Kygo feat. Parson James – Stole The Show

Tim: You wait for the drop, and you wait some more, and then…

Tim: Not really what you were expecting, was it?

Tom: Good heavens, no. But it’s absolutely brilliant.

Tim: Most would go for a big drumbeat, Avicii would put some hefty country stuff down, but the Norwegian Kygo here seems rather keen on the old woodwind, and to be honest that’s a novelty I have no problems with at all.

Tom: It really does work well: I’m not sure I’d dance to it, but it’s a track that I can see on a lot of driving and working playlists. The word that comes to mind, for some reason, is “smooth”, and I think it’s down to the vocals.

Tim: Right – the verses, which would typically have us going OH JUST PLEASE GET ON WITH IT, I really like as they are, because Parson here sings with a rather lovely voice, which, combined with the pleasant enough backing underneath stops it being too boring. All in all: nice track, pleasingly surprising.

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The Fooo Conspiracy – Doo-Wop

Tim: We haven’t covered these guys in a while – not, in fact, since they added the Conspiracy to their name. Still, they’ve not gone away at all, and here’s their latest.

Tim: I rather like that, albeit with a caveat or two. The main thing is that I wasn’t really sold on it much until the last minute or so of that video – it was enough to keep me listening, but not much more.

Tom: Oddly, I like the sound of the verses — and that pre-chorus — much more than the actual chorus. That’s rare. The chorus is a bit too “schoolyard chant” for me.

Tim: But then, when the video changed to have several panes and everybody started jumping around with each other, and the music kicked up a notch, it suddenly became a whole lot more fun because it was clear what the song was about.

Tom: Did it?

Tim: Yes, it was there in the lyrics, which on hearing a second time becomes obvious, right from the start with “we go wild”, but that never really came across in the music. Basically, put a great big donk on it and it’ll be great. As it is – hmm.

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Saturday Reject: Nikki Kavanagh – Memories (In Melody)

Tim: Probably due to the abandoning of the old mentor system, Ireland had a surprisingly high number (well, three out of five) of actually good songs in their contest this year.

Tom: And no Jedward.

Tim: No, we seem to be well past them now. One of the three was chosen to represent them, one we’ll discuss later on, and one was this from Nikki, who in fact came a very close second to Jedward in 2011.

Tom: Oh. Oh dear.

Tim: The feedback from the judging panel here was that her voice was rather strained and couldn’t quite hit the notes, which to be honest I thought was a little unfair at the time; then I listen to it again and realised that actually there are a couple of moments in there that sound a bit off, so maybe it wasn’t so unfair.

Tom: Yep, I was going to point that out: at least she’s singing live, but if you can’t hit them on RTE, you’re sure as heck not going to hit them on the Eurovision stage. I’m not sure I can really give the song a fair hearing with this version.

Tim: As for the rest of it, though: it’s great, and I still don’t think it deserved to be knocked down to fourth place by that.

Tom: Possibly not, if we were getting the studio version.

Tim: Properly emotional, big and enthusiastic, get involved with it, be shouting along by the closing chorus, proper band and co-written by her for those that like to talk about proper authentic music – what’s not to like?

Tom: The performance, sadly — and that stands out in the middle eight, which is gorgeous in both writing and performance. Let’s not forget, Jemini’s “Cry Baby”, while it was never going to win, didn’t really deserve bottom of the table either.

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Lucy Spraggan – Unsinkable

Tom: I don’t know about you, but my reaction was “Oh! She’s still going!”

Tim: And mine was “Who? Oh, her who smacked down James Arthur that time.”

Tom: And that’s not bad at all, is it? It’s a little strange to hear someone singing with a natural, Midlands accent, but it fits the tone well.

Tim: Yeah – the vocal is like Lily Allen but more so. Her whole shtick getting to the X Factor finals was singing her own songs with the focus very much on the lyrics, though, so it’s more a case of “saying with a tune” to make sure they come out clearly.

Tom: Mind you, the tone in question is Radio 2 middle-of-the-road, but it’s a good example of that. And she’s one of the rare TV talent show alumni where each single has charted higher than the last, so, who knows? If that trend continues, she’s due for a top 10 with this — but I reckon it might be a bit too dark for that.

Tim: Well, kind of a trend – only in the sense that all of her previous tracks were released before or immediately after her stint on X Factor – the only more recent one was 18 months ago as a re-release of on older song to promote her album. Still, there’s always hope.

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Sanni – 2080-luvulla

Tim: Here’s a Finnish ballad for your ears, all in Finnish with a title that’s something like “In the 2080’s”.

Tim: I say ‘something like’ – every time we feature a Finnish song I seem to complain about Google not liking it (I think it must be all the dots), and this is no different, with the chorus featuring the lines “Sun flannel willingness to lend” and “I have a nasty gas”.

Tom: Finnish doesn’t have common roots with English; machine-translating it isn’t easy.

Tim: I’m therefore going to make an educated guess, based on the lyrics that it can interpret and the general tone that it’s about being a bit miserable with everything now (starts off on about Netflix binging, also mentions trying to change) but being hopeful that seventy years from now she’ll be happy. Not a hugely cheering message, as most people around right now will be dead by then, and she’ll be pushing 90, but ANYWAY, enough chirpy guesswork with the lyrics, because MUSIC, which is lovely with her vocals, all charming and melancholic and emotional and shivery and feelsy.

Tom: Top quality music reviewing just there.

Tim: Oh, thank you very much.

Tom: There’s a well-produced and deep instrumental behind those vocals, though: it’s not quite Coldplay, but it’s not doing badly if that’s what it’s aspiring towards.

Tim: Although, weird thing and speaking of her vocals: I was listening to my Best of 2011 playlist earlier and there are parts of this that I want to suddenly flow into Playmate to Jesus; finally, in other 2011/Finnish lyrics news, this here from Jenni Vartiainen is still a triumph, so why not check that out?

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Nassim Al Fakir – Hopp

Tim: So if we’re going to do our bit to persuade everybody to like Britain’s Eurovision track, we should probably spread around some of the electroswing claptrap.

Tom: I quite like that electroswing claptrap, if I’m honest.

Tim: This here comes with a fair dose of it, so have a listen. It’s quite something.

Tom: This really isn’t electroswing, Tim.

Tim: Alright, slight dose.

Tom: Just sampling a little bit of a string section really isn’t what it’s about — it’s more like “what if the 1920s had modern audio engineering”. This is just someone shouting “give me hope” over and over again.

Tim: True, I suppose. And with that shouting, this is sort of track I might often dismiss an a total racket, especially with the first of those two breakdowns (though it’s redeemed immediately afterwards by the opening notes of the theme to The One Show).

Tom: Do you still have that looped as your ringtone, by the way?

Tim: Oh, absolutely – and you’d be surprised how long forty seconds seems when it’s just a five second trumpet loop with a woman yelling OOONE over it. And speaking of short loops, despite that chorus just being one line, I somehow find it really, really good – fists pounding in the air good. And while that’s exactly what it’s designed to do – the simplicity is evidence of that – let’s face it, it does it really, really well.

Tom: Agreed. This is pretty full-on, and it works at that level.

Tim: And yeah, there’s that slight swingy sampling bit in there as well, so GO YOU who are Britain’s Eurovision entry and whose name I have forgotten. There was an Alex in there, I think?

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Moa Morfeldt – You and I

Tim: You know, I’ve always felt that a line like “when you call” can always be improved with a sound effect of a ringing phone on top of it, and it seems that this new Swedish singer thinks the same.

Tom: Well, that’s a bit unintentionally… Casio electric keyboard, isn’t it? “First release ever” from that record label, which explains some of it.

Tim: Also fun: the video. Why do something ridiculous, inventive or beautiful when you can do something that is basically partly you singing and partly an exact visual representation of the lyrics?

Tom: I’ve seen worse: it’s almost, but not quite, on a professional level. The depth-of-field works, the colour grading’s been done properly: but then there’s things like the odd angle in the tiny recording booth, the lens flares, and so on; it’s, again, a first release and it shows.

Tim: Snarkiness aside (don’t know why I’d suggest that, mind), this is a fairly standard and alright pop song – ignore the video, ditch the sound effect, and I might enjoy listening to it, because that chorus really is quite good. Five out of ten, could try harder.

Tom: And hopefully they will.

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One Direction – Night Changes

Tim: Oh Zayn.

Tim: A good article, worth a read, but first let’s all hear this again.

Tom: Good heavens, I hadn’t seen that video before. That’s an astonishing video for two reasons. First, the choice to make it first person, which must have set hearts a-flutter. But secondly: I’ve never seen a video so explicitly mark out the hierarchy of a band before. The board games and that jumper make it clear: if Niall had left, there wouldn’t be quite so many concerns about whether the band will make it to 2016.

Tim: You could be right – and that’s one of the reasons why on Friday afternoon, when the news finally hit me, I may or may not have had a listen to the acoustic version of this, tears silently rolling down my face, wondering whether things would ever truly be the same again.

Tom: Sorry, what?

Tim: Erm, yes, I’ll leave it to you to work out which elements of that sentence are true, but there’s no denying this is a pretty good track.

Tom: Right. Yes, and it’s a surprisingly “grown-up” track as well: there’s not much talk about “getting older” in songs aimed at teenagers.

Tim: It’s not the best boyband ballad – that title clearly goes to My Love – but there aren’t a huge many that better it, certainly not that acoustic version. You’ll be missed, Zayn, and not just because no-one else will be able to hit those high notes.

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Saturday Reject: World of Girls – Summer Without You

Tom: “World of Girls”?

Tim: Yes, but then with hundreds of would-be Eurovision contestants a year globally, there are bound to be some turkeys (quite literally, in one case).

Anyway, I’ve said a good few times that I don’t approve of ukuleles, so I didn’t have high hopes when this Danish entry kicked off. But then…

Tim: Because actually, sometimes there are occasions when one is appropriate, and one of those occasions is as an intro to a summery, upbeat, fairly dancey and very happy sounding pop track.

Tom: Yes, I’ll give it that — although the singing’s not exactly Girls Aloud-quality, and I’m not sure the melody’s up to all that much either.

Tim: The lyrics don’t exactly match up – these singers should surely be moping around rather than cheerily singing about how they’re the only ones not enjoying themselves – but the tune is joyful, chirpy and sparky enough for that not to matter for me.

Tom: “Drunken selfies”. Ugh — that’s going to sound like Beyoncé’s “got me hoping you’ll page me right now” in about two years. Not that anyone’ll remember this song in two years, most likely.

Tim: It put me in mind of the various times when it’s been the middle of summer, warm and sunny, and I’ve got together with a load of friends, headed to the beach, built a fire and sat there all night getting progressively more intoxicated.

Tom: Now has that actually happened? Or was it just in a load of music videos?

Tim: No, ACTUALLY, I do have friends, and it has happened at least twice, so there.

That may not have been the case for most of Denmark, mind, what with it landing in 6th place, but I’ll take it, if only for a reminder that ukuleles aren’t all evil.

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Brandon Flowers – Can’t Deny My Love

Tim: You can run, you can hide, but you can’t es— wait, no that’s wrong. Erm, right, this. First track off his second solo album (the rest of The Killers are also looking elsewhere a bit), and he’s got a rather lovely Orlando Bloom look to him.

Tim: And I’d say that’s somewhere along the lines of top notch, really.

Tom: Although apparently the VHS tracking went a bit wrong at the very start.

Tim: Yes, although fortunately that didn’t seem to affect the sound, which is distinctive enough from the band’s output that no-one’d get them confused, but still with his recognisable enough vocal to keep any fans onboard. As for people that just like Mr Brightside and When You Were Young? Hmmm, might be disappointed, but I reckon there’ll be enough new folks enjoying this to cancel out that miserable lot.

Tom: But to be fair, the people who just like the Big Killers Tracks are disappointed by almost anything the band puts out.

Tim: Fair point. It’s really almost a natural continuation of the journey begun with Shot At The Night, though instead of M83 we’ve got production by Ariel Rechtshaid, who’s also worked with Haim and Charli XCX, so that’s nice enough.

Tom: It’s a brave choice to put orchestra hits on a track in 2015: it says something about the production that they can actually pull it off.

Tim: As far as I’m concerned, this is a very good track indeed, and that chorus that comes out of the middle eight is a proper triumph, so well done to everyone there.

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    Tim Jeffries was born in the UK a good few years ago now, and regularly dreams of a Busted reunion.

    Along with good music, things he appreciates include the use of correct grammar, well-made banana daiquiris and shampoo for men that smells nice (which he still hasn't found). His favourite colour is what Dulux call 25YY 49/757, and his favourite member of the Felidae family is the snow leopard.

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    Tom Scott is a techie with extremely questionable taste in music. In his spare time, he has too many plans and a worrying tendency to make them happen.

    His greatest achievement was getting five gold runs on Blockbusters, which he still harps on about to this day.

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