Icona Pop – Brightside

“Cutting back on the usual just to blend in? No thanks.”

Tom: That’s a bold title. “Brightside” as one word belongs to the Killers, surely? What’ve they done?

Tim: Well, here’s their recipe: take your typical Icona Pop track, realise any shoutiness needs to be toned down a bit to fit on the palm tree bandwagon, throw in a quick tropical post-chorus. Stir well, allow to settle until way after the party season’s over, because seriously, how is this still a thing, and press play to experience.

Tim: And I’m not happy, Tom. I mean, it’s not a bad track, but it’s not a great Icona Pop track, is it?

Tom: I guess not, but as someone who never really liked Icona Pop’s overly-shouty style, I think it might be better for it. Not that the half-assed coconuts they’ve added really help.

Tim: I don’t know how much of the toning down the shoutiness I mentioned above was something that went through their heads when they were writing it, but if it was that’s a big disappointment, because I’m properly bored now of bands jacking in their usual style just so they’ll fit on some bland Tropical Beats playlist and get all the streaming money when people put it on an a party because it’s got a couple of their current favourites on it.

Tom: That’s harsh, but not unwarranted. I doubt that’s the conscious motivation, but yep: this seems very much ‘chuck in what’s popular right now’.

Tim: I hear the words ‘Icona Pop’, I want either their usual or heading out it a new direction. Cutting back on the usual just to blend in? No thanks. Really, no.

D-wayne feat. Jack McManus – Love Again

“I think it’s time we had a serious discussion about pineapples”

Tom: D Wayne Love? That’s a reference hardly anyone’s going to get, but I’m going to make it anyway.

Tim: Fair enough. This lad, though, is Dutch, with vocals provided by Jack, from our fine country, and the track popped up on my New Music Mix playlist last Friday. And I think it’s time we had a serious discussion about pineapples and the like.

Tim: First things first: I really like this track. The production’s fantastic, vocals are great, decent lyrics, and a good melody. I like the genre as well, but let’s face it: it’s a ludicrous genre.

Tom: Well, there are a lot of ludicrous genres out there. And is this really a genre, or just a taste for a particular style of synth patch? We didn’t start calling it “questionable-Jamaican-rap-middle-eight-pop” after Peter Andre blazed a trail in the 90s, did we?

Tim: No, but then questionable Jamaican rap middle eights didn’t make their way into multiple tracks every week for over eighteen months (and counting). Maybe I’m only now waking up to the cynicism inherent in the music industry, but I can’t help thinking that if this track had been produced two years ago, we’d have had a country guitar in that post-chorus instead. Suddenly, though, Kygo stuck that Passenger remix online, and everybody’s idea of heaven went from being on a tractor to being on a beach surrounded by cocktails and women in skimpy bikinis, and BOOM.

Tom: And I don’t really have much more to say about this track. It’s a decent track. It’s not going to be a floor-filler, but it’ll do in the middle of the set. You’re right, though: it’s following the path set by others.

Tim: Right, because next stop, every man and his copy of Logic Pro is downloading all the marimba and steel drum plugins they can get their hands on – this week alone, we’ve got soundalike tracks from The Veronicas, The Vamps and Maroon 5, and even I’m getting a bit bored of it. Will it ever stop, and when?

Tom: Whenever someone else releases something new, original, catchy and lucky.

Tim: I don’t know – to be honest, I don’t even know really what kind of point I’m trying to make here, other than playing this stuff out loud when temperatures outside are barely hitting double figures is inherently ridiculous, and inherently relaxing and reassuring at the same time. Until it gets entirely boring and uninspired (like that Maroon 5 track), then: BRING ON TROPICAL HOUSE AND FRIDAYS AND 🍍 AND 🍹.

Galantis & Hook N Sling – Love On Me

“This song is just so…fun.”

Tim: TOM! I’m so happy, because guess what genre the best released song of last Friday ventures into?

Tom: Rather brilliantly, this has the full lyrics in the description of the YouTube video. They’re four lines long.

Tim: Yes, it’s not the most lyrically complex track around; doesn’t mean it’s not brilliant, though. Galantis have had a few tracks out since Peanut Butter Jelly, but none of them have got me in quite the same way that this does. Hook N Sling is a producer based in L.A.; I don’t know what he brings to the table, but regardless, this song is just so…fun.

Tom: I think this might be because it sounds like a lot of other fun songs. Nothing specific that I can pick out: it’s just like someone handed a CD of fun pop songs to an AI, gave it some steel drums, and went with whatever came out. Actually, in a few years someone will probably be able to do that.

Tim: And it may well sound better than a good number of the songs we hear. Ah, the future. But in the present, I can’t think of a better way to describe this than fun, really – I hear it, I want to dance. As I write this, it’s getting on for eleven p.m. and I have to be awake at half six, but I don’t care. The song’s been on repeat for fifteen minutes, and I don’t want to stop playing it. It’s got a great chorus, and an even better post-chorus.

Tom: That euphoric build out of the middle eight stands out to me: it’s straight out of the textbook. But then if it didn’t work, it wouldn’t be in the textbook.

Tim: That quick drum rhythm under “we’ll be singing”? YES WE WILL, AND DANCING.

Tom: Maybe you shouldn’t do these reviews so late at night.

Tim: No, best time, because I get emotional. For example, those steel drum tones almost brought tears of joy to my eyes. Man, imagine if I could drag this ludicrous idea out until Christmas.

Julian Perretta – Karma

“I’m not hugely in the mood for a coconut.”

Tim: Tom, I was in two minds today. On one side, it would be nice to keep Tropical Fridays going until the end of September, as a decent cut off point, and there are still numerous tracks being released. On the other, I think we gave it a nice farewell last week, and it’s utterly pissing it down outside as I write this so I’m not hugely in the mood for a coconut.

Tom: Euphemism.

Tim: Fair. But what to do?

Tim: Essentially, let the music choose, or rather the lyrics.

Tom: It’s difficult not to start adding the word “chameleon” in there, you know.

Tim: Also fair, but actually not that. Really, once I heard the line “even though you’re such a bitch I need you now”, I was hooked, and then realising the song was in fact being sung to a vaguely religious concept to request that it punishes his ex-girlfriend just dragged me in.

Tom: What the hell’s happened with those vocals, though? There’s some really weird processing on them. That’s not autotune: it’s some weird vocal effect.

Tim: Hmm, perhaps – but then vocal distortions of all sorts have become very much in vogue recently. Admittedly they’re normally consigned to a few syllables in the background, but I guess it’s only a matter of time before it’s everywhere.

The later revelations that he’d already had a conversation with anger and isn’t on speaking terms with jealousy got me figuring the song was too peculiar to let pass by. Not sure we’ve ever had something like this before; to be honest, I’m not sure I should be taking it as seriously as I am doing, because let’s face it it’s just a bit of nonsense standing in front of a fairly decent tropical beat. Inspired nonsense, though.

Tom: You say that, but I think I can tell you exactly what’s inspired it. It’s the canonical pineapple track: Kygo’s Stole the Show. That “karma, karma” is just “darling, darling”. The structure’s the same. The synth pads are the same. “Anger told me that I couldn’t get no sleep” is the same two-tone end-of-verse melody as “our debut was a masterpiece”.

Tim: Hmmmmmmmm…yes, you could be right, and maybe that’s a reason I like it.

Tom: It’s basically the same track. Not close enough to be sued over, perhaps not close enough to be deliberate, but certainly similar.

Tim: Well, I wouldn’t say “basically the same” – I didn’t hear it until you pointed it out – but I’ll give you similar.

Perttu feat. Alexandra – Waves

“Just something nice to have on in the background to relax to.”

Tim: It’s Friday, Tom, so guess what?

Tom: Flares are back in fashion?

Tim: Erm, wasn’t where I was immediately going, though if you want we can do that. But mainly: LET’S GET TROPICAL!

Tim: Summer’s drawing to a close, and the dance tunes are on the way out; that is, thankfully, no reason for pineapple juice to disappear, always hanging around ready to be sprayed on to any pop song that wants it, such as this, from a pair of Finns.

Tom: Pineapple juice mist? That just sounds unpleasant and sticky. Which is also what I’m starting to think about a lot of these tropical-house tracks. Kygo has a lot to answer for.

Tim: Maybe, but I like this: nice vocal, with a pleasing gentle instrumental. The slight chanting vibe in the chorus, encouraging us to sway side to side in time with that up and down chorus line. Nothing too exciting, just something nice to have on in the background to relax to.

Tom: I guess I can deal with that. It’s not spectacular, but it’s not terrible either.

Tim: Other thing to like: the video, coming as it does with an almost certainly coincidental sunset vibe serving as a pleasing metaphor for the genre, for the time being at least. Like any setting sun, it’ll surely rise again; maybe in March, or maybe not for another few years when Kygo’s wallet runs dry. Or maybe even next Friday, I’ll keep you posted.

Mads Langer – Tunnel Vision

“This is pretty mediocre, isn’t it?”

Tim: At the end of July you gave Tropical Fridays a month; with one exception last week when a brilliant track took priority, I’m pleased to inform you we’re still going strong. This got brought out in March, but is now being given an extra push, just as the clubbing season draws to a close. Nope, me neither, but here it is.

Tom: They really need to put some capitals in his Vevo account name, because I keep reading it as “mad slanger”. Anyway. This is pretty mediocre, isn’t it?

Tim: Hmmm….well…kind of, yes, and so you may well be asking yourself “has Tim brought along this largely unremarkable track just because it has tropical undertones and he wants to drag Tropical Fridays out as long as possible just to prove Tom wrong?” Well, I won’t answer that question directly, but I will say that there’s a remix available by someone called Tortuga on most of your standard streaming services such as Apple Music and Spotify, but annoyingly nowhere that’s embeddable.

Tom: Doesn’t help your case now, though, does it?

Tim: No. No, it doesn’t really. Balls.

Tom: As ever, this is one of those generic tracks where the middle eight is the best part. Doesn’t speak well for the rest of the song.

Tim: Well, that remix is a bit more worth a listen than this original, mostly because it’s more summery and dancey and worthy of the tropical title. A bit messy in places, as it doesn’t really seem to know where it’s going, but have a listen if you can, why don’t you.

Bacall & Malo – Africa

“Everything Never Gonna Give You Up wanted to be, and everything that it wasn’t.”

Tim: Four weeks ago, I wrote, “I genuinely can’t imagine any situation where anybody would ever think ‘I want to listen to a tropical house version of Never Gonna Give You Up’.”

Adam: There’s a joke in there somewhere about giving up tropical house versions of Never Gonna Give You Up but I’m having a hard time piecing it together.

Tim: I’ve only come across the one, and to be frank that’s more than enough. The question on our lips today, though, is whether anybody would ever think ‘I want to listen to a tropical house version of Africa’.

Tim: And you know what? I really do think they would, and not least because that’s what I’m thinking right now and have done on many occasions since first hearing this. Unlike previously, this genuinely works. The song fits.

Adam: The original did have a tropical vibe to begin with, although maybe Never Gonna Give You Up does too.

Tim: Oh, the latter really doesn’t, which is one of the reasons I hated it – it sounded horribly shoehorned in, trying to mix internet memes and musical zeitgeists. Africa, on the other hand, is a great original track, it’s been reworked excellently, and I like that it gets stuck in my head.

Adam: That’s the thing: the original is so great. I reckon it’s the original that’s getting stuck in your head not anything about this cover. Covers can be great but I just don’t feel this is bringing anything new to the table.

Tim: You could be right about the stuck in my head bit; the main thing though is that this is, in short, everything Never Gonna Give You Up wanted to be, and everything that it wasn’t. And I’m very glad of that.

Adam: This tropical house cover is definitely better than the other tropical house cover but I would listen to the original every time. I think the question we should really be asking ourselves is ‘do we really need tropical house covers of already great songs’?

Tim: Depends – are there enough people willing to press the play button? And for this, I know I am.

Lisa Ajax – Love Me Wicked

“I’m starting to regret suggesting that Fridays be Tropical Fridays”

Tim: Friday’s here, so grab yourself a pineapple for today’s TROPICAL TUNE.

Tim: Hmm. To be honest I’m starting to regret suggesting that Fridays be Tropical Fridays, because let’s face it there is basically nothing notable about this and there are better tracks we can feature. However, four weeks ago Tom said it’d only last a month and I am entirely determined to prove him wrong, so let’s do our best with what we’ve got. And it’s, okay, I guess?

Adam: I’d say you’ve timed it perfectly because the weather’s been pretty tropical lately.

Tim: Oh that’s certainly true – it’s just the one a week thing might have been pushing it, as there’s really not a lot to say here. The melody’s decent enough, the tropicalness is all there as it should be, and she’s got a decent singing voice.

Adam: Another jittery chorus here to haunt you Tim! I’m not a big fan of it this time round. I think the fade effect on Lisa’s vocal does a bit of a disservice to her voice. The beat has enough of a bounce without artificially introducing more. One time is fine but it’s a bit overkill to do it over and over again.

Tim: I suppose it’ll fit fine on a “flight to Hawaii” playlist, but in future can we have less of a “this’ll do” attitude please.

Adam: It does a good job of transporting me to another place. That place is a dark club with sticky floors, sweaty dancers, and Malibu & pineapple juice/Sambuca shots.

Tim: Eurgh. Given they were probably going for summery beach resort, that’s probably not a compliment.

Adam: I guess it could be in Hawaii. Maybe it’s the song or maybe it’s just this heat!

Mike Posner – In The Arms Of A Stranger (Brian Kierulf Remix)

“Almost all of the goodness.”

Tim: You’ll remember Mike Posner – he was the one who last summer took a pill in Ibiza, and before that thought that we thought we were cooler than him. You’ll also remember that last Friday it emerged that putting a tropical beat on a piano based track doesn’t always improve matters. On the other hand, since it’s Friday, let’s hear how it can.

Tom: That intro sounds ever so slightly like the Macarena.

Tim: The original, found here, is an actually pretty good track, and happily, almost all of the goodness – melody, vocals (front and back) – makes its way through to here.

Tom: It also loses the ridiculous “bum, bum, bum” introductions from the original, because, look, if you’re doing vocals like that, maybe use a syllable that isn’t “bum”? I realise it doesn’t have the same meaning in US English, but it’s the equivalent of having a choir sing “ass, ass, ass”.

But anyway, well, all the good stuff makes it through.

Tim: Not only that, but unlike yesterday the stuff that’s been added to the remix serves to make the song even better, as I see it anyway. A good beat for you to chomp on a pineapple to, some gentle marimba stylings and all in all, a nice mental image on lying on a beach, shaded by some gently wavering palm fronds, in the arms of the aforementioned stranger.

Tom: That’s a very specific mental image, Tim.

Tim: But isn’t it a nice one?

Calum Scott – Dancing On My Own

“Some songs should be be held on a pedestal, and rendered immune from John Lewis-ification.”

Tim: Thomas. You know very well that (a) Fridays are currently reserved for tropical house and (b) this song is a crime against the entirety of Scandinavia, so you’d better have a good reason for wanting to post this today.

Tom: The first part, I’ll resolve later. The second part… well, our anonymous reader sends this in, saying “a piano-ballad-cover of a Robyn EDM track: What can possibly go wrong”?

Tim: Everything. No, seriously, EVERYTHING.

Tom: Well, for starters, this:

Tim: Most sensible tweet of the year, that.

Tom: He’s got a great voice. I can’t fault that voice. It’s a heck of a performance, perhaps apart from that glottal stop on “better”. And I think there’s a lot of room for interpretations and cover versions of songs, even if “emotional male piano ballad” is a bit overplayed. But the original of this is — let’s be clear here — a BANGER, and just because you’ve lost some of the instrumentation it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily more emotional.

Tim: No; it does, on the other hand, mean it’s necessarily more boring. And you’re right, there is a lot of room for reinterpretations, but some songs should be be held on a pedestal, and rendered immune from John Lewis-ification. Dancing On My Own is one of them.

Tom: And let’s face it, even if I don’t agree with some of the Internet that this cover version is necessarily a crime against music, that hanging, unresolved ending certainly is.

Tim: Yes. So let’s not do the same with this post. Let’s resolve it properly. First, we’ll add a bit of bio by pointing out that the most interesting sentence on Calum Wikipedia page tells us he “won a local competition, Hull Daily Mail’s Star search 2013, after which he joined a Maroon 5 tribute band, called ‘Maroon 4’” and second, realise that that tells us all we need to know about him. And then finish with this.

Tom: And then, let’s finish with this. Because, yes, you could argue that Calum’s cover is unnecessary — but you know what’s definitely unnecessary? Adding beats back in by getting Tiesto to do an uninspired remix of it. If you want a proper comparison, this shows just how much better the original is.

Tim: Oh. Oh, man.