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: Maroon 5 – One More Night

“Pity the poor live drummers, though. “

Tim: We’ve remarked previously that Rihanna’s Umbrella doesn’t have its own unique backing, but does in fact share it with (the much much better) Symphonies by Dan Black and, indeed, anyone else who’s ever used Apple’s “Vintage Funk Kit 03“.

Tim: And I don’t quite know how it took me so long to recognise that, given that it’s their third most successful song ever.

Tom: The thing is, neither did I. Maybe it’s the change in tempo, or maybe there’s a change in emphasis. Pity the poor live drummers who’ll have to just repeat that Apple drum loop over and over again, though.

Tim: Funny old world, pop music, isn’t it?

Saturday Flashback: Sam Hunt – Body Like A Backroad

“You what?”

Tom: I know we don’t normally cover country here, even the pop-music version of it. But stick with this, because I’ve got a couple of reasons for it — the first of which is, this exemplifies the country standard of “entire song as extended simile”.

Tom: So here’s the surprising thing: this is one of the most popular country songs in US history.

Tim: You what?

Tom: 34 weeks at the top of the country chart. (It’s worth noting that US Billboard charts include airplay; it is still getting huge amounts of play on both pop and country stations, despite being released in February.) Triple platinum in both the US and Canada. Platinum in Australia. And… nothing in Britain.

Tim: Well…yeah. Admittedly I’m not best placed to judge the merits of country songs, but even I can tell this is really quite dull. That line “15 in a 30” pretty much sums it up.

Tom: Oh, and no music video either. Sure, it’s on YouTube as audio, and as a lyric video, but if any music TV channels want to play it, they’ve got nothing.

Country music is strange.

Tim: Utterly baffling.

Saturday Flashback: DJ Ötzi & Nik P. – Ein Stern (der deinen Namen trägt)

“This is INCREDIBLE.”

Tim: Courtesy of Apple Music’s German Pop division, I discovered a DJ Ötzi Essentials playlist, and I was DELIGHTED. Here, as his most successful one in his native Austria, is “A Star (That Bears Your Name)”.

Tom: Hahahahaha that’s amazing from start to finish. Never mind the music, there’s the video: the dodgy CGI, the individual dancers, the acknowledgement that they’ve not got quite enough to make a full video there so they cut to the behind-the-scenes and stock photos.

Tim: Isn’t it just beautiful? Anyway, this here stayed at number one in Germany for 13 weeks, and for 14 weeks in Austria, in early 2007, and I don’t really know what to make of that fact. I mean, it’s good – love the melody, love the electric guitar/dance beat combo, obviously love the key change – but THREE MONTHS?

Tom: Mate, Saturday Night lasted 15 we– sorry, I just got to the key change and BLOODY HELL. This is INCREDIBLE.

Tim: Apparently many pop music radio stations refused to play it, with it not quite fitting into the musical zeitgeist of the time – that could, arguably, have helped it, with fans buying it either in protest or just so they could play it. But even so – three months?

Saturday Flashback: Marco Borsato – Dromen Zijn Bedrog

“Brilliant, in that 90s sort of way”

Tom: One more from my recent Dutch trip, still off the station that translates to “100% Netherlands Party”, and this time going all the way back to 1994. Frankly, I could send you anything off their playlist, but this one stands out: one of the most popular Dutch-language singles of all time.

Tim: And yet by a singer next to no-one outside the Netherlands will have vaguely heard of. A cruel industry, this.

Tom: I think you’ll be on board from about the time the 90s-synth piano arrives in the intro.

Tom: Listen to that guitar. It’s like they wanted Santana, but couldn’t look outside the Netherlands.

Tim: Well, I think that’s a perfectly acceptable alternative – certainly gets the job done, because that’s really quite the noodling going on there.

Tom: I don’t know how this track simultaneously manages to sound brilliant, in that 90s sort of way, AND yet manage to outstay its welcome a bit at only four minutes long.

Tim: Yeah – I had the exact same reaction. It’s good, and I like it, but I’d have no problems whatsoever chopping out the first middle eight/chorus pairing.

Tom: I am genuinely wondering if there are club nights in the Netherlands that still play this rubbish, because I would totally go to one.

Tim: Oh, Tom.

Saturday Flashback: Frans Duijts – Altijd te laat naar bed

“My happy-work music now“

Tom: I was driving through the Netherlands last week, Tim, and stumbled upon a couple of radio stations that play only Dutch-language music. Sometimes oldies and covers; sometimes just party music.

Tim: Makes sense.

Tom: What I learned is this: there are still parts of Europe where actual FM radio stations will play actual schlager music. Or DJ Otzi. These stations are going to be my happy-work music now.

And of the several songs that I asked my phone to remember (seriously, this got actual airplay in 2017), this one stands out.

Tim: I…I can see why that would have stood out. I mean, the Wesley Klein one is good, but this, oh, this is something else.

Tom: There’s so much going on there. The underprepared hotel corridor fever-dream. The marching band and cheerleaders. His own gold disc. Then there’s the lyrics (which are far more philosophical than you might think).

Tim: Well any song that kicks off talking about evil cats gets a thumbs up from me.

Tom: All it’s missing is a key change (yes, I was surprised there wasn’t one, too.). Once again: this got airplay. On an actual radio station. In 2017.

Tim: Despite a lot of things, it’s good to know that there are parts of the world that are still beautiful.

Tom: The context made this seem much better than it actually is, of course: I had the radio turned up loud, with the windows down, driving my car along a levee in the Netherlands. Even this ridiculous cover, which in hindsight is mostly a disaster, made me grin. I would never have asked for a Dutch rap bit, but in the moment it was perfect.

Saturday Flashback: Cascada – How Do You Do

“It makes me smile every single time.”

Tim: And now, for no reason whatsoever other than “well duh, why not?”, let’s have some beautifully textbook mid-’00s Eurodance.

Tim: Not a lot to say about it, really – it’s a cover of Roxette’s (rather more successful) original song, and it makes me smile every single time it pops up on my phone.

Tom: There’s a lot to be said for a good cover like this: yes, Cascada could basically be any session singer, and yes, it’s a by-the-numbers remix — but in a style that I grew up with. Now I’m older, I’m aware that “repeating the chorus with one particular Eurodance synth patch” is not an objectively great bit of music: but that doesn’t stop me liking it. And let’s be honest, the talking bit does not fit in this song. But…

Tim: …it has a ludicrous dance beat, lyrics that are great to sing along with, and all in all I just love it. Unapologetically.

Saturday Flashback: Peter Maffay – Nessaja

“A little green dragon called Tabaluga”

Tim: Now, until I flicked back through Scooter’s history for Wednesday’s post, I had absolutely no idea that their follow-up to The Logical Song, and their only other UK top 10 track, was a sort-of cover. Now, press play, sit back, and please allow me to educate you – the history is fascinating.

Tom: I knew this was a cover – and there’s a KLF sample or two in there as well – but I did not know there was a long history.

Tim: Oh, yes. You see, Peter Maffay is a German musician, and was well known in the 70s & 80s – his first single, Du, was 1970’s biggest selling track in Germany, and he holds the German records for most million-plus selling albums (14) and most number one albums (16). Now, in 1983, he decided to get a bit experimental. He began a series of musical fairy tales, all starring a little green dragon called Tabaluga, which so far span five albums.

Tom: Right. Okay. Well, I guess everyone has a hobby.

Tim: The first (which contains this song) was called Tabaluga…or The Journey to Reason (but in German), and since then there have been tours, books, cartoons, a full size musical and even a long-running TV game show in which contestants win prizes that they donate to schools and children’s homes.

Tom: And Scooter decided to come along and cover it, along with a video containing a lot of scantily clad women. Well, it was the early 2000s.

Tim: Oh, and you might be wondering why it’s called Nessaja. Simple: Nessaja was Tabaluga’s mentor, a giant turtle who here is singing about how he never wanted to grow up, but that Tabaluga has his whole life ahead of him. And you know, typing that last sentence almost got me a bit tearful – no wonder Scooter wanted to honour it.

Saturday Flashback: Vanessa Mai – Ich Sterb Für Dich

“Do you recognise this?”

Tim: Question, please: do you recognise this?

Tim: Because to the best of my knowledge, I have never heard it before. It’s from 2016, but we didn’t feature it, it wasn’t a potential Eurovision competitor, and a Google search brings up next to nothing about the artist. She’s not on any Wikipedia except for the German one, and she’s only had a couple of tracks out, yet when Apple Music put it on a ‘tracks you’ll probably like’ I pretty much was immediately familiar with it.

Tom: That’s because you’ve heard every component of it before. No, I don’t recognise the song, but I recognise many parts From the Seven Nation Army-esque intro, to the Modern Talking-esque chorus, to the melody line that’s close to Robin Gibb’s Juliet, to… well, everything, basically.

Tim: Yes, that’s true – there’s also the pre-chorus from I Think We’re Alone Now. Though it’s interesting you mention Modern Talking – it was co-written and produced by Dieter Bohlen, half of that duo (whose name I found rather confusing last night when Google Translate told me this song had been “produced by planks”. Anyway, whether or not I have heard it before doesn’t change one thing: I do like it. I like it a lot. It’s a German language cover of the 1997 track “And Then I Die” by the also German band Touché, and is substantially more schlager-y, particularly when you add the dance routine and wind machine in the video. I LOVE it. Dancey, fun, exciting, it’s GLORIOUS.

Saturday Flashback: Let Loose – Crazy For You

“Literally, I can’t find anything wrong with this track.”

Tom: I had forgotten about this track. Which is a shame, because I think it might be a perfect piece of pop music.

Tim: Do you know, I actually had to check Wikipedia to make sure that wasn’t a young Christopher Eccleston playing the drums.

Tom: Really? I was thinking young Paul Gross myself. Anyway. The band had your standard minor-hit history, including three top 10 hits and an unsuccessful reunion attempt in the late 2000s. It’s a perfectly respectable showing.

Tim: Yes – and it’s certainly impressive to get a 35 track Greatest Hits album out of only 10 singles.

Tom: But somehow, I feel like this track deserved more.

Tim: Really? A number 2 (lol) is a perfectly decent showing, no?

Tom: When I say “there’s nothing wrong with it”, I don’t mean that as faint praise. I mean, literally, I can’t find anything wrong with this track.

Tim: Nitpicking, I’d say the vocals could be a bit higher in the mix, but yeah, it’s good enough. It’s no What Makes You Beautiful or Lovekiller, but it’s good.