Tom: …huh. Way better than I thought it was going to be.
Tim: Hmm, see I’d have put it at ‘roughly what I was expecting’, though I guess either works.
Tom: I think that’s mostly because the main artist and featured credits are the wrong way round here: this is a Backstreet Boys song (and a good one) with a well-remixed chorus and some probably-unnecessary goose-honk synths.
Tim: Maybe, though it’s very much the remix bit that takes the focus – I’d posit that if it were a less well known act providing vocals, this could get away with being an uncredited session singer.
“This sounds rather like someone fed a machine-learning system the stems from Alan Walker’s entire catalogue and instructed it to make a new track.”
Tim: New one from Alan, sort of – it’s an edited version of a track off his (really rather good) album, which in its original form also featured a rapper, Omar Noir. He’s been kicked off, Isak’s been given an extra verse so it’s not too much shorter, and this is the product.
Tim: And it’s…interesting, in as much as it sounds very, very disjointed.This seems very much a track with some bits by Alan, some by Steve, and some where they sort of mix together, and certainly early on it…doesn’t sound good? I’m particularly looking at you, 0:34, but there are other parts as well that sound a bit off.
Tom: This sounds rather like someone fed a machine-learning system the stems from Alan Walker’s entire catalogue and instructed it to make a new track. There’s occasional bits of other tracks in there, and none of it quite fits together.
Tim: Having said that – large parts of this are great. In particular, most of the vocal parts, and very much the section beginning at 1:34 (i.e. what we can roughly pin down as Alan’s). Other parts, not so much, and actually, much as I’m typically happy to see the back of a featured rapper, it works better with him on it – it’s hard to explain exactly why, but if you have a listen, you might agree.
Tom: I… don’t.
Tim: So, all in all, my main thought is just: why?
“I’m a fan of about 80% of it. You’ll work out why.”
Tim: Dance track for you; I’m a fan of about 80% of it. You’ll work out why.
Tim: Seem about right?
Tom: Oh, yes! That’s lovely. I understand why there’s a 20% you don’t like, but — for once — it does still work for me.
Tim: Hmm, fair enough. You can probably guess most of what I’m going to say, though: the music’s good, the lyrics speak to many many people, and the second verse is…well, not for me. Though that bit’s unusual, really – normally, with a feat. like this, you’d put it in for just the middle eight, but instead he’s got a whole verse.
Obviously you can’t go for a middle eight placing if you haven’t got one (insert standard moan here), but it still seems weird that he’s been given almost the same same amount of prominence as the other guys.
Not a bad thing, of course – it was presumably done to increase the potential audience – but it still seems a bit weird. Just me?
Tom: Just you, I think. Because for me, the whole thing works, start to finish — and with a video that’s just beautifully filmed, designed and edited. This is the best track we’ve had here in a few weeks, I reckon.
Tim: Following the breakup hiatus, Niall was first out of the gates with an awful dirge; can Louis do any better with this collaboration?
Tim: Yes, yes he really can.
Tom: Takes its time, though, doesn’t it?
Tim: It does, yes, with a slightly disappointing start — in particular, the vocal part of the first chorus sounds distinctly underwhelming — but the rest of it is absolutely fine. They were probably going for more than ‘absolutely fine’ though, now I think about it, but actually it does go further – that vocal at the opening of the middle eight is a particular highlight.
Tom: There’s certainly some good parts in there, but I’m not convinced by it as a whole: I don’t think the hook’s good enough to justify all the faffing around it takes to get there. In fact, I can’t remember a bit of the hook. And if your highlights are particular vocal lines…
Tim: Well anyway, of course this is better than This Town.
Tom: Damning with faint praise, there?
Tim: Not at all – better than a lot of tracks, really.