International Video Challenge

Representing the UK: One Direction – What Makes You Beautiful
At first I was really disappointed with 1D’s debut single. Knowing they had all the world’s best pop writers submitting songs for their debut album I was expecting the most exciting, fresh sound of any boyband around – the 2011 equivalent to *N Sync, perhaps. But in reality, no matter how many great pop songs a label is presented with, when their act has as huge potential as One Direction there is too much riding on their success to release anything less than 100% safe. However, the track has grown on me massively and with the lyrical content and the bouncy, youthful vibe I can see exactly why it was chosen. As for the video, it’s a perfect fit for the song – unoriginal but sweet, and clearly the product of many focus groups since it pushes all the teen girl buttons. Now we’re only left to bet on how many millions of YouTube views it’ll have by this time tomorrow…

Representing Germany: Digitalism – Circles
Although I’d heard of Digitalism, this was the first time I’d actually given them any time or thought. I didn’t even know they were German until now and I was surprised to find that their music not only has vocals but verses and choruses too. Their “look at us and our futuristicness” name led me to expect otherwise. Their sound is in fact quite similar to bands such as Lo-Fi-Fnk and Ou Est Le Swimming Pool, who have both made some brilliant and some rather less exciting music in the past. Circles would definitely be in the less exciting category (although it starts well), but Digitalism definitely do have potential to follow their sound-alikes and create something really great. I’m also impressed by the lead singer’s willingness to actually perform on stage (rather than sit behind a keyboard as too many electro-poppers do), and it’s great to hear a German accent on a non-rubbish song. It’s been quite a while since the last time that happened.

Representing the USA: Aloe Blacc – Green Light
I’m sure Aloe would hate to hear this, but I Need A Dollar was basically a novelty hit. A TV theme tune with a super-quotable chorus line. He now has the challenge of becoming more than just ‘that guy who sang I Need A Dollar’ and the world (or the five people who know his name, anyway) are waiting to see if his next single will be his We Like To Party or his I Got A Girl. Yep, I did just compare him to Lou Bega. And so will the world if he doesn’t release any more good songs! I’ve just watched his new video and I have to say I don’t think it’ll be troubling any charts any time soon, but he seems so lovely and smiley I hope he’ll prove me wrong. He just walks nonchalantly around a sunny town singing his boring song, putting in no effort but sounding good anyway, and he lights up the screen with his warmth. If I needed an extra dad I’d definitely consider choosing Aloe Blacc. And now I’ve offended him again cos he’s actually only 32. Wikipedia tells me his album has been in the top 10 so that at least should keep him in brimmed hats, even if they don’t exactly help with the Lou Bega comparisons.

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