Hanne Leland – Underdogs


Tim: Our reader Bjørnar sends this in for our consideration, Hanne’s latest, with a nice inspiring message for all the sad losers out there. According to Hanne it started out life as a piano ballad, which is a version I’d be interested in hearing because the final version…really isn’t.

Tom: Yeah, those synths in the intro are about as far from piano ballad as you can get.

Tim: So, first listen, I didn’t really get into it until a minute twenty, the first time the chorus kicked in properly – before then, it was too calm, there was nothing to really get my teeth into. Then the backing vocals came in, though, it got a nice hook going on, and then that lovely “oh this will unite us” post-chorus comes along.

Tom: That is definitely the highlight of the track.

Tim: The whole thing becomes absolutely fabulous, to the extent that I can throw off the slight amount of negativity I instinctively felt with the twee “we’re all special, yeah, even you guys” message (though apparently the lyrics are “really close to my heart”, so let’s not be too dismissive). Second around and beyond – that first chorus brings back that hook, and it’s great. LOSERS UNITE!

Tom: AT LEAST FOR THE POST-CHORUS because the rest isn’t that much to write home about and “we’re the underdogs” gets a bit tedious a bit quickly sorry

Hanne Leland – Carry On

“Huh. I think bikinis flying off would have been better.“

Tim: “Carry On is about finding strength to move on in the midst of chaos,” says the email, and how with a world that’s running down we can find a way to keep living, by finding strength and unity with each other. Ain’t that nice?

Tom: I thought it was about bikinis flying off.

Tim: Well, that as well.

Tom: Huh. I think bikinis flying off would have been better.

Tim: That chorus is…weird. Not necessarily bad weird, mind, because there’s a lot there, it’s loud and vibrant would describe it nicely. Just, weird because I can’t quite work out what’s going on. Her voice is rising, and it dips – and then does it come back, or is it just synths, or copy and paste, or what?

Tom: You mean that irritating klaxon-esque sound in the background? It knackered the song for me, but it’s is also a sample from her voice. At this point, the line’s so blurred that I’m not sure it matters any more: synths, copy and paste, or both.

Tim: Perhaps true. I’m guessing it’s the last, because that same section is repeated several times without the buildup, but hearing it all at once makes it sound a bit like she’s harmonising with herself, which doesn’t quite sit right with me.

Tom: I’m more startled that this is under four minutes long. I felt the song had overstayed its welcome even before that last chorus.

Tim: I don’t know, the rest’s nice, powerful and stuff. I think. I don’t know, I was a bit distracted.

Hanne Leland – You Don’t Own Me

“It’s a shame the verses have to suffer”

Tim: Our reader, Bjørnar, reckons this is “a powehouse synth pop ballad giving me chills. Strong message and catchy chorus.”

Tim: And I’m not really tempted to disagree with him.

Tom: That reminds me a lot of LIGHTS in style, and I mean that as a big compliment. It’s such a similar style, actually, that even after writing this I’m still half-convinced it’s some unreleased material from her. I don’t think I can give this an objective judgment, because it sounds so familiar.

Tim: It may sound familiar, but that could just be because it’s a good style. Now, in most songs the chorus is the stand-out part, but here it really is – I got a bit distracted and when the chorus came along I thought “oh, yes, I forgot that was playing”. That’s not to say the verses are bad, because they’re not at all: they’re very good at doing what they do, conveying a quiet and gentle message that’s just waiting to be amplified.

Tom: There’s still a lot of good work going on with the synths underneath, though — and the vocals are great, too.

Tim: They are. It’s just a bit of a shame, though, that with that structure in mind they have to suffer for the chorus to come in with the effect that it does. I’d suggest turning everything up by 25% or so, but then the chorus might sound too loud, and it’s that contrast that makes the song what it is. I don’t know – either way, I’ll take it.

Hanne Leland – Queen

“Oh, no, no, no, don’t do that.”


Tom: Oh, no, no, no, don’t do that.

Tim: 💃 💃 💃

Tim: And oh, I should have listened to more than the first thirty seconds before typing that intro, because it started out so promisingly.

Tom: I think you should have taken a few more minutes of reflection before typing that intro, but never mind. The music: and particularly, that terrible chorus.

Tim: Right, because it starts out with almost a nice tropical vibe, happy first verse, all set for an upbeat chorus. But then it happens, and oh, the disappointment. I don’t know if it’s autotuned or some other effect there, but whatever’s ​going on with that vocal just isn’t pleasant to listen to. The second verse is nice, mind, as is the closing fade out section. All in all, though, with the other choruses and middle eight: I never thought I’d ever need to do this, but I’m going to have to retract my earlier YAS QUEEN. I’m sorry, Hanne.

Tom: And all is right with the world.

Hanne Leland – Keep On Movin

“When that chorus hits there’s just nothing to be faulted whatsoever.”

Tim: It saddens me to tell you that Hanne has not chosen to cover the Five classic; it pleases me to tell you that actually, this might be even better.

Tom: Really? That’s a bold claim.

Tim: Because what a fantastic piece of pop music that really is. The production is absolutely spot on, just as it should be.

Tom: Yep, can’t fault that. Better than the Five classic, though? Definitely not. What stands out for you?

Tim: Those slightly breathy vocals are excellent from the off, and when that chorus hits there’s just nothing to be faulted whatsoever. The post-chorus continues that run of triumph, with a song that all in all is just superb.

Tom: I can’t disagree with anything you say there — but I think the song itself, the melody and lyrics, just aren’t all that much to write home about. Now if it was produced this well, and also a cover of Five? Then I’d join you.

Tim: And I’d be even more excited. I know I do often get overexcited by tracks and sometimes that’s not entirely justified, but here, I think it’s entirely appropriate.