Hurts – All I Want for Christmas is New Year’s Day

Oh my word, that’s lovely.

Tim: Now then, Tom. Imagine: you’re a songwriter, you’re not so keen on Christmas right now, for one reason or another, and you want to tell the world.

Tom: This had better be good, Tim. I don’t like new Christmas records as a general rule.

Tim: Do you (a) make a track about how life isn’t great and that hopefully soon the trouble will pass, or (b) make a track about how life isn’t great and that hopefully soon the trouble will pass that’s so incredibly festive that there is no way it cannot fail to bring back Christmas memories? Well, guess what Hurts did.

Tom: Oh my word, that’s lovely.

Tim: Isn’t it? I love it – partly it’s because I really like Christmas music, and if I had the power I would pass a law decreeing that chiming bells must be used in all music releases.

Tom: Don’t ever do that. It’d mean that the proper use of them, like this, wouldn’t be special any more. Normally in Christmas music bells are chucked in at the end, just to add the ‘right feeling’ in there, but they just fit so well here.

Tim: Fair point. Guess I may as well put my political career on hold, then. Anyway, I also love this because it fits with the Hurts formula that I think is superb: entirely contrasting moods of music and lyrics, massive chorus, and vaguely optimistic outlook – ‘I know there’ll be tidings of joy this time next year but happiness has never felt so far away’.

Tom: ‘And all I want for Christmas is New Year’s Day.’ As I write this, I’m tired, and so I’m likely to be a bit more emotional than my normal cynical dry-husk self… but that just hit me right in the heart. See? I just used italics, for crying out loud.

Tim: However, minor annoyance: ‘It’s only seven days till Christmas, six more till New Years Day’. LEARN TO COUNT. They’re even the same day of the week; how hard can it be?

Tom: I’m even willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on this; there’s six days between the end of Christmas and the start of New Years’ Day, and I think that’s just fine.

Tim: I guess you’re right. It is a bloody marvellous song, though, so I will happily overlook it. Just this once, though.

Tom: This is going to be my Christmas song for this year. I’m not sure what I’ll be getting up to, but whatever it is, this song is always going to bring back memories of it. Well done, Hurts. Well done.

Tim: Absolutely. And you know what the best thing of all is? They’ve gone and been all lovely and have decided that, since it’s Christmas, for the next seven days anybody with an iTunes account can get it absolutely free.

Album Review: Hurts – Happiness

Yes, it really is called Happiness, and yes, it really has got Kylie on it.

Tim: Since, in my view, Wonderful Life is not far off Lovekiller in terms of excellence, and we reviewed Darin’s album, it would be plain rude not to review this one as well (and yes, it really is called Happiness, and yes, it really has got Kylie on it).

Hurts - Happiness

1 – Silver Lining: Great opener, really shows what they can do. Long but varied throughout. Upbeat chorus, gentle bridge, finishes with OMINOUS MALE CHANTING. 9/10

2 – Wonderful Life: As previously mentioned, brilliant provided you don’t have to watch the video and don’t mind public transport inconsistencies. 10/10

3 – Blood, Tears & Gold: Not sure how to describe this as a good song; it very definitely is, but I’m not entirely sure why. The bits all just fit together, really. 8/10

4 – Sunday: One of the most upbeat; chorus of ‘just another lonely Sunday’. Very sing-along-able if you’re happy, though you’d need to alter the words. 9/10

5 – Stay: ‘I’ve got Drops of Jupiter stuck in my head. Oh well. Let’s write some songs.’ Similarity aside, however, this song is utterly fantastic. 10/10

6 – Illuminated: Seems like a fight between quiet boring verses and a loud exciting chorus for control of the song; the chorus wins, which is a relief. 7/10

7 – Evelyn: A perfect example of a song that builds throughout. Starts quietly tapping on your window; ends up kicking your door down. 8/10

8 – Better Than Love: Deservedly their first single. Electrodance backing, unusually energetic singing; I find this impossible to criticise. 10/10

9 – Devotion (featuring Kylie Minogue): ‘I’ve got Nature’s Law stuck in my head.’ Verses aren’t much; good chorus, but too similar for my liking.* Nice instrumental close, though. 6/10

10 – Unspoken: Remarkably boring for the first three minutes, but builds up a little bit for a fairly good final 90 seconds. 6/10

11 – Water: ‘This is the last song, yes? Can we get away with reusing the chorus melody from the first one?’ No, and the rest of it’s just a bit dull. 4/10

11a – Verona (Hidden track): An odd one – the group male chanting from the beginning comes back as a personal love song, and I’m not sure what to think of it.

tl;dr: Can be a bit too reminiscent of other songs, tailing off towards the end. Good if you like your music happy and sad simultaneously, though. 8/10

* Nothing against Embrace – I love Nature’s Law, just not reused in a completely different song.

Hurts – Wonderful Life

Do the research in your lyrics, people. And sort the video out.

Tim: To continue our impromptu Songs That We’re Glad Are Doing Well In The Charts Week, I look to the future and present a song I like very much indeed, which is being (re)released on the 23rd and will hopefully do quite well.

Tom: Hmm. It reminds me of so many different bands. There’s a bit of the Eurythmics in there; hell, there’s a lot of 80s and 90s synth-pop. I’m glad the song kicked in a bit at the chorus, and I’ll admit the instrumentation’s nice in a generic sort of way, but it’s not enough to redeem the whole thing when you’re only singing about three different notes in each line.

“On a bridge across the Severn on a Saturday night
Susie meets the main of her dreams”

That, and the reference to Temple Station later, means either they were out on a bizarre Severn-bridge-crossing Saturday night walk or they met on a National Express coach. Do the research in your lyrics, people.

Tim: Fair point about the lyrics if you were to take them literally, although if we’re doing that I fear a far bigger problem would be her slamming him against the wall to kiss him whilst he’s driving, which really just isn’t safe. Don’t do this at home, kids.

Tom: How did I not notice that? Okay, I know that it’s not to be taken literally, that song lyrics are by necessity poetic and any amount of time could have passed between the two lines, but that’s the kind of thing that will grate every time I hear it from now on – like John Lennon swearing in Hey Jude.

Tim: I also don’t get that video at all. The song says that he got in trouble (implication: some sort of crime), but from the video it looks like he’s lost his wife or something. Maybe he killed her, I don’t know. Then, a little bit after the song says “he starts to believe…he begins to see” (i.e. he’s getting happier, Suzy’s made his life alright), we see him cast the photo into the swimming pool (after we’ve already seen it at the bottom, but never mind). Fine, he’s moved on, all is good. But then he’s floating face down in the pool, looking like he’s drowned himself (nigh on impossible to do in a swimming pool, by the way) because he can’t cope with the loss.

So what we’ve really got is Suzy, bless her, who went out for a midnight stroll, fell in love with a seriously depressed guy, stayed with him through his troubles and helped him get out of it because he was perfect for her, and then he goes and kills himself. Like, seriously dude, what’s going on? Don’t you know how rude that is?

I wouldn’t, really wouldn’t, normally put this much effort into analysing a video, but it’s quite clear here that it’s all arty and they’re trying to mean something with it, and I just don’t get it. I do, however, like that it’s probably the most melancholy tune ever to have a proper dance routine to it. This’ll be the new Macarena, I tell you.

Musically, though, I still like it a lot – the bridge is the type of music I could happily have as backing music while, say, relaxing in the garden with a book or something. It’s also partly because of the strangely uplifting lyrics contrasting with the really mellow music. Mind you, having spent half an hour trying to comprehend the video I’m not sure the lyrics are meant to be uplifting after all. Oh, bugger.

True story: two o’clock in the morning is oddly conducive to excessive music analysis.