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.

Sting, Shaggy – Don’t Make Me Wait

“Sting, at no point, attempts anything even close to a Jamaican accent, which I think we can all agree is for the best.”

Tim: Wait, what? How? Just…whuh?

Tom: If you’d like to know how this incredibly unlikely-sounding collaboration happened, Rolling Stone has the details. But to sum up: they met at a studio in LA, they’ve made a full LP, and this – the first single – is described by Shaggy as “something that hundreds of women would get pregnant to”.

Tim: Oh God.

Tom: Okay, so good news first: Sting, at no point, attempts anything even close to a Jamaican accent, which I think we can all agree is for the best.

Tim: Yes, yes. In fact, he turns in a really rather good performance, which I’m pleasantly surprised about.

Tom: The most surprising thing to me — apart from the fact that it exists at all — is just how good the two stars’ styles work together. This is a good track. It’ll struggle to find airplay, because there’s too much Shaggy for Radio 2 and too much Sting for… er, anywhere that’d play Shaggy.

Tim: Thing is, it reminds me a lot of what Shaggy always used to do: take a featured artist, get them to do most of the singing, and throw in a few words here and there of his own. And it works as well as it always did.

Tom: You’re right. Now I come to think of it, he rarely sang the hooks. Still, I get the feeling that reviews are somewhat irrelevant here. They’ve made an LP. They like the LP enough to release it. Given that they’re both doing pretty well for themselves, I suspect that — as long as someone out there likes it — they’ll be just fine.

SuRie – Storm

“Last night Britain voted, and right here is our entry for Eurovision 2018.”

Tim: So, last night Britain voted, and right here is our entry for Eurovision 2018. It’s…

Tim: …a good track!

Tom: And not a Eurovision winner! I mean, it’d probably make it through the semi-finals if we had to go through them, but this isn’t going to win anything.

Tim: Well, positive bits first: it’s danceable, she’s got a great voice, and I could, honestly, if this was put out by a major label, see it being at least B-listed on Radio 1.

Tom: Really? I’ll agree with the voice, but the song is… I mean, it’s something a low-level Kontor-esque company would put out if they couldn’t hire a really good songwriter. Nothing wrong with it, just nothing right either.

Tim: I think you’re being way too harsh on it, there – the way I see it, it’s a female-fronted Avicii track (quite literally, in the case of the first line, which just sounds weird) Except, that’s kind of the problem. It’s…well, generic is the wrong word, because that has negative connotations, but it’s nothing really that hasn’t been heard before. At Eurovision, that’s a hell of a risk, because people so often want to hear something new and interesting.

Tom: It needs to stand out from the crowd while also being an exceptionally good song. This, sadly, has neither of those qualities.

Tim: I really don’t want to finish on a negative, because there’s a lot to like about this. As a regular track, I can’t really fault it, and I’d love to be proved wrong about what we’re saying. Absolutely love to be. So…here’s hoping?

Tom: All I’m saying is, I’m not betting on it.

Slushii feat. Marshmello – There x2

“Maybe this whole thing is a nonsense after all, particularly when his twin brother comes along at the end.”

Tim: Okay then. Here’s a song whose chorus line is incredibly specific and not really relatable; fortunately, it sounds brilliant so we can at least all enjoy it.

Tom: “Slushii” and “Marshmello”. Okay. Let’s get through this…

Tom: …damn it, I like it, and I dislike the fact that I like it.

Tim: Obviously, no self-respecting pop singer would release a song that makes no sense, so I think what we need to assume is that he’s just broken up with someone who has an identical twin, and now wants both of them, rather than just the one. Was that what prompted the breakup in the first place? Well, we’ll probably never know, but if it was he’s really not helping his case here. Also not helping his case: the sheer number of times he sings “I still miss you” – Mr Slushii, 39 times is TOO MANY.

Tom: And this should really, really irritate me! To be honest, it does! But all the ridiculous bubblegum synths and euphoric-build-noises around it somehow make it okay in my head.

Tim: And also, “if I’m here, will you be there” – is he, what, seeking knowledge that as long as he doesn’t move, she won’t go anywhere, even though she’s somewhere completely different? Oh, I don’t know, maybe this whole thing is a nonsense after all, particularly when his twin brother comes along at the end.

HOWEVER, now that we’ve entirely failed to get that sorted, let’s move on to the music, which I’m fairly sure is entirely brilliant, yes?

Tom: Aaaaagh, yes it is, although I increasingly want a version of this that doesn’t have as many ‘STILL MISS YOU’s in it.

Tim: Sensible introductory beat and then melody to let everyone know that yes, this is indeed a song to be danced to. And then when that dance beat comes along, the heavy synths that indicate “really, you should be dancing to this”, then that really is just a great CHOON. Is that still a word? I don’t know, but if it is then this is one. And if it isn’t, well this still is anyway. GREAT STUFF, though I really could do with an instrumental.

Kim Wilde – Pop Don’t Stop

“If that’s not a message for our times then it damn well should be.”

Tim: YES, it’s Kim from way back when, with her first release since 2013’s Christmas album, and oh, has it been worth waiting for.

Tom: There’s a saying I use: “don’t shoot for the moon and miss”. If your green-screen isn’t quite up to full-on pop video standards, perhaps you’d better just film somewhere else without it. I had to watch this in a background tab, because some inverted version of the halo effect meant that I thought the song was worse just because the video was a bit naff.

Tim: Yes, alright, but let’s not focus on the negatives, when there are SO MANY positives to discuss. Some artists feel the need to update their style in accordance with the progression of musical vogue; I’d argue that there are at least two situations where you don’t. One: when you’re Kim Wilde, and two: when your chorus goes “POP POP MUSIC GIVE ME POP POP MUSIC DON’T STOP GIVE ME POP GIVE ME POP POP MUSIC”.

Tom: How convenient and oddly specific. (I know what you mean, though, and you’re right.)

Tim: Pop music brings people together, and keeps them together, and if that’s not a message for our times then it damn well should be. This song is just pure energy – I listened to this about ten minutes after waking up last Friday, and jumped straight out of bed; there’s not a lot that’ll get me doing that.

Tom: Either that or a desperate urge to pee, sure.

Tim: Everything about it is just wonderful: the music, the bright colours in the video, and her bringing her brother Ricky along for the ride, because why not?

We’re only a month and a bit in to 2018 and we’ve already heard a lot of good tracks; nevertheless, I’m fairly sure that come December, this’ll still be in my top 10 of the year. (Also a safe bet: one from the Lithuanian Eurovision selection process that our reader described as “vomit-inducing”; we’ll get to that one in due course.)

Kylie Minogue – Dancing

“Kylo”

Tom: Occasionally we’ll cover Kylie’s tracks here, whenever she’s got something new out. And usually we’re a bit disappointed, because the bar’s been set so high in the past.

Tom: Oh, crikey, let’s move on from that. We’re looking for a BANGER, based on past form, and — despite your enthusiasm for that Christmas single — I don’t think it’s quite matched up. This time…

Tom: …MODERATE BANGER. Which I know is a contradiction in terms, but I still stand by it.

Tim: I’d say MODERATE TO STRONG, based on those fast-paced verses, heavy choruses and the whole “screw you, I’m here, plastered and DANCING” look on her face in the middle eight.

Tom: There’s a lot to like here. It sounds like old Kylie, filtered through a lens of Kygo. I’d portmanteau those together, but I’d get “Kylo”, and then it’d be all Star Wars.

Tim: Yes, and if you and I started discussing that we’d be here all day, so best not.

Tom: Full marks for actually including line dancing in the video like it’s the late nineties, though. This is catchy, and at under three minutes it doesn’t outstay its welcome either. This might be the best Kylie track since… 2 Hearts, perhaps?

Tim: Hmm…perhaps – though that Christmas album does take a lot to beat it.

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.

CHVRCHES – Get Out

“I am very much hopeful for this.”

Tim: Scotland’s finest purveyors of pop music are BACK, presumably with an upcoming third album, and here’s the track to lead the campaign.

Tom: It took me a while to get into them, but yes: I am very much hopeful for this.

Tim: OOF, what a track that is. It’s a fairly simple hook for the chorus, but boy is it infectious. Infectious, loud, and just great. I’ll admit I don’t really get the kaleidoscope metaphor, but the whole GET OUT GET OUT, GET GET GET OUT, GET GET GET OUT OF HERE doesn’t leave much room for ambiguity.

Tom: I’d normally dislike a chorus that repetitive — I’ve said before that if you’re going to build your entire chorus around one or two lines, then they’d better be absolutely perfect. These are.

Tim: And the song really, really sells it, right from the downbeat opening, all the way through to the slightly hopeful but still fairly definite middle eight.

Tom: I’ll admit to being a bit tired and emotional, in the literal sense, at the moment, so perhaps I’m more easily affected by songs like this, but: THIS IS VERY GOOD.

Tim: The music, as we have come to expect from the band, is right up there with the best, and I’ve listened to this four times in a row now and am perfectly happy to keep doing so.

Tom: And that video is a masterclass in telling multiple, ambiguous, possibly-connected stories: it’s just lovely.

Tim: Top stuff.

Henry Land feat. Vilde J – Wildfire

“Oh boy, are we going to disagree on this one.”

Tim: Unlike yesterday, here’s a track that got me right from the very first note, so please, help yourself to a play button.

Tom: Oh boy, are we going to disagree on this one. What do you like about it?

Tim: Well, right from the off there’s the lovely euphoric-style underline, a gentle but fast-flowing piano line, a good vocal – so far, so top notch early 00s.

Tom: As with yesterday: I just don’t hear it. Maybe I’m burned out on music like this, but — apart from the promise of that build into the chorus — it just left me cold.

Tim: But then, a minute in, come those vocal twiddles that put me in mind of Galantis being good, and that elevates it even further.

Tom: Whereas that just irritated me! Galantis somehow manage to make it sound joyful, whereas (to me at least) this just sounds like someone noodling about on a synth with no particular direction. And then there’s the weird brass bit for some reason.

Tim: Oh, that brass cameos? Well, that’s just a great bonus, for me. There’s a lot to like here, and nothing I can find to dislike. Wonderful.

Blissful – Find A Way

“Full marks for a mask made of drawing pins.”

Tim: I’ll be upfront with you: there a fair amount to dislike about this, from an Icelandic duo; I would, however, ask that you don’t give up before you hear the chorus, because I nearly did and that would have been a mistake.

Tom: Some of the location footage in that video really made me want to go back to Iceland. Yes, I have a strange taste in geography. Full marks for a mask made of drawing pins, too, that looks spectacular. Anyway, the music.

Tim: Okay so, yeah, first and third things first: those verses aren’t enjoyable, or at least not for me – there’s way too much autotune and nothing of particular interest, and really the first half of the middle eight falls into that category as well. However, all of that is so outweighed by the rest of it that I really don’t care, overall.

Tom: Alas, that’s how I feel about the whole track. I can appreciate the chorus as being well produced — there’s nothing actually wrong with it — but what do you see in it?

Tim: There’s a lovely melody, sound and just general…sensation around that chorus that I can’t get enough of, and when the instrumental of it turns up in the middle eight, it’s just wonderful. It does, really, almost serve to make the verses worse – not only are they objectively unpleasant, they’re also making me miss out on the good stuff. But there’s enough good stuff that I don’t really mind – I’ll take it, and cope with the bad bits.