Astrid S – Emotion

“I’m sure that it’s good noise.”

Tim: NOISE.

Tim: Is it good noise? I’m not sure. I think it is.

Tom: I’m sure that it’s good noise. What I like is that these are chord progressions and melodies that you could hear in schlager, and drums that you could have heard in a Phil Collins track decades ago, but they’re applied to a really Intense Big Dark Modern Production.

Tim: It almost, in fact, reminds me of the dark days of dubstep five or six years ago, where we’d get a nice melodic verse and chorus before suddenly a HRRRRRRNNKK VWOMP VWOMP VWORP NEEEEEEEOOOOOWWW would come along and ruin everything. It’s not nearly as bad as that here, of course, not least because the only time it really happens so suddenly is after the first chorus – after that, I’m slightly prepared for it, and it has vocals layered on top which calms it down somewhat.

Tom: My only complaint — and let’s take a moment to appreciate how rare those words are here — is that because everything’s compressed so hard, the mroe subtle instrumentation gets swamped under the BIG NOISE. But overall, yeah, I really like this. It’s not BIG VWORP DUBSTEP, it’s something much better.

Tim: It’s also, obviously, nowhere near as harsh a sound, so, yeah, overall I think it’s good noise. Positive, at least.

Tom: I hit replay immediately after listening, and I sang along with the chorus. That’s everything I want in a pop song. This is great.

Anna Bergendahl – Rasie The Vibe

“You just know the singer will clap their hands above their head in every single live performance.”

Tim: Hello Tom and welcome back!

Tom: Thanks! I’m just about coping! Let’s talk about music!

Tim: You may (or may not, I’d completely forgotten) that Anna came back earlier this year with a slightly country-esque number with occasional synths; it didn’t chart anywhere but why let that spoil anything?

Tim: And THAT THERE is one of those songs where you just know the singer will clap their hands above their head in every single live performance to get the crowd going along as well.

Tom: I’m not sure, but I think all the drummer has to do, through all the verses, is stomp on the kick drum pedal every beat. Frankly, the crowd clapping along would perk it up a bit.

Tim: In fairness, though, it’s a perfectly decent song to clap along to, and one that does indeed raise the vibe of what might otherwise have been a dull gig. And for that, I’ll take it. Particularly that nice background vocal and drumbeat back from the middle eight. That’s very nice, that bit.

Tom: It is. But I’m not sure the middle eight being very nice is enough to make a barnstorming pop hit.

Cazzi Opeia – Rich

“A video that looks like a school project demonstrating all the effects a kid can possibly hunt down.”

Tim: Cazzi’s recently been doing a bit of song writing for a couple of K-Pop groups (TWICE and Red Velvet, in case you fancy looking them up), but has now released tis herself, almost a year after her last. Which was pretty decent, as it happens.

Tim: And while we’ve a video that looks like a school project demonstrating all the effects a kid can possibly hunt down (which is pretty impressive if that was the goal), I like the song very much. Bouncy, fun, enjoyable, and a good (and, now I think about it, almost surprisingly unusual) way of dealing with the naughty words in the chorus). That ‘riiiiiiiiich’ is striking and attention grabbing; possibly a little divisive, and I wasn’t sure what to make when I first heard it. A few listens in, though: I’m all on board with it. Nice.

Saturday Flashback: Linda Bengtzing – Jag Ljuger Så Bra

“WHAT A BANGER.”

Tim: So I was out last night seeing Ace Wilder perform, and tbh it was a bit disappointing – despite having a fairly extensive back catalogue of great songs, she only sung Wild Child, Dansa i Neon and Busy Doin’ Nothing, and then for an encore did Busy Doin’ Nothing a second time. On the other hand, the rest of the music played was absolutely cracking, such as this, which I was OUTRAGED to discover we’d never covered. So here it is.

Tim: Finished a close second in its heat in Melodifestivalen 2006, bang in the middle of what could justifiably be described as schlager’s golden age, or maybe its renaissance, and would later come 7th in the final. WHAT A BANGER.

Isle of You – Mindcrime

“Ah, so we’re doing CHVRCHES now.”

Tim: If you’ll recall, Mindcrime (Isle of You’s last track we featured) was absolutely flipping brilliant. This one, well, anything would struggle to live up to that, but take a listen anyway.

Tim: I think I’ve mentioned this before (probably on an Alan Walker track), but I’ll always find it a bit weird how sometimes I’ll immediately associate particular with one single act. Alan has his twiddling volume thing, Kygo has his variant of tropical house, Galantis have got their sound (though Sigala’s starting to encroach) and Avril Lavigne has female-fronted pop rock. And eight seconds after pressing play on this, I thought “ah, so we’re doing CHVRCHES now”. That’s a compliment, really, because if a song gets me immediately thinking of one of the best pop acts around the moment, they can’t be doing much wrong. It takes a while to get going properly, admittedly, but by halfway through when the second chorus around and we’re all in for the rest of the song, well that’s just lovely. Sounding good all round, despite being almost entirely different the S Club stylings of their last track. Nice.

Christopher – Irony

“DIDN’T HAPPEN”

“Can you see the irony?” asks Christopher here in the chorus, or a variety of situations. More important to us, though, is has he done an Alanis Morissette?

Hmm, well, it works some of the time and the video’s good fun, so I’ll let him have it. It does sometimes annoy me with anecdotal lyrics like this, because so often I just want to yell “DIDN’T HAPPEN” at the screen – has he really decided he will never again let his mum see him in a T-shirt (and Selena, did you really have a dream you were sipping whisky neat?)- but again, I’ll give it a pass, mostly because I just really like this song. It’s got a lovely melody, the instrumentation’s a lovely mix of tinkly piano and beautiful strings, and best of all I can actually remember it after it’s finished. Lovely.

Robin Stjernberg – Under Water

“Let’s have some trumpets, because why not.”

Tim: Tom’s off for a bit, so I’m afraid you’ve just got me; as compensation, here’s a new one off Robin, the title track from last Friday’s EP.

Tim: And it’s sounding good, right? That chorus has so many great things going for it – that very first line with the slightly weird vocal, the simple but nice sounding melody, the haunting sound of those backing singers, it’s all good. Come the end of the song, throw in some trademark Robin howling and, oh, let’s have some trumpets, because why not. All in: TOP WORK.

Saturday Flashback: Roland Kaiser and Maite Kelly – Warum hast du nicht nein gesagt

“Isn’t it nice that the German breakfast newsreaders released their own single?”

Tom: We’re covering this, Tim, simply because it autoplayed after that DJ Ötzi track you sent me, and my first thought on seeing the video was “isn’t it nice that the German breakfast newsreaders released their own single?”

Tim: Erm…

Tim: Ah, yes. Yeah, that is a weird video look, isn’t it? Nice song, mind, despite (or perhaps thanks to) it being entirely predictable – well, almost, as I reckon Ladbrokes would have given you evens on a key change.

Tom: Roland Kaiser, it turns out, has a long and storied history with writing and singing schlager (and it’s even longer in German). We’ve talked before about how Germany seems more than happy to have a large roster of older male schlager singers who’ve been entertaining for decades with uncomplicated, undemanding pop.

That’s not meant as an insult: sometimes this is exactly what you need to cheer you up.

Tim: It really really is. Just a lot of fun.

Tim Schou – Run Run Run Run Run

“Significantly less entertaining than the video that accompanies it.”

Tim: Top name, this lad, and here we have a song that’s significantly less entertaining than the video that accompanies it. But let’s have a gander anyway.

Tom: It was nice of Portugal. The Man to let him borrow their bassline, wasn’t it? Sadly that is pretty much the best part of the track. As for that video…

Tim: TIMMY TIME is without a doubt my single favourite moment of that video, but the cartoon Tim riding a flying rainbow horse is pretty good as well, I must say. An interesting tale is told, and while it’s not a situation I’ve ever found myself in I’m sure it can be fairly traumatic.

Tom: Mm. I’m not convinced: I’m always irritated by music videos that just tell the story of the song when there’s an opportunity to do more. The animation doesn’t help, nor does the blatant “Look, A Woman Disrobing But Not Too Far”.

Tim: As far as the song goes, it’s somewhat ear-wormy, and that underlying humming does get a bit much after a couple of listens, but it’s not unenjoyable.

Not a patch on that video, though.

DJ Ötzi – Bella Ciao

“It’s like a better version of Alan Walker’s trilogy.”

Tom: Wait. This isn’t a Flashback?

Tim: Oh, hell no – he’s still going very strong, and in fact in January he’s got a “20 Years of DJ Ötzi – Party Without End” album coming out. Anyway, I had a bit of a rubbish day yesterday, so naturally when I discovered DJ Ötzi had a new track out (the first of the new tracks from the aforementioned album) I thought “oh, this’ll cheer me up”. It took a worrying 55 seconds to do it, but it did.

Tom: Good heavens, it feels wrong for DJ Ötzi to have drone shots in his video. It’s all very… modern. But unlike you, I was cheered up at the start: I trusted that old, clichéd clap sample.

Tim: Now I don’t want to get too deep down into the video, because if I did I’ll ask questions like why are there several dozen people in weird Jeremy Corbyn outfits when there were only five invitations sent out, and then where did they all go?

Tom: It’s like a better version of Alan Walker’s trilogy. But yes, perhaps best not to ask too many questions.

Tim: So instead we’ll talk about accordions, brass, LIVING, chanting, wildlife parks and a pleasantly placed key change.

Tom: “Bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao ciao ciao” is such a terrible chorus melody, though.

Tim: Won’t deny that, and it’ll probably not go down in musical history as an Ötzi classic, but there’s a nice combination of everything here that means it’ll do the job. So in honour of that album coming out, everyone together: “LASS UNS LEBEN!”