Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tonight I'm gonna start a fire, I'm gonna lose my self control

Only about a week until I'm back full-time!

For now, though, here's some big cheesy swooshy dance-pop from Sweden, the sort of song that would fit perfectly on a playlist with Uniting Nations' "You And Me" and Sunblock's "I'll Be Ready"--very '80's. In fact, the first time I heard a bit of the song, I figured it was one of those dance songs made up of just an '80's sample that are so popular now (with added element that always makes me think of Britney's "Crazy" cowbell, even though it doesn't actually sound like it, I know)...and there's still this sparkly electronic riff that reminds me so much of something, but I can't place. And how can you dislike a group that proclaims they "take us back to a trouble-free time when we listened to groups like Europe and Samantha Fox and watched movies like Dirty Dancing and Top Gun" (and uses scenes from Top Gun for the music video)?

Let's focus on the good boy band-ish news like the existence of the three-person group from above and pretend D'Nash never took that awkward, awkward picture, 'K?

On another note, though, someone very wise once posted the Valentin Radio Mix of Natasha Bedingfield's "The One That Got Away" (for which I am eternally grateful) with the comment that "Every summer needs a remix just like this"--I need a remix like that, with that feel for this summer as well, so let me know if anyone knows one!

You can buy the song I posted here (physical) or here (digital). It's also available on the Absolute Summer Dance 2008 album, which is what I know it from (edit: Nick just posted another highlight from that album [not that that's where he heard it, but since I was talking about listening to the album and this connected to that...]). This is also maybe a good time to mention a site I've been using but haven't wanted to recommend because I wasn't sure it would work for everyone, but so far it's still working for me, so I can only assume it really is region-free for the moment (though who knows how long it'll be before they catch that): a Swedish digital music site that you can actually buy from even if you're not living in Sweden (besides Klicktrack, which is great but very limited). The trouble is that most of the songs (though not all) come as protected WMAs, so if you want them for iTunes or your iPod, you'll have to burn them to CD and then rip them back (I recommend using a rewritable CD)--I know that's annoying, but if your a Swedish music addict like me, someone who's always desperate for new releases, it's heaven-sent. If anyone uses it and it doesn't work for them, though, please let me know--I'm planning on adding it to the blog's sidebar and I only do that for sites that don't let only residents of their country of origin use them.

(Hopefully I'll be able to catch up on communication in the next few days; if not, rest assured that'll definitely happen when I'm done traveling [blog catch-up will occur then too], and I'm sorry for taking so long!)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

See me livin' like a movie

I'm going to be doing some traveling for the next two weeks. I'm expecting at least some of the places I'm visiting to have Internet access, so I don't expect it to be an entirely post-free two weeks, but posts may very well be more sporadic (though if I get some big chunks of time I'll write up some stuff and set it to automatically post).

I know I keep promising to write about Kalomoira and Kate Ryan, and I really will--hopefully the downtime that goes along with traveling will coerce me into doing that--but for now, here's a super-quick post with a song from Belgian singer Natalia, an Idol runner-up who's made herself far more than that in her home country. I've posted a few of her songs before, but none from her most recent album, so here's "Glamorous," a slightly funky, slightly urban, but mainly just pop-with-synths song (though don't let the title and the mention of synths make you expect something that sounds musically [ignoring the lyrics for a moment] like the Fergie song). Besides the horns, the song's effects sound sort of sound like the inner workings of a machine put into the service of a catchy mid-tempo pop song). It was the album's second single and released back in 2007.

To buy Natalia's third album, Everything & More, go here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: Kalomoira or Kate Ryan, hopefully!

Nothing would taste the same as before

Not too long ago I wrote about how the song "Brief And Beautiful" kept getting recycled, given to several artists who all recorded their own version of it. Here comes the next installment of an unplanned but apparently ongoing series...

Swedish Idol winner Agnes Carlsson was the first to record "Love Is All Around," which was written for her, putting it on her second album; the bubbly upbeat musical followup to songs like "Stranded" and "Emotional" (itself a part of the recycling circuit), it was never a single for her, but, since it was by far the best song on that album, it really should have been. The last commercial material Agnes released was this past Christmas's cover of "All I Want For Christmas Is You," but she also recently appeared on Körslaget.

(I wasn't going to upload the song--another case of it being introduced to me by another blog--but somehow Agnes's version isn't totally on YouTube, so here it is for comparison purposes.)

Japanese boy band Arashi recorded a version of the song, one of those odd mainly in Japanese but with some random lines in English in the chorus sorts of songs. Strangely, though, the English lines aren't actually taken from "Love Is All Around;" instead, the song has been renamed "We Can Make It" and features the line "we can make it through." They added in a rap as well, but the end result is still very bubblegum. Unlike Agnes, they did release it as a single (in spring 2007).

Australian Idol contestant Ricki-Lee Coulter recorded the song for her second solo album, released in August 2007, her first solo album released after leaving the Young Divas, and made it her second single from the album. She lacks Agnes's accent, but there's something about Agnes's voice that makes me prefer Agnes's version of it; the song "pops" more and sounds richer to me. Sorry Mike! Like Arashi, Ricki-Lee released her version as a single, in her case in November 2007.

As if we didn't have enough Idol contestants covering the song, though, South African Idol winner Jody Williams released her version of "Love Is All Around" as her winner's single in December 2007. I still give Agnes the easy edge here, but wouldn't it be refreshing to have an Idol winner single this bubbly and upbeat? Speaking of Jody, she's got a new single out called "Kiss Of Life," but, since I haven't heard more than twenty seconds of it, I can't exactly judge it.

(Since "Love Is All Around" was the winner's song, both Jody and the eventual runner-up Andriette performed it, with both of their versions being released for sale digitally, though it was Jody's version that got actually "released.")

What prompted this post? I was reading about the work Spanish singer Soraya Arnelas (though she wasn't on an Idol show, she was on Operación Triunfo) is doing on her new album--due out this October--and couldn't help noticing one of the titles of the songs she's done.

Yup, you guessed it. "Love Is All Around." Could be another song, but given the history of this song, I'm not going to count on it. It's a fantastic song, but this is really getting kind of ridiculous. Then again, maybe we shouldn't be too surprised: Soraya's past two albums have been all covers...but those were of a different sort--those were known covers, covers of '80's songs (Kylie's "I Should Be So Lucky," Laura Branigan's "Self Control," Patti Smith's "Because The Night," Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want To Have Fun," Baltimora's "Tarzan Boy," the Human League's "Don't You Want Me," Yaz's "Don't Go," the Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)"...you get the idea), not a version of a song that modern day songwriters are selling artists in different regions the rights to. Don't get me wrong: I love Epicentre, the Swedish team behind the song; it's just that from the perspective of an international pop fan (which is admittedly much different from that of someone making a living via their job), I'd just much rather have new fantastic songs instead of many versions of the same fantastic song.

Further on the Soraya news front, the album is apparently super-danceable, has--in the first edition--ten songs in Spanish and two in English (titles including "Love Is All Around," "Rebound," "Duele," "Caminaré," "La noche es para mi," and "Sin miedo"), features three songs recorded with DJ Sammy, and she's given us the impression before that there's a duet with Kate Ryan on it, and not the one on Kate's new album. There'll be another version of the album, all in English, that comes out later, I think.

I know Soraya's not exactly the definition of classy, but I do hope this new album is...worthy. And makes good use of her voice and doesn't force it on songs it doesn't fit.

For more on Soraya, check out PopMusicWorldWide's opinionated post on her or Robpop's post on her.

Agnes's second album Stronger can be purchased here (physical).

Next up: maybe Kalomoira or Kate Ryan, finally. Or another Belgian singer.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

μ΄ένα σου βλέμμα γίνε η ζωή μου

I really was going to write about Kalomoira's new album today, but after all the cleaning and stuff I've been doing today (I know, cleaning, what a rough life), I just don't feel like actually making the decision of which song to post. Tomorrow, probably! Instead, I offer another Greek artist, one I know very little about, with a song I know even less about. In fact, I don't even know where it comes from (the perils of the various ways of translating--or what's the proper term for it, transliterating?--Greek words). Eirini Merkouri (or Irini Merkouri) has released multiple albums in Greece, with a new one apparently on the way, but I haven't been able to figure out what era or soundtrack or whatever today's song is from (I think it's recent-ish, as in within the past year or so, but I'm not even certain about that)--if anyone knows, I'd love to know!

Trexe--or "Trekse," or "Τρέξε." I'm not sure if anyone remembers Sakis's "Stous 31 Dromous," but the musical backing for this kind of reminds me of that, if faster--it's that same sort of electronic beat, like it could have been programmed on the same type of machine. There's piano added to those beats, though, which is an effect I can rarely pass up: a light squiggly upbeat dance beat accompanied by some repeated piano phrase (see also: my love for Anthony Callea's "Wanna Be The One"). Catchy, full, but not heavy, "Trexe" is pretty lovely--you could definitely dance to this, but you don't have to, and, though there's definitely a time for music that commands you to the dancefloor, it's nice to have this sort of dance that you can just allow to pleasantly wash over and through you.

As I said, I have no idea what this song is from, so the best I can do is say that you can buy Eirini Merkouri's most recent album, Argises, which does not contain "Trexe," here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: probably Kalomoira.

Singing "we don't care"

Hmm...I don't know what to think of the new McFly single, "One For The Radio." I mean, I approve of backing vocals that sound like a group of people shouting in unison in theory, but if you're going to make a song that talks about how much people like your songs even if they won't admit it, shouldn't it be a fantastic song with a melody that inspires everyone to sing along even without relying on that fallback? And maybe instrumental parts that have you air-guitaring or -drumming along? The word "anthemic" was tossed around afterwards, but there were loads of songs on the last (non-greatest hits) album that sounded more anthemic than that one. I get that they're going for a sort of crunchier guitar sound now, but I wonder if this particular song might have worked better with slightly different production; a lighter feel suiting a lighter melody...well, I've only heard it once, and I missed the beginning as well, so I'll have to hear it begin before I really know. I should've recorded it--it's already fading from my mind, and 3/4 of a listen is far from enough to properly judge a song. Still, it'll be on Radio 1's site soon enough, in the archives for Switch with Nick Grimshaw. Right now, though, it seemed potentially fine or maybe OKish, but not exciting.