Cajsa Siik – White Noise (Forêt de Vin’s 1988 Edit)

“That was the sound of 80s-fatigue setting in for me, I think.”

Tim: Just been sent this, a remix of a track from May that we never got round to featuring. As you may be able to guess from the title, it’s kind of a ‘let’s put it back in time thirty years’ event.

Tom: That was the sound of 80s-fatigue setting in for me, I think.

Tim: Maybe, but it’s still quite nice, really, even without knowing the original – that tinkly swooshy middle eight in particular is very lovely indeed.

Tom: You’re not wrong about that — it’s lovely — but it now feels like the world has been through the 80s twice, and I’m not sure we really need to keep going. There are quite a few decades out there. I just can’t find anything to grab onto here, if that makes sense; it just sounds like some stock music that’d be in the back of an 80s soap. Nothing wrong with it, just nothing interesting either.

Tim: To be honest, even with knowing the original this is such a reworking it’s almost like a new song, and a good new song at that. Gentle vocals, nice flowing melody and all in all a rather nice listen. I like it.

Saturday Flashback: Celine Dion – My Heart Will Go On (Tony Moran Remix)

“Flipping brilliant”

Tim: Today marks twenty years since the release of this seminal track, and so let’s celebrate, because (a) it’s got a fairly interesting back story and (b) it has a flipping brilliant dance remix.

Tom: You’re right about the second part, but I didn’t know about the first.

Tim: Well, I’m fairly sure everyone knows the second, but let’s play it again anyway.

Tim: So here’s the thing: no-one involved really wanted this to happen.

Tom: Wait, the remix, or the original track?

Tim: Oh, the original – I would hope everyone involved wanted the remix. Celine Dion didn’t want to do another film soundtrack after Beauty and the Beast…

Tom: I’d forgotten she did that! To me, that’s always sung by Angela Lansbury — and yes, it was her singing in the movie, they didn’t bring in a vocalist for it. Anyway. Yes.

Tim: Huh, didn’t realise that either. But it wasn’t just her – James Cameron didn’t want to end Titanic with a pop song over the credits. But then James Horner, the composer, went up to Celine’s Vegas hotel room and started playing it, and she said “oh fine, I’ll do a demo for you”.

Fast forward to the demo recording, and no-one was really in the right mood – it was half nine in the evening, they’d all had a big dinner, Celine was getting stomach pains, but the producers said “go on, just give it a go, think about the film plot and we’ll see what happens”. And she did, and it was absolutely perfect. No need for a second recording, no multiple takes – just one flawless performance that left everyone somewhat speechless.

Tom: No kidding. I had no idea. That’s a heck of a vocal talent.

Tim: Admittedly you can’t quite hear the subtle nuances of it with this remix, but that “you’re…here…” into the final chorus can surely be agreed upon as one of the most impressive vocal moments of all time, on a par with Whitney Houston’s “and I” moment from I Will Always Love You.

In short: this song is ruddy fantastic, and anyone who disagrees is a total bellend.

Saturday Flashback: Alvin & the Chipmunks – Always On My Mind

“de-Chipmunked”

Tom: Are y…

Tim: YES I KNOW but let me speak. Squeakiness is a cheap easy gimmick – bit rubbish, but it seems it sells well enough for them to keep doing it. That’s why they’ve made over fifty albums (including many Greatest Hits albums, several Christmas albums, and indeed more than a couple of Greatest Christmas Hits albums). A typical reaction is to listen for twenty seconds, think “oh this is a bit fun”, skip to the next track and repeat until bored. One other reaction, had by SoundCloud user chipmunkson16speed, is to think “what would happen if I slowed this down?”

Tom: Huh. They covered the Pet Shop Boys version, not the original. That dates this record, certainly.

Tim: So, as it turns out, a de-Chipmunked Chipmunks cover is the version of Always On My Mind that you never realised could be so good.

Tom: Hold on, no. We’ve talked about this before. This is no Willie Nelson.

Tim: Oh, and I’m not remotely suggesting it is. My point is just that it’s just so unexpected – the slightly whiny backing vocal sounds a bit off, but otherwise I find this really enjoyable. It’s worth remembering that this was recorded back in the days before digital pitch shifting, so this is, roughly, what was originally recorded, and it does sound good. The most surprising thing is that even though the whole Chipmunk song idea is so cheap and cynical, the singer, whoever he is, is singing it with no small amount of emotion. No need to do it, there’ll never be any recognition, but he still went for it.

Tom: I’ll grant that, but I suspect a lot of that emotion is brought in by the graininess that comes from all the processing that’s been done. Although I’ll grant you the harmonies are pretty good.

Tim: A sad post script, though: according to the Alvin & The Chipmunks fan wiki (because of course there’s one), the Reception section for this one’s album consists of one single sentence: “This album did not chart.” Oh well.

Miley Cyrus – Malibu (Alan Walker Remix)

“…that is not Alan Walker’s trademark style.”

Tom: We described the original as Mostly An Album Track. And despite hearing a lot more through airplay, I stand by that: it’s catchier than I thought it was, but the instrumentation’s dull. Can Alan Walker’s trademark style save it?

Tom: …that is not Alan Walker’s trademark style.

Tim: Hmmm, no.

Tom: I mean, it sounds a bit like him, sure, but the usual staccato synths are mostly gone, replaced by something a bit more generic. It sounds like something you’d find on a discount “fitness workout” compilation CD, rather than something from one of the most popular current DJs.

Tim: Actually, I was all set to agree with you until that post-chorus cropped up, but then I changed my mind. Yes, for the first minute I was ready to dismiss it as exactly you said – generic, and something that might pop up on an Almighty CD a few months from now – but that post-chorus brings something else with it. It’s still not your standard Alan Walker sound, but I’d not go so far as generic.

Tom: Even the ending, which does admittedly start to go Full Alan Walker, is a bit disappointing. I reckon he should have led with that, and then gone bigger from there. As it is, it’s just not enough.

Tim: And with that I do agree.

Bruno Mars – That’s What I Like (Alan Walker Remix)

“Bruno Mars just deciding to freestyle over the quiet bits of an otherwise-OK Alan Walker track.”

Tom: So we’re pretty much agreed that Bruno Mars, while incredibly talented, has recently been making songs with irritating lyrics and kitsch retro-sound. And Alan Walker, while incredibly talented, has basically been making the same song.

Tim: Can’t disagree with either of those, particular with this song’s, for example, “Take a look in that mirror, now tell me who’s the fairest.”

Tom: Together, they are…

Tom: …not together at all?

Tim: No, but I quite like that in this case.

Tom: I say that because this sounds like two separate songs that happen to be played at the same time. Or, rather, Bruno Mars just deciding to freestyle over the quiet bits of an otherwise-OK Alan Walker track.

Tim: Yes, and I’ll tell you why I like it: however terrible the Bruno Mars bits are (or rather, I’ll concede, however irritating I find them), there’s the knowledge that Alan (seriously, still no stage name?) will come along soon to make it better.

Tom: It’s always a risk with remixes, I guess, but still: perhaps at least one of them should have adjusted their style a little?

Tim: Perhaps, as long as the one to do that is Bruno.

Saturday Flashback: Alan Walker – Faded (Tiësto’s Northern Lights Remix)

“Suddenly seems a lot more exciting”

Tim: Last Saturday you pointed out that Roger was a rather mundane name for a singer of a great song, which in turn reminded me that one of the biggest dance tracks of the year was by an act with a name better suited to a middle aged accountant than to a superstar DJ; I then discovered that there are TWO remix EPs of said track, and this here’s a good one.

Tim: You see, I love the way that plays with the speed there.

Tom: That’s a rare technique: I’d expect my brain to reject it for being different, but no, somehow it works.

Tim: I cut to forty seconds in because for some reason the YouTube version gets going at the high speed, which kind of spoils it – when I first heard it it took me quite by surprise, and I was tied between “oh, this is weird” and “oh, this is brilliant”, and I very soon came down on the side of the latter. I don’t know if it’s the novelty of it – I certainly never felt the original was too slow – but it suddenly seems a whole lot more exciting, and I love that.

Tom: Admittedly the synth pads sound a bit like they’re from 90s eurodance, but you know what? I like 90s eurodance. I like this.

Niall Horan – This Town (Tiësto Remix)

“Can it be saved?”

Tom: We agreed that This Town was sub-Sheeran, perhaps even sub-Odell. But can it be saved by Tiësto, the same way that Seeb saved Mike Posner?

Tom: No.

Tim: I weouldn’t say entirely not – it does come across a whole lot less melty, though, and so a fair amount more listenable. The parts with the instrumental focus don’t fit at all, though.

Tom: I will grant that the pre-chorus “I want to tell you everything” is still pleasant, but that’s because I’ve heard that motif a hundred times in other songs. The backing doesn’t really seem to work with… well, anything. The whole thing’s unnecessary, Tim.

Tim: Yes, but not entirely unappreciated.

CHVRCHES – Bury It (Keys N Krates Remix)

“Eurgh.”

Tom: Our reader, going by the name “RedBassett”, sends in this remix. He describes it as “a very clean blend of the original music and the additions”.

Tim: Eurgh.

Tom: I describe it as “bloody awful”.

Tim: Yeah. I didn’t have a hugely negative reaction at first, but then I realised I hadn’t actually heard the original; I did, and then realised that every single redeeming feature came from that.

Tom: Sorry to our reader, but sometimes I have to call ’em like I hear ’em, and in this case what I hear is (not one of the better) CHVRCHES songs being mangled by what seems like an incompetent automatic remix generator. I handed up doing something I haven’t done to a song in a while: skipping forward a couple of minutes to see if it got any better. It didn’t.

Tim: No – if anything, it’s worse, with those additions at the end just being really rather dull. Bleh.

Alan Walker – Faded (Restrung)

“Take a seat, love, everything’ll be alright”

Tim: First there was Fade; then there was Faded. Now, we’ve an orchestral version that’s been released separately; I wouldn’t normally bring a remix of a track we’d already featured, but (a) that original really was fantastic and I’ll take any opportunity to bring it up and (b) just listen.

Tim: Because it completely changes the song. Yes, the melody’s the same, and the vocal’s not even been re-recorded, but it’s suddenly gone from being a big pumped-up jump around floor filler to a relaxing, “take a seat, love, everything’ll be alright” track.

Tom: It is: that’s a really good orchestration. The fact it’s been released by the original artist is a big point in its favour too. It’s not all that big a genre switch given the state of the original, but it’s done well.

Tim: What that mood switch may state about the point of the lyrics of any particular song is up for interpretation, but somehow it’s just as wonderful. Strings, piano, full orchestra, all beautiful.

Tom: But here’s the thing: I wanted just some percussion. Not much, not the synth patches of the original, but a little timpani roll here, or some subtle drums going into the final big chorus would have worked well. Even some other instrument in the lower frequencies would have worked. Without it, it feels a little anaemic — still good, but not as good as it could be.

Tim: Incidentally the (still uncredited) vocalist is called Iselin Solheim; we’ve not featured her here previously, but she’s got some great tracks in her back catalogue.

Saturday Flashback: Yelle – Que Veux-tu (Madeon Remix)

“That’s just dangerous.”

Tim: Yelle, a French band we’ve covered before; this track, from 2011 which in its original version is a bit shouty and unpleasant. Madeon, the producer who had a go at this before he got famous, so probably when he was about 12 or something.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EyARHscb8mU

Tom: Oh hey, that sounds exactly like what I’d expect from Madeon. (Which, given it’s an early track from him, perhaps isn’t surprising.) Rapid-fire samples running into a solid dance remix.

Tim: I found it via a suggested playlist entitled “Run Far, Run Fast” on a streaming service; it’s good, isn’t it? Keeps the chorus from the original along with binning off the spoken and irritating verses, and sticks a quick genre-shift almost in a funk direction.

Lovely all round, and the video on top’s just a bonus, really. If I ever do start start running again: it’s right there with me.

Tom: Although I wouldn’t recommend doing that massive jump down a 45-degree hill. That’s just dangerous.

Tim: HAH! I LAUGH in the face of…actually, yeah, you’re probably right.