Friday, October 31, 2008

I wanna spend my nights and days...

...and the other Swedish pop-related thing I was looking forward to seeing this morning: the music video for Darin's "Breathing Your Love." Take notice, UK/US record labels: embedding isn't disabled despite the fact that it's posted on Darin's official channel.

I'm still completely addicted to this song, a fact which isn't alleviated by the fact that possibly my favorite part are those almost gasped-out "love"s which close out the song.

Don't lie--I know that you can hear me


When I woke up this morning, I was hoping to finally be able to hear Magnus's new single via Flipp eller Flopp (no way I was waking up to hear it on Rix Morronzoo); it wasn't played, but I was surprised to find that something I didn't realize was coming out this early was (that's a radio rip, obviously, and therefore not full audio quality). It's an interesting choice for lead single, especially since if it's not played he's setting himself up for some awful puns. I don't know that it's as big and statement-like as "Tokyo," but I love this style of song--big swooshy dance-pop--enough (and repeated nonsense syllables--here, "oh oh ohoh"--enough) that I think I was always going to be at least partly on board with any followup in the same style as his debut. I'll probably have a more thought-out and lived opinion and judgement in a little while.

This single comes out November 12 and can be preordered here (physical), but in the meantime, you can buy his excellent debut album here (physical) or here (digital).

Edit: as a bit of an update, Aftonbladet ran an article about him today. He says E.M.D. definitely haven't split up but his solo album will come out Christmas Eve. "Radio" is written by Michael Zitron and Andreas Carlsson has written and produced a track on the album, "Utopia."He has written several of the tracks (including one called "Turn Of The Sound") and says the album is "more him," but he still describes it as a party album, music to dance to, but just with more meaningful lyrics.

Next up: maybe that Spanish song or British song.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Get up and shake the glitter off your clothes now

I think I've made pretty clear in the past that I both have severe reservations about K.P. (and that was before I even heard "I Kissed A Girl") and ADORE "Hot 'N Cold" . All the buzz I'd heard about her album was that there was nothing to rival "Hot 'N Cold" on it, which meant I dodged the majority of the "well, is it OK to listen?" dilemma; all I had to do was be frustrated whenever she appeared on TV singing "I Kissed A Girl" or newspapers ran thinly-veiled promotional articles about, say, her style or something and I felt fairly free to enjoy "Hot 'N Cold" in peace.

Last weekend, though, I was forced to listen to her debut album--well, saying "forced" makes it sound a lot more extreme than it was--just being in the car with someone who was listening to it. As I said on Fizzy Pop, I was pleasantly surprised. Maybe I shouldn't have been (surprised, that is), since I'd found out earlier on that she sang the demo for Miley Cyrus's "Breakout," a song I like (despite some offputting first verse lyrics) in a style I'm generally open to hearing more of from anyone--kind of Go-Go's-esque. I wouldn't say the album is all killer no filler by any stretch, but--though the "no rival to 'Hot 'N Cold' statements are right--there are things to enjoy there, though slightly more on the pop-rock side of things than either of her first two proper singles are.

I think "Waking Up In Vegas" is my (non-"Hot 'N Cold") track of the moment from it; the bridge and chorus are just the right kind of melodic power pop/pop-rock. It's not propelled forward quickly like "Breakout" nor electro-buzzy and jumpy like "Hot 'N Cold" and any "shake shake shake" is far from the gleeful chant of Metro Station's "Shake It," but it's no ballad either. If Miley isn't going to be our next Go-Go's, could (gulp) Katy? Or maybe she's the morning after the Go-Go's, when, with the previous night's parties over, you're left putting the pieces back together. Most of them are still whole, enough for the melody, the attitude, and some of the fun to be recoverable, but a few--that sugar rush and some of that untameable backing beat--are too shattered to be saved, and added into the mix are a few new pieces which you're can't figure out if you're proud of or regret.

To buy her latest album, go here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: maybe that British song or Spanish song.

You're gonna see me again

There's a good chance some of you out there remember the amazing pop blog Catchy Tunes of Sweden. Sadly, it closed up a few years ago, but...

Alexander (one-half of the CTOS team) has opened a new blog! S.O.S. Revival is dedicated to the best of Swedish pop from the '80's, '90's, and '00's. This is pretty much the best blog news I can imagine at the moment, so add it to your bookmarks and leave lots of comments so he'll keep going. My addiction to Swedish pop would never have reached the full-blown level it's at now without CTOS and I'm almost positive that most readers of this blog will end up loving S.O.S. Revival.

(As a P.S., that quotation giving the post its title? It comes from the altered version of "Cry For You" playing on Jonas von der Burg's MySpace. And while you're there, listen to the clip of [former Idol contestant] Gathania's "Blackout," which starts out kind of ballad-y and with piano but ultimately reveals itself as the quality Swedish dance-pop we expect from him.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I feel so dizzy, oh boy, every time you're near me

Before we get into today's post, let me just say that the music video for Darin's "Breathing Your Love" will debut on YouTube two days from now (October 31).

(The PopJustice forums get total credit for my knowledge of this song.)

I was a little skeptical about German singer (and Sarah Connor's younger sister) Lulu Lewe's single "Crush On You." I'm not sure what it was--maybe the chorus didn't connect on first listen, maybe it was a little skepticism I bring to some German pop acts--who knows. Once I started that second listen, though, I was hooked. Somewhere in between teen-pop and the electro-pop of Sarah's better recent tracks like "See You Later" and "Under My Skin," "Crush On You" is based on a sample of Giorgio Moroder's "The Chase." That sample gives the song a lot of what makes it great, but it's got appealing elements of its own that make it more than just "The Chase" with some vocals slapped on top. That chorus that I initially wasn't sure of? It's actually great, with its backing "crush crush"s and what I'm tempted to say--simple as it is--is one of the best teen-pop melodies of the year (then again, how many of those songs have we actually got this year?). In fact, "Crush On You" is kind of what you'd get if you pulled the teen pop I grew up with, that late '90's/early '00's boom, into now--oddly enough, it can thank that sampled backing what's modern about it.

To buy Lulu Lewe's single "Crush On You" (as far as I know, she's not released anything beyond this single--which includes the original version, a remix, and a b-side--so far), go here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: maybe that Spanish song or digital song.

How can I put into words?

With all credit to the lovely Cheiron Songwriters forum, here's Darin performing a song from his new album, "Runaway." Can I judge it based on this clip? No. Is that going to stop me from posting new Darin stuff? Of course not.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Did you think I'd wait forever, baby, like the others did before?

I was reminded of Australian singer Amy Pearson's underrated "Don't Miss You" (sorry for the low quality) recently when I found out that South African girl band NKD are launching their new acoustic (ugh--why, girls, why? You had some great pop of the very much non-acoustic sort on your debut) direction off the back of a cover of it. It's kind of a Stacie Orrico-esque song, one with a very catchy radio-friendly chorus, the sort of thing that works perfectly as a sing-a-long, and with just a hint of pop-rock to it. It's arguably generic, but if "generic" sounds this good, who cares? In my opinion, there's a general lack of songs with this sound at the moment, at least in the U.S. and from female singers.

To buy her debut album, Who I Am, go here (physical).

Next up: maybe a British, Spanish, or German song.

Monday, October 27, 2008

In this prison that we made, we both know where we belong

When Swedish Idol and Melodifestivalen contestant Sibel released her debut album The Diving Belle there was some excitement and surprise over the fact that she'd included an uptempo, more dance/disco-pop song, "Don't You Wanna Know" on it, but I found myself feeling lukewarm about the song. It felt kind of...well, token uptempo song to me. There was potential there, but it never burst through and the chorus kind of felt like a non-event when, given the verses, something bigger was needed there. It was an OK one, but, for me, it didn't feel like more than that.

Luckily, though, Sibel gave us the iTunes bonus track of "The Night Is Still Young." I'm not going to claim it's the song to end all songs, but I think it's more fun than "Don't You Wanna Know." Also dance-disco-pop (though of course not full-fledged hands-in-the-air dance-pop ridiculouslessness; this is Sibel, so there's that certain element of grown-up-ness to it, despite the lyrics that you could easily be sung by someone young, as Sibel is), it's got a chorus that feels like a chorus instead of a bridge still leading up to something.

To buy Sibel's album The Diving Belle, go here (physical) or here (digital). "The Night Is Still Young" isn't included on most versions, though; head to any European iTunes store for that edition of the album.

Next up: maybe that British song or that Spanish song or that boy band.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I know it's wrong, so why I am with you now?

You might not guess it from the mini-explosion of posts around here today, but I've actually not been able to find the words to do justice to the one song I most want to write about. Bits and pieces, yes, but nothing coherent yet. That post may come tomorrow (or never, you never know), but for now, here's something that's a little easier to write about.

Release Me--talk about a joyous album opening. As I mentioned below, I'm a sucker for strings in disco-pop songs (cue my long-running affair with Beyoncé's "Ring The Alarm" in Freemasons remix format) and "Release Me" uses them wonderfully. The chorus is a breath of fresh air, sweet, smooth, and strong, just breezy enough to bring a smile to your face but with enough of that beat to stay firmly danceable. I have trouble imagining Swedish pop lovers not being at least a little bit enchanted with "Release Me"--fun, adorable, sweet, catchy, pretty, melodic...I think it'd be at the least a pleasant diversion for pop fans in general, too, though it's far more than that for me. I could be wrong, but I think this is going to be the big long-term favorite for me from this album. "Love Me Senseless" and "On and On" may be slightly...cooler, but "Release Me" is just such a rush of musically uncomplicated (though that doesn't mean unsophisticated) yet just classy enough joy that it's won my heart. Despite its lyrics, it's the soundtrack to the best day you ever had.

Dance Love Pop is available for purchase right now in all European countries iTunes stores here (including in the UK) and the physical version can be preordered here.

Next up: maybe more up-tempo lovely Swedish music or, preferrably, I'll figure out what to say about that transcendently amazing British song.

Why do I keep coming back?

Do you know what happens when you're stalling doing actual work and instead googling for information about upcoming releases? You stumble upon random things.

Today's example?

All of Agnes's new album Dance Love Pop is streaming in high quality here (well, I assume it's the whole thing--I'm only partway through it right now, but it's full tracks so far). Great news! I'll write more about it later, probably. Given my complete adoration of the use of strings in disco-pop, I'm a pretty happy camper as I listen to "Release Me" right now.

Sono un grande falso mentre fingo l'allegria, sei il gran diffidente mentre fingi simpatia

Clips of Tiziano Ferro's upcoming album Alla mia età (out November 7) are available for listening on Italian iTunes (though you can listen wherever you live) here. If judging albums based on thirty second clips is near impossible, judging non-English language albums on thirty second clips is (for me) even more so. There are hints of the electro he's dabbled with in the past, though nothing as sweeping in that regard as "Stop! Dimentica." I have a feeling I'll be avoiding the English language version of "Indietro," though.

I haven't made up my mind about the video yet. It feels like it should be better than it is, especially given how much I like the concept for it of the room filling with water.

Not being a soccer fan and being an American, it's a little difficult for me to imagine being where a mistake in soccer game can be that devastating; I know it's just an analogy (once could presume for some hot water Tiziano found himself in after some comments), but I go back and forth on whether it's the most effective one possible. I know it's more clichéd, but I wonder if I might have felt its emotional impact more if the scenes surrounding the water-filled room were about a relationship, even if that widened the distance between the lyrics' intent and what the video displayed. That said, it does give the song some added impact as is and I've oddly found myself returning to it, despite its (perceived) flaws.

I feel love

As other blogs have covered, Magnus Carlsson has a greatest hits album coming out. Much as I'd love a new album from him, begrudging him a hits collection is hard given the length of his career so far--I mean, Barbados to solo career to Alcazar to solo career has given him more than enough time to rack up a good number of singles. It's a two CD set (I feel like I'm on an informercial); if you want to see the tracklist, go here.

The most important thing for our purposes, though, is that he's now got another single coming out. It's called "Walking In My Shoes" and he's put a clip of it on his official website (for a direct link, click here). It's very disco and probably more than a bit Alcazar, down to going into a sample at the end of that clip (it's something very famous and it's going to be driving me crazy until someone tells me what it is); at the same time, I've been worried he's going to start moving into casually tossed off disco covers (in addition to the previously released "I Was Born This Way," the album features "Y.M.C.A.", though from the looks of it it's not new), so, uh, though I've got no problem with some disco amazingness, let's keep up with making modern day disco-type classics if we're going to go the full-on disco route (though samples are OK), please?

"Walking In My Shoes" comes out November 3, but it gets its first play on Rix FM this coming week, I think.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


There's a shameful lack of music from Asia on this blog and, considering that I can usually manage to post songs from Sweden twice a week, having covered, what, one artist from that entire continent in several years is pretty ridiculous. I haven't properly "grown into" Asian music yet, I think, both in terms of finding artists I like and in growing accustomed to its own traits and quirks and, yes, languages. Japanese singer Namie Amuro's "What A Feeling"--the one song/artist just mentioned--is still my favorite song from Asia this year so far (which is really a pretty ridiculous kind of frame to establish--I mean, the entire continent? Choosing your favorite song from it for the year should be really difficult. I'll get there eventually).

The middle 8 on that is just too good. Really one of the best songs of the year.

I've enjoyed Ami Suzuki's "Free Free" (via Mike of PTA) as well.

Today's song more than earns its place on that list.

Taboo--I can't put this song's singer in any more of a context than one paraphrased from Wikipedia, so let's get to the song, which is basically just catchy dance-pop that's probably trying to be at least a little bit edgy (much like the video)--you know, that dance-pop with bite to it. The verses may have that to some degree, but they give way to a fairly smooth (though still uptempo and danceable) chorus. I don't speak the tiniest bit of Japanese, but the flow of the lyrics is catchy enough to keep my attention anyway.

To buy this single, go here (physical).

Next up: maybe that boy band. And hopefully posts with more words in them (or at least a better video-to-words ratio). Oh, and I need to write about a new song from my Spanish singer.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Where in heaven have you been all my life?

Do you know who's back?

Christian Walz! Of the BRILLIANT "Wonderchild."

His new single is "What's Your Name?" and you can listen to it here. I'm not madly in love with it yet, but one and a half listens is way to early to judge a song and I'm still glad to have him back (and I could see myself being won over by its sweetness with time). "What's Your Name?" is kind of a little more twee indie-pop sounding than "Wonderchild," but then, something that bouncy, upbeat, and full-sounding was kind of always an anomaly for him. It does have a kind of clever conceit of cycling through some of the cheesiest pickup lines you can imagine ("I'm no Flintstone/But I'll make your bed rock"). Sound-wise, it's very much a trip back in time, too--'60's, I'd guess, though maybe that AM pop-rock from the '70's, too? I'm so out of my league, trying to know anything about music beyond the past few years. The era you'd expect to hear the line "What's your sign?" in.

Oh, and do you know who else is coming back, though admittedly not quite yet? Danny--as a solo artist (thanks to Bas for the tip)! Listen to a brief message from him as well as part of the eventual new single, "Radio," below. I'm breathing a sigh of relief that we're getting a return from Dance Danny. Please let the song be good. It's written and produced by 2N Productions (much of Kate Ryan's best stuff and Danny's song "Only Wanna Be With You," one of my favorite tracks from his debut album). Now, when is it coming out and when are we getting the album?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Shadows of you

Another of the "how did I not know about this?" releases of the past few weeks is the latest from the Attic. They put out two long remixes of "Flash In The Night" a while ago, but in mid-September they finally released the proper radio version (as well as extended mixes), though as far as I know not in Sweden itself. I'm thrilled to be getting new material from them, though, and hopefully this means we'll get the other songs on their MySpace eventually, too. The Attic are brilliant makers of electronic pop/dance/house music; if you don't own their previous album, I highly recommend picking it up (it comes in two versions, both of which I love, but I think I'd have to go for the second version, Remember Tomorrow).

Flash In The Night (Radio Mix)--a cover, but a great one. If you know the Attic sound, this single's sound won't be surprising to you, but that doesn't make it any less great or less welcome. Unlike their Melodifestivalen entry but like the majority of their songs, "Flash In The Night"'s vocals actually come from them (well, one-half of them). Far beyond just doing great remixes, they make original material (and yes, I realize how much this song--which a welcome updating of an '80's song--fits into that category is questionable, but even if you don't want to count it, they've got more than enough songs fully of their own) that's even better, and they do it so well and so easily--thank goodness they're around. Please let them never go away!

To buy the Attic's single "Flash In The Night," go here (digital). Remember Tomorrow (which does not include this song) can be bought here (physical).

Next up: maybe a boy band or one man boy band.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

För i dina ögon

I've been meaning to write about today's song for months and months and yet somehow haven't done it yet. Please don't take that as any indication of the song's quality, though; it really is brilliant.

Swedish artist Arvid is signed to the lovely label Wonderland Records (lovely both because of the acts they have--Universal Poplab, Emmon--and because they are so incredibly amazing about letting you have mp3s of their artist in hopes that if you love the song you'll buy it afterwards). He's several singles into his career so far, but by far my favorite one was released last December (though I can't say I've known about it since then).

I Dina Ögon--you know that type of crisp electronic pop that incorporates piano? And that has too much of a beating heart beneath it to qualify as chill but that you're more than willing to let just wash over you in all its gentle gorgeousness? That's "I Dina Ögon" ("In Your Eyes") in a nutshell. This is the sort of priceless gem of a track that I fell head over heels in love with on first listen and has lost not a bit of its sheen--glossy and yet still emotional--in the listens since. Top-class synth-pop (and not any sort of knockoff of some trend popular at the moment), and that's no exaggeration. Music to lose yourself in.

You can buy physical versions of Arvid's singles here and a digital version of his second single, "Hur kunde jag låta det ska?", here. Visit his MySpace here.

Next up: more electronic pop music from Sweden, but this time from a group you've heard of.

Try to find some more stars

While I'm engaging in pointless ways to evaluate an album, the tracklist for the Alesha album, The Alesha Show, looks pretty great. Special shout-out to track 12.

1.) Welcome To The Alesha Show
2.) Let's Get Excited
3.) Breathe Slow
4.) Cinderella Shoe
5.) The Boy Does Nothing
6.) Chasing Ghosts
7.) Play Me
8.) Hand It Over
9.) Do You Know The Way It Feels
10.) Can I Begin
11.) Italians Do It Better
12.) Ooh Baby I Like It Like That
13.) Don't Ever Let Me Go
14.) I'm Thru
15.) Mystery (hidden track)

I hope the cover is as awesome as it should be.

In other news, why on Earth did no one tell me Martin Stenmarck had recorded a new English language song? Granted, it's for charity--the Scandic Sustainability Fund, run by this hotel chain--but still, any Martin at all is always more than welcome. It's called "A Million Candles Burning" and you can stream it here or buy it from Swedish iTunes (if you're from Sweden) here (possibly the best thing about this whole project is that whoever came up with the remix name decided to call it the "Sustainable Mix." Brilliant). It's at #2 in the Swedish singles chart, but that means absolutely nothing in terms of how popular the song actually is. Maybe of more meaning is its entry into Sverige Topp 40 (which mixes albums and singles, so I really don't what it actually means either), which combines sales and TV and radio play, at #17.

I know I'll probably never get around to actually writing about it like I should, but the new Sugababes album is great. Really, it is. And I've still not written about the fantastic Ladyhawke album yet, have I? Needs to be done. Albums that I found (to steal a phrase) worthy were pretty scarce in the first half of the year, but that's been changing over the past few months luckily. So far, I think I'd put Ladyhawke, Sugababes, Kate Ryan, probably Will Young on the list, though there are a couple of albums I've only just bought/got that I'll need to properly listen to a few more times before I make a judgment call (and I may be forgetting something).

My favorite album of the year so far, though? It's never been challenged since March. I've never done a proper write-up of it and I don't think I could even come close to doing it justice if I tried, but that may not stop me from trying at some point in the next few months, if I can ever figure out how to put into words my adoration of it, how exciting I find it. It's an album I'll recommend to anyone and everyone (recommendation was in fact how I first listened to it), but, oddly enough, it's not an album I can ever envision myself listening to with someone else unless it was in the most intimate of circumstances.

What is it?

In other news, Darin and David Jassy wrote American boy band (and My Fizzy Pop post subjects) V Factory's new single "Love Struck." Listen to it here. I could be completely wrong on this, but doesn't it even sound like you can hear Darin on the backing vocals sometimes? Speaking of Darin, you can also watch a video (in Swedish) of the making of the video for "Breathing Your Love" here.

According to an interview, he's got a record contract in France now.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

You like my hair brunette, but I like it blonde

Clips! Girls Aloud! New album!

(Alternatively, stream the clips individually here.)

Obviously judging the album based on these is premature, but I am intrigued by the fact that the kind of electronic sound of "It's Magic" seems to pop up in slightly altered ways a few times. Also, "The Loving Kind" is sounding no less brilliant.

Can no longer go on without you here

Soundtrack for this post

Over the years, I've been fond of saying the best original Idol winner's song ever is Aleksander With's "A Little Too Perfect," a song I posted on this blog in its first few months of existence. While traditionally the song that fills this role is a big ballad about having overcome obstacles and finally achieved something, "A Little Too Perfect" is a mid- to up-tempo piano-pop-rock song--guaranteed to lift your mood any time you listen to it--about a relationship . A perfect catchy pop song.

To be fair, as time has passed, I've had to qualify that statement--"well, I guess I love Boris's 'When You Think Of Me' an awful lot"--only to later be allowed to retract that qualification later on--"When You Think Of Me" is actually (as Resa pointed out) a cover of an American country artist's song. Kjartan Salvesen's "Standing Tall" is still in the running and a contender, though not winning--those Norwegians, eh? And come to think of it, I loved "Dreaming" and "This Is Life," the songs released by Norway's 2005 and 2006 Idol finalists. They really know how to do direct-from-Idol music there, I guess.

Anyway, to try to veer back on track to the point of this post, in the past few days I've been able to remove another possiblly-hindering-though-still-not-winning threat to "A Little Too Perfect"'s title: South African Idol winner Heinz Winckler's "Once In A Lifetime." Another catchy feel-good mid/up-tempo song, "Once In A Lifetime" is apparently a cover, a fact I didn't know until a few days ago. Who did the original?

Norwegian singer and former Eurovision contestant Van Eijk. If you watched ESC 1999 and can remember anything beyond the Charlotte and Selma battle, you might remember "Living My Life Without You," an uptempo one man boy band type of song written by Van Eijk and one-half of now big name writing/production team StarGate, Mikkel Eriksen. Van Eijk, 18 years old at the time, apparently had some technical difficulties with his earpiece that he said hindered his singing; the song ended the night in about the middle of the table. There's a bit just before the chorus that sounds very first album Backstreet Boys/'N Sync.

He released a platinum-selling album, Where I Belong, by the way (something I didn't know until Can't Stop The Pop wrote about it), which StarGate also worked on, and I kind of love the more ballad-y but still kind of mid-tempo-ish "Still In Love" from it. I definitely recommend giving that song a listen if you liked that 1999 boy band sound.

Once again attempting to leave tangents behind, "Once In A Lifetime" (co-written by Van Eijk) was apparently recorded by him for release back in 2000 as the lead single for a new album. The odd thing is that, though his version was recorded, several presumable b-side alternate versions were made, and Norwegian newspaper VG reports that his version of the single was set to be released in October 2000 (I don't know whether it actually was or not, but I would presume so since it and the aforementioned alternative versions are out there), when Heinz released it, it was claimed that the song had never before "been recorded for commercial release." Even if for some reason Van Eijk's version was pulled before actually release, it very obviously was planned to be (i.e, recorded for) commercial release. Hmm. At any rate, Heinz's version would go on to sell double platinum in South Africa and launch a career that so far has extended to three albums.

So, what have we learned from this really pretty rambling post? 1.) Swedes may be winning the overall music-made-by-Idol-contestants sweepstakes, but Norway seems to be the place to go for the music-released-while-still-on-Idol factory. 2.) Van Eijk was an underrated songwriter. 3.) Pop Eats Pop should come back :(

I don't know of anywhere where you can buy Van Eijk's music, so the best I can do is point you in the direction of the MySpace of his latest group, which has a very different sound.

Next up: maybe music from an actual boy band. Or one man boy band stuff. Or that Japanese dance-pop.

Monday, October 20, 2008

It's so calm and quiet without you

For lack of time, I'll just say that this song, which I've written about several times before, continues to only get better and better with time and is just fantastic to shout along with at the top of your lungs. Fantastic. There are even a few lines I can imagine Kelly singing, much as it is the opposite in sentiment of a song like "Since U Been Gone."

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Is it all about the money?

Before they were writing songs like "Don't Stop The Music," "Irreplaceable," and "Closer," Norwegian production duo StarGate was giving us songs like Samantha Mumba's "Always Come Back To Your Love" and Blue's "All Rise." Even before that, though, they were writing and producing for some Norwegian artists that most people outside of Norway probably aren't familiar with. Noora was one of those. StarGate was the driving force behind her 1999 debut album, Curious. As far as I know, there was some sort of attempt to launch Noora in the UK, but I don't think it ever took off.

What About Love--a bonus track from Noora's album, "What About Love" is an ultimately feel-good pop-R&B song fairly typical of StarGate's work at the time; it's probably more on the pop side, I guess. The chorus is great catchy stuff--it is a very 1999 sound, but it's still more than enjoyable today, and even the production is part of that. It's just a fun, fairly bubbly track, one that's catchiness flows so easily that you can easily spend three and a half minutes listening to it.

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

Next up: maybe one of the things I said yesterday I'd write about.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

What about saying that we'll never give up?

I'm in a particularly good mood today since I finally found a Finnish digital music store that I can buy from (well, and ZShare is letting me upload songs, though I think that's because I'm somewhere besides where I usually am). I've been eager to hear today's song in full since February or March, but was reluctant to buy the whole album when it came out because, beyond that song and maybe one other, it didn't sound very good.

So, what's the song in question?


Yes, it's in Finnish, and I know that will be a turnoff for some people (there are languages I'm still accustoming myself to listening to), but if you think there's even a remote chance you'd love a boy band power ballad in another language, give this one a listen.

"Boy band" might be a bit of a deceptive term, in the same way that it is for Take That, New Kids on the Block, or Boyzone. XL5 were a Finnish boy band from the '90's who broke up when the boy band wave peaked, reunited recently, and released "Tuulee" as their comeback single this year, and it's really far better than it has any right to be. I mean, how is it possible that the members of the band wrote a song this great? Given that I've heard absolutely nothing else from them of this quality? Lightning in a bottle, I guess.

Actually, Take That or the Backstreet Boys would be a more accurate comparison than a group like the New Kids. "Tuulee" mines a similar guitar-and-piano-using power ballad comeback single territory as the one Take That used for "Patience" and the Boys went for with "Incomplete," complete with a chorus that feels perfect for those big clenched fist hand gestures. If anything, though, I think the chorus is even more dramatic than that of "Incomplete"; the vocal melody itself is bigger in sound (it doesn't have the strings punctuating it and adding extra drama, though). If I'd managed to hear the whole song in the first half of the year, I think I'd have said it was the best actual boy band ballad of the year so far and, do you know, it just might--might--still be. It's the sort of song that makes paying attention to all those non-English language charts worth it.

To buy XL5's comeback album X, go here (digital).

While we're on the topic of Take That and strong boy band (or boy band-like) ballads, I'm sort of madly in love with the Gary Barlow-penned "What About Us," the lead single from John Barrowman's upcoming album Music Music Music (see also: PopJustice's and Paul's posts about it).

Did I mention I love this song? Head-over-heels in love? The chorus is unfightably lodged in my head.

Next up: possibly sweet boy pop from Sweden, pop-rock from the Netherlands, or dance-pop from Japan.

Me and you belong?

This could be completely 100% wrong, but does anyone else think there's a chance "Smash Into You" from Beyoncé's upcoming album might be a slightly reworked version of Jon McLaughlin's "Smack Into You"? Both have Tricky and The-Dream as writers and Beyoncé could have just altered, say, "smack" to "smash," few other things and got a writing credit. And it is a ballad that you could imagine fitting in on the I Am Beyonce part of the double album. Would also explain the song not making it onto Jon's album...

Once again, I could be totally off on this. Just a thought.

You said you will never give up on us

Given that Enrique Iglesias was one of the best popstars of 2007, I feel obligated to let you know that you can listen to his new English-language greatest hits-promoting single "Away," which features Sean Garrett, here in very good quality. It's an almost mid-tempo ballad which the production (very Sean Garrett-esque) is really trying to take up to epic level; that backing just builds and builds and BUILDS.

It's a bit frustrating to be getting another greatest hits (he just released a Spanish language one), but if you don't own an Enrique album, this really will be something worth getting--he's had some excellent (and very underrated) singles over the years. In addition to "Away," it'll feature one other new song, "Takin' Back My Love" featuring Ciara. It comes out in the U.S. on November 11. British site gives the tracklisting and cover as follows:

1.) Bailamos (Wild Wild West/Soundtrack Version)
2.) Away
3.) Hero
4.) Be With You
5.) Takin' Back My Love
6.) Rhythm Divine
7.) Do You Know? (The Ping Pong Song)
8.) Tired Of Being Sorry
9.) Escape
10.) Could I Have This Kiss Forever
11.) Not In Love Radio Mix (Dave Aude Vocal Edit featuring Kelis)
12.) Don't Turn Off The Lights
13.) Love To See You Cry
14.) Maybe
15.) Addicted
16.) Somebody's Me
17.) Can You Hear Me
18.) Hero (presumably a remix)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Once you've tasted love, can never have enough

Random songs to listen to elsewhere:

The clip of Girls Aloud's "The Loving Kind," taken from their upcoming album Out Of Control. BRILLIANT, from the sounds of it. The best kind of melancholy in the world.

"Encore" by Danish singer Heidi, off of X Factor--listen here, but that link will open Windows Media Player. The song isn't quite as over-the-top-excellent as I was hoping it would be from the clip I'd heard, but it's an interesting half-dark synth-washed pop song, with the chorus probably being the stand-out part. It would be nice to be able to buy it from somewhere, though.

So super fly

I can just imagine J.R. Rotem sitting around, thinking, "You know, 'S.O.S.' was a big hit for Rihanna...if I've got this other pop-R&B chick who had some decent success with her first album [author's note: which had three good-to-great singles taken from it] and is looking to really break through with this second one, maybe all I need to do is go find another '80's hit to sample."

So, if you're J.R., what do you do? Go search for another '80's anthem with a dark bassline that you can use for a unfightable dancefloor-ready pop track? Nope. You go straight for Nena's "99 Luftballons." And turn that into a bouncey mid-tempo song (about, say, Mariah's "Heartbreaker" in tempo) about how fantastic the singer looks with her sunglasses, skinny jeans, and Gucci bag. If you think too much about, your head might start spinning at the thought of "flossy, flossy, baby, I do it right" covering over the synth hook from Nena's song about the dangers of nuclear weapons, but really, for most people, was the joy of Nena's song--a hit in the U.S. in its German form and surely unintelligible to most Americans--really about the lyrics or that can't-get-it-out-of-your-head and actually pretty joyful music? "Stunned Out" is kind of ridiculous, but it somehow manages to keep that joy, albeit in a transformed urban-synth-pop version that feels perfect for the summer. Is it kind of goofy? Yes (and some people are going to hate it for what it does to a classic), but only in the best possible way.

This song is not yet available for purchase, but you can buy the artist's self-titled debut album here (physical) or here (digital; only available to U.S. residents). "Walk Away" (best in its rap-free form) is underrated, as is "Easy," and "Doing Too Much" is fun mid-tempo urban pop fluff.

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

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I never wanted to be the cause of your misery

(I'm now having trouble with both ZShare and Sharebee, so it's back to SpeedyShare--which does let you preview before you download--for now.)

There are a bunch of songs out and about at the moment that I'm itching to write about (and hopefully soon there will be even more), but for now, let's go with something ripped straight from the Swedish iTunes top 10 (speaking of which, I more write more about it later, but Winding Stairs' "Shadow Stripes," on sale in all countries' iTunes stores and even the U.S. Amazon mp3 store, may appeal to a lot of people who aren't hardcore Swede-pop addicts; it's got a little bit of the indie-pop aura around it as well as possibly one of the most interesting musical compositions of the year, with its more lush, melodic, serious, and string and piano-centered base overlain by jaunty "la la la"s). Daniel Karlsson is, yes, another boy from Swedish Idol, but unlike many of the Idol boys of recent years, he's deliberately setting himself up as more of an artist type (for lack of a better phrase). "Would You Believe?" is his debut single.

Would You Believe?--as with "Shadow Stripes," I think this is a song those of you less prone to loving the uber-bouncey poppy commercial side of Swedish pop (which I adore) may love. It's tough to know where to focus on first, given that both the lyrics and music are interesting enough that it takes a few listens to all sink in. Some stop-and-go verses with harp plucks have a musical accompaniment that makes it obvious pretty quickly that Daniel doesn't want that created-by-electronic-equipment sound, that he wants a slightly more "organic" sound, though that's not to say at all that he's forsaking all such equipment--we get some tweaking with vocals more than once over the course of the song to elongate and layer them. The chorus manages to seem both breezily, expansively simple as well as not at all so. It's kind of halfway towards sounding very "big," like it should be played in a hall where the sounds will bounce around and reverberate for an almost orchestral feel. There's even a lovely middle 8 as well, with Daniel's stretched out "misery" being pretty catchy in and of itself. Like that chorus, the music of the song as a whole works through its contradictions: a certain pop-rock breezy jauntiness (to reuse two words) and melancholy at the same time.

If we switch back to the lyrics for a moment, we'll find a breakup story told from the party doing the breaking up after he's "caused a lot of pain" to his partner--a bit unusual, but certainly not unheard of. There are enough little lyrical twists, though, that I find myself getting more and more captivated with the story. I think Daniel definitely wants to be seen as clever, and that can sometimes come across the wrong way, but with some of the lines he comes up with, including my favorite--We could've had it all, I know/But it's so much more than I need"--he just might be. Daniel's come up with something great with "Would You Believe?", a song with a great musical background and with a lyrical cadence and delivery that suits that background perfectly.

To buy Daniel Karlsson's single "Would You Believe?", go here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: maybe another Swedish song or a dark dramatic song from an American singer...or something Danish. Or Japanese dance-pop. Who knows?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My world

I've just updated yesterday's Melodifestival post with a lot of information from Aftonbladet and QX. If you want to read about Linda Bengtzing singing on a demo, a likely return for Shirley Clamp, a probable Melodifestival debut for Jonathan Fagerlund, or a bunch of other artist predictions and song descriptions, it's worth a revisit. As we get new information, there's a good chance I'll just continue editing it all into that post so I've got somewhere where all the information is gathered (well, once we hit February, we'll get the usual pre-semifinal posts with descriptions), but I'll make sure to make a mention in a recent post when I do that.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I say she's got tunnel vision

British R&B singers are on a roll recently--first Craig David's still excellent "Closer"/"Disturbia"/"Forever"-plus mishmash "Insomnia" that I wrote about a few days ago...

...and now Lemar's "If She Knew." Not quite as danceable, but very strong. It's a song I've found myself returning to over the past few days. If honey for the ears was actually an enjoyable thing, that's what this song would be, despite the anguished sentiment behind it.

Hope and glory

Today is a very important day. Do you know why?


Now, we don't know the artists who will be performing them, but we do know the songs' names and writers, and from those some guesses can also be made. Also, keep in mind we'll get jokers later (and I read somewhere that SVT, the Swedish TV channel that runs Melodifestivalen, is going after big writers for that, and that those writers will get to choose who sings their songs, but I'm not sure if that's true). However, here's the list, taken from Aftonbladet, with random comments:

(This post will be updated throughout the day over the next few weeks as I think of things or read things, so if you're interested, check back a few times. Update: I just added in all of Aftonbladet's predictions for who the performers will be. Keep in mind that the man in charge of these songs, Christer Björkman, said only about half of the artists were set, so this includes some speculation and things could change. Latest update: updated to include all the info from the always-in-the-know Ronny of QX. Latest update: new information from Gylleneskor. Latest update: Expressen claims to know the artists--still take this with a pinch of salt, but their artist predictions have been added where they differ from Aftonbladet's...which isn't very much at all.)

1.) "I got you" (Rodrigo Pencheff/Tobias Karlsson)
Well, I know Tobias Karlsson co-wrote that Jacques track I loved, "I Won't Forget"--very pop, that was. Rodrigo "Rigo" Pencheff has done some songs on his own (as in for a solo career) in the past...kind of Latin-y urban pop, I guess. However, both have apparently written for the singer Pauline in the past, who launched a less-than-successful comeback attempt this year...could this be the continuation of it? QX is betting it'll be Rigo who performs, though.
Aftonbladet artist prediction: Rigo
Expressen artist prediction: Topaz Soundsystem (which Rigo is part of)

2.) "Stay the night" (Anders Hansson/Mårten Sandén/Andreas Lundstedt/Tess Merkel/Lina Hedlund)
Do you see three critical names in that list? That's right, it's the new Alcazar! Along with Anders Hansson, who many see as being on a roll right now with his modern disco productions. Please let the song be at least as good as "We Keep On Rockin'" and not like "Inhibitions." QX reports that Alcazar will be performing the song and that it's a modern pop track in the style of the music they're doing now.
Aftonbladet artist prediction: Alcazar

3.) "Love, love, love" (Anders Hansson)
More Anders Hansson! A good thing. I wonder if Agnes will be in Melodifestivalen? She is just releasing an album this fall (i.e., not to tie in with Melodifestivalen), but she has recently worked with Anders. According to QX, Agnes will sing this song and it's up-tempo.
Aftonbladet artist prediction: Agnes

4.) "Show me heaven" (Susie Päivärinta, Calle Kindbom, Thomas G: son)
Real life responsibilities kept me from watching the announcement live, so I've got no idea why there are no authors here nor any song listed for 6. Edit: more G:son! Wow, that really fits with my (chronologically earlier, though here in text later) observation about the lack of schlager backlash. Plus, that first author is Susie of Lili & Susie, an old Swedish pop duo which QX writes will perform the song, an up-tempo dance track with a killer chorus.
Aftonbladet artist prediction: Lili & Susie

5.) "Med hjärtat fyllt av ljus" (Ingela "Pling" Forsman/Bobby Ljunggren)
Some big names there--Ingela "Pling" Forsman has been the lyricist for many schlager songs and Bobby Ljunggren's made a lot of contributions over the years too. Last year we did get "Empty Room" from him, but he's not all ballads...but QX says "Med hjärtat fyllt av ljus" is a big ballad that's intended for a big voice and has a good chance of being sung by Shirley Clamp.
Aftonbladet artist prediction: Shirley Clamp.

6.) "Alla" (Dimitri Stassos/Henrik Wikström/Irini Michas/Nina Karolidou
I've written about Irini in the past due to the music on her MySpace--she's at times done these uptempo dance-tracks (of the songs she sings, I like "Play," but I'm still in love with Verah's danceable "Fall Again" which, if I'm remembering correctly, she co-wrote; I've been waiting for a release of that forever), often with Greek influence, and with Dimitri Stassos, who co-wrote "Play" and who did things like "Hypnotized" by Sofia in the past, I wonder if we'll get another kind of pop Paparizou-type song here. QX reports that the songwriters want a singer with a Greek background to sing this rocky pop song with Greek lyrics (I think), tossing out names like Sofia and Daniel Mitsogiannis, while Gylleneskor predicts Sofia will sing the song.
Random: Verah's MySpace (which still has 'Fall Again," which you all should listen to anyway; it's enjoyable) has the demo of Sanna Nielsen's "Nobody Without You" on it.
Aftonbladet artist prediction: Sofia

7.) "What if?" (Robin Abrahamsson/Amir Aly/Maciel Numhauser)
Amir Aly co-wrote Rongedal's "Just A Minute" from last year, though that was with big Melodifestivalen name Henrik Wikström and the Rongedal brothers themselves. All three helped write Suzzie Tapper's "Visst finns mirakel." QX says "What If?" is neither a ballad nor an up-tempo song and is said to be similar to the aforementioned Suzzie Tapper song.
Aftonbladet artist prediction: country trio Cookies and Beans (with Frida Öhrn, the singer of Oh Laura)

8.) "Så vill stjärnorna" (Ingela Pling Forsman/Bobby Ljunggren/Marcos Ubeda)
See 5 for comments on the first two writers. Aftonbladet points out that Marcos Ubeda wrote Afro-Dite's "Never Let It Go." QX says that it's a schlager ballad of the old sort with a good chance of being sung by Molly Sandén, who took third in Junior Eurovision with the excellent schlager ballad "Det finaste någon kan få." If this song is as good as that one, I'd be very pleased.
Aftonbladet artist prediction: Molly Sandén

9.) "Människobarn" (Ingela Pling Forsman/Bobby Ljunggren/Henrik Wikström)
More Pling and Ljunggren, as well as another big name, Henrik Wikström.
Aftonbladet artist prediction: Susanne Alfvengren

10.) "Never been here before" (Jennifer Brown/Peter Kvint)
Jennifer Brown! There had been rumors she might be in Melodifestivalen after she recently signed to a record company that frequently sends people to the contest. She's got sort of a soulful voice, but her last few albums were pop, though of a kind type. "Tuesday Afternoon" is her big hit, though I prefer the single "Alive" and (even more so) album track "Trouble In Mind." Peter Kvint often works on Andreas Johnson or Sebastian's songs. QX says Jennifer will in fact sing the song, a soul ballad.
Aftonbladet artist prediction: Jennifer Brown.

11.) "Tick Tock" (Johan Nylander/Matti Alfonsetti)
MSN reports that Nina Söderquist, a musical star, will be singing this song. It's written by people who have written songs for the Poodles and Nina describes it as a tough rock song with a lot of energy.
Aftonbladet artist prediction: Nina Söderquist

12.) "Killing Me Tenderly" (Amir Aly/Henrik Wikström/Tobbe Pettersen)
Apparently this song is in a style a bit similar to Duffy's and was originally intended for Brolle, who won't be able to sing it since he'll be doing a musical instead. Gylleneskor suggests that his girlfriend, Elin Lanto, might sing the song instead.
Expressen artist prediction: Elin Lanto

13.) "It's My Life" (Alexander Bard, Bobby Ljunggren, Oskar Holter)
Alexander Bard, currently a member of BWO? Are we seeing BWO again? And with Bobby Ljunggren, a good thing. QX writes that this pop song is NOT for BWO.
Aftonbladet artist prediction: Amy Diamond.

14.) "Moving On" (Sarah Dawn Finer/Fredrik Kempe)
The return of Sarah Dawn Finer to Melodifestivalen; she entered the adult contemporary but still lovely "I Remember Love" in 2006. But with Fredrik Kempe, the uptempo pop-schlager-disco master of the past few years (Charlotte Perrelli's "Hero," Måns Zelmerlöw's "Cara Mia," and others)? QX says the song is a powerful ballad, but one that's totally different from "I Remember Love."
Aftonbladet artist prediction: Sarah Dawn Finer

15.) "Hope and glory" (Fredrik Kempe/Måns Zelmerlöw/Henrik Wikström)
One of Måns's tracks made it! And it's with Kempe and Wikström, no less. Color me VERY excited to see this one, though some people will be wondering if Måns and this team can recapture former glories. QX reports that the song is said to be a strong and modern pop track.
Aftonbladet artist prediction: Måns Zelmerlöw

16.) "Higher" (Johan Fjellström/Johan Udd/Johan Becker)
Aftonbladet points out that Johan Becker was in Fame Factory. Edit: Oswalds Popcorn points out that those writers mean this is quite possibly a Starpilots track--you know, as in that great dance song "In The Heat Of The Night" from this summer. QX points out that two of those authors gave us Verona's "La Musica" in 2006.
Aftonbladet artist prediction: Johan Becker, possibly with Star Pilots (though apparently there's been some line-up switching going on or something, I think)

17.) "You're not alone" (Fredrik Kempe/Alexander Bard/Anders Hansson)
Oh. My. Gosh. Whoever gets this track is one lucky singer. Fredrik Kempe, who, as mentioned before, has given us several classics recently, Alexander Bard currently of BWO but formerly of Alcazar and Army of Lovers, and Anders Hansson, also formerly of Alcazar but currently of Alcazar, too, as well as songs like Agnes's "On And On." Sounds like it could be pop paradise. According to QX, though, it's a ballad. I'm already having visions of BWO winning with a song I like substantially less than "Temple Of Love" or "Lay Your Love On Me."
Aftonbladet artist prediction: BWO.

18.) "Snälla snälla" (Caroline af Ugglas/Heniz Liljedahl)
Oh no. Not 2006's Caroline af Ugglas again.
Aftonbladet artist prediction: Caroline af Ugglas

19.) "Här för mig själv" (Thomas G:son/Marcos Ubeda)
The Schlagerboys will be glad to see schlager writer Thomas G:son back in Melodifestivalen. This, though, is not a schlager song, according to QX.
Aftonbladet artist prediction: Maja Gullstrand

20.) "Jag ska slåss i dina kvarter" (Lasse Lindh)
Lasse Lindh's lack of success in this year's Melodifestivalen doesn't seem to have scared him off from entering another song, though whether or not he'll perform it remains to be seen--in 2006, he refused to perform a song of his that was selected, causing the song to be disqualified. Someone else could end up singing this, though QX and Aftonbladet's guess is it'll be Lasse himself.
Aftonbladet artist prediction: Lasse Lindh

21.) "Du vinner över mig" (Tomas G:son)
More excitement for the Schlagerboys. Hmm...there was talk about there being some sort of anti-schlager backlash after Charlotte's disco-pop "Hero" didn't go over so well, but some of the names so far don't seem to go with that. Then again, we've also seen some very modern pop names, too. At any rate, QX writes that this is a melodious rock song.
Aftonbladet artist prediction: Mikael Rickfors

22.) "Jag tror på oss" (Lars Dille Didriksson/Martin Hedström/Ingela Pling Forsman)
More names we're not surprised to see in Melodifestivalen. This, though, is the exact team that gave us Linda Bengtzing's "Jag ljuger så bra." Do you have any idea how happy I'd be if we got another schlager song that fantastic? And I'd love to see lovely Linda back in Melodifestivalen. QX says she sang on the demo, but it's questionable whether she'll perform it at Melodifestivalen. The song is fast Swedish guitar pop with a sharp chorus.
Aftonbladet artist prediction: Linda Bengtzing

23.) "Esta Noche" (Michael Xavier Barrazza/Jimmy Almgren/Adam Soleiman)
Expressen artist prediction: Jimmy Almgren and Adam Soliman

24.) "1000 miles" (Niklas Jarl/David Stenmark)
Now this is interesting! David is of course the brother of my much-beloved Martin Stenmarck (I don't think he deserved to win in 2005, but he's done so much I love). However, that doesn't necessarily mean this is a Martin track (though he's co-written most of Martin's tracks from his past two albums)--when Niklas Jarl and David Stenmarck have worked together in the past, it's been pop at times (Westlife, A*Teens, though not the big tracks you'd know). Then again, most of what I've heard from Jarl recently has been in that rockier direction, and David's success with Martin has certainly been with a rocky sound. Gylleneskor says the Poodles did the demo, but Christer Björkman will probably try to get Martin Stenmarck to perform it.
Aftonbladet artist prediction: Martin Stenmarck
Expressen artist prediction: the Poodles or Martin Stenmarck

25.) "You're my world" (Emilia Rydberg/Fredrik Figge Bodström)
Emilia of "Big Big World" fame (potentially) in Melodifestivalen--she went Swedish language for a while, but then switched back to English with a cover. If she's to perform this, it looks like that's sticking.
Aftonbladet artist prediction: Emilia

26.) "The Queen" (Tony Nilsson/Henrik Jansson)
Tony Nilsson! You all know how much I love him--his tracks are Ola's great ones ("Natalie," "S.O.S.," "Can't Get Enough," "Love In Stereo," "Feelgood), and as I wrote a few days ago, I think he wrote Elin Lanto's "Discotheque." I'm so thrilled to see we'll be getting a song from him. Will Ola perform it? He's been the main vehicle for Tony's songs recently, but who knows, especially if that Elin song is his; he may be branching out. QX backs that up, saying that they've heard the song is intended for a female singer.
Aftonbladet artist prediction: Ola

27.) "Welcome to my life" (Samuel Waermö/Didrik Thott)
Names I'm more familiar with outside Melodifestivalen. Didrik Thott has done songs like "If You Don't Mean It" (originally by Dean Geyer, now by Swedish Idol winner Markus Fagervall) and Westlife's uptempo and underrated "Hit You With The Real Thing." Samuel Waermö's a little all over the place--some work with Clay Aiken, some work with Helena Paparizou ("Mambo"), some work with Jimmy Jansson. QX reports that it's likely Jonathan Fagerlund (ooo! I've loved his singles--is he ready for a contest like this, though?) will sing this song (he's just worked with Waermö) and that this is melodic boy pop.
Aftonbladet artist prediction: Jonathan Fagerlund

28.) "Den första kyssen” (Lina Eriksson och Målgan B:son)
Last year we got the first swallow...and this year the first kiss. The second songwriter's name is, as QX points out, clearly a pseudonym.
Aftonbladet artist prediction: Lasse Stefanz

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The sweetest rush

Not to turn into a Darin and Elin Lanto fan site, but I couldn't help posting the debut performance of "Breathing Your Love," from a UNICEF-type charity show that took place in Sweden last night (note the lack of Kat DeLuna vocals). I'm not sure about that first line, but after that it's pretty good--granted, with backup, but there's definitely real live singing going on that's impressive enough for me. I'm still obsessed with this song--listening to it while I'm out and about actually changes the way I'm walking. Still absolutely brilliant and completely addictive.

Also, I know I said earlier that we didn't know who the collaborators were, but that's totally wrong. Besides RedOne, apparently the album has songs with Novel, Billy, Murlyn, David Jassy, Ilya, Jason Ginni and Johan Bobäck (Darin co-wrote all the songs except one).

You non-Swedish music obsessives might know some of those names from Cyndi Lauper's recent tracks "Into The Nightlife" and "Echo." Because I can't pass up a chance to mention her again, though, Elin's "Speak 'n Spell" was also co-written by Bobäck.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I'm going to California, gonna live the life

For a while, I was checking YouTube constantly to see if someone had uploaded the music videos of Canadian duo Wave. I stop checking for a few months, and look what happens...

This user has uploaded the rest.

"California" is literally the perfect song for when you're, oh, seventeen or so (though I guess most seventeen year olds nowadays would forswear something sounding like that)--heck, the feel of it will probably still ending up being perfect for me for the next few years. Classic.

Well, I know what I'm doing for the next half an hour. Well, for a half an hour at some point tomorrow.

You bring me back to life

Mini-update: I could be totally wrong on this, but I think--think--that Elin's "Discotheque" was written by Tony Nilsson and produced by Bassflow. I know Tony was working with Elin; I'm just not sure if this is one of his tracks, but I think it is.

Yes, Tony Nilsson and Bassflow. Tony Nilsson as in did the brilliant "Natalie" (which was my perfect Valentine's Day song before Ola's cover). Bassflow as in the brilliant remixes of Martin Stenmarck singles, Charlotte Perrelli's "Hero" and "Bullet," Bosson's "One In A Million" and "You," and basically so many great songs it's hard to believe. And together, Tony writing and Bassflow producing, as in all Ola's recent brilliant singles--"Natalie," "S.O.S.," "Love In Stereo," and "Feelgood." Tony Nilsson and Bassflow as in my oft-worshiped Swedish music creators. And I didn't think I could love them any more.

(This really is turning into the weekend of gushing. I just can't help myself.)

Friday, October 10, 2008

When you spin that record round and round

Responding to an e-mail earlier today, I couldn't help thinking something: 2007 was the year that French popstar Lorie remolded herself into a fabulous popstar. We'd had glimpses of that potential before, but it wasn't until "Je Vais Vite" that she really hit her stride. She's moved from strength to strength since then and into this year, releasing a brilliant album, a second single even better than the first, and continuing to nail the visual aspect in her videos. There are few things more exciting in the world than watching an artist you liked before suddenly kick into some sort of higher gear and reach levels of excellence you'd never even imagined before.

I think, at the rate she's going, 2008 is going to be the year of Elin Lanto becoming a fabulous popstar. She'd been good at various times in the past before, but I wasn't much of a fan of her 2007 Melodifestivalen entry, "Money." With her new record deal, though, she's unstoppable--well, in every way except sales, which should be far better than they are. On the most superficial level, her outfits, promo pictures, and music videos have reached a whole new level, one conveying a serious desire to be a popstar.

Most importantly, though, her music has just become almost unthinkably amazing. The sleek, sexy, somewhat Kylie-like "Speak 'n Spell" (co-written by Linda Sundblad) showed that all those photos she'd teased us with were a sign of a new sound, and a welcome one. "Discotheque" (posted for a very short time only, as we all need to support this new direction she's taking by buying the song, especially if we ever want to hear an album!), her new single, is also capable of inducing Kylie flashbacks as well; as Resa points out, there's something about the song and the video that makes you think back to the Light Years era. It's a little bit disco diva, too, and for some reason makes me think just a little bit of Alcazar, though that could just be because it's got the world "discotheque" in the title. It's fully danceable, complete with spacey background effects, the phrase "bang bang," and those strong electro pulses we got in "Speak 'n Spell," but it's got a big uplifting disco-pop chorus instead of of a slinky dance-pop one. My favorite bit of all, though, may be those backing vocal "oh"s, especially just before the middle 8. As a whole, "Discotheque" is a big, glitzy, catchy (need that even be said?) song about the power of music, unabashed about all that, and, yes, brilliant.

Next up: I may continue the raving trend by writing about an album.

My heart is on overload

Elin Lanto is LEGEN (wait for it) DARY.

Click here to watch the music video for "Discotheque." (Please please click!)

Update: YouTube video below. You can watch it in a bigger version through the link above, though, and that's better.

OK, qualification of yesterday's post: "Discotheque" is also the best song I've heard in ages.

The only thing I'd liked to have seen was a group of backing dancers jumping around to the "oh oh oh oh oh ohohoh" part in the middle 8 (around 1:56 on), but beyond that, I really don't think Elin could have turned into a more phenomenal popstar. She's rocketing through iconic images like coming up with them is nothing at all, and she's a literally perfect two for two on her past two videos and songs.

If someone does not let me buy this song in a matter of days, I may very well go crazy. (Edit: CDOn says the physical single comes out October 15. Please let it hit iTunes before that!)

(To the commenter who pointed this video out, I love you. Thank you!)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Want it running in my blood

The entire time I was at the gym, I was able to think of nothing else but one fact: "Breathing Your Love" is clearly the best song I've heard in ages. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. My ever-present Darin love has been completely and totally restoked. I'd trade Sweden Usher (whose "Yeah!" I adored, mind) and Justin Timberlake for Darin any day. I think he gets pop better than any male popstar we've got going today. He never fails to evolve with every album; the sound he's using is always great and always contemporary, and yet every time he comes back I can't help feeling he's getting better and better (it's this electro-urban-pop at the moment). His songs are, almost inevitably, exciting, with great melodies and hooks, with really the best pop awareness I can think of, and his voice is literally a perfect pop voice. This isn't exaggeration on my part: yes, he has the fantastic songs, but he brings more to the table than that. We've had the opportunity to hear bunches of versions of "Want Ya!" by now, and yet not a single version has come close to rivaling Darin's; you might not expect it, but he has the ability to completely pull off the urban-pop songs he frequently sings. The attitude--he nails it, every time. Music means so much to him too; you can see that in all the behind-the-scenes videos of him.

This post probably reads as ridiculous gushing, and maybe it is, but it's deserved, every single ounce of it. I've been at least slightly let down by so many comeback singles lately--to finally get one that delivers and more is such a relief and a thrill.

Want it taking over me

Oh, so apparently Darin's worked with RedOne on this album. I'd heard that, but forgotten it.

As if you needed further proof, though, "Breathing Your Love" is now out and about (though in radio ripped format, so not full quality), and it's definitely got those RedOne sound effects we're all used to from Lady GaGa (though Darin worked with RedOne before her--"Step Up," anyone?).

I didn't remember hearing that Kat DeLuna (another frequent RedOne collaborator) would be on this song, though. Hmm.

Edit: OK, so it's brilliant, obviously. I think. I don't think Kat adds anything, though (I've got nothing against her--she's had some good or great singles in the past), and I'd kind of like to hear a version without her. Of course, at first I didn't think Therese, much as I adore her, added much to "If Only You," and I couldn't have been more wrong about that.

Oh, and apparently I should have known about the Kat thing because she was seen out and about with Darin filming the music video.

City to city but it all reminds me of you

I wish you all could've seen my expression while I was watching the video below.

It starts off with Darin saying that we're going to see him working on tracks for his new album Flashback. Then we hear him singing a song called "Road Trip" with piano accompaniment. I think at that point I was just kind of...deflated--"oh...I guess that sounds like a pleasant melody, but this is our first taste of the album?"--but you know me, my natural preference isn't for ballads. A few seconds later, though, we switch scenes to Darin sitting in a studio with someone (Dave, who's the track's creator, I think) and hear what must be the real version of the track. It's much more electronic and has a lot more energy to it--I'm sure the look that washed over my face at that point was one of utter relief. That poppy melody we hear in the produced version--I cannot wait to have my hands on that track. Pop heaven. Darin's coming back, and thank goodness.

If you keep listening, you'll get to hear some bits and pieces of other songs, too. One sounds very club-oriented, though I'm not totally sure about it yet (it's like five seconds of a song, so it's not as if these are in any way informed judgments). Most exciting, though? We get to hear a bit of the first single, "Breathing Your Love" (starting at 1:11). Sounds potentially AMAZING--a very lush sort of electronic urban-pop sound. I'm not sure whether the chorus is just good or fantastic (once again, we'll actually need to hear more of the song to know). That intro, though, sounds so, so, so good. We also hear some of "Seasons Fly," a song Darin did, and once again we hear it on piano and then in its actual studio form.

I'll say it again: thank goodness for Darin. I cannot wait for "Breathing Your Love" (buying it the absolutely first moment I can) or the album.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Playing house in the ruins of us

Nikki's power-pop "Bring Me Down" is only growing on me with time, though I think the music video for it does it absolutely no favors--in fact, I think it makes the chorus seem less powerful than it is. Given that I think the lyrics, though not revelatory, are actually getting to an interesting point, something that played up what she's talking about more would have been welcome. I'm kind of surprised an Idols winner didn't get a bigger budget for her first real single.

Moving to Belgium, we've got Reshum and her single "Never Thought," which once again has lyrics interesting enough to be worth listening to. It's a song with a refreshing sound to it as well. Once again, I don't love the video, but it'll do for introducing you to the song.

Tiziano Ferro is back, and that AME he was teasing us with? It stands for "Alla mia età." That's the title of his new single, which you can listen to here. It's also available in Spanish as "A mi edad." I would love it if he'd toss us something edgy like "Stop! Dimentica" somewhere on the upcoming album, of the same title as the single and due out November 7, but I'm going to hold off on writing about this single for now because I think I may want to write about it more in depth later.

Random bits and pieces of Swedish singer news:
  • Darin's new single "Breathing Your Love" comes out October 13, but he'll perform it on TV October 11. The album, called Flashback, comes out December 3. No idea who was involved with making it.
  • Måns Zelmerlöw has submitted several songs for Melodifestivalen (we don't know what songs have made the cut yet) and has said he's laying low this fall, with an album out this March (conveniently timed to tie in with Melodifestivalen)--I guess he's decided against that October single thing, then, if he's laying low now?
  • Måns's girlfriend Marie Serneholt is, however, planning on releasing new music this fall. Måns says it's good. Let's hope. In the meantime, she's appearing in the Swedish version of Stars On Ice.

In blog news (and the most exciting news out of all of this post), Mike has returned to Pop Trash Addicts!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Switch into overdrive

Super-quick post due to some necessary TV viewing tonight. Belgian singer Katerine's turn towards the electronic music side left me completely underwhelmed at first; "Shut Your Mouth" was just so...well, best left in the past. "Ultrasonic," though, is better, even if still not fantastic; it's a little too flat, minimal, even-keel to really ignite any sort of passion about it as a track, I think, but it's still a decent dance-pop track.

Katerine's single "Ultrasonic" as well as the also good single "He's Not Like You" (less frivolous lyrically but possibly prettier musically) can be purchased from all countries' iTunes stores.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Never thought that I'd fall in love love love love

(Note: ZShare is still, baffingly, not letting me upload things; it's only just dawned on me, though, that I can upload songs to Sharebee and then just take the ZShare link from there. A little bit weird, but at least it means the return of ZShare links.)

I have two possibly seemingly contradictory feelings to express:

1.) I am SO OVER songs getting passed around to various artists. Spanish singer Soraya's new album Sin Miedo (featuring a duet with Kate Ryan) is out and about now, and, predictably, the song titled "Love Is All Around" on it is, yes, a cover of the song already done by (deep breath) Agnes, Arashi, Ricki-Lee, Jody Williams, and Andriette. I mean, it's a great song and I understand that this sort of passing songs around allows writers to make more money from it, something increasingly important with illegal downloads being so big, and that for most people (including many of the artists, I'd imagine) this song reuse will never be an issue because they'll never hear more than one version, but I would much rather have songwriters giving us multiple great songs instead of passing the same (admittedly great) one around. That was my reaction to the news that Same Difference's new album will feature a cover of Marie Serneholt's "I Need A House," too. I love that song, but I want new brilliant songs, not reused ones. In better news, as Paul pointed out, you can listen to a clip of Same Difference's pure pop new single "We Are One" at PopJustice.

2.) On the other hand, I am more than happy for "Disturbia" and "Closer" and "Forever" to spawn some knock-offs--a lot more happy to see that around (for now) than more '60's stuff (note: this is NOT me knocking on Alesha's "The Boy Does Nothing," which 1.) we haven't even heard in good quality yet, and 2.) anything with that fantastic a middle 8 is not going to be drawing criticism from me in the near future). With that in mind, Craig David's "Insomnia," taken from his upcoming greatest hits, is pretty enjoyable, better than anything I heard off his last album (and I might even like it more than "Closer," which despite its more electro base it's quite obviously inspired by--and probably isn't as mature as--because of how much quicker the words come). I really adored Craig's earlier work--"Fill Me In" would contend for any list of my favorite songs of all time--and I even really enjoyed "Unbelievable" from mid-to-late career Craig. Everything I heard off his last album, though, just gave off a whiff of...cheapness, something which, with a voice like his, he really should be above; he's better than that. Releasing a song this obviously taking advantage of modern trends doesn't necessarily fulfill that wish, but the song does somehow feel like a step up--a step in the right direction. Keep in touch with those strings, Craig--I missed them.

Craig David's greatest hits isn't yet available for preorder anywhere, but in the meantime you can buy his debut, Born To Do It, here (physical) or here (digital).