[Motelvision 2012 - Nominees Playlist]
So, it still feels really strange doing Motelvision totally online this December in the absence of the Review of the Year, but here goes. Let's go pitchside to Harry Garne in the Motel's spiritual home of central Manchester, setting the scene with a l'il bit of colour:
"Round 2 of Motelvision is the only round where I can relax a little, competition-wise," he proclaims, having backed two previous Motelvision winners (Animal Collective as co-proposer with Andy P in 2009, and The Horrors in 2011). "It's like qualifying from the group stages with a game to play so you can throw on the kids for a run-out - not in terms of over-confidence, but nominations mean cold sweats, sleepless nights and a guilty conscience (sorry for dumping you, Beach House), and the knockouts are frankly terrifying.
"This is a chance to get to know the favourites and assess the early competition. Great list this year - the best I can remember, I'd say - but as the man in form I'm confident as ever!"
"The best I can remember?" Harry, you flatter us ;). Anyway. For those of you unfamiliar with the Round 2 format (probably quite a lot of you given the usual lack of crossover we noted between ROTY and site readers in previous years), contributors past and present get given the longlist of nominees (usually around 30 tracks, give or take a couple), and then they send back their top ten (in either English or French, which, as we well know, appear to be the two official languages of administering Eurovision votes).
No comical Chroma-Key backdrops of stately old buildings in public squares, massive language barriers or Scott Mills repping for the UK televote in a cupboard at Broadcasting House here, but plenty of praise and snark in time-honoured tradition...
So, when the list comes back to me, each contributor's top song is allocated 12 points, their next choice 10 points, and then third to tenth place receive a descending number of points from eight to just one. The sixteen songs with the most points go through to the third round (or 'Round of 16', if we're channelling Europa Cup/general European footballing terminology). Confused yet? Yep? Me too and I'm running the bloody thing, so on to the music:
1. Django Django - 'Default' (47 points)
The runaway leader at this stage of the competition, the repetitively-named quartet didn't pick up the hallowed twelve points from anyone, but finished in top spot after the second round by virtue of the number of people who voted for them. Hannah, who put the track forward, says: "Ooh, it makes you want to get a little wiggle on, doesn't it? I never seems to tire of this song. And the fact that Vincent Neff replicates the 'd-d-d-de-fau-fau-fault' bit live rather than using digital trickery just adds to the charm."
2. Bat for Lashes - 'Laura' (35 points)
Natasha Khan's comeback track attracted little in the way of commentary at this early stage but won status as an early Motelvision fave, with 12 points from Steve W, who suggested the track in the first place. Harry notes that her show at Manchester Cathedral is his gig of the year so far. Alright, alright, don't rub it in. Some of us had to make do with watching her on the Red Button from Maida Vale. (Indie snob problems!)
A tie for third place between Grizzly Bear and Japandroids. Harry, who suggested 'The House That Heaven Built' in the first place, afforded the rock'n'roll duo a full 12 points. "Glad someone voted Japandroids! Or was that me? I think I left them out," Arj adds. However, they missed out with Steven O, who said that he had wanted to give them points on the strength of the name alone, but was ultimately disappointed by the track when it got going. Or didn't, as he thought the case may be.
Hannah offers the most coherent praise for Grizzly Bear, which equates to: "Lovely swoony Grizzly Bear. Swoon swoon swoon." Little other commentary for the Brooklyn foursome, other than one or two saying that they felt 'Yet Again' was definitely a grower.
5. Benjamin Schoos & Laetitia Sadier - 'Je ne vois que vous' (28 points)
Incroyable, Joffre! Could we be on for the first Motelvision winner sung in a language other than English? Well, perhaps. It's too early to tell. The light pop stylings of Â«Je ne vois que vousÂ», if we're going to afford it the diacritical marks which it so rightfully deserves, won over numerous fans during our Eurovision round. Hannah, who proposed the track, says: "Now, if ever there was a time to use the second official Motelvision language, it is here. Sadly my French is rather poor these days, so Â«Mon dieu! J'adore!Â» will have to suffice." Simon says that they're "doing their bit to end anglophone pop domination, [and] also putting Belgium back on the map (sort of)".
6. Public Service Broadcasting - 'Spitfire' (27 points)
Dan F of 'the Motel's Manor House division' (sounds very grand when put like that!) put this track forward as his first choice and notes: " I summed this band up earlier today as like first EP-era iLiKETRAiNS (back when it was spelt like that), but with electronics. These are both things that I am a big fan of. This is a terrific EP, and new single 'Everest' (which just missed out on Motelvision status by a week) is a sign that they are a band that are going to continue doing hugely interesting things. Huzzah!" Huzzah indeed. Ste O notes they're one of the acts he was unfamiliar with prior to Motelvision, but really likes, along with M Ward and fifth-placed Benjamin Schoos and Laetitia Sadier. Hannah adds: "Genuinely one of the most exciting bands I've heard all year. Driving, compelling stuff, reminiscent of Chemical Brothers and Secret Machines without sounding at all dated."
7= A Place to Bury Strangers - 'Leaving Tomorrow', Jesca Hoop - 'Born To' (25 points each)
Everyone loves noisy things. That is the law, because your Fugitive Motel editor said so, and A Place to Bury Strangers attract praise from many a contributor. Simon best sums it up by branding them "scuzzy", although Steven O ain't loving 'Leaving Tomorrow'. Equally praiseworthy, it seems, are the melodious strains of Jesca Hoop. "Ear. Worm," Simon declares.
9. Tigercats - 'Harper Lee' (20 points)
Not my favourite track - it's all a bit too cutesy, even for a woman obsessed with kittens, beautiful crockery and the smell of freshly-baked bread - but a popular choice all the same, making the third round in convincing style. Hannah, original proposer of the track, says: "Bouncy lovely wonderful beautiful joyful Tigercats. They make my world a better place."
10. Rudimental/John Newman - 'Feel the Love' (19 points)
Again, not my favourite track - it's all a bit too Radio 1, even for a woman who earlier this year grudgingly admitted that she is developing a new-found appreciation for commercial pop as she slips towards the end of her twenties - but another favourite with the Motelvision jury. Motel founding deputy editor Hannah agrees with me, though: "I don't understand this song. I feel it can go in the 'Not Meant For the Likes Of You' pile. In fact, it reminds me of a night out I had in Andover last year. The only 'club' in Andover plays 'songs' like this. Make it stop!" Simon is rather more positive, saying: "It's 50% guilty pleasure, 50% doing something different with 'dubstep'."
11. The Maccabees - 'Ayla' (18 points)
The Maccabees perhaps underperforming at this stage of the competition, but no doubt fielding a second-string squad in order to preserve the energy of the big guns for later rounds. Bah, I can't do the football puns without making them sound laboured - I'll save that tomfoolery for more skilled Motelvision veterans such as Dan F and Harry. Anyhoo, just one 12-point haul from Catherine, who suggested the track as her first choice nomination.
12= Dirty Projectors - 'Gun Has No Trigger', Frank Ocean - 'Thinkin' 'Bout You' (17 points each)
Another two-way tie between two of the competition's more leftfield acts. Domino's Dirty Projectors sail into the next round with the lead single from their latest album Swing Lo Magellan, while the much-talked-about Frank Ocean follows suit with understated ballad 'Thinkin' 'Bout You' from his critically-acclaimed solo record Channel Orange. Simon, who put Mr Ocean's track forward, says it's "brave, political and the best of a great bunch of a new wave of R&Bleak (I've just coined that term) artists this past year or two".
14= Niki & the Dove - 'Tomorrow', Shearwater - 'Breaking the Yearlings' (16 points each)
"Well this is fun isnâ€™t it? (Bad hair though)," says Simon of Niki & the Dove. "Makes me excited about The Knife coming back in 2013." The Stockholm trio - who, thanks to your editor's incompetence and some confusion over release dates, missed out on Motelvision at the nominations stage last year - make it through to the third round this time with the opener from their debut album Instinct. Shearwater also acquit themselves with the lead track from latest longplayer Animal Joy, with Simon (again) observing that he "quite likes the apocalyptic vibe here".
Holy hell, sixteenth place is a hot mess. There is a five-way tie for the last spot in the competition. We've had either a three or a four-way tie in sixteenth place before now, but this takes the piss - especially as it means I have to come up with a way of sorting the darned thing out. Editor's casting vote - no way, not at this early stage. Elaborate countback rule? Oh, yes!
Each of the following tracks finished up on 14 points:
Alabama Shakes - 'Hold On'
Alt-J - 'Something Good'
Jessie Ware - '110%'
Olafur Arnalds - 'Endalaus II'
Young British Artists - 'Everything In Front of You'
Now, what would normally happen at this stage under Motelvision countback rules is that songs with the most number of 12-point scores take prescedence. However, none of these songs even got 12 points from anyone. Shit. Sooo... songs with 10 points (x1 lot of 10 points each in this case take precedence). Therefore, Young British Artists, Alabama Shakes and Jessie Ware are still in it to win it, while the delightful Olafur Arnalds is therefore shuffled off, along with Alt-J, who can console themselves with the fact that they are Mercury Prize winners and none of us are.
Countback continues. The song that's going through will be the one with the next highest score from someone. So...
*Alabama Shakes' next highest score is a 2;
*Jessie Ware's next highest score is a 4;
*Young British Artists' next highest score is a 3.
Therefore Jessie Ware goes through in sixteenth place, and, if I'm being honest, it's the song I least like. Maybe that Editorial
Dictatorship 'Casting Vote' wouldn't be such a bad idea next year.
Want to find out how the songs that didn't quite make the cut went down with the group? You can read all about it, as Emeli SandÃ© said many a time during the London Olympics closing ceremony, right here...
Second round summary by Kate Goodacre