Meja – Todays & Tomorrows

“Meja’s been going as a soloist for twenty five years now, and here’s her latest.”

Tim: Meja’s been going as a soloist for twenty five years now, and here’s her latest, and I pressed play on it and immediately felt Christmassy.

Tom: …it’s January. Is that a good thing?

Tim: Have a listen, you tell me.

Tom: Huh. You’re not wrong, but I can’t place why. Those aah-aah-aahs in the background do sound familiar, but even with the clue of Christmas, I can’t quite place it.

Tim: At first I thought it was the 12/8 time signature (though that helps), but no, there’s another reason and part of me doesn’t want to point it out because if you haven’t noticed it and you enjoy the song then it might spoil it for you, so I’ll leave it.

Tom: I do enjoy this — it’s the first track we’ve covered in a while that’s felt like it’d inspire a phone-torches-in-the-air moment if it’s played at a gig.

Tim: Yes, I thought you’d like it. So…

Tom: But I’m not worried about it being ruined for me. Go on, what have I missed?

Tim: Well, those aah-aah-aahs you mentioned, and indeed a large part of the underlying guitar melody, seem very similar indeed, to my ears at least, to one particular track I’M SORRY.

Tom: Oh no.

Tim: But even with that, it’s a nice song, with a good style that works for her, straight out of the nineties. I do have an issue with the lyrics, though, which is that they’re basically meaningless: is she criticising the person she’s singing at, or complimenting them, or being romantic, or just providing something to think about? No idea. Sounds nice, though.

Victor Leksell – Svag

“I was really hoping the title of this was ‘Swag’, but it actually translates as ‘Weak’. Ah well.”

Tim: Here’s a song for you that stylistically I’d typically consider far too damp to suggest, but have a listen because it just kind of…gets me.

Tom: I was really hoping the title of this was “Swag”, but it actually translates as “Weak”. Ah well.

Tom: Bold choice, there, just making the album art a black square. It “gets you”?

Tim: Not sure why, really, because there’s not a lot happening there, and when the drop into the first chorus entirely failed to materialise I was thoroughly disappointed.

Tom: Yep, same here. I can see why you described it as “far too damp”: the title fits it. And yet?

Tim: It just has a something about that I like, though, which has got me bouncing around a little bit on my sofa typing this, and ever so slightly humming along to it.

Tom: The thing is, you’re not wrong. There’s a lot to like here: it’s traditional, as slow guitar-pop goes, even down to switching to the harmony line for the final chorus.

Tim: It may be that it just reminds me of several other songs, because I’m fairly sure it does, or it may be that nice gentle back and forth guitar line it’s got going on, but whatever it is – I like it.

Saturday Flashback: Matthias Reim – Tattoo

“I have to admire the chutzpah of a man in his sixties who’s still rocking the boy-band haircut and denim jacket.”

Tim: Last October Matthias brought out a new album, MR20; why, exactly, he didn’t leave it until this year just for dating’s sake is beyond me, but hey ho. Eiskalt was the fabulously unnerving lead track; here’s the second single, that got released with the album.

Tom: I have to admire the chutzpah of a man in his sixties who’s still rocking the boy-band haircut and denim jacket. Germany continues to be, as far as I know, the only nation where it’s possible to pull that off, ironically or not.

Tim: Well, let’s get the obvious out of the way first and say that it’s no Eiskalt, a song I still listen on a frequent basis; it is, on the other hand, still a pretty good Matthias Reim track, right bang in the middle of the schlager rock groove he’s carved out for himself, and I like it a LOT.

Tom: I can see why: it’s exactly the sort of Europop we like here.

Tim: Now I mention it, in fact, the whole album’s worth a listen if you get a chance; I’d recommend some highlights but that’d imply there are some lowlights, and, no.

Incidentally, there’s a German person I work with, and when I mentioned Matthias to her she was initially surprised he was still going, and then just looked at me with a sense of mild disdain.

Tom: I did wonder what Germans in general think of this: with a million views on YouTube, there’s clearly an audience — but then, there’s an audience for a lot of things that the world in general holds in poor esteem.

Tim: But I don’t care: my name’s Tim and I’m a Reimer. And if there isn’t a word for his fans, I’m having that one.

Elisa Lindström – Ditt Hjärta i Min Hand

“Is it a cymbal crash you can hear in the background, or the sound of sparklers shooting off? Who knows.”

Tom: It’s always good when I can translate a title in my head.

Tim: Every year, thousands of songs get submitted for Melodifestivalen, and every year the vast majority of them get rejected. Most of them never see the light of day, and those that do get released are never spoken of as having been rejected, obviously. However, this is a lovely schlagery pop track, coming in at precisely three minutes, with a perfect “let’s get the Catherine wheels spinning” moment. Draw your own conclusion.

Tom: That could have been a Melodifestivalen track at any point in the last thirty years.

Tim: It certainly could, and wouldn’t it have been nice to see on stage? Probably start out with her in a nice white dress, a guitarist and a drummer in the background, nothing until the crash for the first chorus, BOOM the lights come up and we’ve some dancers jumping around and giving us the oh-woah-ohs that they’ve lifted from This Is Me.

Tom: That’s where I’ve heard them before! (I mean, it’s a Millennial Whoop, but you’re right, that’s basically This Is Me.)

Tim: Then, of course, that GLORIOUS key change, fireworks everywhere, probably risking burning down the stadium but never mind, because just LOOK.

Tom: Is it a cymbal crash you can hear in the background, or the sound of sparklers shooting off? Who knows. I almost physically facepalmed at that key change. Yes: I can absolutely see this on stage.

Tim: Mind you, it’d then crash out in fifth place, and we’d all be disappointed again, so maybe it’s for the best. No, who am I kidding, it’d have been BRILLIANT.

Melissa Naschenweng – Schutzengerl

“I just think that it would be difficult to put a euphoric key change in a song about death.”

Tim: Presenting a rather lovely song that is completely and utterly ruined by the video. Title translates to ‘Guardian Angel’.

Tim: First verse: mm, yeah, it’s okay. First chorus: oh, this is absolutely beautiful and wonderful and heartwarming and everything.

Tom: I actually broke out into a smile at that first chorus. And I know it’s because it’s schlager, it’s perfectly valid to call it uninspired and by-the-numbers, but– I still smiled. For a moment. And then I realised what was going on in the video, and that it’s actually about a father dying in a car crash, it’s basically a “don’t text and drive” PSA, and ‘Guardian Angel’ in the title is not intended as a metaphor.

Tim: Yeah, quite the change of beat when you realise that, isn’t it?

Tom: It is odd, though. You could swap the lyrics of this out with a sappy love song and it would work perfectly. I wonder how often that’s true in this genre, and in others? Because that first chorus could be a proper hands-in-the-air moment.

Tim: Second verse: not much interesting happening, jump to another tab. Second chorus: OOH, it’s gone quiet, we’re getting one hell of a key change here. Except, no. We have a car crash instead, and…well, I actually meant that about it happening literally in the video, but it also works perfectly well to describe the song.

Tom: I know where you’re going, Tim, and I just think that it would be difficult to put a euphoric key change in a song about death.

Tim: True, AND YET, that sudden pause shows the potential for what could be. And sure, it’d be a key change that’s a good couple of decades out of fashion, and way off beat with the lyrics, but I don’t care, I want it, you’ve shown me it, and at each one of the drum builds that come throughout the rest of the song, I want that key change. YOU’VE STOLEN MY KEY CHANGE, DAMMIT.

I said ‘ruined by the video’, though: the studio version doesn’t have that pause, and as such doesn’t bring out anywhere near as much frustration. So maybe the video wouldn’t, if it did’t have that exact drama in that exact place. Silly people.

Saturday Flashback: Texas Lightning – No No Never

“You’re singing along even though you’ve never heard it before.”

Tom: There’s not much to write about in early January, is there? Bieber’s latest sounds like a parody, a mumbling baby-talk mess. I can’t even think of an appropriate Saturday Flashback. But you know what? Yesterday we talked about Euro-not-quite-country: this time we’re talking going FULL GERMAN FAUXMERICAN BLUEGRASS. Eurovision. 2006. Fourteen years ago.

Tom: They’d finished in last place the year before. This managed 14th.

Tim: And yep, that feels entirely an appropriate place for this to end up. It is nice, though – the sort of song where somehow you’re singing along to the first line of the first chorus, even though you’ve never ever heard it before.

Tom: At least the guy with the double bass seemed like he was having fun.

Tim: Oh, I think they all do, really – and quite right too.

Amarill & Neimy – Din Loser

“There aren’t many songs where after just a few seconds I’m already thinking ‘ooh, yeah, I like this’.”

Tim: There aren’t many songs where after just a few seconds I’m already thinking ‘ooh, yeah, I like this’. This, pleasingly, is one where that did happen.

Tom: You’re not wrong, that is a brilliant intro.

Tim: Title translates to ‘Your Loser’, incidentally, though I’ve no idea what the lyrics are about as they’re not on any lyrics site, do feel free to write in if you know. As it is, then, we’ve just got the music to go by, which is remarkably summery and yet and at the same time, not something I’m remotely bothered by hearing right now, unlike yesterday.

Tom: Good to know we’ve got consistent standards here. You’re right, though: it is a very summery song. There’s something about that repeating riff — which is always on the borderline between ‘fun’ and ‘annoying’ — that says this should be being released in June, probably in Benidorm.

Tim: Maybe it’s just that it’s pouring with rain outside and that doesn’t make me feel at all Christmassy, so I’m wanting to get away from it? I don’t know, but whatever it is, I’m happy.

Tom: It’s a decent, middle-of-the-road summer track. In winter.

Tim: It’s a good sound, it’s a strong rhythm, it’s probably a decent message in the lyrics with a title like this…it’s all nice.

Klara Hammarström – Riding Home For Christmas

“Clip clop clip clop.”

Tim: Can’t have riding without hoof noises, Tom.

Tim: Clip clop, clip clop. I mean, I’ve no idea why anybody would want to ride long distance on a horse (or maybe she’s borrowed a reindeer) at this time of year, it’s bloody freezing, but then I guess at least it avoids confusion with that godawful Chris Rea song. Clip clop.

Tom: See, for once I actually don’t find that annoying: they’re low enough in the mix that they don’t seem strange to me.

Tim: I think my favourite moment in here is when it drops any pretence whatsoever of being a normal song (which, let’s be honest, it could just about claim to be in the verses) and goes ALL IN with jingle bells for the chorus, because who are we really kidding? She’s Christmassy, the target’s Christmassy, the song’s Christmassy, EVERYTHING’S CHRISTMASSY, and all the better for it.

Tom: Agh, see, it’s the opposite exact for me: there is just too much jingling. When I say the verses of this sound like Christina Aguilera’s Beautiful, I mean it as a compliment to both voice and composition. And the chorus is great, too.

There’s a lot to like here, but it’s drowned out: by jingle bells for me, by hoof noises for you.

Tim: Clip clop, clip clop.

Tusse Chiza – Rain

“It’s a winner’s single, of course it’s good.”

Tim: The debut episode of a new X Factor show went out on British TV last week, and was beaten in the ratings by, erm, a political talk show aimed solely at under 30s. Idol in Sweden, though, is still going strong, still producing many recognisable names.

Tom: That’s what you’d expect from Sweden, I guess: they’re still where a huge amount of pop music is coming from. If anywhere is still going to have an Idol franchise, it’ll be there.

Tim: Here’s the winner of series 19, as crowned last weekend.

Tim: That right there is an excellent blend of 2019 music, with the vocal samples at the start and then dotted throughout, and good old-fashioned power balladry (and indeed some excellent steadicam shots).

Tom: And again, that’s what you’d expect from Sweden. Not entirely convinced by the song itself, mind: all the component parts are there but I can’t remember any of it afterwards.

Tim: Strong voice, as you’d expect from an Idol winner, top production, and…oh, you know what? It’s a winner’s single, of course it’s good.

Tom: I’m not entirely convinced by that voice, it sounds like he’s straining in a couple of places, but then it’s a live performance on an incredibly stressful night. If he can belt that out under those conditions, he’ll be absolutely fine.

Tim: Will he continue and get further success? Who knows. Right now, I’m enjoying listening to this.

SINNAH – Fake

“Basically, ‘stop being a dick’.”

Tim: First single was out in March, I liked it more than you did; here’s number two which is “about a guy who is starting to immediately date a new girl after a break up. The way he is acting is the total opposite to the way he did in the previous relationship.” There’s more guff provided, but it doesn’t really help. Have a listen.

Tim: And there we go – basically, “stop being a dick”, but in not too nasty a way because she’s moving on anyway, absolutely moving on, not at all obsessed by him, definitely not going to do something obsessive like write a song about i– oh, wait.

Tom: His name is Lee, by the way. Ridiculous Lee. He’s the same person that Katy Perry sang about.

Tim: Still, at least it’s a good song, punchy and vibrant and noisy, with a decent combination of melody and shouting.

Tom: Yep, for once I’m really enjoying a track you’ve sent over. I’m not sure I’m going to be singing along with the lyrics any time soon, but it’s one that could sit happily in the middle of a pop playlist.

Tim: All in: slightly confused message, packaged up in nice music though.