Tim: No, not that Fame. Instead, a Swedish musical pair who stormed their way through Melodifestivalen 2003 with one of the highest scores ever. And boy, was it deserved.
Tim: It is a little predictable, I’ll admit, but when what you’re predicting is great then that’s no bad thing, and it still contains a few surprises here and there, like the final chorus.
Tom: I think “stunningly formulaic” best sums this up. I started singing along with the backing singers half way through – on the first listen. Even the key change at 2:28 is utterly expected. It’s… nice, but I’m not sure it deserved to win, even if it does finally come alive in the final chorus.
Tim: It also says something about the song that they didn’t need much of a dance routine to complement it, although the camerawork did make me feel a bit dizzy at times. But yes – fantastic tune, happy lyrics, great key change – everything.
It doesn’t worry about sticking to any formula but still turns out brilliantly.
Tim: This is one of my favourite Eurovision tunes of all time, largely because it doesn’t worry about sticking to any formula but still turns out brilliantly.
Tom: That’s a bold claim. Lordi! Verka Seduchka! Katrina and the Waves! This is going to have to be damn good, Tim. Let’s have a listen.
Tom: …well, it’s not bad. It’s a bit aside from the Eurovision norm, but I’m really not sure that Finnish rap is really something that the Contest would look kindly on. How’d they do? Right, second from last.
Tim: Second from last, incidentally, is also where one of my favourites from this year came – Belarus’s ‘Butterflies‘, which is notable for two things: what happens in the video at the key change, and the fact that their Belarussian accent on the word ‘Imagine’ gets less and less over the course of the song.
And it’s partly because it’s quite a bit aside – I know I love all the normal stuff, but this was a nice break, and in a good way. It still has the big moments, the backing singers and all that, but in a completely different setting.
They also put on one hell of a performance (and that stage set is even huger than I remember it being – 2009 was a good year for Eurovision).
There’s one thing that niggles at me a bit though…
Tom: The concept of Finnish rap? I’m having trouble getting over that myself.
Tim: …which is one of the lines in the second verse where he compares himself to Peter Piper and taking control. I’m almost certain he’s not talking about the one who picked peppers, so I’m fairly sure he means the Pied Piper. Either that or he got confused with Peter Parker (which is actually what I thought I heard the first time), which would be fairly awesome.
Tim: So, this was Ireland’s entry for Eurovision 2009; appallingly it failed to qualify for the final. And when I say appallingly, I mean seriously appallingly – I really have no idea how it could have failed, especially with the performance they put on (although that did seem like the cameraman was on serious medication for something or other). It is BRILLIANT, and the intro has been my phone’s morning alarm ever since*).
Now, the song’s amazingness goes without question, so we should move straight on and analyse the video, because this is seriously odd. We start off with the band (that is, Black Daisy) worried that the singer (Sinéad) isn’t there, and so they can’t start the song. Fair enough. Except then they start playing, so the worrying was about something they didn’t care about, so we’re like whuh?, but then she starts singing, showing that the reason the worrying was pointless is that they have some sort of psychic link since she knows exactly when to come in, so we’re like WHUH? Then, inevitably, she turns up in the middle of the song, joins in and it’s like there’s never been a problem.
Except there is. And it’s a massive problem I have and it bugs me because I like my music videos cheesy: WHY couldn’t she have waited another ten seconds, sung the bit immediately after the bridge as she was walking in and grabbed the microphone for the key change? It would have been SO MUCH BETTER, and since she’d already been gone two and a half minutes another few seconds wouldn’t matter. Ugh.** Anyway, long story short: the band gets worried for no reason then have a lot of fun with spelling and the singer is late, arrives at an inconvenient time, and isn’t even told off at the end. Crazy.
HOWEVER: all that aside it’s a fun video, and the music is more (vastly more) than good enough to make up for any shortcomings it may have. I LOVE THIS SONG, and I hereby decree that it shall be added to The Bengtzing Effect‘s playlist, and as we all know, there is no higher accolade.
*In case you’re interested (and there’s really no reason why you should be), my actual ringtone is a looped version of The One Show’s theme tune, although I changed it at Christmas, obviously.
** And if I’m being picky (well, duh), the toast should have popped up a second earlier as well. Shoot the director.
Tom: His ringtone really is a looped version of the One Show’s theme tune.
It’s even got the descending bells cliché under the final few lines! Fantastic.
Tim: PREVIOUSLY, ON EUROPLOP: Värsta Schlagern, which was described, quite correctly, as ‘a massive Take That to the whole Swedish pop music scene.’
Well, turns out that at least of them is one heck of a hypocrite, namely Linda Bengtzing, who dived straight into the middle of the Swedish music scene with this 2005 Melodifestivalen entry, the divine Alla Flickor.
Tom: Why does that sound vaguely rude to me? Clearly I have other things on my mind.
Tim: Um, clearly. Anyway, this is, as I said, divine, and contains everything there is to love about Swedish schlager in, well, any given twenty seconds of it, really.
Tom: I was worried that you’d overhyped this until the first chorus, which justifies everything you said. It’s even got the descending bells cliché under the final few lines! Fantastic.
Tim: As a whole three minutes, it’s excitable, catchy and jumpy, and it ticks every box necessary: over-excited female singer, backing singers throughout and plenty of howling after the key change. (Although that does come with a rather worrying thought process of “Here comes the key change … Hang on, has she forgotten it? … Ah, there it is.”)
Tom: It’s odd to have the quiet, silent breakdown and not immediately follow it with the big key change – lulled into a false sense of security, I thought that was it. I actually jumped, slightly startled, when the proper one kicked in.
Tim: Do you reckon we’re a big enough website to create a new phrase? I hereby name this ‘The Bengtzing Effect’ – that of leaving a key change so late you think it’s not going to happen, and then making you entirely delighted when it suddenly appears with just seconds to spare.
Tom: Catchy name.
Tim: Isn’t it? I predict it catching on within the entire music industry by Christmas at the latest. Back to the song, I see absolutely no reason at all why one should not immediately get up and jump around when this starts to play.
Tom: I would dance to this like an idiot if it were played in a club. Do any clubs actually play music like this any more?
Tim: If they don’t, we owe it to the world to start our own club, and OOH, we should actually call it The Bengtzing Effect, because that would be an amazing name for a club. We shall play this song over and over and over again, until people get sick of it, and to them we shall say, ‘If you think that, then you don’t deserve to be in here. GET OUT, I tell you, GET OUT!’*
* I’m in a bit of an odd mood today. Hmm.
Tim: Anyway, the lyrics are entirely banal, as befits such a song – they’re roughly a warning to any ladies about a guy who makes you feel special, as though you’re the only person in his life, but then behaves exactly the same way to any other girl who walks past. Slightly wasted as a warning, though, since she never actually says who he is. Bad luck, Swedish ladies: she knows, but she ain’t telling.
Tom: And now I have “all the Swedish ladies / all the Swedish ladies” bouncing around in my head. Well done, Tim.
Tim: Thank you – always happy to help.
Right, now who do we talk to about setting up a nightclub?
Tim: This is camp, happy and harmless, along the lines of Bellefire’s Perfect Bliss (and a similarly perfect style of bridge exit), was released back in January and has been hanging around on radio playlists and lurking in the iTunes charts ever since. The word on the schlager grapevine is that it was rejected from this year’s Melodifestivalen, but they decided to put it out there anyway. As far as I can tell, they never made a video, and I strongly suggest you don’t use that YouTube link as your only lyric source. They make for quite fun reading, but as it says at the end, “Maybe the text is wrong but the mostly is right.”
Tom: How can a song that camp and harmless – and I agree with you, it is – remind me of a military march? It’s the endless, plodding, one-two-one-two beat in the background, I think. I can see why it didn’t go into Melodifestivalen: to me, it sounds a bit like it’s been written by a six-year-old, plodding up and down the keyboard playing simple scales. It’s a pity, because it started with such promise: there’s more spark and creativity in that initial seven seconds than there is in the whole rest of the track. Even the key change just seems dutiful and by-the-book rather than actually injecting any new life into it.
Tim: I suppose that might be partly why I like it – it’s nothing special at all, strictly formula, but it’s got a chorus that just makes me smile without really knowing why. Just a sort of, ‘aah, this is nice’ feeling.
Tim: Don’t know if you remember the Norwegian Eurovision entry, but it’s been remixed by those lovely people at 7th Heaven, and I believe you may enjoy it.
Tom: Your belief is CORRECT. It’s as if Dario G remixed Josh Groban, and added three key changes, and I thoroughly APPROVE.
Tim: Which is strange, because the original when he sang it sounded great on its own.
Tom: Two key changes though. I’m not complaining, but it does crank the melodrama up to 11. The later key change is telegraphed properly, as all overblown key changes should be, but earlier it’s almost like the guy on the keyboards hit the wrong chord, and everyone else was just “okay, we’ll go with that.”
Oh, a classic. I bought this when it came out. Is that something to be ashamed of?
Tim: Oh, a classic. I bought this when it came out. Is that something to be ashamed of?
Tom: I think you were probably just stunned by it all. I mean, this is Status Quo. Okay, I can see them allowing the sampling – but also turning up for the video, which is basically “Walk This Way” only featuring people without a septum?
Also, Scooter have been going for decades now. How on earth does their lead sing… er, lead talking guy… look like he’s still in his twenties?
Tim: This is Scooter – it’s only now you’re asking about some sort of supernatural weirdness?
Tom: Fair point. I do love how they got to number 1 in the UK – the new album came with a “bonus disc” which was basically a greatest hits compilation.
Tim: The strange thing about this is that until about thirty seconds before the end, it sounds like two different songs cut up together with no interaction.
Tom: I hadn’t noticed that! You’re exactly right. That explains the end of the video though – it’s only when the hammer slams through the wall that the two songs actually combine.
Tim: Some sort of depth from Scooter. This is officially very odd.
The lead singer’s wearing a lab coat in the video?
Tim: Swedish band, had a vague hit in the dance area over here a few years back with ‘Temple of Love‘.
Tom: So the lead singer’s wearing a lab coat in the video, and the album’s called “Big Science”? That sounds promising.
Tim: Yes, and for the most part it’s bloody awesome. And regarding the lead singer: he’s off of Sweden’s Popstars.
Tom:I’m actually finding very little wrong with this. Bit of a clichéd “talky bit in the middle before the bridge”, but it’s made up for by BEARDED BACKING SINGER.
Tim: Doesn’t he look absolutely terrifying? It’s amazing.
Tom: It’s even got a dum-dee-dee-da at the end! Hear this, Robyn? THIS is how “Dancing On My Own” should have been. It’s a textbook Swedish pop song, but there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not going to be stuck in my head or anything, but I’d be happy with this popping up on shuffle.
Tim: As an aside, that whole album‘s pretty good if you want to check it out at some point.
Tim: Just played them chorus after chorus, and yes, I concede a similarity. Not so much that it’s the same song, though, but yes there is quite a resemblance. The one thing that does really annoy me about the album, though, is the massive similarity between Singing in my Car and Kings of Tomorrow.
“It’s stuck in my head, and I think it sounds like a CBBC theme tune.”
Tom: Here’s an odd one for you. This is a 2008 cover of U96’s 1991 hit Das Boot – which was itself a reworking of the theme from the 1981 German submarine movie. I bring this to you for two reasons: one, because it’s stuck in my head, and two, because I think it sounds startlingly like the theme tune from CBBC’s Incredible Games and I want to know that I’m not crazy.
Tim: Don’t worry, you’re not crazy – they do sound quite similar. Dance remixes of movie themes are tricky things, and I sometimes get a bit nervous before listening to them. When they’re done right, and convey the same tone as the original piece, they can be brilliant (see Tiësto’s Pirates, DJ Sakin’s Braveheart, Airbase’s The Rock).
Tom: You’re right about all those except Tiesto’s Pirates, where all he’s done is create an entirely new song and then jam a messed-up version of He’s A Pirate in there somewhere. The great thing about all those tracks, though, is that if you don’t like one particular mix – the vocals in Sakin’s Braveheart really annoy me, for example – there’ll be another one along in a minute.
Tim: On the other hand (which is, unfortunately, a much larger hand), they can be absolutely horrendous. One example is DJ Stef’s version of Titanic, where the guy shouting ‘Freeze’ as a vocal really doesn’t help.
Tom: You know, it used to be that aspiring dance producers (or, in other words, “teenage kids on their parents’ computer with a pirated copy of FruityLoops”) had to go out of their house with a CD, attract the attention of a DJ, prove they were half-decent, and steadily work their way up the ranks. Now all they have to do is pick a vaguely popular song, remix it badly, quickly jam a video together, lob it up onto YouTube where it’ll be played in low-bitrate mono to most users, and presto: half a million listeners.
Damn kids. Get off my lawn.
Tim: Das Boot 2008, I think, belongs nicely in the first group, although I don’t get the counting to ten bit. U96’s had ‘one, two, three, techno’, which made a vague sort of sense (I’d have preferred ‘eins, zwei, drei’ but that’s just me), whereas this just counts to ten and then… nothing. Come to think of it, it’s a bloody odd cover – aside from the same source material, they’re quite different. The U96 version is much darker, even though that’s a weird way to describe a dance tune, what with all the clanking noises*, and it has far more vocal. If Guenta K. hadn’t used the small amount of vocal that he did, it would just be another redoing of the theme music, focusing almost exclusively on just the bit of the theme that people know with just enough background variation to keep it interesting, and it would probably be better for it.
* I am well aware that this is an appalling word to use to describe it, but I honestly can’t really think of a better one, and I think it describes it well enough for you to know what I mean.