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?
Tim: Tom, I mentioned last Saturday that I recently went to see Ace Wilder sing; I won’t repeat myself too much, save to say that her set was awful but the rest of the night was brilliant. For example, this got played, and I’m fairly sure this performance will give you the strongest feeling of “wait, what just happened?” in a long while.
Tom: I’ll be honest, I was on board from the introduction. That is a Big Melodifestivalen Number, isn’t it?
Tim: Oh, it very much is, signalled right from the moment moment that mic stand appeared. But that camera cut: I had to skip and rewatch the entrance of those dancers a few times, and even though I can now see how they did it, it still impresses me the amount of practice and rehearsals that must have gone into that to be entirely confident that none of them would get picked up by any camera, and nor would whoever it was that sprinted on to remove the mic stand, across half the stage and back again, in the six seconds given before the next cut.
Tom: Let’s not forget the choreographer and stage manager who thought that surprising and confusing the audience would actually be worth it. I think it was, but that’s a risky move to make.
Tim: Isn’t it just? I’d almost, in fact, say that that was the most impressive part of this whole shebang. Almost, that is, because I’m not such a silly billy that I can’t recognise a flipping brilliant track when I hear it, with the tune and the beat and the key change, and you know what actually I still find that stage work bloody good. What a performance.
Tim: So I was out last night seeing Ace Wilder perform, and tbh it was a bit disappointing – despite having a fairly extensive back catalogue of great songs, she only sung Wild Child, Dansa i Neon and Busy Doin’ Nothing, and then for an encore did Busy Doin’ Nothing a second time. On the other hand, the rest of the music played was absolutely cracking, such as this, which I was OUTRAGED to discover we’d never covered. So here it is.
Tim: Finished a close second in its heat in Melodifestivalen 2006, bang in the middle of what could justifiably be described as schlager’s golden age, or maybe its renaissance, and would later come 7th in the final. WHAT A BANGER.
“A song by The Wanted written by Example. And boy, does it show.”
Tim: So here’s something I didn’t realise existed until a few days ago: a song by The Wanted written by Example. And boy, does it show.
Tim: Isn’t that just very, very Example? Almost enough that, to be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were credited as ‘Example feat. The Wanted’.
Tom: Yep: there’s a clear distinction between songwriter and producer here. And speaking of production: this is the first pop song I’ve heard in a long, long while where there’s a clear difference in loudness between verse and chorus. It’s not just my imagination: I actually pulled it into a waveform editor to check. That chorus is genuinely louder, just like the Old Days.
Tim: It’s nice – combination of good boyband and a good DJ. Nothing much to say about it, really – I was just quite intrigued to discover that it existed.
“A song that would get me right down on the dance floor, not even slightly caring what people think of me.”
Tim: So, for some reason I thought this had been very successful internationally, but then I checked the figures and apparently no – BWO have only had two charting hits over here, both of which peaked, rather nicely, at 69.
Tim: This track wasn’t one of them, but it came a close second to Carola’s fabulous Evighet in Melodifestivalen 2006, and it is what the kids today call a PROPER BANGER.
Tom: I was going to say “tell me it’s a bit stronger than the Enyaesque track last week”, but it’s BWO, so it will be.
Tim: Right from the off we are heavy in on the dance beats, with a good vocal, colourful lights all over the place, dancing around everywhere, all reinforcing the idea that this is a song to be danced to, very physically. Hell, the title alone sounds really quite rude, and although I’m normally all in for that sort of thing this is meant to be a family show.
Tom: This is exactly what I expected, including the fact that it peaks far too early.
Tim: Right – thing is, it could easily have finished at the 2:37 mark. We’ve already had a middle eight and a final chorus, and if all you’re following it with is an instrumental second middle eight and another final chorus, is it necessary? Perhaps not musically, but performance-wise, given that we haven’t yet lit the flares by the walkway he uses at the end of it, yes, it is entirely necessary. This is, all in, a song that would get me right down on the dance floor, not even slightly caring what people think of me, and that’s really all I look for in a dance tune.
Tom: I mean, yes, I would dance to this, although it’s not something I’d put on a playlist.
Tim: Incidentally, on keyboards you may notice a certain Alexander Bard, perhaps better known as a member of the band Army of Lovers, but who has more recently ditched music and gone from synths to syntheism, a movement about how atheists can still feel as good as proper religious people do, or something. I dunno, he’s written a book about it.
Tom: If it doesn’t have a walkway with flares on it, I’m not interested.
Tim: Eurovision, 1996. Ireland won, because it was the mid-nineties; Norway came second with a somewhat dull ballad; Sweden came third with its very own Enya.
Tom: Why on earth did you pick this, Tim? After last week’s firefighter-schlager* I was expecting… well, not this.
* I’m fairly sure there’s a single compound word for that in German.
Tim: That’s fair enough. Now, we’ve never featured Nanne Grönwall here, but you may recognise the name as she’s fairly prolific both as a singer (solo and as part of this technically still ongoing group) and as a songwriter; this is her only performance at Eurovision, though, along with husband Peter (son of ABBA’s Benny, incidentally) and fellow lead singer Maria Rådsten. It’s a nice gentle number, it’s calm, it’s…well, it’s basically an Enya track.
Tom: You’re right, complete with the string stabs in the background.
Tim: If you like Enya, you’ll like this, and if you like this you’ll like Enya.
Tom: I don’t like it!
Tim: And that’s absolutely fine, but it does what it sets out to do perfectly. I certainly wouldn’t peg it as a Eurovision top 3 nowadays, but twenty years back, sure, why not?
“That’s the first time I’ve seen someone singing while wearing oxygen tasks.”
Tim: Good news Tom! While I was building my BRILLIANT new Lego Hogwarts, I spent some of the 21 hours listening through the rest of my five hour Melodifestivalen compilation album, which means we’ve got a good few fabulous songs coming up.
Tom: That is the most on-brand sentence I have ever heard you say. Right. What are your picks, then?
Tim: Let’s start with this one.
Tom: They went all-out with the costumes. That’s the first time I’ve seen someone singing while wearing oxygen tanks.
Tim: Now, I was attracted to this based on the music alone, because that’s quite a chorus, but then I watched the performance. And…huh. You may be wondering why they’re dressed up as firefighters, and the answer to that is fairly simple: they are firemen in real life, with the band being something of a side project. It’s been going twenty-odd years (Facebook page is still active), and they always perform in uniform (not sure about the drummer, though).
Tom: That is… well, I was going to say it’s a fantastic gimmick, but it’s not even a gimmick. It’s just endearing. Although it looks like they got one extra singer in the back for Melodifestivalen, just to give them a bit more vocal power.
Tim: The song went straight through to the final from its televote-only heat, where it proceeded to get no points at all from the juries but came third with the punters, probably because it’s just five guys on stage having a laugh.
Tom: It is! It really is, and it shows. For the folks at home, this is the sort of dream-come-true “if me and my mates put a band together” story that lots of folks can relate to. And they’re really not bad.
Tim: I like it when that happens – particularly those high fives, which I’m fairly sure I’d keep missing. Well done everyone.
“Did you hear about the Spotify “fake artists” controversy?”
Tom: Did you hear about the Spotify “fake artists” controversy? If not, here’s a good article about it, and you’ll need it, because today we’re talking about one of those fake artists.
Tim: Okay, got that read. Let’s start.
Tom: I heard this playing over a café’s sound system, thought “huh, that’s not bad”, and then found that it wasn’t on Shazam or Spotify. Nor were the lyrics searchable. I got a lucky search on the title, found it, and yep: it’s one of the stock-music Epidemic Sound tracks that have been quietly creeping onto Spotify playlists, and which a Guardian reviewer described as “the most bizarrely nondescript music I’ve ever heard”.
Tom: And the word that comes to mind is: competent. There’s not anything here that’s wrong. The lyrics have a positive sentiment to them, but say basically nothing. The instrumentation does exactly what you’d expect it to at every point. The chorus is catchy. The middle eight is interesting.
Tim: It also sounds entirely ‘bargain basement CHVRCHES’, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Tom: Oh good heavens, you’re right. It is very much Discount CHVRCHES. I hadn’t made that connection. Anyway, the question is: if this wasn’t “stock music”, would I think any better of it?
Tim: See, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with stock music at all – in fact, ten years after watching it I can still bring to mind a brilliant song used in a Skins episode, which after endless searching I have concluded was recorded purely for the episode and, sadly, chucked away. What a waste.
“All that’s really missing is Pitbull yelling nonsensical syllables over the top.”
Tim: After the not particularly inspiring Latin schlager track we featured on Wednesday, our reader Laith got in touch with us about this, a more interesting example you might enjoy – particularly if the highlight on Wednesday was the corset.
Tom: He’s not wearing a cor– oh, never mind, we’re good. But yes, that’s an interesting mix of German and Spanish, isn’t it?
Tim: And all that’s really missing is Pitbull yelling nonsensical syllables over the top – bring in Mr Worldwide and I think I’d really like it.
Tom: Wait, you’re saying Pitbull would improve something? Times have changed.
Tim: Oh, he can always be relied upon to spice up a track a bit. It has a good chorus, and while I obviously wouldn’t turn down a key change at the 3:06 mark, it works well enough without one. You’ve also got all the standard tropes from 2012 in there, the vocoded intro (albeit with a disappointing lack him of singing his own name), and in terms of Latin schlager I think this is probably as good as we’re going to get. Whether or not it’s worth pursuing is of course up to you; for me it’s an interesting novelty. Let’s not get too involved.