“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.
“Fairly sure this is a Boyz II Men single from the mid-90s.”
Tom: Fairly sure this is a Boyz II Men single from the mid-90s.
Tom: Because listen to those instruments! That’s straight out of the 90s, and it’s incredible. I wouldn’t be surprised if they dug out old equipment to make those sounds, it’s that authentic.
Tim: That’s pretty much exactly my reaction – add a few more vocals, this could be a Wet Wet Wet ballad (and I don’t mean that in a bad way). Well, until the middle eight comes along, but that’s manageable.
Tom: Nearly two years ago, we had one of the biggest misses we’ve ever written: you didn’t like Uptown Funk, and I said “maybe I’ll like it after a few more listens”. It was then one of the biggest tracks of the year, and I still love it.
Tim: Hmm – maybe, although you did say “maybe after a couple more listens”, and I still think it’s massively overrated. I think we get a pass there.
Tom: So I’m really wary of saying this, because I’m aware of just how wrong I could be: but I don’t like this. Or at least, I don’t like this on first listen.
Tim: And I really really don’t, straight out of the gate, because AARGH that first vocal is just horrible, and 22 seconds of that is often 21½ more than I’ll happily take. Oh, the things I do for this site…
Tom: It’s like Uptown Funk, only not as good. The kitsch, the production, the not-quite-retro styling. Even the video feels just Uptown Funk, only not as good.
Tim: Yeah, I can’t disagree with any of that; given my aforementioned continued lack of love for the earlier track, I’ve really not got much time for this at all. Even the title is weird, and to be honest I don’t want to listen to it again to pick out any specifics – I’m happy with “it’s an unpleasant remake of Uptown Funk”.
Tom: But here’s the thing: I did hit replay on it. And by the end of that second listen, maybe there was a little bit of my brain that was going “huh, was I wrong about this”?
Tim: And a big bit of my brain just answered that question “No, no I was absolutely not.” I did relisten to it, as a service to our reader, and still nope.
Tom: I don’t think I’m wrong about this. I’d still bet on this not being an Uptown Funk, or anything close to it. Full marks for getting a jetski in the Bellagio fountains, though.
Tim: I will grudgingly accept that that is a worthy accomplishment.
Tim: In case you don’t know the story: this has been around a while in America and most other countries, but as is typical the UK had to wait a while, initially until mid-January. Soon-to-be X Factor finalist Fleur East performed it on Saturday night, though (despite Simon’s apparent reluctance to go with an unknown song) and to say it was well-received would be quite the understatement. The performance was at number one on iTunes later that evening, and within 36 hours, mid-January changed to ‘as soon as bloody possible’. So here it is.
Tim: Thing is… I don’t get it.
Tom: Well, Mark Ronson’s got a fine line in producing records like this (Amy Winehouse’s version of Valerie, for example), and it’s a good example of his style.
Tim: It is, I suppose, and admittedly I’ve yet to be enthused by the disco/funk semi-revival of the past eighteen months or so anyway, but not even this gets me. The whole track leaves me pretty much entirely cold, and I found Fleur’s performance a little bit tedious.
Tom: There are a few parts that really work for me: that middle eight with the ‘Oops Up Side Your Head’ rhythm; that build into the chorus that sounds like Avicii’s about to drop something massive; and the final chorus, which is basically everything that’s good about that disco/funk revival.
Tim: Yes. The Bruno Mars version has been number one on iTunes since its release, Fleur’s performance has yet to drop out of the top ten, and it’s second only to whoever eventually wins X Factor in the Christmas number one odds. So is it just me?
Tom: It’s not just you — but I can see why this is popular, and I can even see myself liking it after a few more listens. It ain’t that bad.
Tom: “From the Twilight Saga – Breaking Dawn Part 1”. Oh dear.
Tom: Now, you’ll remember that I like My Chemical Romance.
Tim: A bit.
Tom: The last track on their Danger Days album is a Ballroom Blitz-y number called ‘Vampire Money‘ – and it’s inspired by them turning down the offer to do a song for the Twilight soundtrack. I liked that decision at the time – and I like it even more now, because even though I’m instinctively tuned to hate everything to do with Twilight, Bruno Mars’ effort is actually a rather good song.
Tim: I’ll agree, it’s alright. Not exactly lighters in the air stuff, but it’ll get the job done. Also, chorus is a bit like Chasing Pavements, though I don’t quite know if I have a point there.
Tom: “There’ll be no sunlight / if I lose you baby”. Generic vampire-type reference, generic chord progressions… I shouldn’t like this, but somehow Bruno Mars can just make a song like this soar.
Tim: It’s the chord progressions – get them right, and the listener’s your prisoner. We discovered something similar at the end of last year, if you’ll recall – two very different songs, but the identical chorus lines in There’s A Place For Us and Call Your Girlfriend made them both enjoyable.
Tom: Take the vampire money, Bruno. It’s worth it.
Thirty years of pop culture in three and a half minutes.
Tom: It’s been a few weeks, so let’s have some more mashups. First of all, here’s Miracles by Norwegian Recycling.
Tom: It’s one of those genius mashups that pulls in a dozen different sources to make a coherent whole. It doesn’t really seem to go anywhere, or do any building, but it’s just rather pleasant to listen to. It’s a run through thirty years of pop culture in three and a half minutes, and the video brings it all together nicely.
Tim: Ooh, I like that – I’ve always quite liked mashups that pile in a whole load of songs together just to see what happens, such as the United State of Pop ones, and Party Ben‘s Boulevard of Broken Songs, and this one pulls it off well.*
* There’s also Axis of Awesome’s Four Chord Song, which whilst not actually being a mashup is still fun to listen to.
Tom: There’s been some very clever autotuning on Cee-Lo Green, as well; while it still sounds like him, I’m fairly sure those aren’t exactly the notes he was originally singing…
Tim: Well, with so many songs you’re bound to need a little pitch correction on there just to keep them in the same key, surely.
Tom: No, it’s more than that: I think they’ve actually got him singing a different melody, not just a different key. I might be wrong, though.
Tim: The only thing I dislike about it is the Jason Derulo track – it’s one of his better ones, but it sounds like he forgot to write words to half the chorus, which gets me every time I hear it.
Tom: Second up, here’s a simple A+B mashup by Sam Flanagan. It’s called “Brimful of Bonkers”, and that tells you all you need to know really. Oh, but watch out for an unexpected cameo just after three minutes in.
Tom: It’s easy – there is, of course, not even any pitch correction to do – but it’s still a hell of a party tune. It could use being a bit shorter, but it’s good enough that I don’t really mind.
Tim: I thought that as well – it could easily lose the first verse/chorus, since it’s identical to the second. Anyway, you’re right, it is good, especially the cameo.
Tom: I know both the original songs off by heart, which normally would just make a mashup like this confusing – but this is just pulled together so nicely that it doesn’t matter.
Tim: Personally, I prefer it when I know the original songs – you get to think ‘Ooh, this is fun – never thought of these going together.’ And speaking of knowing the original songs, here’s a mixture of two Europlop favourites merged together by Benji of Sweden (apparently he’s the only one in the country) to form one big Bromance Killer:
Tim: Aside from the Radio Sweden jingle (which is surprisingly nonintrusive anyway), I think it’s ruddy marvellous, with him still managing to keep the big Lovekiller climax and all the energy that was originally there. Well done Mr Sweden.
Tom: Wow, that’s a belter. Bromance itself is steadily picking up more and more airplay and traction in the UK – the vocal remix with Love U Seek gets released on 25th October, which means it might well be a Big Autumn Hit.