Thursday, May 31, 2007

Listen to me, I'm setting you free

I'm really enjoying Måns Zelmerlöw's debut album, Stand By For.... The former Idol contestant, Let's Dance winner, and third place finisher in Melodifestivalen has not given us the album full of "Cara Mia"s that some people were probably hoping for, but the genre (or subgenre) hopping is fine by me--for my taste, all the songs don't need to be schlager or straight-up Melodifestivalen-style pop (not that that's what everyone disappointed with the album was expecting). It's too early to review the whole album, so let's just get to one of the songs for now; as a warning, my writing will probably be very sketchy and run-on-sentence-oriented. Question, though: does anyone else keep hearing "I'm just a steel town girl" at the beginning of "Maniac"? I'm sure he can't really be saying that, but it's what I hear every time.

Brother Oh Brother--"Cara Mia" was a song of desire, with a somewhat ominous opening that exploded into a huge powerful chorus, not shouted but with the feeling out a shout, calling out for someone, before pulling back, almost wary, or perhaps circling, before returning to the verse. Though story-wise "Brother Oh Brother" is almost the opposite (though conceivably just from a later perspective, I don't think you truly get the feeling in "Cara Mia" that those pleas are going to be in vain)--a post-breakup warning to avoid this girl or she'll break your heart--it borrows some of the same tricks: that ominous opening that moves into a bigger catchier chorus--but right on the line "Cara Mia"'s template would have Måns exploding with emotion, the "leave her tonight," the song defies expectations, going down, not up. With that one tweak, the sadness of the song becomes obvious; gone is the exuberance, in its place is a world-weariness. I'm not claiming this song will leave you in tears--it's still very danceable, but with a decidely different feel than "Cara Mia" ("Dreaming" is probably the song on the album closest to that song, but it's not as good as "Cara Mia" in my opinion; though most songs we hear this year won't be as good as "Cara Mia," a very direct comparison hurts "Dreaming," so a song that takes at least one step away from the "Cara Mia" style has an advantage--it can't be called "just a less good 'Cara Mia'"). A few more touches--some "woah-ohh-ohh"'s, a handclap-beat oriented part in the middle--and you've got a pretty, poppy, catchy song that manages to feel both upbeat and downbeat at the same time. All this writing isn't really necessary for a song like this, though--just listen and enjoy.

To buy Måns Zelmerlow's debut album Stand By For..., go here (physical).

Next up: I'm not sure--maybe another Swedish singer.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Do you feel like I feel?

Question for all you Swedish music experts/people with knowledge:

I was listening to Rix FM and was shocked to hear one of my favorite songs from last year come on...but not in the version I'm familiar with, or any of the remixed versions, or even (I'm pretty sure) the same singer! I wrote about Toni (or ToNi)'s song "Natalie" some months ago--it's a great slice of string-using dance-pop that I love--

Ooo, never mind, I just figured it out! And oh my gosh, you have no idea how excited this makes me! Sweden's Idol boys are bringing it this year!

Umm...since I've started this post, I might as well explain what just happened. I heard the song on Rix FM in its new version, poppier, cuter--not necessarily better, but not worse either--and was really excited. Slighly sad for Toni that it wasn't him singing it, but excited because 1.) maybe the song would get some of the attention it so very much deserves this way, and 2.) if another singer is using this song, maybe that would mean an album full of songs like this (I don't know of anything else Toni's released). Though I knew the song, though, I didn't knew who was singing it...but I was convinced I knew the singer's voice. I was going to post here in hopes someone would be able to tell me who was singing it, since "Natalie" isn't exactly the most googleable name ever. But then! Then! I realized who the voice sounded like, I checked his official site, and...yup, it's him!

You all have no idea how excited this makes me. In this incarnation, the song isn't dance-pop like Danny is doing (the original was closer to that) nor schlager, but adorable adorable adorable upbeat uplifting pop. It's sooo cute and I'm sooo excited!

So, who's the new singer?

Ola Svensson! He of the Anthony Callea "Rain" cover and some other great songs on his debut album (though his second single "Brothers" was not one of the better ones). If this is an indication of his new album, we should all be very excited. I'm sooo excited as is--I love the song, I love the new version, a singer with songs I've liked in the past has another song I like, and I'm excited that I managed to recognize his voice (the people next to me are having to deal with minor gloating, as I didn't think I'd be able to figure it out without asking for help).

Yay for Ola! Yay for "Natalie"! Yay for Idol and Sweden and particularly Sweden's Idol singers!

Anyhow, just because I'm so incredibly excited right now (can you tell?), here's the radio rip, though be warned that the audio quality is low (lower than it was for the Måns songs), though I know not everyone will be interested in this, let alone as excited as I am. Up for a few days only, though.

Natalie (Ola's Version) (Radio Rip)

This is boy-pop of the highest order. Does anyone know when the single comes out? Or his second album?

Wow, (not just because of this) I don't think my mood could get any better.

Work? No way

I am still in a very summery mood and, with the weather now cooperating, I've got two albums currently competing for the title of my "summer album"--not necessarily the summer's best album, but the one that just feels like summer, that's perfect for having on while you're doing whatever. The latest release by the Tough Alliance is putting up a good fight and may win out in the long run (more about them in the future; in the meantime, check out thoughts about the lead single on Worrapolava or #1 Hits From Another Planet--in general, blippy catchy pop from Sweden that is very impressive), but for the moment, Same Difference is holding onto the title.

It frustrates me that if I walk into a music store around here and head over to the international section, the only music I'd find from most countries is "traditional" or "folk" music, and that's especially true for South Africa. I'm certainly not condemning that sort of music--everyone has their own taste--but that's such a poor reflection of the actual music scenes of these countries. Without a greater range of music being portrayed, people are missing out on a lot and a certain image of countries is definitely being portrayed. Given American radio's lack of friendliness towards non-English language tracks, Same Difference would probably never have stood a chance at mainstream radio success, but if there was justice in the world, some of these songs should have been international hits.

I am definitely not an expert on South African music, so please correct me if any of this is wrong. Mandoza is one of South Africa's leading kwaito stars (kwaito is a type of music that I instinctively want to say is the South African version of hip-hop or rap, but that's not right, as there is rap there; picture rap with dance or house beats and strong percussion, and you're a little closer) while Danny K is--well, I guess you could say he's an R&B singer, though he can be more pop or more hip hop influenced (though he's not a rapper) depending on the song. Both are well-established artists in the own right, but 2004 found them teaming up to release Same Difference, an album I'm fulling prepared for no one else to enjoy but that I'm loving. Though I still maintain that it has songs that should have been hits outside of South Africa (or outside of Africa--I'm not sure how it did in other African countries), for the pop fan, your enjoyment of the album overall will probably be affected by your opinion of Mandoza's singing (or speaking). It's gruff, rap-like, and not in English. For my own preferences, I'd probably cut down on some of his more extended parts, but he's vitally important to this album--he provides a nice crunch here and, without the sort of music he brings to the table, many of these songs wouldn't really stick for me.

I was fully expecting myself to fall for one of the albums dance hall tracks, but the songs I've found myself returning to most are the more laid-back ones. They are such perfect summer songs--"breezy" is just about the perfect word for them, but they're not free-floating, instead being brought back down to Earth by the beats Mandoza brings. There are so many great songs on Same Difference--if I had a section listing my music idols, this album would've elevated Danny K and Mandoza, working as a team, into that list.

I know some people will say this is R&B (or whatever genre of music you want to call it) for people who don't listen to or don't like R&B, but, though with my background I can't address that, 1.) there's nothing wrong with appealing to new audiences, and 2.) I don't care. I don't care if this doesn't have hardcore kwaito or is a shameless attempt at crossover market success--it works, bringing the best of both singers' worlds together and creating something that I'm probably far more likely to enjoy than either of their solo works.

The song I'm posting was chosen partly because it's one of my favorite songs on the album, but also because the back-and-forth between Danny K and Mandoza, who's basically doing quick answer-backs for most of the song, might be more likely to appeal to people who don't want to hear extended stretches of rapping (there is a rap break, but it's got Danny K's interjections in it). The song is so breezy and so summery, though, and not just in the title--it makes me want to hop in a car and drive to the beach with this song--really, the whole album--soundtracking my drive.


You can buy Mandoza and Danny K's album Same Difference here (they can take a long time to ship the item, but once it's shipped it doesn't take long to arrive and the shipping is the cheapest I've found for South African music). sells it as well. Though it is not an album for everyone (it does feel very mainstream, which is a good thing, but it's distinctive), I very much recommend it--it is just about the perfect summer album. If you want to hear more from it before buying, this site has minute long clips of each of the songs. Plus, I love their logo:

I'm not sure why I love it so much, but I do.

Next up: probably Måns.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Se på mig

Just a quick post, as I do have an album to get back to listening to...

Date are a Swedish dansband who have apparently been around for quite some time, though I think all the music of theirs I have comes from their circa-2004 incarnation. At the time of this song, I'm pretty sure their lead singer was Patrik Rasmussen, a former Fame Factory contestant (he's the blonde one). They've competed in a Melodifestivalen a few times, but without too much success (they did the best on their first attempt, taking sixth place, but haven't made it to the final since then.)

Se på mig--I spent a long time completely convinced this was a cover, and not just one of those random "it was on the album of some artist in another country, but hardly anyone would know that" covers, but of a song that I knew just from living in the U.S., a song that other people would recognize. However, without being able to make an actual connection or find information saying that (even knowing the songwriter) and having played this song for other people, I'm wondering if I'm going crazy. Maybe it just resembles another song? Anyhow, the chorus is great, full of energy and very catchy and with just a little bit of that style that makes me think of the '80's but that anyone who actually knows anything about '80's music never agrees with me about it. And if it is a cover, will someone please put an end to the torture and let me know?

To buy Date's album Sjunde Himlen, go here (physical). I don't have all of it, but "Om igen" is pretty good, too, though I think it would have less appeal than "Se på mig" to people who don't usually listen to Swedish music.

Next up: it was supposed to be me raving about the new The Tough Alliance album/EP, which I am still going to definitely do, but that may end up put off a day or so for Måns.

Violently falling for destiny

Do you know what I got only minutes ago?

I'm trying not to pass out with excitement.

There really will be a real post, complete with song, later today. Unless I'm still unconscious.

(Don't worry if you're getting sick of Måns--this too shall pass. Remember the McFly craze a while back? I won't stop liking the music, but eventually news will die down.)

Edit: t.a.T.u. movie! CFB Goes Pop! Meant to mention it earlier, but I'll say more soon as I'm not distracted by one of my most anticipated albums of the year.

Don't let the music die

US5 have a tendency to make me uncomfortable for just about countless reasons (though anyone who wants to write them off entirely should take a listen to "Just Because Of You" first--it's a good boy band ballad). And now, with their new single "Rhythm Of Life," they're clearly hoping to take advantage of Timbaland's success--I've got to imagine those spoken background bits are modelled after him. And there's a pointless rap that really hurts the song.

So why do I find myself listening to it repeatedly?

(Stick it out to the bridge and chorus.)

The single's out June 15 in Germany (with a "video edit" and a "single edit," I think, among other things, so the "real" version probably won't have the music for the dance break which, when you're dealing with just audio, is a good thing). Granted, I haven't heard the high quality version yet, but I think I like it a lot. Not that I'm going to start spreading the message anywhere and everywhere, but enough that I think even by the end of the year I'll still rate it as at least "pretty good."

(P.S. Yes, I know there's some Backstreet Boys' ripping off [or similarities] going on as well, but at least the similarity is less obvious than the one between "In The Club" and Darin's "Step Up" and this song is a lot better than "In The Club.")

Monday, May 28, 2007

Hold the fire burning

I think Troy requested this song and, since it's not available on American, Canadian, or UK iTunes and I don't know if it will be on the album, I thought I'd post it. On a somewhat related note, I may have found a replacement digital music store for the one I lost a little while ago, which makes me beyond happy. It's Danish, as was the last one, and it's more expensive, but I'm willing to pay those prices for single songs, and there are so many songs that I just can't buy anywhere else. I want to wait a couple days and make sure that everything's fine, but it will probably go up in the music buying links soon. Anyway, on to the song, one by Magnus Carlsson, who recently announced his new album, called Live Forever - The Album, will come out June 27 (I think this is the cover for it--hey, at least it's an improvement over the single cover and the cover for his most recent holiday album; even if he does look like he's channeling Westlife on The Love Album, he does it better and the cover, based on this size, is prettier). The next single, "Waves Of Love," has been released to radio but won't actually come out until the album does. I'm not going to judge it until I hear the real studio version, but, if you really want to, you can listen to part of a live performance of it here (maybe you shouldn't, though, just for the sake of your later appreciation of the song).

Live Forever (Acoustic Live Version)--to be honest, given my own preferences, I like the original a lot more. However, if you like ballads, this isn't a bad one.

I'll update this with a link to where you can buy this version in a couple of days, but for now, you can buy Magnus Carlsson's album Magnus Carlsson (which does not contain "Live Forever") here.

I blame Paul for getting me newly hooked on Any Dream Will Do, the TV show where singers compete to win the role of Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolored Dreamcoat. I've always loved that musical, but I hadn't felt compelled to watch the performances until recently. Now, with Idol having just ended, I think I may take up following it full time.

How adorable is that performance? I love that song, especially when performed with lots of energy and, most importantly, dancing! It's one of those infectious feel-good songs.

(Do you know who I would have liked to have seen sing that song on a TV singing contest? Throw in some of his cheesy dancing a la "Carwash," "Ignition," or "Gimme Some Lovin'," put his voice with this song, and you're set!)

Next up: maybe a Swedish song.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

If you say it loud enough, the party gets ferocious

I was going to write about Mandoza and Danny K's collaboration album today (probably), but I was distracted by something I heard on Danny K's second solo album. In real life, I'm one of those people who can't read a trivia book without asking whoever's near me "Did you know...?" every minute. Consider this post the blog equivalent of that.

My laugh-out-loud moment of yesterday: hearing the chorus of Danny K's "Soopadoopa" which--surely deliberately--mimics (I don't think "samples" or "remixes" is the right word, since it's not actually using the original music) "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" from Mary Poppins in the service of an urban-influenced track. That music and the lyrics--oh wow. If I'd been on a chair, I would have fallen off laughing.

That said, a minute and a half into another song, I skipped back to "Soopadoopa"--I had to hear it again. Make of that what you will.

The more I think about it, the more I conclude that this maybe the most ridiculous idea ever executed in pop music...and yet, though I'm not (yet) ready to give it my "ridiculous but brilliant label," I think I'm infatuated. Everyone else in the world would probably think it's the worst idea ever, but seriously, the guy just turned "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" into a song about "dope" DJ's--how can you not love that?

In fact, for now, this is temporarily (very much so) my "greatest. thing. ever." I start to shake with repressed laughter ever time it comes on, but I love it.

On a more serious note, I'm pleased to say that J23 seems to be a big improvement over Danny K, although to be fair I haven't given his first album its due time-wise; I'll have to try revisiting it--but J23 has more songs with instant or close to it appeal for me.

While I'm being random, things I've been meaning to mention forever:

Bosson's next album is coming out June 11. "You" remains top-quality and "What If I" and "I Can Feel Love" were pretty good, too, so I'm glad we're finally getting an album.

D'NASH's second single, "Dondé estás," is a cover of a song previously sung by Swedish singer Pontus Assarsson, then called "In A Different Story," which explains why I've sometimes seen that name in parentheses after D'NASH's title for it. While we're on the topic of former Fame Factory contestants and covers, I've also got a version of "Cannonball" (sung by NKD) performed by Emma Karlsson, who--I think--released it as a single, though I'm not sure who recorded it first; given she's actually Swedish and that I think she's the same person as Emma Varga, I'd guess Emma did, but her MySpace makes it sound like it was released to radio this February...she could have recorded it earlier, though. She's also recorded "Shooting Star." Her versions are more rocked-up.

I'm really liking a lot of the songs posted over at Popsound, like the new single and b-side by Dutch singer Jim, whose song "Tell Her" Into The Groove introduced me to.

Next up: probably Mandoza and Danny K.

(Note: you may be asking "So then wasn't Jibbs's 'Chain Hang Low' a work of genius? Shouldn't you like that, too?" No--that left out any catchiness in the verses. It was pretty much rap. This song is more R&B or "urban" pop and keeps the hook going throughout. And there's a greater sense of fun around this one, while still maintaining the posing needed to sell the song.)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Comme une 1er rendez-vous une dernière danse

I've never quite understood the appeal of Matt/M. Pokora--maybe I just haven't heard the right song yet?--but I will admit to having some fondness for some of the songs of French (Moroccan-born) singer Amine. His style of music is called Raï'n'B, as it combines R&B and Raï, a type of music that I'm not going to pretend I know anything about other than that it's popular in countries like Algeria and Morocco. The Goggles Do Nothing (currently featuring an upbeat disco song by this year's Eurovision winner!) posted his duet with Leslie a while ago, which is how I was introduced to him, and it's one of his songs I recommend checking out in addition to this one.

J'voulais--besides "Sobri 2," his duet with Leslie, this is Amine's biggest hit. For all the talk about Raï'n'B, the singer who I find myself thinking of most often when I listen to his music is Michael Jackson (though keep in mind my Michael Jackson knowledge is woefully limited, so it may be more a matter of what I think he sounds like than what he actually sounds like). This song might not be the best to pick up those traits, nor does it probably do the best job of showing the "Raï" influence in his music--if anything, it sounds influenced by disco...or at least what I think disco sounds like. Maybe it does sound like Michael Jackson. What I do know for sure, though, is that I like it a lot.

To buy Amine's debut album, Au Dela Des Rêves, go here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: maybe Mandoza and Danny K.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Don't you think of a four letter word to use

Poor BBMak. I'd really love them to still be around--I loved the sound of their voices together, you could always rely on them for some good music, and I'd love to see what they would have come up with as the years passed by. Their popularity was in the midst of my music-ignoring years, but even I couldn't be unaware of "Back Here," which really is a great ballad...but not my favorite song (there are two) on their debut album. I do remember them appearing in a video promoting a fundraiser our school was involved in--one of those "sell these pointless items to your parents and their friends and win these cheap prizes" type of deals--and being surprised to find out that they were British.

I'm Not In Love--choosing between this and "Next Time" was a pretty difficult choice, as both are lovely, sweet, catchy pop songs, with guitars, yes, but of that style where you don't think "pop with guitars." Posting "Next Time" would have given me an opportunity to rehash my theory that the lyricist for Jesse McCartney's "Tell Her" was listening to that song an awful lot while brainstorming (which I've just managed to do anyway), but ultimately, the slightly faster "I'm Not In Love" just barely won out. I'm still not sure it's the right choice, though, so I definitely recommend checking out "Next Time."

To buy BBMak's debut album, Sooner Or Later, go here (physical) or go to iTunes; for example, if you live in the U.S., go here.

Unrelated to music, but if I see one more TV season finale or movie that ends with major characters dying or being forever separated, I am going to GO CRAZY.

Next up: maybe a South African singer.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Come with me, it doesn't matter who you are

I was surprised to open my mailbox today and find a package from Germany inside--I didn't remember ordering anything from Germany lately! As it turns out, it actually contained a number of South African CDs I'd ordered about a month ago, so expect to finally see my thoughts on that Mandoza and Danny K collaboration soon. For now, though, I'm thrilled to finally have my hands on the NKD album--I'd barely been able to contain myself to buying just a couple of songs before, but I knew I wanted the whole album, so I decided to actually order a physical copy. It's nice coincidental timing, too, given Pinkie's excellent tracing of the history of one of their songs over at A Kind Of Love In--the life of "Poptrash," from written by ex-Bardot member Katie Underwood to its reincarnations on the NKD album and by a Serbian singer, is fascinating. I know I've written about "What I Believe" before, and I still really like that, but since you can hear that song on YouTube, here's another song instead.

A few more prefacing remarks, though: I am really impressed with the quality of the songs on the album. South Africa has some great music, but a lot of the straight-up pop comes from Afrikaans language groups and is made up of cover songs. This album doesn't manage to avoid covers entirely--there's a cover of Transvision Vamp's "I Want Your Love" (and I still feel like they are more to these songs' stories than I know, perhaps even some more covers, so please let me know if you know any more). If you like girl groups that are working the electro-poppy vibe, you'll definitely find things to enjoy on this album.

Another reason I wanted an actual physical copy of the album was to find out who wrote the songs on it. I would love to know what went on behind the scenes in the making of this album--how did it come about? How did they find out about these songs? Were any of the songs written for them or were they pre-existing? It will probably not surprise pop fans at all to learn that several of the songs come from Swedish writers. The song I'm posting, for example, has writers who also were involved in the Poodles' last Melodifestivalen entry and apparently are usually pretty rock--but don't hold that against it, because it's thoroughly pop. "What's That Noise" and "Whenever Love Comes Around" are written by the same people who created Andreas Lundstedt's "Lovegun." There are also some American and South African writers and, as mentioned before, at least one Australian one. I haven't had time to check everything out yet, but I'm planning on it.

Anyhow, if you like your girl bands who aren't afraid to mix a little electro into their pop occasionally but not always, I recommend checking them out--I'm not promising you'll love every song on the album, but I really, really like some of the songs on it. They may not be as revolutionary as Girls Aloud are credited to be, but I have a feeling I'll be championing them for a while.

Shooting Star--handclaps! Yes! The song opens with those as well as a guitar riff and the vocal part of the chorus, but we soon get into the somewhat more electro-influenced parts of the song. Given that the chorus is neither very fast nor made up of rapidfire words, it's not a song that feels very speedy--you're not going to get the insistent "you-must-dance" feel of something like Girls Aloud's "Something Kinda Oooh," but it's very catchy and very singalongable. It'd also be pretty suitable for some nice popstar pointing and gesturing.

To buy NKD's debut album, What's That Noise (not to be confused with Part Six's What's That Sound), go here (physical) or here (digital). If you want to go the digital route and just pick up their best songs, at first listen I'd say you should get "What's That Noise" (video here, useful mainly for hearing the song, not watching) "What I Believe" (video here) "Snakebite," "Shooting Star," "Cannonball," "Forget Forgetting Me," and maybe "Poptrash."

(I'm still upset about them losing out on that SAMA, by the way.)

Next up: maybe that Mexican duo.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Tu sei la simplicità, quella cosa che mi fa sognare

He sings in Italian, so you could be forgiven for thinking Nyco is Italian...but he's not. He's French. Well, his father is Italian, so I guess you could say he is, and that's the aspect of his heritage he seems to have chosen to emphasize for marketing purposes, but as far as I know, he's always lived in France. He's also the brother of Pierrick Lilliu, a second place finisher on Nouvelle Star (the French equivalent of Pop Idol); his real name is Nicolas Lilliu. He's released one single so far, with an album due to come out later this month...and, conditional on how the preview clips sound, I might buy it. When did summer become so expensive? It feels like there were hardly any new albums that came out last summer that I was interested in, but there's at least one, often more, every week this summer. Anyhow, if we can judge based on his single and the clip of a song on his MySpace, Nyco, as much as he might like to show himself playing a guitar in his music video, isn't pursuing as rocky a direction as Pierrick (based on the little I know of Pierrick's work).

Dimmi perché--I'm pretty sure this a summer fling--I'm not claiming this is a song to stick with you for the rest of your life, or even into next week. Still, there are worse ways to spend three and a half minutes of your life than listening to this mildly electro-influenced song. It's decently catchy and, disposable as it now feels, may even end up being a grower, maybe a song to last the whole summer--I'm not sure. The sound quality of this mp3 seems subpar to me--sorry about that!

You can preorder Nyco's debut album, Dimmi perché, due out May 28, here.

Next up: a Mexican duo.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I should take it easy but I'm still gonna get around

WOAH at this album

and WOAH at this album.

They are both very good. In fact, so good and so layered that I'm really too immersed in them at the moment to engage in any other song at the level necessary to write about it. So, instead, some news:

Via the Cheiron Songwriter forum, clips of some songs from the new Enrique Iglesias album. I'm pretty excited for it, even if I'm not expecting to be knocked over by every song, and I like the first three songs particularly, as well as a couple later on. "Ring My Bell" sounded a lot better in the Tommy Hilfiger ad--hopefully the clip here was just poorly chosen.

If you're Swedish, you can buy the (live) acoustic ballad version of "Live Forever" that Magnus Carlsson performed recently on iTunes. His site also says that the countdown to the album has begun--did I miss the announcement of a release date?

Speaking of Swedish music, I really like the new Danny single, but why is it that the album Heart. Beats is so far only for sale on CDOn and Ginza, neither of which ships to the U.S.?

The Click Five are holding "listening parties" to preview the new album. I've not heard much of the entirely new songs yet, in full versions only "All I Need Is You" and "Mary Jane," which have been around forever. However, the "All I Need Is You" performance worries me.

Here's the version now, with Kyle singing.

Here's the version with the original lead singer, Eric.

This is why I shouldn't listen to live performances of not-yet-released songs--I'm going to always expect those Eric-sung high bits now; it has quite a different feel this way--it pops less. It's still good, but I don't know if it's good (note that I'm referring to what I imagine the studio versions would sound like). None of this is to say Kyle's voice won't work on songs (I hope it does, and I think it fits well with "Jenny"), but I wonder if maybe they should've scrapped some of the songs written when Eric was around...or maybe it's just my fault for "spoiling" them and now expecting them in a certain way. I'm having trouble explaining why the new version doesn't work as well for me, but it's less distinctive, less fun...I'm probably overthinking this way too much. And, knowing me, I'll love it once I get the album.

If you want to hear more, there's a Kyle-led performance of "Mary Jane" here and other assorted performances posted by this user, this user, and this user. Hopefully, there are some more fun upbeat tracks on the album--"Headlight Disco" (also watchable here, but you only get the beginning there) has an interesting title and, though it's difficult to judge anything at this quality, it sounds like it's got some nice synths (another written-while-Eric-was-around song, I think). I may be pinning most of my hopes on it.

I shouldn't doubt before I hear the album, but I'm so worried that they've gone "generic guitar band." Can a band crash from making probably my favorite album to making an album I don't even like that much? Hopefully not, but I'm fearing it.

(Shallowness: I like suits, but I'm fine with them not wearing them--did they have to switch to skinny jeans, though?)

Edit: I did some more catching up on video watching and they've stolen McFly's "doo-do-do-doo"'s for "Flipside" ;) Hopefully that's a good sign for the song! It sounds pretty good, too--all right, so my fears are being allayed somewhat. As long as there are at least some songs I like.

I love the title of this post (about Liberty X's breakup) over at Popjustice...

Next up: a Mexican or American group, or maybe something about the aforementioned albums.

Monday, May 21, 2007

That works for me

So, because I might as well be listening to something useful while I work on this present, I recorded some songs from Swedish radio. Keep in mind these are radio rips and therefore low quality and with some talking over the top.

Song 1 (his current single)

Song 2 (the Fredrik Kempe cover)

Be warned that if you are expecting his current single to be another "Cara Mia," you will be disappointed (I think we'll have to wait for "Brother Oh Brother" or "Dreaming" for something in that vein). That said, in my grand tradition of backtracking on singles by artists I like (I earlier said I was baffled by the choice of single as the song didn't sound particularly good, and I'm still not convinced on the choice compared to other options he had), I've decided I do really like it (possibly love it--I'm quite sure I'll love it by tomorrow and pretty much everyone else will dislike it), though I'm glad the whole album won't be like it. Some of the backing vocals and guitar bits make me think of--no, it's too embarrassing and probably ridiculous to mention.

These are only going to be available for a day or two, as 1.) new single--I don't want to hurt sales, and 2.) the album comes out on Wednesday (I can't wait! It'll take at least a week to get here, though) and then everyone can get better quality versions and will want those instead.

Remember, you can buy the album here or here or order a signed copy here.

(P.S. Is that line really "Workin' wonders with her tail lights"? Surely that's just my typical mishearing of lyrics? If it's not, I am totally going to be laughing and singing along to that all summer.)

No more rain and lonely nights without you

Avril Lavigne's old stylist is clearly working for German singer Elin, even if he or she has been forced to tone down the "edginess" a little bit. Heck, the video for Elin's debut single even shows her on a skateboard. I've never listened to a full Avril album, but Elin has less snarl in her voice and her guitar hooks are less in-your-face, but with that style, she really shouldn't expect to avoid the Avril comparisons. At only 13, she's also likely to draw some JoJo comparisons (and, with that age, I somehow find the "one year wiser, so much older" line sort of funny).

Better With You (Radio Edit)--the first time I heard this song I was ready to brush it off--aren't there loads of people doing this sort of thing, and probably better? A few times later, though, and I found myself really liking, it passed the miming along in your room test, so it can't be that bad. I'm still not completely convinced it's not fairly generic, but even if it is, I still think I like it. It's another song that I wouldn't be surprised to find out was a cover, but it might not be. I guess it's teen-pop, a catchy mid-tempo song that breaks no boundaries lyrically or melodically and that, despite hinting at the chorus at the beginning, takes 55 seconds to get going, but that I still find myself singing along with every time it comes on. Speaking of the lyrics, though, I'm sort of worried about Elin--look at the following lines:

"You never gave me the time of day
But I never gave up and walked away
And now you're wanting it all
You never wanted me to be with you
You always had better things to do
But I never gave up on your love"

1.) I don't think this is going to be a very healthy relationship, and 2.) I'd be worried about his intentions, Elin!

To buy Elin's debut album Girl Talk, go here (physical). As a warning, though, her official site has clips of all the songs on the album and it doesn't sound very good. You can buy her debut single "Better With You" here (physical), here (digital; you'll have to search for "Elin"), or on iTunes.

Next up: maybe an American group.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

One thing I can't deny: that girl she wasn't shy

I once read somewhere online--I wish I could remember where--that it wasn't summer until you started hearing songs like a1's "Summertime Of Our Lives" (or was it "Be The First To Believe"?) and 3SL's "Take It Easy." Well, I'm officially ready for summer to be here and I've posted that a1 song before, so...can it be summer now?

Take It Easy--the debut single by the Scott-Lee brothers, brothers of Lisa and two of whom would go on to separately and unsuccessfully compete in the UK's national final for Eurovision. It's really a great boy band song, sort of in the vein of Five's "Keep On Movin'." It just drips summer from every lyric and every hook and is one of those instant feel-good songs. Even if follow-up single "Touch Me Tease Me" was a huge decline in quality, "Take It Easy" is good enough that I would've loved an album from them. I really love it--it's one of those songs I never get tired of.

(The music video fits the song perfectly and puts me even more in the mood for summer--I would've posted it, but it's not on YouTube! I need to learn how to get videos off of CDS and uploaded onto YouTube some day.)

To buy 3SL's single "Take It Easy," go here (physical).

Next up: maybe an American group.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Las cosas son así sin ti

The female singer featured in Moenia's "Te equivoque" was Denisse Guerrero, the stylish lead singer of Mexican group Belanova, whose second album Dulce Beat was a huge success in Mexico. The group's style is thoroughly pop, maybe with a little electronica influence (or just synth-pop) thrown in, sweet as a result of both the melodies and Denisse's voice, practically designed for cooing. The group is currently working on its third album and hasn't ruled out the possibility of recording English language songs some day--they've already toyed with that a little, as Dulce Beat contains the English language song "Sexy," but that song doesn't rival their Spanish-language work, though it's still pretty good. Still, if they can manage to nail down the feel of their Spanish work in English, expect them to become blogger favorites.

Niño--the album's fourth single, but my favorite song on it, although there are multiple other songs on the album that rival it for quality. Sweet and catchy (two adjectives which you could apply to almost any song on the album), you're not going to get a full-out throw-your-hands-up-in-the-air aggressive dancefest from this song, but there is a sort of exuberance in the chorus (despite the song's subject, telling the one you love you have to leave because "la vida me invito/hacia otro lugar/sin ti"), and the song itself is definitely danceable.

To buy Belanova's second album Dulce Beat, go here (physical) or visit iTunes; for example, if you live in the U.S., go here. The album is full of quality songs and, if it were in English, would undoubtedly be being enjoyed almost everywhere; I very much recommend listening to some preview clips and then picking it up.

Next up: a boy band, I think.

Friday, May 18, 2007

I never thought that I would be the one to say these words

I don't think I've ever been as tempted to post a full album as I am right now. Norwegian singer Espen Lind's This Is Pop Music is the sort of album that should be commonly accepted as a great work, and yet I know few people will probably go out and buy it; though I've had it for only a few weeks now, it's one of my favorite albums ever. After listening to some albums, my main impression is "catchy;" for others, it's "beautiful;" after listening to This Is Pop Music, my first thought was "impressive." Don't think "dully self-conscious," though, as it's not. Espen Lind is definitely smart, creative--you can't listen to this album without thinking that this is an incredibly talented artist. Maybe crazy, but talented. And with a passion for pop music.

Keep in mind my tastes unintentionally tend to be pretty top 40--top 40 in different countries, but still pretty mainstream. Imagine an album that fits perfectly into that top 40 taste made by someone who could go all leftfield if they wanted to but hasn't, instead choosing to make a brilliantly creative but still entirely accessible album designed to show how brave and exciting pop music can be--that's This Is Pop Music. As we know via the album cover, Espen has put the emphasis on "This" in the title, and so it's probably a response to another type of pop I enjoy, so-called manufactured pop. If his point is to criticize all music of that sort, I'm not sold (let's not get into that debate here), but if he wanted to show how exciting pop can be? He's done it.

Though not identical, "Everybody Says" and "Life Is Good" make a matched set. They're also of the style I expect most people associate Espen Lind with; you wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that the creator of "When Susannah Cries" wrote these ballads. In the context of the album, they're lovely, but it's such a shame that that's what Espen is known for, as, on their own, they're some of the least exciting of his songs--or rather, I wish everyone could know that the album is not all like that. Whether it's the soaring Sissel duet "Where The Lost Ones Go" (apparently going to be covered by Sarah Brightman soon); "Pop From Hell," which sounds like practically nothing I've ever heard but makes me tempted to throw out a Queen reference for some parts; the sparkly, catchy, delicious "Black Sunday," "Everything's Falling Apart," and "This Is The Time! This Is The Place!"; or the stylistic switch-ups of "Joni Mitchell On The Radio"--orchestral to creeping maybe Middle Eastern-influenced to slowed down sweeping chorus--the songs are this album are beautiful (even when aggressive) works of art that, although they might want a little admiration, also demand not just to be looked at from afar, but rather that you completely immerse yourself in them.

In other words, one song could never capture this album. Hopefully, though, it'll be enough to intrigue you.

Joni Mitchell On The Radio

I know I've probably overtalked this album beyond all reason at this point, but I really think people would enjoy it and, since it's not a frequently discussed album, I think I may have felt like I needed to fit in all that praise it should be getting in one post. You can buy it Espen Lind's second album This Is Pop Music here (physical). You can listen to preview clips on the Norwegian iTunes.

Next up: a British boy band or a Mexican group.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Tell me, can you feel it too?

Faceless dance-pop! Well, not quite, but I don't know that much about today's singer at all, except for the fact that Cam Tyler is Swedish. The following song is already out on promo and at least one compilation album and, assuming this information isn't out of date, it'll be released as a single in the U.S. in mid-2007.

Feels Like Heaven--a cover of a Uniting Nations song. It sort of reminds me of Velvet's "Fix Me," though maybe that's because both choruses have that swooshy feeling; it doesn't have quite the strength or personality of that song, though--or maybe Velvet's song just seems to have more personality because I know more about her. The remix-like effects of the Uniting Nations version (like the quick repeated use of a syllable from a longer word) are gone and the energy is taken up further.

As I said, I don't think the single for Cam Tyler's "Feels Like Heaven" is out yet, but you can get it by buying the compilation album Best Of Trance, Vol. 6 here (physical).

Next up: no, this wasn't the singer guesting on that Moenia song--maybe that will be tomorrow. Or a boy band.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Play it to the world

While I was busy getting excited over Måns's debut album, I was neglecting another former Idol competitor, Danny Saucedo! I posted his great debut single "Tokyo" back in February; he's got a new single, "Play It For The Girls," out and, though I haven't heard the full version yet and it doesn't sound quite as fabulous as "Tokyo," I think I may very well still love it...and could end up loving it even more than "Tokyo," though I expect some people may be disappointed. You can listen to the beginning of it at his MySpace, but I think it's better than that shows (try listening to the preview clip at the Swedish iTunes). Plus, his debut album Heart. Beats. is coming out a week after Måns's (May 30)! Based on the first two singles and the fact that he's working with--and, as I think this is saying or implying, is the new vehicle for--September producer Jonas von der Burg, it should be great boy-fronted dance-pop.

Just look at this cover:

If that doesn't scream glitzy (maybe ridiculous) dance-pop with no regard for credibility--the best sort--I don't know what does.

Edit: Speaking of Måns Zelmerlöw, his next single will be "Work Of Art." Granted, I haven't heard the full version yet, but I have to say that I am completely baffled by that choice, as it sounds like his album has multiple songs that are much better than that one.

Y todo lo planeado, lo que perfeccioné...

I really should wait a little while longer before writing about this group, at least give myself time to digest the album I've just got hold of and possibly to acquaint myself with their past work, but sometimes a song just strikes you the right way at the right time and you need to share it then, you know? I'll probably return to this group in the near future, once I've had more time to listen to the album. At any rate, Mexican group Moenia do come with a certain baggage: their frequently stated adoration of Depeche Mode has definitely led to some backlash in the forms of comparison and accusations of basically just stealing their style and not doing it as well. To be honest, acquainting myself with Depeche Mode is still on my to-do list, so I can't really address that. Still, Moenia has played a pretty important role in Mexican music, helping electronic-based pop music break in the country; though Moenia are still going, they've also created room for some other big groups that, even if they don't sound quite like them, still owe them a debt. I've only heard one Moenia album, their most recent one, Solar, and apparently it's a little bit of a change of direction for them (though I definitely want to hear more from them now). Though I wouldn't say it's a stylistically diverse album, the songs are diverse, if that makes sense. Really, the best introduction would probably be one of the more in-your-face catchy songs, but the following song is the one on the album that I find myself returning to the most right now.

(Side note: their official site doesn't seem to work any more, which is never a good thing.)

Me equivoqué--as I said, there are other songs on the album that are catchier, rockier, but this ballad, the title of which means "I was wrong," is the one I keep coming back to. Maybe that shows that I'm a sucker for the softer side of this sort of synth-pop, the more sensitive emotional side, but I think it shows more that it's a very well-done ballad. It never overwhelms you but still manages to be completely engrossing and...really, though the music is dark, this song is undeniably pretty. I could go into more details about the music, but I think this is the sort of song that's better just to discover for oneself, with none of its small twists and turns ruined.

To buy Moenia's most recent album, Solar, go here (physical) or here (digital). It's also available on iTunes, including in the U.S. I am very impressed with it so far.

Next up: the group of the singer featured in the above Moenia song, and one of those groups that should probably be glad that Moenia arrived upon the scene.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Too wonderful, too fine

Songs I'm loving from other blogs:

"2Beautiful (Planet J Extended Mix)" by Australian singer Emmanuel Carella over at Pop Trash Addicts. If there's a pop-dance version of boy pop, this is it. This song is brilliant--go get it!

Everything over at Don't Stop The Pop, but especially "Entre Tu Y Yo" by Andermay and covers of "Tren de largo recorrido" and "Vuelve el amor" by José Galisteo (I had never heard of the songs until hearing them there, though). The former sounds beautiful and catchy and happy and the latter are great danceable pop.

Ninguém me pode impedir

The debut album of Portuguese singer FF (his stage name, which comes from his real name, Fernando Fernandes) was a big success, selling triple platinum in two months and inspiring a live album released later that year. Perhaps no one should have been surprised at his success, though, seeing as he came from a TV series that had spawned numerous other successful singing careers. Morangos com Açúcar (Strawberries with Sugar) is a telenovela (soap opera) for children and teenagers. In its fourth season, the show has also served as a launching pad for the groups D'ZRT and 4Taste (with those names, they sound like they should be X Factor rejects) and Patricia Candoso, among others. His second album is due to come out relatively soon, I think.

Tudo o que quero--the album's second single. The best part here is the chorus, catchy in a mid-tempo sort of way, but the beginning is decently interesting, as the song's creator opted for something other than the frothiness you might expect. Still, it's just a light sweet song overall, and that's something I have no problem with--I really like it. I wouldn't be surprised if it was a cover (or if someone covers it in the future) as it's the sort of song that could easily be passed around to different artists, but I've never heard any other versions of it. Update: huge thanks to an anonymous commenter for pointing out that it's a cover of K-otic's song "Crying"...I feel really silly because I own that CD and everything and never made the connection, but I'm so glad to know now :)

To buy FF's debut album, Eu Aqui, check iTunes; for example, if you live in the U.S., go here. Alternatively, you can buy it from this digital music store; you'll have to search for "FF."

Next up: a Mexican duo.

P.S. I took a break from this post to watch American Idol; I won't go into details since the UK won't get the episode until later, but tonight's show reminded me of why I'm so excited to hear an album from Blake and why he shouldn't go further in the competition. I've really not been this pleased with a final three for quite some time, if ever!

Edit: Enrique Iglesias is on Dancing With The Stars right now. Reminder: "Do You Know (The Ping Pong Song)" is one of the best songs of the whole year, maybe the best. I'm just waiting for it to flop in the U.S. (if it defies my expectations and does well, it will quite possibly make my year). It's sooo uber-cute!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Tua luz era magia, no teu mar eu naufraguei

With Eurovision having just ended, I was thinking about the fact that Portugal often seems to have a poor reputation in regards to pop. I can't speak for the country's recent Eurovision entries, but there's at least one Portuguese group that anyone with even a passing interest in dance-pop or pop in general should know about: Santamaria. Made up of five people, both boys and girls but with lead vocals almost always sung by a woman, the group has been releasing albums since 1998 and just released its most recent album, 8, in 2006; as you'd probably guessed from the title, it's their eighth album (excluding their greatest hits released earlier that year). With that much material, sometimes songs can start to blend together, but, from what I've heard, this most recent album has some of their best songs on it.

Já Não Tens Nada a Ver--some of their songs, like "Vou entrar no teu olhar," are a little harder dance; this song, though, is more on, OK, I'll use the word again--it's poptastic. It's still very danceable and perfect beachside material, but it's softer and cuter than something like, say, Cascada (though I'm not criticizing Cascada).

You can buy Santamaria's most recent album, 8, in all countries' iTunes stores; for example, if you live in the U.S., go here. I very much recommend investigating them further, as they've made loads of great songs over the years.

Next up: another act from Portugal, this time a male singer.

Welcome to my paradise

Ooo! Ooo! Ooo!

You can listen to previews of the songs on Måns Zelmerlöw's upcoming album Stand By For here (click on "Provlyssna")! You'll probably want to open that link in a new window.

Oh. My. Gosh. I need it now.

And "Maniac" is the Michael Sembello song. And I don't even care. I love that song and it fits in perfectly and the rest of the album sounds so brilliant that I don't know how I'm going to be able to wait.

Sigh...even if it leaks early or before my copy arrives, though, I'm not downloading it. I managed to resist for last year's most anticipated albums--can I manage with this one?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

γυρνάω τις νύχτες πια μονάχος κι όλα μοιάζουν σα ψέμα

I realized that I don't really have that much to say about Eurovision. Maybe just because it's my first one and I'm easily excited about the whole thing, but I'm still in a very good mood about it. I really enjoyed it and the whole lead-up...and really, I can't wait for the cycle to start all over again. When do we get more Melodifestivalen news? Is it fall--November or so?--that the songwriters are announced?

At any rate, one of my favorite songs in the contest was Cyprus's, sung by Evridiki. It was good enough that I went out and found her most recent album; however, I was also interested to hear more from the song's composer and Evridiki's fiancé, Dimitris Korgialis--he was the one playing the guitar next to her during the performance, with his hair horribly restyled. He's released several albums over the years, enough to already have a greatest hits out. So far, this is my favorite song from it.

Mia Fora--Normally, I'd be pretty content to stick to the material Dimitris has handed off to other singers. Here, though, he's brough in Katerina Moutsatsou to sing the chorus, leaving the verses to himself, which is a balance I like. The song is dance, though not as aggressive or strong-sounding as "Comme Ci Comme Ca." At first, I thought that might be to its disadvantage, but it actually works; the song feels unsettling but still catchy this way.

To buy Dimitris Korgialis's album Greatest Hits + 4 Nea, go here (physical).

Next up: a Mexican duo.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

You're lifting me high, then you're taking me low

Frivolous Eurovision thoughts (real ones tomorrow):
  • My Internet connection was pretty messed up near the beginning/middle.
  • Why on Earth would anyone vote for Armenia? It was so dull!
  • I was very worried for a while about the UK getting nul points; Ireland prevented that, but then Malta took that up another level by giving Scooch 12 points. I completely attribute that to all the love the Schlagerboys showed Malta.
  • Spain were great--much improved from the national final.
  • I was surprised at how much I liked Germany's entry--more on that tomorrow.
  • I've never really found Zac Efron attractive--blame seeing reruns of Summerland, in which he's really young, if you will. However, if he was good-looking (not that Zac is bad) and if he was older, I think he wouldn't look that different than the male Finnish host. Cute.
  • ...however, even he and his female co-host were hard-pressed to make up for the annoyance that was the green room interviewer, that woman in the pink dress.

Makin' faces in the station

American singer Susan Cagle is uber-cute. She also probably has a very good publicist and manager, as she's got the perfect backstory written up, just appeared on Oprah, and has a song advertised at the top of the iTunes store this week. Absolutely none of that is criticism though--I think I may love her, or at least the three songs I've bought so far (I'm in the "buy the whole album from iTunes or get a real copy from Amazon?" stage, as well as having another factor on my mind--more in a moment). They are so girl pop but they are so sweet and so catchy and so pop! She's released one album so far, The Subway Recordings, and it is, as you might guess, recordings of her singing in subway stations. I'm very interested to hear her studio album when it comes out this August and I can't wait for a studio version of the following song (hopefully we get it; I don't see how it couldn't be the first single). Anyhow, I'm in the "loooove" stage at the moment with her music, so I had to share.

Shakespeare--this song is practically a cuteness overload (though not on the twee side of things). It's so catchy and so girl-pop (though you don't have to be a girl to like it) and I adore it! The lyrics flow perfectly and I love the melody, especially in the chorus. In my dream world, amidst the McFlys and Martin Stenmarcks all over the radio, we'd also get songs like this. "Shakespeare" is perfectly crafted but manages to also perfectly capture that rushing feeling of confession, of meeting someone and just blurting out whatever pops into your head (even if the song is ostensibly basically a checklist of what Susan wants to make sure this person is like before moving forward, it feels very spontaneous). Sure, be cynical and brush that off as something that only exists for meet-cutes in movies, but it's so sweet and so adorable and so catchy that I hope everyone gets to feel like this at least once in their life.

To buy Susan Cagle's debut album, The Subway Recordings, go here (physical) or, if you live in the U.S., visit iTunes. iTunes also has a studio version of the also utterly adorable "Manhattan Cowboy" and the song "Dear Oprah."

Next up: a post where I'll try to use the words "cute" and "adorable" less frequently. Probably about the Eurovision final.

Friday, May 11, 2007

I can see that you got other plans for tonight, but I don't really care

Look, it's a non-Eurovision post!

Do you know the Australian show It Takes Two? It's their version of the UK show Just The Two Of Us; there was also a US version called Celebrity Duets--Carlton from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air won it, with Lucy Lawless (Xena) coming in second. Anyhow, the premise is that celebrities not known for singing are teamed up with professional singers and then compete against each other in a singing contest. Guy Sebastian, winner of the first season of Australian Idol, was one of the professional singers in season one and, with his partner, took second.

Well, it's back. And guess what former Australian Idol contestant is in it this time?

Yup, Anthony Callea. He's teamed up with radio presenter Jo Stanley.

As a warning, Samuel HotStuff Files probably won't want to watch the following video, as he'd probably want to throw things across the room; hearing a non-singer singing a song he loves probably isn't up his alley.

Anyhow, their first performance was of the Veronicas' song "4Ever." Keep in mind that the point is to feature the non-singer, so there's not too much of Anthony singing. Still, I know it's heresy to say it, but...based on what you hear here, I'd really love to hear his whole version of this, by himself. Future b-side? It'll never happen, but it'd be nice.

(Only about the first 1:45 is singing.)

Plus, it looks like he's really having fun, which is a good thing.

Why should I fall into despair?

My first ever Eurovision! All right, my thoughts about yesterday's semifinal--these were written down as I watched and not retrospectively edited.

1.) Bulgaria--I like the dancey backing tracks...and drums are a good thing. I just don't think my Eurovision tastes have matured enough for me to appreciate "ethnic wailing" yet. Especially when it seems aimless.

2.) Israel--when did it change from oom-pah to half-hearted mock rock song? Well, right at the chorus clearly, but why? It seems too jokey for me to take seriously and the chorus isn't catchy enough for me to appreciate it as fun lightweight fluff. And now they're rapping.

3.) Cyprus--one of my favorites. Plus, her fiance (the guitar player and the song's composer) sort of reminds me of the Jared Leto it's OK to like (who styled him tonight, though? Bad choice). I wish she was doing more. Still, dance song masquerading as electro-rock--I approve! Very catchy and I love the strobelight effect in the breakdown, but there should be more movement to take advantage of it--maybe slow motion flailing or at least walking around. I'd really like it to make it to the finals, but I'm trying not to get my hopes up.

4.) Belarus--I've been thinking lately that I like this more because I think I should than because I do. No, I think I do like it--I want it to make it to the finals, but not win. Ooo, choreographed group dancing--the first case of the night! Extra points for that. I guess I could stand to see it win. Not my first choice, though. Umm...why is the backing vocalist so loud and shouty near the end?

5.) Iceland--I ignored this song for a while, then listened to it once and thought it was much better than I thought it was going to be. Sort of a rock power ballad, I guess, sung by a long-haired older man who's only about half a forehead prosethic away from being a Klingon. That chorus is actually decently catchy. The "rock n roll can heal your soul" line stands out more than it should, though. This song doesn't deserve as much praise as it got on that Nordic commentary show (he was one of the commenters), but it's not bad.

6.) Georgia--I think I remember reading Bjork comparisons for this, though I've never really listened to Bjork and so can't say. I'm so glad the choreography and costume has changed--we actually have dancers and a reasonable red dress instead of that giant thing (and the dancers are in some sort of samurai-influenced get-ups). Sword play! Those strings are quite lovely. I like this more than I thought I would.

7.) Montenegro--I've never heard this before. Rock. Blonde singer who's used a hair straightener. I'd probably never listen to it on its own, but I think I like it here for some reason, despite it not having a strong melody as I'd like.

[Partway through Montenegro's performance, I lost my Internet connection and had to call the Internet company to get our connection restored; I came back for the end of Edsilia's performance for the Netherlands, meaning I missed Switzerland and Moldova entirely. Thank goodness for YouTube, I suppose.]

11.) Albania--older guy singing a ballad with I guess some operatic influences. Not in English. I often have trouble judging English ballads, as they don't have catchiness to get them over the language hurdle and the lyrics are usually particularly important. Sudden switch to Englsh--not awful, but I'm nowhere near enthusiastic. Really, for some reason I just don't feel like I should say anything mean about it or him, but I won't remember the song tomorrow.

12.) Denmark--another one I liked ahead of time. In a just world, this should do much better than Verka, the contest's other drag queen. I guess it's sort of Las Vegas, right down to that headdress, but maybe schlager or schlager-influenced. Catchy upbeat pop accompanied by lots of pink.

13.) Croatia--I didn't listen to this song ahead of time. Given the opening, I'm not optimistic--loungey jazz-influenced stuff. It gets rockier as we go into the chorus. I do sometimes wonder if I'd be more lenient on songs if they were in English. And now it is in English, partly, but I'm not excited. From the tiny bit I know about Croatian music, I'm not surprised they sent something like this.

14.) Poland--urban-influenced guy-girl song. It's like a bunch of songs mashed together--the guy and the girl each need their own song and why did it go all jazzy there? If we split this apart, I might like some of the component songs...and they'd definitely be better than this?

15.) Serbia--a fan favorite that I've sort of held a grudge against, I think for the horrible reasons that it's a ballad and I fear it beating out some songs I really like. Seeing it performed, that's lessening--the singer looks sweet and earnest--but if it comes down to this versus Serebro, those feelings are going to start building up again. Watch me decide two weeks after the contest that I love it.

16.) Czech Republic--more guitars. All the more reason to hope Serebro win so we can have a bunch of knockoffs of that sort of song in 2008. Or D'Nash. Bring on the boy bands! This singer's voice is too growly for me--I just can't get past the fact that it scares me. I'm just waiting for flames to start shooting up and the lead singer to bite the head off a bat.

17.) Portugal--Latin-sounding danceable music sung by a woman who is accompanied by dancers with giant fans. The chorus doesn't pop enough--I didn't even notice we were entering it the first time. It still wouldn't be the greatest song, but this song might be a lot better with a different singer, one whose voice sounds stronger or louder.

18.) Macedonia--I didn't think I'd listened to this before, but those "Ni-na-ni-na"'s sound familiar. No--now that we're at the chorus, I think I have heard it before, but when and why? Female singer, decently catchy mid-tempo song with a rising sort of chorus--very pretty. She switches to English and is then singing about the uniting power of music.

19.) Norway--another female-sung Latin-influenced pop song and instantly I like it more than Portugal, which forgot to have any part that popped--this song doesn't have that problem. Costume change! And another! I pretty much ignored this entry before the contest, but I like it.

20.) Malta--another fan favorite in some parts. Opening shot: two shirtless guys, one playing violin and the other hitting a gong. This was another song I was thinking I liked more because I felt I should, but the show is allaying those fears. Wind machine, too! Swooshy and dramatic, sung by a woman. I hope she makes the finals. Aww!

21.) Andorra--before the contest, I thought this was a bad punk-pop song, then sort of liked it, then felt ambivalent and didn't think about it. It's all about "how we treat the world right now" and the title translates to "Let's Save The World." I like this! Especially the chorus. It would be better if Busted were singing it, though. I may be jumping around my room to this later.

22.) Hungary--I didn't listen to this ahead of time. I am not a blues fan generally, though--no, let's avoid tangents. A woman singing. 22 songs in, you need something more than a shouting ballad performance that wouldn't look out of place on American Idol to stand out to me.

23.) Estonia--I think the singer is the sister of a guy who was one-half of Estonia's last winning entry. Dramatic, I sort of like it--I'm surprised there wasn't more written about this ahead of time! I hadn't felt compelled to listen to it before the contest. Guy in suspenders with Patrick Swayze-esque hair dancing with her now. It's no "Runaway" with Sahlene, but not much is. If we need another James Bond theme after Koldun's, we could use this.

24.) Belgium--we're back in the '70's. Super-cheesy, but I can't help smiling. I may even love it, even if it's not going to rival any disco classics anytime soon. It's performed by a group, though there's a lead singer, and they're all wearing giant popstar sunglasses. Aww, they're so cute! Yup, I think I love them. They're just so happy!

25.) Slovenia--operatic chorus. I'm still thinking about Belgium's KMG's, who were just so fun and (I thought) charismatic, even if just because it seemed like they were having such fun. Interesting lighting, especially the light in or on her hand. I wish we could cut the operatic influences, though.

26.) Turkey--I feel like I've expressed my thoughts on this entry before. Who styled him?! He's wearing something like a cowboy shirt (including a little bow on the collar) and a long red jacket--trust me, it does not look good. I've held sort of a grudge against this song for a bad reason, too, in this case because more people seem to like this than Greece, and the two are always compared. Still, outside of that comparative context, it's not bad. The chorus could still be a lot better, but I think I like this. I'll probably really like it soon. Choreographed group dancing, too. Ooo--fire!

27.) Austria--I've not listened to this before, but I thought I might like it based on what I knew, and I do. Halfway blowout chorus that should be catchier but isn't bad. Forget the red ribbon behind him--I'm more distracted by the dancers' strange birdlike costumes. Probably not going anywhere, but I really like it and the performance was good. The song could have been better, though. Pyrotechnics!

28.) Latvia--I haven't listened to this yet as I've heard it's opera or popera and not very good. Top hats? Why?! The balance between voices and music doesn't sound right in the chorus, in regards to my preferences--like their mikes were off and they were trying to shout to be heard, with little concern for how their voices mix--not that that's happened, but that's what it reminded me of. I'm not sure why it's so hated, though; at least it has a tune. Of course, if it's starts to win, I'll probably end up practically hating it, too.

After all that, the list I made of my "real" favorites was as followed (in no particular order):

Switzerland (yes, I missed it, but the review clips made me think I would have really liked the performance, even if it's silly that the woman isn't credited)

My "half favorites" were:


In retrospect, that list should probably include Macedonia and, based on the review clip, Moldova and the Netherlands, though I still need to see those and Switzerland.

The countries that made it to the finals were:


I think that means I'm supporting the following songs in some form for the finals, though this could all change once I see the performances and hear some of the songs I haven't heard yet:

Serbia (but I could flip on that at a moment's notice...or start liking it more)
maybe France
maybe Moldova--I've got to look up the performance

The two songs I know I'll be cheering for most are Russia's and Spain's; I know I should probably like Russia's song more, but I know me, and I'll probably ultimately be holding out the most hope for Spain, futile as that might be (I'm expecting it to do horribly). Greece is probably next in my rankings, followed by Sweden and the UK on the next tier of support. I'd really love to see my top three do well and I'd like my tied-for-fourth's to do great, as well, but I am not optimistic at all. Well, maybe Russia can do well if they can sing--I've been avoiding reading about rehearsals. Hopefully I'll be pleasantly surprised!

(Keep in mind that I still haven't seen Moldova, so that could end up as a favorite, too.)

Next up: possibly more Eurovision talk or the solo work of the writer of one of my favorite songs from this year.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Today is another bad day

Oh my gosh...

Europe hates me.

Or at least my music taste.

Tomorrow will be the full run-down, with a typed-up version of my effectively "live blogged" scribbled notes. You all can see how I fell in love and had my heart broken in the space of three hours.

For now, though, let's leave it at this:

After watching the performances, I had about 7 "real" favorites and 8 "half" favorites. 15 out of the 28 in the semifinal.

1 of those real favorites made it through. 3 of the half favorites did.

That means about 27% of my sort-of-favorites made it through.

28% of the songs in the semifinal (10 of them) made it to the final.

If I'd chosen songs at random, odds are they would have done better than my favorites.

That's like scoring below 25% on a multiple choice test when you only have four choices for each question.

Sigh. Expect everything I like to fail miserably on Saturday, then.

I just can't let go

I know I've written about Canadian duo Wave once before, but I really enjoy both of their albums. Full of adorable and light guitar pop, they're very much worth picking up if you ever have the chance; ideally, there would be a greatest hits that combines the two, but they do both have a good number of good songs on them. Wave is made up of singer Paul Gigliotti and guitar player Dave Thomson. Their best-known song is probably "California," which perfectly fits its title and manages to capture a certain feeling--summer, probably the end of summer, most likely after high school graduation, mixed up exhilaration and nostalgia and hope and sadness, trying to convince yourself that things really are going to turn out OK in your search for that big break even while you have this creeping feeling that they might not--effortlessly. Many of their songs are more uptempo than "California" (which is probably mid-tempo) and the following song, even if their albums might not quite have the proper uptempo/downtempo ratio for my taste.

Don't Say Sarah--one of their singles, and I suppose a ballad. It's a super-cute one, though. Paul's voice as well as the music they make somehow seem very teenager (or pre-teen, maybe more accurately) friendly and the cuteness overload of this song might turn off some older listeners, but it really is a very well-done song. The sweet chorus melody is backed up by lovely strings (or electronically created strings) and what I guess is the middle 8 has some playing around with the chorus that I like, simple as it is.

To buy Wave's debut album, Nothing As It Seems, go here (physical) or here (digital; only valid for U.S. residents, though an equivalent site for Canadians exists); to buy their second album, State Of Mind, go here (physical) or here (digital; only valid for U.S. residents, though an equivalent site for Canadians exists) or here (digital; I think non-US residents can purchase it). However, the Amazon link for State Of Mind (the better album) will take you to the album page, but the album isn't in stock, so keep an eye on eBay, too, if you don't want to buy it digitally. Alternatively, if you live in the U.S., you can buy them from iTunes. Despite me having posted four songs the first time around and another song this time, there are still a lot more songs worth hearing--"That's How It Feels," for example--so if you've liked most of those five, buying the albums is worth it. In fact... (and let me know if this horribly messes up formatting or doesn't work for people)

That's a snippet from the video for it (wait for the chorus). I love the song. They should be more famous. And someone needs to upload the whole video.

Next up: maybe discussing Eurovision or a Mexican duo.