Fontaines D.C. – Liberty Belle

“It’s loud, it’s fast and it’s very very shouty.”

Tim: Here’s a fun start to the week for you, but be aware it’s not remotely our usual.

Tom: I know we push into other genres sometimes, Tim, but my reaction to this is basically the same as your reaction to Choke a few months ago: oh, mate, why?

Tim: Because I like it, and  I like it for exactly the same reason that I like Na Na Na (which it does sound very similar to, and I’m fairly sure you could lay the chorus of one directly on top of the other) and the occasional Dropkick Murphys song – it’s loud, it’s fast and it’s very very shouty.

Tom: There’s a few other melodies off Danger Days that could fit in here as well. And yes, once I adjusted my expectations: there are good bits in here, and at two and a half minutes it doesn’t outstay its welcome.

Tim: It first came out in 2018, and I’ve no idea why, but it’s suddenly getting a lot of play right now on the radio, and, yeah, I’m really really glad about that. Greg James is currently playing it every morning, and every morning it gets me out of bed, maybe jumping around a bit but definitely shouting along to it, forgetting everything everything else that’s going on and just having fun.

Tom: Mm. Well, I’m glad you’re enjoying it.

Tim: Ah, very kind of you to say.

Melanie C – Who I Am

“Fits the nightmare art-gallery-of-self music video.”

Tom: She’s back! Well, actually she was back in December but we didn’t notice.

Tim: Hmm. That did not start out in the genre I was expecting, given the last time we featured her (which still holds up).

Tom: A “very personal song” to her, apparently, which fits the nightmare art-gallery-of-self music video.

Tim: Lyrics certainly hold that up as well.

Tom: I don’t really know what to make of it: it sounds a lot like something that could have been on a Mel C album a couple of decades back, which is not necessarily a bad thing for the fans. I do wonder if anyone else is going to pay much attention to it — although, frankly, if you have an audience, aiming directly at them isn’t a bad strategy.

Tim: Yeah – I’ve always enjoyed her music, and it very much feels targeted toward my tastes. THere’s very little for me to complain about here.

Tom: And hey, I could sing the chorus after one listen, that’s always a good sign.

Ava Max – Kings & Queens

“Something about the notes, the cadence, the harmonies…”

Tom: “What does this remind me of?” I wondered, on the opening about it. Something about the notes, the cadence, the harmonies…

Tom: …oh, yep, never mind, got it.

Tim: Ah, see I went immediately into “If I was a woman…” (and it turns out the writer of that, and, FUN FACT, the song Bonnie Tyler entered Eurovision with, is credited here), but yeah, yours is even more so. That might even beat Still In Love With Potato Waffles.

Tom: I mean, there’s more that I could point out here: the dick joke, the fact we’ve got two middle eights including an electric guitar solo like it’s the 90s, but mainly I just want to point out that it sounds a lot like a Coca-Cola jingle that, infuriatingly, is still trapped in my head decades later.

Tim: Well, get an updated version trapped in your head instead.

Martin Garrix feat. Clinton Kane – Drown

“Today for you, a chorus line that I’m almost entirely certain isn’t meant to be taken literally.”

Tim: Today for you, a chorus line that I’m almost entirely certain isn’t meant to be taken literally.

Tom: Yep, unlike our Eurovision entry, this is the sort of lyric that it’s obnoxious to be pedantic about.

Tim: Despite it being really weird, though, I actually really like this – the song, that is, not the metaphor. The production’s much as you’d expect from someone reliable like Martin, and he’s got a featured vocalist who can get all the notes in the right place. The melody, pleasingly, is one I can remember after hearing just once, although that may be more to do with the icky ‘ocean of you’ thing than any definite indication of a good melody. But who cares? It’s in my head, wanting to be heard again.

Tom: I thought it was, but then I realised I actually had Fleetwood Mac’s “Little Lies” in my head, thanks to that ‘tell me lies’ bit. Still, at only three minutes, at least this one doesn’t outstay its welcome.

Tim: As for Clinton, he’s been around a while uploading covers and original songs to YouTube, mostly guitar-based stuff, and he’s from all over the place – Filipino-Norwegian heritage, has lived in Australia and the UK. And in case you’re wondering, the two of them have definitely met, but it only happened after the song had been put together and finished – volcanic eruptions prevented it happening sooner. Isn’t it always the way?

Lady Gaga – Stupid Love

“Gaga’s gone back to the early ’10s!”

Tim: Gaga’s gone back to the early ’10s!

Tom: Well, that’s the most promising intro you’ve written in a while.

Tim: Yep, she’s moved on from the dull stuff, and has finally gone back to producing the disco sound that made everyone fall in love with her in the first place.

Tom: The pendulum tends to swing back and forth: artist experiments for a bit, artist tries to please the long-term fans, and so on, and so on. Admittedly there are a few things that you wouldn’t have heard on early Gaga ten years ago here, like all those chopped-up vocal samples in the chorus, but — and I’m surprised to say this — I think it works.

Tim: The sound we now have again is FUN, it is LOUD, and it is EXCITING as far as whichever album might be coming out in the next few months or so.

Just a shame the song itself isn’t all that notable, really.

Tom: I mean, it’s still better than “meh”. By my standards, that’s practically a ringing endorsement.

James Newman – My Last Breath

‘“I would die for you” is best not expressed as “if we have completely recklessly screwed up, I’ll let you watch me die first in exchange for you having a couple more minutes of terror”.’

Tim: ALRIGHT THEN so all us British Eurovision fans got a bit excited at the weekend because it was announced that our entry this year would be announced on Radio 1 and Radio 2 at the same time, which is pretty much the first time in decades that Radio 1 had played any serious attention to Eurovision.

Tom: Yep. This was properly exciting. Did we finally have another Katrina?

Tim: Was the question on everyone’s lips – with that and the knowledge that the BBC had binned off public selection and teamed up with BMG to find an entrant, naturally the rumour mill went into overdrive: Lewis Capaldi’s name was thrown around, some had heard John Newman, some saying John Newman’s brother. Aaaand, it’s the last one of those. Press play.

Tom: I’ll level with you, I had to Google who John Newman was, let alone his brother. I think I remember him? Sort of?

Tim: Fair’s fair, describing him as ‘John Newman’s brother’ is a massive disservice, given that he’s a very successful songwriter, having written songs that have won Brit awards and been nominated for Grammys, so let’s not do that.

Tom: Didn’t bring it for this one though, did he? Bottom quarter of the table, easily, probably bottom four.

Tim: Oh, wow, see I was going to go for: it’s an alright track, really.

Tom: Is it though? The melody’s forgettable and the chorus lyrics are cringeworthy. Divers / find-us isn’t a great rhyme to base an entire hook on, and if you are going to make your entire chorus an extended saviour metaphor, you’d better make sure it stands up to at least some scrutiny.

Tim: Well, sure, but–

Tom: To be clear, I’m not asking for realistic song lyrics! It’s just that “I would die for you” is best not expressed as “if we have completely recklessly screwed up, I’ll let you watch me die first in exchange for you having a couple more minutes of terror”. That’s not pedantry, that’s a surface reading. And the entire song hangs on that!

Tim: Hmm. Okay, well, you may have a point there, so let’s move on elsewhere, swiftly. At just two and a half minutes it’s short even by Eurovision standards – we’re done with the first chorus by the one minute mark and it never really changes pace.

Tom: Right. It’s not interesting enough, or catchy enough, or— anything enough. Out of all the world of pop music, this is what they got? Is no-one reputable even going near British Eurovision entries any more?

Tim: AWARD-WINNING, Tom. AWARD-WINNING. Mind you, I can’t disagree with you with the style of it, which is far too close to last year’s fairly tedious winner for starters – but at least it’s not electroswing (though apparently that’s really big right now?).

Tom: Controversial opinion: I honestly think “Still In Love With You” is better than this — perhaps with the exception of that appalling middle eight they had. At least it tried to do something. There was a world where they went slightly less weird with it and it worked; I just can’t see anything that could save this new one.

Tim: Oh, I DON’T KNOW, I really don’t. I’m not excited by it, sadly, but, as I say pretty much every year, I guess it could do alright?

Tom: I don’t think so. But I hope I’m wrong.

Tim: Me too.

The 1975 – Me & You Together Song

“Right now, we’ve pretty much a complete and total lack of boybands.”

Tim: So I know this song’s been out a few weeks now, but, well, I want to chat. Press play.

Tim: See, right now, we’ve pretty much a complete and total lack of boybands. That’s not definitively a bad thing, but none of the various hiatuses seem to be coming to an end, Westlife are touring this summer but giving no indication of any new music happening, the new 5SOS track is rubbish and, well, I like a good boyband track, you know? And The 1975, until now, have entirely not fitted the mould.

Tom: I kept seeing this in my recommendations on YouTube, and yet I don’t watch it, because it’s the 1975. I know what they sound like. And this… is not what I expected.

Tim: You look them up on Wikipedia, they’re ‘pop rock’ or ‘alternative rock’; they’re front and centre on Radio 1’s playlist; they do their own instruments and everything. This, though – well, I woke up the other morning and I thought “why are Radio 1 playing a new Busted track?” Because let’s face it, that’s what this is.

Tom: Hmm. There’s certainly a bit of that, but it’s not all the way there. The vocal mix here is so muddy: I have to assume that’s deliberate, because no competent pop producer would ever put out something like this, where it sounds a bit like he’s singing into a cardboard box. It’s like if Busted took some downers and weren’t quite as catchy.

Tim: I don’t know if they’d be happy or not with the comparison, but melodically, vocally, stylistically, this has Busted written all over it. And given that actual Busted haven’t given us anything since last year’s reunion album Half Way There, I’ll absolutely take this.

Ronan Keating feat. Emeli Sandé – One Of A Kind

“Aiming straight at the Radio 2 playlist.”

Tom: It’s not a comeback: he’s never really been away. And just to set your expectations: it’s a ballad with a backing choir, aiming straight at the Radio 2 playlist.

Tim: That is exactly what I am expecting from a Ronan Keating feat. Emeli Sandé track. Bring it.

Tom: And I think it’s lovely.

Tim: Me too.

Tom: I did not expect to be charmed by this, because if I try to be objective there’s not much to say for it. I don’t think there’s a single risk taken anywhere in production, and this could have come out at any point in the last thirty years, albeit with different vocalists.

Tim: For me it’s the choir that does it – whenever it comes out I get an “ooh, that’s nice” feeling, the same sort of thing I get from a well placed key change.

Tom: But there’s something about that melody, performed with those voices. It’s a really good match of artist and track. And the lyrics aren’t a common theme, either: the canonical sentimental song about two people growing old together is Prettiest Eyes, and while this isn’t Prettiest Eyes, it’s not bad either.

Tim: It’s not. It’s very satisfying, in fact.

Smith & Thell – Goliath

“Here for your delectation, an excellent song and a video that largely misses the point.”

Tim: Here for your delectation, an excellent song and a video that largely misses the point.

Tim: Oh, isn’t that just lovely?

Tom: What a spectacular introduction! That set the mood for me: I think the track is brilliant, and I think that’s mostly due to that introduction making me go “oh, wow”.

Tim: We have Of Monsters and Men level brass, and not far off that level of excitement, enthusiasm and encouragement to say YES, I am AMAZING, I can DO ANYTHING, I can BEAT THE WORLD and sod anybody who says otherwise.

Tom: It takes confidence and style to pull something like this off, and they’ve got both.

Tim: And so what if the video misses the point, showing nothing except them having been tiny all along and the giant that they theoretically are looking entirely miserable?

Tom: To be fair, the lyrics don’t make sense: Goliath was the giant. But never mind.

Tim: This is all about the music, and the music here is absolutely fantastic.

Carly Rae Jepsen – Let’s Be Friends

“That is, for me, just not a Carly Rae Jepsen track.”

Tom: She played London this weekend; a lot of folks I know went and I couldn’t make it. I’m not sure why I mentioned that, other than to vaguely vent.

Tim: Well, let’s hope you don’t stay too negative then.

Tom: Huh.

Tim: Ah.

Tom: I… I don’t like it. Am I just being really cynical? Because, you know, it’s Carly Rae Jepsen.

Tim: No, you’re not – that is, for me, just not a Carly Rae Jepsen track. There’s nowhere near the energy I associate with her, it’s almost dull.

Tom: The chorus has the cadence of a playground rhyme, and I just don’t think it’s very good. Plus, there’s the breathy “cool” and vocal samples in the chorus, and the talky middle-eight: if this was an unknown artist I’d suggest it almost fits under the damnable banner of “novelty song”.

Tim: Ooh, no, wouldn’t go that far. Certainly very, very disappointing, though.

Tom: Full marks to the animator on that music video, though, it’s lovely.

Tim: True.