Jenni Vartiainen – Eden

“A bit like an Apple Watch”

Tim: Remember Jenni Vartiainen? Feel free to remind yourself if not, but basically: good pop with big instrumental backing.

Tim: And, conveniently, not much has changed. True, it’s not as big as some we’ve heard before, but this is still a great track.

Tom: Hmm. My attention kept slipping from it: I’ve tried to listen three times now: each time after about a minute I realised I wasn’t listening any more.

Tim: Curious – I have no such problem. I particularly like (as I suspect I’m meant to) the sense in the chorus that there’s something coming, and yes, I’ll find out if I just wait a bit, but I’d rather not; when it does coming along, though, much like an Apple Watch, the outcome is positive enough that all is forgiven.

Tom: See, I think it’s a bit like an Apple Watch too: vaguely specified, a bit confusing and disappointing, and no-one’s actually going to buy it.

Tim: Ah. The middle eight has all the ‘wait, wait, wait’ going on as well, although to be honest it almost takes it a bit far, giving a slight sense of ‘oh, hurry up’, but then the closing section comes along and, yeah, it’s all still worth it. Aye-aye-aye etc.

Tom: I’ve tried to listen two more times, and it’s just slipped away again. I’m not convinced.

Tim: Well, I am. It’s lovely.

Mika feat. Pharrell Williams – Celebrate

Tim: New one off Mika, who was last seen releasing ‘Elle Me Dit’; this was all in French, and, to the surprise of absolutely nobody, got to number one in France, number 17 in Switzerland and entirely failed to chart anywhere else. So we’re back to English for this one, and if you have 3D glasses, try wearing them. I have no idea what might happen, but the video looks like it’ll be special.

Tim: Pretty good, no?

Tom: Mmf. I’ll give it “pretty good”, but I have some issues.

Tim: Really? Because admittedly part of me’s disappointed that he’s left behind a lot of the originality of Grace Kelly and that lot, but if he’s still got tunes like this up his sleeve then I say bring them out.

Tom: Okay, let me explain my reasoning: I love the build-up to the chorus, and the middle-eight – which are basically the same thing. Not the chorus itself: but the bits immediately before “I want the whole world to celebrate”. The last chorus ain’t bad, but the others are just too sparse.

Tim: Hmm, I’d not really noticed that, but now you mention it it does seem a bit off. Not so much that it puts me off, though. One issue I do have, though, is the whole ‘featuring Pharrell Williams’ thing, because he has one sentence in the entire song. Part of me likes that, because, well, we all know my thoughts on rappers interrupting pop songs, but part of me thinks – what’s the point of him being there? He’s got a writing credit as well, and if he’s just responsible for that bit I can’t help thinking Mika’s got slightly ripped off.

Tom: Perhaps it’s to help Mika break America? Just a theory.

Tim: That would not remotely surprise me. Overall, my feeling is still that the less of Pharrell there is the better, so I’m happy. And it’s song called ‘Celebrate’, with the main line being about the whole world celebrating, so what sort of a miserable bastard wouldn’t be happy?

Joe Jonas – Just In Love

Gone straight from “pure and honest” to “creepy and stubbly”

Tom: For anyone who was wondering how long the Jonas Brothers ‘purity ring’ image would last: it’s now officially gone.

Tom: Unfortunately, he appears to have gone straight from “pure and honest” to “creepy and stubbly”.

Tim: Well, he’s not actually broken it – I mean, so far they’re just getting a bit snuggly, and, oh, actually, no they’re fumbling in the club bathroom now, but still it’s not necessarily– oh, yeah now they’re, now they’re in bed. Okay, you win.

Tom: The video’s all unexpectedly arty. You’ll notice the requisite ‘stop people ripping the track from YouTube’ sound-effect break in there, as well. I assume his fans won’t give a damn about either, but for the uninitiated he does look a bit like a wannabe Enrique Iglesias.

As for the music: well, it seems to be entirely forgettable. No doubt the fans will buy it, and it’ll get enough airplay, but I don’t see anyone singing the hook from this into their hairbrush.

Tim: Given the general meh-ness of your writings, and given that you suggested this, I wish to put forth a theory that you only wanted to feature this so you could point out that that oh-we’re-such-good-boys image had failed.

Tom: Well, if Disney hadn’t put so much effort into it…

Tim: Oh, don’t worry, it’s fine.

Evanescence – What You Want

Screw you, society! I’m not part of your system!

Tom: Wait, they’re still going?

Tom: Apparently back after a “hiatus”, still with the same lead singer, and still with that early-2000s shouty feeling to them.

Tim: To me, it sort of seems ‘same old, same old’, but that’s absolutely not a bad thing. I liked them back then. Therefore, I like this.

Tom: I feel a bit like I’m 16 again, listening to this and… well, actually I didn’t have much of a rebellious phase, but I feel like I should start to have one now. Screw you, society! I’m not part of your system!

Tim: Oh please don’t – you’re only embarrassing yourself, you know.

Tom: Can you have a mid-life crisis in your twenties? Anyway – after the track finished, I found that I couldn’t remember the lyrics, and I couldn’t remember the tune – but I do remember the feeling that goes with it, and I rather like it.

Tim: Likewise. Good stuff.

OMD – History of Modern, Part 1

The strangest stop-motion music video since Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer

Tom: I know, I’ve harped on about OMD twice recently, but that’s because they’re so damn good. The title track off the recent album is the next single, and it’s wonderful not only for all the typical reasons, but also because of the strangest stop-motion music video since Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer.

(Technically there’s a bit of nudity in this video, but even YouTube doesn’t seem to mind it.)

Tim: You’re certainly right about it being an odd video.

Tom: Now, I’m a bit of an OMD fanboy, but even I have to admit that perhaps they’re now hitting the ‘album track’ material rather than the ‘lead single’ stuff; so this is probably the last single off the album that I’ll mention here.

But I still like this – the synth riff in the background just makes me smile, and even the nihilistic lyrics don’t seem to bad when they’re paired with a track like this. Perhaps they haven’t quite pulled it off as well as Hurts, but it works for me.

Tim: Well, it’s certainly not at all bad, although you might be right about the album track material – for me, it doesn’t do enough. Yes, it’s a good background riff, but that starts right at the beginning, and then it doesn’t really build on it at all. Still, it’ll do.

Blue and all that Eurovision business.

People have thrown a strop. They’re wrong.

Tim: As I’m sure we’ve all heard, British boyband Blue have been chosen by the BBC to represent Britain at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Düsseldorf, and unsurprisingly lots of people have got all mardy and thrown a strop about it. They’re wrong.

Tom: Yes they are.

Tim: They’re wrong, at least for the time being, and we shall now demonstrate why, through means of a systematic deconstruction of their arguments:

1. We didn’t get to decide. True, but are you honestly telling me that you would happily have chosen one of the six that were in Your Country Needs You last year? They weren’t your first choice, and never would have been. Until the BBC gets the money to splash out on a massive competition that about four thousand people will enter, with internet voting and tickets that sell out in half an hour, it’s never going to be a proper public choice.

Tom: A British Melodifestivalen will only happen when British folks take Eurovision seriously, which is approximately never. And if we actually had a Melodifestivalen, a comedy act would win, and we all know how that worked out for Dustin the Turkey.

Tim: 2. Blue are a crap boyband. Why can’t we have something good? You, person who says this, would make this argument whatever happened and whoever eventually got chosen unless it was Eliza Doolittle or Tinie Tempah. Shut up. They’ve actually been successful, and not just in this country but across a large part of Europe. Your personal music taste doesn’t count.

Tom: They’re perfect for Eurovision, too – inoffensive, well-tested, and popular. Don’t forget that Lena

Tim: Erm, Tom? Nope, he’s wandered off. But yes, Lena, who won it last year, was popular across Europe.

3. They haven’t done anything for over five years. Well, at least they’ve done something in the past, and aren’t a complete non-entity. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have an act that was successful a while back than an act that’s never been successful. We know they can sing properly, and to large crowds as well, so there shouldn’t be any worries there. Also, Katrina and the Waves hadn’t had a new single for over seven years before they won it back in 1997.

4. It will ruin their careers. And that’s our problem how, exactly? It may well be true, especially if they don’t do very well – their former manager certainly believes it to be the case – but so what? It’s not really like they have much of a future career to ruin, to be frank.

5. It makes us look desperate to win. Really, though? Even if that were the case – and personally if anything I think it makes us look keen, a good thing – it’s better than making us look like we can’t be arsed, which is certainly what anybody who saw last year’s car crash of a selection program would have thought. I can’t really remember the highlight, although I think it might have been Graham Norton forgetting how to read an autocue, or perhaps Pete Waterman & Mike Stock being furious that the act they’d clearly written the song for got voted off because she forgot the words.

So, to everybody who’s already started whining: hush. If you’re going to complain, at least wait a couple of months (really, BBC? that long?) until you’ve heard the song. Then we’ll let you bitch about it, and in fact may well join you.

Phil Collins – Going Back

It must be getting near Christmas.

Tom: If a royal wedding, a recession, and the Tories in power wasn’t enough to convince you that it’s the 1980s again – it’s a new Phil Collins album, this time of Motown covers. It must be getting near Christmas. Here’s the lead single, and… damn it, I hesitate to say it because it’s Phil Collins and hating him is almost de rigeur, but this is pleasant.

Tom: Is it fast-paced dance music? No. Should we really be reviewing it on this blog? Not really. But I’m surprised enough by this track that, damn it, I’m putting it up here. Whatcha think, Tim?

Tim: It’s… dull. It took 80 seconds for anything remotely interesting to happen, and even then it was nothing special. And that isn’t easy to say, because if I’m honest I quite like a few of his songs, but there is absolutely nothing to get excited about here whatsoever. It’s pleasant, yes, but only in the same way that My Family is pleasant – it’s just satisfying enough that turning it off isn’t quite worth the energy required to do so.

Tom: Hold on, what? My Family is still going?

Tim: Yep – ten series now. How? Who actually watches it? I don’t know – probably people that can’t be bothered to switch off after The One Show.

Tom: This is, he says, likely to be his final single – and so the video is filled with flashbacks and shots of the man himself either emoting or staring directly into your soul. (It depends on the camera angle.)

Tim: Just a shame it can’t be a memorable one, really.