Hilda x Don Diablo – Wake Me When It’s Quiet

“It’s okay to say no once in a while, if you need to.”

Tim: Right, so I don’t want to ask for things to be boring or anything, but can we come to an agreement about having multiple artists? ‘Feat.’ is fine, and so is ‘&’, because there’s justifiable difference between those two. But seriously, just ‘x’? Like, what’s the point?

Tom: Hey, at least it’s not “vs”. I’m choosing to believe that “x” means “they’re kissing”, like adding an x at the end of a text message. ANYWAY.

Tim: In this case, Hilda did the words and vocal melody, apparently as a tribute to Avicii, and Don Diablo built the dance music around it. And surely an & would do for that, no?

Tim: Indeed – which gave us, amongst other things, the unusual writing credit of Ant-Man of “Edgar Wright & Joe Cornish and Adam McKay & Paul Rudd”.

Tim: I don’t want to turn this into a post about mental health, and the toll that day after day after day performing high intensity shows with no break or let up can take on a person, because more relevant and qualified people have done that elsewhere, but I do like the message here: it’s okay to say no once in a while, if you need to.

Tom: I’m all for songs with non-standard but positive messages, and this definitely fits that.

Tim: I particularly like the reversal of the lyrics the second time round – there are people who’ll understand, and they’re the people to be with. But back to our usual: it’s also okay, if you don’t want to say no, to dance to this like no-one’s business, because this is a damn good dance track.

Tom: Is it, though? There are long sections in here with nothing but a vocoder (although admittedly “wake me when it’s quiet” is good for that). I’ll admit that once I stopped hearing the synths as clown nose-honks, it started getting a lot better, though.

Tim: I’m aware you put that clown noise comment in to annoy me; you’ll be pleased to know that actually I’m fine with it. I don’t hear that – just a strong beat, strong melody, strong everything. I like it a lot. A big lot.

Tove Styrke – Sway

“There was nothing that actually put me off in there; by my standards that counts as a victory.”

Tim: It is entirely possible that many people will have no time for this at all; nonetheless. there are a number of moments in here where I thought “ooh, I’m excited”, and by and large, they held up, so have a listen.

Tom: Playing ‘spot the London location’ in the video was fun, if nothing else. Full marks to the director for… well, basically everything there. So what were you excited by?

Tim: The first moment I really liked about that came at the 40 second mark, where it began as much of a build as is possible with a track that’s (at that point) instrumentally largely silent with the occasional drumbeat, and the first instance of that chorus sounded pretty good. Immediately flowing into the second verse kept me going, and then when everything comes back after the thirty second cut out in the video with a whole load of new instruments then as far as I’m concerned, it’s all quite lovely.

Tom: And for once, I’m in agreement, although I think again that might be more down to the director of photography than the producer of music. Still, there was nothing that actually put me off in there; by my standards that counts as a victory.

Tim: When it went quiet in the video I thought “blimey, do we really need another minute and a half?”, and it turns out that actually, what with where it was going, yes we do. And I’d happily have plenty more as well, so thanks Tove!

Galantis feat. Uffie – Spaceship

“It’s catchy! It’s well-composed! It’s not dull!”

Tim: Two albums down, and here’s some new music, accompanied by a video with a good few “woah, what did they just do?” moments.

Tim: Personally I feel that parkour peaked with that cold open from The Office, but it’s nice that it’s popping up every now and again just so the lazy amongst us can look at and think “that looks cool, I kind of wish I had the energy to do that”. But that’s not what we here to discuss – the music is. And fantastically, it’s still a good track!

Tom: It is! It’s catchy! It’s well-composed! It’s not dull!

Tim: Tell Me You Love Me was a nice return to form after a couple of iffy bits, and this seems to indicate we’re right back on top. We’ve all the energy that seemed missing from True Feeling, and a properly enjoyable chorus unlike what we had in Girls On Boys.

Tom: To be fair, there doesn’t actually appear to be anything other than a chorus anywhere. I know that’s Galantis’s shtick, but I do wonder if this’ll tire very quickly if there isn’t something to temper it a little. I was simultaneously enjoying it and wanting something different by the end.

Tim: All in all: very pleased with this, and I’m properly happy to be able to call myself a Proper Fan.

Saturday Flashback: Magnus Carlsson – Live Forever

“I thought the original performance was bad enough.”

Tom: Do you remember David Hasselhoff’s astonishing Hooked on a Feeling, and its nonsensical, astonishing (in the bad way) greenscreen from 1997?

Tim: I’d not seen that before; all I can say now is bloody hell. But what’s that got to do with this sublime Melodifestivalen 2007 track?

Tom: Well, I reckon Magnus Carlsson’s team saw that ten years later, and thought: technology’s moved on. We can do better.

Tom: Only with a key change.

Tim: Blimey, and I thought the original performance was bad enough, with the leather trousers, legs spread out at right angles and the almost offensive crotch grabbing.

Tom: And the “ha-aa-ooh” wail that, in hindsight, sounds suspiciously like it’s been borrowed from “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”.

Tim: Magnus: you will certainly live forever in my heart.

Backstreet Boys – Don’t Go Breaking My Heart

“It sounds surprisingly modern.”

Tom: Yep, they’re trying to do a Take That. I don’t mean just ‘a comeback’ here — this is, like, their third comeback, and they’ve been in and out of the media ever since. Doing a Take That means actually putting out new, good, music that the fans want to hear as much as the old stuff. Take That only released Rule the World in 2006. Shine was 2009. The Flood was 2010. All of those deservedly belong on a greatest-hits album, and they were all part of the comeback.

So: the Backstreet Boys’ new track sounds…

Tom: …okay, I guess?

Tim: Yes, but more than that it sounds surprisingly modern. Take That was slightly contemporary, but largely what they’d done before. Here, it’s a like a brand new band. Just, kind of a shame I want to sing “I am not a stranger to the dark…” over that piano line.

Alf – Amore Amore Amore

“GERMAN HUSKY VOICE MAN POP.”

Tim: GERMAN HUSKY VOICE MAN POP.

Tom: BRING IT ON.

Tim: “Amore Amore Amore, all stars explode with you; Amore Amore Amore, I can not exist without you.” That’s nice, isn’t it? Particularly when it comes with music like this.

Tom: Yeah, I wasn’t expecting that guitar in the background. This is half-way between pop song and football terrace chant. Fair play to him, he’s not actually doing anything wrong here.

Tim: And do you know what? Random thought, vaguely led because my sister’s just informed me she’s pregnant: I would LOVE to have this as a first dance at a wedding. Partly because of the lyrics, partly because it’d be a decent one to dance to in the expected fashion, but mostly just to see the expression on all the guests’ faces. You’ve got all your standards, with your Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing, your Amazed, your I Will Always Love You by people that haven’t properly listened to it…

Tom: And ‘Every Breath You Take’ for people who really haven’t listened to it.

Tim: …and my previous plan of All I Want For Christmas Is You, but dammit now I’m going for hefty German pop music, JUST BECAUSE I CAN. And if my future partner won’t go along with that, then let’s face it, the Whitney Houston one would probably be better suited to it.

K-391 & Alan Walker feat. Julie Bergan & Seungri – Ignite

“Alan in a room with a floating consciousness influencing him with invisible brainwaves.”

Tim: Easy intros first: Alan (producer) and Julie (female vocals) are both Swedish, and we’ve featured them before; Seungri (male vocals) is Korean, and we haven’t. Now, K391: a Norwegian ‘artist’, and I think it’s best if I quote from his website: “The artist called K-391 conceptualizes your musical getaway in the shape of a unique headset.”

Tom: You what.

Tim: Well, quite. It continues: “Instead of an actual person or group of people, K-391 is an innovative headset that is the living embodiment of its creator, functioning as a portal to another reality. When ignited, K-391 enables your escape from reality, with music as the vehicle and the destination only limited by your imagination.” Sounds a bit wanky, I know, but let’s listen to the music (and watch the demonstrative video) before judging him on that.

Tim: As with many tracks with multiple producers, I have no real idea who’s responsible for what – it’s entirely feasible that the K-391 construct provided the melody and Alan Walker provided the rave music, but equally I could be way, way off and it was Alan in a room with a floating consciousness influencing him with invisible brainwaves.

Tom: Or it could just be marketing junk. I’m going to assume that until proven otherwise.

Tim: Either way, they’ve come up with a perfectly serviceable dance track, with some excellent RAVE portions in it.

Tom: I swear I’ve heard that pre-chorus somewhere before, but yes, I suppose “perfectly serviceable” sums it up. It’s a little bit stock-music in places, but then when you have this many people (and, presumably, one artificial construct) working on a track, perhaps that’s always going to happen.

Tim: And, let’s face it, a video that does a good job of showing off exactly what they mean, and how music can help as a means of escapism. So however silly sounding their introduction is, I won’t begrudge anyone that. Nice work.

Troye Sivan – Bloom

“No, it’s a song about flowers”

Tim: Fancy a song about bumming?

Tom: Not this early in the morning.

Tim: Tough.

Tim: I mean obviously it’s not actually mentioned in the song, and whenever he’s asked he just says “no, it’s a song about flowers”, but if you look at the lyrics it’s bloody obvious, and he did tweet “#BopBoutBottoming” briefly before deleting it, and he previously described it as “the most subversively queer song on the album…almost like a little inside joke”, so basically draw your own conclusions.

Tom: I’m sure he’ll get along really well with Inner Circle, although I’m not sure they’ll promise to hold his hand.

Tim: It’s a lovely song, either way, with both the lyrics and music bringing that sense of vulnerability that most people can relate to, be it about that specific situation, or first times in general.

Tom: Is it, though? Those two-note verses aren’t really pleasant to listen to, and the chorus doesn’t have much more going for it. The weird whisper-echo in the middle eight grates like fingers on a blackboard for me. It’s got one chorus too many, too.

Tim: Oh, shame, because I’ve got none of those issues. The video I’ll go with as ‘mildly disconcerting’, because I know that’s not meant to look realistic or anything but it still creeps me out quite a bit – like, I know it’s your first time and all, but do you really need that much lube?

Tom: Mate.

Tim: Hello! BUT IF YOU LIKED THIS: other songs you may enjoy include “Harder You Get” by Scissor Sisters, “The Magic Position” by Patrick Wolf and “I Said Never Again (But Here We Are)” by Rachel Stevens.

Saaro Alto – Monsters

“Let’s talk, briefly, about what happened on Saturday night.”

Tim: Okay, so let’s talk, briefly, about what happened on Saturday night. I’m not talking about our result, because that’d lead to a wild and inaccurate chorus of ‘everybody hates us’, or about the stage invasion, because enough has been said about that elsewhere. Nor do I want to talk about the winner, which really just sounded like someone had raided the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

Tom: Harsh. Not entirely unfair, but harsh.

Tim: Part of me wants to talk about the massive jury/televote disparity that occurred with a surprisingly high number of songs this year – to name just two, Sweden was fourth after all the juries, but immediately (and joyously) second from bottom with the televotes, while Ukraine was bottom with the jurors. but top 10 with the viewers, despite performing first.

Tom: The jury voting calculation was changed this year, too, so one juror couldn’t drag down the vote from a country.

Tim: What I really want to talk about is this one.

Tim: Because OH MAN, talk about an injustice with it finishing second from bottom. It actually got very similar points to us – 25 from the jury, and 23 vs our 25 for the televotes – which isn’t particularly surprising, given that they are very similar styles (which I suppose does mean somewhat that I’m moaning about our placing, but never mind).

Tom: So when we ran through all the tracks before Eurovision, you rated this as your third best — whereas I rated it as “I have no opinions about this song whatsoever”. Which makes sense, because even listening back to it now, I can’t actually remember having ever heard it before. Why on earth did you like it?

Tim: Well maybe it’s just a preferred genre, then, but I see this as a damn good track, particularly once you add in the staging, which has everything there but the knife thrower, and that death-defying (ish) leap at the end. It really, really surprised me when I realised it was getting so few points. Mystifying, it is. Downright MYSTIFYING.

Tom: I think it’s more than it’s just… it’s just a middle-of-the-road song. Competent, sure, but there’s nothing to make it stand out.

Tim: Actually, there is one other thing worth noting: smug irritant Alexander Rybak came top in his semi-final but finished left hand side of the table. Funny old thing, Eurovision, isn’t it?

Saturday Reject: Rebecca – Who We Are

“MULTIPLE WIND MACHINES INCOMING.”

Tim: The big day is here, so let’s finish our run of Rejects with a big number – Norway’s runner up, coming just behind the nonsense that was Alexander Rybak. WIND MACHINE INCOMING.

Tom: Coincidentally, I had beans for lunch.

Tim: MULTIPLE WIND MACHINES INCOMING.

Tom: It’s Norwegian Adele! Ådele, maybe she’s called.

Tim: And while obviously it’s not a bet that could ever be called, I’d put a lot of money on there being an alternate, and better, timeline where That’s How You Write A Song was sung by some random Olaf, and then got correctly knocked out in the first round before this was crowned Norway’s representation, because OH MY DAYS is it a cracker.

Tom: It’s a bloody good Big Emotional Song, isn’t it? Given the right competition, so it stands out, that could win Eurovision. And yet it’s not going to get the chance.

Tim: The thing is, it plays by every single Eurovision ballad rule there is, except not quite. The first minute or so is obvious: a raw display of sensitivity and weakness in a quiet verse, a rising sense of emotional growth and empowerment into the chorus, and a whole load of massive instrumental moments that the crowd can go wild for.

Tom: Or turn their phone lights on themselves so they can mug for the camera. I see you, random Norwegian narcissist in the front row. Anyway, yes, massive instrumental moments.

Tim: Repeat for a second time, though a just tad louder, EXCEPT we don’t then drop into a middle eight. That’s it. That second chorus was SO BIG, SO POWERFUL that the audience is left with the plain and simple knowledge that Rebecca is an incredible woman who can have the world, and doesn’t have to play by the rulebook to get it.

Tom: And it works. Alas, Rybak got in the way.

Tim: It doesn’t matter that the message in the lyrics is remarkably confused, what matters is that REBECCA IS QUEEN. (But out of respect for you, Tom, I won’t type what I really really want to.)

Tom: Thanks, Tim.