Saturday Flashback: Mike Posner – Cooler Than Me

What a dick.

Tim: This one’s been suggested by Vanessa, who writes:

“I like the bass line and the vocals, but after a few repetitions it becomes rather trite.”

Well, that basically sums up most of the things we review here, so let’s have a look.

Tom: I think I can sum the video up as ‘what a dick’.

Tim: Now now, don’t be nasty – just because he likes to wear a lot of glasses and write songs reassuring women that he is in fact cooler than them, he’s not… actually, no, you’re right. He is.

Tom: Vanessa’s right, though. The vocals are competent, with a slight breathy quality that seems to work despite the fact that half the time they don’t actually seem to be hitting any note. The bassline’s catchy, too – and the brief mid-song pause with ‘shh’ works really well.

Tim: It’s alright – for me it just seemed to go in one ear and out of the other. Nothing really wrong with it, but nothing to really make me want to hear it again.

Tom: It’s a pity that, as I mentioned, he appears to be a dick. On the plus side, the 3D bit of the video really is filmed in 3D – the concept’s excellent.

Katy B feat. Ms Dynamite – Lights On

I’m sorry, is it the 90s all of a sudden?

Tom: I’m sorry, is it the 90s all of a sudden?

Tom: We need a name for something, Tim, and that something is “the feeling you get two minutes into a song when you realise no, it’s not over yet, and you haven’t even heard the bridge yet”. I got that feeling so strongly with this track.

Tim: Me too, and so much so that I can’t really think anything other than ‘why hasn’t this finished yet?’ It’s just seems so pointless.

Tom: Yes, we get it Katy, you’re drunk and you don’t want to stop dancing. Now stop embarrassing yourself and head to the cloakroom, the bouncers are starting to look at you funny. No, the floor isn’t tilting. Just… walk with me, okay, just over here. Okay, great.

As for Ms Dynamite: when did mid-90s half-singing half-rapping come back into fashion? It was a bit embarrassing back then, and it definitely is now.

Tim: I believe we can attribute that to Alesha Dixon’s The Boy Does Nothing, which wouldn’t really have happened without Strictly Come Dancing; as such, I blame Bruce Forsyth.

Tom: Yes, but you blame everything on Bruce Forsyth.

Tim: Look, I don’t care what you say about my tripping over that bucket – if it wasn’t for him and that bloody catchphrase we’d never have come anywhere near to getting caught and you know it. I might still have most of my hair as well.

Saturday Flashback: Basshunter – Boten Anna (Instrumental)

Just a bit calming, really.

Tim: What? What on Earth is the point of me suggesting this? Which sensible person doesn’t know of the excellent Basshunter and his signature tune Boten Anna? Well, indeed. However, this version came on my generic nano-sized music player a while back and 50 seconds in I suddenly had absolutely no idea what was going on in the world. I kid you not, there was a part of me thought I had somehow taken some sort of drug without realising it.

Tom: The dancey bits are doing that thing that Basshunter usually does – where the loud part of the synth line happens on the off-beat. I swear that’s designed to make less-musical clubbers lose their timing and look like idiots.

Tim: Tiësto‘s quite good at that as well. The guitar part in this took me a while to get used to it, but I think I actually prefer it, outside of a clubby/dancey environment. It’s unusual, it’s not as aggressive as the other instrumental version I’ve got, and it’s just a bit calming, really.

Tom: I wouldn’t go so far as ‘calming’, but the acoustic guitar and choral synth patch bit in the middle is almost like the soundtrack of a cheesy sci-fi movie. If any readers have skipped over listening to this because they ‘know what it sounds like’ – they’re wrong.

Not sure about the trio of vaguely-threatening Basshunters in the bottom right of the video clip, though.

Tim: To me it looks a little bit like the scrawny drug-dealer in the middle being protected by two hardcore goons on the outside. Or the nerdy kid who gets protected by the big guys because he does their homework for them.

Robyn – Indestructible & Call Your Girlfriend

Do they suffer the same problems?

Tom: We’ve harped on about Robyn’s songs for a while, and our complaint is always the same: they start at a moderate level of enthusiasm, the end at the same level, and they go nowhere in between. There’s no rise and fall, just a constant electronic beat and her singing.

Tim: Although it should perhaps be said that in some songs, such as Hang With Me, the moderate level is enough to enjoy the track if it’s on in the background.

Tom: Indestructible has been out as an acoustic version for a while, but the full synth-backed version is being released as a single soon. The question is, of course, is it the same as all the rest?

Tom: Yes, yes it is.

So, rather than say anything further, I suggest we use the rest of this post to discuss what the hell the bridge bit sounds like. Something from Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds, perhaps? The opening theme to Treasure Hunt? I can’t quite place it.

Tim: Haha, it is a bit like Treasure Hunt, isn’t it? However, I feel that instead of moving on we should provide properly constructive criticism, rather than just ‘make it louder’. For this song, I have two recommendations:

  • The ‘let the bad ones in and the good ones go’ before the chorus is nice and sway-y, but that is spoiled by the ‘but. PAUSE.’ that happens next. I suggest losing those and instead having a ‘good ones go-o-oh’ leading gently into ‘I’m gonna…’
  • The parts of each verse that first occur with ‘not alone’ and then ‘don’t let go’ should have at least an echo, if not proper backing singers. Although this is optional for the first verse, there is no way the second verse and later should not have it.

Tom: Sorry, what was that? I was busy watching Anneka Rice.

Tim: Well, actually, stop that and pay attention. Because this just in, from fan of the site Gerald: a track from the new album (a culmination of 2010’s Body Talk trilogy) entitled Call Your Girlfriend. Now sit down and brace yourself: it’s actually really good. (In his words: “12 times in one day good”.)

Tim: If we’re being honest, and looking back at what we’ve said above, we’ve always been a little bit harsher on Robyn than she deserves – we’ve said that the songs, when heard just as songs, have not been great, for one reason or another. While all that is true, and I stand by it, we’ve not really mentioned that the music itself is quite good – it’s danceable, especially when mixed into other tracks, and if you hear it in the background of a shop of something you will likely think ‘Ooh, I like this’.

Tom: Believe it or not, that happened to me yesterday when a remix of ‘Hang With Me’ got played at an event I was at. And I liked it. Rewatching it now, even the video seems charming.

Tim: But, there have always been problems. And yet here, no. From when the synth first hits after the initial ‘Call your’, the melody is strong and the verses vibrant. The chorus is energetic with a healthy beat, and I like the way it flows straight back into the verse afterwards. The first part of the bridge is a bit bonkers, in a very good way. The second part of it is proper emotional singing, which is unexpected but great. The ‘caaaalll…’ even comes perilously close to a previously unimaginable Robyn post-bridge climax. Yes, it’s possibly a chorus too long at the end, and the two lines following each of the early choruses are a bit weak, but other than that I just can’t fault it.

Tom: I was all ready to disagree with you and say it was another boring track, but then the chorus kicked in and I decided that you’re exactly right. “The only way her heart will mend” did the musical equivalent of hitting me in the face… in a good way.

September – Resuscitate Me

I think it’s slightly excellent

Tim: Now, this was never going to be as good as the UK radio edit of Can’t Get Over, so I set my sights deliberately low, but overall I don’t think that was needed – it’s easily on a par with Cry For You, for a start.

Tom: She’s now got a recognisable voice and style – something that I’d recognise as ‘September’ even if it just turned up on the radio. I think it’s the similar synth lines – it’s an interesting way to build a musical brand, but it works.

Tim: But what is it as a song on its own? I think it’s slightly excellent – the ‘don’t you let my heart die boy’ lead into the chorus works very well as a ‘get ready to dance’ warning, and there’s plenty of energy lying around all over the please.

Tom: Except in the bridge. That bridge goes on far too long.

Tim: Hmm, maybe – I think think it works. I do have a couple of issues (the high pitched vocals being almost impossible to decipher, the idea of ‘love CPR’ which is just as ridiculous here as it was when JLS invented it a while back*), but overall this is a stonkingly good effort.

* And that’s actually the title of her new album. Why. Just, why.

Tom: Stonkingly?

Tim: Yes, I said stonkingly. Live with it.

Tom: You are an 80s commercial radio DJ and I claim my five pounds.

Gorillaz feat. Daley – Doncamatic (All Played Out)

Generally un-notable electronica.

Tom: Ah, Gorillaz. Damon Albarn’s cartoon project is still going, and still producing generally un-notable electronica. Whatever the singles from ‘Plastic Beach’ were, I can’t remember them; and the only reason ‘Dare’ actually lodged itself in my head was because of Shaun Ryder’s vocals. So I shouldn’t have been disappointed by this, but nevertheless I was.

Tim: How on Earth has it managed to go on for longer than Blur did? Unjust universe, I tell you.

Tom: I hoped for another ’19-2000′ (and the Soulchild remix of it, at that). I set my sights too high. The instrumental bridge, with its two-instrument synth and percussion line, actually made me cringe as my ears tried to work out what was going on.

Tim: Yes. The first time I heard it, the first ‘Doncamatic’ made me think ‘Ooh, it’s Barbra Streisand’ all over again, albeit a not-as-good alternative. On the other hand, the chorus is quite nice, and a song made from the last minute or so might work quite well. It’s just a shame that the rest of it’s a bit pointless.

Tom: I’m going to go and listen to ‘Feel Good Inc’ again to try and get this out of my head. Wait… no need. It’s gone.

Disco Rapido – We Play The Pipe

THAT’S RIGHT! It’s new Daz Sampson.

Tim: It was mentioned last Saturday that Daz Sampson crops up in all sorts of unlikely places. Since then, he’s got in touch* with another one, because THAT’S RIGHT! It’s new Daz Sampson.

* For any readers who may still be interested, he also informed us that Ben O’Brien was his manager who dreamed of being able to get taxis everywhere – Daz’s shout-out was a way of promising him that the money would soon flood in, and that he would be able to do just that.

Tom: And now, we’ve recorded the Ben O’Brien reference for posterity. Excellent. Right – what’s the new one? I’m bracing myself.

Tim: Well, this time, there’s a twist – he’s decided that enough is enough, and that with this one it’s all or nothing: if this doesn’t make the Top 10 he’s calling it a day. (And he’s also said that unlike Lisa Scott-Lee, he actually means it.)

Tim: So, basically, he’s calling it a day.

Tom: Now, don’t be quite so cynical. It doesn’t take much to get to the top 10 these da—hahaha, okay, I just heard it, he’s calling it a day.

Tim: Now, sorry Daz, but why couldn’t you have had a decent last stand? I have no idea, but the Facebook page says that acts they* like include Yolanda Be Cool and Riva Starr, which suggests to me that what they’ve really done is look for weird stuff that’s done well recently and tried to copy it.

* There’s another bloke involved – no idea who.

Tom: I don’t want to be too harsh, because the guy’s actually emailed us and seems like a decent bloke. That said, it’s blatant style-copying. A retro sample, a beat over the top, an occasional vocal sample, and a stupid cut-price video. Although, fair credit to them, the Blackpool Illuminations bit at the end did actually make me smile a bit.

Tim: Only problem is: the song’s more than a little bit crap. But, to be brutally honest, so were the others, really. They only succeeded because they were novelties, it was the right time of year for unusual dance tracks and people got caught up in the mood. Now, however, it’s the middle of November and it’s cold and wet outside; if people want to dance to unusual music they’ll wait until Slade or Wizzard comes on the radio, rather than listen to what Pete Tong’s got lined up for them on a Friday night.

Tom: There’s the inevitable slew of crap novelty Christmas cash-in records coming, isn’t there? Damn it, ever since downloads started counting for the chart the race for Christmas Number One has been a horrid race-to-the-bottom bunfight. Well, apart from last year’s Rage Against The Machine bit, of course.

Tim: Farewell Daz – it was good while it lasted. Well, slightly good. Ish.

Tom: He is the UK’s number 4 MC. Never forget that.

Tim: Hang on – I’ve just reread his e-mail, and he’s actually said the reverse, albeit slightly confusingly what with the Lisa Scott-Lee comparisons. If this is a hit, he’ll walk away. I guess we’ve got another fifteen years of Daz to come.

Tom: How has he not done a soap powder sponsorship yet? I mean, the link is obvious.

Tim: BANG! And Daz is gone.

Oh, if only it were that simple.

Pet Shop Boys – Together

The new one isn’t a classic.

Tom: I listened to this – and then immediately went and listened to ‘Go West’, which is actually good.

The Pet Shop Boys have the same approach as Pink – put loads and loads of stuff out, eventually you’ll have enough classics to do a medley at the Brits. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s a good approach, but it does mean it’s a bit disappointing when the new one isn’t a classic.

Tim: True. However, I think one problem here is the whole absence makes the heart grow fonder thing, because I’ve just listened to the rest of their previous greatest hits album from 2003 – Since when they’ve apparently released two new albums and five singles. Nope, me neither.

Tom: I remember one album and one single. To be fair, Love Etc was a very good single.

Tim: Maybe, but the fact remains that the vast majority of their songs are nowhere near as good as Go West, and this song is in fact a lot better than most of them. Of course it’s not as good as Go West – the chances of that would be near zero. It is, on the other hand, still a good song and deserves to be judged on its own merits.

So, its merits. The song as a whole has a lot of energy and vibrancy to it – it’s somehow managed to stay in the style of music they’ve always been known for, yet not seem dated at all.

Tom: I’ll grant it that. It’s their style, and it doesn’t seem dated. But it also doesn’t seem to be much good: it just plods along.

Tim: There are elements of The Journey Continues to it, which was a pleasant enough tune, but one thing I’m not particularly keen on is the way it temporarily ends after the first verse.

Tom: I’m not keen on that either. The ‘temporary’ part, I mean.

Tim: Overall, however, I think it rates as perhaps not excellent, but certainly jolly good, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it ended up on a few people’s ‘Top however many Most Played’ playlists.

Tom: Somewhere near Pink’s latest track.

Saturday Flashback: Special D. – Here I Am

Quite what sort of thought process led to this I can only imagine

Tim: So then, Tom. What do you say to a good old fashioned Cold War political song reimagined as a mid-2000s dance tune? Check this, from 2005.

Tom: That is, indeed, quite special.

Tim: Isn’t it just? I was going to suggest Come With Me, but then I remembered this, which is (a) less well-known and (b) far, far, far more worthy of discussion. Quite what sort of thought process led to this reworking of Nena’s 99 Luftballons I can only imagine, but the tune is only half of it. The lyric “Here I am, my brand new track, I made it ’cause you want me back” suggests someone inundated with fan mail, rather than somebody who had a big hit two years previously and who since then had released a steady flow of mediocre and slightly appreciated tracks.

Tom: What gets me is that’s the main lyric. It’s not the intro bit, which would be just-about-acceptable, although perilously close to doing a Flo Rida. That’s the whole song. It’s a meta-track, a track that’s entirely about itself. I hate meta-tracks. It’s like Tamperer’s appalling If You Buy This Record – take a well-known song, add a louder beat and some different vocal samples, and churn out another track.

Tim: Then, given that everybody’s heard Operation Blade (even if they don’t know it), what comes out of his mouth at 2:25 is just brilliant.

Tom: “I haven’t heard that,” I thought. And then I realised that, yes, I had heard it.

Tim: The video of five hot girls in a car race is, well, just plain odd.

Tom: Not when you think about who the target market is. They know their demographics.

Tim: Oh, I’ve got no problem with that – as bland and usual an idea as any other dance video. It’s the details, though – their names, for example, start off vaguely logical, but then drop it completely. We have ‘Speederella’ being a bit like Cinderella, ‘Gasolina’ continuing a princess pattern, being a bit like (albeit considerably less pleasant than) Thumbelina, and then ‘Velocity’ is a bit like, um, a science lesson. Right. And the ‘Oh, you’re so funny, putting the turntable on the wrong setting’ exchange comes out of absolutely nowhere.

Tom: That just seems normal for me, and here’s why: I’m used to listening to long-form mixes, like Deep Dance – there’s an obscure Wikipedia article for me – where those get dropped in all the time.

Tim: Having said all that: I love it.

Tom: Annoyingly, I’ve got to agree.

Saturday Flashback: DJ Daz – The Woah Song

Enthusiastic but nevertheless slightly creepy.

Tom: You will recognise Daz Sampson. We could write an entire tribute article to his career, and his never-say-die attitude – that’s not sarcasm, the man’s been in more line-ups than a serial mugger. He turns up in the strangest places: on Eurovision, on Dance Dance Revolution games, and in songs with the most bizarre shoutouts I’ve ever heard. (“Jamie – shine the magic torch!“). And throughout all of it, he keeps the same voice and persona: that of the enthusiastic but nevertheless slightly creepy uncle at a wedding disco.

Tom: All that said, I’m not quite sure what he was thinking with this.

Tim: No. Umm…

Tom: Tarzan Boy by Baltimora? Twenty women in lingerie? A blue tracksuit? The shoutout to himself, “the old kung-fu star” – which is followed with a sampled ‘whoo-ha’, just in case you didn’t get it?

Tim: It’s…well, I mean, it’s a bit…sort of…maybe…right, I’ll admit – I have absolutely no idea. I am, however, grateful that it’s only 2 minutes and 44 seconds long.

Tom: Oh, and there’s a brief, horrible moment when he appears to be spanking himself. If you didn’t notice it, don’t go back and look. Just be thankful.

Tim: Believe me, I won’t go back.

Hang on. I’ve just listened to that ‘shine the magic torch‘ track, and it suddenly got me in a fit of giggles. Why didn’t you suggest that one? Not only is there that shout-out, but there’s also the line ‘I’m the UK’s number 4 MC.’ It reminds me of the (sadly long now disbanded) Scooter tribute act Moped, although I doubt either of them would appreciate the comparison.

Tom: Isn’t that the best shout-out ever? The extended version, sadly not on YouTube, also gives shoutouts to non-existent people (followed up with a quiet ‘Who?’ in the background), and includes the enthusiastic line “Ben O’Brien – if you book your taxi, it will come“.

History does not record who Ben O’Brien actually is, or whether he failed to book his taxi.