Saturday Flashback: Tiësto, Jonas Blue & Rita Ora – Ritual

“I enjoyed it, and that’s that.”

Tom: Parts of this sound like a Tiësto track, and parts of this sound like a Rita Ora track. And astonishingly, I think they both work together.

Tim: They do, as this is a good track.

Tom: I… I don’t think I could pick a Jonas Blue track out of a lineup, though.

Tim: Yeah, you remember – did that Fast Car cover that kickstarted 2016’s brief trend of tropical covers of old songs.

Tom: I’m sure he had some input.

Tom: There’s nothing that particularly stands out here for me, but somehow the whole seems greater than the sum of its parts. It’s catchy, I want to hear it again. And honestly, that’s the only reason I’m sending it over to you: I enjoyed it, and that’s that.

Tim: Good. Sensible reasoning.

Rita Ora – Anywhere

“That chorus melody makes it all so good.“

Tim: First up, a look at the parish notice board, where we see that three lovely Christmas songs came out last Friday, of varying quality, and I would dearly love nothing more than to write about them right now. However, Tom, since you’re in sunny California as I write this…

Tom: Close enough.

Tim: …it’s probably best if we leave those for a while. We’ll have this instead, then, Rita’s new one, as it too is really rather good.

Tom: From the line “over the hills” and onwards, that is excellent. Blimey. And then it goes and does a second good thing, going all Alan Walker-knockoff.

Tim: Hmm, ish – yes, most of it is bloody brilliant, but it’s that Alan Walker knock-off that stops me loving it unconditionally. I’d much prefer it there if the post-chorus was toned down just to an instrumental, or at the very least had been assaulted with a slightly less unwieldy vocoder.

Tom: Yes, to be fair, they clearly didn’t get Alan Walker for this. But ah, that chorus melody makes it all so good.

Tim: Doesn’t it? I don’t have a single gripe whatsoever with any other part of the song – it’s just fantastic, and I absolutely love it. So even with my one complaint, I think this song is excellent, and wonderful, and glorious. Super super duper.

Avicii feat. Rita Ora – Lonely Together

“Did you ever have any of those Disney singalong videos back when you were a kid?”

Tim: Did you ever have any of those Disney singalong videos back when you were a kid? With the lyrics of the songs on screen and Mickey Mouse’s head bouncing along the top to give you the timing?

Tom: I didn’t, but I have a distinct memory of them all the same, which tells you just how much reach Disney have.

Tim: Well, that’s what this lyric video reminds me of.

Tom: And they haven’t learned what Disney, and every other decent karaoke-maker, has learned: that the bouncing ball should anticipate the lyrics slightly, and the next line should always appear a couple of beats early. If it appears right on the beat, no-one’s going to be able to read it in time. Grumble.

Tim: Grumble grumble grumble. I do wonder sometimes about the point of lyric videos – sure, they’re nicer and more fun than just a flat image of the song’s artwork, and I’ll never turn down a well produced one, but often they’re a bit shit, so why not just do the video before you release the track? I have no idea whatsoever about production costs, but I can’t help feeling that there are better uses for record label cash – hell, take off the lyrics and this’d work fine as a standard video.

Tom: If they don’t do it, someone else will. Two videos is better than one, apparently.

Tim: OH WELL NEVER MIND, let’s do the song. It’s another one off his comeback EP, and JOY OF JOYS we’re back to vaguely approaching the standard pop song structure, with a varied final chorus in there – admittedly we’re still lacking a middle eight, but at this point I’ll take anything I can get.

Tom: Bit generic, though, isn’t it? I mean, there’s nothing wrong with it, but it doesn’t seem to possess anything above the generic sort of middle-of-the-road it’ll-do-stuff that Spotify might chuck out in the middle of a playlist.

Tim: Tad generic, perhaps, and I guess we can say what we said last week: he makes good dance music, that I’m happy pressing play on a bunch of times. Rita’s bringing the good stuff with the vocals, and it all just works. Lovely.

Rita Ora feat. Chris Brown – Body On Me

“Great tracks by terrible people.”

Tim: The second, and hopefully concluding, part of our series of great tracks by terrible people, and it’s still no less upsetting.

Tom: Ah, this is where we disagree. On the first part, anyway, Chris Brown’s clearly a terrible person but at least I won’t ever want to hear this song again.

Tim: Seriously? Mate, you don’t know how lucky you are. I mean Rita’s probably lovely – we’ll find out this autumn, I suppose – and Chris Brown’s just the featured artist so I was hoping that maybe I could just ignore him like I did with Nicki yesterday, but no. He’s just as prominent as she is, and his verse is decent enough, putting the odd bit of autotuning aside. Again, it’s all wrapped up in a decent melody, with a fantastic chorus, and I really, really like this, after just a couple of listens.

Tom: I just don’t hear it! It’s mediocre at best: a plodding, middle-of-the-road ballad that could have come straight out of the 90s, apart from that autotuning. I don’t mean that in a good way, either.

Tim: Ugh, why can’t I think that? DAMMIT.

Rita Ora – Poison

“I suspect it’s a grower”

Tim: X Factor auditions have kicked off this week, so let’s have a listen to this, which I’ve been enjoying very much recently.

Tom: Oh! Perhaps surprisingly, I haven’t heard this one, and my reaction’s the opposite of normal: I very much enjoy the verses, but it took me until the final chorus to start liking that… at which point I started singing along. I suspect it’s a grower, from that: put this on a radio playlist and I’ll be singing along. And what a middle eight!

Tim: There’s a proper video here, but it doesn’t add anything and has a load of filler gaps interrupting the music, so we can ignore that, because interrupting the music is NOT AN OPTION here, with its immediately IN THERE piano introduction with her decent voice on top, before going OUT THERE for the chorus which a proper head filler which I like and I should probably end this sentence about now, but really I’m just listening to the music and carrying on typing, because it’s the sort of track that just keeps going and going and going, in a VERY very good way.

Tom: You… you want to breathe there, Tim?

Tim: Ah, and we’ve reached the end. So let’s have another listen.

Charli XCX feat. Rita Ora – Doing It

“Given the two vocalists here, I’ve got high expectations.”

Tom: Given the two vocalists here, I’ve got high expectations for this.

Tim: Well, the vocals were certainly on point.

Tom: Although now I come to think of it, normally you get a “featured” artist that sounds different from the “main” one. I’m not sure I could tell you which of them is singing which line: mostly it’s just regular harmony.

Tim: Yeah, but that’s not a bad thing – just gives it mores of a girlband feel than a regular duet.

Tom: Huh, that’s fair. I hadn’t thought of it like that.

An odd thing here: there was one more chorus than I expected, and that was the best part of the song. All the lead-up to it was a bit… well, a bit mediocre if I’m honest, not upbeat enough, not melodic enough, a bit by-the-numbers.

Tim: Thing is, it felt a lot longer than four minutes – after two and a half, I was kind of ready for it to end, although that might just be because I had seen more than I needed of the old guy in the swimming trunks.

Tom: That last chorus, though? Suddenly I realised what the song was trying to do. I just wish it had tried a bit harder.

Tim: I wish it had done it a bit faster – speed up by twenty per cent, I reckon you’d have a decent track. As it is, I’ll pass thank you.