The Wanted – Heart Vacancy

In which they, um, sit down. And stay seated. Throughout.

Tim: As an alternative to yesterday’s action-packed video, here’s The Wanted’s new song, Heart Vacancy, in which they, um, sit down. And stay seated. Throughout.

Tom: The video couldn’t even afford a special effect for the big ending, which just makes it look a bit confusing. Which, since they apparently flew them out to foreign parts to do the filming, seems like a bit of a cop-out.

Tim: They do one other thing: “be good-looking”, which let’s face it is all they were meant to do.

Tom: Good grief, The Wanted really are one of the most generic boy bands ever, aren’t they? There’s really nothing to note in here – I’ve been struggling to write anything for a few minutes now.

Tim: The song comes with a heavy helping of auto-tune, which makes the chorus seem a little bit whiny; aside from that it’s not too bad, although it isn’t particularly good either. I’ve listened to it three times and all I can really remember is the ‘in your heart in your heart in your heart’ line from the chorus, which isn’t a great sign.

Tom: The dance remix will go down well at under-18 club nights, I suspect. And of course, teenage girls will buy it – or at least endlessly watch the YouTube video of it. And then it’ll be forgotten. Hopefully forever.

Tim: True. Which sucks from their point of view, I suppose, but if they get too depressed they can at least take comfort in the fact that they’re not INJU5TICE, who didn’t even make it to the Top 100 and whose last “fan newsletter” was an attempt to offload the last of their merchandise.

Tom: So long, INJU5TICE, we hardly knew you. Thankfully.

Le Kid – We Should Go Home Together

I can’t help thinking it’s a little bit too camp.

Tim: Five Swedes make up Le Kid, and they have a song entitled We Should Go Home Together. Released in Sweden last month, should be out in the UK next year. This is hard for me to say, as I think it verges on sacrilege here, but while I like this I can’t help thinking it’s a little bit too camp and cheesy.

Tom: Like hell it is. Yes, it’s camp, yes, it’s cheesy, but not by too much. Admittedly, I may be biased because there are several attractive women dancing in low-cut retro outfits. I’m fairly sure one of them flashed her knickers at one point. I wasn’t paying attention to soapy sailors.

Tim: I’m not sure why exactly, but there’s definitely something about it that makes me think, ‘People, are you sure you really want to be doing this?’ I know this is coming from someone who pretty much admitted to liking Rocket to Uranus, but I’m not sure if it’s the excessive woah-oh-oh-woahs, the synth backing, the soapy sailors, the cheeky sailor-girl costumes, the rescuing a drowning mermaid (what?)

Tom: You forgot the sailor eating a banana, and the phallic sittin’ on the riggin’.

Tim: It just all adds up to too much, really.

Tom: Like hell it does. You want to see too much? This is too much. That’s a video that’ll ruin your gaydar for days, in the same way that you can’t hear for a while after a loud explosion goes off near you. After watching that, you’ll look at the Village People and think “that’s just four men in costumes dancing, nothing camp about that at all”. That’s too much. This? Not even close. It’s brilliant. And the music’s pretty good too.

Tim: Good lord, man, where on Earth did you find that? It’s like something that shot out of John Barrowman’s arse after a night of rampant bumming.

Tom: That may just be the worst sequence of words you’ve ever written. It gets worse the more I think about it.

Tim: Thank you very much – I’m quite proud of that sentence. Anyway, it’s not the video that I really have the problem with – there’s just something in the music I’m not keen on. I don’t know.

Tom: I’ll chalk that down to musical tastes then, because I’m really enjoying everything about this. It’s just lovely.

Saturday Flashback: Sinéad Mulvey and Black Daisy – Et Cetera

The song’s amazingness goes without question.

Tom: I’m just going to let Tim have this one.

Tim: So, this was Ireland’s entry for Eurovision 2009; appallingly it failed to qualify for the final. And when I say appallingly, I mean seriously appallingly – I really have no idea how it could have failed, especially with the performance they put on (although that did seem like the cameraman was on serious medication for something or other). It is BRILLIANT, and the intro has been my phone’s morning alarm ever since*).

Now, the song’s amazingness goes without question, so we should move straight on and analyse the video, because this is seriously odd. We start off with the band (that is, Black Daisy) worried that the singer (Sinéad) isn’t there, and so they can’t start the song. Fair enough. Except then they start playing, so the worrying was about something they didn’t care about, so we’re like whuh?, but then she starts singing, showing that the reason the worrying was pointless is that they have some sort of psychic link since she knows exactly when to come in, so we’re like WHUH? Then, inevitably, she turns up in the middle of the song, joins in and it’s like there’s never been a problem.

Except there is. And it’s a massive problem I have and it bugs me because I like my music videos cheesy: WHY couldn’t she have waited another ten seconds, sung the bit immediately after the bridge as she was walking in and grabbed the microphone for the key change? It would have been SO MUCH BETTER, and since she’d already been gone two and a half minutes another few seconds wouldn’t matter. Ugh.** Anyway, long story short: the band gets worried for no reason then have a lot of fun with spelling and the singer is late, arrives at an inconvenient time, and isn’t even told off at the end. Crazy.

HOWEVER: all that aside it’s a fun video, and the music is more (vastly more) than good enough to make up for any shortcomings it may have. I LOVE THIS SONG, and I hereby decree that it shall be added to The Bengtzing Effect‘s playlist, and as we all know, there is no higher accolade.

*In case you’re interested (and there’s really no reason why you should be), my actual ringtone is a looped version of The One Show’s theme tune, although I changed it at Christmas, obviously.

** And if I’m being picky (well, duh), the toast should have popped up a second earlier as well. Shoot the director.

Tom: His ringtone really is a looped version of the One Show’s theme tune.

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.