The Main Level feat. Blvck O – Bombadilla

“A lot less mindless garbage spewing than I’d expected.”

Tim: We’ve written about these guys a few times before, mostly pointing how they’re following the exact standard boyband career progression. Right now, for a hot and sunny summer: a tropical flavoured song with a guest artist to fit the mood.

Tim: And…yeah, it’s perfectly decent.

Tom: The intro vaguely reminded me of a lot of mid-90s pop, so I was vaguely hoping that, rather than your standard rap middle eight, “feat. Blvck O” might be a new Bubbler Ranx (now running his own music production company, it seems). Not quite, but closer than anyone else has managed in a while.

Tim: That’s true, yes – there was a lot less mindless garbage spewing than I’d expected.

Tom: Got to admit, though, the farting car engine got more of a reaction from me (a smile) than the actual chorus synths (nothing at all). This is at least a competent boyband track — and, arguably, it’s doing a good job of updating that mid-90s pop sound.

Tim: Until I heard this song I had no idea whatsoever what a bombadilla life might be, and to be honest I still don’t—hell, even Google Translate doesn’t recognise it and that has all the words in the world—but assuming it’s what the context makes it out to be, a girl living one sounds fairly fun and I can understand why they’d want to sing a song about her (though quite why he’s off with her sister is anyone’s guess).

Tom: Maybe she got sick of all his ludicrous dancing in fields?

Tim: Now you mention it, that would make perfect sense. I like this song a lot – there may not be that much original in it, but it takes the enthusiasm from the bombadillaness and keeps it up, and now I want to be living a bombadilla life as well. Where can I do this please, does anybody know?

The Main Level – A Million More

“Oh, do shit off”

Tim: I’m feeling decidedly pleh at the moment, and so when I pressed play on this video and immediately saw one of them strumming a ukulele my reaction was basically “oh, do shit off”.

Tom: Funnily enough, that was my response to the “you-u-u-u” crooning in the introduction as well.

Tim: Then I remembered that despite my loathing ukuleles do frequently make me feel a bit happier, so…

Tim: Yep. I’m fairly sure I make the same point every time we feature a track with the most rubbish instrument ever to have existed so I won’t wang on about it today, but dammit that, along with the (AAAAARGH HATE IT) whistling, has cheered me up a fair notch.

Tom: I just couldn’t get over that crooning. It sounds like it’s been written by a five-year-old, and sadly unlike your ukulele hating, I can’t overcome it by just being chirpy about it.

Tim: It is a horribly chirpy lovey-dovey sickeningly sweet song; it knows exactly what it wants to do, and pulls it off precisely as it intends to. I hate it and I like it, in roughly equal measures, and while the first of those two thoughts probably isn’t what anyone was wanting, the second: oh, whatever.

The Main Level – Inside My Radio

“It’s like the life cycle of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, only with a bit less turning into goo.”

Tim: Fancy a good boyband track?

Tom: Always.

Tim: Since One Direction came along, there has been a very specific timeline, for all boybands to follow, pretty much without exception – from Union J to 5SOS, via The Fooo, The United, Satin Circus and oh, so many others.

Year one, you do nothing but follow the hefty pop formula with an occasionally ballad to build up the followers, don’t take risks, just focus on harmonies and haircuts (which now I think about it could be a good documentary).

Tom: That’s a reality series on some US cable channel, that is.

Tim: Year two you can spread your wings a bit if you want – 5SOS went rock, The Fooo added a Conspiracy – and by the third year you either have your own sound or you don’t make it to the fourth.

Tom: It’s like the life cycle of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, only with a bit less turning into goo.

Tim: A perfectly decent comparison. These guys are on schedule, just entering year two, with no sign yet of divergence – instead, yep: hefty pop, with decent instruments, decent vocals, a catchy riff and some oh-oh-ohs but nothing yet to really stand out.

Tom: Yep: there’s not much to distinguish this from the sort of generic stock music you’ll see used in the background of cheap TV shows. There’s nothing wrong with it, per se — and that chorus would be great if it used more than one note per line. But it’s not the standout track we’re looking for.

Tim: No. Soon enough, maybe, but right now they’re building up plenty of momentum in Norway, and that’s all they need.

The Main Level – My Girl

“Let’s be frank: this really needn’t be a four minute song.”

Tim: Boyband pop and Batman in the video; I’m not sure there’s anything else you need, really.

Tim: Although you probably don’t need as much of it as there is. Let’s be frank: this really needn’t be a four minute song.

Tom: It sounds like someone’s taken the middle eight from “I Love You, Always Forever” and spun it out into a whole chorus — and then put some verses around it. ‘Cos that chorus is lovely, but you’re right: the rest is a bit Generic Boy Band.

Tim: It’s decent enough, though with admittedly somewhat uninspired lyrics, but I really don’t find it interesting enough to hold my self – by the end of the second chorus I was expecting it to be wrapping up soon, and then I realised there was a full minute and a half to go. My feeling at that point kind of said it all – less of an “oh, no” or an “oh, yay!” and more of an “oh, alright then”.

It’s basically fine, and I’m not really sure there’s a better word to describe it.

The Main Level – Go Go With You

“Like some comedians are trying to do a boyband parody.”

Tim: Remember the glory days of One Direction, with tracks like Live While We’re Young and What Makes You Beautiful?

Tom: Crikey. Three years ago, that was.

Tim: Yep, and this Norwegian boyband do as well, and they’d also like to demonstrate all the geography they learnt at school.

Tim: That’s really what you get when a boyband doesn’t care about whether or not they’re a boyband, but instead care about MAKING GREAT MUSIC. And music videos with silly ‘plots’ involving a security guard that’s confused by a keypad, but never mind that.

Tom: Oh good grief, they look like a parody of a boy band, like some comedians are trying to do a boyband parody sketch. The cheesy cutaways, the by-the-numbers videography, the constant hands on each other’s shoulders.

Tim: Clap your hands right from the get go, please, because this is a song that knows what it’s doing – lyrics are “yes, you (YOU) are my girlfriend so let’s do stuff together”, music too has no sense of ever sitting down or staying still.

Tom: I just don’t get it: the music sounds like a parody — specifically, a bit like Key and Peele’s LMFAO parody. Those aren’t lyrics: you’re just naming a load of places.

Tim: I have one complaint: those “oh, o-oh”s coming out of the middle eight would be a perfect, a PERFECT, place for a key change. Opportunity considerably missed there, but never mind, because the rest is just great. Very very great.

Tom: Most of the tracks we cover are forgettable–

Tim: Well that’s going on the potential slogan list.

Tom: A few, I want to hear again, and I download them. And a few, I never want to hear again because for some irrational reason they annoy me so much. This is one of the latter.

Tim: Oh, how disappointing.