KEiiNO – Colours

“It’s been quite the year for KEiiNO.”

Tim: It’s been quite the year for KEiiNO – storming to victory in Norway’s Eurovision selection programme, winning the televote (stupid juries) in Tel Aviv.

Tom: That’s still a frustrating result: Norway won the televote with a great song, Sweden won the jury vote with a great song. But the combined winner was… well, let’s go with “decided by committee”. But yes, KEiiNO mean that a lot more people now know the word “joik”.

Tim: And, most impressively of all, producing a version of Fairytale of New York that’s actually likeable. Today they’re out with a new one, and I’ll be honest: if you don’t like it, you’re a proper wrong’un.

Tim: Oh, ain’t it good? Part of me was worried, throughout the first verse and chorus, that we might get a sudden STOP in everything, so he can come in with his chanting joik, which, however much it is their USP, would break it up horrendously.

Fortunately for everyone, they know how to make a good piece of pop music, which this absolutely and totally gone and done.

Tom: Somehow, they’ve managed to perfectly straddle the line between “novelty act” and “serious pop act”, and just end up with “pop act with unique recognisable sound”. That is incredibly difficult.

Tim: It really is, because yes, he’s there, as a notable part of the backing track, so it’s recognisably them, and it also works really, really well as part of this track.

Tom: I’m sure I’ve heard bits of this melody in other songs (“show me where your heart is singing” feels rather similar to the opening of Feel This Moment), but that just means you’ve got a combination of familiarity and novelty. It’s good.

Tim: Sure, and I’m the same with the Christmas mix of Are You With Me with the verse backing and occasional jingle, but so what? That’s a perfectly good track to be reminded of, and like you said, familiarity and novelty. Everything about this, really, is perfectly good. Perfectly great, in fact.

KEiiNO – Storbyjul

“I think they fixed That Song. I wouldn’t have believed it.”

Tim: It’s a cover. Press play.

Tom: Amazing. I think… I think they fixed That Song. I wouldn’t have believed it.

Tim: And that there confirms for me that the only problem I had with the original was with the lyrics. As for what these lyrics are, well, I’ve absolutely no idea how you translate “boys of the NYPD choir’ into Norwegian, but I’m not sure it matters, as I’m guessing this is a very loose translation.

Tom: Thankfully. You’re right, though: the main problem with the original is the words. Yes, originally they were interesting and subversive — slurs aside, it was a different time, etc etc — but now they’re just a depressing excuse for people at holiday parties to claim it’s “just a song” as they shout “scumbag”, or worse, at the people in the office they don’t like.

Probably a bit too specific, that, but never mind.

That said, I’m pretty sure the meaning is still there: even with my non-existent Norwegian, I can tell you that the duet of insults is still there. But in Norwegian, well, I can’t really tell.

Tim: Melodically it’s great; the energy’s all there once it gets going for the second verse; the joiking is, as ever, potentially off-putting if you don’t like it, but I’ve no issue.

Tom: And that solo trumpet really works too!

Tim: I really like this, a lot more than I thought I would. Well done KEiiNO, you’ve managed what I thought was impossible – a decent version of That Song.

KEiiNO – Dancing In The Smoke

“Still fair levels of joikiness in there”

Tim: KEiiNO splashed onto the world (alright, continent) stage in May with the glorious Spirit In The Sky which should completely have won.

Tom: The one with the joik! I remember that! It was… well, there was a lot of joik.

They followed it up with a nicher, folkier number a couple of months later, which wasn’t quite as great. You’ll be delighted to know they’ve learnt their lesson.

Tom: I wasn’t sold on that until the second chorus.

Tim: Still fair levels of joikiness in there, so we’ve still a track that’s recognisably them, but we’re back to having a straight up pop verse and chorus – and I have absolutely no problems with that whatsoever.

Tom: Agreed: they seem to have found a good balance between Unique Sound and Generally Acceptable Pop Song, which is always a good thing. I can’t imagine an entire dancefloor singing along to the joik bit, but stranger things have happened.

Tim: It’s a song that after just a couple of listens you can go along with the intro, with a catchy beat, melody, rhythm, everything. A worthy follow-up to the almost-victor, if we just ignore that middle one. We’ll do that.

KEiiNO – Praying

“It just seems like they’ve taken a fairly average dance track and stuck some warbling on it.”

Tim: People’s Vote winner at Eurovision, so obviously they’re back with a follow-up. Namely, this one.

Tim: More than a little inspiration from early Alan Walker there, though those joik sections keep it very, very clear who’s running the show here.

Tom: It’s interesting how Avicii spawned a genre, whereas Alan Walker spawned a lot of people imitating his sound. I wonder what the difference is?

Tim: That one specific twiddly sound. It’s weird – Alan’s moved on, but he still seems to own it. Now, I was a big fan of these guys at Eurovision, because the song was just what the show needed, something fun, a good tune, with a little bit of novelty to get excited about. Here, though, I’m annoyingly not so keen, which is a shame as I’d like to be.

Tom: Yep, you’re not the only one. Joik is, uh, well, let’s say it’s an acquired taste, one that I definitely haven’t acquired.

Tim: It just seems like they’ve taken a fairly average dance track and stuck some warbling on it, and much as it’s cultural and all that, it just doesn’t do it for me.

Tom: Full marks for the grammatical pedantry of “whomever” in the lyrics, though.