Rat City feat. Isak Heim – Kind Of Love

“Fun, dancey, excitable, brassy, with a very weird video thrown in on the side.”

Tim: We’ve featured Rat City a couple of times before, but the last time was well over eighteen months ago so I’ll refresh your memory: it’s basically a rebranded Donkeyboy.

Tom: And the name’s just as bad!

Tim: Different sound, same people.

Tom: I actually said “huh, that’s good” out loud at the first chorus, which means I wasn’t expecting it to be good.

Tim: Nice, isn’t it? Fun, dancey, excitable, brassy, with a very weird video thrown in on the side.

Tom: I’m not entirely sure that reducing the female character to a large pair of lips on a lingerie-clad body is something that generally flies in the late 2010s. But given the whole thing looks like a fever dream anyway, perhaps it’s best to talk about the music.

Tim: Vocal that sounds right and good, and I particularly love what’s going on with that in the chorus – the call and repeat with the backing is the complete reverse of what you’d expect, yet it works brilliantly.

Tom: I was singing the chorus after one listen, and I didn’t mind. This isn’t bad at all.

Tim: All in, really quite special. Lovely.

Greta Salóme – Mess It Up

“I like it.”

Tim: You may recognise Greta’s name from Eurovision 2012 when she was, well, more successful than Engelbert Humperdinck, or 2016, where she wasn’t.

Tom: There’s a lot to unpack in that sentence, but in short: no, I don’t.

Tim: Never mind, because this is entirely different.

Tim: I like it. I don’t have much to say about it, sadly, which could lead to quite a short post, but I like it. There’s a pleasant sound, a catchy and infectious chorus, and so yeah, I like it.

Tom: There’s a lot to like, although I can’t see many folks having more than a ‘like’ reaction to it. It’ll sit happily in a Spotify ‘female light pop’ playlist somewhere, playing in the background at coffee shops, and it won’t offend anyone. That… as ever, that sounds much more harsh than I meant it.

Tim: It’s simple, but good.

Michael Rice – Bigger Than Us

“That’s right: for the first time in a decade, we’re sending a key change.”

Previously, on Tim & Tom’s Twitter DMs:

Tim: In case you’ve not been paying attention to the UK’s contestants, we have three decent, one below average and two garbage.
Tom: and no potential winners?
Tim: Hmmmmmmmmmmmm…… There’s one with a good chance of ending up left side of the scoreboard, and another that’ll either be top five or bottom five.

Tim: Now then, Tom, prepare to hear that last one, which the Great British Public, given only the tiniest of tiny pushes by the stage designers, decided upon.

Tom: You know my test for British Eurovision entries, Tim. Is it as good as Love Shine A Light? Will the entire nation be singing it? Two decades from now, will one of us be visibly going berserk in the crowd, as the original singer belts it out a manner that’s reminiscent of a tent revival? (0:32 in, right hand side of the frame, incidentally, and several more times in wide shots.)

Tim: One of my finest moments, that – I think I look particularly strong at 1:01.

Tim: That’s right: for the first time in a decade, we’re sending a key change.

Tom: And a lot of innuendo. And at least an homage to the opening bit of See You Again, surely?

Tim: Hmm, vaguely, but nowhere as much of an homage that one of the other tracks had to Johann Pachelbel, that one was an embarrassment.

Tom: That said: it’s not a bad track. It’s not Love Shine A Light, it’s a bit generic, but it’s definitely not a bad track.

Tim: If you think it sounds familiar, it’s because three of its four writers also wrote the masterpiece that was John Lundvik’s My Turn last year – you know, the one where they made him look like the messiah. Now, to be honest, I’ve mixed feelings about this result: yes, it was my favourite of the night by a long way, I’m looking forward to seeing it on an enormous stage in Tel Aviv, and I like that I’ll be able to listen to it in the Music app on my phone. On the other hand: this isn’t a Eurovision 2010s song. Hell, it’s barely a ’00s song. It has a key change, for crying out loud.

Tom: At least he can sing live. And it’s a key change into a triumphant middle eight, which at least sounds a bit fresher than just doing the chorus one more time.

Tim: I suppose, if he tours all the national finals and gets it heard around Europe, and if it gets some amazing staging, and if any of the other big ballads aren’t as good, then it might do well – but those are some big ifs.

Saturday Flashback: Buranovskiye Babushki – Dlinnaya-dlinnaya beresta i kak sdelat’ iz neyo aishon

Tom: You’re kidding.

Tim: Not even slightly. We all remember these ladies with their Party For Everybody oven on stage at Eurovision 2012, and how they ended up in a remarkably strong second place.

Tom: Second place! How on earth did they get second place?

Tim: A standard combination of novelty factor (oven, biscuits and dancing octogenarians) and an unexpected and surprisingly banging chorus.

But not as many (if indeed any at all) of us remember their attempt to compete for Russia two years previously, with this track. Since you’re wondering, the title translates to “Very long birch bark and how to turn it into moonshine”.

Tom: I was about to say, “let’s be honest, it just isn’t a very good pop song”, and then that chorus came along. They have, at least, got an interesting chorus. I don’t want to listen to it, but it is interesting.

Tim: An entirely fair judgment, and one I’m roughly on the same level as.

Felix Sandman – Miss You Like Crazy

“Well, there’s a name that Peter Dickson would enjoy shouting on the X Factor.”

Tom: Well, there’s a name that Peter Dickson would enjoy shouting on the X Factor.

Tim: Felix, you may or may not remember, came close to representing Sweden at Eurovision last year with an incredibly dull track. Here, not so much. Although, well, have a listen.

Tom: Oh, good heavens, video director, you’re producing this for the internet. I know you like cinematic aspect ratios, but that’s just ridiculous.

Tim: See, that’s not a hugely exciting song. It doesn’t get particularly loud or frantic at any point, despite being in a genre that almost demands it, and there’s definitely no YEAH moment. And yet, I really like it.

Tom: That’s because it’s got a brilliant chorus. One that I’m sure I’ve heard all the constituent bits of before elsewhere: there’s shades of Stand By You in there, along with a half dozen other tracks.

Tim: True, actually, because it is partly that melody, which just seems to get me interested, and keep me. I’m now involved in the song, and I like it, and I want to keep listening to it. I still don’t really know what it is, but whatever it is that gets me liking a song, this song has it.

Tom: As ever, it’s a good combination of novelty and familiarity. And, in this case, profanity. I’m less sure about that, though.

Tim: Yeah. Yeah, that’s not so great.

Saara Aalto – Dance Like Nobody’s Watching

“Two options for you here: the regular version, which is a fairly nice piano ballad, or the UK Radio Edit, which is much more BANGING.”

Tim: Two options for you here: the regular version, which is a fairly nice piano ballad, or the UK Radio Edit, which is much more BANGING. Which would you prefer?

Tom: I feel like I’m being given a choice so obvious that it’s going to backfire, but: BANGING. OF COURSE.

Tim: That is the CORRECT answer.

Tim: So, presumably hoping to cash in on her continued success on Dancing On Ice, this has been released to UK stations, where it’s had, erm, well, not much success, but never mind, because this really is a track and a half.

Tom: Are you sure? I mean, it is certainly a track, I’m just wondering where you’re getting the other half from.

Tim: It’s very much in the ‘be true to yourself’ vein (so much so that the video for the original version was made in conjunction with the trans support charity Mermaids) and it’s nice that it works on two levels – the ‘shout the chorus line’ level which gives it a standard ‘let’s have a hell of a good night’ vibe, and the deeper lyrics in the verses where the more personal stuff comes out.

Tom: I think you may have raised my expectations too high by describing this as BANGING, Tim.

Tim: Well, technically I described it as ‘more banging’, but yes, fair enough.

Tom: There’s nothing actually wrong with it, and the message is laudable, but it’s very much a standard ballad without much else to say for it.

Tim: Incorrect, it is a BEEFED UP version of a standard ballad, and so musically, I also love it: the standard banging ballad formula of a quiet first verse, crash in with the chorus, slightly less quiet second verse, and so on, and she’s got a voice that suits that formula brilliantly. All in: this is great. Properly great.

Isak Danielson – Power

“I’m not entirely convinced that a crossover of Jackass and ‘power-and-sex-charged music video’ is a good idea.”

Tim: Some say the art of lyric writing is crafting mysterious or ambiguous ones, so that different people can add their own interpretations, and maybe use a music video to do even more with the various possibilities. Others, such as Isak, prefer a more prescriptive approach to these things, bringing all the subtlety of a two ton wrecking ball.

Tom: That is an wonderfully-choreographed, impeccably-shot, frankly beautiful video that has been ruined by appalling video compression. What a shame: if that was graded and handled a little better, you’d be able to see more than dancing black squares during the dark parts.

Tim: I’ll be honest, part of me is disappointed that she didn’t end up literally going at him with a Taser, or at the very least a cattle prod.

Tom: I’m not entirely convinced that a crossover of Jackass and ‘power-and-sex-charged music video’ is a good idea, but if that’s what you’re into, then I’m not going to judge.

Tim: Fair’s fair, though, as what it lacks in interpretative possibilities it more than makes up for in sheer volume and emotion, almost begging for Take Me To Church comparisons on multiple levels. The vocal style, the cut back instrumentation, the backing vocals echoing the main chorus – this is basically a textbook emo male power ballad, and it sounds good for it.

Tom: I think the video helps sell it to a large extent: without it, yes, it’s very clearly aiming for Hozier and not quite getting there. But that’s an almost-impossible target to hit: getting this far is an achievement in itself.

Ludvigsson & Jorm – Different Tomorrow

“No-one should have to debug their light bulb.”

Tim: I’m writing this late at night, after spending far too many hours trying and failing to sort an entirely irritating technical issue with various smart things in my home.

Tom: If you combine a computer and a light bulb, you get a computer. No-one should have to debug their light bulb.

Sorry, you were probably hoping for sympathy there.

Tim: Not really. I am tired, I have no energy, and I want to go to bed. Except, I’ve just pressed play on this, and now I’ve got a fair old grin on my face.

Tom: The same thing happened to me, and for the life of me I couldn’t tell you why. I shouldn’t like this, but that build into the first chorus just made me smile. And as for “it will be different tomorrow”, well, yes, that’s an often-true message

Tim: And it’s not just the lyrics there that are so upbeat: there just seems to be so much infectious joy contained within that song, and even the artwork manages to pull off a sense of optimism. It culminates in the third minute: that last build, starting at about two minutes? It’s lovely – and what comes after it sounds just right. Nothing new or exciting compared to what we’ve already heard, but exactly what it should be.

Tom: Yep. And I can’t explain it. This is the opposite of those tracks where I say “it’s competently produced but I don’t like it”. This has nothing spectacular about it, but it’s just really well composed.

Tim: There’s no middle eight, but I’m not complaining this time: it’s a short track, and it does everything it wants and needs to do. For what it is, a dance tune with lyrics promising a good future, it’s perfect.

Tom: I could hum the chorus after one listen, and I wanted to hear it again. Full marks from me, for once.

Junior J feat. John Gibbons & Therese – Save A Little Love

“That’s meant as a compliment.”

Tim: As I write this, Finland have just announced that Darude willl be representing them at Eurovision, so shall we have a bit of dance music?

Tom: The more I hear about the Eurovision music this year, the more I like it. Anyway: this is not Eurovision, I guess? But I’m definitely up for some dance music.

Tom: Well, if that’s Therese on main vocals, then all I can say is she’d be an excellent Kylie impersonator. That’s meant as a compliment: that’s a good vocal quality to have.

Tim: Junior is Irish, John is Irish, Therese is Swedish, and as I see it, between them they’ve put together a better Galantis track than Galantis have managed in a good couple of years.

Tom: You’re not wrong: it’s very two-summers-ago, but again, that’s meant as a compliment.

Tim: It’s upbeat, it’s cheerful, it’s energetic, and it makes me feel good. And that’s what a dance tune should do. This works, very nicely.

Saturday Flashback: Eleni Foureira – Fuego

“I don’t get it.”

Tim: Cyprus, Eurovision last year, and I’ve a question.

Tom: What’s the question?

Tim: So here’s the thing: this song has since then become basically an Anthem amongst the standard europop crowd. I was out the other night and the club went insane the moment the intro hit, and it jumped straight to number 2 by a massive margin in the 2018 #esc250 countdown (a beautiful NYE staple – and since you’re wondering, since 2012, number one has been, and will remain forever more, Euphoria).

But: I don’t get it.

Tom: And neither do I! The chorus is based around an irritating sample, and that pre-chorus anti-drop is just disappointing every time.

Tim: It’s okay, there’s a decent tune, but it’s sure as hell no What About My Dreams, which outrageously didn’t make the chart at all. Just me?

Tom: Not just you.