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.

Nik P. – Im Fieber der Nacht

“A kind of dancepop uncanny valley“

Tim: We’ve featured Nik P. a few times before, more often than not when he’s collaborated with DJ Ötzi.

Tom: Two days of German dancepop! You spoil me.

Tim: What can I say, I’m feeling generous. Here’s his new one, and I have thoughts.

Tom: I’m not entirely convinced by this, because — although it’s buried in the mix — all I can hear in the chorus is the constant “buhh buhh buhh buhh” one-note synth in the background. Unlike yesterday’s glorious track, which accepted the inherent cheesiness (of both itself, and its genre), this isn’t quite respectable, and it isn’t quite schlager. It lands in a kind of dancepop uncanny valley, where “it’s a grooving crowd” just doesn’t sound right.

Tim: You know, ‘buried in the mix’ kind of leads me to my issue. See, I will never turn down a track like this – I love the genre, and even if it’s only a 5/10 I’ll stick it in a playlist and listen to it happily. Except – and this is going to sound horrible – I’m not sure the voice works here. It’s – and again, I hate saying this – too old. Too croaky, it’s seen too much through the years. By all means, Nik P., please do keep making the music; just maybe get a featured singer instead?

Tom: Nope, I’d say completely the other way round. I have no problem with this voice: I just think the production could use being… well, either less modern or more modern. Pick one.

Matthias Reim – Himmel voller Geigen

“When we started a blog called Europlop, Tim, THIS is exactly what I wanted us to cover.”

Tim: Matthias, known largely in Germany for his 1990 hit “Verdammt, ich lieb’ dich” and more recently his 2013 track “Unendlich“. He’s had many other tracks, before and since, though, and here’s his latest, which translates as “Sky Full of Violins”.

Tom: I just listened to the 1990 hit there, and I am ON BOARD with this. That is PROPER 90s German dancepop, and I want to see how that style translates into this century.

Tom: I actually said “oh yes” out loud on those opening notes. The chorus did EXACTLY what I want it to. When we started a blog called Europlop, Tim, THIS is exactly what I wanted us to cover.

Tim: Chorus: “Just because of you, my sky is full of violins, and they play my favourite song every day; just because you’re here I can live my life again, it’s just great that you’re here.” Isn’t that nice? I say nice, it’s actually a bit of a sad song: it’s sung about his new housemate he’s got a massive thing for (hur) but just can’t bring himself to speak to, in case she laughs in his face.

Tom: Agh, well it can’t be perfect. (And, musically, the post-chorus is the one thing here that really doesn’t work for me, but I can live with it.)

Tim: The feelings are nice, though, so GO ON, MATTHIAS. If you don’t ask, you’ll never get.

Additional: top marks to whoever made the lyric video for advertising his album during the instrumental – now I’ve seen it, I’m actually surprised I’ve never seen it before.


Miriam Bryant – Black Car

“Is she bathing in Bovril? I think she’s bathing in Bovril.”

Tim: You might have heard this before, as it was first released a couple of years ago, when it was very successful in Sweden, and won an award and everything. Bored of just being popular in Sweden, though, Miriam wants to go international and has chosen this to launch herself, bringing a fancy video along for the ride.

Tom: Is she bathing in Bovril? I think she’s bathing in Bovril.

Tim: Blimey, you must like your Bovril thick. Anyway, the titular black car is meant to represent “the place we met – the club we always go back to and where we had our first kiss”; I don’t quite get that myself, particularly not the way she’s smashing it up and burning it in the video, but I guess it’s her song so she gets to decide.

Tom: Anyway, that sounds like a lot of modern indie music. Switch the vocalist for someone with a northern British accent and you’ve basically got half the line-up for Glastonbury.

Tim: Yes, and I guess that might be why I like it – it seems immediately familiar, but not in a sense of “they’ve nicked this from…” but more in an “oh, yeah, this is right” sense. It’s gentle, it’s flowing, it’s almost reassuring, and I’m really quite enjoying it.