Jimi Constantine – Dirty Cinderella

Seriously, put a t-shirt on, mate.

Tim: Some Finnish pop punk for you, by a bloke who wants to be their entry to Eurovision (although not with this song).

Tom: Amazing how much the definition of ‘punk’ has changed over the years, hasn’t it? Even pop-punk used to have a bit of attitude – Sum 41 may not have been anything near the Sex Pistols, but at least they at least pretended to have the spit-in-your-face attitude. This is more pop than punk.

Tim: The voice reminds me of a couple of Weird Al songs, I think, and the music underneath has a proper tune to it.

Tom: Good grief, now you mention it he does sound like Weird Al. Something about the slightly-nasal tone, I think.

Tim: The autotune’s laid on a bit heavy, but it doesn’t grate too much (except the ‘ella’ on the last proper line of each chorus).

Tom: True, but the chorus itself starts to grate a bit for me. It’s a nice tune, but the lyrics could use a bit of work. Maybe I’m just getting old, but I can’t help muttering “oh, get over yourself”. Also, he says “could care less” when he means “couldn’t care less” and damn it, that annoys me.

Tim: You bastard, I hadn’t noticed that. Still, overall, I think it’s quite enjoyable, even though, like you say, the lyrics won’t win him any awards, and it’ll be good to see what he comes out with in January.

Tom: Get him a decent lyricist, and I’m looking forward to it.

Tim: As for the video…

Tom: It’s very much a “how close can we get to porn before the music video channels won’t show us” effort, isn’t it?

Tim: Pretty much, yeah. Seriously, put a t-shirt on, mate.

Tom: Right there is a man who shaves his armpits. And, one would presume, everywhere else. Now I’m all for a bit of manscaping, but he does look a bit like a Ken doll.

Tim: It’s not the middle of summer, and right now it just looks a bit silly. In fact, my favourite part is when he gets a football kicked at his head for no reason whatsoever.

Tom: The impact’s right on the single drum hit in the middle of the silent bit, though. Top work, editor.

Saturday Flashback: Fame – Give Me Your Love

It is a little predictable, I’ll admit.

Tim: No, not that Fame. Instead, a Swedish musical pair who stormed their way through Melodifestivalen 2003 with one of the highest scores ever. And boy, was it deserved.

Tim: It is a little predictable, I’ll admit, but when what you’re predicting is great then that’s no bad thing, and it still contains a few surprises here and there, like the final chorus.

Tom: I think “stunningly formulaic” best sums this up. I started singing along with the backing singers half way through – on the first listen. Even the key change at 2:28 is utterly expected. It’s… nice, but I’m not sure it deserved to win, even if it does finally come alive in the final chorus.

Tim: It also says something about the song that they didn’t need much of a dance routine to complement it, although the camerawork did make me feel a bit dizzy at times. But yes – fantastic tune, happy lyrics, great key change – everything.

Mmadcatz – Puppets

I’m not sure if this song’s brilliant or if it’s just utter tripe.

Tim: Now let’s have something that properly encapsulates the spirit of Europlop as a genre. These two Belarusian ladies really do call themselves Mmadcatz, and I’m actually not sure if this song’s brilliant or if it’s just utter tripe.

Tom: I’m going to go with “stunningly mediocre”.

Tim: Hmm – not quite the reaction I was hoping for. With the pause after the first word I occasionally think that it’s a really, really odd cover of Right Said Fred, but after that I start properly enjoying it.

Tom: There’s no such thing as a Right Said Fred cover that isn’t odd. See?

Tim: Oh, I love those guys – their versions of Lady Marmalade and Blue (Da Ba Dee) will always have a special place in my heart. Here, the synth and the actual instruments work well together, I think, and the (probably) Russian rap over the bridge adds so much more than you might think. In fact, with a description of ‘two east European birds singing and rapping’, this is pretty much the definition of Better Than It Sounds.

Tom: It is, but only because that description makes it sound terrible. It’s not terrible. It’s just plodding synth-pop. Put some energy into it, dears.

Tim: As for the video we have here, what I love most is the dancing – I’m not sure if it’s proper choreography, or just randomly chosen synchronised arm movements. Either way, it’s remarkably entertaining.

Tom: Huh. Turns out “guy with laptop” is the new drummer: parked at the back of the stage, rarely seen, and with no attention on him during the video. At least he’ll remain anonymous.

Tim: Well, I reckon he was shunned for not being able to do the dance properly. Or he just refused to go near it, just to maintain some vague sense of dignity.

Saturday Flashback: Waldo’s People – Lose Control

It doesn’t worry about sticking to any formula but still turns out brilliantly.

Tim: This is one of my favourite Eurovision tunes of all time, largely because it doesn’t worry about sticking to any formula but still turns out brilliantly.

Tom: That’s a bold claim. Lordi! Verka Seduchka! Katrina and the Waves! This is going to have to be damn good, Tim. Let’s have a listen.

Tom: …well, it’s not bad. It’s a bit aside from the Eurovision norm, but I’m really not sure that Finnish rap is really something that the Contest would look kindly on. How’d they do? Right, second from last.

Tim: Second from last, incidentally, is also where one of my favourites from this year came – Belarus’s ‘Butterflies‘, which is notable for two things: what happens in the video at the key change, and the fact that their Belarussian accent on the word ‘Imagine’ gets less and less over the course of the song.

And it’s partly because it’s quite a bit aside – I know I love all the normal stuff, but this was a nice break, and in a good way. It still has the big moments, the backing singers and all that, but in a completely different setting.

They also put on one hell of a performance (and that stage set is even huger than I remember it being – 2009 was a good year for Eurovision).

There’s one thing that niggles at me a bit though…

Tom: The concept of Finnish rap? I’m having trouble getting over that myself.

Tim: …which is one of the lines in the second verse where he compares himself to Peter Piper and taking control. I’m almost certain he’s not talking about the one who picked peppers, so I’m fairly sure he means the Pied Piper. Either that or he got confused with Peter Parker (which is actually what I thought I heard the first time), which would be fairly awesome.

Tom: I’ve mentioned Spiderman on Broadway before, right? Because that’s a real thing.

Tim: As for the video – I have no idea whatsoever.

Tom: I don’t think anyone does, Tim.

Magnus Carlsson – Feel You

His head moves in the manner of a curious owl inspecting a vole.

Tim: If yesterday wasn’t enough for you, also in pop-dance-cheese at the moment we have a Swede who wants to Feel You.

Tim: It’s safe to say he certainly gets his message across – I don’t think there’s any doubt whatsoever about what he wants, and so in that sense it’s a good song. Does it matter why he wants to feel me? Not really. I’d rather he didn’t, I suppose, but with that much enthusiasm I probably wouldn’t be able to say no after a while.

Tom: Oh please, like he’d need anywhere near that much enthusiasm to convince you. The track’s not bad, I suppose, although after a while I’d just like there to be something, anything different added to the formula.

Tim: Part of me keeps wanting to sing ‘cause in the heat of the night…‘ occasionally, but I don’t mind that at all and overall I like this a lot.

Tom: Really? I got ‘waiting for a star to fall…‘ several times.

Tim: That as well, actually, and I think it’s the same reason – that pause followed by the glockenspiely synth. The video is notable for doing exactly two things, which is all it tries to do: rivalling Russia’s Eurovision Song Contest in terms of stupid numbers of lights*, and knocking seven shades of shit out of Eric Saade when it come to rainfall.

* Today’s fun fact: 13% of the world’s LED displays were in Moscow’s Olympic Indoor Arena that night. Every day’s a school day.

Tom: When he dances, his head moves in the manner of a curious owl inspecting a vole. His gaze never leaves the camera, and his head seems to move strangely on top of his body, almost as if it’s superimposed. I propose that he is, in fact, the first bird of prey to release a dance single.

Mylène Farmer – Oui mais… Non

What do you get if you take Basshunter, give him a sex change and turn him French?

Tim: Now, a question for you: what do you get if you take Basshunter, give him a sex change and turn him French? (And if that’s not a question that belongs in a Christmas cracker, I don’t know what is.)

Didn’t think you’d get it. The answer is this: Mylène Farmer, who has got together with RedOne and given us Oui mais… Non.

Tom: The French anthem for Vicky Pollard, then. That is, by the way, the only Little Britain reference you’ll ever hear me make.

Tim: Actually, comparing her to Basshunter could be seen as unfair, given that she’s been going about 25 years and has produced some damn fine music in her time; nonetheless, when she puts out stuff like this she deserves every comparison going. It’s more than a little bit bonkers, and is roughly what I imagine Kate Bush might be doing right now if she were still going.

Tom: She is still going, sort of. Her latest album, in 2005, had a track that featured Rolf Harris on vocals.

Tim: Do you know, that doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. Anyway, Mylène does seem to go on a bit (personally, I’d have ended it at the break at about 3:20), although I’m willing to put that down to the lyrics being all foreign and therefore un-sing-along-able.

Tom: It really does go on, doesn’t it? Basshunter generally has melodies that stick in your head – and may I remind you that Basshunter’s DotA was just as catchy as All I Ever Wanted* – while this just drifted in one ear and out the other.

* Incidentally, if you want to see what a record deal and a personal trainer does to someone, compare the concert footage – the style, confidence and everything – in those two videos.

Tim: Good point about Basshunter. Hmm. Still, overall, the worst you could call this is dance floor fodder, because it would almost definitely go down well with a load of drunken students. As for what I think – not a bad effort. Not bad at all.

Oh, and according to Google Translate the chorus contains the line ‘God, my God it’s long!’

Tom: That’s what she… oh. Right. It is what she said. Never mind.

Le Kid – We Should Go Home Together

I can’t help thinking it’s a little bit too camp.

Tim: Five Swedes make up Le Kid, and they have a song entitled We Should Go Home Together. Released in Sweden last month, should be out in the UK next year. This is hard for me to say, as I think it verges on sacrilege here, but while I like this I can’t help thinking it’s a little bit too camp and cheesy.

Tom: Like hell it is. Yes, it’s camp, yes, it’s cheesy, but not by too much. Admittedly, I may be biased because there are several attractive women dancing in low-cut retro outfits. I’m fairly sure one of them flashed her knickers at one point. I wasn’t paying attention to soapy sailors.

Tim: I’m not sure why exactly, but there’s definitely something about it that makes me think, ‘People, are you sure you really want to be doing this?’ I know this is coming from someone who pretty much admitted to liking Rocket to Uranus, but I’m not sure if it’s the excessive woah-oh-oh-woahs, the synth backing, the soapy sailors, the cheeky sailor-girl costumes, the rescuing a drowning mermaid (what?)

Tom: You forgot the sailor eating a banana, and the phallic sittin’ on the riggin’.

Tim: It just all adds up to too much, really.

Tom: Like hell it does. You want to see too much? This is too much. That’s a video that’ll ruin your gaydar for days, in the same way that you can’t hear for a while after a loud explosion goes off near you. After watching that, you’ll look at the Village People and think “that’s just four men in costumes dancing, nothing camp about that at all”. That’s too much. This? Not even close. It’s brilliant. And the music’s pretty good too.

Tim: Good lord, man, where on Earth did you find that? It’s like something that shot out of John Barrowman’s arse after a night of rampant bumming.

Tom: That may just be the worst sequence of words you’ve ever written. It gets worse the more I think about it.

Tim: Thank you very much – I’m quite proud of that sentence. Anyway, it’s not the video that I really have the problem with – there’s just something in the music I’m not keen on. I don’t know.

Tom: I’ll chalk that down to musical tastes then, because I’m really enjoying everything about this. It’s just lovely.

Saturday Flashback: Sinéad Mulvey and Black Daisy – Et Cetera

The song’s amazingness goes without question.

Tom: I’m just going to let Tim have this one.

Tim: So, this was Ireland’s entry for Eurovision 2009; appallingly it failed to qualify for the final. And when I say appallingly, I mean seriously appallingly – I really have no idea how it could have failed, especially with the performance they put on (although that did seem like the cameraman was on serious medication for something or other). It is BRILLIANT, and the intro has been my phone’s morning alarm ever since*).

Now, the song’s amazingness goes without question, so we should move straight on and analyse the video, because this is seriously odd. We start off with the band (that is, Black Daisy) worried that the singer (Sinéad) isn’t there, and so they can’t start the song. Fair enough. Except then they start playing, so the worrying was about something they didn’t care about, so we’re like whuh?, but then she starts singing, showing that the reason the worrying was pointless is that they have some sort of psychic link since she knows exactly when to come in, so we’re like WHUH? Then, inevitably, she turns up in the middle of the song, joins in and it’s like there’s never been a problem.

Except there is. And it’s a massive problem I have and it bugs me because I like my music videos cheesy: WHY couldn’t she have waited another ten seconds, sung the bit immediately after the bridge as she was walking in and grabbed the microphone for the key change? It would have been SO MUCH BETTER, and since she’d already been gone two and a half minutes another few seconds wouldn’t matter. Ugh.** Anyway, long story short: the band gets worried for no reason then have a lot of fun with spelling and the singer is late, arrives at an inconvenient time, and isn’t even told off at the end. Crazy.

HOWEVER: all that aside it’s a fun video, and the music is more (vastly more) than good enough to make up for any shortcomings it may have. I LOVE THIS SONG, and I hereby decree that it shall be added to The Bengtzing Effect‘s playlist, and as we all know, there is no higher accolade.

*In case you’re interested (and there’s really no reason why you should be), my actual ringtone is a looped version of The One Show’s theme tune, although I changed it at Christmas, obviously.

** And if I’m being picky (well, duh), the toast should have popped up a second earlier as well. Shoot the director.

Tom: His ringtone really is a looped version of the One Show’s theme tune.

Saturday Flashback: Linda Bengtzing – Alla Flickor

It’s even got the descending bells cliché under the final few lines! Fantastic.

Tim: PREVIOUSLY, ON EUROPLOP: Värsta Schlagern, which was described, quite correctly, as ‘a massive Take That to the whole Swedish pop music scene.’

Well, turns out that at least of them is one heck of a hypocrite, namely Linda Bengtzing, who dived straight into the middle of the Swedish music scene with this 2005 Melodifestivalen entry, the divine Alla Flickor.

Tom: Why does that sound vaguely rude to me? Clearly I have other things on my mind.

Tim: Um, clearly. Anyway, this is, as I said, divine, and contains everything there is to love about Swedish schlager in, well, any given twenty seconds of it, really.

Tom: I was worried that you’d overhyped this until the first chorus, which justifies everything you said. It’s even got the descending bells cliché under the final few lines! Fantastic.

Tim: As a whole three minutes, it’s excitable, catchy and jumpy, and it ticks every box necessary: over-excited female singer, backing singers throughout and plenty of howling after the key change. (Although that does come with a rather worrying thought process of “Here comes the key change … Hang on, has she forgotten it? … Ah, there it is.”)

Tom: It’s odd to have the quiet, silent breakdown and not immediately follow it with the big key change – lulled into a false sense of security, I thought that was it. I actually jumped, slightly startled, when the proper one kicked in.

Tim: Do you reckon we’re a big enough website to create a new phrase? I hereby name this ‘The Bengtzing Effect’ – that of leaving a key change so late you think it’s not going to happen, and then making you entirely delighted when it suddenly appears with just seconds to spare.

Tom: Catchy name.

Tim: Isn’t it? I predict it catching on within the entire music industry by Christmas at the latest. Back to the song, I see absolutely no reason at all why one should not immediately get up and jump around when this starts to play.

Tom: I would dance to this like an idiot if it were played in a club. Do any clubs actually play music like this any more?

Tim: If they don’t, we owe it to the world to start our own club, and OOH, we should actually call it The Bengtzing Effect, because that would be an amazing name for a club. We shall play this song over and over and over again, until people get sick of it, and to them we shall say, ‘If you think that, then you don’t deserve to be in here. GET OUT, I tell you, GET OUT!’*

* I’m in a bit of an odd mood today. Hmm.

Tom:

Tim: Anyway, the lyrics are entirely banal, as befits such a song – they’re roughly a warning to any ladies about a guy who makes you feel special, as though you’re the only person in his life, but then behaves exactly the same way to any other girl who walks past. Slightly wasted as a warning, though, since she never actually says who he is. Bad luck, Swedish ladies: she knows, but she ain’t telling.

Tom: And now I have “all the Swedish ladies / all the Swedish ladies” bouncing around in my head. Well done, Tim.

Tim: Thank you – always happy to help.

Right, now who do we talk to about setting up a nightclub?

Marion Raven – Flesh and Bone

Has she got Status Quo doing the chorus guitars?

Tim: I wholeheartedly enjoy this: it’s big, enthusiastic, and the bridge has two distinct parts, which makes a change and works surprisingly well.

Tom: Has she got Status Quo doing the chorus guitars? Chugga-chugga all the way through, nothing subtle in there at all. It’s not bad, and it’s fairly big and fairly enthusiastic, but somehow it doesn’t quite come together for me. This sounds like teenage Avril Lavigne power-pop – it’s hard to believe that she duetted with Meat Loaf and was at least a match for him.

Tim: The middle part of the chorus in particular (can’t cross…) is great, as is the re-entry from the bridge.

Tom: I’ll grant you that – the entire bridge and re-entry are great – but the rest doesn’t meld properly.

Tim: I don’t know, I think it does – the only thing I don’t like is the fade-out ending, which I dislike in general, really. There’s never any need for them: here, stopping dead after a chorus followed by a lone vocal ‘you shatter me’ would be absolutely fine.

Tom: It’s certainly a chorus repeat too long. I’m not so fussed about the fade-out – possibly because, unlike Andreas Johnson’s latest, I wasn’t listening excitedly waiting for the big finish. I propose we call a crap fade-out ending “doing an Andreas” from now on.

Tim: Little bit harsh, perhaps, since, to my knowledge, he’s never actually done one. What annoys me about fade-outs such as this is that there’s no effort whatsoever – it’s just repeating the chorus until they get bored. Andreas may not finish with big climactic sequences, but there’s at least a definite ending, unlike this.