NOTD, a Swedish electronic duo made up of Tobias Danielsson and Samuel Brandt, have made a career of giving rising artists a platform to shine on their behalf. Songs like “I Wanna Know” with Bea Miller, “I Miss Myself” with Hrvy, and “about you” with Nightly have been foolproof experiments to place these artists in front of an audience they may not have reached otherwise, usually with burgeoning results.
The songs are by-the-numbers electro-pop made up of heartfelt lyrics, universally accessible melodies, and standard yet effective drops coming together as instant fodder for the party playlist. Their remixes of popular songs including “Wild Thoughts” by DJ Khaled and “Beautiful People” by Ed Sheeran offer ethereal changes to these mega-hits without taking away from the integrity of the track, furthering their skillset.
They’ve been on a tear this year, collaborating with Maia Wright on “AM:PM,” Lou Elliotte on “Honest,” and now Emei on “Hold On Me.” Emei, a Chinese-American singer-songwriter based in LA, is quickly establishing herself as a force in the pop world, and her execution on this track is a solid reason why.
“I thought I left you in London five years ago we were done and I locked you in my subconscious,” she sings on the first line, her straight, airy tone perfectly produced by the boys and perfectly suited for this type of song. Once the drop hits, she nails the inflections needed for the moment… just enough, never too much of anything. There’s also a confidence… an ease to her delivery as if she walked in the room, laid down her vocal, and dared the boys to let anyone else demo it. Her solo music, such as “Scatterbrain” and “Better People To Leave On Read,” see her hit early Kesha-style valley girl talk-singing and more pop-punk leaning vocals, among other styles, making her an easy candidate for a song with a blank canvas.
The song details a relationship that ran its course, but one that still lives in her head: “I tried not to care / But nothin’ has changed / ‘Cause you still got a hold on me.” She tries to move forward, but knows she can’t help herself even at the mere mention of her old flame: “Had you in a past tense / One look and I’m back in / Now we’re talking like it’s back then and I don’t know why it ended.” Though NOTD’s production and influence consistently add an element of hope to the story being portrayed, the song offers no resolution of Emei feeling like her ex’s emotional grip has loosened on her.