The Pusher – Blinded By The Dark

Definitely Radio 1 playlist-worthy.

Tim: I present you with a band called The Pusher (recently renamed from Fashion, no idea why), who aren’t so far away from The Script, once you add in a little bit of Swedishness; this is highly appropriate, given that they are in fact Swedish. They have two tracks up on their Facebook page, one of which is also on YouTube:

Tim: I enjoyed this considerably when I first heard it, and I still do. It’s got all the good bits from bands like Scouting for Girls and The Wanted, and then it adds more good bits to make an all round very listenable track, even if the ending is a little abrupt. It’s definitely Radio 1 playlist-worthy, although the chances of that are sadly small to miniscule.

Tom: This is the first case I’ve seen of “nice song, shame about the video”. I agree with everything you’ve said about the track – I could happily see this sitting on radio playlists up and down the country. There’s nothing too novel or interesting here, but it’s not needed – it’s a proper, decent, modern pop song.

I hope that’s not the official video though.

Let me explain: in the last couple of years, digital SLR cameras have got to the point where they can record HD video. That means that everyone who was able to take professional-looking pictures – those depth-of-field-heavy shots where the background’s all blurry – can now record professional-looking video for a fraction of what it used to cost.

The trouble is, it doesn’t end up looking professional. Overcome with this ability to use depth of field, it’s suddenly used all the time – so for a good portion of that video, nothing at all is in focus – until the singer suddenly looms out of the fog. Combine that with the camera’s rolling shutter, which makes the picture wobble and skew, and it’s suddenly filmed in Drunk-O-Vision.

Robyn’s latest video suffers from this as a little well, but it’s on a much better camera, with a cameraman who very much knows how to use it and with lot more footage to cut between. She can get away with it – The Pusher can’t.

Tim: Understand the point, and why it’s generally very annoying, but here I’m not so sure it applies – the whole song is about a relationship falling apart and breaking down, and for me the wobbliness and entirely-out-of-focusness of the video contributes to that. It’s the same style of filming directors often use when the world, spaceship or building is in the middle of being destroyed, and I’m guessing that here they’re going for the same effect.

Tom: Like hell are they going for the same effect. They’ve got a fancy camera and they’re using it.

Tim: Personally I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt, even if this time it’s more like benefit of the massive massive doubt. We won’t discuss the second track here, partly because it’s not as good, but mostly because I can barely type the name without tears of joy springing forth. It certainly proves they’re definitely not English: Blow Me and Run. I kid you not.

Tom: For some reason that reminded me of ‘Stoppit and Tidyup‘. I think I should stop there.

Saturday Flashback: Waldo’s People – Lose Control

It doesn’t worry about sticking to any formula but still turns out brilliantly.

Tim: This is quite possibly my favourite Eurovision tune 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.

Tom: I’ve mentioned Spiderman on Broadway before, right? Because that’s a real thing.

Tim: As for the video – I have no idea whatsoever.

Tom: I don’t think anyone does, Tim.

B.o.B feat. Rivers Cuomo – Magic

The most awkward dancing that you’ll see for a long time.

Tom: Okay, brace yourself, because this video features the most awkward dancing that you’ll see in mainstream music for a long time. Rivers Cuomo is better known as the frontman of the band Weezer, who have lately been known more for their gimmicks than their music*, and who may be the whitest guy to appear in a track like this in a long time.

*See, for example, videos featuring the Muppets or every internet meme ever, and their latest album cover.

Tom: This is surprisingly catchy. B.o.B generally has damn good choruses – and his flow (yes, I just used the word flow, deal with it) isn’t bad either.

Tim: You’re right, he does have good choruses – the downside to this is that I often end up just putting up with the verses as a way to get to the chorus, and actually partly wishing they weren’t there at all. It also means that the songs can get known just by their choruses, which, unfortunately for this song, is nowhere near as good as the chorus in Airplanes, which also had a fairly decent melody under the, um, flow rather than some generic drum and bass beat.

Tom: He’s namechecked Aretha Franklin, David Blaine, and Evil Knievil – all of which made me smile – but there’s a few things that annoy me about this.

First of all, it’s three and a half minutes dedicated to how good he is. Don’t say it – prove it. Admittedly it’s nice to see a pop song that isn’t just about love or relationships, but does it have to be ego-boosting instead?

Tim: This irritates me as well. Devil’s advocate, though: at least he’s confident in himself. He’s had a couple of number one singles – why shouldn’t he love himself?

Tom: Second, you’re really doing the ‘was it really all a dream’ thing with the video? Achewood made fun of that eight years ago and it was old then. It was old in the eighties. Seriously. Do better.

Tim: Ah, no. You see, it’s retro now, and therefore cool.

Tom: And finally, B.o.B is pronounced “Bob”? Really?

Tim: More likely that his real name is Bob (well, Bobby), which it is.

Tom: That’s, somehow, vaguely disappointing.

Magnus Carlsson – Feel You

His head moves in the manner of a curious owl inspecting a vole.

Tim: If yesterday wasn’t enough for you, also in pop-dance-cheese at the moment we have a Swede who wants to Feel You.

Tim: It’s safe to say he certainly gets his message across – I don’t think there’s any doubt whatsoever about what he wants, and so in that sense it’s a good song. Does it matter why he wants to feel me? Not really. I’d rather he didn’t, I suppose, but with that much enthusiasm I probably wouldn’t be able to say no after a while.

Tom: Oh please, like he’d need anywhere near that much enthusiasm to convince you. The track’s not bad, I suppose, although after a while I’d just like there to be something, anything different added to the formula.

Tim: Part of me keeps wanting to sing ‘cause in the heat of the night…‘ occasionally, but I don’t mind that at all and overall I like this a lot.

Tom: Really? I got ‘waiting for a star to fall…‘ several times.

Tim: That as well, actually, and I think it’s the same reason – that pause followed by the glockenspiely synth. The video is notable for doing exactly two things, which is all it tries to do: rivalling Russia’s Eurovision Song Contest in terms of stupid numbers of lights*, and knocking seven shades of shit out of Eric Saade when it come to rainfall.

* Today’s fun fact: 13% of the world’s LED displays were in Moscow’s Olympic Indoor Arena that night. Every day’s a school day.

Tom: When he dances, his head moves in the manner of a curious owl inspecting a vole. His gaze never leaves the camera, and his head seems to move strangely on top of his body, almost as if it’s superimposed. I propose that he is, in fact, the first bird of prey to release a dance single.

Mylène Farmer – Oui mais… Non

What do you get if you take Basshunter, give him a sex change and turn him French?

Tim: Now, a question for you: what do you get if you take Basshunter, give him a sex change and turn him French? (And if that’s not a question that belongs in a Christmas cracker, I don’t know what is.)

Didn’t think you’d get it. The answer is this: Mylène Farmer, who has got together with RedOne and given us Oui mais… Non.

Tom: The French anthem for Vicky Pollard, then. That is, by the way, the only Little Britain reference you’ll ever hear me make.

Tim: Actually, comparing her to Basshunter could be seen as unfair, given that she’s been going about 25 years and has produced some damn fine music in her time; nonetheless, when she puts out stuff like this she deserves every comparison going. It’s more than a little bit bonkers, and is roughly what I imagine Kate Bush might be doing right now if she were still going.

Tom: She is still going, sort of. Her latest album, in 2005, had a track that featured Rolf Harris on vocals.

Tim: Do you know, that doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. Anyway, Mylène does seem to go on a bit (personally, I’d have ended it at the break at about 3:20), although I’m willing to put that down to the lyrics being all foreign and therefore un-sing-along-able.

Tom: It really does go on, doesn’t it? Basshunter generally has melodies that stick in your head – and may I remind you that Basshunter’s DotA was just as catchy as All I Ever Wanted* – while this just drifted in one ear and out the other.

* Incidentally, if you want to see what a record deal and a personal trainer does to someone, compare the concert footage – the style, confidence and everything – in those two videos.

Tim: Good point about Basshunter. Hmm. Still, overall, the worst you could call this is dance floor fodder, because it would almost definitely go down well with a load of drunken students. As for what I think – not a bad effort. Not bad at all.

Oh, and according to Google Translate the chorus contains the line ‘God, my God it’s long!’

Tom: That’s what she… oh. Right. It is what she said. Never mind.

The Wanted – Heart Vacancy

In which they, um, sit down. And stay seated. Throughout.

Tim: As an alternative to yesterday’s action-packed video, here’s The Wanted’s new song, Heart Vacancy, in which they, um, sit down. And stay seated. Throughout.

Tom: The video couldn’t even afford a special effect for the big ending, which just makes it look a bit confusing. Which, since they apparently flew them out to foreign parts to do the filming, seems like a bit of a cop-out.

Tim: They do one other thing: “be good-looking”, which let’s face it is all they were meant to do.

Tom: Good grief, The Wanted really are one of the most generic boy bands ever, aren’t they? There’s really nothing to note in here – I’ve been struggling to write anything for a few minutes now.

Tim: The song comes with a heavy helping of auto-tune, which makes the chorus seem a little bit whiny; aside from that it’s not too bad, although it isn’t particularly good either. I’ve listened to it three times and all I can really remember is the ‘in your heart in your heart in your heart’ line from the chorus, which isn’t a great sign.

Tom: The dance remix will go down well at under-18 club nights, I suspect. And of course, teenage girls will buy it – or at least endlessly watch the YouTube video of it. And then it’ll be forgotten. Hopefully forever.

Tim: True. Which sucks from their point of view, I suppose, but if they get too depressed they can at least take comfort in the fact that they’re not INJU5TICE, who didn’t even make it to the Top 100 and whose last “fan newsletter” was an attempt to offload the last of their merchandise.

Tom: So long, INJU5TICE, we hardly knew you. Thankfully.

Le Kid – We Should Go Home Together

I can’t help thinking it’s a little bit too camp.

Tim: Five Swedes make up Le Kid, and they have a song entitled We Should Go Home Together. Released in Sweden last month, should be out in the UK next year. This is hard for me to say, as I think it verges on sacrilege here, but while I like this I can’t help thinking it’s a little bit too camp and cheesy.

Tom: Like hell it is. Yes, it’s camp, yes, it’s cheesy, but not by too much. Admittedly, I may be biased because there are several attractive women dancing in low-cut retro outfits. I’m fairly sure one of them flashed her knickers at one point. I wasn’t paying attention to soapy sailors.

Tim: I’m not sure why exactly, but there’s definitely something about it that makes me think, ‘People, are you sure you really want to be doing this?’ I know this is coming from someone who pretty much admitted to liking Rocket to Uranus, but I’m not sure if it’s the excessive woah-oh-oh-woahs, the synth backing, the soapy sailors, the cheeky sailor-girl costumes, the rescuing a drowning mermaid (what?)

Tom: You forgot the sailor eating a banana, and the phallic sittin’ on the riggin’.

Tim: It just all adds up to too much, really.

Tom: Like hell it does. You want to see too much? This is too much. That’s a video that’ll ruin your gaydar for days, in the same way that you can’t hear for a while after a loud explosion goes off near you. After watching that, you’ll look at the Village People and think “that’s just four men in costumes dancing, nothing camp about that at all”. That’s too much. This? Not even close. It’s brilliant. And the music’s pretty good too.

Tim: Good lord, man, where on Earth did you find that? It’s like something that shot out of John Barrowman’s arse after a night of rampant bumming.

Tom: That may just be the worst sequence of words you’ve ever written. It gets worse the more I think about it.

Tim: Thank you very much – I’m quite proud of that sentence. Anyway, it’s not the video that I really have the problem with – there’s just something in the music I’m not keen on. I don’t know.

Tom: I’ll chalk that down to musical tastes then, because I’m really enjoying everything about this. It’s just lovely.

Saturday Flashback: Sinéad Mulvey and Black Daisy – Et Cetera

The song’s amazingness goes without question.

Tom: I’m just going to let Tim have this one.

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.

Madcon feat. Ameerah – Freaky Like Me

It’s got a crowd-noise “aaayy!” sample, so it can’t be all bad.

Tom: Most Brits will know Madcon for two reasons: first of all, their fantastic rework of Beggin’, and secondly, the crowd-dance 2010 Eurovision interval act. As for this one: well, it’s got a crowd-noise “aaayy!” sample, so it can’t be all bad.

Tom: The first chorus sounds like it should be the last chorus, which is a pity because it isn’t. This seems to overstay its welcome even at three minutes; if you this ended at 1:11, I think it’d be a pretty good minute of music, but after that it just seems to drag a bit. Even the proper appearance of Ameerah in the last third can’t save it.

Tim: I don’t know, I think it’s all right – I will confess, though, that I spent the last ninety seconds desperately trying to remember what ‘come a little closer, come a little closer’ reminded me of, so I wasn’t really listening to it. Even listening to it again, though, I think there’s enough in there to sustain the full three minutes, and I might even go so far as to say I almost slightly like it.

Tom: Good video, though; the UV paint and fancy typography make up for the slightly dull track.

Scouting for Girls – Don’t Want To Leave You

Will it sound the same as every other one?

Tom: When Scouting for Girls release a new single, there’s always the question: will it sound the same as every other Scouting for Girls single? The answer here is: yes. Yes it does. Again.

Tom: Earnest vocals over inoffensive piano, guitar and drums; vocal harmonies in the background from half way through the song; quiet piano bridge ramping up to undeservedly triumphant final chorus. Probably the same chords as their previous tracks, although I’m not going to risk falling asleep by checking.

Tim: I’ll be honest: I quite like Scouting for Girls. The music’s not particularly imaginative, but it’s good enough. True, they could have stopped after their first album and kept releasing the same singles over and over again on a three year cycle and nobody would really notice, but it’s fairly harmless.

Tom: The best I can say about this is that it’s generic and mercifully short. It’ll be reasonably popular, then sink without trace, and in a few months’ time there’ll be another one. Kind of like… huh. I’ve come up short on analogies there. Any ideas?

Tim: Well, kind of like, um, She’s So Lovely, Elvis Ain’t Dead, Heartbeat, I Wish I Was James Bond, This Ain’t A Love Song and any others I may have missed. The only thing that leaps to mind about this is the irony that it starts off being described as ‘a song you can sing along to’, and then becomes a song that isn’t really memorable in the slightest.