Random Music Thoughts

OK, so this is another one of those times when I can’t really commit to a proper blog post, but I want to maintain posting at least one every month, so here is mainly a random collection of thoughts about music, mainly from this year.

For 2020’s Eurovision Song Contest, the UK has scrapped You Decide, and instead of a public televote chosing who represents the UK in Eurovision, the BBC and music
company BMG will make the choice. I think that’s probably a step in the right direction. Having said that, just looking at the Wikipedia page, but I’ve noticed a pattern with us going from public televote to “internal selection”, back to public televote then back to internal selection. In all cases, the change happened after we entered a song which both scored very badly in the contest, (sometimes finishing in last place) AND failed to make the UK charts (Josh Dubovie – ‘That Sounds Good To Me’, Electro Velvet – ‘Still In Love’ and now Michael Rice – ‘Bigger Than Us’). Our last half-decent Eurovision position and singles chart hit was Blue with ‘I Can’ (11th in Eurovision, number 16 on the UK singles chart). Blue were the first ones to be chosen by internal selection, but on the whole it didn’t seem to make much difference to our overall performance this century. But then, if I’m honest I’m more or less resigned to us always doing badly at Eurovision now.

I think if we had the internal selection system this time round, we most likely would have sent in Kerrie-Anne with ‘Sweet Lies’ instead. I think we probably would have done better in the contest if we had done that. I’m not saying we would have scored much better, but ‘Sweet Lies’ is a catchy, uptempo track, Kerrie-Anne is an engaging performer and this type of song would at least have stood out in this years contest. I still listen to ‘Sweet Lies’ a lot as well!

A highlight from this year’s Eurovision for me was the “Switch Song”, where previous contestants covered each others hits. Måns Zelmerlöw performed a bit of Eleni Foureira’s ‘Fuego’, and he has in fact released a full version of it. While Måns Zelmerlöw is a better vocalist than Eleni Foureira, I wouldn’t say he’s as good a fit for the song as she is. Eleni Foureira was all fire – fast, sizzling, burning heat and energy. Måns Zelmerlöw I think is a bit too icy cool and smooth. In short, I think he’s more hielo than fuego.

While we’re on about Måns Zelmerlöw, he’s now married to Nicole Owen from Hollyoaks (Ciara Janson) and they have a child together! I mean, I know that shouldn’t seem a bit a random, but it does. Although not as much as Darius of Popstars/Pop Idol/Popstar To Opera Star fame at one time being married to Natasha Henstridge from the Species film series. No, I’m not making that up!

As far as I know, Eleni Foureira hasn’t released a full version of her cover of Verka Serduchka’s ‘Dancing Lasha Tumbai’. But a single Eleni Foureira did release this year was a collaboration with Snoop Dogg, which sampled ‘Sweet Dreams’ by the Eurythmics! It was ‘Sirens’ by KAAN, which yes has a lot of siren sounds in it on top of everything else.

In “you know you’re getting older when they start covering songs from your teenage years” news, Sigma has covered ‘Dilemma’, which was a huge hit for Nelly and Kelly Rowland back in 2002! Did you know that Nelly and Kelly Rowland released a sequel to that song? It was called ‘Gone’, and was released in 2011. And its working title was even ‘Dilemma part 2’!

‘I Want It That Way’ by The Backstreet Boys is a song I didn’t like much at the time it was released, but you know what, it’s really grown on me now! It gets played a lot on the radio, and considering it was released in 1999, 20 years ago, it has stood the test of time. I kind of like the SDJM & Conor Maynard cover version of it too, which was titled ‘That Way’.

And a song first released in 1989, 30 years ago, ‘Sit Down’ by James also gets a lot of airplay these days. That is a song I’ve always quite liked, although you can get a mondegreen from it, as it sounds very like “Sid Hown”.

Similarly, when I was a kid I remember being at my grandpa’s house, and he was listening to the radio. He usually listened to boxing matches on the radio, because he liked to bet on them, but he listened to music stations as well. Anyway, on one of the times he was listening to a music station I heard the classic song ‘Stand By Me’ by Ben E. King for the first time. I thought it was called “Stan Barmy”! In my defence, ’90s West Yorkshire had both a lot of old men named Stan and the word “barmy” being used a lot.

Of all Avril Lavigne’s songs, it’s her debut single ‘Complicated’ which I hear the most now! It is a good, catchy song.  ‘Sk8ter Boi’ hasn’t really aged well though. That said, I think a lot of people saw that coming. I suppose we should be grateful the rumoured film adaptation of that song ended up staying in development hell. I don’t think it was intentional, but series 5 of Skins with the romance between metalhead Rich and ballet dancer Grace is similar to ‘Sk8ter Boi’, and probably a lot better than the film would have been!

I love the visually gorgeous gothic video for Avril Lavigne’s latest single ‘I Fell In Love With The Devil’, directed by Elliot Lester.

Another new song I like at the moment is ‘Money, Fame & Fortune’ by the Goo Goo Dolls from their new album Miracle Pill. I bet you think with that title it’s one of those self-pitying “it’s so hard being rich and famous” songs, they say while wiping away their tears with million dollar bills. But it’s not that sort of song at all – it’s quite a nice love song – that the person they are in love with is “the money, fame and fortune, the only thing I want” – but bittersweet as there’s also a sense that love can be quite painful. This song also has a great riff!

‘The 1975’, by The 1975, is a collaboration with climate activist Greta Thunberg. The 1975’s music backs a speech by Greta Thunberg. It has a lot of similarites with the track ‘There Will Come A Time’ by Orbital which had their music backing a speech by Professor Brian Cox. In both cases it was a full collaboration between the band and the speaker rather than a sample. ‘There Will Come A Time’ had an implied environmentalism message in there, but on ‘The 1975’, that message is very much at the forefront.

The music is a pleasant, ambient piano sound, but it is very much in the background, Greta Thunberg’s words in this track are far more important. Greta Thunberg talks of the climate emergency, that it is something we have to face up to rather than carrying on ignoring it, it effects the whole planet and therefore everyone of us on it. The track acknowledges that politics are always complicated, but the core of this issue is really a simple dilemma, it’s about the future of the planet. The track is sobering and inspiring at the same time, that it’s a difficult and potentially catastrophic situation, but we can still do something about it.

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