John Lundvik – One Night In Bangkok

“Huh. It’s a really good song. I just find the title inexplicable.”

Tim: So for those that don’t know, in the 1980s, Tim Rice teamed with Björn & Benny from ABBA to write a concept album called Chess, which then became a musical, and One Night In Bangkok was a pretty successful track from that.

This here, John’s first release since being robbed of victory in Tel Aviv, is a completely different song.

Tom: You’re kidding me. I mean, I think I’d be even more surprised if John Lundvik had decided to cover the original, it’s a weird song, but why on earth would you release a track with the same, offbeat name?!

Tom: Huh. It’s a really good song. I just find the title inexplicable: you could put any other town with the same cadence in there. Stockholm. Tokyo. London. You also wouldn’t have the tricky matter of trying to sing a word-final /k/, or any title confusion.

Tim: See, I was expected another of the standard upbeat power ballads we’ve come to expect from basically every other track he’s written or sung, so this really surprised me – so far over to the dance end of pop, I was almost expecting a proper dance breakdown after the chorus.

Tom: His voice also stands out: you couldn’t just replace him with any session singer here, this is clearly still a John Lundvik Track.

Tim: It’s nice to know he can do multiple genres, and indeed do them really well – this is a top notch song. Nice melody, great beat, emotion in his vocals selling the narrative, all working together brilliantly. Good stuff.

Tom: Just a very strange title.

John Lundvik – Too Late For Love

“Good grief, Sweden’s good at this pop music thing, isn’t it?”

Tim: With the number of songs competing every year, it’s not unusual there’ll be some overlap behind the scenes. Thomas G:son, one of the most prolific Eurovision songwriters —

Tom: I had to check, and that’s not a typo, he’s got a colon in his stage name.

Tim: Correct — had two entries in 2007, 2012, and 2016, and this year Laurell Barker has a hand in composing the entries for Germany, the Netherlands and the UK. What is new this year, though, is for one song to have been written by another country’s actual performer. In this case, ours, written by, as of Saturday night, Sweden’s choice. This choice, to be precise.

Tom: Well, that’s a Eurovision winner right there. Or at least, strongly on the top-left of the table. Good grief, Sweden’s good at this pop music thing, isn’t it? And I note that Lundvik’s kept the really good track for himself.

Tim: He has, hasn’t he? It’s basically a better version of our song. Oh, well. There are a lot of things to say about it, even after that lengthy intro, and I almost want to do bullet points but that wouldn’t exactly fit with our format, so let’s have one quick fact: absolute landslide. This got the full twelve points from all eight of Melodifestivalen’s international juries, in the end getting 181 points with second place getting 107.

Tom: Now I’ve heard it, I am not surprised by that at all. Listen to that chorus! It’s not quite a Love Shine A Light, but for the first time I can genuinely say that it’s close.

Tim: The things is, it’s a brilliantly constructed song. It’s a standard quiet first verse, we’re relaxed a bit, and then we get some energy for the chorus, again standard. But then OH, there’s a second part of the chorus, with backing singers and everything. Doesn’t cut back much for the second verse, and then come the second chorus we’re right back in at the high level and still higher.

Tom: A gospel choir! They’ve made four backing singers sound like a full gospel choir. I wonder if that’s pretaped? If not, I hope they can replicate something like that on the night.

Tim: Except, of course, we’re still not quite there, and as listeners we know that there’s more coming after this quiet middle eight, and OH MY WORD, suddenly it’s more than just Britain that has a key change, and apparently countries that take Eurovision seriously have them as well, and the song is just brilliant.

Tom: It has the old Demolished Man jingle problem: the chorus never quite resolves. It stops a little too soon. You can always add another chorus on, in your head. For a regular pop song, that could be infuriating. For a Eurovision track? It’s just going to make it extremely memorable.

Tim: Oh, and another thing, though not about John but one of the backing singers:

Tim: That is Eurovision.

Tom: See you in Stockholm in 2020.

John Lundvik – My Turn

“He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.”

Tim: “Now after six weeks John took the SVT audience, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.”

Tom: Given I mentioned Christian rock yesterday, this had better be spectacular.

Tim: I could mangle other sentences from the rest of the Transfiguration, but I think the point’s made. Obviously I don’t know if they were trying for a proper messianic spectacle, but if they weren’t then damn, that’s a hell of a coincidence. The bright white suit, giving off an actual glow from the light above him. The spotlights first radiating directly from behind him, and then coming down behind him as he walked forward.

Tom: Full marks to the lighting designer on that one, by the way: creating a cartoon-like sun with rays in-camera is brilliant.

Tim: The sparks raining down behind him. Finally, that amazing wide shot of the audience, rapt by his power, waving their phones in appreciation.

Tom: It wasn’t until I saw that shot that I understood what you meant. Yep, I get what they were trying for.

Tim: And you know what? It works. I love it. And what with it being paired with a pretty decent song, it was my favourite of the final. Wouldn’t have worked at Eurovision, mind, but it’s a cracker of a performance and much deserving of its third placing from the jury and voters alike.

John Lundvik – All About The Games

“I can’t help thinking that we’ve heard it all before.”

Tim: The Olympics are in full swing, which can only mean one thing: it musical cash-in time! Here’s the official song of Team Sweden, because apparently that’s a thing now.

Tom: This had better not be a Meghan Trainor cover.

Tim: Oh, that’d be wonderful, but no I’m afraid it isn’t.

Tim: And, well, if this wasn’t stuffing SPORTS OLYMPICS LOOK I’M ABOUT WINNING AND TAKING PART I’d mark this off as an Eric Prydz album track, largely because of the Pjanoo ripoff going on through the chorus (because surely no serious dance producer would listen to that without thinking “oh hang on”).

Tom: It’s uncomfortably close, isn’t it? I assume they’ve run it past the lawyers, because let’s be honest, anything to do with the Olympics gets run past a lot of lawyers.

Tim: It’s alright, I suppose, but I can’t help feeling that way more effort has been put into it than it actually deserves. For all that’s going on in there, I can’t help thinking that we’ve just, well, heard it all before, and not just because of the aforementioned chorus line.

Tom: Let’s not forget that the official song for London 2012 was genuinely original, emotional and stirring. This… isn’t.

Tim: It also doesn’t help that it does sound past its sell by date – an Olympic tie-in track should sound current, and this style of EDM’s been and gone. Distorted vocal samples and light tropical beats are where you want to be right now, not EDM from London 2012. I get the intention; I really don’t get the end product, though.