Saturday Reject: Rūta Ščiogolevaitė – United

Tim: Remember Russia’s 2013 entry, Dina Garipova’s utopia-inducing What If? Well, this year someone wanting to represent Lithuania wanted to recreate that.

Tom: Oh, bloody hell, it’s Robson and Jerome’s cover of I Believe all over again. Incidentally, do send that link to any American Game of Thrones fans you know, it’ll really confuse them.

Tim: Duly noted. Sadly, Rūta didn’t quite have the vocal skills to pull that off, nor indeed were the audience or her backing singers remotely interested in helping her.

Tom: Tough crowd. Tough, tough crowd.

Tim: Points to her for effort, though – her pointing directly at an audience member to get them going does demonstrate quite a level of passion. It’s also a shame the backing folk haven’t decided in advance what to do with their hands, as having some of them gently swaying while others are full on with the arm movement really doesn’t push forward the “let’s stand united” message. To be quite honest, this could be a decent entry, because musically and lyrically it’s all there.

Tom: Maybe not lyrically, but I’ll agree with you on musically. This is a retro, but plausible, Eurovision track, complete with key change. And full marks for attempting the steadicam-spin-shot there, although with an audience that looks like it belongs in a church hall, it’s less impressive. I know it’s Lithuania, but when the rest of the show looks fairly smooth, it stands out.

Tim: Pump some cash into it, get some dancing and singing lessons, they could be laughing their way to the top half of the table. As it is – sadly, doesn’t quite make enough of an impact.

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Saturday Reject: Annica Milán & Kimmo Blom – Good Enough

Tim: Here’s one from Finland’s final; fourth in the televote, sixth with the jury (which is done WEIRDLY – split into nine mini-juries, categories of which include Parliament, Eurovision experts, musicians, bloggers, LGBT and, erm, asphalt constructors), so have a listen. Though first, I want you to know that I’m going to make a HILARIOUS joke at the end of this post, which I just know will have you ACTUALLY rolling on the floor laughing, so be prepared for that.

Tim: And that’s possibly the oddest staging I’ve ever seen, not least because at time I actually find myself distracted by the song trying to work out where the two were actually standing and what they were singing at. Even when they’re not singing at the mirrors, we hardly ever see them in the same shot. Towards the end, we assume (or at least I did) that they were yelling in each others faces, except right at the end it turns out they were facing the audience singing. It’s really, really disconcerting at times.

Tom: I suspect there’s a Pepper’s Ghost effect going on there too: a semi-transparent mirror, like you see on ghost trains. It’s a nice shtick, just very confusing.

Tim: Other than that, though – pretty good, albeit slightly High School Musical. The yelling is a bit off-putting – I know it’s a singing competition, and you want to get your reassuring message across, but you don’t need to go all Big Bad Wolf and try to blast the stadium walls down.

Tom: I was about to complain about you complaining about that, but then I saw his face during the second act as he’s doing his full-on Acting And Singing, and yeah, I’ve got to agree.

Tim: Nice message – it’s hard to imagine “pick yourself right back up, you’re better than just good enough” going down too badly – and decent melody, and I’d give decent odds for at least mid-table finishing, possibly top 10.

Tom: That’s optimistic, but perhaps not duly. It’s a good song.

Tim: Okay, now, prepare yourself: I guess that, in the end, it just WASN’T GOOD ENOUGH. HAHAHAHAHAHA oh wait you’re not laughing, you probably didn’t get it. Basically, it’s a really funny joke based on the fact that the title of the song is “Good Enough”, and yet the song itself was not, as it turned out, “Good Enough”.

Tom:

Tim: You know, because you’d expect it to be “Good Enough” because the song is called “Good Enough”, but in the end it actually wasn’t “Good Enough” to win. YEP, THERE YOU GO, now you’re laughing. Man, I’m HILARIOUS.

Tom: I exhaled a small amount of air out of my nose.

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Saturday Reject: SMILO – Weight Of The World

Tim: Sweden, well known for its EDM output, so what will we get when we put a newish act on stage at the country’s largest music competition?

Tim: Well, for starters, we get two thirds of the act standing behind a mixing desk that probably isn’t even plugged into anything, with a TV on front that for some reason is displaying what appears to be the old Doctor Who opening title sequence.

Tom: See, I went with “old-school Winamp visualisation”, so you know, there are our different reference points.

Tim: On the other hand, we get a great dance track with two good choruses, vocal and instrumental, sparks flying all over the place, and the heart in the bottom left going somewhat mental.

Tom: Mm. It is a bit Aviici-lite, though, isn’t it? I know Eurovision isn’t always the most up-to-date affair, but if you’re trying to do EDM, then sounding even a year or two old might push the young crowd against you — and the older folks won’t vote for it either way.

Tim: Oh, hell no, standard EDM like this is never a good shout for Eurovision – the most recent similar acts that spring to mind are Cascada and Ryan Dolan, coming almost last and dead last respectively. Still very enjoyable, though – a lovely diversion, great way of picking up pace and keeping everyone going, and probably one for my “getting ready to go out” playlist.

Tom: I’m just not sold: the vocals are a bit rough — I know, they’re live, but even so — and the melody feels like it’s been knocked out in an afternoon. Not bad, sure, but this was never a winner.

Tim: They’ve previously been known for tropical house, so have a listen here if you fancy it, but otherwise I’d say they acquitted themselves fairly well.

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Saturday Reject: Avantasia – Mystery Of A Blood Red Rose

Tim: Just a week to go, but still so many good rejects to go, so let’s carry on with them. Another trip to Germany, and this one has a hell of a back story to it, of which there’s too much to fully explain here; all I’ll put out for now is that Avantasia is a “rock opera project”, this is the first track on an album that concludes the tale of an agnostic scientist seeking to unite the world’s understandings, and that Meat Loaf was at one point lined up to be the main vocalist. As with Gregorian, there’s no performance clip online, but here’s the full video.

Tom: So, this might be controversial: I reckon that could have won if it stood out. A very good chance of a top 10. With Meat Loaf, it would have won. I know that’s a strong claim, but hell: it’s basically a Meat Loaf track anyway.

Tim: It is, and I don’t think you’re far wrong. Disappointingly, they had to chop the end off this album version, which I think harms the track – it hit the middle eight exactly as it should, but then never came back up to climax. Here we have a great closing chorus, introduced as it is by a splendid key change, and an ending to the track, instead of what was an “oh, so I guess that’s finished then”. It went out on a big note, but it doesn’t feel quite right. It’s a shame – we’ve seen something similar before, with Kati Wolf’s Szerelem, miért múlsz?, a four minute track being chopped down. There, though, they chopped out the second verse/chorus, keeping the main structure, and nobody noticed. Here, w

Tom: Oh, I see what you did there, well done. You’re absolutely r

Tim: Having said all that, this did well enough – got through to the final three, and that shows just what a strong contender it was. Just imagine what could have been. Mind you, I still think Germany picked the best one in the end, and I’m fairly sure these guys don’t mind too much.

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Saturday Reject: Margaret – Cool Me Down

Tim: Most of the time when we look at rejects, I’ll think either “yep, sensible” or “okay, this could have worked but I guess we’ll see what happens”. Here, though, I find myself almost angry with the 35.89% of the Polish people who wanted to send a dreary ballad sung by guy standing wailing on a stage, over this. Annoyingly, the proper performance isn’t available online, but here’s the lyric video (with a muted-for-copyright-reasons performance here if you want to try and sync them up – it’s slightly worth it).

Tom: And that’s the first use of “on fleek” to make it into a song we’ve reviewed. Thinking about it, I’m surprised it wasn’t sooner.

Tim: Admittedly, this isn’t the sort of music that I’d choose to listen to – I wasn’t remotely sold on it until the chorus came along – but what we undeniably have here is a modern 2016 sounding song.

Tom: That’s true: it’s Rihanna-style, isn’t it? Perhaps with a bit more pop in it. Admittedly though actually including the lyrics “run this town” in there is getting a bit too close.

Tim: Stylistically at the very least, this is what gets you put on the Radio 1 A-list, and invited on the X Factor results show to perform. And the best thing that it doesn’t say “got the style, we’re done” but it’s a great example of the genre. I can see this performing well, I can see it getting a top 10 placement, rather than ducking out mind-table in the semis. Were it to get a release via a major label with enough pushing, this could hit the charts – it really is a great track.

Tom: Yep. Again: not quite my style, but this could have done very well indeed.

Tim: In short: POLAND YOU’RE MORONS except for the 24.72% of you who did vote for it.

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Måns Zelmerlöw – Fire In The Rain

Tim: This’ll presumably be played to the world at Eurovision – it’s his new track, and, despite being guitar pop, it’s fairly listenable.

Tim: There’s whistling there which is nice, there’s a lovely chorus, and a verse which weirdly sounds a fine start, but then slightly dull when it comes back for the second round.

Tom: I’ll be honest, I did think it was a bit longer than three minutes. It seems a bit slow, despite having all the ingredients for a good pop track — and also some whistling.

Tim: To be honest, much as I’d often dismiss whistling as a bit twee and annoying, here it really helps the track, lifting it up above bog standard guitar pop. Would I like more in the final chorus? Perhaps – I’d certainly like that top vocal to be there from right out of the middle eight to give it a bit of oomph. It’s no Heroes – of course it’s no Heroes – or a Cara Mia, but it’s decent enough.

Tom: That’s hardly a ringing endorsement, though, is it?

Tim: And while ‘decent enough’ isn’t really something I want to be writing about someone twelve months after a Eurovision victory, here it’s about right. Oh well.

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Busted – Coming Home

Tim: The first new Busted track in over a decade (!) is finally here, after Charlie realised how much cash the other two were making off the back of McBusted and decided he wanted in as well.

Tom: For legal reasons, I should clarify that Tim is entirely speculating there.

Tim: Question on everyone’s mind: is it any good?

Tim: YES, it actually is! Which is fantastic news! A somewhat different sound, as is to be expected with the aforementioned “over a decade” part, but it’s largely a good one – the pop rock they were known for is all still there, now with added electronic stuff.

Tom: Which sounds a bit like MGMT’s Time to Pretend to me: not that they’re using an exact patch or anything like that, but it’s the same style.

Tim: I’ve got to confess my ears did twitch slightly in distress when I first heard that somewhat harsh and ever-present synth line, but jumping about in the chorus it’s alright, and the synths towards the end of the middle eight just sound absolutely lovely.

Tom: It is a bit much sometimes, and I’m really not sure about that odd twinge on Taj Mahal: the whole line’s a bit strange, really. But if I’m picking out things like that, I guess I don’t have any bigger complaints about the track.

Tim: Lyrically, it’s a good one for a comeback track, with the whole “I miss my family” line that I can kind of imagine Charlie yelling out as he frantically bangs on the door of McBusted’s tour bus, realising how much cash he was missing out on. Video’s odd – particularly the censoring of the naughty words, because presumably if people don’t want to be offended they’re meant to put it on mute. All in all: good starter track, let’s hear the rest of them.

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Stacey Jackson – Pour Some Sugar On Me

Tom: If you’re thinking “who?” then you might want to consult this suspiciously-promotional Wikipedia article, complete with obsessive tracking of low chart positions in little-known charts. And a warning: this video is pretty much as NSFW as you can get without actual nudity.

Tim: Hahahahahaaa, oh that’s entirely and wonderfully brilliant and awful.

Tom: So let’s get it out of the way first: this is UTTERLY UNNECESSARY. But that’s true of nearly everything Almighty Records have ever put out, so I can’t grumble about a suitably high-energy pop cover of a classic. It’s competently arranged, competently sung, and actually has enough production value that it doesn’t sound as bad as a low-budget crank-’em-out track off a cash-in “fitness covers” album.

Tim: True, I suppose I can’t disagree with any of that.

Tom: And given that the original is pretty much the number-one song for stripping to, I can’t argue with the video either. At least it’s objectifying literally everyone that’s in it, no matter the gender.

Tim: And I dread to think how long it would have taken to get all that syrup off them.

Tom: It’s not going to replace the original, but it does what it’s meant to do, and it does it well.

Tim: Hmm. “Well” is an interesting word, but my mind mainly keeps coming back to a line in that Wikipedia article: “In July 2015 Stacey released an other single titled ‘How Much Is That Hottie In The Window.'” which probably sums up the whole endeavour nicely.

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Kent – Egoist

Tim: So here’s a funny one – title translates to roughly “Selfish”, as far as I can discern, and the song is all about how we should live life to the max. Except…well, the vocals don’t really pump out that message.

Tom: To be honest, I was too busy singing “In Too Deep” over the top of that introduction. Seriously, I got to the fifth line before the vocals kicked in.

Tim: Thing is – it’s a bit dull, or at least the vocals are. The chorus translates to “we should live life…we train, we’re driven, we should live life”. That’s an admirable message, sure – but with the way you’re singing? Hell, there are lines in there that are direct from With Or Without You, and that’s not an optimistic song you want to be taking your cues from.

Tom: Not if you want to be uplifting, certainly.

Tim: Decent song and music, absolutely, as I’ve no complaints there, but really, get your lyrics and your music lined up. Yes, the chorus comes along and displays an amount of energy and slight optimism, but as for the rest of it? Well, at least don’t jump into the middle eight talking about terrorism. Please.

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Hera Björk – Queen of Effing Everything

Tim: Hera’s launching a one-woman musical.

Tom: That is bold. A one-woman show, maybe. But one person trying to do a musical show? I don’t know, I think that could be just awkward.

Tim: And I’ll leave it up to the promo blurb to describe how amazing it will probably be: “Hera Björk has a lot of titles; wife, mother, Eurovision diva, exceptional lover, teacher, go-getter and many more. She has so many titles that the only way to accurately describe her is to say that she´s the Queen of ‘Effing’ Everything.”

Tim: I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: WHAT A WOMAN. Out being a talented diva every evening, in being a dutiful mother every day. She knows it, she wants the world to know it, and she’s put together a two hour show to make sure everyone does.

Tom: Maybe I’m being a bit too British and reserved — and I’m aware this is a bit hypocritical coming from someone with a YouTube channel — but I feel like a two-hour show about yourself is, perhaps, a bit much.

Tim: I’m not sure where this fits in the show – presumably at the beginning or the end – but whichever it is, it’s a great track to feature, and it’s clearly up there with all the musical greats. You’re The One That I Want, Singin’ In The Rain, I Dreamed A Dream, Queen of Effing Everything.

Tom: The thing is: it is actually a good pop song. I’ve got very few complaints about it.

Tim: Tom, tickets are less than £30 for a meet and greet after the show, and it’s this weekend, so can we go please please please? LOOK HOW MUCH FUN IT’LL BE.

Tom: You’re on your own for this one.

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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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