“A song by The Wanted written by Example. And boy, does it show.”
Tim: So here’s something I didn’t realise existed until a few days ago: a song by The Wanted written by Example. And boy, does it show.
Tim: Isn’t that just very, very Example? Almost enough that, to be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were credited as ‘Example feat. The Wanted’.
Tom: Yep: there’s a clear distinction between songwriter and producer here. And speaking of production: this is the first pop song I’ve heard in a long, long while where there’s a clear difference in loudness between verse and chorus. It’s not just my imagination: I actually pulled it into a waveform editor to check. That chorus is genuinely louder, just like the Old Days.
Tim: It’s nice – combination of good boyband and a good DJ. Nothing much to say about it, really – I was just quite intrigued to discover that it existed.
Tim: Now, you’ll remember on Monday I pointed out that there are very few songs that wouldn’t be improved by a 7th Heaven do-over. Well, Walks Like Rihanna is already a very very good song, so can it be improved further?
Tom: See, you’re wrong there, because Walks Like Rihanna is a terrible song.
Tom: You’re right that the composition and production is great, but the lyrics are god-awful.
Tim: No, *some of* the lyrics are god-awful. I am happy to put those aside.
Tom: Fortunately, someone once sang the chorus to me as “she looks like a hammer”, so I’m just going to pretend those are the lyrics and agree: the production’s pretty good.
Tim: Okay, whatever works for you.
Tom: Like you said, can it be improved?
Tim: WELL OF COURSE IT CAN.
Tom: Yep, because I get to sing “looks like a hammer” even before those terrible first two lines.
Tim: Everything that’s good from the original, and oh then so much more – strip out the tedious ‘real’ and ‘authentic’ instruments, replace them with with outrageously poppers o’clock synth beats instead. Finally, for good measure, chuck in a BANGING post-chorus that everybody can utterly lose their nuts to.
Tim: I didn’t know I wanted a dance remix of this, but boy, am I now glad that I’ve discovered it.
Tim: Bearded Jay looks utterly ridiculous with slicked down hair.
Tom: Leaving aside that look-to-camera to emphasise the clunking, Ernie Wise-esque “what I done” —
Tim: and the fact that bearded Jay looks utterly ridiculous with slicked down hair
Tom: — that’s a pretty damn good pop track. It’s by-the-numbers, sure, but they’re exceptionally good numbers.
Tim: Hmm. It may well be the best track (and video, despite our misgivings) that they’ve put out in quite some time. It’s not happy dancey pop like Walks Like Rihanna, but as far as showing off talent, emotion and abilities goes, this is really very good indeed.
Tom: For a band I expected to be a one-hit wonder, the Wanted have been doing well. And hey, at least the music video had a happy ending.
Tim: God, you really are a heartless bastard, aren’t you? I’m still sore from the Barlow/Fältskog debacle, damn you.
Tom: Come on, that relationship was never going to work out. Physical violence and screaming matches? They’ll be happier apart.
Tom: Not again. Fine, I’ll get the mop, you deal with the witnesses.
Tim: What? Oh, no, not that. And I think you’ll find we agreed never to mention it. No, this is a musical problem.
Tim: You see, this song is pretty awful. Just look at the lyrics: the ‘hold your jars’ lines is appalling, the second verse about wanting to be famous after you’ve died because you know how to do a party is risible, and no song with a message should ever come with the line, ‘Hey, I’m a little drunk, but I got something to say’.
Tom: Nothing should ever come with that line.
Tim: The video is also terrible, even managing to outdo the Walks Like Rihanna one: Nathan’s behaviour in particular, with a ‘hey, I’m pointing at you because I’m pretending to know you!’ and an ‘oh, look at you sexy lady distracting my piano playing’, and then there’s all of then pretending to be friends with the old people because that’s what cool people do.
Tom: It sounds like a pub singalong song, so they’ve probably picked the right tone for it. But 37 seconds into the video, have a look at — er — whoever that guy on the end of the line is. What on earth has he just noticed?
Tim: Blimey, that’s a good spot (and that’s Nathan. Come on Tom, know your boybands). Guessing: the cameraman getting bored and falling off his stool?
But anyway, despite all that, I really like this. I don’t particularly want to, but I love it. The melody really get s me going, the lazy nanana-ing in the chorus just makes me want to join in and the whole ‘we own the night’ just makes me feel great. And that annoys me. But you know what? I don’t actually care.
It’s The Wanted’s best single yet! And the most lyrically awkward!
Tim: It’s The Wanted’s best single yet! And the most lyrically awkward!
Tom: So what, was “Moves like Rihanna” a bit too close to Maroon 5?
Tim: Musically, this is fantastic, and I genuinely think it has the potential to be the boyband track of the year.
Tim: Before we even get to the chorus, we’ve got decent verses that aren’t just filler and good fulfilling instrumentation. And then the chorus and post chorus, which is a fantastic hook, repetitive and memorable in a very good way.
Tom: Yep. There’s a reason that Simon Cowell called his reality show “The X Factor” – that indescribable something is very much in this track.
Tim: Lyrically, though, oh dear me. “She can’t sing, she can’t dance, but who cares? She walks like Rihanna.” My god, what a terrible, terrible chorus line that is.
Tom: And let’s be honest, “she’s the freakiest thing” in the first verse isn’t the greatest compliment in the world — but really, does Rihanna really walk in some special way?
Tim: I don’t think so, no, but there’s an alternative that came to me. Imagine, if you will, you’re a media company exec, and a songwriter has pitched you a track. It’s brilliant, and it’s very, very similar to this one. Except, unfortunately, it contains a really rather naughty word in the chorus.
Tom: Oh. Ohhhh. Right.
Tim: And that word gives you an image you’d rather not play out across your family-friendly radio station five times a day. So you want to change that word – not too much, as that might ruin the song a bit. So keep, say, the last couple of letters. The ‘ks’. Hey! “Walks”! That fits. That’ll do nicely. You’ve got a great track; even if the chorus words make no sense, the rest is still brilliant.
Tom: That fits far too well.
Tim: Now, OBVIOUSLY, I’m not saying that’s what happened – it may not even be remotely likely. But just imagine what that original line may have sounded like. And now enjoy hearing that every time you hear this song. YOU’RE WELCOME.
Tom: Cue the overly masculine video: The Wanted are back.
Tim: Anecdote of the day: found out recently I work with a bloke who does quite a lot of music video shooting. Turns out that we’re not the only ones who find the overt manliness of The Wanted’s efforts somewhat laughable. Or, in fact, that The Collective was a bloody awful excuse for a charity single.
Tom: And this time, their PIANO is ON FIRE.
Tom: Literally, I mean. There’s a piano on fire.
Tom: And they seem to have got a bit of an orchestral backing to this one – and dubstep! There’s an unmistakable WUB WUB WUB being put in there – it’s not strong, but it’s another sign of how mainstream that style’s going.
Tim: Oh yeah. And this is a great track – certainly one of the best on the album. Mainly because of the way it all works so well when it’s together – the dupsteppy bits, the strings – shouldn’t work in theory, totally does.
Tom: Is it me, though, or is there some rather obvious autotune in places? The “shoulda known” at 0:52, for example.
Tim: Of course there is. You’ve got dubstep, you might as well throw a bit of robo-voice on there to add something else.
Tom: Okay, the song’s called ‘Lightning’. Guess what they put in their music video?
Tom: Lens flares and bar lighting, actually.
Tim: Close enough.
Tim: GRR. SEE MY MASCULINITY.
Tom: Yet again, you’ve got the “We are The Wanted, and We Are Men” vibe to the video, because that means heterosexual men can watch it without worrying about their erections.
Tim: There’s still that one of them – think it’s Nathan – who looks about twelve, though, and has Glee walk-on part written all over him.
Tom: Good track, though – and I can’t explain why, because it’s generic Wanted fare.
Tim: Think you’ve explained why just there – generic, yes, but generic boyband stuff and boyband managers/songwriters know how to make god tunes. Not musical masterpieces, but good catchy by the book number, with lyrics, melodies and synth hooks that just work. This is one of them.
Tom: Was I distracted by scantily clad women? Possibly. But even without the video, I found myself really liking it.
We can’t deny that we’ve featured more than a handful of not very good tracks.
Tim: We can’t deny that we’ve featured more than a handful of not very good tracks. Fortunately, there are people out there who Take Steps to rectify such issues with what people in the musical business call ‘remixes’, and here are a few. First up, the Kardinal Beats Remix of JLS’s Love You More.
Tim: The original was boring and didn’t really deserve to be playlisted on any radio station ever, but foolishly was by BBC Radio 1. This, on the other hand, deserved to be playlisted by every popular radio music station ever, and sensibly was by BBC 1Xtra (which does, it seems, have some redeeming features). It has vibrancy, excitement – it even sounds like the guys are putting some effort into it, which is nice when it’s a charity single.
Tom: I know it wouldn’t play well with the mums-and-daughters demographic that actually buys Children in Need singles, but I’d much prefer this to be the actual single. There does seem to be a bit of a disconnect between the hard beats and the soulful vocals though; I feel like I’m listening to a mashup, even though I’m not.
Not sure about the sleigh bell and whistle samples though.
Tim: Next up, there’s admittedly only so much you can do with a song described as fomulaic and less good than Nickelback, but the excellent folks at Almighty have had a pretty decent go at Shayne Ward’s version of Gotta Be Somebody:
Tim: The energy here has been pushed through the ceiling, the bridge has been made into something proper – the song as a whole has moved from ‘radio playlist crap’ to ‘dance floor choon’, and I think it’s much better for it.
Tom: I would dance to this. Probably quite badly.
Tim: I can imagine, although I’m not sure there’s much of a ‘probably’ involved. But moving on, you remarked that a dance mix of The Wanted’s Heart Vacancy would go down well in under-18 clubs. I think the DJs From Mars remix may fit the bill rather nicely.
Tim: This is not a tune where the band members can just sit down in the video – or if they do, they at least need to move their arms around a bit. Energy-wise, it’s far more on a level with decent music that the original was, and while it’s not going to win any awards it is a significant improvement, and should be applauded.
Tom: The ‘in your heart, in your heart, in your heart’ bit doesn’t fit in, but that’s fine – it didn’t in the original either. When the beat drops, the dancefloor will fill up – although I’m suspecting that the dancefloor will be a teen club night somewhere uninspiring. Wakefield, say.
Tim: One of my cousins used to read this blog. He probably won’t any more, so thanks for that.
In which they, um, sit down. And stay seated. Throughout.
Tim: As an alternative to yesterday’s action-packed video, here’s The Wanted’s new song, Heart Vacancy, in which they, um, sit down. And stay seated. Throughout.
Tom: The video couldn’t even afford a special effect for the big ending, which just makes it look a bit confusing. Which, since they apparently flew them out to foreign parts to do the filming, seems like a bit of a cop-out.
Tim: They do one other thing: “be good-looking”, which let’s face it is all they were meant to do.
Tom: Good grief, The Wanted really are one of the most generic boy bands ever, aren’t they? There’s really nothing to note in here – I’ve been struggling to write anything for a few minutes now.
Tim: The song comes with a heavy helping of auto-tune, which makes the chorus seem a little bit whiny; aside from that it’s not too bad, although it isn’t particularly good either. I’ve listened to it three times and all I can really remember is the ‘in your heart in your heart in your heart’ line from the chorus, which isn’t a great sign.
Tom: The dance remix will go down well at under-18 club nights, I suspect. And of course, teenage girls will buy it – or at least endlessly watch the YouTube video of it. And then it’ll be forgotten. Hopefully forever.
Tim: True. Which sucks from their point of view, I suppose, but if they get too depressed they can at least take comfort in the fact that they’re not INJU5TICE, who didn’t even make it to the Top 100 and whose last “fan newsletter” was an attempt to offload the last of their merchandise.
Tom: So long, INJU5TICE, we hardly knew you. Thankfully.