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’.)
Tim: A second artist in two days with an apparent allergy to surnames, Hilda got her break presenting on the Swedish Disney Channel (much like Eric Saade), and is now making a foray into music with this, which wouldn’t sound out of place at a Miley Cyrus gig.
Tom: With that introduction echoing, the first thing that went through my mind on seeing this – and I feel so guilty for this – was “blimey, Miley Cyrus has put on some weight”. It’s a terrible thought, and I’m not happy with what that reveals about my subconscious. Also, it means that Miley Cyrus must be a damn stick insect.
Tim: This isn’t bad – it’s not a jingly-jangly sleigh bells all over the place track, which is a bit of a shame when the lyrics are so festive, but it does mean it can go on an album and not sound too out of place, I suppose.
Tom: It’s a cut above most modern pop Christmas songs – but what gets me is that it’s such an American Christmas song. Okay, that’s probably due to the Disney backing, and admittedly Tomte wouldn’t work quite as well as Santa in the lyrics… but damn it Disney, stop homogenising everything.
Tim: So, now we can get away with remarkably offensive thought processes as long as we demonstrate some in-depth knowledge of the culture of the person we’ve insulted? I must remember that.
Anyway, speaking of the lyrics, they’re not the most appropriate ever for a 14-year-old, although her age does mean she can get away with the line ‘Santa, if you do exist’.
Tim: Now then, Tom. Imagine: you’re a songwriter, you’re not so keen on Christmas right now, for one reason or another, and you want to tell the world.
Tom: This had better be good, Tim. I don’t like new Christmas records as a general rule.
Tim: Do you (a) make a track about how life isn’t great and that hopefully soon the trouble will pass, or (b) make a track about how life isn’t great and that hopefully soon the trouble will pass that’s so incredibly festive that there is no way it cannot fail to bring back Christmas memories? Well, guess what Hurts did.
Tom: Oh my word, that’s lovely.
Tim: Isn’t it? I love it – partly it’s because I really like Christmas music, and if I had the power I would pass a law decreeing that chiming bells must be used in all music releases.
Tom: Don’t ever do that. It’d mean that the proper use of them, like this, wouldn’t be special any more. Normally in Christmas music bells are chucked in at the end, just to add the ‘right feeling’ in there, but they just fit so well here.
Tim: Fair point. Guess I may as well put my political career on hold, then. Anyway, I also love this because it fits with the Hurts formula that I think is superb: entirely contrasting moods of music and lyrics, massive chorus, and vaguely optimistic outlook – ‘I know there’ll be tidings of joy this time next year but happiness has never felt so far away’.
Tom: ‘And all I want for Christmas is New Year’s Day.’ As I write this, I’m tired, and so I’m likely to be a bit more emotional than my normal cynical dry-husk self… but that just hit me right in the heart. See? I just used italics, for crying out loud.
Tim: However, minor annoyance: ‘It’s only seven days till Christmas, six more till New Years Day’. LEARN TO COUNT. They’re even the same day of the week; how hard can it be?
Tom: I’m even willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on this; there’s six days between the end of Christmas and the start of New Years’ Day, and I think that’s just fine.
Tim: I guess you’re right. It is a bloody marvellous song, though, so I will happily overlook it. Just this once, though.
Tom: This is going to be my Christmas song for this year. I’m not sure what I’ll be getting up to, but whatever it is, this song is always going to bring back memories of it. Well done, Hurts. Well done.
Tim: Absolutely. And you know what the best thing of all is? They’ve gone and been all lovely and have decided that, since it’s Christmas, for the next seven days anybody with an iTunes account can get it absolutely free.