Dotter – Heatwave

‘Every part of it is just, “yes, this is what I want to hear in a song”.’

Tim: Follow-up to the Melodifestivalen entry Cry, with no small number of similarities.

Tim: So I really like this song – pretty much every part of it. Thing is, I don’t really have much to say about why I like it, though not in the sense that it’s generic, because it isn’t at all. It’s simply that every part of it is just, “yes, this is what I want to hear in a song”.

Tom: That’s because your brain wants to listen to You’ve Got The Love.

Tim: Hmmm…maybe…ish…

Tom: Okay, that’s a little harsh, the melody line is at least somewhat different, but this sounds like someone’s just applied the KLF’s Manual to Florence and the Machine and got this out of it.

Tim: The vocal is good, the instrumentation behind it is very good, and all in all it’s just…good. Really good.

Tom: You’re not wrong there, though. It’s not a bad track.

Tim: I feel I should be saying more, but I can’t really think of anything that needs saying.

Studio Killers – Party Like It’s Your Birthday

“I’m currently on my third listen and it’s still going strong.”

Tim: Several years since their last single, and nothing whatsoever to do with 4.32kr, as I’m told he’s known in Sweden.

Tom: TIM.

Tim: 👍

Tim: Not half bad, is it? Certainly a good bit of fun, and I particularly that despite the high number of times that the titular line gets repeated, it doesn’t get tiring.

Tom: Okay, so full disclosure: on first listen, I liked Jenny, the last single of theirs we talked about. But I’ve now heard it a few times since and it is basically whatever the opposite of a “grower” is: the accordion riff now actively irritates me, and I skip past it any time it comes up.

Tim: I’m currently on my third listen and it’s still going strong. Style is strong, genre’s well executed, the video’s fun as well, and all round I kind of get the impression that everybody involved really quite enjoyed making this song. Which is good, because I enjoy listening to it.

Tom: So: yes, I think this is catchy. I really like it. It’s got some “Get Lucky” vibes about it. I think it could quite happily fit on a summer playlist. I just wonder if I’ll still enjoy it in a couple of weeks’ time.

Maja Francis – Girl Is A Gun

“Enough to get in your head but not quite enough to grate.”

Tim: You may remember Maja from a couple of months ago; I do, because I wanged on unduly about the use of camcorder fonts in lyric videos.

Tom: I don’t remember Maja, but I do remember your font rant.

Tim: The important stuff got through, then. Well, she’s back, and so is the font.

Tim: Now, last time you described the track as “a discount CHVRCHES”, which I guess could still be said here, but it does seem a bit unfair. Just because a song isn’t as good as the best output of the best in the genre, it doesn’t have to be described as an automatic negative.

Tom: True, I think that’s mostly because of Maja’s vocal quality: I don’t hear it as much here.

Tim: Good, because this is a really good track, and stands up well on its own.

Tom: Agreed: it’s a good chorus, repeated enough to get in your head but not quite enough to grate. I’m not sold on everything about it, but there’s certainly nothing unpleasant here.

Tim: From the moment it started I had an “ooh, yes” feeling, and that kept going right through to the end. I like it.

Rayne feat. Manda Malina – Hurricane

“Something that’d get picked by a national selection committee and sent straight to the Contest.“

Tim: Rayne’s a producer off America; Manda’s a singer off Sweden; Hurricane’s “a song about the constant battle in yourself when you want someone that you know is bad for you and you know you need to let go.”

Tom: Should I Stay Or Should I Go, then.

Tim: Not really, no. I mean, yes, but, oh, just listen.

Tim: Now, this is going to sound a bit harsh, but I genuinely mean it as a compliment: chopping out a few bars and rude words here and there, I can imagine this at Eurovision.

Tom: Huh, you’re not wrong there. Put like that, this seems like less of a song and more of a Statement. It’s something that’d get picked by a national selection committee and sent straight to the Contest.

Tim: Yeah, that sort of thing. Possibly not doing very well, or perhaps doing very well indeed, but it comes with the exact sense of drama that could be adapted incredibly well for the stage (helped, no doubt, by that video). Probably not coming from Sweden, or any of the standard ‘big’ countries – more somewhere like Macedonia, Estonia, Ukraine.

Tom: You know what? If it stood out in a field of Unremarkable Ballads, this could do well there.

Tim: Right – I’d sure as hell vote for it, because that chorus is flipping brilliant. I downright love this.

Tom: I’m not quite that enthusiastic, but at least it’s not an Unremarkable Ballad.

Dagny – Used To You

“I digress, considerably.”

Tim: Dagny has yet to disappoint us; pleasingly, I’m fairly sure this won’t either.

Tom: I was fairly sure, from the introduction, that I was going to disagree and say I didn’t like it: but, no, this isn’t bad at all.

Tim: It started off, I thought “ooh, this is nice and CHVRCHES-y”, and then it continued in that vein; I was hoping I could do a fun thing about it being exactly the same, just the opposite side of the Shetland Islands, but it turns out that Dagny lives in Tromsø, so according to Google Maps CHVRCHES are a full 300 miles closer to even Oslo, and that’s driving the long way round. But I digress, considerably.

Tom: Considerably.

Tim: It’s good music, very well produced electropop, and while I wouldn’t mind a bit of growth between the second chorus and the final section, I’m quite happy with it.

Tom: I think that’s true all through the song: it’s a good track, but it is almost the same throughout. There’s a lot of parts here that vaguely remind me of other songs, but I just can’t remember exactly what.

Tim: Yeah – I would like to know why that “ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-a-aah-a-aaaa” is so familiar…

NorthKid – MONO

“This is in stereo. I feel cheated.”

Tim: We first met this lot with their debut last November, and were somewhat positive; here’s song number two.

Tom: This is in stereo. I feel cheated.

Tim: First thing first: that chorus is a cracker. The melody’s great, the sound’s even better, and it’s not too bad an analogy.

Tom: Shame about that “solo/so low” rhyme, but you’re right. Also, I’d like to give credit for that build in the pre-chorus, that incredible middle eight, and the backing in the final chorus. I actually went back to listen to just the middle eight a second time. There’s a lot of good in here.

Tim: But the song did get me wondering: will it ever not be weird when things like Instagram come up in lyrics? Because I’ve only just about got on board with ‘text’, though even that stuck out a bit, and I’m trying to imagine a future in which Instagram washes over me as easily as does the Chevy that got taken to the levee.

I kind of hope it’ll come, because then I’ll be able to enjoy the great sound here without being distracted.

EMMA – Animals

“Just because I remember it doesn’t mean I like it.”

Tim: We started with the single chorus; a few years back the two part chorus; now, from Norway, a song with basically no verses and instead a three part chorus.

Tim: So of those three distinct sections, we’ve one that is downright irritating, one that immediately brings an “oooooh” feeling, and one that brings an “OOOOOOH” feeling.

Tom: One of which also gets — for the second time — a “wait, isn’t that Marina and the Diamonds” feeling. But yes, three bits, each somewhat better than the last.

Tim: I guess that’s pretty much in the right sort of order, but it does very much leave me wondering why, for the repeat ending, they chose to go with the vocals from the crap bit. Because let’s face it, forty seconds of “Animals. We are [doing stuff] like animals.” is so god damn tedious, it really is. And honestly: it makes me dislike the song on a second hearing.

Tom: It’s also the only bit of it I can remember after one listen — but just because I remember it doesn’t mean I like it.

Tim: It really, really grates on me, and I don’t like that. Which is a shame, because I really do like the second part, and most of the third part. Just…aaaargh, that section is painful.

Mathilda – NBLY&I

“The lyrics are a bit bland, the sound is derivative, but it is a bloody brilliant pop song.”

Tim: The letters in the title are short for ‘Nothing Burns Like You & I’; don’t know why it had to be shortened, but in the absence of any official guidance I propose we pronounce it ‘nibbly’.

Tom: I went “ugh” twice in the opening two lines: first, the line “da hood”; second, rhyming it with school. Weirdly, the vertical video didn’t annoy me at all, so at least there’s that.

Tim: Huh, that does genuinely surprise me. But overall, that there is a bloody brilliant pop song. It is Miley’s Party In The USA, it is Demi’s Heart Attack, it is Avril’s Rock N Roll, all rolled into one with a bunch of other tracks and sounding fantastic.

Tom: I was all ready to disagree with you (particularly with that pre-chorus “panic attack” line), but I have to admit there are some lovely bits in here.

Tim: We seem to have had a bit of a break from female pop-rock recently, and hearing tracks like this makes me realise just what a damn shame that is. It might not be the best song around – lyrics are a bit bland, the sound however great, is entirely derivative, and it won’t go down in history as a classic…

Tom: Thanks, you took the words right out of my mouth.

Tim: …but it is a bloody brilliant pop song. And I love it.

Mariette – Time To Spare

HRRRRRRRRNK

Tim: Remember that HRRRRNNK noise that was in all the film trailers for what seemed like decades after Inception used it, but eventually fell out of fashion appeared this morning, twice, in the trailer for The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part?

Tom: Yep, I remember that after a while it got really irri-HRRRRRRRNK

Tim: Well you’ll be pleased to know that Mariette’s trying to bring it back.

Tom: HRRRRRRRRNK

Tim: And actually it doesn’t sound too weird or out of place, bringing with it as substantial stylistic change to the sound, from calm and comparatively quiet to big and brash and really quite noisy.

Tom: Yep, I’m actually kind of surprised by it: I liked the verse going into it, I liked the pre-chorus that it heralded, and somehow this all seems to wo-HRRRRRRRRRNK

Tim: It’s curious – normally, this would really put me off a bit, with the sounds involved and the vocal samples all over the place, and the aaaah-ah-ah-ahh that’s irritatingly reminiscent of Shakira. Here, though, it all seems to work for me, and I quite like it.

Tom: Sure. I’m not immediately going to download and listen to it endlessly, but I wouldn’t object if this came on the radiHRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRNK

Tim: Going with that, are you?

Tom: Incidentally, yes, this joke isn’t getting old for me.

Tim: Fair enough. Good song though, but let’s make sure Hans Zimmer never hears it, yeah?

Samir & Viktor feat. Anis Don Demina – Put Your Hands Up For Sverige

Tim: Just in time for the World Cup, a patriotic number from the the duo.

Tom: And just in case our reader doesn’t remember them: they’re basically Sweden’s Jedward.

Tim: Prepare for chanting, loud noises, and an accordion.

Tim: And isn’t that fun? I had something of a rollercoaster in terms of my feelings for that one – fun to start with, gradually declining throughout getting slightly bored with the verse, but then having a massive grin on my face when the whole crowd chanting came along.

Tom: Yes! Exactly that!

Tim: Hooray!

Tom: Except for the massive grin, I just got the steadily declining bit. Huh. Probably shouldn’t have started this quite so excited, really.

Tim: Oh. Well for me it’s up and down in varying amounts beyond that, but overall it’s nice to bit of general patriotism. If you’re wondering if there’s anything in particular they’re excited about, the answer’s not really: the main message is that it’s great because the people are great, everyone’s nice to each other, singing and dancing happens everywhere and basically there’s just no country better.

Tom: I mean, we haven’t even got a World Cup song this year, so I can’t really argue, but I can’t see this becoming another Three Lions. But who knows? Maybe they’ll be singing this in the terraces in Stockholm in ten years’ time. (They won’t be.)

Tim: Well, you’re probably right. Nonetheless (and I imagine that I’m probably failing in my patriotic duty as a Brit here), I quite like this.