Benjamin – Kaksi kotia

“To be honest I’m kind of having trouble verbalising.”

Tim: “I’m bored of arguing, let’s just call it quits.” Nope, it’s not what I’m thinking right now about this site, but what Benjamin’s having a sing about.

Tom: I could not remember a single thing about that after it finished.

Tim: Hmm. So, I really, really like this – but for lots of reasons that to be honest I’m kind of having trouble verbalising. Sure, I could describe the individual parts of it, but that wouldn’t really come across right because I’d be mentioning things like that peculiar eagle sound effect, and even though it’s objectively weird it just kind of works.

Tom: I went back to listen again, and found that all the things that stood out now bugged me. The talky bit in the middle eight, the eagle-scream synth, the echoing “baby” at the end of the first verse. I’ve got the exact opposite reaction to you.

Tim: I could also talk about the melody, and production levels, and that sort of thing, but again nothing would quite sum it up properly, really, because it’s more than that. It’s just the whole…thing. Just works, unquantifiably. And you know, I like that, every now and again.

Tom: I’m glad someone does.

Benjamin – Näytä Mulle Ne

“That chorus feels like it was designed for the audience at a talent contest to wave their arms back and forth to.”

Tim: When this starts, you might think you’re watching Top Gun, but I promise you you’re not. Instead, you’re listening to a song with a title translating to Show Me Them, where ‘them’ is all your little imperfections, because (genuine translation from what he’s said) “no-one wants to fall in love with Teflon”. True, I guess, because I can’t really see myself ever marrying a frying pan, but there’s probably a metaphor in there as well.

Tim: So as I hear it, what we’ve got here is a song with slightly irritating verses, which are largely made up for a rather lovely pop chorus.

Tom: That chorus feels like it was designed for the audience at a talent contest to wave their arms back and forth to. A very specific comment, there, I know, but am I wrong?

Tim: Not even slightly, and if we’re honest it quite possible was. We’ve also got the middle eight which mixes everything up a little, by which I really mean it gets chucked into a blender and turned on at full speed, because God knows what’s really happening there, but it sounds decent enough.

Tom: Odd vocal samples in there, too — and some strange choices of rhythm and percussion. But, yeah, okay, this is… this is… this is a song that exists. Sorry. Can’t get excited about it.

Tim: Goes back to a lovely normal for the closing chorus, though, and overall I’ll give this a distinctly positive rating. Can’t deny his look in the artwork does help with that, mind, but still. It’s nice.

Benjamin – Juon sut pois

“He’s not taking his breakup very well. At all.”

Tim: Benjamin is…well, let’s just say he’s not taking his breakup very well. At all. (Video gets a bit disturbing at the end, you can stop it once the music’s finished.)

Tom: All that effort, all that long take, all that ruining his hair, and someone leaves “.mp4” in the video when they upload it. I mean, yes, that’s clearly a big emotional cathartic moment, but “.mp4”? Really? Anyway, yeah, the song. Big emotions, I guess?

Tim: He’s screwed up, he’s saying he’s sorry, but she ain’t having any of it, so naturally he’s wraping himself up in cling film and getting rid of his lovely hair, because what else is there to do? For all the unnecessary drama of the video, though, this is actually a track I can get on board with. Even without that video, the chorus still has a lot of emotional baggage with it, which depending on my mood may well get me shouting out and singing along.

Tom: It’s a good chorus, you’re right! Although I’m not sure how you’re singing along.

Tim: It is a bit tricky with it being in Finnish, I’ll grant you, but I’ll go with poison and pretty much get the same idea. Hefty music, hefty vocals, hefty song. I like it.

Benjamin feat. Sweet California – Man On The Moon

“This is how you do a summer song.”

Tim: Take one Finnish singer, add one Swedish Spanish girlband, start with some acoustic guitars and happy lyrics, place in a recording studio for four minutes and it turns out you’ll find yourself a decent pop song. Add in a couple of beachballs, a swimming pool and a few hot models, you might even find a video as well.

Tom: And this is how you do a summer song. My one complaint is those “i-i-i-i-i” bits. There’s nothing particularly astonishing in here, but it’s a nice enough track.

Tim: Isn’t it just? Mind you, I say happy lyrics, they could in theory almost be written by the old guy from last year’s John Lewis advert, but let’s pretend that watching someone constantly from a long way away isn’t creepy – after all, the girls involved clearly have no problem with it – and I can get on board.

Tom: That’s fair. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt on this one.

Tim: Upbeat music, generally fun and pleasant vibe, fairly good summery third track from an album stuff, really. No complaints from me.

Benjamin – Body

“Good chorus. Can’t remember any of it afterwards.”

Tim: Since we’ve currently got two Scandinavian Benjamins coming out with dance music, I’ll clarify: more notably and recently there is Benjamin Ingrosso, cousin of proper Ingrosso and full on Swedish. This is Benjamin who has ditched his surname (Feltonen, incidentally) and is half-Finnish, half-Swedish. And has this as his new one.

Tim: Which is admittedly a tad generic, and coming out a good couple of months before anybody is really likely to be up for listening, but on the plus side contains a good chorus and a well-produced lyric video.

Tom: Good chorus. Can’t remember any of it afterwards, though.

Tim: The focus on the body and nothing else does put me in mind of of Sean Kingston/Pit Bull/that lot style song, which is a bit annoying, especially because stylistically it’s not that far away.

Tom: That’s true: replace that guitar-led middle eight with a rap bit “feat. Pitbull” and it’d improve a few places in the charts.

Tim: May be sacrilege to say this, but it might even improve the track. Nonetheless, that ayayayaya bit is decent enough I’ll pretty much forgive that. It’s okay, but let’s have a bit more effort next time, yeah?

Benjamin – Young & Restless

“It’s like they’ve glommed together a load of ideas and nearly got a song out of it”

Tim: Here, Tom, is a track to properly start your week off.

Tom: Oh, for crying out loud, there’s no point censoring an f-bomb if it’s a rhyming word. Leaving that aside… actually, hang on, I’ve got a problem with the “It’s going down” as well, in a post-Timber world you can’t get away with that. Anyway, leaving both those aside…

Tim: A fair ask, but let’s try anyway. It’s a couple of years now since Avicii first unleashed the farmhouse genre, and it really isn’t going away any time soon, is it?

Tom: No, but there are at least some attempts at reinvention going on: there’s vocals throughout this, and it’s merged a lot more with a traditional pop song structure.

Tim: Structure’s an interesting word to use – it’s strange, because sometimes it works really well, and other times it sort of just about fits, like this. To be honest, I kind of get the feeling that it’s just been shoehorned in here underneath the, yes, structured verses to make it sound current, rather than because that’s what the song needs.

Tom: Right: although that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Not sure about using an odd vocal sample rather than an actual instrument though. It’s like they’ve just glommed together a load of ideas and nearly, nearly got a song out of it — that last chorus is really good, apart from that bizarre sample.

Tim: It is, as it most of the rest of it, working absolutely fine with no real trace of any country presumptions – it’s big, it’s brash, and aside from that slightly harsh bit of autotune at the start, I’ve got no complaints about it. I just wish it didn’t sound so disjointed.

Benjamin – Unbreakable

“A whole bucketload better”

Tim: PREVIOUSLY ON EUROPLOP!: “formulaic, by the numbers, cheap, almost lazy, just no.

Tom: We’re harsh sometimes, aren’t we?

Tim: Yes, but hopefully, as in that case, never unjustifiably. Shall we see if his second track’s any better?

Tim: Yes, yes it is. A whole bucketload better, though that voice gets me a bit, because it sounds a bit fake, almost like really, really badly applied autotune, but it can’t be, can it?

Tom: No, I don’t think so — I think that’s a combination of a slightly unconventional singing voice and Scandinavian vowels. I could be wrong though.

Tim: So let’s assume not, and then given his voice as it is I have few complaints about this. It’s a very good uplifting ballad; like all the almost-best uplifting ballads it could of course be improved with a key change.

Tom: It really does need one, you’re right!

Tim: Oh, and he should really visit a barber who knows what they’re doing.

Tom: Fashion, Tim. I think it works.

Tim: Well aside from that: really rather good. Speaking of key changes: Melodifestivalen 2015 kicks off four weeks tomorrow, so put that date in your diary please folks.

Benjamin – Underdogs

“Formulaic, by the numbers, cheap, almost lazy, just no.”

Tim: Another Scandinavian kid with an aversion to surnames, this is Benjamin, and in an attempt to trigger your “get off my lawn” reflex, I’ll tell you that he rose to fame via Instagram.

Tom: Oh, for crying out loud.

Tim: Not really sure how that works, but anyway, here’s his first track.

Tom: UNNECESSARY SHIRTLESS SHOT. And heaven knows why they decided to film a video for a Scandinavian pop star in the east end of London.

Tim: Now, call me a cynical bastard if you like, but a tiny part of me has the feeling that someone at Warner got bored of listening to music demos one day and just thought “hang on, that guy’s getting famous, let’s have him.” Find a songwriter who can give you something that doesn’t require a huge amount of singing ability, stick a microphone in front of the photogenic one, film him jumping around a bit and bingo, you’ve got a hit, right?

Tom: Quite possibly, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the song’s any good.

Tim: No, it certainly doesn’t, and let’s be honest it’s not the greatest. I’d like to think that’s not the case. I really would. But I can’t quite shake the feeling that it is. I don’t know. Maybe his album, out next year, will convince me otherwise. But otherwise: formulaic, by the numbers, cheap, almost lazy, just no.