Saturday Reject: RAYA – Crazy

“There’s a debate to be had over what makes a good song to send to Eurovision.”

Tim: Yep, it’s that time of year – three months to Eurovision, time to look at the songs that have been binned off in the selection processes. We’ll start close to home, I think, with my favourite of our six.

Tom: A new high for number of syllables put into the word “ha-a-a-a-a-zy” there, beating Britney Spears’ previous record of four. But this is… mediocre at best. Why do you like it?

Tim: See, there’s a debate to be had over what makes a good song to send to Eurovision. Should it be a song that sounds typical of your country’s output? Arguably, yes – that’s kind of the point of it, to display and experience the best your country has to offer. But, well, we tried that with Joe & Jake, and then Lucie Jones, and neither of those ended particularly well.

Tom: Let’s not forget Electro Velvet. Well, actually, maybe we should.

Tim: Excuse me, you’re forgetting that that electro swing is really big right now. Alternatively, though, should it be something that sounds closer to other countries’ output, to pick up some votes from there? And that, you see, is where this comes in.

Tom: The trouble with that is: you’re never going to pick up points from everyone. To win Eurovision these days, you need to send an absolutely world-beating pop song (“Heroes”, “Love Shine A Light”, “Euphoria”), or you need to send a person or song who stands out from the crowd well enough to charm everyone (Conchita Wurst, last year’s Portuguese bloke whose name I’ve already forgotten).

Tim: We all have, I think.

Tom: Just ripping off another country’s style isn’t going to be enough.

Tim: No, but then it’s a good track on its own, and it also sounds, to me, remarkably like something that’d arrive via Turkey, Azerbaijan, or various other eastern European countries; while they may be all tiny and fiddly and far away to our eyes, there are a lot of them and they do all have 24 points to give away.

Tom: And a load of other, potentially better, people in the same style.

Tim: Ooh. Oh, yes, that is a good point. And also, it’s slightly dodgy tactics – but if dodgy tactics is was it would have taken to get us to host a European love-in in May next year, I’d be all for it.

Tom: No, I can’t get behind this. The vocals are okay, but the song’s dull: it’s not a standout pop song, and it’s not a standout performance. But judging by the winner, none of them were — and that’s down to the BBC.

Saturday Flashback: LOCASH – Ring On Every Finger

Tom: I’ve been driving through the midwest of America lately, and country music — or, rather, the mainstream country-pop that’s played by commercial radio stations — has been my soundtrack. It seemed right.

Tim: Makes sense, particularly as I now have a lovely image of you with aviator sunglasses and a sheriff’s stetson on your head.

Tom: No comment. But there’s something I’ve noticed, Tim, and I think it’s most obvious with this song. They’re singing “love bombs” not “F-bombs” in the chorus in the radio edit, by the way, that surprised me in this version.

Tom: This could be schlager.

Tim: Huh – yeah, you’re not wrong there. It’s certainly a heck of a lot more upbeat and interesting than that Sam Hunt track you brought to the table last week.

Tom: It’s three and a half minutes long. Verse, chorus, verse, chorus, middle eight, hammer the chorus home twice more, outro. All it’s missing is a key change — and, as far as I can tell, in country that’s replaced by a Southern accent, a guitar twang, and a wholesome message.

It was meant to be latin-pop. Then it turned into country. It doesn’t matter about the style: it could be any pop genre. The only thing that means this is being played on “KSKS Country” and not “100% NL” is that they’re using guitars and not synthesisers.

Tim: See, the thing that sticks out most in that paragraph is the bit about latin-pop – after all, we’ve seen any number of rock and guitar pop track redone as dance tracks. Hell, you could barely turn on a radio in the mid ’00s without hearing Cascada or DJ Sammy within half an hour. Never really imagined it with other genres. Though now I do, I guess we’ve also had Nica & Joe, and also Gregorian if that counts, and, yeah, many more.

Tom: I’m not saying all country-pop’s good, or that it’s even our genre. But sometimes, the Golden Rules of Pop shine through, and this is one of those times.

Tim: Yep. Good pop will always be that.

Saturday Reject: Arnar Jónsson & Rakel Pálsdóttir – Again


Tim: Last week, I said that I wanted a Eurovision track to make me feel something other than lethargy. This one does. Eventually.

Tim: And it’s very much the eventually that is the key word there. This song spends a full three quarters of its running time almost willing me to go to sleep, as if it’s realised that yep, the time is now to head to the toilet or the kettle.

Tom: Don’t get those two confused, Tim.

Tim: Thanks for the tip. I think no, though, I’ll give it a bit of time to see if it improves, and I’ll wait a minute or so, at least until the end of the first chorus, or maybe until the middle eight gets going (or, in this case, completely fails to). But soon, I’ll think “sod this” and get up off my sofa.

Tom: It is definitely a builder — and with some very promising parts in it — but it’s also a very slow one.

Tim: Way, way too slow, because having left it that late, I’ll then entirely miss the good bit. The 45 seconds of this three minute song that is actually worth hearing. And that would be a real shame. So, I guess the moral here is, if you’re going to have a good bit at the end, either be really awful at the start so people go quickly, or just be good all the way through. I know which I’d prefer.

Tom: “Don’t bore us, get to the chorus” is still good advice.

Tim: And never more than here.

Saturday Reject: Aron Brink – Hypnotised

“It makes me feel something other than general lethargy.”

Tim: Like so many countries this year, Tom, Iceland hasn’t submitted the greatest song ever for Eurovision; indeed, it fell squarely in the middle of our Zone of Disappointment. Somewhat baffling, when there were a couple of slightly better tracks available. Take this one, came fourth.

Tom: Blimey, it’s like Michael Cera got a makeover.

Tim: Bit harsh; not entirely unfair, though. This is the Icelandic version which was performed in the semi-final; the English one from the final had something weird going on with his vocal, so I don’t know if that explained anything, but oh, it’s so much better than just another soundalike ballad.

Tom: You’re not wrong at all. I know my tastes in pop are a little retro, but this stands above… well, everything else that’s in the poor crop of Eurovision semi-finalists this year. A low bar to clear, though.

Tim: True. But here, well yes, there’s a key change, and yes, it’s got a tedious tropical tinge—

Tom: There’s a new slogan for Lilt. (You’re right, though, those tropical synths are far too loud in the mix, and I’m fairly sure that’s a brief rap middle eight, which really isn’t needed.)

Tim: —but at least it’s different, it stands out, it makes me feel something other than general lethargy.

Tom: I haven’t heard an earnest “a-wey-oh” in a chorus for a while.

Tim: You see? That’s all I want from a Eurovision song. Just, to feel something.

Saturday Reject: Ida Una – One

“What a load of sanctimonious, holier than thou, deluded guff.”

Tim: Few better ways to succeed than to sing about how there shouldn’t be fighting and worldwide peace would be wonderful – or at least that’s what Ida thought, and it’s what got her through to the final round of Denmark’s contest.

Tim: The world can be great! We can save humanity! The planet will heal! We just have to learn to love ag– oh, do shut up. What a load of sanctimonious, holier than thou, deluded guff this is. And yet, of course, it’s deluded guff that wins votes, getting a good quarter of the votes in the final round of three.

Tom: “Peace, peace, love, love, and a man in a hamster wheel”? At the point where even Eurovision’s made fun of it, though, perhaps the trope is getting a bit too tired. Sometimes, new and exciting can win at Eurovision; sometimes, old and traditional can win. This manages to be neither. It’s… not bad, I guess?

Tim: I suppose it helps that it’s also a fairly good song with a chorus that gets stuck in your head, competently sung and with a nice floaty globe to start off with. Oh, I guess it’s okay.

Saturday Reject: In Fusion – Nothing Ever Knocked Us Over


Tim: Another one from Norway, another one that got knocked out in the first round, but for entirely different reasons. RAVE ON!

Tom: I’ll admit to being surprised by that sudden RAVE. And by the bold hair choice from the middle singer, there. Who are they all?

Tim: From what I can find out (or rather, from the total lack of anything about them to be found), it seems as though In Fusion are a group made specifically for this, which would go some way to explain the slightly iffy vocals here and there, which is both a shame and a relief, really.

Tom: To be fair, the harmonies aren’t all that bad. Why do you say it’s a shame?

Tim: Because it’s a good song, and deserves better than being mauled on stage by a group whose personal looks are entirely at odds with everything else that’s going on – would it kill you to smile as you sing one of the most upbeat songs to grace the stage that evening?

Tom: That’s what seemed wrong! Part of that’s because there’s only so much you can do while holding a smoke flare in one hand and a microphone in the other, but yes. Why a relief?

Tim: Because as with all non-Loreen EDM, this would tank miserably if it did get through – looking at you, almost last Cascada and dead last Ryan Dolan.

Tom: That’s fair. As someone who generally likes EDM, I think that’s the real shame here. Well, that and the complete missed opportunity for a key change. I’d be happy with more songs like this in Eurovision.

Tim: I’ll take the studio version, though – many, many times over, because that’s just lovely. Though you’re right – that would have made a golden key change.

Saturday Reject: Ella – Mama’s Boy

“About as appropriate for Eurovision as those Polish washerwomen were.”

Tim: Let’s head to Norway now, and one that got knocked out in the first round of voting; let’s just say that the Daily Mail would have had a field day.

Tom: Bloody hell, that’s… that’s good. It’s like a Little Boots track. In fact, it’s a lot like a Little Boots track. That’s probably why I like it.

Tim: I have a slightly different take on this, which is: God, I shouldn’t love this. It’s about as appropriate for Eurovision as those Polish washerwomen were, and we really shouldn’t have a sexually domineering woman shouting about sticking her finger right in your socket on primetime Saturday night TV, and yet something about this makes me love it.

Tom: I’ve got to take some marks away due to the old “second verse, same as the first” problem — it outstays its welcome even at three minutes, and that’s something you can’t say of… well, an actual Little Boots track. But despite all that, I can’t help but like this, and I’m not sure why.

Tim: For me there’s a number of possibilities: the unashamedness? Could be. The energy and the enthusiasm? Also an option. But mainly, I think it’s just a good song, with a great chorus. Everything else? That’s just a bonus.

Saturday Reject: Loreen – Statements

“The least intelligible chorus since REM.”

Tim: So, this year saw 2012 Eurovision victor Loreen return to the Melodifestivalen stage, with this, which was binned off from Andra Chansen after a duel with a much more conventional song. Have a listen, bearing in mind that your average voter gets just one chance to experience this.

Tom: Well, I’m not giving a second chance. How on earth did this get to Andra Chansen?

Tim: Yes, I was surprised as well – my guess is that it got through largely on name alone, because my word that’s one weird track. She’s openly admitted as much, and that it’s there mainly as a bit of a novelty, because she wanted to send a message. Quite what that message is I’ve no idea, not least because it took me three listens before I could work out what the chorus was, and only then because I looked up the lyrics and read along. Let’s face it: it’s a bit of a racket.

Tom: That’s the least intelligible chorus since REM. (“Call me when you try to wake her up”, incidentally.) Still, it’s nice to see the girl from The Ring getting some more work.

Tim: You know, I had more to write here, but now you’ve pointed that out I can’t stop giggling. Much appreciated.

Saturday Reject: De Vet Du – Road Trip

“Made me smile from ear to ear.”

Tim: So, you know how last year we had Samir & Victor, and the year before that we had Samir & Victor? Well this year they’re not around.

Tom: That’s a shame, I was actually looking forward to Jedwärd.

Tim: Nicely done. Let me tempt you with an alternative.

Tim: As best I can tell, this lot are vaguely along the lines of Sweden’s answer to The Lonely Island, or possibly Ylvis (them off What The Fox Say), and I had no idea what to think the first time this came around.

Tom: The thing is: both the Lonely Island and Ylvis make really good tracks. You can’t have a successful comedy band without being able to do that. And, to my surprise: De Vet Du have managed it. This is really well done.

Tim: They are Christopher, Tor, Johan and DJ Hunk – you can probably guess which at least one of those is – and they’ve been doing comedy songs and videos for a few years now, culminating in this, possibly the first key change-equipped EDM track I’ve ever heard.

Tom: I did not expect to like this, but the sheer enthusiasm of the SNL headbobbing during the instrumental bit made me smile from ear to ear. I understand almost nothing of the lyrics, but they’ve got enough jokes — and enough competent production — that I still like it.

Tim: It got through to Andra Chansen, and it’s silly and fun and to be honest I’ve come to quite like it after seeing it a few times. Admittedly I’d never want to listen to it, and if I came across it outside of this context I’d bin it straight off. As it is, though, with one of them standing around all muscly and another eating a banana, and with all the expressions of delight on their faces as they sit in the car: I’ll take this.

Saturday Reject: Bella & Filippa – Crucified

“Competing against an old man with a mouth organ.”

Tim: Back to the unembeddable heats now, and Tom, since you’ve never watched a Melodifestivalen heat, let me tell you how the results work: start with seven, and after the first round of voting, two get knocked out, and voting then recommences. After that, one finalist is announced, then the two going though Andra Chansen, and lastly the second finalist, with the remaining one thus being in fifth place. Often, that last result is obvious, and I figured that was true more than ever in heat 3, because this was competing against an old man with a mouth organ.

Tom: Heh. Mouth organ.

Tim: Yes, very good. Here’s the link: Bella & Filippa – Crucified

Tim: Now, much like Etzia and her roller skates, I’m not arguing this should have been a winner, or even necessarily gone straight to the final – it was a very, very strong heat.

Tom: And this, while it’s not a bad song, is only a so-so Eurovision entrant. It’s uncomfortably close to Texas Lightning.

Tim: Except, the only dodgy song – the weakest, weirdest, most novelty song – came in the top two. And this came in fifth. It’s MADNESS.

Tom: Never underestimate the power of the novelty vote, Tim.

Tim: True, but straight to the final? Damn, that’s not right.