Hurts – Wings

Tim: New one up from the very excellent Surrender album; music kicks off fifty seconds in if you don’t want any faff.

Tom: Oh my.

Tim: Well, indeed. Query: do people do campaigns for artists to do James Bond songs? I know we’ve only just had the last one, but assuming Hurts are still on in a few years’ time can we get them doing it please? Because this music is just so, so powerful, and when you think of the possibilities that are just so much more than the wanky tripe that Sam Smith brought out, it saddens me that their only cinematic exposure was in a German film from 2013.

Tom: You know, I think it’s the percussion that makes this stands out. Yes, those piano chords in the middle eight are just beautiful; yes, the vocals are excellent as ever. But there’s something done really well in the production here: something that makes that really simple bass-and-clap pattern into the bedrock of everything that’s in here.

Tim: Lyrically, that chorus just conjures up some beautiful images, even if it isn’t particularly subtle and doesn’t really match up with the video in any way at all, and it just one that after hearing a couple of times I just want to sing out very, very loudly. Musically, well, like I’ve said, it’s about the power. It’s exactly as strong as what we’ve come to expect from Hurts – perhaps even more so – and I’m just so, so happy they went back to the sound of their first album for this one. It’s just glorious, all over.

Tom: Especially that final chorus.

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Sandi Thom – Earthquake

Tom: My perceptions of this were already coloured by the context I found it in — so, without knowing about it, Tim, what do you think?

Tim: I will rate that as precisely “standard”. Easy to listen to, probably not something I’d choose to put on.

Tom: See, I think “that’s okay but a bit dated”. It’s got a great chorus, but then any momentum from it gets completely spoiled by the weird transition back to the verse.

Tim: A valid observation.

Tom: And that lyric video is… well, is “done on the cheap” a bit too harsh?

Tim: Absolutely not, as it does look pretty awful. The actual video, though, is a pretty neat idea, with tilting and dragging and stuff – it’s just a shame they didn’t do anything massively inventive with it.

Tom: Right, so here’s the context, and that article is well worth reading in its entirety, because it’s a brilliant primer on radio playlisting, fame, and how radio stations — I quote — “rarely touch an artist in the grip of an acute terminal decline”. Ouch.

Tim: Yeah, it doesn’t make for pretty reading, and I’ll admit, I had heard of the whole Facebook breakdown before hearing it, though wasn’t aware of all the details. Might she have a point? Eh…well, I can imagine Radio 2 playing it, but like that article points out, there are only thirty tracks on the list out of however many hundred are around at the moment, and just because you’ve had a hit previously, you’re not entitled to automatic inclusion.

Tom: Could this be a great track with a bit more production? Sure. If — to pick a name almost at random — Leona Lewis sang this, would it seem about right? Yep. But I think she’s just guaranteed that she won’t be getting much other than sympathy streaming any time soon.

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Saturday Flashback: Busted – Hurra Hurra Die Schule Brennt

Tim: BUSTED ARE PROPERLY BACK!!! So let’s take a trip back, shall we, with this track, whose translates to “Hooray, Hooray, The School Is Burning”?

Tom: I… haven’t heard of this one? Mind you, I don’t think I’ve heard of most of Busted’s tracks.

Tim: Well, to be honest, I’d be astounded if you had heard of it. An explanation, then: this is one of the few covers they ever released, originally a 1981 track by German punk band Extrabreit. Busted got hold of it, translated it pretty accurately, and then, for reasons lost in the midsts of time, released it in Germany, Austria and Switzerland instead of You Said No, which the rest of the world got. It didn’t stay there, of course – fans elsewhere got wind of it and duly loved it, and it was then stuck as a B-side to Crashed The Wedding. (Whether or not German speakers got You Said No as their B-side is also unknown.)

Tom: This is actually pretty damn good. I wasn’t expecting that. As their sort-of-pop-punk goes, it’s a really strong track.

Tim: I think the look on the janitor’s face at the end says everything that needs to be said about this track, and his immediate inspiration to Busted-jump around with his broom. God, I’ve missed it. HURRA HURRA SIE SIND ZURÜCK!

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Fleur East – Sax

Tim: She might not have been the winner of X Factor last year, but given that she is basically responsible for Uptown Funk existing in the UK, history may well be on her side.

Tom: Before we go any further: who’s that unimpressed bald man at 0:33? A security guard? A spurned non-sax player? We may never know.

Tim: HAHAHA, and suddenly that’s the most entertaining part of the whole thing.

But for all the rest of it, we have Fleur cementing her position alongside JLS, Olly Murs and One Direction as an X Factor non-winner who is going to succeed. This is a woman who knows without a shadow of a doubt that the stage is hers, the song is hers and the future is hers for the taking.

Tom: Agreed: you want to talk about the “X Factor”? It’s right there. That big, held note in the middle eight is brilliant.

Tim: Name checking herself in the lyrics, the look on her face after she’s been thrown in the air and the enormous amount of vigour that’s thrown into the dancing in the final section – it’s all confidence, and it’s all warranted.

Tom: Apart from the fact that the track is terrible.

Tim: Oh, please. Seriously? It’s a great track (aside from the fact that it’s called Sax but it’s the trumpets that get all the glory, and admittedly I have no idea why a relationship might depend upon saxophone skills) and a great performance.

Tom: The trumpets is one of the things that irks me, sure, but the basic concept and the style would be considered a bit dated ten years ago. Five years ago, Mr Saxobeat just about got away with it. But really? “You’ve got to play that sax”? I’ll grant you the “run it back” line is catchy, but it just seems a bit… weird.

Tim: Lyrics, fine, but you surely not comparing this to Mr Saxobeat? That was a summer dance track, a gimmicky loop repeated, a novelty track. Whereas this, well, you do remember Uptown Funk, right? And how it was absolutely everywhere? This takes a whole load of inspiration from that, sticks some great up to date female vocals on top (that pre-chorus is bang on) and all adds up to one hell of an introductory track.

How much more do you need to kickstart a career?

Tom: Ask me again later when the chart comes out. If this beats Ben Haenow, I’ll be disappointed.

Tim: Time of writing, iTunes has Fleur at 2 and Ben at 18. I wouldn’t get your hopes up.

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St. Lucia – Dancing On Glass

Tim: New St. Lucia track for you, the lead from their second album, and rather enjoyable listening, as I see it.

Tim: And there we go. Nice intro to the band in the video in case we’ve forgotten who they are, kicking off the otherwise somewhat incomprehensible video.

Tom: I can’t tell if this is an actual attempt at Art, or someone parodying Art. Maybe that’s the point.

Tim: I’d say that even with actual Art, there should be some element of sense, so I’d go with the latter, and hope I’m right. Following the names, though, a rather immediate reminder of the band’s somewhat excellent style.

Tom: And that’s a reminder I needed, because apparently we’ve covered one of their tracks twice before, and I couldn’t remember them even after that.

Tim: Ah, well, at least it’s there, then. We have heavy beats with a light electro tinge, loud yet entirely enjoyable vocal – more or less, everything I want from a St. Lucia track. The melody’s great, the instrumentation used to deliver it is great.

Tom: “Great” is a strong word. It’s good, it’s competent — it’s just not standing out for me. That main synth line, with its almost duck-quack sound, just started to grate — and while it’s not a bad chorus, it’s not all that memorable.

Tim: See, I disagree: for me, it’s all, well, great.

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Kylie Minogue feat. James Corden – Only You

Tim: Tom! Would you like to hear a doesn’t-actually-mention-Christmas-so-I’m-not-breaking-any-rules track from Kylie’s upcoming Christmas album, FEATURING JAMES CORDEN?

Tom: Um… I don’t know. I guess?

Tim: Good, because you’re going to.

Tim: And…huh. Turns out the host of The Late Late Show and star of Lesbian Vampire Killers has a surprisingly good voice.

Tom: Didn’t you know? He’s had leading man roles before.

Tim: Huh, I did not know that. The generally accepted story behind this seems to be that it was going to be a jokey bonus track stuck on the end, but it turned out so well that it suddenly became the actual lead single. And, on hearing it, I’ve got to say: why not? Because that’s a perfectly decent cover. True, we probably don’t need another version of it, but on hearing it I was genuinely pleasantly surprised.

Tom: And it’s the right time of year, with Corden providing a boost to the right audience. At only three minutes, it’s not even too long for a song like this.

Tim: Full album’s out on Friday, and while it doesn’t feature any other comedians, it does feature her first collaboration with sister Dannii since 2008, so WOW to that, and here’s to Christmas six weeks early!

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Taylor Swift – Wildest Dreams

Tim: Fifth(!) single from 1989 but it still got top 5 in America a couple of months back, and now it’s getting a push over here – latest from Tay-Tay (a better nickname than Jeppo?).

Tim: And BOOM, DECONSTRUCTION, for all the snarky arseholes who were about to say “no, she never went within 200 miles of a lion there”, so nicely played Taylor. In other news; nice track, and a whole lot more pleasant to listen to than Bad Blood was.

Tom: Having listened to 1989 a few times, I started out by writing “and she’s starting to get to the weak tracks”. But on reflection…

Tim: Well indeed – the main question is: is it clear that it’s a fifth single? Was it released just to get more cash or because it’s a great track? I’m guessing: bit of both. It’s pleasant and enjoyable to listen to, and it certainly keeps people coming back for more.

Tom: And, heck, if you’re still touring, and you can still get airplay: well, why not? It doesn’t feel overstretched, which is a sign of just how good an album 1989 is.

Tim: It does, though, serve as a reminder that the whole 1989 campaign started almost two years ago now, even if the album itself is only a year old, so it kind of gets me thinking: NEW STUFF I WANT MORE. And that’s never a bad thing for people to say of an artist. Unless you’re Rihanna, in which case it’s getting really rather tired by now.

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Boyce Avenue – Be Somebody

Tim: Despite being the second most-viewed band in the world on YouTube (Maroon 5, if you’re wondering), these three brothers have has surprisingly little chart success, by which I basically mean none.

Tom: Be careful with that statistic: that just means they’re getting a good number of views on a lot of cover songs. I mean, a lot of cover songs.

Tim: Fair point. Well, have a listen anyway.

Tim: And that is a band that really, really knows how to make a good track. From right back as early as the first verse, you’ve got notable backing vocals, then a big chorus, suitably rousing for the slight desperation in the lyrics.

Tom: The production’s not bad, I’ll grant you that, but is the song any good? Because after two listens, I can’t really remember any of it.

Tim: Hmm – it might help if there was a decent amount of extra stuff in there for the final chorus, as that could offer room for slight improvement, but that aside there’s really not much more I can ask for here.

Tom: I think it’s more “not my style”, so I’ll withhold judgment on the song itself: if it works for you, I can’t disagree with that.

Tim: They don’t seem to be ramping up the marketing hype any time soon, which is a bit of a shame because they clearly have potential, and seemingly the fan base to make success happen. Oh, well.

Tom: There’s a lot of money and fame to be made in the path they’ve chosen, if they keep at it: chart success is great, but ultimately Top 40 is only one genre. Don’t forget: Muse, one of the biggest bands in the world, have never gotten above #4 in the charts, and they’ve never needed to.

Tim: Very good point. Guess we’ll see how it plays out.

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Saturday Flashback: Infernal – From Paris To Berlin

Tim: Everybody knows the song; not everybody knows the video. And everybody should know the video.

Tim: Because…oh, so many reasons. So many great reasons, if only because it turns the rather dull lyrics into an actual narrative, chasing around nightclubs trying to find this one guy, and so what if he turns out to be a hologram and ends up merging with you? You can still get back on your Tron bikes and zoom off.

Tom: I think it’s what’s technically called a “homage”.

Tim: Particular highlights for me include actually including the channel tunnel, the random billboard advertising EUROPEMAN and them adding over 980 miles to their journey by randomly stopping off in Bordeaux. To be honest, I haven’t seen a music video this ridiculously entertaining in quite a while (suggestions on a postcard, please), so LOVELY.

Tom: I don’t have a postcard, but if you want the same level of ridiculous bluescreen effects only with more than a decade’s earlier technology: Eiffel 65 don’t disappoint.

Tim: Oh, they certainly don’t. Good work, sir.

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Carly Rae Jepsen – Your Type

Tim: New one off Jeppo —

Tom: That’s a terrible nickname, she’s not a Marx brother.

Tim: Duly noted — and it’s the third of the excellent and undervalued E•MO•TION album, and it’s a wonderfully melancholic banger.

Tom: I used to know a girl like… never mind.

Tim: Ain’t it brilliant?

Tom: It is! You know that sound that all the 1980s-retro one-man production teams are going for? This is how you pull it off when you have a massive budget and many, many crew.

Tim: We’ve got the eternally reliable pairing of Carl Falk and Rami Yacoub for the writing and production, and it really, really shows. I’m not sure what’s going on with the video – the narrator would appear to be on glue, because I’ve not a clue how this could remotely relate to Cinderella – but it’s got enough neon lighting in it that I can entirely live with it.

In any case, when the song’s this good it doesn’t matter what’s going on in the video, because I love it.

The sublime blend of melancholy in the lyrics but the upbeat tones of the song works so well, so it’s perfect for every mood, and basically I’ve played it five times on loop now, and it’s just coming to an end, and yet I’m about to push play all over again.

Tom: It’s an unrequited love song: there’s plenty of them around, but they’re rarely pulled off this well.


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    Tim Jeffries was born in the UK a good few years ago now, and was overjoyed by the news 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.

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