Saturday Flashback: Nathalie Source – L’Envie de Vivre

“Guys. It’s time for some musical theory.”

Tim: Since we’re apparently just discussing songs for key change reasons, as with Eternal last week, I’ll put this on the table. Now, it’s well known by people who pay attention that key changes are really quite a no go in Eurovision, and have been for quite some time.

Tom: It’s still joyful when it happens, but yes: it’s like 128bpm.

Tim: That didn’t stop Belgium in 2000, though, who decided to play with the format. Guys, it’s time for some musical theory. You see, your standard key change: a semitone. Brings some life in, doesn’t sound too ridiculous. If you want to push the boat out, Linda Bengtzing-style, you might double that and go with a full tone. Sounds ludicrous, but guaranteed to bring an enormous smile/yell of disgust.

Belgium went with six semitones.

Tom: Good grief, that is very 2000, isn’t it? All it needs is a record scratch sound effect.

Tim: Yes. And what with that and it sounding like two completely different songs pushed together: it came dead last.

Bjørnskov – Videre I Mig

“A very, very decent farewell.”

Tim: Bear in mind when you press play that the melody for this was apparently written “about fifteen years ago”; Nelly and Kelly Clarkson had a massive smash hit with Dilemma just under fifteen years ago.

Tom: Heh. Nelly and Kelly. That’s the one where she texted him in a spreadsheet on a Nokia Communicator. So, yeah, fifteen years ago.

Tim: I am therefore willing to give it the benefit of the doubt, and accept that it’s a coincidence. A massive, massive coincidence.

Tim: According to him, he only recently came up with the lyrics that would fit it, apparently about his mum who died a while back, and it’s taken him ages to perfect it to be a decent farewell and that sort of stuff, and actually it really is a very, very decent farewell.

Tom: Blimey, that’s an emotional backstory for a song. I am prepared to agree that it’s a coincidence, though, because there are only so many ways to pleasingly arrange notes.

Tim: It took a while to convince me – to be honest the only reason I didn’t get bored of it before the chorus was that I was looking up Dilemma’s release date.

When that chorus hit, though, it was more than enough to get me to keep listening, because blimey it’s strong. The voice doubles down on the passion, the strings come in and it all seems worth it.

Tom: It’s difficult for me to dislike a song about someone’s deceased mother, but I’M GOING TO DO IT ANYW… no, just kidding, this is actually a really good track.

Tim: I’m not sure about the distorted vocals in the middle eight, mind – they stick out a mile in this otherwise traditional ballad – but overall I like this a lot. It’s good.

Kygo & Ellie Goulding – First Time

“Hi, Ellie, I’ve always wanted to work with you…”

Tom: Kygo continues his tour of female pop vocalists – and this time, one with a distinctive voice.

Tom: Somehow, Ellie Goulding singing “ten dollars was a fat stack” in her English accent sounds very wrong. I mean, none of those lyrics are great, but I feel like they gave the wrong track to the wrong singer there.

Tim: Yeah, that stuck out for me as well – almost as if someone else was lined up, they dropped out, and then Kygo went “Hi, Ellie, I’ve always wanted to work with you…”

Tom: I guess this is Kygo doing a more chilled-out sound — there are still his trademarks, like that jingle-bell-like sound that marks the start of the second verse, and a middle eight using resampled vocals from elsewhere in the song. But other than those, this sounds… well, a bit generic, really. I guess chillout dance just isn’t for me.

Tim: The first time I heard this last week I didn’t think much of it; hearing it now, though, I like it quite a bit more. It’s not a classic, and it sure as hell isn’t an It Ain’t Me (that song just keeps growing on me, even now), but it’s a good track. I’ll take it.

Miley Cyrus – Malibu

“It’s no Wrecking Ball. Hell, it’s not even The Climb.”

Tim: We’ve all done it – been through parts of our lives that we now regret, become different people, want to move on.

Tom: And don’t I know it.

Tim: Sadly for Miley, she reckons she’ll never be able to move on from Wrecking Ball, which she apparently now hates because of the video – “I will always be the naked girl on the wrecking ball”. Shame, but there we go. Here’s her new one.

Tim: Now, I get why she might not like the video for Wrecking Ball, but no-one can deny it’s a stunner of a song.

Tom: Yep. The video may have driven its popularity, but it’s still a belter. And, heck, it’s not as if this new video isn’t at least “a bit racy”.

Tim: This, on the other hand, is…nice, and there’s not a lot else to be said for it. It’s good, it’s cheery, it’s lovey dovey, but it’s no Wrecking Ball. Hell, it’s not even The Climb. From a new artist I’d probably say “yeah, I’ll take more of this, let’s wait for her second”; with Miley, there’s more a sense of disappointment, and that makes me sad.

Tom: Agreed. I actually skipped forward to see if it actually went anywhere — and it sort of does, but it’s very much an Album Track, isn’t it? That “dream come true / Malibu” rhyme is disastrous.

Tim: Apparently this is where we are now. BOOO.

Mondelia – Boys B Boys

“Straight from the soundtrack of a Disney Channel Original Movie”

Tim: Zara Larsson’s got massive, so Scandinavian pop’s got a big “solo teenage girl” vacancy; Mondelia’s coming along from Norway hoping to fill it. Advance warning: it’s very solo teenage girl.

Tim: In fact, it’s so solo teenage girl it could come straight from the soundtrack of a Disney Channel Original Movie, partway through act 2 where our protagonist’s just found out the hot guy she’s kind of seeing is also getting it on with the head of the cheerleaders because he “didn’t think we were being exclusive”.

Tom: That is overly specific, but yes. You know what this sounds like? B*Witched, if one of them decided to go solo. Complete with irritatingly spoken chorus.

Tim: Huh – I’d not thought of that comparison, but you’re not wrong.

Tom: It is, of course, incredibly well produced and catchy — but it’s also targeted at one demographic only. The thing about B*Witched was that everyone could sing along with the chorus of the One Big Song; here, not so much.

Tim: Yeah. I think, if it was in a Disney Channel movie, or some such, and I was in the mood to watch it, it’s perfect. For anything else: oof, there’s way too much sugar for me.

PSY – I Luv It

“Starts out like Hairspray, immediately moves in a wildly different direction.”

Tom: PSY’s got a new album. As usual, he’s released two singles at the same time. And while K-pop isn’t usually what we cover, I want to talk about the second one, same as last time. Why?…

Tom: …because, seriously, that’s a BANGER.

Tim: Hmm – starts out like Hairspray, immediately moves in a wildly different direction.

Tom: I’d ignore those translated lyrics in favour of two things: one, just how good that chorus is, and second, that cinematography.

Tim: Good? Really? But okay, let’s talk about the filming.

Tom: I have never seen an effect like that: for a while, I thought it was hyperactive CG, but no: at the end of this making-of video you can just see it’s an actual crane doing ridiculously fast and controlled camera moves (although sped up in post). That is such a brilliant effect, and I expect to see it ripped off by everyone for the rest of the year. I’d rip it off if I had a budget and a possible use for it.

Tim: See, you say brilliant, but I’d say disorientating and a bit unpleasant. It leaves me feeling more queasy than impressed. Please don’t rip it off.

Saturday Flashback: Eternal – I Wanna Be The Only One

“One reason, and one reason only.”

Tom: A video uploaded to YouTube more than ten years ago, Tim.

Tim: And a song that yesterday celebrated its 20th birthday. Any reason it’s here?

Tom: I know the song, of course. Everyone knows the song. But I heard it the other day, perhaps for the first time in about ten years, and I’d forgot about one thing. I link you to think song for one reason, and one reason only:

Tom: Three. Key. Changes.

Tim: I do love it when a song pushes the boat out. That last one – oof, that’s pushing it a bit, though.

Tom: Pushing it into awesome.

Cheat Codes feat. Demi Lovato – No Promises

Tom: The big questions here: who are Cheat Codes, and how on earth did they get Demi Lovato? I don’t actually care, I’m just asking a rhetorical question to provide an introduction to this post.

Tim: Never let it be said we’re not brutally honest.

Tim: Yeah, that is quite prevalent, certainly. Any other views?

Tom: …sorry, that’s all I can hear, really.

Tim: Fair enough. Not a bad song, though.

Thomas Anders – Sternenregen

“Exactly what I wanted to hear from a Thomas Anders single.”

Tim: Shall we see what’s going on in Germany? Yes, we shall, and amongst other things there’s this.

Tom: Wait, I recognise that name. Thomas Anders, a little bit of research has just reminded me, was one half of astonishingly-popular-but-only-in-Germany duo Modern Talking. They were bloody amazing.

Listen to this, seriously, listen (and also, watch that incredible mid-80s video). Oh, wait, was that too 80s for you? That’s fine, after they split up and got back together, they made an EVEN BETTER nineties remix.

Tim: Oh. Oh, that is good.

Tom: They eventually split up again in 2003, which… wow, turns out that’s fourteen years ago. Damn. Anyway, even if this is only one half of the group, I’m still looking forward to this.

Tim: Excellent. And by the way, if you’re wondering why the fan-made slideshow is all spacey, it’s (probably) because the title means ‘Starfall’.

Tom: YESSSSSS. It’s like Modern Talking became a bit more, well, modern. And schlagery. Yes.

Tim: Starts off bringing back memories of Bad Romance, quickly finds its own comfortable zone, and then doesn’t really let up; I’m fine with that.

Tom: Is this great or innovative music? No, of course not. It is, however, exactly what I wanted to hear from a Thomas Anders single.

Tim: I mean there’s a reason it hasn’t broken out of Germany, even if you ignore the lyrics, but damn, I do love this stuff. I can’t find the lyrics anywhere online, annoyingly, so I can’t confirm that’s it’s basically German Wordsworth, but I’m sure they’re as deep and meaningful and they sound. A work of art, truly.

FO&O – So So Good

“I’m glad it’s not a full length track.”

Tim: After several years, several name changes and one line-up change, this lot have finally got an album; here’s the track to go with it, and unlike the journey so far there’s no messing about waiting.

Tom: Blimey, there’s not, is there? Full marks for that – I’m surprising, in this era of pop music, that more pop songs don’t do that.

Tim: No waiting for the chorus, and barely any waiting until the end of the song, what with it being just a couple of minutes.

Tom: Yep. They’ve basically just cropped it down, and while I think that’s for the best — songs should last as long as they need to — two minutes is putting this into “radio jingle” territory rather than “song”.

Tim: Unusual structure, binning off the first verse and the middle eight, and that works for me. It’s good, I think, that it is short, because it does get repetitive, and after a couple of listens the annoying bit does get really annoying – specifically, that pause in the chorus.

Tom: Oh thank you, it’s not just me.

Tim: No. It could work okay, but only if they didn’t completely break up ‘intoxicated’ – even if they’d just held the vocal it might have passed muster, but the total disconnection just sounds odd. So it’s an alright track, but I think I’m glad it’s not a full length track.