The Human League – Never Let Me Go

Fans of eldritch horrors from beyond time and space may enjoy the video.

Tom: Fans of eldritch horrors from beyond time and space may enjoy the video. The rest of us will find it deeply unsettling.

Tim: Deeply, deeply unsettling.

Tom: The Human League have been going for nearly 35 years now. Despite their ten albums, they’re mainly known as “that group who did Don’t You Want Me”, and maybe – if they’re lucky – “didn’t they do Tell Me When as well”. This song shows no sign of changing that.

It’s the first song I’ve heard in a long time where the repeat-until-fadeout seems wrong, entirely wrong. And I don’t know why: it’s the natural point in the song for it, but most pop songs don’t use it any more – they end on a long vocal while the instrumentation reaches a natural end.

Tim: That’s pretty much what I thought – it seemed to be far too long. When it ended after I first heard it, I was struggling to remember anything other than the chorus, as if it was one long repeat to fade. It probably wouldn’t be so bad if there was a bit more to it; as it is, it’s only a few seconds long, so it goes round dozens of times,

Tom: It just seems so out of place in a song that, otherwise, is a modern electronic track. Albeit a rather dull modern electronic track.

Tim: And very, very electronic – the auto tune seems even worse than yesterday’s track. I know it’s fashionable, but can’t you just sing?

I wonder when the music industry will start thinking, ‘Do you remember autotune? Man, what the he’ll were we thinking.’ Hopefully not too long.

Mike Posner – Please Don’t Go

OH GOD THE AUTOTUNE IT’S HORRENDOUS.

Tom: Last time we heard Mike Posner, we dismissed him with the simple phrase ‘what a dick’. Has he changed since?

Tom: Nope.

Tim: OH GOD THE AUTOTUNE IT’S HORRENDOUS.

Tom: This song’s been around for a while, but it’s now getting a proper UK single release. What an incredible video, by the way – the first time I’ve seen someone use video codec artifacts as a deliberate effect.

Tim: Perhaps an incredible video, but somehow that facial hair manages to appear actually offensive to me.

Tom: Musically, it’s really quite good, even if Chinstrap McPoser does seem to automatically generate a frisson of hatred somewhere deep in my soul. He’s probably quite a nice person, but the character he plays in these videos appears to be a spanner of enormous proportions.

It’s very listenable, although it does seem rather to have gone in one ear and out the other, leaving just a vague sense of ‘that was pleasant enough’ behind it.

Tim: Really, though? For me, the voice is really, really annoying. If I had my way, this song would be one of the type of songs that I normally hate – ones like Eminem & Rihanna or Diddy Dirty Money that have a fantastic chorus totally wasted on a largely crap song. The lengthy ‘go’ and ‘don’t’ at the beginning of the choruses indicate a lot of potential, but it’s just wasted.

Black Eyed Peas – Just Can’t Get Enough

Well, it’s got to be better than ‘Dirty Bit’.

Tom: Well, it’s got to be better than ‘Dirty Bit’.

Tom: And indeed it is. Unlike before, when ‘Dirty Bit’ seems completely incongruous with the rest of the song, all this seems to fit together nicely – even the ‘switch up’ bit at the end really works for me.

Tim: Not me – as far as I’m concerned if a phrase like ‘switch up’ appears in anything related to music, it should indicate one thing: key change. And not one that fits in nicely with the tune: one that is entirely gratuitous and would be slammed by every sensible music critic.

Tom: It’s mostly-meaningless, catchy club music, and as long as it’s not pretending to be something greater I’ve got no problem with that.

Tim: Fair point, I suppose, although I must say this is possibly a song that would make me leave the dance floor (and as you know that’s actually fairly heavy criticism from me).

Tom: That video’s also proven something: the rolling shutter problems I complained about months ago have now made it into proper, full-budget videos. Once you see it, you can’t un-see it, and it’s really bugging me that professional producers allow it to hit their videos.

Speaking of which: did they film it in Japan just because they shoehorned the phrases “love you long time” and “Mr Roboto” into the lyrics? I’m not sure what to think of that.

Tim: And speaking of lyrics: ‘vexed-o’? Really?

Eric Saade – Popular

It’s big, it’s incredibly energetic.

Tim: Following last years slight cock-up where the people chose someone who didn’t qualify for the final, this year Sweden has a good Eurovision entry, who got almost 24% of the people’s vote (for comparison, the second placed song got 14%).

Tom: Interestingly, this has divided YouTube as well – there are a lot of dislikes on that video.

Tim: Last time we met him, you complained he’d gone ‘all plodding and melodic’. Well, no. No he hasn’t.

Tom: That’s true: this isn’t plodding, but sadly it’s not all that melodic either. “I can say / you will one day” “Be someone / before you’re gone”? It sounds like a nursery rhyme.

Tim: I don’t really want to point this out, but I’m a little surprised you missed the very first rhyme: “Stop don’t say that it’s impossible / ‘Cause I know it’s possible.”

This was, however, one of my favourites right from the start – it’s big, it’s incredibly energetic, there’s a decent tune there.

Tom: Whoa, hold up. There’s no decent tune there. It’s better than Kesha, I’ll grant you, and the the middle bit of the chorus with the synth arpeggio is decent – but the rest is a bit… well, energetically dull.

Tim: NO. I won’t let that stand. Although a lot of the times I’ve heard it it’s been alongside its main rival in the competition, Danny’s the entirely boring In The Club, so maybe it’s just a comparative thing.

Anyway, whatever you may think of the music, you can’t deny that it’s all backed up by a fantastic performance. Last year it was rain, this year he’s smashing glass – even if you don’t like the song, you’ve got to give him credit for being inventive with his staging.

Tom: I don’t like the song, but I cannot fault that staging at all: incredibly energetic with top-notch choreography. I can’t help but like him.

Tim: I hope this’ll do well, I really do. It certainly deserves to, and I, along with a vast number of other people, would be incredibly gutted if this didn’t at least make it through to the final.

Tom: I’m not holding my hopes up.

Lena Philipsson feat. Dead by April – Dancing in the Neon Light

A bit different.

Tim: Older Melodifestivalen fans than us may be able to cast their minds back to 1987 and Lena Philipsson’s performance of a rather good Swedish song entitled ‘Dansa i Neon‘.

Tom: That’s some proper eighties hair, that is. And it’s a proper eighties song. It’s got chord progressions and melody lines that have been used a thousand times since and will no doubt be used a thousand times more.

Tim: Now jump forward twenty four years to a reworked and translated performance in the interval that got such a good reception it’s being released as a single.

Tim: A bit different, yes?

Tom: If it wasn’t for those two lines at the start of the chorus, I’m not sure I’d even realise it was the same song.

Tim: I actually quite like this, despite (or possibly because of) the weird genre splicing; similarly it’s nice hearing the key change, partly because it really doesn’t belong in a song like this.

Tom: It’s got something of Evanescence about it: the combination between traditional female vocals and proper black-metal screaming. I’m not sure the screaming actually fits in, but it’s a fantastic cover version and – in my view – better than the original.

Tim: Admittedly I don’t see it being an iPod mainstay, but for the novelty factor alone it gets a thumbs up from me.

Tom: And from me.

Saturday Reject: Linda Sundblad – Lucky You

The whole song is a bit 80s Kylie

Tom: Sadly not a cover of the Lightning Seeds classic. Europlop reader Roger writes in to suggest this reject, which he reckons is better than Le Kid’s performance.

First of all, Tim, I will buy you a drink if you can tell me what that opening guitar riff is lifted from.

Tim: Do you know, that got me when I saw this on the night, and I still haven’t worked it out. I have a feeling it is Red Hot Chili Peppers; which song it is, though, I do not know.

Tom: Full marks for choreography, although the fact that none of them are actually playing annoys me more than it reasonably should.

I saw the ‘LUCKY’ spelled out in sequins on the back of her jacket, and thought “that’s a bit 80s Kylie, isn’t it?” Then I realised that really, the whole song is a bit 80s Kylie. Triumphant bridge exit and key change, with a proper breakdown before it – this could be a lost Minogue track.

Tim: I’m not so sure about the bridge exit – I’d have preferred a rerun of ‘lucky lucky you’ rather than an ‘o-oh o-oh’. Having said that, if we’re going for things I want we should also chuck in an extra key change at 2:33. And it’s not so much any more, but the first time I saw it I wanted one halfway through the second chorus (1:50), because I felt the song was dragging a bit. Would three key changes be too many?

Tom: On this song? No it wouldn’t.

Cassius – I Love You So

It won’t suit everyone.

Tom: This has been bubbling under in Europe for months, and is finally getting a proper single release over here. That’s great – because it’s one hell of a track.

Tom: It’s one of those slow dance tracks that’s based around a single sample and a load of produced beats, but that doesn’t matter to me a bit. There’s some combination of the slow wobbling bass, orchestral samples, and layers of percussion that just means that this track works for me.

Tim: Hmm. I want a vocal. There are so many occasions in there when someone could start singing (properly, rather than just the one or two lines), and I would prefer it. I don’t so much mind the fact that it seems to be all over the place – in fact I quite like the way the underlying beat holds it all together despite the moving around.

Tom: I can understand how it won’t suit everyone, though; there’s a lot of unexpected cutting-and-changing of samples in here, and even some vaguely discordant noises in the bridge. I don’t care about any of that: it just bloody sounds good and I have no idea why.

Tim: It does, doesn’t it? I wasn’t so keen the first time I heard it, because I didn’t really have any idea what was going on at all. Second time though, I can recognise the main themes, what passes for a chorus and a bridge, and then it all falls into place.

Electric Lady Lab – Wondering

Try sticking your head out of a car that’s going that fast.

Tim: This Danish duo cite as their influences a variety of artists including Daft Punk, Roxette, Depeche Mode and Kate Bush. Interested?

Tom: Bring it on.

Tom: She likes singing into wind, doesn’t she? Seriously, try sticking your head out of a car that’s going that fast sometime. You can barely breathe, let alone sing.

Tim: Well, it’s probably some sort of metaphor. As for the music, I think this is quality stuff. The end of the bridge is somewhat odd, especially as it kind of leads into a key change which never materialises.

Tom: It’s odd, but it really worked for me: it broke things up rather well, and it fits in a track as electronic as this one. Also, I’m not too fussed about a key change: I think if she went a semitone higher, she might only be audible to dogs.

Tim: A fair point. Thoughts about the bridge aside, though, the rest is rather good – the calm (yet somewhat intense) vocal of the verse goes nicely on top of the beat, and there’s a good chorus here, along a video which is suitably weird. It must be said that the lyrics are somewhat repetitive, and there’s not much depth to them, but I can definitely listen to this a few times.

September – Me & My Microphone

Were they planning to add a tune in there at any point?

Tim: Interesting story, this one – the original Swedish Mikrofonk├ąt was destined to be an album track, until it got performed on a TV show last October and people went wild for it, and it spent a good couple of months at number one. It got an English translation back in December, and it’s now being released over here to coincide with her album, the abominably titled Love CPR (which also features as a lyric).

Tom: Were they planning to add a tune in there at any point?

Tim: …is pretty much exactly what I wondered.

Tom: She’s sing-talking, like Kesha, and there’s some chords in there somewhere, but mostly all I can hear is BZTHWUMP BZTHWUMP BZTHUMP. It ain’t dubstep, but it’s close.

Tim: Right – this track is almost entirely devoid of any decent melody, substituting for a fairly heavy beat instead, but for me the tune is what makes September good.

Tom: Damn right. I’m all in favour of unemotional songs, electronic songs, songs without melody – they have a place. But that place doesn’t seem to be here: it just seems like a bit of a dirge.

Tim: I get that too, and I prefer the UK edit of Can’t Get Over to the original for a reason – there’s more to it, more to get involved with that wasn’t there to start with.

Tom: I think I understood that.

Tim: Leave me alone, I’m tired. Anyway, I’m finding the same here – maybe it is great for everyone else, but I want something else.

Tom: I’m just going to listen to “Can’t Get Over” again.

Sofia – Vacancy

It reminds me of old-school Europop

Tim: Technically, this perhaps should go on the Saturday Rejects pile, as it was submitted for the Greek entry; nothing ever actually came of that, though, since it was rejected out of hand by the organisers, so we’ll assume they had a moment of madness and ignore that and concentrate on the single release it’s getting.

Tim: Quite why they chucked it out is beyond me – it has a proper ‘LISTEN TO ME’ intro, a good fairly catchy chorus, a decent beat and a bridge which works nicely.

Tom: It reminds me of old-school Europop, or even J-Pop to a certain extent. It’s the repetition in the chorus, I think – I can see this turning up on a Bemani CD.

Tim: There’s no key change, and admittedly that comes as a slight let down given the style of the tracks, but I suppose it’s not compulsory.

Tom: It would have helped, though – it does start to drag at the end for me.

Tim: You think? Overall, I reckon it would have been good. Is good, in fact, so let’s hope that it is, as the YouTube uploader rather optimistically put it, ‘the SMASH HIT of the Summer!’

Tom: Well, I wouldn’t go that far. Let’s hope it doesn’t sink without a trace.