Saturday Flashback: Sam Smith – Too Good At Goodbyes (Galantis Remix)

“Still a largely dull track, but there are significant improvements”

Tom: I’m assuming you know the original Too Good At Goodbyes, Tim.

Tim: Correct. As with much of Sam Smith’s output, it is dull, tedious, insipid garbage, albeit slightly redeemed by the backing choir in the chorus and middle eight.

Tom: In which case, you should get ready for the biggest case of pop mood-whiplash you’ve had in a while. Because Sam Smith’s sad, slow, soppy song is about to become a BANGER complete with a euphoric build that sounds like a washing machine spinning up.

Tim: That…that is an unusual yet entirely correct description of that euphoric build.

Tim: It’s still a largely dull track, but there are significant improvements – not least, chopping over a minute off the runtime.

Tom: Here’s the thing: I have no idea how, but I’d managed to miss the original Too Good At Goodbyes entirely. I just, somehow, never heard it. So when I heard this on the radio somewhere, I remembered the name of the track, searched for it later, and found the original instead of this. It was one of the most disappointing listens I’ve ever had.

Tim: Whereas this is…well, still one of the most disappointing Galantis listens I’ve ever had, but it’s still better than the original.

Saturday Flashback: Lost Frequencies – Are You With Me (Christmas Mix)

“This seems like an exceptional example.”

Tim: You say cheap and easy Christmas cash cow.

Tom: I do, for basically everything we’re covering this week, but this seems like an exceptional example.

Tim: I say a simple way to make sure an October release stays around long enough to get on the work Christmas party playlist, and now I’ve had that thought I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often. Anyway, slow and tedious country song, turned into a pretty good dance tune, now all Christmassed up.

Tim: So, regarding the ‘cheap remix’ accusations that will inevitably be thrown at this.

Tom: I mean, “accusations” is putting it mildly, if anyone spent more than a fiver on this remix I’ll be surprised.

Tim: There’s evidence here that some thought has actually gone into it. You’ve obviously got your copy and paste jingle bells on every other beat, and your find and replace drum beats for church bells plus drum beat, but there’s more. Listen in the quiet instrumental bit, from about a minute in, and behind there you’ve got quiet tinkles following the actual melody, rather than the standard jingle bells, and that shows actual thought. Yes, you could put the regular ones on, no-one would complain, it would fine. But no – there’s time and thought gone into this, which I like a lot. It impresses me.

Tom: One week into Can We Get Tom Feeling Festive, and Tim, all I can say is that you’re easily impressed.

Tim: What can I say, I just love Christmas. I’ve got time.

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.

Paul Simon – Graceland (MK & KC Lights Remix)

“Does it really add anything that wasn’t there before?”

Tom: I was running through the list of ‘forthcoming UK singles’, and I noticed something bizarre. The old Paul Simon song, Graceland. While beautiful, it’s very much Radio 2 music. What on earth is it doing as a new single, remixed? And why on earth have they uploaded it to his actual Vevo channel?

Tom: The answer is, of course, “cash-in remix album“.

Tim: A phrase that’s never sat well with me, indicating as it does that it’s cheap, there’s no point to it and that not much effort was put in, and sometimes none of those is true. One example: the TRON: Legacy Reconfigured album of remixes of the soundtrack, on which a number of remixes are even better than their originals. Having said that…not so sure here.

Tom: And I agree with you, Tim, that a good remix can elevate a song — or even turn a slow guitar track into a big, ironic commercial dance hit. This is certainly a cut above most commercial remixes, but does it really add anything that wasn’t there before?

Tim: Aside from large elements of Paul Oakenfold? Not so much.

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


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.