Tuesday, July 31, 2007

If only you would listen better

The most exciting news I heard today: Danny (Saucedo, the Swedish Idol contestant turned great dance pop singer) will be releasing "If Only You" as his next single...as a duet with Therese Grankvist (of Drömhus, solo career, and Melodifestivalen entry with the Attic)! The original version of the song, with just Danny singing, is on the album, but I can't wait to hear the new version--it should make for a great duet. It'll be performed for the first time this Saturday and goes to radio next week.

News via Popknark at the Popjustice Forums, but you can read also read it as Danny's official site.

What can I say, I'm not OK

Some songs manage to capture everything that you love about music. Today's song is one of them. Lithuanian singer Artas has tried at least three times to represent Lithuania at Eurovision, but he's never been successful. Before that, he'd released some songs in Lithuanian, but what I know of his work since his national final entries is in English (and is in a different style), though my knowledge is scarce. He's also apparently released an album that I'd buy in a heartbeat if I knew literally anywhere selling it.

Today's song comes from 2005 and is one of his national final entries (it took sixth, which is good considering it was up against nineteen other songs, but it should have done much better). The original version of "All I Know" was adorable, poppy with a little acoustic guitar influence, perhaps a little rough around the edges but lovable in every way, maybe even more so because of that--it feels all the more real because of it and becomes even more endearing. The summer mix, though, polishes it into...well, perfection.

All I Know (Summer Mix)--as I said, the original has attributes of its own that make it very much worth seeking out (the live version is embedded above); it can't fail to leave you feeling uplifted. This version, though, is a shining shimmering pop song that I wouldn't change a single thing about. The hints of acousticness are gone, replaced by a light dance beat. It'd be perfect for the beach, but much more than that as well. Sometimes the best pop songs are the simple ones that leave you smiling--this is one of them.

I'm not actually sure where you can buy any of Artas's work (recommendations?) beyond through compilation albums which I think you can pick up from here (this mix can be found on an album purchasable here). Even though "Wonder Who Loves You" isn't as good as "All I Know" or "Losing You," if anyone else has more than this song, the original version of it, and "Losing You" (which is pretty great as well) by him, I'd love to hear it. The most recent news I know in regards to him is that he was supposed to participate in Lithuania's national final in 2007 and then was late for the jury and then dropped out.

Next up: maybe an Australian singer.

Monday, July 30, 2007

I'm not the kind of girl who settles for excuses

Ooo, weird!

Back in early May, I posted Nylon's new single "Holiday." Then, in early June, I was surprised to notice that Venke Knutson's latest single was a cover of that song.

Well, it turns out that Nylon's version may not have been the original.

Assuming these charts are right, Latvian (I think) singer Jenny May had a song called "There Should Be A Holiday" making its way through music charts back in January of 2006...and yup, it's the same song! For all I know, there could have even been an earlier version. Does anyone know for sure? I think the song was written by Peter Agren and Janne (or Jan) Kask, who are Swedish (well, at least one of them is), proving once again that Swedes are everywhere.

...and, you know, just to bring it full circle with stuff I've just written about, guess what other group (among others) Peter Agren has written for?

Nu Pagadi!

I swear, the world seems so small sometimes.

This post is really random, I know, but, as I've said before, the behind the scenes songwriter-singer and recycling of songs stuff fascinates me.

And I'm livin' my life in the dark of your spell

German group Nu Pagadi, formed through the TV show Popstars, were probably destined to be seen as a shameless attempt to make the franchise "edgy" and get loads of hate heaped upon them as a result (and their sometimes miscalculated outfit choices couldn't have helped either--there's a right way and a wrong way to do that sort of look), but to do that would be to ignore the fact that they released some pretty good songs. Think co-ed Phixx with more rock influence and dressed up to look a little more gothic, maybe. Today's song even has them sort of sounding like a darker Alcazar in the chorus. The group started as four people, two boys and two girls, but they first lost one girl and then broke up entirely, but not before releasing one album in 2005.

Sweetest Poison--before you turn this off at first listen, remember that I'm not a hard rock fan; there may be a lot of guitars in the verses, but this is not Rammstein. That chorus--sung in English, while the verses are in German--is pure pop, with the girls' voices even being surprisingly sweet. There's actually a bit that reminds me of Phixx's "Hold On Me," though if it it's deliberately mimicking anything I imagine it's something older and more famous I don't know. Sparkling and haunting in just the right commercial way, this song makes me with Nu Pagadi had stuck around at least a little while longer so we could see if they ever equaled it.

Sweetest Poison (Electromix)--I wasn't going to upload this at first--would anyone really want a six minute version of a song I'd just posted?--but that throbbing bassline is just too fantastic to pass up. If you like your electro dirty sounding, you should love this. This version also cuts out most of the guitars and makes even the German parts more approachable, music-wise.

To buy Nu Pagadi's album Your Dark Side, go here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: maybe an Icelandic singer, or a Kazakhstani one.

I don't hear nothin' but ladies calling

Look, I'm sorry, I wasn't going to say anything about this, but I can't help it. This is completely brilliant.

I was entirely underwhelmed by "Wall To Wall" the first time I heard it--I can genuinely say I was disappointed because Chris Brown showed signs of becoming one of my favorite "I like the singles though I'll probably never buy an album" artist with his first album. Sure, he may be ripping off Usher and Michael Jackson, and sure, he had to mention the fact that he was sixteen in every single he released (what does he do? update those lines in concert?), but "Run It" was fantastic. I love Usher's "Yeah," so I was more than up for someone looking to inherit the title Usher looked like he wanted, that king of the clubs role. "Gimme That" was pretty great as well.

So anyhow, back to "Wall To Wall," the lead single for his second album. I heard it a while ago and was completely disappointed. Then, I saw the video...and suddenly, I loved it. I mean, not only did I suddenly get the song, the video is just so laughably ridiculous--how can you not love it? The choreography is worthy of special note.

Chris Brown may very well be a genius. Just don't take it all seriously--I really think it's like a giant joke. I mean, in the middle of this gothic-styled club stomper, Chris suddenly switches into lovey-dovey slow jam for the middle 8 and begins ascending heavenwards into a ray of light--it's so random, so ridiculous, so "what on Earth?" that I love it. And that's not even mentioning the plot and over-the-top lyrics! Or the flying!

(By the way, watch the video on TV if you can--it sounds and looks a lot better that way, and that's critical for this video.)

Please don't think that I'm saying Chris is providing some deep social commentary or something academic like that--I just have a weird sense of humor that makes me love the elaborateness and ridiculousness of this whole thing.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

You could have it, all the beauty, the power

Finland's gone crazy for Ari Koivunen this year. From the moment he sang "Piano Man" in the semifinals for Idols, it was pretty obvious who was going to win that season; anyone who can motivate enough people to run out and download Billy Joel's version of "Piano Man" to make it rise to the top of the download charts just through performing his own version on Idol has clearly created a pretty substantial fanbase for himself. With his debut album Fuel For The Fire still sitting atop Finland's album chart, Ari's become inescapable. Music-wise, though, it's runner-up Anna Abreu that I'm more interested in; while some of Ari's hard rock stylings may not be entirely lacking in pop sensibilities, it's young Anna's material that so far strikes me as the better (for my taste) and interesting of the two. There's still definitely a possibility that she'll go down a road I have little interest in because she's playing with some genres that I can be leery of, but so far it's all led to good music.

End Of Love--I'm really sorry, but this is only a low quality version of the song. Finland drives me crazy music purchasing wise; it's one of those countries that not only do I not know anywhere to buy digital downloads from, I don't know any stores selling actual physical Finnish CDs. The way things are going, though, I'm going to have to find somewhere to buy Anna's CD when it comes out, not only for the music but because I need to know who wrote this song (and the others, I expect; I think it was written by a member of Finnish group the Crash, but I'm not sure). Anna is part Portuguese, so there have been implications that she'll be playing to a Latin part of her heritage in music and she's also expressed an interest in R&B music. When I heard "pop fused with R&B and Latin music," I didn't get particularly excited--that's not exactly at the top of my list of desired musical combinations--but apparently I should have. "End Of Love" must be one of the most unusual mainstream pop offerings from an Idol contestant immediately after the contest. Don't let that sort of cabaret-esque jazzy opening throw you--keep listening and you'll still hear unusual playing with rhythm and effects, but all in the service of interesting and great pop music. In fact, it's the sort of song I'm having difficulty describing, but trust me, take a listen. It's rare that anyone, let alone an Idol contestant, releases a song like this, especially one that manages to have such a solid pop appeal that it wins even me over. Though they don't actually sound similar, I still feel the need to say this: I have no patience for Katharine McPhee's "Love Story" (though I loved "Over It"), but throwback-sounding music can be done and done well, as "End Of Love" shows.

Ivory Tower (Clip)--this is only a snippet of a song, but since Anna is rotating songs on and off her MySpace on a weekly basis, I'm posting this here so that people can hear it after August 1. While "End Of Love" may have somewhat of a hidden chorus, one that sneaks up on you, "Ivory Tower"'s chorus is very obvious and very good; I can see myself having quite the hot and heavy love affair with it for a few days. The meaning of lyrics doesn't really matter to me in most cases, but how they sound--the meaning it sounds like they have, how they fit with the rhythm--does, and this song shows exactly what I mean by that (as does "End Of Love"). I cannot wait for her album (due out August 22, I think), even if only to get my hands on the full version of this song.

As I said, I don't know any Finnish music stores; if anyone else does, please let me know! Since I can't link you to those, I'll point you in the direction of Anna Abreu's MySpace instead.

Next up: maybe that Icelandic singer.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

We got that "you hang up," "no you hang up" kinda love

Some mini-news flashes:

Blake Lewis is, according to Chris Richardson, "doing his [Blake's] ’80s pop" for his upcoming album (Chris has apparently done some writing with him). Sounds potentially promising--the '80's pop-inspired part, I mean.

Swedish singer Peter Jöback has a new single out called "Stockholm i natt." I've known about it for a few days, but I think, given that it's a ballad in Swedish, it just doesn't quite connect with me, or maybe it'll take some time to grow (Sonja Aldén's Melodifestivalen entry had to). However, for my money, if you want a song with "i natt" in the title, you're better off with Niclas Wahlgren's "I Natt (Part Two)." Yes, it is more older person/MOR sounding, but I really like it. More upbeat than "Stockholm i natt," too.

Month old news at this point, but Danish singer Natasja sadly passed away in a car accident in Jamaica. I've never been too fond of her music--it's dancehall sort of stuff--but she was very close friends with Karen Mukupa (they were in a duo together in the '90's), whose work I do enjoy and have featured before. Mukupa was in the car with her, but is, as far as I know, fine. My condolences go out to Natasja's family and friends.

Shayne Ward mania is taking me over. I love "If That's OK With You" and, in search of any of his new material (because, let's face it, you can only listen to "No Promises" and "Next To Me" so many times; his debut album didn't exactly give you countless listening options), I've been listening to a live performance of another of his new songs "You Hang Up."

It sounds different than I would have expected given the Digital Spy review of the album sampler (it's surely the mentioned "track 4"), but I really like it. And I love that quoted lyric--I could walk around "singing" it all day. And speaking of Shayne, go read the hilarious banterview about him over at Chart Rigger.

Let's not be so serious

Don't you love that bubbling over feeing that comes when you discover an artist you'd never heard of before but instantly can feel will be a staple of your music listening? Not necessarily your top artist ever, but one you know you're going to enjoy greatly, so much so that you just can't wait to start delving into everything they've done?

And then, then, when you start investigating a little further, looking at writing credits, investigating what else those writers have done, and suddenly pieces of the pop world start to come together? One singer leads to a songwriter who leads to another singer you liked and other songwriters you'll probably like and other singers you've never heard of but instantly like, and it's as if you've set off a chain reaction that lights up a corner of the pop universe, and you realize that, as much fun as you're having discovering things, there are infinite connections out there, infinite new singers and songwriters to discover...but it's sort of like you've managed to form the corner of a puzzle...you can see connections you never envisioned and they simultaneously reshape and enhance your perception of the behind-the-scenes working of the pop industry while also invigorating you to go out and discover more?

That's how I felt when I discovered Latvian singer Ladybird. I'd be tempted to say there's something in the water in Latvia since, though I don't know a bunch of Latvian artists, the few I do know are real gems, but I think a lot of the success of their material comes from them stealing songwriters from other countries--mainly the Scandinavian and Nordic ones. I swear that's not me being Sweden-biased (nor are they all from Sweden, though most are); there's just an incredible amount of talent there.

There were a lot of generalities in those statements, so let's get specific for a moment and take one particular example. One of the great songs on Ladybird's debut album Nightvision is called "Move On Automatic." There are three songwriters listed for this song, but one of them is Lisa Lindebergh. Lisa is Swedish and has released two albums of her own, including some great songs (Catchy Tunes Of Sweden posted "One Week" from her debut album and the preview clips for her second album sounded so great I had to instantly buy it) and some songs that would later be covered by Dutch singer Sita (including "My Kitchen," one of my favorite of Sita's songs, even if it does have a metaphor best not thought about too deeply; it's gorgeous). She's also done writing for Peter Jöback, Shebang, L5, Mandy Moore, and Bec Cartwright.

Now, think about all that for a moment. One of three songwriters for one song on one artist's twelve track album reveals connections among artists you like that you'd never known existed and introduces you to brand new artists for you to investigate, each of those with their own sets of songwriters which you can further investigate, and each writer usually with their own affiliated company and therefore larger stable of writers to discover. And what happens when you move onto investigating the second of those three songwriters for that one song? Or a new song entirely? The pop universe just suddenly seems so huge, but with hidden dark threads connecting it all. How can that not be incredibly exhilarating for any music lover?

I'll probably be raiding songwriters' back catalogues for weeks, so expect that--there will be a lot of connections between the people you see cropping up here.

The excitement of the hunt, new discoveries, making connections--I swear, it's stuff like this I live for. I don't think I can really get across in words how exciting it is.

Move On Automatic--keeping this brief, given how much I just had to say, this is a light cute simple pop song, easily listened to and enjoyed. Will it change your world? Probably not, but you should have a great time listening to it. It's a little "old school pop," if that makes sense; more on the "pure pop" side of things, I guess. It was also released (slightly earlier, I think, making Ladybird's version the cover) under the name "Automatic" by Finnish girl group I'Dees. I think we might also be able to say that, at least in this incarnation, the song was influenced by the same song that influenced Janne's "Remember," although maybe not quite as obviously; probably influenced by the same singer, at least, which has no doubt helped her become a (the?) Latvian pop princess.

Because I really want to share my enthusiasm for, if nothing else, Ladybird, here's another song of hers to listen to through a live (or "live") performance, "Next Level." Given my excitement, I'll probably end up posting it in a few days, but it's here for you to listen to in this way now (wait for the chorus).

Oh, and incidentally, apparently Ladybird did a photoshoot with someone who styled Keira Knightley. I think that's really obvious in this picture, no?

You can buy Ladybird's albums in loads of places; for example, they're for sale at 7Digital and Medion Music as mp3s and in all countries' iTunes stores. You can also pick up her album Nightvision here (physical). Since she's literally a brand new discovery for me, I'll refrain on too many recommendations for right now, except to say that she's probably most famous for "Dangerous To Me," which is worth a listen (it tends to draw a lot of "Can't Get You Out Of My Head"-ripoff comparisons), but I'd recommend "Don't Stop" from 5 Moods (it's very catchy in a very approachable way) and "Next Level" from Nightvision instead.

Next up: maybe that Icelandic singer.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Vil tiden lege mine sår, nå...

I really was going to write about Páll Óskar today, but I was distracted while hopping around looking at compilation album tracks. Several recent (as in, from summer 2007) Swedish compilation albums include a version of Norwegian singer Dina's 2003 hit "Bli hos meg," which really surprised me--I mean, it was a big hit in Norway, but that was four years ago--strange time for a resurrection, you would think. Whatever the reason for the revival, though, that probably makes now a decent time to share another of Dina's songs. As for Dina herself, her real name is Caroline Dina Kongerud and, in addition to her singing career, she's (understandably) spent time as a beauty pageant entrant, though I think she's focusing on music and college/university now. Not exactly uniquely but definitely uncommonly for someone who specializes in dance-trance-pop, she actually sings in her native language, Norwegian, as opposed to English (well, she used to, at least; her new version of "Bli hos meg" exists as "Bli hos mig" and "Say Goodbye").

Hater å elske deg--I think this title translates to "Hating and loving you," or something roughly along those lines. Possibly more important than what the lyrics actually translate to (although that sort of conflicted love would be very fitting with trance, if that is the right translation), is how catchy this song is. A lot of that does come from the trance music backing her up, but Dina, though not exactly bearing the sort of voice that causes you to instantly think "oh, that's her!," does have more personality and strength in her delivery than I think she's given credit for. Let's face it: you're probably not coming to trancey dance music in a foreign language for deep emotional truths, but Dina somehow manages to make what she's singing sound meaningful while still not distracting from the basic catchiness of the music--just meaningful enough to give it that little added punch and keep it in your brain.

I'm not actually sure where you can buy Dina's debut album Dina, unless you have access to iTunes Norway, but hopefully her releasing material in Sweden (even if it flops) will lead to either a new album or her debut album becoming easier to get ahold of. As far as I know, the last truly new material she released was in 2005 (not even a full album then), so we should be due for something new...fingers crossed.

Next up: probably that Icelandic singer.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

It's like thunder, lightning

I am the wrong person to ever try to teach someone about disco. I mean, I'd be so incredibly in over my head. However, there is one song that I am firmly convinced someone should be required to cover at every single Idol "Disco Night": Amii Stewart's version of "Knock On Wood." I absolutely adore this song. What triggered this particular post, though? Last night, on So You Think You Can Dance?, one of the couples danced to Rachel Stevens's version of the song (the show has a somewhat strange tendency for incoporating songs by British singers or singers popular in Britain that most Americans probably wouldn't know, at least not in that version; there was a Westlife and Donna Summer song on earlier and last year someone danced to a Dannii Minogue song, for example...I'm not sure if that has something to do with Nigel Lithgow being in charge, or something?)

Knock On Wood--completely classic. Completely catchy. And completely smile-inducing. This is one of those "weekend" songs, for me, you know? The sort of celebratory songs that just make you realize "yes, the weekend is finally here!" As I said, every time a singing contest TV show has disco night, someone should be required to sing this version of the song. I know, that means it could potentially be slaughtered countless times, but I don't think even that could ever make me sick of it; the music is just too good. Apparently Amii is Sinitta's aunt--the world of pop seems so small sometimes, doesn't it? She appeared at this year's Sanremo Festival (which Italy participates in instead of Eurovision), too.

Criminally, "Knock On Wood" as sung by Amii Stewart isn't available on iTunes in the U.S., but you can buy one of her greatest hits albums here (physical).

Speaking of catchy and upbeat, Mika is singing "Love Today" on So You Think You Can Dance right now. See, Enrique, you're supposed to have fun on this show. Ebullience! I still really enjoy a lot of the songs on Mika's album, so stuff like this is extra exciting.

Next up: an Icelandic singer who's latest single I originally didn't think I'd end up writing about.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I don't wanna waste another day, I don't wanna throw it all away

I keep meaning to buy Charlotte Perrelli's (formerly Charlotte Nilsson) albums Charlotte, Miss Jealousy and Gone Too Long (I Din Röst isn't on that list mainly because I know virtually nothing about it or its music) but I've somehow never gotten around to it; I'm not sure why, as they sound like they're full of great pop. Charlotte is Swedish and the most recent Swedish artist to win Eurovision, back in 1999, when she beat out Selma's "All Out Of Luck" with "Take Me To Your Heaven." Among other things, she did some commentary on this year's Eurovision entrants along with people from the Nordic (Scandivanian?) countries this year. Her latest single, "Som Du" (you can watch her singing it here) had me thinking about the few songs by her I do have but, in typical me fashion, the song is, unlike "Som Du," not a ballad.

Million Miles Away--this uptempo song, perhaps unsurprisingly for something for a Swedish artist, has a great catchy chorus. I always get fuzzy with genres, so I could be totally wrong on this, but I sort of see it as being in between pop and schlager; though I'd put the emphasis on the "pop" part of the equation, I think you can hear influence by schlager or maybe just another sort of music. Whatever you want to call it, it's great--arguably "by the numbers," but when said supposed numbers yield such enjoyable results, that can't possibly be a complaint.

To buy Charlotte Perrelli's 2004 album, Gone Too Long, go here (physical).

Next up: maybe another Swedish singer.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Todo el mundo canta

Another singer, another subpar followup single, and another case of me being taken with it--Spanish singer David Tavaré's followup to last year's "Summerlove" (which is all sorts of great--it sounds exactly like sitting in a cabana on an exotic beach in the middle of summer) came out a month ago and I completely brushed it off at the time; it seemed hookless and dull. As time has passed, though, it's grown on me. It's clearly not as good as "Summerlove" (a cover of the Underdog Project's "Remember"), but, despite all quality control standards I might have, I've found myself liking it. Completely unnecessary though it would be, I'd actually love an album from him as well, because my taste can be trashy like that.

Hot Summer Night (Oh La La La)--if I didn't know better, I'd say this was trying to rip off "Summerlove"--there are moments you're sure it's actually going to turn into it--but it's apparently a cover of 2 Eivissa's "Oh La La La." Why this song is even credited to David, I'm not sure; the female and male backing singers probably do more work than him. Like "Summerlove," the song drips with summer, but it's a chilled nostalgia-tinged summer; even if lyrically this song isn't actually about the past (as "Summerlove" is), it sounds like it is. Dreamy, summery, and not hookless as I originally thought (the hook just mainly comes from the female singer's "oh la la la"s, which you also get in the original version of the song), "Hot Summer Night" still isn't as good as "Summerlove," but it's an acceptable followup, even if we might have hoped for an original song...and, even if it does sound reminiscent of "Summerlove" while simultaneously making you wish for "Summerlove," maybe that just intensifies that underlying musical nostalgia...nah, that's probably giving him too much credit.

(By the way, I've also seen this song credited to "David Tavaré feat. 2 Eivissa.")

You can buy David Tavaré's second single "Hot Summer Night (Oh La La La)" here (physical), but I very much recommend picking up his debut single "Summerlove" (it's hypnotizingly summery), which you can get on last year's Disco Estrella (physical) or here (digital) or from iTunes, regardless of country; for example, if you live in the U.S., go here.

Next up: maybe a Swedish singer.

I bet you don't, don't even know my favorite song


The worst news I've heard all day:

"The third album may be more ballad-oriented."

-Anthony Callea in an interview with the Herald Sun (talking to Cameron Adams)


OK, I will grant that "Rain" is a good song and I even enjoy a couple of the other ballads from his debut album, but he can't do that! Not that I'm surprised, really, but still. Sigh. I do love him in pop-rock mode (I really need to post "Almost" or "Stranded" at some point), but I still harbor some faint hopes of him doing more dance-pop someday...c'mon, Anthony, you like Kylie Minogue's music and you've already teased us with "Into Your Heart," "Wanna Be The One" and your cover of "Angel." Or, failing that, keep making pop-rock and get Jewels & Stone to remix your singles like they did for fellow Australian Stephanie McIntosh's "Mistake" or get a Kate DeAraugo "Faded (Reactor Mix)" equivalent.

I can dream, right?

If you've been all strung out, then you know exactly how I feel

We all know I love guitars, right? I mean, McFly, the Click Five, Jamie Meyer--I love a good pop-rock song and there are even some rock songs I like. That said, if there was ever a case for all songs being made as Europop and guitars being abandoned entirely, I think this is it.

(You don't actually have to watch the video, or even listen to more than a few seconds of the actual music--it's mainly just about hearing the gist of it.)

And you know what makes it worse? That version of "Dragostea din tei" (called "Sugar Tunes Numa Numa") was actually created by Dan Bălan, ex-O-Zone member and the guy who composed the original. If, for some reason, you should want to purchase it, it's available on iTunes.

While I'm embedding videos, a while ago the video for Australian singer Eran James's single "Touched By Love" debuted, but I couldn't post it as it wasn't actually on YouTube. Now it is. I really like this soul-influenced pop song--one of those feel-good sort of songs. It's been available on Australian iTunes for a while now, but I think technically it's not out yet (his official site says August 10 for this single and August 25 for the album, Ten Songs About Love). Anyhow, Eran James, "Touched By Love"--I don't even usually fall for songs like this, but I've been enjoying this one (albeit via MySpace) for months now. I think if I heard it on the radio often, that would fade away pretty quickly and it'll win no cool points, but sometimes songs you shouldn't or wouldn't usually like come along and catch your attention.

Monday, July 23, 2007

This word I'm dropping

I love Ben Adams's music. There used to be pretty frequent updates on what he was doing included as asides on this blog, but eventually there are only so many times you can say "Ben Adams has put up some new photographs of himself. When will we ever get to hear his album? At least he rotates songs on his MySpace fairly frequently." Well, with Ben having just engaged in a web chat sort of thing, here are a few things going on related to Ben Adams (some fairly old):
  • Ben's holding auditions for a girl band. No other real details that I know of, but it's in progress, and the final result will probably be "quirky."
  • The album that we've been waiting for is completed (probably no surprise there), but, given that he's no longer with BMG, he's working on a new one instead. However, in regards to that earlier album, he's "looking at ways to put it out maybe over the internet" (YES, PLEASE DO THIS...unless he ends up finding some way to put some old songs on the new album and wants to do that instead).
  • In response to if it's his voice in the background of Sergey Lazarev's "Fake" (which Mobius pointed out a while ago): "i think most of his album is my voice unfortunately, but i wrote most of it and it stayed number one in russia for quite some time last year, so it's not all bad." (Incidentally, both Ben and another former a1 member, Mark Read, do some backing vocals on Sergey's latest album.)
  • He's owner of his own studio now.
  • ...and yes, he does have some new photos up.

Give me a memory to carry for life

Guess what! I've finally got myself a Last.fm account (well, I did a few days ago, but it was sort of behind the scenes; I waited a few days so that the charts would be vaguely accurate before "going public")...how much statistical value it'll have is questionable, given that I tend to listen to whatever I'm planning to write about (and while I'm writing about it) a lot, but I just couldn't resist. Can MySpace be far behind?

Anyhow, if you've got an account, I'd love to hear from you/be friended!

(Find me here)

How will you do without, now that you sold me out

From the first mention at Popjustice, I was hooked on Finnish singer Sofia Zida's "Disco Mamazida;" with a bass line like that, it was hard not to play it repeatedly, and I pretty much instantly found myself compelled to buy the album. There are few songs to rival "Disco Mamazida," but there's one I think actually surpasses it; it might not have that addictive bassline, but somehow, it's the one I find myself returning to more. I can't help feeling that Sofia seems a little out of place in Finland's music scene, which has such a fondness for hard rock, but then again, there's a definite dance streak there as well: Antti Tuisku's New York, for example, some imported Swedish artists (Velvet and Danny aren't doing too poorly there right now), and then more typical "dance" (often "hardcore" dance) music--when you look at those successes, it's almost surprising she's not more successful there! Maybe she's just a little too pop-dance, not quite dance enough? Poor singles choices after "Disco Mamazida"? Anyhow, I'm not posting "Disco Mamazida" since I'm guessing a good number of people have heard it (if not, definitely go listen to it on her MySpace) and it's easily purchasable from 7Digital (though the whole album is pretty easily purchased from elsewhere, too).

Money (Greedy Honey)--though that bassline on "Disco Mamazida" is ridiculously hooky, I think maybe the reason I prefer this song (by a smidge) is the vocal melody. Not that it's something crazy revolutionary, but it just sounds like there was more effort put into it. The song is very poppy, very danceable, and very catchy, a tell-off to the the money-obsessed boy she's leaving behind.

To buy Sofia Zida's album Disco Mamazida, go here (digital). It's also available in all iTunes stores except the U.S.. Does anyone have any recommendations for stores to buy actual Finnish CDs from?

Next up: maybe a Swedish singer.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

I'm stressin' out, stressin' out

Relatively quick post for now: Triple 8 were a British boy band from around 2003. The group started out with five members and released two singles, "Knockout" and "Give Me A Reason." The album even included a song written by Abs out of 5ive and, though it definitely reminds me of his music, it fits in well with the other songs, if that gives you an indication of what to expect. Sadly, the album is one of a bunch (why do so many acts insist on covering this song?) to include the song "To Die For." A few years later, with some members lost and a new one brought on, the group released another single, "Good 2 Go," but they've since split up.

Knockout--unlike many boy bands, Triple 8 weren't afraid of big chunky guitar riffs, and this song definitely has them. Of course, they also seemed to be under the impression that they were somehow "street" (that should really be read as "we make music that's a little edgier than your typical boy band fare), but that shouldn't really be held against them, especially when it leads to songs with as much punch as "Knockout."

To buy Triple 8's single "Knockout," go here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: see you all on Monday, probably with a Swedish or Finnish singer.

Friday, July 20, 2007

It's heaven compared to what I had

The more time that passes, the more I think I underrated Nick Lachey as a potential popstar. I really liked "What's Left Of Me" (and the Jack D Elliot mix of it) and "I Can't Hate You Anymore," but my favorite song by him (at least from this second album era) has probably always been the bonus track "Did I Ever Tell You." A while ago, I heard another bonus track, and it really made me stop and think--not that this track alone shaped my whole opinion of him, but it made me reevaluate him just because it brought further up the number of tracks by him that I really like. I'm really interested to hear new material from him eventually. He does have a way with a ballad, but I'm crossing my fingers any future album won't be quite as ballad heavy. The U.S. could really use a good solo male popstar, too, and, even though I'm not sure if he'll ever find legs beyond "What's Left Of Me," I hope he does.

Alone--this wouldn't have made a good single, but I do really like it. It hints at the possibility of Nick pursuing some music beyond the world of straight-up pop power ballads. Of course, it still deals with him being torn apart because of a relationship and it's still ballad-ish, even if mid-tempo, as so many of his songs do and are. A little guitar-y, it's not pop-rock, though he could pursue that route if he wanted to--his voice has a tone that would probably work for that style--but, much as I love pop-rock, I sort of hope he doesn't. Guitars, as used here, would be fine, but there are already a plethora of guitar-y pop artists around; I'd sort of like to have another more "pop" artist. I don't necessarily mean what people associate "pure pop" with--I'm not saying I want him to release Steps-esque music--but to have an artist who really is just pop (maybe a little one man boy band)? I think there's a vacancy there, especially in the U.S.; I'm not sure if the market exists, but I'd like to have an artist who isn't afraid to find out, and I'm willing to accept that Nick Lachey may never be making music like Darin's "Step Up," may always find his voice lends itself most towards songs with a little bit of ballad in their cores, in order to get that.

"Alone" is a bonus track on the UK version of Nick Lachey's album What's Left Of Me; you can buy the UK edition here (physical) or here (digital).

(P.S. This isn't necessarily the best picture of Nick Lachey, but it just so perfectly summed up the image he was going for--almost to the point of causing me to laugh--that I had to use it. I mean, really...talk about blatant.)

(P.P.S. There is something I very deliberately avoided mentioning here.)

Next up: I'm leaving for the weekend, but I think I can sneak in a post tomorrow morning and I should probably be back on Monday; there probably won't be any post on Saturday, though. As for singers...maybe an Australian one?

Just watch out, here I go

So, who'll be performing with Alcazar at G-A-Y and potentially continuing on with them if it all goes well? Lina Hedlund! I don't know that much about her, only that she competed in Melodifestivalen 2002 (with her sister, who is married to Martin Stenmarck; they made it to the finals and took ninth) and Melodifestivalen 2003 (by herself; she made it to the second chance round, where she took fourth). Here's her Melodifestivalen 2003 performance with the song "Nothing Can Stop Me."

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I'm right behind your shoulder, wishing I was bolder

I was thrilled to see that the Lo-Fi-Fnk remix of Mika's "Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)," originally posted over at Arjan Writes, looks like it is going to be commercially available--7Digital will be selling it as of July 23. In sort of celebration, I thought I'd post another remix involving them. Yes, it's (comparatively) old, but it still sounds just as great as the day I first heard it. Sweden seems to have an abundance of male duos doing electronic pop music, but that's not something I'm complaining about at all, since so many of them do it so well. Lo-Fi-Fnk, who released their debut full-length album last year, are one of those duos. Their work, whether for themselves or as remixers, is often worth taking a listen to; they manage to combine electronica and pop in a way that brings a sense of fun to whatever they're doing.

Wake Up (Ola Salo & Jens Anderson Remix)--I was talking about cute electronic beats yesterday, and this song has them aplenty; synthesizers rarely sound as adorable as they do here. "Wake Up" didn't necessarily need a remix, but I'm glad it got this one, because it just makes it all the catchier, something I didn't think was possible. With co-remixing duties performed by the lead singer of the Ark, this version of the song is less bleepy than the original; if you ever wished it had a little more of a flowing melody, this remix will fulfill your desire. Upbeat, cute, catchy--what more could you want in a song?

You can buy the EP from which this remix comes here (digital) or the album Boylife here (physical) or here (digital). The album is also available on iTunes in all countries.

Also on the Swedish front, we can expect a new September album this September, according to her official site.

Enrique Iglesias just got done performing on So You Think You Can Dance. I was literally cheering the first time they announced he was going to sing, but when they said he was doing "Somebody's Me," that instantly switched to boos. I mean, you've got some fantastic songs on the album, but I would not say "Somebody's Me" is one of the best ones by any stretch. Plus, you're singing a ballad on a dance show. And not even a dynamic one! Sheesh.

Next up: maybe the other indie Swedish male electro-pop duo I've been meaning to write about for forever. Or maybe not.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I can see you really got a crush on me

I'm sick of Gwen Stefani's "The Sweet Escape"--don't get me wrong: it's not a bad song, but it's been overplayed so much for so long that I automatically switch away from it any time it comes on the radio or TV. Blame "Sweet Escape" fatigue for me running into the arms of the Audio Club's "Sumthin' Serious" if you will, but it's genuinely a good song. It sometimes feels like this band and this song have been around forever, but this American duo--one woman singer and one male rapper--have still not got a real hit out of it, and might never do so.

Sumthin' Serious--sure, there's rapping, but it's basically comedy rapping. And sure, the chorus has the female singer doing her best to rip off Gwen Stefani, especially in the post-chorus (is there a proper term for that?), where she starts spelling--but this is such a cute song! Poppy electronic beats, like if bubblegum pop incorporated a little rap and a little electro, make up most of the music, and I'm always up for cute synthesizers. Even if it is derivative, it still manages to sound fresh (though possibly that's more a reflection of the template it comes from not being exhausted yet and still sounding different from most of what we hear on the radio). Some people will find it annoying. I think it's adorable (though I could do with less of the rapping and they could've thought of a better way to end the song; it fades out at a point where it feels like it should keep going).

To buy the Audio Club's debut single "Sumthin' Serious," go here (physical) or here (digital). It's also available in iTunes stores around the world.

Next up: maybe an Australian singer.

These are the hands we're given


Apparently the woman who will be joining Andreas and Tess for their performance as Alcazar at G-A-Y is an established Swedish artist. I wonder who it could be...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sólo con verte devuelves a la vida lo que era muerte

Stop everything.

This news is three weeks old, but I only just heard it.

Do you know what we can expect around October?

A new D'Nash album!

Capaz de todo is still the best straight up boy band album I've heard in ages and one of the most fun albums I own to listen to, so suffice to say I'm very excited, even if trying to keep down my expectations.

(News from here, via PubliSpain.)

Edit: by the way, Mikel recently committed the greatest crime against popstar hair since Anthony Callea went practically bald--I won't blind you with pictures, but suffice to say that the guy who before really couldn't take a bad picture now looks like he's straight out of a bad '90's boy band. Not that he's always had the greatest haircuts before, but really, this has to be the worst it's ever been.

Facile per te decidere rubarmi l'anima e poi fuggire

Oh, no...

I've been in major love with Paolo Meneguzzi's music ever since Pinkie wrote about him a while ago. Pinkie singled out the track "Ti Amo Ti Odio" in particular, and he was so right to do so--it's a fantastic pop song, catchy and sad at the same time...and, well, really, it has everything I could want in a song. It seems Paolo or his record company must agree with Pinkie, because it's the latest single from Paolo's album Musica.


it's got a horrible music video to go with it. I'll link to it--you can watch it here--but it's definitely not the way to be introduced to the song. Since I'm convinced everyone should hear it, though, here's one of those random fan-made videos with the song as audio.

(It's not actually five minutes long--there's just a lot of silence at the end of the video.)

Now, go download the song from A Kind Of Love In.

And, to make up for the lack of good video clip, here's the video for one of Paolo's earlier hits, "Vero Falso."

While we're discussing random news, Mexican pop group Belanova have the lead single for their new album, Fantasía Pop, out; it's called "Baila mi corazón." It's not quite as amazing as "Niño," but it's not bad, and they're a group worth paying attention to; if they were singing in English, they'd probably have much of the pop blogging world praising them. I haven't seen an official video for it yet, but you can listen to the audio via this fan photo montage.

Don't look back

I'm worried--first I'm underwhelmed by the latest September single and now the latest Da Buzz single has me feeling similarly underwhelmed. It's not that "Can't Get Over" or "Baby Listen To Me" are bad songs, but I know both the acts in question are capable of pop brilliance. Of course, the first time I heard "Take All My Love," Da Buzz's latest single in Sweden ("Baby Listen To Me" hasn't been released in Sweden yet and I'm not sure if it's going to be--fingers crossed they've got a stronger song instead--it's out in countries like Russia, Bulgaria, and Lithuania) I was underwhelmed as well, and now I think my initial impressions couldn't have been more wrong, so I'm definitely still excited about the album (the same is true for September's next album), which Da Buzz said was due out this summer. Speaking of September and Da Buzz, "Cry For You" is doing well on U.S. dance charts and it's hoped that will lead to some inroads on pop radio and "Take All My Love" is getting a U.S. release (as some previous Da Buzz singles have in the past). I don't truly expect anything to happen outside the dance charts, but I would be thrilled if September and Da Buzz could have some sort of mainstream success here!

So, if I'm disappointed, why am I sharing it? Even a subpar Da Buzz single makes for a good fun pop song. "Baby Listen To Me" would make a more than respectable album track and even an enjoyable listen on the radio; it just doesn't compare to, say, "Without Breaking," "Dangerous," or "Let Me Love You."

Baby, Listen To Me--I think my main problem is that this song isn't as hard-hitting as I would like. It's not as if I think Da Buzz are only good in dance stormer mode (I love "Stop! Look! Listen!"), but this song is in the same vein as their dance tracks without actually being as strong as them. That said, it's already grown on me a good deal in the time I've been listening to it, so I'm hoping it will continue to do so; don't be surprised if I'm saying I love it soon. As is true for most Da Buzz songs, it's catchy, poppy, and danceable. At first, the "nah nah nah nah nah hey"s seemed sort of like a cop-out, a weakness--"we don't know what else to say, so let's just throw in some of these"--but I like them now. In fact, as I listen to the song while typing this up, I keep wanting to take back any criticism I might have of it...but then thoughts of the power of the aforementioned tracks slip back into my mind. I guess maybe the best way to say it is this: in the world of pop, it's a good song, but it's not going to be challenging for the title of Da Buzz's best single anytime soon.

I'm not sure where you can buy "Baby Listen To Me" (which I've seen elsewhere referred to as just "Listen To Me"), but you can buy Da Buzz's most recent single in Sweden, "Take All My Love," here (physical) or here (digital). Their albums are available in iTunes stores around the world and if you don't know any of their previous work, I definitely recommend picking up some other songs (albums, really) by them.

Next up: an American duo.

Now there's no reply, only hi, goodbye

I've been meaning to say something for days or weeks now, but let's take a moment to mourn the passing of two excellent blogs, HotStuff Files and Slippy Disco Days. Both were well-written, brought a special perspective to the world of pop, and will definitely be missed.

Thanks to the authors all the time you put into them!

Monday, July 16, 2007

I don't have a heart for you right now

We all like Jessica Folcker, yes? And we all like catchy upbeat dance-pop remixes, yes?

Then run over to Tip Top Pop this moment and grab the Jonathan Peters mix of Jessica Folcker's "To Be Able To Love." It is 8 minutes long, but it's worth it! The opening is sort of dark, edgy, beat heavy, and good, but wait 'til you get to that chorus...

(Wikipedia says the song in this remixed version became a club hit in the U.S., and it would definitely deserve to have done so, so a lot of people probably already know this version, but it's new to me.)

We used to be so high above

Melody Club are #1 Hits From Another Planet favorites, so complete credit and loads of thanks goes to Nick for introducing me to them. They are, like so many brilliant artists, Swedish, but before you turn off, thinking "oh no, not more schlager or disco-y dance-pop," they don't really sound like anyone else out there. Think more like...the best of the '80's, maybe--synth-pop. I've not picked up their third album yet, though from all accounts it's great, and I don't know how it couldn't be, given the quality of their first two albums, Music Machine and Face The Music. They've released a good number of singles since the 2002 release of Music Machine, with songs like "Electric" and "Baby (Stand Up)" garnering a good deal of deserved praise, but for some reason, I've always had a soft spot from one of the non-singles from their debut album.

Stranded Love--maybe not quite as "sophisticated" as some of their other work, but something draws me to it--maybe its exuberance? It's one of those songs that just makes me want to jump up and down in my room, shouting along with the chorus, each time it comes on. Maybe it was just the most instant? It's the preview for this song that convinced me to buy the album, and I'm hoping that might turn out to be true for other people. Smart and stylish but fun, punchy, full of synths, and incredibly catchy, it's also been road-tested and -approved, so even if you don't feel comfortable singing along in front of everyone in the house, you can still sneak in your "shower singing" in the car...could be a little dangerous if you start getting the urge to dance, air guitar, or air drum, though!

To buy Melody Club's first album, Music Machine, go here (physical) or here (digital). It's also available on iTunes in all countries. Their albums are just generally excellent in every way, so I definitely strongly recommend picking them up--as I said, the song I posted today wasn't even a single, and I can't even say that's a crime, because their albums are packed full of potential singles. I'll never understand why they aren't huge everywhere.

Next up: maybe a Czech singer.

There's something 'bout you that makes me want to step up

Though I feel like I've been commenting on it all over the Internet, I don't think I've actually mentioned Shayne Ward's upcoming new album here on this blog. I think Shayne has the potential to be a fantastic popstar (by which I mainly mean do fantastic music). Given the buzz leading up to it, I was expecting the lead single for his new album to be some danceable pop-club style track, maybe something like Darin's "Step Up," so I was really surprised when I first heard it--"If That's OK With You" is reggae-pop-lite, but, after not being so sure about it at first (I had really high hopes), I've come to really enjoy it...it's great! Plus, it looks like we'll still get that club-style song; an early review of some of the album tracks mentions what must be the song everyone thought would be the lead single, "You Make Me Wish," and it sounds very promising--it's described as an "electro-R&B club banger....Over marching band drum rolls and propulsive synth washes, Shayne coos 'you make me wish I didn’t have a girlfriend.'" Fingers crossed it's not a let down.

Anyway, with the video for "If That's OK With You" having just debuted, now's a good a time as any to take a listen to the song. It comes out August 19, with the album expected in October.

I know it's not what he's actually saying, but I always hear "I'm gonna wanna hold you in my arms, make you cry."

Sunday, July 15, 2007

I lose my mind in a fantasy

Fact: Sergey Lazarev's "Fake" was one of the best songs of last year. Completely ridiculous in every way, but brilliant. Even if he'd never done anything else I liked (which isn't the case), the former member of Russian duo Smash!! would have had my attention for his second solo album, TV Show. Though there's nothing on the album that I think equals "Fake," it does have its share of good songs--though fans of the original may not like it, I love his cover of "Shattered Dreams" (speaking of which, did I hear once that boy band Ultra covered it? Is that true?). "He Said She Said" is not a cover of the Ashley Tisdale song, but it's good as well, though sometimes I think the chorus lets down the rest of the song a little bit (most of the time not, though), "Girlfriend" (which Ben Adams co-wrote) is good, "TV or Radio" should be annoying but is actually sort of addictively catchy, and the more ballad-like "Everytime" is good as well. I think ultimately my favorite song may end up being the cover of "Shattered Dreams," but since that's been around for a while, here's another great song from the album.

Do Me Right-- shamelessly cheesy pop, a little bit disco-tastic, and propelled largely on strings and a certain repeated electronic beat, this is a great example of the sort of song that you absolutely have to look outside of the U.S. to find being released...sadly. "Do Me Right" is very danceable, very electronic but not electro at all, and, possibly most importantly, catchy. Sergey's singing is high-pitched, but that's a good thing--it fits perfectly with the gloss of the song. Speaking of his voice, one of the other best aspects of the song is the remix-like playing with his voice that is used to create some backing vocals at various points. It wouldn't surprise me at all if people actually from Russia disavowed this song, but I really like it. Don't think--just listen to the song and have fun.

I still don't know any good Internet stores from which to buy Russian music (I'd love recommendations!), so I rely on eBay for my Russian music; you can buy Sergey Lazarev's album TV show from there. It's also available from Amazon's Marketplace.

Next up: maybe a Swedish singer.

Edited in because it never gets old: the video for "Fake."

Despite (because of?) all the water pouring down over scantily clad women, it's sort of like the video equivalent of the cover of Danny's Heart.Beats, no?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Is there anyone too blind to open their eyes?

A Busted update (a.k.a. news I've been meaning to mention for a while that happens to all relate to the former members of one of the greatest music groups ever):

Matt Willis has been dropped/he and his label "both felt we had reached a point where we could no longer move forwards." Given that Matt released some of the best music of last year ("Up All Night") and this year (his cover of "Crash," which I've now upgraded to the definitive version), I'm pretty sad about this :(

A message on their MySpace page made it seem like Son of Dork, James Bourne's current band, were breaking up. Quote from one member, Dave:

"Im writing this blog to inform y'all that Son Of Dork are no more."

In response, James, who claims the group is still together but now without Dave, set up a new MySpace (ooo, you know it's serious!) and left the message that "SOD have NOT split up, Dave had left the band as off yesterday."

Back over on the original Son Of Dork MySpace, Dave left a message that said, among other things, the following:

Ive always told you guys the truth and have continuously left blogs explaining the position the band are in, and must say I find it quite funny that all of a sudden I'm the bad guy for telling the truth. I left a post saying the band had split because of the following reasons, but below is all im saying and will say on the matter, so make of it what you will.

If Son Of Dork are still going then good luck to them, i honestly wish them all the best. Last time i checked though, we/they havent practiced for nearly 5 months, havent spoken to each other properly in about the same time and have absolutely nothing scheduled as far as future plans go. I dont know about you other musicians out there, but i wouldnt consider that a band.

Also, ask yourself the following things:

1. Who cancelled the tour you were promised behind their bands' back?

2. Who cancelled the headlining show at the Xuberance festival behind their bands' back?

3. Who promised you a second album but was so busy spending time in other countries that nothing ever came of it?

Everyones entitled to their opinion, and i don't blame you guys for taking your angers and frustrations out on me, hell i've been just as angry and frustrated. But if you wish to follow your false hero blindly then thats your journey, i just hope it takes you somewhere better than it did me. I'm sorry for sounding personal and a little bitter but i just wished to clear that up the best i could.

Whatever's going on, now is a good a time as any to mention that, in addition to having two great singles and a pretty decent album, Son of Dork's song for the movie Alien Autopsy, "We're Not Alone" (from last year) is absolutely fantastic--everyone should go listen to it right now, because pop with strong guitars doesn't get much better than it (random fan video with the song's audio here).

So, on to Charlie: what's the only member of Busted doing music I have no interest in doing at the moment, while the other two with music I actually like crash and burn? Well, releasing his band Fightstar's album in the U.S., of course. Though I don't expect them to do anything in the mainstream over here, I even heard one of their songs on the radio :-/

(P.S. Apologies for any similarities between this post and Chart Rigger's style--I couldn't think of another way to get across the back-and-forth nature of the Son of Dork thing without quotations.)

Keep my kisses off your lipstick, stop me swallowing your charms

Everyone has old songs and albums they'd love to have leak. Whether it's the Girls@Play demos, an unreleased Deuce single, or some PWL songs, there are countless songs locked up in storage that fans, knowing they will never be released, are dying to get their hands on in any form. I have a bit of a list myself: anything Ben Adams has done, the Catch (the Danish group) album, the Tony Lee Scott album, any second album songs Eric Dill recorded with the Click Five before leaving--but I think the locked-away-in-storage album I'd most like to hear is Ainslie Henderson's original debut album. The British Fame Academy contestant originally only released one single, but what a single it was. I get the impression that his behavior on the show was...divisive, shall we say? Not having watched it, though, my first introduction to him was his top 5 (in 2003) single "Keep Me A Secret," a song which I fell instantly in love with. The album it was supposed to accompany, though, was shelved when Ainslie was dropped; I think I remember reading somewhere that it was too racy for them or something, though neither the single nor "Coming Up For Air," a song revealed on his MySpace and said to be from that album (he still has the rights to the songs from it), fits that description. Ainslie has gone on to release an album, one I'm a little curious about but have not purchased; it's made up of new material and, I think, less poppy, maybe more indie, more "singer-songwriter," though to say that gives a false impression of "Keep Me A Secret": it was co-written (along with two other Fame Academy contestants) by Ainslie and has a certain feel to it that fits with that while still being a perfect pop song.

Keep Me A Secret--why do I love this song so much? I don't think I can say. From the very first second, the music is perfect, written and produced flawlessly--the right musical squiggle here, the right squiggle there. There's just an undefinable magic around the song (something I'd also say when attempting to get across my love of Darius's best songs). It shows a sophistication in music creation to create a song so perfect and that manages to be completely poppy while not at all being what you'd probably first think of when you hear "poppy," but it's not a pretentious sort of sophistication at all--just the sort that leads to brilliant songs. It's almost like a new subgenre of pop, but one that's so unassuming and never given the chance to develop fully that I don't think I can truly describe its characteristics. For lack of a better phrase, "Keep Me A Secret" shows exactly what "singer-songwriter pop" should sound like by not sounding at all what we've come to associate the term "singer-songwriter" with. Compare this to, say, any John Mayer single--"Keep Me A Secret" just feels so much more...alive.

To buy Ainslie Henderson's debut single "Keep Me A Secret" (it has two b-sides, including the great "Take Out Time"), go here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: maybe a Swedish singer.

Friday, July 13, 2007

I loved you from the very start, even though I knew you would break my heart

Further from the "no way! Me actually writing about songs that are released in the U.S.?!" files comes Brick & Lace. This Jamaican duo (made up of two sisters) was featured on iTunes a while ago with a free download of their song "Never Never," but that song didn't do much for me. It was also a lot more R&B than the song I'm posting today. Given Akon's popularity over the past year, the group is probably his success will rub off on acts signed to his record label, as they're signed to it and have worked with him, and I hope they at least get to one-minor-hit status; the following song would be a great one to hear coming out of radios this summer.

Love Is Wicked--infinitely better than "Never Never" or really anything else I've heard by them, though, to be fair, I haven't heard much else. Faint whistling effects and handclaps, reggae or maybe dancehall influence (though don't expect a dance song like Kat DeLuna's "Whine Up" or even something as in-your-face as "Pon De Replay"), a sweet voice and a deeper sing-talking voice--they all add up to a somewhat hypnotizing track. It's not the sort of song that's sounds like it's out to change the world, but it's deceptively clever--clever in its simplicity. It's actually surprisingly sweet, in a way, even if sad as well. And, though it's got it's R&B influences and that's probably the radio it'll be aimed at, it's very pop as well.

Brick & Lace's debut album isn't out yet, but you can buy their single "Love Is Wicked" from iTunes in some countries; for example, if you live in the U.S., go here.

Next up: maybe a British singer.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I try my hardest to break free

I was just looking for an opportunity to write about American music--I wanted to say that, though I don't often write about it, since it seems like people are already familiar with the songs I like (did anyone really want to hear me praise Beyonce's "Irreplaceable"? I wouldn't have anything original to say), there are actually songs I like in the U.S. charts and being released by U.S. artists besides the Click Five--Timbaland's "The Way I Are," for example, and Rooney's "When Did Your Heart Go Missing" (I'm a little tempted to buy the Rooney album; in the past, the descriptions I've read of them have sounded perfect for me, but they've always been a "better in theory than reality" band for me; their new single, though, is pretty good)...so, when I stumbled across Linda Kiraly and fell in love with her song "Can't Let Go," I was thrilled: "perfect! An American singer with a song I like! And no reservations about her!" A few minutes later, though, I discovered that, though she's currently U.S. based, she's Hungarian and has already had a recording career in Hungary (spelled properly, her name is Linda Király, or Király Linda; I've seen it both ways). Of course--she's from Europe. Maybe next time, U.S., OK?

Can't Let Go--don't be fooled by that opening, which is very ballad-sounding; sure, this is no scorching uptempo dance track, but it's got some tempo switch ups going on--the chorus hits and it's one of those half-blow out types--not punchy enough to truly be called hard hitting, but stronger than you'd expect given the song's opening. I love the production--it completely makes the song. The piano, the percussion, the multi-tracked vocals, the strings, the handclaps (and that build in the middle eight!)--without the countless little effects, this song wouldn't be nearly as powerful (I don't know who produced the song, but the writers are listed as Anesha Birchett, LaShawn Daniels, and Rodney Jerkins, so I'd guess it's Darkchild production)...but everything falls in place perfectly, adding up to a beautiful catchy mid-tempo song.

To buy Linda Kiraly's debut U.S. single "Can't Let Go," visit iTunes, but it's only available in some countries; for example, if you live in the U.S., go here. Incidentally, the other songs on her MySpace don't give me much hope for the album itself (unless they're from her previous album), but I love this single. The album it's from will be out this fall.

Since this is a new single, it'll only be uploaded for a little while.

Next up: maybe I'll finally get around to that Swedish duo I've been meaning to write about for months.

(I know I've said it already, but can we just take another moment to appreciate the production on "Can't Let Go"? It's divine.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

So now you know-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh


I love the Click Five. Love love love them. Don't let my reservations about their latest album fool you: I have all the good will in the world for them, love them, love their music--hearing "Jenny" on the radio for the first (and so far only) time caused me to completely flip out and increased my enjoyment of the song exponentially.

I saw the music video for "Jenny" for the first time on TV today (I've seen it before via YouTube) and got incredibly excited all over again, though I expect it to do absolutely nothing.

As I mentioned over at The Zapping, it's nice to see they've reconciled themselves to having to rely on the Asian market. Sigh. As long as they release their music somewhere.

Anyhow, I've maintained for a while now that the marketing behind this album has completely baffled me--maybe when you have lower expectations, you go about marketing differently, but I'm used to the "release a single that gets some buzz behind it before releasing the album" model, so to release an album when the song was being played on virtually no radio stations and especially when the music video wasn't even out yet seemed really strange. Poor planning.

And, well? Excited as I was to see the video on TV, I couldn't help but notice as it faded off the screen what the album it came from was listed as:

"Modern Rhymes and Pastimes"

Now, I'll freely admit that I've gotten the name wrong before--I often call it Modern Times and Pastimes (it's actually Modern Minds and Pastimes), but I'm not promoting them on national television.


T-t-t-trust me

Ultra Mega Technobandið Stefán, or UMTbS, are crazy. Hyperactive. Their music often reminds me of old school video game sound effects--and I'm pretty sure that's deliberate, as they've mentioned "levels" in their songs and have incorporated processed voices that sound like they've come straight out of those old arcade style games sitting in the restaurant near you that hasn't been willing to shell out for the latest pinball machine. But let's back up for a second. UMTbS are from Iceland, where apparently they've been pretty divisive (though, not being there, I couldn't really fill in many details about it). I know I said they're crazy, but their lead singer, Sigurður Ásgeir Olsen, is especially and completely bonkers. The band tends to dress up in bizarre costumes and they have a predilection for yelpy vocals. I don't know that I can every truly fall head-over-heels, oh-my-gosh-I-worship-them in love with them--the vocal part of their music is just too left-field for me--but I can quite easily imagine myself dancing away to their music at a party. And when the beats are as bright, as catchy as they are in "Story Of A Star," it's hard not to be taken with them.

Story Of A Star

Contrary to what you might think from the first minute, it's not an all instrumental song, but that instrumental opening is one of the most exciting bits of music I've heard this year; for that first minute alone, the song would be worth sharing.

To buy Ultra Mega Technobandið Stefán's single "Story Of A Star," go here (digital). You can visit their MySpace to hear more songs by them.

By the way, I used the above picture partly because it does a good job of conveying the lead singer, but mainly because I wanted to attempt to at least slightly conceal something until people listened to the music (though I think it's still obvious even there): how young the band is. Apparently all the members are between 16 and 19, with the lead singer himself only being 16 being 19. Word is, though, that despite what I would have guessed based on this performance (doesn't the music seem sort of out of synch?), they are fantastic live (which fits well with the spastic nature of their music--I bet they're live performances are full of energy).

Next up: maybe a Swedish duo.

(Edit: forgot to mention--is it just me, or does the picture have him looking Soft Cell/Marc Almond-esque?)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

You gave your heart, you gave your soul, you gave me ultimate control; it's not enough, girl

Further on the me being behind the times front, I spent a lot of the time I disappeared off the face of the blogging earth listening to the following song. Danish dance group Infernal have been written and raved about everywhere--Don't Stop The Pop, Dirrrty Pop, Poplicious, Popjustice--but "From Paris To Berlin" somehow passed me by without inspiring a desire to seek out the album. "I Won't Be Crying" changed, that, though, as it had me perfecting dramatic brush-off gestures in the mirror and just generally dancing around the room. In case there's anyone out there like me who's taken so long to get on the Infernal bus, I thought I'd share another of their songs. As mentioned before, Infernal are Danish and, though they may have hit the UK hardest back in 2006, they've been releasing albums since back in 1998. The following song features guest vocals from someone I have written about before, though: Jon Nørgaard (here under the alias John Rock), Danish Popstars winner who, last I checked, was off releasing Danish language acoustic ballads in association with the documentary about him that I still really want to see ("Lidt Endnu," to be specific).

Ultimate Control (feat. John Rock)--I hate calling songs sexy; I think I've only ever done it once before over the course of this blog, that time in reference to the Attic's "In Your Eyes." But I can't help it here--because this song is. Desperate it may be as well, but there's no other word for it. It's driven by this repetitive thumping, almost revving-like beat that should get dull through repeated plays but doesn't, instead just getting more and more addictive. All Jon really has to do is speak over the top, but his distinctive voice suits this sort of dance music perfectly (actually, his voice seems to suit all sorts of dance perfectly, as the Jon vs. Musikk mix of "Every Girl I've Ever Wanted" was decidedly lighter in tone but still fantastic). Though the song still has a certain shininess that all Infernal songs I've heard have, it's also got a dark sheen that, when mixed with this danceable a beat, is irresistable.

There are multiple versions of Infernal's album From Paris To Berlin, but you can buy some versions here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: maybe a Swedish duo or American singer.