Gammal – Blommor Där Du Står

“I wish you’d warned me that this is a quiet ballad”

Tim: I’ve commented before how I like a good male/female duet, and today we have the holy grail: a narrative where they’re actually singing to each other as separate parts, rather than just singing similar lyrics back and forth. How exciting!

Tom: Have you heard of musicals? I think you’d like them.

Tim: Huh, no. I’ll look them up.

Tim: She’s upset with him for breaking with up her how he did, he’s sorry for being a dick but maintains it had to happen.

Tom: Well, that’s certainly a relatable set of lyrics for a lot of folks, but I can’t help feeling there’s a reason that it’s not a common theme. No kiss-and-make-up?

Tim: I’m afraid not, no, though I guess we can’t have everything.

Tom: I wish you’d warned me that this is a quiet ballad, because then I’d have set my expectations differently. Once I got used to it: for some reason I found it oddly relaxing. I think it’s something to do with those vocal harmonies: there’s some really nice work there.

Tim: Both vocals, oddly, remind me of those from Of Monsters and Men, which is lovely (particularly since Little Talk, still a PROPER TUNE, also had a narrative duet vibe). The rest isn’t particularly similar, obviously, what with it being a whole lot quieter and more gentle, but that mood works perfectly well here. I’ll take it.

Greta Salóme – Mess It Up

“I like it.”

Tim: You may recognise Greta’s name from Eurovision 2012 when she was, well, more successful than Engelbert Humperdinck, or 2016, where she wasn’t.

Tom: There’s a lot to unpack in that sentence, but in short: no, I don’t.

Tim: Never mind, because this is entirely different.

Tim: I like it. I don’t have much to say about it, sadly, which could lead to quite a short post, but I like it. There’s a pleasant sound, a catchy and infectious chorus, and so yeah, I like it.

Tom: There’s a lot to like, although I can’t see many folks having more than a ‘like’ reaction to it. It’ll sit happily in a Spotify ‘female light pop’ playlist somewhere, playing in the background at coffee shops, and it won’t offend anyone. That… as ever, that sounds much more harsh than I meant it.

Tim: It’s simple, but good.

Felix Sandman – Miss You Like Crazy

“Well, there’s a name that Peter Dickson would enjoy shouting on the X Factor.”

Tom: Well, there’s a name that Peter Dickson would enjoy shouting on the X Factor.

Tim: Felix, you may or may not remember, came close to representing Sweden at Eurovision last year with an incredibly dull track. Here, not so much. Although, well, have a listen.

Tom: Oh, good heavens, video director, you’re producing this for the internet. I know you like cinematic aspect ratios, but that’s just ridiculous.

Tim: See, that’s not a hugely exciting song. It doesn’t get particularly loud or frantic at any point, despite being in a genre that almost demands it, and there’s definitely no YEAH moment. And yet, I really like it.

Tom: That’s because it’s got a brilliant chorus. One that I’m sure I’ve heard all the constituent bits of before elsewhere: there’s shades of Stand By You in there, along with a half dozen other tracks.

Tim: True, actually, because it is partly that melody, which just seems to get me interested, and keep me. I’m now involved in the song, and I like it, and I want to keep listening to it. I still don’t really know what it is, but whatever it is that gets me liking a song, this song has it.

Tom: As ever, it’s a good combination of novelty and familiarity. And, in this case, profanity. I’m less sure about that, though.

Tim: Yeah. Yeah, that’s not so great.

Rein – Electric

“Most of this is just a load of noise”

Tim: “Hej, is that Patrik? Yeah, so I don’t know if you know it but there was a song came out a while ago called Electric and we wondered if your client Rein would fancy covering it for us, we’re really into electric right now. We’d pay for a fancy video for it and everything, and no-one’ll really know we’re involved. Sound good? Cool, I’ll send the deets over now.”

Tim: So. Much like the original, most of this is just a load of noise and, let’s face it, garbage.

Tom: Most of it, sure, but that is a very, very good synth line under that verse. The vocals might grate a bit, but that at least kept me from switching off.

Tim: If you can bear to stay with it for a minute or so, turns out it has a pretty good chorus. And if you keep listening for another minute or so, it would seem to have really good version of that chorus.

Tom: It’s an odd one, isn’t it? I don’t know what genre this counts as, other than “sounds like it’d turn up on a Japanese rhythm game soundtrack”.

Tim: And the weird thing is that the way it’s done, and the style of the chorus, mean I could genuinely see this being entered to Eurovision by some eastern European country thinking “sod it, this sounds good”. Wouldn’t get past the semi-final, mind, but I could absolutely see it happening.

VAX feat. Elise – What I Want

“DJ Sammy’s there to ease me into it.”

Tim: All Swedes here, with what is very, very much not my preferred type of music, and yet I found myself liking it the moment I pressed play. And then I realised it sounded a bit familiar.

Tim: So, that chorus: tell me I’m wrong.

Tom: I mean, it’s close. Not legally-actionable close, I’ll bet, and I’d be willing to put it down to just having a couple of composers, 35 years apart, playing with scales and coming up with something similar.

Tim: You’re right – probably just enough variation there not to get sued, but it actually gives enough of a positive spin on it that I actually quite enjoy the rest of the song. If it didn’t have that chorus, well, hard to know: the production, vocal skills and original bits of melody are all pretty good, so it’s case of whether the genre is okay, or whether DJ Sammy’s just there to ease me into it.

Tom: You know what helps? Pop music is getting shorter. There’s not enough material for even three minutes in here, and given the longer I listen the more I really want to hear the chorus of Heaven resolve, that’s probably for the best.

Tim: Either way, I like it.

Wincent Weiss – Hier mit dir

“I’d imagined it being a bit better.”

Tim: Off Germany, and it’s a couple of months old but it’s only just appeared on Apple Music’s German Pop playlist, so here it is. Title means ‘Here with you’, which is apparently the best place to be. Isn’t that nice?

Tom: There is no point in my life where I’ve ever wanted to see photos and videos of some stranger when they were a baby. Or just footage of them eating, which is what I saw when I briefly flicked back to the video. That is a terrible video.

Tim: Won’t disagree with you there.

Tom: Normally at this point I’d add “and it’s made me despise the track”, but honestly I’m having trouble mustering any feelings about this track whatsoever.

Tim: Okay here’s the thing. I first heard this in the shower, so only got the bare bones of it, and it sounded really, really good. The melody, the structure, it was all there. Then I played it again afterwards, and, well. Still pretty good, but I’d imagined it being a bit better. So, the way I see it: chop off that Lighthouse Family intro, add a bigger drumbeat after the first chorus and maybe throw in a key change at 2:54, and you’ve got yourself a strong mid-90s Eurovision contender there.

Tom: That’s harsh but not entirely unfair.

Tim: Obviously that’s not what they were going for, but it’s certainly something I’d like to hear in a remix.

Saturday Flashback: Eleni Foureira – Fuego

“I don’t get it.”

Tim: Cyprus, Eurovision last year, and I’ve a question.

Tom: What’s the question?

Tim: So here’s the thing: this song has since then become basically an Anthem amongst the standard europop crowd. I was out the other night and the club went insane the moment the intro hit, and it jumped straight to number 2 by a massive margin in the 2018 #esc250 countdown (a beautiful NYE staple – and since you’re wondering, since 2012, number one has been, and will remain forever more, Euphoria).

But: I don’t get it.

Tom: And neither do I! The chorus is based around an irritating sample, and that pre-chorus anti-drop is just disappointing every time.

Tim: It’s okay, there’s a decent tune, but it’s sure as hell no What About My Dreams, which outrageously didn’t make the chart at all. Just me?

Tom: Not just you.

Sigrid – Don’t Feel Like Crying

“Well, that’s nice, I guess”

Tim: We’ve featured Sigrid a few times now, always positively, and part of me is starting to wonder when she’ll be noticed over here, Zara Larsson style. Here’s her latest.

Tom: I read that title and my first response was “well, that’s nice, I guess”.

Tim: There’s a reason I brought out the Zara Larsson comparison up there – stylistically, we’re very much on the same level. A strong dance pop sound, good vocals, great instrumentation, decent melodies, top production, nice effort put into the lyric video: it’s all there.

Tom: And yet the talky-middle-eight bit is arguably the only bit of the track I paid attention to. How can something with this much production, something that sounds like a good resurrection of the mid-2010s summer-dance style, sound so… generic?

Tim: It’s not a standout track, maybe, but it’s certainly competent, and I can’t help feeling that all it needs is one hungry A&R person to have a mosey. Maybe one day.

Chloe Adams – Young Forever

“We go firmly into ‘BLOODY HELL’ territory.”

Tim: Our reader, Rob, sends this in rather favourably; last time we featured Chloe eighteen months ago, you said “blimey, that’s good”.

Tom: And now I can’t remember it at all! Although, listening back, yeah, I agree with what earlier-me said.

Tim: Care to see if it’s two for two?

Tom: Well done to the video designer for bothering to animate (what I assume are) the correct piano keys.

Tim: So, I’m going to describe that as ‘pretty good’, until about the halfway point. Because come then, we go firmly into “BLOODY HELL” territory.

Tom: That stripped-down early chorus is really good; but then the whole track decides to go all Kings of Leon and it’s just, well: I think you’re right, it’s two-for-two.

Tim: The song is good enough already, but BLIMEY that middle eight sounds incredible; I’ve played it six or seven times now and it’s not getting old, and nor is the drumbeat out of that into the final section, or indeed the bit right towards the end with the repeated “we’ll be young forever”, which has somehow ended up underneath the underlying chanting, which is an achievement in itself really.

Tom: The production is top-notch on this: balancing all these different elements, all of which want to be at the front, is a really, really difficult task.

Tim: As for the lyrics, Chloe’s made a video about it explaining that she doesn’t literally think she’s going to be physically young forever, which you’d think wouldn’t need explaining but maybe it does. Instead it’s keeping the mind young, and the outlook, and doing things your parents always say they wished they’d done. So there you go. Do the things.

Tom: It’s even got a message I can get behind. And after one listen, I could hum the chorus. Well done, Tim: you’ve sent me a song I actually like.

Saara Aalto – Let It Go

“Only five years too late. Wait, five years? Huh. Five years.”

Tim: She was one of the lead voices in the Finnish version of Frozen, she’s on YouTube singing the song in fifteen languages, she did it when she was on The X Factor and last night she sung it whilst skating.

Tom: Normally at this point, I gripe that someone’s reused a name from a massively popular track, but no, apparently not.

Tim: Finally, the time has come for her to properly release a cover of it.

Tom: Only five years too late. Wait, five years? Huh. Five years.

Tim: I had a listen to Saara’s album the other day, and pleasingly it’s really, really good. It goes in strong on the ‘mostly pop but with good dance backing’ that we hear for the majority of this, and it sounds entirely great, there and here. Sure, you’ve got your first opening verse being standard to lure the punters in, but then BOOM the second verse hits, you turn it sideways and put your stamp on it, and from then on it’s a great cover of an already fantastic song.

Tom: That second verse took me by surprise, but like you say: that’s probably the point. The voice is strong, and she’s definitely qualified to sing it: I think one of the things missing here, though, is the sheer force of emotion that Idina Menzel somehow managed to also cram into the original.

Tim: There are presumably hundreds of covers of the song lying around the music industry; right now, this is my favourite.