Music that will keep you awake at night.
After a string of poorly-charting singles and an album that truly polarized both the public and the inner circle of Scooter fanatics alike, the three Hamburg buddies had to really re-think their strategy as to how to proceed next. Jumpstyle has been out of the limelight for a while. Dubstep, fun though it is, just wasn't what the public expected or desired out of the legendary dance group, Scooter. Happy hardcore was a heavy hitter in a recent poll on what the next single should sound like, but that sound is outdated in today's music scene. It's almost tough being Scooter today because, as they say, "you can't please anyone -- so please yourself!" And then, on a random day, "4 A.M." was announced... to be released two days later, without warning, without a video, without an extensive amount of time for fans to complain. Even member Michael Simon was surprised, as noted on his Facebook posts, that the single came out so soon. It could have been related to frontman H.P. Baxxter's stint as a jury member on the German edition of "The X-Factor" and publicity and all that nonsense. In any case, Scooter fans were surprised and overjoyed by a new single out of nowhere. But that didn't stop them from being cynical once the final product was heard: progressive house is NOT Scooter, they wailed.
When I first heard 4 A.M., it didn't sound at ALL like anything Scooter had ever done in the past. It sounded modern yet very familiar. It sounded like... well, so many other dance hits on the charts. Taking cues from major players like Avicii and David Guetta, Scooter have gone from being trend-makers to trend-followers, officially now. The Radio Version gives us everything we need to know about the song. Some melodic quick "ay"-ing and "ah"-ing from some unknown children; this seems inspired by "Million Voices" by Otto Knows, a song that came out earlier in 2012, which sounds very similar in structure. Those chants belie a strong female vocalist who sings, "You light up another cigarette and I pour the wine... / It's four o'clock in the morning and it's starting to get light..." I like these vocals, to be honest. They're nothing fancy, that's for sure, but they get the job done. These lyrics come directly from "Promise Me" by Beverley Craven from all the way back in 1991. In comes the club-friendly beats and uplifting melody you can jump to, and you already know the most important parts of the song. Is it catchy and infectious? Most assuredly, even though the melody is so simple.
And in walks H.P.; normally front-and-centre in most Scooter singles, his nonsensical rapping just seems to be there this time. They're no longer essential at all. Instead, they just fill up time and are present because H.P. has to be in the song somewhere. He doesn't sound bad, but it definitely will be far from his most memorable performance. Plus, his use of the word "swag" in the song is almost nauseating. That's for Justin Bieber and other gangsta wannabes to use. That detracts from the song a bit because H.P. doesn't fit this style of song; he's better suited for Scooter's classic, more natural-sounding stadium techno songs. But they don't make those songs anymore, so what's an M.C. to do? Overall, I like the non-H.P. parts quite a lot, derivative though they are. As for the H.P. vocals? He could do better, but because they're really not the focus of the song, it still can be enjoyable. Hopefully, their next album ("Music For A Big Night Out", coming in November) features his full skillset of writing wild absurdist rhymes. We also get the Club Extended, which isn't a club mix at all, but more like an extended version of the radio edit with extra lead-in and fade-out beats. For DJs only, I imagine.
They may make a dent in the charts with their poppy-sounding new single, but Scooter won't win any merit points from their hardcore fans who are quite mixed about this single. There is hope that the next single and album will be full of surprises like the golden days of olde. As for 4 A.M., it's not their greatest single, but it still has a sweet hook that could keep you dancing until four in the morning. It's just too bad that 4 A.M. sounds like everything else out there. Maybe that will help with their popularity...