“I’m fairly sure that’s one of the best ballads I’ve heard in a long time.”
Tim: We first met Ruben a few weeks back as the vocalist on Alan Walker’s last one; now he’s out on his own with this. The video is fairly graphic with bits of self-harm, so you may want to just listen to the song without it, here:
Tim: And I’m fairly sure that’s one of the best ballads I’ve heard in a long time.
Tom: As I listened to the first part of this, I couldn’t figure out why you’d written that. It’s not a patch on Fai Rumore, of course, but yes: it does some good things by the end.
Tim: Starts out fairly quiet with just a bit of piano, but then builds up quickly with drums and strings and all sorts of orchestral majesty, blowing us away by the time the final chorus arrives.
Tom: I reckon it’s one of those tracks where the middle eight might be the strongest point, but yes, that final chorus does hold up.
Tim: On top of all that, he’s got a very strong voice, more than doing justice to the drama in the lyrics, all going together to sound fantastic. Does it need to come with that sort of video? Hmm, probably not, we could maybe do with something lighter right now, but never mind that – it’s the song that’s important, and it’s great.
Tim: So, Alan’s got a new one out, and OH BOY. Part of me is tempted to go for (and would be justified going for) a lengthy history of Alan’s logo worshipping cult thing he has going on, but I won’t, partly because we’re (in theory) just here for the track, and also because I could easily get a 2,000 word piece out of it and this really isn’t the place. Quick recap, then: his first trilogy of videos had various post-apocalypse groups of people worshipping his logo; we got into the details here and here, and he actually posted an explanatory video (which is actually quite interesting with some behind the scenes stuff as well).
Tom: How much must all this cost? Is it worth it? I’d love to know whether his fans are viewing these as just “music videos” or whether a lot of folks are treating it like new releases in the MCU.
Tim: Yeah, it’d be interesting. I checked the comments to get an idea, but they’re all linking a song called Heading Home with the coronavirus lockdowns, and I can’t BELIEVE I missed that opportunity.
This new trilogy he’s got have started with On My Way and continued with Alone, Pt II. If you’ve got time (and let’s face it, who doesn’t right now), you might want to spend 7 minutes or so catching up, but basically: a student’s found historical clues based around, yep, his logo, and they’ve all led up to archeological discoveries, and now she’s going just a little bit further…
Tom: …and ending the world, apparently.
Tim: I dunno, let’s not be too quick to point fingers. First note, though: D.H. Lawrence did actually compile a book called The Symbolic Meaning, so props to them there for not just making something up; on the other hand, it’s not actually about the meanings of symbols, so she’d have been better off consulting The Da Vinci Code, but LET’S MOVE ON. We’re closing the story with another cult worshipping that logo, almost mirroring the beginning of his first trilogy, preparing for an apocalyptic event by burying a Walker-embedded time capsule. To be honest, it’s almost a disappointment – not because I was expecting anything sane, but because the first two were at least grounded in the real world (obviously still bonkers, but realistically so) and then this one takes it vaguely supernatural, kind of breaking the story. Ah, well.
Tom: See, I’ve always come at this from the approach of “well, it’s just a music video, and it’s not like it’s related to the track”. This could happily sit in a background tab for me.
Tim: Oh, absolutely, and the vast majority of the time when people hear this it’ll be via a speaker, not through the video.
Tom: I wonder if there are songs where that’s not the case. Gangnam Style? Any of OK Go’s videos? I don’t know if it’s possible to track that, but it’d be interesting.
Tim: Maybe Never Gonna Give You Up, although admittedly no-one actually chooses to watches that. Thing is, though, and despite what I said earlier, I’m not sure there’s much point in us discussing the music, as there’s not much to say beyond: it is an inoffensive and entirely decent Alan Walker track. Despite what it says in the description about him having worked on this since Faded and it being a very special song, I’m almost certain he’s more interested in the videos than he is in the tracks.
Tom: Right! And there’s nothing wrong with that, OK Go have based a career on it, but at that point I’m wondering: do you even count yourself as a musical artist? Or are you a filmmaker who scores the stuff you’re producing?
Tim: Exactly, and he’s certainly getting into full filmmaker levels, as it’s not just the over the top storylines: that behind the scenes video I linked to earlier shows a hell of effort (and money) goes into the videos, with filming in five different countries and physical versions of those drones and ‘prophecy discs’ being made. That’s not entirely a criticism, mind – I was saying only yesterday how I wished songs could come with narratives, and these certainly fit the bill – though it does make me wonder if five years from now he’ll have been hired by Marvel to write a new Fantastic Four movie.
Tom: Can’t be worse than any of the previous ones.
Tim: You know, I was about to leap in with a vague defence of the 2005 one, but then I remembered the 2015 abomination, and oh god yes.
Anyway, final thought (I promise): I was at an Alan Walker gig not too long ago and naturally he had those face masks available at the merch stand; I didn’t buy one, because they were fifteen quid, but it’s just struck me they might have been quite useful right about now.