Tom: I assumed this would be deviation to the mean, because… well, that’s how this works. But this is really rather good, isn’t it?
Tim: It is – whole lot of things to recommend here. The autotune grates on me a little bit at times, though I don’t know if that’s deliberate or not.
Tom: Two distinct hooks between the pre-chorus and regular chorus, some great vocals, and composition that somehow manages to be simple while not grating.
Tim: Yeah, certainly can’t deny any of that – everything goes together nicely with that good melody.
Tom: And, I assumed Doja Cat would just be coming in for a rapped middle eight, because that’s usually how it works. But no: a noticeably different voice, backed up by some really good string samples. I’ve got nothing bad to say about this track. It’s brilliant.
“This might be the most charming f-bomb I’ve ever heard in pop music.”
Tom: This might be the most charming f-bomb I’ve ever heard in pop music.
Tim: Oh that is nice, you’re right.
Tom: I think it’s the switch to quiet falsetto that makes it so charming. Every time Anne-Marie swears here, it sounds performative, deliberately designed to stand out and shock. But somehow, Lauv on his own manages to make the consonants sound so quiet and musical that it really fits the lyrics.
Tim: Yeah – it’s obviously rude, but comes across almost as an “I’m terribly sorry I have to use this word, but you see there’s really no other option left open to me”.
Tom: That said, the clean version, replacing the profanity with a single pinging synth, doesn’t sound that different to me.
Tim: Hmm, fair. It’s helpful that it’s there, really, because it’s an interesting highlight in a song I otherwise might skip past entirely, or certainly get bored with.
Tom: Anyway, then there’s the rest of the track: this is catchy, with the sort of minimalist production that can sound terrible if it’s not done really, really, well. Here, though? It works.
“At the top for seven weeks now; shall we investigate?”
Tim: It’s the first Christmas number one since 2003 that’s neither X Factor nor campaign-y and it’s been at the top for seven weeks now; shall we investigate?
Tim: Well, I’d say the obvious answer is that there is no campaign this year – last year had the NHS choir, 2012 had the Justice Collective, 2011 has Gareth Malone, 2009 had Rage Against The Machine – and this year’s X Factor single was…well, it was no A Moment Like This, was it?
Tom: I think it’s a sign of what’s happening with the charts now; as they move almost-entirely to streaming, we’ll find that the charts reflect what people are listening to, not what they’re buying. And that’s a very different chart – one less reflective of campaigns and trends.
Tim: And yes, there have been other good tracks around in the meantime, but none that are quite so catchy – however annoying you might find Sean Paul (and believe me, I really do), Anne-Marie’s got a decent voice, and tropical music still seems inexplicably popular.
Tom: I don’t think it’s a great song; but it’s clearly done enough.