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.

Takida – Never Alone Always Alone (Box Room Version)

Not the most upbeat song ever.

Tim: Released a few weeks back, it’s gradually making its way up the Swedish charts, and it’s not half bad. Not the most upbeat song ever, but what I particularly like about this version is the way it keeps building throughout, continually adding instrumentation, until it comes back after the bridge (such as it is) as a properly vibrant piece of music.

Tom: On the plus side, this reminds me of the Love Album version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps. What started out as a simple track is steadily built upon, adding layer after layer, until you end up with this complex, soaring, beautiful piece of music. This track is like that, only with the genius of George Harrison replaced by the plodding monotony of Nickelback.

Tim: I don’t know – I think the voice works well against the backing, sort of remaining steady and showing how far the music’s growing, right up to the big near-to-the-end. It is a bit of a shame that it can’t keep that up for long, but nonetheless very pleasant while it lasts.

Tom: That’s what she said.

Tim: Oh, god.

Tom: Again, that’s… ah, never mind.

Tim: Anyway, that, combined with the infectious lyrics, make for a rather pleasant four minutes.

Tom: We have different definitions of ‘pleasant’.

Saturday Flashback: Markoolio and Linda Bengtzing – Värsta Schlagern

A massive Take That to the whole Swedish pop music scene.

Tim: This symbolises everything that is perfect about the music we love, although it’s in Swedish. The lyrics, when translated, are a massive Take That to the whole Swedish pop music scene. Thoughts?

Tom: Hahaha. This is Verka Seduchka all over again, isn’t it? Actually, no, this is the Swedish version of “The Winner’s Song“! There had better be a brutal key change on the way.

Tim: Oh yes, and the best thing is that the lyrics before it are “…and here comes the key change!”

Tom: Right. It’s a schlager version of “The Song That Goes Like This” from Spamalot, then!

Rasmus Seebach – Natteravn

Manages to cram in three genres in the first minute.

Tim: This, by a Danish bloke, has been running around the top of the Swedish charts for the past few months – only been out of the top 10 three times since its physical release in the middle of May – and for good reason. (Oddly, it never even got to Denmark’s top 30, even though his three previous singles all made top 3.) Anyway, have a listen.

Tim: I think it’s the first song I’ve ever heard that manages to cram in three genres in the first minute, and it flits around a bit before eventually deciding to be a cracking good dance tune. I have absolutely no idea what the lyrics mean, and to be honest I couldn’t care less, because it’s great. Unlike Bromance, I don’t think that it would quite work without any, but he could be singing about taking out the empty beer cans for all I care.

Tom: In my head it’d be better either as an instrumental – I think it would work – or at least with slightly less repetitive lyrics. That may be my English-speaking brain refusing to accept “Jeg kalder på dig” as a common sentence though; if he was singing “I call on you” then I suspect the words would have faded into the background rather than sticking out like a sore thumb. It’s a great track though.

Tim: The problem I’d have without lyrics is that the non-dancy bits would be too quiet (although not in a Robert MIles sense, just in a dull sense); the chorus I agree would work. However, one think I do like about the chorus lyrics is that they sound a bit like the name of that volcano that blew up in Iceland a few months back. No idea why I think that’s a good thing, though.

The three genres thing is a bit weird, but I think it works. It did mean that when I first heard it I started out thinking, oh, it’s another generic R&B tune, it’ll be just as rubbish as Flo Rida and stuff, but then it got good and clicked together nicely. Full marks, Herr Seebach.

Tom: Apparently they couldn’t pay the video’s actress enough to actually let him kiss her at the end, though.

Same Difference – Shine On Forever (Photo Frame)

Who?

Tim: I always get these guys confused with Peter Kay’s 2 Up 2 Down. A full three years since they were on the X Factor, they’re having another go at releasing stuff.

Tom: Who?

Tim: After they failed the first time when they targeted the kiddy market*, they’ve come up with this more grown-up track. Normally you’d only use a brackety bit in the song’s name if the main title wasn’t in the lyrics; here I get the impression that each of them wanted a different title so they had to compromise.

* As in, the market of children buying music, not a market where people can buy… yeah, anyway.

Tom: No, seriously, who?

Tim: It’s not a bad tune, and the vocal bit of the chorus especially is nice; it could be so much better, though, with a decent instrumental bit behind it, and not some dull GarageBand loop**, which is what it sounds like. The chorus could be proper wave-your-hands-in-the-air, instead of yeah-this-is-okay-lets-keep-going.

** Not that stock loops are necessarily any indication of quality one way or the other: compare and contrast the sublime Symphonies with the dire Umbrella.

Tom: Hmm.

Shine on forever
The picture is so clear
I’ve had the greatest moment…

…of your career? About three years ago?

Saturday Flashback: Sanna Nielsen – Devotion

Camp, happy and harmless.

Tim: This is camp, happy and harmless, along the lines of Bellefire’s Perfect Bliss (and a similarly perfect style of bridge exit), was released back in January and has been hanging around on radio playlists and lurking in the iTunes charts ever since. The word on the schlager grapevine is that it was rejected from this year’s Melodifestivalen, but they decided to put it out there anyway. As far as I can tell, they never made a video, and I strongly suggest you don’t use that YouTube link as your only lyric source. They make for quite fun reading, but as it says at the end, “Maybe the text is wrong but the mostly is right.”

Tom: How can a song that camp and harmless – and I agree with you, it is – remind me of a military march? It’s the endless, plodding, one-two-one-two beat in the background, I think. I can see why it didn’t go into Melodifestivalen: to me, it sounds a bit like it’s been written by a six-year-old, plodding up and down the keyboard playing simple scales. It’s a pity, because it started with such promise: there’s more spark and creativity in that initial seven seconds than there is in the whole rest of the track. Even the key change just seems dutiful and by-the-book rather than actually injecting any new life into it.

Tim: I suppose that might be partly why I like it – it’s nothing special at all, strictly formula, but it’s got a chorus that just makes me smile without really knowing why. Just a sort of, ‘aah, this is nice’ feeling.

Hera Björk – Because You Can

I WILL LEARN HOW TO FLY. AND MY GLOW WILL BE RELEASED.

Tim: THIS. IS. BRILLIANT. It’s the new single from the lady who did the also, but not quite as, excellent Je Ne Sais Quoi for Iceland at Eurovision this year. Stylistically, it’s not far removed from Malena Ernman with a mix of dance and opera (or that Charlotte Church track, come to think of it).

Tom: And it’s a style I very much like. When it finally kicks in properly, a minute in? That’s glorious.

Tim: The first few seconds remind me a bit of My Heart Will Go On. (Still love that song, don’t care what you say.)

Tom: Yes, well, we all have our crosses to bear.

Tim: The verses are great, and the final few notes in them as they build to the chorus are utterly fantastic. The bridge is entirely wonderful, the vocal and the instrumentation going unexpectedly yet perfectly together, and demonstrating one hell of a vocal range.

Tom: Couldn’t agree more.

Tim: And then there’s the chorus. And oh. Oh, boy. What a chorus it is. What a chorus.

“Take the chance you’ll never know”

YES. YES, HERA, I WILL. EVEN THOUGH I DON’T KNOW WHAT IT IS I WILL DO IT. BECAUSE YOU ARE USING THIS SONG TO TELL ME TO DO IT.

“Fly, release your inner glow”

I WILL LEARN HOW TO FLY. JUST FOR YOU, I WILL LEARN. AND MY GLOW WILL BE RELEASED.

Tom:

Tim:

“There is no-one in your way, trust that you will be okay”

I WILL BE OKAY. YOU HAVE ASSURED ME, HERA, AND RIGHT NOW I TRUST YOU MORE THAN I TRUST ANYONE.

“Take a chance, take your future by the hand”

FUTURE! COME HERE! HERA HAS ORDERED IT AND SHE MUST BE OBEYED.

“Because you can.”

YES! YES I CAN! DAMMIT, I CAN DO ANYTHING! I LOVE YOU HERA. I REALLY REALLY LOVE YOU. THERE, I’VE SAID IT.

Tom: I’ll leave you two alone. Tim Jeffries there, ladies and gentlemen.

Saturday Flashback: Didrik Solli-Tangen – My Heart Is Yours (Remix)

It’s as if Dario G remixed Josh Groban.

Tim: Don’t know if you remember the Norwegian Eurovision entry, but it’s been remixed, and I believe you may enjoy it.

Tom: Your belief is CORRECT. It’s as if Dario G remixed Josh Groban, and added three key changes, and I thoroughly APPROVE.

Tim: Which is strange, because the original when he sang it sounded great on its own.

Tom: Two key changes though. I’m not complaining, but it does crank the melodrama up to 11. The later key change is telegraphed properly, as all overblown key changes should be, but earlier it’s almost like the guy on the keyboards hit the wrong chord, and everyone else was just “okay, we’ll go with that.”

Ola – Overdrive

Just get on with it, numbnuts.

Tim: What we have here is a young bloke called Ola* whose appearance is rather spoiled by a peculiar reverse mullet. He got to the finals of Idol 2005 and (perhaps surprisingly) has been very successful, in Sweden at least, ever since, with all nine solo singles in the Top 5, and six of those going to number 1. Anyway, this song is off his third album, released today.

*To give him his full name, Ola Svensson, really, definitely not to be confused with the palindromically-named, slightly scary and entirely different singer Ola Salo.

Tim: I rather like it – it’s jumpy around, has a summery sort of ‘get up and go’ feel to it, which is nice if you’re feeling a bit lethargic. This is enhanced if you watch the video, in which he demonstrates how amazingly energetic he is by running a lot. And then being hit by a car, and carrying on running. And then smashing through a wall, and realising that that was a bit too much.

Tom: That’s a pleasant enough song, isn’t it? I’m glad it kicked in for the chorus, although – ironically given the video – it never really seemed to go anywhere after that. I have a feeling it’s one of those records that’s got to number one based on ‘existing fanbase’ rather than ‘wow that’s a great song’.

Tim: Its success might also be helped by the B-sides – it’s more of an EP than a single and the three tracks are varied enough for most people to have at least one that they like. One‘s an unusually enjoyable R&B style number, and the other‘s a fairly vigorous dance tune, although after a while it unfortunately succumbs to Robynness. What is it with that at the moment?

Tom: If I’m honest, I’m really hoping that – like Takeshi’s Castle – one of the tech crew substituted a wall that didn’t break away for an earlier take of that final shot.

Tim: Annoying: the multiple times they cut away just before he hits the wall, in a ‘will he stop in time?’ attempt to make it vaguely exciting. Of course he won’t. In this video, there is no way he can not go crashing through that wall. Just get on with it, numbnuts.

Tom: Also, I’m not sure I’d describe Ola Salo as ‘slightly scary’ after his rather fabulous performance at Eurovision 2007.

Tim: Hmm. That’ll teach me to judge by Wikipedia pictures alone. Mind you, I still wouldn’t want him as a babysitter.

Tom: To be fair, “full CRB check” isn’t generally a requirement for being a pop star. Although maybe they include that on boy band auditions now, just to be safe.