It’s unnervingly racist Swedish Europop time!
Tom: Do you know what time it is, Tim? That’s right: it’s unnervingly racist Swedish Europop time!
Tom: This is textbook nineties bubblegum Europop. Bouncy sound-effect bassline, simple melodies, singalong chorus. It’s everything that we try to celebrate here: dancing like idiots to ridiculous, overproduced music. Or at least it would be, if it wasn’t performed by a Swedish guy in thick, questionably-racist makeup.
Tom: Okay, so it was the nineties. This was apparently just-about-OK then, even for Top of the Pops. (Yes, Top of the Pops. Try getting that through the BBC now. And yes, there is stereotypical mock-Indian mumbling in there.) Jonny Jakobsen probably couldn’t get away with releasing a whole of album of this now, although his other character, the faux-Scottish but similarly-accented “Dr. Macdoo”, might just be able to survive. Because ironic bagpipe techno is, of course, so popular.
Tim: Towards the end of the intro, I started thinking this was a bit like the Special D track we reviewed – that I liked it, even though I didn’t really want to. The beat was just about happy and poppy enough to outweigh the dodginess. Then the verses started, which are appalling for multiple reasons, and then just no.
Tom: It gets stranger. Bizarrely, Jonny Jakobsen put out a ‘Greatest Hits’ album in 2007 – which was just the previous two characters’ albums combined and cut down. Even more bizarrely: Basshunter provided a remix of ‘Calcutta’. That’s right: in the twenty-first century, in Europe, some record producer thought it’d be a great idea to get Basshunter to remix this track.
Tim: Musically, this is a bit better, and to be honest I think I could get on with an instrumental version of it. As it is, with the verses, it’s… it’s not for me, and I’ll leave it at that.
Tom: I think we’ll both leave it at that.
Ah, Ibiza. The sun, the sea, the sand, the sexually transmitted infections.
Tim: Bored of winter? In that case, close your eyes, lie back, listen to this and be whisked off to a beach on Ibiza.
Tom: Ah, Ibiza. The sun, the sea, the sand, the sexually transmitted infections.
Tim: A 1996 track, redone to sound like the summer of 2003 and released in the winter of 2010, it does go on a bit without really doing anything.
Tom: It’s pleasant enough, I suppose, but it’s very much “early night in a nearly-empty club”. Floor-filler it ain’t.
Tim: Well, for that we have the source material to blame – but I like it. It’s very peaceful, it’s very relaxing, and even if you don’t like that there’s a slightly (very slightly) heavier remix for you instead (which entirely fails to kick in at 1:33).
Tom: That 1:33 moment might be the worst stall I’ve ever heard. Mind you, it’s very difficult to count as ‘heavy’ at that plodding BPM.
Tim: But I think that’s all it’s meant for – it’s never going to get anyone raving, but it will fit nicely on a few chill out compilations.
Tom: I’ve never really liked or understood ‘chillout’ dance. That’s what other genres of music are for, surely?
Leave the key changes and schlager aside.
Tom: All right, Tim, hold on. Let’s leave the key changes and schlager aside for a moment – it’s time for us to attempt a track that, as two middle-class white guys, we are utterly unqualified to review.
Tom: Let’s be honest: this is Guns N’ Roses ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ reinterpreted for 21st century kids.
Tom: Thought that might be the reaction. Still, there’s clearly an audience for this if he’s on the fourth single, and it’s pretty listenable. He’s milking the album a bit, though; this is the fourth single from “Alive ‘Til I’m Dead”, at which point you can probably justifiably claim he’s just stalling before getting some new material out.
Tim: Which’ll probably be rubbish.
Tom: “Welcome to Hackney / A place where I think somebody’s been playing Jumanji”. I’ll be honest: a kitschy Robin Williams film is not a reference I expected to hear at the start of this.
Tom: I don’t think you can claim the video glamorises anything.
Tim: Or that the video’s good. Or that the song’s good.
Tom: Right. Mental note. Don’t suggest any more grime tracks to Tim.
They keep producing bloody good music.
Tom: I shouldn’t like My Chemical Romance, but I do. The overblown videos, the concept albums, the teenage demographic… I should be rolling my eyes and trying to get the damn kids off my lawn. But, inconveniently, they keep producing bloody good music.
Tim: I don’t normally like concept albums – they only really work if all the songs are quite good, or at least listenable, and often they’re not. Fortunately, though, My Chemical Romance don’t seem to have a problem making this so. Hurrah! This track in particular, I like a lot – it’s not quite Famous Last Words good, but it’s on a par with Welcome to the Black Parade, the song that first got me into them.
Tom: The video is, of course, part of the whole mythos they’ve invented. The plot will almost certainly never attain any kind of coherency.
Tim: No, but then it’s not really meant to – just needs to fit in with the rest. And actually, I love it. I am slightly wondering how the next video will work, though, given that they’ve killed off the lead singer.
Tom: With laser gun battles and Stormtrooper-quality aiming in this one? A resurrection’s almost certainly on the cards.
Talk about your rousing choruses, though. They’ll play arena shows, and everyone there will be chanting this chorus along with them. It’s not catchy, tinny Europop, but it doesn’t have to be: this is music that teenagers are going to listen to in their bedrooms while they write bad poetry and pine over unrequited love. If you don’t feel your fists clench a little on the final chorus, you have no soul.
A harmonica and a flat cap… and puberty.
Tim: Here’s a kid that looks about fourteen, which is probably because he is about fourteen.
Tom: He sounds about twelve.
Tim: Anyway, possibly due to recent playground bullying he has discovered that boys shouldn’t cry, and has decided to write a song about that.
Tom: I know we’ve established that I’m getting old, but I’m officially classifying this under the “get off my lawn” department. It’s like a teenager whining about how they’ll never love anyone again after a breakup. Yes you will, billions of people have done it before you, get over it.
Tim: Musically, it isn’t bad. It’s a bit dull to start with, and I got a bit bored and moved onto other things, but a couple of minutes later I realised that was I was vaguely listening to was actually alright, so I decided to be charitable and give it a second chance. And yes, it’s still a bit boring at the start, but it does pick up eventually into something quite good, and that I wouldn’t mind listening to a few times.
Tom: It’s a bit bizarre, isn’t it? A harmonica and a flat cap almost make up for the fact he’s still going through puberty. If it wasn’t for the lyrics, I’d really like the last minute of this. Only the last minute of it, though.
Tim: It really ought to go without saying, though, that taking two minutes to make a three minute song sound decent is Just Not On. Sorry, Ulrich, but you’ll need to do better next time if you want to pass your music whatever-the-Swedish-version-of-GCSE-is.
Unnecessary double handclaps.
Tom: Some Finnish electronic Europop for you now, Mr. Jeffries, suggested by reader Laura.
Tom: Hyökyaalto means ‘tsunami’, and he’s using that as a metaphor for love.
It’s a very listenable track, if not all that catchy. That “woah-oh-oh” breakdown before the chorus is great, and I’m always a fan of unnecessary double handclaps. It’s almost a bit U2-ish – add The Edge doing some electric guitar over the top and I think you’re basically there.
Tim: The intro got me nodding approvingly, and that feeling continued throughout, really. I slightly wish they’d done a bit more with the higher-pitched woah-oh-oh from the intro, through. The first time I heard it I did think it went on a bit after the bridge; the second time I also felt that, but didn’t mind at all.
Tom: Translated into English, I reckon this could be a hit over here.
There’s a curious disconnect between the video and the audio: in the video, his mouth putting so much energy and emphasis into every word, while the version of him in the studio seems to be singing quite calmly.
Tim: Sure, but if you put that amount of energy into a normal recording studio he’s going to end up knocking through the walls with his arms.
Tom: Not sure about the cuddle-party during the bridge, though.
Tim: Yeah – doesn’t really fit with the whole love idea.
Merry Christmas, everyone.
Tom: It’s Christmas Day, and it’s a Saturday – which one of the many options do we choose for our Saturday Flashback? Well, really, there’s only one choice.
Tom: When he released this one back in 2006, it didn’t have the fancy video. That was added much later. He wasn’t a big international star then; he was a Swedish dance music producer who’d just released a slightly-novelty record about the internet. The only folks paying attention in Britain were people who lived on the internet. People like me.
Tim: How times change – fast forward two years and he’s got three top twenty singles under his belt and Scott Mills championing his track to be Christmas number one. (Needless to say, it didn’t quite take off Rage Against the Machine style, although a chart peak of 35 is perfectly respectable.)
Tom: So, here’s a little known fact for you: I was the first British person ever to interview Basshunter. November 2006 on University Radio York. There were no listeners, and I wasn’t a competent interviewer. (Drinking game: take a shot every time I unnecessarily say ‘mm-hm’.)
In this clip, he apologises for his music.
Merry Christmas, everyone.
Tim: Thank you for that, Tom, and for the game (which I must admit currently has me mildly intoxicated), and so a very Merry Christmas to you too.
Great key change, or greatest key change?
Tom: I’m going to open this with a simple question, Tim: great key change, or greatest key change?
Tim: I think greatest, purely for the fact that it makes initially regretful girls incredibly happy that they gave themselves willingly to these appalling* stereotypes of men.
Tom: Is that John McEnroe? Yes it is. Is that Jessica Alba? Yes it is.
Tim: And is that Serena off Gossip Girl? Yes it is.
Tom: By the time this appears on Europlop!, of course, everyone on the internet will already be singing along to this. There will be two hundred cover versions, thirty badly hashed together parody replies, and at least one version redone shot-for-shot using kittens.
Tim: And if the person who chooses to make the kitten video leaks an unfinished copy with only half the shots replaced we can all scream ‘YAY bestiality!’
Tom: Er… quite. Anyway. The Lonely Island have been a proper band for ages, not just ‘those guys off Saturday Night Live’ (and before that, ‘those guys off the internet’). One full album featuring a dozen guests; another on the way; and performances on MTV and the late night shows.
And here’s the thing: the music’s actually good. Well produced, catchy, and funny at the same time; I think, in the history of music, perhaps only Weird Al has managed that before them.
Do you ever get lonely playing with your toys?
Tim: Now then Thomas, let me ask you – do you ever get lonely playing with your toys?
Tom: No, but some people say I look like me dad.
Tim: Ooh, you do a bit. But anyway, at least you got where I was coming from before revealing any unfortunate hobbies. Sadly, though, B*Witched haven’t got back together, but half of them have joined up and formed a slightly smaller girl group.
Tim: So, if their debut single is anything to go by, they’ve ditched the cheeky innuendo and have made it their mission to put out songs with good choruses and slightly tiresome verses.
Tom: But… cheeky innuendo is all they had.
Tim: Is it a fairly decent single, aiming to be liked by the people who liked Bad Romance and suchlike? Yes, and yes. Will they last? Almost certainly not, because there is next to nothing unique about them.
Tom: I know this is a slightly cruel thing to say, and I apologise, but from a distance the one in the black wig looks like Noel Fielding in drag. You know, him out of the Mighty Boosh.
Tim: Ouch. You’d better not say that too loud, mind – if you’re not careful she’ll huff, she’ll puff, she’ll huff and puff and blow you away.
It just kind of… washes over you.
Tom: So, she’s releasing a track with the same name as Take That’s latest single. That’s a brilliant idea, well done Cheryl.
Tim: And unlike Take That’s, it’s not good. It’s not terrible, but it just kind of… washes over you.
Tom: “Turn the lights out / in the lighthouse”? You’re a menace to shipping, Cole. I’ll ruin this song forever now for you, Tim, by saying that judging by the title, this should really have been a song about her menstrual cycle.
Tim: I don’t know how to respond to that.
Tom: It’s better than the damned ‘alouette’ refrain from the last one, I suppose; it’s at least musical.
Tim: It couldn’t really be worse than that, though. Unless it really was about her period.
Tom: How many times does she blow that damned candle out in the video?
Tim: Maybe it’s one of those magic relighting candles you get on birthday cakes.