Rachel Platten – Perfect For You

“That’s… that’s an album track.”

Tom: Fight Song became an anthem. Stand By You was one of the best pop songs of last year (at least, I reckon so; the world disagrees). Lead track off the second album: is she going to keep up the Big Powerful Inspirational Singles?

Tim: Please – please – tell me this isn’t a Betteridge.

Tim: Oh.

Tom: Oh. No. No she’s not. That’s… that’s an album track. The half-spoken pre-chorus is poor, the chorus itself is anaemic, and while that bassline and percussion underneath often threatens to become interesting, it never actually does.

Tim: Right. That build comes up, and then…nope. Nothing. Nada.

Tom: There’s one bit of greatness in this song: the very last couple of seconds of the middle eight, that build and whoop. That greatness is then squandered immediately by the chorus. Let’s hope for something better soon.

Rachel Platten – Stand By You

“A stand out BANGER.”

Tim: Following up on her vastly deserved UK number one last month, here’s Rachel’s follow up, and to warn you in advance, this is absolutely not a cover of Girls Aloud’s gentle but lovely ballad.

Tom: I’m not going to rise to that bait, Tim.

Tim: Spoilsport.

Tim: It is, in fact, a stand out BANGER, that gets its foot in the door very early on with its “I’m confident you’ll think this is brilliant” chorus preview and then its standard but effective second/fourth beat “don’t you dare stop listening before that chorus” drumbeat throughout the traditionally quiet first verse.

Tom: Let’s give some credit to whoever wrote the melody for that verse: it’s got enough interesting things going on that it manages to keep me engaged. The “borrow mine so yours can open too” in the chorus is absolute genius.

Tim: The chorus lives very much up to promises and expectations with its stuck in your head melody and blindingly clear message. After all, if there’s one thing everybody knows more than that they need to stand up for themselves and FIGHT occasionally, it’s that they very often need someone else in their corner. Clich├ęd? Perhaps. But fantastic listening? Definitely.

Annoyingly, it’ll probably suffer in the UK from being released within three weeks on Fight Song, but I’d say that’s better than us having to wait a similar six months, so I’m sure I’ll manage.

Tom: There is a bit of similarity to Fight Song in there too, particularly in that piano, but it’s not enough to be a problem. Can we say something about that astonishingly good middle eight? About the properly-stompy percussion-and-vocals bit that leads into the final chorus? And about that final chorus, which is just great by itself?

Tim: We can speak about all of those things, because they are all wonderful – you’re very very right about that final chorus, right up until the very end.

You know, if you’d asked me two weeks ago if I though Rachel’s follow-up would live up to Fight Song’s standards, I’d have said NO WAY; I’m therefore very glad you didn’t, as I hate being wrong.

Tom: And you know what? I think this is actually better.

Tim: It’s funny – I first heard this 24 hours ago, I thought ‘this is really good – no Fight Song, though’. I listened again to write about it this morning, I thought ‘blimey, this is really bloody great – it’s a proper follow-up’. And tonight, ‘OH HELL YES’. The main thing I will take from this is my utter delight that two of the best (if not the two best) songs of the year have come from from one more or less unknown artist. It’s WONDERFUL.

Rachel Platten – Fight Song

“Absolutely, magically, wonderful.”

Tim: And now, for your delectation, the best Avril Lavigne song you’ve heard in years.

Tom: Huh. You’re not wrong about that. I think Rachel Platten might have better vocals than Avril Lavigne too, even if they’re not quite as forceful.

Tim: I heard it in the Supergirl trailer that got put out a few days ago, and bloody hell have I been listening to it a lot since, because it has EVERYTHING. A quiet start implying her initial reluctancy and lack of confidence, building up through a heavy-to-medium pre-chorus and then a big, BIG chorus that’s utterly brilliant.

Incidentally, the pretty good lyric video also picks up on that, with the verses and middle eight being in a lightweight font but the choruses a whole thicker.

Tom: It’s subtle things, like that, which separate decent lyric videos from the ones just quickly churned out.

Tim: One of my favourite parts is, much like with Cara Mia, that surprise return from the middle eight, where the lack of anything except the drums provides another impression of just how ready she is to fight, in case the rest of the song was so subtle that you’d not already figured that out.

Tom: The part that sticks out for me is what sounds like a call-and-response with herself in the verse — the kind of thing you can’t do live with only one voice, but that really works here.

Tim: Yes, and speaking of sort-of-backing vocals, those “ahhhh-ahhh” ones that come in under the pre-chorus are also fantastic. I do, though, have two tiny, tiny nitpicky bits: that the recorded vocals on “prove I’m alright” sound closer to “prove ’em all right” with its directly opposite meaning, so an emphasis on the “I” would be appreciated. And also I reckon “hear my voice this time” would be better with “sing out” or “shout out” or similar.

Tom: And I can’t hear “motion” and “ocean” rhyming without thinking of the Bloodhound Gang.

Tim: Ah, see, for me it’s Hairspray. But aside from those few tiny, tiny bits, then, this song is absolutely, magically, wonderful.