KEiiNO & Electric Fields – Would I Lie

“If anyone else tried this, I’d probably be all ‘yeah, jog on mate, don’t get all up yourself'”

Tim: Quick recap: your phrasing last time we featured KEiiNO was “has the gimmick reached its limit?” and I pretty much agreed. They clearly think not, as they’ve teamed up with an Aboriginal Australian group, and are properly doubling down on it.

Tom: I mean, if the gimmick’s drawing attention to genres and creators that are normally ignored, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing.

Tom: You know what? I don’t think that’s a bad song either.

Tim: And I think it works, with the significant caveat that it works as a KEiiNO track. It’s not unlike my reaction to the Boy In Space track we had the other week: if anyone else tried this, I’d probably be all ‘yeah, jog on mate, don’t get all up yourself’, but knowing what to expect from them it seems okay, maybe because I’m prepared for it. I’m thinking ‘yep, this is great so far, wonder when that weird bit’ll come along’, and being almost pleasantly surprised by ‘oh, we’ve got two types of weird bit!’

Tom: Right! And “weird bit” is exactly how most of the mainstream European pop scene will see the collaboration. It’s notable that this feels much more like a “feat.” than a true collaboration as that credit would imply: they’re keeping it mostly-mainstream. I’ll leave discussing the implications of that to better scholars than me.

Tim: I’m fairly sure they complement each other nicely, as well: the less-weird (I think?) Electric Fields bit almost serves as a warm up for Fred coming along along with the trademark. As far as the breakdown goes: hmm, it’s on the better side of its type, not being too aggressive, and again its novelty helps.

Tom: As does the fact that the mainstream parts are really bloody good.

Tim: They really are. With this, I’m right on board.

Saturday Reject: Malou Prytz – Ballerina

“It feels like they’re aiming for a Sia track and video and not quite getting there.”

Tim: So let’s go back to Sweden, and hear this one. Spoiler alert: writing credits include Thomas G:Son (whose work we all know and adore) and Peter Borström (whose work includes Loreen’s Euphoria, Eric Saade’s Manboy & Popular, and the phemonemal We Own The Universe, which you may have forgotten so do yourself a favour and listen again).

Tom: All right, that’s a decent back catalogue, which means my expectations are going to be high.

Tim: Takes a while to get really good, but when it does it gets really, really good, doesn’t it?

Tom: …no?

Tim: Oh.

Tom: It gets okay? I’m not convinced by this. “Ballerina / dark arena” is so clunky that I think that it’d get consigned to the bottom half of the table based on that alone.

Tim: Yeah, but the rest: the choruses are good enough, mind, and in a lot of songs I’d be happy enough if that was the level of the best part. But here, oh, we’re just getting started, and that closing chorus truly is a special moment – though that might just be because it’s a relief to be out of the creepy looking middle eight.

Tom: I’m fairly sure that middle-eight vocoder wouldn’t be allowed in the actual Contest — and I’m not convinced by those staccato hand movements, either. It feels like they’re aiming for a Sia track and video and not quite getting there.

Tim: Hmmmmm…maybe, though I’d say that’s a tad harsh. I get what’s meant to be ballet-style dancing, though it comes across as ballet on speed. And I’m really not sure those outfits work, bringing to mind more Maria von Trapp than anything fancy.

Still, top notch song, with an appalling injustice in it not getting to the final – more votes than its opponent, but knocked out due to demographic weighting. Disgraceful.

Tom: Sadly justified.

Vera Hotsauce – Dad’s Bugatti

“The PR guff says it ‘has a very boss ass bitch vibe’, and I don’t know where to start in listing the things that are wrong with it.”

Tim: We’ve more or less agreed on every track this week, which I think is not that common an occurrence. So as to not ruin it, then, here’s a song we will both find entirely appalling.

Tom: You had to break the streak, didn’t you?

Tim: Well, at least we’ll agree.

Tim: I want to think this is a parody of some sort, but nope, she’s an established with several tracks already out there; this is an entirely genuine track.

Tom: Maybe, but with around 500 subscribers on YouTube and less than a thousand views on it, I’m not sure it’s fair to hate on a small indie arti– huh. This is in Content ID. It’s got a record label attached to it. Like, a reasonably-sized Swedish record label. I figured this was either an overconfident small act or a Rebecca Black situation, but, uh, no, this has been Properly Signed Off.

Tim: Indeed it has – the PR guff says it’s “a euphoric party song about being freaky and fun” and “has a very boss ass bitch vibe”, and I don’t know where to start in listing the things that are wrong with it.

Tom: But let me guess: you’ve going to?

Tim: Absolutely. We’ve the ridiculous artwork. The purple tinge throughout so much of the video. The rest of the video – why is there an intermittent Iron Man style HUD? Since when did Bugattis fly into space?

Tom: Which, again, is not unreasonable for a small artist! If this was someone just messing about on YouTube it would be rude to do this!

Tim: It would, but it isn’t! We’ve also got the unnecessary expletives. The vocal distortion that makes it hard to make out the lyrics. The occasional lyrics that are audible rhyming “talking” with “balling” and talking about spilling Bacardi.

Tom: Also, Bugatti doesn’t have a long A in it, and somehow she’s managing not to voice the ‘g’, which is a difficult trick to do when you’re singing.

Tim: It’s just…god, awful. The only good thing about it is that it ends.

Tom: Weirdly, I don’t have a visceral dislike-reaction to this, which I’ve had in the past: it’s more of a tired “oh, for crying out loud”.

Oskar Häggström – Timme Som Minut

“Well, that’s nice, isn’t it?”

Tim: He’s got a crush on her (or him); she (or he) is way out of his league; whenever they’re in the same room the time seems to go very quickly, or to be more precise “Hour like a minute”.

Tom: Well, that’s nice, isn’t it? There’s a lot of good, calm melodies in there: it builds really, really well.

Tim: Disappointingly there’s no happy resolution, Teenage Dirtbag-style, at the end of this, it’s just a “yeah, I like you…okay then”, and we as listeners are left to wonder if anything did ever come of it.

That’d be nice, sometimes, if romantic songs had sequels, so the first one could be like this, and the second could be that yeah, she decided to go for it, and ooh, then we could have a whole SERIES of songs, each one documenting a further stage in the relationship, going through multiple dates, marriage, tricky patch, kids to make it better, everything becoming wonderful, growing old together and seeing the grandchildren go off to school and write songs of their own. As it is, we’ve got nothing. Ah, well.

Tom: Lockdown’s going okay, then?

Tim: Music’s alright though.

Tom: It is, and I was going to write some more about it, but honestly I don’t think there’s anything I can add now.

Dorfrocker & SchoKKverliebt – Stille Helden

“Hey, it’s Mia – sorry, how long exactly did we say that final ‘nicht’ should sound?”

Tim: Germany has some very strict lockdown rules in place right now which means that, while feats. with separate ‘you sing one bit, I’ll sing another’ will probably be okay, proper duets, with both acts singing at the same time, might suffer a little. For example.

Tim: It’s so close. So, so close. Many bits are perfect, in fact – typically, the start of each line, they’re all in on time. But agh, the sibilants, and the drawn out words. “Hey, it’s Mia – sorry, how long exactly did we say that final ‘nicht’ should sound?”

Tom: Every part of the broadcast and entertainment industry is having to deal with lockdown rules in their own way: this is, at least, more competent than all the American late-night hosts trying to record shows on their phone with no lapel mic.

Tim: That’s very true, and to be honest even the small amount of negativity introduced by this is pretty much cancelled out by this actually being a pretty good song in many ways – there’s a good melody (especially with the unexpected key change), and the production’s surprisingly good given that half of it was recorded in Dorfrocker’s bedroom and the other in SchoKKverliebt’s living room.

Tom: Right! And the audience will forgive a lot for something like this. Even the dodgy stock footage.

Tim: I can’t find the lyrics online, but it’s a nice message as well, a song of thanks to all the ‘Silent Helpers’ keeping the country running right now. All in, turned out nice. I guess you work with what you’ve got (or, hopefully, haven’t).

Cathrin – Kite

“Okay, we’ve had completely different reactions to this.”

Tim: Cathrim Gram is from Norway, has a spelling unusual enough that she can go by just her first name, and last week presumably got a call along the lines of “right, song’s lined up for release on Friday, but obviously we can’t now get together to do the video. You able to sort something out, maybe with your family?”

Tim: So first up: yes, the song drags on a bit, though it does sound good, but that’s not why I wanted to feature it. It’s the video, partly because it’s fun regardless, but mainly because I’m not sure they’d have done one anywhere near as nice if there were people involved.

Tom: Okay, we’ve had completely different reactions to this. I understand the reasoning behind the video — and I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing — but I think it takes away from the song so, so much. When I put it into a background tab and just listened, the song became a lot better.

Tim: Hmm. You know, I was so taken by the video that I’d not listened to it without it, and now I’ve done that you’re absolutely right. Paying attention to it properly, it comes across like a good Bright Light Bright Light track (new one out today, incidentally, and we’ll probably get to that at some point), and that’s never a bad thing.

Back to the video, though, and for me it captures the mood of the song perfectly, mostly because it just takes large parts of the song and acts them out directly. My main thought, really, is that if it was actual people playing out the scenes it would just come across as irritating mawkish. As it is, acted out with smurfs (and lots of them, they must have a hefty collection), for me it comes across as less cloying and more ‘aw, cute’. Just me?

Tom: Just you, I think. Honestly, this is a really good track: there’s a lot of interesting counterpoint melodies going on in the background, it’s novel enough to be interesting without being off-putting. I’m not convinced about all the lyrics, and I think you’re right that it could use being a bit shorter, but — without that video — it’s a decent, interesting track in a genre that I can’t quite place.

Tim: Good thing most speakers and headphones don’t come with displays, then.

Boy In Space – u n eye

“Look! Happy flowers!”

Tim: There’s probably some sort of logic in getting rid of two letters from each of the first two words so you need to add to to the third one, but let’s not focus on it. Look! Happy flowers!

Tim: So, here’s the thing: if this came from, I don’t know, Niall Horan, I’d be entirely “huh, yeah” and then move on swiftly.

Tom: Which is actually what I did a few days ago — I thought about sending you this, but I really couldn’t find much to talk about. It’s… no, see, that’s the problem, I literally don’t know how to continue that sentence.

Tim: It’s nice guitar stuff, sure, but there are also a number of things to dislike about it, not least the vocoding on the ‘you and I’ (sorry, ‘u n eye’) in the chorus being the main one. And yet because it’s Boy In Space, I like it.

Tom: Huh. I wonder if that’s because you’re used to his music, or because it’s just a genre that works for you? That vocoding irritates me, and the rest just leaves me cold. But that’s just personal taste: and we know well that ours differ.

Tim: I don’t know if I’m subliminally predisposed to liking his music somehow, or just that I mostly like his style and therefore always give him the benefit of the doubt, but either way: I like this. There are flaws, I’m aware of them, but I like it.

Feuerherz – 1x2x3x

“Side note: why is their bed on a taxiway?!”

Tim: Not sure if you’ll remember this lot or not – they’re slightly of the ‘forgettable but also each time vaguely notable’ category.

Tom: I remember the name, not the song, which is above my usual standard. Dansband? Or boyband? I saw that name and thought ‘a bit kitsch’.

Tim: Pretty much, yeah: for some reason someone’s decided to make a very 90s boyband, and it’s often a mix of enjoyable and laughable. And if you don’t burst out laughing at the 50 second mark here, you are absolutely not the Tom Scott I thought I knew.

Tom: You’ll be happy to learn that I did, at least, giggle at that moment.

Tim: Fabulous. Right, so here’s the thing: pretty much anywhere in the world, this here is deeply unfashionable. We all know that. The production and backing sounds straight out of late 90s Backstreet Boys, any choreographer that suggested that dance move would be banned from the industry, and him in the bed with the shaved armpits (Karsten, 26, yes I’ve done my research) would be told to come back when he no longer looks like a Ken doll.

Tom: Side note: why is their bed on a taxiway?! You could happily have an aviation-themed video without having a BED on a TAXIWAY. Anyway. Yes. Deeply unfashionable.

Tim: In Germany, though, they’re lapping it up: they’ve all come from various bands and talent shows, they’ve got multiple top ten albums, and before their upcoming tour got postponed they’d sold out stadiums.

Tom: Wait, really? With only 40,000 views on the video as I watch this, two days after launch, I’m surprised they’ve managed to get that sort of audience. But looking at the live chat replay, there are clearly fans, and those fans are clearly Very Into It.

Tim: Absolutely, and for my part I’m very much with them. I find it absolutely joyous that this music is being made, and while it says on this website’s sidebar that I want to move to Scandinavia because they have better music, I’m now considering joining my cousin in Berlin. Sure, I’d like a key change while they’re picking each other up and transporting to a peculiarly lit hanger, but I can manage without.

Tom: Side note: that spin-the-other-guys around move, while not something you’d expect in this century, is actually kind of impressive.

Tim: Also true. All of it, really, is lovely, fun to listen to, and just the sort of pop music I’m looking for when I want something happy to listen to.

Tom: Right! I suspect, with no evidence, that we’re going to see a lot more ‘comfortable’ pop music over the next year or so: doom-chic is not going to be popular for a while. By the standards of German schlager, this is good.

Tim: As for the lyrics, it’s basically “We hooked up last night, it was brilliant, I don’t want to do it once, twice, three times more, I want you for a lifetime”, so that must have been a pretty amazing one night stand; fortunately no-one’s really able to go outside any more so I guess they’re getting their wish. Hooray!

Anna-Maria Zimmermann – 1000 Träume weit (Torneró) – Version 2020

“Shall we have some good old reliable German schlager?”

Tim: Things are a bit grim right now, we’ve all been asked to stay inside, shall we have some good old reliable German schlager?

Tom: YES. Although I’m still not used to seeing “2020” as a year.

Tim: Quick history lesson for you: 1978, Italian group I Santo California recorded Tornerò; 2009 German artist Antonia aus Tirol turned it German and released it as 1000 Träume weit; a few months later, Anna-Maria here made it BANGING. And now, because the time has presumably come to make some more money, she’s rerecorded it with some modern stylings.

Tom: Well, that’s exactly what I didn’t know I needed to hear today. And full marks for whatever that shirt’s made out of, too, that’s a bold costume choice. As for the music…

Tim: I’ll be honest with you: there’s really not much of a difference. There are those twiddly vocals that are mandatory these days, the backing oh-oh-oh-oh-ohhhhs are quite a bit lower in the mix, and it’s a tad shorter, but otherwise it’s exactly as it was, key change and all.

And that, as far as I’m concerned, is no bad thing at all.

Tom: I was about to say the same. Sure, you could call it a blatant cash-in, but it’s genuinely difficult for me to be cynical with schlager like this.

Tim: This is jump up and down, hands in the air, lasers all over the place stuff, once you’ve had a few drinks. You’re yelling out with the backing every time it appears, and you’re going absolutely bloody nuts for that key change. And if we can’t go nuts for a key change, what can we do?

SHY Martin feat. Boy In Space – Still The Same

“They’re switching places, with an appropriately different sound.”

Tim: Previously, him featuring her, which we both gave a fair old thumbs up to. Now they’re switching places, with an appropriately different sound.

Tom: That was a really interesting video from a produciton perspective, and — while it’s not relevant to the music — I want to talk about it for a moment. The aesthetic is very 90s, because it looks like a cheap disposable camera. 4:3, wide but limited focus, a harsh flash next to the camera and a very short shutter speed. Except there are thousands of shots in there, all taken very quickly, which would’ve been very difficult with actual film: so this is clearly a modern digital camera, presumably with the light constantly on.

It’s a very very interesting style to go for: the past, but not quite.

Anyway, the music! It’s nice enough, isn’t it?

Tim: So, this is tricky, because I like both of these folks as artists, and I liked their last collaboration, and there’s a lot in here that I do like – the melody, the voices, and the sound when it gets going is absolutely lovely.

Tom: Yes. I sense an “except” approaching at speed, though.

Tim: Except, well, there isn’t much time when it really is going. The first chorus has something to it, the second verse a little bit, second chorus a bit more, but it’s not until the closing chorus until it becomes really good and enjoyable – and that happens less than forty seconds from the end. Dammit, I really want to like this, and I do! Just…not very much of it.