Saturday Flashback: Melanie C – I Turn To You

“TOTAL. BANGER.”

Tim: So a couple of weeks back some random on Twitter posted that

Tom: The thankfully forgotten Gym & Tonic by Spacedust.

Tim: Oof, blimey.

Tom: Yeah, never mind. What did you get?

Tim: This TOTAL. BANGER.

Tom: I had forgotten quite how much NINETIES SYNTH there was in that. Actually, I’d forgotten most of it, but especially the NINETIES SYNTH.

Tim: Isn’t it fabulous? Now, depending on how you frame it, you can logically make a case for several of the Spice Girls to have had the most solo success, with the possible exception of Mel B.

Tom: Harsh. Judge on America’s Got Talent, presenter in Australia, television host in the UK? In terms of how many people around the world would recognise her in the street, I reckon she’s probably in the lead right now.

Tim: Ooh, hmm, maybe a bit harsh, then, I guess.

Tom: How about the others?

Tim: Geri Halliwell had the most number 1s, Victoria Beckham’s married to, well, David Beckham, and Emma Bunton’s got a steady gig on Capital Radio. On the other hand, Mel C has three of the top 5 best-selling solo singles, and came out with Northern Star, an album with one of the best killer:filler ratios ever; it is LOVELY, with the title track being criminally underappreciated at the time.

Tom: Or, you might say, even now.

Tim: And then there was this, a BRILLIANT dance pop number that I just couldn’t get enough of at the time, and to be honest still can’t now I’ve started playing it again. YES to this defining my life.

Saturday Flashback: Ultrabeat – Use Somebody

“Use Somebody, in it’s original form, is One Of Those Tracks.”

Tim: So after that Scooter gig I mentioned last week, Ultrabeat came on and did an after show DJ set, which was flipping brilliant, including as it did songs along the lines of Shooting Star, Heaven and Every Time We Touch.

Tom: As if I wasn’t envious enough already. That’s not an ironic statement, I’m genuinely envious.

Tim: What can I say – you get road trips round the world and being invited to fly with the Red Arrows, I get to go to Scooter gigs. Ultrabeat also played a couple of their own tracks: Pretty Green Eyes, obviously (and twice, which I think could be frowned upon), and this one, which I’d not heard before and initially thought was a remix.

Tim: So, I’m all for a dance cover. When it’s well done and it sounds good like this, no problem. Except, there’s one big problem I have with this: Use Somebody, in it’s original form, is One Of Those Tracks.

Tom: You’re going to have to be more specific.

Tim: It’s Mr Brightside, it’s All The Small Things, it’s Livin’ On A Prayer. It doesn’t matter what the crowd is, or whatever genre of music they typically like, or however sober they are, or even if they’re curled up in the corner of the club getting off with a new friend…

Tom: The voice of experience, there.

Tim: …it will, without fail, get 90% of the crowd off their seats and on the dance floor. And they want to sing along. And what they really, really want to sing along to is the “WOOA-OOOOH-OHHH WOOA-OOOOH-OHHH WOOA-OOOOH-OHHH”. And so they will sing that even if there’s more important stuff happening. Like, I don’t know, a dance breakdown that’s the backbone of what you’ve contributed to the song.

Tom: That’s fair. And I suspect that’s why it might be hidden so deeply in the background: they know the crowd will provide it anyway.

Tim: So sure, do a dance version of it. Fill it in with synths, make it more suitable for a dance pop party. But don’t, whatever you do, make it sound very very similar to the original except for adding the dance bit exactly where the “WOOA-OOOOH-OHHH WOOA-OOOOH-OHHH WOOA-OOOOH-OHHH” is. Because not a single person will notice, and that will be sad.

Saturday Flashback: Scooter – Mary Got No Lamb

“A lovely gentle Boyzone romantic number”

Tim: Tom, I’ve a confession to make. Thing is, much as I love Scooter, and everything H.P. Baxxter stands for, I’ve been pretty poor at keeping up with their latest releases. As such, when I saw them on their COMPLETELY AMAZING 25th anniversary tour a couple of weeks ago, there were a few tracks I didn’t recognise.

Tom: But that could you still RAVE to?

Tim: Well, duh. Of all of them, though, this one kind of stuck in my head.

Tom: Oh. Oh dear. That’s… well, yes, that is textbook Scooter, isn’t it? I mean, much as I like them, that’s basically pushing all the way into self-parody.

Tim: So when I’d finished laughing, I kept on RAVING and then at the end of the gig I realised I shouldn’t have been that surprised at all. We’ve had a Supertramp song, a song from a musical for kids, even a film series theme being reworked – why not a song that, at least according to Google, is a lovely gentle Boyzone romantic number that was covered by Sutherland Brothers and Quiver twenty years earlier?

Tom: …you know, I’ve never replied with a GIF before here, but

Nathan Fillion

Tim: The rest of it, of course, is absolutely classic Scooter – lengthy drum build with H.P. shouting over the top.

Tom: And shouting even more nonsense than usual!

Tim: Amazing, isn’t it? The first bit alone we’re talking about cherries not being important, and in the shouting verses proper we’ve a particular highlight of “Got no lamb, but that’s okay, I’m into chicken anyway”. Then we RAVE again before the return of that beautiful romantic chorus. Regardless of (in fact, partially because of) lyrical stupidity, this is brilliant.

Tom: You’re not wrong.

Saturday Flashback: Charlotte Perrelli – No More Black & Blue

“We have POWER and STRENGTH and FORTITUDE and OTHER SYNONYMS in there.”

Tim: October 1998, Britney Spears revealed that her loneliness was killing her; a little over two years later, it wasn’t killing her no more. In 2008, Charlotte Perrelli brought us the album track “Black & Blue” about how her heart was beaten and broken from a sad relationship; it took a little bit longer for Charlotte, but in 2012:

Tom: That’s a cracking synth intro. I mean, that’s because it’s basically just from some early 2000s dance track, but it turns into something pretty good afterwards as well.

Tim: Doesn’t it just? I don’t know why this wasn’t a single, I really don’t, especially since it’s MILES better than the two other non-The Girl singles that got released off the album. We have POWER and STRENGTH and FORTITUDE and OTHER SYNONYMS in there, with the sound and the lyrics alike.

Tom: Which, let’s face it, is more her style.

Tim: Admittedly it probably wouldn’t have done that well as a single – sadly, none of her non-Melodifestivalen singles have charted since 2004, but really all that shows is how lost and astray the Swedish public have got since then. This is GREAT, and an ANTHEM for our times.

Saturday Flashback: Magnus Carlsson – Live Forever

“I thought the original performance was bad enough.”

Tom: Do you remember David Hasselhoff’s astonishing Hooked on a Feeling, and its nonsensical, astonishing (in the bad way) greenscreen from 1997?

Tim: I’d not seen that before; all I can say now is bloody hell. But what’s that got to do with this sublime Melodifestivalen 2007 track?

Tom: Well, I reckon Magnus Carlsson’s team saw that ten years later, and thought: technology’s moved on. We can do better.

Tom: Only with a key change.

Tim: Blimey, and I thought the original performance was bad enough, with the leather trousers, legs spread out at right angles and the almost offensive crotch grabbing.

Tom: And the “ha-aa-ooh” wail that, in hindsight, sounds suspiciously like it’s been borrowed from “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”.

Tim: Magnus: you will certainly live forever in my heart.

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.