The Lovers of Valdaro – Faster to Nowhere

“I’d say that fits very nicely into the ‘really nice!; category, no?”

Tim: We featured their debut last year and you described it as “really nice!”.

Tom: I also said that “I like it, but I’m never going to remember it”, which was entirely accurate. I have no memory of it, but it’s pleasant now I hear it again.

Tim: We didn’t feature their Melodifestivalen entry because it wasn’t particularly interesting; we are now featuring their third release.

Tim: And I’d say that fits very nicely into the “really nice!” category, no?

Tom: It does. It also fits into the “I like it, but I’m never going to remember it” category. Even after listening through once, I can’t actually remember it. (I thought I did, but I was actually remembering the disco version of BWO’s “Kings of Tomorrow”, which has a similar chorus.

Tim: It reminds me a lot of Bright Light Bright Light, who I still have a lot of love for, and that’s not just because of the near identical vocal sound. It’s got the same lovely style to the backing to it, along with a good downbeat lyrics mixed with a nice jaunty sound. This is, to be honest, exactly my sort of music, done really really well. FAB.

Why Don’t We feat. Macklemore – I Don’t Belong In This Club

“The word that comes to mind for this is ‘charming’.”

Tom: This played on the radio while I was driving. It’s catchy as hell, but I swear I’ve heard the chorus somewhere before. What on earth does it sound like?

Tom: Even without that: the word that comes to mind for this is “charming”. It’s not a theme I’ve heard before, but it’s properly relatable; the chorus is brilliant; and the music video is in no way self-aggrandising. Like I said: charming.

Tim: Yes. You’re right, it is a bit familiar, in a couple of places, but nothing that I can think of right now. It’s good, though, and very listenable, and yeah, charming works well.

Tom: And then there’s Macklemore, who somehow manages to do a rap bit that doesn’t sound terrible. Aside from the Uber and Red Bull brand shoutouts, but never mind.

Tim: See, the Uber thing I’m actually okay with – sure, it might sting a tad to hear but, for me at least, Uber’s become enough of a word in its own right, like ‘google’ meaning to search, that lyrically I’m okay with it. Red Bull I’ll let you have, though.

Tom: Now, I’ll grant you, the track’s probably a bit too long. It’s basically got three middle eights: Macklemore’s verse, the actual middle eight with a different melody, and the quiet broken-down piano-backed chorus. In a world where the middle eight is steadily going away and songs are getting shorter, that’s a bold move.

Tim: But I like that – the song’s almost four minutes long, but it’s varied enough that I never get bored of it.

Tom: I think it manages to be both interestingly different and immediately catchy, which is a rare thing in pop. Or I just really like whichever song it’s reminding me of.

Tim: Fair.

Ava Max – So Am I

“Remember that ‘Sweet But Psycho’ song, the one that was so catchy that everyone just ignored the really questionable lyrics?”

Tom: Remember that ‘Sweet But Psycho’ song, the one that was so catchy that everyone just ignored the really questionable lyrics?

Tim: YES, and I still listen to it frequently while feeling ever so slightly guilty every time.

Tom: Well, this is what happens when a record executive says “that was brilliant, let’s have another one that’s exactly the same please”.

Tim: And right now I am imaging that exact conversation, because that is what happens. In a good way, mind.

Tom: There’s a lot to unpack here, isn’t there? The Sid and Nancy reference, the “call me Harley” lyric that acknowledges that, yes, perhaps the stylist might have taken a bit of inspiration from a certain comic book character.

Tim: Yeah – and that’s not helped by the fact that releasing a song titled ‘So Am I’ immediately after one with a main line of “she’s sweet but a psycho” could be read in a way different from how these lyrics portray it.

Tom: And the slightly uncomfortable music-video trope of taking a conventionally attractive artist and putting her in an oversexualised school uniform with some dancers, while she’s singing about how it’s okay to be different.

It’s very much been the Difficult Second Single in terms of chart performance, although it seems to be getting enough airplay.

Tim: Well, its been in the charts five weeks now and is lurking around the lower end of the Top 20, so I’d say it could go either way.

Tom: Catchy, though, isn’t it?

Tim: Yes. It’s still no Sweet But Psycho, though.

Joakim Molitor feat. Moa Lisa – Number One

“Not that FRIDAY WHEEEEY means much to you or me, given our chosen professions, but let’s have a Friday dance tune nonetheless.”

Tim: Not that FRIDAY WHEEEEY means much to you or me, given our chosen professions, but let’s have a Friday dance tune nonetheless.

Tom: Well, for me it’s more like FRIDAY PLANE TO A DIFFERENT TIME ZONE, but okay.

Tim: Oh, and you’ll want to put the lyric video in a background tab, far too many mistakes to take (and one appalling lyric).

Tom: And terrible choices of line break positioning, too. Amateur hour.

Tim: “You’re lightning up my heart”, you see, is just awful – it’s in that horrible place where you don’t know if they’ve accidentally put the wrong word, or if they’ve chosen it deliberately to be a bit weird or something, and I’m not sure if either is forgivable. That aside, though – the rest of it’s all decent.

Tom: Decent, sure, but it’s hardly a floor-filler, is it? I know that’s not always the point, but still.

Tim: Production’s good, and while there’s the occasional “wait, there’s no drop yet?” moment, eventually it provides what’s necessary: a pleasant summery beat. The season’s on its way, folks – let’s have some fun.

Christopher – My Heart

“Warning: this is an exceptionally frustrating video.”

Tom: Bold choice to choose one of the most common first names in the world as your mononym, but sure.

Tim: Warning: this is an exceptionally frustrating video.

Tpm: I’m not sure it’s frustrating, just more ill-thought-out.

Tim: “Okay,” went my thought process, “we’ve got a reverse video, always a fun thing, particularly when they try to lip sync it, and we know he ends up dead, so what’s going to happen?” Except then it turns out that since you can’t exactly die from rolling down a sand dune it must have been just a metaphorical death, but hey, is that a wedding we’ve got coming up? That’ll be a decent climax. Except, no. He’s just waiting at the alter, gets given back the engagement ring and then think “welp, guess she’s ditched me, okay, bye everyone”. Like, what? Narratively that’s awful, because at least call her to find out what’s going on, mate, don’t just run away and metaphorically kill yourself. And for our sake as viewers, where’s the fun? Where’s the “hang on, I know that look in your eye, wait, you’re sleeping my the best man?!” moment? That’d be a showdown worth waiting for, not this nonsense.

In other news, that’s now three out of three tracks this week where I’ve not actually mentioned the music at all. Hmm.

Tom: Yeah, I was going to mention that. And for once, I think that’s a shame: it’s got a really nice chorus, the piano’s doing interesting things in the background, and he’s got a voice that’s more than capable of singing it.

Tim: All of that is true – it’s nice. It’s decent. Just, not as good as the video is annoying, I guess.

Donkeyboy – Think You Should

“New one off Norway’s finest purveyors of electropop.”

Tim: New one off Norway’s finest purveyors of electropop; have a listen, etc.

Tom: Well, that’s a great and promising verse hampered by an unmemorable chorus.

Tim: Now, I like a good lyric video as much as the next guy, but sometimes I’m worried I read too much into them.

Tom: Oh no. Not again.

Tim: For example, this here is entirely standard – words coming and going as they should do, no typos or anything, all should be fine. Except. Except. What’s happening with the silhouettes, please. Because there are four people who make up Donkeyboy – Cato (vocals and guitar), Kent (vocals & synth), Peter (guitar, acting vocals) and Thomas (drums) – and here we’ve also one non-credited vocalist, Linnea, who also featured on their biggest hit, Ambitions, and is presumably the full colour one who shows up briefly.

SO WHAT DOES THE FADING MEAN? We have at most four silhouettes there at any one time, and why do they come and go? What is happening? Who do they represent? What does it signify? What does it mean? WHAT DOES ANYTHING MEAN?

Tom: It means the animator played about with the ‘opacity’ tool a bit, Tim.

Tim: Decent track, though.

Busted – Shipwrecked in Atlantis

“You’re about to go into an overly-serious explanation of some pretty terrible lyrics, aren’t you?”

Tim: Ideally, we’d wait until a video had been put out for this track before featuring it, but sadly it’s been long enough since the album release that it seems there may not be one. And that’s upsetting, because it is (a) by far and away the best song on their new album and (b) an actual, genuinely billed as, sequel to the classic Air Hostess.

Tim: Now, you’re not sure if I’m being serious with the whole sequel thing. Is it really, or is it just any old song that can be vaguely related?

Tom: You’re about to go into an overly-serious explanation of some pretty terrible lyrics, aren’t you?

Tim: Absolutely not! These lyrics are excellent. if we’re honest then for at least the first minute or so, they could be just some sort of metaphor – weird perhaps, but not the worst we’ve heard. Relationship’s over, so shipwrecked, but still slightly okay, so landing in Atlantis, so maybe…except, yeah, that works with the “half dead, half alive” and “miracle we both survived”. And sure, we can kind of keep it going with “keeps getting better” and “almost like we planned it” because, you know, relationships and stuff, but then we’re talking about dining with salt bae every night, and complaining about the food prices, and actually no it’s not any sort of metaphor, it’s just a plane crash, with someone who is, let’s face it, quite probably the aforementioned Air Hostess and an extension of that story.

Tom: Sure. So anyway, the musi–

Tim: In fact, following it through with the whole Atlantis thing, it’s basically a prequel to the events described in Year 3000 – living underwater, and the amount of inbreeding that would surely come from this scenario would lead easily into triple-breasted women. Wouldn’t it?

Tom: I appreciate your efforts to create a Busted Cinematic Universe.

Tim: This is, really, the song that brings all of Busted together. We never knew we needed it, but lyrically it’s here. And it’s also damn good musically as well, because I’ve heard this a couple of dozen times now and I still love it.

Tom: Pity about those lyrics. Although I have to admit, I was humming that chorus after one listen: it’s catchy, and I don’t really mind.

Nano – Chasing Rivers

“Swedish Hozier! I mean that as a compliment. Although it is Swedish Hozier Slurring His Words A Bit.”

Tim: Last one from the final, and it did well with the juries but not very well with the punters, and I think I know why (and no, it’s not the weird mini-Nano).

Tom: Swedish Hozier! I mean that as a compliment. Although it is Swedish Hozier Slurring His Words A Bit.

Tim: See, it’s a good track. Powerful strong ballad, sung well, nice backing chorus, got everything it needs. As a song, it’s good.

Tom: Sure, it’ll do — but it’s in a very tough field.

Tim: It’s not twelve-points-from-every-jury good, but it’d be a decent enough Eurovision entry, so it’s doing alright with the jury. Except, Nano was at Melodifestivalen two years ago, with the very memorable Hold On. It had his same style – same voice, backing choir, passionate message, and we even made that exact same Hozoer comparison – but crucially, a whole lot more on top. A massive amount more, with blazing lights, horns and everything, and in comparison, this just doesn’t cut it.

Tom: You’re not wrong: that final chorus is great, but it doesn’t compare to the past.

Tim: That one was in first place with the televote, with the voters being tragically overruled by the jurors. This one? Nowhere near.

Alphabeat – Shadows

“BACK TOGETHER after five and a half years, bringing this track with them. No pressure, then.”

Tim: Alphabeat are BACK TOGETHER after five and a half years, bringing this track with them. No pressure, then.

Tim: And it’s exactly as we’d expect, really. A slightly funky tinge here and there, but otherwise it’s just good pop music.

Tom: This did beat my admittedly-low expectations, mainly through that chorus. I’m less sure about the verse, and I’m particularly unsure about the scratching-scraping percussion that turns up in the left channel for the second verse. As for those weirdly-positioned “move with me” chants, well, hopefully they’ll grow into the sort of thing that becomes a callback rather than irritation.

Tim: I listened to Alphabeat a bit over Christmas, inspired by their wonderful Christmas track, and was actually wondering what they’d got up to, and now they’ve answered. Sure, it’s not a 10,000 Nights or a Fascination, but it’s still really good – melody, energy throughout, great chorus – and all it’s got me thinking is “when’s the album out?”, which is a good thing to be thinking after hearing a comeback track. Possibly the best, actually.

Alan Walker & Steve Aoki feat. Isak – Lonely

“This sounds rather like someone fed a machine-learning system the stems from Alan Walker’s entire catalogue and instructed it to make a new track.”

Tim: New one from Alan, sort of – it’s an edited version of a track off his (really rather good) album, which in its original form also featured a rapper, Omar Noir. He’s been kicked off, Isak’s been given an extra verse so it’s not too much shorter, and this is the product.

Tim: And it’s…interesting, in as much as it sounds very, very disjointed.This seems very much a track with some bits by Alan, some by Steve, and some where they sort of mix together, and certainly early on it…doesn’t sound good? I’m particularly looking at you, 0:34, but there are other parts as well that sound a bit off.

Tom: This sounds rather like someone fed a machine-learning system the stems from Alan Walker’s entire catalogue and instructed it to make a new track. There’s occasional bits of other tracks in there, and none of it quite fits together.

Tim: Having said that – large parts of this are great. In particular, most of the vocal parts, and very much the section beginning at 1:34 (i.e. what we can roughly pin down as Alan’s). Other parts, not so much, and actually, much as I’m typically happy to see the back of a featured rapper, it works better with him on it – it’s hard to explain exactly why, but if you have a listen, you might agree.

Tom: I… don’t.

Tim: So, all in all, my main thought is just: why?