Michael Rice – Bigger Than Us

“That’s right: for the first time in a decade, we’re sending a key change.”

Previously, on Tim & Tom’s Twitter DMs:

Tim: In case you’ve not been paying attention to the UK’s contestants, we have three decent, one below average and two garbage.
Tom: and no potential winners?
Tim: Hmmmmmmmmmmmm…… There’s one with a good chance of ending up left side of the scoreboard, and another that’ll either be top five or bottom five.

Tim: Now then, Tom, prepare to hear that last one, which the Great British Public, given only the tiniest of tiny pushes by the stage designers, decided upon.

Tom: You know my test for British Eurovision entries, Tim. Is it as good as Love Shine A Light? Will the entire nation be singing it? Two decades from now, will one of us be visibly going berserk in the crowd, as the original singer belts it out a manner that’s reminiscent of a tent revival? (0:32 in, right hand side of the frame, incidentally, and several more times in wide shots.)

Tim: One of my finest moments, that – I think I look particularly strong at 1:01.

Tim: That’s right: for the first time in a decade, we’re sending a key change.

Tom: And a lot of innuendo. And at least an homage to the opening bit of See You Again, surely?

Tim: Hmm, vaguely, but nowhere as much of an homage that one of the other tracks had to Johann Pachelbel, that one was an embarrassment.

Tom: That said: it’s not a bad track. It’s not Love Shine A Light, it’s a bit generic, but it’s definitely not a bad track.

Tim: If you think it sounds familiar, it’s because three of its four writers also wrote the masterpiece that was John Lundvik’s My Turn last year – you know, the one where they made him look like the messiah. Now, to be honest, I’ve mixed feelings about this result: yes, it was my favourite of the night by a long way, I’m looking forward to seeing it on an enormous stage in Tel Aviv, and I like that I’ll be able to listen to it in the Music app on my phone. On the other hand: this isn’t a Eurovision 2010s song. Hell, it’s barely a ’00s song. It has a key change, for crying out loud.

Tom: At least he can sing live. And it’s a key change into a triumphant middle eight, which at least sounds a bit fresher than just doing the chorus one more time.

Tim: I suppose, if he tours all the national finals and gets it heard around Europe, and if it gets some amazing staging, and if any of the other big ballads aren’t as good, then it might do well – but those are some big ifs.

Saara Aalto – Dance Like Nobody’s Watching

“Two options for you here: the regular version, which is a fairly nice piano ballad, or the UK Radio Edit, which is much more BANGING.”

Tim: Two options for you here: the regular version, which is a fairly nice piano ballad, or the UK Radio Edit, which is much more BANGING. Which would you prefer?

Tom: I feel like I’m being given a choice so obvious that it’s going to backfire, but: BANGING. OF COURSE.

Tim: That is the CORRECT answer.

Tim: So, presumably hoping to cash in on her continued success on Dancing On Ice, this has been released to UK stations, where it’s had, erm, well, not much success, but never mind, because this really is a track and a half.

Tom: Are you sure? I mean, it is certainly a track, I’m just wondering where you’re getting the other half from.

Tim: It’s very much in the ‘be true to yourself’ vein (so much so that the video for the original version was made in conjunction with the trans support charity Mermaids) and it’s nice that it works on two levels – the ‘shout the chorus line’ level which gives it a standard ‘let’s have a hell of a good night’ vibe, and the deeper lyrics in the verses where the more personal stuff comes out.

Tom: I think you may have raised my expectations too high by describing this as BANGING, Tim.

Tim: Well, technically I described it as ‘more banging’, but yes, fair enough.

Tom: There’s nothing actually wrong with it, and the message is laudable, but it’s very much a standard ballad without much else to say for it.

Tim: Incorrect, it is a BEEFED UP version of a standard ballad, and so musically, I also love it: the standard banging ballad formula of a quiet first verse, crash in with the chorus, slightly less quiet second verse, and so on, and she’s got a voice that suits that formula brilliantly. All in: this is great. Properly great.

Pet Shop Boys – Give Stupidity A Chance

“It would have been PERFECT for Eurovision, can you IMAGINE.”

Tim: SATIRE.

Tom: I mean, satire traditionally has some subtext or subtlety to it. This feels more like a rant.

Tim: Perhaps, but a fun rant nonetheless, and also just under three minutes long which means it would have been PERFECT for Eurovision, can you IMAGINE.

Tom: Ha! Oh, if only. It’d never get past the BBC or the Eurovision rules, and it’d almost certainly die on the scoreboard, but I would have loved to see it.

Tim: Oh, well, never mind. Start out with Brexit, move through to Trump, it’s basically 2016 summed up in a pretty piece of music, because the melody of that one single line is just great.

Tom: It’s a bit of fluff, all simple and insipid melodies that… oh. Huh. I guess that’s the point. Clever.

Tim: It’s a shame, really – the lyrics mean this song will seem dated fairly quickly (hopefully, at least), but the tune, of the chorus and indeed throughout, is absolutely brilliant, and deserves to hang around a lot longer. OH WELL. There’ll be a few more tracks coming out over the next few days, with an EP of them all on Friday, and hopefully they’ll all be as fun (except for today’s, where Neil gets all old Man Yells At Cloud about social media). Super!

Tom: No, “Super” was the last album.

Tim: CORRECT.

Saturday Flashback: Busted – Reunion

“I love Busted.”

Tim: Yesterday was, I discovered as I woke up, New Busted Album Day, and I subsequently discovered that they’ve had three singles out in the past three months that have completely passed me by.

Tom: That’s… not a great sign. I had no idea either.

Tim: We’ll deal with the most interesting track on the album in due course, as I’m hoping it’ll get a proper video, but in the meantime this is from December.

Tim: So here we have it, finally a sequel to What I Go To School For, and what is almost certainly the first ever song sung by someone who’s gutted he’s in a relationship because otherwise he could cop off with his old school teacher. And you know what? I love that.

Tom: I mean, if you look at the lyrics, this isn’t technically a sequel. And after all, it’s been more than 16 years since What I Go To School For, not just ten.

Tim: See, I thought that as well, and so on only hearing the song I thought it’d just be a fun theory – but James’s exercise book near the start of that video specifically mentions Miss Mackensie. We know he’s singing to someone he had a crush on at school, we know that it’s the same school that Miss Mackensie taught at, we know that the sort of teacher who bends down to show him more isn’t going to miss an opportunity like a reunion, so what other possibility is there?

Tom: That the video producer thought “ha, that’ll be a fun reference, no-one’ll overthink it”. But, yes, sure, I’m willing to play along with that if you are.

Tim: Good. Because I love Busted, and I am so glad they’ve gone back to their old style rather than the serious electro funk style they experimented with on their last album.

Tom: Are they approaching their seventh yet? Just wondering.

Tim: Not yet, but they’ve still got time. They know what people want, and they’re happy to provide it.

Tom: Yep: this is nostalgia, plain and simple, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Tim: So join us next time, when we’ll be discussing the song that is the Avengers: Endgame of the Busted Musical Universe.

Isak Danielson – Power

“I’m not entirely convinced that a crossover of Jackass and ‘power-and-sex-charged music video’ is a good idea.”

Tim: Some say the art of lyric writing is crafting mysterious or ambiguous ones, so that different people can add their own interpretations, and maybe use a music video to do even more with the various possibilities. Others, such as Isak, prefer a more prescriptive approach to these things, bringing all the subtlety of a two ton wrecking ball.

Tom: That is an wonderfully-choreographed, impeccably-shot, frankly beautiful video that has been ruined by appalling video compression. What a shame: if that was graded and handled a little better, you’d be able to see more than dancing black squares during the dark parts.

Tim: I’ll be honest, part of me is disappointed that she didn’t end up literally going at him with a Taser, or at the very least a cattle prod.

Tom: I’m not entirely convinced that a crossover of Jackass and ‘power-and-sex-charged music video’ is a good idea, but if that’s what you’re into, then I’m not going to judge.

Tim: Fair’s fair, though, as what it lacks in interpretative possibilities it more than makes up for in sheer volume and emotion, almost begging for Take Me To Church comparisons on multiple levels. The vocal style, the cut back instrumentation, the backing vocals echoing the main chorus – this is basically a textbook emo male power ballad, and it sounds good for it.

Tom: I think the video helps sell it to a large extent: without it, yes, it’s very clearly aiming for Hozier and not quite getting there. But that’s an almost-impossible target to hit: getting this far is an achievement in itself.

Bob Sinclar feat. Robbie Williams – Electrico Romantico

“Fingers crossed.”

Tom: You know that thing when you see that two artists are collaborating, and you think “this is either going to be really good or really bad”?

Tim: Frequently.

Tom: Well, look: this is either a track that combines “Let Me Entertain You” and “Love Generation”, or it’s a track that combines “Rudebox” with literally any song Bob Sinclar has made since Love Generation.

Tim: Fingers crossed.

Tom: Unlucky.

Tim: Nice first few seconds, though.

Seeb, Bastille – Grip

“I find it incredibly creepy!”

Tim: I have a LOT of time for this video.

Tom: I find it incredibly creepy! It was creepy when CBBC did it, and it’s creepy now.

Tim: Maybe – I mean, sticking googly eyes on fruit and then putting them in a blender is almost as horrifying as that Pixar short that was played before The Incredibles 2, where the woman realises she’s been eating sentient dumplings, but at least the blender gets reversed each time so there’s a sort of happy ending.

Tom: Nope. Not happy with it. It’s just deeply unpleasant. Which I suspect my have coloured my view of the music, too.

Tim: Ah. Well, when I can bring myself to tear my eyes away from the video, I think it’s pretty enjoyable – standard Bastille stuff, with some standard Seeb bits thrown around here and there.

Tom: Mm. I agree that it’s very definitely a mixture of two styles — but it doesn’t work for me in the way it worked for Bastille and Marshmello. Although to be fair, that one may have just grown on me through endless radio repetition.

Tim: Well, maybe this one will as well.

Westlife – Hello My Love

“That’s an unfortunate series of three notes.”

Tim: Westlife have gone and got themselves a bit modern – isn’t that fun!

Tom: I didn’t even know they’d reunited!

Tim: Me neither, but apparently all it took was Simon Cowell calling them up every six months and offering then £10 million each. Seriously.

Tim: So we both like a song that you can remember afterwards (with some exceptions, looking at you Baby Shark who I once had going round in my head for an entire eight hour shift at work) – but is it good if gets a completely different song stuck in your head? It’s only a few notes, but it’s that progression towards the end of the chorus of “it’s just my” that gets my brain going straight into “driving at ninety, down those country lanes“.

Tom: Oh, you’re not wrong. That’s an unfortunate series of three notes.

Tim: Now don’t get me wrong, I love Castle On The Hill, and any song that sounds like it, such as this one, probably isn’t a bad track. But it’s not really helpful, is it?

Tom: And unfortunately, for me, it’s all that I can remember. Actually, that’s not true, I can remember the utterly clunky line “hair growing where it’s meant to”.

Tim: Yeah, that’s a bit of an awkward one.

Tom: This isn’t a bad track by any means, it’s just cursed with the Comeback Track Problem: for anyone except the fans, it’s got to be a barnstormer of a track, on a par with their best. It’s got to be a Shine. And as far as I can tell, this just isn’t.

Walk The Moon – Timebomb

“Look at me! I’m complimenting a track!”

Tom: Or “WALK THE MOON” as they’re apparently loudly styled now, but frankly that can do one. The question is, of course, is this ‘new track in familiar style’ or ‘just a slight change Shut Up And Dance again’?

Tim: That is…horrific artwork, once you start to see the silhouette of the guy as if his head’s at the back, the legs are at the front, and the light’s shining out of his, well. But the sound.

Tom: I’ll be honest, I was expecting to be far more cynical about this. I mean, the guitar sound’s the same, and the structure is roughly Shut Up And Dance, but it’s very clearly a different and new track.

Tim: Yeah, it’s pretty good. It doesn’t have the same immediate appreciation from me that Shut Up Dance, Different Colors or One Foot did, but sure – let’s have it.

Tom: And that lead vocal is great, in a way that I’m not sure earlier singles demonstrated: there are shades of Adam Levine in there, and given that he’s one of the best pop vocalists currently working, that’s a compliment. Look at me! I’m complimenting a track! That’s getting increasingly rare!

Olly Murs feat. Snoop Dogg – Moves

“Ugh, WHY.”

Tom: Okay, we’re talking about this. I know it’s been months since it came out over here, I know we said we’re not going to talk about this, but we’re talking about this.

Tim: Ugh, WHY.

Tom: Because I drove through Sweden and Denmark the other day, Tim, and this is in heavy rotation on many radio stations. I heard it four times, including once on the shuttle bus back from the airport that was apparently tuned to an easy-listening station. It’s not even in the charts there. The radio just loves it.

Tim: Hmm…ermm…sorry, just trying to think of a time when we’ve ever even slightly bothered about before. Struggling, I’ll be honest.

Tom: And not only that: it turns out there’s a new trend in music videos, which is a separate vertical video. WELCOME TO THE LATE 2010S TIM.

Tim: 🎉🎉🎉

Tom: Okay, let’s get it out of the way: hearing Snoop Dogg shout out Olly Murs is really, really strange.

Tim: Although less strange than Flo Rida doing a school register call out of the Saturdays.

Tom: Does this track sound a lot like Feels? Yes. Does it have the unmistakable smell of Sheeran all over it? Also yes. Are the lyrics bloody awful in places? Also also yes.

Tim: Yes yes yes.

Tom: But here’s the thing: I didn’t turn it off, at least not the first time I stumbled across it while radio-scanning. It is a very competent track. I’m not going to say it’s necessarily good, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t catchy, excellently produced, and absolutely made for radio airplay. And that’s still a valid way to make a track work: you don’t need to convince the public, just the people in charge of radio playlists.

Tim: It’s short. I’ll give it that.