Tim: I’ve long since given up trying to work out why beach dance music still gets put out well after summer’s over, but I do still find it weird. Here’s one example.
Tom: This is good! I wasn’t expecting this to be good.
Tim: I mean, in MD Electro (off Germany)’s defence, it’s a perfectly decent beach dance number – say, second or third release from an ATB album quality – with a good melody, decent production, vocals that hold up nicely, but damn, what’s with the timing?
Tom: Or that “postcard” echo in the instrumental chorus. Or that “you got me like oo-ooh” lyric. But you’re right: this is a good summer dance track, but it’s mid-September. Were they just procrastinating?
Tim: The other week Scooter released their nineteenth (NINETEENTH) studio album; here’s one of the first tracks from it, which comes with a couple of rude words (and Jebroer’s a Dutch producer, by the way).
Tom: Please tell me Scooter have actually gone gabber. Please.
Tom: Oh wow they actually have for the… chorus? One of the choruses? One of the… look, I don’t know what this is, I just know I haven’t heard distorted bass like that in a long while and it’s amazing.
Tim: Yeahhhh…thing is, it’s hard to judge Scooter’s songs by any normal standard, really, because most of them aren’t really comparable in any way at all – not because of quality, more just in the way they exist.
Tom: In the words of HP Baxxter: YES.
Tim: But we can compare them against each other – God knows there are enough. The best ones typically have a decent hook (either original, or standard covers, or theme tunes from a 1960s series of murder mystery films), maybe a guest vocal and plenty of shouting. Here, I think we’ve got all three, and while it loses its way for twenty seconds towards the end, it picks it up again, and finishes nicely. I’m in.
Tom: Let’s be honest: the hook’s really not all that great — and given that it’s an English translation of the original, it also feels a bit low-effort for a first album track. Have Scooter actually supplied anything other than some shouting here? I’m not sure.
Tim: Huh – see, I though it might be a cover but couldn’t see an original. You’re right, there – although the first track off the album was actually Bora! Bora! Bora!, which didn’t seem to be much more than trying for an updated version of the Maria (I Like It Loud) chant.
Tom: And to be fair, there’s a reason that the world never saw many gabber tracks in the Top 40. But I can’t fault them for still going, still trying, and still SHOUTING LOUDLY.
“Everything’s great about this apart from the chorus.”
Tom: “We been waiting to throw you this curve ball!”, write Galantis excitedly. “It’s a style of song-writing that’s been a part of Galantis from the start but we never really had the chance to show you.”
Tim: It normally gets me nervous when bands I like say that; on the other hand, they’ve not exactly been knocking it out of the park recently, so I’m open minded.
Tom: (A warning for flashing images in the video.)
Tom: Here’s a reversal of the usual status quo around here: I think everything’s great about this apart from the chorus.
Tim: While I think it’s time to realise that Galantis are not the dance music saviours I previously believed them to be 🙁
Tom: The intro, the verses, the build, the vocals, everything about this has so much promise — but then it leads into a bassless, repetitive instrumental chorus hook, complete with that irritating precussion that sounds like someone’s failing to light a gas hob.
Tim: Haha, yes, I hear the one you mean. I’m the same – sounds great, right up through the opening, verse, pre-chorus, but then it’s not really good at all.
Tom: I get that instrumental choruses are a thing these days, but this just doesn’t work for me.
Tim: I can’t help wondering what’s so ‘curve ball’ about it – it doesn’t sound particularly different from their other recent disappointments. OH GALANTIS, WHY MUST YOU ABANDON ME SO?
Tom: We have a contender for “worst track name of the year”. Good news though: it starts with a brilliant string section.
Tim: Like nicely cooked mozzarella.
Tom: Bloody hell, that’s a good dance track.
Tim: Hell yeah – even better than the Mighty Meaty I got from Domino’s at the weekend.
Tom: Unless Tim’s done a deal behind my back, reader, that was not sponsored content. Anyway, there are plenty of qualms to be had with this track: it doesn’t go anywhere after that first build, just repeats the whole thing over again with a bit of chiptune instead of strings. And the video is just a compilation of tour footage that makes him look a bit of a bellend.
Tim: I can’t really argue with either of those things, though I’m not so bothered about the chip tune bit. Thing is, he can’t drop back to the strings mid-track, as that would kill the vibe completely. It needs stuff around and on top of it to work as a full-on dance track. Axwell did a great job with Heart Is King, Tiësto’s made whole albums of orchestral dance – and now Martin’s joined the party.
Tom: But I’d defy anyone on a dance floor, or at a festival, or basically anywhere, not to start moving when the main bit of this kicks in. Even the cinematic strings seem to work, rather than being A Bit Too Much. Every bit of this is great.
“Did you ever have any of those Disney singalong videos back when you were a kid?”
Tim: Did you ever have any of those Disney singalong videos back when you were a kid? With the lyrics of the songs on screen and Mickey Mouse’s head bouncing along the top to give you the timing?
Tom: I didn’t, but I have a distinct memory of them all the same, which tells you just how much reach Disney have.
Tim: Well, that’s what this lyric video reminds me of.
Tom: And they haven’t learned what Disney, and every other decent karaoke-maker, has learned: that the bouncing ball should anticipate the lyrics slightly, and the next line should always appear a couple of beats early. If it appears right on the beat, no-one’s going to be able to read it in time. Grumble.
Tim: Grumble grumble grumble. I do wonder sometimes about the point of lyric videos – sure, they’re nicer and more fun than just a flat image of the song’s artwork, and I’ll never turn down a well produced one, but often they’re a bit shit, so why not just do the video before you release the track? I have no idea whatsoever about production costs, but I can’t help feeling that there are better uses for record label cash – hell, take off the lyrics and this’d work fine as a standard video.
Tom: If they don’t do it, someone else will. Two videos is better than one, apparently.
Tim: OH WELL NEVER MIND, let’s do the song. It’s another one off his comeback EP, and JOY OF JOYS we’re back to vaguely approaching the standard pop song structure, with a varied final chorus in there – admittedly we’re still lacking a middle eight, but at this point I’ll take anything I can get.
Tom: Bit generic, though, isn’t it? I mean, there’s nothing wrong with it, but it doesn’t seem to possess anything above the generic sort of middle-of-the-road it’ll-do-stuff that Spotify might chuck out in the middle of a playlist.
Tim: Tad generic, perhaps, and I guess we can say what we said last week: he makes good dance music, that I’m happy pressing play on a bunch of times. Rita’s bringing the good stuff with the vocals, and it all just works. Lovely.
Tim: I blame Jonas Blue, personally – or, more precisely, the record streaming public who made his tropical cover of Fast Car such a smash hit. Without that there’d be no Never Gonna Give You Up, and no Africa, and no this.
Tim: Except I don’t know if ‘blame’ is the right word, because part of me thinks ‘credit’ should be used instead.
Tom: It’s… surprisingly good? I mean, I’m not sure if it’s actually good because all I can hear is “it’s a cover”, but I was surprised it wasn’t terrible.
Tim: Right – it’s not a bad track, because what we’ve got, underneath the lifted vocal, is a pretty decent instrumental dance tune – those strings, in particular, are very nicely done. I’d quite like just an instrumental version of this, to be honest, to see how similar it is to Europe’s track – I’m having trouble separating the vocal and instrumental, but I do think it’s different enough to be largely unrecognisable.
Tom: It also shows up the current trend for instrumental dance choruses: the entire old-chorus gets shifted to the building pre-chorus, and the chorus gets a Kygo-style (a very Kygo-style) set of chopped-up lyrics.
Tim: And so my question is this: why cheapen this by putting those lyrics on it? Yes, it gets more attention, but it’s surely not going to be good attention – Popjustice recently described it as “Wrong of the week”. Different lyrics on here, though, and you might have had a good track. Shame.
Tim: Avicii’s back! Here’s the first one after his hiatus, the lead off a six track EP, with Sandro from Sweden on vocals. Fun fact: listed as one of the co-writers is one Dhani Lennevald, previously best known as a member of ABBA tribute group A*Teens. Who’d have thought it?
Tom: …I don’t think anyone would have thought it, Tim.
Tim: Is it just me, or is there quite a lot of All About Tonight in there? Weird thing is, comparing them it’s not actually the same, but it really struck me when I first pressed play, and now I really want to sing “and it’s all about tonight” when the pause comes after every chorus line. You get anything?
Tom: I got “The Nights” off the intro, although — again — it’s really not the same track. I think we may well have stumbled across one of the reasons that Avicii’s so popular: we all recognised something good in here, and in my case, even recognised something else of his own.
He makes good, memorable dance music.
Tim: In any case, it’s a decent track to come out with – a disappointing step further along the path towards ‘no middle eight in dance tunes’ becoming a Proper Thing, but otherwise perfectly good. Well, I say perfectly, I wouldn’t mind a remix to change the chorus from being quite so stop-start all the time. Other than those two issues, though: fine.
Tom: We’ve talked about Almighty Records many times before. Who are Deja Vu? No-one knows. Who’s Tasmin? Not a clue, she could even be a different session singer every time, or a famous singer working under the radar. What we do know is they do spectacular high-energy cover versions of pop hits.
So here’s my question, Tim: who’s being covered here? This is the big club mix I’m linking to, so you can safely skip to about 1:14 without missing anything.
Tim: I… have no idea. When the vocal started I broke out into a massive grin because it sounds like a gloriously pumped up ABBA song, but I don’t recognise it, and Google doesn’t recognise the lyrics. Is this…is this an original song?
Tom: Correct! You spotted the trick question. Although I was fairly sure it was a Steps song I’d never heard of. So, next question: do I really like this because it sounds like a good Steps track, or just because you can basically do anything in Almighty’s style and I’ll like it?
Tim: For me, the former – the massive grin came from it sounding like a big ABBA or Steps song, and there have definitely been Almighty tracks that I’ve not enjoyed due to not knowing the original. This, though, despite having no original to compare it to, hits all the right buttons.
Tim: Last time we came across Bruce (yep), we pointed out that he had basically produced a Galantis song. His latest is slightly different, in that it actually sounds more like classic Galantis than current Galantis does, so I don’t quite know where that leaves us.
Tom: Better than actual Galantis?
Tim: Ermm…not…hmm…oh. Well.
Tim: Actually, the main thing it leaves us with is a bloody good song, and let’s be honest, that’s really all that matters.
Tom: It should be all that matters. I don’t think it’s massively memorable, but I also don’t think that matters for a track like this — it just sounds good.
Tim: It starts out great with that repetitive but very good synth hook; the chorus is an utter joy, both vocally and instrumentally; and the video is colourful, cheerful and joyously infectious with all its dancing.
Tom: There’s also enough interesting stuff going on in the chord progressions and melody that it doesn’t sound like a completely generic dance song. Even at three minutes it does feel a bit long, though.
Tim: I love this track very, very much, genuinely can’t think of anything bad to say about it, and, with no trace of hyperbole, can’t get enough of it.
“You’ll know whether you’ll like this or not within the first couple of seconds.”
Tim: Just to save anybody potentially wasting three minutes of their time, I’ll say this up front: you’ll know whether you’ll like this or not within the first couple of seconds.
Tim: I said that at the top because while those kind of vocal samples have grown in popularity recently, a lot of people (including me, until not too long ago) still can’t stand them, and so there’s not a lot in there for them.
Tom: They’re more obnoxious here than usual — I still have absolutely no idea what the original line was. But I don’t dislike them just for the sake of it; there have been stranger synths in the past.
Tim: Well that’s certainly true, and speaking of strange: there’s also that somewhat bizarre respite of a string section that appears halfway through – different as anything, though I doubt that’d be enough to convince anyone not already on board.
Tim: Few things do, because that’s one hell of a tune, good callback. But overall I’m alright with this. I don’t love it – I still find the sound slightly grating – but I’m fairly sure that if I listen to it a few more times I will end up enjoying it, so I guess that’s something.