Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Now I can feel that this heart of mine has taken many falls

My copy of British singer Taio Cruz's album Departure arrived today--and boy, am I glad I ordered it. I missed his first two singles, "I Just Wanna Know" and "Moving On," when they came out last year, but loved the R&B-meets-electropop "Come On Girl" (featuring Luciana) from this year--that definitely got me interested in him. As I mentioned earlier, when Jessica posted two brilliant songs from him, "I'll Never Love Again" and "Fly Away," over on Into The Groove, I was 95% convinced his was an album I had to have. The final thing that pushed me over the edge? Hearing his latest single, "I Can Be"--I mean, if he could have already released three singles, have two fantastic so-far-not-yet-a-single album tracks, and then be releasing something this great for a fourth single, that seemed like a good indicator that the album must be pretty impressive.

If you've got the money, Departure is definitely worth your time; I'm not going to review it at the moment (if you want a review, check here), especially since I just got it today (maybe in the future), but please take 3 minutes and 53 seconds to listen to "I Can Be." If you had to choose one word for this song, I think it'd be "inspirational." Set aside any cynicism for a moment and just enjoy a lovely strings-backed feel good song song (with an African chant-esque backing part near the end that I love), the sort of thing you turn to when you need a comforting shot of hope. "Come On Girl" is great, but somehow this feels like it's got...I don't know, more nutritional value or something, easy as it might be to call the chorus lyrics simple. If you've ignored him up until now, I think you might be pleasantly surprised with this.

I'm so glad we've got him around.

Alors on plonge avec tout le feu qui nous ronge

One year on...

I've avoided writing anything about him since then, partly because (silly as it seems) even now I still can't really listen to his music like I used to (though I love it no less) but also partly because I felt like there was some taking advantage of it and some retroactive reevaluations of what people thought of him that made some reactions not ring true.

That said, this video for "Restons Amis," the latest single taken from his posthumous album (and I've had concerns about continuing to release singles), is actually surprisingly touching (with thanks to AcerBen for the heads-up).

I won't know--I've never liked the expression--so instead, let's just remember.

There was just something about...he and his songs had an effect on me that few...well, let's just say he is missed. And that I treasure his first album like I do very few others in the world.

As a side note, apparently "Imparfaits," Victoria Petrosillo's new single, was originally going to be done by him; it's been reworked for her.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I know that you will love me back someday

Oh. My. Gosh. you all--you have no idea how over the moon I am right now. I'm sure it's me overreacting, but I literally thought I would never have this song. And now I do. I can't believe it.

What song? Well, you'll have heard of it before if you read this post; as I explained at the time, it was a bonus track on a late-released digital re-edition of an album available only in Swedish digital music stores, and even then only when you bought the whole album--you couldn't just buy the track separately. The likelihood of me ever having this song seemed to sink even lower when the song was pulled from Swedish iTunes.

(I should add in at this point that for all I know this song is all over less-than-legal download services; I've got no idea and that wouldn't have done me any good.)

Now though...well, I have it and I love it just as much as I thought I would. I wouldn't say there's any direct parallel between this song and any other on the artist's only album so far--not that it would sound out of place on it (I guess you could draw some style/sub-genre comparisons between, say, it and "Paradise," but to go in expecting it to sound like "Paradise" would be very off because it's not a soaring song--the main characteristic of "Paradise"--and because it's got more energy), just that it's not a rip-off of any of his other tracks and makes for a refreshing sound. In fact, I adore everything about this song (well, maybe not that brief break in the music near the beginning, but I'm not sure if that's deliberate)--as much talk as there is of tears and being used, I can't help feeling like it's got an incredibly comforting, slow-smile-inducing feel to it--the giant warm sweater of the song world, for the listener, at least. The chorus is lovely, but the distinctive verses are great as well. It's not schlager at all, just pure great enjoyable pop with the perfect balance of strummed guitars and electronically-created effects. Just one of those simple pleasures of life, you know? This is the sort of song that has "me" written all over it. we go (please don't get your hopes too high! It's just the sort of song that has "me" written all over it):


Posted for a very short time; you can buy the album (albeit without this track) here (physical) or here (digital). Why the short time? The fact that the song was pulled from most iTunes makes me wonder if it's going to be used at some point in the future.

Also, in a completely unrelated comment, 7Digital is amazing. Well, it's always been amazing for letting us non-UK residents buy UK music (and non-UK music as well, if it's listed there), but the way it's making it incredibly easy for you (for international customers) to buy high quality mp3s from around the world is incredible. Well done to the record companies that have agreed to it (well, they've agreed to the mp3 part at least--I've never understood quite how the international licensing works out for 7Digital but not other sites...but I'm not complaining!). There are still some DRMed WMA holdouts, but hopefully even those will be gone soon.

Next up: maybe something British.

Can't get enough of the groove of Alcazar

I've got no idea why Alcazar are releasing a video for "We Keep On Rockin'" now given that I thought the buzz around the single peaked a while ago, but I'm glad they did--the world just seems a little bit brighter, happier, and more colorful now.

J'reviens reprendre ce qui m'est dû

French singer Willy Denzey is apparently about to (try to) launch a comeback. After the whole Mon Royaume project didn't exactly go as planned (I don't think the album ever got released in the end, did it?), he's got a lot riding on his new album, Alter Ego, being successful. Given that, the choice of lead single, "Décide De Ma Vie" (out in May), seems a little odd: it's got the beat of Diddy's "Last Night" but is also going for that whole "cute production" sound--in other words, it's neither a stomper or a full ballad but kind of seems like a dangerous route to take.

After listening to the clip of it a few times, though, I think it could be a song I end up really liking (as I mentioned before, cute production gets me almost every time) and the deliberate stuttering (another thing I almost always love) is catchy; I'm just not sure how well France will take to it.

This post is kind of just an excuse to take another look at his underrated urban clubby single "Mon Royaume," though; I posted it a while ago, back near this blog's beginning, and it's still great, as is the video.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Something's gotta change

I'm not posting today's song because of quality, but more because I just need to finally get a chance to express my thoughts about it.

You Don't Know My Name

R&B/pop singer Danny K is a big star in South Africa, though admittedly one often criticized in certain quarters, one of the (less pure insult-oriented) reasons being that (according to some) though his albums are good for South African-created work (there's a lot of "is it international quality?"-type of talk in South African music reviews in general), he tends to mainly bandwagon jump onto whatever "international" stars are doing. I don't feel knowledgeable enough to speak to how accurate a criticism that is in regards to his three solo albums (though I will venture that I'd be more concerned about his image of recent times if I was trying to break him internationally--not that I've heard anything to think that's on the cards again--because it can be off sometimes), but I would say there was at least one moment in time where he was part of a decidedly original--and fantastic--project: his and kwaito singer Mandoza's collaborative Same Difference album.

That's jumping ahead, though: Danny K's second single is what we're talking about today. Released around 2001, "You Don't Know My Name" got Danny his second number one (after "Hurts So Bad") and, if you buy into that following international trends argument, you could probably link it back to Craig David's success that year and the year before, though it's not too difficult to imagine a boy band not afraid of mid-to-up-tempo tracks adapting it to their style.

The thing that's always bugged me about the song, though, is that opening. Not that it's bad--far from it, in fact: it's by far my favorite part of the song, a spacey light slightly electro opening that lasts less than ten seconds before turning into a much more traditional R&B-pop song (albeit with a quick reversion to that style for its middle section). I've got kind of an obsession with those opening few seconds, actually--could someone make a whole song that uses that actually goes off of that style instead of ditching it entirely? That said, the song we get instead is good--just not as exciting as it could have been.

I really probably should do some more writing about Danny K in the future, partly because he's done some songs I think are good and partly because there are some interesting things to say about him or his music; for now, though, I'll just say that you can buy his self-titled debut album here (physical). His third album This Is My Time is also available digitally (as DRM-free mp3s) here.

Oh, while we're speaking of Danny K, he's got yet another case of "I really like this bit of a song--can we take it out and turn it into its own song?" going on at the moment--he provides the hook on this classical music-meets-R&B track called "Crazy Party" that's supposed to be an "ooo, look at how young she is! And she can play the violin!" showcase for twelve year old In-Cha; I love me some strings in music, but not usually when they're used in this sense (it tends to seem a little too...indulgent for my more pop and vocal-oriented tastes), so the song is really all about the chorus for me--but I love that chorus for some reason.

Next up: maybe a remix of a song by an artist I wouldn't usually be likely to feature here.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

'Cause my heart is in the same old condition that baby left it

Maybe it's just me, but I feel like Omarion's "Ice Box" came and went without leaving much of an impression on the general public, despite apparently reaching #12 in the U.S. and being certified gold. If that's the case, though, it's a real shame, because it was easily one of the best songs of 2006. The Timbaland style has rarely been more effective than it is here, where it results in an arrangement that's just as cold and sparse as the narrator's heart. Omarion's previous single, "Entourage," had been pleasant but throwaway, but for one moment, with the release of "Ice Box," he made it seem like he could be an incredibly exciting popstar; the music video--both stylish and stylized--and song together made for for a perfect pop package geared towards leaving an impression.

Haunting and ominous, "Ice Box" is the rare song that manages to be cutting-edge American pop music (sure, you can argue that anything from Timbaland post-"Maneater" [or post-"Cry Me A River," or post-whatever Aaliyah song you want to choose] isn't cutting edge, but somehow, those icy synths, little piano riffs, drum beat, Timbaland's "I'm so cold"s, and Omarion's singing manage to add up to something that "Ice Box" sounds more than modern--it's positively futuristic), emotional, and addictive. In fact, as far as songs in which the male narrator tries to explain away his actions by pleading that he just can't love the same way because of how he was hurt in the past, I'd say "Ice Box" does an even better job than Take That's "Patience" at leaving you with a genuine sense of sympathy for the singer. Making a song as chilly as this one is a dangerous thing to do--it can often result in fantastic "atmosphere" but also distance the listener from the song, and maybe that explains the song's lack of staying power for the public, but for me, it manages to dodge that bullet entirely; every time "Ice Box" finishes, I crave more, even as part of me feels like it's been left shivering in a corner.

To buy Omarion's second solo album, 21, go here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: maybe something from a British singer I've stated my love for before.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Tan enamorada

Rebeca spends most of her time in the new low budget video for "Se Me Olvidó" camping it up in underwear and angel wings on top of a bed in front of religious symbols, making dramatic gestures while waving sheets around, and generally looking like she should be in a telenovela. It's all very "too much, LOL!" (in the cheap sense), but it's fun, as is the song once it ditches that opening ballad style of the first minute.

In other random artist news, Ola is apparently working on a single that will be released this summer (he's already recorded it but it's being worked on, or something; I'd really like to know who's behind it). Before that, though, Good Enough will be re-released sometime in the upcoming weeks.

Also, if you like the idea of a group whose songs are "like Van Halen's Jump pushed one hundred times bigger" (which would be a big big YES from me), run over to #1 Hits From Another Planet and read about the Galvatrons.

כמו ציפור בשבי בין קירות לבנים מסתגרת

Let me preface this post by saying that my knowledge of Israeli music is incredibly limited, as is my knowledge of music beyond the past few years, so if I get something wrong or leave something important out, please let me know!

Let's go back to Israel, 1986. Though this year and last year Israel may have internally selected the artist they'd send to Eurovision and just let the public vote on the song, that's not how it's been for the majority of the past three decades; most of these years the singer and song has been chosen through the Kdam, a national final pretty much in the vein of what you usually think of when you hear the term. In 1986 (as in most years), there were twelve entries; Israel ended up choosing Moti Giladi and Saraï Tsuriël with "Yavo Yom," which went on to take second to last at Eurovision that year. As often happens with Eurovision, though, that loss meant that a fantastic song was consigned to never make it past the level of national finals. That song? Rita's "Shvil Habricha" (meaning "Escape Route").

(I know I've gone slightly YouTube crazy recently, but if there was ever one to watch, it's this one.)

Shvil Habricha

The performance was so memorable (not least for the yellow jacket--those were big in 1986, I take it?--and its slip) and iconic, though, that it helped make Rita famous. Not winning the Kdam didn't prevent "Shvil Habricha" from becoming a massive hit either. In the following years, Rita would go on to have many more hits and become a classic case of "lost in the national finals with a great song and then made it to Eurovision with an inferior song"--chosen by internal selection, she represented Israel in Eurovision in 1990 with "Shara Barkhovot" (which took eighteenth place out of twenty-two).

She's moved on since 1986, of course, becoming a true star in Israel, but "Shvil Habricha" has more than stood the test of time. The performance alone would be enough to make me love the song--sure, it's easy enough to mock '80's style now, but this is the epitome of a fantastic performance for me; simple as it is, there's something very powerful about it and very charismatic and commanding about her (and I don't even have to mention the vocals because they're so assured that it never even occurs to you to worry about them)--but the song on its own is still top-quality, epic-sounding '80's pop that I wouldn't change a single thing about. That powerful chorus? The sparse synths sounds in the background? The climax? Everything? Perfect--and all delivered perfectly by Rita.

To buy Rita's debut album Rita, go here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: maybe something British.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Why do I do I trip on the same old lines?

All right--most though not all of my iTunes issues are sorted out now, so, with luck, I'll be back tomorrow, really! Sorry about all this. And, failing a complete change of inclination, I know what I'll be posting about, too. Shocking news: it's from before 2000. Even more shocking: it's from before 1990--who even knew I even owned anything from then, right? Probably not too shocking: it's not in English.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

When I turned sixteen, that's when I started to dream

I'm having computer issues yet again (this time iTunes related--basically, iTunes keeps telling me the files for almost all of the songs [with the exception of songs in the "recently added" list] can't be found even though I haven't moved them [I do keep my music on an external hard drive, and I suspect that's got something to do with it]--all the songs are still where they're supposed to be, so it's not a matter of music loss, just weird pathname stuff, but it means I'll either have to go through all the thousands of songs individually and tell iTunes where each one is located or just re-add the whole library to iTunes, which would mean a loss of playcounts and stuff...unless there's some other option, which is what I want to check out first [and by "check out" I mean "follow the time honored tradition of going to bed and hoping when you wake up the next morning everything's fixed"), so for today, let's just watch a video from my favorite ever American band. Well, they were when they had this lead singer and during this era, anyway.

I haven't written nearly enough about them recently, though my subpar enthusiasm for their latest album (partially as a result of the loss of their lead singer--I didn't want to be one of those "oh, I'll never accept the group after this!" people, especially given that said singer left the band, but that album really made me realize how important Eric's voice was to my love of their music) and how in depth I covered their first album near this blog's beginning probably explains that. Still, Greetings From Imrie House (the UK edition in particular, since it swaps out their cover of "Lies" for their much better cover of "I Think We're Alone Now") remains probably my first or second favorite album of all time.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Your name is written on my heart

(Note: I'm not embedding the video because it's a must-watch but because I can't get any decent pictures of the group; if you want to know what they look like, just watch a bit of the video.)

Say You Want Me

From what I've read, Swiss band Myron sound like the sort of group that would drive most people I know crazy: they're very much being pushed by a certain company and are ripe for all sorts of "they're just a product" accusations. That's not really something that bothers me, though, though it's important to note that the reverse--that something is good just because it's "manufactured" in some way--isn't true either (though I don't know anyone who would argue that). The sound of their lead single, "Say You Want Me," does very much fit in with that whole "intended for mass distribution" idea, being inoffensive radio-oriented pop-rock that's got kind of a hint of genericness to it. Well, that's not quite what I want to say--it's more that it's deliberately trying to fit into a sound most people would call "generic," but in my eyes, it's well done enough that it's not actually generic. Does that make sense? No, probably not--it's late, give me a break; I'll work on figuring out what I really want to say and write about the song again later if I work it out.

The most important thing is that "Say You Want Me," while pushing no musical boundaries (it doesn't want to do that), is an enjoyable slice of pop-rock, one that could be turned into a full-fledged country song with very little difficulty; the fact that the lead singer's voice has a certain twang to it (sort of comparable to, say, a certain quality in Erik Segerstedt's voice) helps with that, but even beyond that, only a few tweaks in arrangement would be needed before you shipped the song off to country radios. You know that radio station in town that's designed for the work place, that's very deliberately nonoffensive and that plays recent hits that could fall into the "easy listening" category as well as '80's and '90's songs that you'd stereotypically think of parents liking? Every city has one of those--well, this is that sort of song. Ish. Easy to swallow, nothing too "distracting" if you were at work...but when it's got a great catchy guitar riff like this one as well as an enjoyable chorus, that's more than fine; I'm glad we've got songs like this in the world too. I actually think "Say You Want Me" is really great, though I'd be surprised if too many other people do.

To buy Myron's debut album On Air, go here (digital).

I almost made it but not quite

Do you ever get the feeling an artist you love is trying, really trying, to do everything they can to get you to not like their music?

SOMEONE's been listening to Israel Kamakawiwo'ole and oompah bands an awful lot.

Sigh. I give up. I really do. Well, no, I don't--I'll probably get the album no matter what, knowing me, and taking this back in a matter of days as well as feeling awful I ever said anything negative--but it's frustrating, especially considering the vocal melody might even be really good, and heck, maybe I could have even learned to live with the ukulele, but did we really need that brass part? Really?

Album's called Army Of One, by the way; out this fall.

Edit: so we don't end on a down note, let's watch a stunning live performance of "Million Miles Away," a song I've never loved more than I do here, with this performance. That voice...


A blog business sort of post: I get LOADS of spam mail every day and have a really bad habit of just emptying the spam folder without looking at it and then realizing just after I've clicked delete that there was actually a real message in there; unfortunately, with GMail, once you've emptied the spam folder, it's gone. On the off chance the person who sent me an e-mail about Sibel's "Make Believe" reads this post, could you please send it to me again? I saw the title of the e-mail for a split second before it disappeared from the Internet forever--I'm sorry!

Since I'm already on the topic of e-mail, let me add that I always reply to e-mails that I think are "legitimate" (i.e., not just mailing list sort of stuff/trying to sell me on something without really having ever paid attention to what I write about here), so if you ever e-mail me and don't hear from me in a few days, I've either accidentally deleted it because of another incident like the one above or I thought it was "blogger spam" that reached my inbox and just ignored it (though occasionally I'll still deal with those too, if the music's good enough)--if that's the case, please e-mail me again!

Porque no fue nada, nada de nada

It seems like just a few days ago I was asking where on Earth Spanish singer Rebeca was because I needed a followup to songs like "Que No Daría Yo" and "I Love You Mi Vida"--well, she's back! Spain's record companies are really big on the whole "summer song" concept (as well as on summer compilation albums), and I think it's hoped that Rebeca's new single "Se Me Olvidó" will at least be a hit at beachside clubs. Her MySpace is playing a clip of her new single or you can listen to another clip here; there's also a higher quality clip on her website. It's a very typical Rebeca (or maybe Bea Bronchal) sort of sound, punchy upbeat danceable pop with a Latin flavor with Rebeca delivering a fierce attitude-filled sort of vocal. I don't think it's quite as excellent as "Que No Daría Yo" (which is a much better song than Las Ketchup's "Bloody Mary," which qualified for Eurovision ahead of it) but it's fun.

"Se me olvidó" is on the Caribe Mix 2008 compilation which is out soon and apparently a video for it may be in the works, so hopefully we'll get to hear the full thing soon.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Going through the gears...

Just an FYI...

"Bullet" by Charlote Perrelli is in all likelihood the best song you will hear ALL MONTH, and quite probably for the next few months as well.

Have you ordered the album yet? Buy it! Buy it! Buy it!

Fans of "Hero" will pass out when they hear it, but it's not a carbon copy of "Hero" in any way, shape, or form, nor does it have any of that slightly by numbers or slightly lifeless feel that some schlager (the not-so-great songs) can take--in fact, "schlager" isn't even the right word to use here. It's co-written by Fredrik Kempe (of "Hero," "Cara Mia"--why am I even saying this? You all know who he is by now) and produced by Bassflow ("Hero," Ola's "Love In Stereo"/"S.O.S."/"Natalie"/"Can't Get Enough," and loads of other ace songs), so you still have that punchy racing pop feel pulsing through the song, but there's a hint of rock here, and just this one hook that's a little pop-rock-soul--just one hook, though, pushed into the mix of a flat-out amazing Swedish pop song. In other words, it's a pop stormer of the highest order, the production style of "Hero" mixed with the punchiness of--oh, who am I kidding, basically, it's BRILLIANT.

If this isn't a SMASH HIT, I don't know what is.

I'm begging: order the album. Please don't just download it illegally. I promise, it's worth it for "Bullet" alone.

(Listen to clips on Swedish iTunes.)

(Side note: this song really makes me wish I was signed up to a forum just so I could use a dramatic picture of Charlotte as my avatar and "Could take a bullet" as the little description thing near my name.)

Edit: it's on YouTube! You really need to hear it in high quality, though.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Young, energetic, famous but don't really sweat it, rich enough, fairly hot

I'm sorry, Jesse McCartney, but you may get the award for "best line of the year" taken away from you pretty soon.

"Judging by the handful of tracks previewed by Billboard, [Ne-Yo's new album] 'Year of the Gentleman' does indeed offer something a little different from traditional R&B: 'Closer' is a Stargate-produced club track with pulsing strobe-light synths and a high-energy house beat that calls to mind Rihanna's 'Don't Stop the Music.' 'So You Can Cry' sports a mellow, easy-listening vibe, with Ne-Yo making a priceless rhyme of 'pity party' and 'calamari.' Guitars and cymbals figure prominently in 'What's the Matter,' which Ne-Yo likens to 'a Beatles-style rock record.'"

(Link, taken from Popjustice.)

I cannot wait to hear this. For other Ne-Yo lyrical gems, check out the song this post's title comes from, "Addicted," particularly that first verse and the chorus.

Waiting for my luck to turn

Speaking of boy bands, a big thanks to Alexander for the heads-up on the fact that E.M.D.'s new album State Of Mind will come out May 14. The tracklisting:

1.) All For Love (Radio Edit)
2.) Run To You
3.) Jennie Let Me Love You
4.) One Call Away
5.) We Can
6.) Alone
7.) For You
8.) I Lied
9.) Give Some Time
10.) Look At You Now
11.) She's My California

Two of those, "All For Love" (a cover) and "Jennie Let Me Love You" (original), have already been released as singles. You can listen to part of a live performance of "For You" on YouTube and another one of them performing "Look At You Now." I'd think there's a chance "I Lied" and "We Can" are covers of the Bryan Rice songs, though that's just pure speculation on my part. Bryan Adams did a song called "Run To You," and though of course there are loads of songs with that title, it's in such a style that I could see E.M.D.'s "Run To You" possibly being a cover of it. I'm kind of tempted to guess that "Alone" is the Heart song, though given that Anders Johansson semi-recently did a surprisingly great cover of that, I kind of hope it's not, just because I think as far as the boy band-esque style Anders' version is about as good as you could get. If you've got any other guesses or negation of my guesses, please let me know!

And I was like, "Oo, what am I suppose to do?"

The power of the remix can sometimes be a breathtaking thing to behold. Of course, there are loads of remixes that are completely pointless, others that are enjoyable in a "I really like the original song and want to listen to it in any variation" way, and some--the best of all--completely revitalize their parent song and turn it into what it should have been in the first place. My much-loved Bassflow remixes of Martin Stenmarck's songs and the Stephanie McIntosh remix I posted recently definitely fall into this last category, as does the song I'm posting today.

365 were a British boy band that, like any non-instrument-playing British boy band of recent years (2006 in their case), never found real commercial success, and I can't say it was a huge crime against music that that happened, given their songs. Lead single "That Thing" (which was a low-key release and not really a "proper" lead single, if I'm remembering correctly) was forgettable and followup "One Touch" (which you can hear in its original version in the video embedded below) was good, a slightly boy band song that completely underwhelmed me at first but has grown on me with time (to the point where I actually love it now), but it wasn't flat-out first-listen amazing, something a boy band song would probably have to be to find success in this day and age (the fact that they didn't put their two best-looking members closer to the camera in promo shots can't have helped either). What was absolutely amazing, though, was one of the remixes of it.

One Touch (Bimbo Jones Remix)--(which yes, I've posted before, but as an aside and in awful quality) ...and suddenly, the funky boy band song is taken to whole new levels. It's not been made into a pure dance song, but the tempo's definitely been kicked up, something which benefits the song immensely, and any "urban" traces have been removed, though the brilliant horns sample has been kept and sounds even better here. The energy and spark missing from the original are now here in spades and--whether it's just because of the faster tempo or some of the other producer-type changes to the song--"One Touch" seems much catchier as well. It still feels like a boy band song, but an actually fantastic one--this definitely should have been the main mix, though it probably still wouldn't have been successful--the UK would have at least been listening to one of the best boy band songs of the past few years then, though. Special mention for the oh-so-subtle "And there's something about you I wanna get into/It ain't your mind" line, too.

To buy 365's single "One Touch," go here (physical) or here (digital; they're not selling this particular edit of the remix there though).

Next up: a Swiss song I've written about before.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Une femme qui se dévoile et qui suit ses envies

I know I've already posted about French (Moroccan-born) singer Sofia Essaïdi's "Femme d'aujourd'hui," but only by posting the video, not the song, and it's a song that's worthy of some more attention (though yes, I'm embedding the video again, because it's that great). To steal my own words from the first time around, it's very obviously inspired by "Umbrella"'s success, and it will and has taken criticism for that, but I hope that doesn't stop people from appreciating it. In terms of strategy or song creation, it's really not a world away from what Monrose did with "Hot Summer" and Timbaland's style (NOT in terms of actual sound...nor is it necessarily as good as the almighty "Hot Summer" either)--the influence is obvious, but there are also unique elements that set it apart or at least make it a song worth paying attention to on its own.

Let's take a step backwards for a moment, though, and talk about the context. Sofia participated in Star Academy back in 2004 and released her debut album, Mon cabaret, back in 2005, with the title track functioning as the lead single. That's the last music she's really done commercially until now, though (at least beyond a "featuring" role); she got the lead role of Kamel Ouali's new musical Cléopâtre (opening in January 2009), though, and "Femme d'aujourd'hui" is being released as a single as a tie-in.

(Watch the video in better quality here.)

Femme d'aujourd'hui--a few things first: 1.) this is the radio edit, and 2.) it's not "ripped from the video but masquerading as real" audio quality--it's actually good quality. Now, onto the song itself: you'll see those "Umbrella" similarities most in the chorus (you could probably sing the "Umbrella" chorus over the top of "Femme d'aujourd'hui"'s if you wanted to) and the basic backing beat (the percussion). The pipes play up the Cleopatra connection, giving it a a bit of "ethnic" flair that "Umbrella" never had, and there's something slightly...softer about the song; though that could just be Sofia's voice, I think there are other little touches--a little strummy acoustic guitar in the chorus, for example--that help create that impression, making it a less sparse and foreboding song than "Umbrella;" that doesn't mean the song doesn't still have a certain grand flair around it, though. The glossy video is fantastic as well, very much making Sofia out to be a great popstar; one watch and you'll be unable to listen to the song without images of desert landscapes and giant silver rings flashing into your head. By the way, French isn't really my thing, but I think the song is very much a woman empowerment sort of anthem--the title means "Woman Of Today."

To buy Sofia Essaïdi's single "Femme d'aujourd'hui," go here (physical, though the physical single might not be out yet). This song will be posted for just a short time, since it's a new and currently charting single.

Next up: another song with a video I've posted before.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Oh my god, here I go again--I'm about to get in deep

From Espen Lind's MySpace blog:

Brand new single out soon!

Espen is currently working on his 5th studio album. The album is expected coming fall.
First single from the album will be out on radio in Norway shortly. The song will be added to the playlist here very soon - stay tuned!

From his MySpace bio:

Espen is currently in the studio finalizing his 5th album, set for release fall 2008. First single from this album “Scared of Heights” is expected on radio in Norway from May 1st.
This single and album presents a new chapter of Espen’s musical career…. Stay tuned for more info!

Oh. My. Gosh. It's really happening! Now if only I was able to buy from Norwegian iTunes...I wonder what "Scared Of Heights" sounds like...

(Speaking of him, Thnairg just recently reviewed his third/fourth album, April.)

Edit: while we're at it, let's watch a performance of his duet with Sissel, 2001's "Where The Lost Ones Go," which he co-wrote--now this is what I want from a ballad. And (speaking of the recorded version this whole time) from a duet--Sissel's soaring operatic vocals are incredible, but I couldn't appreciate them or the song as much without Espen's counterbalancing grounding part. The words "epic" and "timeless" may get tossed around a lot, but if any song ever deserved them, it's this one.

Will there be a morning after, should I stay, or should I go?

Remember that Fame Factory special I started a while back? No, probably not--I really will finish it one of these days, but consider this a random installment in it. Annis was on the final season of Fame Factory, the one Sandra Oxenryd won and Linda Bengtzing was part of. She released the song I'm posting as a single in 2005, shortly after the show, but if her MySpace is to be believed she's finally got an album coming out this year, and she's worked with people like Aleena Gibson (as a songwriter) and Titiyo (as a singer).

One Suitcase--oddly enough (for me), I think this song might benefit from having a slower and slightly less "produced" arrangement, one that provides time for the emotion of the lyrics to sink in, one that takes time for pauses which match the hesitation experienced by the narrator and plays up the melancholy just a bit more--or gives us time to recognize it, at least. It's already had the opposite treatment applied to it: Mexican singer Fey gave it a dance treatment and released it as "Aquí Estoy," the lead single from her 2006 album Faltan Lunas (which was just a SILLY decision made even more frustrating by the next and even more unsuccessful followup single choice; when you have the adorable "Me Has Vuelto Loca," one of the three happiest songs of 2006,* in your pocket, why on Earth you wouldn't be selling that to the largest audience possible I have no idea [though apparently that's a cover too, but from what I've heard it's a huge improvement on the original]). It's still a good song even in this version, though, though given that the song's speed (which is still no more than mid-tempo) means the lyrics are slightly less likely to hit home at first, a lot of the "heavy lifting" in conveying the angst and emotion of those lyrics falls to Annis and her slightly country-tinged voice, which luckily is more than up to the job.

You can get Annis's "One Suitcase" on Fame Factory Vol. 10, which can be purchased here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: I may have fallen madly in love with a Swedish synth-pop song, but I probably won't write about that until a few days from now--maybe a British boy band?

*Incidentally, the other two were Alphabeat's "Fascination" and Magnus Carlsson's "Lev Livet!".

Friday, April 18, 2008

Que d'autres n'ont pas

It's been a little while since I posted a radio rip of a song, I think, but I've done it before when I've been excited enough about the song to do so; today's song is another case of that.

When I mentioned that clip of the extended mix earlier, I said that the song sounded like it was actually going to end up a lot better than I was expecting when I heard the concept (what was going to be covered) and when I heard that first leaked remix, and it is--it could maybe use a little more of an ending, but I can actually see myself loving this and playing it a lot throughout the year.

Since it's been sent out to radios, I'm sure they'll be a high quality version out and about soon, but I thought some people might be as curious as I was to hear the whole thing (the radio edit), so here it is. As I said, though, it's a radio rip; you'll have to turn the volume up a lot because of that, and (if the clip of the extended version is anything to go on) some of the production details are lost due to the lower quality.

The new album will be called Free, by the way; it's not available for preorder yet, but you can preorder this single, listed as being out May 13 (is that right? That's a week before her official site says the album is out), here (physical). The song will be posted just for a short time, of course, since it's a new single.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

We can be two rebels, breaking the rules

(This is a long, self-indulgent post; feel free to just skip straight to the two songs at the bottom.)

I've been playing Chris Brown's "Forever" and Jesse McCartney's "How Do You Sleep" back-to-back a lot recently, and I've been wondering: which of these is the better lyric?

'Cause we only got one night
Double your pleasure
Double your fun


Not only does your body bang
But I miss the conversation too

See, you would think Chris's use of the DoubleMint Gum catchphrase was a reference to...y'know, but there's nothing else in the song that goes along with that at all, and he just makes whatever he's talking about sound so cute. Jesse's line, on the other hand, is pure classy poetry, no? I mean, why wouldn't his girl go running back to him if he can dredge up sweet nothings like that?

It's my (snarky) reaction to lines like those and both Chris and Jesse in general that have been giving me so much trouble in figuring out what I want to say about the most recent musical offerings from these two young American singers. Both "Forever" and "How Do You Sleep" are great songs in my eyes, with my current preference of the two being the adorable and surprisingly dance-pop/electropop (though in a sweet semi-ballad way, not a crunchy way) "Forever" from Chris. When I run into trouble, though, is when I start trying to explain my attitudes towards Chris and Jesse or the appeal of them.

Let's start with Chris: he's definitely given us some great songs over the years; though there's lots of (deserving) appreciation of his and Jordin Sparks' duet "No Air" right now, let's not forget his debut single, "Run It," a club-friendly R&B stomper that stepped into the gap Usher's "Yeah!" had vacated. His second single, "Yo (Excuse Me Miss)," was a forgettable ballad, but it was about that time that I started to find I had a rising...comedy interest in Chris. That's not quite the right phrase--but I'll get back to that in a bit. The first thing that got me noticing this? Chris's seeming insistence on mentioning the fact that he was sixteen years old in every. single. single. he released (and yes, "Yo" meets that criteria via the video)--or at least the three singles I ended up hearing from his debut album.

He really cemented my like of him in a bonkers/what on Earth is he doing/brilliantly ridiculous kind of way when he came back with "Wall To Wall." The video was just so over-the-top that I loved it, sort of in a comedy way. It was my favorite kind of 2 AM watch-and-not-be-able-to-stop-laughing viewing. I genuinely liked the song, though (with a little time).

I mean, that opening? "Chris, come to me"? Vampires? FLYING? The bit where the whole song goes all innocent and Chris starts floating heavenwards in a ray of light while he generously sings "if I had to choose y'all know I would take all y'all with me" to the women surrounding him? Plus, it has to be said I'm a sucker for choreographed group dancing, something Chris has never been afraid of using.

It's when I try to put my attitude about Chris into words that I run into trouble. It's not really laughing at him, as there's genuine affection on my part, nor is it liking him ironically or subversively or anything. Humor definitely has something to do with it, though. I guess the closest I can get is to say there's this kind of ridiculousness or craziness around him that I like, though even that doesn't really get at it, as he comes off as just kind of "aww, bless" in some of his videos and songs.

Jesse McCartney, especially in his newly reincarnated form, is bringing out a similar reaction in me, though not an identical one. Though Chris has those kind of bonkers "Wall To Wall" video-moments, Jesse's more at the good songs accompanied by things I laugh at level that characterizes my early relationship with Chris. There's this flirting with total naffness that Jesse's doing (case in point: "Leavin'"), and somehow his doing that but never completely falling over the edge has endeared me to these new songs of his even more (well, sometimes he does end up in complete naffness, as in recently leaked track "Makeup"). Case in point: "Leavin'." I genuinely love it, but there's something about the exaggerated urban-cuteness of the melody matched with "hip" lines and phrases as well as who Jesse actually is that never fails to make me smile in a laughing kind of way. It's not a matter of taking Jesse as a joke, though; I mean, even a casual look at all my "Jesse McCartney"-tagged posts will show that I really enjoy his work and have been documenting most of the news we were getting about this new project way before we'd actually heard any of the music. One of the two big problems I had with Leona becoming SO huge was (in addition to thinking that such care should've been given to the career of everyone who'd won X Factor or any reality TV contest Simon Cowell is in) that I was convinced that if Jesse McCartney (who co-wrote "Bleeding Love") had released a song as good as Leona's version of "Bleeding Love" (NOT if he had released "Bleeding Love," but if he'd released a song as good as Leona's version of it) it would never have been that raved about or accepted by nearly so many people.

I guess the closest I could get to describing it is to say that I really like them while still having a sense of humor about the somewhat ridiculous things they do and actually liking them more for those things. Maybe?

The most important thing is this: both "Forever" and "How Do You Sleep" are great songs.

"Forever" is (based on the singles from him I know) a new direction for Chris. While before he's shown a preference for dance-friendly R&B club-type songs with periodic saccharine if cute in that aforementioned "bless" way ballads with the occasional skittery blurty R&B/hip-hop synth-flavored mid-tempo song ("Kiss Kiss," which I wouldn't say I love but I thought was really interesting and would've loved to read more about in an analysis kind of way), "Forever" finds him taking the cuteness of his previous ballads but working that into a more up-tempo (though not clubby) electropop-influenced track that I can't get enough of at the moment. Who would've guessed electropop was what Chris needed to finally get across that "awww" quality he's always had in an actually great solo song? I adore cutely produced songs and that's exactly what this one is, full of little sound effects and with any potential hard edges polished away. It's got an abundance of adorable lines in it, too; the "dance forev-ev-ever"s are great, but the "all you gotta do is watch me/look what I can do with my feet" always gets me to smile--in a genuine way. It kind of feels like the consolidation of Chris as an actual popstar to me, at least in music terms.

Chris's "Forever" may be better than Jesse's "How Do You Sleep," but that's no insult to "How Do You Sleep" when "Forever" is looking to be one of my favorite songs of the year; I still love "How Do You Sleep." Yes, there are definitely cringeworthy lines in this leaked track from Jesse's upcoming album Departure ("I found the letter you wrote me/it still smells just like you"?!), but I'm willing to forgive it. A little bit boy bandish and with synths and this kind of Jamaican xylophone sound like "Leavin'" but much less sparse, it still has that odd mix of urban/"cool" sounds and that hyper-cuteness I mentioned earlier; it's an odd path to walk because putting those two styles together is by force of juxtaposition going to make the mockable traits of the song even more noticeable, but it ends up resulting in a sound that I find really endearing.

It'll be interesting to to see how American radio reacts to these latest musical offerings from Jesse and Chris--has Chris built up enough popularity with his past R&B hits to branch out into a new sound successfully? Can Jesse's use of producers-of-the-moment like Tricky and The-Dream get him the hit he hasn't really had since "Beautiful Soul"? I really hope both end up successful; the American music scene could very much use some great solo male pop artists, especially ones who do well commercially.

"Forever" will be featured on and a single from the reedition of Chris Brown's second album Exclusive, which will be out at some point in the next few months but is not yet available for preorder; the first edition of the album can be purchased here, though. "How Do You Sleep" will be on Jesse McCartney's upcoming third album, Departure, due out May 20; the album can be preordered here (physical).

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I cried 'til my tears went dry--oh, it took me forever, but now I can smile

A general comment on Sanna Nielsen's new album Stronger: it's actually a really enjoyable listen. It's important to get one thing straight: do not go in expecting disco or schlager--you're better off thinking of Sanna as following in the musical shoes of Celine Dion than Lena Philipsson; it's very much an "easy listening" sort of album. That said, there are pop-rock-ish tracks, tracks that could probably be turned into country songs with little difficulty, and a frosted moody track that's an exciting welcome surprise. There may be a few ballads you don't see yourself returning to much, but there are more than enough other songs on this fourteen track album to make it a worthy purchase, even if it's not an album I'd say you absolutely must own now (you'd probably be more content waiting for its price to drop a bit, though I think it was worth the price I paid for it).

In lieu of a proper album review (there's no way I could do that after only having got the album today), here are my favorites at the moment, listed in the order they appear on the album (not in order of preference); keep in mind that I'm usually slow to appreciate ballads, so those are unlikely to appear on any early favorites list from me but could grow on me with time. If you want to make judgments of your own, listen to clips here or stream the full songs thirty seconds at a time here.


Wanna be wanna be your love
Wanna be wanna be your one

Sanna's stolen Ne-Yo ("Because Of You") and Mariah's ("I'm That Chick") drum machine! And tweaked it a bit and made it less prominent, setting it back in the mix of a song which unlike "I'm That Chick" doesn't have a disco feel, instead more a feeling of constantly walking on, which fits perfectly with the lyrics. It's a sound I'm surprised to hear from Sanna, but a welcome poppy one.

Nobody Without You

Lost in paradise
Bottled up inside
Playing with dynamite
'Bout to blow my mind

You're my saviour
I'm your prisoner
You have set me free
Under your commaaaaaaaannnndd
Caught in your embraaaaaacccce
Knowing that I aaaa-aa-aa-aa-aa-aam...

Nobody without you
But a wreck of a broken heart
Nobody without you
Just a cry in the desert

...which I wrote about before; Sanna goes dramatic semi-rock chick to fantastic results.

I Believe It's You

You don't have to say another word
I believe in you

Up-tempo in a very Celine Dion (I think--I don't know that much Celine Dion work) sort of way; great catchy easy-to-swallow chorus.

Tomorrow Ends Today

I have drifted way off course
In the sea of love

Stealing Aftonbladet's word, "chilly" is a good way to describe this pop song ("frosty" couldn't be a more appropriate opening word); "moody" as well. Mature pop in the sophisticated sense, not the dull sense. Once again, a surprising sound for Sanna, but a welcome one.

Impatiently Waiting For You

Impatiently waiting for you
Hoping my dream will come true
Impatiently waiting for you
'Cause baby that's all I can do

Another uptempo-in-that-Celine-way track, "Impatiently Waiting For You" is uplifting and pretty fun (though don't let "fun" make you think it's crazy in any way whatsoever), once again with a power chorus.

Those Were The Days And The Nights Of Loving You

Suddenly something came over me
And made me think of you
Maybe the rain on the window
Just sounded like then
Or a song on the radio,
I don't know
But I found myself back again

I was just seventeen
I was granted a wish and you were the dream

This could be turned into a full-fledged country song pretty easily, and as is it already bears some traits of one. It's also (once again) uptempo Celine Dion-esque and has Sanna reminiscing about an old relationship.

But I Know What I Want

But I know what I want
And I know that I want you
'Cause I know what I got
And it's unbelievable

Uptempo and maybe Celine Dion-esque, especially in the verses, but the chorus is a bit different, with this punchy fast-paced delivery of the beginning lines instead of having that soaring feel the choruses of songs like "Impatiently Waiting For You" and "I Believe It's You" do. Wins mega-kudos from me for those lyrics quoted above; don't you just want to using that line?

All of the above songs are fully great in my eyes, which would be enough to make me happy with the album. I can also see a lot of people liking "Magic" (a rockier track, though not in the verses; it's fine, but the chorus makes it just a second-tier pop-rock track for me right now) and "I Can Catch The Moon" (a ballad).

If you're looking to pick it up, I know that you can definitely buy a physical copy here even if you don't live in Sweden; you might be able to buy a digital copy (with unprotected 320 kbps mp3s) here, but I'm unsure if there are regional restrictions [that page will tell you if there are for where you're living].

Next up: those American singers. Or maybe something about another Swedish album released today.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Would you die for me like I'd die for you?

A certain album was put up on Swedish iTunes today (listen to clips of it on iTunes here if you want to) and, though I'm holding off on buying the whole thing since I'll be getting the physical version, I couldn't help myself from picking up a couple of songs, the SoundFactory remix of a certain 2008 Melodifestival entry (a bonus track) and the song I'm posting today. From the sounds of it, it's NOT all ballads, though it's definitely not a schlager album or a predominantly uptempo album either. It really sounds like there are a lot of good songs on it.

Nobody Without You--a rocky song? On this album? Hard to believe, but yes, though with several caveats--it's more "slightly rocky," not full rock, and it actually doesn't have hugely prominent guitars, but it still manages to come off as kind of rocky, which is pretty impressive. It's very...interesting on an instrumental level, not at all what I was expecting to hear--from that distinctive opening bass (of the string sort) through that constantly building verse and that near-release "under your commaaaaannnd" and (the especially amazing) "knowing that I aaaaaaaaa-aa-aa-aa-aa-am" leadup into the chorus, you just know you're in for something big; as a song, it's a lot grander (and not in a big giant ballad way), dramatic, and occasionally more ominous than I would have expected anything on this album to be. The chorus is great, but if I'm being picky I wonder if it isn't the 150% knockout I'd love it to have given all the other amazing things about this song, but--no, I take that back; anyway, even if I hadn't, there are too many great things about this song for me to really complain and the writers and producers have so many random tricks up their sleeves that you never quite know what to expect next--random delicate "eye of the hurricane" break that suddenly morphs into a slightly pop-rock-soul-inspired section before returning quickly to that pounding chorus? Sure! Falling in-round type ending? Why not? Even if it wasn't a great song, I'd really have to commend them on their boldness (in this context), but luckily, it's that too. Oh, and anyone else notice that runtime? A bit suspicious, no?

You can buy this album here (physical); it comes out tomorrow. This song was said a while ago to the next single, so it'll only be posted for a very short time in case that's still happening.

Next up: maybe something Mexican or those American singers.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Delam por az darde khoda dobare

I know I've already written about Arash's new single here, but I haven't posted it and, given that a month on it's still getting plays from me, I thought it was worth sharing. Swedish-Iranian singer Arash's earlier hits like "Temptation" and "Boro Boro" from his 2005 self-titled album may be catchier and probably better, but "Donya," the lead single from Arash's upcoming album, has proven itself to have more staying power (for me personally, anyway) than I expected. I'm hoping we'll get some great songs on Donya, also the title of his new album, which is due out May 28.

Donya--more from the "Boro Boro" school than the "Temptation" school, "Donya" is kind of a surprising comeback single because it's not as in-your-face or upbeat-ly aggressively catchy as I would have expected. Beyond that, if you've heard an Arash single, you're not going to be surprised by the sound of this: pop with Persian flourishes and the Swedish sense of catchiness. Shaggy drops by with a couple of asides (which are mainly noteworthy only because the first time he said "a bomb" I had to do the aural equivalent of a doubletake at the idea that Obama was being mentioned in a Swedish pop song). None of this is to say that it's anything less than an enjoyable listen, though, and though "Donya" might not seem quite as memorable as some of Arash's earlier singles, it's better than others and still great. You may walk away from it now thinking you'll never think about it again, but give yourself a few hours or a day and you'll find yourself with "Didi didi donya" popping into your head at odd times. Oddly enough, the lyrics are apparently kind of any rate, I'm glad to have Arash back.

As a side note, there are a bunch of remixes for this song on the single. The Mintman one sounds like its backing came straight out of a Timbaland song (mainly "The Way I Are"), which is an odd combination I never expected to hear. They're mainly worth mentioning, though, for the Payami Break Mix and the full-length Payami Remix, which are really pretty great if you like your pop songs reworked into pure '80's-esque dance tracks. I really recommend tracking them down; they're not life-changing remixes that you'll listen to all the time on their own and that everyone regardless of their feelings on remixes needs to hear like that "Mistake" remix, but they're very listenable if you like remixes in general. The Odessa Club Mix isn't bad either. In fact...

Donya (Payami Remix) case you're curious.

Arash's new album Donya isn't out yet, but it can be preordered here (physical) and you can buy his single "Donya" here (physical, out in a a couple of days) or here (digital, being sold now). This song will only be posted for a little bit, since it's a fairly new single.

Next up: maybe those American singers.

Give me more of the attraction

A random Ola update:

I knew his second album, Good Enough, was going to be re-released with his Melodifestival track "Love In Stereo" added on, but now I'm getting the impression we're getting more than that--is that right? Reworkings/remixings of (some of?) the original tracks as well as at least one entirely new song. I'm really not sure on that, though; I'd welcome clarification.

This is kind of old news at this point, but I was fascinated to read that (while most of the gossip about "Hero" centered around Charlotte and Måns) apparently "Hero" was actually written for Ola; he turned it down (he wanted a song that was in keeping with the "80's feel" of his album) and the writers then decided it suited a female voice better anyway, Fredrik Kempe suggested Charlotte Perrelli, and she fell for the song. That's not based on any talking with people who would actually know, though, just on this article (note: not my scan!), but since that information actually comes from Bobby Ljunggren, that must be what happened. Do you know...I LOVE "Hero," but I LOVE "Love In Stereo" as well--heaven help me if I do another end up year ranking because I really don't know how I'm going to rank my favorite Melodifestival tracks. At any rate, I don't think he would have won with "Hero" anyway, but I love getting these little flashes of insight into the behind the scenes side of Melodifestivalen.

Moving away from Ola, I have to thank Baszjuh for alerting me to the fact that Brolle's new album is (like Sanna's) out this coming week, a fact that I somehow managed to not pick up on despite Brolle's name being all over the Swedish papers recently and actually having seen the cover of the album. Which looks like this, since we're speaking of it:

I love it. In a way I have not loved an album cover in a long time. I'm still loving "Solo I Stockholm" too--especially that GIANT climatic note near the end, which I literally can't get enough of--and have been really enjoying his debut album since I picked it up, so I'll definitely be buying Ett Hjärta Som Glöder Som En Gång Brann when it comes out. The tracklisting:

1.) Solo I Stockholm
2.) Världens Hörn
3.) Faller Du (elsewhere listed as "Faller Du Faller Jag")
4.) Är Det Mig Du Gråter För
5.) Söt Sak
6.) Mexiko (a type-o, maybe?)
7.) Det Är Hon
8.) Vaken Igen
9.) En Sång För Dom
10.) Tillsammans
11.) Nu
12.) Sång För Dom (Bonus Track/Acoustic Version)

I know this isn't going to be an album for everyone, though; you can listen to preview clips of it here if you're wondering about it.

In other Brolle news, he was on Så ska det låta recently, teamed up with Linda Bengtzing...but in terms of him, I like his performance of "Suspicious Minds" on the same program but from 2006 more, so that's what I'm embedding.

Oh fine, here's a bit of Linda having fun singing "We're Not Gonna Take It"...

...and a Brolle-centric take on "Johnny B Goode."

Don't regret it but I still live with the side effects

Quick note: I just upgraded from old Blogger to new Blogger; I'm not happy with what it's done to the blog's formatting, but it was necessary for a couple of functional reasons (one being that if you click on a label the "older posts" option will still be available at the bottom of the page if I've used that label a lot [before, you could only view the last x many posts using that label and there was no way to filter and view the older posts with that label] and another being that from the time I started this blog I've always wanted to be able to put quotations underneath the blog's title and was never HMTL fluent enough to do it in the old format). I may play around with the look later, when I've got more time and patience.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

I don't sleep--it's kinda hard when you cry; yeah, that's where you left me

I realize loads of bloggers already know about the song I'm posting today--I know D'luv, Mike, Adem, and Mobius all do and I'm sure there are others--and that I've mentioned it roughly fifty million times, two factors that you would think would negate the need to post it--but I'm posting it anyway. Stephanie McIntosh is best known for appearing on Australian TV show Neighbours, but a couple of years ago she launched a music career with the pop-rock single "Mistake," which I thought was a decent post-Kelly Clarkson song. She released a few other singles as well as an album, Tightrope, in Australia and I remember there being talk of her releasing music in the UK--which maybe even happened, but not successfully--but by far the best thing she's ever given us is a remix that forsakes the pop-rock stylings of that album and is instead pure unadulterated dance-pop of the best sort.

Mistake (Jewels & Stones Radio Edit)--the very definition of a dance-pop stormer. The guitars themselves have generally been taken out, but the glossy electronic sounds they've been replaced with somehow still manage to capture their essence, meaning that "Mistake" has lost none of its power or punch. In fact, if anything, Jewels & Stone have taken the song's power and energy up several notches, in addition to giving it a much-needed polish and tossing in some handclaps here and there. "Mistake" has been turned into a complete hands-up-in-the-air dance anthem, just the sort of cheesy upbeat (not lyrically, but musically) dance-pop the world can never get enough of. I love pop-rock, but if there was ever a case for tossing out all guitars in favor of nothing but dance and Europop, this remix is it.

Also, tradition obligates me to at this point mention the Reactor Mix of Kate DeAraugo's "Faded," which isn't quite as good as this remix but is still amazing and yet another example of female-sung Australian pop-rock being transformed into bright shiny dance-pop and being all the better for it.

I got this remix back when her MySpace (temporarily) posted it as a free download and now looking around I'm not sure where you buy the Jewels & Stone radio edit (beyond promo CDs); the deluxe edition of Stephanie McIntosh's album Tightrope does contain a Jewels & Stone mix of "Mistake" which Sanity says is the radio edit but Wikipedia says is a longer mix. Either way, that album can be bought here (physical). The longer remix can be purchased here digitally.

Next up: maybe those American singers.

Little bright lights are we

Random music tidbits:

As part of promotion in Germany, Jesse McCartney is giving away a minute and a half clip of his demo of "Bleeding Love" (well, all we technically know is that it's him singing it, but I would imagine it's a demo) when you sign up for his German newsletter. I've been on record before as having a fascination with demos even when I don't expect them to be better than the original, so of course I had to have it. It's not as amped up and epic sounding, but I'm still so glad we got to hear it for curiosity's sake (and would love to have the full version eventually). If you're interested and don't feel liking signing up, I'm sure it'll be easy to find. Thanks to PubliSpain for the heads-up! I'll be writing more about other songs from him in a little bit, hopefully.

Speaking of minute and a half clips of songs, there's now a clip of the extended mix of Kate Ryan's "Ella Elle L'a" out there (as well as another remix apparently, but I would presume the extended mix gives a better idea of what the actual radio version is going to sound like than any other long remix is going to). Thankfully, it's sounding better than that first remix we heard; the whole thing may end up better than I expected.

Infernal's new different than what I expected. Not a stomper (though not a ballad either). An interesting/odd choice for a lead single. It starts off with some slightly choral but also slightly spooky vocals and makes you think it's going to be huge (that is, if that's really part of the single--the version I'm listening to has an odd gap in it), but it's surprisingly subdued.

Oh Linda Kiraly--I'm still not over "Can't Get Over" not being a smash hit. I'm not sure why, but she's now uploaded a dance remix to her YouTube account. It's not something I'm suggesting you all go listen to, but given how much I love "Can't Get Over," I feel obligated to still report anything having to do with this project. Once again, credit for the news goes to PubliSpain.

Belgian singer Katerine of "Here Come All The Boys" and "Catfight" has a new single coming out. "Shut Your Mouth" follows up the non-smashes "Live Wire" and "Don't Put It On Me," both of which I liked much more than "Shut Your Mouth"...which I have to say I don't really like at all at the moment. It's got a dancier bleepier backing for her; you can listen to it at this MySpace.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Love was a stranger and now he's walkin' with me

Continuing to bring you old news...

Do you know who performed a new song at a concert a month ago (well, "new" if we can ignore the fact that he apparently performed it live at least three months ago for a New Year's show, making me even more behind in finding this out)?

Espen Lind!

And sure, this song ("Sweet Love") is more piano-based pop, maybe with a little gospel influence, not a "Black Sunday"/"Joni Mitchell On The Radio"/"Everything's Falling Apart"-type song like I really want him to give us again (no, I still haven't mentally adapted to the fact that's not likely), but at the moment I'm too excited to actually see some sort of new material from him to judge the song. Now if only we could get some actual hard-and-fast dates for a new album from him or something...

Statistically, I wonder
That I ever found you
'Cause you are one in a million
I'm more like one out of two

And I'm not a catch,
I don't go for much
I've been played and I've been burned
But finally it's clear to me that my luck has turned

I'm not sure whether those are Sanna-esque lyrics or the sort that make me want a junior high-type trapper to scrawl them in, but either way, NEW ESPEN LIND! I'll worry about whether or not it's a good song later.

(Note that I haven't heard that this is a single or anything; it's just a song he performed.)

Gör vad du vill men gör det rätt

If you play too much with funk or soul, as I implied yesterday, you're going to run into extra difficulty winning me over. The latest single from Swedish singer Eric Gadd, though, despite coming from those genres (as well as pop, of course), has me completely addicted. The video for Eric's "Tvåhundratusen" came out at about the same time as the video for Elin Lanto's "Speak 'n Spell," so, though I gave it a quick watch, you can probably guess where the focus of my attention was. In the time since then, though, I've come to love it. Eric's been releasing albums for a long time (since the '80's), but in terms of recent times I think "Meet Me Here" is probably the song he's most known for (which the first time I heard in Swedish context sounded familiar--has it been used anywhere outside Sweden that I might have heard it?). "Tvåhundratusen" marks a move away from the English language material he usually releases, which is only a shame because it means this song probably doesn't have the chance to go international--something it definitely deserves.

Tvåhundratusen--I'd be hardpressed to explain why this song works so well for me when most funk/soul songs featuring falsetto don't at all; I think part of it may have something to do with the fact that it's energetic enough that it never feels like it's getting lost in itself. The horn blurts give it a little aggression as well as make it catchier, but I certainly can't attribute all the song's success to that--I'm pretty sure I'd still love it without them (though I'm glad they're there). Maybe it's Eric's delivery, with him knowing just which words and syllables to "punch" in order to make the song pop properly? Regardless, that picture I've used (no comments, please!) really doesn't do any justice to how...slightly crazy "Tvåhundratusen" is (the video does kind of a better job at that). Slight tangent: if I hear one more person compare this to Mika, there WILL be trouble--yes, there's falsetto, but that's literally the only similarity. The Justin Timberlake comparisons are slightly less I'll-attack-you-now-worthy if still somewhat baffling; Justin's music has much more of an electronic backing and has R&B influences, neither of which you'll find here.

To buy Eric Gadd's single "Tvåhundratusen," go here (physical). It'll only be posted for a short time since it's a fairly recent single.

Speaking of Swedish singers, you can listen to Amanda Jenssen's new single "Amarula Tree" here if you've been wondering what it sounds like. Features the line "I keep away from the yuppies, puppy." I'm not commenting on it yet.

Next up: maybe one of those American singers.

Solo quiero conversar, solo quiero conocerte

Apropos of nothing: Reik's "Qué vida la mía." Yes, I've featured it before, but it was a long time ago (the song itself is a 2005 single). If you've ever wanted to get a taste of Mexican teen-pop, this is about as good as it gets--well, for my tastes, anyway (and that's not to imply there aren't loads of other teen-pop type Mexican songs I love). Reik's a three person Mexican boy band; yes, they wield acoustic guitars, as you'll hear in this strummy upbeat pop song, but "Que vida la mia" couldn't be more pure boy band joy if it tried. Adorable, hopelessly catchy, and with playful rhymes and rapidfire lyrics that just beg to sung along with even as your tongue trips over the Spanish words, it's a song that never fails to bring a smile to my face.

(Just skip past the first 35 seconds of the video).

Make more songs like this boys and fewer ballads--yes, you sing anguish well, but the ratio's hopelessly out of balance at the moment.

(Oddly, I've never noticed that there's one instrumental part that bears a little similarity to Maroon 5's "This Love" until now.)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

On my house, on my job, on my loot, shoes, my voice, my crew, my mind, my father's last name?

In general, I don't like Robin Thicke's singles; I think it may have something to do with too much falsetto and funky laid-backness (actually, now that I think about it, I can see me really liking some of them if you punched up the production or the arrangement some more). However, in among the American singer's work, there is at least one giant glaring couldn't-stand-out-more exception--his debut single, and a song that I would like to mention that I knew long before a certain contestant covered it on American Idol (though, truth, I now unavoidably see his gestures when I hear that song; I was actually really excited when I heard that he was doing that song though not necessarily because of getting to see that performance but more as an indicator of actual music he could release; at the time I thought an album in that style could really suit him and be very exciting). It was released when Robin was going by just his last name; he's since switched over to releasing under his full name and actually got some American success with his second album, 2006's The Evolution Of Robin Thicke.

When I Get You Alone--brilliance. No, really--this is a classic. Well, it should be, anyway; in the U.S., it didn't do too well (not a song your average person on the street knows at all), though apparently it did better outside his home country. With strings sampled from a song that samples a Beethoven song, "When I Get You Alone" uses just the right amount of funk to add some extra energy and fun to this pop-R&B song. Thicke manages to toss countless hooks into the song without it ever seeming overly busy, making "When I Get You Alone" a perfect candidate for singing along well as dancing too, of course. Sure, you could talk about it some more (how well-crafted it is and all that), but the most important thing is this: it's FUN. And in the end, I don't care what the practical or realistic hindrances were: that should have been enough to make this a huge hit.

To buy Robin Thicke's first album A Beautiful World, go here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: I've been working on some thoughts on some American singers and can't seem to get across what I'm trying to say--still, if I can manage to fix that, one of those will be tomorrow's post.