Saturday Flashback: CRO – Traum

“Be careful of falling electrical equipment”

Tim: Sent in anonymously and described as “fun and upbeat”, this here is from a German producer who blends rap and pop and calls it Raop, not sure why. It’s from 2014, is his biggest hit yet, and the title translates as Dream (he’s made an English version if you’d rather, but that takes away the fun a bit).

Tom: Full marks for putting (most of) the English lyrics on the German music video as optional subtitles. More like that, please.*

*Side note: it is completely outside what we normally cover here, but “Immigrants: We Get The Job Done” from the Hamilton mixtape is bloody excellent and does exactly the same: turn on the subtitles and all the Spanish lyrics are translated for you. Codeswitching while rhyming’s a heck of a skill.

Tim: Fun story there in the video – not quite sure what the moral of it is, though I’m fairly sure it’s one of either “don’t go on TV dating shows” or “be careful of falling electrical equipment”.

Tom: I mean, those are both good morals.

Tim: The lyrics come with a disappointingly standard narrative, in contrast – he doesn’t want to be alone, only has eyes for her, dreams about her, ready and waiting. Tad creepy, but there you go.

Tom: Can you still get away with a love song like that in the 2010s? Unless you’re Ed Sheeran, of course.

Tim: The sound is unusual but not unpleasant, and to be honest I’m quite happy with a track that provides that for a weekend. Thank you, reader, for sending that in.

Saturday Flashback: American Authors – Best Day Of My Life

“I think I got it when the bells chimed in.”

Tom: I was briefly hopeful this was a Modern Romance cover. It’s not, is it?

Tim: No, but THAT’s a song I’d like to thank you for introducing me to.

Tom: Introducing you to?! Mate, the Baha Men inexplicably covered this in Shrek. Black Lace covered it, unnecessarily. I am baffled that you’ve never heard this before. Anyway. Yes. Sorry. You had the actual flashback we’re doing.

Tim: Yes, and there’s a story to it: for some reason, everyone was a bit miserable today at work (Thursday, as I write this). I, on the other hand, was not, possibly because I heard this blasting out of Jamie’s Italian as I walked past on my way in.

Tom: That sounds a lot like a Fall Out Boy track (with a bit of this one in too). I was about to go off on a riff about that, but it turns out the two songs were released about a month apart, so it’s just two similar bands making similar decisions.

Tim: I’d say that’s fair, although you’re certainly not wrong about that first one, the vocal style’s incredibly similar. But the thing is, I was all set to write a sentence here about having to be in the right mood, because otherwise that twigging banjo might get you in precisely the wrong way, but otherwise it’s chirpy, and generally lovely.

Tom: It is, although I’m so used to this sound being all Angry And Emotional that it took me a while to adjust to that. I think I got it when the bells chimed in.

Tim: Right, and that’s all fine, but then I realised I’d never seen the video for it before, and wow does that take priority. We’ve had folks dressed as animals multiple times previously, but never had a metaphor from the lyrics put literally in the video, or at least not that I can remember. Here, it makes it thoroughly entertaining, and it’s a fantastic idea, because now every time I hear that line, I’ll think back to this video. I’ll remember exactly how much fun it is, and then how much I like the song. It’s genius.

Saturday Flashback: State of Drama – Fighter

“They’re good instrumental breaks.”

Tim: Tuesday’s track got me thinking about this lot, and wondering what they’d been up to since their 2014 Melodifestivalen performance. Sadly, the answer is not much, but I did find this from April 2015, with a peculiar sort-of-key-change-but-not-technically, and this, from October 2013.

Tim: I’m glad I found it, because I think that’s just marvellous.

Tom: There are some lovely parts in this: the 2000s-retro-eurodance synths mid-chorus, and the transition back into the verse were both excellent.

Tim: Weren’t they? It should be noted that the “fighter/fire” rhyming is both slightly iffy and tediously obvious at the same time, quite an achievement, and the chorus really could do with a few more lyrics, but otherwise this is just great. It doesn’t even feel too long, which as a four minute song means it’s doing something very well indeed in my book. I think it’s because a lot of that time is taken up with instrumental breaks – and they’re good instrumental breaks.

Tom: Yep, the bit before the middle eight is, I think, just half a chorus without the lyrics. When it’s this energetic, and this well written and produced, you can get away with it.

Tim: This is a Great Song, and it’d be even better if there was an extra lyric or two in the chorus.

Saturday Flashback: Jonas Lundqvist – Pengar på fickan

“I guess I’m unimpressed and ambivalent.”

Tim: This got sent in by our reader Gavi, who thinks that “the Tim will love it”, and I couldn’t possibly ignore that.

Tom: And the Tom, as always, will be generally unimpressed and ambivalent, as the Tom is with 99% of music.

Tim: The perfect man to write a music blog, then.

Tim: Hmm, although actually…well, I suppose it’s alright.

Tom: I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect to see young Wallace Shaun smoking in the back of a car as part of a modern music video, so there’s that. But apart from that? I guess I’m unimpressed and ambivalent.

Tim: It’s about a guy who has all the belongings he needs but no-one to share it with, and now I know that I’m trying my hardest not to feel slightly offended, however close to home that may cut.

Tom: I don’t know, that sounds pretty good. I means you don’t have to share your stuff.

Tim: Fair point, I guess. And it’s a decent enough track – energy, production, vocals, can’t really fault them – but love it? Not quite that far.

Tom: Also, I’m fairly sure he’s singing “I’m a duffer” repeatedly.

Saturday Flashback: The Wanted – Walks Like Rihanna (7th Heaven Remix)

“Can it be improved further?”

Tim: Now, you’ll remember on Monday I pointed out that there are very few songs that wouldn’t be improved by a 7th Heaven do-over. Well, Walks Like Rihanna is already a very very good song, so can it be improved further?

Tom: See, you’re wrong there, because Walks Like Rihanna is a terrible song.

Tim: What.

Tom: You’re right that the composition and production is great, but the lyrics are god-awful.

Tim: No, *some of* the lyrics are god-awful. I am happy to put those aside.

Tom: Fortunately, someone once sang the chorus to me as “she looks like a hammer”, so I’m just going to pretend those are the lyrics and agree: the production’s pretty good.

Tim: Okay, whatever works for you.

Tom: Like you said, can it be improved?

Tim: WELL OF COURSE IT CAN.

Tom: Yep, because I get to sing “looks like a hammer” even before those terrible first two lines.

Tim: Everything that’s good from the original, and oh then so much more – strip out the tedious ‘real’ and ‘authentic’ instruments, replace them with with outrageously poppers o’clock synth beats instead. Finally, for good measure, chuck in a BANGING post-chorus that everybody can utterly lose their nuts to.

Tom: Phrasing.

Tim: I didn’t know I wanted a dance remix of this, but boy, am I now glad that I’ve discovered it.

Saturday Flashback: Erasure – Take A Chance On Me

“There were several interesting choices here.”

Tom: Erasure: synthpop legends. Thirty-two top 40 hits. Four number 1 albums. And “A Little Respect”, which has joined the understated but incredibly lucrative pantheon of “songs most people know”.

But they also had a number one EP, with four Abba covers on it. It was enormously popular, which makes sense given how well Abba write songs, and how well Erasure produce them.

There were several interesting choices here.

Tim: Oh, blimey. That’s…not what I was expecting. Well, the music is, anyway, as it sounds exactly like I’d expect an Erasure cover of this song wou– WOAH that middle eight has hit just as I’m writing these words, and suddenly the video’s no longer the most interesting part of the song. Really quite something, isn’t it?

Tom: I am reliably informed – by Wikipedia – that the middle eight is a “ragga-style toast performed by MC Kinky” who is “the first white female reggae/dancehall MC”, and that there is a list of things that I am utterly unqualified to even speculate about. It is basically the early 90s in musical form, and yes, it’s really quite something.

Tim: It’s not something I’d choose to hear again, nor probably something Benny and that lot had in mind when they wrote it, mind, but still something.

Saturday Flashback: Nicole – Ein bißchen Frieden

“Does it do anything for you?”

Tim: We discussed Love Shine A Light a few weeks back, and I discovered that, with an average of 9.46 points per country, it’s the third most successful Eurovision song ever. (Well, ish – pre-1975’s tricky to work out, but we’ll leave that for now). First is Brotherhood of Man’s “Save Your Kisses For Me”, slightly understandably; second is this, utterly mystifyingly.

Tim: That song does absolutely nothing for me, and yet not only did it do remarkably, it went on to be number one in every country it was released in. That includes the UK – and no other Eurovision winner’s done that here since. I haven’t a clue why, so does it do anything for you?

Tom: It doesn’t do anything for me, but I’ll tell you why it’s successful: it sounds like a lot of other songs. There’s nothing surprising about this at all: but the chord progression, the melody, even the switching-into-the-harmony bits: they’re all familiar.

Tim: Maybe, but they’re a very dull familiar.

Tom: Except in 1982, I’m not sure they would be as familiar. Not to an audience that didn’t have any music they wanted, on tap, right now. Back when you had to buy actual singles, or wait for one song on the radio. It’s using every trick in the book on a public that probably wasn’t used to them. It sounds… nice.

Tim: I’ll leave you with something I can get behind: a cover of it performed at Eurovision 1996 by, of all people, Rednex. Yep, them off Cotton-Eyed Joe:

Saturday Flashback: Air Supply – Making Love Out Of Nothing At All

“I’m going to ask: who does it sound like?”

Tom: This has been going round my head lately, Tim, but I’m sending it to you for another reason. Rather than asking you to guess what it sounds like, I’m going to ask: who does it sound like?

Tom: Not in the voice, but in the style: the instruments, the melody, those backing singers. Any of it sound familiar?

Tim: My main thought would be Bonnie Tyler – the chorus line at 2:30 gets me right into Total Eclipse of the Heart, for starters – though to be honest it’d fit with with any number of power ballads from an ’80s club night – the piano in particular strikes a Meat Loaf line.

Tom: I was hoping you’d say that. Bonnie Tyler and Meat Loaf are exactly right, because this was written by the legendary Jim Steinman, best known for “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and Meat Loaf’s “Bat out of Hell” album, among a lot of other things. (In fact, Total Eclipse kept this song from the US Number 1 spot.)

Tim: Well then that would make sense. And that’s a hell of a CV – I see he also turned up on Take That’s Never Forget and Boyzone’s No Matter What.

Tom: No Matter What: lyrics by Steinman, music by Lloyd Webber. Seriously.

Tim: Wait, what? How – how on Earth did I not know that?

Tom: I despise that song, incidentally, but what I love about the Air Supply track is that, despite it not being a song that gets as much recognition as Total Eclipse or any Meat Loaf track, it’s still clearly the same formula, and it’s still a really, really good song.

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.

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.