AJR – 100 Bad Days

“It’s an odd one.”

Tom: I’m driving round the US at the moment, Tim, which means that as I scan through the radio dial I have to play the game of “is this just an uplifting pop track, or have I tuned into a Christian radio station”. Harder game than you might think.

Anyway, I keep hearing this on regular, secular radio stations, and it’s an odd one. Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems to be doing that bubbling-up thing, where it was released a few months ago, but somehow it’s finding its way to playlists.

Tim: Hmm. There’s a lot to dismantle here, not least that video, which…I mean, I can’t even begin to imagine how the designer came up with that collection of bizarre ideas.

Tom: Leaving the interesting visuals aside, there is a lot to dislike here. I should hate those chorus lyrics and their two-tone playground chant style, and I should particularly hate the weird distorted acapella vocal that leads into the chorus. I don’t like them — but neither do I hate them either, which for something like this is saying something. Even that odd xylophone-and-shout middle eight can’t take away from the fact that this song just works for me.

Tim: You know, I’m the same – there are those occasional bits where I’m thinking “hang on, I don’t like this, I want to turn it off”, but I don’t, and then it soon gets better. I think it’s because the annoying bits are brief, but the good stuff stays around, and flows throughout it, so even with a bad bit you’re still reminded of the previous goodness.

Tom: I like the triumphant sound. Plus, the chorus and post-chorus are incredibly catchy: I was humming this after one listen. And in the end, “we’ll laugh about this one day” is a really, really good message.

Tim: True. Very true indeed.

Steve Aoki feat. AJR & Lil Yachty – Pretender

“I’m a fan of about 80% of it. You’ll work out why.”

Tim: Dance track for you; I’m a fan of about 80% of it. You’ll work out why.

Tim: Seem about right?

Tom: Oh, yes! That’s lovely. I understand why there’s a 20% you don’t like, but — for once — it does still work for me.

Tim: Hmm, fair enough. You can probably guess most of what I’m going to say, though: the music’s good, the lyrics speak to many many people, and the second verse is…well, not for me. Though that bit’s unusual, really – normally, with a feat. like this, you’d put it in for just the middle eight, but instead he’s got a whole verse.

Obviously you can’t go for a middle eight placing if you haven’t got one (insert standard moan here), but it still seems weird that he’s been given almost the same same amount of prominence as the other guys.

Not a bad thing, of course – it was presumably done to increase the potential audience – but it still seems a bit weird. Just me?

Tom: Just you, I think. Because for me, the whole thing works, start to finish — and with a video that’s just beautifully filmed, designed and edited. This is the best track we’ve had here in a few weeks, I reckon.