Tim: Alan Walker has a new one out with A$AP Rocky right now, and sadly it’s utter garbage.
Tom: Which is an achievement, given you’ve previously said “as long as Alan had full control of everything there’s only so much that could really go wrong”.
Tim: Well, that one’s equal billing, I still stand by it. In any case, this is quite Walker-y.
Tom: That verse is a bit Ellie Goulding, isn’t it? Not massively, but just enough in vocal quality, production and style of synths.
Tim: We’ve featured NOTD previously, though not Shy Martin; she’s also Swedish, and previously has mainly kept herself busy with writing. Together they provide a nice melody, good vocals, top production, and a total and expected lack of middle eight.
Tom: Not sure about the Alan comparison though: guitar wasn’t exactly a common thing for him to include.
Tim: True, but it certainly shares a lot of the same synth sounds and patterns. It’ll do nicely, either way – certainly better than Alan’s new trash.
“Wet shirts! Beckoning at the camera! Dance sequences in the middle of an empty ampitheatre on top of a mining heap!”
Tim: We’ve featured Feuerherz (Fireheart, incidentally) a couple of times previously, with the general view being ‘entirely average boyband’, typically early 2010s One Direction, JLS, The Wanted, that sort of thing. Except, now we’re going back further than that. Mid 90s, say, with multiple moments here that made me smile and one that made me spit my drink out.
Tom: I genuinely don’t know what to say. It’s technically perfect — of course it is. It is just that, even for schlager, this is so incredibly cheesy that it’s difficult to take seriously.
Tim: We’ve mentioned it before, with other German pop, but there’s something nice about people doing this music entirely straight-faced, despite it being horrifically unfashionable these days. Dancing in sync, and what sort of choreographer thinks ‘what this really needs now is half of them doing slow forward rolls’?
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.
“Brimming over with positivity, all in all being nice and happy to listen to.”
Tim: TEEO is a Swedish guy called Teo Rösarne, and this is his debut track; much like yesterday, it sounds straight out of the 80s, but much unlike yesterday, it is not in the least bit mopey or slow.
Tom: At least, not once the chorus kicks in.
Tim: That, in fact, is what I’d really have liked to have heard from yesterday’s track, being exciting and fast moving, with lots happening. It is, according to TEEO, “a song that’s been written to lift others up, and to say YES to love, and NO to hate”, which is a bloody marvellous reason to write a song if you ask me.
Tom: It is, although — and this is where I am, as ever, the killjoy — it’s just a pity that it’s only an okay song. I do understand what he’s aiming for, I just don’t think he’s hit the bullseye.
Tim: I disagree there – I think it comes across in the music and lyrics, brimming over with positivity, all in all being nice and happy to listen to. Lovely.
Tom: Sorry, you were probably talking about the music, weren’t you?
Tim: Mainly, yes, and it’s very, very 1980s for starters. Yes, we’ve the genre and sound in general, but we’ve also the aforementioned music video with various ’80s high school movies, and the real clincher of the fade out ending. I’ll be honest: I’m not particularly keen on it, which I think is another first for a Sound of Arrows track.
Tom: I do remember you like the Sound of Arrows a lot, which, uh, feels like the only reason we’re talking about this. This is so bland that it doesn’t even really leave any impression at all.
Tim: Well, your hunch is right: it is only here because it’s a Sound of Arrows track, and normally they’re great. I don’t feel too bad about saying this is rubbish, though, what with them being just a feat. rather than being the main artist, but it still feels weird to say. It’s too slow, too mopey, too…yeah, just, not for me really. Shame.
“Normally repeating one note annoys me, but it doesn’t here”
Tom: Whenever we talk about a Tegan & Sara track, we tend to conclude in roughly the same way: it’s good synthpop, it’s quite enjoyable, and then we can’t remember any of it afterwards.
Tim: Harsh, and I’m not entirely sure that’s as true for me as it might be for you, but okay. The new one, then?
Tom: And I guess it’s business as usual.
Tim: Well, maybe, yeah.
Tom: It’s a really good song with a chorus that seems to have been crushed into oblivion by overcompression. As for the chorus itself — well, while it was playing, I wrote “normally repeating one note annoys me, but it doesn’t here”. But I had to go back and listen again before I knew what that one note was.
Tim: Oh, you’re too cruel. Or just saddled with a poor memory – I like the melody, the notes (and yes, there’s more than one), the rhythm. It’s good, and it’s memorable.
Tim: Yep, he’s gone and made a track with his fans, which I guess is both a nice thing to do and a way of getting a load of stuff done for free. Hooray!
Tom: Genuinely disappointed he didn’t go with “Alan and the Walkers”. And, to be fair, co-ordinating this sort of project is at least as big a challenge as trying to make something yourself from scratch.
Tom: It’s been literally designed by committee! That never goes wrong. Or, more correctly, it rarely produces anything exceptional.
Tim: True. Mind you, aside for the fact that the instrumental line directly before the third and fourth “we are unity”s in each chorus is the exact same melody that can be found in Faded (or maybe that’s the point), this sounds like a perfectly decent Alan Walker track.
Tom: It sounds like this was more a way to galvanise the fans than it was to create a big proper release. So while it’s nothing special, I suspect that’s exactly the point.
Tim: Could have been a recipe for disaster, though I guess as long as Alan had full control of everything there’s only so much that could really go wrong. It’s a good track. Hey, at its base it’s an Alan Walker track – of course it’s a good track.
“This isn’t a track I’d much choose to listen to, outside of, say, a genre compilation album”
Tim: Something today I think you’ll like: bit of 90s-sounding piano house, with some nice 90s Winamp visualisers in the video as well.
Tom: Nineties?! Mate, I still use Winamp.
Tim: Seriously? Wow.
Tim: Hitting your buttons there?
Tom: It is, if the buttons in question are “sure, I guess that’s a piano-dance track” and “wait, why am I tapping my feet to this”.
Tim: I personally really quite like it – at least, as a 90s dance track. Weirdly, although I’ve no problem with the genre at all, this isn’t a track I’d much choose to listen to, outside of, say, a genre compilation album if I was properly in the mood. Is that weird? I’m not sure.
Tom: No, it’s basically how I feel about this. This wouldn’t be on a playlist for me unless I specifically wanted to hear this genre of vaguely-retro music. And if I want that, then I probably want nostalgia, and tracks I’m mostly familiar with, rather than modern stuff.
Tim: Basically, it’s good, and fits the genre perfectly, so well done Icona. Just, not for me right now.
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.
“Like someone has somehow attached a trombone mute to an angry yet melodic goose”
Tim: The two producers are Norwegian, new to here; Victor’s Swedish, and occasionally Estonian, and we’ve featured him previously, but not for yeeeears. Now, it is, as I’m sure you’re aware, terrifyingly hot in the UK right now, but let’s have a summery whistly song so it doesn’t seem so bad.
Tim: That is lovely, I think. I like this opening a lot, mostly because it comes along like so many Avicii-esque dance tracks and so promises a lot. Not quite so keen on the quiet bit following it, the synths don’t really work for me.
Tom: Yep. That synth sounds like someone has somehow attached a trombone mute to an angry yet melodic goose. It’s a shame.
Tim: The drums hit, though, and I’m in. The string parts, the whistling, yep, all for it.
Tom: Wait, really? It feels like it builds to nothing; the bit that’s meant to be a drop just turns out to be a damp squib.
Tim: The perfect part, of course, is the final part – it’s an unusual thing for a dance track to do in a closing section, just speed up like that, but I think it really works.
Tom: I… disagree strongly. It sounds like they’re on the last lap of Mario Kart. There are some lovely parts in here, but they’re just surrounded by parts that… aren’t.