Saturday, January 27, 2007

Remember me when I'm gone

Random trivia before we get into today's actual post:
  • Yesterday's song ("Tidsmaskin") was co-written by today's singer's brother and Nick Jarl (as well as Jessica Asp), who also co-wrote a lot of the songs on today's singer's first album (and presumably later albums), though you'd probably never guess that by listening to it.
  • Today's singer voiced Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson in the English version) in the Swedish version of the movie Cars.
Is it possible to adore an artist even though you deliberately own only one of their three albums, and it's their first? If so, I think that sums up my feelings about Swedish singer Martin Stenmarck. Though I do have a couple of his other songs (one from Think Of Me, though I might buy another soon, and a remix of "7milakliv"), and I quite like them, from what I've heard of Think Of Me and 9 sanningar och en lögn, I haven't felt compelled to buy them (heck, both even recycle songs from his first album), but his first album, One--oh my gosh. It's some of the best money I've spent; full of should-be-radio hits, it's the sort of album that should have won him international success (and to some degree, it did, as he released it in a couple other European countries, but I'm talking truly worldwide success). I wrote practically a mini-essay on just one song from it, "I'm Falling," if that's any indication of how much I love it. In fact, it's in the pretty elite club of albums I actually force other people to listen to or will put on when I want to explain why I listen to music that's not known in the U.S., and that's a club that only has three albums in it. I very much recommend buying it; poppy it is not, but pop? Definitely yes, although classifiable as rock, too.

I Got To--while "I'm Falling" could be seen as a stomper, this has a more literally stomp-oriented beat, broken down and edgy. There's an interlude in the middle that's rather strange--it gets all soulful for a couple of lines--but besides that, this is storming rock-friendly pop of the highest order. So catchy that you might want to avoid listening to it if you don't want to be thinking about it for days, this probably wouldn't be heralded as boundaries-pushing, but it's also far from generic, with a beat and melody that separate it from the pack and would be perfect for shouting along with. The song itself also seems ideal for live performances--it couldn't fail to get the crowd excited, and it'd really lend itself to some manhandling of the microphone stand. As always, Martin's voice is perfect for this type of music, smooth (though he can break out the grit when he wants to) but strong. "I Got To," like many of the songs on the album, is so radio-friendly (and video-friendly) that it practically hurts. The song manages to capture an emotional state perfectly, as in that chorus, vehemently spat out in brief phrases, like bursts of anger and power, and the brief "eye of the hurricane" moment, the moment where the singing stops and the guitars drop out and all we get is an almost haunting xylophone (maybe bells?) part that somehow manages to make the usually pretty tinkling sound of the instrument sound ominous, before Martin's voice returns, and gradually gets stronger and stronger, maybe angrier and angrier, almost desperate, perfectly intersecting with those bells, which continue even once we get the guitars back. This isn't artsy music, but it is art, so incredibly capturing how powerful guitars can be (even when they're not breaking loose) that it should be required listening for the countless Kelly Clarkson-inspired "rocky guitars are the route to success!" knockoff singers abusing the instrument at the moment.

What are you waiting for? Buy Martin Stenmarck's amazing debut album One here (physical)--I can't recommend it enough. I might eventually end up buying his second and third albums, though the little I've heard of them has yet to impress me, just on the strength of the first.

(Edit: I forgot to mention that his official site has clips of all the songs on the album, if you're still not sure about buying it; go to "Music" and then "One.")

Next up: possibly a former Idol contestant from Norway, but most likely she'll be in a few days; it might finally be that German band's turn.

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