Saturday Flashback: DJ Bobo feat. Kim Wilde – I Believe

“It’s not like Jedward are involved, but still…”

Tim: Last Saturday we had DJ Bobo, on Tuesday we had Kim Wilde, so what could go wrong with combining the two?

Tom: So many things, Tim! I mean, “demon core of music” is probably a bit strong, it’s not like Jedward are involved, but still…

Tim: Hmm, that’s very fair. Let’s start with just him.

Tom: His studio vocals are better than his live vocals, that’s for sure.

Tim: There’s that, yes, but let’s be honest, there aren’t many other positives, particular when he uses a line straight from the Savage Garden atrocity that is Affirmation.

Tom: Agh, I’m glad it’s not just me that despises that song. To be fair, this is a competent 90s chillout-dance track, slightly hampered by the fact that it was released in 2003.

Tim: Mr Bobo does at least show a bit of enthusiasm this time when he’s dancing, although his gazing glumly out of the window kind of sets that back to zero. The message manages to be upbeat and downbeat at the same time – yes, great things exist, but you’re making them shit – which is pretty terrible. The music is, well, danceable I suppose, it does have a good beat, and even though it’s getting on for four minutes long it doesn’t outstay its welcome. But overall: not really.

Tom: So where does Kim Wilde come in?

Tim: This is from 2013, and God only knows how it happened, but it did, so here it is.

Tim: It’s a bit more listenable, with a fair amount of retooling going on, but really. Kim, you’re better than this.

Saturday Flashback: DJ BoBo – Vampires Are Alive

“Oh, no, really? We’re doing this?”

Tom: Oh, no, really? We’re doing this? Admittedly it’s a classic, but not for the right reasons.

Tim: Well, you see, I said last week that in “many of the best Eurovision performances, the music is almost secondary to the actual choreography”, and I stand by that. Take this, from 2007, and to be honest I’m astonished we’ve not featured it already.

Tim: So points are award even before the singing starts, for hiring dancers who can jump up on one beat and land on the next, which isn’t the easiest skill to master.

Tom: Huh. Actually, yes, that’s quite a talent, and — UGH just as I wrote that, the man managed to miss a couple of notes and I actually twitched a little.

Tim: Fine, the vocal’s not great. BUT! The candles, the gravestones; the navigation around the ‘six performers’ rules by using mannequins. And even sound effects! When was the last time you heard howling winds on a song? NEVER. In fact, the thing I’m most curious about here is why the main guy isn’t more gothed up – he actually looks quite boring compared to the rest of them.

Tom: Both in makeup, and in how much he seems to be dedicated to the song. The woman is, for want of a better word, acting like she believes in the song. He just doesn’t. I’d like to think there’s always room for comedy entries in Eurovision, however much the rules try to keep them out of the final, but this doesn’t have the commitment of Lordi, the catchiness of Lordi, or… well, yeah, it’s not Lordi.

Tim: Much as I’d like to say this performance was widely acclaimed for its brilliance, I’m afraid I can’t: coming 20th out of 28 in the semi-final, it sadly failed to qualify for the main event. Still, though, it lives on in our hearts. Well, in my heart anyway.

Saturday Flashback: Sakis Rouvas – This Is Our Night

“He thrusts, he jumps, he rips his shirt open just so we can all see his nipples.”

Tim: For no particular reason, the other day I ended up spending my afternoon losing myself in late ’00s Eurovision songs, and I remembered this absolute delight, from Greece in 2009.

Tim: I mean, where to start? Like many of the best Eurovision performances, the music is almost secondary to the actual choreography here, even if is a fantastic example of that period’s genre, thumping beats, key change and all.

Tom: It was never going to win. It was never even going to come close to winning. Greece, you tried, and you tried spectacularly.

Tim: But oh, that choreography. The thrusting, The Busted jumps (the many, many Busted jumps). What initially appears to be a standard plinth, but then is revealed to be so much more. It rotates! It’s a travelator! It opens up to reveal the Greek flag! And then Sakis himself – he thrusts, he jumps, he rips his shirt open just so we can all see his nipples.

Tom: Which was the inspiration for a certain outfit (and thrusting) several years later.

Tim: Ha, I’d forgotten the link there. So what more is there to want?

Saturday Flashback: Noisettes – I Want You Back

“Question for you, though.”

Tom: You’ve talked about songs in unusual time signatures: here’s something where — I think — the chord progression is 4/4 in swing time, but the percussion sounds a lot like 2/4. It’s also really, really good:

Tim: Well yes, I mean the underlying bass notes right from the off are basically Doctor Who, so obviously.

Tom: I can hum the chorus after one listen, but I’m not tired of it. I immediately want to hit replay. This passes all my Good Pop Tests. Question for you, though: what decade’s style is this imitating? I can hear some Motown in here, some 80s influences, and some modern indie pop.

Tim: I’m not sure it’s necessarily imitating any particular style – sure, components from all over the time periods, but I’d say it’s just compiling them, stirring them in a pot and seeing what the recipe generates. Works well.

Tom: This is successfully fusing a lot of good music into something that might well be better than the sum of its parts.

Saturday Flashback: Måns Zelmerlöw – Kingdom In The Sky

“It’s actually about someone who’s stuck in the Sims video game.”

Tim: Album track from his still good 2015 album Perfectly Damaged, which I found myself listening to recently. And you might think a YouTube channel largely dedicated to creating lyric videos wouldn’t screw up the very first word, or the chorus, but, yeah, well.

Tim: I wasn’t actively listening when I heard it – it’s towards the end of the album, and I was busy with other stuff –

Tom: And, to be fair, that verse is pretty generic.

Tim: – but it got my attention for a number of reasons. The first, of course, is that big chorus, both for that brilliant string section and for the underlying vocals, even though I can’t for the life of me work the words out.

Tom: I’m going for “because I’m a Sim, love”. It’s actually about someone who’s stuck in the Sims video game.

Tim: Tom, I’ve a feeling you’re not taking this entirely seriously. There’s also the main vocal being about as rousing as you can get without sinking into self-parody and those nice “ooh-ooh-ooh”s that kick it off.

Tom: It reminds me of that song from ‘The Greatest Showman’ that you sent through the other week — not that I can remember it, but I can remember thinking ‘yep, this is ticking all the inspirational boxes’. It’s doing much the same, even down to the military drums. I mean, I’m assuming that other one had military drums, I’m not actually sure.

Tim: It did actually, yes – a good number, too. All in all – I really like this song, and I don’t really get why it’s buried at the bottom end of the album. But hey. It’s here now.

Christmas Flashback: Feuerherz – Merry Christmas

Tom: We started out this Christmas season with three songs in a row that actually made me feel a bit festive. It’s been all downhill since then. Tim: this is your last chance. What’ve you got?

Tim: Ah, um, well, I’ll be honest: this might not be your cup of tea. HOWEVER, although there’s no real song this year that screams “this belongs on Christmas Day”, this one really really does. Feuerherz are a German band with members from multiple nations, and released this a couple of years back; hopefully you’re up to date on your English, German, Italian and Dutch.

Tom: I think there’s a little bit of Spanish in there as well? I’d have been more impressed if they managed to rhyme across languages, but sure, okay, I get the spirit of this.

Tim: Now, I didn’t mention this in the intro for fear of overselling it, but is it just me or does this have elements of Basshunter in it?

Tom: What? … where?

Tim: Specifically, the backing underneath the second half of each verse and the choruses, which put me in such a mind of his stuff that I couldn’t help liking the rest of it, however much the harmonies make it sound like a crap JLS ballad.

Tom: Okay, so now I feel better about it, because “crap JLS ballad” was pretty much what I was going to say here.

Tim: Yeah. It may be a dated reference but every year I think of JB’s beautiful greeting and well up with joy (and there’s an outstanding key change if you keep listening to that). Back to this, though, and you’re not missing much if you’re not fluent in all four languages, as they basically say exactly the same thing: to all our friends, Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

Tom: This song doesn’t actually help me with that sentiment at all, but hopefully the rest of the world feels different. Merry Christmas, everyone.

Saturday Flashback: Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler – Home for the Holidays

“That string section is just wonderful.”

Tom: I have no idea how I’ve never heard this track before. It’s absolutely lovely. But I warn you: it’s a song that gets worse each time you listen to it, so before you read any further, have a listen through.

Tim: Okay, but I’ll be very upset if you’re about to ruin it for me.

Tim: Hmm, seems quite nice to me, aside from Tim in the video looking glum, as if he’s only just realised that Ash’s glory days are well and truly behind him.

Tom: Let me explain why I think it’s lovely: the message is exactly a mixture of optimistic and nostalgic: “did you ever make it out of here” is something that anyone who’s gone back to their old hometown for Christmas can relate to. And that string section is just wonderful.

Tim: Agreed, on all three counts.

Tom: It passes both of my Good Pop Tests: after listening to it only once, not only I could hum the chorus (which they opened the song with!), but I immediately wanted to hear it again.

Tim: Good, we’re in alignment, it’s a nice song. Shall we leave it there?

Tom: And that’s when I notice that there are things to dislike here.

Tim: Oh.

Tom: The football-chant clapping in the verses starts to grate after a while, and whoever decided to include sleigh bells in the same rhythm needs to have a long think about what they did. After a while, it’s all I can hear: this song would be so much better with, well, basically any other standard percussion here.

Tim: Hmmmm…all true, technically, but what you’ve really described here is just all the clichés that typically come with a standard Christmas song. Sure, they might get trying (particularly now you’ve pointed them out to me), but I do at least prefer that to what might otherwise be a boring 2-4 beat clap.

Tom: I also have two notes on the video. First: that shot of Tim Wheeler singing while staring awkwardly into the distance really doesn’t need to be used as much as you think it does. Or at all.

Tim: Smiling would help, just a notch.

Tom: And second: wow, those couples must have had to kiss for a long, long time for those final shots.

Tim: Oh, well at least we’re finishing on a happy note.

Saturday Flashback: Chips – Dag Efter Dag

“All the pub-rock-Christmas-piano tropes, only not about Christmas. I can live with that.”

Tim: It’s DECEMBER, so Christmas tracks are just around the corner; let’s get into the mood with Sweden’s entry for Eurovision 1982, shall we?

Tom: Oh boy. Okay, folks, I’m starting this December with even less Christmas spirit than usual, so this is going to be a bumpy ride.

Tom: It sounds Christmassy because it literally has the “ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum” piano bit from All I Want For Christmas Is You in it. The whole thing’s so stereotypical that I actually started laughing.

Tim: True, except that of course it’s not a proper Christmas track – the closest we’ve ever got to that on stage would arguably be back in 1963, with Monica Zetterlund singing “Come now, and let me show you this, our winter town”. Or maybe that Luxembourg one about penguins. Hmm. Nonetheless, sprinkle some bells on this and I’d say you’ve got yourself a damn good festive feeling.

Tom: I can’t disagree: it’s basically all the pub-rock-Christmas-piano tropes, only not about Christmas. I can live with that.

Tim: Overall, it’s an “everything’s brilliant” message, and with that key change in the middle, I can only agree. You feeling it?

Tom: Weirdly, I am. I’m surprised. It won’t last.

Saturday Flashback: Kristina Bach – Hey ich such hier nicht den grössten Lover

“Blimey.”

Tom: I was on a coach in Germany. The driver was listening to an oldies station. For some reason, they played the Diana version of Candle in the Wind. They also played this, and, well, blimey.

Tim: Oh, oh yes blimey is exactly the right word there. There’s just…so much happening. The Eurodance beat, the Spanish guitar, that eastern European Eurovision entry “sha-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na”, and oh that lovely “ta da” ending.

Tom: As far as I could tell, this radio station was not having an Ironic Playlist Day. That’s genuinely on their playlist, “sha-na-na-na-na-na-na-na”s and all.

Tim: It’s fun to listen to, I guess? But I can only begin to guess what the song writer was on when they put pen to paper.

Tom: I’d like to clarify, by the way, that the translation of the title is “Hey, I’m not looking for the greatest lover”. It is definitely not “biggest lover” as Google Translate suggests.

Tim: Duly noted.

Saturday Flashback: Celine Dion – My Heart Will Go On (Tony Moran Remix)

“Flipping brilliant”

Tim: Today marks twenty years since the release of this seminal track, and so let’s celebrate, because (a) it’s got a fairly interesting back story and (b) it has a flipping brilliant dance remix.

Tom: You’re right about the second part, but I didn’t know about the first.

Tim: Well, I’m fairly sure everyone knows the second, but let’s play it again anyway.

Tim: So here’s the thing: no-one involved really wanted this to happen.

Tom: Wait, the remix, or the original track?

Tim: Oh, the original – I would hope everyone involved wanted the remix. Celine Dion didn’t want to do another film soundtrack after Beauty and the Beast…

Tom: I’d forgotten she did that! To me, that’s always sung by Angela Lansbury — and yes, it was her singing in the movie, they didn’t bring in a vocalist for it. Anyway. Yes.

Tim: Huh, didn’t realise that either. But it wasn’t just her – James Cameron didn’t want to end Titanic with a pop song over the credits. But then James Horner, the composer, went up to Celine’s Vegas hotel room and started playing it, and she said “oh fine, I’ll do a demo for you”.

Fast forward to the demo recording, and no-one was really in the right mood – it was half nine in the evening, they’d all had a big dinner, Celine was getting stomach pains, but the producers said “go on, just give it a go, think about the film plot and we’ll see what happens”. And she did, and it was absolutely perfect. No need for a second recording, no multiple takes – just one flawless performance that left everyone somewhat speechless.

Tom: No kidding. I had no idea. That’s a heck of a vocal talent.

Tim: Admittedly you can’t quite hear the subtle nuances of it with this remix, but that “you’re…here…” into the final chorus can surely be agreed upon as one of the most impressive vocal moments of all time, on a par with Whitney Houston’s “and I” moment from I Will Always Love You.

In short: this song is ruddy fantastic, and anyone who disagrees is a total bellend.