Taio Cruz – Telling The World

I think this might count as Oscar bait.

Tom: I think this might count as Oscar bait.

Tom: Taio Cruz clearly doesn’t mind playing second fiddle to an animated parrot. I suspect that might be because he’s making an enormous amount of money from this. Cue lots of footage from the movie, and an incredibly generic music video designed to appeal to everyone over the age of zero.

Tim: AND, he’s not wearing his usual trademark dickhead sunglasses, which is an interesting change.

Tom: As for the song: well, it’s no “Can You Feel The Love Tonight”. It’s certainly not a “Somewhere Out There”. It’s not even a “You’ll Be In My Heart”. But it’s not bad – and even if it wasn’t attached to the video, I suspect it’d still do pretty well. It is, in a word, rather lovely.

Tim: It is quite nice, isn’t it. Nothing special. But nice.

Tom: There is one unfortunate bit in the video where there are two mirrored versions of himself staring back at each other, looking for all the world like they’re about to kiss. Don’t use that effect in love song videos, directors.

Dana International – Ding Dong

This is Dana bloody International.

Tom: I know we said we weren’t going to review actual Eurovision songs before the event, Tim, but I’d like to plead a special exception here. Because this is Dana bloody International, legendary 1998 Israeli Eurovision entrant.

Not only is she back – if you can count being a judge on the Israeli version of Pop Idol as ‘going away’ – but the single’s being released over here in the UK. And she wrote it herself. And it’s pretty damn good.

Tim: It really is pretty damn good, isn’t it?

Tom: A bit of acoustic instrumentation in there, some serious orchestra hits, and a glorious textbook Eurovision key change. What more do you want?

Tim: Not much really. It’s not quite up to Diva standards, but that key change did make my hands go right up in the air.

Vendela – Punk Rock Song

A ‘LOOK AT ME I’M OVER HERE’ track.

Tim: Speaking of loud brash pop music, as we were yesterday —

Tom: Ooh! A bit of punk!

Tim: — here’s an entirely misnomered track.

Tom: Oh.

Tom: This is like will.i.am releasing a track that’s called “I Am Singing Live”. And what kind of a metaphor is “I love you like a punk rock song”? With lots of energy and shouting, but you’re done in about two minutes?

Tim: It’s not perfect, I suppose, but it is a song that knows exactly what it is: it’s an introduction to the artist, it’s a ‘yes, I had a song last year that kind of flopped, but LOOK AT ME I’M OVER HERE’ track that will get attention, get people talking and get her lots of attention. More importantly, though: it’s a track that’s bloody brilliant.

Tom: If I can get over my lack-of-punk disappointment, then yes – it’s not bad – but the lyrics do keep getting in the way. “It’s 1977”? “I’m full of sexual expression”? They sound like they’ve been run through Google Translate a few times.

Tim: She’s got a similar history to that of Eric Saade and that Hilda what we wrote about at the end of last year (whose new single Come The Weekend is due to appear imminently): straight out of the Disney Channel Sweden, she’s fairly young (though apparently that isn’t stopping her being full of sexual expression, or knowing who Patti Smith is) and will probably either be dropped immediately or, more likely given the attention this has got, be around for quite some time. Get used to her.

Tom: I’ll do my best.

Sheelah – The Last Time

We’re about to break up, so let’s have bloody fantastic farewell sex.

Tim: The essence of this song is ‘we’re about to break up, so let’s have bloody fantastic farewell sex.’ Classy, no?

Tom: I’m all in favour of pop songs that aren’t about traditional syrupy monogamy.

Tim: Released back in January but with a video only released a few weeks back, this is very standard middle of the road pop music, and it’s a bloody excellent example of it, as evidenced by the fact that the chorus lead-in in the same as that of My Life Would Suck Without You.

Tom: It is a bit similar, isn’t it? And it is middle-of-the road – but it is a very good road to be in the middle of.

Tim: Well, quite. It is loud, it is brash, it is excitable. Any negative points? Not really. It could be sung perfectly well by one person (say, Kelly Clarkson) and no-one would be able to tell the difference, but I don’t really have any problem with that. A key change might have worked nicely, but the song doesn’t seem to be missing anything. I’m happy with it as it is.

Tom: You know, it took me two listens to realise that there wasn’t a key change. My brain just assumed there was, automatically. Even now I’m not quite sure.

Tim: Is it just me, though, or at 2:10 does it look like she’s singing ‘be-before we say goodbye’

Tom: It’s just you.

Tim: Oh.

Saturday Reject: Anders Fernette – Run

Sadly, not particularly Melodifestivalen-friendly.

Tim: This is a great song.

Tom: It’s not a Snow Patrol cover, is it? No? Good.

Tim: Sadly, though, it seems it’s not particularly Melodifestivalen-friendly, coming as it did last in the (admittedly very strong) fourth heat.

Tim: As I said, great song (studio version on his website), and quite possibly future hit single.

Tom: It really is!

Tim: But, problem: the act on stage just didn’t really click for me, at all. He didn’t seem to know (or even care) what was going on around him, the smoke and the screen visualisation just seemed entirely generic*, and the floor dancers/backing singers were just going through the motions during the chorus, and doing nothing at all during the second verse.

* The fact that the concentric circles during the first verse didn’t appear at the same frequency as the beats also annoyed me, but that’s just because I’m like that.

Tom: And if we’re being cruel, he hit more than his fair share of bum notes in there – in particular during the run up to the key change. Now, I realise that I couldn’t hit a single note if I was up there myself – but then again I’m not trying to represent my country in Eurovision.

Tim: The worst thing, though? The sheet dancers, or whatever they’re meant to be called —

Tom: “Aerial performers”, or possibly silk dancers.

Tim: Thank you — because really, what were they doing? They rolled down as they were meant to do for a triumphant end to the chorus, but then spent the next minute or so just dangling there, twirling around without much synchronicity, and at times flailing around, looking like they were desperately trying to find something to grab on to and steady themselves (2:10, I’m looking at you).

Tom: Which is a shame, because in the right hands it can be absolutely incredible. See, for example, Pink’s incredible performance at the 2010 Grammy Awards. And yes, she’s singing live.

Tim: But the main question: when first he sings ‘I [PAUSE]’ about forty seconds in, what is the song I want to sing? The line continues either ‘…don’t want to be a hero’ or ‘…I want to be a hero’. WHAT’S THE SONG TOM.

Tom: Oh, BLOODY HELL I don’t know. It’s some club track, I think. I can’t remember it. Readers, any ideas in the comments? Please?

Freda Sundemo – I Was Surrounded

Something a little bit mellower.

Tim: Let’s take a breather from the energetic dance music of the past couple of days, with something a little bit mellower.

Tim: Considerably mellower, in fact, as there’s not really much here at all.

Tom: Oh, bloody hell. Who does she sound like? There’s a quality to her voice, like a more pleasant Gwen Stefani, that just reminds me of… someone. Kelly Clarkson trying to be mellow, perhaps? I can’t place it.

Tim: What there is is a soothing and relaxing tune, a gentle and pleasant voice and overall, a song that won’t stop you drifting off to sleep.

Tom: It is rather lovely, isn’t it? After the last few days, this is a welcome change. I was hoping for rather good things from the remix, but sadly it appears to be much the same track, only made a bit longer and with a Casio synthesiser looped over the top of it.

Tim: Still, if ‘mellow’ is what you’re looking for in a song right now, this will treat you very well indeed. If not, well, try this instead.

Swedish Angels feat. Charlie King – Swedish Angel

The main lyric reminds me of school assembly.

Tim: Two DJs make up this new dance duo, named Denise Lopez and Jennifer Love.

Tom: Hey, does that…

Tim: No. The title’s probably not as imaginative as it could be, but anyway, here it is.

Tim: The main lyric reminds me of being six and singing this in school assembly, complete with hand movements if I recall correctly; that was fun.

Tom: Well, thank you for that flashback – it did result in me trying to sing the lyrics to that over the top of this track, which sadly doesn’t work all that well.

Tim: Yeah, I tried that as well, but gave up after a while. Um. What else? Not sure, really. This is a good tune, though, and the vocal fits well, with plenty of energy.

Tom: It is pretty much your bog-standard dance track, aside from the occasional religious song flashback for British kids.

Tim: There’s nothing hugely memorable about it – a few months from now we’ll probably be reviewing another track and thinking ‘ooh, it reminds me of, um, oh, what was it called?’ – but it’ll fit very well in many DJs’ sets, and I’m sure there’ll be a nice place for it somewhere around the middle of a few 2011 dance compilation CDs.

Avicii – Penguin

This sort of stuff has been gone for too long. (With bonus classical diversion!)

Tim: I am glad that dance season is fast approaching, because this sort of stuff has been gone for too long.

Tim: This bloke ditched the ‘Avicii’ name briefly when he put out Bromance last year, but right now Tim Berg’s back as he was.

Tom: Speaking of which: do you have any idea how popular that track became? 38 million views for the official video, and I still hear it being played. Absolutely astounding track.

Tim: Well, now he’s dance-ing up a vaguely well known classical tune, the sort that gets requested daily on the Classic FM Drivetime show.

Tom: Now I do love tracks like this, if only because of my younger years when I spent far too long playing Dance Dance Revolution. I still know the step-rhythms for parts of “V (for EXTREME)” and the gorgeous “Kakumei” off by heart.

But if you really want to go back into history: then you have to start in the 1970s, with Walter Murphy’s “A Fifth of Beethoven” – which is, bizarrely, improved by the addition of Kanye West.

Tim: Why ‘Penguin’? Not a clue, but it does make for a nice picture.

Tom: Now that I can explain: the original piece is the modern classical “Perpetuum Mobile” by Penguin Cafe Orchestra, who also made the lovely “Music for a Found Harmonium” – which got turned into the execrable “Paddy’s Revenge” a few years back.

Tim: Ah – I knew the title of the track, just not the orchestra. And is it particularly execrable? I thought it was alright.

Anyway, I don’t really care what it’s called, because the tune is great. Good source material, excellent treatment of it, properly BANGING.

Tom: I was about to disagree with you, and then the track finally kicked in – at 2:20 – and I completely agree with you. After the beat drops, then yes; I like it. Like Bromance, though, I feel it does need a bit more.

Tim: Though having said I don’t care about the name, I am now tempted to mess around with it in GarageBand and stick some of this on top.

Tom: Get out.

Tim: I see. You probably wouldn’t have a problem with this, though.

Tom: …I’ll allow it.

Tim: You’re insane.

Beastie Boys – Make Some Noise

Old-school.

Tom: The Beastie Boys are so old-school that Tony Hawks parodied them. 23 years ago.

Tom: And this sounds like seriously old-school Beastie Boys. Decent sample, tight production, and the shouting, distorted multiple-guys-rapping style that no-one’s ever done quite as well since. Technically, it’s bloody excellent.

Which makes it a bit of a shame that I don’t actually like it.

Tim: Really? I think it’s good – lot of energy to bounce along to in your chair, which is always nice.

Tom: That sample grates after a while; even if some of the distortion’s thanks to YouTube compression it’s still a bit too much for me; and when it comes down to it my brain just thinks “it’s very nice, but I do wish they’d shout a bit less”.

Perhaps I’m getting old; perhaps I’m more used to modern production; but despite this being a fantastic record I just don’t want to listen to it. I think that’s my own fault, though.

Tim: It’s not something I’d put on my usual playlist, I suppose, but I’ve certainly got no aversion to it.

Owl City feat. Shawn Chrystopher – Alligator Sky

Oh. You’ve got yourself a rapper. Well, that’s just precious.

Tom: Ah, Owl City. Purveyor of cheap and tacky synthpop to teenagers across America. What do you have for us this time?

Tom: Oh. You’ve got yourself a rapper. Well, that’s just precious.

Still the exact same nonsense lyrics and happy-go-lucky electronic music. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with that, but once you’ve figured out the formula – and seen it expertly deconstructed – you kind of hope for more.

Tim: Thing is, I like Owl City. He’s a bit like the Scouting For Girls of the electro world – the songs all blend into each other, and as long as there’s one fairly decent one in there somewhere it all seems all right. This one’s alright – even the rapping is fairly low-key, so it doesn’t really disturb anything.

Tom: There are some artists that keep producing the same kind of thing, and that’s OK because it’s just so good; and there are artists who keep reinventing themselves, and that’s great too. And then there’s Owl City.

Still, at least there’s a key change.