“There’s a massive crane parked outside and Bjorn’s forgotten his lens stabiliser.”
Tim: Much as summer has been lovely, it seems futile to deny that winter has arrived whole-heartedly, so shall we have a deep and meaningful ballad to mark that? That’s a rhetorical question, because we shall.
Tom: “I know we booked this room to film in, but there’s a massive crane parked outside and Bjorn’s forgotten his lens stabiliser. Should we reschedule?” “Nah, just film it anyway.”
Anyway, that’s a pleasant enough ballad. What’s it about?
Tim: The title translates to ‘Before You Leave Me’, and the message is basically “I know you’re about to dump me so I’m kind of feeling I should say it first to maintain my dignity.” Thoroughly depressing, then, but at least it’s sung quite nicely so we can still pretty much enjoy the song anyway, right?
It’s a slow builder, but at least it does build; for some reason it reminded me of old Celine Dion tracks: both the slow build and, in a very specific musical reference, that final outro note.
Tim: Somehow, I find ballads like this more enjoyable if they’re in foreign, and I’m not entirely sure why – maybe because with calm music the words typically take priority, and so if I don’t understand them I don’t get distracted? Whatever the reason, though, this is very pleasant to hear. First of many, then?
“When even the first verse can grab my attention, it’s a good song.”
Tim: Sanna Neilsen has a very good song in Melodifestivalen this year called Undo; in what I’m sure is no coincidence her upcoming EP is also called Undo, and this is one of the tracks from it.
Tom: It took me a second to realise that “Undo” is actually an English word meaning ‘to take back an action’, and not some Swedish word I didn’t know. I might be a bit tired.
Tim: Well, this’ll be fun.
Tim: I’m fairly sure this reminds me of quite a few very good tracks that are around at the moment/in the past couple of years (especially Halo, WHAT A TUNE), but not in any “hey you’ve nicked this” sense but more in a “hey this track is brilliant” sense.
Tom: It has some similarities, yes, but it’s not a ripoff by any means.
Tim: No, and suddenly I see what all the hype was about her Melodifestivalen entry, because it really is up there with the Demis and Kellys and, yes, Beyoncés of proper big pop ballads.
Tom: Agreed: when even the first verse can grab my attention, it’s a good song.
Tim: Right, though, I say ballad, is this a ballad? It sounds sing-y and emote-y enough to definitely be, but if we split power-pop into BALLADS and BANGERS it’s probably right on the dividing line.
Tom: And what a dividing line it is.
Tim: This track is basically incredible, and if you don’t like it you’re wrong. WRONG.
Tim: The original version of this would belong on the Saturday Rejects pile; this remix is so remixed that it’s almost a different song, though, so it’s going here. Problem with that? Tough.
Tom: This is one extremely danceable chorus. Not so sure about the verses, but it’s got enough of a beat to keep the floor moving, I reckon.
Tim: All the good bits of the original are still there – the chorus melody, the apparent desperation in her vocals to get her message across and the fairly strong dance beat – but added on top is a load of great swooshy stuff and a completely different feel to the verses, which I love.
Tom: That said, the chorus does sound like it’s had a lot of stuff added on top rather than mixed in – the volume crashes upwards, the new things are almost drowning out the old. That said: still excellent.
Tim: It’s gone from being a good dance track to a great dance track. Top marks.
Tim: This is camp, happy and harmless, along the lines of Bellefire’s Perfect Bliss (and a similarly perfect style of bridge exit), was released back in January and has been hanging around on radio playlists and lurking in the iTunes charts ever since. The word on the schlager grapevine is that it was rejected from this year’s Melodifestivalen, but they decided to put it out there anyway. As far as I can tell, they never made a video, and I strongly suggest you don’t use that YouTube link as your only lyric source. They make for quite fun reading, but as it says at the end, “Maybe the text is wrong but the mostly is right.”
Tom: How can a song that camp and harmless – and I agree with you, it is – remind me of a military march? It’s the endless, plodding, one-two-one-two beat in the background, I think. I can see why it didn’t go into Melodifestivalen: to me, it sounds a bit like it’s been written by a six-year-old, plodding up and down the keyboard playing simple scales. It’s a pity, because it started with such promise: there’s more spark and creativity in that initial seven seconds than there is in the whole rest of the track. Even the key change just seems dutiful and by-the-book rather than actually injecting any new life into it.
Tim: I suppose that might be partly why I like it – it’s nothing special at all, strictly formula, but it’s got a chorus that just makes me smile without really knowing why. Just a sort of, ‘aah, this is nice’ feeling.