September – Me & My Microphone

Were they planning to add a tune in there at any point?

Tim: Interesting story, this one – the original Swedish Mikrofonkåt was destined to be an album track, until it got performed on a TV show last October and people went wild for it, and it spent a good couple of months at number one. It got an English translation back in December, and it’s now being released over here to coincide with her album, the abominably titled Love CPR (which also features as a lyric).

Tom: Were they planning to add a tune in there at any point?

Tim: …is pretty much exactly what I wondered.

Tom: She’s sing-talking, like Kesha, and there’s some chords in there somewhere, but mostly all I can hear is BZTHWUMP BZTHWUMP BZTHUMP. It ain’t dubstep, but it’s close.

Tim: Right – this track is almost entirely devoid of any decent melody, substituting for a fairly heavy beat instead, but for me the tune is what makes September good.

Tom: Damn right. I’m all in favour of unemotional songs, electronic songs, songs without melody – they have a place. But that place doesn’t seem to be here: it just seems like a bit of a dirge.

Tim: I get that too, and I prefer the UK edit of Can’t Get Over to the original for a reason – there’s more to it, more to get involved with that wasn’t there to start with.

Tom: I think I understood that.

Tim: Leave me alone, I’m tired. Anyway, I’m finding the same here – maybe it is great for everyone else, but I want something else.

Tom: I’m just going to listen to “Can’t Get Over” again.

Cascada – Night Nurse

It’s pretty typical.

Tom: Europlop reader Chris writes in with this suggestion. “Pretty typical,” he says, “but I actually quite like the autotune in this.”

Tom: This is off her soon-to-be-released new album, and Chris is right – it’s pretty typical. Metaphor for love – this time a medical one – along with her usual produced beats and her usual voice treated in the usual way.

Tim: I was hoping to be able to think, ‘Ooh, they’ve mended it’ after the falling apart that was Evacuate the Dancefloor.

Tom: Whoa, whoa, hold on. Side track. Evacuate the Dancefloor was great. It’s one of the main songs on Dance Central for a reason. It’s got the strange pre-chorus bit, yes, but it’s one of the catchiest choruses she’s ever done. What have you got against it?

Tim: It was just so different – it came out before I’d had time to get used to all the autotuney nonsense that was just starting to appear, and it was entirely not Truly Madly Deeply. It didn’t help that she completely ditched pretty much a whole (quite good) album after only one single, just to release a song that was more commercially viable. Twelve months later I’d probably have been quite happy with it, but then it just didn’t seem right.

Anyway, you know what? I pretty much can think that, once I’ve accepted that five years have passed and that autotuney nonsense is in fact here to stay. This is good Cascada, the verses especially – the Cascada that brought us Every Time We Touch and Bad Boy.

Tom: The usual vaguely-abstract video with dancers and glamour shots, too – although the producer’s doing the ‘stop people listening on YouTube’ thing by interrupting the song with a video scene half way through. We’re going to see that a lot more, I reckon.

It’s still a very good track though.

Tim: Indeed, I think it’s great – the auto-tune actually does seem good here, as though it’s being used for a proper reason rather than just because you’ve got to have autotune these days.

Tom: It’ll be interesting to see if one man – or, rather, his estate – gets any royalties from it, though. Very few Cascada fans will recognise Gregory Isaac’s reggae classic ‘Night Nurse’, but I reckon that one line in the chorus might be close enough to count for a writing credit.

Tim: What, two words? Seriously?

Tom: Two very famous words.

Tim: Well, yes.

The Sound of Arrows – Nova

It’s like honey.

Tim: Sit back, close your eyes, listen.

Tim: I really really like this – pretty much Sunrise Avenue one-track repeat all day levels of like, in fact. This tune, from two Swedish chaps, seems to me like a tune it’s impossible to dislike, and not because it’s just a fairly boring one that doesn’t do anything special or interesting at all, because it does.

Tom: It’s got a long build before it kicks in, but it’s worth it. It’s like the musical equivalent of honey: notes seem to slide slowly over each other. I think I just beat our record for “worst simile”.

Tim: Strangest, perhaps, but not worst – I know exactly what you mean and it does describe it quite well. It’s sort of mystical in parts, which I think is lovely – the video as well is great, it’s a bit woo-oo-oh.

Tom: In the wide, fuzzy shots, I can’t help but think that the lead singer does look a bit like Abed from the NBC sitcom Community – it’s the lankiness and the hair – which means I can’t really take it seriously. Can’t deny it’s a good song, though; very listenable.

Tim: It’s a song that sort of carries you along, almost bouncing gently on a cloud of…um…cloudy stuff. You know, it seems hard to describe this song without coming across as though I’m on drugs. Just…oh, I don’t know. It’s great. I can’t describe exactly why it’s great, but it is.

Tom: And in that, I agree with you.

D:Ream – Gods In The Making

No, I couldn’t believe it myself.

Tom: No, I couldn’t believe it myself.

Tom: So, the important things first. Yes, this is the real D:Ream, of “Things Can Only Get Better” fame. Yes, this really is the official video. They’re releasing it themselves. And yes – Professor Brian Cox himself is on keyboards.

Tim: That’s quite a few things to take in.

Tom: Okay, let’s set the low-budget video aside for a while – because it seems bizarre that a track that sounds this well-produced has a video that looks like it’s put together by a YouTube fan in a fever dream. Is it a good track? Well, actually, yes. It’s not a classic, that’s for sure – but it’s listenable enough.

Tim: I wasn’t so sure about it for the most part, but then when the video, um, camera, I suppose, pulled back to show the words ‘gods’ I suddenly got it, and it became alright.

Tom: The lyrics about how “they said we were the next big thing” do seem a bit self-indulgent. But, hell, they’ve got a member who’s discussing the Wonders of the Universe: the least we can give them is a listen to their song.

PULS – Lad Det Slå

I liked it from the start.

Tim: This one took me a while, so give it a couple of listens before you dismiss it.

Related pointless thought in the meantime, though: people say ‘it grows on you’ as though that’s good, but another way of saying that is surely just ‘it’ll wear you down eventually’.

Tom: Actually, if I remember right that’s pretty much what happens. The more you listen to a genre of music or an individual track, the more your brain recognises the patterns and gets used to it. But for me, that didn’t happen here: I liked it from the start.

Tim: Good. Stylistically, it goes pretty much all over the place. Google wants me to think the title translates to ‘Let it Beat’, so I’m guessing it’s basically about how dance music is amazing.

Tom: Wrong. I translated the lyrics, and they’re talking about a heartbeat – it’s pretty much your standard dance-track love song.

Tim: Fair enough. It’s the Danish duo’s second single after the similarly messy Superstar a year ago, and I have decided that I think I like it.

Tom: The trouble is, I can’t tell whether I like the track because of the music or because of the video with the woman dancing in front of fire.

Tim: There are also three separate songs this slightly reminds me of, none of which I can think of, irritatingly – the first half-second, the tinkly piano bit, and the high electro bit that first appears about twenty seconds in.

Tom: Also, that “ding ding ding” sound a little after two minutes in? It’ll make loads of people think their iPhone’s just received a text. That’s deliberate – he says ‘iPhone’ in the line slightly after that.

Tim: Finally, two non-musical observations: I’ve not seen many music videos in 1080p, so they get bonus points for effort there as a minor Danish boyband, and also that girl is totally wasting her time with the dark-haired one. What with that ear stud and the wink and everything, you can stroke him all you want, dearie, but he’s not interested.

Tom: Tim, I’m offended at your stereotyping. He might not be gay – he might just have stepped straight out of the 1990s.

Alex Saidac – We Shine

There is a moment in this song at which you will raise your eyebrows and think ‘huh’.

Tim: There is a moment in this song at which you will raise your eyebrows and think ‘huh’.

Tim: Now, this is very, very odd. Verses that, for me, are almost unlistenable, and chorus that, for me, is almost ‘repeat until death’. I don’t really know what market is being aimed at, here – she’s a professional DJ, so I suppose she must know her audience, but there are people I know who will like the verse, and there are people I know who will like the chorus. Those groups do not intersect – they barely mingle, in fact.

Tom: A bit of techie geekery here: in the waveform that shows up in Soundcloud’s player, you can actually see the difference between verses and chorus. That doesn’t normally happen on modern dance records: they’re all normally compressed into one glutinous mass.

I’m in the chorus-liking group, by the way – and you’re right, I did raise my eyebrows.

Tim: Overall, I have to give it a thumbs-down – much as I love the chorus, the verses cancel that out, and there’s no real big hands in the air moment to get excited about.

Tom: It’s a shame, because it is a lovely chorus, at least to begin with. Shame about the rest of it.

Basto! – Gregory’s Theme

It’s the Jimmy Hart Version of Bromance.

Tim: Belgium isn’t generally known for dance music. Chocolates, yes. Finished diamonds as well, apparently.

Tom: And waffles.

Tim: But dance music, not so much. However, we should change this. Recently we discovered Ian van Dahl were from there, and now here’s another of the country’s exports.

Tom: I went to Belgium once. It wasn’t the most exciting place I’ve visited. This song will have to do a lot to overcome my inherent indifference towards the country.

Tim: Now, once you’ve got past the ‘this is brilliant’ and ‘who’s Gregory?’ phases, your next thought may well be ‘hmm, it’s a bit familiar.’ And yes, it is. It’s almost certainly inspired (perhaps even based on) Tim Berg’s Bromance, which we featured a while back and enjoyed intensely.

Tom: I’d go with “ripped off from”. It’s the Jimmy Hart Version of Bromance – close enough that you’re not going to get sued, but blatantly the same track.

Tim: Well then, question: does it matter? Because this is unquestionably a Good Tune, and quite likely floor-filler. Is it different enough for it not to be the same tune? Yes, of course it is. It is close enough that when I hum it to myself I occasionally end up slipping into Bromance? Well, also yes.

I’m now in a slightly awkward situation. By and large, I highly dislike it when people say ‘oh, it sounds like this, it’s not original, they must have copied it, therefore this is crap,’ as I generally prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt. But here, I just can’t do that. However, because it is so good, regardless of its history I shall give it a big thumbs up. Although part of that decision is because I thought Bromance was great.

Tom: I don’t think it’s as good, and here’s why: Bromance didn’t need vocals. Its melody didn’t get boring half way through, whereas this one does – it’s missing something, and that something is a Love U Seek-style mashup.

I suspect it won’t be long until one arrives.

Tim: Do you know, I think you might be right there.

Lucky Twice – Love Song

It’s a very dance-y dullness, isn’t it?

Tim: A song that was recorded about eighteen months ago, from a group that split up almost a year ago, and whose video is finally seeing the light of day now. And it’s a video straight from the 1980s.

Tom: Ooh. Now that has a beat to it. It’s like an 80s director suddenly got a copy of After Effects from the future.

Tim: I have a few problems with this, aside from the general dullness of the track.

Tom: It’s a very dance-y dullness, though, isn’t it? This is something I’d expect to run into in the middle of a Eurodance megamix – catchy, generic, but good enough to keep you moving and smiling.

Tim: It is, I must agree, but the first issue I have is related: that underlying beat is practically identical to another track. I’m not sure which one (and that’s another problem, because I spent the whole time trying to think what it was), and I thought it was Can You Feel It, but it isn’t, quite. But anyway, it’s a fairly dominant beat, and it’s there throughout the whole track. Even though it’s not a direct lift, it’s just too annoying.

Tom: I think you’re remembering the Steps version of ‘Tragedy’, which has the same ‘one-TWO, three’ beat.

Tim: YES! Thank you.

Tom: But it’s not close enough – I think it’s more that just they’re all generic pop beats with a standard chord progression. And there’s nothing wrong with that, Tim, because this particular variation on those generic pop beats is really very danceable indeed.

Tim: True, I suppose. But anyway, that is not the main problem. Not by a long way. Because the question I found myself asking after I heard it is: what were they thinking? Seriously. At 2:25, why? I mean, that’s not just a missed opportunity, that’s an actual crime against music. There SHOULD BE a key change there, regardless of whether you think they’re good or not.

Tom: You’re absolutely right! Can’t believe they didn’t do it.

Tim: What with that and the beat, it’s as though the producer hadn’t actually heard music before making this. It’s no wonder they split up.

Tom: Can’t hear you. I’m too busy dancing in my seat and hitting ‘play’ again.

Saturday Flashback: AnnaGrace – You Make Me Feel

It doesn’t make me want to play laser tag.

Tim: Do you remember Castles in the Sky? Of course you do – it was the early 2000s, as far as I’m concerned a Golden Age of music in Britain, with Eurodance colonising the charts every summer, and that song epitomised it.

Tom: Oh, that takes me back. Specifically, it takes me back to the upper floor of the Nottingham laser tag centre, defending the red base from anyone who tried to make it up the stairs.

Tim: Fast forward a few years, though, and utter tripe has largely taken over.

Tom: I quite like Disturbia, thank you very much.

Tim: Seriously? Huh. Anyway, regardless of the popularity shift, Ian van Dahl are still going, albeit with a different name, and they bring out this, get no airplay because it’s not cool any more, and fail to chart anywhere except their native Belgium.

Tom: Ah, Hard2Beat Records. They know their target market, and they aren’t afraid to pitch to them.

Tim: That failure to chart is a great shame, really, because this is good.

Tom: Now that’s where you’re wrong. It’s competent. It’s not good.

Tim: Well, I’ll accept that it is fairly generic, and does very little to challenge the ‘all dance music sounds the same’ bull that my parents like to put out there every now and again, although it does at least stay away from the snare drum buildup cliche* (by replacing it with a synth buildup instead).

* Related fact: Ayla’s album Nirwana is quite possibly my favourite dance album of ever, vying for the top spot along with Dario G’s Sunmachine, Rank 1’s Symsonic and Darude’s Before the Storm. Three years ago I spent almost six months on eBay, Amazon and the like trying to track down a (reasonably priced) copy before becoming very, very grateful to kevayreski72 for wanting to get rid of his.

Tom: That synth buildup may be the only original thing in the song.

Tim: You know what? I don’t care about originality – I like it, and it reminds me of a better time. Although it isn’t as good as Castles in the Sky.

Tom: Well, of course it isn’t. For a start, it doesn’t make me want to play laser tag.

Saturday Flashback: Shanadoo – My Samurai

There’s no innuendo here at all.

Tom: So, we have a group of attractive female singers in revealing outfits; a Eurobeat-style backing; simple key changes and occasional English lyrics. Textbook J-pop, right?

Tim: That starts off in a similar fashion to Almighty’s version of Never Ending Story and keeps going very well. I like it, verses aside. Well done Tom.

Tom: Well, you see, I showed you that song so I could show you this. Advance warning: this is definitely not suitable for kids, or for anyone who’s likely to have nightmares about being attacked by monsters made of erogenous zones.

Tim: Umm… Well, it still has a good start to it, I suppose. And the bits that detracted from the last track have gone. Um. That’s probably not what you were wanting me to comment on, is it? To be honest, though, I really can’t think of words to describe what I think of the video.

Tom: So what the hell happened? Well, first things first: E-Rotic aren’t really a group, they’re a “project”. That’s fairly common for Eurodance acts – the vocalists are disposable; what really counts is the producer.

In this case, the producer is a man called David Brandes, who’d came up with the idea of a group whose songs were all based around sex. (I’d say ‘innuendo’, but there’s no innuendo here at all.)

Tim: No. No there isn’t. And I’m guessing you’ve got a whole load more lined up to show me, haven’t you?

Tom: E-Rotic’s other tracks include the prequel to this one, “Max Don’t Have Sex With Your Ex”, as well as “Help Me Dr. Dick”, “In The Heat Of The Night”, and “Test My Best”. The latter includes some… interesting noises from the vocalist.

Tim: There me be something wrong with me, but I actually really like these. Musically, at least, although not so much lyrically.

Tom: Musically, they’re very good. E-Rotic – with a variety of singers – lasted from 1995 until 2003, releasing a half-dozen studio albums and a compilation called “Greatest Tits”. With them finished, David Brandes gets their existing songs rewritten in Japanese, with no sex in them at all, puts together a girl group and presto – a romantic song about fighting for love follows, which promptly gets into the German top 20.

Shanadoo are still going, as well. As for E-Rotic? …well, not so much.

Tim: I can cope with that. Yeah, I can cope.