Friday, September 26, 2008

Another 30-second update from a temporarily hijacked computer: on Wednesday, the IT people told me it takes a week on average to deal with my problem. If the computer is alive when I get it back, hopefully I'll be back around then.

In good news, the lack of computer should hopefully force me to get more work done. In bad news, it is INCREDIBLY FRUSTRATING to not be able to listen to any of "Womanizer" or "The Boy Does Nothing." Or any of Monrose or Will Young if they're out there. Sigh.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My computer is in the IT doctor's office right now. The good news is I keep my music on an external hard drive which should hopefully be fine. The bad news (in addition to the files on it that I need for, you know, real life and stuff) is that I won't really have computer access, and definitely not the ability to upload songs, until I get it back, and I have no idea how long that's going to be. Thank you SO much to the people patient enough to still be reading this blog, though, given all the interruptions and problems I've had recently. Hopefully all this will be resolved fairly quickly.

Monday, September 22, 2008

For old times' sake

Am I the only one who, every time she hears the beat of the new All-American rejects song, "Gives You Hell," keeps thinking "oh, they've sample Busted's 'Year 3000'!" I mean, I don't really think they have, but that beat is kind of similar to a part of that song. It's kind of an odd song from them, at least as a lead single--that strong guitar part we're used to from them doesn't come in until more than a minute into the song, when we get to the chorus for the first time, and even then, it isn't that guitar-y. I really don't know what to make of it--is it good? Kitschy and disappointing? Different and good? Less different than I think it is? Is the technique that it uses for the last 50 seconds, that whole-crowd-chanting-the-lyrics technique, something that makes the song more powerful, or a desperate attempt to give the song some sort of impact? Should the whole thing have been more musically fleshed-out, or would there then have been nothing special about it? I have no idea. I could be raving about in a week or barely ever listening to it again. "Dirty Little Secret" was just such a perfect adrenaline rush of a song--one of the best of the century so far for me, for sure--that I can't help feeling unenthused about this song so far. It could just be a matter of having to get used to something different than what you were expecting, and the "oooOOOO"s are definitely a good thing.

Dutch Idols winner Nikki's new single (and her first real post-winner's single single), "Bring Me Down" (listen on a MySpace-equivalent), on the other hand, doesn't have any sort of odd quarter-novelty value thing about it; it's fairly straightforward pop-rock. Guitars aren't in short supply here, though they're not overbearing either. Then again, so far I've been raising a similar question about it to one of the ones "Give Me Hell" caused: should it have been more musically fleshed-out? I like the chorus, but it kind of feels like whoever wrote it thought "oh, this might be good" and, instead of polishing it and expanding it, just left it as that basic initial idea. I like "Bring Me Down," though (and I expect it could grow on me), and I'd be posting it instead of the AAR song if I had it, but, as far as I know, it's only for sale on Dutch iTunes so far.

The new All-American Rejects album, When The World Comes Down, doesn't come out until November 18 (tentatively), but you will eventually be able to pre-order it from Amazon (it's not yet listed).

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I don't know what this is, but you got me good

You know what drives me crazy? Having to re-evaluate songs because you see them used in a certain way and suddenly gain a whole new appreciation for them.

Maybe the biggest example of this recently is M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes." Short of liking "Bucky Done Gun" and, to a lesser degree, "Galang" from a few years ago, I'd pretty much always written her off as one of those critically-acclaimed artists that I was never really going to get. If you think about it, avoiding an artist just because they happen to get good reviews and be cool to mention in public is as awful as avoiding an artist just because they're popular, but that's what I did. I think I listened to a little thirty second clip of "Paper Planes" around the time the album came out, didn't think it sounded good, and moved on...until--like, apparently, a bunch of Americans--I couldn't help enjoying it when it was used in the previews for the movie Pineapple Express.

It's all about context sometimes, though, I guess--and I've never appreciated "Bleeding Love" more than I did when Mark and Chelsea danced a heartbreaking routine set to it this past summer on So You Think You Can Dance. It's a song that I've been--as I've said in the past--too (unfairly) frustrated by to properly enjoy, but for two minutes, that was no longer a problem. Seeing the performance on a bigger screen and in higher quality lends a lot to it. as that way you can see their expressions--by the end you're left feeling that Chelsea really is crushed.

Duffy's another artist I've failed to connect with, but, once again, So You Think You Can Dance brought out an appreciation in me for a song I didn't really enjoy before and, to be fair, still don't really listen to much after: "Mercy." Twitch and Katee's crazy ex-girlfriend routine is really something worth watching.

Chris Brown's "Forever," on the other hand, was already a song I had no problem enjoying, but my love of it was only enhanced by Twitch and Comfort's performance, which was likewise enhanced for me by my love of the song. Where they cut off the song always leaves me wanting more, though. Still, fantastic song, fantastic routine, fantastic dancing--plus, it's got my other two big SYTYCD weaknesses: shiny clothing and flashing lights. What more could you ask for?

Next up: I realize this is two non-song posting posts in a row; it's not going to be the usual, don't worry. Tomorrow might be a new Swedish song.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I'm reborn at the discotheque

After only approximately AGES ("My Favorite Pair Of Jeans" doesn't count--it wasn't a real single and it was too close to the annoying "Money" side of her for my taste), we're FINALLY getting Elin Lanto's next single.

Let's revisit the brilliant "Speak 'n Spell," shall we?

So many icon-in-the-making moments in that.

Her new single is called "Discotheque" (promising!)--watch her perform it below.

I'm sorry, I hate this expression, but: OMG OMG OMG. I LOVE her reinvention. This album is going to be brilliant--it better be. Disco disco disco! (I'm saying this based on what I think the studio version will sound like.) I've been waiting and waiting for new material from her since the amazing popstar transformation that was "Speak 'n Spell" and the accompanying visuals took place, and finally getting new material from her that sounds like it'll live up to expectations is just fantastic. One site says the single comes out this September, but I'm not sure if that's still true.

(Also, I may be reading too much into it, but it is a just-under-three-minutes-long song...)

Edit: if you want to hear what might be more of a playback version of the song in lower quality, watch her performance from EuroPride; it starts at 3:14 of the video below. BRILLIANT.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Nu när du gått the title above says: the music video for the new Lena Philipsson and Orup single, albeit in very low quality (filmed on a cell phone, apparently). I'll update this when we get a better quality embeddable version, but for now, if you want to listen/watch in good quality, head over to Aftonbladet. Ginza has the album cover and tracklist:

1.) Hals över huvud
2.) Nu när du gått
4.) Jag hatar att vakna utan dig
5.) 1 skäl
6.) Fem minuter i himmelen
7.) Bara en polis
8.) Jag måste skynda mig på
9.) Så mycket bättre än dom andra
10.) Blott en skugga

In other news, this is the cover to Agnes's album:

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I'm gonna pack all my things, I'm gonna do it, just watch me, watch me

I haven't really been listening to the radio for the past month or so, but last I knew the only places in the U.S. to hear Irish singer Lesley Roy's single "I'm Gone, I'm Going" were on FNMTV and The Hills. That's a bit of a shame, though, since I think it might be one of the (just the?) best straight-up pop-rock-with-blowout-chorus song that Max Martin has done in the past few years (note that that excludes "So What" with Pink, whose songs I don't really think of as being in the same category somehow anyway--it's not just the lyrics, but also the fact that there's often a more playful and less straightforward pop-rock musical element somewhere in them--and "Hot 'n Cold," which once again falls into that Pink-like category). Sure, if you've heard the singles from Kelly Clarkson's second album and the knockoffs they inspired, you won't be too surprised by the sound of "I'm Gone, I'm Going" (well, if you're like me, the odd order of the phrases in the title line may surprise you), but it's really so much more powerful and...well, less knock-off feeling than a lot of the songs of this sort we've heard recently. Actually, in a way that odd phrase order makes sense, if it forces the emphasis to be on the "going" part: this really does feel like the song you'd play as you were driving away as fast as you could down the highway. In general and from the other songs I've heard from the album, I kind of get the feeling that Lesley's giving off the vibe of a singer who'd be just about as happy working in a pub being "authentic" and her excess guitars and raspy voice can at times detract from the musical experience for me, but on "I'm Going I'm Gone," with writers and producers helping her refine that sound, she does mainstream power-pop fantastically. I could be wrong, but I think this is a song that Samuel of HotStuff Files would be enjoying if that blog was still around.

To preorder Lesley Roy's album Unbeautiful, due out September 30, go here (physical).

Next up: maybe an older American song.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

You're gonna find this heart of mind will stand the test of time

Swedish music news update!

Diva extraordinaire (in the best possible way) Lena Philipsson releases her duet with Orup, "Nu när du gått," digitally September 22. Oswalds Popcorn has the review (lukewarm at best) and the single cover. Sigh. Why can't you just give us another amazing solo album, Lena? The album of duets, called Dubbel, comes out November 12.

Speaking of songs released digitally on September 22, Sebastian (Karlsson) releases his new single, "My Getaway," then, with an album, The Most Beautiful Lie, following on November 5; he says it's "more personal" than his previous albums. "Words & Violence," the lead single for his last album, remains an amazing track, so I'm really hoping he'll give us something that good again.

Agnes's new album, Dance Love Pop, comes out October 29. They played about half of another song from it on the radio a few weeks back; I've forgotten most everything about it by now (it was something about love or kissing or something, I think), but it sounded OK--it'd make sense on the same album as the electro-disco-pop "On And On."

Sonja Aldén has a new single called "Du får inte" out. I don't own it (yet), but should you want to buy it, you can do so here, as well as preview the whole track piece-by-piece.

I'm not sure if this is worth mentioning, but since we've got so many other Idol graduates in this post...Daniel Lindström's got a new single called "Saturday Night" out--listen to the semi-disco sounds of it here, if you're interested. Possibly of more interest is that one-half of the Attic, Michael Feiner, has remixed the track--listen to the remix at the same place. Now that's something I may end up buying... Speaking of the Attic, are we ever getting a real version of "Flash In The Night," one that's not a six minute long remix?

Rachel of Work Your Magic might be interested to know (if she doesn't already) that Brandur released another single, "Lifelong Lovesong."

Sophia Somajo released her debut album, The Laptop Diaries. From the preview clips, I don't really think it's going to be the sort of album for me--most of it might be too "out there"--but "Warm Blooded Murder" (embedded below) remains great (time's actually been much more friendly to it than I would have expected) and it sounds like there might be some real keepers amongst the left-field electronically created pop there too. Then again, it's a nineteen track album (if bought via iTunes), so that's a lot of songs to sort through--both an opportunity for lots of filler and more chances to get it right. Would it interest people more if I mentioned there's a track featuring Juvelen?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I saw your eyes

A few nights ago, when I was in the midst of my iTunes-and-iPod drama, I got just about to the point where you want to start banging your head against the wall. After having to restore my iPod numerous times and having difficulties actually transferring music to it, I was only able to end up with five songs on my usually lovely 160 GB. Luckily, one of those five songs was A Flock of Seagulls' "Space Age Love Song."

I could be wrong, but I suspect for many people who lived through the '80's "Space Age Love Song" has long ago passed into hokey overplayed high school dance territory, but if that's the case, it desperately needs to be rescued; to live life without having the option of falling backwards onto your bed, closing your eyes, and letting all your frustrations disappear as you slip into its still-flawless synth soundscape would be to be missing out on a lot.

I'm not sure how, but the British group somehow managed to make a song that allows you to swoon along with it, get swept along in a very real here-and-in-the-moment way, and simultaneously feel nostalgia, whether or not you've ever experienced any sort of love to be nostalgic about. Maybe it's those aforementioned synths and their accompanying guitars and drums, sweeping you up in the middle of themselves in a way that, like the best cosmic songs, gets you caught up in the beauty of everything, past and present. Or maybe it's those lyrics, simple as they may be--in fact, it's easy to barely notice any more than that key "For a little while/I was falling in love" line. That's enough to get the point across, though--with music this beautiful, you can't help but enjoy the moment (and almost a feeling of hope), even as the lyrics force you to think in the past tense; listen to a little more, and that sense of something gone, missing, and yet unforgettably gloriously amazing, only gets stronger.

At its best, this is what '80's songs, what synths, what music does to you: takes you as high as you can go, makes you smile and makes you cry, gives you that feeling that everything, at its best and at its worst, just might have a meaning--and sure, in the end that meaning may be nothing more than a pseudo-pretentious New Age-y sense of connection and life that's easy to laugh at, but for three minutes and forty-seven seconds, you're too busy watching the sky above to care.

(Buy an A Flock Of Seagulls greatest hits album here [physical] or here [digital].)

Next up: maybe a song from an American singer working on a third album.

Monday, September 15, 2008

It's like I've been asleep

Gosh, you lose power for a little while and the Internet explodes with new news. Among thing things that have happened (with no commentary for the moment) or that I just found out about, even if they happened earlier:

  • Britney Spears will be releasing her new album, Circus, at the beginning of December, with the single "Womanizer" going out to radios September 22. Songs by Bloodshy & Avant, Max Martin, Dr Luke, Guy Sigsworth, and Danja.
  • Girls Aloud's new single "The Promise" debuted on UK radio.
  • Soraya's semi-danceable new single "Para ti" debuted on Spanish radio.
  • Akcent's new single "Stay With Me" is out and about.
  • Nick Lachey performed a new song, "All In My Head" on that High School Musical: Get In The Picture show he's hosting. It's not a ballad. Well, not really. If fan sites can be believed, it'll come out as a single, with an album, Coming Up For Air, following in January (YouTube says November). (There's also a clip of "All In My Head" from when it appeared on PromoSquad, but that's from a while ago, I think, so I'm not sure if it's still all the same.)

  • The Killers' new Stuart Price-produced album is called Day & Age, comes out November 24, and is preceded by the synth-including single "Human."
(News taken from Popjustice and PubliSpain.)

The way that we talk, the way that we walk

Hi all! We lost power here yesterday (extreme winds) and it's still gone; at the time it happened, they told us it would take about 48 hours to get it back. Until it's back, I won't really be able to post anything or be online at all (I snuck over to the library to write this up); actually, more than anything I was bothered because we lost it (including Internet connection) literally RIGHT BEFORE the new Girls Aloud single was to debut (but I think I've sorted out a way I can hear it soon as I'm done writing up this, I'll be listening to it...I hope).

Anyway, hopefully I'll be back in a day or two (or earlier, if we're lucky enough to have the power sorted out sooner than expected)!

P.S. New Britney album and single! Woo!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Can it be true?

I'm currently in the midst of computer drama (argh--a different kind from the sort that plagued me all summer, this time seemingly being just iTunes and iPod related), so no post tonight, unfortunately. Hopefully everything will be sorted out soon!

Edit: no, I can't do that--I'm not thrilled about this option either, but here's a super-quick post of the song "Say I'm The One" by Norwegian Eurodance group Reset. It's got a lovely chorus, one of those rising upwards ones, all over some nice if kind of old-school dance beats. It's taken from their 2001 album Calling You, and the only place I know of selling that it at the moment is Discogs. It's a great song that deserves much more written about it--as does the group themselves--but this will have to do for now, given that my brain's not in the right place to do anything requiring any sort of effort.

Remember those photographs we took on that boat in Spain?

What is Shayne Ward doing these days?

Working on songs for his new album. So far, he's already worked with Taio Cruz (with whom he wrote a song he calls "a BIG TUNE;" Simon Cowell apparently recruited Taio to work with both Shayne and Leona, and Taio, who says they've done four songs together, says that "It's just a cooler sound for him, in the way that Justin Timberlake broke out of that typical pop and moved it forward to a cooler element"), Future Cut (Darren Lewis and Tunde Babalola, who did Lily Allen's "Smile"), Karen Poole (he says the song he wrote with her is "beautiful"), and the Underdogs (who did Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown's "No Air"). For his work with the Underdogs, he was actually in Los Angeles for some weeks and worked with some other writers as well.

While we wait for that new album, he's going to perform in Asia for a while. Come back to the U.S., Shayne! Oh, wait--he just might be, at some point. Taken from his forum:

Q: What are your plans for the future?

A: I just want to focus on getting the songs right. I’ve got some really big ones for the next album and I’m really excited. I’m looking forward to doing America properly as well.

(Picture credit to Ultimate Shayne Ward.)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Turn the music up

In other news, Robpop is right to point you all in the direction of German girl group Monrose's new single "Hit 'n Run"--it's great. It's got this unusual mid-tempo electro-pop beat underneath it.

Falling down without you--can you pick me up?

I wasn't exaggerating when I said today's song, another demo from CB, was possibly the cutest song I'd heard all year. Unlike yesterday's song, written for another artist or group, this song was written for Chris himself...but it's intended to be a duet, and rumor has it the intended/desired duet partner is none other than Rihanna herself (she's not on the track yet). For this particular song, it's worth emphasizing the fact that Chris says it's really only a very rough demo, just kind of getting an idea down, and that there is a lot of work that will still be done on it. He is still planning to release it, though.

Electric Guitar--as in yesterday's song, Chris sings the female part. Anyway, the music, those electronic effects in this song are TOO CUTE--I almost swoon every time we get to the instrumental section in the middle 8. The verses are adorable, both parts of the highly vocally processed chorus are adorable, the lyrics are adorable, the music is adorable, every little thing about this song is (yup, you guessed it) adorable. "Electric Guitar" is neither a clubby song like "Disturbia" or an epic like "No Air," but instead is just a mid-tempo song that is about as cuddly as electronic music is ever going to get. I have this feeling some people might end up disappointed, expecting a team-up from the purveyors of "Disturbia," "Umbrella," "Wall To Wall," and "Forever" to be some giant statement song, either something hugely boundaries-shattering or club-ready or just basically that makes a big monolithic unavoidable "I'm HERE" statement, but I think to feel disappointed would be to miss out on the fact that a song of this sort can offer thrills and joys just as musical high-inducing as any of those other sorts; Chris, as I've written before, has always had that "aww, bless" quality, and with "Forever," he finally seems to have figured out a way to channel that into something other than fairly nondescript ballads by using poppy electronic mid-tempo beats. My only concern, actually, is that I'll love Rihanna's vocals a lot less on the parts Chris is doing now; Rihanna's voice is fantastic for some things, but at the moment I'm struggling to think of any time she's effectively sounded "cute." Oh well--if nothing else, at least we've got this demo.

As with yesterday, there's nowhere to buy this song, but you can support the artist by buying his most recent album, Exclusive: The Forever Edition here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: maybe another demo from this singer, but possibly not.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

You're coming with me, boy, no need to resist

I've decided I've got to dedicate at a minimum two days to the demos from this singer that have hit the Internet--I may end up extending it to more, but there are at least two fantastic songs I have to write about. Given the status of these demos, they'll be posted for a short time only. Side note: I'll add in the proper tags for these posts after I remove the songs.

The tracklisting for the Pussycat Dolls' new album Doll Domination is out and is appears that the songs CB submitted for the album, "Captive" and "Nasty Girl," haven't made the cut (though I guess it's possible that they'll show up as bonus tracks somewhere). I'm not entirely sure how I feel about that, given that we've got the demos Chris did for those songs; on the one hand, there are a few elements of the demos that I would've liked to hear ironed out, but on the other hand, I have trouble imagining I'd love the chorus of "Captive" any more if someone else sang it.

Captive--Chris really is showing signs of maturing into quite the little songwriter, isn't he? Co-writing the divine "Forever," the fantastic "Disturbia," heck, I even enjoyed his Olympic song "Dreamer." Add "Captive" to that list. The chorus of this is great and suits Chris himself, but you can see how the song as a whole has been written for the Pussycat Dolls, even beyond the obvious references to "PCD" and "Pussycat Dolls": that post-chorus flourish (after "the jungle") is a bit of a throwback to the Indian effects we got for "Buttons." Don't let that comparison make you expect a straight-through sexy pop stomper, though. The verses and the bridge--which, with its up-and-down beeps and catchiness, is worthy of its own mention--may go for that more seductive feel, but, lyrics notwithstanding, there's something much more solid, much more...expansive about the chorus; you could strut to it, but, unlike the chorus of "Buttons" (which I'm certainly not criticizing--I love it), it doesn't feel like that's what it was designed for. It's powerful, in a way--a way that a truly great pop chorus is, and with that low-level thrum and fast-paced clicking giving the fantastic mid-tempo melody a deep synth-washed feel, it's the sort of thing that sinks deep into your skin and refuses to leave, and the semi-choral (even if electronically created) chorus only contributes to that. In its best moments, "Captive" is a bit--dare I say, transcendent, or at least as sung here.

There's nowhere to buy this song, but you can support the artist by buying his most recent album, Exclusive: The Forever Edition here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: another demo, this one being possibly the cutest song I've heard all year.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Like you do when no one is around

I had full intentions of writing that post about demos today--in fact, the beginning of it is sitting in the drafts right now--but I realized that there are at least a few more tracks from said artist that I need to evaluate before that post; it may need to be reworked or expanded, or turned into a multi-day thing or something. For now, then, I'll just recommend that you go over to Darren Hayes's MySpace and download his cover of Madonna's "Dress You Up" (it's in a post on his blog). He's also posted a demo from the This Delicate Thing We've Made era on his MySpace which you can download as well.

Also, does anyone remember Josh Hoge?

Anyone? Raspy-voiced singer with some fantastic songs behind him, released the single "360" in 2006 but it never took off, I wrote about him multiple times a while back (and he's toured with Elliot Yamin since)...apparently he's actually got an album just out (U.S. iTunes link here)! Shame "Take It Or Leave It"'s been reworked--I would've loved to have a good quality version of the original of that. Apparently rumor has it that one of the songs I posted from his album sampler, "Undone," is going to be redone by the Backstreet Boys. I'll be definitely giving the album a listen and I may write something about it (as of right now, excluding the songs on that original sampler, I'm listening to "Stay Away" and LOVING it--yes, capital letters and italics-level love. Wow, I'm so tempted to start writing about it right now--I should really give it more time, but rest assured you'll be hearing about it again).

Anyway, I've never stopped loving all those sampler tracks from him--"Work That Body" remains fantastically slinky sleazy falsetto-based fun and the pictures I saw of him back then gave off that whole bad boy Southern frat boy vibe, which works pretty perfectly with a song like that.

Next up: those demos really will be tomorrow or the day after that. There's a good chance "Stay Away" will be tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

You are who you wear, it's true

When I wrote about Heidi Montag's song "Body Language" a while back, I never thought I'd be featuring another song from her again. Not that I was necessarily opposed to liking music from her, but come on, what were the chances of another producer/songwriter actually being willing to give her a great song?

Apparently, much better than I thought they were.

Fashion--(deliberately) ridiculous and catchy. What else can I add? This is another one of those cases where I don't think I could really tell you what makes this song so much better than, say, another (/most) of her songs, but it just is. The Yazoo sample may have been much of what made "Body Language" so enjoyable, a synthesized-to-all-get-out pop-dance track, but "Fashion" doesn't have that hook to fall back on--and still manages to totally succeed. Heidi's squealed, snotty delivery of various foreign-sounding designer labels would be easy to laugh at, but that's kind of the point of the song, isn't it? And even if you don't want to worry about that, the chorus is more than strong enough to stand up on its own; I've been walking around with the desire to sing it for days.

You could argue for the song being given to a different ("better," "less trashy"--take your pick) singer, but to be honest, there aren't many people who would be a better fit for a song that's a deliberate as well as flashily frivolous attempt to win attention and provoke. Heidi's persona here is an exaggeration of how she's perceived and the scene she's a part of--a scene she'll do anything to stay relevant to, with what I'm pretty sure is a "laughing all the way to the bank" (or here, to the 15 minutes-plus of fame) attitude; that kind of hot-right-here-right-now, willing to do anything for the fame while simultaneously being aware that you're playing a role attitude is just what a song about just serving as a blank slate to be stylishly dressed up while actually hyper-exaggerating that whole scene to poke fun at it needs.

Plus, even beyond that, I think her voice here, however it might have been manipulated, just plain works. It does. Great catchy pop song, and that's the bottom line.

As far as I know, "Fashion" isn't available for purchase anywhere, but all iTunes Music Store users can buy two other songs from Heidi Montag on iTunes.

Next up: maybe another American singer.

Monday, September 08, 2008

She's been fakin' since day one, a friendly kiss includes no tongue

Mini-Swedish singer update:

As Europe Crazy reported, Lena Philipsson is set to release a new album...of duets with Orup. I'd rather have a brand new brilliant disco-pop solo album from Lena, but I guess I'll take what I can get.

Linda Sundblad, currently working as a radio presenter, is working on new material, with a new single due out this January. She's once again working with Max Martin and Alexander Kronlund, but the new sound is said to be rockier than before. Maybe no surprise considering her background with Lambretta, but I'm a bit worried about the change. Can she give us something as fantastic as "Lose You" again? I'm still happy we've got news about new material from her, though; I've been waiting.

It sounds so damn good, really really damn good

I know I'll be overlapping with Nick #1 Hits by posting this song, but today's song is one I've been dying to praise for months now and I really can't pass up the opportunity.

One of the best rap songs of last year, Adam Tensta's "My Cool," came from Sweden, and from the looks of it, that's going to happen again this year as well. My guess would be that, if you're familiar with American-born but Swedish-based Swingfly, it's from Teddybears' "Hey Boy" (he's the vocalist) or from his brief appearance on Robyn's Robyn album (he's in "Curriculum Vitae," the introductory track). If his latest single is anything to go by, though, he deserves far more attention in his own right; I'm very excited to hear what his upcoming album sounds like.

Singing That Melody--I know I just referred to Swingfly as a rapper--and that's how he refers to himself, and what he is--but this isn't really rap as we know it; even setting aside the chorus for a moment, the rapping in the verses is still both more melodic and more like regular talking than in most rap songs we get in the U.S. Or maybe it's just that the musical backing he and co-writer RamPac have created for the song is made of such different sounds than are usually used in rap songs, with a backbeat that mixes electronic noises and those you might expect to come from a great (pop-) rock band just having fun and playing a fairly light-on-its-feet (if not fully light in soul) mid-tempo piece. And getting back to that chorus: it's fantastic radio-friendly stuff, with the "gimmick"--the song takes its title from the melody a phone number makes when dialed--actually being not gimmicky at all, instead just being a great complement to a chorus of the sort that you could walk around singing all day. Swingfly gives off this cool vibe, but the lyrics even get pretty cute at points: "my heart will never pause/I'm using metaphors" may come after a line about trying to make the relationship last for at "least a few years" (as opposed to the "forever" he later cops to) but still comes off as sincerely sweet. Completely deservingly, the song recently began to take off in Sweden, and I can only hope that it continues to do better and better since it couldn't be more apt that "melody" is in the title: the awareness of how important a great pop melody is is what makes this song so great.

To buy Swingfly's latest single, "Singing That Melody," go here (physical; preorder) or here (digital).

Next up: maybe one of several American singers I want to write about eventually.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The vixen in me

Thank goodness for P!nk and Christina, is all I'm saying. I'm not properly sold on Christina's new song, but that's how you perform--finally, some choreographed group dancing action! And really, though I thought P!nk did a great job (she was the exception), there's just a certain energy that comes from actually being on that stage that's been lost by having so many people perform elsewhere.

(Her look is totally going to get compared to Lady GaGa, isn't it?)

Edit: I should say that's only in regards to performances, not in between stuff (and also note the time stamp on this--show's not over yet.)

We think too much then we're gonna get caught

(I know a lot of people might be inclined to skip over this post because of who the artist is, but really, please give the song a try.)

Can I confess something? I never got around to listening to Ryan Cabrera's last album. Yes, I read Paul and Thnairg's reviews of it with interest, and yes, I've written about him--music I liked from his first album, bizarre styling choices I didn't--a pretty fair bit, but I was so frustrated with "Say," a song with a BRILLIANT verse, bridge, and middle 8 that I felt was completely let down by the beginning of the chorus, as well as a bit turned off by what I thought the styling change implied--the usual teen pop-artist-goes-serious-musician and forgets all about actually bringing good songs with them--that I just never made the effort to listen to anything besides "Say."

I hadn't thought about that album, The Moon Under Water, at all again until I was catching up on posts I missed while I was away. Poptext is such a well-written blog that, even when I don't agree, I'm interested in what Abby has to say...meaning that, though I feared the worst when I saw a picture of Ryan (I may not have properly listened to his second album or--at that point--listened to any of his third beyond one song, but I genuinely enjoy multiple songs from his first), I went ahead and read the post anyway. I really recommend doing the same, but, just in case people won't click over, I had to write something about she was talking about anyway.

(You don't have to watch the video, but I know that sometimes people are more likely to listen to a song if doing so is one click away, as opposed to the couple of clicks it'd take to listen to it via SpeedyShare--and I really want people to hear this.)


Wow. I know I just used the word "brilliant" up above, but I really have to use it again: brilliant. Who knew there was something this...synthy on his album? Sparkling synth-(pop-)rock, to be more specific, a little '80's but also '00's. If Ryan failed to deliver that killer chorus on "Say," he doesn't here: that opening line that gives the song its title as well as the "well keep your hands up so I can see 'em" (love that line) are a perfect explosion, the kind of thing that makes me think of a mob of hipster-styled kids with their hands in the air, jumping up and down in a half-dark club as the lights flash in slow motion. It's even got that divine-if-often-used middle 8 technique of going all quiet, submerging the voice in an eye-of-the-storm music moment before finally building to a final, more powerful than ever go-round of the chorus.

This is the sort of song I've been listening to on repeat for most of today, the sort of song that I've been just bubbling over to write about since I first heard it, to write about and share because really, more people need to hear this song. And that's a pretty rare and special thing. Now, where's my list of the contenders for my favorite singles of 2008...?

To buy Ryan Cabrera's third album The Mood Under Water, go here (physical).

Next up: maybe that post about demos. Or, you know, not.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

I'll getcha getcha on your worst behavior

Several other blogs have already written about German singer Sarah Connor's (best known in the U.S. for "Bounce," her Mary J. Blige "Family Affair"-sampling single) latest lead single, "Under My Skin," on which she finally moved away from the soul she's been big on lately and replaced it with throbbing electro-pop, so let's skip over that for the moment. I'm not going to vouch for the whole album, but there's at least one song on it that I think is at least as good as "Under My Skin."

See You Later--as I said, I think this is at least as good as "Under My Skin," but, despite the fact that it fits well with "Under My Skin"--it has a similar electro-pop sound--it's got a bit of a different feel to it; less of that deep grinding electro underneath and more of a "medium" level of electro...which means it's also a little more on the "just pop" side. "See You Later" is a great catchy up-tempo pop song not afraid of a little attitude, as well as a song that I think is good enough to have been on the album of multiple more "international" artists.

To buy Sarah Connor's 2008 album Sexy As Hell (that title, I know, right?), go here (physical).

Next up: maybe that demos post, finally.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Billy Shakespeare wrote a whole bunch of sonnets

In the ongoing "best brilliantly ridiculous lyrics of the year" contest which I've been documenting, we've had several really good entries so far:

I won't attend your pity party
I'd rather go have calamari
-Ne-Yo, speaking to a girl upset over a breakup on "So You Can Cry" (album track from the yet to be released Year of the Gentleman)

Not only does your body bang,
But I miss the conversation too
-Jesse McCartney, singing to an ex-girlfriend on "How Do You Sleep" (album track from Departure)

We only got one night--
Double your pleasure,
Double your fun
-Chris Brown, incorporating the Doublemint Gum catchphrase (before going all the way and just releasing an ad based on the song's instrumental) in his brilliant "Forever" (single from the re-edition of Exclusive)

We may very well have two new entries, though, and both from none other from New Kids on the Block. Beyond "Summertime," one of the first new songs I heard from them was "Dirty Dancing." In addition to tossing in a catchy little piano run amidst their synths, NKOTB manage to work in this particular lyrical gem in the midst of their usual talk about how all these hot girls hitting on them are making it hard for them to remain faithful.

Ooo, it's so crazy
She's like Baby
I'm like Swayze

That's made about a million times better by the fact that it's not just some tossed-out one-off line, but actually the key phrase of the bridge. I love it. No, this isn't just going to be some song (an actually pretty cute one, somehow) about dirty dancing, but one that's actually working an analogy with the movie.


I couldn't believe my ears when I actually got around to listening to "2 in the Morning" (a significantly less good song than "Dirty Dancing"), a song about how the guys' girl (and I do mean "girl," because they're certainly not dating people their own age in their "Summertime" video) won't talk to them from the time she comes home at 6 PM and that then runs through various times at which the girl still won't talk to them.

Girl, it's almost ten
Gotta know if you're mad at me
Before Grey's Anatomy

It really has to be heard to be believed (it's before the first chorus, so luckily you won't have to listen to that much.)

(Would you believe that there's actually a really good chance I'm going to write about this album again? It's true. Some songs because I actually really like them--"Twisted"--others because of sheer ridiculousness--"Lights Camera Action"--and others just they inspire in me the desire to actually say something about them--"Click Click Click.")

To buy New Kids on the Block's new album The Block, go here (physical) or here (digital; only available to American residents).

Next up: maybe that demo-related post. Or me living up to the above threat.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Nobody else will do

Bananarama - Your Love Is Like A Drug

This is so great. To be fair, the first twenty seconds or so, with their dance-electro-pop blips and building swooshes, leave you thinking it's got potential, but will it live up to it? Luckily, it's just then we reach the no-nonsense bridge, the first hint that the song's creators aren't content to simply toss off any old melody with a dancefloor patina glossed over the top to cover up for the lack of actual, you know, good musical ideas (though the production is certainly fantastic). It's still building up to the big delivery, though--but is that big delivery actually the dissolved-into smooth-as-silk chorus or the punchier chopped-up vocals and electronic piano-a-like beats that follow it up? The combo, really, in all likelihood.

Don't get me wrong--there's nothing revolutionary here. To go with the work of a modern counterpart, there's no fizzy champagne bubbles-plus-drum-progression like "Some Girls" has, no pure undiluted fun, Amii Stewart-mimicking modern electro-disco beat a la "I Said Never Again (But Here We Are)" constantly pushing the song forward, but "Your Love Is Like A Drug" comes more from the slick side of dancefloor pop anyway, the side of that smooth groove, commercial club--and as far as that school goes, "Your Love Is Like A Drug" has all the needed elements so perfectly in place that you can't help but enjoy the ride.

To buy Bananarama's 2005 album Drama, go here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: maybe Americans and demos, or something else American.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Out of our minds

Man...I'm finally listening to McFly right now--boy, was I wrong! And I'm only the second track so far...


(And that's a happy, contented sigh. A thrilled, swoony sigh. I'm falling in love all over again.)

Edit: hmm. Let's see...

Don't need strings attached to keep it together

I don't know that much at all about Finnish duo Kendi, except that they're made up of one man and one woman--and that I really like what is, to the best of my knowledge, their debut single (well, and that they've got JS16 behind them).

Connected--the group bills itself as a dance duo, but this is the sort of dance with rap-talking over the top. In fact, the closest we get to singing comes from the male half of the duo, a bit of the change from the usual verse-reciting deep voiced talky male/chorus-singing female structure of some dance songs. The instrumental part to this is great, revvy and attention-grabbing right from the beginning, with a constant feeling of pushing you forward; especially during the verses and bridge, it's really catchy. Add in the attitude-conveying delivery there, and you've got something pretty fun.

To buy Kendi's single "Connected," go here (digital). Interesting and worrying fact: I initally tried to buy it from 7Digital before being told that it was only available to UK-based buyers. When did 7Digital institute region restrictions? I mean, I've never understood how they didn't have to implement them and other digital music stores did, but what an awful shame...

Next up: maybe that post on American singers and demos.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Hey beauty queen, you've gotta be...

For reasons beyond my understanding, Zshare continues not to work for me (while it's in the process of uploading the file, it'll eventually be unable to connect to some Greek lettered-sub-site of itself), so I've uploaded the song to SpeedyShare. Unlike Zshare, the first screen it takes you to isn't a stream of the song but, if your computer works like mine does, clicking on the song title on that first screen will load the song for you to listen to without yet having to go through the "where do you want to download this to" process.

Danish model, Deal or No Deal girl, and singer Cara Dove's (the stage name for Carina Due) latest single, "A Daydream Nightmare," is a piece of moody-Infernal-lite pop, but as of right now, I think I prefer her 2006 single "Freak For Love." I know she's got an album in the works, but I've got no idea when it's coming out. Her MySpace does have some songs that I presume will be on it, though.

Freak For Love--Cara's voice is a lot lighter here than it is on "A Daydream Nightmare," which makes it a perfect fit for "Freak For Love," a delicate, almost intimate dance song. I was going to go in depth about why I can like this song but not tolerate the lyrics of a certain other song we've all heard recently--about how, much as you could make the case that this song is designed for some sort of straight male electronica-listening demographic and so is ultimately male fantasy fulfillment, the song itself doesn't have that same strong catering towards the Girls Gone Wild set that others do (speaking not of anything beyond the song itself for the moment)--but I think I can leave it at what I just said for now in regards to that and instead go back to the music, which is really pretty lovely. Sweet. But still dance.

You can buy Cara Dove's single "Freak For Love" from all iTunes stores and her latest single, "A Daydream Nightmare," here (digital).

Next up: Finnish dance or demos from American singers.

Monday, September 01, 2008

You're the only one I ever need

Zshare isn't letting me upload any songs at the moment, so here's the post minus uploads for the moment--I'll update this message when the songs are added in. Update: ZShare still isn't working, so I've uploaded the songs to--ugh--YouSendIt for the moment. Is it just me that can't get uploading to Zshare to work?

I've been waiting for David Tavaré to release an album since 2006, when he had one of Spain's biggest summer of 2006 hits with "Summerlove," a song I adored for its ability to perfectly capture the beachside scene its video portrayed so perfectly in musical form. And yes, it was a cover/reworking of another song, but David's version eliminated or altered the strongest, most energetic beat and a deeper two-part beat that ran underneath the song, meaning that the song lost a little of that "just dance music" feel and suddenly felt more like the pop soundtrack to a fading memory of summer. I loved the idea of an artist giving us an album full of stuff like that--summery dance-Europop that doesn't have a hugely high BPM but isn't lounge either.

Unfortunately, we had to wait a whole year before we got another song from David and, once again, it wasn't a totally original song either--this time using a sample from 2 Eivissa's "Oh La La La"--but I loved "Hot Summer Night (Oh La La La)"--only just released in France this year, and doing quite well--as well, if more reservedly so; in addition to giving me another song to enjoy, it served to increase my desire for an album from him. I had no expectations of a masterpiece, but a great summery not-quite-dance album? That, I thought, we might just get. Sure, David himself might be not much more than a frontman, a face and suitable voice, but I'll take music like this from whoever is willing to be a vehicle for it.

I wouldn't be surprised at all to learn that most of the songs on his debut album, La vida viene y va, released this summer, use samples, are covers, or were thrown together from some bits of songs the studio had sitting around. The album abounds in vocal hooks sung by women, and in at least one case--"Centerfold"--the "hook girl" has actually released the song herself (in a non-David featuring version). Still, if the female part in the very enjoyable "If You Don't Know My Name (You Can Call Me Baby)" isn't a sample--like it sounds like it is--it's great work by the producer and a part that you could easily imagine being part of its own song.

Possibly the song that surprised me the most, though, was "I Never Go Home Without You," unassumingly situated near the album's end, shortly before what I assumed was David degenerating into covers "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" and "I Wish You A Merry Christmas" (in actual fact "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" is not the Elton John song, but actually an African-flavored dance-pop song. "I Wish You A Merry Xmas" is also not the song I thought it was, but it totally skipworthy). Maybe it was just the shock of low expectations being surpassed, but I'm in total love with the uplifting Europop/dance chorus of the song. Really, give it a try--see if this little Spanish (but English language) pop song doesn't make you smile. I'm so pleased that David gave us something like this; I don't know that it would make sense as a single, certainly not the next one, but it works fantastically as a hidden treasure.

I don't know of anywhere you can buy David Tavaré's album La vida viene y va beyond Spanish iTunes, so the best I can do is point you to 7Digital, where you can buy a digital version of his single "Hot Summer Night (Oh La La La)." If you're a sucker for male-sung light Europop/dance of this sort, though, you might want to seek out the album--it's certainly not all killer no filler, but there are several other songs on it you'll probably enjoy.

Next up: some Danish dance, I think.