Stevie Wonder feat. Ariana Grande – Faith

“That is a heck of a combination.”

Tom: Yep, you’re reading that right. That is a heck of a combination. And if you’re wondering why: it’s for an animated movie — but given that similar circumstances gave us Pharrell’s Happy and Justin Timberlake’s Can’t Stop The Feeling… don’t rule it out based on that.

Tim: Hell no – we’ve also got Let It Go and How Far I’ll Go, so I’ll never judge a song on that.

Tom: I’ve said for a long while, Tim, that there are three tests I use for a good pop song: do I find myself moving along to it, even just tapping my feet, on the first listen? Can I sing at least of some of the chorus after one listen? And do I immediately want to hit replay?

This passed all three tests. Only just on the chorus one, but it did.

Tim: Those are fair tests, and yet I have to say: not really, slightly maybe, no. That’s unduly harsh just outright like that, but still, not a fan here.

Tom: I guess I can understand that — because if I try and me a bit more objective, I don’t think it’s a really great bit of songwriting. But I thought that about Happy too, and about Can’t Stop The Feeling, and I’m still not bored of either of them. And listen to that production! The vocals are (of course) spectacular, the production is spot on, and it doesn’t outstay its welcome: this is an under-three-minute song that lasts under three minutes, just like it should.

Tim: Hmm – technically you’re right with all that, and yet annoyingly, I don’t feel it. Just doesn’t excite me at all.

Tom: Well, for me at least: this is good.

BBC Music – God Only Knows

“It’s not Perfect Day.”

Tim: You may or may not remember Perfect Day, the Lou Reed cover that the BBC put together back in 1997 that had just about every artist in the world in it.

Tom: Remember it? I think it was the first single I bought. Charity and all.

Tim: Well, they’ve gone and done something similar with this Beach Boys track seventeen years later. This got broadcast on every channel and station last night (except Radio 3, who were busy playing Brahms) both to promote the new BBC Music thing and to raise money for Comic Relief. Shall we?

Tim: Hmm.

Tom: “Hmm” is right.

Tim: Well, I think the first question we should all be asking is what on Earth is going on with Louis and Niall’s hair –

Tom: I was going to mention that.

Tim: – but musically I’m going to say…ehhh. It’s a track, certainly, and it’s musical, for the most part it’s very enjoyable.

Tom: But it’s not Perfect Day. Am I looking back with rose-tinted spectacles? Possibly, but I can remember being absolutely blown away by Perfect Day when it first appeared on TV — here, they seem to be dazzling with ridiculous CGI rather than just good music.

Tim: The only criticism I have is that I’m really not sure the orchestral/chorus break sounds right. I get that they want to indicate that it’s about all types of music, but I think if you want to do that, make it longer.

Tom: Right! Yes! Perfect Day is busy, but it never approaches anywhere near “cacophony”. There’s not room enough to breathe in here. The instrumental break of Perfect Day was one very good solo: here, we’ve got loads of instruments and vocalists, and each one gets a pause to itself. And Brian May crowbars his trademark guitar sound in. It doesn’t work.

Tim: I’m usually the first to complain that a track’s too long, but you’re barely pushing two and a half minutes there, and I don’t think anyone’d begrudge you an extra minute to fit it together better.

Tom: Also, let’s be clear about that video: Brian Wilson has the haunted look of someone who has no idea what’s going on.

Tim: Still, gets the point across, and it’s good enough to listen to. Makes the right point about how important music is to them, and at a time when people are having a go at the BBC right, right and further right, it’s nice to have them showing off what they can do. And beg for our support, which I suppose is a more cynical and probably unfair way of looking at the lyrics. So I’ll close by saying: great idea, not quite so great execution, but good enough for me.