Saturday Flashback: Buranovskiye Babushki – Dlinnaya-dlinnaya beresta i kak sdelat’ iz neyo aishon

Tom: You’re kidding.

Tim: Not even slightly. We all remember these ladies with their Party For Everybody oven on stage at Eurovision 2012, and how they ended up in a remarkably strong second place.

Tom: Second place! How on earth did they get second place?

Tim: A standard combination of novelty factor (oven, biscuits and dancing octogenarians) and an unexpected and surprisingly banging chorus.

But not as many (if indeed any at all) of us remember their attempt to compete for Russia two years previously, with this track. Since you’re wondering, the title translates to “Very long birch bark and how to turn it into moonshine”.

Tom: I was about to say, “let’s be honest, it just isn’t a very good pop song”, and then that chorus came along. They have, at least, got an interesting chorus. I don’t want to listen to it, but it is interesting.

Tim: An entirely fair judgment, and one I’m roughly on the same level as.

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.

Saturday Flashback: Wizex – Tusen Och En Natt

“See if you can place it.”

Tom: I was driving through Sweden last week, Tim, and somehow I found this on the radio. Wizex have been going since 1973; this 1999 number translates as “Thousand And One Nights”, and it’s your typical dansband track with lyrics about love and devotion. It sounded familiar, but I couldn’t work out why until much, much later. See if you can place it.

Tim: Ah, see this is where me being more of a Melodifestivalen nut than you harms the narrative. I’ll play along for our reader, though,

Tim: Ooh, Tom, I don’t know. Tell me, do.

Tom: Oh, don’t patronise me. Anyway, the next stage along was this version, turned into almost-Christmassy schlager-pop with a near-aggressive key change and credited just to the singer, from Melodifestivalen 1999. And from there: well, you tell the story

Tim: Words are rewritten in English, as per Sweden’s tradition for a non-English victor, and then we’ve (SPOILER for 1999) a beautiful Eurovision champion. Let’s have a watch, shall we?

Tim: Fun education in return for your efforts, though: Charlotte’s the aunt of Sebastian Ingrosso, of Swedish House Mafia and Axwell Λ Ingrosso fame.

Saturday Flashback: Sam Smith – Too Good At Goodbyes (Galantis Remix)

“Still a largely dull track, but there are significant improvements”

Tom: I’m assuming you know the original Too Good At Goodbyes, Tim.

Tim: Correct. As with much of Sam Smith’s output, it is dull, tedious, insipid garbage, albeit slightly redeemed by the backing choir in the chorus and middle eight.

Tom: In which case, you should get ready for the biggest case of pop mood-whiplash you’ve had in a while. Because Sam Smith’s sad, slow, soppy song is about to become a BANGER complete with a euphoric build that sounds like a washing machine spinning up.

Tim: That…that is an unusual yet entirely correct description of that euphoric build.

Tim: It’s still a largely dull track, but there are significant improvements – not least, chopping over a minute off the runtime.

Tom: Here’s the thing: I have no idea how, but I’d managed to miss the original Too Good At Goodbyes entirely. I just, somehow, never heard it. So when I heard this on the radio somewhere, I remembered the name of the track, searched for it later, and found the original instead of this. It was one of the most disappointing listens I’ve ever had.

Tim: Whereas this is…well, still one of the most disappointing Galantis listens I’ve ever had, but it’s still better than the original.

Saturday Flashback: U96 – Heaven

“WHAT A BANGER. ABSOLUTE TUNE.”

Tim: Dance cover of a classic song; despite the title, I can guarantee you it won’t be anything like what you expect.

Tom: You are right, I did not expect that. I should have done, given we’ve talked about U96 before. That is prototypical 90s Eurodance right there.

Tim: I’d ask why anybody would think to do this, but to be honest I just don’t care, because basically WHAT A BANGER. ABSOLUTE TUNE. You’ve got fifteen seconds of ‘this sounds familiar, where’s it from?’, before your first ‘OH LET’S GO’, then thirty seconds later you’ve stopped going crazy and can think a bit and you’re ‘huh, it’s…it’s…it’s…OH, it’s that, this is odd’ but before you can finish that thought it GOES OFF again, and after that it calms down briefly and you wonder why they’ve completely ripped it off but then RAVE ON MOTHERFLIPPERS and it JUST DOESN’T STOP so right now WHO THE HELL CARES.

Tom: Which, let’s be honest, is the standard I hold most 90s Eurodance to: is it a BANGER? This just about qualifies.

Tim: The next morning, on the mother of all come downs, you look it up on your phone, because obviously you’ve Shazzamed it, and you discover that Cyndi Lauper’s got a writing credit on it so everything’s beautiful. Like in heaven, really.

Saturday Flashback: Helene Fischer – Atemlos durch die Nacht

“Anyone who describes it as even slightly awful really needs to go and get their ears cleaned out.”

Tim: It emerged this week that Helene Fischer is, in cash terms, the eighth most successful female artist in the world, and so quite naturally someone in the Guardian wrote about her, and schlager in general, and described the music as ‘frankly awful’. Fortunately, we’re here to say: bollocks to that.

Tom: That is… okay, it’s not ‘frankly awful’, but I’m not going to rate it above ‘okay’. Is that a new one?

Tim: That’s Helene’s most successful song, from 2013, and anyone who describes it as even slightly awful really needs to go and get their ears cleaned out. The title translates as Breathless Through The Night, and it’s about having the most amazing night out with someone, staying right up through till sunrise, being inseparable and immortal and just having one hell of a good time.

Tom: I’ll grant you that, by the last chorus, I was on board with it (well done to whoever added that whoop at 2:24). It’s good! It’s above average, even! But I’m baffled as to why it’s the most popular song of the eighth-most-moneyed female artist.

Tim: And if this was playing on my night out? I would be absolutely right there with Helene. Let’s be honest, anyone who doesn’t appreciate that deserves to be pitied more than anything else. Because it’s FABULOUS.

Saturday Flashback: Måns Zelmerlöw – Hope & Glory

Tim: Item two in the current collection of “oh, I forgot all about this one”: Måns’s entry for Melodifestivalen 2009. Topped the final with the juries but only came fifth with the voters, leaving to a final fourth place.

Tom: Okay, just take a moment here, because I want to talk about a technical thing that speaks of the professionalism of both Måns and the production crew. The second shot: the one that cuts straight to his finger. It looks really simple, but that’s a perfectly framed and focused shot. That means Måns had to hit his mark exactly, raised his finger to the planned position exactly, and then the camera op had to make any final adjustments in under a second so the director could cut to it.

That one shot sums up Melodifestivalen’s tech for me: they didn’t need to do that, barely anyone will have cared about it, but artistically they wanted to so they made it happen.

Tim: Yeah – and that is, genuinely, one of my favourite things about Melodifestivalen, and frequently Eurovision as well – the creativity and expertise with the camerawork, like the other example we had last month, with dancers coming out of nowhere. It’s something you rarely get anywhere else, yet it’s such an art form.

ANYWAY. The song.

Now I don’t want to say it was the outfit that killed it, but I will say that while I think the song’s fantastic, and the backing graphics are good as well, there’s no way I’d pick up the phone for someone wearing that jacket/shirt/bow tie combination. Too harsh? I don’t know, but like I said, I do think that song’s brilliant.

Tom: Really? It almost sounds off-key during the verses. I don’t think that’s accidental, because Måns has proved that he can reliably hit live notes; I think that’s down to the composition. I’ll grant you that’s a decent chorus and a fantastic middle eight, though.

Tim: Right – and indeed that part right after the middle eight, though it’s funny: it uses almost the exact same trick that Cara Mia did two years previously of going slightly euphoric, albeit a tad less enthusiastically. It works well here just as well, but it could be argued that maybe it got some people being less impressed? I don’t know – almost a decade on it’s hard to know anything, except simply that this is a damn good track.

Saturday Flashback: Polina Gagarina – A Million Voices

“She’s acting well enough to actually make it look like she believes it.”

Tim: So, you know how, on occasion, if you’re out for an evening in a club or wherever, you hear a song that you’ve never heard before, or might have forgotten, and feel it to be absolutely amazing, and then get remarkably obsessed with it over the next few days?

Tom: I remember, many years ago, having that happen for Special D’s Come With Me. 2004, there.

Tim: Ah, what a track that was, and indeed still is. For me, the most recent example is this, which I played a good few dozen times last weekend, after a FABULOUS night out.

Tom: Well, not only is she belting that out with a lot of power, but she’s acting well enough to actually make it look like she believes it. Or, perhaps, she actually does believe it.

Tim: Hmm, she’d be in quite the minority of her compatriots if she did, given the number of rainbow flags flying that evening, but sure, let’s give her the benefit of the doubt – Europe certainly did, with it actually beating Måns’s winner in the televote.

Tom: Side note: does someone fix a light at 2:09 or something, or is that a miscue? I’m fairly sure the backing singers aren’t meant to suddenly be spotlit like that.

Tim: Huh, yes, that is weird. Musically, mind, we could talk about clichés all day long – that ‘hold off on the main drums until she mentions them in the inspirational lyrics’ is as textbook as they come, and absolutely brilliant – but all in all this is a terrific track (with brilliant staging, dodgy lights aside) and as far as a room full of drunk gays in a club in London was concerned, seemingly the best song to have been performed in the world ever. Until the next one came along, anyway.

Saturday Flashback: G.R.L. – Ugly Heart

“Good Pop Choruses! And a good middle eight! And good verses!”

Tim: It’s not European (well, one of them’s British), and it’s definitely not Europop, but I heard it for the first time in ages a week or so ago and I’ve listened multiple times a day ever since, so here you go.

Tim: At least I’m fairly sure it was this I heard, and not the Little Mix cover version, but either way it’s a brilliant track.

Tom: Good Pop Choruses! This is what we’ve been talking about this week! And a good middle eight! And good verses! My two rules hold true: I can sing the chorus by the end of the first listen, and I want to hear it again right afterwards. This right here? This is a good pop chorus.

Tim: Technically the band is still going, sort of – the disbanded in June 2015, reformed in August 2016 and have since put out a whole two tracks. They’re touring next year, though, so that’ll be interesting to see what they can cobble together. Anyway, until then we have this. What a song.

Saturday Flashback: Robyn – Dancing On My Own

“Why couldn’t we have more of this?”

Tim: Okay, folks: so, when we reviewed Missing U, I remarked that if the upcoming album Honey was as good as that I’d be very happy. Released yesterday, the album is good, as long as you’re having trouble sleeping and are looking for something to help you nod off. So let’s have a listen to a decent Robyn track.

Tim: Because IT’S JUST SO GOOD. So much so that even a limp guitar cover version of it is somewhat listenable. Why couldn’t we have more of this? That would have been nice. Can we, maybe just have a remix album? At least?