it. 

Tom: Mind you, Galantis don’t appear to have just cashed the cheque on this and churned out a minimal-effort track: they’ve reinterpreted pretty much everything into their style. It’s not actually that bad.

Tim: True, and the first two minutes of this is straight up dance tune: you could take that and the last ten seconds, add some extra stuff in the middle and have a perfectly decent track, if a tad novelty-ish with all the power-up and coin sound effects. That thirty seconds of Mario theme sample, though, changes it, hugely. As a promo it’s now great. Dance track? Yeah, we’re done.

Tom: But obviously: Super Nintendo World will be nothing like this. It’s a Universal Studios park, so it will be a series of rides that bounce you around a bit in front of a 3D screen while you’re occasionally sprayed with water. If they manage anything greater than that, I will be shocked and amazed.

Tim: What, you mean there won’t be actual boxes suspended in the air that you can punch to get coins? DAMMIT, TOM.

Tom: The thing I’m most impressed by here? The video production team. That is movie-quality green-screen work.

Tim: Yep. That’s almost as good as the Mario sample.

Julie Bergen & Seeb – Kiss Somebody

“Wait, is that it?”

Tim: Julie’s good at pop, Seeb do good dance – a combination’s gotta be worth hearing, right?

Tim: Right. Brief, mind – seems to be quite a “in, get it done, out” vibe, which…

Tom: …let’s be honest, fits the lyrics entirely. Two minutes and 18 seconds, though, is brief in many contexts: but, hey, if you’re trying to bring in the Spotify streaming revenue, that’s the way songs are going right now.

Tim: Often I’d praise that, because no-one likes a tune that hangs around longer than it should, but here we’re onto the second verse in less than a minute, there’s no semblance of any middle eight and barely a nod to even a closing chorus, and it just leaves me feeling a bit ‘wait, is that it?’

Tom: I disagree there: I think that quiet “make out” works as a middle eight, even if it is technically part of the chorus lyrics: and there’s definitely a bigger final chorus in there. I think this song lasts just as long as it needs to: I think if it were longer, we’d both be muttering that the simplistic tune starts to grate. (It started to grate with me on the second time I played it.) But I did, at least, play it a second time.

Tim: Sure, there can be remixes, and I can always press play a second time, but this almost has a whiff of contractual obligation to it, kind of like one of them’s lost a bet. The weirdest thing is that we do get a few ‘will this do?’ tracks, but in every case it’s been the quality of the music rather than the quantity that’s suffered. Here, music’s as good as ever – there’s just very little of it.

Martin Garrix, Matisse & Sadko feat. Michel Zitron – Hold On

“That’s at least five years out of date.”

Tom: It’s January, and that means there is barely any new music. So as with yesterday, let’s go with an old reliable. Garrix, Dutch irritatingly-young world-class DJ. Matisse & Sadko, Russian producers. Michel Zitron, Swedish producer and singer. They’ve all been in the same circles for years, as far as I can tell.

That is a lot of people, with a lot of skills, all working on one track. Will it combine their best qualities, or will it be a confused, designed-by-committee mess?

Tim: I’ve a feeling I know where you’re going with this.

Tom: I remembered almost nothing about that after it finished, so I’m going with “designed by committee”.

Tim: Hmm, maybe. The standout thing for me is that it really, really doesn’t sound like a modern dance track – that’s at least five years out of date. The opening vocal made me think Avicii, the rest of it perhaps more Swedish House Mafia, and then there was that bit where it went slightly Tubulars Bells-y.

Tom: Actually, I did remember one thing: that ridiculous over-the-top build up to the drop, like it’s on a Clubland CD from the early 2000s. Not a complaint, really, just saying it’s the standout feature.

Tim: Yep, there’s that as well. And the datedness doesn’t bother me at all – I’m all for it.

Nause feat. Rebecca & Fiona – Can’t Erase

“PROPER BANGER.”

Tim: It’s been three years since we featured Rebecca & Fiona, and even longer than that since we featured Nause, but both are apparently still going strong, and seemingly wanting to get any thought of Christmas out of your mind with this PROPER BANGER.

Tom: A bold claim, Tim.

Tom: Huh, you’re right. That’s a really, really good dance track.

Tim: And why they didn’t leave leave in a drawer for a few months I’ve no idea, because (a) that’s a great dance track but (b) which sensible person wants to dance to this less than two weeks before Christmas?

Yes, parties happen, but the playlists are (or at least should be) entirely made up of Christmas songs or, especially come New Year’s Eve, tracks that each and every single person in the room knows. However good a dance track it is (and be in no doubt, I think this is brilliant), it shouldn’t be out now. Or am I wrong?

Tom: I think there is still a place for things like this: clubs don’t switch their playlists too much, other than occasional dance remixes of All I Want For Christmas. And in summer, the market for tracks like this is saturated. It stands out.

Tim: Hmm, yeah, I’d not thought of that. Fair point.

Tom: I like it. In an era of Spotify playlists and long-tail playback, I think this can still work.

Scooter – Which Light Switch Is Which?

“High pitched sample, shouty bloke yells some nonsensical stuff, RAVE.”

Tom: They’ve been going for 25 years. Or, rather, the shouty bloke has, the folks behind him have changed shift a few times. Which means, in that time, they’ve tried to change up their style a lot, and sometimes get away from the shtick they’re known for: high pitched sample, shouty bloke yells some nonsensical stuff, RAVE.

Tom: I can’t tell if this is genuinely going back to their old style because they like it; or knowingly putting out something the fans will like; or whether it’s self-parody. And I don’t think I care.

Tim: I’m not sure it’s any of those, really: I think it’s just H.P. Baxxter doing what he does well, doing it very very well. Don’t forget that we’ve both enjoyed the couple of Scooter tracks we’ve featured recently precisely because they’re right on their early ’00s game. It’s a great sound (well, great for the fans), and they clearly like making it.

Tom: This could sit on a Scooter album from decades ago. My teenage self would like it. And so do I.

Tim: Likewise.

Sigala feat. Ella Henderson – We Got Love

“Bit of alright, isn’t it?”

Tim: Around about this time last year he teamed up with Ella Eyre about having just got paid; now he’s on with another Ella chatting about having bills to pay. Sure, why not.

Tim: Bit of alright, isn’t it?

Tom: It’s one of those songs where the lyrics make less and less sense the more you think about them. Ideally, it’d be exciting enough that you don’t really think about the lyrics, but…

Tim: Sure, it’s not a dance floor classic like Easy Love or We Came Here For Love (I’m spotting a theme with the names here), but it’ll absolutely do just fine for an up and about tune in a largely dull November.

Tom: Low expectations: MET. Although to be fair, I did really start to enjoy that last chorus.

Tim: I’d hang around on the dance floor for it, and I doubt I’d be the only one.

Alan Walker – Avem

“So, you know how Alan has a tendency to go a bit, well, over the top?”

Tim: So, you know how Alan has a tendency to go a bit, well, over the top with his videos, or remix competitions. or general appearance of self-importance? Well, this time he’s celebrating kicking off his first arena tour by releasing an endless runner game, and this here is the theme from both that and the tour as a whole.

Tom: I think I might be somehow burned out on Alan Walker’s music? If he does something in his own style, I’m just like “yep, it’s another Alan Walker track”, and if he doesn’t, it’s “uh, this isn’t an Alan Walker track”. Probably more my problem than his, though, because, this… isn’t bad, I guess?

Tim: Well, first up, it’s a lot more enjoyable that that last one we got from the Death Stranding soundtrack, so that’s reassuring. We haven’t had an instrumental one from him in ages, actually, and it’s nice to know he’s still got it: this is a good track, plenty of life, nice melody, and…you know, I’ll be honest: I’m having trouble writing much about it properly.

Tom: I’m not sure there’s all that much to say. It’s a soundtrack.

Tim: Thing is, I’ve just downloaded the game, and it’s basically entirely okay. Looks pretty, challenging but achievable mechanic (I recommend upping the sensitivity of the controls), and not particularly demanding of your cash.

Tom: The fact you even have to say that last bit is an awful indictment of mobile games.

Tim: Having played it for ten minutes, though, with Avem playing near constantly, I’m now both entirely done with the track and utterly obsessed by it. Make of that what you will.

Lance & Litton – Sunshine

Tim: Swedish dance duo whose first release we completely missed; here’s their second.

Tom: This is really weird to say, but I’ve never had such an intense dislike for the verses of a song in a long time.

Tim: Wait, seriously?

Tom: It wasn’t my usual “meh” reaction: I just actively disliked it and I cannot, for the life of me, explain why. Which is a shame, because the post-chorus is joyful, and even the chorus perked me up a bit.

Tim: I really don’t get that, about the verses. Sure, they have a ‘this’ll do’ quality to them, but for me the only really negative is the one rather disappointing ‘oh’ moment, at a fairly important point: the first time the vocal chorus hit. I wanted something a bit speedier, and wasn’t prepared for the longer vocal notes. HOWEVER, the rest of it goes solidly between ‘this’ll do’ (aforementioned verses) and ‘OH YES THIS WILL VERY MUCH DO’ (post-chorus breakdown, where I immediately started clapping my hands in time to the beat).

Tom: Yep, I can see why you were disappointed there: it’s an odd choice to go into what’s basically half-time for the chorus. But I think it does work.

Tim: There are other highlights: for starters, I was delighted by the presence of a middle eight, as by now I’ve been trained not to expect one. Also, for the second chorus and with repeated listenings, that initial let down doesn’t give me any problems – once you’re expecting it, you’re right, it works, and it’s great. WHAT A TUNE.

Tom: WHAT A CHORUS.

Saturday Flashback: Unicorn Kid – Feel So Real

Tom: I’ve been driving around the US, which means that — as long as I’m in a city — I’ve been listening to Pride Radio, which appears to play nothing but DANCE BANGERS. And adverts for PrEP.

Tim: Not a single word of that paragraph surprises me.

Tom: Anyway, I don’t know why I’ve never heard this before, because it sounds like someone crossed Galantis and Daft Punk.

Tom: See what I mean? Those early synths, that energetic vocal: all Galantis. But then you’ve got that breakdown before the second chorus, arpeggiators and interesting chord progressions, and those synths in the middle eight: that sounds like Daft Punk to me.

Tim: That’s an entirely accurate dissection, there, of what’s a pretty great track. Although, admittedly, not as good as that Jenna Drey number you linked to.

Tom: There’s Unicorn Kid’s own style on top of it, of course. And it’s such a good style! Or at least, it was until I clicked on the next recommended track and got a chorus of chanting children. Never mind.

Tim: Ah, yeah, I see why you wouldn’t like it. I think it’s pretty good, though. 

Lisa Ajax – Känn En Doft Av Kärleken

“It’s really, really jarring, and it upsets me.”

Tim: RIGHT THEN so you’ll recall back in June we got Dolly Style doing a cover of How Far I’ll Go as part of a new We Love Disney album, except then for months we had nothing at all, despite me hunting for stuff at least once a week.

HOWEVER, last week the whole album arrived, yippee! We’ve a variety of styles: some straight up covers, some simple translations (Aladdin’s En Helt Ny Värld), English covers that have really played with the genre (Circle of Life), and some that might as well be brand new songs, because I’m willing to bet you’d forgotten the existence of Brother Bear altogether.

And then…and then there’s this.

Tim: So, I have no problem at all with about 90% of that. The early part of it takes the same genre we’re used to, and a translation’s always fun (though, weirdly, they’ve used different lyrics from the translation they used in the film). The bit where the chorus has a big hefty backing underneath it, very very much so.

Tom: Agreed: there are, as far as I’m concerned, two canonical versions of this: the film version, and Elton John’s version. This doesn’t hold a candle to either of them, of course, but I’ve got to admit that the voice works, and the production for most of it is good too. It’s a solid Disney Cover. I think you’ve got the same problem with it that I have, though.

Tim: Most likely. Because that dance breakdown – where on earth did that come from? I don’t mind it particularly, and certainly if it was in a whole other song I’d have no problems with it at all. Except it isn’t in a whole other song, it’s in the middle of one of the most memorable film songs ever, and it completely and totally doesn’t belong. It’s really, really jarring, and it upsets me.

Tom: And it’s a real shame! Because the rest of it is good. Not spectacular, but good.

Tim: I’ll finish on a positive, though: we’ve got something similar with Kamferdrops’s version of Let It Go. And this time, it works for me.

Tim: I’ve no idea why it works, as logically I should have the same problem – still a great song, still a largely unrelated breakdown. But I don’t.

Tom: I think I know why: Let It Go is meant to be a big, showstopper, belt-it-out number — but here it’s being sung relatively quietly and calmly. That chorus sounds wrong, it’s underwhelming — but it means that your brain’s more prepared for the dance bit.

Tim: Hmm, yeah, could be.

Tom: What we’ve learned here is that nothing’s going to break Andrew WK covering the Mickey Mouse March.

Tim: Erm…well, okay, whatever works for you. I’ll stick with Dolly Style, if you don’t mind.