Zara Larsson – Rooftop

Tom: Our regular correspondent, CB, sends this in with the note that it’s got “somewhat cringeworthy lyrics”. CB’s not wrong.

Tim: Oh, SO WRONG – those lyrics are perfect.

Tom: She rhymed “crazy” with “crazy”. Fairly sure these lyrics were actually written by a ten-year-old.

Tim: EXACTLY. Glad we brought this up, because remember Carry You Home? Lyrics included “I’ve been through the days when bright love turns into hate” and “You lose the way and you hit the wall, I’ll be the one to carry you home”, and I’ve got to say, as I meant to say then: bullshit. THOSE are the cringeworthy lyrics, because she’s 16. SIXTEEN. She has not been through those days, and she is not remotely in a position to carry someone emotionally when they’ve been through shit. She is ENTIRELY in a position, though, to dream up a perfect future life based on getting off with one guy at a party.

Tom: I should really dislike this song — not just for the lyrics, for the fact it outstays its welcome, and that it basically epitomises my regular complaints about ‘monotony’. But I can’t, and it’s because of the production. The synth lines in the background are brilliant, the melody works well, and it manages — and this is a hell of a compliment — to sound almost like it’s off Beyoncé’s new album.

Tim: Hmm. I’d say a Jessie J album, and it would sit in the same position in my iTunes library – just about made its way there off a Now compilation, and probably skipped over whenever it came up.

Tom: Apart from those lyrics. If they’d used a different lyricist, this could have been a brilliant track. As it is: well, I’ll hope for an instrumental.

Tim: And I’d take an a capella version. Shall we split it?

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Saturday Flashback: Krassimir Avramov – Illusion

Tim: Last week, Bulgaria announced they wouldn’t be taking part in next year’s Eurovision Song Contest. That’s sort of a shame.

Tim: I say ‘sort of’, I’m not really sure.

Tom: Crikey. Did they decide to just freestyle it? Could they not agree on a key?

Tim: I think there’s a song in there somewhere, but I can’t be entirely sure. It certainly not what I, or most likely anyone else, ended up focusing on. We have fire in the background, we have capes, we have countertenor singing, we have ludicrous floor decoration, and we have dancers on stilts swinging each other around in what appears to be a direct attempt to fly off into the crowd. This is, basically, the epitome of this ‘Eurovision WTF-ery’ that people occasionally mention.

Tom: Only without a decent tune attached to it.

Tim: There is of course an official video, which features a medieval battlefield, two women kissing, a child clutching a doll with its head caved in, a pair of dwarves, the grim reaper and some softcore porn for good measure.

So yeah, we may well not see this ever again. Not sure I’m complaining.

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Diandra – Onni On

Tim: You may or may not remember Diandra’s previous occurrence on these pages, Paha Poika, involving some really not very nice lyrics.

Tom: I also remember ‘Out Of My Head‘, which is still one of the best tunes we reviewed that year.

Tim: You’re not wrong there. ‘Onni on’, in contrast to Paha Poika, translates to ‘Happiness Is’, and that’s got to be a good indicator, right?

Tim: RIGHT. Great indeed. As ever with Finnish, it seems, Google Translate’s not the best, but the main thrust is that happiness is so unpredictable that it can come from anywhere.

Tom: I didn’t predict that key change, that’s for sure.

Tim: I would agree with this, and put forth examples such as hands-swaying-in-the-air choruses, big drumbeats on pretty much every single second and fourth beat and, of course, unexpected key changes, which in this case seems nothing short of divine.

Tom: It’s about as schlagery as modern pop gets these days, and I mean that as a compliment. That outro is gorgeous, too.

Tim: With the exception of the slightly not great introduction (which is such a minor niggle it’s barely worth mentioning), I cannot think of an immediate way to improve this song. It’s wonderful, and a perfect example of its own message.

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Gabriel Alares – Dårarna

Tim: FOOLS, we all are, according to Gabriel, Eurovision songwriter and Swedish Idol-contestant, now branching out into singing.

Tim: BOOM, that’s a cracking start, and it’s a little disappointing it drops down straight after the intro, but I won’t complain too much because while it would be nice for some change, that is basically standard fare for verses.

Tom: And somehow, that Swedish sounds filthy.

Tim: Still, the choruses are very nice with their mesh of traditional pop/rock instruments and synths, combined with an enthusiastic vocal line and a shouty oh-oh-oh-etc line – all combining to give actually one of the best choruses I’ve heard in a while.

Tom: The vocals, for some reason, sound a bit 80s to me: perhaps they’re resonating with a memory of a particular song. Top marks for that middle eight, though.

Tim: The closing section I also like, because while the choruses are good, it’s that production in the background that really shines, so it’s nice that that’s been alllowed to take centre stage. All in all, good track.

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Take That – These Days

Tom: And then there were three.

Tom: So Decent Solo Career and Comedy Surname have left, which leaves Tax Dodger and The Other Two.

Tim: Which is a perfectly good band name in its own right – don’t know why they’re sticking with this.

Tom: And the result is surprisingly good, I reckon.

I found myself nodding along to this: it’s a surprising cross between original 90s Take That and modern production, and it sounds really rather good. There’s enough similar styles in there that it’s still absolutely recognisable as a Take That song.

Tim: It is that, and yeah, it’s decent enough – nothing amazingly special, admittedly, but it’s good enough to be an album lead track, even after some time away. Get people back in the mood for it.

Tom: The trouble is… once it had finished, I couldn’t remember it at all.

Tim: Really? Because I’ve got the “gonna live for” fairly stuck in my head.

Tom: There’s no massive singalong hook in there: just a ‘these days’ that, out of the context of the song, actually sounds a bit downbeat and melancholy. Go on, try singing it on your own, a capella. It’s like Eeyore decided to do a vocal line.

Tim: Maybe, although that then seems plain suicidal if they’re what you’re living for.

Tom: And once I noticed that, the whole song fell apart for me. I still love that intro — it’s the best bit of the song — but the rest of it just seems to have something missing. Two things missing, perhaps.

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Oh Land – Head Up High

Tim: To Denmark, for some electropop!

Tim: And happy electropop, and to be honest I don’t have much to say about it because really I just want to listen to it – that chorus, repetitive as it may be, is very chirpy indeed.

Tom: It took a while to get going, but yes. Oddly, I found that offbeat middle-eight to be the best part of the whole thing, but I still enjoyed it.

Tim: Is she singing “higher”? Well, yes, but also “HIYA!” in a nice fun greeting, with a “come join in with me having fun” sense to it.

Tom: Or in the stereotypical sense of delivering a vicious karate chop to someone’s neck.

Tim: Which could also be fun, I suppose. And I want to have fun with someone who’s all about keeping their head held high, whatever may happen, because that’s the best way to live life. And it really is, like this is somewhat the best way to make music: happy electropop. LOVE IT.

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Avicii – The Days

Tom: Without looking up anything about this song, or looking at the comments, can you tell me: who’s singing this?

Tim: And that is…Robbie Williams?

Tom: And he’s not even credited! I mean, officially he is, but not on the YouTube video or in most of the track listings. I wonder what financial arrangement made that possible?

Tim: I’m guessing something like ALL OF THE MONIES.

Tom: Indeed, this is such a lovely Robbie 90s jangly-pop song during the first parts, that I sort of forgot this was Avicii. There’s a heck of a difference between that first verse and the final, instrumental outro.

Tim: I think there’s that, and also that Avicii has in recent tracks been getting gradually less Aviicii-like, cutting back of the heavy dance beats.

Tom: But you know what? It still works. He’s still got it. And I still expect this to reach the charts.

Tim: It does work, and I hope you’re right. Also, I think one of my favourite lyric videos: creative, fun, no typos, everything it needs.

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Saturday Flashback: Herreys – Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley

Tim: I got listening to my Melodifestivalen Best Of album again earlier.

Tom: Of course you have a Melodifestivalen Best Of album.

Tim: Of course I do – it’s brilliant. This is the winner from 1984, and I challenge you to listen to it without wanting to click your fingers in the chorus.

Tom: Oh heavens, that’s astonishingly 80s right there. Matching white trousers.

Tim: SPOILER if you’ve got Eurovision 1984 on Sky+ and haven’t got round to watching it yet: this came first, as you can probably judge from the crowd’s reaction there, and why wouldn’t it? These guys are up there singing about the glories of being laughed at for their choice of shoes.

Tom: Ha! Somehow that elevates the song from ‘kitsch’ to ‘brilliance’ in my head, but I’ve no idea why.

Tim: Well good, because it should. Of course, since the vast majority of Europe didn’t know that, the lesson we can take is that the best tactic for victory is jumble a few singable syllables that don’t make sense to anyone and trust that they’re catchy enough to be remembered. And here: oh yes.

Tom: Plus a key change. Always a key change.

Tim: Always. This is catchy, nonsensical, and entirely JOYOUS, because that comes across even if the details don’t. LOVELY LOVELY TRACK.

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Cheryl – Only Human

Tim: Two singles have so far been unveiled from Cheryl (just Cheryl)’s new album, and neither of them is particular inspiring – decent enough pop tracks, but nothing special. This, though, is the one you get now if you pre-order (still hate that) the album, and is a bit more special. And less sweary.

Tom: Maybe I’m just bad with faces, but that image really doesn’t look like her. Amazing what an angle and some make-up will do.

Tim: And having part of your face replaced with a tiger.

Tim: I really, really like this – the music behind the chorus is great, the ending of it especially, and the song just works so well with the contrast between that and the almost a cappella first verse.

Tom: Right, I see what you mean – I’m not quite as sold on that chorus, but I’ll agree that it’s well put together.

Tim: Then there’s the lyrics, matching the various tones perfectly – downbeat lyrics for quiet verses, powerful “you are the universe” lyrics for the big choruses, and the reminder that even if it does seem a bit crap, it happens to everyone, with the unspoken implication that yeah, it gets better.

Tom: I want to like this song a lot more than I do: all the components should work, but for some reason it doesn’t work as a full-on song for me.

Tim: Also in the first half of the chorus she sounds like Mel C, and that brings back nice memories. All in all, a really rather brilliant track.

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McBusted – Air Guitar

Tom: Astonishingly, this is their debut single.

Tim: YES.

Tom: Firstly and most importantly: it is annoying me SO MUCH that the Rock Band-esque plectrums aren’t matching up to the actual notes.

Tim: YES to that, and also to “the lie they TIHINK I’M LIVING get’s me high”. It’s weird – so much effort has clearly gone into that, which almost makes me think they’re trying to annoy people.

Tom: “Definitely Busted lyrics, not McFly lyrics,” says Matt, our Radio Insider. He’s right, as well.

Tim: Oh, see I DISAGREE most vehemently. It struck me as I was listening to it that the best Busted songs were all telling silly stories: getting off with an air hostess, or a great-great-great-granddaughter, or Miss McKenzie, or just being superheroes. Though I suppose it’s closer to that than the standard romantic lyrics that McFly go in for either, so maybe.

Tom: The trouble is, if this is the lead single, I’m a bit worried about the rest of the album.

Tim: Yeah?

Tom: The track feels a bit cold and clinical to me, like there’s something missing. There’s not much of the old spark there, until the middle eight.

Then it finally kicks in — after that, it’s recognisably their sound, and the final chorus sells it, complete with the “silence the guitars and do two beats a capella in tight harmony” bit that always works so well. But the rest of it just doesn’t seem to match the standard that they’ve had in the past.

Tim: No – there’s the sense of fun that’s not so much there. I’m not sure I’d describe it as clinical, but you’re right there’s something missing. Listen to the second verse – “I know I’ll never make it but tonight I’m good enough to fake it.” Lyrics are fine, but they’re not smiling when they’re singing, and I WANT THEM TO BE. However, despite that, I have no real problems with this musically, and the chorus is great, and singalongable, and shouty, and great.

Tom: And what’s with that ending? You’re ripping off Rock Band in the video, you’re doing your big first debut single as a group — where’s the Big Rock Outro? Hammer the guitars, go crazy on the drums, do a big final blast instead of ending it coldly.

Tim: Hmm – it’s enough for me, but I certainly get where you’re coming from.

Tom: Don’t get me wrong, I reckon it’s an okay album track, maybe even a third or fourth single — but the lead? It’s not quite there.

Tim: I’d say B-, and it hasn’t stopped me being excited about the album.

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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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