Basshunter – Angels Ain’t Listening

“And he’s finally updated his sound!”

Tim: New Basshunter!

Tim: And he’s finally updated his sound! He’s been putting out one track a year for the past couple of years, and previously they’ve both been standard typical Basshunter, not really any different from a decade ago. This, though, quite a bit darker, and yet it works. There’s no big dance breakdown, no upbeat BRING OUT THE LASERS moments, and instead we’ve got 80s-esque synths and melancholy vocals.

Tom: It turns out that we are several years late to this party, but this genre — 80s synths, boots-and-cats percussion, and modern production — is apparently “retrowave”. That’s a term that I’ll use confidently in future, as if I’ve always known about it.

Tim: Oh my GOD, you’ve only just heard that? I totally found out about it in, like, 2016 or something, and I’ve just never mentioned it here because I didn’t want to make you feel inadequate. Mind you, even though this isn’t remotely what I expected to hear from this today, I quite like it.

Tom: Yep. One of the reasons his music was successful, even back when he was writing in Swedish about chatbots, is that he could write really good hooks. This has both a great melody in the chorus and a good countermelody.

Tim: Certainly does. With the sound, though, I’m not entirely sure whether I’d like it if it wasn’t from an artist I’d never heard of before and wasn’t therefore predisposed to like it (though I’ll happily say I’m not a fan of the new Galantis track), but from Basshunter, I’ll absolutely take it.

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.

Saturday Flashback: Basshunter – Now You’re Gone

“It’s time for celebration”

Tim: “But…why?” is the question I’m sure you’re answering. Have a listen, I’ll explain.

Tim: So, it’s time for celebration in the Basshunter household: last week this song finally went platinum in the UK! Eight years on from its initial release, enough people are still buying it for total sales to have climbed past 600,000. Mr Hunter himself was presumably delighted, or perhaps disappointed because he thought it already was.

Tom: Let’s not ignore that streaming count, either: 170 million views on YouTube is astonishing.

Tim: Certainly, though consideration must be given to the fact that the video, lest we forget, is the first chapter in the story of him and his girlfriend Ayla, continued in most of his other videos; it doesn’t quite match the dramatic heights of American Horror Story so I can’t bring myself to watch through them to remember the story, but there’s probably heartbreak but then a happy ending and stuff. Whatever it is, CONGRATULATIONS!

Tom: And never forget your roots. Your techie, Swedish roots.

Basshunter – Northern Light

I swear he looks more like David Hasselhoff every time he releases a video.

Tim: Basshunter’s fourth album has been on its way ever since the first single from it, the not-very-Basshunter-sounding Saturday, got a lukewarm reception from his fans almost two years ago. This is the second single from it, and it’s a bit more Basshunter-y. He’s even brought back that storyline he had going on in the videos. Because that was what people were missing.

Tom: I swear he looks more like David Hasselhoff every time he releases a video. That’s not a compliment.

Tim: It really isn’t, but it’s also not inaccurate.

Tom: “I will keep my magic sparkle bright?” Also, damn it, it’s Northern Lights. Plural.

Tim: So far, so back to proper Basshunter.

Tom: Somehow I was expecting more. His name’s “Basshunter”, for crying out loud: would it kill him to actually have some BANGING BASS in there instead of the generic dance beat we’ve got here?

Tim: Oh, come on – he hasn’t had BANGING BASS ever since he went mainstream four years back, has he? No, this is the stuff most people are used to, or at least it is until whatever this ‘let’s take a break and do something different’ is? I mean come on, no one wants it, it sticks out horribly, and it interrupts what is otherwise bog-standard excellent Basshunter fare. Yes, the song was coming to the point where it needed to go somewhere else, but you could at least cut it into halves and spread it out a bit, so it might sound a tad more integrated and flowing, no?

Tom: I think it’s just a long middle-eight – more like a middle-sixteen – but it doesn’t sound like him. Mind you, he’s been going for nearly a decade now.

Tim: More, actually, although I must confess I’d never heard of that album until now.

Interlude aside, though, this song is a great and much-awaited return to form, I think.

Tom: I think he’s still got a way to go.

Saturday Flashback: Dr. Bombay – Calcutta

It’s unnervingly racist Swedish Europop time!

Tom: Do you know what time it is, Tim? That’s right: it’s unnervingly racist Swedish Europop time!

Tom: This is textbook nineties bubblegum Europop. Bouncy sound-effect bassline, simple melodies, singalong chorus. It’s everything that we try to celebrate here: dancing like idiots to ridiculous, overproduced music. Or at least it would be, if it wasn’t performed by a Swedish guy in thick, questionably-racist makeup.

Tim: Wow, it’s like a musical Come Fly With Me.

Tom: Okay, so it was the nineties. This was apparently just-about-OK then, even for Top of the Pops. (Yes, Top of the Pops. Try getting that through the BBC now. And yes, there is stereotypical mock-Indian mumbling in there.) Jonny Jakobsen probably couldn’t get away with releasing a whole of album of this now, although his other character, the faux-Scottish but similarly-accented “Dr. Macdoo”, might just be able to survive. Because ironic bagpipe techno is, of course, so popular.

Tim: Towards the end of the intro, I started thinking this was a bit like the Special D track we reviewed – that I liked it, even though I didn’t really want to. The beat was just about happy and poppy enough to outweigh the dodginess. Then the verses started, which are appalling for multiple reasons, and then just no.

Tom: It gets stranger. Bizarrely, Jonny Jakobsen put out a ‘Greatest Hits’ album in 2007 – which was just the previous two characters’ albums combined and cut down. Even more bizarrely: Basshunter provided a remix of ‘Calcutta’. That’s right: in the twenty-first century, in Europe, some record producer thought it’d be a great idea to get Basshunter to remix this track.

Tim: Musically, this is a bit better, and to be honest I think I could get on with an instrumental version of it. As it is, with the verses, it’s… it’s not for me, and I’ll leave it at that.

Tom: I think we’ll both leave it at that.

Christmas Saturday Flashback: Basshunter – Jingle Bass

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Tom: It’s Christmas Day, and it’s a Saturday – which one of the many options do we choose for our Saturday Flashback? Well, really, there’s only one choice.

Tom: When he released this one back in 2006, it didn’t have the fancy video. That was added much later. He wasn’t a big international star then; he was a Swedish dance music producer who’d just released a slightly-novelty record about the internet. The only folks paying attention in Britain were people who lived on the internet. People like me.

Tim: How times change – fast forward two years and he’s got three top twenty singles under his belt and Scott Mills championing his track to be Christmas number one. (Needless to say, it didn’t quite take off Rage Against the Machine style, although a chart peak of 35 is perfectly respectable.)

Tom: So, here’s a little known fact for you: I was the first British person ever to interview Basshunter. November 2006 on University Radio York. There were no listeners, and I wasn’t a competent interviewer. (Drinking game: take a shot every time I unnecessarily say ‘mm-hm’.)

In this clip, he apologises for his music.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Tim: Thank you for that, Tom, and for the game (which I must admit currently has me mildly intoxicated), and so a very Merry Christmas to you too.

Saturday Flashback: Basshunter – Boten Anna (Instrumental)

Just a bit calming, really.

Tim: What? What on Earth is the point of me suggesting this? Which sensible person doesn’t know of the excellent Basshunter and his signature tune Boten Anna? Well, indeed. However, this version came on my generic nano-sized music player a while back and 50 seconds in I suddenly had absolutely no idea what was going on in the world. I kid you not, there was a part of me thought I had somehow taken some sort of drug without realising it.

Tom: The dancey bits are doing that thing that Basshunter usually does – where the loud part of the synth line happens on the off-beat. I swear that’s designed to make less-musical clubbers lose their timing and look like idiots.

Tim: Tiësto‘s quite good at that as well. The guitar part in this took me a while to get used to it, but I think I actually prefer it, outside of a clubby/dancey environment. It’s unusual, it’s not as aggressive as the other instrumental version I’ve got, and it’s just a bit calming, really.

Tom: I wouldn’t go so far as ‘calming’, but the acoustic guitar and choral synth patch bit in the middle is almost like the soundtrack of a cheesy sci-fi movie. If any readers have skipped over listening to this because they ‘know what it sounds like’ – they’re wrong.

Not sure about the trio of vaguely-threatening Basshunters in the bottom right of the video clip, though.

Tim: To me it looks a little bit like the scrawny drug-dealer in the middle being protected by two hardcore goons on the outside. Or the nerdy kid who gets protected by the big guys because he does their homework for them.