Steve Aoki feat. AJR & Lil Yachty – Pretender

“I’m a fan of about 80% of it. You’ll work out why.”

Tim: Dance track for you; I’m a fan of about 80% of it. You’ll work out why.

Tim: Seem about right?

Tom: Oh, yes! That’s lovely. I understand why there’s a 20% you don’t like, but — for once — it does still work for me.

Tim: Hmm, fair enough. You can probably guess most of what I’m going to say, though: the music’s good, the lyrics speak to many many people, and the second verse is…well, not for me. Though that bit’s unusual, really – normally, with a feat. like this, you’d put it in for just the middle eight, but instead he’s got a whole verse.

Obviously you can’t go for a middle eight placing if you haven’t got one (insert standard moan here), but it still seems weird that he’s been given almost the same same amount of prominence as the other guys.

Not a bad thing, of course – it was presumably done to increase the potential audience – but it still seems a bit weird. Just me?

Tom: Just you, I think. Because for me, the whole thing works, start to finish — and with a video that’s just beautifully filmed, designed and edited. This is the best track we’ve had here in a few weeks, I reckon.

Kolidescopes – All My Love

“I’m not even sure Daft Punk could get away with that.“

Tim: Last time we had a chilled house track you said you yelled out BORED after just a minute or so, and I’ll be honest with you, I’m not entirely certain this won’t provoke a similar reaction; on the other hand, I love it.

Tom: That sounds very much like someone listened to Sigala, went “I want to sound like them”, and then only put in about half of the effort required.

Tim: Hmm…not entirely unfair, I guess. Because yes, the lyrics are basically non-existent. And yes, there is perhaps twenty to thirty seconds of music in there, spread out over a full three and a half minutes.

Tom: Which the lyric video rubs in. With the exception of that one verse, it’s literally just the same words for three minutes. I’m not even sure Daft Punk could get away with that.

Tim: Thing is, though: for all that, I really, really like this. I’ve heard it several times, and each time I’ve made a mental note to check it out later. Is it the melody? Is it the vocal sounds? Is it the instrumentation? I don’t know.

Tom: It’s because it sounds like Sigala.

Tim: It just sounds great, however many times I hear it.

Griffin, Elley Duhé – Tie Me Down

“I love what they’re doing with the instrumentation.”

Tim: Elley is currently primarily for her collaboration with Zedd, but here’s her most recent one; we found the former slightly anti-climactic, but how will this compare?

Tim: Oh, it’s much better.

Tom: And much more generic! But you’re right, it’s not a huge disappointment.

…as ever, that sounded less harsh in my head.

Tim: Partly because it doesn’t drop out at all, but also because (and this isn’t something I say often about dance music) I love what they’re doing with the instrumentation. I first noticed it at the end of the first chorus, but the layered melodies in the background are just lovely, as are the synths they’re played on.

Tom: Whereas I’m finding the mix confusing and a bit difficult to listen to. Yes, the instrumentation’s good, but the track just sounds a bit muddy and overcompressed. But hey, at least I can remember the chorus.

Tim: So sure, this has got a beat, a melody, and standard lyrics, and that’s all you really need for a dance track – but it’s also got a lot more, which I love.

JRL – No Way

“Started calm, and then got…very, very good, almost without me realising it.”

Tim: New trio of Swedish producers, and you might think from the name they’ve chosen that it’d be their initials, to which I say: mostly. We have Jonathan, Lemar and, erm, Carl. Go figure.

Tim: Started calm, and then got…very, very good, almost without me realising it.

Tom: You’re right: that is a really, really good chorus.

Tim: It started as would any generic slightly tropical dance track, the first chorus was pretty good, and then I got interested in the video so slightly tuned out but then it came towards the end and I realised ‘hang on, this is great’. I don’t even really mind that it’s got the whole ‘two verses, two choruses, that’s all we need’ thing going on, because there’s enough different sections in this two halves that actually it’s not boring.

Tom: I mean, you say that, the verse isn’t up to much. I’d expect this to sit in the middle of a generic Spotify playlist. That, as ever, sounds harsher than I intended it: this does a lot right, but it’s not the BANGER that it seems to be aiming for.

Tim: Well, there’s variety, and so I’m happy and dancing throughout. Nice one.

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.