Saturday Reject: Ingrid Berg Mehus – Feel

“Who takes a fairly strong dance tune and thinks ‘right, what this really needs is her taking time out to play the violin’?”

Tim: “Hmm, it’s not bad, I guess, but it still needs a bit more. Any idea?” “Ooh, Alexander Rybak did well when he played his violin that first time, we could try that again?” “Eh, give it a go, could work. Ooh have lasers. LOTS OF LASERS.”

Tim: It annoys me that NRK don’t release the voting numbers for Melodi Grand Prix, because I’d love to know what happened with this. Out of ten it didn’t make the top four, but I’m wondering if it managed to get, well, any votes at all. Because it’s just weird.

Tom: It is an odd one, isn’t it? At least they’ve managed to contain her in some kind of laser-powered summoning grid. But it’s a strange combination of things that don’t quite work together.

Tim: Admittedly, that doesn’t necessarily make for a bad Eurovision track – Netta was proof enough of that – but seriously, who takes a fairly strong dance tune, with a strong club vibe happening on the stage, and thinks “right, what this really needs is her taking time out to play the violin”? I mean.

Tom: Also: who co-ordinates all those camera moves and then sticks a big bulky mic pack on the dress? I know women’s clothing is a nightmare for microphone staging, but there had to be a better solution than that. Not technically a complaint about the song, but still. Sorry, you were talking about the music.

Tim: No, it’s Eurovision, everything’s up for discussion. But yes, the music, and I guess the violin’s one way of removing the standard EDM failing at Eurovision, where for the instrumental chorus the singer stands around doing nothing, but even so, still weird. Nice lasers, though.

Isle of You – Hold Tight

“I don’t know why on earth they’d want to risk putting off a load of people by describing it as a waffly ‘timeline of emotions’.”

Tim: So, at the risk of alienating you, I’ll quote directly from them PR guff, which says this is “more like a timeline of emotions than a pop song. Instead of writing a ‘verse, pre-chorus, chorus’ song which has already been done about eleven million times, we wanted to create something that sounds like what falling in love really feels like, when all of your worst fears get mixed up with all you ever really wanted.”

Sounds garbage, right?

Tom: Sounds like someone couldn’t make the structure work and decided to go “that’s a feature, not a bug”.

Tim: Certainly not what you want to hear from a group who’ve previously out some great electropop. Except…

Tim: …it absolutely is a standard “verse, pre-chorus, chorus” song, and I think it’s pretty damn great, so I don’t know why on earth they’d want to risk putting off a load of people by describing it as a waffly ‘timeline of emotions’.

Tom: I’m not convinced it “sounds like what falling in love really feels like” either.

Tim: Well, I don’t know about that – for starters, even if the first couple of verses and choruses weren’t enough (which they absolutely are), that middle eight and beyond is one of the best minutes of music I’ve heard this year.

Tom: I wouldn’t go that far, but I’ll agree with you that it certainly kicks in at the middle eight: before that, despite the structure (or lack of), it did feel like a bit of a mess.

Tim: The song is absolutely marvellous, and I’m very upset that there is still no sign of any album on the horizon, because God knows we’ve had enough decent tracks from them. I WANT MORE DAMMIT.

Broiler – Do It

“Blimey, that’s an early ’00s dance trance if ever there was one, isn’t it?”

Tim: Pair of Norwegians here for you, and, well, remember Dave Pearce doing Dance Anthems on a Sunday night on Radio 1 fifteen years ago? This might evoke some feels.

Tim: Because blimey, that’s an early ’00s dance trance if ever there was one, isn’t it?

Tom: Pitched-up vocals and a full-on washing-machine-spinning-up euphoric build and drum fill into the chorus. Yep. The rave revival continues.

Tim: And in a pretty good way as well, which is always nice.

Tom: I doubt it’s going to be on a Clubland compilation in ten years’ time, but it’s nice to hear this sound back. Apart from the fact that one synth patch sounds almost exactly like a raspy kazoo.

Tim: Yeah, there is that. But the big thing to note is just what is the ‘it’ that is being done by the target, and that our protagonist now wants to do? Well, some might leave it ambiguous, or more likely just blindingly obvious from the subtext, but here we go all out with “I just want your sex”, which is entirely fair enough. After all, if it’s early in the morning and you’ve just made eyes at someone on the dance floor, you’ve not really got time for subtlety. You just want their sex, and you’re going to shrug off your friends because they’ll understand, a hookup’s a hookup and it’s what we’re all out for.

Tom: I’ll be honest, Tim, that tells me a little bit more about your life than I wanted to know.

Tim: Oh, come on, we went to university together, don’t pretend you’ve forgotten. Mind you, that’s not all we’re out for – there’s hearing big outright bangers like this as well.

Aura Dione – Shania Twain

“Inspired by the power that Shania sung about in her songs.”

Tim: Meghan Trainor and Charlie Puth gave us one of the greatest tunes of 2015 with their ode to Marvin Gaye.

Tom: I… no, you know what, I’m not going to start arguing before we even get to the song. I will agree, though, that there was definitely a song in 2015 called “Marvin Gaye”.

Tim: And it was a RIGHT BANGER. Anyway, Danish singer Aura is going for a similar vibe, inspired by the power that Shania sung about in her songs.

Tim: And that there is a song that I absolutely and entirely love.

Tom: I know you’re generally more enthusiastic about, well, basically everything, but: why?

Tim: The mix of heavy country and great dance is done so well, and when the two combine for that second chorus and beyond it just becomes absolutely joyous, and the first song in a while that I want to properly shout along to, with those backing vocals. Even the little things, like the ‘Twain, Twain, Twain’ vocal effects, sound great.

Tom: Ah, I just don’t get that. There’s something in the tone of it that just grates on me; and that ‘Shania Twain’ lyric just lands with a clunk in my head. I’ll admit that I can sing the chorus after one listen, though.

Tim: My only problem, of course, is that it’s just too short. So, all together, ALL OF MY LOVERS, ALL OF MY LOVERS, ALL OF MY LOVERS LET IT POUR ON ME, ALL OF MY LOVERS, ALL OF MY LOVER LOVERS etc.

Avicii feat. Aloe Blacc – SOS

“Wouldn’t you want the first one out to be absolutely brilliant?”

Tim: So, slightly odd situation here. Apparently when Avicii died last year, he had about an album’s worth of material on his computer ready to go, and now it seems his family reckons enough time has passed for it to be released without it seeming too ethically dubious.

Tom: Actually ready to go, or works-in-progress that have been picked up by other people? Because if they’re not spectacular, it’s going to seem like an ethically dubious cash-in no matter what. A whole album, then?

Tim: That’s out at the end of June, here’s the lead track.

Tim: And that is, I guess, a perfectly decent Avicii track.

Tom: Apart from the middle eight where it suddenly becomes a mashup of Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” and TLC’s “No Scrubs”. And ‘perfectly’ decent? It’s… well, it’s okay.

Tim: Well, not perfectly decent – for starters, the D on the end of ‘pound of weed’ really should be pronounced more forcefully than it is.

Tom: Oh dear. Yes, it should.

Tim: And that’s kind of my issue. See, if you were part of his friends and family, and you were sitting on a load of good stuff that could have the potential to backfire, wouldn’t you want the first one out to be absolutely brilliant? A ten out of ten, everyone drop what you’re doing, can’t stop dancing type number? And this…well, it’s good. But it’s not that.

Ava Max – So Am I

“Remember that ‘Sweet But Psycho’ song, the one that was so catchy that everyone just ignored the really questionable lyrics?”

Tom: Remember that ‘Sweet But Psycho’ song, the one that was so catchy that everyone just ignored the really questionable lyrics?

Tim: YES, and I still listen to it frequently while feeling ever so slightly guilty every time.

Tom: Well, this is what happens when a record executive says “that was brilliant, let’s have another one that’s exactly the same please”.

Tim: And right now I am imaging that exact conversation, because that is what happens. In a good way, mind.

Tom: There’s a lot to unpack here, isn’t there? The Sid and Nancy reference, the “call me Harley” lyric that acknowledges that, yes, perhaps the stylist might have taken a bit of inspiration from a certain comic book character.

Tim: Yeah – and that’s not helped by the fact that releasing a song titled ‘So Am I’ immediately after one with a main line of “she’s sweet but a psycho” could be read in a way different from how these lyrics portray it.

Tom: And the slightly uncomfortable music-video trope of taking a conventionally attractive artist and putting her in an oversexualised school uniform with some dancers, while she’s singing about how it’s okay to be different.

It’s very much been the Difficult Second Single in terms of chart performance, although it seems to be getting enough airplay.

Tim: Well, its been in the charts five weeks now and is lurking around the lower end of the Top 20, so I’d say it could go either way.

Tom: Catchy, though, isn’t it?

Tim: Yes. It’s still no Sweet But Psycho, though.

Saturday Reject: Adrian Jørgensen – The Bubble

“Specifically, I thought ‘this is Æd Sheerån’.”

Tim: I’d slightly have liked this to win for a couple of reasons: partly because it’s a fairly decent track, and partly because it’d give an answer to the tedious ‘we should just send Ed Sheeran or someone and we’d win’.

Tom: I listened to the first bit of this before reading that introduction, Tim, and I’m happy to say I had the exact same thought. I mean, specifically, I thought “this is Æd Sheerån”.

Tim: That’s a song that’d fit comfortably on ÷, and might even do fairly well on it. We’ve seen previously that artist familiarity doesn’t translate to success – Cascada coming bottom five in 2013 put paid to that. As for how it’d do at Eurovision, well that’s anyone’s guess really, but probably not do spectacularly well, and then in the hypothetical situation following a Sheeran appearance we’d be on to “oh well see this just proves everyone hates us, why do we even bother”, and God knows we’ve had enough of that.

Tom: Odd choice here to add a second vocalist most of the way through the track.

Tim: Yeah, I though that as well – weirdest of all is that she’s very front and centre, but not even slightly credited.

Tom: I can’t deny it works. Still, Norway decided that Discount Sheeran wasn’t a good choice, and I think I agree with them.

Tim: Likewise. And as it is, we can enjoy it as a fairly decent guitar pop track, safe in the knowledge that it won’t affect anything at all.

Michela – Chameleon

“Unexpected” would be the best description.

Tim: I work with a Maltese person at work, and every year she tries to tell me that the Maltese entry is absolutely brilliant, and every year I disagree with her completely. Except this year.

Tom: Do you only disagree with her slightly?

Tim: Correct.

Tom: Because while that pre-chorus is really great, the rest is… well, “unexpected” would be the best description of that odd breakdown.

Tim: Probably about right, yes – certainly got me the first time I heard it, and it’s not ‘absolutely brilliant’ at all, not least because having lyrics of ‘chama-chameleon’ is never going to be a great move. It is, though, as with yesterday, a proper example of Modern Pop. I’m not such a fan of it – that breakdown really doesn’t do it for me – but I can’t deny that as a pop song, this is properly good, and I genuinely hope it does well.

Tom: Really?

Tim: Wel, not win, of course, as if our song doesn’t win it’ll be a robbery so big we’ll need to call Interpol in, but top ten at least. That’d be deserved, and almost lend some respectability to this contest of ours. Or is that a lost cause by now?

Katerine Duska – Better Love

“I actually said “oh!” out loud at that chorus.”

Tim: I think it’s about time we have a song from this year’s Eurovision that actually sounds like a modern pop song. Shall we visit Greece?

Tim: Admittedly the video’s very distracting, and for the first forty-five seconds or so you’re wondering what the hell’s going on and is this just awful Eurovision garbage. Then the chorus hits, though, and you put the video in a background because you’ve seen enough and it’s just weird, and you realise that actually it’s a really good song.

Tom: I actually said “oh!” out loud at that chorus.

Tim: The nice thing is that it works both as a standard pop track, which you’d be happy to hear multiple times, and as a Eurovision track, with a really strong hook which, even if it gets buried in the standard twenty-odd tracks in a row, stands out bright and loud in the multiple recaps.

Tom: You’re not wrong, although I don’t think the Hellenic Florence Welch sound is going to win over enough of the audience.

Tim: I don’t know, I really think this could do well. And, indeed, I hope it does.

Miki – La Venda

“It’s ridiculous, it’s nonsensical, it’s atrocious, and it’s brilliant.”

Tim: Tom, I’m not linking here to the official Eurovision channel, because I don’t want to tell you immediately what country this is. Instead, I want you to tell me roughly how many seconds passed before you guessed.

Tom: It actually took me until the vocals kicked in; I briefly thought it’d be Ireland from that intro instrumentation. And then, yes, it went very Spanish.

Tim: Very, very Spanish. So, I have multiple Eurovision history books, because of course I do, I’m me, and I can tell you that the idea for a Europe-wide contest came from a Swiss TV exec, Marcel Bezençon, who had two ideas. The first, a generic ‘talent show’ was rejected, which is probably a good thing as it would likely have ended up with ABBA sawing each other in half and Brotherhood of Man bringing us dancing dogs. The second was not rejected, as you can probably guess, and its original brief was ‘to promote high-quality original songwriting in the field of popular music’. 64 years later, we have this: Spain being as absolutely bloody Spanish as they possibly can, with a song that is entirely reminiscent of the fabulous piss-take that a Norwegian guy did a few years back, but played straight.

Tom: Those handclaps in the middle eight! I fully expected, just before the final chorus kicked in, someone to yell “¡Ay, caramba!” in the background.

Tim: And I love it. It’s ridiculous, it’s nonsensical, it’s atrocious, and it’s brilliant.

Tom: And it’s not going to win, but everyone involved will have a fantastic time.