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.

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.

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.

Samir & Viktor – Kung

“Exactly what we’d expect from them.”

Tim: Viktor off these two had a solo song out recently; it was a bit rubbish to be honest, all gentle guitary and ballady and basically bollocks. HOWEVER, they’re back as a duo, sounding GREAT, and also a bit offensive: an English/Swedish f-bomb right from the get go, and a couple of Swedish ones in each chorus. And some spelt out in the video. Basically, if you’re a prude, come back tomorrow.

Tom: Okay, let’s got one thing out of the way: that’s a really irritating introduction, with what sounds like a tin-whistle and a rewind. But the mood’s pretty clear.

Tim: Indeed – PARTY PARTY PARTY because that track has got me enthused enough to clap my hands above my head, not a frequent occurrence. As with most of their songs. as long as the vocals have been tweaked for a studio recording it sounds really good. Well, good enough for what they want it to be, anyway.

Tom: I’m not sure any of the individual parts match together: the verse, pre-chorus, chorus and middle eight all sound like they’ve been brought in from different songs.

Tim: Hmm – there’s certainly different styles between them, you’re right. But regardless, it’s exactly what we’d expect from them – enthusiastic, getting everybody involved (particularly with De Vet Du joining them in the video for no apparent reason) and a fair amount of people getting their kit off.

Tom: I know very little about De Vet Du, but between Road Trip and this I seem to have taken an instinctive liking to them. They know they’re being ridiculous, whereas Samir and Viktor just seem to be trying a bit too hard.

Tim: When it gets results like this, though, I don’t mind extra effort. I’m very glad they’re back together and PLEASE don’t take a break again.

Serlina – Puste Under Vann

“Hey, it’s an Alan Walker track!”

Tim: Hey, it’s an Alan Walker track!

Tom: It took me a while to realise why you said it, but yes, that’s an Alan Walker track.

Tim: And with it, I’ve realised exactly what tiny single component it is that makes me associate a track with him – yes, you’ve got the slightly disconcerting dipping of the synths for every other drumbeat, but more specifically than that: it’s that synthy beep noise instead of the expected piano in the post-chorus.

Tom: It’s worth noting that the second line of synths, though, under that main melody, are more like something you’d find in an early-2000s eurodance track. That’s pleasingly retro, as far as I’m concerned.

Tim: During the verses and vocal part of the chorus, where you’ve got your standard piano, it’s a good, pleasingly non-tropical piece of dance music, and you’re right, almost retro. It’s a standard sound, but it’s a good variant of a standard sound.

Tom: Yep, it’s by-the-numbers, but they’re good numbers Brent.

Tim: Excellent meme appropriation there, good work.

Tom: And now I feel like I’ve done a bad thing.

Tim: Oh, and now I feel bad as well, I’m sorry.

Tom: Anyway, yes, most of it’s standard.

Tim: Hit the second part of the chorus, though, bring that beep in, and suddenly there it is. I don’t mean this in a bad way at all, as it’s a sound that I like, and unlike Kygo’s tropical sound hasn’t yet been appropriated by what feels like 80% of all pop music that has ever existed. It’s a good track, and for now I enjoy it. Just, you might want to check in with me three years from now.

Helena Paparizou – Haide

“Let’s embrace the Mediterranean, shall we?”

Tim: You’ll remember that Helena’s half Swedish and half Greek; there’s an English version if you want it (and the title means Come On), but let’s embrace the Mediterranean, shall we?

Tom: There’s a slogan for a dodgy tapas restaurant, right there.

Tim: Now that intro was incredibly promising, which makes it quite sad that the first verse marks a sudden drop right down, and almost disappointing. Chorus, though, we’re up and getting our Shakira on, and then for the rest of the song it barely lets up.

Tom: And I’d swear there’s a bit of Bollywood influence in there too, from subtle instrumental hints, to the percussion and synth patterns, to some of the song structure.

Tim: That extended instrumental in the middle is unusual, defenestrating the standard pop structure entirely, and if I’m totally honest I think it ever so slightly harms the song – musically it’s great, but it did leave me wondering “hang on, what’s going on”.

Tom: Yep: there’s several things that could count as ‘pre-chorus’ or ‘middle eight’, depending on how you categorise them, but I think you’re right a bit… different. Not bad, just different.

Tim: On the other hand, only music nerds will care, and I don’t really care unless I’m properly paying attention to it, so who cares? It’s great.

Brenda Veila – Trouble

“The endless spelling.”

Tim: So here’s Brenda, born in Moscow, living in Cyprus, but apparently keen to show us that she knows English spelling.

Tim: Now, I didn’t have huge expectations when I saw the Russia/Cyprus headline in the e-mail, and I’ll accept now that was based on unfair prejudices, because this is a really good song.

Tom: It’s… well, it’s not a bad song. What stands out for you, other than the endless spelling?

Tim: Yes, the T-R-O-U-B-L-E gets a bit repetitive towards the end, and I can’t hear it without comparing it to another spelling song, with which it just can’t compete, but otherwise it’s top notch. Strong theme with the lyrics, decent melody, no problem with the vocal: it’s almost all good. Like it.

Tom: It’s a bit too repetitive and a bit too long for me — even at three minutes — but there’s nothing particularly objectionable about it either. It’ll do.

Frida Sundemo – It’s OK

“I can see how this is a good track.”

Tim: Much as with Darin last week, Frida is responsible for one of my favourite tracks we’ve ever featured here, by which I mean Snow, still wonderful four and a bit years on. Can this beat it?

Tim: No, of course it can’t, BUT it is still flipping good.

Tom: It is good. I can see how this is a good track. I don’t think I like it, though.

Tim: Oh. Well, we’ll come back to that, but first I’ll pass on that it’s apparently about “making peace with the weak and vulnerable you”, and “feeling like the loneliest person in the world and accepting that life sometimes feels like your enemy and not your friend”, and “feeling more alive than ever, about late nights and early mornings, and the longing for embracing every second of life”, all because “that’s how life is, high and low, and it’s OK”. And you know what? Aside from early mornings, I’m good with all of that, particularly if it’s presented in this fashion.

Tom: Sometimes, Tim, I think it’s a pity that music is subjective; because I can appreciate all the effort, the perfect production, the brilliant vocals.

Tim: Right? It’s lovely – strings, vocal, gentle drumbeat, I can’t fault this.

Tom: I… I just don’t like it. I’m a bit bored by it. And there’s nothing I can do to help that.

Tim: Oh, that’s a shame. I don’t know if it’ll particularly cheer people up who are feeling down and awful, but it certainly hits that level and speaks that message. So for doing what it’s trying to do, it’s excellent.

Darin – Ja Må Du Leva

“Guitar strummy”

Tom: He’s still going!

Tim: Oh, very much so. He’s had a rocky journey, as far as we’re concerned – his song Lovekiller was brilliant, still one of my favourite tracks ever, and in fact the inspiration for this site; since then he’s had a few good tracks, but also a few dull albeit pleasant Ed Sheeran-style ballads. This one? Well.

Tim: It’s halfway between the two really, isn’t it? Guitar strummy in the verses, and yes I suppose in the choruses as well, but blimey if it doesn’t pick it up a bit in those.

Tom: It fails the “don’t bore us, get to the chorus” test, by boring me half way through the first verse — but after that, everything’s pretty much great. Cheery, friendly, and a beautiful pre-chorus. I’ll even forgive the Olly Murs-esque hat.

Tim: The title, repeated many times each chorus, for a total of twenty occurrences, translates to “Yes, you must live!” (with the lyric adding a ‘today’ on the end), and oh, that songs conveys that nicely, as does the video. I hear it, and I am happy, I am energised, I am excited. And that’ll do me nicely on a grey Thursday, I think.