Jedward – All The Small Things

He’s used “J to the E to the D”, he doesn’t get a second chance.

Tom: Now I’ve got two problems with this.

Tim:Only two?

Tom: Yeah, and strangely, Jedward himself is not one of them.

First of all: it’s the banter. I know they’re a novelty act, but songs should not have banter in the middle of them. It didn’t work for Gareth Gates and the Kumars, it won’t work now.

Tim: True. Is that in the actual song as well, or just the video?

Tom: I’m not going to buy it to find out. He’s used “J to the E to the D”, he doesn’t get a second chance.

Second problem: I can’t tell the difference between this and the Blink 182 version. Or, rather, between this and a cheap rip-off version from a £2 supermarket “compilation” CD. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, new here at all.

Tim: That does, on the other hand, mean that if they stop doing covers they might, at some point in the distant future, pass as something more than a novelty.

Tom: Fortunately, I’ve got an alternative. I defy you to listen to this without starting to sway when the slow bit that builds up to the chorus kicks in.

Tim: You waited until the chorus?

Rick Astley – Lights Out

Play two copies one frame apart next to each other, you get Rick Astley in 3D. No kidding.

Tom: How did we miss this?! Martijn emailed us this, and said “…it’s a Rick Roll. But modern. And awesome.”

Tom: It’s a damn good tune, although it has that ‘in one ear, out the other’ quality; I can’t remember any of the lyrics or even much of the melody even having listened to it a couple of times. Is it listenable? Sure. It is playlistable? Absolutely. Is it a classic? No. Does it need one big ‘oomph’ moment, drums kicking in and ever guitar wailing, when he comes back from the bridge? Yeah, it really does. But never mind: it’s a new Rick Astley single! I wonder if he’d be putting this single out if it hadn’t been for the internet deciding to adore him?

Tim: If I was a little less sensible, I would write ‘Are you sure you’ve got the right video?’ Because this is very definitely not ‘Rick Astley off of Never Gonna Give You Up’. This is an actual modern song – hell, in the video he barely looks old enough to have made songs 25 years ago.

Tom: I swear the man has, up in his attic, a painting of himself that’s steadily getting older.

Tim: If he’s planning a comeback, this is a Good Thing To Do*, because it means he’s brought out a song that mum and dad can listen to and think back to the good old days while the teenage kid hears it playing downstairs and thinks, ‘Ooh, I like this.’ He’s popular with the grown-ups, and the teenager has to work out how he can still be cool if he likes his parents’ music.

Anyway, ‘modern’ isn’t much to say about a track, so here’s something else: like you say, it’s not particularly memorable, but the chorus has a good build-up during it. Or at least, I remember thinking it did, but it’s now been ten minutes since I heard it and I actually can’t really remember how the build-up went. Not at all memorable, then, I suppose. I do remember that I liked it, though, and that’s what mostly matters.

* See also Take That: compare 1995’s How Deep Is Your Love with 2006’s Patience.

Tom: As for the video: they have a Steadicam and they’re not afraid to use it. Is it a callback to Never Gonna Give You Up? Who knows. That constant rotation means, though, that if you play two copies of the video one frame apart next to each other, you get Rick Astley in 3D. No kidding. It’s actually a really convincing effect.

I Am Kloot – Proof

Sit back, put it on full screen, and watch it.

Tom: Right, a word of advice before this one: just watch it. Sit back, put it on full screen, and watch it. Don’t read the rest of this. Go. Do it now. I’ll wait.

Tom: It’s not really a notable song – it’s a nice twangly bit of guitar and some well-meaning lyrics – but like, say, all of OK Go’s music, it’s completely redeemed by the video. I simply couldn’t help breaking into an enormous grin along with him.

Tim: You’re right about the smile – it just sort of happened with me. Awww.

Tom: Our Doctor Who correspondent, Gary, adds: “That’s just CCTV footage of Eccleston waking up, speeded up 50x. His alarm goes off at 7 but he’s not even vertical till twenty past Jeremy Kyle.”

Tim: I’d love it if I woke up like that every day, although probably not slowed down to 1/50 of the speed.

Tom: And that seems to be real-time footage of Christopher Eccleston: he’s not in slow motion, he’s just that good an actor. Anyway, the song’s re-released on download only today.

Saturday Flashback: BWO – Right Here Right Now

The lead singer’s wearing a lab coat in the video?

Tim: Swedish band, had a vague hit in the dance area over here a few years back with ‘Temple of Love‘.

Tom: So the lead singer’s wearing a lab coat in the video, and the album’s called “Big Science”? That sounds promising.

Tim: Yes, and for the most part it’s bloody awesome. And regarding the lead singer: he’s off of Sweden’s Popstars.

Tom:I’m actually finding very little wrong with this. Bit of a clichéd “talky bit in the middle before the bridge”, but it’s made up for by BEARDED BACKING SINGER.

Tim: Doesn’t he look absolutely terrifying? It’s amazing.

Tom: It’s even got a dum-dee-dee-da at the end! Hear this, Robyn? THIS is how “Dancing On My Own” should have been. It’s a textbook Swedish pop song, but there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not going to be stuck in my head or anything, but I’d be happy with this popping up on shuffle.

Tim: As an aside, that whole album‘s pretty good if you want to check it out at some point.

Time passes…

Tom: What the hell? With the exception of the main vocal line, Love Came Crashing Down is Beggin’. Either the Madcon version or the Frankie Valli version.

Tim: Just played them chorus after chorus, and yes, I concede a similarity. Not so much that it’s the same song, though, but yes there is quite a resemblance. The one thing that does really annoy me about the album, though, is the massive similarity between Singing in my Car and Kings of Tomorrow.

Peter Dickson and The Shakettes – Shake It

“Shoddily produced, cynically designed rubbish.” – Tom / “Fantastic.” – Tim

Tim: The X Factor started up again last week. Question: when you think ‘X Factor’, what are the next two words that pop into your head?

Tom: “Not again”?

Tim: That’s right: ‘Voiceover Man’. Because the show would be NOTHING without his ‘IT’S TIME. TO FACE. THE MUSIC.’ and various other shouty bits. But did you know that voiceover work isn’t all he does? Oh, no.

Tom: Well, he’s done a comedy bit: IT’S TIME. TO TASTE. THE MUESLI. I mean, he’s got one shtick, but he does it well.

Tim: He also makes milkshakes in his spare time:

Tom: Oh no. No, no, no. No, I’m not watching that.

Tim: Now first off it should be pointed out that this is very definitely not a bringing-all-the-boys-to-the-yard milkshake – it’s a nice tasty innocent frothy milkshake, with fruit or chocolate or some other yummy stuff in it. But, well, we’ve got to shake it. And shake it we will.

Tom: I can’t even get past one second of this. Why? Because it’s wrong on several levels. And I don’t mean that in a laughing, ‘ha ha this is wrong’ way, I mean in a ‘this is contributing to the decline of civilisation’ way. It’s a jingle, a commercial radio jingle, three soul-destroying minutes long. Every second of this is an advert, and you’re willingly listening to it.

Tim: The thing (that shouldn’t really need saying) about this is that it’s not really a music track that they’ve come up with a dance for. It’s a collection of dance moves with music added later. That’s definitely not a bad thing – YMCA, the Cha-Cha Slide and the Macarena were all very enjoyable, and we all look forward to the wedding DJ putting on the Timewarp. So: what’s the dance like?

Tom: I don’t care. Every viewer we send their way is contributing to some despicable advertising executive going ‘ha ha, look at all the people who’ve watched this, we should do this again.’ It’s shoddily produced, cynically designed rubbish.

Tim: It’s fantastic. Lengthy, but that’s not a problem – part of the fun of knowing the Saturday Night routine is smirking quietly at the people that don’t, but decide to have a go anyway and then desperately try to work out why the hell they seem to be a beat out of time with everyone else. Especially since, in this song, he tells you what to do for most of it, so you’ll be able to get together with others in the know and laugh at how everyone else must be real morons.

Tom: “Hello, this is Peter Dickson. I’m not in at the moment, but whatever it is I’ll do it.”

Tim: Best of all: it also teaches you how to make a milkshake! So we have smugness and cookery tips all in one – what else do you need?

Tom: A Molotov cocktail and the address of whichever PR company put this abomination together.

Tim: IT’S TIME. TO DANCE. AND I WILL BE…

Tom: Laughing merrily as Advertising, fifth horsemen of the apocalypse, rides over the blood-soaked hillside with his Scythe-o-Matic 6000 glistening in the red, swollen sunlight of the end times?

Tim: …DANCING. You know, you’ve really developed a snarky side recently.

Taylor Swift – Mine

Tom has just discovered how to be a complete dick at karaoke.

Tom: Taylor Swift’s new single leaked online the other week, and was swiftly released properly in response. It’s just hit the US Billboard charts, and no doubt it’ll be over on these shores sooner or later; the official video just came out, too.

In related news, I have just discovered how to be a complete dick at karaoke. Here is the karaoke backing track for Love Story by Taylor Swift: your challenge is to sing You Belong With Me over the top of it. Provided you nail the key change at the end, and can deal with the harmony singer on the backing track throwing you off, they fit perfectly.

Tim: Oh, you and your… you-ness. Good work. You been doing karaoke?

Tom: If by “karaoke” you mean “singing along too loud while wearing headphones” then yes. The two songs have the same structure and same chords.

The new one’s got roughly the same structure, but then so does every schlager song in existence. At least it sounds a bit different, even if it’s the same “oh look, we’re in love, and despite some setbacks we’re still in love at the end” that describes most of her songs.

Tim: In a similar vein, did you know Tik Tok and California Gurls are the same song?

Tom: Not surprising – they’re by the same producer.

Tim: Do we need to bother reviewing Mine? It’s absolutely nothing special at all: if people liked Love Story and You Belong With Me they’ll like this as well, and if they didn’t they won’t. I think we should leave the summing up for YouTube commenter MoonfulBlue, who seems to live in her own little world of fluffy bunnies and pink clouds, but has an appropriate take on Taylor Swift’s music:

‘I love how Taylor’s songs always talk about things in life that could actually happen and they don’t talk about drugs/sex/violence and instead, love is in place.’

Drifters – Sha La Lie

Utterly delightful.

Tim: You have almost certainly not heard Ik Ben Verliefd (Sha-la-lie) by Sienke, the rather jolly and pleasant Dutch entry to this year’s Eurovision Song Contest that entirely failed to qualify for the final. This is not important; what is important is that you now hear the cover of it by Swedish dansband Drifters, which is even more jolly and even more pleasant, to the extent of being utterly delightful.

Tom: Oh, that deserves to be played at every wedding disco in Sweden. Does Sweden have wedding discos?

Tim: I think if any country can do a good wedding disco, that country is Sweden.

Tom: It’s proper 80s-Eurovision, that is. It’s even got the plinky-plonky piano improvisation going on in the background. But it was rightly rejected – the contest isn’t about that any more. (Are you listening, BBC?)

Tim: That deserves repeating. DEAR BBC: EUROVISION IS ABOUT DECENT MUSIC. NOT PETE SHITTING WATERMAN.

Tom: Yes, that is his middle name.

Saturday Flashback: Guenta K. – Das Boot 2008

“It’s stuck in my head, and I think it sounds like a CBBC theme tune.”

Tom: Here’s an odd one for you. This is a 2008 cover of U96’s 1991 hit Das Boot – which was itself a reworking of the theme from the 1981 German submarine movie. I bring this to you for two reasons: one, because it’s stuck in my head, and two, because I think it sounds startlingly like the theme tune from CBBC’s Incredible Games and I want to know that I’m not crazy.

Tim: Oooookay…

Tim: Don’t worry, you’re not crazy – they do sound quite similar. Dance remixes of movie themes are tricky things, and I sometimes get a bit nervous before listening to them. When they’re done right, and convey the same tone as the original piece, they can be brilliant (see Tiësto’s Pirates, DJ Sakin’s Braveheart, Airbase’s The Rock).

Tom: You’re right about all those except Tiesto’s Pirates, where all he’s done is create an entirely new song and then jam a messed-up version of He’s A Pirate in there somewhere. The great thing about all those tracks, though, is that if you don’t like one particular mix – the vocals in Sakin’s Braveheart really annoy me, for example – there’ll be another one along in a minute.

Tim: On the other hand (which is, unfortunately, a much larger hand), they can be absolutely horrendous. One example is DJ Stef’s version of Titanic, where the guy shouting ‘Freeze’ as a vocal really doesn’t help.

Tom: You know, it used to be that aspiring dance producers (or, in other words, “teenage kids on their parents’ computer with a pirated copy of FruityLoops”) had to go out of their house with a CD, attract the attention of a DJ, prove they were half-decent, and steadily work their way up the ranks. Now all they have to do is pick a vaguely popular song, remix it badly, quickly jam a video together, lob it up onto YouTube where it’ll be played in low-bitrate mono to most users, and presto: half a million listeners.

Damn kids. Get off my lawn.

Tim: Das Boot 2008, I think, belongs nicely in the first group, although I don’t get the counting to ten bit. U96’s had ‘one, two, three, techno’, which made a vague sort of sense (I’d have preferred ‘eins, zwei, drei’ but that’s just me), whereas this just counts to ten and then… nothing. Come to think of it, it’s a bloody odd cover – aside from the same source material, they’re quite different. The U96 version is much darker, even though that’s a weird way to describe a dance tune, what with all the clanking noises*, and it has far more vocal. If Guenta K. hadn’t used the small amount of vocal that he did, it would just be another redoing of the theme music, focusing almost exclusively on just the bit of the theme that people know with just enough background variation to keep it interesting, and it would probably be better for it.

* I am well aware that this is an appalling word to use to describe it, but I honestly can’t really think of a better one, and I think it describes it well enough for you to know what I mean.

Ace of Base – All For You

The good thing about this blog is that we can be all judgmental.

Tim: Following your Vengaboys comeback song, you may be tempted to listen to the single that marks Ace of Base’s return. If so, here it is.

Tom: That is a textbook Ace of Base song, isn’t it? I was expecting a ‘Don’t Turn Around’ somewhere in there.

I think the problem I had with the Vengaboys comeback is the same as the one I have now with this Ace of Base comeback. And the Aqua one, now I think of it. They’re all album tracks. If they’ve been away for this long, they’ve had years and years to come up with something absolutely brilliant. Instead, it just sounds like they’ve taken something from the rejects bin of their last album.

Tim: Now you mention it, that seems to be the same with most comebacks. Aside from Take That (who I think were the first of recent times, and whose success is probably largely to blame for the recent spate), I don’t think I can think of an artist/group that has actually done well.

A lot of them probably think that all their old fans are out there, and that once news gets around they’re coming back the fans will lap up everything they can throw at them. They can therefore put out a vaguely good single with a promise that an album will forthcoming and assume it’ll be fine. The problem is, of course, that it isn’t, and if a vaguely good single doesn’t sell because the fans feel cheated there’s no way an album will.

You might get a few gigs out of it, or a full tour if you’re lucky, but no more.

Tom: Let’s not forget: Take That’s second comeback, this time with a certain Mr. Williams, is on the cards. Admittedly “Greatest Day” was pretty damn good – if they can pull it off twice that it basically means that Gary Barlow is the greatest songwriter of modern times, which is not really something I’m comfortable with saying.

Tim: This Ace of Base one is like so many – no real effort. It’s not particularly bad – catchy enough, with a decent hook – but there’s just nothing to get excited about. The chorus always feels like a not very good post-bridge chorus, and isn’t enough to make me want more. To have a better chance of success, artists should write a whole album (or even just an EP) and then choose the good songs off it to release, because they’d then have a good idea of what the overall quality of the work would be, and we’d have a proper idea of what we could expect.

That’s not particularly realistic, of course, given the much increased time and effort it would involve, but it might help. I don’t know – the good thing about a blog like this is that we can be all judgmental without having to pretend we know anything about the music business at all.

Inna – Amazing

A lovely summery bit of dance music.

Tim: Here’s a lovely summery bit of dance music for you from a Romanian. More than a little reminiscent of ATB, but in a good way.

Tom: You’re right, that’s a perfectly competent bit dance track. Nothing wrong with that. It’s also a fine example of the theory that if you want to film a cheap video very quickly and your vocal talent is female and attractive, put her in a bikini on a beach and you’re sorted.

Tim: Don’t forget the nicely ripped guys for the singer to, um, interact with. Or, in the case of Sunblock, a car they can get all soapy with.

But why does everyone who’s against the sky in the video – the guys with the ice cream at 1:52, the people embracing at 2:19 – have white halos around their heads? Maybe it’s because I’ve just finished reading Scott Pilgrim, but I think there’s something sinister going on there.

Tim: Hmm. I’m going to say that the halos are there because it’s actually a musical version of Sixth Sense, and the big twist, to be revealed in her next video, is that the guy who saved her life and gave her mouth to mouth is also dead. Anyway, as is traditional with such dance songs, the lyrics mean absolutely nothing whatsoever, although I think the line ‘It’s just the meaning of being alone’ does give extra credence to my theory, especially since her singing it coincides with the first appearance of the life-saving corpse.