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.

Takida – Never Alone Always Alone (Box Room Version)

Not the most upbeat song ever.

Tim: Released a few weeks back, it’s gradually making its way up the Swedish charts, and it’s not half bad. Not the most upbeat song ever, but what I particularly like about this version is the way it keeps building throughout, continually adding instrumentation, until it comes back after the bridge (such as it is) as a properly vibrant piece of music.

Tom: On the plus side, this reminds me of the Love Album version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps. What started out as a simple track is steadily built upon, adding layer after layer, until you end up with this complex, soaring, beautiful piece of music. This track is like that, only with the genius of George Harrison replaced by the plodding monotony of Nickelback.

Tim: I don’t know – I think the voice works well against the backing, sort of remaining steady and showing how far the music’s growing, right up to the big near-to-the-end. It is a bit of a shame that it can’t keep that up for long, but nonetheless very pleasant while it lasts.

Tom: That’s what she said.

Tim: Oh, god.

Tom: Again, that’s… ah, never mind.

Tim: Anyway, that, combined with the infectious lyrics, make for a rather pleasant four minutes.

Tom: We have different definitions of ‘pleasant’.

Europlop’s Sunday Mashups: Vol. 2

Thirty years of pop culture in three and a half minutes.

Tom: It’s been a few weeks, so let’s have some more mashups. First of all, here’s Miracles by Norwegian Recycling.

Tom: It’s one of those genius mashups that pulls in a dozen different sources to make a coherent whole. It doesn’t really seem to go anywhere, or do any building, but it’s just rather pleasant to listen to. It’s a run through thirty years of pop culture in three and a half minutes, and the video brings it all together nicely.

Tim: Ooh, I like that – I’ve always quite liked mashups that pile in a whole load of songs together just to see what happens, such as the United State of Pop ones, and Party Ben‘s Boulevard of Broken Songs, and this one pulls it off well.*

* There’s also Axis of Awesome’s Four Chord Song, which whilst not actually being a mashup is still fun to listen to.

Tom: There’s been some very clever autotuning on Cee-Lo Green, as well; while it still sounds like him, I’m fairly sure those aren’t exactly the notes he was originally singing…

Tim: Well, with so many songs you’re bound to need a little pitch correction on there just to keep them in the same key, surely.

Tom: No, it’s more than that: I think they’ve actually got him singing a different melody, not just a different key. I might be wrong, though.

Tim: The only thing I dislike about it is the Jason Derulo track – it’s one of his better ones, but it sounds like he forgot to write words to half the chorus, which gets me every time I hear it.

Tom: Second up, here’s a simple A+B mashup by Sam Flanagan. It’s called “Brimful of Bonkers”, and that tells you all you need to know really. Oh, but watch out for an unexpected cameo just after three minutes in.

Tom: It’s easy – there is, of course, not even any pitch correction to do – but it’s still a hell of a party tune. It could use being a bit shorter, but it’s good enough that I don’t really mind.

Tim: I thought that as well – it could easily lose the first verse/chorus, since it’s identical to the second. Anyway, you’re right, it is good, especially the cameo.

Tom: I know both the original songs off by heart, which normally would just make a mashup like this confusing – but this is just pulled together so nicely that it doesn’t matter.

Tim: Personally, I prefer it when I know the original songs – you get to think ‘Ooh, this is fun – never thought of these going together.’ And speaking of knowing the original songs, here’s a mixture of two Europlop favourites merged together by Benji of Sweden (apparently he’s the only one in the country) to form one big Bromance Killer:

Tim: Aside from the Radio Sweden jingle (which is surprisingly nonintrusive anyway), I think it’s ruddy marvellous, with him still managing to keep the big Lovekiller climax and all the energy that was originally there. Well done Mr Sweden.

Tom: Wow, that’s a belter. Bromance itself is steadily picking up more and more airplay and traction in the UK – the vocal remix with Love U Seek gets released on 25th October, which means it might well be a Big Autumn Hit.

Saturday Flashback: Markoolio and Linda Bengtzing – Värsta Schlagern

A massive Take That to the whole Swedish pop music scene.

Tim: This symbolises everything that is perfect about the music we love, although it’s in Swedish. The lyrics, when translated, are a massive Take That to the whole Swedish pop music scene. Thoughts?

Tom: Hahaha. This is Verka Seduchka all over again, isn’t it? Actually, no, this is the Swedish version of “The Winner’s Song“! There had better be a brutal key change on the way.

Tim: Oh yes, and the best thing is that the lyrics before it are “…and here comes the key change!”

Tom: Right. It’s a schlager version of “The Song That Goes Like This” from Spamalot, then!

Rasmus Seebach – Natteravn

Manages to cram in three genres in the first minute.

Tim: This, by a Danish bloke, has been running around the top of the Swedish charts for the past few months – only been out of the top 10 three times since its physical release in the middle of May – and for good reason. (Oddly, it never even got to Denmark’s top 30, even though his three previous singles all made top 3.) Anyway, have a listen.

Tim: I think it’s the first song I’ve ever heard that manages to cram in three genres in the first minute, and it flits around a bit before eventually deciding to be a cracking good dance tune. I have absolutely no idea what the lyrics mean, and to be honest I couldn’t care less, because it’s great. Unlike Bromance, I don’t think that it would quite work without any, but he could be singing about taking out the empty beer cans for all I care.

Tom: In my head it’d be better either as an instrumental – I think it would work – or at least with slightly less repetitive lyrics. That may be my English-speaking brain refusing to accept “Jeg kalder på dig” as a common sentence though; if he was singing “I call on you” then I suspect the words would have faded into the background rather than sticking out like a sore thumb. It’s a great track though.

Tim: The problem I’d have without lyrics is that the non-dancy bits would be too quiet (although not in a Robert MIles sense, just in a dull sense); the chorus I agree would work. However, one think I do like about the chorus lyrics is that they sound a bit like the name of that volcano that blew up in Iceland a few months back. No idea why I think that’s a good thing, though.

The three genres thing is a bit weird, but I think it works. It did mean that when I first heard it I started out thinking, oh, it’s another generic R&B tune, it’ll be just as rubbish as Flo Rida and stuff, but then it got good and clicked together nicely. Full marks, Herr Seebach.

Tom: Apparently they couldn’t pay the video’s actress enough to actually let him kiss her at the end, though.

Robbie Williams & Gary Barlow – Shame

I’m going to go out on a limb here, and say: I think this song is perfect.

Tom: How did we miss this? Robbie Williams’ new single, featuring Gary Barlow, is coming out on October 4th and it completely passed us by.

Tom: First of all, let’s be clear: this is not the Take That we’re-friends-with-Robbie-again new single. This is a Robbie Williams track that Gary Barlow’s featuring on. Which is fine, because it turns out really quite nicely. It’s a slow one, and while I always preferred ‘Let Me Entertain You’ to ‘Angels’, I still have a soft spot for ‘Feel’, ‘Come Undone’, and so on. Is ‘Shame’ of that calibre? Well, no. But it’d be difficult for these two to turn out anything that wasn’t at least ‘rather good’, and sure enough this one’s a really nice bit of pop.

Tim: That is lovely. And not lovely like Sha-la-lie lovely, but lovely like end-of-a-Richard-Curtis-film lovely. It began at the first chorus, the second chorus was when I really thought ‘oh, yes’, and from then on it just snowballed to glacier-size by the end.

Tom: As for the video – well, I get the feeling that’s going to be more your domain.

Tim: Well, as long as you don’t mind enough homo-eroticism to fill a Russell T. Davies drama with enough left over to drown John Barrowman, you’ll be loving it. Particularly Robbie’s gaze at 2:25. The slightly sad part of me also liked the timing of the shot glass on the table and pointing the finger about 85 seconds in.

I’m going to go out on a limb here, and say: I think this song is perfect. As a song celebrating a reunion between two friends who broke up (which is exactly what it is and should be), there’s nothing it should have that it doesn’t. And it also fits in Toys R Us, which adds at least five bonus points.

Tom: Whoa, hang on. There’s no way this song is perfect. The Toys R Us reference grates like hell, the comedy ending will get old very quickly – they are not Me First and the Gimme Gimmes – and it’s really all that memorable. Does it tick all the boxes? Yes. Is it perfect like the medley off the end of the Beatles’ Abbey Road? No. No it’s not.

Tim: I’m not saying the song’s perfect in a best song of all time way, just in a sense of being absolutely and entirely appropriate for the current stage of their music careers. It’s a song about friends getting back together and forgetting old differences, and in that setting I think it’s brilliant.