“At the top for seven weeks now; shall we investigate?”
Tim: It’s the first Christmas number one since 2003 that’s neither X Factor nor campaign-y and it’s been at the top for seven weeks now; shall we investigate?
Tim: Well, I’d say the obvious answer is that there is no campaign this year – last year had the NHS choir, 2012 had the Justice Collective, 2011 has Gareth Malone, 2009 had Rage Against The Machine – and this year’s X Factor single was…well, it was no A Moment Like This, was it?
Tom: I think it’s a sign of what’s happening with the charts now; as they move almost-entirely to streaming, we’ll find that the charts reflect what people are listening to, not what they’re buying. And that’s a very different chart – one less reflective of campaigns and trends.
Tim: And yes, there have been other good tracks around in the meantime, but none that are quite so catchy – however annoying you might find Sean Paul (and believe me, I really do), Anne-Marie’s got a decent voice, and tropical music still seems inexplicably popular.
Tom: I don’t think it’s a great song; but it’s clearly done enough.
Tim: Hmm – I’d normally say yes to any absence of rappers, but the middle eight there could do with some livening up.
Tim: Oh, it’s not just the middle eight he limits himself to. Crikey.
Tom: Because what we have here is a generic synth-backed Saturdays pop song. Generic video with dancing and arty filters. Generic melody that I can’t remember at all. Generic lyrics about sex that parents of their younger fans won’t notice. And then… then there’s Sean Paul.
Tom: I’d forgotten how good that track was. It’s everything that this should be – even Flo Rida. Sean Paul, meanwhile, has apparently arrived straight from a Peter Andre track.
Tim: Hahahaha, he has and all.
Tom: Now, if you’ve got a bassy Jamiacan accent, someone applies a bit of reverb to it, and you’re interjecting into a dance track, you’re going to sound like that guy from ‘Mysterious Girl’. Was that the effect they were going for, I wonder? Because once you stop thinking of it as an irritating interjection, and instead a throwback to 1995 and the only thing that makes the song vaguely interesting, it’s not all that bad.
Tim: A bit Frencher than yesterday, in that they’re a French Canadian band, and they’ve done two versions – a French and an English one. The English one has the video, and the French one may cause occasional linguistic confusion.
Tom: I automatically started singing Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours” along with the verse of this. The timing, instrumentation and chords are similar enough that it works startlingly well.
Tim: Ooh, you’re right, it does and all. The idea behind the translation seems to have been “translate as much as possible, unless it doesn’t scan and/or rhyme, in which case let’s not bother.” People who take things too seriously, or school French teachers, may take issue with this, but I couldn’t care less because either way it’s a fantastic summer tune.
Tom: Yep. Everything about this is a Standard Summer Song, and I mean that in a good way.
Tim: Sean Paul’s a bit of a pain, especially once you know that he wasn’t on the album cut but was added to the single release due to being significantly better known outside Canada than K’naan (Coca-Cola songs aside), but it seems that if you want a good summer beach track, you need a rapper with an annoying voice who shouts his name at the start of the song.
Tom: I’m standing by my mantra here: “it could have been worse; it could have been Pitbull”.
Tim: Him aside, there’s not much I don’t like. The ending’s not hugely exciting (though again, the album version improves it; no idea why they changed it for this), but it’s brilliantly cheerful, the French bits give it a summer holiday vibe, and anyone who doesn’t like it can go and hide until October.