Alan Walker & Ava Max – Alone, Pt II

“I know a lot of music videos have ludricrous budgets, but this seems bigger than most.”

Tim: Welcome back, everyone! Let’s start the year with someone typically reliable, shall we?

Tom: That’s an interesting combination of names up there.

Tim: Now, three years back, Alan released a track called Alone; this here is apparently Part II, though I’ll be honest: I’ve no idea quite how this is related in any way, shape or form. Still, you remember how he used to have that really self-important thing going on about how his logo was all magical and stuff, and baked into the very fabric of the universe?

Tim: Yep, turns out he still does, and he’s almost verging on self-parody here.

Tom: “As part of the World of Walker Universe”. Good grief. I know a lot of music videos have ludricrous budgets, but this seems bigger than most. Mind you, I can’t say I wouldn’t do the same thing.

Tim: Part of me hopes he knows it and is deliberately making it bigger and better each time just for a laugh; on the other hand, part of me would quite like to believe he’s just so ridiculously earnest that he honestly believes this is a Good Thing to do.

Anyway, girl on a cryptic quest to find something or other, which turns out to be, yep, Alan’s logo embedded in a magical rock or something, and the weird thing is that, despite what the lyrics say: aside from a couple of locals pointing her in the right direction, she pretty much does get there alone. No-one with her – well, except for all the mystic monks that come out of nowhere, because of course there are mystic monks.

Tom: All this, and we haven’t talked about one note of the music yet. I’m not sure that’s a good thing.

Tim: To be honest, by now I’ve a feeling Alan’s videos are almost more entertaining than the music – sure, that’s good, and exactly what we expect, but man, I’m waiting for the one where they fly into space and find an alien civilisation unknowingly worshipping him.

Alan Walker – Avem

“So, you know how Alan has a tendency to go a bit, well, over the top?”

Tim: So, you know how Alan has a tendency to go a bit, well, over the top with his videos, or remix competitions. or general appearance of self-importance? Well, this time he’s celebrating kicking off his first arena tour by releasing an endless runner game, and this here is the theme from both that and the tour as a whole.

Tom: I think I might be somehow burned out on Alan Walker’s music? If he does something in his own style, I’m just like “yep, it’s another Alan Walker track”, and if he doesn’t, it’s “uh, this isn’t an Alan Walker track”. Probably more my problem than his, though, because, this… isn’t bad, I guess?

Tim: Well, first up, it’s a lot more enjoyable that that last one we got from the Death Stranding soundtrack, so that’s reassuring. We haven’t had an instrumental one from him in ages, actually, and it’s nice to know he’s still got it: this is a good track, plenty of life, nice melody, and…you know, I’ll be honest: I’m having trouble writing much about it properly.

Tom: I’m not sure there’s all that much to say. It’s a soundtrack.

Tim: Thing is, I’ve just downloaded the game, and it’s basically entirely okay. Looks pretty, challenging but achievable mechanic (I recommend upping the sensitivity of the controls), and not particularly demanding of your cash.

Tom: The fact you even have to say that last bit is an awful indictment of mobile games.

Tim: Having played it for ten minutes, though, with Avem playing near constantly, I’m now both entirely done with the track and utterly obsessed by it. Make of that what you will.

Au/Ra x Alan Walker – Ghost

“Oh.”

Tim: Not sure I’ll ever really understand the differences between &, ‘and’, x, a comma and any other way of indicating a pairing between artists, but never mind that. This is another one from that Death Stranding game that the recent CHVRCHES one came from (which, incidentally, I relistened to recently and realised I quite like). Let’s see how this one goes.

Tim: Oh.

Tom: Yep. I know that tap-tap-tap percussion style’s been popular for years, but ever since someone described it to me as “like someone failing to light a gas hob” it’s basically been ruined for me.

Tim: Well. I guess, the melody’s nice? And her vocal’s fine. And…and…and this really does nothing for me. Sure, maybe it’ll fit the mood (though I’m certainly not tempted by this to buy the game to find out), but without any context it’s just quiet, a bit dull, and not remotely what I was expecting when I saw those names together. Balls.

Tom: And that’s a shame! That’s always the problem for artists who want to make Something Different: it’s not what the fans were expecting.

Tim: Maybe I’ll like this one in a few weeks’ time as well? Hope so.

Tom: I doubt it.

Alan Walker, K-391, Tungevaag, Mangoo – PLAY

“ONE HUNDRED PERCENT UNBRIDLED ALAN WALKER”

Tim: Here, a track that, despite being a reworking of one from twenty years back, and having four credited producers, is 100% unbridled Alan Walker. With a VHS filter applied, because we’ve not had enough of those recently.

Tom: You’re not wrong, that is ONE HUNDRED PERCENT UNBRIDLED ALAN WALKER. Not just the synth pads, but the rhythms they’re in, the vocal quality of the singer, and the vocal chop-ups during the middle eight.

Tim: Somehow, I’d never really figured out how a dance track can have multiple names on it – like, it’s one guy at a computer, how does it work? Fortunately, we’ve a video that explains it nicely, and suddenly I’m thinking ‘of course it’s like that, that makes total sense’.

Tom: It involves floaty purple things. Of course it does.

Tim: We’ve three videos so far – this one from Alan and another from each of K and Martin, each telling a slightly separate story about how things started happening – it’s a rather nice thing, not least for, yep, all the floaty purple things.

The tune’s the main part, though, with the main hook coming from Mangoo’s 1999 track Eurodancer, and pretty much everything else being Alan’s trademark beeps and bloops. And, well, you know what I’m going to think about it, because like I said at the top, it’s 100% Alan’s sound. You like Alan, you like the song; you don’t, you don’t. And I do.

Tom: It’s an odd one, isn’t it? He needs to keep his sound fresh and updated, or people will get bored — but if he does that, it doesn’t sound like an Alan Walker Track any more.

Tim: Though actually, one thing from that video: do you reckon Alan ever brings his hood down?

Tom: Never mind that, what kind of a DJ name is “Mangoo”?

Alan x Walkers – Unity

“It’s been literally designed by committee!”

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.

Alan Walker, Sabrina Carpenter & Farruko – On My Way

“I do kind of think someone needs to take him aside and give him a quick ‘mate, just take a step back’.”

Tim: New Alan! Already moved on from the album he released three months back, and according to the video description this marks “the start of a whole new journey that I can’t wait to share with you all.” Not entirely sure about that, though, with the video anyway…

Tim: Now, far be it from me to malign Alan here, but I do kind of think someone needs to take him aside and give him a quick “mate, just take a step back”. Because, man does he have a thing about that logo.

Tom: Exactly what I was thinking. I’ve seen some self-aggrandising music videos before, but honestly making your own brand the centre of a vast conspiracy through time might beat them all.

Tim: Let’s not forget that in his previous trilogy, we saw rock versions of it flying around to defeat one side of a cult war, but now apparently ancient civilisations used to worship it, though evidence is only observable via a weird time portal which, yep, is also in the shape of him. I guess it’s nice to have a theme and everything, but it does seem to suggest a somewhat extreme level of self-importance. Having said all that, if he’s making music this listenable, I’m happy to let him carry on.

Tom: Huh – I had a very different reaction, which was, in short: even a video as well-produced as this can’t make the song interesting. I could hum the chorus after it finished, which is usually a good sign — but in this case, I just didn’t want to.

Tim: Oh, shame – I love that pre-chorus melody, and the dance melody itself I also find great. Sure, I could do with Farruko, but aside from him I’m all in with this. Just, yeah, maybe calm down a bit, mate.

Alan Walker & Steve Aoki feat. Isak – Lonely

“This sounds rather like someone fed a machine-learning system the stems from Alan Walker’s entire catalogue and instructed it to make a new track.”

Tim: New one from Alan, sort of – it’s an edited version of a track off his (really rather good) album, which in its original form also featured a rapper, Omar Noir. He’s been kicked off, Isak’s been given an extra verse so it’s not too much shorter, and this is the product.

Tim: And it’s…interesting, in as much as it sounds very, very disjointed.This seems very much a track with some bits by Alan, some by Steve, and some where they sort of mix together, and certainly early on it…doesn’t sound good? I’m particularly looking at you, 0:34, but there are other parts as well that sound a bit off.

Tom: This sounds rather like someone fed a machine-learning system the stems from Alan Walker’s entire catalogue and instructed it to make a new track. There’s occasional bits of other tracks in there, and none of it quite fits together.

Tim: Having said that – large parts of this are great. In particular, most of the vocal parts, and very much the section beginning at 1:34 (i.e. what we can roughly pin down as Alan’s). Other parts, not so much, and actually, much as I’m typically happy to see the back of a featured rapper, it works better with him on it – it’s hard to explain exactly why, but if you have a listen, you might agree.

Tom: I… don’t.

Tim: So, all in all, my main thought is just: why?

Alan Walker, K-391 and Sofia Carson feat. CORSAK – Different World

“Oh joy! Politics! Exactly what we need today!”

Tim: We’ll lay off Christmas for a bit, so I can bring you some NEWS: three years after Faded first came along, Alan’s finally getting on with releasing an album this Friday; it’s about half and half new music’s what we’ve already heard (and weirdly, it’s missing some of his better stuff), but here’s the title track. And hey, it’s got a political message!

Tom: Oh joy! Politics! Exactly what we need today!

Tim: The world’s gone to pot, we can rescue it if we hurry. I’d say that’s a big if, but hey, let’s go with the optimism because the alternative is just hoping that asteroid comes along fairly soon and, well, happiest time of the year and all that.

Tom: And “we’ve got time” isn’t a great message? “We’ve only just got enough time”, sure, but “we’ve got time” implies, screw it, throw another oil-soaked seagull on the barbie.

Er, anyway, let’s… let’s maybe just talk about the music.

Tim: More pop than dance this time, but that’s no big problem because it’s still a great track. There’s maybe less of your typical Alan sound, but apparently ten people (or, if you recall the gubbins about K-391, nine people and one innovative headset) were involved in putting this together, so it’s almost a wonder it holds together as well as it does.

Tom: This really is designed by committee, isn’t it? There’s no distinguishing feature to it: it feels a bit slow, a bit monotonous, a bit… dull. I actually thought it was over when it went into the middle eight, because I thought I’d been listening for a lot longer than two minutes.

When the best bit in your track is the middle eight, that’s not a good sign.

Tim: Strong (if tired and naive) lyrics, good melody throughout and production that is, to surprise, fully on point. I’m in.

Alan Walker feat. Sophia Somajo – Diamond Heart

“It’s safe to say the man now has one of the most recognisable styles there is.”

Tim: Whole lot of good new stuff came out last Friday (not least Cher’s ABBA covers album); there was also a collaboration between Olly Murs and Snoop Dogg, but we’ll put that to one side. Let’s start with this, and the video’s a conclusion to that World of Walker trilogy that made basically no sense. Does this video resolve any of it?

Tim: No, of course it doesn’t – though I’m going to see him in a couple of months, and if he doesn’t have any of the flying things on the merch stand I’ll be thoroughly disappointed. But the music – so, it’s good.

Tom: There’s a point, half way through that first verse, where that certain Alan Walker rhythm appears. I don’t possess the musical skill to say what it is, but it’s safe to say the man now has one of the most recognisable styles there is. The question is, I suppose, whether that’s sustainable into future albums, or whether people like the sound and not the artist.

Tim: Bit of both, probably, and I’d put money on it being either updated for the second album or fully changed for the third. But right now, Alan’s one of my favourite DJs around, and as far as I can remember he’s yet to put out a duff track. And yet…I’m not quite so satisfied with this. There’s nothing bad about it per se, but it’s not quite as great – compare it to there massive sounds of Darkside, The Spectre or Faded, and it doesn’t have the sense of majesty those did. Though I can tell you why, immediately: it’s the vocal.

Tom: What, the not-quite-Sia effect?

Tim: No – I’ve no problems with the quality or anything of it. It’s the fact that it stays there, and we never get a full instrumental breakdown. If we did, I’d realise immediately that the music behind this really is absolutely brilliant. Having said that, I don’t want to get rid of the vocal, because it too is fantastic.

Tom: That’s fair. I think the lack of majesty, as you put it, is also a bit due to the composition. Let’s be honest, the melody’s repetitive enough that it could be a playground rhyme.

Tim: Ooh, bit harsh. Basically, my problem is that there’s too much brilliant stuff here. And let’s face it, there are worse problems I could have – could be writing about that Olly Murs track, for starters.

Saturday Flashback: Alan Walker feat. Gavin James – Tired

“The white guys are magicians or something, showing how mystical things can happen, and presumably improve lives by making everything look fancy, with the power of Alan’s logo?”

Tim: OKAY THEN so let’s have a look at this, following up from Wednesday’s post. I thought we’d covered all of Alan’s tracks, so it surprised me when I discovered this existed; it made me happy, partly because it’s a good song and partly because it goes some way towards explaining exactly what’s happening in the other videos.

Tim: At least, a tiny bit of the way. We’ve what is definitely a scientifically plausible extinction level event happening, and also a building’s exploded, and there are a lot of people working underground to survive, or at least preserve whatever’s in those boxes, and she seems to have changed sides at point or another because is there another group of people also trying to survive? To be honest I kind of wish the pair of them had just stayed in bed together while it all happened and accepted it, because then I could make a brilliant joke about at least one of them going out on top HERE ALL WEEK, TRY THE VEAL.

Next we’re up to All Falls Down, the official first part, and let’s watch the video because we didn’t actually mention it when we reviewed the track.

Tim: Society is on the way up again, and I think they’re digging up one of those boxes, and opening it up with a circular saw even though there doesn’t seem to be any electricity anywhere else on the planet, but never mind that, because we’ve got some nice merchandise and cult material in there, but then people get bored because there’s nothing to actually do with them, until is that now the other group coming along to educate them? Anyway, now at least we know why they were trying to save what was in those boxes, slightly, because they do look proper fancy.

Part two, now, and let’s put the video here again for simplicity’s sake.

Tim: And…and no. I give up, I really have no idea. The white guys are magicians or something, showing how mystical things can happen, and presumably improve lives by making everything look fancy, with the power of Alan’s logo? God, I hope part three explains stuff.

Tom: Reader, I’m going to be honest with you: I got about two minutes into the first video and just gave up, so I handed this post over to Tim.

Tim: No one blames you. Starting to wish I’d never got involved, to be frank.