Tove Lo – Glad He’s Gone

“You might want headphones.”

Tim: Coming up: some very, very blunt lyrics.

Tom: From Tove Lo, that’s not incredibly surprising.

Tim: You might want headphones.

Tim: To be honest, those lyrics were almost enough to put me off the first I heard them – specifically, the ‘did you let him leave a necklace’ line, which gave me quite the ‘eww, really?’ feeling. I’m very glad I didn’t switch it off, though, because the sound that turned up a bit later, the ‘no tears for that sucker’ section, sounds absolutely lovely.

Tom: And “I’m glad you finally dumped that terrible boyfriend” is a pretty good — and unusual — theme for a song. Yes, the lyrics are pretty dreadful throughout, but it’s catchy as hell.

Tim: In fact, most parts of this sound pretty lovely, in one way or another – I’ve even got to like that high pitched part that opens the song. Just, need to not pay too much attention to certain lyrics, because they’re still icky.

Sigala, Becky Hill – Wish You Well

“BREAK OUT THE PINEAPPLES.”

Tim: Remember 2016’s theme of Tropical Fridays? Well, it’s obviously too early to suggest they might be making a comeback, but for now, let’s BREAK OUT THE PINEAPPLES.

Tim: It’d be a good start, no?

Tom: It’s not bad! That “loyalities, insecurities and priorities” line stands out as being a really well crafted lyric: I don’t know the rhythm terms to explain what’s going on there, but it’s certainly catchy. As is most of the song, unexpectedly.

Tim: Admittedly I’ll always have a slightly rose-tinted view of Sigala, partly because he’s from Norwich, much like me, and also because his name is Bruce, which is an astounding name for a 27 year old Brit to have. Even so, I think this is a very good track to come out with.

Tom: You’re not wrong there. I am properly surprised by this: I expected this to be another regression-to-the-mean standard dance track, but there’s something in there that really stands out.

Tim: It’s his first new track since he put out his album last year, and that post-chorus breakdown, whilst being entirely devoid of coconuts, is astonishingly good. It is, in fact, entirely reminiscent of early ’00s dance tracks, and I absolutely love that.

Perhaps it’s a little lazy to immediately assign a ‘yes please’ to a track just because it brings back good feelings of times gone past, but I don’t care. Those are memories of music I loved, and never stopped loving, and it’s fantastic to hear it all over again. Especially when it sounds this damn good.

Wiktoria – OMG

“Try to sing along to the chorus, it’s fun!T

Tim: To allay your inevitable initial fear: she doesn’t actually sing OMG as letters in the song, so I’m not entirely sure why it’s like that in the title. Anyway, try to sing along to the chorus, it’s fun!

Tom: I would try to sing along, but I was too busy constantly wondering if Taio Cruz got royalties.

Tim: Wait, I don’t hear that at…oh, yes there it is. Dammit, Tom.

Tom: Apologies for ruining the song for you. Anyway, yes, it’s certainly a tricky chorus for karaoke.

Tim: That chorus annoyed me the first time I heard it, because this is the sort of song I like to be able to sing along to, and this really does present a challenge. But, turns out it’s a fun challenge and once I’m done with that and actually singing along, ish, it’s a pretty good piece of pop. Production, vocal, melody, all good, like we’ve come to expect from Wiktoria, really. All I can really say is, isn’t it time she came over here?

Samir & Viktor – Odödlig

“Bring out the BRASS”

Tim: Bring out the BRASS, because Samir & Victor have gone ‘Immortal’.

Tom: In the comments, there are quite a few people accusing them of ripping off Daniel Adams-Ray’s Dum av Dig, a song I’ve not heard of. My brain immediately tried to place that three-note chorus as well, and ended up on Phil Collins’ One More Night, although I’m fairly sure I’ve heard a brass version of it somewhere.

None of those are even particularly close: it’s just that when you’ve got a three-word chorus, that’s a natural rhythm to use.

Tim: Summer’s here, last summer was great, and now we’re feeling bloody brilliant and ready to do it all over again, is the basic message of this, and. well, why not really? Energetic, as we’d expect. Triumphant, as we’d expect. A mostly shouty chorus, as we’d expect, though there is a pleasing amount of melody in there.

Tom: I’m always glad when you send me the studio track from these two. Like Jedward, the enthusiasm’s there when they’re performing live, but the vocals might not always be. Shouty choruses fit this pair.

Tim: All in all, a fun track, heralding the arrival of summer. JOYFUL, he writes, as he stares out of his window at a largely grey sky. Ehh, can’t have everything.

Saturday Flashback: A*Teens – Mamma Mia

“Remind me: what, exactly, was the point of A*Teens?”

Tim: I do love love a good anniversary, so let’s have this: A*Teens’s debut, twenty years old this month. WARNING: excessive use of hair gel coming up.

Tim: Remind me: what, exactly, was the point of A*Teens? Was it just bringing the music of ABBA to a new generation of kids, who didn’t have Spotify or even Napster yet? Redoing it in a mildly unpleasant format to hear by adding on a load of autotune?

Tom: Money. It was money.

Tim: It’s not exactly bad, really, but it does just seem, looking back, really and entirely unnecessary. Particularly that blonde guy’s hair, and arguably the yo-yo as well.

Tom: Well, A1’s cover of Take On Me was unnecessary too, as was that video, but they still got to number 1 in the UK and A-Ha didn’t.

Tim: Late 90s were fun, weren’t they?

Jubël – On The Beach

“That is a bit unsettling.”

Tim: Here’s a thing I never knew: the massive 2000 hit O.T.B. (On The Beach) was a cover, ish, of a 1986 track by Chris Rea.

Tom: I had no idea. That is a bit unsettling; it’s like the first time I heard the song that Groove Armada sampled for At The River. Anyway! It’s a cover?

Tim: Yes, and so’s this.

Tim: Nice, that, isn’t it? I know we’ve discussed the concept of chilled house music multiple times–

Tom: Along with the fact that I don’t really like it.

Tim: –which is why I’d like to give me one last chance to justify it. Thing is, this precisely sums it up: nice music, with a strong but non-invasive beat, that you can listen to in the summer, as background music when you’re hanging around relaxing with some mates, in a park, maybe, or, well, on the beach.

Tom: Yes, fine, all right, I’ll grant that this is a solid mid-playlist bit of gentle party music. I’d say it’s actually better than the 2000 hit, which does tend to outstay its welcome somewhat.

Tim: Arguably due to the fact that there were basically no lyrics in that at all. Here we’ve got full vocal verses, bringing us a fully decent chilled house song. The sun’s strong, the drinks are flowing, this is playing nicely in the background, and everyone’s enjoying themselves. Not too much, mind, or at least, if they are then ideally they’ll have separated themselves from the rest of the group and blimey, I’ve gone wildly off topic here. Basically: sun, drink, friends, this. A good afternoon.

Birgir – Alive

Tim: Inexplicably, some artists were still releasing songs last week, which strikes me a bit like a school five-a-side match being played the same day as the World Cup final, but never mind. This from Birgir is substantially different from his Icelandic compatriots’ entry on Saturday, and while ‘stick with it’ is normally a terrible thing to say about a song, the first 43 seconds have almost nothing in common with the rest of it.

Tom: You’re not wrong, that unexpectedly goes… well, to me it sounds like Mumford and Sons decided to cover Bastille. By which I mean I was literally singing parts of Pompeii over the top of it.

Tim: Lovely melody, lovely instruments, lovely vocals, lovely message, even a load of lovely colours in the video – what’s not to love?

Well, aside from that dull as heck introduction, but that’s over soon enough and we’ve the knowledge of what to come that’ll get us through that. Aside from that, it’s an all in lovely song, that I’ve listened to a good few times now and not got bored of.

Tom: I feel like I’ve heard it before, which is — of course — probably why I’ve taken to it. I can’t remember any of it after I listen, but I certainly enjoyed it while it was there.

Tim: Great stuff.

Lorena Bućan – Tower of Babylon

“It looks like she’s the one already-drunk person who got up to dance at the start of the night.”

Tim: Croatia dropped out of Eurovision last night, failing to qualify, which was a bit of a shame as they had some very good looking backing dancers wearing angels wings and everything. It was a somewhat operatic number, with plenty of emotions on display, and a damn fine key change. This was their runner up, and shares absolutely none of those characteristics.

Tom: That first instrumental is one of the most awkward camera shots I’ve seen in a long time. It looks like she’s the one already-drunk person who got up to dance at the start of the night. All it needs is her repeatedly shouting at people to come up and join her. And what’s with the audience? This is Sweden gives them things to wave about and cheer with. There’s actually someone on their phone in one of the shots.

That’s all down to the production crew, though. We’re talking about the music.

Tim: Curiously, there isn’t much music like this, regionally distinctive, in the contest this year, which is kind of a shame. Sure, there are a high number of strong tracks, but not many you could say “yep, that’s definitely eastern European/Polish/Mediterranean”. A loss?

Tom: Well, it depends. Something like this can do well in the contest on rare occasions, but it’s a bold strategy that seems to produce more misses than hits. Certainly mixing it with modern pop sensibilities helps, as they’ve done here. It’s certainly nice to hear it in the Contest, but as to whether it’s a loss…

Tim: I think so, yes, and I think this year would have been improved by the inclusion of this song. It’s regional, and it’s much more of a dance beat banger than their eventual choice, which may have fared better. Or not, of course – it was a strong semi (yep), with only a few that definitely shouldn’t have qualified (even though one of those, Albania, did, irritatingly) – but it would have been nice to see anyway.

Tom: I’d just finished writing this, Tim, and I was starting to write a conclusion — when I found I was still humming the chorus, minutes after listening to it. Which is usually a good sign.

Except I wasn’t humming the chorus. I was humming the theme tune to Pirates of the Caribbean. Have a listen to that chorus and those orchestral hits, and tell me there’s not at least a passing resemblance.

Tim: Oh. Oh, yeah, you’re not wrong there. It’s the “ohhhh-oh-oh-oh” and then the beats, dammit you MONSTER.

Tom: Anyway, that’s the track ruined for me.

Laura Bretan – Dear Father

“It’s actually quite nice when people break the rules a bit.”

Tim: Split voting, televote vs jury, is always tricky, as we found out yesterday, and there’s no real perfect way of sorting it, though I’d say Sweden comes closest with its splitting the whole 270 televotes points down by percentage and giving equal weight to public and jury.

In contrast, Romania’s system gave this one, which scraped two thirds of all public votes, 12 points, and then the next one 10, despite it barely scraping 20%.

Tom: Ouch, that’s harsh. Of course, perhaps the idea is to minimise the chance of a Runaway Public Winner outweighing the expert opinion?

Tim: Add that to the fact that there were six jurors who each had the same points level as the whole public combined, and this easily got knocked back.

Tom: Huh. Maybe the idea is just to use the public as a tiebreaker.

Tom: For the first half of this, I’d written “the jury members are probably right”, because I couldn’t see why the public went for it. And then… well.

Tim: Curious structure, here, perhaps forced upon it by the relative calm for much of it, with us completely missing out the second chorus and middle eight and instead jumping straight to that lovely key change. Sometimes I’d complain, but when you’ve only got three minutes to play with it’s understandable, and it’s actually quite nice when people break the rules a bit.

Tom: And when they have such a spectacular voice. I don’t know why I think this works: the first half is slow and dull, the operatic vocals should be just ridiculous, but somehow — and I think this is down to the performer — I can see this doing really well, in the way that extremely competent, extremely noticable tracks do sometimes at Eurovision.

Tim: Also, of course, it helps that so much of what we do have is so good. In the first chorus there’s the shock value of ‘oh, so that’s what we’re doing’, which allows us to skip past the fact that it’s relatively damp. There’s that slight beat coming for the second verse, and then, yeah, that key change, the proper use of her impressive voice and then that backing chanting to bring everything to a climax. So, if someone could have a word with TVR about how democracy works, that’d be great, cheers.

Maxim Zavidia – I Will Not Surrender

“It’s very much Classic Eurovision.”

Tom: Tonight, on “Eurovision entrant or Harry Potter spell”…

Tim: You may or may not want to sing “From the day we arrived on this planet” over the first line of this Moldovan runner up; I certainly did, but as for the rest of it, well, take a listen.

Tom: Good grief, you’re not wrong there. I wonder if that was deliberate?

Tim: So, we’ve a Lion King rip-off, but only really for the intro and middle eight, so I’m very much inclined to excuse that, largely because the rest of it is just so damn good.

Tom: You’re not wrong there. It’s very much Classic Eurovision, the sort of thing that’d show up on that schlager YouTube channel you keep linking me to, and I suspect that’d count against it these days.

Tim: There are criticisms that could legitimately be made, sure – for starters, the fact that there is no key change in the long note at 2:15 is downright criminal – but this song, as a Eurovision entrant, is absolutely outstanding. The two-act middle eight works well, despite the aforementioned lack of a key change, and the vocal strength, the melody, the energy, the everything is right there.

Tom: Full marks for having a whole extra bar of silence in there, as well. It’s a brave choice, but somehow it works. And that final note is a heck of a way to end it.

Tim: As for the staging, I’ve no idea what the clock’s doing, and certainly not why it starts spinning backwards the moment he sings about reaching tomorrow, but the reveal of the ‘faith’ and ‘hope’ T-shirts is fun and ludicrous, and while I frequently complain about sparks showers being present when there’s nothing to deserve it, this absolutely should come with one. It’s wonderful, and so what really hurts is that it came second.

Thing is, it absolutely wiped the floor in the televote, getting almost as many votes as all the other eleven entries combined, but was largely slated by the jurors.

Tom: Of course: it’s Classic Eurovision, and that’s not what the juries look for. I wonder if that would have been repeated in the main event? We’ll never know. Thanks, jurors.

Tim: Pooheads, all of them.