Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I see what I need to do

We go kind of tragic today, and that's a good thing; Heidi Montag's song "Body Language" is great. I've not seen more than a few episodes of The Hills, MTV's reality show centered around the lives of some well-off post-high school kids in California, so I can't provide the best of background about her--not that most of you probably care. All that you probably need to know is she's the former friend of the show's protagonist, Lauren, but she and boyfriend Spencer are now on Lauren's bad list--or at least, that's where it all stood when I last watched. Still, whatever she (or anyone else on the show) is actually like hasn't stopped her from ending up with a good song. Apparently it won't be her first single, though, which is silly (even sillier is that she calls it a "non-album track," so I presume it wouldn't even be on a theoretical album from her--she does say she's working on an album now); even if it flopped, I doubt she's likely to end up with a better song.

Body Language--sort of from the "The Way I Are"/"Gimme More" school of pop. Yeah, sure, there's nothing classy about it, but it's got an inspired use of sample. I know, I know, "but it's such an obvious choice!" (from Yazoo's "Situation")--well, that's a good thing. Sometimes a part of a song is so good that all you really want is to hear that part over and over again, and that's what "Body Language" gives us. Even beyond the sample, though, it's got a good chorus (stick it out past that first verse if you can) and the processed backing vocals, made to bounce back and forth and flutter, are a nice touch. This is the version without Spencer's rap, for obvious reasons.

I have no idea if this song will ever be released--it sounds like it probably won't be--so I can't show you where to buy it. If she ever does release an album, though, Amazon should carry it. Better off reading Chart Rigger's thoughts on it here, though.

Next up: I'm not really sure--maybe something Dutch.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sign you up just to cross you off his checklist

For the record: from "this is underwhelming" to "OMG Blake is the future of (male) American pop music!!!! (until he flops because no one else loves this as much as I do and joins the Click Five at McDonald's)" in under an hour--that's got to be some kind of record.

Seriously, "Break Anotha" is a dream pop song for me--how did I not recognize that at first listen? I think I'm going to need to make a list of all the amazing elements in this song, though I'll try and hold out until we've got a good version. And "Know My Name" is great as well!

God, I am so predictable. Should I just order my Blaker Girls uniform now and get it over with?

Oops, makes you wanna sin again

Do you know, I very nearly mentioned a few days ago that it was rumored we'd get the first taste of this guys's new music this week...but I didn't. I mean, rumors--how many of them end up being true? Well, these ones turned out to be.

I've not hidden that I've been eagerly anticipating his new music--well, maybe "eagerly anticipating" is overstating. I've wanted to be excited and, since American Idol, have thought he had the potential to do something great, but I had really no idea what his stuff was going to end up sounding like, so there was no way I could confidently anticipate its quality. There were so many directions he could go in, and it seemed like he could easily end up going in a direction there was no way we could foresee.

So, now that it's out there (even if in subpar quality)? Well, they say "Break Anotha" is the lead single...and, to be honest, I will be shocked if this does well on the American charts. Not that that's ever been an indication of quality. So on that front? I listened to "Know My Name" first and felt underwhelmed at the time--I mean, I guess it could be OK for an album, but it sounded very...unsigned artist-ish. With a little better production. It's interesting--do you know what one of the earliest things to jump out at me was? The lack of synths. They're everywhere in pop today--often courtesy of Timbaland--but they aren't here. I wonder if that's part of why the songs sound so unusual compared to what you hear on American radio. Well, part of the reason! There's a lot more than that. I really want to hear "Break Anotha" in high quality, to see if it's actually as "light"-sounding as it currently feels--there's no super-strong bassline or synthline anchoring it, nor Kelly Clarkson-level guitars, and, though it's not some light floating pop song like Anna David's "Chill" or something, it doesn't have those anchors. Heck, if anything, it sounds like the "anchors" are strings! So yay for letting some of that "When I Get You Alone" performance from Idol sneak into his music.

I don't think this is going to win over any critics, but I'm on my third listen of "Break Anotha" right now and I'm enjoying it--I'm a sucker for anything catchy, and this is that, from the surf guitar, the sirens, the falling strings, the bounced back-and-forth vocals, to the backing falling "ohhh"s; I've already got both the verses and chorus stuck in my head--oh, and the bridge too. I mentioned recently that what matters to me isn't what lyrics mean, but how they sound, and these pass that test--there's a fun playful feel to them. Actually, shame he's got to release this in winter--seems like a lot more of a summer song, for driving around with the windows down. Still...hmm...I've gone from being completely underwhelmed to thinking I may love them (at least temporarily) in the space of three and a half listens (combined) to the two songs--well, at least "Break Anotha." Don't see it standing any chance on American radio, though, unless the feel changes a lot with the high quality.

This is all rambly right now. That's what you get when you try to reach conclusions in a matter of minutes! I'll see what I think in a little bit, after I have some more time to digest the songs and get rid of my expectations. I just don't think that it's that universe-conquering, everyone-who-hears-it-has-to-like-it song that I was hoping for, even if I end up loving it (which I expect I will, or maybe do already).

Ooo, do you know another reason why I think I'm surprised by the lack of synths and/or bassline? Blake kept talking about the '80's, and I remember him citing Erasure and Depeche Mode as influences--this is a lot more hip-pop or funk-influenced than it is influenced by (what I know of) them. Of course, I'm sure he mentioned other influences, too, and I just forgot. Shouldn't have, though--he's a beatboxer, after all; of course his music was probably going to be more beat-oriented, occasionally percussion-oriented, and sort of...well, to use the phrase again, hip-pop. Jumpy.

Anyway, with absolutely all credit to Rokker of FMSM, here's "Break Anotha," in low-ish quality, posted for a short time though I imagine it'll be all over the Internet in a matter of minutes (hah, as if it isn't already).

Break Anotha

The album, A.D.D., is now due to come out December 4 and can be preordered here (physical).

Edit to mention that I'm currently feeling compelled to listen to "Break Anotha" over and over again. Is that great? I'm not sure--I did that with "Star Girl" because I couldn't make my mind up about it, and ultimately, that song isn't that great. Other times it's because a song is fantastic. I'm really starting to come down on the "great" side, though, I think, or at least the "for me it's great" side--it's too much fun to resist. By tomorrow morning, I'm totally going to be hailing this as the best thing ever, aren't I?

Edit again: hah, didn't even take that long--I now completely love "Break Anotha" and I will not be talked out of it my any of you more logical-thinking people. Yup. Adore it. And am far too excited about it. Which means it's destined to flop.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Wanna get swept away

It's Monday morning. Which, lyrics-wise, probably means this song is completely inappropriate to post. Oh well, though--maybe it'll provide a jolt of energy to get you moving! 2006's Norwegian national final for Eurovision (the Melodi Grand Prix) had some real gems in it, and this song is one of them. It's sung by Birgitte Einarsen, who had entered the MGP back in 2003 with the cute "Good Evening Europe," which ran through a bunch of lines and song titles from past Eurovision entries and the famous songs of past entrants. In 2003, Birgitte took third, but in 2006, though she made it to the the final (the top 8) through the second chance round, she didn't make it to the superfinal (the top 4).

Saturday--fantastic disco-pop. It's got a great swooshy backbeat, some nice strings, and, most importantly, a really strong upbeat chorus. There's not that much to say about it, really, except that it's great and very unabashedly pop, maybe a nice contrast the songs of the past couple days.

To buy the Melodi Grand Prix 2006 album, go here (digital).

Next up: maybe something else disco-y.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I tell you I, I'd feel a whole lot better if you took some time to shed a tear

Nineteen year old Chilean-born Norwegian singer Alejandro Fuentes first became famous when he took third in the second season of Norwegian Idol. He went on to release his debut album afterwards, but the sales of that album would be far eclipsed by the next record he was involved in, the live recording of the tour he went on with Kurt Nilsen, Askil Holm, and Espen Lind. 2007 has brought around his second solo album; he's currently on the second single from it which, in a good sign for him, is performing better than the first--it's currently sitting atop the Norwegian singles chart for its fourth straight week. With good reason, too--it's a great song.

Hell If I--a commenter last year described Alejandro's debut album as him basically just trying to make a David Gray album and, though my knowledge of David Gray is extremely limited and this is now Alejandro's second album, I think you still definitely get a similar vibe. I've heard disappointing things about his second album as a whole and so not picked it up yet, but with this song, Alejandro has definitely got it completely right--that chorus has got a heck of an earworm embedded in it, as does the whole song, to be honest. "Hell If I" manages to simultaneously sound smooth and sort of organic, a little rich. And really, if you bother to pay attention to the lyrics (and usually I don't--as long as they work in sound, that's usually what matters to me, not meaning), it's actually got some interesting sentiment behind it that's played out really well. The first verse opens with "I thought we had something special," which becomes "I thought we had something precious/even if I messed up;" then the bridge, that finds Alejandro admitting " I know I've lost my right to judge things you do" as well as " I must confess it hurts a little more then it should," before we move into that secretly catchy chorus, where he proclaims " Hell if I'm gonna cry because you found someone new" before admitting that he'd feel a lot better if his ex was more upset about the breakup, adding that " Maybe you didn't have to look so pleased/so good, so satisfied." I don't know, something about the whole "I know it's my fault this is over, but I can't get how happy you are with someone else out of my head--couldn't you act a little more upset about this?" idea gets to me. I mean, obviously the character he's singing from the perspective of isn't justified in what he wants at all, but since when has something not being the "right" thing to feel ever stopped people from feeling it? I think that's why I like the lyrics (when I'm actually listening to them)--there's a kind of universal sentiment behind them--and, when coated in this melody, which isn't in-your-face at all (if this was, say, an aggressive pop-rock song full of snarling guitars, I'd probably be a lot more upset about what he was singing), they're just so melancholy in a catchy appealing way that I can't resist--Alejandro may be able to muster up the macho "hell if I'm going to care that you're gone" posturing for a few seconds at the beginning of each chorus, but he can't manage the facade for long before he lets hints of how bothered he truly is slip in, with the music changing to match the change in lyrics, the energy and the strength backing off just as he does. Of course, all that said, the song still manages to end up feeling like it could be a great defiant sing along type of affair, so maybe the proper interpretation is a completely different one (or maybe it's just a case of bitter versus secretly sad). I'd still say the real reason I love this song is how catchy it is, but when I'm in the mood for depth (even if it's only mid-level depth that to be honest is still beyond me), it's there.

To buy Alejandro Fuentes's second album, Tomorrow Only Knows, go here (physical). The title song from the album was the lead single and is worth a listen if you like this song--it's happier.

Next up: something much more upbeat and poppier, though maybe not very appropriate for the beginning of the week.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

So when I smile I am crying

While American Idol finalists are off filming car commercials, Norwegian Idol's finalists have, for the past two years, recorded an original song. 2005's was the cute poppy "Dreaming," but the show's managers must have decided they wanted something a little less cheesy and a little more credible (here, read that as "with more guitars and not quite as shamelessly happy," though still far from cool) for the following year, the year which Aleksander With ended up winning. Normally that would be worrying, but 2006's song actually turned out to be truly great--which might have had something to do with the fact that (I think) Espen Lind was involved with writing it. They also filmed a music video for it which, in addition to being quite endearing and looking, as one YouTube commenter said, like it's "a commercial for Gap or Old Navy," made me realize something else about Norwegian Idol: its contestants are, in general, a lot better looking than ours. Pretty young, too.

This Is Life--kind of teen pop-ish, but a little more serious than you'd expect for something with that description. It's sort of an odd combination really, even stealing some elements from rock balladry. Before that reference turns everyone off, it really is a catchy pop song, just catchy in a different sort of way--the hooks here feel...heavier, maybe, to go along with the song's theme--which, despite what the video and the song's background would make you expect, is sort of depressing. I mean, lyrically those verses are pretty bleak, aren't they? I don't know, maybe the reason they're all smiling is that saying that this is what life is is supposed to be some sort of existentialist affirmation or something, but shouldn't these kids all be celebrating? They've made it to the finals! Anyhow, tossed together with some guitar hooks that feel very...solid, some "woah-oh-oh"s, and the appealing young-sounding voices of the singers, they add up to a great pop song, one of the sort that feels confessional without really confessing that much, probably to allow people to fill in the gaps with their own experiences...and I don't know, I know that's not unique to teen pop, but the song feels very tailored for the teen experience, though its audience and appeal certainly shouldn't be seen as limited to teens.

You can buy the Idol 2006 album, which has this song on it, here (physical).

Next up: maybe another Norwegian song that I was planning to post today. Or Alejandro Fuentes's latest single, the one I wrote about a few days ago.

Friday, October 26, 2007

I still can't believe that you're mine

Woo! Finally, Shayne Ward's new single has hit the Internet! Plus, apparently there's a dance remix of it out there!

Oh, who am I kidding. Of course this is going to be today's song--it's new Shayne stuff; how could it not be? This album has to be one of my most anticipated of the year.

This song is only going to be posted for something like a day, though (and I'm not mentioning its name here). Once it's taken down, you can still listen to it here.

[song]--anyone who was bothered by the lyrics of this album's lead singles isn't going to feel any better about this song ("if we had babies they would have your eyes/I would fall deeper watching you give life"). And, to be honest, given my attitude towards (prejudice against, to be less euphemistic) ballads and given Shayne's last album, if this had been the lead single, the first indication we got of his new material, I probably would have thrown a fit. Given that he's made it sound like there's only one ballad on the album, though (this being it), I was able to go into it with a far more open mind--which is a good thing, because, despite that slightly kicky drumbeat (slower than you get in, say, a Ne-Yo song), this is much more of a true ballad than "No Promises." It's got all the production values of "No U Hang Up," which I love--there's a certain cleanliness to it, but with enough little elements (that drum machine, strings, processing, electronic touches) that it doesn't feel lifeless; the production alone would win me over. Musically, the chorus is super-sweet and lovely--very swoony--and the middle 8 is quite pretty as well. Will this be knocking Backstreet's "I Want It That Way" away off its perch anytime soon? Probably not*, but it is a very good ballad (albeit the sort that I already see some people brushing off).

I don't know of anywhere where you can preorder this single yet, but you can preorder the album, due out November 26, here (physical).

Next up: maybe the song I was going to post today...which, come to think of it, means it'll be posted on a more appropriate day.

*I reserve the right to change my opinion on this.

Just knowing there's a chance for us could save me from disaster

Ola's done a music video for his latest single, "S.O.S.". I was just going to come on here and provide a link to the Aftonbladet-hosted video without being able to watch it myself (Aftonbladet's videos never play properly for me), but luckily someone's uploaded it on YouTube.

The video's not as...dynamic as I expected, and you definitely get the feeling it was made on a tight budget--the concept basically seems to be "Ola standing in front of a sunset and walking underneath a roof"--but it's still one of my favorite songs of the year, so I'm obligated to report news about it (plus, this gives me another opportunity to quote from the song--there's still a bunch of lines I need to get through, so news better keep coming!). The ending is cute, though, given the song's theme, I expected him to wake up afterwards (something sort of Sleeping Beauty-esque to go with the "rescue me" message). Hopefully that's the person he's been singing about, though!

If we're getting videos for singles that have already begun to chart, could we get one for Danny and Therese's "If Only You," please? And surely Danny's music has sold well enough to afford at least a slightly stylish video. And please please let "Love In Stereo" be on par with "Natalie" and "S.O.S."...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Είσαι Ό,τι Θέλω

I really hope WTBX doesn't mind me posting this song, but ever since he recommended it (thank you!), I've loved it and know other people as well.

Unfortunately, I really can't provide much background on Greek singer Elli Kokkinou, so if you're looking to know about her, check out Don't Stop The Pop's post from last year. All I can add is that Oiko Times reported that Greek broadcaster ERT approached her to represent Greece at Eurovision and she's considering it. Instead, I'll just move on to something I do know: that the following song is great.

Ise oti thelo--even if you don't think of yourself as a fan of Greek music, give this a listen, because it's truly great dance-pop. The Tamta song of a week ago goes for a sort of distant vibe, a cool vibe; this song doesn't have that. Swooshy, strong kind of throbby bassline, catchy, with bleeps in all the right places, and with an ending that feels simultaneously like a fade out and like it's (slightly creepily) building up to something big, so that when it ends you're left wanting to play it again. WTBX compared it to Anna Vissi's "Welcome To The Party," and that should give you an idea of the feel of the song (I think they've even got the same songwriter, Dimitris Kontopoulos). This is so exactly the sort of thing I love.

You can buy Elli Kokkinou's latest album, Ilikrina, here (physical) or here (digital). Now, I'm off to go investigate what else she and Dimitris Kontopoulos have done...

(Picture credit to Elli Kokkinou Fans.)

Next up: maybe back to Norway, finally, though possibly not either of the songs I mentioned earlier. Or another recommendation, this one Danish.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Billy, cette chanson est pour toi

Oh Julian Cely...

I wrote about him in early July, and apparently he released a new single in late July that completely passed me by until now. Now, normally a new single from him would be a good thing because I really liked "Pour elle," and I guess it is, but I do have a bit of an issue with it. The song, "Billy," apparently (and I say apparently because I don't speak French) implies that he's gay (which would shock no one), that he's speaking to a friend who's gay (possibly who loves him), or says nothing of the sort, depending on how you look at it. My problem with this? Well, I'm having trouble seeing it as much more than marketing--"well, our big 'for the girls' single 'Pour elle' let's switch to a new market!" or even just counting on the ambiguity to increase publicity.

Oh well, at least we get another pretty cover to look at, even if it's not from a new photoshoot.

In other Julian news, apparently a second album should be out in early 2008 (possibly with a different version of "Billy"--though it's currently available for purchase from legal download sites, that might not be its final version) and could possibly include a more electro style. Despite that "possibly electro" news, his MySpace is featuring three new songs (in addition to "Billy") that don't sound very electro at all. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though, because "Pour Le Présent" is very good--I think I may love it. Sort of light pop-rock, but more just pop. Simple pop, but good pop. I hope I'll get a chance to buy it from somewhere. I think it and the other two have been featured on a TV show he's in, but I'm not sure.

Anyhow, I'm not even sure that "Billy" is that good of a song, and if "Pour elle" and "Tant que tu n'es pas là" couldn't take him beyond "that guy that featured on 'Cargo de nuit'" status, I don't see this doing that either, but because I really want to know if this song reminds someone else of something--every time I hear it, it reminds me of something (at least in parts--could be sampling/interpolation...or nothing), but I can't place it--here it is.

Billy--the other new songs on his MySpace may not show much electro influence, but in comparison to his earlier work, I could see how you could apply that description to this song. It's maybe more minimal and poppy than that description makes it sound, though, and it doesn't have the strong bass that I expect most electro to have (come to think of it, there could be a great remix of this song). It's mid-tempo with a sort of loping feel to it. I can see myself listening to it pretty frequently for a couple of days and then moving on (watch me end up loving it). I think I'd just like it to be more hard-hitting or something, and there are some elements I like that could be played up more to create more drama. Still, I change my mind on things all the time.

As far as I know, the single "Billy" is only available for digital purchase, and then only from sites open only to French customers (though I think it's available on the Asian release of his debut album), but you can buy (the French edition of) his self-titled debut album--which doesn't have it--here (physical). "Pour Le Présent" is very good (and better than "Billy" for me; it's got a stronger melody)--I hope it ends up getting released on the soundtrack or on his new album or something.

Next up: maybe back to Norway.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

If I had a dollar for every time we had a fight...

Apropos of nothing, but could Alex Vargas please release "Diamonds In The Dirt" or license it out to someone else already? Preferably the former, though I still think it'd be a great Idol winner's song in the vein of Aleksander Denstad With's "A Little Too Perfect." I need a high quality version of it already--it's been a year and a half! I got all excited when another of his songs ("All The Way," which he released a great acoustic version of) cropped up on Swedish Idol winner Markus Fagervall's debut album, thinking that would mean we'd get to hear more of his songs out there in the released world, but I've not heard anything else yet. C'mon Alex, Chris Braide (one of its writers)--do something with it!

(His MySpace is here, but there are no songs playing on it--why, I have no idea, and at any rate, "Diamonds In The Dirt" hasn't been up for quite some time.)

Radical, liberal, beautiful, I come undone

Things that make me happy: someone has uploaded Swedish pop-rock singer and Popstars contestant Jamie Meyer's "Psycho" video onto YouTube. I love the song (it's even got chanted "hey hey hey"s!), though I'd give "Good Girl" the edge.

I think his debut album, It's All About Me (fact: every single song on it is co-written by Jörgen Elofsson; if you're looking for something a little less...peppy than the first two singles, the album's got that too), is great, and have been wanting his videos for "Psycho" and especially "Good Girl" to end up on YouTube since I first saw them--I'd rip them from the album and upload them myself if a.) I had any clue what I was doing, and b.) my computer had more memory. Still, for now, this'll do.

Hmm...come to think of it, I haven't actually done a fully-fledged post about him since January, have I? Mentioned his name a lot, but that's it. Maybe I'll have to feature him again in the near future.

(Most online stores no longer stock the album, but if you keep your eye on eBay and the Swedish version of it, you should be able to get it--there are two copies on eBay at the moment, one going for only £.99, and it's easily worth paying that for it. Alternatively, you can order it directly from his site. The media section of his official site has some songs from it to listen to, though mixed in with them are later songs he's done [some of which are great; "Free As A Bird," "To My Grandfather," and "Hey Maker," which has fantastic backing music]--"Psycho," "Never Again," "One Way Street," and "Iyeeyo" are all from It's All About Me.)

We're not what we used to be

My original thoughts on the Backstreet Boys album were going to be a lot more harsh, but I've decided to hold off on the final verdict yet--the album needs a few more listens. What I do know for sure, though, is what the best song on the album is, and it's what I'm posting today.

Something That I Already Know--as I said, by far the album's best song. Sort of like "Inconsolable" if it was good (though the way I'm listening to the album, "Something That I Already Know" flows into "Inconsolable," and whether it's because of that or because my standards have been lowered or because it's a grower, "Inconsolable" seems better than I originally thought)--I'd say it's the closest you'll get, style-wise, to their classic hits, though it's more a mix of those and the Never Gone sound than a pure throwback. "Something That I Already Know" is a very good ballad...but (and I could be wrong here) I don't see it holding up against their best stuff. Then again, not much music by anyone is better than Backstreet's best stuff. Or maybe I just need to stop comparing their old work to their new work and get over the fact that they've incorporated more pop-rock elements into their style now. Whatever--this is still a very good song.

To preorder the Backstreet Boys' album Unbreakable, go here (physical) or here (digital). It comes out October 30. If you're looking for something more uptempo, my first recommendation would be the "synthesizer-soaked" "Everything But Mine." On the ballad tip, "Unmistakable" is worthy of note, especially for that fantastic opening--slightly spacey minimal effect, piano and synth enter, then the vocals--"haunting" is a perfect description for it, and the use of the synthesizer (which, if louder and played up more, wouldn't sound out of place on something like, say, Omarion's "Ice Box") in what could otherwise be a typical ballad-with-pop-rock-influences (though that simple series of piano notes automatically sets this song out from the pack) is interesting.

Next up: either that Norwegian Idol group song or that Alejandro Fuentes song.

Monday, October 22, 2007

If you don't like that, start walking

Obsess obsess obsess...

Don't Stop The Pop has done it again--I'm currently obsessing over Finnish singer Ninja. Well, at this moment, I'm listening to the album through for the first time, but there can be absolutely NO DOUBT that "I Don't Play Guitar" is one of the BEST songs of the year. If Margaret Berger's "Will You Remember Me Tomorrow" got you excited, there is a very good chance you'll enjoy "I Don't Play Guitar," as well as other songs Ninja has done (though note that I'm not saying they sound the same, just that fans of the one will probably like the other).

I'm speechless (in a good way) at the moment. If you haven't already, you absolutely must check out Don't Stop The Pop's two features on Ninja. And then order her album (physical here and digital here, regardless of where you live). At the very least buy "I Don't Play Guitar." And "Hush, Hush." And "Champagne." And...well, I could go on!

What are you waiting for?

I'm in lovvvve...

(so much so that I just bought the digital album and then the physical there any wonder why I never have any money?)

(I think I'm going to cut off the last fifteen seconds of "I Don't Play Guitar," though--they take away from the lovely electro-popness of the rest of the song.)

I know I've lost my right to judge the things you do

In other Norwegian news that I should have mentioned in the post below this, I'm very taken with Alejandro Fuentes's "Hell If I" at the moment. Yes, I realize it's been out for something like a month now so I really should have realized how much I like it earlier, but...better late than never? It's...hmm...I'm not sure how to describe it. It's that "organic" sort of pop that I tend to describe as "singer-songwriter-sounding" even if it's not actually written by the singer (though here Alejandro did co-write it). I'll try to work on a better description for when I inevitably end up posting it (though it'll probably end up being not much more that what I've just written). Until then, you can listen to it on his MySpace.

I've been through hell, got up when I fell

Much as I love Sweden and watch American Idol pretty faithfully, if I had to choose which country has the best songs connected directly to Idol, I think I'd go with Norway. I'm not referring here to post-Idol output, but the songs actually on Idol itself--the winner's song and, in Norway's case, the group song its finalists do. Aleksander Denstad With's "A Little Too Perfect" was one of the first songs I posted on this blog and it's still probably my favorite Idol winner song of all time, I think. I've also shared 2005's group song, "Dreaming," and I think I'll be posting 2006's song, "This Is Life," tomorrow--it's really good (so much so that mentioning it here almost made me swap posts and share it today). Norwegian Idol winner 2004 Kjartan Salvesen's winner's single certainly fits right in with this trend of good songs. Kjartan has released two albums so far, one back in 2004 and another this year.

Standing Tall--written by Espen Lind, this song does still have the "look how far I've come" message that most Idol songs do, but it's far less treacly than anything we get from American Idol, and it's much more focused on past difficulties the singer has faced--that is, it's more, "look at me, I survived" than "look at me, I'm a winner." It's also more mid-tempo than power ballad, and its strong chorus has far more impact than, say, that of "This Is My Now" or anything like that. It probably wouldn't be very difficult at all to turn this into a rock song, but as is, it feels pop--though not "poppy"--through and through, which is a good thing--much as I think guitars can be a great thing, here I think they'd take away from the song's strength.

To buy Kjartan Salvesen's debut album, Kjartan Salvesen, go here (physical) or here (digital), though that physical link will only work until the beginning of November--another of my Norwegian music stores is closing down! Where am I supposed to buy Norwegian music from after that? CDON needs to ship internationally. Edit: oh, it looks like Zailor has their CD section back; hopefully they still ship to the U.S..

Speaking of Norway, a mini-update on some Norwegian artists:

Venke Knutson has another new single out. It's called "Walk The Walk" and, sadly, it's not doing much for me at the moment. You can watch the video on YouTube and make your mind up for yourself, though. The album "Holiday" and "Walk The Walk" come from will be called Crush and I think it's out November 5.

Jorun Stiansen, who won Idol the year after Kjartan, has a new single out. Called "Sticky Hands," the song is of the sort that seems like it's deliberately trying to be unusual. That said, I think I like it, though I don't think I love it and feel very iffy about it. You can listen to it here. Reminds me a tiny bit of Tasha Baxter's "Fade To Black" in parts, though maybe that's just because of a couple of words.

After releasing the single "Adorable" earlier this year, former a1 member Christian Ingebrigtsen has a second solo album out, The Truth About Lies. I guess "Adorable" was OK in a very cheesy pop-rock way, but I don't think it was good enough to compel me to buy the album. There are preview clips of it here. "Wonder Years" sounds OK. The album is available for purchase from most digital music stores, including iTunes stores around the world.

Next up: as mentioned, Norwegian Idol 2006's group song.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

No, no, no

The funniest thing I have seen in quite some time.

(You have to have seen the [disappointing, for me and some others] new Girls Aloud album artwork and read the record company's explanation for it, and have heard about the whole Hard-Fi cover artwork thing, to get it, but it's worth catching up if you haven't already, because, truly, it's hilarious.)

Though, speaking of jokes related to said album cover, I quite like this one as well.

Speaking of disappointing, after loving "Sexy! No No No," I'm not thinking much of "Call The Shots" yet--maybe it's something I'll like more after hearing it more times?

Edit: of course--I listened to "Call The Shots" again after this and liked it much more.

Det eneste jeg vil er at ligge her og chill

I'm currently a little obsessed with the following song--no, scratch that; I'm very obsessed. As I find myself doing so often, I have to gratefully credit another blog--here, Don't Stop The Pop--for introducing me to the artist I'm writing about--this time, Anna David. Her adorable single "Impossible" was posted over there during the Danish Pop special and I loved it on the first listen (I completely adore "Impossible" and strongly recommend getting it if you haven't already), but was disappointed to hear that she'd since gone off to pursue a different style (less poppy, more...R&b-y, maybe?) since then (as well as switching over to Danish from English); her megahit "Fuck Dig" was never something I really felt compelled to listen to. The lead single for her second album likewise passed me by without me paying attention to it or being interested to really hear it. Her second single for this album, though, has completely enchanted me.

Chill--don't be fooled by the title--this song is in Danish. It's absolutely one of those songs that manages to make the language barrier not matter at all, though. "Chill" has to be one of the happiest, most feel-good songs I've heard this year; every time I listen to it, I feel a desire to sway back and forth while singing it. Preferably while sitting outside on a sunny day. The first time I heard it, my first thought--well, no, my first thought was "I love this!", but my second thought was the paranoid "Is this a cover?" (a worry that sneaks up on me often now--as I said, I'm paranoid), but, though I have no idea if it is or not (though given the writing credits for her first album, I'd guess not), I've given up caring, because I'm having too much fun listening to this light breezy track which has a little bit of a retro feel. Complete with "ooo"s and "yeah"s and "woah"s and giggles, tambourine, and cute little shiny electronic noises (I'm a sucker for these--I've got to figure out a better name for them), the song moves along at mid-tempo (though the verse has a nice rapidfire delivery to its words) and has a chorus that is pure poppy joy--stick it out at least to that and then I defy you not to be taken with it.

Since this is a new(ish--well, not really, but it's still charting) single, it'll only be posted for a few days.

To buy Anna David's second album 2, go here (physical) or here (digital). If you'd told me a year ago I'd be very very tempted to buy an Anna David album (that wasn't a reversion to her original sound), I'd have been shocked, but I am--from previews, it sounds like at least several other songs on the album are really good.

Next up: maybe something else from Denmark.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Ain't it crazy how after all this time...

File this post, like the one on Ola's "S.O.S", in the "horribly out of date but I didn't want to post it at the time because everyone else was (though I did write about it a lot) and then the single was coming out and I didn't want to hurt it in any way (even though that's silly because it's not as if my blog would do much, and especially not when the song's already all over the Internet), but I still really want to write about it because it's one of my favorite songs of the year" category. I'm truly convinced that Shayne Ward's "If That's OK With You"/"No U Hang Up" double A side single was one of the year's best releases. He's also sort of my ideal popstar, or at least doing a type of music I love and am so relieved to have someone doing. The X Factor winner's upcoming second album, entitled Breathless, is due out November 26, with second single "Breathless" (a ballad which you can listen to a high quality clip of here; thanks to PubliSpain for the heads-up) coming out earlier in November, and I can't wait to get a copy of it. Shayne's style is very pure pop, I'd say, and luckily this second album is reported to have far fewer ballads than his first one (though his cover of "No Promises" from that album is fantastic and one of my favorite songs of 2006; "Next To Me" is also very good as well). I just hope he can keep selling as well as this latest single has--as of last week, it was still at #4, which really surprises but pleases me.

No U Hang Up--I know I've written a lot about this song before, but I have to feature it again--it really is one of my favorite songs of the year. The lyrics are still dorky but adorably so (much like this photo), and the song is so cute, so smooth, so catchy--I've lost track of the number of times I've had "we got that 'you hang up' 'no you hang' kinda love" stuck in my head, but I don't mind at all. It's got great production as well--all those little background sound effects very much help make the song. Not cool in any way, shape, or form, but a fantastic pop song nonetheless.

To preorder Shayne Ward's second album Breathless, go here (physical). Speaking of the album, Amazon and other sites have the following picture with the album, though I'm not sure whether it's the official cover or not.

It's a cropped version of a promo photo we've seen before.

Next up: maybe a German group.

Friday, October 19, 2007

I saw you dancing and I couldn't get you off my mind

I love it when iTunes' free song(s) of the week is great. And yes, I realize that that's not exactly the most creative way of discovering new songs or artists, but sometimes they're too enjoyable not to share here--Jesse and Joy's "Espacio Sideral" was one such case, and Metro Station's "Shake It" is another. I've not listened to their full album yet, but they've certainly intrigued me enough to consider doing so. Amusingly, one of their key members is Billy Ray Cyrus's son and Miley "Hannah Montana" Cyrus's brother. I imagine he's deliberately trying to separate himself from his father's (and, later on, sister's) music and baggage by going for a supposedly hipper sound, trying to play up the whole underground/alternative thing, but really, ignore that (and ignore their image, which could use some more work)--the following song is just a nice combination of synth-pop and pop-with-strong-guitars. "Seventeen Forever" (which is on their MySpace) is also worth a listen. (Edit: I just found out that the other key member of the band is the brother of another actor who appears on Hannah Montana.)

Shake It--to be honest, if something is catchy, it'll probably win my approval. I also imagine the true hipsters, the market I think they're chasing after, would brush this off as derivative. But that doesn't matter at all--all that matters is how much I want to jump up and down shouting along with the "shake shake, shake shake shake it!" part (preferably surrounded by a bunch of people doing the same thing), or find somewhere playing it at full volume so that I can dance along with it. I have a lot of time for bands mining this vein of sound, this synth pop-with-guitars type of sound, and "Shake It" is a good example of that. They don't sound like what you get American radio, but I'd swap this subgenre of pop-with-guitars for, say, the Panic! at the Disco-type subgenre any day. It's not just that this comes from a family of music I like, though; this is a really good song as well--as I said, catchy, and, though the lyrics are maybe sort of dubious if you think about them, the song is fun and upbeat enough that you really don't do that, except maybe once...and those synths certainly don't hurt its appeal at all either. I love it and can easily see myself being obsessed with it for a while...well, at least for a little bit. Now, let me go listen to how the chorus dissolves into those shouty "shake shake it"s one more time...

To buy Metro Station's debut album Metro Station, go here (physical) or, if you live in the U.S., you can buy it from iTunes.

(By the way, there are five people in this picture, but apparently only four in the band, so I'm guessing it's not the most recent of pictures...if it is actually them.)

Speaking of pop with synthesizers, I've been meaning to mention this for a while now, but I've been in absolute love with Dot Dot Dot's "Take That Away" ever since #1 Hits posted it--definitely go listen to it! It's absolutely fantastic. And they're (shock) American!

Next up: maybe a Swedish singer.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

είσαι ότι έχω ονειρευτεί

With apologies to PopSound, which I know has featured this song before, I'm writing about Georgian/Greek (Georgian in birth and upbringing, and Greek in where she's chosen to focus her music and career and where she's lived since she was 22, which would mean she's been there for about five years or so) singer Tamta. A runner-up on Greece's version of Pop Idol, she was also one of the candidates to represent Greece in Eurovision 2007; she took third out of three, losing out to Sarbel and "Yassou Maria," who took first, and Christos Dantis and "No Madonna" ("you had the chance, you had the honor, but baby, you're no Madonna"--apparently leaving girls because they can't compare to Madonna is big this year), who took second, and I'm not complaining about that result at all--I quite liked those two songs. Still, her lead single for her second album (if we exclude the national final song "With Love")--far from new at this point, and recommended earlier this year (thanks!)--has me toying with buying her second album, just to see if there's anything else as good as this on it.

Agapise Me--which would be "Love Me," maybe? "Agapise Me" is fantastic--it's got a light electro/electronic backing that, along with its mysterious opening, instantly hooks you in, but it's subtle as well, sophisticated--maybe anything with a hint of mystery in the music automatically wins the description of "sophisticated" (though it's possible few in Greece itself would see her or her music in that way), and that certainly helps, but any classiness certainly doesn't prevent this from being an accessible and catchy pop song. It's a very refreshing sort of song, one that it's easy to just let wash over you, and I mean that in a good way. By the way, though it's in Greek, it doesn't sound "overly Greek," if that makes sense--not that it sounds un-Greek, but it can appeal to those who don't see themselves as fans of Greek music, I think.

To buy Tamta's second album Agapise Me, go here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: maybe an Australian singer or American group.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Know I talk too much, but for you I'd hush

I can't say that I've ever listened to much Sweetbox, though "Over And Over" is great and "Addicted" is OK. To be honest, I can't see too much changing with the new solo career of former Sweetbox singer Jade Villalon, currently going by the name Jade Valerie. And I'm not even sure how much I like the following song--I imagine I'll be over it in a few days. Still, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't listening to a decent bit at the moment. It looks like the song I'm posting was originally released in a dual language version and was a collaboration between Baek Ji Young and Jade, but it's been recorded in just English and with just Jade's vocals for her new mini-album and the full album that'll be coming out later.

Crush--all right, yes, this features some pretty dubious lyrics (that first verse and its rhymes come to mind, but you could choose just about any part of the song), and yes, it's still working the Sweetbox thing of sampling classical music and using it for modern pop (in this case, it's "In The Hall Of The Mountain King," I think...maybe). "Crush" is trying to be a track with attitude, and probably trying to be a little urban-influenced, though any song that everyone seems to hear as sampling Inspector Gadget (even if that's not the case) really stands no chance in the coolness sweepstakes. It's more enjoyable if you don't take it all seriously. By the way, the sound quality of this is subpar--sorry about that.

To buy Jade Valerie's mini-album Out Of The Box, go here (physical).

Next up: maybe a Swedish singer.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I'm trying every frequency, but so far there's no answer

I apologize in advance, as this post is far from the cutting edge, but given all the times I've written about Ola's second album material, I really can't restrain myself from actually posting something from it, and, save for a radio rip, I haven't actually done so yet, sort of surprisingly. #1 Hits From Another Planet covered "Can't Get Enough" (co-written by Tony Nilsson and produced by Bassflow) and You Don't Know Pop covered "If You Gave Me Your Love" (co-written by Gary Barlow), "Natalie"'s been around since last spring now, and if "Baby I'm Yours" had a little extra something--maybe a better chorus--I'd post that (shamelessly upbeat mid-tempo pop with strings and gospel-esque backing vocals? I'm sold!), but as is, I'm just going to be uncreative and post one of the year's best singles, with apologies to those who've already covered it. Plus, given that Tony's name has shown up among this year's Melodifestivalen composers and there's got to be a good chance Ola will be singing the song (called "Love In Stereo"), it's probably worth taking a listen to some of his work--he's one of the writers of this song--in case you somehow haven't heard any of it yet (which I admit is probably pretty unlikely, given that I think I was writing about him every other day for a while there). Speaking of "Love In Stereo," the other co-writer of it is Mirja Breitholtz, who has a MySpace here.

S.O.S.--I know I just linked Ola to Melodifestivalen, but even if you couldn't care less about that contest, take a listen to this, because it's fantastic pop of the very poppy, very catchy sort, the sort that still feels young and bubbly and cute and simultaneously quality. There's nothing cool about it, but it's not cheap either, something which can be really difficult to achieve. Uber-quotable and singalongable as well. This is exactly the sort of thing that would stand zero chance in the U.S. or U.K. but is worth searching the world for.

To buy Ola's second album, Good Enough, go here (physical). I know I've written about it fifty million and a half times by now, but his version and Tony's original version of "Natalie" are completely worth seeking out as well. The blogs I linked to earlier did a great job of picking out good non-singles and are worth checking out, too, as is The Zapping's review of it.

Next up: maybe another Swedish singer or an American one.

(BTW, D'luv, yes, I am expecting your Robyn comment; bring it.)

Baby, it's here, the arrival of love

The songs for 2008's Melodifestivalen have just been announced (except for the four wildcards), along with their composers. I'll edit this post with deeper thoughts when we actually have a list I can go back and look over again, but for now, I just have to get this out of my system.

Maybe the thing that jumped out the most? Alexander Bard has (along with some other writers, including Henrik Wikström and Bobby Ljunggren) an entry; it's called "Lay Your Love On Me." That's not necessarily the song I'm most excited about, though--if anything, that title probably goes to the songs by Fredrik Kempe and/or Henrik Wikström (and there's at least one written together); I think both had a really good year last year and have a pretty consistent record in the past. Other names that jumped out? Ingela "Pling" Forsman, of course, known for her lyrics and for schlager; Bobby Ljunggren; Tony Nilsson (one of the writers of "Love In Stereo" and who I'm hoping is the Tony Nilsson of "Natalie" and "S.O.S."; if it is, then there's a chance that Ola Svensson could be singing the song--though he could sing something else as well--and either way it's a song to look forward to); Aleena Gibson (I really liked "Anything But You" last year, but she's also given us "We're Unbreakable" and "This Woman" [performed by Anna Sahlene]; both those songs were co-written with Bobby Ljunggren, who co-wrote this year's "Empty Room" with her); and Tobias Lundgren and Tim Larsson (on the same song, along with at least one other writer whose name I missed, though I imagine there's a good chance it's Johan Fransson), who've been involved in far too much amazing stuff to even begin to get into.

Back in a bit with more thoughts! They'll be edited into this post.

The first of what will surely be many edits: Aftonbladet has confirmed that BWO are going to be in Melodifestivalen with that Alexander Bard-penned track.

And another edit: Aftonbladet also suggests that Charlotte Perrelli will be singing the Fredrik Kempe and Bobby Ljunggren song "Heroes" (which I thought I heard as "Hero," but maybe not) and quotes a source as saying the song is so good that she could win Eurovision again.

Edit: the full list of tracks and composers.

Edit: all via Aftonbladet, Bert Karlsson, in article complaining about some of the songs that were rejected (including Sara Löfgren's), mentions that currently Linda Bengtzing, Velvet, the Poodles, and Christer Sjögren all have a song, though that could change. Fredrik Kempe says that "Hero" is his favorite (out of the songs he's got in, I think).

Edit (again): it's definitely worth checking out the comments for this post--Alex has got a bunch of guesses, many based on songwriters I didn't pick up on or don't know--Pontus Hagberg's stage name, for example, is Evan, and given that "When You Need Me" has the exact same writing time as "Under Your Spell," it's a good guess that Evan will be performing it. Missed out on noticing Patrik Isaksson's name as well, though I think now I remember them announcing him at the end, maybe that he was definitely a performer or something? At any rate, "Under Mitt Tunna Skinn" is by him. The country-pop group Calaisa is credited as one of the writers for "If I Could" (didn't recognize their names individually), Martin Eriksson (E-Type) is one of the writers for "Line Of Fire," Frida (of "Dunka mig gul & blå," not of ABBA) is one of the writers of "Leva Livet--and, well, really, just check out his guesses.

Edit: tickets go on sale October 18.

Edit again: just got a chance to look over at Expressen--they're saying that Christer Sjögren will be doing "I Love Europe" and that the composers are hoping to get Helena Paparizou and Sanna Nielsen (in addition to Charlotte Perrelli) to participate. Lasse Lindh's ""Du behöver aldrig mer vara rädd" is described as being a midtempo love song that sounds a little like Snow Patrol and is typical of his sound. They do say E-Type is doing "Line Of Fire," but I'm not sure if that's certain or not, and they mention Linda Bengtzing, Velvet, and the Poodles again.

A very late edit: via QX, some more facts and speculation about the songs. "Den första svalan" is uptempo pop-rock and Alexander Schöld from Fame Factory sang the demo (though that doesn't mean he's doing the actual song). Mickey Husic sang the demo of "Never Fall In Love (Izdaje)," which is a ballad, and is interested in singing it in the actual contest, but nothing is set. "Kebabpizza, Slevovica" was written by Andra Generationen. "Deja Vu," probably for Velvet, is a "euroexplosion" and is compared to last year's "La Musica" by Verona in that it basically has everything that song lacked. The article points out--as Len did earlier in the comments--that the writers of "Hur svårt kan det vara?" did "Alla Flickor" and "Diamanter" for Linda Bengtzing. "Hur svårt kan det vara?" is said to be schlager, though there's also a reference to "Grace Kelly" thrown in. And I don't think I mentioned outside of the comments yet that Patrik Isaksson wrote "Under mitt tunna skinn"--he did the lovely ballad "Faller du så faller jag" in 2006, though I always think of "Hos dig är jag underbar" with him (which is good--it's got one of those half-blowout chorus thing), probably just because I really like that song. "Smiling In Love" is linked with girl group Caracola, though I'm not sure whether that's speculation or sure. "That's Where I'll Go" is linked to Sibel Redzep (another Idol 2005 contestant) and said to be a power ballad. Michael Michailoff from Fame Factory wrote "That's Love," which I think is compared to Andreas Johnson's work. Fronda's song "Nobody Feels So Good" is rap or hip hop-like.

And if you really want to know, Schlagerprofilna has some of the "almost made the cut" songs, though without composers.

(This is my first year paying attention to this part of the process and I'm still a newbie to Melodifestivalen, so I'm sure there are things I've not noticed that I should have!)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Don't count me out

I'd almost finished this post when I completely changed my mind about what I wanted to post--I'd finished the actual post and was in the middle of my finishing mini wrap-up of what some female Belgian singers were doing when--well, here's what I had, cut and pasted:

We really will finish the Fame Factory special at some point, and in the near future, I think, but I think we're looking at a couple day break from it.

[Actual post with artist description, song, and where to buy before moving on to...]

Mini-update on some female Belgian singers:

Kate Ryan has a new single coming out; it's called "L.I.L.Y. (Like I Love You)" and you can hear some of it at the end of this performance edit: video pulled from YouTube, but you can listen to a lower quality clip here. Not enough for me to really make up my mind about it, though.

Via PubliSpain: Katerine (who I know I wrote about over at the HotStuff Files) has another single out, making this the second one for her upcoming second album. It's called "Don't Put It On Me" and you can listen to a partial performance of it here.

Natalia, the Idol runnerup-turned-more-than-that who I keep meaning to investigate since I've heard good things about her, is releasing the second single from her third album. In its single version, "Glamorous" will feature En Vogue, with whom (along with Shaggy) she's going to be doing some concerts. You can listen to it in low quality here (it's probably best to open that link in a new window, and no, it's not the Fergie song). I guess I sort of associate her with pop with disco influences, though that's based only on the slightest of knowledge and this latest single doesn't fit that description--check out first album single "I've Only Begun To Fight" (it really benefits from being in higher quality, especially that intro) for a taste of that disco side.. I really do need to go listen to her albums, given how popular she is...and probably post about her.

But of course, at that point I'd listened to "I've Only Begun To Fight" enough that I decided to skip over (for the moment) what I'd originally written about for today and post that instead. I still haven't heard very much by her at all, so I can't even begin to evaluate it in comparison to the rest of her work--I have no idea how good any of her albums are, though I'm really thinking now I need to find out. As a little bit of background about Natalia, her full name is Natalia Druyts, she's got a sort of soulful voice, and she took second on the first series of Idol in Belgium, but she's by far the most successful contestant so far; she's even achieved that ever-so-difficult task for the ex-Idol contestant: releasing a second album that outsells your first.

I've Only Begun To Fight--very pop and very disco (strings--yay!), as well as having some horns that remind me of the '60's. At times, it's hard for me to believe that this was the second single from someone off of an Idol show, and I love Idol.

And oh, why not throw in one more too...

Risin'--the lead single for her second album, this song is more gospel influenced, I think, though it's got some electro touches at various points and is very poppy. Shamelessly upbeat and a complete feel-good song and for that, I might prefer it to "I've Only Begun To Fight," though I think that's probably the better song.

To buy Natalia's first album, This Time, go here (physical) or here (digital) and to buy her second album, Back For More, go here (physical) or here (digital). You can also pick up both albums as part of one package here (physical) or here (digital; it's worth mentioning that, if you're going the digital route, you can get the whole double album package for 9.99, so there's really no point just buying one or the other).

Next up: maybe a Danish singer.

Oh yeah, I missed a bit out

Oh yeah, and I like this too. It's British, not American, but it fits with the below theme of "I'm not really sure what I'm thinking, but I like it." It's rap, I guess, though how much he's actually rapping and not just speaking as he narrates running from the police is debatable, and I think it's got pop appeal (definitely catchy), despite apparently charting at #37. I heard the song it's sampling on TV or in a movie or something this week.

Lethal Bizzle, "Police On My Back." It and everything about it just appeals to my sort of weird sense of humor. Seriously, near genius, I think.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Back with a better view

Hi all,

Just a quick note to say that I think I'll be back tomorrow...and, more importantly, that I am overwhelmed and truly touched by the messages from all of you. Thank you so much, to each and every one of you.

It'll be good to be back, because apparently every time I take an extended break from the blog, my music taste gets increasingly dubious--over vacation in the summer, I found myself in love with Brad Paisley's "Online." Yes, the premise is incredibly overdone (look at how people make themselves seem cooler online!) and the video I could do without (though I expect it's what makes the song for some people), but the song is really catchy and the perfect laughing group singalong. Plus, the way it goes into a marching band version of itself at the end (because of some of the lyrics earlier) is too funny and, in my eyes, sort of negates any "bullying" accusations. And how can you criticize a song with the lyrics "even on a slow day, I can have a three"?

Where was I going with this? Oh yeah--well, I'm worried now because I think I like the Santana and Chad Kroeger's (Nickelback's lead singer) single, "Into The Night." And I'm anti-"Smooth," too. I'd cut the guitar break and some of the more obvious "ooo, look, Latin!" guitar touches, but it's good. Plus, despite me thinking it was a mess of sound that didn't add up to much the first time I heard it, Chris Brown's latest single, "Kiss Kiss," really intrigues me now. It's synthy, mid-tempo, "urban," I said, intriguing, for some reason. I guess I'm interested to see where he goes next. Of course, ever since "Run It," I've had time for a little Chris Brown. I could see me getting sick of this quickly, though, too. Oh, but the song does continue the grand Chis Brown tradition of mentioning his age in virtually every single he releases, which still amuses me to no end. Heck, I even think the chorus to the latest R. Kelly/Kid Rock/Ludacris mess isn't bad (do not go looking for the song, though, because the chorus is not good enough to make it worth wading through the simultaneous boringness and offensiveness). Talking about rockstars is in now, I guess, what with that, the Nickelback song, and that Shop Boyz song.

Speaking of Nickelback, I quite like the latest Daughtry single, "Over You," as well--pop-rock, I suppose, of the fairly straight up sort, not innovative, but I like it. And still like Good Charlotte's sort of old by now "I Don't Wanna Be In Love (Dancefloor Anthem)," which is apparently at least doing something in the U.S. now.

For more pop-rock with alt influence, the debut single from latest Canadian Idol winner Brian Melo, "All I Ever Wanted," isn't bad either.

Oh, and the two Faber Drive songs I've heard are both good--I know I made an offhand reference to them once, but they may be possible "featured in the near future" candidates.

One more "oh": I guess "Kiss and Make Up,"the song supposed to promote MTV's new TV series Kaya (a fictional show about a singer and her struggles with fame), which I think is supposedly by Crossing Coldwater (the fictional band from the TV show) but is being listed as Kaya & Crossing Coldwater, isn't horrible, but if you're looking for that sort of girl-led pop-rock that draws from alt-rock territory, I'd go with I Nine's "Seven Days Of Lonely" (the song doesn't start until 27 seconds in; and yes, this is the song I mentioned the other day that keeps drawing Avril comparisons) which does have that cheesy title but is catchier, it works the repeated "oh"s better, and it's slightly poppier...or maybe just better. Not fantastic either, but better.

So in other words, I think I desperately need to get back in touch with the blogging world. See what happens when you're surrounded by nothing other than the U.S. mainstream music scene for even a week?

(This was just meant to be a quick, couple sentence post--oops.)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Can we bring yesterday back around?

Hey guys,

I've always made an effort to keep my personal life and this blog separate. Not that that's the only way to do a music blog, but it just sort of felt like it fit for, although it's not as if I never mention me--probably the opposite, in fact; most of my posts seem to be about how I react to music--I've generally avoided real hard details about me and what's going on in my life. With that in mind, feel free to stop reading right now--what follows isn't the sort of stuff you probably come here for, and honestly, there's nothing wrong with that--we all have our own dramas to deal with. All you need to know is that it'll probably be some days, maybe a week or so, before my next post.

Near the beginning of this year, my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I don't know how much people know about it--I sure didn't know much--but it's pretty bad; survival rates are low. Still, she finished up chemo at the end of this past summer and, well, I know everyone says this, but honestly, she was the sort of person that everyone said "she'll be the one, she'll be the one to make it."

I'm in college, in case you hadn't guessed--have been for a few years now, and I went back in mid-August. Up until two weeks from last Friday, she was still at work, still teaching (she'd done a lot of things in her life, but for some years now, she's been a high school special ed teacher in a [inner] city school), and I don't think anyone--let alone me, hours away--knew anything was truly wrong again until about that day. I didn't find out anything until this Monday, when I got a call from my grandmother saying I should come home. Technically, I didn't know anything until this Friday, but when I asked for details about what was happening and only got "we'll talk when I see you" as a response, I think I could guess.

Anyhow, so I got home Friday, got to visit with her a few hours. My parents are both divorced and remarried (I split time with both equally)--well, I say "remarried," though I suppose technically the U.S. government wouldn't recognize what my mom had as a marriage (it's the family I've known for the longest time, that's for sure), but my step mom was honestly the best person in the world to take care of her.

I'm getting sidetracked: at 6:15 AM on Saturday morning, my mom passed away.

We had loads of people in and out of the house all yesterday, and we're not exactly a small family to begin with, but that's been a good thing. Anyway, the point of all this is that it'll be some days, maybe about a week, before I'm back--the service is on Wednesday, but it'll just be a little time. I do promise that I'm coming back...just in a little bit.

Kisses guys--see you soon.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I never wanna live without your love

Sandra Oxenryd is great. I'm not really sure what she's doing entering Norwegian Idol--after all, she's already won Fame Factory in Sweden (the fourth and most recent season) and represented Estonia in Eurovision (in 2006), so I would've thought that would be enough to prove to companies that she's a good singer. It's a real shame if someone like her still can't get enough (record company?) support that she feels the need to go on another televised contest (if she's trying out for Idol in other countries, I presume she's no longer signed). Plus, look at the boots and the strutting (in the final minute) in her Eurovision semifinal performance! Should've made it to the finals.

Anyway, as far as I know, Sandra has only released on album so far (or maybe two editions of basically the same album), but it's got some good songs on it--this is one of them.

All There Is--I think I remember seeing that a couple of other artists had released this song as well (there's a Chinese pop singer who released it back in 2004), but Sandra's great, this is a Fame Factory special, and I prefer this version than the only other one I can remember at the moment, so I'm posting her version. It's very poppy, cute, and catchy--a great pop song, in other words.

Besides the songs I've posted before, I'd recommend picking up "Make Me Better" as well (and some others). You can buy the album here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: in all likelihood, after today I won't be able to post anything until Monday (not for any fun reason)--there's a chance I might be able to post some stuff beforehand, but odds are against it. I'll be back soon, though, maybe with one-half of a Fame Factory couple.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Come on, dance for me

Just another quick post today, guys, sorry! And another singer you probably haven't heard of before: Pauline Högberg. She, like yesterday's featured singer, was from Fame Factory's third season. I'm not sure what exactly she's done after the show, though I do know she released at least one single: the song I'm posting backed with her version of No Angels' "Feel Good Lies" (spelled in that way, I believe, on her version). For the record, I like her version of the song and almost posted it instead of this, but ultimately went for the song I figured fewer people would have in any form. Interesting pop fact that's only slightly related: the sets for the music video for that song as sung by No Angels and the video for German boy band Part Six's "Drive So Far" bear a pretty strong resemblance--it seems pretty likely they are the same.

Doin' It--a mid-tempo pop song with a little bit of attitude to it, but it's sold in a cute way. Catchy, too, of course. I should really have more to say here, shouldn't I? But I don't--just that it's good. Just listen to it--I think you'll get it.

To get this song, you can check Swedish eBay for a single of it (I guess you could check regular eBay, too, but you're far more likely to to find it the other way) or buy Best of Fame Factory from here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: maybe a Fame Factory winner.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Well, to tell the truth I haven't been faithful

I promise we'll be getting to some people who are more "famous" soon, but for now, another singer you probably haven't heard of, though you may have heard some of his writing work--his co-writes include Anders Johansson's "Sooner Or Later" and "It's Over," Sita's "I Surrender," Excellence's "We Can Dance," and Amy Diamond's "Shooting Star." You may have sort of heard his voice before, too, because he's done backing vocals on some A*Teens songs. Robert Zuddas was on the third season of Fame Factory. His MySpace describes his style as "pop/soul," and that sounds about right. Speaking of his MySpace, it's also playing a quite good song called "Unbreakable" on it.

Hand Delivered--OK, yes, sentimental in a cheesy way ("baby I will be the one, bringing love, hand delivered"), but I love cheese and I like this song. "Hand Delivered" is is a simple mid-tempo pop song with a chorus that has a rising feel to it. The verses (well, maybe more the bridge) and chorus both have a nice melody to them.

The only place I know of to get this song is on Fame Factory Vol. 8, which you can buy here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: maybe someone who appeared in Melodifestivalen before and after he was in Fame Factory. Or maybe someone who's covered a No Angels song.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Don't you leave me here all alone against a hurricane

Another quick post, but when I saw the tracklisting for Ola's Good Enough, I had to share:

1.) S.O.S.
2.) Totally Addicted
3.) Natalie
4.) My Addiction
5.) If You Gave Me Your Love
6.) Good Enough
7.) Can't Get Enough
8.) All It Takes
9.) My Baby Girl
10.) Baby I'm Yours
11.) Who I Am

In case there were any doubts, you'll definitely be hearing my thoughts on it when it arrives. It's out October 3 and you can order a copy here (though, if you live in Europe, it's better to use this link so you can get a signed copy).

Taken from someone on his official site, by the way. The same person also posted pictures of the album booklet, which I wasn't going to look at but I wanted to see the writing credits, and yup, they're there! Of quick note: Tony Nilsson (who wrote "Natalie") also co-wrote "S.O.S," "Can't Get Enough," and "Who I Am" and Gary Barlow co-wrote "If You Gave Me Your Love." GHOST did a lot of work on the album, Bassflow (yes, of the "7milakliv" and "100 år fran nu (Blundar)" remixes I'm obsessed with, as well as loads of other great stuff) did some production work (on "Natalie," "S.O.S.," and "Can't Get Enough") as well, and Jeanette Olsson sings backing vocals on "Natalie," "S.O.S.," and "Baby I'm Yours." Oh, and Ola has a lot of co-writing credits.

And another "oh," for anyone needing a Melodifestivalen/Eurovision connection: in the liner notes, he thanks Rickard Engfors for being his stylist.

Love is breaking my heart

Sort of a quick post today, which works well, since I don't know that much about Wictoria Nilsson. I do know she competed in the first season of Fame Factory. She would go on to release a single Thomas G:son co-penned, "Allt vi känner för varann" (which was also co-written by future Fame Factory contestant Pontus Assarsson), which featured other contestants as well. I prefer the following song, though.

(By the way, as a note of warning, some of the pictures I use for this special may seem odd and in some cases there might not be a picture of the artist at all; I usually try to find the best picture possible of them, but in some of the cases I can envision me not being able to find very many to choose from, if any.)

This Game--this is a catchy mid-tempo pop song that's very smooth and sweet in a way, despite the subject (and I'm glad of the sad subject--it just gives the song a little extra impact); in part, that's due to the music (it's got a nice little melody), but I think it also has to do with Wictoria's voice (speaking of her voice, she does this interesting breathy thing on some of the words, like "middle," that surprised me, but that I like--it just makes the song a little more distinctive). It's not in your face, just a really well-done pop song; the only thing I'd possibly like to change about it is I'm never ready for it to be over when it ends--one more go-round of the chorus would be very welcome (though I have noticed how the song clocks in at exactly 3:00--maybe, for its original purpose, there was no time for one more use of the chorus). I wouldn't be surprised at all if it's been reused by another artist later--it would fit in very nicely on a solid pop album.

I'm not sure of any album that contains this song besides Fame Factory Vol. 3, which you can buy here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: maybe a more famous male singer or a female singer who I don't think is particularly well-known outside of Sweden.