Blue – King of the World

“We’ve Grown Up Now”

Tom: Yep. New album, new label, new single. And a very different style from what you might expect.

Tom: For a start, there’s that double bass. I think this is intended to say “We’ve Grown Up Now” in big letters.

Tim: And in fairness, it says it very well. You’d have a hard time selling this to a young audience, certainly.

Tom: Okay, let’s get something out of the way: Duncan James is constantly trying to steal every shot he’s in. He looks either like he’s mugging for the camera, or just doing the whole thing ironically.

Tim: Not untrue.

Tom: There’s a bit of a weird vibe throughout the video, but I think that’s mostly editorial decision rather than anything to do with the band. And as for the music: well, am I being too harsh if I say it’s straight onto the Radio 2 B-playlist?

Tim: Erm…

Tom: I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s a good track. There are plenty of tracks that don’t make it there. It’s pleasant. It’ll make the album sell for Mother’s Day. But I don’t think it’ll be lighting up the pop charts any time soon.

Tim: There, you’re definitely right. A shame, though really it’s hard to imagine Radio 1 playlisting them at all, whatever they come out with, so at least they’ve got one audience in mind.

The Big Reunion – I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday

“This is an awful, awful cover.”

Tom: We had Comic Relief singles. We had Children in Need singles. I guess ITV is now getting in on the act with Text Santa singles.

Tim: And, of course, the X Factor single, which for the past couple of years has been for Together For Small Lives, which is definitely because they want to be charitable and definitely not because they want to get rid of all the “Let Kill These X Factor Profitable Bastards” Facebook campaigns. Actually, sod my cynicism: why can’t it be both. It’s a good charity, and a not particularly terrible track. Buy it, why don’t you.

Tom: Is it a bit awkward, by the way, that Leona Lewis also covered this? Folks from two ITV shows, both releasing the same cover in the same year. You’d think they could have co-ordinated that better.

Anyway, we asked for two things of Leona track: “this had better be rollicking”, and “capturing the essence” of the original. Now, we’ve decided in the past that we don’t treat charity singles any differently, so let me warn you: this is an awful, awful cover.

Tim: Hahaha – what a wonderful introduction. LET’S HIT PLAY, KIDS!

Tim: There was Alien. Then there was Aliens. AND THEN THERE WAS ALIEN 3.

Tom: It was anaemic, but generally acceptable, I guess, until that unexpected, unnecessary and unforgivable rap middle eight. Then to make matters worse, the saxophone has completely disappeared.

Tim: I don’t know – I actually found that rap very moving and profoundly thought-provoking. Well, at least the first time I heard it. Then I heard it again and noticed that “there’s people without no food to eat” was a double negative and then that entirely ruined it. SORRY ABS MUST TRY HARDER.

Tom: And then an “IT’S CHRISTMAS!” shouted? That’s the wrong band! That’s Slade! And then all the timing’s messed up! You’ve ruined Christmas, ITV. YOU’VE RUINED CHRISTMAS.

Tim: No, no I won’t quite have that. Because right now, there’s only one supergroup that matters for me. And ITV are also responsible for that. So they’re even. But if it wasn’t for that, then yes, ITV. YOU’VE RUINED CHRISTMAS. BECAUSE THIS IS AWFUL.

Blue – Hurt Lovers

“Crikey, that’s actually a really good track.”

Tim: I don’t quite know how I missed this, to be honest, but at the beginning of the year Blue released a new album (admittedly, only in Germany), and this was the lead single.

Tom: Blimey. That’s surprising – after Eurovision, I thought they’d gone back to doing student gigs. How’d it do?

Tim: It went top 10 in aforementioned Germany, so next month it’s being released over here. Hurrah!

Tom: Crikey, that’s actually a really good track. Anthony Costa is increasingly slipping into looking like a stereotypical mob gangster, though. (Side note: Duncan James has a surprisingly entertaining sideline in reading out questions on rollercoasters these days.)

Tim: Quick video note: that was was made for the single as a soundtrack to the German film Schlussmacher; last Friday’s video for the British release is, erm, not available to view in Britain.

Tom: They copyright-blocked their own video. Well done there.

Tim: Still, the song, and as ballads go it’s pretty good one. Fairly hefty instrumentation, and while the verses are of the type don’t really serve as much more than lead-ins to the chorus, it’s a damn good chorus, once everything’s got going. A calm start, followed by a very repeatable hook, sort of Bleeding Love-style, and I think it works very well. I like it a lot.

Tom: Agreed. This isn’t just a “keep it going, lads” track – this could have been released by Blue at their height, and it’d have gone to number one.

Tim: Yes. Ten years on, though, and I suppose if it gets enough airplay, I can still see this fairly doing well. As far as airplay goes, though, my prediction is this: Radio 1 will decree it’s not relevant, Radio 2 might stick it on their B-list, and commercial stations will probably give it the same amount of priority, maybe a tad higher. On release you’re probably looking at the lower end of the top 20. Not bad, I guess.

Tom: It’s better than the student gigs.

Blue – I Can

Certainly better than anything we’ve had for the last few years.

Tim: So, now Tom’s back at Europlop Towers and Tim’s calmed down after Friday night, let’s have a proper review of this.

Tim: Well, basically it’s still great. The energy, the commitment to the cause, the modern but still poppy sound, the lyrics that mean something to them as a group: ‘we’re not the first ones to be divided, won’t be the last to be reunited’.

Tom: It is pretty damn good – certainly better than anything we’ve had for the last few years. Unless we’re going to do a Proper Melodifestivalen, this is the best way to pick things for the contest.

Tim: You could be right there. One thing that’s weird, though: the verse is catchier than the chorus. When the bridge ended, I wanted them to come back with a key-changed ‘we’re not the first ones…’ rather than the comparative (but not particularly big) let down of ‘I can, I will…’

Tom: That’s true. Now, the big question: do I think it’s a Eurovision winner? No – despite everything, it’s more likely to be a mid-European entry that takes it, with support from across the continent. But I think it’s a Eurovision top contender, and I think they’ll be able to walk away from the contest with their heads held high.

Tim: I just hope it’ll do well enough to get people to drop all the ‘we’ll never do well because everybody hates us’ bull that the whiners put out there every year. Anyway, final thought and image to leave you with: whenever Lee Ryan goes into backing singer mode he sounds (and looks) like he’s straining to get out a massive poo.

Tom: Thanks for that.

Tim: You’re welcome.

Blue and all that Eurovision business.

People have thrown a strop. They’re wrong.

Tim: As I’m sure we’ve all heard, British boyband Blue have been chosen by the BBC to represent Britain at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Düsseldorf, and unsurprisingly lots of people have got all mardy and thrown a strop about it. They’re wrong.

Tom: Yes they are.

Tim: They’re wrong, at least for the time being, and we shall now demonstrate why, through means of a systematic deconstruction of their arguments:

1. We didn’t get to decide. True, but are you honestly telling me that you would happily have chosen one of the six that were in Your Country Needs You last year? They weren’t your first choice, and never would have been. Until the BBC gets the money to splash out on a massive competition that about four thousand people will enter, with internet voting and tickets that sell out in half an hour, it’s never going to be a proper public choice.

Tom: A British Melodifestivalen will only happen when British folks take Eurovision seriously, which is approximately never. And if we actually had a Melodifestivalen, a comedy act would win, and we all know how that worked out for Dustin the Turkey.

Tim: 2. Blue are a crap boyband. Why can’t we have something good? You, person who says this, would make this argument whatever happened and whoever eventually got chosen unless it was Eliza Doolittle or Tinie Tempah. Shut up. They’ve actually been successful, and not just in this country but across a large part of Europe. Your personal music taste doesn’t count.

Tom: They’re perfect for Eurovision, too – inoffensive, well-tested, and popular. Don’t forget that Lena

Tim: Erm, Tom? Nope, he’s wandered off. But yes, Lena, who won it last year, was popular across Europe.

3. They haven’t done anything for over five years. Well, at least they’ve done something in the past, and aren’t a complete non-entity. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have an act that was successful a while back than an act that’s never been successful. We know they can sing properly, and to large crowds as well, so there shouldn’t be any worries there. Also, Katrina and the Waves hadn’t had a new single for over seven years before they won it back in 1997.

4. It will ruin their careers. And that’s our problem how, exactly? It may well be true, especially if they don’t do very well – their former manager certainly believes it to be the case – but so what? It’s not really like they have much of a future career to ruin, to be frank.

5. It makes us look desperate to win. Really, though? Even if that were the case – and personally if anything I think it makes us look keen, a good thing – it’s better than making us look like we can’t be arsed, which is certainly what anybody who saw last year’s car crash of a selection program would have thought. I can’t really remember the highlight, although I think it might have been Graham Norton forgetting how to read an autocue, or perhaps Pete Waterman & Mike Stock being furious that the act they’d clearly written the song for got voted off because she forgot the words.

So, to everybody who’s already started whining: hush. If you’re going to complain, at least wait a couple of months (really, BBC? that long?) until you’ve heard the song. Then we’ll let you bitch about it, and in fact may well join you.