Saturday Flashback: Ultrabeat – Use Somebody

“Use Somebody, in it’s original form, is One Of Those Tracks.”

Tim: So after that Scooter gig I mentioned last week, Ultrabeat came on and did an after show DJ set, which was flipping brilliant, including as it did songs along the lines of Shooting Star, Heaven and Every Time We Touch.

Tom: As if I wasn’t envious enough already. That’s not an ironic statement, I’m genuinely envious.

Tim: What can I say – you get road trips round the world and being invited to fly with the Red Arrows, I get to go to Scooter gigs. Ultrabeat also played a couple of their own tracks: Pretty Green Eyes, obviously (and twice, which I think could be frowned upon), and this one, which I’d not heard before and initially thought was a remix.

Tim: So, I’m all for a dance cover. When it’s well done and it sounds good like this, no problem. Except, there’s one big problem I have with this: Use Somebody, in it’s original form, is One Of Those Tracks.

Tom: You’re going to have to be more specific.

Tim: It’s Mr Brightside, it’s All The Small Things, it’s Livin’ On A Prayer. It doesn’t matter what the crowd is, or whatever genre of music they typically like, or however sober they are, or even if they’re curled up in the corner of the club getting off with a new friend…

Tom: The voice of experience, there.

Tim: …it will, without fail, get 90% of the crowd off their seats and on the dance floor. And they want to sing along. And what they really, really want to sing along to is the “WOOA-OOOOH-OHHH WOOA-OOOOH-OHHH WOOA-OOOOH-OHHH”. And so they will sing that even if there’s more important stuff happening. Like, I don’t know, a dance breakdown that’s the backbone of what you’ve contributed to the song.

Tom: That’s fair. And I suspect that’s why it might be hidden so deeply in the background: they know the crowd will provide it anyway.

Tim: So sure, do a dance version of it. Fill it in with synths, make it more suitable for a dance pop party. But don’t, whatever you do, make it sound very very similar to the original except for adding the dance bit exactly where the “WOOA-OOOOH-OHHH WOOA-OOOOH-OHHH WOOA-OOOOH-OHHH” is. Because not a single person will notice, and that will be sad.

Sondr feat. Molly Hammar – Holding On

“May’s drawing to a close, summer’s picking up the pace, and every dance producer worth their salt seems to feel it necessary to celebrate that.”

Tim: Not sure why, but Molly Pettersson Hammar has dropped the Pettersson; she’s now got the vocals on here, from a couple of British producers. Still a slight whiff of pineapple, for which I make no apology whatsoever.

Tom: “I wanna follow where she goes / I think about her and she knows it”. Sorry, got distracted there, and I’m not seriously suggesting those lines are ripped off, it’s just an unfortunately similar melody in the verses. You were saying, pineapple?

Tim: I was, because it is, yep, another summer dance tune, and they seem to be out with a vengeance right now, with fairly good reason (he writes, staring out of his window at Majorcan drizzle).

Tom: It was -4°C here yesterday, Tim. ANYWAY. Pineapple time.

Tim: May’s drawing to a close, summer’s picking up the pace, and every dance producer worth their salt seems to feel it necessary to celebrate that. It’s an easy sound to push out, as we all discovered only too well a couple of years ago, so let’s hope it’s not making a huge comeback.

Tom: To be fair, they’re not using Kygo’s pads: the definition of ‘tropical’ has at least widened a bit.

Tim: True, so as it is, just a few tracks in, I can cope. Especially with a good number like this.

ManyFew – How Would You Know

“HAVE IT”

Tim: What I have for you here is pretty much a return to proper tropical house, and I would slightly apologise for that but let’s face it it’s been a good 18 months since it was everywhere, and also it’s nice to feel summery what with it being, you know, basically summer.

Tom: The words that came to mind during that first build were: “HAVE IT”. It’s not like it’s enough of a banger to make me shout that out loud, but that’s certainly a good sign.

Tim: Summer in the music, summer in the video, all of which makes me joyous as I lay here by a swimming pool in Majorca, sun blazing down brilliantly.

Tom: There is literally snow on the ground where I am right now, Tim.

Tim: Hmm. Well, maybe not for everyone, then. There are, whichever way, bits in here that are utterly lovely – to name one, that tinkly xylophone line towards the end, quiet as it may be. It’s also just quite nice in general, really – nothing hugely special, nothing that makes me go “oh, this is spectacular”, but just a decent tune with a lot of happy stuff going on in the video.

Tom: Right. Even at three minutes, this doesn’t have quite enough material for its length. I’m agreed about that xylophone line, though — I found myself wishing that had come in earlier. This is serviceable summer dance-pop.

Tim: And as an introduction to summer, I’ll, like you said, “HAVE IT”.

Hilda x Don Diablo – Wake Me When It’s Quiet

“It’s okay to say no once in a while, if you need to.”

Tim: Right, so I don’t want to ask for things to be boring or anything, but can we come to an agreement about having multiple artists? ‘Feat.’ is fine, and so is ‘&’, because there’s justifiable difference between those two. But seriously, just ‘x’? Like, what’s the point?

Tom: Hey, at least it’s not “vs”. I’m choosing to believe that “x” means “they’re kissing”, like adding an x at the end of a text message. ANYWAY.

Tim: In this case, Hilda did the words and vocal melody, apparently as a tribute to Avicii, and Don Diablo built the dance music around it. And surely an & would do for that, no?

Tim: Indeed – which gave us, amongst other things, the unusual writing credit of Ant-Man of “Edgar Wright & Joe Cornish and Adam McKay & Paul Rudd”.

Tim: I don’t want to turn this into a post about mental health, and the toll that day after day after day performing high intensity shows with no break or let up can take on a person, because more relevant and qualified people have done that elsewhere, but I do like the message here: it’s okay to say no once in a while, if you need to.

Tom: I’m all for songs with non-standard but positive messages, and this definitely fits that.

Tim: I particularly like the reversal of the lyrics the second time round – there are people who’ll understand, and they’re the people to be with. But back to our usual: it’s also okay, if you don’t want to say no, to dance to this like no-one’s business, because this is a damn good dance track.

Tom: Is it, though? There are long sections in here with nothing but a vocoder (although admittedly “wake me when it’s quiet” is good for that). I’ll admit that once I stopped hearing the synths as clown nose-honks, it started getting a lot better, though.

Tim: I’m aware you put that clown noise comment in to annoy me; you’ll be pleased to know that actually I’m fine with it. I don’t hear that – just a strong beat, strong melody, strong everything. I like it a lot. A big lot.

Galantis feat. Uffie – Spaceship

“It’s catchy! It’s well-composed! It’s not dull!”

Tim: Two albums down, and here’s some new music, accompanied by a video with a good few “woah, what did they just do?” moments.

Tim: Personally I feel that parkour peaked with that cold open from The Office, but it’s nice that it’s popping up every now and again just so the lazy amongst us can look at and think “that looks cool, I kind of wish I had the energy to do that”. But that’s not what we here to discuss – the music is. And fantastically, it’s still a good track!

Tom: It is! It’s catchy! It’s well-composed! It’s not dull!

Tim: Tell Me You Love Me was a nice return to form after a couple of iffy bits, and this seems to indicate we’re right back on top. We’ve all the energy that seemed missing from True Feeling, and a properly enjoyable chorus unlike what we had in Girls On Boys.

Tom: To be fair, there doesn’t actually appear to be anything other than a chorus anywhere. I know that’s Galantis’s shtick, but I do wonder if this’ll tire very quickly if there isn’t something to temper it a little. I was simultaneously enjoying it and wanting something different by the end.

Tim: All in all: very pleased with this, and I’m properly happy to be able to call myself a Proper Fan.

Davai – Loco

“Yep, that is certainly an interesting lyric.”

Tim: Nice quick Friday dance number for you, and there’s a lyric in the chorus here that’s a nice cross between quite weird and pretty good.

Tom: “Doing our thing like Yoko Ono.” Well, yep, that is certainly an interesting lyric.

Tim: Hard to know whether ‘our thing’ involves breaking up bands or living with deep and strong philosophies, but I’m hoping it’s the latter because that’s a lot more pleasant, and a bit more inspirational as well. Take that thought, and then just a few seconds later dance all over the place inspired by it, because this is a good song to dance to.

Tom: I think I’ve gotten numb to dance tracks lately. This is another one where I just go “yep, that’s a dance track” and then move on. What is there to say?

Tim: Nice combination between good beat and strong melody, and while it would of course be improved as a straight dance track if the beat kept up underneath at least the second verse, I guess that’s what remixes are for. It’s nice, and I like it.

Tom: Okay, yes, there is that to say. It does its job. Maybe I just need to listen to something different for a while, and then come back, but right now I’d love a dance track to something interesting, different and — crucially — uplifting. It’s just not happening right now.

Dada Life – Higher Than The Sun

“Apparently I’ve got literally nothing to say about this.”

Tim: This Swedish dance outfit’s most recent track, One Nation Under Lasers, released a few days ago, got sent in to us yesterday, but it’s a bit noisy and not very pleasant. This previous one, though, just a few weeks old so still nice and relevant, is quite a bit nicer.

Tom: Nicer, or just… well, it turns out I don’t actually have any adjectives that sum up “I literally can’t remember any of this after it finished”.

Tim: Oh, Well, I say quite a bit nicer for two reasons: firstly, there’s the existence of a vocal, which not only here has a great tune to it but also serves to take attention away from the slightly less great underlying synth line. For me, that might be a bit too heavy otherwise, as that’s certainly my problem with the vocal-less follow-up. Here, though, we’ve got that chorus, with its simple but lovely melody, to keep the focus.

Secondly, of course, there’s the video, which has a more interesting narrative than part two, viewable at the above link.

Tom: I’m just not sold. Maybe it’s that I was distracted watching the video — but it also says a lot that I wasn’t really watching the narrative, just trying to work out how the animators made the shadows move properly. I… yeah, apparently I’ve got literally nothing to say about this.

Tim: Upsettingly, that second part still doesn’t explain where the green guy came from – maybe that’ll be an exciting revelation in part three, and I’m hoping it’ll be something nicer than just a big bogey that was stuck in the wine.

Tom: Mate.

Tim: 👍

Seeb x Dagny – Drink About

“Those are two names that promise a lot.”

Tom: Those are two names that promise a lot.

Tim: Question: if you’re dropping f-bombs fairly prominently in the chorus, and making no attempt to hide them, is there actually any point whatsoever in censoring them in the lyric video? Seeb has chosen to find out.

Tim: Sure, you could argue that it means you don’t have to slightly redo it if you ever wanted to put out a version with edited audio, but why not just do that to start with?

Tom: I’d say ‘money’, but honestly, it doesn’t really doesn’t take much effort by a motion graphics designer to change out one word. Although, they would be changing it in a lot of places.

Tim: It’s a pity, really, because that line could work perfectly with a ‘hell’ or a ‘damn’ or even just using a longer ‘I’ sound, but oh well, it’s done now. Nice dance track, mind, despite that, with a memorable hook and, I suppose, lyrics. Good production, good vocals – all well done, really.

Tom: Yep, it’s a competent middle-of-the-playlist dance track that does exactly what it’s supposed to. Not spectacular, but not terrible either.

Tim: Just a shame about the rudeness.

Alan Walker, Keala Settle – This Is Me (Alan Walker Relift)

“Does Alan Walker remixing it make it better, worse, or just different?”

Tom: I described the original version of this track as “so polished that you could slip on it and crack your head”, although you were a lot more enthusiastic. The question is: does Alan Walker remixing it make it better, worse, or just different?

Tim: Hmm, see I’d been avoiding this one, largely because it was described to me as ‘not ideal’. But go on then, because it is, I suppose, a question I do want to know the answer to.

Tim: Huh – that is nowhere near as bad as I was worried it would be.

Tom: I’m going for “different” and “worse”. Which is a shame: but the original already had percussion and energy, it knew exactly what it was aiming for, this just confuses matters. Unlike a remix that takes an emotional slow number and makes it INCREDIBLE, or that turns a good key change into a ludicrous key change, this… just adds some beats where there didn’t need to be any.

Tim: Ah, you see this is where having listened to that original 20+ times on repeat gives me more info: there’s more than that. In particular, there’s a whole new lovely countermelody under it (which is what you can hear on the obligatory ‘click to subscribe’ bit at the end).

It’s most notable during the chorus, where previously there was nothing – just the vocal – and it actually does add something to it, in a positive way for me. Sure, there was power to come from having the vocal unencumbered by anything else, but I don’t think this detracts from it at all.

Tom: It’s a shame, because there is, no doubt, a good remix to be had here: it just needs to either be much more transformative, or of a different track from the musical.

Tim: Speaking of which, The Greatest Show recently got added to the playlist at work, and my job satisfaction has subsequently increased by at least 150%.

MARC feat. Caroline Høier – The Way I Do

“That’s, like, maybe a bit bulky at most.”

Tim: Bit of hefty dance for a Friday, with a caveat: it’s the sort of genre I have to be in a particular mood for. Right now I am, so…

Tom: That’s not hefty! That’s, like, maybe a bit bulky at most.

Tim: You think? Even with that chorus? It’s not technically drum & bass, I suppose, but it’s sure as hell verging on it with the two step beat and the massive bass that comes along with it, and I really, really like it.

Tom: It is good, I’ll grant you that: it reminds me of a lot of older dance tracks, and I think I like it for that reason, rather than anything in itself. It’s never going to be a floorfiller, but it’s a good middle-of-the-playlist track.

Tim: It’s got decent amount of pop mixed in with the verses, and a smidgen of euphoric in the mix, and while that makes for a hell of a journey, it also seems to make for a hell of a good track, in my eyes and ears.