Almighty Pop Factor – When We Collide

It’s probably a good thing that most Biffy Clyro fans will never hear this.

Tim: For those that don’t know the story: about a year ago Scottish rock band Biffy Clyro came out with Many of Horror, which some fans liked and some fans felt wasn’t as good as the rest of their stuff, mostly because it was less rocky and too mainstream. Eleven months later, Matt Cardle wins The X Factor with a cover of it, retitled as the more family-friendly When We Collide, at which point all the Biffy Clyro fans remarked that it was in fact their best song ever and that Matt Cardle was the son of Satan.

Tom: True as that may be, it’s your typical hands-in-the-air winner’s song.

Tim: And now, as regularly happens with X Factor winners (and, indeed, many other songs) the good folk at Almighty Records have produced their own version, and to be honest it’s probably a good thing that most Biffy Clyro fans will never hear this.

Tom: Oh, Almighty Records, you wonderful people.

Tim: I’ll be honest: I’m a little disappointed.

Tom: Even with the…

Tim: Well, yes, it has the ridiculous and almost barely believable key change that we’ve come to expect, and I think the chiming bells work well, but something seems not quite right. For one, I think it would work better with a male vocalist.

Tom: Have Almighty ever used a male vocalist? I don’t think so. I’d like to hear what they could do with one, though.

Tim: Another thing is that it also seems to be constantly on the verge of fading out, at least whenever there’s an instrumental part. Then even the key change seems like it’s more of a formality than anything else – as though the producer thought ‘Oh, we’d better do that, hadn’t we? Erm, what can we do with it…tell you what, let’s put this effect here, turn that end up a bit, and that should do it. Anyone for the pub?’

Tom: Now you put it that way, I see what you mean – I don’t think I’ve ever heard them actually pitch-bend the whole bit of music before. It’s vaguely unsettling.

Tim: Don’t get me wrong – it’s not bad, obviously. But it’s certainly no You Raise Me Up, that’s for certain.

Tim: Because one key change just isn’t enough.

Tom: It never is, Tim. It never is.

Eric Prydz – Niton (The Reason)

Ooh – this is quite fun, isn’t it?

Tim: The first couple of times I heard this, I thought it was nothing particularly special, and was all ready to pass over it without saying anything. The third time, though, I suddenly found myself really liking it, but I don’t quite know why.

Tom: Well, Tim, I listened three times and I’ve got to say: that didn’t happen for me.

Tim: It like something suddenly happened in my head and I realised ‘Ooh – this is quite fun, isn’t it?’ There’s a bit of energy there, especially when it finally gets going just after two minutes in.

Tom: Why didn’t that happen a minute earlier though? The last thirty seconds of it’s a full Eric Prydz track, and the rest… isn’t. And I’m willing to bet that without scantily-clad dance instructors this ain’t going anywhere.

Tim: Much like the Dilba track, it’s never going to get anyone begging the DJ to play it, but it would certainly go down very well with a happy crowd. Thumbs up from me.

Natasha Thomas – Alene

Now what we have here, children, is a lesson for life.

Tim: Now what we have here, children, is a lesson for life.

Tom: Ooh, right. I’m sitting comfortably. You should begin.

Tim: You see, it starts off with a fairly healthy bass line and plenty of potential. With the beat that it has, it could go anywhere – turn into a proper dance tune, give us a great big cheesy chorus and massive key change or maybe even become some sort of Danish hip hop.

Tom: It’s like an ugly duckling, all ready to turn into a swan!

Tim: Does it do any of this? No. Absolutely not.

Tom: Oh.

Tim: It started with a healthy beat, it finished with a healthy beat, but it did absolutely nothing in between, and was entirely disappointing. It’s the musical equivalent of someone who is born, goes to school, just about passes his exams, gets a job in a small accountancy firm, retires at the age of 65 and then has a heart attack without anyone really noticing.

Tom: Damn.

Tim: Don’t be this song, kids. Do something with your lives.

Tom: You are so not Aesop, Tim.

Her Majesty and the Wolves – Stars In Your Eyes

Kimberly Wyatt. You know, Kimberly Wyatt?

Tom: Okay. Start with the backing from Dizzee Rascal’s ‘Dance Wiv Me’. Replace Dizzee Rascal with some American bloke, and Calvin Harris with an autotuned Kimberly Wyatt. You know, Kimberly Wyatt.

Tim: What, her off Kids in America?

Tom: Yeah, okay, I had to look her up as well. One of the Pussycat Dolls, apparently. Anyway, mash up all that and you get this:

Tom: I realised half way through that there is actually more to this song than that – once you get over the startling similarity to Dizzee’s track and she actually sings, this is actually quite danceable.

Tim: Yeah – it got me just after the first verse when the proper tune appeared, up until when I’d thought ‘why have you sent me this rubbish?’ And actually, all the way after that I really liked it – it was just the aforementioned American bloke that I didn’t get on with.

Tom: The chorus is a bit by-the-numbers, but despite that I rather like it. I wouldn’t say I’d head to the dancefloor if it got played, but I’d happily stay there.

They have blatantly ripped off Tron Legacy for the video though. He appears to be mixing on an electric hob.

Tim: Oh, please. Are you honestly telling me you’ve never made music with your kitchen implements?

Deejay Jay vs. Dilba – I’m Sorry

Ah, Ibiza. The sun, the sea, the sand, the sexually transmitted infections.

Tim: Bored of winter? In that case, close your eyes, lie back, listen to this and be whisked off to a beach on Ibiza.

Tom: Ah, Ibiza. The sun, the sea, the sand, the sexually transmitted infections.

Tim: A 1996 track, redone to sound like the summer of 2003 and released in the winter of 2010, it does go on a bit without really doing anything.

Tom: It’s pleasant enough, I suppose, but it’s very much “early night in a nearly-empty club”. Floor-filler it ain’t.

Tim: Well, for that we have the source material to blame – but I like it. It’s very peaceful, it’s very relaxing, and even if you don’t like that there’s a slightly (very slightly) heavier remix for you instead (which entirely fails to kick in at 1:33).

Tom: That 1:33 moment might be the worst stall I’ve ever heard. Mind you, it’s very difficult to count as ‘heavy’ at that plodding BPM.

Tim: But I think that’s all it’s meant for – it’s never going to get anyone raving, but it will fit nicely on a few chill out compilations.

Tom: I’ve never really liked or understood ‘chillout’ dance. That’s what other genres of music are for, surely?

Christmas Saturday Flashback: Basshunter – Jingle Bass

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Tom: It’s Christmas Day, and it’s a Saturday – which one of the many options do we choose for our Saturday Flashback? Well, really, there’s only one choice.

Tom: When he released this one back in 2006, it didn’t have the fancy video. That was added much later. He wasn’t a big international star then; he was a Swedish dance music producer who’d just released a slightly-novelty record about the internet. The only folks paying attention in Britain were people who lived on the internet. People like me.

Tim: How times change – fast forward two years and he’s got three top twenty singles under his belt and Scott Mills championing his track to be Christmas number one. (Needless to say, it didn’t quite take off Rage Against the Machine style, although a chart peak of 35 is perfectly respectable.)

Tom: So, here’s a little known fact for you: I was the first British person ever to interview Basshunter. November 2006 on University Radio York. There were no listeners, and I wasn’t a competent interviewer. (Drinking game: take a shot every time I unnecessarily say ‘mm-hm’.)

In this clip, he apologises for his music.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Tim: Thank you for that, Tom, and for the game (which I must admit currently has me mildly intoxicated), and so a very Merry Christmas to you too.

Barbarellas – Body Rock

Do you ever get lonely playing with your toys?

Tim: Now then Thomas, let me ask you – do you ever get lonely playing with your toys?

Tom: No, but some people say I look like me dad.

Tim: Ooh, you do a bit. But anyway, at least you got where I was coming from before revealing any unfortunate hobbies. Sadly, though, B*Witched haven’t got back together, but half of them have joined up and formed a slightly smaller girl group.

Tim: So, if their debut single is anything to go by, they’ve ditched the cheeky innuendo and have made it their mission to put out songs with good choruses and slightly tiresome verses.

Tom: But… cheeky innuendo is all they had.

Tim: Is it a fairly decent single, aiming to be liked by the people who liked Bad Romance and suchlike? Yes, and yes. Will they last? Almost certainly not, because there is next to nothing unique about them.

Tom: I know this is a slightly cruel thing to say, and I apologise, but from a distance the one in the black wig looks like Noel Fielding in drag. You know, him out of the Mighty Boosh.

Tim: Ouch. You’d better not say that too loud, mind – if you’re not careful she’ll huff, she’ll puff, she’ll huff and puff and blow you away.

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.