Stefan – I Feel Nothing

“I don’t like it, but I get why you do.”

Tim: Tom, I sort of want to apologise in advance here, because I’ve a feeling your reaction will be roughly along the lines of “I don’t like it, but I get why you do.”

Tom: “I feel nothing” is how I react to a lot of the music that’s here, so that’d be better than nothing.

Tim: Have a listen anyway.

Tom: I don’t like it, but I get why you do.

Tim: Absolutely beautiful, I’d say. Heartfelt emotional vocal, a delightful backing that starts quiet but gradually builds up to something marvellous at the end: as a ballad, this is entirely wonderful. Your thoughts?

Tom: You called it: I get there’s a lot to like in theory here, but I… well, yeah, I feel nothing.

Saturday Flashback: Da Buzz – Let Me Love You Tonight

“Obscure Swedish 2002 eurodance!”

Tom: Obscure Swedish 2002 eurodance!

Tim: Hooray!

Tom: No, really, that’s all I’ve got, I just stumbled across it and it’s been stuck in my head for a couple of days now.

Tim: Nothing wrong with that, it’s a pretty good track. And incidentally, I’ve just looked at their Wikipedia page, and found the most outstanding sentence: “In June 2011, one of the Karlstad transit buses was named after the group.” And what greater an honour can there be than that?

Alex Järvi – Dina Skor

“I actually did find myself waving my arms in the air.”

Tim: Alex here, singing about Your Shoes, or, rather, the fact that no-one can fill them. How sweet.

Tom: Good heavens, who picked those brass synth pads? They sound like a MIDI keyboard from the 90s. They could afford a choir, but they couldn’t afford an actual trumpet?

Tim: Oh, hush. We’ve almost two songs in one, here – the standard and fairly unremarkable verses, which fortunately make up a comparatively small amount of time, and then OH that GLORIOUS brassy chorus.

Tom: It is a wonderful, schlagery chorus, isn’t it? Full-on, hands-waving-back-and-forth, entirely predictable chord progressions. Not a complaint, that.

Tim: Oh, no – and during the middle of the final three choruses I actually did find myself waving my arms in the air. It’s a jubilant sound, which is somewhat bizarre given the lyrics: basic narrative is that she left him because he was a dick; he’s now saying that he’s getting off with new girls left right and centre, but none of them are quite as good so can she come back. TRIUMPHANT BRASS!

Tom: Amazing. I wonder if there’s anyone in the world that would work on?

Tim: I’ve been trying to think, to make a snarky comment, but nope, I’ve got nothing. To be honest, though, I don’t care that the sound doesn’t fit, because it’s bloody wonderful to listen to, and really just over all too quickly.

Tom: Just… maybe they should hire an actual brass section.

SKAAR – Five Times

“Loud and thrashy and intense”

Tim: YOU KNOW WHAT YOU DID, Tom. YOU KNOW WHAT YOU DID.

Tom: I mean, yes, I do, but I’m fairly sure you don’t.

Tim: Maybe not, but SKAAR reckons she does.

Tom: And I’m fairly sure she doesn’t either.

Tim: Oh, well that shows her. Apparently this is an anthem to “all the women out there that think men should own up to their own shit”, and having just watched an episode of The Apprentice where one guy said “yeah, one second darling” to his female team-mate and got no pushback about it whatsoever, I’m all for that.

Tom: Well, that’s one of the worst paragraphs we’ve had here for a while. Pity about the music, though.

Tim: You think? Because I think this is a message that is massively boosted when it comes with such an enormous backing to it, loud and thrashy and intense, that means there can be absolutely no misunderstanding about it. Helpfully, it’s one I love as well.

Tom: I just wish I actually liked the song! “Loud and thrashy and intense” isn’t something I actually want to listen to.

Tim: Oh. Well, for me: strong message, strong music, love it.

Michel Young – 70s80s90s

“I liked it! It’s pretty good!”

Tim: Single take video for you here, though I’m almost certain they didn’t keep the camera running for three minutes and thirteen seconds.

Tim: So, we’ve a guy walking up a street singing his song, camera constantly on him, so far so standard. Except – his hair’s moving weirdly slowly, and I’m sure dogs’ tails normally wag faster than that. I played with the settings, though, and it turns out that if you play it at 1.5x, it seems much more normal. So, best guess: camera guy’s also carrying a speaker, song playing from it unusually quickly, and he’s doing his best to mouth along to it? Quite why you’d do that I don’t really know – my only thought is that maybe they couldn’t find a backstreet in Stockholm that takes three minutes to walk up?

Tom: It’s a stylistic thing, and it’s really common in music videos! Most of them are filmed a little bit off-framerate: it’s the look. Here, have this video demonstrating it.

Tim: Huh, I’d not noticed it before. Nice work with the self-plug, though. Back to here: music’s good as well, isn’t it?

Tom: Even if I do keep wanting to sing “I just came to say hello” over that verse. You’re not wrong, though: there’s a lot of clever production tricks, and it’s doing that same interesting-chord-progression thing that the Killers did back in their early albums.

Tim: Nice bit of strong beat dance pop, lyrics are largely meaningless, but the melody’s good, the production’s lovely and everything’s nice to hear, really.

Tom: I wasn’t sure about that middle eight the first time I heard it: on a second listen, knowing was coming, I think it works. And the key part of that sentence: second listen. I liked it! It’s pretty good!

Tim: However fast we play it.

Lisa Ajax – Känn En Doft Av Kärleken

“It’s really, really jarring, and it upsets me.”

Tim: RIGHT THEN so you’ll recall back in June we got Dolly Style doing a cover of How Far I’ll Go as part of a new We Love Disney album, except then for months we had nothing at all, despite me hunting for stuff at least once a week.

HOWEVER, last week the whole album arrived, yippee! We’ve a variety of styles: some straight up covers, some simple translations (Aladdin’s En Helt Ny Värld), English covers that have really played with the genre (Circle of Life), and some that might as well be brand new songs, because I’m willing to bet you’d forgotten the existence of Brother Bear altogether.

And then…and then there’s this.

Tim: So, I have no problem at all with about 90% of that. The early part of it takes the same genre we’re used to, and a translation’s always fun (though, weirdly, they’ve used different lyrics from the translation they used in the film). The bit where the chorus has a big hefty backing underneath it, very very much so.

Tom: Agreed: there are, as far as I’m concerned, two canonical versions of this: the film version, and Elton John’s version. This doesn’t hold a candle to either of them, of course, but I’ve got to admit that the voice works, and the production for most of it is good too. It’s a solid Disney Cover. I think you’ve got the same problem with it that I have, though.

Tim: Most likely. Because that dance breakdown – where on earth did that come from? I don’t mind it particularly, and certainly if it was in a whole other song I’d have no problems with it at all. Except it isn’t in a whole other song, it’s in the middle of one of the most memorable film songs ever, and it completely and totally doesn’t belong. It’s really, really jarring, and it upsets me.

Tom: And it’s a real shame! Because the rest of it is good. Not spectacular, but good.

Tim: I’ll finish on a positive, though: we’ve got something similar with Kamferdrops’s version of Let It Go. And this time, it works for me.

Tim: I’ve no idea why it works, as logically I should have the same problem – still a great song, still a largely unrelated breakdown. But I don’t.

Tom: I think I know why: Let It Go is meant to be a big, showstopper, belt-it-out number — but here it’s being sung relatively quietly and calmly. That chorus sounds wrong, it’s underwhelming — but it means that your brain’s more prepared for the dance bit.

Tim: Hmm, yeah, could be.

Tom: What we’ve learned here is that nothing’s going to break Andrew WK covering the Mickey Mouse March.

Tim: Erm…well, okay, whatever works for you. I’ll stick with Dolly Style, if you don’t mind.

Måns Zelmerlöw – On My Way

“One of the loveliest melodies I’ve heard in a while.”

Tim: Måns’s latest album came out the other week, and I’ve just got round to listening to it; pleasingly, it’s got some pretty good numbers on it, some of which we’ve already covered. This one is the first track, though, and it starts out with some rather fruity language, given who he’s singing it to.

Tom: Oh. Yes. Yes, you’re not wrong there.

Tim: I’ll be honest, I’ve no idea how the lyrics in the chorus relate to the lyrics in the verse, unless he’s doing a dialogue-style duet with himself, which’d be weird.

Tom: That is actually how I read it! I assumed it was ‘advice to past self’, but I suppose it could also be ‘I haven’t got it figured out either, kid’.

Tim: Well, whichever it is, never mind that because that chorus has one of the loveliest melodies I’ve heard in a while. Thing is, it starts out pretty good anyway with the opening “I’m on my way!” line, but then when the flowing “I know it’s only…” arrives it suddenly becomes even better. As for the rest of it: well, it’s fine.

Tom: Alas, the chorus just doesn’t work that well for me, which means that… well, yes. “Fine” about sums it up, which is a shame.

Tim: Nothing brilliant, but nothing that could be described as bad. Well, except for maybe that artwork, but that’s a discussion for another time.

Tom: One observation: it sounds very weird to hear very British-southern long vowels in Måns’ voice. “Dis-arse-ster” just doesn’t seem right somehow.

Tim: Well, let’s just play the chorus again.

Saturday Flashback: UNDRESSD – Forever Young

“I think this song’s actually got to the point where you either need to do something spectacularly good, or spectacularly different.”

Tim: Forever Young has been done many, many times – there’s the original, the Jay-Z monstrosity, the dodgy Australian rock version, the German rap version, the 90s Eurodance version, and then of course the truly definitive one. But am I going to turn down another version, this time by a Swedish duo from the earlier this year? No, of course of I’m not.

Tim: I’ve got nothing really to say about it – as with most covers of this song, it’s exactly as you’d expect, except for doing a couple of odd and therefore mildly disconcerting things with the melody.

Tom: Yep, it’s a standard, middle-of-the-road cover version. I think this song’s actually got to the point where you either need to do something spectacularly good, or spectacularly different. This… is neither. Imagine a Joe Cocker-style over-the-top gospel version!

Tim: Or, as Rolling Stone recently had him, Joe ****er. Yeah, that’d be fun. But it wouldn’t have this one’sThere’s also the finger clicks, and I’m not sure which is more annoying: the fact that they happen on basically every other beat, or that for a few bars they stop happening and you think “oh thank god” but then they come back and you want to die.

Tom: In a departure for our usual style, Tim, I hadn’t noticed the clicks. And now I have. And now I hate this.

Tim: Oh, you’re SO WELCOME. I won’t end on a negative, though, so: nice song, nice genre, nice sound. Nice.

Robin Bengtsson – Just Let It Go

“It’s safe to say that this reminds us of a LOT of pop songs.”

Tim: Ready for an irritatingly catchy guitar strum?

Tom: My brain went straight into Train’s “Drive By” there, although given that it’s just one repeated guitar strum, I suspect that’s my fault, not the fault of the song. Also, am I wrong, or does the chorus sound weirdly like Pitbull and Kesha’s “Timber”? That’s what I kept breaking into, anyway.

Tim: Timber, not sure about – I did, however, lose count of the number of times I wanted to move into “when I see your face…” there.

Tom: Right. So between us, it’s safe to say that this reminds us of a LOT of pop songs. Perhaps a bit distracting. Although now I’ve pointed it out, I defy you not to call-and-reponse “just let it go” with “I’m yelling timber”.

Tim: Ohhh…oh, yep, there it is. But, never mind, because otherwise it’s a fairly decent track – fitting in perfectly, in fact, with all the other standard ‘white guy with guitar’ acts out there, showing that it’s not just in Britain that it’s all-pervasive. I like this song, mostly because it does pretty much nothing wrong. Nothing incredibly brilliant, mind, but nothing wrong either.

Actually, one more thing: speaking of losing count: why do so many songs keep mentioning kryptonite? I want one mentioning Infinity Stones instead, please, songwriters.

KEiiNO – Dancing In The Smoke

“Still fair levels of joikiness in there”

Tim: KEiiNO splashed onto the world (alright, continent) stage in May with the glorious Spirit In The Sky which should completely have won.

Tom: The one with the joik! I remember that! It was… well, there was a lot of joik.

They followed it up with a nicher, folkier number a couple of months later, which wasn’t quite as great. You’ll be delighted to know they’ve learnt their lesson.

Tom: I wasn’t sold on that until the second chorus.

Tim: Still fair levels of joikiness in there, so we’ve still a track that’s recognisably them, but we’re back to having a straight up pop verse and chorus – and I have absolutely no problems with that whatsoever.

Tom: Agreed: they seem to have found a good balance between Unique Sound and Generally Acceptable Pop Song, which is always a good thing. I can’t imagine an entire dancefloor singing along to the joik bit, but stranger things have happened.

Tim: It’s a song that after just a couple of listens you can go along with the intro, with a catchy beat, melody, rhythm, everything. A worthy follow-up to the almost-victor, if we just ignore that middle one. We’ll do that.