Zekes – Vi Lyfter Igen

Quick little dansband number for you.

Tim: Quick little number for you now from Zekes, a Swedish dansband.

Tom: Ooh, I’m going to enjoy this. For the uninitiated, Wikipedia has an excellent summary of dansband: yes, it wouldn’t work in Britain, and I doubt I could listen to an whole album of it, but it still cheers me up no end.

Tim: I’m not normally a fan of the whole dansband thing, but this I like a lot. It’s cheery, energetic, happy, fun – I could go on, but I’d rather just bounce up and down in my chair, really.

Tom: That’s what it’s all about, though! I want these guys to play at a wedding, and I want to be a guest at that wedding. Additionally, I’d like that wedding to have several attractive and single bridesmaids, but that’s just me.

Tim: I like that it doesn’t really bother with setting the scene with much of an introduction or warm-up – it’s just right in there from the get-go: let’s have a good time. Nice key change, as well.

Tom: I started clicking my fingers along at that point. Apparently I’d actually be playing the part of the drunken uncle at that wedding. Never mind then.

Roxette – Speak To Me (Bassflow Edit)

My word, does it have a chorus and a half.

Tim: The original of the song is on the album; the single version is this, which is quite a bit more energetic. And my word, does it have a chorus and a half.

Tom: If this is the energetic version, then I’d hate to hear the — wait, the chorus just kicked in. Bloody hell.

Tim: Isn’t it good? You hear it, and it’s just, YEAH. It’s a closing chorus, really, all the way through, and it’s great. Annoyingly, the verses don’t get anywhere near it in terms of quality – they’re just a bit dull and fillery.

Tom: Damn right.

Tim: The weird thing is that when you put those together, you sort of get the impression of three final choruses, each being preceded by a somewhat lacklustre bridge, which is interesting – as though the song’s on repeat but the first half is missing. I don’t mind so much, though – the chorus is really what the song’s about, and it’s a belter.

Tom: I want to use that chorus in the finale of a movie. And I don’t even make movies.

Ola – Riot

I don’t understand why I quite like this.

Tim: Help me, Tom.

Tom: Oh dear. Have you got a girl in trouble?

Tim: Not any time recently, no. But I have an issue, related to this.

Tim: You see, if will.i.am or some such act came out with this song, and for some reason we reviewed it, my half of the page would probably consist of no small torrent of abuse directed at the artist, most likely containing language that would be unsuitable for younger readers. So why do I quite like this?

Tom: You fancy Ola? Just a hunch.

Tim: Oh, please, with that hair?* Here, I don’t mind the appalling auto-tune, the club-referencing, the mindless lyrics or the general shoutiness. The vaguely decent tune that’s behind seems to be enough for me, when it really wouldn’t normally be. Is it just that he’s Swedish? And if it is, does that make me racist in a strange and incredibly specific way? I just don’t know.

* I’m really not shallow.

Tom: It just seems such a dull song for its subject matter. “I want a riot / in this club”? Really? Because it takes a bit more energy and passion than that – particularly the lackadaisical final… poem or whatever it is – if you want to start a riot.

Saturday Reject: Nicke Borg – Leaving Home

Straight out of the bag labelled ‘songs you’d expect Tim to hate’

Tim: Straight out of the bag labelled ‘songs you’d expect Tim to hate’ comes this, which actually I enjoyed.

Tom: “I walk a lonely road / The only one I’ve ever known”

Tim: What? Anyway, why do I like it? I’m not sure. It’s the sort of track that tends to get stuck halfway through some metal albums – the token not so heavy piece that actually has a tune and is there to give it a slight piece of mainstream appeal – and that for some reason, I really like.*

* Another example: Dragonforce’s Dawn Over a New World, currently at number 12 in my iTunes top played list, sandwiched between Hera Bj√∂rk and One Direction. There’s an image for you.

Tom: “Don’t know where it goes / But it’s only me to me and I walk alone”

Tim: Um, OK. Well, it’s not a standard Melodifestivalen track, obviously, although it did get straight through to the final by coming second in its heat.

Tom: “I walk this empty street / On the Boulevard of Broken Dreams”

Tim: OH MY GOD YES – how did I not hear that? As for the performance, it’s not note-perfect by any means, and there’s no stage show to speak of. But dammit, it’s got a bloody great tune to it, and that’s what does it for me. Well, that and the key change, obviously.

Tom: Comparisons to Green Day aside, I actually really enjoy it as well – and I think this could have done rather well in the contest itself. And I’ll take glass-projected guitarists and waving red lights as a stage show: I think, even without those gimmicks, his presence would have done the job just fine. This is going on my playlist.

Andreas Wijk – Like My Style

Swedish fashion blogger and model, trying his hand at the music business.

Tim: Swedish fashion blogger and model, trying his hand at the music business.

Tom: Oh, well that’s not going to end badly at all.

Tom: Right, I’ll try and get over the appalling audio compression on this and give it a fair review. But when I say “I don’t like the sound of this”, I’m not just referring to the low bitrate.

Tim: Well, I was the same, for the first 40 seconds or so anyway – the verse seemed generic, the backing beat was fairly dull, and by and large it just didn’t seem very good. But the chorus: well, that’s nice. I think it’s the echo on his voice that does it, but it’s a chorus that a properly good boyband could put out and we’d all be loving it.

Tom: It’s not bad, actually, and by the end of the track I can see it being played on a dancefloor. It’s major-key life-affirming pap, and that’s not a bad thing.

Tim: Indeed. The verse that follows that chorus is just as dull as the first one, but then the chorus comes around again and it’s all forgotten. It’s very similar, with the sort of gentle trance backing, to the verses in I Can, and that may be partly why I like this. The bridge, on the other hand, reminds me more of Hold It Against Me – somewhat manky first bit, glorious second bit.

Tom: What is it with record producers and dubstep? It wasn’t a good idea in the first place, don’t try and copy it. Just have the second bit of the bridge, that’s not bad at all.

Tim: I don’t know – I’ve actually grown used to it recently, mainly thanks to Britney Spears’s album, and I don’t mind it too much here. In the end of this song, though, we come back for a lovely finish, with woah-ohs brought to you live and direct from Uptown Girl, and everything seems alright.

Taio Cruz – Telling The World

I think this might count as Oscar bait.

Tom: I think this might count as Oscar bait.

Tom: Taio Cruz clearly doesn’t mind playing second fiddle to an animated parrot. I suspect that might be because he’s making an enormous amount of money from this. Cue lots of footage from the movie, and an incredibly generic music video designed to appeal to everyone over the age of zero.

Tim: AND, he’s not wearing his usual trademark dickhead sunglasses, which is an interesting change.

Tom: As for the song: well, it’s no “Can You Feel The Love Tonight”. It’s certainly not a “Somewhere Out There”. It’s not even a “You’ll Be In My Heart”. But it’s not bad – and even if it wasn’t attached to the video, I suspect it’d still do pretty well. It is, in a word, rather lovely.

Tim: It is quite nice, isn’t it. Nothing special. But nice.

Tom: There is one unfortunate bit in the video where there are two mirrored versions of himself staring back at each other, looking for all the world like they’re about to kiss. Don’t use that effect in love song videos, directors.

Dana International – Ding Dong

This is Dana bloody International.

Tom: I know we said we weren’t going to review actual Eurovision songs before the event, Tim, but I’d like to plead a special exception here. Because this is Dana bloody International, legendary 1998 Israeli Eurovision entrant.

Not only is she back – if you can count being a judge on the Israeli version of Pop Idol as ‘going away’ – but the single’s being released over here in the UK. And she wrote it herself. And it’s pretty damn good.

Tim: It really is pretty damn good, isn’t it?

Tom: A bit of acoustic instrumentation in there, some serious orchestra hits, and a glorious textbook Eurovision key change. What more do you want?

Tim: Not much really. It’s not quite up to Diva standards, but that key change did make my hands go right up in the air.

Vendela – Punk Rock Song


Tim: Speaking of loud brash pop music, as we were yesterday —

Tom: Ooh! A bit of punk!

Tim: — here’s an entirely misnomered track.

Tom: Oh.

Tom: This is like will.i.am releasing a track that’s called “I Am Singing Live”. And what kind of a metaphor is “I love you like a punk rock song”? With lots of energy and shouting, but you’re done in about two minutes?

Tim: It’s not perfect, I suppose, but it is a song that knows exactly what it is: it’s an introduction to the artist, it’s a ‘yes, I had a song last year that kind of flopped, but LOOK AT ME I’M OVER HERE’ track that will get attention, get people talking and get her lots of attention. More importantly, though: it’s a track that’s bloody brilliant.

Tom: If I can get over my lack-of-punk disappointment, then yes – it’s not bad – but the lyrics do keep getting in the way. “It’s 1977”? “I’m full of sexual expression”? They sound like they’ve been run through Google Translate a few times.

Tim: She’s got a similar history to that of Eric Saade and that Hilda what we wrote about at the end of last year (whose new single Come The Weekend is due to appear imminently): straight out of the Disney Channel Sweden, she’s fairly young (though apparently that isn’t stopping her being full of sexual expression, or knowing who Patti Smith is) and will probably either be dropped immediately or, more likely given the attention this has got, be around for quite some time. Get used to her.

Tom: I’ll do my best.

Sheelah – The Last Time

We’re about to break up, so let’s have bloody fantastic farewell sex.

Tim: The essence of this song is ‘we’re about to break up, so let’s have bloody fantastic farewell sex.’ Classy, no?

Tom: I’m all in favour of pop songs that aren’t about traditional syrupy monogamy.

Tim: Released back in January but with a video only released a few weeks back, this is very standard middle of the road pop music, and it’s a bloody excellent example of it, as evidenced by the fact that the chorus lead-in in the same as that of My Life Would Suck Without You.

Tom: It is a bit similar, isn’t it? And it is middle-of-the road – but it is a very good road to be in the middle of.

Tim: Well, quite. It is loud, it is brash, it is excitable. Any negative points? Not really. It could be sung perfectly well by one person (say, Kelly Clarkson) and no-one would be able to tell the difference, but I don’t really have any problem with that. A key change might have worked nicely, but the song doesn’t seem to be missing anything. I’m happy with it as it is.

Tom: You know, it took me two listens to realise that there wasn’t a key change. My brain just assumed there was, automatically. Even now I’m not quite sure.

Tim: Is it just me, though, or at 2:10 does it look like she’s singing ‘be-before we say goodbye’

Tom: It’s just you.

Tim: Oh.

Saturday Reject: Anders Fernette – Run

Sadly, not particularly Melodifestivalen-friendly.

Tim: This is a great song.

Tom: It’s not a Snow Patrol cover, is it? No? Good.

Tim: Sadly, though, it seems it’s not particularly Melodifestivalen-friendly, coming as it did last in the (admittedly very strong) fourth heat.

Tim: As I said, great song (studio version on his website), and quite possibly future hit single.

Tom: It really is!

Tim: But, problem: the act on stage just didn’t really click for me, at all. He didn’t seem to know (or even care) what was going on around him, the smoke and the screen visualisation just seemed entirely generic*, and the floor dancers/backing singers were just going through the motions during the chorus, and doing nothing at all during the second verse.

* The fact that the concentric circles during the first verse didn’t appear at the same frequency as the beats also annoyed me, but that’s just because I’m like that.

Tom: And if we’re being cruel, he hit more than his fair share of bum notes in there – in particular during the run up to the key change. Now, I realise that I couldn’t hit a single note if I was up there myself – but then again I’m not trying to represent my country in Eurovision.

Tim: The worst thing, though? The sheet dancers, or whatever they’re meant to be called —

Tom: “Aerial performers”, or possibly silk dancers.

Tim: Thank you — because really, what were they doing? They rolled down as they were meant to do for a triumphant end to the chorus, but then spent the next minute or so just dangling there, twirling around without much synchronicity, and at times flailing around, looking like they were desperately trying to find something to grab on to and steady themselves (2:10, I’m looking at you).

Tom: Which is a shame, because in the right hands it can be absolutely incredible. See, for example, Pink’s incredible performance at the 2010 Grammy Awards. And yes, she’s singing live.

Tim: But the main question: when first he sings ‘I [PAUSE]’ about forty seconds in, what is the song I want to sing? The line continues either ‘…don’t want to be a hero’ or ‘…I want to be a hero’. WHAT’S THE SONG TOM.

Tom: Oh, BLOODY HELL I don’t know. It’s some club track, I think. I can’t remember it. Readers, any ideas in the comments? Please?