Why Don’t We feat. Macklemore – I Don’t Belong In This Club

“The word that comes to mind for this is ‘charming’.”

Tom: This played on the radio while I was driving. It’s catchy as hell, but I swear I’ve heard the chorus somewhere before. What on earth does it sound like?

Tom: Even without that: the word that comes to mind for this is “charming”. It’s not a theme I’ve heard before, but it’s properly relatable; the chorus is brilliant; and the music video is in no way self-aggrandising. Like I said: charming.

Tim: Yes. You’re right, it is a bit familiar, in a couple of places, but nothing that I can think of right now. It’s good, though, and very listenable, and yeah, charming works well.

Tom: And then there’s Macklemore, who somehow manages to do a rap bit that doesn’t sound terrible. Aside from the Uber and Red Bull brand shoutouts, but never mind.

Tim: See, the Uber thing I’m actually okay with – sure, it might sting a tad to hear but, for me at least, Uber’s become enough of a word in its own right, like ‘google’ meaning to search, that lyrically I’m okay with it. Red Bull I’ll let you have, though.

Tom: Now, I’ll grant you, the track’s probably a bit too long. It’s basically got three middle eights: Macklemore’s verse, the actual middle eight with a different melody, and the quiet broken-down piano-backed chorus. In a world where the middle eight is steadily going away and songs are getting shorter, that’s a bold move.

Tim: But I like that – the song’s almost four minutes long, but it’s varied enough that I never get bored of it.

Tom: I think it manages to be both interestingly different and immediately catchy, which is a rare thing in pop. Or I just really like whichever song it’s reminding me of.

Tim: Fair.

Ava Max – So Am I

“Remember that ‘Sweet But Psycho’ song, the one that was so catchy that everyone just ignored the really questionable lyrics?”

Tom: Remember that ‘Sweet But Psycho’ song, the one that was so catchy that everyone just ignored the really questionable lyrics?

Tim: YES, and I still listen to it frequently while feeling ever so slightly guilty every time.

Tom: Well, this is what happens when a record executive says “that was brilliant, let’s have another one that’s exactly the same please”.

Tim: And right now I am imaging that exact conversation, because that is what happens. In a good way, mind.

Tom: There’s a lot to unpack here, isn’t there? The Sid and Nancy reference, the “call me Harley” lyric that acknowledges that, yes, perhaps the stylist might have taken a bit of inspiration from a certain comic book character.

Tim: Yeah – and that’s not helped by the fact that releasing a song titled ‘So Am I’ immediately after one with a main line of “she’s sweet but a psycho” could be read in a way different from how these lyrics portray it.

Tom: And the slightly uncomfortable music-video trope of taking a conventionally attractive artist and putting her in an oversexualised school uniform with some dancers, while she’s singing about how it’s okay to be different.

It’s very much been the Difficult Second Single in terms of chart performance, although it seems to be getting enough airplay.

Tim: Well, its been in the charts five weeks now and is lurking around the lower end of the Top 20, so I’d say it could go either way.

Tom: Catchy, though, isn’t it?

Tim: Yes. It’s still no Sweet But Psycho, though.

The Veronicas – Think Of Me

“The vocals, the composition, the production: everything works.”

Tom: They’re still a thing!

Tim: Yep, they’re still a thing, and this has an interesting lyric in the pre-chorus.

Tom: And an interesting theme, given that it’s about the fallout from a toxic relationship. There’s a complicated tone there, and I really like it.

Tim: Good, isn’t it? Though, speaking of the lyrics, part of me wants to overanalyse them and say ACTUALLY given that that pre-chorus occurs several times over the course of several minutes, that 42 seconds should dramatically increase by the end of it, but I though no, can’t be bothered, because (a) the ‘give you head’ lyric outdoes any harm done by that and (b) it’s a great track and I don’t want to waste time being petty when I can instead properly just enjoy it and be positive about it.

Tom: There’s so much to like here. I was surprised the first time I heard the chorus — I wan’t expecting that much electropop — but once that settled in, damn, this is good. The vocals, the composition, the production: everything works. Except possibly that middle eight, but I can forgive it: like you say, it’s a song I want to be positive about.

Tim: Because damn, I know they were fairly decent back in the day, but this is better than any Veronicas track has a right to be these days. I’d go so far as to say, in fact, that it’s flipping marvellous!

Georgia – About Work The Dancefloor

“Arpeggiators set to maximum, captain.”

Tim: Second release off a new UK act, presumably taking advantage of the fact that CHVRCHES are off a bit making new music, and taking that opportunity to carve out a place for herself.

Tom: That’s the least grammatical title I’ve seen in a while.

Tim: Oh, hush.

Tom: Yesterday, we talked about the start of the upcoming 90s revival; this sounds like some of the last parts of the 80s revival. Arpeggiators set to maximum, captain.

Tim: Up until the chorus came along I was very “yep, okay, standard, this’ll do”, but THEN. The chorus arrives, the song jumps up a notch or twenty, and suddenly there’s something very definitely worth listening to that I like a lot.

Tom: Really? I just don’t like that vocoder: she’s got a great voice, but mangled through that effect it grates for me. Which is a shame, because the rest of it’s really quite nice.

Tim: Hmm, see, I first heard that vocoder as a featured male vocal, which made it work fine for me. The production’s lovely, her vocals throughout are great (particularly in, of all places, that very last line, which has a lovely melody), ad then yep, there’s that great chorus. And a disco house on fire in the video, what’s not to like?

Busted – Shipwrecked in Atlantis

“You’re about to go into an overly-serious explanation of some pretty terrible lyrics, aren’t you?”

Tim: Ideally, we’d wait until a video had been put out for this track before featuring it, but sadly it’s been long enough since the album release that it seems there may not be one. And that’s upsetting, because it is (a) by far and away the best song on their new album and (b) an actual, genuinely billed as, sequel to the classic Air Hostess.

Tim: Now, you’re not sure if I’m being serious with the whole sequel thing. Is it really, or is it just any old song that can be vaguely related?

Tom: You’re about to go into an overly-serious explanation of some pretty terrible lyrics, aren’t you?

Tim: Absolutely not! These lyrics are excellent. if we’re honest then for at least the first minute or so, they could be just some sort of metaphor – weird perhaps, but not the worst we’ve heard. Relationship’s over, so shipwrecked, but still slightly okay, so landing in Atlantis, so maybe…except, yeah, that works with the “half dead, half alive” and “miracle we both survived”. And sure, we can kind of keep it going with “keeps getting better” and “almost like we planned it” because, you know, relationships and stuff, but then we’re talking about dining with salt bae every night, and complaining about the food prices, and actually no it’s not any sort of metaphor, it’s just a plane crash, with someone who is, let’s face it, quite probably the aforementioned Air Hostess and an extension of that story.

Tom: Sure. So anyway, the musi–

Tim: In fact, following it through with the whole Atlantis thing, it’s basically a prequel to the events described in Year 3000 – living underwater, and the amount of inbreeding that would surely come from this scenario would lead easily into triple-breasted women. Wouldn’t it?

Tom: I appreciate your efforts to create a Busted Cinematic Universe.

Tim: This is, really, the song that brings all of Busted together. We never knew we needed it, but lyrically it’s here. And it’s also damn good musically as well, because I’ve heard this a couple of dozen times now and I still love it.

Tom: Pity about those lyrics. Although I have to admit, I was humming that chorus after one listen: it’s catchy, and I don’t really mind.

Kygo feat. Valerie Broussard – Think About You

“So, in Friends..”

Tim: So, in Friends, Ross’ 7 year old son Ben was played by twins, I think because of acting rules, and they were Dylan and Cole Sprouse. Cole is currently starring in the ridiculously fabulous, and fabulously ridiculous, TV show Riverdale; Dylan, meanwhile, is starring in a Kygo music video.

Tom: I mean, I’m happy for him, I guess?

Tim: Quite what the difference is between ‘starring’ and ‘guest starring’ is in a stand-alone music video I’ve no idea, but I’ve probably talked enough that.

Tom: I’ll be honest, we passes that point when you talked about obscure Friends actors, but ANYWAY.

Tim: Instead, the song, and when I saw Kygo had a new one out I thought “ah, Kygo’s got a new one out” and then “he’s generally good for a decent track”. Always nice to be proved right, because this is indeed a decent track, I reckon – a perfectly serviceable bit of piano dance.

Tom: It’s very much an Album Track as far as I can tell — and while I’m glad we’ve mostly left pineapple-infused tropical house in the past, I can’t help feeling that Kygo’s lost some of the signature sound here.

Tim: True – I happened to hear Firestone the other day, and it reminded me how damn great it was. So no, it’s not up there with his best, but certainly a lot better than some of his worst. I like it.

Hazell Dean – Heavenly

“It does sound like it’s straight out of an 80s HiNRG album, full marks for that.”

Tom: She’s called the “Queen of HiNRG”, although that seems to be mostly by her own publicist. But she’s got a decent career behind her starting out as a soul singer in the seventies and switching to dance in the eighties. This is one half of her new double A-side, and the fact that it’s called a “double A-side” shows you how long she’s been going.

Tom: And that, sadly, a bit underwhelming. I mean, sure, it does sound like it’s straight out of an 80s HiNRG album, full marks for that. But as I’ve said before: audiences like a combination of novelty and familiarity. For me, this just doesn’t have the novelty.

Tim: Yep, that’s fair – for me, it started out sounding very much ‘middle of a workout video’, and didn’t improve all that much. It’s alright – just, nothing special.

Tom: Fortunately, there are remixes. And while the composition still isn’t going to win any Brit awards any time soon, this one at least adds a bit of life.

Tim: Yeah. Yeah, that’s a bit better.

Pink – Walk Me Home

“Twenty years? Twenty years. I don’t think I’m OK with that.”

Tim: Twenty years to the day from the release of her debut, it’s a new Pink track! Spoiler alert: it’s bloody good.

Tom: Twenty years? Twenty years. I don’t think I’m OK with that.

Tom: And you’re right: this is great.

Tim: Isn’t it just? It’s very rare that my single criticism of a song is that it’s too short, but it just seems to be over before it’s started. I want more of that incredible chorus, so much more.

Tom: I was sure I’d heard parts of this before, and I was racking my brains for which particular anthem it was cribbing from — but no, I’ve got nothing. It’s absolutely in her familiar style, but it’s all new.

Tim: I was going to say “it’s my favourite Pink song since…”, but then I realised she really does have form for just great tracks, and that her last album’s lead track, What About Us, was also great. Having said that, I do think this is the first one that’s clicked with me immediately in a while, possibly since Raise Your Glass, which as a comparison isn’t so surprising because they’re similar styles. However you look at it, though, this is flipping brilliant. Entirely, entirely great.

Rob Thomas – One Less Day (Dying Young)

“This sounds like a less electronic Avicii.”

Tom: I know, I know, not Europop. But I think this is worth talking about.

Tim: Oh yes?

Tom: Here’s why: this sounds like a less electronic Avicii. You know how that farm-house style took more traditional music and then added synths and samples? This sounds like the reverse has happened: someone’s taken an Avicii track, singalong inspiration chorus and all, and tried to backsolve it so that it sounds more traditional.

Tim: Hmmmmmm…maaaaybe, I guess. I mean, sounds to me like standard percussion heavy upbeat and inspirational pop, but I guess your description works.

Tom: I mean, sure, here “traditional” sounds like a bit like Status Quo chugga-chugga pub-rock, but I’m old enough that I’m okay with that.

Tim: Kind of sounds to me (and I promise this is a good thing) as if someone took an inspirational Eurovision track, maybe along the lines of ours this year, and put it through a ‘proper music’ machine. And yeah, it sounds good.

Tom: And it works as a track! I genuinely think it works. I could sing the chorus after one listen, and I wanted to hear it again.

Tim: Me too. That’s nice.

SuRie – Black Dove January

“Aadvance warning: the club banger style has been entirely discarded.”

Tim: SuRie, off Eurovision and getting stage invaded last year, has brought us an album, Dozen, which was released a couple of days ago. Interesting concept: twelve tracks, each related to a month.

Tom: Huh. I mean, I’ve heard much worse ideas for concept albums. Let’s be honest, my expectations are pretty low: ‘Eurovision contestant’s follow-up album’ isn’t an easy sell.

Tim: Here’s the first one, and (advance warning) the club banger style has been entirely discarded.

Tom: She’s got a beautiful voice, and she knows how to use it well. Pity that the song sounds like it’s playing during the bleak interlude in the middle of a made-for-TV Christmas movie.

Tim: When she was on Eurovision: You Decide she sung a John Lewis version of Storm, and it almost seemed like that was how she’d rather have performed it all along, and this kind of reinforces that.

I don’t mind that too much, though, because it sounds nice enough and now at least she can do what she wants.

Tom: What a bizarre set of lyrics, though. It’s like someone wrote a prog-rock song and then decided to score it for strings and piano.

Tim: Sure, it may drag along a bit, and sure, if you’re not in the mood for a piano ballad this won’t do much for you; on the other hand, though, when the time comes for her to raise her voice and get enthusiastic, she’s more than capable of that. So fair play to her – unlike most of our unsuccessful Eurovision entries, she’s done something. And, indeed, something worth listening to.

Tom: This isn’t aiming for the pop charts, and that’s absolutely fine. I do hope there’s an audience for this: I’m not part of it, but I hope there’s an audience out there.

Tim: As for the rest of the album, I’ve not yet had a chance to check it all out, but I can tell you that (a) as implied above, it’s all in this style, (b) the Green Day cover is pretty nice, and (c) the December entry is upsettingly non-Christmassy.