Susanne Sundfør – Delirious

Tim: “I wanted to write a cinematic song about love and power,” says Susanne of this track. Interested?

Tom: Interested, but skeptical. “Cinematic” is difficult to pull off.

Tim: I think, though I can’t be certain, that the ‘cinematic’ tag must be the reason for the opening noise that’s straight from the surround sound demo at the beginning of every cinema showing, because it sounds very odd and I can’t think of any other reason for it.

Tom: Mm. It’s less “A Day In The Life” and more “Presented in Dolby Surround”, isn’t it?

Tim: Though saying that, the slight weirdness continues throughout the song, really. It’s enjoyable, I’m fairly sure, but the lyrics are mysterious, with referrals to a strangest thing, loving the pain, gun holding, suffering and victims, but there’s never actually any indication of what any of that means.

Tom: Again: it’s “cinematic”. Perhaps they were going for a Bond movie opening?

Tim: Wouldn’t be far off – the music is probably best described as eerie, and to be honest, if it was a film, I’d be leaving in two minds. Somewhat disappointed, having no idea what it was all about, but also a bit satisfied, knowing that I’d seen something quite interesting that did at least hold my attention for the lengthy amount of time.

Tom: It reminded me somewhat of a low-budget version of M83’s gorgeous soundtrack for Oblivion: it doesn’t achieve quite that height, but I can see what it’s going for.

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Years and Years – King

Tim: Speaking of pointless BBC brands, as we were earlier this week, this lot won this year’s Sound of… poll, and for once it’s actually a pretty good choice.

Tom: Oh! That synth intro surprised me a bit: it sounded almost like a video game soundtrack from ten years ago.

Tim: Some lovely synthpop floating around here, starting calm and gentle and building up to a great big second half that just works so well.

Tom: It sounds a bit like early Hot Chip, if they were working with a guest vocalist. That’s a compliment, by the way.

Tim: Synthpop’s never really been much of a genre that lends itself well to emotional tracks and conveying tight links between lyrics and sounds, but this track gives it a good go.

Example: that “oh-oh-oh” into the chorus, while admittedly not being the most interesting lyrical choice we’ve heard, it sure as hell works well as an intro into that chorus as a pleasing sign of desperation. Second example: the shortness of breath that appears in the closing “let go” repetitions – just please won’t you LET GO.

Tom: The thing is, I don’t listen to much synthpop — it’s generally a bit too ethereal and downbeat for me — so hearing something like this is really quite refreshing.

Tim: If I were to compare it to anything I’d say: album track by The Sound of Arrows (speaking of whom, WILL YOU PLEASE GET ON WITH IT), deemed too loud and out of the ordinary for their standard fare, but still very, very good. All in all, I’d say this is a thoroughly deserved winner. Congratulations, lads.

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Meghan Trainor – Lips are Movin

Tom: I want to hate this song. I really, really, want to hate this song.

Tim: Hahaha, but you just can’t, can you?

Tom: When you’ve had one of the songs of the year — seriously, when you get to perform it at on ABC’s Rockin’ New Years’ Eve, it’s one of the songs of the year — and your first album isn’t even out yet (at least not in the UK), how on earth do you follow it up?

Tim: With an actually good one that can be properly sung to, it seems.

Tom: This is basically the same song.

Tim: What?

Tom: The chord progression, shifted up one key, is nearly identical. The “feel” of it is the same. It even uses the word “bass” in at least two different lyrics, just to drum home the connection. Just adding a spoken bit at the start doesn’t excuse it — the record company has picked the closest possible track to follow it with.

Tim: Weeeeell, you say that, but it’s a good amount more melodic than previously, you’ve got to give it that. It doesn’t have, for me, anywhere near the same “this is how we make a cheap and somewhat novelty dance track” feel to it.

Tom: And for all those cynical reasons, I really want to hate this song. The trouble is, it’s good. It’s catchy. The middle eight is just glorious. And it’s only three minutes long, which means I keep hitting play on it. It’s… it’s a good track, Tim. I’m sorry.

Tim: It really is. Middle eight aside, if this was an artist’s debut, I’d be interested on keeping an eye on them to see what came next.

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The Veronicas – If You Love Someone

Tom: There is very little pop music coming out this month, so I’m casting the net a little further aside. The last time I heard the Veronicas, it was nearly ten years ago, and they’d just come out with an album of competent but slightly generic girl-power pop. To be honest, I was a bit surprised they were still going…

Tom: …let alone that they’ve gone all political.

Tim: Well to be fair, if you want a first-world country that’s a deserving target of a video promoting ACCEPTANCE and COMPASSION, Australia’s a pretty good bet.

Tom: I mean, the video description links to Sea Shepherd and to Russell Brand, and they’re literally flying their flags in the video. Bit weird, especially for a song that seems to have a few notes in common with The Saturdays’ Higher.

Tim: Yeah, I got that as well – doesn’t help that the not-actually-that-many notes it does have in common get pumped out right at the very start.

Tom: The trouble is, with that video, it’s sitting in an odd uncanny valley: it’s released by Sony Music, filmed on a high budget, and doesn’t really have any revolutionary messages in it. On its own, the song is… well, it’s good, I guess? It’s certainly not bad, it just… well, I kept wanting to sing “Higher” instead.

Tim: Certainly listenable, and you’re right, the political message is half-arsed at best. But yes, Higher’s a much better track, particularly the Flo Rida-less album version.

Tom: Also, can we have an intervention for whoever’s making their posters? Spewing out large, A4, Times New Roman sheets from Microsoft Word really ain’t the best way to make a prop, folks.

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Suri – Kaksi Naista

Tim: The Voice UK kicked off this weekend, to the excitement of precisely no-one, because it’s The Voice UK.

Tom: To be fair, it does decent numbers for the BBC, and the format’s not bad. It’s just that it’s not going to change anyone’s life, and part of the appeal of reality competitions is at least maintaining the illusion that it might.

Tim: The Voice Finland, on the other hand, has been known to provide some talent, as this former contestant demonstrates.

Tim: You see, if the BBC could get the winners, or even any of the contestants, singing stuff like that, I’d be actually interested on watching it. It’s a really very good ballad, with just the right formula of quiet start, build up for a decent first chorus, bring something interesting in to beef up the second verse, have a great second chorus, lovely middle eight and repeat that great chorus for one last time.

Tom: And let’s have a few words for that synth line (it might actually be real strings, but I doubt it) that’s humming in the background through most of it.

Tim: As with our last good ballad, it could easily be spiced up with a key change, though it actually doesn’t need it. And you know, now I think about it, that’s possibly one of the highest compliments I can pay a ballad.

Tom: I agree it could use something more, although I don’t know what. We both know I’m generally less enthusiastic about new tracks than you (I gave Uptown Funk a mediocre review last week, and now I can’t get it out my head) — but this one just doesn’t seem to stand out from all the rest.

Tim: Well done to everyone involved, and can we forward this to the BBC?

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Saturday Flashback: Indila – Dernière Danse

Tim: Straight off the list of “songs to feature as a flashback at some point in the future because we missed them at the time”, this from December 2013, from French artist Indila.

Tom: That doesn’t say “Derrière Dance”, does it? Damn. Never mind.

Tim: Topped the charts in three countries, went top five in several more, and this is all quite good isn’t it?

Tom: It starts a bit like Gotye, so I was expecting something similar — the sudden percussion rather surprised me.

Tim: The opening verse is unusual for me, in that while I’m not much of a fan of the lack of stuff happening, I will happily keep listening – I think it’s the bass notes underneath that give a quite clear statement of intent, which does indeed pay off nicely. Much like Ellie’s track yesterday, it’s not until the second chorus that everything kicks off fully, but it’s very, very full when it does happen which makes the build-up worth it.

Tom: Mm. I’m still not sold on the whole thing: it’s a good song, certainly, but too dark for my tastes.

Tim: You may be wondering about the lyrics; the first two lines translate to “Oh my sweet torment, no point in fighting, you start again,” and it doesn’t really pick up much from there really, though it does close with talking about flying away, so that’s something.

Tom: Yes, that’s “vole, vole, vole, vole”, or “fly, fly, fly, fly” and not “vulva, vulva”. Just so we’re clear. That’s not what she’s singing.

Tim: And as for the video, I watched Thor the other day, so when she knelt down in the street I was basically hoping she’d end up controlling the weather, but since that wasn’t the case I suppose I’ll just have to take whatever nonsensical gubbins they’ve provided.

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Ellie Goulding – Love Me Like You Do

Tim: Given the title, and the fact that it’s from the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack —

Tom: I’m still astonished that the incredible version of Crazy in Love cover from the trailer hasn’t been released yet, by the way.

Tim: — you may well think that this song is basically all about the old you-know-what.

Tim: And yes, basically it is, but it’s bloody brilliant.

Tom: It is, isn’t it? At this point I’m going to end up buying that soundtrack CD, and that’ll be an embarrassing thing to have in my library.

Tim: Writers include such pop royalty as Max Martin and Savan Kotecha (and let’s face it, if pop had a royal family they’d be battling it out for top place) and also Tove Lo and Ali Bayer, so it’s a good thing it is bloody brilliant, really, because otherwise we’d all be very upset.

Tom: That explains a lot: that’s a heck of a writing team there.

Tim: It says a lot about Ellie’s voice that even though the massive BOOM into the second chorus (of which more later) doesn’t hit until two minutes in, the first half of the song is nowhere near as uninteresting in comparison than it might seem with a less talented vocalist.

Tom: It’s rare for me to prefer the warm-up and the build to the proper big chorus, particularly a big chorus like this, but this is one of those rare songs: that is a brilliant first verse.

Tim: Oh, I don’t deny that at all, but back to that BOOM, and that second chorus, and the final chorus with the strings in and the wait-for-it-patience-please pause before it, it’s just incredible, really, isn’t it?

Tom: It is, and I’m not arguing with that, but do go back and have one more listen to the first couple of minutes. That’s a really well-written bit of pop music on its own.

Tim: I always thought it would take a lot for Anything Can Happen to be beaten, but then Burn came along and actually managed it, and I’m not sure if this quite hits Burn levels of brilliance, but it’s very very close.

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Benjamin – Unbreakable

Tim: PREVIOUSLY ON EUROPLOP!: “formulaic, by the numbers, cheap, almost lazy, just no.

Tom: We’re harsh sometimes, aren’t we?

Tim: Yes, but hopefully, as in that case, never unjustifiably. Shall we see if his second track’s any better?

Tim: Yes, yes it is. A whole bucketload better, though that voice gets me a bit, because it sounds a bit fake, almost like really, really badly applied autotune, but it can’t be, can it?

Tom: No, I don’t think so — I think that’s a combination of a slightly unconventional singing voice and Scandinavian vowels. I could be wrong though.

Tim: So let’s assume not, and then given his voice as it is I have few complaints about this. It’s a very good uplifting ballad; like all the almost-best uplifting ballads it could of course be improved with a key change.

Tom: It really does need one, you’re right!

Tim: Oh, and he should really visit a barber who knows what they’re doing.

Tom: Fashion, Tim. I think it works.

Tim: Well aside from that: really rather good. Speaking of key changes: Melodifestivalen 2015 kicks off four weeks tomorrow, so put that date in your diary please folks.

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DJ Fresh feat. Ella Eyre – Gravity

Tom: DnB producer DJ Fresh has a couple of notable hits under his belt, but in my head he’s mostly noted for the ridiculous Dibby Dibby Sound. This time, he’s gone for what I can best describe as “euphoric vocals”.

Tim: Yep, “euphoric vocals” works for me.

Tom: So, I’ve previously established that I’m a sucker for Americana, road-trip music videos, but in this case I had this playing in another tab — I didn’t even notice that until half way through, and it was the icing on a pretty damn good cake.

Tim: Indeed – as the actual Ministry of Sound states below the video, “Big track, great video! Thumbs up all round ” and who are we to disagree wit the government?

Tom: Now, I’ll grant you that it’s a bit by-the-numbers: there’s nothing unconventional or surprising in here. But: those are excellent numbers to go by. One more chorus and it’d outstay its welcome — it doesn’t have much replay value — but at three minutes this is a properly good track that’d fit nicely in a DJ set.

Tim: It is, especially as you don’t get that many opportunities to dance to a pipe organ. Like it a lot.

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Tulisa – Living Without You

Tom: And to continue the week’s theme: the video went up in October, so fans have had pirated copies for months. But hey, you could have pre-ordered it, and a slightly better quality version will drop into your iTunes account today!

Tim: That’s DEFINITELY what every person will do. But, Tulisa, really?

Tom: I’ll be honest, I wasn’t going to bother with this, and then I saw the name on the YouTube account: SteveAATW. Yep, this is an All Around The World records release, them of Clubland fame, so I’m at least giving it a chance.

Tom: First of all, I bet that’s the first time in a while that an AATW release has booked any male eye candy for a video.

Tim: Nope. Still wasn’t worth it. You know, I’ve made some sacrifices for this site, but few more than sitting through three and a half minutes of that tripe.

Tom: Yep. That is disappointingly generic. I know that’s generally what 90% of Clubland releases sound like, and it’s the spectacular 10% that make it all worthwhile, but… huh. It’s not exactly a floor-filler, is it?

Tim: Nope. Really, really, not. Dull, tedious and basically something I want to switch off after a minute.

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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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