Jenny Berggren – Gotta Go

I’m entirely in favour of this song.

Tom: Europlop reader Roger writes in, noting that we haven’t commented on Jenny Berggren’s new album. She’s the lead singer of Ace of Base, and put out a solo album at the end of last year. And Roger’s right – we missed it entirely.

‘Gotta Go’, he says, “is not the song with the highest star rating, rather it is one of those I like the most”.

And you know what? I like it too. And that’s not just because her surname is nearly a palindrome.

Tom: By the time the beat drops back in at 0:45, I’m entirely in favour of this song. It’s one of those tracks where the melody doesn’t seem to entirely connect with what the instrumentation is playing – almost like it’s a mashup! – but I don’t mind at all.

Tim: It is a bit odd, that – it’s almost disorienting, and I’m not sure I like it. It’s as though there are several tracks competing with each other for attention.

Tom: That said, the beat does drop back in a lot of times. At least four, if you count the bridge. There’s a lot of quiet bits coming back with a slightly-too-triumphant whoomph. Even the bridge seems to treat itself by dipping the drums out twice.

Tim: That, however, I do like, because even if it’s only an illusion, it does give the impression like it’s constantly building to be massive at the end, although the ending is then a bit disappointing.

Tom: It might be a bit full of itself, and the last chorus might not be triumphant enough – with this much palaver in the song, it needs a key change.

Tim: You’re right – what it needs, actually, is a Linda Bengtzing style key change – not just after the bridge, but later on, ideally on the ‘late’ at 3:36.

Tom: Despite that, I still like this song.

Tim: Good. Me too.

Roxette – She’s Got Nothing On (But The Radio)

Cleverest Track Title of the Year.

Tim: Last time we met Roxette, their new song kept getting pulled from YouTube so we had to make do with an old (albeit good) track. It’s finally found a permanent place, though, in the form of a proper video, so let’s have a look.

Tom: First of all, I think we’ve already found the award winner for Cleverest Track Title of the Year.

Tom: How are Roxette still good? This somehow manages to have rocky verses, electronic arpeggios in the chorus, and the usual slightly-androgynous vocals, and it’s still bloody good. Incidentally, how ace are those arpeggios? (I think that’s what they’re called, anyway.)

Tim: Agreed, the choruses are good, but the pauses annoy me – singing along (it is very singalongable), it seems as though the ‘but the radio’ should just follow so naturally from ‘she’s got nothing on’ that it feels a bit odd when it doesn’t.

Tom: It’s easy to think Roxette were a one-hit wonder with “It Must Have Been Love” and maybe a couple of others – but they’re not. They’ve been going for years, have a World Music Award, and – no kidding – achievement medals from the King of Sweden.

I’m docking a few points for the terrible call-and-response bit in the first verse (“Really?” “Oh.” “Yeah?” in the right channel) though.

Tim: That’s a thing that’s a bit odd – the intro and verses could come straight from a Pink song (Get This Party Started, perhaps), but the choruses and bridge sound like something entirely different, almost like something the new Pet Shop Boys track could (should?) have been.

Tom: Other than that it’s a pretty solid track. More like this, please.

Saturday Flashback: Yohanna – Is It True?

It wouldn’t be a shame if more Eurovision songs were like this.

Tim: This weekend marks the start of quite a few countries’ hunt for their Eurovision entries – Finland started last night, and Norway and Iceland get going tonight. Let’s mark the occasion by looking back at a previous entry, from Iceland in 2009. Context: this was placed second, after Norway’s Alexander Rybak won by the largest margin in the contest’s history. (Still can’t believe Malena Ernman came 21st, though.)

Tom: As long as they don’t get Pete Bloody Waterman back for the UK, I’ll be happy.

Tim: No fancy tricks here, no massive lighting effects – just a couple of nice gentle key changes, plenty of emotional singing from a lady who’s just screwed things up with her boyfriend, and a dolphin flying through the sky in the background. I like this a lot, and it wouldn’t be a shame if more Eurovision songs were like this.

Tom: I strongly disagree with you. This is too slow, too ballad-y, for a night of entertainment that should – in my opinion – be about celebration and enthusiasm. I’m not advocating camp, kitschy mock-pop – that should be left back where it belongs – and I’m not saying there shouldn’t be a few songs like this. But ballads got the first and second place last year. Let’s have a bit of schlager placing this time, please.

Tim: Oh, absolutely – I’m as much as campaigner for the Charlotte Perellis and DJ Bobos of the competition as the next guy – I just think it’s nice to have a break every now and again, with something slightly calming but still musically interesting.

Anyway, what is also brilliant is the steadicam shot that starts at 2:21 (although nothing quite beats the Segway in Belarus’s performance).

Tom: Now that I can agree with you on. Still can’t believe “Eyes That Never Lie” didn’t make it through to the final.

Yasmin – On My Own

FWEEP.

Tom: “If this isn’t big,” writes Matt, our resident Radio Insider, “I’ll buy a hat so I can eat it.”

Tom: So: let’s run through FWEEP the basics. A horn section; a FWEEP drum and bass backing; a gorgeous voice and FWEEP… is that you, Tim?

Tim: Erm – say what now?

Tom: You know what. Inserting that ‘FWEEP’. The horn squeal. The one that’s really FWEEP bloody noticeable, because it’s been used as FWEEP the main part of ‘Insane in the Membrane‘, and ‘Jump Around‘?

Tim: Oh, that.

Tom: It can’t actually be in Yasmin’s track, because no producer would FWEEP be insane enough to include a sample like that. It’s all anyone will hear. No matter FWEEP how good the rest of the track is – and this track is good – all anyone’s going to hear is FWEEP.

Tim: You think? Because – actual truth – I didn’t notice it until the last part. It’s quiet and infrequent enough for it not to stand out too much, at least until it appears on its own towards the end. The one annoying thing about it is that now I have heard it, I always expect it to hit on the first beat instead of the last. That is what annoys me about it, and the rest is good. But yes – odd placement.

Tom: FWEEP.

Tim: Shut up.

Tom: …fweep?

Almighty Pop Factor – When We Collide

It’s probably a good thing that most Biffy Clyro fans will never hear this.

Tim: For those that don’t know the story: about a year ago Scottish rock band Biffy Clyro came out with Many of Horror, which some fans liked and some fans felt wasn’t as good as the rest of their stuff, mostly because it was less rocky and too mainstream. Eleven months later, Matt Cardle wins The X Factor with a cover of it, retitled as the more family-friendly When We Collide, at which point all the Biffy Clyro fans remarked that it was in fact their best song ever and that Matt Cardle was the son of Satan.

Tom: True as that may be, it’s your typical hands-in-the-air winner’s song.

Tim: And now, as regularly happens with X Factor winners (and, indeed, many other songs) the good folk at Almighty Records have produced their own version, and to be honest it’s probably a good thing that most Biffy Clyro fans will never hear this.

Tom: Oh, Almighty Records, you wonderful people.

Tim: I’ll be honest: I’m a little disappointed.

Tom: Even with the…

Tim: Well, yes, it has the ridiculous and almost barely believable key change that we’ve come to expect, and I think the chiming bells work well, but something seems not quite right. For one, I think it would work better with a male vocalist.

Tom: Have Almighty ever used a male vocalist? I don’t think so. I’d like to hear what they could do with one, though.

Tim: Another thing is that it also seems to be constantly on the verge of fading out, at least whenever there’s an instrumental part. Then even the key change seems like it’s more of a formality than anything else – as though the producer thought ‘Oh, we’d better do that, hadn’t we? Erm, what can we do with it…tell you what, let’s put this effect here, turn that end up a bit, and that should do it. Anyone for the pub?’

Tom: Now you put it that way, I see what you mean – I don’t think I’ve ever heard them actually pitch-bend the whole bit of music before. It’s vaguely unsettling.

Tim: Don’t get me wrong – it’s not bad, obviously. But it’s certainly no You Raise Me Up, that’s for certain.

Tim: Because one key change just isn’t enough.

Tom: It never is, Tim. It never is.

Eric Prydz – Niton (The Reason)

Ooh – this is quite fun, isn’t it?

Tim: The first couple of times I heard this, I thought it was nothing particularly special, and was all ready to pass over it without saying anything. The third time, though, I suddenly found myself really liking it, but I don’t quite know why.

Tom: Well, Tim, I listened three times and I’ve got to say: that didn’t happen for me.

Tim: It like something suddenly happened in my head and I realised ‘Ooh – this is quite fun, isn’t it?’ There’s a bit of energy there, especially when it finally gets going just after two minutes in.

Tom: Why didn’t that happen a minute earlier though? The last thirty seconds of it’s a full Eric Prydz track, and the rest… isn’t. And I’m willing to bet that without scantily-clad dance instructors this ain’t going anywhere.

Tim: Much like the Dilba track, it’s never going to get anyone begging the DJ to play it, but it would certainly go down very well with a happy crowd. Thumbs up from me.

Britney Spears – Hold It Against Me

How about we take a quick break from the usual?

Tim: Well, the final version of the new Britney single got leaked yesterday and the whole music internet and his dog is talking about it – how about we take a quick break from the usual and have a look at it?

Tom: Go for it. What do you think, Tim?

Tim: CAN’T STAND: the dubstep bits, which sort of includes the verses and definitely includes the first half of the bridge, which is absolutely not my type of thing.

CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF: the rest of it. This includes the choruses and the second part of the bridge, which will have lasers and smoke machines and hands in the air in any self-respecting club, and everything later than that.

That is what I think, and because it ends on a high, the positiveness wins over.

Tom: I have yet to find a dubstep track that I like, which is strange – normally, even in genres I don’t like, there are a couple of tracks that I’ll still enjoy. Dubstep? Not one, yet. It completely kills the energy in the bridge: there’s even a ramp up to it and then it just dies. That second half of the bridge, though, with the sparse drum hits? That’s bloody amazing. I want to dance to that.

Tim: Oh, and apparently if you, like me, thought you knew how to pronounce ‘hazy’, you were quite clearly wrong.

Tom: Tim, I have a degree in linguistics, I know the International Phonetic Alphabet, and I’m not sure I could transcribe what she sang there. I’m not sure those vowels are used in any human language. Perhaps she’s signalling the mothership.

Le Kid – Mr Brightside

A present to keep their fans happy.

Tim: No soapy sailors this time round, as this is a free track off their website rather than an actual single – a present to keep their fans happy until they bring new stuff out in February.

Tom: Now, I really liked the bubblegum pop sound they had last time round – how much of that was due to attractive lead singers in low-cut outfits, I’m not sure, but I ended up listening to that track a lot of times. Hopefully this one’s similar.

Tom: Oh yes.

Tim: Not half bad, really, and remarkably different from The Killers’ original, in the backing instrumentation at least.

Tom: The first few notes of it gave me a bit of worry, but I needn’t have – it’s a great cover of a great song; when all the electronic gubbins kicks in on “Jealousy–“, I just burst out into a smile.

It’s basically into repeat-until-fade half way through, and – most disappointingly – it doesn’t use the “I never–” refrain to end it. I like that part, if only because every time I hear it I think Brandon Flowers is singing “PAELLA.”

Tim: Of course you do. Needless to say, fans of The Killers won’t like it much, but we’re not here for them. We’re here because we like happy camp music, and this is very much it.

Tom: Damn right.

Saturday Flashback: Roxette – Stars

During the final chorus, everything just clicked together.

Tim: Much like yesterday’s Lili & Susie, here’s an act from the olden days with a new single out.

Tom: Blimey, really?

Tim: Oh yes, but that single, She’s Got Nothing On (But The Radio), has rather rudely been taken off YouTube.

Tom: That’s a pity, because that title has a lot of promise.

Tim: Doesn’t it just? Anyway, let’s take a look at this instead from 1999, in which we can see the effectiveness of aggressive singing.

https://youtu.be/agRK2AQwY5Q

Tim: This wasn’t as successful as many of her other tracks, but now sounds considerably less dated than most.

Tom: I’ll agree with you there – I wouldn’t have placed this as being over a decade old.

Tim: Also it has a children’s choir in the chorus, and that’s always fun.

Tom: No they’re not! They’re horrible. There’s never been a good song with a children’s choir in it, with the exception of William Shatner’s cover of Common People.

Tim: Oh, please.

Tom: I know what that link is before I click it. It’s the St. Winifred’s School Choir, isn’t it? There’s only one good performance of that, and it’s the time they were on Tiswas.

Tim: Man, you’re mean. Anyway, if you fancy something a bit more energetic, try a recent Almighty 7″ Mix, although I prefer this – it’s dance-y enough, and the choruses are much better.

Tom: I wasn’t really feeling this song until the final chorus, during which everything just clicked together for some reason. This is lovely.

Tim: A few things about the video:

  • If I was that bloke, I’d be more likely to get a restraining order than an engagement ring.
  • It’s a slight shame she couldn’t learn the words to the chorus before they started filming.

Tom: But the ducks, Tim! How could you not have immediately mentioned the ducks who quack in time with the lyrics?

Tim: Oh, good lord – how could I not have noticed that? It’s incredible. It may, however, be that my mind was still reeling from her dancing at about 1:12. This can only be described as utterly exquisite, especially when it looks like her head is going to fall off. I tried to imitate it it, but my neck just refused to bend that far.

Tom: That must be CGI. Surely that’s CGI? Wait. 1999. Damn.

Lili & Susie – Kom Och Ta Oss

Energetic, danceable, vibrant – generally everything a good piece of schlager should be.

Tim: These two sisters have been going for well over twenty years now, although they’re not producing much these days – their last was Show Me Heaven in Melodifestivalen a couple of years back; now, they bring us this.

Tim: Lyrically, I have no idea what this is all about, although the title – which translates to ‘Come and Find Me’ – suggests it’s some sort of game of Hide and Seek; having said that, the song seems a bit loud to be singing in that situation so it’s probably not that.

Tom: I’m clearly a bit immature, because I’m hearing the title as “Come And Toss” every time they sing it. I’ll set that aside.

Tim: Yeah, I think that would be best. So, we’re stuck judging the music alone, and that’s not a bad thing, really, since the music’s quite good.

Tom: It’s a bit anthemic, isn’t it? There’s a hell of a lot going on, and that’s not a bad thing.

Tim: Certainly isn’t. The voices hold up nicely, and the blokes joining in at the end add a bit of gravity, should you feel that’s what it needs.

Tom: I’m not even sure it counts as schlager – yes, it’s three minutes long and from Scandinavia, but you couldn’t call this bubblegum pop by any means.

Tim: Ah, but the non-vocal part is energetic, danceable, vibrant – generally everything a good piece of schlager should be. And that is, after all, what we are here to celebrate.