Saturday Flashback: Michelle – Es gibt dich

“A textbook example of a builder.”

Tim: I have no idea where I found this, but I was finally getting round to clearing up my 40+ Safari tabs when I re-found it, and I think it stands up.

Tom: This is the first time in a while that I’ve thought “wow, that’s a voice”. Those first lines, almost isolated, really show off her vocal quality.

Tim: It is, really, a textbook example of a builder. Middle eight aside, there isn’t a single component that isn’t a slightly increased version of what came before – hell, sometimes it increases midway through the verses.

Tom: It almost feels like the producers and engineers were having some fun with this one. I checked the waveform in an audio editor, and it literally increases in volume like someone’s steadily turning up a dial.

Tim: And when we come back from that middle eight, OH, I was absolutely not expecting it, but in hindsight it’s a perfect closing chorus. It’s a lovely song – nothing big or huge, but just really, really nice to listen to. And I like that in a song.

Saturday Flashback: NineOneOne – Can’t Stop Now

“It’s designed to impart a certain emotion and then get out of the way.”

Tim: So, I know basically nothing about this act at all – can’t find any social media, no individuals, no proper albums, nothing. Having said that, the name does crop up quite a bit with two specific composers of TV music, so my best guess is that they exist solely to provide library music that TV shows can use without paying much money for.

Tom: Given that it’s on an album called “indie synthpop 2”, yes, this is definitely Stock Music. However, a lot of respectable composers are now finding that’s a lucrative way of making music: just make it in bulk, send it out, and if you’re lucky, get it used in television or as filler on generic Spotify playlists.

Tim: Right, and conclusive evidence: I found this on an extended trail for a new TV show and, well, I like it.

Tim: Alright, that, isn’t it? It starts out with the bass line very similar to (perhaps even identical to, which is a bit odd) Bright Light Bright Light’s Disco Moment, but beyond that it grows and progresses until we end up with a lovely chorus, very much the MVP here.

Tom: I mean, it’s stock music. It’s designed to impart a certain emotion and then get out of the way.

Tim: Catchy, pleasant, and most importantly, perfectly sufficient for affordable TV music.

Saturday Flashback: Oh Wonder – Slip Away

“This isn’t going to set the club on fire.”

Tim: Love Island finished last Monday, and as it happens I was pleasantly surprised by the result – after all, who would ever have predicted the nation’s favourite of Tommy and Molly-Mae would have been defeated?

Tom: Who indeed. [turns to camera, shrugs]

Tim: Anyway, the program’s generally fairly good for background music, bringing forth tracks that might otherwise have skipped me by, such as this from 2017. Expectations: this isn’t going to set the club on fire, unless it’s by everybody leaving the dance floor to go for a cigarette at the same time.

Tom: Thanks for the warning. Hopefully that’s because it wasn’t designed to.

Tim: Oh Wonder are a British band, who’ve never had a huge amount of chart success, and indeed haven’t produced any new music in almost two years. I’ve not a lot to say about this one, other than: it’s quite nice, isn’t it? To relax to, and stuff.

Tom: It’s great, but I’m not sure about relaxing: that build towards the end is really quite good at building up tension. I can see why it stuck with you, even if there’s not too much to say.

Saturday Flashback: The Wallflowers – One Headlight

“Ever realise that you’ve missed a Big Song?”

Tom: Ever realise that you’ve missed a Big Song?

Tim: Erm, how so?

Tom: It’s alt-rock so it isn’t totally in our wheelhouse, but: this is is from 1996, has 100 million views on YouTube, was listed as one of Rolling Stone’s “greatest pop songs of all time”, still gets radio play in the US, and I’d swear I’d never heard it before yesterday.

Tim: Nope, me neither. Can’t say I regret that, though.

Tom: And despite the alt-rock genre that it’s classified in, and the dark lyrics, that’s a proper nineties pop-rock-song, isn’t it? It has all the markings of the time: growly Rob Thomas-esque voice, and it’s about one verse too long.

Tim: Annoyingly, there’s a part in there that reminds me of a similar song that I really enjoy, but I can’t quite place it.

Tom: At a time when the British charts were dominated by Britpop, this American band completely passed us all by.

Saturday Flashback: Tooji – Stay

“You’d think I’d remember something that unfortunate.”

Tim: I heard this recently, Norway’s 2012 Eurovision entry, and remembered I quite enjoyed it.

Tom: I have no memory of it at all!

Tim: Let’s revisit it, shall we?

Tom: You’d think I’d remember something that unfortunate. They’ve nicked the synths from Benny Benassi’s Satisfaction, the chorus from every late-90s Eurovision entrant, and the verse from… actually, I can’t remember the verse any more, and that’s probably for the best.

Tim: First of all, some context: in the category of ‘songs that qualified’, it couldn’t have done much (well, any) worse – it was tenth out of ten qualifiers from its semi-final, and in the final it was the single song that prevented us, with Engelbert Humperdinck (Engelbert Humperdinck, ffs), coming last, with 7 points to our 12.

Tom: The single saving grace is the chorus, but it’s very much a Traditional Chorus and those just don’t play well any more. As for why even Engelbert beat it…

Tim: Multiple reasons, probably: the vocals were weak, he looks like he’s just grabbed his clothes out of the dirty laundry basket, and the peculiar mix of genres meant that pretty much everybody would have at least one part they disliked. So, really: why on Earth was it chosen? And to that, I’ve no answer. Well, except that weirdly, I quite like it.

Saturday Flashback: I DON’T KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME – Choke

“The chorus isn’t too bad, I’ll give you that.”

Tom: I know that “Utah-based indie band that sounds like early Britpop, doing a song that personifies Los Angeles and describes how the singer wants to choke the city to death” is well outside our wheelhouse, but given yesterday’s track, it seemed like a good time to talk about someone else who’s insisting on all caps.

Tim: Certainly is a heck of band name.

Tim: Oh. Oh, mate, why?

Tom: Mainly because — despite that introduction that places it outside our wheelhouse — that’s basically a schlager chorus, isn’t it?

Tim: Hmmm…yeah, actually, the chorus isn’t too bad, I’ll give you that.

Saturday Flashback: Hogland & Vinil feat. AVA – We Don’t Care

“Everyone, I’ve good news!”

Tim: Everyone, I’ve good news! Turns out, the rest of Hogland’s output is at a similar level to that of Letting Go, that brilliant track we featured last week! Here’s one from a couple of years back to demonstrate that.

Tim: You see? As previously, great production, great featured vocals, an absolutely fantastic post-chorus breakdown, and even a good middle eight!

Tom: The introduction and first verse remind me of OneRepublic, and I mean that as a compliment. Of course, it very quickly goes in a different direction. I’m really not sure about those steel-drum-like synths that just repeat one phrase over and over again, though.

Tim: My only question, to be honest, is: why haven’t I heard this guy before? I really don’t know, but I’m very very glad I’ve heard him now.

Saturday Flashback: DJ Vibes – Hey Jude

“Not because it’s good. Just because it’s memorable.“

Tom: I know that we’re ostensibly doing music reviews here, as opposed to just keeping in touch by sending music to each other. But sometimes I don’t want to do that: I just want to say “Tim, listen to this.”

Tim: Fine by me. What have you got?

Tom: Please enjoy this ridiculous, terrible, awful, happy hardcore track, off the Ravers Choice label. Not because it’s good. Just because it’s memorable.

Tim: That…that is certainly a track that exists, and turns one of the most terrible songs ever into something, well, differently terrible. Thank you Tom.

Saturday Flashback: Jedward – Hologram

“It’s not bad! The bar is set low but they cleared it!”

Tim: Have I mentioned on here I went to a Jedward gig a few weeks back? I don’t think so, but us featuring Samir & Viktor here on Monday reminded me of it, and I have NEWS: there’s a new album out soon! Basically, since being binned off by the label in 2014, most of the stuff’s been self-written, and here’s one from a couple of years back.

Tom: I actually tried to look up the songwriting credits in the music industry’s database, but this song’s not in there and the copyright is just listed as “℗ 2016 Jedward”. So, while I don’t know how much help they’ve got, I guess this counts as self-written. That… sounds like it’s a bad idea?

Tim: Well…

Tim: It’s actually alright!

Tom: It is! It’s not bad! The bar is set low but they cleared it!

Tim: Admittedly, some of the stuff isn’t quite as good – the last one of theirs we looked at was evidence of that – but here’s a decent, if somewhat middle-of-the-compilation-playlist, dance track. It was also a good decade too late for its sound, even then, but I’ve no problem with it because hell, it’s a damn good sound, made into an actually fairly good tune. I like this. Genuinely, unashamedly, like it.

Tom: That’s an entirely fair response.

Tim: Other stuff from the gig, in case you’re interested: it was surprisingly great, despite being a “yeah, that’s just within my ‘might be shit but good for a laugh’ budget” decision; they somehow kept going from over two and a half hours, doing new stuff, old stuff and covers; and, biggest of all, they’ve actually become able to sing!

Tom: No kidding.

Tim: None at all: they did half an hour or so of acoustic stuff with John playing a guitar and them both singing, and it actually sounded good. Guess ten years in the business can get you quite a bit of vocal coaching, who knew?

Saturday Flashback: A*Teens – Mamma Mia

“Remind me: what, exactly, was the point of A*Teens?”

Tim: I do love love a good anniversary, so let’s have this: A*Teens’s debut, twenty years old this month. WARNING: excessive use of hair gel coming up.

Tim: Remind me: what, exactly, was the point of A*Teens? Was it just bringing the music of ABBA to a new generation of kids, who didn’t have Spotify or even Napster yet? Redoing it in a mildly unpleasant format to hear by adding on a load of autotune?

Tom: Money. It was money.

Tim: It’s not exactly bad, really, but it does just seem, looking back, really and entirely unnecessary. Particularly that blonde guy’s hair, and arguably the yo-yo as well.

Tom: Well, A1’s cover of Take On Me was unnecessary too, as was that video, but they still got to number 1 in the UK and A-Ha didn’t.

Tim: Late 90s were fun, weren’t they?