Robyn – Honey

“It’s not exactly great as a pop song, is it?”

Tim: So, according to a lengthy interview in The Guardian, August’s Missing U is something of an outlier on Robyn’s new album, out on the 26th, in the sense of it sounding a lot like her older stuff. Most of it is closer to this; see what you think.

Tim: And my reaction to that is distinctly: hmmm. It’s nice to listen to, it’s certainly very Robyn, but it’s not exactly great as a pop song, is it?

Tom: Remember when Calum Scott covered Dancing On My Own, and everyone who knew the original was just incredibly disappointed? That’s how I feel about this.

Tim: The problem for me really is the length of it, or at least related to that: it’s too drawn out, too drifting, too rambling to really get me going at all, to get me singing along to any chorus (is there even a proper chorus? I’ve listened to it three times and I’m struggling to identify one).

Tom: There is one! It’s just far too chilled-out. I assumed the monotone bit at about 2:20 was the middle eight, but no, we’re not even half way through. Never mind “don’t bore us, get to the chorus”, the advice is here is just “don’t bore us”.

Tim: It’s a shame – like I said, it’s nice to listen to, but it just doesn’t do it for me as a great pop song.

Saturday Flashback: The Wanted – Chasing The Sun

“A song by The Wanted written by Example. And boy, does it show.”

Tim: So here’s something I didn’t realise existed until a few days ago: a song by The Wanted written by Example. And boy, does it show.

Tim: Isn’t that just very, very Example? Almost enough that, to be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were credited as ‘Example feat. The Wanted’.

Tom: Yep: there’s a clear distinction between songwriter and producer here. And speaking of production: this is the first pop song I’ve heard in a long, long while where there’s a clear difference in loudness between verse and chorus. It’s not just my imagination: I actually pulled it into a waveform editor to check. That chorus is genuinely louder, just like the Old Days.

Tim: It’s nice – combination of good boyband and a good DJ. Nothing much to say about it, really – I was just quite intrigued to discover that it existed.

Jason Derulo & David Guetta feat. Nicki Minaj & Willy William – Goodbye

“I genuinely want to punch you for sending me this, Tim.”

Tim: Reader: I’M SORRY. Tom: consider this revenge for that Ting Tings garbage last week.

Tom: I actually facepalmed when I saw the title of this.

Tom: That actually had promise, just a little bit of promise, right up until Derulo muttered his name to introduce the first verse.

Tim: Now, I’ve checked, and the original wasn’t written by Andrea, in any way, and so technically he can’t stop this. But surely – surely – there’s some sort of legal action that could have been brought against someone, by anybody, just to prevent this aural nightmare from ever seeing the light of day.

Tom: YOU STILL SENT IT TO ME, TIM. You could have stopped this, at least here.

Tim: Hmm, yeah, but then you might have heard it accidentally anyway and I wouldn’t have got to experience your reaction. Because, oh, jeez, what is going on. “One word in Espanõl and I come and you know.” “Girls in Spain do the mostest.” “Down for my fatty fatty.” “I pull up on him, let him put the pipe in.” “Then I’ve gotta dash like a hyphen.” That’s just the English – I’ve no idea what the Spanish/French lyrics are, and I have absolutely no intention of looking them up.

Tom: I just looked up the “culo” at the end, and it means “ass”. So, there’s that. Admittedly that’s not as bad as the middle eight. I genuinely want to punch you for sending me this, Tim.

Tim: TING. TINGS. This really is a disgrace, and everybody involved should (and I don’t think there’s any hyperbole here) be strung up and shot. Although, the worst thing about this – worse than all of those lyrics put together, even – is that actually, I quite like what they’ve done with the chorus. Heresy it may be, but there is room for a good reinterpretation of the song.

Tom: You’re not wrong; there’s possibilities in here, and it’s entirely possible to make a pop track out of something classical. It has been done, lots of times, and I’d want to see it if it happened.

Tim: This…this just really, really isn’t it.

The Ting Tings – Blacklight

“Today in ‘I remember them! Wait, they’re still going?'”

Tom: Today in “I remember them! Wait, they’re still going?”

Tom: I shouldn’t like this.

Tim: No. It’s bloody awful.

Tom: And, on a second and third listen, I almost certainly won’t. But I haven’t heard someone use those synths in a serious pop song in… well, probably since the Ting Tings brought their first album out, or maybe earlier.

Tim: Well, maybe, but…no. Just, no. There is one slightly redeeming part, which is that instrumental when the lyric video, if it can be called that, just plugs the album, and there’s some form of melody. But, regardless of the ingredients…really, no.

Tom: This feels like a 2000s track that’s somehow reappeared a decade later, and I think it’s…

Tim: Horrific, terrible, just plain noise?

Tom: …yeah, actually, you know what, I just tried to listen to it a second time and no, I don’t want to hear it again.

Correct.

Avril Lavigne – Head Above Water

“Where have I heard these Big Piano Chords in the verse before?”

Tom: In a world increasingly dominated by vertical video and square video, music video directors continue to use EXTREME WIDESCREEN. And I have a question for you, Tim: where have I heard these Big Piano Chords in the verse before?

Tom: I mean, good power ballad, weakened a bit by that “drown, drown, drown” bit and the middle eight, but with a properly intense chorus and a voice that is still clearly Avril Lavigne despite being surrounded by a lot of instrumentation and production.

Tim: It is, and there’s also a nice vocal variation between the trademark shouty vocals and the softer parts required in the early parts of the verses and the pre-chorus, rather than just an adjustment of volume, which I was pleasantly surprised by.

Tom: But I’d swear I’ve heard that effect in the verse before. You know, where it sounds like someone’s pushing most of the keys on a grand piano at the same time, just to emphasise that this is still a big moment despite being the slow bit of the song. Any ideas?

Tim: Hmm…Let It Go? I mean, upping the backing for the second verse, or even the second part of the first verse, is hardly novel. What is novel, mind, is using a typeface in a lyric video with an apostrophe that horrific.

Christine and the Queens – 5 Dollars

“It’s great. But I also find it deeply unsatisfying.”

Tim: Song’s been around a while, but for some reason it’s only now started getting radio play. For those that don’t know her work, as I didn’t: the titular Christine is French and actually called Natalie, and she has in the past described her music as ‘freak pop’. Try to enjoy, then.

Tom: Aaagh. I liked the composition, the production, the instrumentation, I like all the individual bits of that from the introduction onwards. It’s great. But I also find it deeply unsatisfying, like I’m waiting for a Big Chorus that’ll never arrive.

Tim: I’ll be honest, it took me a while to get it – it’s weirdly structured, the voice is somewhat disconcerting, and there’s not much to make me want to go back to it. On the other hand, I’ve now heard it played a few times on Radio 1, and it turns out I actually do quite like it.

Tom: This may well be a grower. I just wish it’d do that within the song.

Tim: There’s nothing I can really point to and say “yep, that’s a good bit”, but somehow it kinds of gets me, triggers something that makes me think “ah, this is nice”. And that’s certainly good enough for me.

Sigala, Ella Eyre, Meghan Trainor feat. French Montana – Just Got Paid

Tom: I remember talking, last week, about a track that sounded like Sigala. Let’s see if Sigala still sounds like Sigala.

Tim: The second time he’s teamed up with Ella Eyre, following last year’s brilliant Came Here For Love, and stylistically…

Tim: …it’s very very similar, and I have no problems with that whatsoever.

Tom: Yep. Although that is, rhythmically, a very odd, offbeat introduction and first verse. Go on, listen to it a couple of times, and then try and sing it exactly in time.

Tim: Hmm..huh, yeah, that is tricky. Both he and Galantis seem happy to share this particular sound, and, as I’ve said so many times before whenever it’s cropped up: I love that sound. Admittedly, this isn’t quite as great as previously: Ella’s vocal grates a little when there’s very little melody to actually sing in her parts of it, and as ever I’d happily take a version without any rapping.

Tom: “When you hear the haan” might be the worst rap middle eight lyric I’ve heard in a long, long time.

Tim: Stylewise, though: it’s still great.

Tom: Not the greatest message in the history of music, but there’s plenty of precedent for it.

Tim: Debut album’s about next Friday, though since 12 of the 16 songs on it having been already released as singles it’s more like an official playlist. Nonetheless, given all this I’m looking forward to the other four.

Alesso – Remedy

“Press play and move to a background tab.”

Tim: Tom, a warning for you: the video here features two kids dressed up as unconvincing aliens being rescued by Alesso’s logo; it annoyed even me, so God knows what it’ll stir up in you.

Tom: I was looking through a list of new music, and the thumbnail alone made me not click it. But, still, here we are.

Tim: Feel free to press play and move to a background tab.

Tim: Alesso is one of the DJs I always think was part of Swedish House Mafia, then I remember he came along a bit later and so is actually younger than me. I realise that, now I’m very much into my early thirties, that’s going to happen a lot, but it still kind of annoys me, you know?

Tom: “Very much into my early thirties” gives way to “mid-thirties” very quickly, Tim.

Tim: Before I get into GET OFF MY LAWN territory, though: it’s a decent track. As I write this, it’s top 5 trending on YouTube, which we can safely put down to not just the name but also the decent sound he’s got going on.

Tom: True, but the fact that the video is directed by one of those ex-Vine YouTube celebrities is going to help with that a lot.

Tim: Unusually for him, he doesn’t credit the vocalist, but to be honest the best vocal work as far as I’m concerned is actually the group “hmm-mmmm-mm-mmm-mm-mmmm” in the chorus, middle eight and then forward. Add that to the good melody and the top notch production, and you’ve really got yourself a winner here. Nice one.

Tom: I’m a bit more cynical, as ever; I think the best I can say is that it’s “not unpleasant”. But then, maybe I was still put off by the video.

Cher – Gimme Gimme Gimme

“YES BITCH I’M CHER AND I’M DOING THIS.”

Tom: Right. There’s a dearth of new music. And I’ll admit that my eyes skipped over this when I saw it in the ‘new music’ lists: surely, it’s just a cash-in off Mamma Mia 2? Well, maybe it is: but it’s the lead single from an entire ABBA tribute album that Cher’s putting out. I heard it on the radio, and, well, have a listen to this:

Tim: Music aside, briefly: I LOVE that video, stating quite clearly YES BITCH I’M CHER AND I’M DOING THIS.

Tom: Does this need to exist? No, of course not. The original’s a classic, and it’s part of musical history. But you know what? I’d say that introduction and first verse might actually be an improvement on the original, even with all the vocoder there.

Tim: I don’t think you’re too wrong there – I mean, the intro’s basically identical, but her voice certainly adds a lot – it’s a lot stronger, particularly the ‘don’t wanna hear my praaaaaaaaaayer’ bit. Whether or not that vocal and the effect it comes with is an improvement is entirely subjective, and I know I like it.

Tom: This is a 21st-century cover, sung by someone who couldn’t just be replaced by a session singer.

Tim: See also: SOS, and indeed the entire album, which is coming out at the end of September, and which I cannot WAIT for.

SYML x Sam Feldt – Where’s My Love (Sam Feldt Edit)

“What’s the point of chilled house?”

Tim: Last year American singer SYML released Where’s My Love – decent enough with some nice piano and aaaahhhh-ing in the background, but nothing particularly worthy of comment (unless you count the horribly depressing video). Now, though, Dutch DJ Sam Feldt has had a go at it, and…well, it has a happier video, for starters.

Tom: About a minute into this, I actually said the word “BORED” out loud. I did perk up at that “Did you run away / did you run away” lyric — it actually did something interesting with the chord progression! — but blimey, that didn’t last long. Why do you reckon this is better than the original, then?

Tim: Because it’s BANGING, or at least it certainly is compared to the original. I found it when I was setting up my amazing new wall lights, and it was a bit late so I wanted music with a decent beat but not too loud so I looked up a Chilled House playlist, and this came right on. I know there are a lot of people (in fact, Tom, I think you’ve mentioned here before) that don’t get the point of relaxing dance music – after all, the point of dance music is hat you’re able to, well, dance to it, with big, heavy, thumping beats.

Tom: Right! What’s the point of chilled house? It just ends up sounding like someone’s trying to have a party next to a funeral.

Tim: I’d argue, though, that this very much has its place – lying on a sofa reading a book, or relaxing out in the sun, and you want music to listen to and you like the genre but don’t want Pendulum rammed through your brain. For those scenarios, it’s great. And so’s this track.