Saturday Flashback: Michelle – Es gibt dich

“A textbook example of a builder.”

Tim: I have no idea where I found this, but I was finally getting round to clearing up my 40+ Safari tabs when I re-found it, and I think it stands up.

Tom: This is the first time in a while that I’ve thought “wow, that’s a voice”. Those first lines, almost isolated, really show off her vocal quality.

Tim: It is, really, a textbook example of a builder. Middle eight aside, there isn’t a single component that isn’t a slightly increased version of what came before – hell, sometimes it increases midway through the verses.

Tom: It almost feels like the producers and engineers were having some fun with this one. I checked the waveform in an audio editor, and it literally increases in volume like someone’s steadily turning up a dial.

Tim: And when we come back from that middle eight, OH, I was absolutely not expecting it, but in hindsight it’s a perfect closing chorus. It’s a lovely song – nothing big or huge, but just really, really nice to listen to. And I like that in a song.

Cascada – Like The Way I Do

“This did manage to exceed my expectations.”

Tom: New Cascada!

Tim: Hooray!

Tom: It probably won’t be nearly as good as their famous tracks!

Tim: True!

Tom: That is… a lot of autotune on the verses. I’m not sure if it’s a stylistic choice or just an overapplied fix. But at least the choruses sound a bit cleaner.

Tim: Hmm, see, I’m not normally that great at hearing autotune, unless it’s cranked up to 2011, but, yeah, it does seem a bit excessive.

Tom: Still, this did manage to exceed my expectations. It’s a solid track: it’s never going to define an entire generation’s clubbing lifestyle, but then very few tracks do. This is a solid dance track from people who know how to make them.

Tim: True, can’t deny any of that. It was never going to be amazing as the earlier work – hell, it could never be – but it’s good enough.

Julie Bergan – Crazy Enough

Tim: New one off Julie, and, well, I played it once and it was still in my head 45 minutes later, so that’s got to be a good sign, right?

Tom: Usually, yes, but that was also true of the Fast Food Rockers.

Tom: Well, that’s a heck of an introduction and first verse, isn’t it?

Tim: Starts out as a fairly simple ballad, chorus comes along and turns up the volume a bit, then hits properly and we are BANGING with an absolutely marvellous track.

Tom: Oddly, it’s the chorus that I find unconvincing: it’s unusual to say I like a verse more. I agree that it’s catchy, I’m just not sure I like it.

Tim: Production is great, her vocal is on point, melody is strong and memorable, and all in all I have next to no criticisms about this track whatsoever.

Tom: I’m not quite that enthusiastic, but, sure, it’s not bad.

Tim: I say next to no criticisms: there’s one part I’m not so keen on, which is the ending. If it’d been a quieter ballad throughout that’d work, but as it is, going from a big hefty number suddenly to a single vocal just seems too abrupt. Not sure how to fix it, mind – maybe stick a minor instrument underneath it, or maybe just cut it off entirely, go straight to zero for even more impact? I don’t know, but that aside, it’s absolutely marvellous.

Samir & Viktor – Kemi

“It is a great chorus, I’ll grant that.”

Tim: So, I don’t know why, but I seem to be predisposed to like anything by these guys – objectively awful as they may be, they have enough of a Jedward quality about them to be, well, endearing is the wrong word, but something like that.

Tom: Also, and it’s just a guess, but I suspect the fact they get their shirts off regularly might have something to do with it.

Tim: Anyway, here’s the new one, and you might be able to see where I’m going with that intro.

Tom: It’s like Jedward with less shouting.

Tim: See, from a different artist, there are a number of things I’d dislike here – the excessive autotune, with no attempt to hide it as though it’s still 2011; the lack of a melody throughout a large part of it; in some areas, it just verges into a genre I’m not keen on. And yet, that chorus is so good and happy and uplifting, combined with their textbook enthusiasm, that I can’t dislike it.

Tom: It is a great chorus, I’ll grant that. I’m just not sure it makes up for the rest of the song?

Tim: I’d clarify that a bit: if they hadn’t opened with that chorus, I might have switched off after twenty seconds, so putting that first was a great move. All in all, it’s a song I can’t really bring myself to dislike.

Arvingarna – I morgon

“DANSBAND.”

Tom: Yesterday, you promised loud, exciting, carefree stuff. GO ON THEN.

Tim: DANSBAND.

Tom: YES.

Tim: And it’s time for us as English speakers to giggle childishly at the pronunciation of the Swedish for ‘tomorrow’.

Tom: I mean, I did smile.

Tim: Yep, figures. I can’t find the lyrics for this online, which is a shame as I’m fairly sure they mention Netflix in there quite a bit and I’d love to know the context. If I had to guess it from words I do recognise, I’m thinking it’s along the lines of “sod this, can’t be bothered right now, I’ll do it tomorrow”. And oh, boy, can we all identify with that.

Tom: What I like about dansband is how it somehow balances a line between cheesy schlager music and the sort of Status-Quo dad-rock that’s still respectable and getting radio play on radio from time to time. Listen to that ridiculous outro!

Tim: And when we combine that with the standard fun and enjoyment that typically comes with the best of the genre, what’s not to like?

Tove Lo feat. ALMA – Bad As The Boys

“Bringing out emotions in all the right ways, and using exactly the right type of music to do so.

Tim: Tove here singing about a summer experiment that didn’t go so great, with ALMA along as a token lesbian (genuinely – Tove says that “since I’m singing about a girl, I wanted another female artist on it who also likes girls; so I hit up ALMA”). Sweet, no?

Tim: And that right there is a really good pop song. It isn’t, of course, our usual preference of loud, exciting carefree stuff (for that, see tomorrow’s post), but it is a lovely melancholy number, bringing out emotions in all the right ways, and using exactly the right type of music to do so.

Tom: I had to reset my expectations, because I thought the chorus was a pre-chorus: given it’s Tove Lo, I was expecting something a bit louder. Once I’d figured out what the song was aiming for… sure. It’s not bad.

Tim: The verses are downbeat, the chorus melody and lyrics explain that and everything melds together nicely, telling a narrative really rather beautifully. Fair?

Tom: Fair, but I can’t help thinking that the last few seconds of vertical video, where it’s being sung as a proper ballad, might actually have been the seeds for a better track.

Feuerherz – Wer kann da denn schon nein sagen?

“Wet shirts! Beckoning at the camera! Dance sequences in the middle of an empty ampitheatre on top of a mining heap!”

Tim: We’ve featured Feuerherz (Fireheart, incidentally) a couple of times previously, with the general view being ‘entirely average boyband’, typically early 2010s One Direction, JLS, The Wanted, that sort of thing. Except, now we’re going back further than that. Mid 90s, say, with multiple moments here that made me smile and one that made me spit my drink out.

Tom: I genuinely don’t know what to say. It’s technically perfect — of course it is. It is just that, even for schlager, this is so incredibly cheesy that it’s difficult to take seriously.

Tim: We’ve mentioned it before, with other German pop, but there’s something nice about people doing this music entirely straight-faced, despite it being horrifically unfashionable these days. Dancing in sync, and what sort of choreographer thinks ‘what this really needs now is half of them doing slow forward rolls’?

Tom: Wet shirts! Beckoning at the camera! Dance sequences in the middle of an empty ampitheatre on top of a mining heap!

Tim: Key change, predictable now it’s happened but which did take me slightly by surprise. And hell, they’re even dressed like the Backstreet Boys.

Tom: The most startling part, of course, is that it’s actually catchy.

Tim: The title translates to “Who can say no?”, and, well, I certainly can’t.

TEEO – For You & I

“Brimming over with positivity, all in all being nice and happy to listen to.”

Tim: TEEO is a Swedish guy called Teo Rösarne, and this is his debut track; much like yesterday, it sounds straight out of the 80s, but much unlike yesterday, it is not in the least bit mopey or slow.

Tom: At least, not once the chorus kicks in.

Tim: That, in fact, is what I’d really have liked to have heard from yesterday’s track, being exciting and fast moving, with lots happening. It is, according to TEEO, “a song that’s been written to lift others up, and to say YES to love, and NO to hate”, which is a bloody marvellous reason to write a song if you ask me.

Tom: It is, although — and this is where I am, as ever, the killjoy — it’s just a pity that it’s only an okay song. I do understand what he’s aiming for, I just don’t think he’s hit the bullseye.

Tim: I disagree there – I think it comes across in the music and lyrics, brimming over with positivity, all in all being nice and happy to listen to. Lovely.

ROOM8 feat. The Sound of Arrows – Only You

“This is so bland that it doesn’t even really leave any impression at all.”

Tim: Couple of years ago these two acts teamed up to bring us the fairly good Just You & I, and now we’ve this, with what I think is a first, from The Sound of Arrows at least: a ballad. And it’s…

Tom: …24fps horizontal movie shots letterboxed into a stuttering 50fps vertical video. That absolutely makes sense. Whoever did the editing on this is a prat.

Tim: Yeah, it’s a horrible video. Slightly alright concept, appalling execution.

Tom: Sorry, you were probably talking about the music, weren’t you?

Tim: Mainly, yes, and it’s very, very 1980s for starters. Yes, we’ve the genre and sound in general, but we’ve also the aforementioned music video with various ’80s high school movies, and the real clincher of the fade out ending. I’ll be honest: I’m not particularly keen on it, which I think is another first for a Sound of Arrows track.

Tom: I do remember you like the Sound of Arrows a lot, which, uh, feels like the only reason we’re talking about this. This is so bland that it doesn’t even really leave any impression at all.

Tim: Well, your hunch is right: it is only here because it’s a Sound of Arrows track, and normally they’re great. I don’t feel too bad about saying this is rubbish, though, what with them being just a feat. rather than being the main artist, but it still feels weird to say. It’s too slow, too mopey, too…yeah, just, not for me really. Shame.

Icona Pop – Next Mistake

“This isn’t a track I’d much choose to listen to, outside of, say, a genre compilation album”

Tim: Something today I think you’ll like: bit of 90s-sounding piano house, with some nice 90s Winamp visualisers in the video as well.

Tom: Nineties?! Mate, I still use Winamp.

Tim: Seriously? Wow.

Tim: Hitting your buttons there?

Tom: It is, if the buttons in question are “sure, I guess that’s a piano-dance track” and “wait, why am I tapping my feet to this”.

Tim: I personally really quite like it – at least, as a 90s dance track. Weirdly, although I’ve no problem with the genre at all, this isn’t a track I’d much choose to listen to, outside of, say, a genre compilation album if I was properly in the mood. Is that weird? I’m not sure.

Tom: No, it’s basically how I feel about this. This wouldn’t be on a playlist for me unless I specifically wanted to hear this genre of vaguely-retro music. And if I want that, then I probably want nostalgia, and tracks I’m mostly familiar with, rather than modern stuff.

Tim: Basically, it’s good, and fits the genre perfectly, so well done Icona. Just, not for me right now.