Tim: …by drying himself off – sorry Tom – and putting the first single off his next album up on YouTube.
Tim: Unfortunately, but not too surprisingly, it isn’t as good as Manboy.
Tom: He’s gone all plodding and emotional, hasn’t he? So much for having enough enthusiasm that you have to shower on stage.
Tim: If we’re honest, it could probably do with losing about thirty seconds somewhere along the line, and the first few seconds sound a bit like Day & Night. On a more positive note, if you don’t do some sort of involuntary dance-type movement after the bridge there may be something wrong with you, which makes it a winner in my view.
Tom: I was all ready to disagree with you there, and then I went and subconsciously nodded my head along after the beat. That technically counts.
Tim: Musically it’s a surprisingly decent mix of several genres; lyrically it seems slightly weird and almost pointless – you’re annoying me but keep doing it – but never mind that, because I still like the chorus and the closing bit very much indeed.
Tom: It’s a proper lighters-in-the-air moment at the end, isn’t it? It’s no Manboy, but it’ll do.
Tim: Now, this lady has issues. Like, planet-sized issues.
Tim: Dancing at a funeral would be bad enough. But ON a funeral – that implies she’s there by the graveside while the vicar’s reciting the whole ‘ashes to ashes, dust to dust’ stuff, not caring remotely what the heartbroken mourners think, but just incredibly happy that you’ve finally popped it. What with that and the scratchy, stabby name on the CD cover, part of the thinks she might be a serial killer hiding behind her music.
But we don’t care about such frivolities as murder here – we care about the music. And right now, it’s not remotely bad.
Tom: Starts with a lovely intro that wouldn’t be out of place on a Clubland CD somewhere; steadily builds like a good dance track should; and then it kicks in. And oh yes.
Tim: A chorus you can really get into (however unpleasant it might be) and a good beat to the music that keeps it interesting throughout.
Tom: There’s something about the chorus melody that I really enjoy, and I lack the musical theory to put it into words. Each time I start to drift away into distraction during the verse, that chorus comes back and makes me pay attention again.
Tim: And also the lyrics: however psychopathic they may be, there’s still some weird depth – the two verses end with ‘makes me love to hate you so’ and then ‘man I hate to love you so’. Issues, seriously.
Tom: She’s dealing with them better than the Saturdays did, that’s for sure. There’s even an apt organ outro. Well done, Elin.
I watched it all the way through almost without blinking.
Tim: No, don’t worry – it’s not Ne-Yo, it’s NEO, an all-round better musician, although sadly not very lucky when it comes to exiting nightclubs.
Tom: I really hope this video explains that joke.
Tom: I have no idea what that video was about, but I watched it all the way through almost without blinking. That was brilliant.
Tim: Wasn’t it just? The music as well is very good, and in my view better than the sort of stuff that was on his first album – darker (much), but somehow better, even though I’d normally prefer the Mika-esque style. There’s a level of emotion and feeling to it that just didn’t seem to exist before, and the music’s very much better for it. The high-pitched voice isn’t used as a novelty this time round, but more as something that just belongs and doesn’t seem out of place.
Tom: Through the first minute, I was waiting for the chorus. I was thinking “this is a hell of a build, this had better be a blinder of a chorus.” And it was. By the final repeat, it’s almost an Andreas Johnson blinder of a chorus. And you’re right, the falsetto doesn’t seem out of place.
Tim: All round, it just seems a lot more mature than his last album – as though he’s now decided what he wants to do with his music, as opposed to thinking along the lines of ‘this is what Swedish musicians do, I’d better do that.’ I think he’s made the right decision – he certainly looks the part, as part of me was expecting him to grow fangs at 2:57. Very glad he didn’t, though.
Tom: That’s a director’s error, sadly – it’s shot like a transformation sequence, where it’s actually some kind of timeline switch. The background needs to be in focus and twitching, not him. Never mind – as I said before, it’s still blindingly good.
Tim: And lastly, what with him being NEO and all if you didn’t think ‘He is The One’ at 2:43, there’s something wrong with you.
They’re pretty much asking for a lightning bolt to strike them down.
Tim: Here, we have a former Eurovision act splitting up and pretty much asking for a lightning bolt to strike them down.
Tom: I do like The Ark (mainly for that one performance) and I’m a bit disappointed they’re splitting. All good things, though. What’s the track like?
Tim: This, Mr Collins, is what a goodbye song should be like – fun, exciting, a great aa-ooooh hook before we’ve even got started and with all sorts of strange lyrics.
Tom: That ‘aa-ooooh’ got me going straight away. No idea why, but it fits very well with this track. And that ramping return from the bridge is brilliant.
Tim: And those lyrics are remarkably odd – or at least the ones that are vaguely intelligible. We have Sword of Damocles references, which then turns into the shape of a cross, we have dancing the night away as a means to reach another life, we have a black and white world haunted by God, and then at the end he finds his own heaven in life.
Tom: It is a bit odd, isn’t it? This track – and other songs like Religious by Gravitonas – would never get major label airplay in the US; ClearChannel and the other media conglomerates would be too afraid of offending the Bible Belt.
Tim: Well, it’s not just the Bible Belt they’ll be offending – don’t forget the main man Himself. To be honest I do wonder about the wisdom of releasing this right before they split up to move in different directions, because surely sticking two fingers up at the Lord is not the best way to begin a new career.
Tom: Europlop reader Roger writes in, noting that we haven’t commented on Jenny Berggren’s new album. She’s the lead singer of Ace of Base, and put out a solo album at the end of last year. And Roger’s right – we missed it entirely.
‘Gotta Go’, he says, “is not the song with the highest star rating, rather it is one of those I like the most”.
And you know what? I like it too. And that’s not just because her surname is nearly a palindrome.
Tom: By the time the beat drops back in at 0:45, I’m entirely in favour of this song. It’s one of those tracks where the melody doesn’t seem to entirely connect with what the instrumentation is playing – almost like it’s a mashup! – but I don’t mind at all.
Tim: It is a bit odd, that – it’s almost disorienting, and I’m not sure I like it. It’s as though there are several tracks competing with each other for attention.
Tom: That said, the beat does drop back in a lot of times. At least four, if you count the bridge. There’s a lot of quiet bits coming back with a slightly-too-triumphant whoomph. Even the bridge seems to treat itself by dipping the drums out twice.
Tim: That, however, I do like, because even if it’s only an illusion, it does give the impression like it’s constantly building to be massive at the end, although the ending is then a bit disappointing.
Tom: It might be a bit full of itself, and the last chorus might not be triumphant enough – with this much palaver in the song, it needs a key change.
Tim: You’re right – what it needs, actually, is a Linda Bengtzing style key change – not just after the bridge, but later on, ideally on the ‘late’ at 3:36.
Tim: Last time we met Roxette, their new song kept getting pulled from YouTube so we had to make do with an old (albeit good) track. It’s finally found a permanent place, though, in the form of a proper video, so let’s have a look.
Tom: First of all, I think we’ve already found the award winner for Cleverest Track Title of the Year.
Tom: How are Roxette still good? This somehow manages to have rocky verses, electronic arpeggios in the chorus, and the usual slightly-androgynous vocals, and it’s still bloody good. Incidentally, how ace are those arpeggios? (I think that’s what they’re called, anyway.)
Tim: Agreed, the choruses are good, but the pauses annoy me – singing along (it is very singalongable), it seems as though the ‘but the radio’ should just follow so naturally from ‘she’s got nothing on’ that it feels a bit odd when it doesn’t.
Tom: It’s easy to think Roxette were a one-hit wonder with “It Must Have Been Love” and maybe a couple of others – but they’re not. They’ve been going for years, have a World Music Award, and – no kidding – achievement medals from the King of Sweden.
I’m docking a few points for the terrible call-and-response bit in the first verse (“Really?” “Oh.” “Yeah?” in the right channel) though.
Tim: That’s a thing that’s a bit odd – the intro and verses could come straight from a Pink song (Get This Party Started, perhaps), but the choruses and bridge sound like something entirely different, almost like something the new Pet Shop Boys track could (should?) have been.
Tom: Other than that it’s a pretty solid track. More like this, please.
It wouldn’t be a shame if more Eurovision songs were like this.
Tim: This weekend marks the start of quite a few countries’ hunt for their Eurovision entries – Finland started last night, and Norway and Iceland get going tonight. Let’s mark the occasion by looking back at a previous entry, from Iceland in 2009. Context: this was placed second, after Norway’s Alexander Rybak won by the largest margin in the contest’s history. (Still can’t believe Malena Ernman came 21st, though.)
Tom: As long as they don’t get Pete Bloody Waterman back for the UK, I’ll be happy.
Tim: No fancy tricks here, no massive lighting effects – just a couple of nice gentle key changes, plenty of emotional singing from a lady who’s just screwed things up with her boyfriend, and a dolphin flying through the sky in the background. I like this a lot, and it wouldn’t be a shame if more Eurovision songs were like this.
Tom: I strongly disagree with you. This is too slow, too ballad-y, for a night of entertainment that should – in my opinion – be about celebration and enthusiasm. I’m not advocating camp, kitschy mock-pop – that should be left back where it belongs – and I’m not saying there shouldn’t be a few songs like this. But ballads got the first and second place last year. Let’s have a bit of schlager placing this time, please.
Tim: Oh, absolutely – I’m as much as campaigner for the Charlotte Perellis and DJ Bobos of the competition as the next guy – I just think it’s nice to have a break every now and again, with something slightly calming but still musically interesting.
Tim: No soapy sailors this time round, as this is a free track off their website rather than an actual single – a present to keep their fans happy until they bring new stuff out in February.
Tom: Now, I really liked the bubblegum pop sound they had last time round – how much of that was due to attractive lead singers in low-cut outfits, I’m not sure, but I ended up listening to that track a lot of times. Hopefully this one’s similar.
Tom: Oh yes.
Tim: Not half bad, really, and remarkably different from The Killers’ original, in the backing instrumentation at least.
Tom: The first few notes of it gave me a bit of worry, but I needn’t have – it’s a great cover of a great song; when all the electronic gubbins kicks in on “Jealousy–“, I just burst out into a smile.
It’s basically into repeat-until-fade half way through, and – most disappointingly – it doesn’t use the “I never–” refrain to end it. I like that part, if only because every time I hear it I think Brandon Flowers is singing “PAELLA.”
Tim: Of course you do. Needless to say, fans of The Killers won’t like it much, but we’re not here for them. We’re here because we like happy camp music, and this is very much it.
Tom: I know what that link is before I click it. It’s the St. Winifred’s School Choir, isn’t it? There’s only one good performance of that, and it’s the time they were on Tiswas.
Tim: Man, you’re mean. Anyway, if you fancy something a bit more energetic, try a recent Almighty 7″ Mix, although I prefer this – it’s dance-y enough, and the choruses are much better.
Tom: I wasn’t really feeling this song until the final chorus, during which everything just clicked together for some reason. This is lovely.
Tim: A few things about the video:
If I was that bloke, I’d be more likely to get a restraining order than an engagement ring.
It’s a slight shame she couldn’t learn the words to the chorus before they started filming.
Tom: But the ducks, Tim! How could you not have immediately mentioned the ducks who quack in time with the lyrics?
Tim: Oh, good lord – how could I not have noticed that? It’s incredible. It may, however, be that my mind was still reeling from her dancing at about 1:12. This can only be described as utterly exquisite, especially when it looks like her head is going to fall off. I tried to imitate it it, but my neck just refused to bend that far.
Tom: That must be CGI. Surely that’s CGI? Wait. 1999. Damn.
Energetic, danceable, vibrant – generally everything a good piece of schlager should be.
Tim: These two sisters have been going for well over twenty years now, although they’re not producing much these days – their last was Show Me Heaven in Melodifestivalen a couple of years back; now, they bring us this.
Tim: Lyrically, I have no idea what this is all about, although the title – which translates to ‘Come and Find Me’ – suggests it’s some sort of game of Hide and Seek; having said that, the song seems a bit loud to be singing in that situation so it’s probably not that.
Tom: I’m clearly a bit immature, because I’m hearing the title as “Come And Toss” every time they sing it. I’ll set that aside.
Tim: Yeah, I think that would be best. So, we’re stuck judging the music alone, and that’s not a bad thing, really, since the music’s quite good.
Tom: It’s a bit anthemic, isn’t it? There’s a hell of a lot going on, and that’s not a bad thing.
Tim: Certainly isn’t. The voices hold up nicely, and the blokes joining in at the end add a bit of gravity, should you feel that’s what it needs.
Tom: I’m not even sure it counts as schlager – yes, it’s three minutes long and from Scandinavia, but you couldn’t call this bubblegum pop by any means.
Tim: Ah, but the non-vocal part is energetic, danceable, vibrant – generally everything a good piece of schlager should be. And that is, after all, what we are here to celebrate.