Basshunter – Home

“A perfect example of maintaining your existing sound while also adjusting it enough to keep it fresh.”

Tim: Yep, still out there, still hunting that elusive bass.

Tom: I sort-of assumed he’d have retired or gone into the production side of things by now. Instead, turns out he’s touring the UK. He can’t still be producing good stuff though, surely?

Tom: Well, what do you know? Six composers listed on the track, and unless he’s had a significant change of voice he’s got a session singer in, but sure: this somehow manages to provide a bit of early-2000s cheese and late-2010s dance at the same time. That’s impressive.

Tim: It is: that’s a really good 2019 dance track! What we’ve got here, I think, is a perfect example of maintaining your existing sound while also adjusting it enough to keep it fresh and sounding modern. Part of me was concerned it’d be the same as all his old stuff – after all, Northern Light came out several years after his heyday and sounded exactly the same. Seven years on, though, and something different is needed, and it’s here, and it’s one thing in particular: the effects on the vocal line. The echoing, the layering, the drop to nothing underneath it every now and again.

Tom: Yep. I can’t really fault this. Maybe it’s too schlagery, too bubblegum-Eurodance in melody to be mainstream? That’s not really a problem for me, though.

Tim: Not even slightly. And come the main part, though, the big dance melody: that’s all him, and he’s still here. Or, back here, whatever. Here, anyway, and just a little more modern sounding.

John Lundvik – One Night In Bangkok

“Huh. It’s a really good song. I just find the title inexplicable.”

Tim: So for those that don’t know, in the 1980s, Tim Rice teamed with Björn & Benny from ABBA to write a concept album called Chess, which then became a musical, and One Night In Bangkok was a pretty successful track from that.

This here, John’s first release since being robbed of victory in Tel Aviv, is a completely different song.

Tom: You’re kidding me. I mean, I think I’d be even more surprised if John Lundvik had decided to cover the original, it’s a weird song, but why on earth would you release a track with the same, offbeat name?!

Tom: Huh. It’s a really good song. I just find the title inexplicable: you could put any other town with the same cadence in there. Stockholm. Tokyo. London. You also wouldn’t have the tricky matter of trying to sing a word-final /k/, or any title confusion.

Tim: See, I was expected another of the standard upbeat power ballads we’ve come to expect from basically every other track he’s written or sung, so this really surprised me – so far over to the dance end of pop, I was almost expecting a proper dance breakdown after the chorus.

Tom: His voice also stands out: you couldn’t just replace him with any session singer here, this is clearly still a John Lundvik Track.

Tim: It’s nice to know he can do multiple genres, and indeed do them really well – this is a top notch song. Nice melody, great beat, emotion in his vocals selling the narrative, all working together brilliantly. Good stuff.

Tom: Just a very strange title.

Saturday Flashback: Aqua – Cartoon Heroes

“And then the Spider-Man news happened.”

Tim: Most news right now is distinctly downbeat. Up until about 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon, in fact, I couldn’t really remember the last piece of news that made me absolutely, entirely, 100% unequivocally happy. And then the Spider-Man news happened, and I felt joy like I’d not felt in quite some time. So let’s listen to this great song, and watch the brilliant video, and be happy.

Tim: Love that video, I really do.

Adam Lambert – Superpower

“The victim of a couple of poor decisions.”

Tom: Time for the most disappointing chorus we’ve heard in a while!

Tim: Oh.

Tom: Now, maybe you’ll feel different if I’ve lowered your expectations, but after that cracking pre-chorus with its driving backing and careless profanity, I was hoping for a chorus that was… well, a lot more. I know, he’s going for the 70s-inspired funk sound, but it’s just such a letdown for me.

Tim: Yeah, yeah, I get what you mean. Having said that, I often feel that way with this genre of music – it seems to be a built-in feature that the choruses never quite satisfy me. This is, well, not too different from most.

Tom: It is catchy! It is good! It does exactly what it sets out to do! The middle eight guitar solo is genuinely really good! It’s just, unfortunately, the victim of a couple of poor decisions.

EEVA – Jimmy From The Gym

“I like that it’s entirely unashamed of what it is.”

Tim: Last time we featured a songwriter-turned-singer, I theorised it was because the song was such garbage that no-one else would sing it. I’ll confess I wondered the same thing here to start with, particularly since EEVA (or rather, Emelie Eriksson) says in promo: “It’s definitely a song that’ll divide opinion, but it’s not hate-able. It tiptoes near the line, I admit, but it doesn’t quite cross it.” That sounds like a challenge more than anything, so let’s have a listen.

Tom: I’m just assuming it’s a rewrite of “Jenny From The Block”.

Tim: Fortunately: nope.

Tim: Well, I don’t hate it, so that’s good.

Tom: I hate two very specific things about it: the specific lyrics “Jimmy from the gym” — their cadence just irritates me every time — and the weird, mocking “ha!” sample that follows them. Lose those, and I reckon I could actually like this song. After all, it’s only two and a half minutes long.

Tim: To be honest, I almost find it quite charming, though I’ll admit that may be because the video lightens the narrative a bit to the extent that I almost laughed when Devon came along. I like that it’s entirely unashamed of what it is: it knows it’s silly, there’s no real depth, but it’s up front with it, going straight into the chorus with the simple melody. We get the names, the descriptions, the all-in sense of fun, and I think it works.

Tom: I can’t disagree with any of that. I’m actually a bit disappointed that I find specific nitpicks with this song instead of a more general ‘not feeling it’. Let’s be honest, it’s basically Piña Colada Boy a few years later, and I can understand going for that sense of fun.

Tim: Yeah, I guess there are worse comparisons that could be made. I am missing one thing, though, which is the description of ‘you’, because I feel that’d provide necessary context: basically, is she saying that she’s happy with him even though he’s ugly as hell, or just that no-one yet has come close because he’s actually a proper Adonis? That second option is probably not what she’s going for, mind, but it would explain why she’s holding auditions.

jens – Awkward

“You know when comedians just add profanity in place of a punchline?”

Tom: Two songs in a row with an irritatingly high-pitched vocal sample at the start! And let me tell you, the first verse of this song may have the worst lyrics I’ve heard in ages. You know when comedians just add profanity in place of a punchline?

Tim: That is certainly a lot of profanities, and I’ve definitely never heard anyone try to rhyme ‘shit’ with ‘feet’ until now.

Tom: My reaction to this was pretty much the same as yesterday’s track: it’s got a great chorus. Good message, good production, catchy melody. It’s just a shame about everything around it. Is that chorus enough to redeem the whole track?

Tim: For me: no. It’s too similar to the rest of it. Yesterday’s was kind of a complete break, enabling it to be considered separately. Here, although we’ve a good melody, it’s still easily seen as part of the whole flawed mess.

Oscar Zia – Ingen Kan Göra Dig Hel

“Is it good enough?”

Tim: Expectation adjustment for you: I wanted to switch this off within a couple of seconds.

Tom: You really know how to sell a song.

Tim: Then I remembered that Oscar is responsible for one of my favourite ever Melodifestivalen performances, so I figured I’d give him the benefit of the doubt, but then the verse wasn’t great, but I kept listening, and then the chorus came along. And it’s good. But what I really want to know is: is it good enough?

Tom: Wow, you’re right about the first few seconds. Those few seconds sound like someone’s trying to rip off Scooter’s style really badly, and those staccato synths are just obnoxious.

Tim: Because it is a really good chorus. If the whole song was in the style of that chorus, I’d love it. But the rest of it is instead, well, average at best, and downright irritating at some points, not least those squeaky vocal samples at the start and then return intermittently throughout.

Tom: And I’m sure I’ve heard that descending melody in the chorus before, too, in many different track. It’s not retro enough to be pleasantly nostalgic; it just sounds a bit like a kids’ song to me.

But I think my initial reaction of disappointment was wrong, because I did at least have some sort of actual reaction to the chorus. I didn’t just go ‘meh’, and that’s basically an endorsement by my standards.

Tim: The rest is okay, sure, though there’s not much I actively like. But then I keep coming back to the chorus, and wondering if it redeems it. And I don’t really know, and that kind of annoys me.

Hogland feat. Philip Strand – Cross My Heart

“Wow, this is Kygo in his heyday.”

Tim: You may remember Hogland: we featured him a couple of times in June and, in an an unusual turn of events, we both really liked his tracks.

Tim: See, I hear this track, and I think ‘wow, this is Kygo in his heyday’. It’s very much your regular tropical dance track: immediate vocal with a light backing that shortly builds up, strong pre-chorus with a big vocal, full on dance breakdown for the standard chorus, repeat as necessary.

Tom: There’s even a washing-machine-spinning-up euphoric build in there.

Tim: And, well, I say ‘regular tropical dance track’: structurally yes, but the melody, the production, the everything holds together really, really well, and lifts it well above regular. We’ve a great tune in general, and one I can hear multiple times and still think ‘yep, this is really good’.

Tom: I can’t disagree with that — it’s certainly above a lot of the generic tropical-dance stuff that comes out — but I’m not convinced that it’s got what it takes to be the sound of… well, I was going to say “sound of the summer”, but I guess “sound of the autumn”. Nothing wrong with it, sure, but I’m not convinced it’s that much of a banger.

Tim: I also remembered that at the beginning of last year we were reviewing a track by Sigrid and I said that “part of me is starting to wonder when she’ll be noticed over here”, and then a few months later she entirely was and she got a load of Radio 1 play and a few top 20 singles. Now, I’m not saying we have a massive amount of influence or anything, but well, maybe someone could take a look this way?

Saturday Flashback: Subshine – Easy

“Well now, that’s a good chorus, isn’t it?”

Tim: This track was on Shortlist’s Top 50 Tracks of 2018; this video was posted in March; their PR sent us it a couple of days ago. Well done everyone. This Norwegian gent goes by the name of Ole Gunnar Gundersen, who previously fronted a ’00s band called Lorraine, and now he’s out with this, which “embraces his love of 80’s era synthesizers and his unique pop sensibilities”.

Tom: Well now, that’s a good chorus, isn’t it? The word that comes to mind is ‘soft’, but I mean that as a compliment. It’s just genuinely quite nice.

Tim: First forty seconds or so, I was enjoying it, but not particularly enthused – sure, it sounded okay, production was decent, vocal fine and all that, but there was nothing that special. Come the chorus though, or to be more precise, come that guitar, and oh, suddenly that missing component is right in there – which makes it entirely mystifying why they pretty much remove it for the second verse. Sure, it’s common to drop the level after the first chorus back to the original level for the second verse, but when you’ve added that little bit extra, the new 10% that makes the song just click, why remove it?

Tom: That’s fair, although I’m liking the melody of that chorus enough that I can stand it without. This is a really lovely track, and while I’m not going to race to put it on any playlists, I’m not going to object in the slightest if it turns up on one.

As for why they removed the guitar: no idea.

Tim: Admittedly the song isn’t bothered with usual structure – we pretty much go straight to a middle eight after the second verse, and I can’t remember the last time I heard a good old fashioned instrumental fade out – but still seems a very odd decision.

Birgir – Letting Go

“I… I just don’t hear it. I wish I did, though, it’d be a better track.”

Tim: Tricky one today, Tom, because there are two tracks I’d like to feature before we inevitably get on to next week’s stuff on Monday, and they’re similar in style. One is Done Fighting by NorthKid, who we’ve featured a few times before; the other is this one, and in the end it came down purely to one thing.

You see, yesterday’s chorus reminded me of a 6/10 song by Zayn & Taylor Swift; today’s intro, and indeed backing throughout the verses, reminds me of a 10/10 song, dating all the way back to 1997.

Tom: I have absolutely no idea which song you mean. I can’t hear any connections to older songs in here, which is weird because normally that bit of my brain works in overdrive.

Tim: What, seriously? You don’t hear that single, one note at a time line and immediately hear it as being near identical to this fabulous guitar riff?

Tom: Love Shine A Light? Really? No, I… I just don’t hear it. I wish I did, though, it’d be a better track.

Tim: To be honest, it almost gets a bit annoying with it never actually resolving into that beautiful drum crash that is surely one of the single best moments in pop history, but then the chorus comes along and it’s just so good. It is about as simple as you can possibly get with the lyrics, but that leaves plenty of room for the melody, the volume, the rhythm, and the trumpets. It has trumpets! I’m sitting down now but I just had to get up to get a drink and I was more or less jumping around the room to it.

Tom: Wow. We haven’t disagreed this much on a song in a long time. I actually said the words “wow, this is dull” out loud at one point. I think you’re hearing Katrina and letting it colour your perceptions too much. This just seems to plod for me. Although, yes, the brass section’s worth it.

Tim: The middle eight is…novel, but it’s a brief interlude and one that certainly doesn’t detract for the rest of the song. All in all, a fantastic chorus, and Katrina in the background is just a bonus.