Saturday Flashback: Cascada – How Do You Do

“It makes me smile every single time.”

Tim: And now, for no reason whatsoever other than “well duh, why not?”, let’s have some beautifully textbook mid-’00s Eurodance.

Tim: Not a lot to say about it, really – it’s a cover of Roxette’s (rather more successful) original song, and it makes me smile every single time it pops up on my phone.

Tom: There’s a lot to be said for a good cover like this: yes, Cascada could basically be any session singer, and yes, it’s a by-the-numbers remix — but in a style that I grew up with. Now I’m older, I’m aware that “repeating the chorus with one particular Eurodance synth patch” is not an objectively great bit of music: but that doesn’t stop me liking it. And let’s be honest, the talking bit does not fit in this song. But…

Tim: …it has a ludicrous dance beat, lyrics that are great to sing along with, and all in all I just love it. Unapologetically.

Tove Styrke – Mistakes

“Until I get used to this I’m just going to get grumpy at it.”

Tim: Just as you reported yesterday there wasn’t much around from Europe, YouTube threw this up in my recommendeds, and you’ll enjoy it a lot more if you take the pre-chorus as the chorus and the chorus as the post-chorus, at least for the first half of the song.

Tom: I actually swore out loud at that chorus.

Tim: As well you might, because just like yesterday, that’s a great pre-chorus section with a sudden dip.

Tom: Right. I know that pop’s going more experimental at the moment, and I guess that’s to be commended, but until I get used to this I’m just going to get grumpy at it.

Tim: That’s fair, although the second part, with the title in the lyrics, is still pretty good, as we’d hope for with it being the official chorus. It’s more than capable of holding up the song on its own in the closing section, with the built-up instrumentation underneath it.

Tom: Nope. Don’t like the simplistic synths — they’re like chiptune, but bad — and I don’t like the style. It’s just… not enjoyable.

Tim: MI don’t know, I can just about take it. But much like Kygo & Selena Gomez, though, for me it’s the pre-chorus that wins it, and wins it well.

Anna of the North – Someone

Tim: Anna’s off Norway and has just released her debut album; here’s the lead single for you, which comes with an incredibly familiar intro.

Tom: That sounds like a lot of synthpop — both in terms of style and in terms of the exact synth patches used. But if you’re going to be inspired by any genre, this is a pretty good choice.

Tim: And right now I can’t place it exactly, but damn, if it isn’t just so recognisable. Regardless of that, though, and the fact that it’s a (deliberate or otherwise) second hand hook that permeates the vast majority of the song, I like the whole entity a lot – nice vocals, almost soothing and relaxing, really, and I’ll take that. A decent debut.

Tom: I’m not sure what’s going on with that… key change?… into the middle eight, but sure. It’s a good start.

Saturday Flashback: Peter Maffay – Nessaja

“A little green dragon called Tabaluga”

Tim: Now, until I flicked back through Scooter’s history for Wednesday’s post, I had absolutely no idea that their follow-up to The Logical Song, and their only other UK top 10 track, was a sort-of cover. Now, press play, sit back, and please allow me to educate you – the history is fascinating.

Tom: I knew this was a cover – and there’s a KLF sample or two in there as well – but I did not know there was a long history.

Tim: Oh, yes. You see, Peter Maffay is a German musician, and was well known in the 70s & 80s – his first single, Du, was 1970’s biggest selling track in Germany, and he holds the German records for most million-plus selling albums (14) and most number one albums (16). Now, in 1983, he decided to get a bit experimental. He began a series of musical fairy tales, all starring a little green dragon called Tabaluga, which so far span five albums.

Tom: Right. Okay. Well, I guess everyone has a hobby.

Tim: The first (which contains this song) was called Tabaluga…or The Journey to Reason (but in German), and since then there have been tours, books, cartoons, a full size musical and even a long-running TV game show in which contestants win prizes that they donate to schools and children’s homes.

Tom: And Scooter decided to come along and cover it, along with a video containing a lot of scantily clad women. Well, it was the early 2000s.

Tim: Oh, and you might be wondering why it’s called Nessaja. Simple: Nessaja was Tabaluga’s mentor, a giant turtle who here is singing about how he never wanted to grow up, but that Tabaluga has his whole life ahead of him. And you know, typing that last sentence almost got me a bit tearful – no wonder Scooter wanted to honour it.

State of Sound – Heaven

“This has already been done, and so much better.”

Tim: Remember how last week we said that tropical pop had more or less finished, and by extension that we were done with dodgy covers of classic songs? Yeah, well apparently that memo didn’t reach this lot.

Tom: It’s a cover! It’s actually a cover. And… I don’t know how I feel about that.

Tim: Well, quite. See, I still don’t really know what it is that makes me like or dislike tropical covers. Why I liked Africa, and why I really, really didn’t like Never Gonna Give You Up. This…this doesn’t actually get me going either way, and in fact I’m entirely neutral on it. It’s certainly an improvement on their previous, which rubbed us both up the wrong way, though.

Tom: The trouble here is that this has already been done, and so much better. The DJ Sammy version is the definitive one for me, over and above the original. This isn’t bringing anything new to the table: it’s just being compared to something better.

Tim: Is it necessary? No. Is it offensive? No. Is it, really, just designed to fit on your standard tropical sounding playlist, even though people have moved on? Probably.

Saturday Flashback: Vanessa Mai – Ich Sterb Für Dich

“Do you recognise this?”

Tim: Question, please: do you recognise this?

Tim: Because to the best of my knowledge, I have never heard it before. It’s from 2016, but we didn’t feature it, it wasn’t a potential Eurovision competitor, and a Google search brings up next to nothing about the artist. She’s not on any Wikipedia except for the German one, and she’s only had a couple of tracks out, yet when Apple Music put it on a ‘tracks you’ll probably like’ I pretty much was immediately familiar with it.

Tom: That’s because you’ve heard every component of it before. No, I don’t recognise the song, but I recognise many parts From the Seven Nation Army-esque intro, to the Modern Talking-esque chorus, to the melody line that’s close to Robin Gibb’s Juliet, to… well, everything, basically.

Tim: Yes, that’s true – there’s also the pre-chorus from I Think We’re Alone Now. Though it’s interesting you mention Modern Talking – it was co-written and produced by Dieter Bohlen, half of that duo (whose name I found rather confusing last night when Google Translate told me this song had been “produced by planks”. Anyway, whether or not I have heard it before doesn’t change one thing: I do like it. I like it a lot. It’s a German language cover of the 1997 track “And Then I Die” by the also German band Touché, and is substantially more schlager-y, particularly when you add the dance routine and wind machine in the video. I LOVE it. Dancey, fun, exciting, it’s GLORIOUS.

Ambivalensen – Allt För Mig

“Alas, poor Tom”

Tim: Two Swedes here, Joel and Sandra, presenting a nice chanty chorus surrounding one of Shakespeare’s better known tales.

Tom: Hamlet? Tell me it’s Hamlet.

Tim: Alas, poor Tom, it is not.

Tim: But what a lovely track that is anyway, with a mix of jaunty whistling, gentle electronic beats, bouncy piano and hefty chanting all somehow working well together – doesn’t sound like a recipe that’d work, but for me it really does.

Tom: As ever, I’m more cynical. It is a song where the middle eight is better than the rest of the track — and where the chorus just grates. If your chorus is just a few words endlessly repeating, you’d better have an absolutely incredible melody to go with them — not just five shouted notes. I’m not into this.

Tim: Oh, shame. Perhaps we’re at an Icona Pop-style impasse, here, as I thoroughly enjoy the shoutedness. And as for the lyrics, well, I can’t find them online so I’ve no idea what the actual message of it is, but it doesn’t sound like it’s about suicidally tragic romances so that’s nice. All in all: a good fun track (hopefully).

Birgir – Can You Feel It

“I think it’s more ‘inspired by’ rather than ‘ripping off’.”

Tim: Birgir’s new and off Sweden, and here’s a track for us to get our teeth into.

Tom: I’m always baffled when someone releases a song that has the same name as a classic. I get why, it’s the big line in the chorus, but surely it’ll always be eclipsed?

Tim: Perhaps, yes, but it’s not the only part you might recognise…

Tim: Now, I love that. It’s a brilliant track. And I can tell you exactly why, and upsettingly it’s not a good reason: it’s full of other people’s brilliant bits.

Tom: Which, given the title, isn’t surprising. I’m not getting anything specific, though: what do you hear?

Tim: The first few notes of the “whoah-oh-oh” line are familiar, I think it’s Coldplay? I’m fairly sure I’ve heard the exact melody of the very first line before. The pre-chorus is similar to that of Ben Haenow’s Something I Need, and they just keep coming. They’re all good bits, and I love the song because of it – but they’re all second hand good bits.

Tom: I think it’s more “inspired by” rather than “ripping off” – but then, I reread The Manual1 recently, so perhaps I’m more willing to forgive that at the moment.

Tim: I don’t know, you may be right – in fact you probably are, as it’s almost certainly not a deliberate “right, we’ll take that bit from there, and that from there, and ooh, let’s use that bit as well”, but it’s still too recognisable. It’s annoying, because the original parts of this are great as well (looking at you, electric guitar in the middle eight), but the level of familiarity is just too much. And that really sucks.

Frida Sundemo – Gold

“I don’t often describe tracks as gorgeous and beautiful, so you’d better believe I’m serious here.”

Tim: To recap, when we last featured Frida I remarked that it was great, as with so much of her output, and you could see why it was a good song, but weren’t so keen. Shall we try again?

Tim: And that. is. GORGEOUS.

Tom: Took a while to get going, but yes, that’s entirely the right adjective.

Tim: I wasn’t so sure about the first thirty seconds or so, because until the big violin roll at that point, the vocal and instrumental parts didn’t really seem to connect. That moment drew them together, though, and after that big drumbeat one minute in I had no doubts. Her voice, matched with the beautiful instrumental underneath, sounds absolutely wonderful (and I don’t often describe tracks as gorgeous and beautiful, so you’d better believe I’m serious here).

Tom: So I agree with you: “gorgeous” and “beautiful” are the correct words here. However, “entertaining” and “memorable” are a bit lower down the list for me: ‘deep into the ocean’ started to grate after a few repeats, and I don’t think I’d actually want this in a playlist.

Tim: Hmm…I can maybe see where you’re coming from with that, though I can’t say I agree with you.

Tom: Also, is that a key change down in the middle eight that never comes back up?

Tim: A slight key change, yes, but I don’t think think it’s a downward one. The song as a whole is about bravery and “having the courage to risk something that’s ‘alright’ for the chances of getting something you really dream about”, which right now connects with me as wanting to throw out my futon to make room for the newly announced LEGO Millennium Falcon.

Tom: …mate.

Tim: IT’S A SIGN, but I think I’ve got distracted. To sum up: what a glorious song.

Annoyingly, I always seem to forget how much I like Frida until every time we feature her here, BUT she’s bringing out her first international album five weeks from today so can we put that in our calendars please.

Sunrise Avenue – I Help You Hate Me

“Isn’t that adorable? NO.”

Tim: Remember this lot, off the phenomenally good Hollywood Hills a few years back?

Tom: As ever, no, but I’ll roll with it anyway.

Tim: This is their first one in quite some time; treat yourself by pressing play, why don’t you. (Music starts at 0:35, if you don’t want the backstory.)

Tim: And what a sweet song that is, sort of – this lovely man offering to be a real dick just to rub in the fact that he’s dumped her. Isn’t that adorable? NO. But, it does make for some fun lyrics, as however iffy the profile picture line may be as a lyric, it did make me smirk a bit (as, in fact, did the very first line, just because it was an immediate swerve out from any expectations).

Tom: That whole opening was a swerve: I was not expecting the chorus to crash in on the very first bar.

Tim: No, but it’s a good chorus, all bouncy and fun. The rollerbladers are there because, well, I guess she has to have a pastime really–

Tom: That’s roller derby, mate. Careful confusing the two. You’re right that it isn’t relevant to the video, though. I was hoping they’d start knocking the band over a bit earlier rather than just cutting to black.

Tim: Yeah, that would have been fun. But all in all I quite enjoy this. It’s not as wonderfully intense as their previous work, but it’s a fun track, and often fun’s what you need.