Boy In Space – u n eye

“Look! Happy flowers!”

Tim: There’s probably some sort of logic in getting rid of two letters from each of the first two words so you need to add to to the third one, but let’s not focus on it. Look! Happy flowers!

Tim: So, here’s the thing: if this came from, I don’t know, Niall Horan, I’d be entirely “huh, yeah” and then move on swiftly.

Tom: Which is actually what I did a few days ago — I thought about sending you this, but I really couldn’t find much to talk about. It’s… no, see, that’s the problem, I literally don’t know how to continue that sentence.

Tim: It’s nice guitar stuff, sure, but there are also a number of things to dislike about it, not least the vocoding on the ‘you and I’ (sorry, ‘u n eye’) in the chorus being the main one. And yet because it’s Boy In Space, I like it.

Tom: Huh. I wonder if that’s because you’re used to his music, or because it’s just a genre that works for you? That vocoding irritates me, and the rest just leaves me cold. But that’s just personal taste: and we know well that ours differ.

Tim: I don’t know if I’m subliminally predisposed to liking his music somehow, or just that I mostly like his style and therefore always give him the benefit of the doubt, but either way: I like this. There are flaws, I’m aware of them, but I like it.

Melanie C – Who I Am

“Fits the nightmare art-gallery-of-self music video.”

Tom: She’s back! Well, actually she was back in December but we didn’t notice.

Tim: Hmm. That did not start out in the genre I was expecting, given the last time we featured her (which still holds up).

Tom: A “very personal song” to her, apparently, which fits the nightmare art-gallery-of-self music video.

Tim: Lyrics certainly hold that up as well.

Tom: I don’t really know what to make of it: it sounds a lot like something that could have been on a Mel C album a couple of decades back, which is not necessarily a bad thing for the fans. I do wonder if anyone else is going to pay much attention to it — although, frankly, if you have an audience, aiming directly at them isn’t a bad strategy.

Tim: Yeah – I’ve always enjoyed her music, and it very much feels targeted toward my tastes. THere’s very little for me to complain about here.

Tom: And hey, I could sing the chorus after one listen, that’s always a good sign.

Rita Ora – How To Be Lonely

“Hun, read the room.”

Tim: “I know!” thinks Rita. “Everyone’s stuck inside at the moment, so I’m going to release a song with a title that suggests it will guide them through that, with helpful tips and instructions. This can’t possibly go wrong.” Oh, wait.

Tom: See, I saw this a few days ago, and thought about sending it to you: but I genuinely just found it a bit too much of a downer.

Tim: Well, that’s just it. Maybe it’s just bad luck – I don’t know how far in advance it’s possible to push back a song’s release, or abandon it altogether, but hun, read the room. It’s a decent track, there’s no doubting that – the melody’s fine, I can remember the chorus after it’s finished, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with the vocals or production.

Tom: Musically, it’s decent: of course it is, it’s a Rita Ora single. The production isn’t going to be anything other than excellent.

Tim: But how many people really want to hear lines like “end up on my own almost every night” and “you could be the one to take me home”?

Tom: Right! There’s actually a lot right with this. And the radio is playing it — I’m not convinced it’s a complete flop.

Tim: Oh, sure – I might be wrong, and it could pick up as the weeks progress. But still, that timing.

Feuerherz – 1x2x3x

“Side note: why is their bed on a taxiway?!”

Tim: Not sure if you’ll remember this lot or not – they’re slightly of the ‘forgettable but also each time vaguely notable’ category.

Tom: I remember the name, not the song, which is above my usual standard. Dansband? Or boyband? I saw that name and thought ‘a bit kitsch’.

Tim: Pretty much, yeah: for some reason someone’s decided to make a very 90s boyband, and it’s often a mix of enjoyable and laughable. And if you don’t burst out laughing at the 50 second mark here, you are absolutely not the Tom Scott I thought I knew.

Tom: You’ll be happy to learn that I did, at least, giggle at that moment.

Tim: Fabulous. Right, so here’s the thing: pretty much anywhere in the world, this here is deeply unfashionable. We all know that. The production and backing sounds straight out of late 90s Backstreet Boys, any choreographer that suggested that dance move would be banned from the industry, and him in the bed with the shaved armpits (Karsten, 26, yes I’ve done my research) would be told to come back when he no longer looks like a Ken doll.

Tom: Side note: why is their bed on a taxiway?! You could happily have an aviation-themed video without having a BED on a TAXIWAY. Anyway. Yes. Deeply unfashionable.

Tim: In Germany, though, they’re lapping it up: they’ve all come from various bands and talent shows, they’ve got multiple top ten albums, and before their upcoming tour got postponed they’d sold out stadiums.

Tom: Wait, really? With only 40,000 views on the video as I watch this, two days after launch, I’m surprised they’ve managed to get that sort of audience. But looking at the live chat replay, there are clearly fans, and those fans are clearly Very Into It.

Tim: Absolutely, and for my part I’m very much with them. I find it absolutely joyous that this music is being made, and while it says on this website’s sidebar that I want to move to Scandinavia because they have better music, I’m now considering joining my cousin in Berlin. Sure, I’d like a key change while they’re picking each other up and transporting to a peculiarly lit hanger, but I can manage without.

Tom: Side note: that spin-the-other-guys around move, while not something you’d expect in this century, is actually kind of impressive.

Tim: Also true. All of it, really, is lovely, fun to listen to, and just the sort of pop music I’m looking for when I want something happy to listen to.

Tom: Right! I suspect, with no evidence, that we’re going to see a lot more ‘comfortable’ pop music over the next year or so: doom-chic is not going to be popular for a while. By the standards of German schlager, this is good.

Tim: As for the lyrics, it’s basically “We hooked up last night, it was brilliant, I don’t want to do it once, twice, three times more, I want you for a lifetime”, so that must have been a pretty amazing one night stand; fortunately no-one’s really able to go outside any more so I guess they’re getting their wish. Hooray!

Saturday Reject: Didrik & Emil Solli-Tangen – Out of Air

“He’s dialling down the operatics and he’s ramped up the dance beat.”

Tim: So, Eurovision’s off. It was rumoured Tuesday night, and then confirmed Wednesday morning. Let’s be honest: upsetting but probably the right thing to do. HOWEVER, the songs are all still out there, and so are the ones that didn’t get chosen, so let’s just keep going as per, shall we? You’ll remember Didrik of course from coming a disappointing and unjust 20th at Eurovision 2010 with the stunning My Heart Is Yours; ten years on, he’s back!

Tom: You know how bad my memory is for songs, Tim? Well: not only can I remember the name, not only can I remember the track — I can remember the chorus.

Tim: Cor, bloody hell, that’s a heck of a compliment.

Tom: Although I think if you’d have asked me, I’d have said it was a Josh Groban number. Anyway, yes, I remember him!

Tim: He’s got rid of much of his outstanding hair (seriously, check the artwork); he’s compensating by bringing along his younger brother, who does have good hair; he’s dialling down the operatics; and he’s ramped up the dance beat.

Tom: Those are some strong “woah-oh-oh-oh” bits in the introduction. And it never really lets up from there, does it?

Tim: Oh, it’s just FABULOUS. This one didn’t have to qualify to get to the final (it’s weird, but to celebrate Norway at Eurovision turning 60, NRK made Melodi Grand Prix bigger, more confusing and a tad unfair for many qualifiers, but never mind that), but got knocked out before the Gold Final (though again, that’s complicated, as there was a SCANDAL involving the online voting system breaking down). However and wherever it ended up doesn’t really matter, though, because isn’t it just a TUNE and a half?

Tom: Like last week’s track, it reminds me of a lot of things I’ve heard before: although at least, this time, it doesn’t bring back memories of a specific Eurovision winner. It’s a solid track. And the harmonies in the final chorus!

Tim: Melody, vocals, beat, sparklers, EVERYTHING.

Tom: Full marks to the steadicam operator for that move in the second verse, too.

Tim: They’re both enjoying singing it, and I’m enjoying hearing it. Brilliant stuff.

Anna-Maria Zimmermann – 1000 Träume weit (Torneró) – Version 2020

“Shall we have some good old reliable German schlager?”

Tim: Things are a bit grim right now, we’ve all been asked to stay inside, shall we have some good old reliable German schlager?

Tom: YES. Although I’m still not used to seeing “2020” as a year.

Tim: Quick history lesson for you: 1978, Italian group I Santo California recorded Tornerò; 2009 German artist Antonia aus Tirol turned it German and released it as 1000 Träume weit; a few months later, Anna-Maria here made it BANGING. And now, because the time has presumably come to make some more money, she’s rerecorded it with some modern stylings.

Tom: Well, that’s exactly what I didn’t know I needed to hear today. And full marks for whatever that shirt’s made out of, too, that’s a bold costume choice. As for the music…

Tim: I’ll be honest with you: there’s really not much of a difference. There are those twiddly vocals that are mandatory these days, the backing oh-oh-oh-oh-ohhhhs are quite a bit lower in the mix, and it’s a tad shorter, but otherwise it’s exactly as it was, key change and all.

And that, as far as I’m concerned, is no bad thing at all.

Tom: I was about to say the same. Sure, you could call it a blatant cash-in, but it’s genuinely difficult for me to be cynical with schlager like this.

Tim: This is jump up and down, hands in the air, lasers all over the place stuff, once you’ve had a few drinks. You’re yelling out with the backing every time it appears, and you’re going absolutely bloody nuts for that key change. And if we can’t go nuts for a key change, what can we do?

Ava Max – Kings & Queens

“Something about the notes, the cadence, the harmonies…”

Tom: “What does this remind me of?” I wondered, on the opening about it. Something about the notes, the cadence, the harmonies…

Tom: …oh, yep, never mind, got it.

Tim: Ah, see I went immediately into “If I was a woman…” (and it turns out the writer of that, and, FUN FACT, the song Bonnie Tyler entered Eurovision with, is credited here), but yeah, yours is even more so. That might even beat Still In Love With Potato Waffles.

Tom: I mean, there’s more that I could point out here: the dick joke, the fact we’ve got two middle eights including an electric guitar solo like it’s the 90s, but mainly I just want to point out that it sounds a lot like a Coca-Cola jingle that, infuriatingly, is still trapped in my head decades later.

Tim: Well, get an updated version trapped in your head instead.

Gareth Emery feat. Annabel – You’ll Be OK

“Cor, blimey – that has cheered me RIGHT UP.”

Tom: This takes a long time to get going, and I suspect it goes in a direction you won’t expect.

Tim: Cor, blimey – I’ve been feeling miserable recently, because obviously, but that has cheered me RIGHT UP. Yep, I did not expect that.

Tom: Full-on trance, to the point where his new album is called “THE LASERS”.

Tim: And without even hearing a single one of his other tracks, I’m already looking forward to it. Surprised you like it, though, what the chilled house style first half that’s more my sort of thing.

Tom: I don’t think I am particularly a big fan of the track — I think it’s a bit slow at points, and I’m not sure about that melody. Honestly, I don’t care. I just enjoyed the fact that someone is still putting out music like this, that it’s still getting attention, and that the title is “You’ll Be OK”.

Tim: Yes. Yes, we will. Probably.  

SHY Martin feat. Boy In Space – Still The Same

“They’re switching places, with an appropriately different sound.”

Tim: Previously, him featuring her, which we both gave a fair old thumbs up to. Now they’re switching places, with an appropriately different sound.

Tom: That was a really interesting video from a produciton perspective, and — while it’s not relevant to the music — I want to talk about it for a moment. The aesthetic is very 90s, because it looks like a cheap disposable camera. 4:3, wide but limited focus, a harsh flash next to the camera and a very short shutter speed. Except there are thousands of shots in there, all taken very quickly, which would’ve been very difficult with actual film: so this is clearly a modern digital camera, presumably with the light constantly on.

It’s a very very interesting style to go for: the past, but not quite.

Anyway, the music! It’s nice enough, isn’t it?

Tim: So, this is tricky, because I like both of these folks as artists, and I liked their last collaboration, and there’s a lot in here that I do like – the melody, the voices, and the sound when it gets going is absolutely lovely.

Tom: Yes. I sense an “except” approaching at speed, though.

Tim: Except, well, there isn’t much time when it really is going. The first chorus has something to it, the second verse a little bit, second chorus a bit more, but it’s not until the closing chorus until it becomes really good and enjoyable – and that happens less than forty seconds from the end. Dammit, I really want to like this, and I do! Just…not very much of it.

Frida Sundemo – Anything

“There is definitely something to be said for soaring strings.”

Tim: First new music from Frida since her divine 2017 album Flashbacks & Futures and here’s an early prediction: I’ll really like it, you’ll get why but not enjoy it as much.

Tim: About right?

Tom: About right, although I reckon this is a cut above the usual dreampop you send over. I’m not saying I’m about to add it to a load of playlists, but there are some genuinely lovely bits in here.

Tim: Sonically, and especially instrumentally, she’s very similar to The Sound of Arrows, just female and solo, and, well, that’s entirely what I’m looking for in music to listen to. There are definite ups and downs, mind, with the occasional moment in the verse bringing along a “hurry up, get to the good bit”, but then OH, it soon does.

Tom: There is definitely something to be said for soaring strings. This feels almost more like a soundtrack piece than a pop song, but then — for me at least — that’s true of a lot of this genre.

Tim: That instrumental section kicks in at 2:45? I could sit back and listen to that for, I don’t know, probably a good quarter hour or so. Just lovely.