Mathilda – NBLY&I

“The lyrics are a bit bland, the sound is derivative, but it is a bloody brilliant pop song.”

Tim: The letters in the title are short for ‘Nothing Burns Like You & I’; don’t know why it had to be shortened, but in the absence of any official guidance I propose we pronounce it ‘nibbly’.

Tom: I went “ugh” twice in the opening two lines: first, the line “da hood”; second, rhyming it with school. Weirdly, the vertical video didn’t annoy me at all, so at least there’s that.

Tim: Huh, that does genuinely surprise me. But overall, that there is a bloody brilliant pop song. It is Miley’s Party In The USA, it is Demi’s Heart Attack, it is Avril’s Rock N Roll, all rolled into one with a bunch of other tracks and sounding fantastic.

Tom: I was all ready to disagree with you (particularly with that pre-chorus “panic attack” line), but I have to admit there are some lovely bits in here.

Tim: We seem to have had a bit of a break from female pop-rock recently, and hearing tracks like this makes me realise just what a damn shame that is. It might not be the best song around – lyrics are a bit bland, the sound however great, is entirely derivative, and it won’t go down in history as a classic…

Tom: Thanks, you took the words right out of my mouth.

Tim: …but it is a bloody brilliant pop song. And I love it.

Mariette – Time To Spare

HRRRRRRRRNK

Tim: Remember that HRRRRNNK noise that was in all the film trailers for what seemed like decades after Inception used it, but eventually fell out of fashion appeared this morning, twice, in the trailer for The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part?

Tom: Yep, I remember that after a while it got really irri-HRRRRRRRNK

Tim: Well you’ll be pleased to know that Mariette’s trying to bring it back.

Tom: HRRRRRRRRNK

Tim: And actually it doesn’t sound too weird or out of place, bringing with it as substantial stylistic change to the sound, from calm and comparatively quiet to big and brash and really quite noisy.

Tom: Yep, I’m actually kind of surprised by it: I liked the verse going into it, I liked the pre-chorus that it heralded, and somehow this all seems to wo-HRRRRRRRRRNK

Tim: It’s curious – normally, this would really put me off a bit, with the sounds involved and the vocal samples all over the place, and the aaaah-ah-ah-ahh that’s irritatingly reminiscent of Shakira. Here, though, it all seems to work for me, and I quite like it.

Tom: Sure. I’m not immediately going to download and listen to it endlessly, but I wouldn’t object if this came on the radiHRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRNK

Tim: Going with that, are you?

Tom: Incidentally, yes, this joke isn’t getting old for me.

Tim: Fair enough. Good song though, but let’s make sure Hans Zimmer never hears it, yeah?

Samir & Viktor feat. Anis Don Demina – Put Your Hands Up For Sverige

Tim: Just in time for the World Cup, a patriotic number from the the duo.

Tom: And just in case our reader doesn’t remember them: they’re basically Sweden’s Jedward.

Tim: Prepare for chanting, loud noises, and an accordion.

Tim: And isn’t that fun? I had something of a rollercoaster in terms of my feelings for that one – fun to start with, gradually declining throughout getting slightly bored with the verse, but then having a massive grin on my face when the whole crowd chanting came along.

Tom: Yes! Exactly that!

Tim: Hooray!

Tom: Except for the massive grin, I just got the steadily declining bit. Huh. Probably shouldn’t have started this quite so excited, really.

Tim: Oh. Well for me it’s up and down in varying amounts beyond that, but overall it’s nice to bit of general patriotism. If you’re wondering if there’s anything in particular they’re excited about, the answer’s not really: the main message is that it’s great because the people are great, everyone’s nice to each other, singing and dancing happens everywhere and basically there’s just no country better.

Tom: I mean, we haven’t even got a World Cup song this year, so I can’t really argue, but I can’t see this becoming another Three Lions. But who knows? Maybe they’ll be singing this in the terraces in Stockholm in ten years’ time. (They won’t be.)

Tim: Well, you’re probably right. Nonetheless (and I imagine that I’m probably failing in my patriotic duty as a Brit here), I quite like this.

Saturday Flashback: Scooter – Mary Got No Lamb

“A lovely gentle Boyzone romantic number”

Tim: Tom, I’ve a confession to make. Thing is, much as I love Scooter, and everything H.P. Baxxter stands for, I’ve been pretty poor at keeping up with their latest releases. As such, when I saw them on their COMPLETELY AMAZING 25th anniversary tour a couple of weeks ago, there were a few tracks I didn’t recognise.

Tom: But that could you still RAVE to?

Tim: Well, duh. Of all of them, though, this one kind of stuck in my head.

Tom: Oh. Oh dear. That’s… well, yes, that is textbook Scooter, isn’t it? I mean, much as I like them, that’s basically pushing all the way into self-parody.

Tim: So when I’d finished laughing, I kept on RAVING and then at the end of the gig I realised I shouldn’t have been that surprised at all. We’ve had a Supertramp song, a song from a musical for kids, even a film series theme being reworked – why not a song that, at least according to Google, is a lovely gentle Boyzone romantic number that was covered by Sutherland Brothers and Quiver twenty years earlier?

Tom: …you know, I’ve never replied with a GIF before here, but

Nathan Fillion

Tim: The rest of it, of course, is absolutely classic Scooter – lengthy drum build with H.P. shouting over the top.

Tom: And shouting even more nonsense than usual!

Tim: Amazing, isn’t it? The first bit alone we’re talking about cherries not being important, and in the shouting verses proper we’ve a particular highlight of “Got no lamb, but that’s okay, I’m into chicken anyway”. Then we RAVE again before the return of that beautiful romantic chorus. Regardless of (in fact, partially because of) lyrical stupidity, this is brilliant.

Tom: You’re not wrong.

Eagle-Eye Cherry – Streets Of You

“I still have a soft spot for pop-country, so this bodes well.”

Tim: Well, he was indeed gone following the night that was saved, and though he’s stuck his head through the window occcasionally since then it seems he’s now come back properly, with a song that’s almost verging on country.

Tom: I still have a soft spot for pop-country, so this bodes well.

Tim: Have a listen, see what you think.

Tim: Pretty good, right? It’s nothing special, though, which is a bit sad because if you’re going for a big comeback when you’re best known for a large anthem, you really need to do your very best to meet it.

Tom: Was Save Tonight a massive anthem, though? It was certainly massive, but it wasn’t a singalong anthem — it sounded a lot like this. It’s only because it’s so well-loved that it’s become one.

Tim: True – anthem’s the wrong word, but it’s a song that everybody knows and sings along with, so your next one needs to be good. And this? Hmm. Thing is, if I were judging this as the second track off an album as a follow-up, I’d probably be okay with it – it sounds good, it’s a nice style he’s returning with, the lyrics are fine and it has a decent hook for the chorus. Expectations are annoying, aren’t they?

Tom: They are. And there’s one other expectation I’ve got here. See, Avicii’s Wake Me Up was more or less Save Tonight, so much so that there are literally dozens of near-identical mashups of them.

And so my first thought for this track went the other way round: isn’t this just The Nights?

Tim: Huh. Yes, yes it is. But boy, the opening voiceover on that video became relevant faster than anyone imagined. I think, overall, that desire came true.

Steerner – I Wouldn’t Lie

“I can’t think of anything else like this”

Tim: Steerner, a Swedish producer; uncredited vocals from Eurovision’s Robin Stjernberg; and this song, an unusual sort of dance/old school rock mix.

Tom: Huh! As that started to build, I was pleasantly surprised — you’re right that it’s an unusual mix.

Tim: So I’m a good 80-90% sure that works, because the mix between the two genres is handled fairly well, twisted vocals taking the place of electric guitars for the first post-choruses and then everything chucked in together and working nicely for the closing section, with double vocals and everything.

Tom: They’re taking the place of guitars! That’s what sounds strange. I can’t think of anything else like this, and the fact that I’m not immediately turning away from something that’s new is a sign that this is a really good track that I just haven’t got used to yet. Blimey, that last chorus is something special, though.

Tim: It really is, and in fact the whole thing is kind of what I was hoping for with Stronger when we featured it last week – big chorus, then a dance breakdown. The mix works well, the production is good on both sides, Robin’s vocal sounds a great fit, and all in all it’s a song worth having. Nice one.

Sondr feat. Molly Hammar – Holding On

“May’s drawing to a close, summer’s picking up the pace, and every dance producer worth their salt seems to feel it necessary to celebrate that.”

Tim: Not sure why, but Molly Pettersson Hammar has dropped the Pettersson; she’s now got the vocals on here, from a couple of British producers. Still a slight whiff of pineapple, for which I make no apology whatsoever.

Tom: “I wanna follow where she goes / I think about her and she knows it”. Sorry, got distracted there, and I’m not seriously suggesting those lines are ripped off, it’s just an unfortunately similar melody in the verses. You were saying, pineapple?

Tim: I was, because it is, yep, another summer dance tune, and they seem to be out with a vengeance right now, with fairly good reason (he writes, staring out of his window at Majorcan drizzle).

Tom: It was -4°C here yesterday, Tim. ANYWAY. Pineapple time.

Tim: May’s drawing to a close, summer’s picking up the pace, and every dance producer worth their salt seems to feel it necessary to celebrate that. It’s an easy sound to push out, as we all discovered only too well a couple of years ago, so let’s hope it’s not making a huge comeback.

Tom: To be fair, they’re not using Kygo’s pads: the definition of ‘tropical’ has at least widened a bit.

Tim: True, so as it is, just a few tracks in, I can cope. Especially with a good number like this.

Jain – Alright

“What about us lonely people who have no-one to love?”

Tim: Jain is off of France, though travelled all over the world as a kid because of her dad’s job, apparently. As such, there’s just about every musical influence you can find in this, a song that may well just generally reassure you. Or annoy you.

Tom: There’s awful lot of pineapple scent around here lately, Tim. I thought we’d left that behind in 2016.

Tim: Yeah, I don’t think we’re due a resurgence, but I’m not finding it too annoying yet. And it is a nice message, and it’s happy, and it’s also one of the most creative lyric videos I’ve seen in a while. On the other hand…damn, that one line does get a bit annoying after a while, particularly hearing it a good forty something times (I lost count exactly).

Tom: Yep. If you’re going to rely on one or two chorus lines, you’d better make sure they never, ever grate on the listener. This doesn’t quite manage it.

Tim: There’s also the constant “if love is around” disclaimer – like, I get the “yes, love is great” idea, but what about us lonely people who have no-one to love? Are we doomed to never be alright, never have that certainty? That sounds slightly upsetting, really. Or maybe it’s just my fragile psyche getting in the way.

Tom: Maybe it’s a more generalised concept of love? The love that’s sort of hanging in the air like a fart that no-one’ll own up to. That’s a terrible simile, but I make no apologies for it.

Tim: Eurgh. But okay, fine. Let’s all love each other, that’ll do.

ManyFew – How Would You Know

“HAVE IT”

Tim: What I have for you here is pretty much a return to proper tropical house, and I would slightly apologise for that but let’s face it it’s been a good 18 months since it was everywhere, and also it’s nice to feel summery what with it being, you know, basically summer.

Tom: The words that came to mind during that first build were: “HAVE IT”. It’s not like it’s enough of a banger to make me shout that out loud, but that’s certainly a good sign.

Tim: Summer in the music, summer in the video, all of which makes me joyous as I lay here by a swimming pool in Majorca, sun blazing down brilliantly.

Tom: There is literally snow on the ground where I am right now, Tim.

Tim: Hmm. Well, maybe not for everyone, then. There are, whichever way, bits in here that are utterly lovely – to name one, that tinkly xylophone line towards the end, quiet as it may be. It’s also just quite nice in general, really – nothing hugely special, nothing that makes me go “oh, this is spectacular”, but just a decent tune with a lot of happy stuff going on in the video.

Tom: Right. Even at three minutes, this doesn’t have quite enough material for its length. I’m agreed about that xylophone line, though — I found myself wishing that had come in earlier. This is serviceable summer dance-pop.

Tim: And as an introduction to summer, I’ll, like you said, “HAVE IT”.

Saturday Flashback: Charlotte Perrelli – No More Black & Blue

“We have POWER and STRENGTH and FORTITUDE and OTHER SYNONYMS in there.”

Tim: October 1998, Britney Spears revealed that her loneliness was killing her; a little over two years later, it wasn’t killing her no more. In 2008, Charlotte Perrelli brought us the album track “Black & Blue” about how her heart was beaten and broken from a sad relationship; it took a little bit longer for Charlotte, but in 2012:

Tom: That’s a cracking synth intro. I mean, that’s because it’s basically just from some early 2000s dance track, but it turns into something pretty good afterwards as well.

Tim: Doesn’t it just? I don’t know why this wasn’t a single, I really don’t, especially since it’s MILES better than the two other non-The Girl singles that got released off the album. We have POWER and STRENGTH and FORTITUDE and OTHER SYNONYMS in there, with the sound and the lyrics alike.

Tom: Which, let’s face it, is more her style.

Tim: Admittedly it probably wouldn’t have done that well as a single – sadly, none of her non-Melodifestivalen singles have charted since 2004, but really all that shows is how lost and astray the Swedish public have got since then. This is GREAT, and an ANTHEM for our times.