Greta Salóme – My Blues

“Somehow I just can’t pay attention to the lyrics.”

Tim: Greta’s first since Eurovision last year, where she didn’t do as well as she’d probably have liked, but never mind that now because here’s this.

Tom: Good job getting a “feat.” in the title just for the music video, there, Hafþór. Still, as cameos go, it’s a good one. Not a bad trick, either.

Tim: Quite a bit going on there, isn’t there? Enough for me to be a big fan of it, anyway – can’t beat a bit of brass, a hell of an infectious yo-oooh-ooh hook, very strong vocal, a middle eight that say “pay attention please” and a whole lot off showing off in the video.

Tom: It’s strange: she’s singing in perfect English, but somehow I just can’t pay attention to the lyrics. I think it’s how it’s mixed: as you say, there’s quite a bit going on, and I think it makes the whole thing a little muddy. That doesn’t necessarily make it a bad track — it’s just that I can’t remember any words, just a tune.

I can remember that yo-oooh-ooh bit, though.

Tim: The only gripe I have is the note progression at 2:28, which is straight out of Little Talk and so makes me want to listen to that instead, but if the only problem with a track is that part of it sounds like a really good song, I don’t think they’ve gone far wrong. Good stuff all round.

RuPaul – American

“How long before it gets annoying?”

Tim: RuPaul, best known latterly for his show RuPaul’s Drag Race, but still with one hell of a recording career which I was previously unaware of, and I bring this to you with one question: how long before it gets annoying?

Tom: About two seconds, although admittedly that’s because you primed me with “how long”, so I immediately figured out just how often I’d be hearing that hook.

Tim: See, that’s what I thought I’d think, once I realised “ah, yes, this is going to be around a lot.”

Tom: Without that? I’d dislike it on the first verse, but wouldn’t find it annoying until the first chorus.

Tim: Hmm, roughly what I figured. But here’s the thing: I never actually got there. Despite being that one single hook, very short, and repeated many many times, I never found it annoying. Its a fairly short song admittedly, but the sheer number of times that’s repeated ought to be enough to put me off it almost immediately. And yet, somehow: it doesn’t.

Tom: Why on Earth not? It sounds like a parody song — someone trying to pull the stereotypical stadium-country “yeah! America!” into another genre.

Actually, that might be what’s going on here, in which case fair play but I still don’t like it.

Tim: My enjoyment might partly be because it reminds me a lot of this 2012 track, or at least the vocal style does, and I still love that; I think it’s also because it’s just a good hook, though, with a good track hanging off it.

Joakim Lundell feat. Arrhult – All I Need

“I did not expect that track to be any good.”

Tim: According to Wikipedia, Joakim also goes by the name Jockiboi and is a fairly prolific YouTuber; he’s branching out a bit, so here’s a dance track.

Tom: Based on your paragraph there, Tim, I did not expect this track to be any good. But… it is.

Tim: Isn’t it? For me, that hits quite a lot of the necessary buttons. Nice vocals, good melody, and even the twiddles and twirls, beeps and boops in the chorus sound good.

Tom: Right! Sure, it’s got the modern EDM overcompression problem, but those staccato synth pads mean it almost fits. Every part’s audible.

Tim: In fact, I’ve only really got one problem with it, which it that it finishes too early. Two verse/chorus pairings for a decent tune is just not right, so sort it out.

Saturday Reject: De Vet Du – Road Trip

“Made me smile from ear to ear.”

Tim: So, you know how last year we had Samir & Victor, and the year before that we had Samir & Victor? Well this year they’re not around.

Tom: That’s a shame, I was actually looking forward to Jedwärd.

Tim: Nicely done. Let me tempt you with an alternative.

Tim: As best I can tell, this lot are vaguely along the lines of Sweden’s answer to The Lonely Island, or possibly Ylvis (them off What The Fox Say), and I had no idea what to think the first time this came around.

Tom: The thing is: both the Lonely Island and Ylvis make really good tracks. You can’t have a successful comedy band without being able to do that. And, to my surprise: De Vet Du have managed it. This is really well done.

Tim: They are Christopher, Tor, Johan and DJ Hunk – you can probably guess which at least one of those is – and they’ve been doing comedy songs and videos for a few years now, culminating in this, possibly the first key change-equipped EDM track I’ve ever heard.

Tom: I did not expect to like this, but the sheer enthusiasm of the SNL headbobbing during the instrumental bit made me smile from ear to ear. I understand almost nothing of the lyrics, but they’ve got enough jokes — and enough competent production — that I still like it.

Tim: It got through to Andra Chansen, and it’s silly and fun and to be honest I’ve come to quite like it after seeing it a few times. Admittedly I’d never want to listen to it, and if I came across it outside of this context I’d bin it straight off. As it is, though, with one of them standing around all muscly and another eating a banana, and with all the expressions of delight on their faces as they sit in the car: I’ll take this.

Stargate – Waterfall feat. Pink, Sia

“…oh. Really disappointing.”

Tom: Yep, you’re reading that right. Stargate finally decided to get their own credit instead of just producing other people’s songs, so this must be a banger. And they’ve got two of the greatest contemporary female vocalists to perform on it. This is going to be…

Tom: …oh. Really disappointing.

Tim: Isn’t it just? So much potential, and yet I get so little from it.

Tom: I mean, the video’s amazing, freefall dance is something that hasn’t had much exposure, and it’s shot beautifully. But what’s with everything else?

“I’m in your waterfall”. Yes. We get it. We got it by about thirty seconds in, with that bizarre choice to half-sing, half-mutter the last line of the endlessly repetitive chorus, as if no-one could be bothered with it. Stargate featured these incredible singers, and this is what they ask them to perform?

Tim: It’s little short of bizarre, really – not least that Sia and Pink got behind the microphones and thought “yep, I want to sing this”. It’s not terrible, it’s just really, really not using what’s there.

Tom: And as for all the guff behind the vocals: well, can I suggest that Stargate are much better at production than they are at picking songs to release?

Tim: Yes, yes you can. And you should.

Hanna Turi – Richochet

Tim: Hanna’s off Sweden, and we’ve not featured her before; it’s good that I came across this via SoundCloud and not YouTube.

Tim: Because, damn that takes a long time to get going (if in fact it ever does, which is debatable), and it was only the promise from waveform that kept me from switching off in boredom after ten seconds.

Tom: And given all the loudness-war hyper-compression that’s going on lately, that’s an unusual waveform to see.

Tim: I’m glad I stuck with it, because it’s nice – really nice – when the choruses come along, in a Röyksopp-y kind of way, but I really do wish there was more happening outside them.

Tom: Given the overall sound of the track, I’m happy with that; it’s not trying to be something that it’s not. Instead it’s calm, it’s chilled-out, and it’s got some lovely melodies in there. I’ll take this.

Take That – Giants

“Well that’s not a sound I expected.”

Tom: It’s taken me a few days to send this to you, Tim, because for several days I just… well, I saw it, but never clicked on the link. Because it’s a new Take That song. There are only three of them now. Surely it’s just the last dregs now, hanging on?

Tim: Well that’s not a sound I expected.

Tom: Let’s get this out of the way first: Howard Donald looks increasingly like Brian from Spaced.

Tim: There, I will not disagree with you.

Tom: As for the music, though: that’s a promising introduction, rapidly killed by the first verse. It’s like they got M83 in just for one particular sample, and then decided to just chuck some lacklustre lyrics over the top of it.

Tim: I wouldn’t go with just that one part – you mention M83, and in fact the whole thing seems to be kind of like Shot At The Night, as far as in comparison to the normal output.

Tom: Which seems to be the pattern here: there’s a heck of a lot of good stuff, along with some questionable counterpoints that seem to kill the mood.

Tim: I don’t know, I’d say it’s just about kept afloat, and I think it works. I’ll take this.

Tom: It’s no “Shine”, but then it’s rare that anything is.

Laura Voutilainen – Mä En Kestä

“It’s all a bit of a mash of genres, isn’t it?”

Tim: Remember Stereo Love?

Tom: As ever, no.

Tim: Yes, you do. No-one can ever truly forget Stereo Love.

Tom: [listens] I remember one very specific part of Stereo Love.

Tim: Good, because so does Laura, and she wants to bring it back.

Tom: Oh, hey, it’s an accordion sample! That’s not at all tired by now.

Tim: Cynicism aside, though, I actually really like this. Yes, there’s the style rip-off (though after eight years I suppose we could be getting into homage territory), but there’s also that chorus, which really took me by surprise when it first came along, sounding like it does as though it’s been shipped in from another genre.

Tom: For just a bit of it, yes: and I’d like to say a few words in favour of that pre-chorus, too, which almost makes up for the exhausted-sounding middle eight. It’s all a bit of a mash of genres, isn’t it?

Tim: It is, and I just wasn’t expecting it – as I saw it, we’d have the accordion providing the whole chorus, and so to hear that wonderfully schlageresque sound come in was an utter delight, and brought a massive smile to my face. I’m not sure it entirely works – like I said, it’s from a completely different genre – but I’ll take it while it’s there.

The Sound of Arrows – Beautiful Life

“This is so much of what I wanted.”

Tim: It has been SIX YEARS in the making, but we now have new music from the triumph of a band that is The Sound of Arrows.

Tim: Now I don’t know if this is just because I’m so happy that a new track has come along, but oh this is so, well, beautiful.

Tom: And here I am just wanting to sing “Dancing Queen” over the chorus.

Tim: Those strings! The swooshing around in the background! The piano intro that exists in the full length version that’s on your streaming services! The gentle vocal! The fabulous simple message of the whole thing!

Tom: Yes, I thought you might be enthusiastic. It’s… it’s a bit Lighthouse Family, though, isn’t it?

Tim: Oh, please, no. I’m fairly sure I am definitely getting slightly overexcited here, but it’s been such a long wait, and this is so much of what I wanted.

Tom: I’ll admit I love string sections, and yes – there’s nothing particularly wrong with it. It’s not something I’d get excited about, but then, The Sound of Arrows never really were for me. For the fans, though?

Tim: Fingers very much crossed for an album, or at least another track that’s less than six years away.

Saturday Reject: Bella & Filippa – Crucified

“Competing against an old man with a mouth organ.”

Tim: Back to the unembeddable heats now, and Tom, since you’ve never watched a Melodifestivalen heat, let me tell you how the results work: start with seven, and after the first round of voting, two get knocked out, and voting then recommences. After that, one finalist is announced, then the two going though Andra Chansen, and lastly the second finalist, with the remaining one thus being in fifth place. Often, that last result is obvious, and I figured that was true more than ever in heat 3, because this was competing against an old man with a mouth organ.

Tom: Heh. Mouth organ.

Tim: Yes, very good. Here’s the link: Bella & Filippa – Crucified

Tim: Now, much like Etzia and her roller skates, I’m not arguing this should have been a winner, or even necessarily gone straight to the final – it was a very, very strong heat.

Tom: And this, while it’s not a bad song, is only a so-so Eurovision entrant. It’s uncomfortably close to Texas Lightning.

Tim: Except, the only dodgy song – the weakest, weirdest, most novelty song – came in the top two. And this came in fifth. It’s MADNESS.

Tom: Never underestimate the power of the novelty vote, Tim.

Tim: True, but straight to the final? Damn, that’s not right.