“Not only is this song about pétanque, but they’re using the balls as percussion, too.”
Tim: Title translates as ‘Concrete’; upshot of the lyrics is that he’s carved into concrete that he hates her, but whenever she comes along he can’t resist her. Challenge: despite knowing all that, see if you can manage not to imagine everyone involved playing pétanque.
Tom: I clicked on this before reading your introduction, Tim, and all I could hear was that repetitive clonk. So for me, not only is this song about pétanque, but they’re using the balls as percussion, too. ANYWAY.
Tim: So this has all the hallmarks of starting off as a fairly dull and damp ballad…
Tom: And it stays that way!
Tim: What? No – then that chorus comes along, bangs everything up a bit, and suddenly it all sounds just delightful.
Tom: Really? What on earth makes you think that?
Tim: A melancholy voice becomes angry, a whole new load of instruments all arrive, and the contrast between the two sections is just great. Standard dip down and up again comes for the second verse, but it doesn’t here sound too dull like it so often does. Not sure exactly why, but for me at least it all just sounds good.
“That’s… actually pretty original as song concepts go.“
Tim: Last seen around here being my favourite finalist of Melodifestivalen 2016, but now Oscar’s back from the hairdresser’s and all singing in Swedish.
Tom: I love titles that I can translate by just reading them out loud.
Tim: You can probably guess the title yourself, though the rest of song’s slightly in reverse – kind of a “what are we waiting for, it’s been ages, just kiss me, but slowly so it’s nice and sensual and all that.”
Tom: That’s… actually pretty original as song concepts go.
Tim: A fair mix of pressure and romance, which sums up the song as well really, as we’ve a gentle and somewhat soulful verse combined with a heftier almost dance-y chorus, which I’d say works well enough – he certainly has the vocal skills to pull it off.
Tom: I’m less sure about what appears to be a synth imitating a motorbike in the background, and I reckon that middle eight changes the style in an odd way that doesn’t really fit in. But yes, there’s nothing actually wrong here.
Tim: The production and melody are all good as well, so it’s all pretty great, really. Nice one.
Tim: As much as Melodifestivalen is a massive music contest in Sweden, it is at heart still all about Eurovision, and as such there aren’t many songs there that could actually go on for international success. Every year, though, you get a few that you feel really could, with the right contacts made. For example.
Tim: Because BLIMEY, the power of that.
Tom: It’s a shame about the direction: I know they’re going for “edgy” but, for me, they only managed “unsettling”.
Tim: Until Frans’s tripe was unveiled, this was the favourite to win, and I’m not remotely surprised that this is the song that ended up favourite with the international juries. Yes, it’s still straight up pop, but MAN, it’s big and powerful and heartfelt, and so, so, so much more deserving of a win than Frans.
Tom: And that’s why we have the televote: Sweden has always balanced well between “what the world wants” and “what Sweden wants”: and I’d say that’s part of why they’ve won. It’s also arguably another Zelmerlite—
Tom: —and in a contest full of them, perhaps Frans will make it. As for this song…
Tim: It is quite entirely outstanding, and I love it.
“All of the necessary bits for a balearic dance tune”
Tim: Let’s pretend yesterday never happened, and go back to the pleasing sounds of beachy summer summer.
Tim: I know we don’t normally go with live performances, but this one’s good and actually fairly similar to the studio version so it’s fine.
Tim: Not only is it fine, in fact, it’s great. It has all of the necessary bits for a balearic dance tune, right down to the foreign in the chorus.
Tom: I was about to call you on using the word ‘foreign’, and then I realised I wasn’t immediately sure what language it was either. It does say something that most of the pop stars from non-English-speaking countries still sing at least partly in English, though.
Tim: Yes, though it’s worth remembering that Oscar is Swedish rather than anywhere Mediterranean. I’m not particularly sold on the slightly grouchy breakdown, which almost breaks the track a little bit, but that aside it’s pretty great. Oh, and since you mentioned it, it’s Italian for ‘Dancing With Me’.
The chorus is brilliant, but the niggles crept in.
Tim: We mentioned Oscar the other day, when we were talking about hashtags; this is his #Followup, and now we’re out with the hashtags, in with the replacing words with letters.
Tom: Are you…
Tim: Don’t worry, I won’t.
Tim: This is…hmm. Well. The thing is, the first time I heard this I really liked it – by and large it’s a great track. The chorus in particular is brilliant, with its bog standard message put in a very upbeat manner, quickly and incessantly with decent dance undertones.
Tom: Agreed: that chorus startled me into paying attention to the song. I’m not sure about those verses – it is, as you say, a bog-standard pop track, but not one that turns me off.
Tim: But then…well, I heard it a few more times and the niggles crept in. The realisation that it was called Without U instead of Without You. The lyric that talks about how “my love was set return to sender” that doesn’t actually mean anything at all.
Tom: I think that’s “was then returned to sender”, but that’s not particularly meaningful either.
Tim: The most half-arsed attempt ever at a dubstep breakdown.
Tom: I read that sentence before actually listening to the middle-eight, and you’re right: that is indeed Half-Arsed Dubstep.
Tim: All those just combine, annoyingly, to put me off it slightly. I still like it – just, not unconditionally. Oh well.
Tom: Oh, that’s a bad title. That’s a really bad title.
Tim: Yes, yes it is.
Over the years we’ve had a good few tracks with decent music but awful lyrics; this was probably epitomised by Olly Murs’s Thinking of Me, and to be honest I never thought we’d find one to beat it. Then again, I never thought I’d come across a song with a hashtag for a title.
Tim: Those words are awful. Just plain awful. I know what I want to write about them, but dammit I won’t. I won’t give him the satisfaction of implying that it has some sense of linguistic acceptability.
Tom: I was wondering what you meant until that line. Bloody hell. I’m a descriptivist linguist, and that still absolutely grates like some kind of industrial strength cheese grater. The kind that produce those bags of pre-grated cheese.
Tim: There’s a bloke I work with who’s started speaking with hashtags, and while I’m not a violent person, I do have to fight a desperate urge to kick him in the face every single time. I got a similar feeling with Eric Saade on Saturday as well, as it happens.