Tuesday, October 21, 2008

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.


John said...

While I am constantly in awe of all things pop, I think your post brings up the main point that so many of these shows (including AI and X-Factor) miss: if this is a real pop showcase, then let's give the winner a real, CURRENT, contemporary song for their first mark on the pop charts. While in the grand scheme of things, they've had a good track record, you have to wonder how many more of their folks might have stood a chance had they been given quality material to start with.

Mike said...

I love these rambling posts!! I'm constantly fascinated by the way that pop music is constantly recycled. Like the 15,000 versions of "Love Is All Around" that have been recorded by various Idol alumni around the world. I personally don't care if they release a cover as their first single - just as long as it's not a lazy version of an international hit like the winners of X Factor invariably get. Covering an obscure Dutch hit from 1999 is hardly cheating in my opinion!

Poster Girl said...

John, I think that would make perfect sense. I should maybe confess, though (and this may be a result of radio refusing to let go of it), I actually like "Time Of My Life"--or at least have pleasant feelings towards it. Though I guess the fact that it's generic enough that my parents thought it and the song being used in the new Disney commercials were the same thing isn't a good sign...

Mike, I think I agree! Plus, as much as I was bemoaning lazy covers the other day, some artists can take them to such ridiculous levels that they actually become hilarious--like how half the Afrikaans pop industry seems to be based around reusing songs from Eurovision and its national finals.