Saturday Flashback: Sinéad Mulvey and Black Daisy – Et Cetera

The song’s amazingness goes without question.

Tom: I’m just going to let Tim have this one.

Tim: So, this was Ireland’s entry for Eurovision 2009; appallingly it failed to qualify for the final. And when I say appallingly, I mean seriously appallingly – I really have no idea how it could have failed, especially with the performance they put on (although that did seem like the cameraman was on serious medication for something or other). It is BRILLIANT, and the intro has been my phone’s morning alarm ever since*).

Now, the song’s amazingness goes without question, so we should move straight on and analyse the video, because this is seriously odd. We start off with the band (that is, Black Daisy) worried that the singer (Sinéad) isn’t there, and so they can’t start the song. Fair enough. Except then they start playing, so the worrying was about something they didn’t care about, so we’re like whuh?, but then she starts singing, showing that the reason the worrying was pointless is that they have some sort of psychic link since she knows exactly when to come in, so we’re like WHUH? Then, inevitably, she turns up in the middle of the song, joins in and it’s like there’s never been a problem.

Except there is. And it’s a massive problem I have and it bugs me because I like my music videos cheesy: WHY couldn’t she have waited another ten seconds, sung the bit immediately after the bridge as she was walking in and grabbed the microphone for the key change? It would have been SO MUCH BETTER, and since she’d already been gone two and a half minutes another few seconds wouldn’t matter. Ugh.** Anyway, long story short: the band gets worried for no reason then have a lot of fun with spelling and the singer is late, arrives at an inconvenient time, and isn’t even told off at the end. Crazy.

HOWEVER: all that aside it’s a fun video, and the music is more (vastly more) than good enough to make up for any shortcomings it may have. I LOVE THIS SONG, and I hereby decree that it shall be added to The Bengtzing Effect‘s playlist, and as we all know, there is no higher accolade.

*In case you’re interested (and there’s really no reason why you should be), my actual ringtone is a looped version of The One Show’s theme tune, although I changed it at Christmas, obviously.

** And if I’m being picky (well, duh), the toast should have popped up a second earlier as well. Shoot the director.

Tom: His ringtone really is a looped version of the One Show’s theme tune.

Madcon feat. Ameerah – Freaky Like Me

It’s got a crowd-noise “aaayy!” sample, so it can’t be all bad.

Tom: Most Brits will know Madcon for two reasons: first of all, their fantastic rework of Beggin’, and secondly, the crowd-dance 2010 Eurovision interval act. As for this one: well, it’s got a crowd-noise “aaayy!” sample, so it can’t be all bad.

Tom: The first chorus sounds like it should be the last chorus, which is a pity because it isn’t. This seems to overstay its welcome even at three minutes; if you this ended at 1:11, I think it’d be a pretty good minute of music, but after that it just seems to drag a bit. Even the proper appearance of Ameerah in the last third can’t save it.

Tim: I don’t know, I think it’s all right – I will confess, though, that I spent the last ninety seconds desperately trying to remember what ‘come a little closer, come a little closer’ reminded me of, so I wasn’t really listening to it. Even listening to it again, though, I think there’s enough in there to sustain the full three minutes, and I might even go so far as to say I almost slightly like it.

Tom: Good video, though; the UV paint and fancy typography make up for the slightly dull track.

Scouting for Girls – Don’t Want To Leave You

Will it sound the same as every other one?

Tom: When Scouting for Girls release a new single, there’s always the question: will it sound the same as every other Scouting for Girls single? The answer here is: yes. Yes it does. Again.

Tom: Earnest vocals over inoffensive piano, guitar and drums; vocal harmonies in the background from half way through the song; quiet piano bridge ramping up to undeservedly triumphant final chorus. Probably the same chords as their previous tracks, although I’m not going to risk falling asleep by checking.

Tim: I’ll be honest: I quite like Scouting for Girls. The music’s not particularly imaginative, but it’s good enough. True, they could have stopped after their first album and kept releasing the same singles over and over again on a three year cycle and nobody would really notice, but it’s fairly harmless.

Tom: The best I can say about this is that it’s generic and mercifully short. It’ll be reasonably popular, then sink without trace, and in a few months’ time there’ll be another one. Kind of like… huh. I’ve come up short on analogies there. Any ideas?

Tim: Well, kind of like, um, She’s So Lovely, Elvis Ain’t Dead, Heartbeat, I Wish I Was James Bond, This Ain’t A Love Song and any others I may have missed. The only thing that leaps to mind about this is the irony that it starts off being described as ‘a song you can sing along to’, and then becomes a song that isn’t really memorable in the slightest.

Saturday Flashback: Linda Bengtzing – Alla Flickor

It’s even got the descending bells cliché under the final few lines! Fantastic.

Tim: PREVIOUSLY, ON EUROPLOP: Värsta Schlagern, which was described, quite correctly, as ‘a massive Take That to the whole Swedish pop music scene.’

Well, turns out that at least of them is one heck of a hypocrite, namely Linda Bengtzing, who dived straight into the middle of the Swedish music scene with this 2005 Melodifestivalen entry, the divine Alla Flickor.

Tom: Why does that sound vaguely rude to me? Clearly I have other things on my mind.

Tim: Um, clearly. Anyway, this is, as I said, divine, and contains everything there is to love about Swedish schlager in, well, any given twenty seconds of it, really.

Tom: I was worried that you’d overhyped this until the first chorus, which justifies everything you said. It’s even got the descending bells cliché under the final few lines! Fantastic.

Tim: As a whole three minutes, it’s excitable, catchy and jumpy, and it ticks every box necessary: over-excited female singer, backing singers throughout and plenty of howling after the key change. (Although that does come with a rather worrying thought process of “Here comes the key change … Hang on, has she forgotten it? … Ah, there it is.”)

Tom: It’s odd to have the quiet, silent breakdown and not immediately follow it with the big key change – lulled into a false sense of security, I thought that was it. I actually jumped, slightly startled, when the proper one kicked in.

Tim: Do you reckon we’re a big enough website to create a new phrase? I hereby name this ‘The Bengtzing Effect’ – that of leaving a key change so late you think it’s not going to happen, and then making you entirely delighted when it suddenly appears with just seconds to spare.

Tom: Catchy name.

Tim: Isn’t it? I predict it catching on within the entire music industry by Christmas at the latest. Back to the song, I see absolutely no reason at all why one should not immediately get up and jump around when this starts to play.

Tom: I would dance to this like an idiot if it were played in a club. Do any clubs actually play music like this any more?

Tim: If they don’t, we owe it to the world to start our own club, and OOH, we should actually call it The Bengtzing Effect, because that would be an amazing name for a club. We shall play this song over and over and over again, until people get sick of it, and to them we shall say, ‘If you think that, then you don’t deserve to be in here. GET OUT, I tell you, GET OUT!’*

* I’m in a bit of an odd mood today. Hmm.

Tom:

Tim: Anyway, the lyrics are entirely banal, as befits such a song – they’re roughly a warning to any ladies about a guy who makes you feel special, as though you’re the only person in his life, but then behaves exactly the same way to any other girl who walks past. Slightly wasted as a warning, though, since she never actually says who he is. Bad luck, Swedish ladies: she knows, but she ain’t telling.

Tom: And now I have “all the Swedish ladies / all the Swedish ladies” bouncing around in my head. Well done, Tim.

Tim: Thank you – always happy to help.

Right, now who do we talk to about setting up a nightclub?

Marion Raven – Flesh and Bone

Has she got Status Quo doing the chorus guitars?

Tim: I wholeheartedly enjoy this: it’s big, enthusiastic, and the bridge has two distinct parts, which makes a change and works surprisingly well.

Tom: Has she got Status Quo doing the chorus guitars? Chugga-chugga all the way through, nothing subtle in there at all. It’s not bad, and it’s fairly big and fairly enthusiastic, but somehow it doesn’t quite come together for me. This sounds like teenage Avril Lavigne power-pop – it’s hard to believe that she duetted with Meat Loaf and was at least a match for him.

Tim: The middle part of the chorus in particular (can’t cross…) is great, as is the re-entry from the bridge.

Tom: I’ll grant you that – the entire bridge and re-entry are great – but the rest doesn’t meld properly.

Tim: I don’t know, I think it does – the only thing I don’t like is the fade-out ending, which I dislike in general, really. There’s never any need for them: here, stopping dead after a chorus followed by a lone vocal ‘you shatter me’ would be absolutely fine.

Tom: It’s certainly a chorus repeat too long. I’m not so fussed about the fade-out – possibly because, unlike Andreas Johnson’s latest, I wasn’t listening excitedly waiting for the big finish. I propose we call a crap fade-out ending “doing an Andreas” from now on.

Tim: Little bit harsh, perhaps, since, to my knowledge, he’s never actually done one. What annoys me about fade-outs such as this is that there’s no effort whatsoever – it’s just repeating the chorus until they get bored. Andreas may not finish with big climactic sequences, but there’s at least a definite ending, unlike this.

OneRepublic – Secrets

“I’ve found myself liking OneRepublic. I can’t explain why.”

Tom: I’ve found myself liking OneRepublic. I can’t explain why. Apologize was good, of course – and a lot better before Timbaland decided he’d put a few ‘eh, eh’s over the top and re-release it. But twice now I’ve heard a song being played somewhere, really liked it, and found out it was by OneRepublic. First, there was All The Right Moves – the first single off their latest album Waking Up – and then I heard Good Life, which is that rare thing: a really top-notch album track.

Secrets is the second single from Waking Up, and I’m starting to question – in a good way – whether OneRepublic can actually write a pop single that isn’t anthemic. Yes, the cello part is either a Bach prelude ripoff or homage, depending on how much charity you want to give them. Yes, the lead singer does his usual trick of singing a long string of syllables without changing note. But let those slip away and there’s a really good pop song in here; it’s not a dance floor filler, but it’s movie soundtrack material for sure.

Tim: Okay, this will be a tricky one for me to review objectively – not because I have any predisposition towards the band or anything, but because about seven months ago, I began to get very excited whilst hearing it. It is, as you suggest, movie soundtrack material, but more importantly it’s also awesome TV promo material.* I still get a bit excited when I hear it now, so HURRAY for it finally swimming across the channel.

* For completeness, it’s also suitable for phones (50 seconds in) and aftershave. We get a lot of adverts out here in Canada.

Tom: The album’s been over here for a while; the single didn’t trouble the charts but it’ll be re-released separately soon, in what’s technically termed a “blatant cash-in”.

Tim: It is definitely a Very Good Song, and the fact that it got used as accompaniment to both the conclusion of a huge TV series and (what was meant to be) one of the biggest movies of the year says a lot to back this up. It’s big, it’s powerful, and like all proper songs it starts off quiet; mind you, here it’s so obviously waiting to explode it could get picked up for loitering with intent. Is that a bad thing? No. It would be it if never did explode, but it doesn’t disappoint. It hits, and then keeps going at full pelt until an incredibly (and slightly annoyingly) abrupt ending.

As for the video, well, there’s a choice of three, really, and for sheer amazingness I pick the one where the impact of the chorus makes a plane split in half. In fact, I might just go and put on a DVD.

Christian TV – When She Turns 18

At least they’re definitely respecting the law.

Tom: Some songs have deep, mysterious meanings; some songs make you question what love is and whether you’ve really experienced it; some songs, in the right place at the right time, can make grown men cry. This song, on the other hand, has the simple plain message of “I’m screwing your daughter”.

Tim: Which, depending upon the strength of the father-daughter bond and the unpleasantness of the young man involved, could also make a grown man cry.

Tom: Damn.

Anyway, it’s a damn good track. He may have hair by Jedward and an ungooglable name, but he can actually sing. Even the Romeo and Juliet audio sample at the start doesn’t grate, which surprises me.

It starts high-energy, never really dips apart from the required quiet bit before the final chorus, and while it’s not going to go down in history as an all-time classic, I’d be happy if this got played in a club.

Tim: You’re right, this is good – a very pleasant mix of dance and rock. It’s quite a ‘get things done’ track, I think; maybe I will look for my phone at some point.

Tom: I imagine in any more conservative American state where the age of consent is 18, on the other hand, this might not be as popular.

Tim: Well, at least they’re definitely respecting the law, much like this brilliant work of art.

Tom: The pedant in me has to point out that if you make a photocopy of yourself and then move during the scanning process, it’ll produce some very strange pictures indeed. This appears to be a magic photocopier with glass big enough for two people to dry-hump on, though, so I can let that slip.

Tim: Good, because I rather like that video, and I truly believe that flickbooks are the way forward when it comes to delivering unpleasant news.

Tom: Never, ever go into medicine, Tim.

Tim: I hope they’re going to recycle all that paper, though.

Takida – Never Alone Always Alone (Box Room Version)

Not the most upbeat song ever.

Tim: Released a few weeks back, it’s gradually making its way up the Swedish charts, and it’s not half bad. Not the most upbeat song ever, but what I particularly like about this version is the way it keeps building throughout, continually adding instrumentation, until it comes back after the bridge (such as it is) as a properly vibrant piece of music.

Tom: On the plus side, this reminds me of the Love Album version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps. What started out as a simple track is steadily built upon, adding layer after layer, until you end up with this complex, soaring, beautiful piece of music. This track is like that, only with the genius of George Harrison replaced by the plodding monotony of Nickelback.

Tim: I don’t know – I think the voice works well against the backing, sort of remaining steady and showing how far the music’s growing, right up to the big near-to-the-end. It is a bit of a shame that it can’t keep that up for long, but nonetheless very pleasant while it lasts.

Tom: That’s what she said.

Tim: Oh, god.

Tom: Again, that’s… ah, never mind.

Tim: Anyway, that, combined with the infectious lyrics, make for a rather pleasant four minutes.

Tom: We have different definitions of ‘pleasant’.

Saturday Flashback: Markoolio and Linda Bengtzing – Värsta Schlagern

A massive Take That to the whole Swedish pop music scene.

Tim: This symbolises everything that is perfect about the music we love, although it’s in Swedish. The lyrics, when translated, are a massive Take That to the whole Swedish pop music scene. Thoughts?

Tom: Hahaha. This is Verka Seduchka all over again, isn’t it? Actually, no, this is the Swedish version of “The Winner’s Song“! There had better be a brutal key change on the way.

Tim: Oh yes, and the best thing is that the lyrics before it are “…and here comes the key change!”

Tom: Right. It’s a schlager version of “The Song That Goes Like This” from Spamalot, then!

Rasmus Seebach – Natteravn

Manages to cram in three genres in the first minute.

Tim: This, by a Danish bloke, has been running around the top of the Swedish charts for the past few months – only been out of the top 10 three times since its physical release in the middle of May – and for good reason. (Oddly, it never even got to Denmark’s top 30, even though his three previous singles all made top 3.) Anyway, have a listen.

Tim: I think it’s the first song I’ve ever heard that manages to cram in three genres in the first minute, and it flits around a bit before eventually deciding to be a cracking good dance tune. I have absolutely no idea what the lyrics mean, and to be honest I couldn’t care less, because it’s great. Unlike Bromance, I don’t think that it would quite work without any, but he could be singing about taking out the empty beer cans for all I care.

Tom: In my head it’d be better either as an instrumental – I think it would work – or at least with slightly less repetitive lyrics. That may be my English-speaking brain refusing to accept “Jeg kalder på dig” as a common sentence though; if he was singing “I call on you” then I suspect the words would have faded into the background rather than sticking out like a sore thumb. It’s a great track though.

Tim: The problem I’d have without lyrics is that the non-dancy bits would be too quiet (although not in a Robert MIles sense, just in a dull sense); the chorus I agree would work. However, one think I do like about the chorus lyrics is that they sound a bit like the name of that volcano that blew up in Iceland a few months back. No idea why I think that’s a good thing, though.

The three genres thing is a bit weird, but I think it works. It did mean that when I first heard it I started out thinking, oh, it’s another generic R&B tune, it’ll be just as rubbish as Flo Rida and stuff, but then it got good and clicked together nicely. Full marks, Herr Seebach.

Tom: Apparently they couldn’t pay the video’s actress enough to actually let him kiss her at the end, though.