Imagine Dragons – Zero

“It’s infuriating.”

Tom: The first Wreck-It Ralph movie provided us with When Can I See You Again, an Owl City track so good that it got turned into parade music for Disney’s theme parks. Sequels are never as good as the original – and besides, Imagine Dragons’ sound surely isn’t right for a kids’ movie like this?

Tim: You’d think not, no. And yet…

Tom: I listened to it once, thought it was unremarkable but pleasant, and then, five minutes later, realised I was still humming the chorus to myself. It’s infuriating. It’s an earworm of a track.

Tim: Infuriating, yes, for reasons I’ll get to, and yes, an earworm, but it’s a decent track – and close enough to their regular sound yet also fitting in with that film.

Tom: The chorus line that just repeats syllables and jumps between only two notes in each line. And the song never resolves; like the song in The Demolished Man, you’re left wanting to hum the chorus one more time. But of course, because it’s good pop music: I like this.

Tim: I DON’T like this, but not for any of the reasons you’ve said (although admittedly, the first time I heard that chorus and it finished with that explosion I was distinctly unimpressed, but later choruses and the studio version fix that).

Tom: Try the lyric video, it is very very cleverly done. Anyway, why don’t you like this?

Tim: Ooh, that is cleverly done. I dislike the song because immediately after “Like I’m good enough for anything” I want that “real, real” to take a different tune, where it rises up high and goes “re-eee-e-ey-al”. Because that is coming from another song, and I cannot for the life of me think what it is (female pop soloist, I think), and it is now all I can think of.

Tom: Oh, no. You’re right. You’re absolutely right. And I can’t remember what that other song is because every time I try to hear it, I can only remember this new track. Is it a Millennial Whoop? Because if so it could be a lot of songs.

Tim: No, it’s not that, it’s just – actually, you know what? I’m now at your stage. I can’t hear anything but this song.

Tom: Anyway, I both like this and want to erase it from my head. I’m sorry if you now feel the same way.

Tim: Well, that question will probably be in my head for at least 36 hours now, so yes, I do feel the same way.

Kygo & Imagine Dragons – Born To Be Yours

“That is exactly what I expected.”

Tom: Huh. Those names are…

Tim: Not the likeliest of bedfellows, no, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work. An open mind, then, please, as we delve right in.

Tom: That is exactly what I expected.

Tim: Isn’t it just? For better or worse, you generally know what you’re going to get with a Kygo track: largely unremarkable verse, fairly invigorating chorus and a post-chorus that’s heavy on the marimbas, and if you’re lucky you might get a middle eight. Here, well, we’ve no real middle eight to speak of, but the rest of it all passes with flying colours.

Tom: There’s even a vague hint of a string section here and there. I’ve got to say that the “you, ooh-ooh” really doesn’t work for me — it doesn’t kill the entire track, and I’ve grown to like odd features of Imagine Dragons songs before, but it does grate.

Tim: Huh, I don’t actually mind that at all. And while the verse might still be unremarkable, the chorus is well on the way to being very good, and those instrumentals have a decent melody. Well, I’m fairly sure they do – to be honest, I’ve played it three times now while writing this and I’m still not sure I could reliably remember it, but I do enjoy it whenever it comes round. And that’s kind of what counts, right?

Tom: Absolutely not.

Tim: Yeah, it’s not, is it? Dammit.

Imagine Dragons – Whatever It Takes

“It’s like Imagine Dragons vs The Weeknd.”

Tim: This got sent in by an anonymous listener, with no comment, so I’ll add my own: it’s not hugely Imagine Dragons-y.

Tom: No, it’s like Imagine Dragons vs The Weeknd. That verse is a bit like a more energetic of Starboy.

Tim: It’s more electro than anything I’ve heard previously, but fortunately they haven’t lost the ability to produce an absolutely phenomenal chorus – that’s just glorious. The backing in it is stylistically familiar in innumerable anthemic songs by similar bands, and there’s a reason for that: it works very, very well.

Tom: I’m surprised the vocalist didn’t do the thing where he switches to the harmony for one powerful note on the final chorus. Every other trick in the book’s there.

Tim: It may be getting a tad clichéd by now, but I don’t care, because it still brings out the desired feelings in me. The rest of the song: sure, it’s good. But that chorus is next level.

Imagine Dragons – I Bet My Life

“ASTONISHINGLY good, with one very big caveat.”

Tom: This is currently stuck in a two-month limbo between “official US release” and “official UK release”, so presumably all the fans are ripping it off YouTube and downloading pirated MP3s rather than actually buying off iTunes.

Tim: Oh, don’t be silly. Why would they do that?

Tom: A lot of their fans seem to hate it as being ‘too different’, because it’s not ‘Radioactive’. I’m going to put my cards on the table here: I think this is ASTONISHINGLY good, with one very big caveat.

Tim: Oh? I agree with the ASTONISHINGLY, but where’s the caveat?

Tom: That weird vocal squeak — a gospel singer missing a note? I’ve no idea — is not a good sample. It’s all I can hear in the verses. And it just doesn’t fit: it utterly, utterly kills any section of the song that contains it. How on earth did anyone think “yep, that’s okay, include that”.

Tim: Oh. That part. Um, I don’t mind that, actually. it’s really a problem?

Tom: I want to fade out that sample, just that sample, and let the rest of the absolutely brilliant track shine through. Because LISTEN TO THAT CHORUS. It deserves CAPITAL LETTERS. It’s INCREDIBLE.

Tim: Yes. Yes, it is.

Imagine Dragons – I Bet My Life

“That chorus startled me in the best way”

Tim: Creators of surprisingly listenable rock music Imagine Dragons are back with the lead single from their second album; here it is:

Tom: That’s a great intro.

Tim: And that’s a GREAT track, I think. It’s a far cry from their first releases, almost to the extent that it’s hard to call it rock any more (or at least that’s the case if you read the YouTube comments left by their real fans).

Tom: You forgot to put scare-quotes around “real” and “fans” there.

Tim: I don’t quite know what the noises are in the background – in the opening they sounded like some weird backing vocals, but looking at the artwork, the noises sound later more like crows squawking, which is weird.

Tom: See, I heard someone using one of those high-speed Formula 1 tyre-changing things. Probably shows how our brains work, that.

Tim: The rhythm’s nice – the verses have the same measured sound that I really liked in The Cowboys’ Christmas Ball (with apologies if it’s still too early to link to that), and the choruses have exactly the right level of shoutiness not to be too annoying.

Tom: Agreed: that chorus startled me in the best way. Fantastic.

Tim: All in all, I like it a lot, and while (given the variety of tracks on Night Visions) I wouldn’t draw too many conclusions about it from one track, I’m looking forward to the new album, out in February.