Saturday Flashback: Kim Petras – Everybody Dies

“Perhaps a melodramatic choice to send over for our last song, Tim. But I think it’s apt in more subtle ways as well.”

Tim: Well that’s certainly a title.

Tom: Perhaps a melodramatic choice to send over for our last song, Tim. But I think it’s apt in more subtle ways as well. Over the ten years we’ve been doing this, there are only a handful of times I’ve cared enough to download a full album. BWO’s Big Science was the first, ten years ago; and come to think of it, “Kings of Tomorrow” would also be a good song to end on.

Tim: True, actually – a great song from a great band.

Tom: We talked about Kim Petras’s music for the first time back in February; Turn Off The Light has become one of my most-played albums this year since then. Despite its novelty “spooky Hallowe’en” status, and that it’s borderline a concept album, I think it’s proper, really enjoyable pop, from someone with a great voice and a lot of talent.

Tim: I’ve not yet checked out the whole album, but as I said at the time I certainly enjoyed There WIll Be Blood. What’s this one, then?

Tom: The last track on the album: it’s the last dance before the lights come on and everyone goes home.

Tom: I think it sums up exactly the sort of music we were hoping to find when we set this site up, ten years ago. The sort of music you hear randomly on some European radio station. The sort of music that’s catchy and poppy and a bit frowned on by the Serious Music World. The sort of music that can be fun and meaningless if it wants to, and that’s fine, but can reach emotional depth too.

Tim: And very often, the sort of music people hear you playing and ask “what the hell is this?”, but then if you manage to persuade them to give it a go realise they might actually slightly enjoy it. 

Tom: Tim, it’s been a pleasure.

Tim: A pleasure, and an education. 

Emili Milou – Jag Har Hört

“Don’t worry, it’s chirpy!”

Tim: For our final new track, let’s have a rummage around the old inbox for a less well known artist, shall we? The title translates to ‘I’ve Heard’, and apparently it’s about a break-up that Emili went through a few years back. But don’t worry, it’s chirpy!

Tom: It is chirpy, isn’t it? Although having commented on Kylie’s subtle but strong stereo effects yesterday, I can’t help but comment that this is exactly the wrong way to do stereo: instruments shouldn’t seem like they’re flying around the listener’s head. (There’s been a terrible gimmick fad for “remixing” tracks using that sort of production on YouTube, and I’m not in favour.)

Tim: See, I first heard this sitting at my computer and didn’t notice that, but on second listen with noise isolating headphones, then…huh. I checked out a track from that article and, well, this isn’t quite as weird as having Ed Sheeran wander all around the tube carriage on my way to work, but you’re right that it is a little disconcerting.

Aside from that, though, well. I’m not saying that the break-up was necessarily a good thing (and I can’t find the lyrics online so sadly I can’t tell you Emili’s feelings on the matter), but if it led to this song’s existence I can only see it as a net positive, really, because oh, are there a lot of things in there that I really like.

Tom: For the last time, Tim: name ’em.

Tim: Oh, alright, since you ask. We’ve the gentle synthy backing in there, and the lovely soft vocal on top of it. The Out Of The Woods-style simplicity of the chorus, and the rhythm that it brings along with it. The sudden genre shift for the middle eight, which comes out of nowhere but manages not to sound horribly out of place. The charming backing vocals at the end, that stop the repetition getting boring because they just carry you along gently through to the end of the song, at which point you press the button to play it all over again. Because it’s properly lovely.

Tom: It is. I’d just prefer it in mono, I think.

Tim: And, well, it seems that’s it. Once more tomorrow for a brief look back?

Tom: I think I know exactly the right track for the occasion.

Kylie Minogue – Say Something

“Is there a bit of a CHVRCHES influence there?”

Tom: The late-80s revival style continues to be popular in our current nostalgia cycle, so let’s talk about a new track from someone who was there the first time around.

Tom: And is it me, or is there a bit of a CHVRCHES influence there?

Tim: Blimey, there’s very much a CHVRCHES influence there – if Kylie were singing with a slightly Scottish twang I’d immediately think it was from them. It’s interesting, really, how we talk about late-80s revival, because that is absolutely not a late-80s Kylie track, it’s a 2020 track – it’s not so much a revival as a gentle evolution of pop, having taken a slight 30 year pause to do things like Britpop and dubstep along the way.

Tom: An odd thing that I don’t think I’ve ever commented on here: this is a track with a lot of heavy stereo effects that, somehow, just work. Try removing just one headphone, and suddenly it’s much, much flatter, even missing out some parts entirely. There’s a real feat of engineering and production involved to create something this stereo-heavy BUT also not make the effect obvious and distracting.

Tim: Huh, yeah, you’re not wrong. Nicely done, Kylie. Top work.

DJ Herzbeat feat. Paulina Wagner – Es Ist Love

“Sorry, I am literally sitting here just repeating the word ‘geslided’ to myself out loud.”

Tim: Now, before you press play, be aware that there are a number of moments in the lyrics that will make you wince and let out an ‘oh, mate, just no’.

Tom: From our favourite ridiculous schlager channel? I’m shocked. There are certain traditions here that I’m going to miss when we finish writing this, Tim, but cringing at dodgy lyrics is not one of them.

Tim: Hmm, that’s fair. There are two things to know this time, though: everything is justified within the narrative of the lyrics (and they do tell a heartwarming tale), and all the awkwardness is stuck in the first verse, so the chorus and second verse are fine.

Tom: “Geliked” and “Geslided”. Geslided. Geslided. Sorry, I am literally sitting here just repeating the word “geslided” to myself out loud. Incredible.

Tim: She found him on Insta, you see, and checked out his feed, and went for the old DM slide, and he liked her photos right away, and, well, he’s got an inspiring bio that quotes Goethe so really what else is a girl meant to do but sing a really pretty good and banging dance tune about it?

Tom: Plenty more fish in the sea, love. That said, this is exactly the sort of song we set out to find when we started ten years ago: yes, it seems a bit by-the-numbers, but there’s clearly been work put into the composition and production. DJ Herzbeat knows what he’s doing.

Tim: It’s love, you see, Tom, IT’S LOVE. AND NOT JUST A DREAM. IT’S LOVE.

Tom: Heh. “Geslided.”

NOTD, Nina Nesbitt – Cry Dancing


Tim: NOTD, a Swedish production duo we’ve featured a couple of times and who are just starting to make waves over here, and Nina Nesbitt who’s off Scotland and has been fairly successful over the years. Together, this.

Tim: Love those lyrics, with the great sense of self-denial, going through all the possible reasons she could be crying with the sole insistence that it’s not You, until at the end we’re stuck wondering who she’s actually trying to convince, the target of the song or actually herself.

Tom: I’m not quite as convinced by the lyrics: I recoiled slightly at that “issues / tissues” couplet at the start of the second verse. And I’m not sure “outstanding” works in that chorus either. But setting that aside: does this sound a bit like it’s in the spirit of “Dancing On My Own” to you? It’ll never be as good as Robyn, of course, nothing could be, but it’s in that spirit .

Tim: It does, yes – both songs have a “look at me I’m doing fine without you YES HONESTLY CAN’T YOU SEE I’M ENTIRELY FINE, FINE IS WHAT I AM, I’M FINE”. It’s a hell of a song musically as well, mind – really good beat, and melody, and production, and I can absolutely see why they’re getting big over here.

Tom: The fact I’m not immediately slating it with that Robyn comparison means it must come off fairly well. There’s a lot to be said for this.

Tim: Love it.

Sigrid Bernson – Sommaren i City

“Tom, we have an announcement to make.”

Tim: Tom, we have an announcement to make.

Tom: We do. Europlop is approaching ten years old. And after more than 3,000 posts — and more than 3,800 emails back and forth, during which we’ve never changed the subject line — that ten-year anniversary is also the time to bring this to a close. Ten years is an achievement, and I reckon it’s better to go out on a high, while we’ve got something to celebrate.

Tim: Indeed – I think we can say it’s been a fairly good decade musically, even if we did have to struggle to get through dubstep.

Tom: As the old showbiz saying goes, always leave ’em wanting more. So, with that said: one last week of new music?

Tim: Let’s do it. We have, broadly, both been in favour of Sigrid’s previous tracks; here’s her latest, a cover of a track from thirty years ago, and you can probably guess what the title translates to.

Tom: Well, that’s another track I can describe myself as being “broadly in favour of”.

Tim: Good, that, isn’t it? It’s basically a ‘remember that? That was great, any chance of it happening again?’ message, and it pretty much checks all my requirements for an upbeat pop song. Great vocal, yep, Tinkly background with lovely synth patterns, yep. Smooth and catchy melody, yep. Nothing that I want to get rid of, also yep.

Tom: And there’s enough eighties influence left from the original — in that middle eight in particular — that it’s still a competent cover.

Tim: Honestly, got nothing to complain about with this. Hooray!

Saturday Flashback: Stee Wee Bee – A Star (In The Name Of Our Love)

“Here’s a mystery for you.”

Tom: Here’s a mystery for you, Tim. You remember Ein Stern? Nik P, then DJ Ötzi, then brought back again last year?

Tim: Of course.

Tom: Well, the definitive version — the first Ötzi one — came out in 2007. The Wikipedia article for it lists a half-dozen translations. But this one isn’t there. And I can’t find any more information about it.

Tim: They got rid of the key change. That’s disappointing. But otherwise, gosh.

Tom: Who is Stee Wee Bee?

Tim: Was going to be my next question – it’s an entirely ridiculous name, whoever it is.

Tom: No idea. I suspect it’s the producer, not the vocalist, because the name turns up again on this cheesy but fun Neil Sedaka remix. But in theory they could be the same person: there’s no reason a vocalist can’t also produce. Or it could be a deliberate disguise for someone else.

Tim: Well, that “are you ready?” line about a minute sounds very much like early Basshunter, but it’s probably not him. Sadly.

Tom: Either way, this track sits in that sort of odd wasteland of tracks that turn up on Eurodance compilation CDs and Dance Nation’s annual Christmas release. And it’s competent, of course: but where it falls down is that the cadence required for “A Star” just doesn’t work in English. “Ein Stern”? Sure. Sounds fine. But you can’t put emphasis on ‘a’ without it sounding.. well, like this.

Tim: Yeah. ‘One Star’ could work and not mess up the message too much, but yeah, not ‘A Star’.

Kygo x Tina Turner – What’s Love Got To Do With It

“When Higher Love was such a banger using a near-identical formula, why is this one just… okay?”

Tom: I’ve been holding off on sending this to you, Tim, because I didn’t think it was all that good.

Tim: Same, actually – though let’s have a chat about it anyway, why not.

Tom: But then I realised that raises a question: when Higher Love was such a banger using a near-identical formula, why is this one just… okay?

Tim: My guess is three-fold: firstly, Higher Love is still a big enough track that if people want this formula, they’ll stick with that. I heard that on the radio on Tuesday, four days after this was out, because it is, quite simply, an out and out banger.

Secondly, and slightly more importantly: the formula isn’t actually quite the same. Here, Kygo hasn’t done all that much to it beyond stick in a tropical post-chorus. You press play on it, and for the first minute or so you might as well be listening to the original. Higher Love, though, was vastly different – I actually only looked it up for the first time just now and wasn’t sure I’d got the right track until the vocal kicked in.

Tom: Oh, you’re right there. I was listening to the middle bit, and it was all just Kygo doing his sample-cut-up job. That intro and first verse are very, very different now you point it out.

Tim: And thirdly, the original of this is much more well known. This is pretty much Tina Turner’s biggest track, everyone knows it, and there’s not a huge demand for what’s not much more than a remix, however big the name attached to it might be. Higher Love, though, was only put out by Whitney as a bonus track on the Japanese edition of one of her albums.

Tom: Wait, really? Huh. In which case, you’re teaching me a lot: I knew it, and so I assumed everyone else knew it too.

Tim: No, not at all – when people heard it, it was basically a new track by her and Kygo, and who wouldn’t want to hear that?

Jessica Bohlin – Från Norr Till Söder

“Fancy some nice country pop?”

Tim: Fancy some nice country pop?

Tom: Well, that’s pleasant enough, isn’t it?

Tim: Title translates to ‘From North To South’, lyrics are nowhere to be found online so sadly I can’t tell you about them. The music, though, I think is absolutely lovely – First Aid Kit is the group that leaps to mind as a comparison (and apparently one out of them had a baby last month, how lovely). It’s speedy, it’s got a lovely melody throughout, the vocal’s excellent, and the backing oohh-ooh-ooohs after the second chorus and at the end are delightful.

Tom: “Nice” isn’t a goal that pop often aims for, and certainly not one that gets rewarded all that often. They’ve managed it here, though.

Tim: All in, rather nice track.

Anne-Marie feat. Doja Cat – To Be Young

“Two distinct hooks between the pre-chorus and regular chorus, some great vocals, and composition that somehow manages to be simple while not grating.”

Tom: Anne-Marie, best known for catchy romanticisation of her past. Doja Cat, known for this TikTok-famous, 70s-influenced track. Together:

Tom: I assumed this would be deviation to the mean, because… well, that’s how this works. But this is really rather good, isn’t it?

Tim: It is – whole lot of things to recommend here. The autotune grates on me a little bit at times, though I don’t know if that’s deliberate or not.

Tom: Two distinct hooks between the pre-chorus and regular chorus, some great vocals, and composition that somehow manages to be simple while not grating.

Tim: Yeah, certainly can’t deny any of that – everything goes together nicely with that good melody.

Tom: And, I assumed Doja Cat would just be coming in for a rapped middle eight, because that’s usually how it works. But no: a noticeably different voice, backed up by some really good string samples. I’ve got nothing bad to say about this track. It’s brilliant.