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.
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.
Tom: Yesterday, you promised loud, exciting, carefree stuff. GO ON THEN.
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?
“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.
“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’?
“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.
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.
“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.
Tim: Drew (no surname provided) is from Denmark, and brings us this as her second release; fairly sure you’ll like it, so do yourself a favour and press play, yeah?
Tom: Bold claim.
Tim: Pretty excellent piece of pop right there, I’d say.
Tom: It’s not bad! It’s not spectacular either. Why do you like it so much?
Tim: The production from the very off says “yep, we know what we’re doing, you don’t need to worry”, and the rest of the song entirely confirms that. I’m a big fan in particular of the repeated saster-saster-saster, which sounds pleasingly like it’s being sung rather than copied and pasted, always a nice thing.
Tom: See, that doesn’t really work for me. Pre-chorus and first bit of the chorus? Sure, I can get behind that. But the rest of it just doesn’t quite land for me: it sounds like a middle-of-the-table Eurovision track, nothing really standing out enough to set it apart.
Tim: Ooh, that’s harsh. I do wonder about Drew’s understanding of Russian roulette, what with a confusing mix of five bullets and putting money on red, but never mind, as the rest of the lyrics roughly make sense. The rest of everything is good, actually – yep, all good.
A closing section that’s just very much ‘aaah, yeah…’
Tim: This song, from an Icelandic artist, is almost five minutes long; normally, that’d make me bin a song off immediately. And yet…
Tim: …most of it is really good! Sure, it is a full minute or so before anything interesting happens, and sure, that only lasts for forty seconds or so, before it goes a bit dull for about another minute.
Tom: That would be half of the song’s runtime, there.
Tim: Yes, true, BUT, from that point (i.e. 2:37) on, it’s lovely. A strong chorus, a very strong middle eight with a hefty group chorus backing, and a closing section that’s just very much ‘aaah, yeah…’ in style.
Tom: The production is spot on, too: even through compression, each element, from the synth pads in the background through to those vocals, can just about be heard in the mix. That’s difficult with a track this complex.
Tim: Basically, I am very much happy to press play, pick up my phone and scroll through Twitter, and then a minute or so later think ‘oh, nice’. And for a long song? Yeah, that’ll do.