Oskar Häggström – Timme Som Minut

“Well, that’s nice, isn’t it?”

Tim: He’s got a crush on her (or him); she (or he) is way out of his league; whenever they’re in the same room the time seems to go very quickly, or to be more precise “Hour like a minute”.

Tom: Well, that’s nice, isn’t it? There’s a lot of good, calm melodies in there: it builds really, really well.

Tim: Disappointingly there’s no happy resolution, Teenage Dirtbag-style, at the end of this, it’s just a “yeah, I like you…okay then”, and we as listeners are left to wonder if anything did ever come of it.

That’d be nice, sometimes, if romantic songs had sequels, so the first one could be like this, and the second could be that yeah, she decided to go for it, and ooh, then we could have a whole SERIES of songs, each one documenting a further stage in the relationship, going through multiple dates, marriage, tricky patch, kids to make it better, everything becoming wonderful, growing old together and seeing the grandchildren go off to school and write songs of their own. As it is, we’ve got nothing. Ah, well.

Tom: Lockdown’s going okay, then?

Tim: Music’s alright though.

Tom: It is, and I was going to write some more about it, but honestly I don’t think there’s anything I can add now.

Cathrin – Kite

“Okay, we’ve had completely different reactions to this.”

Tim: Cathrim Gram is from Norway, has a spelling unusual enough that she can go by just her first name, and last week presumably got a call along the lines of “right, song’s lined up for release on Friday, but obviously we can’t now get together to do the video. You able to sort something out, maybe with your family?”

Tim: So first up: yes, the song drags on a bit, though it does sound good, but that’s not why I wanted to feature it. It’s the video, partly because it’s fun regardless, but mainly because I’m not sure they’d have done one anywhere near as nice if there were people involved.

Tom: Okay, we’ve had completely different reactions to this. I understand the reasoning behind the video — and I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing — but I think it takes away from the song so, so much. When I put it into a background tab and just listened, the song became a lot better.

Tim: Hmm. You know, I was so taken by the video that I’d not listened to it without it, and now I’ve done that you’re absolutely right. Paying attention to it properly, it comes across like a good Bright Light Bright Light track (new one out today, incidentally, and we’ll probably get to that at some point), and that’s never a bad thing.

Back to the video, though, and for me it captures the mood of the song perfectly, mostly because it just takes large parts of the song and acts them out directly. My main thought, really, is that if it was actual people playing out the scenes it would just come across as irritating mawkish. As it is, acted out with smurfs (and lots of them, they must have a hefty collection), for me it comes across as less cloying and more ‘aw, cute’. Just me?

Tom: Just you, I think. Honestly, this is a really good track: there’s a lot of interesting counterpoint melodies going on in the background, it’s novel enough to be interesting without being off-putting. I’m not convinced about all the lyrics, and I think you’re right that it could use being a bit shorter, but — without that video — it’s a decent, interesting track in a genre that I can’t quite place.

Tim: Good thing most speakers and headphones don’t come with displays, then.

Boy in Space – u n eye

“Look! Happy flowers!”

Tim: There’s probably some sort of logic in getting rid of two letters from each of the first two words so you need to add to to the third one, but let’s not focus on it. Look! Happy flowers!

Tim: So, here’s the thing: if this came from, I don’t know, Niall Horan, I’d be entirely “huh, yeah” and then move on swiftly.

Tom: Which is actually what I did a few days ago — I thought about sending you this, but I really couldn’t find much to talk about. It’s… no, see, that’s the problem, I literally don’t know how to continue that sentence.

Tim: It’s nice guitar stuff, sure, but there are also a number of things to dislike about it, not least the vocoding on the ‘you and I’ (sorry, ‘u n eye’) in the chorus being the main one. And yet because it’s Boy In Space, I like it.

Tom: Huh. I wonder if that’s because you’re used to his music, or because it’s just a genre that works for you? That vocoding irritates me, and the rest just leaves me cold. But that’s just personal taste: and we know well that ours differ.

Tim: I don’t know if I’m subliminally predisposed to liking his music somehow, or just that I mostly like his style and therefore always give him the benefit of the doubt, but either way: I like this. There are flaws, I’m aware of them, but I like it.

Anna-Maria Zimmermann – 1000 Träume weit (Torneró) – Version 2020

“Shall we have some good old reliable German schlager?”

Tim: Things are a bit grim right now, we’ve all been asked to stay inside, shall we have some good old reliable German schlager?

Tom: YES. Although I’m still not used to seeing “2020” as a year.

Tim: Quick history lesson for you: 1978, Italian group I Santo California recorded Tornerò; 2009 German artist Antonia aus Tirol turned it German and released it as 1000 Träume weit; a few months later, Anna-Maria here made it BANGING. And now, because the time has presumably come to make some more money, she’s rerecorded it with some modern stylings.

Tom: Well, that’s exactly what I didn’t know I needed to hear today. And full marks for whatever that shirt’s made out of, too, that’s a bold costume choice. As for the music…

Tim: I’ll be honest with you: there’s really not much of a difference. There are those twiddly vocals that are mandatory these days, the backing oh-oh-oh-oh-ohhhhs are quite a bit lower in the mix, and it’s a tad shorter, but otherwise it’s exactly as it was, key change and all.

And that, as far as I’m concerned, is no bad thing at all.

Tom: I was about to say the same. Sure, you could call it a blatant cash-in, but it’s genuinely difficult for me to be cynical with schlager like this.

Tim: This is jump up and down, hands in the air, lasers all over the place stuff, once you’ve had a few drinks. You’re yelling out with the backing every time it appears, and you’re going absolutely bloody nuts for that key change. And if we can’t go nuts for a key change, what can we do?

SHY Martin feat. Boy In Space – Still The Same

“They’re switching places, with an appropriately different sound.”

Tim: Previously, him featuring her, which we both gave a fair old thumbs up to. Now they’re switching places, with an appropriately different sound.

Tom: That was a really interesting video from a produciton perspective, and — while it’s not relevant to the music — I want to talk about it for a moment. The aesthetic is very 90s, because it looks like a cheap disposable camera. 4:3, wide but limited focus, a harsh flash next to the camera and a very short shutter speed. Except there are thousands of shots in there, all taken very quickly, which would’ve been very difficult with actual film: so this is clearly a modern digital camera, presumably with the light constantly on.

It’s a very very interesting style to go for: the past, but not quite.

Anyway, the music! It’s nice enough, isn’t it?

Tim: So, this is tricky, because I like both of these folks as artists, and I liked their last collaboration, and there’s a lot in here that I do like – the melody, the voices, and the sound when it gets going is absolutely lovely.

Tom: Yes. I sense an “except” approaching at speed, though.

Tim: Except, well, there isn’t much time when it really is going. The first chorus has something to it, the second verse a little bit, second chorus a bit more, but it’s not until the closing chorus until it becomes really good and enjoyable – and that happens less than forty seconds from the end. Dammit, I really want to like this, and I do! Just…not very much of it.

Victor Crone – Troubled Waters

“Up on stage asking his native Sweden if they’d let him have a go for them. They said no.”

Tim: Ten months after representing Estonia at Eurovision and not doing too badly, he was up on stage asking his native Sweden if they’d let him have a go for them. They said no.

Tim: I say they said no, that’s not entirely fair – the voters didn’t dislike this too much, apparently not holding much of a grudge; the juries ranked it right at the bottom, though, which is disappointing, not least because we haven’t had staging that confusing at Eurovision since Sergey Lazarev four years ago.

Tom: It took me a good few seconds to realise he was lying down at the start. Still, at least he seems to be having a good time on stage, if nothing else, that enthusiasm is genuinely impressive.

Tim: Mind you, it is largely about the song, and…well, as I say so often, I don’t get why this was ranked so low – I know it got to the final which is credit enough, but dammit jurors, let’s in future get them giving reasons for their scores as well can we?

I’ll grant you, it wasn’t the top song of the night, but both he and the song (that note out of the middle eight!) have got a huge amount going for them. DAMN YOU ALL.

Tom: You’re right, that note is impressive — but the overall piece sounded a bit like Avicii’s style ten years ago, and even at three minutes it felt a bit long to me. It’s good! There’s nothing wrong with it! It probably belonged in the final! But I can see why the music industry types would think it’s a bit passé.

Tim: Actually, lastly, back to that staging, and watching Sergey, it’s got me wondering: how long do we think it’ll be before Eurovision gets motion capture on stage?

Anna Bergendahl – Kingdom Come

Tim: Sweden chose its Eurovision entry last Saturday; as tradition dictates, let’s spend the week seeing what they could have had instead, starting with this TRIUMPH (although sadly not an actual triumph).

Tom: It’s time for the Week of Rejects!

Tim: WHAT A SONG, and to be honest I’m almost surprised it came as high as it did, because it’s the sort of song that I love, Swedish folk are okay with and juries slate (pretty much like her song last year, in fact).

Tom: It’s solid, isn’t it? It feels almost like a Eurovision song from a few years back.

Tim: But nope, in the end it came fourth with both and third overall, maths is great isn’t it?

Tom: That makes sense, if there were songs above it that divided public and juries a lot more. Melodifestivalen selections have to at least satisfy both.

Tim: And that, I think, is pretty much exactly where it should have come – the lyrics are powerful, the music is BANGING but it is alas probably not a Eurovision song right now, and we really really don’t want a repeat of ten years ago when she became the only Swede in history not to qualify.

Tom: You’re right: these days something like this stands a fair chance of dropping out in the semis.

Tim: As for the staging, it was kept to a minimum all round this year – I think there was some reason given, but was almost certainly nonsense – but Anna made good use of what was available, with flashing lights and magically appearing dancers, and who’d say no to that?

K-391, Alan Walker & Ahrix – End of Time

“Well, that’s lovely, isn’t it?”

Tim: Today, in ‘things that in hindsight are obvious but Tim never thought to realise’: producers who started out making tracks in their bedrooms at about the same time have a proper community rather than just having agents that contact each other for the occasional collaboration.

Tom: Huh. That’s pretty much how YouTube works, but I never thought to apply that to the music industry. All right. What’ve they put together?

Tim: This here’s a reworking of the track Nova that Ahrix made in 2013, slowed down a bit, given some vocals and brought a bit up to date, and the description below the video description is really quite lovely. Starts with a bit about how the three of them started, came together (apparently Nova was the track that brought them together), and ends up saying that with this, “we want to pay respect to all the music and producers that came before us, while also giving an opportunity for the next wave of bedroom producers out there who have yet to get a chance.”

Tom: Well, that’s lovely, isn’t it?

Tim: Isn’t it just? As for the song: entirely as we’d expect it to be, really, and in my view that isn’t remotely a criticism. The melody’s nice, lyrics pretty much get that message across.

Tom: And Alan Walker is using his signature “Hasn’t He Got Bored Of That Yet? Well We Wouldn’t Recognise Him Without It” synth for the chorus. I assume he’s had some other input too, though.

Tim: Well, there’s the video, which is as peculiar as is now to be expected from this crowd – though that is responsible for my one criticism: although there’s a deeper story there, there’s also a whole ‘we’re the three lone survivors at the end of world’ imagery, which might have been a little better timed given the whole ‘deadly virus sweeping the world’ thing that’s currently going on.

Tom: I didn’t make that connection, so hopefully they can get away with it.

Tim: Ah, probably. For now: great.

Cecilia Kallin – Heaven

“And isn’t that just entirely fine?”

Tim: We’ve not featured Cecilia before, or at least not as a solo artist – she’s formerly of Timoteij, whose output we’ve enjoyed on multiple occasions.

Tom: And whose shampoo we miss. (Sorry.)

Tim: It would appear they broke up a while back, though, because here’s this.

Tim: And isn’t that just entirely fine?

Tom: Yeah, “fine” about sums it up. Which is damning with faint praise, really: I think I was expecting something DJ Sammy, and instead I got the title theme to an early-2000s romantic comedy.

Tim: Yeah, maybe I should have warned you, sorry.

Tom: It’s nice! There’s nothing wrong with it! I doubt it’ll be a chart smash.

Tim: It’s chirpy and happy, and all about what you might be feeling if you’ve got a new person you’re wanting to get off with, or maybe something a bit more romantic if they’re really special.

Tom: I mean, that’s specific, but–

Tim: Maybe they’re a new colleague, or a regular commuter; a barista, or the person who’s just moved in next door. Whatever the exact relationship, you just can’t seem to stop thinking about them. You’ve trouble focussing at work, you’re becoming absent-minded elsewhere, you’re spilling your drink every time you see them. All you want, all you’re thinking about, all day and every day, is speaking to them, asking them out, taking them back to your place, sitting them down, standing in front of them, and singing a weirdly damp song you’ve written about them. And then it’ll all be perfect. Right?

Tom: …are you okay, Tim?

Tim: Me? Yeah, of course. Totally okay. Entirely.

Martin Garrix feat. Clinton Kane – Drown

“Today for you, a chorus line that I’m almost entirely certain isn’t meant to be taken literally.”

Tim: Today for you, a chorus line that I’m almost entirely certain isn’t meant to be taken literally.

Tom: Yep, unlike our Eurovision entry, this is the sort of lyric that it’s obnoxious to be pedantic about.

Tim: Despite it being really weird, though, I actually really like this – the song, that is, not the metaphor. The production’s much as you’d expect from someone reliable like Martin, and he’s got a featured vocalist who can get all the notes in the right place. The melody, pleasingly, is one I can remember after hearing just once, although that may be more to do with the icky ‘ocean of you’ thing than any definite indication of a good melody. But who cares? It’s in my head, wanting to be heard again.

Tom: I thought it was, but then I realised I actually had Fleetwood Mac’s “Little Lies” in my head, thanks to that ‘tell me lies’ bit. Still, at only three minutes, at least this one doesn’t outstay its welcome.

Tim: As for Clinton, he’s been around a while uploading covers and original songs to YouTube, mostly guitar-based stuff, and he’s from all over the place – Filipino-Norwegian heritage, has lived in Australia and the UK. And in case you’re wondering, the two of them have definitely met, but it only happened after the song had been put together and finished – volcanic eruptions prevented it happening sooner. Isn’t it always the way?