Dorfrocker & SchoKKverliebt – Stille Helden

“Hey, it’s Mia – sorry, how long exactly did we say that final ‘nicht’ should sound?”

Tim: Germany has some very strict lockdown rules in place right now which means that, while feats. with separate ‘you sing one bit, I’ll sing another’ will probably be okay, proper duets, with both acts singing at the same time, might suffer a little. For example.

Tim: It’s so close. So, so close. Many bits are perfect, in fact – typically, the start of each line, they’re all in on time. But agh, the sibilants, and the drawn out words. “Hey, it’s Mia – sorry, how long exactly did we say that final ‘nicht’ should sound?”

Tom: Every part of the broadcast and entertainment industry is having to deal with lockdown rules in their own way: this is, at least, more competent than all the American late-night hosts trying to record shows on their phone with no lapel mic.

Tim: That’s very true, and to be honest even the small amount of negativity introduced by this is pretty much cancelled out by this actually being a pretty good song in many ways – there’s a good melody (especially with the unexpected key change), and the production’s surprisingly good given that half of it was recorded in Dorfrocker’s bedroom and the other in SchoKKverliebt’s living room.

Tom: Right! And the audience will forgive a lot for something like this. Even the dodgy stock footage.

Tim: I can’t find the lyrics online, but it’s a nice message as well, a song of thanks to all the ‘Silent Helpers’ keeping the country running right now. All in, turned out nice. I guess you work with what you’ve got (or, hopefully, haven’t).

Fontaines D.C. – Liberty Belle

“It’s loud, it’s fast and it’s very very shouty.”

Tim: Here’s a fun start to the week for you, but be aware it’s not remotely our usual.

Tom: I know we push into other genres sometimes, Tim, but my reaction to this is basically the same as your reaction to Choke a few months ago: oh, mate, why?

Tim: Because I like it, and  I like it for exactly the same reason that I like Na Na Na (which it does sound very similar to, and I’m fairly sure you could lay the chorus of one directly on top of the other) and the occasional Dropkick Murphys song – it’s loud, it’s fast and it’s very very shouty.

Tom: There’s a few other melodies off Danger Days that could fit in here as well. And yes, once I adjusted my expectations: there are good bits in here, and at two and a half minutes it doesn’t outstay its welcome.

Tim: It first came out in 2018, and I’ve no idea why, but it’s suddenly getting a lot of play right now on the radio, and, yeah, I’m really really glad about that. Greg James is currently playing it every morning, and every morning it gets me out of bed, maybe jumping around a bit but definitely shouting along to it, forgetting everything everything else that’s going on and just having fun.

Tom: Mm. Well, I’m glad you’re enjoying it.

Tim: Ah, very kind of you to say.

Saturday Reject: Liza Vassilieva – I Am Gay

“Well, yes, that’s certainly a track, isn’t it?”

Tom: Strong title.

Tim: Indeed, and spoiler alert: this song sounds exactly like you think a Scandinavian Eurovision song called ‘I Am Gay’ will sound.

Tom: Millennial whoop in the first few seconds, and… well, yes, that’s certainly a track, isn’t it?

Tim: It entirely and definitely is. It got through to the final, and then the gold final, but not to the gold duel, which is…well, I’ll be honest, probably about right. It did respectably enough, Liza can go home with her head held high, and Norway get to send a sensible song to Eurovision which might have a fair amount of mass-market appeal.

Tom: The lyrics are… well, I think it’d be wrong to say “trite”, but let’s go with “simplistic and so on-the-nose”. This is a specific simile, but: it feels like the sort of song a sitcom would put together as a cheap joke. It feels like Minimum Viable Pop Song.

Tim: In case you’re wondering, Liza is entirely not gay, but apparently the song was written by her and submitted with the intention that NRK would find someone else to sing it, but then they asked her anyway; my feelings on that are muddled at best, really, so actually I’m kind of glad it didn’t go through for that reason as well, so I don’t have to spend time working out whether or not that annoys me. Well done Norway, sensible all round.

Melanie C – Who I Am

“Fits the nightmare art-gallery-of-self music video.”

Tom: She’s back! Well, actually she was back in December but we didn’t notice.

Tim: Hmm. That did not start out in the genre I was expecting, given the last time we featured her (which still holds up).

Tom: A “very personal song” to her, apparently, which fits the nightmare art-gallery-of-self music video.

Tim: Lyrics certainly hold that up as well.

Tom: I don’t really know what to make of it: it sounds a lot like something that could have been on a Mel C album a couple of decades back, which is not necessarily a bad thing for the fans. I do wonder if anyone else is going to pay much attention to it — although, frankly, if you have an audience, aiming directly at them isn’t a bad strategy.

Tim: Yeah – I’ve always enjoyed her music, and it very much feels targeted toward my tastes. THere’s very little for me to complain about here.

Tom: And hey, I could sing the chorus after one listen, that’s always a good sign.

Rita Ora – How To Be Lonely

“Hun, read the room.”

Tim: “I know!” thinks Rita. “Everyone’s stuck inside at the moment, so I’m going to release a song with a title that suggests it will guide them through that, with helpful tips and instructions. This can’t possibly go wrong.” Oh, wait.

Tom: See, I saw this a few days ago, and thought about sending it to you: but I genuinely just found it a bit too much of a downer.

Tim: Well, that’s just it. Maybe it’s just bad luck – I don’t know how far in advance it’s possible to push back a song’s release, or abandon it altogether, but hun, read the room. It’s a decent track, there’s no doubting that – the melody’s fine, I can remember the chorus after it’s finished, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with the vocals or production.

Tom: Musically, it’s decent: of course it is, it’s a Rita Ora single. The production isn’t going to be anything other than excellent.

Tim: But how many people really want to hear lines like “end up on my own almost every night” and “you could be the one to take me home”?

Tom: Right! There’s actually a lot right with this. And the radio is playing it — I’m not convinced it’s a complete flop.

Tim: Oh, sure – I might be wrong, and it could pick up as the weeks progress. But still, that timing.

Feuerherz – 1x2x3x

“Side note: why is their bed on a taxiway?!”

Tim: Not sure if you’ll remember this lot or not – they’re slightly of the ‘forgettable but also each time vaguely notable’ category.

Tom: I remember the name, not the song, which is above my usual standard. Dansband? Or boyband? I saw that name and thought ‘a bit kitsch’.

Tim: Pretty much, yeah: for some reason someone’s decided to make a very 90s boyband, and it’s often a mix of enjoyable and laughable. And if you don’t burst out laughing at the 50 second mark here, you are absolutely not the Tom Scott I thought I knew.

Tom: You’ll be happy to learn that I did, at least, giggle at that moment.

Tim: Fabulous. Right, so here’s the thing: pretty much anywhere in the world, this here is deeply unfashionable. We all know that. The production and backing sounds straight out of late 90s Backstreet Boys, any choreographer that suggested that dance move would be banned from the industry, and him in the bed with the shaved armpits (Karsten, 26, yes I’ve done my research) would be told to come back when he no longer looks like a Ken doll.

Tom: Side note: why is their bed on a taxiway?! You could happily have an aviation-themed video without having a BED on a TAXIWAY. Anyway. Yes. Deeply unfashionable.

Tim: In Germany, though, they’re lapping it up: they’ve all come from various bands and talent shows, they’ve got multiple top ten albums, and before their upcoming tour got postponed they’d sold out stadiums.

Tom: Wait, really? With only 40,000 views on the video as I watch this, two days after launch, I’m surprised they’ve managed to get that sort of audience. But looking at the live chat replay, there are clearly fans, and those fans are clearly Very Into It.

Tim: Absolutely, and for my part I’m very much with them. I find it absolutely joyous that this music is being made, and while it says on this website’s sidebar that I want to move to Scandinavia because they have better music, I’m now considering joining my cousin in Berlin. Sure, I’d like a key change while they’re picking each other up and transporting to a peculiarly lit hanger, but I can manage without.

Tom: Side note: that spin-the-other-guys around move, while not something you’d expect in this century, is actually kind of impressive.

Tim: Also true. All of it, really, is lovely, fun to listen to, and just the sort of pop music I’m looking for when I want something happy to listen to.

Tom: Right! I suspect, with no evidence, that we’re going to see a lot more ‘comfortable’ pop music over the next year or so: doom-chic is not going to be popular for a while. By the standards of German schlager, this is good.

Tim: As for the lyrics, it’s basically “We hooked up last night, it was brilliant, I don’t want to do it once, twice, three times more, I want you for a lifetime”, so that must have been a pretty amazing one night stand; fortunately no-one’s really able to go outside any more so I guess they’re getting their wish. Hooray!

Saturday Reject: Didrik & Emil Solli-Tangen – Out of Air

“He’s dialling down the operatics and he’s ramped up the dance beat.”

Tim: So, Eurovision’s off. It was rumoured Tuesday night, and then confirmed Wednesday morning. Let’s be honest: upsetting but probably the right thing to do. HOWEVER, the songs are all still out there, and so are the ones that didn’t get chosen, so let’s just keep going as per, shall we? You’ll remember Didrik of course from coming a disappointing and unjust 20th at Eurovision 2010 with the stunning My Heart Is Yours; ten years on, he’s back!

Tom: You know how bad my memory is for songs, Tim? Well: not only can I remember the name, not only can I remember the track — I can remember the chorus.

Tim: Cor, bloody hell, that’s a heck of a compliment.

Tom: Although I think if you’d have asked me, I’d have said it was a Josh Groban number. Anyway, yes, I remember him!

Tim: He’s got rid of much of his outstanding hair (seriously, check the artwork); he’s compensating by bringing along his younger brother, who does have good hair; he’s dialling down the operatics; and he’s ramped up the dance beat.

Tom: Those are some strong “woah-oh-oh-oh” bits in the introduction. And it never really lets up from there, does it?

Tim: Oh, it’s just FABULOUS. This one didn’t have to qualify to get to the final (it’s weird, but to celebrate Norway at Eurovision turning 60, NRK made Melodi Grand Prix bigger, more confusing and a tad unfair for many qualifiers, but never mind that), but got knocked out before the Gold Final (though again, that’s complicated, as there was a SCANDAL involving the online voting system breaking down). However and wherever it ended up doesn’t really matter, though, because isn’t it just a TUNE and a half?

Tom: Like last week’s track, it reminds me of a lot of things I’ve heard before: although at least, this time, it doesn’t bring back memories of a specific Eurovision winner. It’s a solid track. And the harmonies in the final chorus!

Tim: Melody, vocals, beat, sparklers, EVERYTHING.

Tom: Full marks to the steadicam operator for that move in the second verse, too.

Tim: They’re both enjoying singing it, and I’m enjoying hearing it. Brilliant stuff.

Ava Max – Kings & Queens

“Something about the notes, the cadence, the harmonies…”

Tom: “What does this remind me of?” I wondered, on the opening about it. Something about the notes, the cadence, the harmonies…

Tom: …oh, yep, never mind, got it.

Tim: Ah, see I went immediately into “If I was a woman…” (and it turns out the writer of that, and, FUN FACT, the song Bonnie Tyler entered Eurovision with, is credited here), but yeah, yours is even more so. That might even beat Still In Love With Potato Waffles.

Tom: I mean, there’s more that I could point out here: the dick joke, the fact we’ve got two middle eights including an electric guitar solo like it’s the 90s, but mainly I just want to point out that it sounds a lot like a Coca-Cola jingle that, infuriatingly, is still trapped in my head decades later.

Tim: Well, get an updated version trapped in your head instead.

Gareth Emery feat. Annabel – You’ll Be OK

“Cor, blimey – that has cheered me RIGHT UP.”

Tom: This takes a long time to get going, and I suspect it goes in a direction you won’t expect.

Tim: Cor, blimey – I’ve been feeling miserable recently, because obviously, but that has cheered me RIGHT UP. Yep, I did not expect that.

Tom: Full-on trance, to the point where his new album is called “THE LASERS”.

Tim: And without even hearing a single one of his other tracks, I’m already looking forward to it. Surprised you like it, though, what the chilled house style first half that’s more my sort of thing.

Tom: I don’t think I am particularly a big fan of the track — I think it’s a bit slow at points, and I’m not sure about that melody. Honestly, I don’t care. I just enjoyed the fact that someone is still putting out music like this, that it’s still getting attention, and that the title is “You’ll Be OK”.

Tim: Yes. Yes, we will. Probably.  

Frida Sundemo – Anything

“There is definitely something to be said for soaring strings.”

Tim: First new music from Frida since her divine 2017 album Flashbacks & Futures and here’s an early prediction: I’ll really like it, you’ll get why but not enjoy it as much.

Tim: About right?

Tom: About right, although I reckon this is a cut above the usual dreampop you send over. I’m not saying I’m about to add it to a load of playlists, but there are some genuinely lovely bits in here.

Tim: Sonically, and especially instrumentally, she’s very similar to The Sound of Arrows, just female and solo, and, well, that’s entirely what I’m looking for in music to listen to. There are definite ups and downs, mind, with the occasional moment in the verse bringing along a “hurry up, get to the good bit”, but then OH, it soon does.

Tom: There is definitely something to be said for soaring strings. This feels almost more like a soundtrack piece than a pop song, but then — for me at least — that’s true of a lot of this genre.

Tim: That instrumental section kicks in at 2:45? I could sit back and listen to that for, I don’t know, probably a good quarter hour or so. Just lovely.