Saturday Reject: Aitana, Alfred, Amaia, Ana Guerra & Miriam – Carina

“Messy as it may be, it’s a good way to open the show.”

Tim: Spain was a weird format this year: they took the top six contestants of their version of Fame Academy (yep, that’s still on) and then, through various groups, duets and soloists, had nine songs for the public to vote for. This, written by all of them and sung by all except Agoney, came dead last, but as a first performance was nonetheless a good way to open the show.

Tom: I wonder what Agoney did? And why Miriam is the only one without a name starting with A?

Tim: Maybe some sort of conspiracy?

Tom: Anyway.

Tim: So let’s try to move past the fact that the first chorus line is in fact Cecilia, and try to judge the rest of it and, well, it’s not the greatest.

Tom: I was turned off it entirely by that bit where they have just an instant of silence. It almost hurts.

Tim: It seems to serve more as a preview of what’s coming up than anything else. The one in the dark red with a style that doesn’t really match up, the guy and her with the ridiculous skirt who sing at each other, and her in the pink jacket being very very Spanish? Yep, you’ll see all of those later if you keep watching. On the other hand, messy as it may be – like I said, it’s a good way to open the show. On that level, it works.

Tom: It is a great show opening. I can’t fault it. There’s some good vocal showoffs, it’s pleasant enough, It’s just not a good Eurovision song.

Tim: Incidentally, the aforementioned guy and skirt? That’s the pairing that went on to win, with a performance that’s basically soft porn; they’re also an actual couple that formed in the competition house, and it’ll be bloody hilarious if they split up acrimoniously before May and still have to play sweethearts.

Lichtblick – Tausend und eine Nacht

“Those synths in the pre-chorus are right out of the early 2000s.”

Tim: Finishing up the week, we’re still female, still electro (technically), but I think you’ll have a bit more time for this, A Thousand and One Nights…

Tim: Better?

Tom: Ahahaha. That is not electropop. I mean, yes, it is pop, and it is made with electronics, but you’re right to finish the week off on this one, I’m much happier.

Tim: Oh, I’m very glad to hear that. It’s the debut single from the four of them, who are (according to the YouTube description, at least) the first schlager girl group in Germany. I’m having trouble believing that’s true, but if this is what we’re getting then I’m all for it – their name, after all, does translate as Ray of Hope.

Tom: See, this is still a bit forgettable. If I was blind to music genres, I’d rate this the same as the previous few days’ attempts — but blimey, those synths in the pre-chorus are right out of the early 2000s, and they hit every nostalgia button. I can’t not like it.

Tim: Would I have liked a key change? Yes, of course I would, because that build up into the final chorus was pleading for one. Otherwise: VERY PROMISING.

CHVRCHES – Never Say Die

“THIS IS HOW TO DO IT, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD.”

Tim: If you were hoping for a break from the female-fronted electro pop theme that this week has seemingly developed, I’ve got bad news for you, because here’s the Queen of Scots herself to defend her throne.

Tim: Oh, and boy oh boy can she defend her throne.

Tom: THIS IS HOW TO DO IT, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD.

Tim: Blimey, that’s a reaction.

Tom: Now the question is, am I saying that because I like CHVRCHES’s sound already, or because this is a good track on its own merits? I’d like to think it’s the second, because that synth that leads into the chorus comes out of nowhere, and it doesn’t sound like them, and yet I still went “oh, that’s good”.

Tim: I have very similar views to that: true, it doesn’t sound like their typical track, as it’s a lot bassier than previously, but damn is this good. Normally I hate a fade out ending, as should most sensible people, but I can forgive it slightly when it’s an instrumental fade out and the instrumental is this good. Also, like you, I fully accept that if this weren’t by CHVRCHES but instead by some other band, I might not have this much enthusiasm for it, or be as willing to forgive that, and that by extension I may technically be falling into the trap that the Norwegians fell into when they chose Alexander Rybak to represent them at Eurovision with an atrocious song.

Tom: I still think that’s going to win.

Tim: Ugh, please no. What I might think of the song if it weren’t by CHVRCHES is slightly irrelevant, mind, because this is by CHVRCHES, and I bloody love it, and NOTHING you say will stop me. So there.

Digital Farm Animals, Shaun Frank, Dragonette – Tokyo Nights

“I found my foot actually tapping, Tim!”

Tom: Okay, good, let’s carry on with Female-Fronted Electropop week, then. I’ll be honest: I’m starting to find all the tracks pretty much indistinguishable.

Tim: Well, let me change your mind. We had a work party a couple of months back and they got Tokio Myers off Britain’s Got Talent in as a guest performer, which was quite cool, except he was in the middle as like a headliner sandwiched between a whole load of DJs and music performers, so he kind of killed the vibe when we all stood still to watch him, which was a bit of a shame.

Tom: Good story.

Tim: Cheers. This is Tokyo Nights.

Tom: Okay, at least this isn’t bland. I found my foot actually tapping, Tim! That’s a rare thing!

Tim: Hooray! Digital Farm Animals have a pretty good record as far as this site is concerned; Shaun Frank we’ve not featured before; Dragonette is, well, Dragonette, so obviously brilliant. All together, we’ve got a song that starts out like a Chainsmokers track and then gets a lot better, and stays a lot better.

Tom: Apart from that second verse. At least, I think it’s the second verse? Not everything’s where I expect it to be.

Tim: Yeah, there is a slightly weird structure to it, sticking an extra chorus in before the first pre-chorus, which got me a little confused the first time I heard it as well. Aside from that I really do quite like this, particularly the way her off Dragonette joins in the vocals on the second verse to keep it a bit interesting. Well, I say particularly that bit, that’s just one small bit that contributes to making pretty much the whole thing being great.

Tom: The additional synths that crop up as we come out of the middle eight, too. It’s not a world-beating single or anything, but it’s not bad.

Tim: NICE ONE.

Post Precious – Lose Myself

“I’m starting to think it’s time they turned it into a front project.”

Tim: Third track of this pairing, and I’ve realised I’ve never really actually explained it: basically the producer off the American electro duo MS MR, Max Hershenow, has teamed up with a singer called Alex Winston to form this as a ‘side project’; going by this, and their previous two, I’m starting to think it’s time they turned it into a front project.

Tom: We’ve certainly been talking a lot about female-fronted electropop lately.

Tim: Because it’s quite good, isn’t it? It is, like yesterday, an example of this genre done very well indeed – great vocals, excellent production.

Tom: Mm. I’m just not so sure about the composition: there’s really nothing that stands out there for me. We’ve heard a lot of tracks like this before, and they’re all starting to blur together for me. What stands out for you?

Tim: Notably brilliant: the fifth eighth of the chorus – the “who was I to think…” line, which has a melody that is absolutely lovely. That’s not to say the rest of the chorus is bad, because I don’t think any part of this is bad – in fact, it’s all rather lovely and wonderful. Sure, it’s slightly annoying that every time the “I lose” comes along I want to segue into “my eyes…“, but I can get past that (and even if I can’t that’s a good song to slide into).

Tom: I guess I’m looking for something a bit more. This isn’t a bad song by any means, it’s just unmemorable for me.

Tim: We’re three tracks in, with three successes, so I call that at least very promising, right?

Olivera – No More

“It’s a genre I love, and it’s nicely done.”

Tim: New one off Olivera, who is from Finland and has been going a couple of years now; have a listen, because I’ve a question.

Tom: I’ll be honest, I can’t remember much of it after listening, which isn’t a good sign.

Tim: So, that is a lovely track, for me – it’s a genre I love, and it’s nicely done. The only problem is: I’d swear I’ve heard it before, to the extent that I had to check we’d not previously featured it. Have I heard it? Or is it just that it’s such textbook example of the CHVRCHES/Foxes style that it sounds familiar because it uses all the, well, standard tropes?

Tom: It sounds like a CHVRCHES album track, but, like, not a specific one. I’ve never heard it before, certainly.

Tim: I don’t know, and that annoys me. Is it just standard good, or something really good that I’ve already heard many times?

Saturday Reject: Twosome – Hello

“THE POWER OF SONG.”

Tim: Lithuania had almost 50 songs being voted on this year, which is way too many even for me, so fortunately our anonymous source there got in touch and recommended Bejausmis, which is…alright, but a tad standard. More noteworthy, though, is this one they also linked to, describing it as ‘vomit inducing’. EARWORM INCOMING.

Tim: I don’t know what my favourite thing about this is, because there are so, so many bits to love. There’s the way they actually do keep the flags and the languages together, rather than giving up when it gets too fast (that’s right, I checked).

Tom: Well done, although I think Petra and Måns got there first.

Tim: Ah, but not with flags, though. We’ve also got the way they stay facing perpendicular to each other in the second verse, particular the weird expression of the guy on the right.

Tom: Also, his awkward pose that reminds me ever so slightly of animatronic robots.

Tim: The other guy’s “digital language” mutterings in the, erm, second middle eight? Guess that’s a thing.

Tom: The jiggling dance during the second chorus.

Tim: The guy in the silver top and pink skirt. AND THE INFLATABLE FLAMINGO.

Tom: Okay, so taking a step back here: we’re probably missing context, that’s probably a comedy duo and a Lithuanian in-joke, but… yeah, that flamingo.

Tim: But my actual favourite thing? The song itself. It’s so…nice. They’re literally teaching us languages so we can talk to each other, using THE POWER OF SONG. And I absolutely love it.

Maja Francis – Stressed

“It’s like a discount CHVRCHES!”

Tim: If you’re like me, you might get annoyed by the lyrics video, which has that font previously found on camcorders but now exclusively and overly used to signify that we are officially Back In The Eighties. You might then also start wondering which is more annoying: using that font and applying a home camcorder effect to the video, making it look crap, or using that font and not applying a camcorder effect to the video, making it out of place and somewhat half-arsed.

Tom: I… I will be honest, Tim, I didn’t wonder any of that.

Tim: WELL THEN, I guess you’re just not like me. Chorus, though, made me forgive and almost forget all that.

Tom: It’s like a discount CHVRCHES! I’ll admit that chorus has a couple of lovely moments in it: the whistle-register bits and the percussion in the back both hit home for me. But it’s not stuck in my head afterwards, and it didn’t really grab much of my interest beyond that. Why did it make you forgive and forget?

Tim: Because that’s a very enjoyable chorus, which as far as I’m concerned makes the whole thing worth it. Stylistically I’m not sure the gentle plinky guitar strumming quite fits with all the synth beats that dominate, and I’d rather it didn’t take until we got to chorus until a melody as good as that arrived, but since it does: I’m sold.

Sandro Cavazzo – High With Somebody

“A video that’s really quite delightful.”

Tim: Last heard of providing vocals for Avicii, Sandro’s brought up a new solo song and with it a video that’s really quite delightful.

Tim: Every time a three minute (ish) song comes along, particularly at this time of year, I find myself wondering if it’d make a good Eurovision track. Here, of course: no. Well, unless they could get the guy in the rabbit suit up on stage doing stuff that would, let’s face it, probably bring the EBU into disrepute, so best not try.

Instead, let’s just enjoy the song, and even more enjoy the video – I’n fairly sure, after all, that that’s what we’re meant to do.

Tom: And I do enjoy it: but without it, I’m really not sure I’d think the song was any good. You’re right when you say it’s a delightful video; it’s just for a song that would be irritatingly chirpy otherwise.

Tim: Yep, that’s pretty much my feeling as well: fairly sure I wouldn’t enjoy the song anywhere near as much as I do if the video wasn’t there – I may well dismiss is as some twee waste of three decent minutes – but since the video is there, and I saw that before just hearing the song on its own, I’m all happy. And irritatingly chirpy.

Alan Walker, Keala Settle – This Is Me (Alan Walker Relift)

“Does Alan Walker remixing it make it better, worse, or just different?”

Tom: I described the original version of this track as “so polished that you could slip on it and crack your head”, although you were a lot more enthusiastic. The question is: does Alan Walker remixing it make it better, worse, or just different?

Tim: Hmm, see I’d been avoiding this one, largely because it was described to me as ‘not ideal’. But go on then, because it is, I suppose, a question I do want to know the answer to.

Tim: Huh – that is nowhere near as bad as I was worried it would be.

Tom: I’m going for “different” and “worse”. Which is a shame: but the original already had percussion and energy, it knew exactly what it was aiming for, this just confuses matters. Unlike a remix that takes an emotional slow number and makes it INCREDIBLE, or that turns a good key change into a ludicrous key change, this… just adds some beats where there didn’t need to be any.

Tim: Ah, you see this is where having listened to that original 20+ times on repeat gives me more info: there’s more than that. In particular, there’s a whole new lovely countermelody under it (which is what you can hear on the obligatory ‘click to subscribe’ bit at the end).

It’s most notable during the chorus, where previously there was nothing – just the vocal – and it actually does add something to it, in a positive way for me. Sure, there was power to come from having the vocal unencumbered by anything else, but I don’t think this detracts from it at all.

Tom: It’s a shame, because there is, no doubt, a good remix to be had here: it just needs to either be much more transformative, or of a different track from the musical.

Tim: Speaking of which, The Greatest Show recently got added to the playlist at work, and my job satisfaction has subsequently increased by at least 150%.