Nero – Promises

Not remotely in our comfort zone, but I think we should discuss this.

Tim: Now, I know this is not remotely in our comfort zone, but since you recently claimed you ‘must be getting used to dubstep’ and this prime example went straight to the top of the UK charts last week (albeit with the lowest sales of a number one single in almost two years), I think we should at the very least discuss this.

Tim: Because as it happens, I really like it. I don’t know if it’s because it’s a style that’s perhaps become more mainstream than the dubstep that was around a year ago, or because it’s just a question of getting used to it – God knows it’s gets played enough at work when any of my colleagues hijack the speakers – or perhaps just changing musical tastes, but I do really like it.

Tom: I think it’s all of those. Dubstep is becoming more mainstream (purists, no doubt, would argue that this barely counts), and we’re becoming more used to its sound. It’s like Dylan going electric, only much, much worse.

Tim: Much, much worse, you think? The vocal comes with a pitch and tone that make it somewhat charming, with a chorus perhaps described as ethereal, were I tempted to use a fancy word like that.

Tom: It’s a bit La Roux, in a very good way.

Tim: Mind you, the sounds that lie under the vocal probably wouldn’t be up to much without it, but the instrumental bits when the music’s there on its own are very enjoyable. I definitely like this. My name’s Tim, and I like this track.

Tom: My name’s Tom, and I like this track too.

Tim: Actually, I’ve just listened to Innocence, a Nero track from last April. I think it’s a combination of ‘used to it’ and ‘more mainstream’, because that one is manageable but not hugely enjoyable. Most importantly, my musical tastes seem to be as ever they were, so this site won’t be changing any time soon.

Gabrielle – Ring Meg

Repeatedly surprised by bridges.

Tim: Welcome to London, Norwegian X Factor 7th-placer! While you’re here, why not film your next music video?

Tim: Now, we’ve featured our fair share of tracks with foreign lyrics here, but for the first time right now, I feel I’m actually hearing this as a load of random syllables. Not sure why, because it’s fairly obvious what the song’s all about – well, I assume it is, given the the title translates to ‘Call Me’ and there are phones all over the place – but I just can’t help it.

Tom: I reckon that’s because the quality of her vowels, with the autotune effect she’s got, is very close to English – so rather than parsing it as ‘foreign language’, your brain hears nonsense English.

Tim: Well, whatever the reason is, I’m not so bothered about that, because the music’s good, chirpy, upbeat and all that, and it’s nice and sunny in the video – my personal highlight of which, by the way, is her utterly ridiculous purple and red car which I would LOVE to see someone actually driving around London in.

Tom: I like how she seems to be repeatedly surprised by bridges. Every time her boat goes under one, she stares up like it’s the first one she’s ever seen. A road! Over water! AMAZING.

Yolanda Selini – Like A DJ

Now, don’t let the first thirty seconds put you off.

Tim: Now, don’t let the first thirty seconds put you off.

Tom: I think I must be getting used to dubstep, because I quite like the first thirty seconds.

Tim: Thomas Scott, what on Earth is happening to you? Still, I’m glad to hear it. And speaking of things I’m glad to hear, that chorus right there is proper club banger stuff, that is, and I like it because it GETS ME GOING.

Tom: I’m not sure I wanted to know that.

Tim: Well, tough. I think it’s good to share. As for the rest of it, though? Hmm. Verses aren’t really all that special, and there are a couple of shockers: as is to be expected, the overly long and overly shit rap bit goes a long way towards pushing this into the dislike category, and I’m very much unsure about the first lyrical couplet involving private hos (or is it hoes?) and junk touching.

Tom: “I’ll let you touch my junk” is a bold lyric if ever there was one.

Tim: But if one can put those aside, we have an enjoyable track. Fairly big ‘if’, though.

NEO – Toxicated Love

Last seen getting run over multiple times and generally destroying the laws of physics.

Tim: Last seen getting run over multiple times and generally destroying the laws of physics, he’s now gone back to releasing music.

Tim: I must confess that one of my thoughts on hearing this was “Is toxicated actually a word, because I’ve not heard of it?” The answer, should any readers be thinking the same, is: sort of, but not really. We do have toxication, which is something to do with drugs and metabolism and stuff, but I think we can safely put this title down to “more or less sounds like it makes sense and fits the rhythm.”

Tom: Well, we also have “toxic”, but Britney got there first.

Tim: Pedantry aside, though, I think the song’s fairly good. Obviously it’s not as amazingly brilliant as One Direction’s track,* nor is it quite up to the level of Underground, but I really like the ways it’s got proper instruments under it, rather than just your standard guitar/drum/keyboard/synth blend.

* Just so you know, for at least the next fortnight What Makes You Beautiful will be my favourite ever track, and every other track will pale in comparison. Only until I get bored of it, though.

Tom: Are those proper instruments under it, or just really good synths? I’m not sure I can tell.

Tim: Well, they sound good, which it what matter really. I’m a bit disappointed by the long ‘just you wait and see what comes next because it’s going to be something special’ pause that turns out to be there just so he can catch his breath, but that doesn’t spoil it too much.

Tom: I was really expecting a WHOOMPH back in there – it is a bit disappointing.

Tim: All in all, I will give the song a nice round 68%.

Tom: Well, at least it’s a rational number.

Saturday Flashback: Micky Modelle v Jessy – Dancing In The Dark

A certified Clubland Classic.

Tom: A certified Clubland Classic here, Tim. Mind you, with all the dancing, the music video is practically a restrained art piece by Clubland’s standards.

Tim: Huh. Not what I expected from Micky Modelle, who almost rivals Almighty when it comes to amazing/terrible/amazingly terrible dance mixes. (For those without Spotify, a version of Love Is All Around on an album entitled “Scottish Club Anthems”. Definitely on the terrible side.)

Tom: Now, I think this is absolutely fantastic: it’s taking a slow, Belgian piano-and-vocals track and adding well-produced new stuff to it. And yes, there are dozens of harder remixes of it out there – but this first remix has the rare ability to get the hell out of the way when it needs to.

Tim: Fantastic, not so sure about. It is at the very least respectable, which, compared to other stuff from him (which admittedly isn’t always bad), does I suppose make it at least very good.

Tom: It must have been quite a change for Jessy: starting out as a Proper Singer and ending up working with Micky Modelle and Sash. Still, she seems to have kept most of her dignity.

Dionne Bromfield feat. Tinchy Stryder – Spinnin For 2012

If you hear the words “Official Olympic Torch Relay Song”, I’m guessing your reaction would be the same as mine.

Tom: If you hear the words “Official Olympic Torch Relay Song”, I’m guessing your reaction would be the same as mine: automatically cringing.

Tim: And, erm, ‘Spinnin’? Really?

Tom: Now let’s add to that an unnecessary rap bit.

Tim: Well, naturally.

Tom: Can even Dionne Bromfield – her of the incredible neo-Motown voice – save this?

Tom: …er, well yes, it appears she can.

Tim: Official Tim reaction: ehh.

Tom: I was expecting something a bit more, well, Brittas Empire. Okay, so it’s all worthy, and the video clearly ticks all the ‘approved by the Olympic organisers’ boxes – British car, shots of London, torch images, street dance groups, and so on.

Tim: With the obligatory Union Jack dress. Well, obligatory since a certain girl band arrived.

Tom: I just didn’t expect the song to be good. It’s not going to get anyone dancing in the streets, but equally – and I can’t believe I’m saying this – except for that appalling middle eight, it’s not a national embarrassment.

Tim: I quite like that bit – the whole ‘music is healing’, everybody getting on nicely idea. Makes me realises that we are Great Britain, a GREAT country. Huzzah!

Calvin Harris – Feel So Close

Your usual Calvin Harris beat-piano-and-lyrics track – that’s a good thing.

Tom: I really like this track, but I can’t work out whether it’s because of the music or the brilliant Americana video that goes with it.

Tim: Well for me, the music’s enough.

Tom: The track’s your usual Calvin Harris beat-piano-and-lyrics track – that’s a good thing, of course – and the video is just beautifully-filmed shots of people in California. But somehow, the two of those together, when that massive pre-chorus build kicks in… somehow it all just comes together.

Tim: Hmm. Reminds me a bit of that Where The Hell Is Matt? thing from a few years back, which was brilliant. And now I’ve just watched that several times.

Tom: I thought that perhaps my wanderlust was getting the better of me, and I was just a sucker for scenes-from-America videos. But I’ve since disproved that, because I don’t rate Noel Gallagher’s new track at all. It’s not the video, Tim: it’s definitely the song.

Tim: I had no idea Noel Gallagher was doing new stuff. Turns out: don’t really care, either.

One Direction – What Makes You Beautiful

I have a lot to say about this.

Tim: I listened to this 32 times in the first 24 hours I had this on my computer, so I have a lot to say.

Tom: Right, then I’ll get out the way and let you say it.

Tim: First, let’s have a game of Dynamic Typeface Bingo.

Tom: Catchy song. So what’ve you got to say about it? I can smell a list approaching.

Tim: Ah, what excellent olfactory senses you have. Item one: Few would deny that out of the three acts so far* from X Factor 2010, these are by far the most likely to succeed. They have the looks, youth and personality of an above-average boyband, they have songs written by songwriters of good and excellent vintage, and if this is anything to go by the music overall is very very good.

* In case you’ve not been keeping up, we also have Cher Lloyd and Matt Cardle.

Tom: Now that’s a bold claim, given Cher Lloyd’s at number one now, but I reckon you’re right in terms of long-term success.

Tim: Cher Lloyd’s fans genuinely and unironically call themselves ‘brats’. If she wins, this country has actually died and gone to hell. So anyway, item two: The standard test of a boyband’s song: could it easily be performed by a soloist, or is there enough there to justify five of them? Well, I reckon this just about passes – there’s the ‘nobody else’ in the second chorus, and there’s a decent amount of messing around towards the end. And speaking of towards the end, my favourite bit is the sneeze-and-you-miss-it bit after the bridge where whichever one of them it is in the background goes higher for the ‘you light up my world’. I don’t know if it would have been better if more/all of them had done that (though it almost definitely would).

Tom: He does, and I wish I knew what that musical technique was called. It’s an easy way to get an emotional lift – and it works very well here.

Tim: Item three: The meaning and target of this song. I think that to understand this in all its true depth it’s easiest to become somewhat misogynistic, so apologies in advance. Let’s start rating girls, out of ten for tradition’s sake.* One through six – they’re a no-no. Eight and above – yes please. Seven, though, is borderline, and this is where it depends on the self-awareness of the target. (At no other point, please note, does her personality enter the equation.) As long as she reckons she’s a minger, let’s go with her, because she won’t know she’s out of my league. THIS is the girl to whom the song is sung, and everyone else can move along and listen to other music.

* I met a guy once who rated girls on a scale of ‘necessary number of pints’. I’ll let you judge him.

Tom: Seven is borderline? Clearly we work on different calibrations. Either that, or your scale’s logarithmic.

Tim: Fair enough, we’ll have it your way. One through seven’s a no-no, and eight’ll be borderline. But we should be careful not to take the misogyny thing too far.

Tom: That… that’s not what I… oh, never mind.

Tim: Item four.

Tom: Oh boy.

Tim: ITEM FOUR. The above leads us on to a slight logical fallacy, because there is one group of girls not mentioned: the sevens—sorry, eights—that know they’re fit. ISSUE. As soon as they know it, they’re not, at which point they can’t possibly know it because it’s not true. But now they have become beautiful, and so they do know it, and we’re back to where we started. How to correct this: change ‘you don’t know’ to ‘you don’t think’, and everything will be fine. As such, I have e-mailed Syco to request that this happen in all future live performances of the song. (Really, I have.)

Tom: Let me know if you get a reply. I find that while large companies tend to ignore emails, actual letters still get at least a perfunctory response.

Tim: There’s a potential item five that’s in somewhat dodgy territory, based on the fact that the only implication that they’re singing to a female is the ‘don’t need make-up’ line; they could alternatively be singing to a gay guy who feels he’s had to turn to transvestism to hook up with anyone. Since they’re all still impressionable teenagers, though, we’ll leave that for now.

Tom: Yes, let’s.

Tim: So actual item five: This song is absolutely bloody fantastic. If you disagree, then you’ve got it wrong; to prove I’m right, I’ll put it in a song.

Tom: And I’m sure any of our readers who made it this far would love to hear it.

Tim: So, no-one then. Oh well.

Frank Turner – If Ever I Stray

When the full band kicks in it’s bloody glorious.

Tom: A bit of folk-punk for you here. Not our usual fare, but give it until at least the first chorus, because when the full band kicks in it’s bloody glorious.

Tim: Ooh, that’s good, that is.

Tom: I’m not sure how I’ve never heard of Frank Turner before now, because I found myself really loving this song.

Tim: I have: there was someone I used to canoe with called Emma Turner, but everyone called her Frank because she really liked his music. TRUE STORY.

Tom: And what a voice! It’s the kind of voice that makes me think he can’t keep singing like that: it sounds like he’s putting all his energy into every word, somehow keeping it at a level that shouldn’t be sustained.

I’m not sure why I like this – it’s completely different from what I normally listen to – but there’s something in the shouty earnestness of his voice that reminds me of old friends: the folks who listened to Flogging Molly, and Spunge, and all their compatriots across the many varied genres that fall under the umbrella of ‘punk’.

Tim: I used to be really into Dropkick Murphys; this takes me back a bit.

Tom: It takes me back as well. Perhaps we should go back there a bit more often.

Gregorgeous – Take You High

It doesn’t do anything all that great

Tim: Here’s a video that takes a rather irritating – some might say inconsiderate – two minutes to actually do anything.

Tom: What is it with music videos getting credits nowadays? Yes, it looks cool, but it’s not a movie. You’re there to show off the music. Lady Gaga can get away with it because her two-minute intros really are spectacles. This is just some people walking into a club.

Tim: And even after all that time, it doesn’t do anything all that great. Sure, it’s a good track, and I do like it – there’s a nice beat to it, decent rhythm, a fairly alright tune and good dance-floor-appropriate lyrics – but it doesn’t really live up to what it should be based on the first few notes.

Tom: I think that’s because the first few notes are actually from Dizzee Rascal’s “Bonkers”.

Tim: Ooh, they are a bit. And when the music originally hit, I thought, ooh, this is going to be a cracker, expecting it to grow a bit, but it didn’t really, which is a bit disappointing.

Tom: You’re right. There’s nothing particularly wrong with it, but it’s just… standard. Also, “Gregorgeous”? There’s someone with a high opinion of himself right there.