Lady Gaga – Born This Way

An emergency late-night post: It’s amazing. And brilliant. And fantastic.

Tom: An emergency late-night post from the Europlop team now, as we’ve just had our first listen to this. We’re not waiting until Monday.

Tim: It’s amazing. And brilliant. And fantastic. And amazing. Even though I said that already.

Tom: That spoken-word introduction made me wary, but then bloody hell that is amazing. We’re talking one-man first-listen desk-rave rave here.

Tim: Is a lot of it just hype? Possibly.

Tom: A one-man first-listen desk-rave, Tim. That never happens. Although I did calm down a bit after and realise it’s probably just Very Good rather than The Greatest Thing Ever. But it’s still very good.

Tim: It broke a record, going to number one in iTunes within three hours of being released, and that certainly wouldn’t have happened if the same record had been released by some unknown person.

On the other hand, that’s a stupid thing to say because it hasn’t been released by some unknown person, it’s been released by the most notable person in music right now. And that shines right through in the music, which is brilliant. Did I say that already?

Tom: Don’t know. Too busy dancing.

Tim: You may be one of those people that hates songs with Messages, and this is undoubtably one of those. But I don’t care, even if I normally would, because it’s fun, it’s energetic, it’s happy, it’s jumping around like a kid who’s just been given a pogo stick. There is just so much here, there’s just, well, everything. Basically, anybody who doesn’t like it is a moron.

Rebound – Psycho

Mentally deranged lyricist. Ah. (With bonus INJU5TICE catch-up!)

Tim: Apologies on their behalf for the weirdness of this video.

Tom: Blimey, “director of photography” and “effects” credits in the opening? This should be good. Full marks for having an entire freak-out break in the middle of it, which means the song can’t be ripped (or even repetitively watched) on YouTube. I’m surprised more record companies aren’t pulling stunts like that.

Tim: Okay, let’s run through what this song has:

  • Declarations of love. Good.
  • Not bad chorus. Good.
  • Singers that aren’t overly autotuned. Good.
  • Mentally deranged lyricist. Ah.

Feel free to disagree with me, but a chorus that begins with the line ‘I love you like a psycho’ really is more likely to end up with a restraining order than a wedding ceremony. That’s a shame, because I actually really like this song. The music’s catchy, and there’s a chorus you could sing along to, if you were weird. Come to think of it, it wouldn’t sound remotely out of place on a JLS album.

Tom: Those are pretty much my thoughts exactly, although that “ey-oh, ey-oh” bit does remind me uncomfortably of everyone’s favourite unintentional comedy band INJU5TICE.

Tim: Ooh! Speaking of INJU5TICE, I found out something fantastic recently. Apparently, they once got a train from Northampton to London (two hour round trip) for one reason and one reason only: to take a photo with Beefy, a cat belonging to Heat magazine. (Source.)

Tom: Second INJU5TICE fun fact – they were backed by producer Ian Levine, who – despite his best efforts – is possibly best known for what he later described to the Guardian as “absolute balls-up fiasco … pathetic and bad and stupid”. If you value your sanity, you should not view the Bring Back Doctor Who charity single ‘Doctor In Distress‘, nor should you read the horrible backstory (scroll down).

Tim: “It almost ruined me.” Shame about the almost, really.

But anyway, back to the psychopaths we were originally discussing: if it weren’t for the ‘let me’ in the last line of the chorus, the song would seem more like a warning to his, let’s face it, victim, especially with the line ‘Lock me in a room and throw away the key.’ Yes. Yes, I think I will, if you don’t mind.

Basto! – Gregory’s Theme

It’s the Jimmy Hart Version of Bromance.

Tim: Belgium isn’t generally known for dance music. Chocolates, yes. Finished diamonds as well, apparently.

Tom: And waffles.

Tim: But dance music, not so much. However, we should change this. Recently we discovered Ian van Dahl were from there, and now here’s another of the country’s exports.

Tom: I went to Belgium once. It wasn’t the most exciting place I’ve visited. This song will have to do a lot to overcome my inherent indifference towards the country.

Tim: Now, once you’ve got past the ‘this is brilliant’ and ‘who’s Gregory?’ phases, your next thought may well be ‘hmm, it’s a bit familiar.’ And yes, it is. It’s almost certainly inspired (perhaps even based on) Tim Berg’s Bromance, which we featured a while back and enjoyed intensely.

Tom: I’d go with “ripped off from”. It’s the Jimmy Hart Version of Bromance – close enough that you’re not going to get sued, but blatantly the same track.

Tim: Well then, question: does it matter? Because this is unquestionably a Good Tune, and quite likely floor-filler. Is it different enough for it not to be the same tune? Yes, of course it is. It is close enough that when I hum it to myself I occasionally end up slipping into Bromance? Well, also yes.

I’m now in a slightly awkward situation. By and large, I highly dislike it when people say ‘oh, it sounds like this, it’s not original, they must have copied it, therefore this is crap,’ as I generally prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt. But here, I just can’t do that. However, because it is so good, regardless of its history I shall give it a big thumbs up. Although part of that decision is because I thought Bromance was great.

Tom: I don’t think it’s as good, and here’s why: Bromance didn’t need vocals. Its melody didn’t get boring half way through, whereas this one does – it’s missing something, and that something is a Love U Seek-style mashup.

I suspect it won’t be long until one arrives.

Tim: Do you know, I think you might be right there.

Lucky Twice – Love Song

It’s a very dance-y dullness, isn’t it?

Tim: A song that was recorded about eighteen months ago, from a group that split up almost a year ago, and whose video is finally seeing the light of day now. And it’s a video straight from the 1980s.

Tom: Ooh. Now that has a beat to it. It’s like an 80s director suddenly got a copy of After Effects from the future.

Tim: I have a few problems with this, aside from the general dullness of the track.

Tom: It’s a very dance-y dullness, though, isn’t it? This is something I’d expect to run into in the middle of a Eurodance megamix – catchy, generic, but good enough to keep you moving and smiling.

Tim: It is, I must agree, but the first issue I have is related: that underlying beat is practically identical to another track. I’m not sure which one (and that’s another problem, because I spent the whole time trying to think what it was), and I thought it was Can You Feel It, but it isn’t, quite. But anyway, it’s a fairly dominant beat, and it’s there throughout the whole track. Even though it’s not a direct lift, it’s just too annoying.

Tom: I think you’re remembering the Steps version of ‘Tragedy’, which has the same ‘one-TWO, three’ beat.

Tim: YES! Thank you.

Tom: But it’s not close enough – I think it’s more that just they’re all generic pop beats with a standard chord progression. And there’s nothing wrong with that, Tim, because this particular variation on those generic pop beats is really very danceable indeed.

Tim: True, I suppose. But anyway, that is not the main problem. Not by a long way. Because the question I found myself asking after I heard it is: what were they thinking? Seriously. At 2:25, why? I mean, that’s not just a missed opportunity, that’s an actual crime against music. There SHOULD BE a key change there, regardless of whether you think they’re good or not.

Tom: You’re absolutely right! Can’t believe they didn’t do it.

Tim: What with that and the beat, it’s as though the producer hadn’t actually heard music before making this. It’s no wonder they split up.

Tom: Can’t hear you. I’m too busy dancing in my seat and hitting ‘play’ again.

Elton John and Leon Russell – When Love Is Dying

Soulful, melancholic Elton.

Tom: I’m not doubting that Elton John is a genius. If I could have seen the Red Piano tour when I was in Vegas a few years ago, I would have been there; he’s brilliant. But like the Pet Shop Boys and many other artists, he’s put out a lot of singles in his time – and a lot of them have sunk without trace. The reason he can put a double CD ‘Greatest Hits’ out isn’t necessarily representative of his hit rate, but testament to just how many songs he’s written and sung.

Leon Russell may be less familiar to you; he’s just been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and has a biography that is essentially the history of modern popular music.

And so last year, the two of them brought out an album called The Union – and a single is eventually making it out to give it a post-release boost. I’m glad of that – because if it’s anything to go by I may well have to get the full album. This is textbook soulful, melancholic Elton – “Your Song” or “Sacrifice” rather than “Crocodile Rock”.

Tim: Not bad, really. Halfway through each verse I want to jump in with ‘I’ll stand by you’, but it’s decent enough.

Tom: I don’t think it’s going to enter the public consciousness in the same way as those earlier songs, but it’s still making me sway in my seat and hold my metaphorical lighter in the air. To still be releasing music this good after forty years of releasing and performing? That’s amazing right there. Cliff Richard could only manage the bloody “Millennium Prayer” after forty years.

I do wish the bloke with the bass drum would tone it down a bit though – and I’m sure there’s a bit more autotune-tweaking than there really needs to be in there, which is a bit of a shame.

JLS feat. Tinie Tempah – Eyes Wide Shut

This was inevitable.

Tom: I suppose a collaboration like this was inevitable. There’s only so far you can go with boy-band ballad harmony, and getting someone else in to do the rap vocals is a better idea than letting any of the condom-peddlers have a go.

Tim: Yeah, but – he isn’t, really. He’s there for less than fifteen seconds; according to maths that works out to about six and half percent, which barely justifies the ‘featuring’. The cynical part of me would suggest that they’re aiming for the Tinie Tempah fans, because for whatever reason the JLS fans aren’t enough. God knows why, though – they’ve not really had a problem getting a number 1 before now.

Tom: There’s hardly any interaction between the two, though. JLS sing. And then Tinie Tempah raps for a bit. And then JLS sing for a bit more. With the exception of a couple of quick exclamations at the end, it’s almost as if Tinie just recorded his verse to a click track and let the producers paste it in later.

Tim: Weird thing: Tinie’s yelling out the names, but thirty seconds into the song after JLS have done their bit. It’s as though they correctly thought, ‘Yelling out names at the start of the record is silly. Let’s make our song properly,’ but then he came along and said, ‘What’s this? I’m a rapper, I can’t be in a song but not yell my name out a the start! How dare they try and stop me.’

Tom: Speaking of which: I reckon you’re thinking “this sounds a lot like Calvin Harris’ I’m Not Alone“. And you’d be right – because Calvin Harris produced this too, not so much ‘laying down’ the track as ‘copying and pasting’ it.

And, while we’re at it, did they really have to rip the title from Stanley Kubrick? I’m assuming JLS aren’t getting involved in masked orgies. If they were, the tabloids would be onto them like a shot.

Europlop’s Sunday Mashups: Jay-Z, Rihanna & E.S. Posthumus – Run This Town / Posthumus Zone

Big.

Tom: It’s Superbowl Sunday, Tim.

Tim: Ooh, and you like American Football. Educate me, whilst I take a seat.

Tom: Last year’s Superbowl was the most watched television event in American history, as somewhere in the region of a hundred million people saw the underdog New Orleans Saints beat the Indianapolis Colts. Now how do you open a show like that?

The advertisers are going to want something spectacular – after all, they’re paying somewhere around five million dollars per minute of commercial time. And the viewers are going to want something that beats previous years. In 2006, for example, Billy Joel sang the American national anthem, interspersed with live footage of American troops watching in Baghdad and a camera feed from the cockpit of one of the military jets that fly over the stadium exactly at the song’s conclusion. That’s how you open a damn show. (Ignore the autotune – nobody told Billy Joel they were going to use it.)

So what does CBS, last year’s broadcaster, do?

Tim: Something quite big?

Tom: Well, they get Jay-Z and Rihanna, pretty much the biggest names in music. And then they get ES Posthumus, who write incredible, overblown electric-guitar-and-orchestra themes. And then they mash them together.

Tom: The final released version of this was “clean”, but for the sheer spectacle I’ve linked to the broadcast version. This is how you get a hundred million people hyped up for a game. If your jaw didn’t drop at that incredible slow-motion jump near the end, then I think there might be something wrong with you.

I just worry that ITV will try and do something like this for the FA Cup Final one year. They’d use Dizzee Rascal. It just wouldn’t be the same. It’s not British at all, and – just this once – that’s what’s so great about it.

And as for this year? It’s the Fox network’s turn to broadcast it, so I’m assuming it’ll be something suitably over-the-top. And hopefully, the Packers will take the trophy as well.

Tim: Well in that case… go Packers?

Saturday Flashback: Darin – You’re Out Of My Life

I don’t think I could fault this, even if I wanted to.

Tim: A few weeks ago, we mentionedthat various countries were starting to look for their Eurovision entries. Well tonight, it’s the big one, as Melodifestivalen, the second most important music competition of the year, gets going in Sweden; as such, it’s only appropriate that we look back at a previous entry. Darin entered with this last year, and I reckon we’ve gone too long without mentioning him.

Tom: I reckon I’d put Lovekiller as one of the best songs of last year. It’s so overblown and yet brilliant.

Tim: I’ll be honest – I don’t think I could fault this, even if I wanted to.

Tom: This is how you make a slow, emotional schlager song without it seeming slow and plodding. Basic chord changes, emotional vocals, soaring choruses.

Tim: Admittedly it’s not as good as Lovekiller or his other recent and brilliant single Microphone, but it’s still great. Music: top notch. Lyrics/emotion relation: perfect.

Tom: And the key change?

Tim: Key change: absolutely superb.

Tom: Superb enough that my jaw genuinely dropped.

Tim: All round: flipping marvellous.

Tom: Oh yes.

Tone Damli – No Way Out

Fairly simple, really: nice tinkly piano intro, soft female vocals.

Tim: So, let’s see what we’ve got here. Fairly simple, really: nice tinkly piano intro, soft female vocals (as, really, we’d expect from a female), gentle drums and an early-Avril-Lavigne style chorus.

Tom: I was distracted and bored through the verse, until that Avril-style chorus kicked in – at which point I let out a quick “ooh!” of surprise. The chorus is brilliant, but you do have to plod through the rest of the song to get there.

Tim: True, but then with it building up a bit towards the end (admittedly passing through a very, VERY disappointing bridge exit), it’s basically a fun, fairly excited and happy piece of pop music, and anybody who doesn’t like it must have a heart of stone. Of STONE!

Tom: I do like it. I just wish there was a bit more energy in it – particularly that bridge exit, which winds up to a key change that never happens. If ever there was a track for Almighty Records to remix…

Anna Abreu – Hysteria

Now, this is proper pop.

Tim: Despite only coming third, this lady is the most successful artist to come out of Finnish Pop Idol. Here’s an example of why.

Tom: She sounds just a bit like Cascada. Just a bit.

Tim: Now, this is proper pop – it has loud music, loud singing, lots of ‘oh-oh-oh’s and just generally lots of fun. After the first verse it never really calms down, and I don’t have much of a problem with that.

Tom: It’s a long first verse, and I couldn’t actually tell when it transitioned into the chorus. I’m assuming it was at the bizarre Casio keyboard tom-tom fill.

Tim: Somewhere around that, but does it matter exactly? It’s plenty vibrant enough anywhere, and while it could perhaps do with something new happening towards the end, it’s got so much to it already there’s not a lot that could be added without breaking music.

Tom: I’d actually cut it a bit – it does go on.

Tim: You think? Normally with a song like this I’d be the first one to hurry it along to finish, but even at four minutes it doesn’t seem too long, partly because there isn’t any filler there – there isn’t even really an instrumental part of the bridge that could be cut.

Tom: I disagree, but it’s not like I’d leave a dancefloor in disgust if it came on.

Tim: Well, I think: top notch.