Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Oliver Heldens x Becky Hill – Gecko (Overdrive)

UK No. 1 straight outta the Netsky School of Naming


Thomas Inskeep: The ’90s house revival in the UK has clearly reached epidemic proportions, because boilerplate stuff like this is now going straight in at #1. British record labels continue their allergy to instrumental tracks and insist on tacking a tacky vocal onto this track, which would be much better without it. And the track itself is no great shakes, like a pale Xerox of Duke Dumont.

Scott Mildenhall: What happened to trusty old “ft.”? This might be the first number one to opt for the more economical “x”, but what it denotes is nothing new. It’s the age-old way of turning your instrumental club hit into a radio hit: whack a vocal on it. Barely any make it to the chart without one these days — “Animals” being the untouchable exception that proves the rule — and they can make or break a song with seemingly minimal effort. As is often the case, the original “Gecko” sounds empty in light of a topline. Becky Hill is almost leonine for the verses before jabbing and prodding out every word of the chorus alongside the beat, and at a length of two minutes and 45 seconds — perhaps the optimal length for such an effort — it hits like a hit should, in and out to enhance the thrill. If only that vocal were pitched-up, it could go even further.

Jer Fairall: Version 1.0 of “Gecko” was a heady, pulsating house track, here reconfigured with a competent-enough Adele wannabe who sings of hitting overdrive while pulling focus from the original’s sense of momentum. Retaining the clatter at the front of the track while relieving it of its main point of contrast, the whole thing ends up feeling a bit claustrophobic — the opposite of what either participant seems to want to communicate.

Patrick St. Michel: More like a chameleon, because it’s blending a little too much into that Disclosure-led sound. 

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Becky Hill was one of the people behind the romantic house balladry of Wilkinson’s “Afterglow”. She’s jumped on Heldens’ instrumental and given more of the same, albeit faster. You’ve heard this song before, you’ve heard these sentiments before, you’ve tapped your foot while rolling your eyes before.

Brad Shoup: Some downward pitchshifting, cos why not; here, it’s swished from left to right like stale mouthwash. If only Hill were as testy as that knocking bassline, impatient and palpable.

Alfred Soto: The drum loop has the appropriate density, and Hill understands overdrive. Harder and less melodic than Gorgon City’s nuevo house experiments, it’s ideal for summer dancing.

Crystal Leww: Becky Hill was a contestant on The Voice UK back in 2012, and her vocal coach was Jessie J. The thought of Becky Hill learning loads from Jessie J is absurd, as “Overdrive” is infinitely better than anything Jessie J has ever created. More likely, Becky Hill learned loads from her Rudimental vocalist pals, a group that includes MNEK (who co-wrote this track), Ella Eyre and Sinead Harnett, and learned to adapt her power vocals to fill the gaps that this beat left. Heldens’ vocal was already an instant classic, a dance floor staple for 2014 early on, but it’s Hill who makes “Overdrive” appropriate for all settings: the sound of summer obnoxiously throwing itself in your face, from the dance floors to the rooftop jaunts to the sidewalk struts to the highway driving.

Anthony Easton: Becky Hill’s singer-songwriter aesthetic on the UK Voice was anonymous enough that it could fit anywhere. Who knew that it would end up in the middle of a hyperboshy, bassed-up slice of Euro-disco? It’s a middle-ground good time, but that might be enough.

Katherine St Asaph: I’ve always been fascinated by the politics of guest vocalists: singer-songwriters with a succession of PR emails for increasingly synthy singles; ascendant session singers; The Voice contestants. The latter seems particularly ironic in retrospect — no one’s here for The Voice so much as The Thwack.

Will Adams: Was this mixed on laptop speakers? The sub bass overwhelms the entire mix, and while there’s plenty to like here, from Becky Hill’s syncopated lines to that infectious knocking synth, I’m not so sure I’d like to hear this on anything bigger than a car stereo.

Hazel Robinson: I keep thinking this is going to do the Swedish House Mafia thing and, while I vaguely resent it for working my psychology over so successfully, make me tear up halfway through some utterly cynical rave horn breakdown — but nope. It vaguely annoys me at the start, becomes blandly tolerable about a minute in, carries on without note. I’m confused about how it’s so far up the chart here, unless there’s a remix that puts about eighty thousand donks on it that I’m not aware of.

Megan Harrington: This is a great time to refresh your drink or get in line for the bathroom. “Gecko” promises to keep your feet moving, but if you’re not offended by the ultra generic EDM thump, it’s time to call a cab. 

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2 Responses to “Oliver Heldens x Becky Hill – Gecko (Overdrive)”

  1. Just heard this for the first time today and BLIMEY it doesn’t half hark back to ‘Ride On Time’ – the plastic piano and the vocal ‘waaargh’s especially.

  2. Balls I posted this on the wrong thread – meant for the Duke Dumont song! I wondered why no-one had mentioned it and Oh.