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.

Duck Sauce – Barbra Streisand

It’s catchy, and it’ll get people moving.

Tom: You’ll remember Duck Sauce – the code name for a collaboration between top DJs Armand van Helden and A-Trak – from last year’s aNYway, or at least from its glorious video. Here’s their new one.

Tom: I hated this on first listen, but I keep hearing it and it grows on me every time. First things first: this isn’t a track for the masses to download. This a track that’ll get people in dancing in clubs, that’ll get mashed up with everything under the sun, that DJs good and bad will chuck into their megamixes. I’ve already heard one mashup that throws in samples of Beat It and adds a ‘Michael Jackson’ voiceover in place of the titular Barbra.

Tim: I can imagine it going down well in a club – I thought the ‘ee-oo-ee-oo-blah-blah’ bit was a bit rubbish until it came back in at 2:50, when I realised the point of it, getting people oo-ing along.

Tom: And yet, somehow even the original is pretty listenable, before other stuff gets added in.

Tim: I disagree – I can’t really imagine ever listening to just this. Like you said, mixed in with something, maybe, or as a backing for something else, but on it’s own there’s not a lot to it. It’s catchy, I’ll grant them that, but for me not in an ‘Ooh, I’m glad this is in my head’ sense.

Tom: Well, it’s still catchy, and it’ll get people moving. And that’s all you can ask for from something like this, I reckon. There is an official video, but it agrees with you: it’s less of an official video and more of a travelogue with a consistent backing track and a massive rolling shutter problem.

Paul Harris vs. Eurythmics – I Want U

There are so, so many things wrong with this.

Tom: There are so, so many things wrong with this.

First of all: if you’re going to remix a synth-heavy Eurythmics song anyway, perhaps you could get a sample that people will enjoy listening to? Annie Lennox’s voice is amazing, but it’s out of place here. When that sample finally kicks in, it seems completely discordant with everything else that’s going on.

Tim: Do you know, I don’t think I’ve ever heard such a dull tune. Regarding her voice, however, it’s not as out of place here as it was on that cover of Shining Light she did, which was just plain atrocious.

Tom: Secondly: surround it with something decent, not just whatever you happen to have kicked out of FL Studio that morning.

Tim: Yes, and try to blend it in just a slight bit. We have three and a half minutes of sound, split cleanly into three separate parts. The first and last of those sound exactly alike, and the middle bit sounds more or less like the sound you’d get if you put the original song on one of those A-B repeat things you got in MiniDisc players. I think here there’s about twenty seconds of sound clips played again and again for ten times that amount. This is absolutely pointless.

Tom: Thirdly: the video. Actually, Tim, you should comment on the video. It’s difficult for me to maintain the right level of anger when I’m being distracted by what appears to be a preview for Babestation.

Tim: To me it seems less of an advert for BabeStation than for a Minority Report era HMV. Just…what is it?

To sum up: I don’t think I can ever forgive you for the past couple of days. Thanks to you, I have heard two of the worst pieces of music, if either of them can justifiably be called that, of the year so far in far too short a space of time. I am now going to cheer myself up, by listening to one of the best pieces of music of the year so far all time.

Cheryl Cole – Promise This

I don’t know where to start.

Tom: Let me show you a photo.

That's Tom.
That’s me. I am flicking the Vs at the tiny little dot on stage. That tiny little dot on stage is Cheryl Cole. She was, at that moment, butchering ‘Fireflies‘ – a song that’s insipid enough without being dodgily covered. I’ll be clear: I’ve got nothing against Cheryl Cole herself. She’s probably quite a nice person. But my word, she doesn’t half pick some crap songs to sing.

Tom: I don’t know where to start. The almost drum-and-bass backing? The bizarre ‘alouette, ette, ette’ that sounds like a French version of Rihanna hopped up on Es? The fact that there isn’t really even a melody to speak of through most of the song?

Tim: OH GOD IT’S JUST NOISE. First thought – it’s nice that they’ve brought R2-D2 out of retirement to help out on the instrumentals. Aside from that, just what is the point of this, erm, song, is it? To me, the repetitive bit isn’t so much ‘alouette, ette, ette’ as ‘alouette, doink, doink’, which just…um…AARGH OH DEAR LORD SHUT UP CHERYL PLEASE BEFORE I DIE.

Tom: Of course, she’ll sing it on the X Factor, and she’ll get to number one, and – with any luck – Harry Hill will make it all worthwhile again.

Tim: Ooh, wait! Because I’ve just found this, the Digital Dog remix. While I’ll never be able to forgive him for the way he butchered Love Story*, he has slightly redeemed himself by making this vaguely listenable – the chorus is still just noise, but the verses are almost slightly enjoyable.

* He cut out the key change! The key change! The narratively justified key change! That is the only reason most people put up with the first three minutes, to sing along to ‘Marry me Juliet…’, and he got rid of it! I ALMOST CRIED.

Tom: I’ll grant you that it’s a bit better, but the alouette refrain still grates like a Grate-O-Matic 5000 Turbo, and I’m still not sure she’s actually singing notes in the second part of the chorus. It’s a no from me. Sorry, pet. (See what I did there?)

Tim: Yes. Yes I do. Well done.

Saturday Flashback: Linda Bengtzing – Alla Flickor

It’s even got the descending bells cliché under the final few lines! Fantastic.

Tim: PREVIOUSLY, ON EUROPLOP: Värsta Schlagern, which was described, quite correctly, as ‘a massive Take That to the whole Swedish pop music scene.’

Well, turns out that at least of them is one heck of a hypocrite, namely Linda Bengtzing, who dived straight into the middle of the Swedish music scene with this 2005 Melodifestivalen entry, the divine Alla Flickor.

Tom: Why does that sound vaguely rude to me? Clearly I have other things on my mind.

Tim: Um, clearly. Anyway, this is, as I said, divine, and contains everything there is to love about Swedish schlager in, well, any given twenty seconds of it, really.

Tom: I was worried that you’d overhyped this until the first chorus, which justifies everything you said. It’s even got the descending bells cliché under the final few lines! Fantastic.

Tim: As a whole three minutes, it’s excitable, catchy and jumpy, and it ticks every box necessary: over-excited female singer, backing singers throughout and plenty of howling after the key change. (Although that does come with a rather worrying thought process of “Here comes the key change … Hang on, has she forgotten it? … Ah, there it is.”)

Tom: It’s odd to have the quiet, silent breakdown and not immediately follow it with the big key change – lulled into a false sense of security, I thought that was it. I actually jumped, slightly startled, when the proper one kicked in.

Tim: Do you reckon we’re a big enough website to create a new phrase? I hereby name this ‘The Bengtzing Effect’ – that of leaving a key change so late you think it’s not going to happen, and then making you entirely delighted when it suddenly appears with just seconds to spare.

Tom: Catchy name.

Tim: Isn’t it? I predict it catching on within the entire music industry by Christmas at the latest. Back to the song, I see absolutely no reason at all why one should not immediately get up and jump around when this starts to play.

Tom: I would dance to this like an idiot if it were played in a club. Do any clubs actually play music like this any more?

Tim: If they don’t, we owe it to the world to start our own club, and OOH, we should actually call it The Bengtzing Effect, because that would be an amazing name for a club. We shall play this song over and over and over again, until people get sick of it, and to them we shall say, ‘If you think that, then you don’t deserve to be in here. GET OUT, I tell you, GET OUT!’*

* I’m in a bit of an odd mood today. Hmm.

Tom:

Tim: Anyway, the lyrics are entirely banal, as befits such a song – they’re roughly a warning to any ladies about a guy who makes you feel special, as though you’re the only person in his life, but then behaves exactly the same way to any other girl who walks past. Slightly wasted as a warning, though, since she never actually says who he is. Bad luck, Swedish ladies: she knows, but she ain’t telling.

Tom: And now I have “all the Swedish ladies / all the Swedish ladies” bouncing around in my head. Well done, Tim.

Tim: Thank you – always happy to help.

Right, now who do we talk to about setting up a nightclub?

Kylie Minogue – Get Outta My Way

It’s like pretty much every other recent Kylie single

Tom: You know what time it is? It’s new Kylie single time. Oh yes.

Tom: I swear the percussion and piano melody aren’t exactly in sync with each other at the start, which is messing with me a little. It’s a slow build, and when it does kick in it’s… well, it’s like pretty much every other recent Kylie single. It could be “2 Hearts”. It could be “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head”.

Tim: Hmm. I’m not so keen on it. There’s nothing big about it, really, or even memorable really. Can’t Get You Out Of My Head is immediately recollectable – it comes straight to mind now, even though it’s probably at least a year since I last heard it; this one just doesn’t do much for me. It wouldn’t really be enough to tempt me onto the dance floor.

Tom: She’s got a sound that works, I suppose, and there’s nothing wrong with that – but it’d be nice to hear something a little bit different after this many years.

Tim: Actually, having listened to it several times now, I’ve realised what the problem is. It’s a bit like most pop-dance tracks around at the moment, really – the first couple of times you hear it, it’s a bit boring, and nothing special, but the third or fourth time it’s been embedded in your head, and then when you’re out and you hear it you can’t help thinking ‘ooh, I know this, this is quite good,’ even though it isn’t really.

Tom: Nice glossy video, as ever, but again, it was always going to be downhill after the Michel Gondry genius that was Come Into My World. It’s pretty – full marks to whoever did the dance-floor visualisations, it’s a really nice effect. Pity the song’s not as memorable.

Marion Raven – Flesh and Bone

Has she got Status Quo doing the chorus guitars?

Tim: I wholeheartedly enjoy this: it’s big, enthusiastic, and the bridge has two distinct parts, which makes a change and works surprisingly well.

Tom: Has she got Status Quo doing the chorus guitars? Chugga-chugga all the way through, nothing subtle in there at all. It’s not bad, and it’s fairly big and fairly enthusiastic, but somehow it doesn’t quite come together for me. This sounds like teenage Avril Lavigne power-pop – it’s hard to believe that she duetted with Meat Loaf and was at least a match for him.

Tim: The middle part of the chorus in particular (can’t cross…) is great, as is the re-entry from the bridge.

Tom: I’ll grant you that – the entire bridge and re-entry are great – but the rest doesn’t meld properly.

Tim: I don’t know, I think it does – the only thing I don’t like is the fade-out ending, which I dislike in general, really. There’s never any need for them: here, stopping dead after a chorus followed by a lone vocal ‘you shatter me’ would be absolutely fine.

Tom: It’s certainly a chorus repeat too long. I’m not so fussed about the fade-out – possibly because, unlike Andreas Johnson’s latest, I wasn’t listening excitedly waiting for the big finish. I propose we call a crap fade-out ending “doing an Andreas” from now on.

Tim: Little bit harsh, perhaps, since, to my knowledge, he’s never actually done one. What annoys me about fade-outs such as this is that there’s no effort whatsoever – it’s just repeating the chorus until they get bored. Andreas may not finish with big climactic sequences, but there’s at least a definite ending, unlike this.

OneRepublic – Secrets

“I’ve found myself liking OneRepublic. I can’t explain why.”

Tom: I’ve found myself liking OneRepublic. I can’t explain why. Apologize was good, of course – and a lot better before Timbaland decided he’d put a few ‘eh, eh’s over the top and re-release it. But twice now I’ve heard a song being played somewhere, really liked it, and found out it was by OneRepublic. First, there was All The Right Moves – the first single off their latest album Waking Up – and then I heard Good Life, which is that rare thing: a really top-notch album track.

Secrets is the second single from Waking Up, and I’m starting to question – in a good way – whether OneRepublic can actually write a pop single that isn’t anthemic. Yes, the cello part is either a Bach prelude ripoff or homage, depending on how much charity you want to give them. Yes, the lead singer does his usual trick of singing a long string of syllables without changing note. But let those slip away and there’s a really good pop song in here; it’s not a dance floor filler, but it’s movie soundtrack material for sure.

Tim: Okay, this will be a tricky one for me to review objectively – not because I have any predisposition towards the band or anything, but because about seven months ago, I began to get very excited whilst hearing it. It is, as you suggest, movie soundtrack material, but more importantly it’s also awesome TV promo material.* I still get a bit excited when I hear it now, so HURRAY for it finally swimming across the channel.

* For completeness, it’s also suitable for phones (50 seconds in) and aftershave. We get a lot of adverts out here in Canada.

Tom: The album’s been over here for a while; the single didn’t trouble the charts but it’ll be re-released separately soon, in what’s technically termed a “blatant cash-in”.

Tim: It is definitely a Very Good Song, and the fact that it got used as accompaniment to both the conclusion of a huge TV series and (what was meant to be) one of the biggest movies of the year says a lot to back this up. It’s big, it’s powerful, and like all proper songs it starts off quiet; mind you, here it’s so obviously waiting to explode it could get picked up for loitering with intent. Is that a bad thing? No. It would be it if never did explode, but it doesn’t disappoint. It hits, and then keeps going at full pelt until an incredibly (and slightly annoyingly) abrupt ending.

As for the video, well, there’s a choice of three, really, and for sheer amazingness I pick the one where the impact of the chorus makes a plane split in half. In fact, I might just go and put on a DVD.

Christian TV – When She Turns 18

At least they’re definitely respecting the law.

Tom: Some songs have deep, mysterious meanings; some songs make you question what love is and whether you’ve really experienced it; some songs, in the right place at the right time, can make grown men cry. This song, on the other hand, has the simple plain message of “I’m screwing your daughter”.

Tim: Which, depending upon the strength of the father-daughter bond and the unpleasantness of the young man involved, could also make a grown man cry.

Tom: Damn.

Anyway, it’s a damn good track. He may have hair by Jedward and an ungooglable name, but he can actually sing. Even the Romeo and Juliet audio sample at the start doesn’t grate, which surprises me.

It starts high-energy, never really dips apart from the required quiet bit before the final chorus, and while it’s not going to go down in history as an all-time classic, I’d be happy if this got played in a club.

Tim: You’re right, this is good – a very pleasant mix of dance and rock. It’s quite a ‘get things done’ track, I think; maybe I will look for my phone at some point.

Tom: I imagine in any more conservative American state where the age of consent is 18, on the other hand, this might not be as popular.

Tim: Well, at least they’re definitely respecting the law, much like this brilliant work of art.

Tom: The pedant in me has to point out that if you make a photocopy of yourself and then move during the scanning process, it’ll produce some very strange pictures indeed. This appears to be a magic photocopier with glass big enough for two people to dry-hump on, though, so I can let that slip.

Tim: Good, because I rather like that video, and I truly believe that flickbooks are the way forward when it comes to delivering unpleasant news.

Tom: Never, ever go into medicine, Tim.

Tim: I hope they’re going to recycle all that paper, though.