Tim: Tom’s off for a bit, so I’m afraid you’ve just got me; as compensation, here’s a new one off Robin, the title track from last Friday’s EP.
Tim: And it’s sounding good, right? That chorus has so many great things going for it – that very first line with the slightly weird vocal, the simple but nice sounding melody, the haunting sound of those backing singers, it’s all good. Come the end of the song, throw in some trademark Robin howling and, oh, let’s have some trumpets, because why not. All in: TOP WORK.
Tim: Steerner, a Swedish producer; uncredited vocals from Eurovision’s Robin Stjernberg; and this song, an unusual sort of dance/old school rock mix.
Tom: Huh! As that started to build, I was pleasantly surprised — you’re right that it’s an unusual mix.
Tim: So I’m a good 80-90% sure that works, because the mix between the two genres is handled fairly well, twisted vocals taking the place of electric guitars for the first post-choruses and then everything chucked in together and working nicely for the closing section, with double vocals and everything.
Tom: They’re taking the place of guitars! That’s what sounds strange. I can’t think of anything else like this, and the fact that I’m not immediately turning away from something that’s new is a sign that this is a really good track that I just haven’t got used to yet. Blimey, that last chorus is something special, though.
Tim: It really is, and in fact the whole thing is kind of what I was hoping for with Stronger when we featured it last week – big chorus, then a dance breakdown. The mix works well, the production is good on both sides, Robin’s vocal sounds a great fit, and all in all it’s a song worth having. Nice one.
“I was confident I wouldn’t miss anything when I went to the toilet.”
Tim: It’s a song that starts quiet, builds up a bit, but you get to the chorus and you think “this has to do something good here”. And then…
Tim: Well. It wasn’t massive enough for me to go “oh, WOW”, but it was enough to keep me listening.
Tom: See, I really liked that first verse, and I didn’t think it overpromised it all — we’ve gone into a decent enough chorus for a slow ballad like this. For me, the verses kept me listening; for you, it was the chorus?
Tim: It was, yes – just enough to be good. Not special, but good. Until the ending, because oh boy, was I very glad I kept listening. Not just because I love that key change, but because I just did not see it coming. I genuinely can’t remember the last time I was so surprised by one – sure, it’s a textbook placing here, and if we were living in the good timeline maybe I’d be expecting it, but I think it was more that I’d reached the point where I was confident I wouldn’t miss anything when I went to the toilet.
Tom: Well, that was needlessly detailed. To be fair, you’re right: that “la la la love” was starting to get a bit old.
Tim: I’m fairly sure that means it slots in perfectly with the stereotype of “let’s throw in a key change to liven it up a bit”, but I don’t mind.
Tom: It’s what they’re for, really. And this song, while it is pleasant, does need livening up a bit.
Tim: Well indeed, and while it does liven it up, it doesn’t really save it entirely. Apparently he wrote it for, and then performed it at, his best mate’s wedding, with full choir, and while I can see it working well there, it just sounds a bit bland at home. Sorry, Robin. Nice try, though.
Tim: Just ten days ago we were saying how we couldn’t remember much about Robin’s single releases – here’s a new one for you to try. Oh, and if you’re about to point out that ‘Feed On My Love’ sounds a bit dodgy…
Tom: I was.
Tim: …see if you can make it through the first verse.
Tom: It’s a mix of “eww” and “hurr”. I wonder if the translators did that deliberately?
Tim: Well it’d have been the lyricist, not a translator – but I really don’t know.
Tom: Good melody in the first verse, though: and even the quiet bits are melodic enough.
Tim: We’ve also a big chorus, there’s no denying that, and as for the rest of it? Well, there’s heft in that piano line, and the backing vocal, but it really is all about that chorus, and the contrast that silence beforehand brings.
Tom: And a heck of a voice too.
Tim: Indeed, and all in I rather think it works. I don’t think it’ll go down in history, but it’s definitely a track to be reckoned with, and it’s enough for me.
Tim: This came up on a recommended tracks playlist, and I thought it was great, looked it up, and was surprised to discover it was left as an album track.
Tom: For the second time this week, I said “bloody hell!” after the introduction. That’s a strong start.
Tim: It is, and what makes the album track status particularly surprising is that a lot of the ones that were officially released were damp in comparison and performed abysmally; this one, though, is brilliant.
Tom: It’s weird, isn’t it? My memory of his singles was… well, I’ll be honest, I don’t have any memory of his singles. But this is a proper Big Shoutalong Track.
Tim: The shouted intro, that repeated 1-2-3-off beat in the verses, the a cappella lead in to the chorus (and if you’re wondering where you’ve heard that muffled effect before, it’s in the six-months-later Melodifestivalen entry by State of Drama). We also have a good chorus, with that yeahhh-eahh staying strong throughout, and a good rhythm to hold it up.
Tom: Strange lyrics, though: I’m not sure that “knocked up father on the ground” got translated correctly.
Tim: Yeah, I looked up the lyrics, and to be honest they’re basically a load of nothing. But you know what? I don’t even care that the title is never explained. What are we beating down? Not a clue. But the music and general theme is good enough that I just don’t care. Opportunity missed, record label.
“He’s got a new track out, with quite the novelty.”
Tim: An e-mail arrives, “I’d like to introduce you to Robin”, so clearly from a dedicated fan of the site. Nonetheless, turns out he’s got a new track out, with quite the novelty.
Tom: That could go one of two ways.
Tim: Not a bad novelty, though, because that’s some GOOD trumpet work right there.
Tom: That’s not the least euphemistic thing you’ve said in a while. You’re not wrong, though: the high bar’s set by Let Me Entertain You, and while it never gets that close, it’s certainly not to the track’s detriment.
Tim: And, in fact, a good track all over. It keeps almost threatening to verge into tropical territory, particularly at the start, but knows when to draw the line and instead goes all in on the brass. An excellent decision, particularly (and perhaps unsurprisingly) in the middle eight and beyond, with the percussion, the guitar, the trumpets, the vocals, and probably a load of other stuff I’ve missed, all mixed together nicely.
Tom: Reckon we’re on our way to a 2017 full of brass-house music?
Tim: Works well for me – not sure I’d take an album of it, but as a one-off it’s great.
“Desperation, unpleasantness and downright lechery.”
Tim: In this context, a dance producer rather than a manufacturer of cassette tapes.
Tom: I was going to ask.
Tim: And it’s Robin’s turn to feature on a BIG DANCE TRACK, following other tracks with various other artists.
Tim: Starting out a bit like a mid-00s indie band, this gives that up fairly quickly, which is nice, because as a dance track it’s really quite good.
Tom: I know – when you said BIG DANCE TRACK, I wasn’t expecting that intro. You’re right, it’s quite good as a dance track; I doubt it’s going to be a full-on floorfiller, but it wouldn’t stop me dancing.
Tim: Lyrically, though – oh no. Come on Robin, you’re a Eurovision popstar, you shouldn’t need to spend three and a half minutes singing and/or shouting at a girl, because with this amount of insistence and desperation you’re not far away from sounding like Jedward in terms of desperation, unpleasantness and downright lechery.
Tom: It’s possible to pull this off successfully — but not with this amount of repetition.
Tim: On the other hand,… actually, no – can’t really think of any redeeming quality to those lyrics. Decent music, though, so can we have an instrumental remix? And then a mashup with some completely different lyrics? OK THANKS BYE.
Tim: Typically, when I see a song, I’ll listen to it before deciding whether or not we should review it; it may be dull, awful, or entirely unremarkable. Here, though, with Melodifestivalen winner Robin Stjernberg on the same track as professional musical dick Flo Rida, I’m fairly sure that, whatever we think, it won’t be entirely unremarkable.
Tom: Much like Cher Lloyd and Demi Lovato, that’s an international pairing that I’d never have expected — but which makes sense. Does it sound as good?
Tim: And as it turns out it’s mostly pretty good – we have Ktree (from Germany), the producer. Robin, the talent.
Tom: And what talent — from both of them, too. Robin’s got the voice for a song like that, and Ktree’s production is just incredible: that build is just astonishing. And then…
Tim: Flo Rida, the other bit. And just what is that other bit? Really? Because to be honest, it’s hard to think right now of anything that sounds quite so, well, just wrong (aside from possibly the lack of a chorus in Dark Horse, which gets me every time I hear it).
Tom: Not only that, who puts a camera that expensive into sand?!
Tim: It’s thirteen seconds of almost entirely unintelligible nonsense – I don’t know who wrote it, or what the point of it is. There’s are mumblings about bitches, shawdy and supermodels, which is basically what you’d get if you stuck him in a bingo machine and plucked parts of him out at random. The vast majority of me suspects it was only there to attach a big name to this – in fact, call me cynical, but I’d put quite a bit of money on this being the case.
Tom: Agreed. Note that they couldn’t afford to get him in for the video either: at no point does he actually lipsync. Maybe they just took some of his outtakes and shoved them into a track?
Tim: Wouldn’t actually surprise me. All that aside, though, this is a pretty great track – great vocals, the howling of which is becoming of a trademark for Robin, and a decent production underneath. It’s all good, really, with the exception of those thirteen seconds.
Tim: This is the title track, about to be released, from his fairly good album, released some time ago. There’s an actual video, but it has one of those annoying ‘don’t you dare rip this’ bits and it’s so annoying it actually dented my enjoyment of the song. So I won’t link to it. Have this.
Tim: This is a weird one. Because yes, it’s a builder, and that’s a common refrain, and possibly used too much. But this almost takes it to the limits and redefines what it should be. Because let’s be honest, the first verse is basically nothing.
Tom: Now, there’s something about that piano melody that grabbed me right at the start — but you’re right, after that, it sort of faded into the background.
Tim: Even the first chorus is basically nothing. It finishes, you might realise we’re getting another verse, and you think ‘oh, was that it?’ Then the second verse, well, there’s still pretty much nothing there. The second chorus, mind, might catch your attention when it arrives, and that’ll be alright a bit, and there are drums underneath every now and again, but you still might get bored, and let’s be honest in the middle eight you may well fall asleep.
Tom: It kept startling me occasionally — the introduction of the drums, the clanging chimes in that middle eight, but yes; after that it sort of became just “nice” again.
Tim: BUT THEN. The final chorus, out of nowhere, he’s screaming enough to wake the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus and he’s got the instruments in to help him. And really, that kind of makes it all worth it. Because the next time you hear it, it’s there.
Tom: Well, more or less. I think you might be going a bit over the top.
Tim: Obviously it isn’t, really, because it’s still pretty much nothing, and I still only rated it three and a half stars in iTunes, but at least you know where it’s going.
Tom: I had to look up the Ephesus reference, by the way.
Tim: Well, I’m glad I can help to further your education.
Tim: Sweden has chosen, and together with various international juries has come to the conclusion that this song is best placed to represent them in Malmö; out of the options we were given, I’m hard pressed to disagree with them.
Tom: Right. For the readers’ benefit: I was watching the Melodifestivalen final along with Tim, and after the last song I said something along the lines of “well, they’re not hosting it next year”.
Tom: I also mentioned “he looks like Jake Humphrey”. Because he does.
Tim: He does rather, yes.
The weird thing about this song is that when it first started I thought it was horribly dull. I’ve found I can judge an entry based on how much port I get through whilst it’s being played, and at twenty seconds in I was reaching to refill my glass. Five seconds later, I put the bottle straight back down and tweeted: “UNEXPECTED DROP”; that was shortly followed by “This chorus is at least 17 times better than I first thought it would be.”
I stand by that, because it was my favourite of the songs in the final (even if it did have to go via Andra Chansen to get there) and I’m glad it won.
Tom: Yep. Sweden made the right choice. And I’ve finally realised what it reminds me of: a more poppy, male version of Florence and the Machine. You’ve got the full-on instrumentation behind a soaring voice that switches between notes as part of a long, soaring vocal line.
Tim: Actually, that’s right – I’d not thought to make that comparison but it’s a pretty good one.
Builders often don’t work at Eurovision, Melodifestivalen and the like – with only three minutes and one performance, they have to either be very noticeable once they arrive or very quick to build. This one isn’t so much of the latter, but it certains meets all the requirements for the former. There’s no doubting that he gives it all he’s got, the fireworks in the background create a proper moment, and the chorus line is infectious enough that you’re able to sing along by the end of it. This is a good entrant, and while it’s almost certainly not a Eurovision winner I reckon it’ll still do well.
Tom: Top third, maybe top quarter of the table.
Tim: Final note: I don’t think we can let this go without mentioning his reaction to the result, because the expression on his face as he discovers he’s won (and the subsequent very obvious expletive) is a joy to behold.