Luis Fonsi, Demi Lovato – Échame La Culpa

“This has a billion views on YouTube and you’ve probably never heard of it.”

Tom: This has a billion views on YouTube and you’ve probably never heard of it.

Tom: I’ve been travelling through southern Florida the last week or so, spending a lot of time listening to Spanish-language pop stations. Tim, there is an entire, massive pop music market that no one in Britain has heard of, and it’s got some really good songs going. This hit number one in nearly every Spanish-speaking country (and Lebanon, oddly) — and it didn’t even break the UK Top 40 when it was released back in November.

Tim: Hardly surprising – Despacito may have gone and got massive, but only after Justin got on board, and it became May when people were up for summer party tunes.

Tom: Yes, yes, but: it was massive in all the Spanish-speaking countries before that. And there are a LOT of them. Anyway: I’m not treating this one as a Flashback because the inevitable more-English remix has just been released.

Tim: Ah, well, there you go.

Tom: And, somehow, it’s just not quite the same. Maybe they should have got Bieber in again.

Tim: What, and have him singing about Doritos again? No thanks.

Donkeyboy – It’ll Be Alright

“Sort of, warm and snuggly, really.”

Tim: The follow up to Kaleidoscope, and unlike that one we’ve a lyric video now that doesn’t chop out the audio randomly. Hooray!

Tim: There’s room for improvement, we’re told, and we might be feeling down, but it’ll be good, because we’ve got Donkeyboy to look after us. And I think that’s a lovely sentiment for a song.

Tom: You’re not wrong. A lovely sentiment, three minutes long, and a generally nice song. Can Britain send this to Eurovision instead? It wouldn’t win, but at least it wouldn’t be an embarrassment.

Tim: Well, they’re Norwegian, so they probably wouldn’t be up for it. Fairly brief, with an abrupt start and ending, but that does at least stop it being too repetitive – it’s on its way there as it is, although I think that’s the one criticism I’ve got of it. Other than that, I think this is really rather nice.

Tom: Yes — it’s not going to light up a playlist or storm the charts, I suspect, but you picked the right word there. Nice.

Tim: Sort of, warm and snuggly, really.

Kylie Minogue – Stop Me From Falling

“It’s going for a big pop number, and it succeeds as far as I’m concerned.”

Tom: We described the first single from the new album, Dancing, as a BANGER. It’s even been getting some airplay, although it’s very definitely a Radio 2 and Heart single, if that makes sense.

Anyway, no-one’s going to manage two BANGERS in an album, are they?

Tim: Erm, excuse me.

Tom: Well, apparently not. Which is a shame, because this feels like it could have easily ended up in that territory.

Tim: What? What are you talking about, man. Sure, it’s not at Dancing levels, but this is damn good.

Tom: Okay, so my problem. First up: I can’t hear “caution, caution, amber lights” without replacing it with “engine engine number nine” off… well, the long series of samples that ended up with Fatman Scoop. My overactively-referencing brain aside, though, this track seems to sit in an awkward position.

Tim: Why? It’s in a fantastic position as far as I’m concerned – great tune, energy, voice as ever.

Tom: It’s not a slow ballad — that “yoou-oo-oou” has too much of a build into it for it to possibly be the Big Emotional Number — but it’s not a big pop track either. And it doesn’t help that, several times during it, I found myself absent-mindedly hearing ‘Dancing’ over the top of it in my head. They’re too similar for the first two singles.

Tim: Hmm, see I didn’t re-listen to Dancing, and I didn’t leap to that conclusion. In any case, this isn’t quite going for full on dance tune BANGER like Dancing was – it’s going for a big pop number, and it succeeds as far as I’m concerned.

Tom: Still, for someone whose career has run for all this time, getting one Proper Track off an album’s an achievement.

Tim: And two Proper Tracks, out of two, is a very good achievement.

Saturday Reject: Karl-Kristjan & Karl Killing feat. WATEVA – Young

“It’s just quite fun.”

Tim: Rather pleasingly, Estonia had a surprisingly good national final this year, which does make you wonder quite why they chose a dull operatic number as their winner; there was a wide range of genres, even with a trip to apocalyptic rock, with came with a helpful timer that counted down to the end of the song, at which point fire extinguishers were used liberally and necessarily. This one came in sixth, and surprisingly the extensive use of ukuleles didn’t put me off.

Tom: Blimey, I did not expect Estonia to go for an arena show. Or for them to choose Estonia’s leading George Formby impersonator for a song. Why on earth were you attracted to this one?

Tim: I’ll be honest: I’m not entirely sure. Partly is the staging, or rather the lack of it, with on screen graphics being used instead, because I’d love to know the official rules about those – Norway had a play around with them last year (and also excessive pre-recorded vocal samples, which were deemed just about acceptable).

Tom: Which surprises me: not to bang on about Electro Velvet, having to perform the ‘dance!’ samples live was one of the reasons that the song sounded so poor. But these are really irritating vocal samples, aren’t they?

Tim: Maybe a year ago, but I guess they’re mainstream enough that I’ve really become accustomed to them by now. Mainly, though, I think it’s that it seems from the way they’re jumping around that much like voXXclub last week they just seem to be having a lot of fun. And that kind of sums the whole thing up, really, including the ukulele and the graphics – it’s just quite fun. And I’ll take that.

John Lundvik – My Turn

“He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.”

Tim: “Now after six weeks John took the SVT audience, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.”

Tom: Given I mentioned Christian rock yesterday, this had better be spectacular.

Tim: I could mangle other sentences from the rest of the Transfiguration, but I think the point’s made. Obviously I don’t know if they were trying for a proper messianic spectacle, but if they weren’t then damn, that’s a hell of a coincidence. The bright white suit, giving off an actual glow from the light above him. The spotlights first radiating directly from behind him, and then coming down behind him as he walked forward.

Tom: Full marks to the lighting designer on that one, by the way: creating a cartoon-like sun with rays in-camera is brilliant.

Tim: The sparks raining down behind him. Finally, that amazing wide shot of the audience, rapt by his power, waving their phones in appreciation.

Tom: It wasn’t until I saw that shot that I understood what you meant. Yep, I get what they were trying for.

Tim: And you know what? It works. I love it. And what with it being paired with a pretty decent song, it was my favourite of the final. Wouldn’t have worked at Eurovision, mind, but it’s a cracker of a performance and much deserving of its third placing from the jury and voters alike.

Martin Almgren – A Bitter Lullaby

“A fake southern US accent. No idea.”

Tim: The staple of any Eurovision: the song that states how the world isn’t all but can soon be so much better. Here, we dial up the country tones, and with it bring along a fake southern US accent. No idea.

Tim: The final was the first time I heard this song, as I missed the heat, and I really liked it – yes, it’s cheesy, and sure, this type of song can be annoying, but it’s packaged nicely with a good chorus melody, pleasant backing vocal, and he certainly brings the energy.

Tom: That’s true, although I’ve heard that chorus melody before.

Tim: Huh – I was all set to wonder how I missed that, what with it being literally my third, or maybe second, or fourth, but definitely top five, favourite Christmas song ever – but then I guess there’s such a massive genre shift it passed me by.

Tom: Probably accidental, though. You’re right, though: there’s a certain, preacher-like energy to him: it sounds like something you’d hear on a Christian rock radio station in the US.

Tim: In theory, I guess one listen’s exactly what you’d need for a Eurovision song. Now that I’ve heard it a few more, though, the cracks become apparent – we don’t need all that shouting, and that voice really is a bit weird. But first time, it did me alright, and to be honest I could see this, depending on the mood of the room, not doing too badly in Lisbon. Not winning, hell no, but not bad.

Mendéz – Everyday

“It doesn’t matter if it’s not a fantastic song, as long as it gets everyone going.”

Tim: Odd reaction to this one, particularly given that it was the opening number: juries absolutely loathed it, giving it at total of 2 points compared to the victor’s 114, while the viewers put it in third place. Sadly that wasn’t enough to stop it coming dead last, what with there not being a huge range amongst the televotes – bottom was 5.8%, top was 10.5% – but have a listen anyway.

Tim: Like I said earlier, the opening number. It doesn’t matter if it’s not a fantastic song, as long as it gets everyone going, and I think it succeeds there.

Tom: Maybe, but it’ll never win. I think the juries probably disliked those lyrics: “run with me / sing this simple melody” ain’t exactly going to win professionals over. The public, though…

Tim: Bright lights and frequent fireworks, scantily clad dancers, not particularly complex lyrics and a simple ‘la-la-la-la-la’ melody that people can sing along with. Not a winner, but a good way to start the party. And given the viewer votes, apparently a bit more memorable than SVT intended when they chose it to go first.

Jessica Andersson – Party Voice

“And to think they worried schlager was dead…”

Tim: Following yesterday’s mess, allow me to reassure you with this. It’s been fifteen years since she represented Sweden at Eurovision, as part of the duo Fame with the still outstanding Give Me Your Love; let’s have another go, presumably went the logic. And to think they worried schlager was dead…

Tim: And THAT right there is what a 2018 schlager diva looks like. Modern enough that it gets the votes (going direct to the final from its heat), which sadly leaves us without a key change, but still bringing enough of the tropes that every single one of her early ’00s fans will love it.

Because really, what is there not to love? For starters, it’s ALL ABOUT PARTYING and GOING NUTS, like so many of the best songs. There’s pink, there’s an enormous pretend mirrorball at the back, and there are backing dancers throwing their hands around in the full and certain knowledge that they are FABULOUS.

Tom: They are, but whoever did the live mixing for this had some problems. The vocals are buried in the mix, and that combined with her vocal quality means that she sounds a bit strained. She’s probably not — but that doesn’t matter when you’ve got one chance to impress everyone. Plus, good luck with getting those vocal samples past the Eurovision rules.

Tim: You say that, but with currently musical trends that’s a rule in dire need of revision, as a trip to Norway’s post chorus last year will demonstrate.

I will say that the ‘dance like a mother’ line does stand out a bit – I’m guessing they were going for being a bit cheeky, but without that immediate thought it just sounds really weird. Like, what does it even mean?

Tom: Yep, I was going to point that out. I think I know what they were aiming for, but… well, they missed.

Tim: Other than that: GLORIOUS.


Samir & Viktor – Shuffla

“I have to admire Samir and Viktor’s tenacity. They keep coming back, and they keep not quite making it.”

Tim: On Saturday night Sweden chose, for the second year running, to send a not-quite-as-good-as-Justin-Timberlake Justin Timberlake song, which we needn’t bother with, and so for the second year running will probably end up easily in the top 10 but not actually win. Doesn’t mean we can’t take a look at some of the other finalists, though. Shall we?

Tom: All right: let’s kick off the Week of Swedish Rejects! And I have to admire Samir and Viktor’s tenacity. They keep coming back, and they keep not quite making it.

Tom: That is exactly as shuffle-dancey as I thought it was going to be. And about as well sung.

Tim: It’s not the best song – it’s not even the best Samir & Victor song, and it certainly wasn’t the best song last night. It was, however, the song that the UK jury chose to award its full twelve points to, and I’m absolutely baffled.

Tom: It’s very much in the Mr Saxobeat style, isn’t it? I don’t think that’s a compliment.

Tim: This may be harsher than it needs to be, but I honestly can’t see any attraction to this, beyond it being a fairly good advert for fake tan? It kind of feels like they’re going for a Gangnam Style-esque number, in a ‘here is a dance thing, and this is how you dance to it’ sort of way, except that was kind of a fluke and this doesn’t really have any charm to it at all.

Tom: Or ‘Party Rock Anthem’, with the whole shuffling thing. It’s just, well, it’s not that good.

Tim: Hmm. In hindsight, probably not the best song to start the week off with. There’s better stuff coming, I promise.

Saturday Reject: voXXclub – I mog Di so

“There’s a Schuhplattler! There’s Alpine music! There’s what seems to be an accordion-based dubstep-esque breakdown!”

Tim: Germany had a pretty good showing this year (I’m thinking that next year I might rate each country by their ratio of “songs I would choose to hear” to “songs that make three minutes feel like a decade” – here we had two thirds good, slightly beating Denmark’s 60%).

Tom: I loved Germany’s song last year, but it finished nearly last.

Tim: I loved it to, but to be fair, it was basically Titanium, so it was hardly going to win votes. Still, that is a tragic table.

Tom: I don’t hold out much hope either way — what did they throw away?

Tim: This song never stood much of a chance with juries involved, but you know how we all loved Busted back in the day because they were basically just three lads having the time of their lives?

Tom: Oh boy.

Tom: Hahahahaha that’s incredible and ridiculous and I love it. And, clearly, so do they.

Tim: Oh, yes. To start with, the music put me off a bit, but the lighting kept me watching because I’m me, and then it went big and I liked the music and also the new lighting, and then the chorus happened and I burst out laughing and I was hooked. The song is utterly glorious. Lyrically the song is, well, “you’re perfect like this” and it’s not hugely complex, though it does involve brief instructions for dancing the tango, and education’s always nice.

Tom: There’s a Schuhplattler! There’s Alpine music! There’s what seems to be an accordion-based dubstep-esque breakdown! They’re… Tim, they’re doing the German version of Electro Velvet.

Tim: Oh, that sounds harsher that I’m fairly sure you meant – though, in terms of just plain bonkers, it’s kinds of matches up. I was somewhat surprised to find out that these guys are a semi-serious established band, as they very much have the air of a few guys who got pissed one evening and thought “hey, this’d be fun”; on the other hand, they do look like they are there to have fun and to make everybody else have fun as well. Because deep down, we are all that guy in the red T-shirt.

Tom: And perfect like this.