Kygo & Whitney Houston – Higher Love

“Recognisable, clearly inspired by, but also new. I can live with that, I guess.”

Tim: Slightly interesting history to this track: originally recorded by English singer Steve Winwood in the 1980s; covered by Whitney and made exclusively available as a bonus track on the Japanese edition of her 1990 I’m Your Baby Tonight.

Tom: I know the original well. And I always hear the chorus lyrics as “bring me a pie, oh love”, which means it’s basically ruined for me. And now you too, I guess.

Tim: Oh, thanks for that. Now remixed by Kygo, allegedly at the request of the Houston family, and first performed at New York Pride on Saturday.

Tim: Now, before I heard this I saw a couple of people discussing it on Twitter; one of them complaining that Kygo got rid of the middle eight, and I was immediately primed to dislike it. However, having heard this now without hearing the original, it doesn’t seem to be missing anything: sure, there isn’t one, but there’s more than enough variation present in what we do have for me to find it an enjoyable enough listen.

Tom: It reminds me of his Take On Me remix: recognisable, clearly inspired by, but also new. I can live with that, I guess.

Tim: One thing’s odd, though: although it does have a very different sound from the original, which is pretty much pure brass, it’s not all that Kygo-y, what with there being little in the way of tropical instruments. All in, though, it’s nice: a good song, nicely redone and released to a new audience. I approve.

Tom: And I can still hear “bring me a pie”, so I approve too.

Tim: Excellent.

Kygo, Chelsea Cutler – Not OK

“Standard Kygo. Perhaps, even, above average Kygo.”

Tim: Advance warning for you, Tom: I’m in beautiful sunny Majorca right now, so there’s a strong chance (alright, a certainty) that most of the music this week will be summery dance tunes.

Tom: There’s a chance of rain here, Tim. Every day this week.

Tim: Well, with this you can pretend otherwise.

Tim: Standard Kygo. Perhaps, even, above average Kygo. A good vocal feature, a good chorus, a good theme running through it, and most importantly of all a good breakdown after it.

Tom: I wasn’t convinced until that build towards the chorus — and then, yes, I think “standard Kygo” fits it well. It’s a pretty good standard, though, isn’t it?

Tim: It really is. And who cares if you’re not okay, as long as you can dance all over the place? I had, for some reason, got it into my head that Kygo was in a bit of a funk right now, releasing disappointing tunes. But no – as this shows, that’s not even slightly the case.

Kygo feat. Valerie Broussard – Think About You

“So, in Friends..”

Tim: So, in Friends, Ross’ 7 year old son Ben was played by twins, I think because of acting rules, and they were Dylan and Cole Sprouse. Cole is currently starring in the ridiculously fabulous, and fabulously ridiculous, TV show Riverdale; Dylan, meanwhile, is starring in a Kygo music video.

Tom: I mean, I’m happy for him, I guess?

Tim: Quite what the difference is between ‘starring’ and ‘guest starring’ is in a stand-alone music video I’ve no idea, but I’ve probably talked enough that.

Tom: I’ll be honest, we passes that point when you talked about obscure Friends actors, but ANYWAY.

Tim: Instead, the song, and when I saw Kygo had a new one out I thought “ah, Kygo’s got a new one out” and then “he’s generally good for a decent track”. Always nice to be proved right, because this is indeed a decent track, I reckon – a perfectly serviceable bit of piano dance.

Tom: It’s very much an Album Track as far as I can tell — and while I’m glad we’ve mostly left pineapple-infused tropical house in the past, I can’t help feeling that Kygo’s lost some of the signature sound here.

Tim: True – I happened to hear Firestone the other day, and it reminded me how damn great it was. So no, it’s not up there with his best, but certainly a lot better than some of his worst. I like it.

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.

Kygo feat. OneRepublic – Stranger Things

“(a) a good Kygo track and (b) a good OneRepublic track”

Tim: Another one off his EP of duets, which quite pleasantly is (a) a good Kygo track and (b) a good OneRepublic track; hopefully you’ll agree.

Tim: Yes?

Tom: Qualified yes. Odd choice of title: I know that ‘Stranger Things’ comes from an idiom, but given the success of the show it seems a bit weird to use the same title. Or maybe they’re just hoping people will click on the video title in confusion while trying to find clips of the show on YouTube. As for the track…

Tim: Obviously it’s very much more Kygo than OneRepublic, particularly the chorus, but the verses aren’t far off standard OneRepublic fare, and I think the two complement each other very nicely.

Tom: It’s not quite as catchy or as upbeat as I’d expect, but given the title and collaborators that makes sense. Not one for the playlist, but there’s certainly nothing wrong with it.

Tim: It’s nice to hear Kygo back doing music that sounds like him, and while this song might not quite be MASSIVE and BANGING and HUGE…I like it. It does what it sets out to, the talent’s all there and on display, and it works. Good stuff.

Kygo feat. The Night Game – Kids in Love

“One heck of a post-chorus.”

Tim: A week or so Kygo quietly stuck a new album online, eight tracks each featuring a somewhat well known artist, much as Avicii did a couple of months back (though curiously enough, his Just Jesso feature which you described as “letting a toddler play with the volume control” didn’t make the cut). Here’s the title track, which also happens to be one of the best, as I see it.

Tom: Oh, that is good. That’s sounds a bit like… maybe like The Who? That’s not a comparison I expected to make.

Tim: It’s not remotely standard Kygo stuff – for that, you could do worse than check out the also very good Stranger Things, with OneRepublic – but it does have some very good piano dance work, with one heck of a post-chorus.

Tom: Objectively, there’s very little going on here: everything’s a bit repetitive. But compare it to yesterday’s mess: this here is an example of how to make a Big Track. Even that post-chorus stands out, like you said.

Tim: Not sure I’ve heard one before that is in itself a build and subsequent drop, but it sure enough works here. The vocal line is nice and emphatic, giving it everything the lyrics and backing music demand, and when those secondary vocals come along at the end that’s just a nice layer of icing on top of the already very tasty cake. Nice that he’s back on form.

Kygo feat. Just Jesso – Stargazing

“That’s just letting a toddler play with the volume control!”

Tim: Tom, there’s a reason that yesterday we were reduced to featuring a bland track from an even blander movie: there doesn’t seem to be much music around worth writing about at the moment. Still, I’ve just found this from Kygo, and he’ll save us, surely.

Tim: Or, maybe not. That’s not what I want from a Kygo track. Is it, really, what anyone wants from a Kygo track?

Tom: That’s not chopping up vocals! That’s just letting a toddler play with the volume control! Blimey, the attacks and decays on that almost physically hurt. It’s like he’s trying to work out how much he can get away with before people go “no, mate, that’s just bollocks”.

Tim: I mean it maybe gets slightly going when the second chorus comes around, but COME ON this is not what got me going down to Sainsbury’s to buy a crateload of mangoes a while back.

Tom: I hope that was a metaphor.

Tim: It’s just SO SLOW: four minutes twenty, and all we’ve got is two verses and two choruses? Where’s the big final closing one? Where’s the inventive middle eight where you could have a bit of fun? Where, basically, is anything worth listening to?

Tom: Probably in the bits where the volume was down.

Kygo & Ellie Goulding – First Time

“Hi, Ellie, I’ve always wanted to work with you…”

Tom: Kygo continues his tour of female pop vocalists – and this time, one with a distinctive voice.

Tom: Somehow, Ellie Goulding singing “ten dollars was a fat stack” in her English accent sounds very wrong. I mean, none of those lyrics are great, but I feel like they gave the wrong track to the wrong singer there.

Tim: Yeah, that stuck out for me as well – almost as if someone else was lined up, they dropped out, and then Kygo went “Hi, Ellie, I’ve always wanted to work with you…”

Tom: I guess this is Kygo doing a more chilled-out sound — there are still his trademarks, like that jingle-bell-like sound that marks the start of the second verse, and a middle eight using resampled vocals from elsewhere in the song. But other than those, this sounds… well, a bit generic, really. I guess chillout dance just isn’t for me.

Tim: The first time I heard this last week I didn’t think much of it; hearing it now, though, I like it quite a bit more. It’s not a classic, and it sure as hell isn’t an It Ain’t Me (that song just keeps growing on me, even now), but it’s a good track. I’ll take it.

Kygo & Selena Gomez – It Ain’t Me

“It’s just a shame about Kygo’s bit.”

Tim: For me, Selena Gomez fits in with a number of artists like Dua Lipa, Fifth Harmony and The 1975: artists that are around a lot, mainstays of the Radio 1 playlist, and that I know I’ll probably like if I started consciously exploring them, but never actually do. Fortunately, this one has Kygo on it as well, so I picked it out and listened to it.

Tom: I did much the same a few days ago, Tim, and then decided it was a bit too dull to send you. Listening to this again, I disagree with my original opinion, because there’s a lot going on.

Tim: There is indeed really quite a lot to dissect here: from the opening light guitar and gentle vocal, through to the more aggressive piano and chanting, the instrumental breakdown where it gets a bit messy and then the combination of parts (b) and (c) to form part (d), before going right back to the start.

Tom: Right, and here’s the thing that I’m realising on a second listen: the messy instrumental bits are the dull bits. The Selena Gomez bits are beautiful — and I know that chord progression under “when you’re drunk and all alone” is a cliché, but it’s one that still has an affect on me. It’s just a shame about Kygo’s bit.

Tim: You’re not wrong there, and in fact to be honest, I do question the wisdom of putting them all in the same song – I think there’s a reason they only go back to the first bit once. My favourite area’s unquestionably the second, with it being easily singable and energetic, so I’m a tad disappointed it got relegated to minor pre-chorus status; on the other hand, I won’t hold that too much against it, because like I said – the rest is good as well.

Tom: And a song that’s entirely about “you know all those things about love? sod ’em” is a song with a message I can get behind. I just want to hear it before Kygo got his hands on it.

Kygo – Raging

“It’s a bit of a change in synth pad, I’ll give him that.”

Tom: First track from the new album. Given that everyone’s copied his old trick, he needs a new one.

Tom: That is… hmm. Well, it’s a bit of a change in synth pad, I’ll give him that, although it now sounds like… hmm. A slightly downbeat version of something Robert Miles would have put out in the mid-90s? Or maybe Robert Miles meets Aviici, with way too much compression on the track? I’m not sure.

Tim: I don’t know, I really like it. Tropical house arguably had a limited shelf-life, coming as it did from Kygo’s computer rather than any gradual dance club movement like basically every other dance genre has done. Harsh as it may sound, it’s almost the Internet meme of music genres – came from nowhere, a few other people mixed it around a bit, but after a while it’s time to move on. Kyo knows that, and he’s moving on, to this.

Tom: I sound like I’m being massively negative about it: it’s a decent track, and a good direction to go in after there was nothing left in that old pineapple-scented synth. It’s not as much of an immediate attention-grabber, but it’s not bad.

Tim: No – I think it’s a fine way to close off his debut album.