Saturday Reject: Jimi Constantine – Party to Party

Is he drunk?

Tim: Finland’s favourite topless Weird Al soundalike failed to get past the semi-final, which is a shame.

Tim: I say shame, but it isn’t really. Well, sort of. The thing is, the song is actually quite good, as evidenced by the studio version (even if the spoken ‘not gonna live forever’ does bear more than a passing resemblance to a spoken ‘dirty Cinderella‘), but the performance on the night seemed more like he just wanted to have a laugh than actually perform properly.

Tom: Is he drunk? He’s off-key frequently, shouting a lot, and seems to attempt the key change a verse early (at 1:46) before realising that no-one else is doing it.

Tim: It does seem like that, doesn’t it? The thing is, that sort of this is all well and good if he’s touring, say, and playing to a load of fans who know what they’re getting, but it isn’t really going to win over a nation of people who want someone who can be counted on to present a good image of their country.

Tom: Interesting how low-budget the set is, too: they’ve got him a couple of banners, as if it was some kind of trade show.

Tim: You think that’s low budget? You’ve been watching too much Melodifestivalen, mate. Finland pushed the boat out big time compared to other countries – Ireland, for example, just used the normal Late Late Show set, and as for Belgium, I think they just looked for the nearest cupboard (and yes, that really is their entry).

Back to Jimi’s performance, though, despite all the drunken antics I still enjoyed it. Sure, it would have been nice if it was a bit more musical, and he could have got together with the backing singers beforehand and decided who was taking charge after the bridge, but there was an energy there that really wasn’t present in many of Finland’s other competitors.

Tom: An energy best summed up by the young girl averting her eyes and possibly crying in the last few frames of the clip. She speaks for Finland.

Pink – Fuckin’ Perfect

What a track. And what a video.

Tom: How can she do it? This is Pink, the same Pink who recently charted with the laughing party-song irritating-vocal-interruption-filled Raise Your Glass. And now she’s released a song that’s going to make a generation of misunderstood teenagers cry.

Genuine warning here: this is the uncensored video, which includes sex and some fairly brutal images of self-harm. Any of our readers who’ve been through similar things may not want them brought back into their memory – which does question if showing them, and almost glamorising them, in a pop video is really the right thing to do.

Tom: With all that said: what a track. And what a video.

Tim: Indeed. And you think it’s glamorising it? The whole message of the song is don’t do this – you’re perfect, so ignore the people that make you feel otherwise. “Done looking for the critics, cause they’re everywhere…why do we do that?” The whole song is a powerful spirit-lifter – you should listen to it when you’re feeling shit.

Tom: As for the music: the only thing that I don’t like in here is the ‘pretty pretty please’ bit, but I can’t really ding it any points just because a few words annoy me. It’s very much a Song With A Message, and a fairly simple one at that, which normally would cause all the cynical parts of my brain to rise up in disgust… but somehow that didn’t happen.

Tim: It’s because it’s not just a Song With A Message that anyone can do – there’s a real feeling that here, it’s personal, it’s coming from inside Pink herself, and that makes it so much more powerful that it otherwise would be.

Tom: And I think it’s because, hell, it’s Pink – and she has that amazing voice that can go between ‘loud and anthemic’ and ‘deep and emotional’ in a split second. This might well be her new concert-ender. It deserves to be.

PULS – Lad Det Slå

I liked it from the start.

Tim: This one took me a while, so give it a couple of listens before you dismiss it.

Related pointless thought in the meantime, though: people say ‘it grows on you’ as though that’s good, but another way of saying that is surely just ‘it’ll wear you down eventually’.

Tom: Actually, if I remember right that’s pretty much what happens. The more you listen to a genre of music or an individual track, the more your brain recognises the patterns and gets used to it. But for me, that didn’t happen here: I liked it from the start.

Tim: Good. Stylistically, it goes pretty much all over the place. Google wants me to think the title translates to ‘Let it Beat’, so I’m guessing it’s basically about how dance music is amazing.

Tom: Wrong. I translated the lyrics, and they’re talking about a heartbeat – it’s pretty much your standard dance-track love song.

Tim: Fair enough. It’s the Danish duo’s second single after the similarly messy Superstar a year ago, and I have decided that I think I like it.

Tom: The trouble is, I can’t tell whether I like the track because of the music or because of the video with the woman dancing in front of fire.

Tim: There are also three separate songs this slightly reminds me of, none of which I can think of, irritatingly – the first half-second, the tinkly piano bit, and the high electro bit that first appears about twenty seconds in.

Tom: Also, that “ding ding ding” sound a little after two minutes in? It’ll make loads of people think their iPhone’s just received a text. That’s deliberate – he says ‘iPhone’ in the line slightly after that.

Tim: Finally, two non-musical observations: I’ve not seen many music videos in 1080p, so they get bonus points for effort there as a minor Danish boyband, and also that girl is totally wasting her time with the dark-haired one. What with that ear stud and the wink and everything, you can stroke him all you want, dearie, but he’s not interested.

Tom: Tim, I’m offended at your stereotyping. He might not be gay – he might just have stepped straight out of the 1990s.

Lisa Miskovsky – Got A Friend

The chorus: absolutely love it.

Tim: Hmm. When I first heard this, I loved it, and listened to it again and again and again. Then I started thinking about what I liked about it, and had a realisation.

Tom: Ooh, go on.

Tim: You see, the ‘na-na’ bits: not so keen on, as they leave me wanting more. The verses: ehh, take them or leave them – not particularly offensive, but they’re nothing to crow about. The chorus: absolutely love it. Yet overall, despite not not hugely liking most of it: still absolutely love it.

Tom: You’re absolutely right. It’s a fantastic chorus in need of a better song, isn’t it?

Tim: Pretty much, yeah. The rational part of me knows that the relatively short chorus is nowhere near good enough to make up for the less than inspiring na-na chunks, and so by rights I should think of this as okay at best, but somehow I love it. It just seems to go together and work properly.

Tom: I’m not that enthusiastic – but I will listen to it for that chorus, just one more time.

Same Difference feat. Alcazar – Karma Karma

A bit late to the Slumdog Millionaire bandwagon.

Tim: Same Difference: an X Factor 2008 finalist group whose track we previously covered reached the dizzying heights of number 100 in the UK charts. Alcazar: a fairly well-known Swedish pop group, whose biggest success internationally was 2003’s Crying at the Discotheque and whose most recent activity was a rather good 2010 Melodifestivalen entry, Headlines. For some reason – can’t quite see any particular logic – they’ve decided to team up.

Tom: Sounds like they’re a bit late to the Slumdog Millionaire bandwagon.

Tim: It is repetitive, and it is catchy, and it is pretty much what you’d get if you looked ‘pop music’ up in a dictionary, if you owned some weird dictionary that had videos in it instead of words.

Tom: It’s bloody not. I haven’t properly cringed listening to a pop song in a long time, but I did at this. It’s retro in all the worst ways: it reminds me of a dozen songs I hated when I was younger, and seems to jam in some Asian references and chord progressions that seem incredibly out of place.

Tim: Seriously? Because overall, I have to say: I think it’s brilliant.

Tom: I’m sorry to use this as a baseline, Tim, but I would honestly rather listen to the Black Eyed Peas’ “The Time (Dirty Bit)” than Karma Karma. Hell, I think I’d rather listen to dubstep. Now that’s saying something.

Tim: NO! I will NOT let that stand. You are WRONG. Just plain WRONG.

Extra points should be awarded for chaining together about five million ‘woah’s, and the bass line for some reasons makes me think of Super Mario Land. The only thing I’m not hugely keen on is the bridge exit, which is… odd, and I don’t really know whether I dislike it or not.

Tom: I almost thought the key change might redeem the song, but it doesn’t. It’s just as dire, only a couple of semi-tones higher.

Tim: Actually, scratch that – I’ve heard it several times now and it’s great. Like the rest of it.

Tom: I tried listening a second time, and it got worse. Probably because I knew what was coming.

Tim: And I now see the logic of the collaboration: together, they can make Proper Pop. And that is Good.

Tom: They can’t, and it isn’t.

Tim: WRONG.

Andreas Johnson – One Man Army

Energetic instrumentation, choruses and YouTube compression.

Tom: Ooh, Andreas Johnson. This bodes well.

Tom: Those opening notes have so much promise. It’s just waiting to burst out into a massive chorus!

Tim: Now, this isn’t as big or as loud as Solace was, but we still have the traditionally energetic instrumentation, choruses and YouTube compression that we expect from Herr Johnson, and I like this considerably. It’s basically your typical ‘I’ll do anything for you’ love song but ramped up to way beyond the usual.

Tom: And somehow it doesn’t seem melodramatic: I don’t know if it’s refuge in audacity or just very good production, but this sounds lovely. And how can an electric guitar part be ‘the quiet bit’? That’s amazing.

Tim: One of the best things about it is how just as you think it might be settling into repeat until fade territory, it comes back and blasts you with a bridge full of reasons why this person’s so great, why he loves her so much, and then a final declaration of devotion once again. If you’re paying attention to the lyrics, it’s beautiful.

Tom: Maybe when I go back and press ‘play’ again, I’ll do just that.

Tim: On the other hand, if you’re just paying attention to the lyrics, you’re missing out on a whole lot of fantastic music, so don’t do that.

Saturday Reject: Le Kid – Oh My God

Dancing and singing liquorice allsorts, ejaculating cupcakes

Tim: You may be expecting a Saturday Flashback round about now, but no! Since there are now less than three months to go until Eurovision 2011, changes are afoot: most countries have begun their selection process, and some have already chosen. There is of course only room for one song per country (which is kind of the point, I suppose) and so some otherwise excellent tracks will fall by the wayside, destined for album track obscurity (and some terrible tracks will go forward, but that’s a whinge for another time). Anyway, we feel that many of those deserve more attention, and we start with a song that got kicked out of the first heat of Melodifestivalen in fifth place* a couple of weeks back.

* Melodifestivalen workings, for any who don’t know: four heats of eight; the top two go straight to the final, third and fourth go through to the second chance round (‘Andra Chansen’), from which another two go through to the final.

Tim: OMG indeed. A disappointing exit, as right from the get go it was by far and away the most enthusiastic performance there was that night.

Tom: Enthusiastic, to be sure, but I can’t help but start singing ‘Spaceman’ by the Killers every time they start on the ‘oh, oh, oh’ bit of the chorus. Or the ‘don’t stop, push it now’ from The Sounds’ ‘Tony The Beat’ over… well, all of it.

Tim: Hmm, maybe, but what with the colours, the outfits, the dancing and singing liquorice allsorts and the ejaculating cupcakes, it’s basically everything we know and like about Le Kid.

Tom: It is that. I can’t help but like it – although that is, as I’ve mentioned before, partly due to the attractive women in low-cut outfits. But despite all that, I think Sweden made the right decision here. It’s happy, it’s bouncy, but it ain’t a Eurovision winner.

Tim: Maybe it was just too much – who knows.

Tom: Where was the key change, Tim? There should have been a key change.

Isis Gee – How About That

A song I have trouble paying attention to.

Tim: Information: I spent twenty minutes trying to think what the first three notes of this chorus reminded me of, then gave up and started writing this post, which was to begin with the words ‘HELP ME.’ Just as I’d finished, I realised what it was, so now we can just start listening properly.

Tom: Oh, what the hell is that? I know it!

Tim: Twenty minutes. You think I’m going to give you the answer just like that?

Tom: You son of a bitch.

Tim: And boy, can this lady hold a note.

To be honest, though, this is a song I have trouble paying attention to. It has a decent beat, and a good enough melody, but that’s just it – it’s good enough. The chorus is catchy for a brief moment, until it finishes, and the verses are nothing special, or at least not for me.

Overall thought: why can’t the video focus a bit more on the motorbikes than the music? They’d be more interesting.

Tom: Got it! Those notes. I know what it is now. Right, what do you think of the song?

Alex Saidac – We Shine

There is a moment in this song at which you will raise your eyebrows and think ‘huh’.

Tim: There is a moment in this song at which you will raise your eyebrows and think ‘huh’.

Tim: Now, this is very, very odd. Verses that, for me, are almost unlistenable, and chorus that, for me, is almost ‘repeat until death’. I don’t really know what market is being aimed at, here – she’s a professional DJ, so I suppose she must know her audience, but there are people I know who will like the verse, and there are people I know who will like the chorus. Those groups do not intersect – they barely mingle, in fact.

Tom: A bit of techie geekery here: in the waveform that shows up in Soundcloud’s player, you can actually see the difference between verses and chorus. That doesn’t normally happen on modern dance records: they’re all normally compressed into one glutinous mass.

I’m in the chorus-liking group, by the way – and you’re right, I did raise my eyebrows.

Tim: Overall, I have to give it a thumbs-down – much as I love the chorus, the verses cancel that out, and there’s no real big hands in the air moment to get excited about.

Tom: It’s a shame, because it is a lovely chorus, at least to begin with. Shame about the rest of it.

Three – Lucky Number

A faceful of autotune

Tim: Teenage triplets, and identical ones at that.

Tom: I was going to make a “be still my beating heart”, but I’m getting a more “Children of the Corn” vibe off them. They’re really rather creepy.

Tim: As a girlband they’ve been a while in the making, but here’s their first single, so get ready for a faceful of autotune, although rest assured that it does calm down after a bit.

Tom: That is, indeed, a faceful of autotuning.

Tim: Now, I think this is what they call ‘catchy’. It’s happy, it’s chirpy, and it’s rather nice.

Tom: It’s almost too much sugar, and that’s saying something from someone who used to listen to rather too much J-Pop.

Tim: I do like the ending, which is abrupt, but not in such a way that it feels like someone’s just turned the microphones off by accident, what with the final revelation of the (not remotely surprising) lucky number.

Tom: They actually appear to have used DTMF tones – or something very close to them – as an actual melody line. Top works to whoever wrote that.

Tim: It also has the benefit of being educational – now, children, you can greet people wherever you are in the world!

Tom: I just generally SPEAK LOUDLY and SLOWLY. It seems to work.