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.

Alan Walker feat. Au/Ra and Tomine Harket – Darkside

“Alan’s taken a leaf from Basshunter’s book and is doing a story with his videos.”

Tim: Quick note before we get started: Alan’s taken a leaf from Basshunter’s book and is doing a story with his videos.

Tom: I mean, sure, we could go with Fall Out Boy or Janelle Monáe for that reference, but, yeah, fine, Basshunter.

Tim: Got to stay on brand, Tom. This one’s episode 2 in what will, in due course, be a trilogy. Previously we’ve have a prologue, Tired, and part 1, All Falls Down. Let’s skip over that for today, though, and do the music.

Tom: Bit weird to include a war memorial as part of your sci-fi dystopia music video, even if it does look as strange as that. I wonder if anyone knew what they were working with?

Tim: Had to imagine they wouldn’t – not like you walk out of Zagreb International and find that right in front of you. If I had the time and necessary skills, I would absolutely make a video to fit this chorus over Emperor Palpatine trying to tempt Luke, to try to highlight to weirdness of this being an incredibly upbeat sounding chorus for what the lyrics claim it to be.

Tom: Alan Walker’s style doesn’t exactly lend itself to “dark and brooding” easily.

Tim: True, and it’s absolutely not a complaint: I absolutely love it, and to be honest I almost have the same problem with Alan as I mentioned on Monday with Galantis, although perhaps even more so – this is the twelfth time we’ve featured him and he’s yet to put a foot wrong (hell, I even liked his remix of This Is Me).

Tom: Yep, I’ve got to admit: it’s a style that works.

So I like this. I like it a lot, and to be honest, I was probably always going to. But I’m very happy with that.

K-391 & Alan Walker feat. Julie Bergan & Seungri – Ignite

“Alan in a room with a floating consciousness influencing him with invisible brainwaves.”

Tim: Easy intros first: Alan (producer) and Julie (female vocals) are both Swedish, and we’ve featured them before; Seungri (male vocals) is Korean, and we haven’t. Now, K391: a Norwegian ‘artist’, and I think it’s best if I quote from his website: “The artist called K-391 conceptualizes your musical getaway in the shape of a unique headset.”

Tom: You what.

Tim: Well, quite. It continues: “Instead of an actual person or group of people, K-391 is an innovative headset that is the living embodiment of its creator, functioning as a portal to another reality. When ignited, K-391 enables your escape from reality, with music as the vehicle and the destination only limited by your imagination.” Sounds a bit wanky, I know, but let’s listen to the music (and watch the demonstrative video) before judging him on that.

Tim: As with many tracks with multiple producers, I have no real idea who’s responsible for what – it’s entirely feasible that the K-391 construct provided the melody and Alan Walker provided the rave music, but equally I could be way, way off and it was Alan in a room with a floating consciousness influencing him with invisible brainwaves.

Tom: Or it could just be marketing junk. I’m going to assume that until proven otherwise.

Tim: Either way, they’ve come up with a perfectly serviceable dance track, with some excellent RAVE portions in it.

Tom: I swear I’ve heard that pre-chorus somewhere before, but yes, I suppose “perfectly serviceable” sums it up. It’s a little bit stock-music in places, but then when you have this many people (and, presumably, one artificial construct) working on a track, perhaps that’s always going to happen.

Tim: And, let’s face it, a video that does a good job of showing off exactly what they mean, and how music can help as a means of escapism. So however silly sounding their introduction is, I won’t begrudge anyone that. Nice work.

Alan Walker, Keala Settle – This Is Me (Alan Walker Relift)

“Does Alan Walker remixing it make it better, worse, or just different?”

Tom: I described the original version of this track as “so polished that you could slip on it and crack your head”, although you were a lot more enthusiastic. The question is: does Alan Walker remixing it make it better, worse, or just different?

Tim: Hmm, see I’d been avoiding this one, largely because it was described to me as ‘not ideal’. But go on then, because it is, I suppose, a question I do want to know the answer to.

Tim: Huh – that is nowhere near as bad as I was worried it would be.

Tom: I’m going for “different” and “worse”. Which is a shame: but the original already had percussion and energy, it knew exactly what it was aiming for, this just confuses matters. Unlike a remix that takes an emotional slow number and makes it INCREDIBLE, or that turns a good key change into a ludicrous key change, this… just adds some beats where there didn’t need to be any.

Tim: Ah, you see this is where having listened to that original 20+ times on repeat gives me more info: there’s more than that. In particular, there’s a whole new lovely countermelody under it (which is what you can hear on the obligatory ‘click to subscribe’ bit at the end).

It’s most notable during the chorus, where previously there was nothing – just the vocal – and it actually does add something to it, in a positive way for me. Sure, there was power to come from having the vocal unencumbered by anything else, but I don’t think this detracts from it at all.

Tom: It’s a shame, because there is, no doubt, a good remix to be had here: it just needs to either be much more transformative, or of a different track from the musical.

Tim: Speaking of which, The Greatest Show recently got added to the playlist at work, and my job satisfaction has subsequently increased by at least 150%.

Alan Walker feat. Noah Cyrus with Digital Farm Animals – All Falls Down

“It’s not quite farmhouse, but it’s close.”

Tom: I’ve long said that there are two signs of a Good Pop Song: do I immediately want to replay it? And can I sing the chorus after one listen?

Tom: Yes to the first; not quite to the second, but given it’s the instrumental chorus that takes the lead here, maybe that’s not too bad.

Tim: And given that you’re judging a dance track by the merits of a pop song, I think that’s very good indeed. Mainly because it is very good indeed.

Tom: This sounds almost like an Avicii track: it’s not quite farmhouse, but it’s close. Lots of harmonies, familiar and friendly key progressions, and just generally pleasant to listen to. Apart from the vocal remixing in the middle eight, this doesn’t sound stereotypically Alan Walker — and maybe that’s a good thing.

Tim: Certainly a bit farmy, yes, and I’m definitely in agreement about the pleasant to listen to. I’m not sure about not stereotypical, though – it does sound like a slight evolution of his sound, which is good, but there’s a lot that’s still very much him even beyond the middle eight – the post-chorus, say, is certainly trademark Alan, and very good for it.

Tom: I think you could lose the first twenty seconds of this — as far as I can tell, “eff you” isn’t the radio edit, so it just sounds a bit strange — but the rest of it’s brilliant.

Tim: Hmm – I’d keep the first twenty seconds because I’ve no problem, though yes I’d swap the “eff you” for a “screw you” any day. So yes, that one word aside it’s brilliant. Anyone know when the album’s out?

Alan Walker – The Spectre

“It’s exactly what I wanted to hear, and it’s got me properly excited”

Tim: New one off the accountant-named DJ, or rather a newly-released reworking of an older track with added vocals, and I’ve got a favour to ask: can you listen to it without watching the video?

Tom: Totally heard “ice cream” in the lyrics that first verse, until “your name” followed it and my brain worked out what I’d heard.

Tim: Thing is, I reckon this track is great. It’s the first solo material he’s put out for a while, and it’s exactly what I wanted to hear, and it’s got me properly excited. Thing is, though: while I know I do like the music, part of me thinks I might be getting more excited because of the video, which I also love – the mix of crowd footage, flames and lasers, choreographed dancers and all that weird processed bits with the planet and eyes and stuff.

Tom: Well, you’re in luck, because I reckon it’s good too — although it dips a bit too much for the second verse. But I think it’s good because it reminds me of two things: first, the ridiculous synth melodies of 90s and 2000s europop, and second, good chiptune music. (The two are related.) That melody is really, really good, and he knows how to produce a floorfiller.

Tim: Good to know. And even now as I listen to it without the video, I can confirm it is very much still a great track.

Incidentally, in you’re wondering as I was, the whole vigilante and/or criminal mask/hoody vibe came from growing up in online gaming communities, where “anyone can put on a mask”. Makes a vague sort of sense, I guess?

Tom: More like “I’ll keep my face off the internet”. Wise man.

Tim: …says the professional YouTuber.

Miley Cyrus – Malibu (Alan Walker Remix)

“…that is not Alan Walker’s trademark style.”

Tom: We described the original as Mostly An Album Track. And despite hearing a lot more through airplay, I stand by that: it’s catchier than I thought it was, but the instrumentation’s dull. Can Alan Walker’s trademark style save it?

Tom: …that is not Alan Walker’s trademark style.

Tim: Hmmm, no.

Tom: I mean, it sounds a bit like him, sure, but the usual staccato synths are mostly gone, replaced by something a bit more generic. It sounds like something you’d find on a discount “fitness workout” compilation CD, rather than something from one of the most popular current DJs.

Tim: Actually, I was all set to agree with you until that post-chorus cropped up, but then I changed my mind. Yes, for the first minute I was ready to dismiss it as exactly you said – generic, and something that might pop up on an Almighty CD a few months from now – but that post-chorus brings something else with it. It’s still not your standard Alan Walker sound, but I’d not go so far as generic.

Tom: Even the ending, which does admittedly start to go Full Alan Walker, is a bit disappointing. I reckon he should have led with that, and then gone bigger from there. As it is, it’s just not enough.

Tim: And with that I do agree.

Bruno Mars – That’s What I Like (Alan Walker Remix)

“Bruno Mars just deciding to freestyle over the quiet bits of an otherwise-OK Alan Walker track.”

Tom: So we’re pretty much agreed that Bruno Mars, while incredibly talented, has recently been making songs with irritating lyrics and kitsch retro-sound. And Alan Walker, while incredibly talented, has basically been making the same song.

Tim: Can’t disagree with either of those, particular with this song’s, for example, “Take a look in that mirror, now tell me who’s the fairest.”

Tom: Together, they are…

Tom: …not together at all?

Tim: No, but I quite like that in this case.

Tom: I say that because this sounds like two separate songs that happen to be played at the same time. Or, rather, Bruno Mars just deciding to freestyle over the quiet bits of an otherwise-OK Alan Walker track.

Tim: Yes, and I’ll tell you why I like it: however terrible the Bruno Mars bits are (or rather, I’ll concede, however irritating I find them), there’s the knowledge that Alan (seriously, still no stage name?) will come along soon to make it better.

Tom: It’s always a risk with remixes, I guess, but still: perhaps at least one of them should have adjusted their style a little?

Tim: Perhaps, as long as the one to do that is Bruno.