Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I think I'm in trouble, trouble, trouble

I would like to claim the lack of posts recently is a result of general holiday hectic-ness--relatives, last minute shopping, that sort of stuff--but to be honest, up until today these past few days, though they've included some gift shopping, have mainly consisted of me sitting on the couch eating pudding while watching Craig Horner's first scene in the Legend of the Seeker pilot in high def and rewatching Speed while constantly proclaiming how awesome it is (it really is, though). My little time spent at the computer has mainly consisted of trying to figure out whether the ridiculously awful haircut on the '05 model of Canadian singer Shawn Desman can be tolerated. Let's be honest, though:

He does pop-R&B that sometimes ventures into fun up-tempo territory, including Yaz sample...

...he does choreographed dance routines...

...anything beyond that--even the really forced awkward macho hip-hop posturing that I think we can all guess the reason for--is really immaterial.

So that I can still keep up the pretense that this post meets my "only about music" standard, here's "Pullin' Me Back," a leaked track that may make it onto his third album, when/if it should be released. It's a cute pop-R&B thing which, despite being mid-tempo, has a strong enough percussion beat behind it that you could make up a dance routine to it. I really like it, but I can't imagine it as a comeback single; then again, I loved Jesse McCartney's "Leavin'" but thought it stood no chance in the U.S., so what do I know.

As I said, "Pullin' Me Back" is not released yet, but you can buy Shawn Desman's second and most recent album, Back For More, here (physical).

Next up: I might start my countdown, but maybe not.

Friday, December 19, 2008

I'll take you there if you let me, baby

All right, Andreas Carlsson, you win. I'm not sure that you deserve the credit for an element that's a big part of making your track on Danny's new album, "Utopia," as fantastic as it is--the little string hook--but I love the track, so my whole "I can't remember the last track from Andreas I really loved" statement has to be tossed out the window (and to be fair, "Waking Up In Vegas" is apparently by you, too, and I liked that enough to post it).

In case anyone else cares, here's the songwriting credits for Danny's latest album (keep in mind this is just what the CD registers--it might not be the same or as type-o free as the album booklet):

1.) Radio (Tobias Gustavsson/Michael Zitron/Niclas Kings)
2.) Kiss You All Over (H. Bell/T. Ottoh/C. Falk) (sadly not Christian Falk, I'm pretty sure, but Carl Falk; fantastic song, though, and the first one in that video we heard)
3.) Emely (A. Aly/H. Wikström)
4.) Utopia (A. Carlsson/K. Engström) (that string hook, the thing that sounds like it is a sample or should be sampled, plays a huge part in making this song great, but the melody and lyrics are great, too; it all adds up to a top-quality song, and the song that was almost the one I posted today. In fact, I'm still kind of thinking I should have gone with it)
5.) All On You (M. Feiner/E. Amarillo) (a.k.a. The Attic, and you can definitely hear that in the track, even before Michael Feiner comes in on backing vocals)
6.) Unite This Heart (Danny Saucedo/T. Gustavsson/M. Zitron)
7.) Need To Know (J. Törnqvist/Danny Saucedo/T. Skyldeberg)
8.) Set Your Body Free (T. Cruz) (in retrospect, this should have been obvious and makes perfect sense--I mean, if you've heard his album, or even just "Come On Girl," you can completely hear it, though more so in Avenue's original version)
9.) Running Away (Danny Saucedo/O. Görres)
10.) Schitzophrenia (M.Clauss/H. Andersson-Tervald)
11.) Turn Off The Sound (O. Görres/Danny Saucedo) (Danny and Oscar make for a pretty fantastic songwriting team, I have to say; "Running Away" and "Turn Off The Sound" are both excellent for me. Actually, Danny himself seems to be a pretty good songwriter, though it's difficult to know who contributed what to tracks)
12.) Just Like That (C. Vikberg/A. Jonsson/Danny Saucedo/Lazee) (featuring something I never expected on a Danny album: a rap. From Lazee, I presume. Still a great song, though different in that it has maybe with a little R&B influence in the melody, especially in the verses; solidly soaked in dance, though, don't worry)
13.) If Only You (Vincent Pontare/Michel Zitron/Somajo)
14.) Tokyo (Anoo. Bhagavan/Niclas von der Burg/Jonas von der Burg)

I'm not complaining, but I thought we'd be seeing more Michel Zitron. Maybe he had a more oversight-oriented role?

I imagine I will be writing about this album in more depth later. There are many things that need to be said.

If you want the album, buy it digitally here or pre-order it physically here (well, it'll probably ship immediately or within a few days, considering it's out next week).

Next up: maybe more about this album.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Still got time for someone

I got in my car yesterday, plugged in my iPod, cued up the Script's album, started the car...and lost my breath for a moment, for what should come pouring out of my car's speakers but "The Man Who Can't Be Moved," being played by an actual Ohio radio station.

Anyhow, we've now entered a season I love for many reasons, one of which is the year end countdown lists that proliferate during this time of year. They're an addiction for me, but the ones below (accompanied by a few artists to try to give you a feel for each list's flavor) are worth your time even if you don't read every single one you see like I do.
  • Europe Crazy counted down her top 50 singles of the year, featuring BWO, Salem al Fakir, Matt Pokora, September, and Jack McManus
  • Adem's just begun his countdown lists; the first is the top 10 videos of the year, featuring Lily Allen, Girls Aloud, the Last Shadow Puppets, and Justice
  • Duane Moody is counting down his 32 favorite albums of the year, featuring Same Difference, Ladyhawke, Rachael Yamagata, and the Weepies
  • XO began his lists with his ultimate favorite songs of the year, featuring Goldfrapp, Sam Sparro, Coldplay, Will Young, Ne-Yo, and the Gadsdens
  • Chart Rigger began with the worst pop singles of the year, including Mariah Carey, Madonna, and Beyoncé
  • Nikki of Pop Reviews Now is counting down her 72 favorite songs of the year, featuring New Kids on the Block, Lemar, Britannia High, Vanessa Amorosi, and Agnes
  • #1 Hits From Another Planet is counting down the best singles and best albums of the year, featuring The Feeling, M.I.A., Walter Meego, Neo, Kylie Minogue, the Guillemots, the Killers, and M83.
  • Rachel of Work Your Magic is counting down her top 50 singles of the year, featuring Giusy Ferreri, Dima Koldun, Annie, and Philipp Poise
There will, luckily, be more to come.

My own countdown of my favorite singles of the year is a work in progress at the moment. I should warn you all that it'll probably be longer than last year, though, and I STILL won't be including all the singles I loved on it. The ranking is ridiculously hard to do and will ultimately probably be pretty arbitrary, but I can't not do it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

All you gotta do is call on me

Robpop (thank you, Bobby!) pointed out in the comments that Danny's "Set Your Body Free" was originally recorded by Avenue. As Bobby writes...

They just did it on myspace. Then they lost the boy (who used to be in Pop!...aka Jamie), and they got signed by Island and went with a different sound..thus dropping Set Your Body Free.

As you all know, this sort of stuff fascinates me. I haven't heard Avenue's version of the track, but it looks like the dance routine below (not from Avenue themselves but rather Brian Friedman) may featuring it.

Man, do I wish I could dance. Anyway, I know I've not heard good quality or full versions of either of the songs, but I'm kind of leaning towards the Avenue version now...it's got kind of a...I don't know, a harder edge to it. Makes me wish to hear their version. Still, danced-up Danny version = certain love from me in the end, I'm sure. As I said in the comments, I'm really interested to know who the songwriters are now.

Edit: I have now watched the choreography in the first part of that video approximately, oh, I don't know, WAY TOO MANY TIMES. It's reminded me all over again how much I've missed strong kinetic brilliantly choreographed dancing in music videos. Instead of listening to any song I could have posted today, just watch the first minute of the above video.

Wanna be, wanna be everything that you need

If you think Danny's getting anything other than the Darin treatment until his album comes out, you are wrong. The video below is of Danny signing copies of Set Your Body Free (if you order it from his official site, you get an autographed copy; tragically, that's not where I pre-ordered mine, so I will be getting no silver-penned heart), but for our purposes what matters is that it includes what sounds like clips of three new songs. I'm not sure what the first one is, but the next two have got to be "Unite This Heart" and "Set Your Body Free."

In other news, no expense was spared on the music video for Star Pilots's "The One And Only."

The one and only

(Photo credit to SVT, as usual.)

In the least surprising reveal ever, SVT announced today that the last joker is...E.M.D. Gasps all around, I'm sure.

And get this: the performer of previously announced track "Higher" is...Star Pilots! Goodness. Who'd have guessed?

The actual bits of news that came out of this are the title and composers of E.M.D.'s track and (sort of) the composition of Star Pilots.

E.M.D.'s song is called "Baby Goodbye" (if reusing tracks wasn't forbidden, they should've reused the Friday Hill song of the same name) and is written by the group and Oscar Görres, who often works with Danny and who I think is a friend of his. I usually associate Oscar with up-tempo dance-influenced songs in the past (Danny's "Hey (I've Been Feeling Kind of Lonely" and "Blue" [as well as the will-we-ever-get-to-hear-more-than-a-clip "Alive"], The Provider's "Wanna Feel Real," producer on Monrose's "Hit 'n' Run," Donal Skehan's "Double Cross My Heart," Loveshy's "Mr. Gorgeous"), but given that this is a song for E.M.D., I don't think we should expect that kind of production. The up-tempo strings-and-piano-featuring "Give Me Some Time," an E.M.D. song written by Oscar, is maybe more representative of what we should expect (for the record, I really like "Give Me Some Time" and think that's one of the album's better songs, but it's not a smash single sort of track). Then again...maybe not. Do I dare get my hopes up? The songwriters describe the song as up-tempo and--well, heck, let's italicize this--not a typical E.M.D. track. Could the group finally live up to the brilliance that a boy band from Sweden should theoretically be? The description also says it's a track that would go over well in Europe. Obviously you always have to take these songwriter descriptions with a lot of salt, but they've basically just said there exactly what they needed to say to get me excited about the group again.

Schlagerprofilerna reports that a last minute decision was made by the group to go with "Baby Goodbye" as opposed to a song penned by Jörgen Elofsson called "Saturday Night."

As for the other real question--who the members of Star Pilots would actually be--well, the group is playing coy and not releasing actual names. The four members are instead going by M-38, M-31, J-21, and J38. J38 is (as reported by Gylleneskor) Johan Becker, the singer on the Star Pilots tracks so far. The group's answers to the usual profile questions really work the whole Top Gun/'80's/pilots angle, but the description of "Higher" as an uplifting kick of energy with one foot in the '80's and the other in the here and now, a radio hit with a club feeling and an international sound, is exactly what I wanted to hear.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Should've known that dancing wasn't enough

Everybody makes fun of Luigi, blah blah blah, but there's no way on Earth I'm not going to feature his possible upcoming single, "Strangers Again." I've written about it briefly before (because it's by the guy who wrote Magnus Carlsson's "Walking In My Shoes," Velvet's "Sound Of Music," and Lutricia McNeal's "Same Same Same") and, now that the whole thing's out, I can't resist posting it (for a very short time only, though, given that if you like a song from an artist struggling to establish him/herself, it's even more important than usual that you buy it when it comes out).

Look, I completely understand the reservations people have about him and I'm not going to stand here and argue he makes for a brilliant popstar (given my so far only erratic attention to him, I'm hardly in a position to make a judgment), but it would just be silly for me to deny that "Strangers Again" is amazing--I returned to the clip of it over and over again, even more than I expected I would. Let's all be honest: if this showed up from some random Swedish popstar, we'd all love it...and, at least on this song, the vocals are fine enough (and it's enough of a fully produced sounding song that the vocals aren't starkly thrown into focus) that there's no reason that we shouldn't react in exactly the same way when this artist is singing it. If you wouldn't like the song in any circumstance, that's fine; just be consistent.

"Strangers Again" is a dance-pop song that's poppy as all get out, catchy, adorable, and with lyrics about a relationship that lasts the length of a song on the dancefloor. Ultimately, Luigi-the-character ends up wanting more out of the relationship than three minute of dancing, wants it to last--will we, the listeners, let the love affair last any more than this one great song? That'll depend on what comes out of the speakers next.

There's nowhere you can buy "Strangers Again" as of right now, but if you live in the UK, you can buy his earlier single, "Strobelight," here (digital).

Next up: maybe that American singer.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I don't understand what you've done to me

I know I've had ongoing fairly in-depth Melodifestival coverage, but, shockingly, there is actually apparently some bigger contest that Melodifestivalen is related to. Here, then, is a partial Eurovision round-up.


Estonia has announced its line-up of songs and singers and I can guarantee that at least three of the artists included have had at least one moment of brilliance in the past. Let me first say that I am far from familiar with the Estonian music scene, so it's very possible the same is true of some of the other artists as well. Of course, brilliance in the past is no guarantee of brilliance now, nor does brilliance necessarily equate to "good for Eurovision," but here's my two cents.

Who do I say has had a moment of brilliance at some point? That'd be Ithaka-Maria, Rolf Junior, and Janne (Saar).

Ithaka-Maria's moment of brilliance: "Confession." See my original post on this charming song here. The former lead singer of the group Slobodan River (who were in Estonia's national final with "What A Day" back in 2003), Ithaka-Maria went solo and helping her along in 2006 was this great song. It's not very Eurovision at all, with sort of confessional verses that give way to a lovely sweet catchy bridge and chorus...kind of with a little singer-songwriter sophistication to them, but fully produced and with a pulse behind it. I don't love absolutely everything she's done, but with the writers of Ines's "Once In A Lifetime," Anna Sahlene's "Runaway" and Sandra Oxenryd's "Through My Window" (all fantastic) as the composers of her entry, titled "One Last Dance," I'm very excited to hear her track.

Rolf Junior's moment of brilliance: he's got at least two to his name so far. A competitor in last year's Eurolaul with the disco track "One On One" and a ridiculous mustache (the singer who wanted to have a rainbow flag on stage), he featured in a recent post of mine. "One On One" isn't one of his brilliant moments, though--those would be "Ingel" and "Liiga Noor," both of which featured in that post. Unlike Ithaka-Maria's entry, Rolf Junior's entry for this year, "Freedom," has already debuted. It would stand absolutely no chance at Eurovision and I understand that, but I've really come to like little Rolf (though he'd best show up to the contest looking like this or like this--no mustache, please) and the fact that it's an up-tempo dance-influenced track a little bit like "Ingel" and with a chorus that sounds like it should be sung at a Pride event, you just know I'm predisposed to like it. He really should have entered with "Liiga Noor," though, which is a flat-out amazing electro-pop stomper (listen to it below; I'd have embedded "Freedom," but it's not on YouTube yet). Basic verdict: a pleasant diversion, a song I like, but Rolf has much better songs in his back catalogue.

Janne's moment of brilliance: once again, there are two: "Shiny Lights" and "Remember." I've featured Janne before, too, and written about both these songs then. "Shiny Lights" is pretty much standard-issue dance-pop; as I wrote back in 2007, "if the idea of a blonde girl with giant popstar sunglasses standing amonst a bunch of shiny disco-esque lights repeatedly singing 'ooo shiny lights yeah' over a dance backing sounds appealing to you, you'll probably like this song"--for e, it does and I do. She was DJ Ella before DJ Ella was DJ Ella.

I love "Remember," which is basically "Love At First Sight Part II", but it's amazing. Bafflingly, it was, as far as I know, never a single and it's not even on her MySpace now so there's nowhere you can easily stream it, but it's really good...albeit in that obviously "influenced" random artist way.

On the strength of those two songs alone, I would be thrilled about Janne's participation...if we hadn't already heard her entry, "Too Good For You"...it's underwhelming, not nearly as "amazing popstar" as she's capable of doing. It's fine, a piece of attitude-featuring pop, but all the dance, electronic, and Euro influences are absolutely gone (something true of her recent work in general); the chorus's backing music reminds me of whatever era Solange was imitating, but that's not a statement of quality, just similar time period references. Listen to it below if you're feeling so inclined.

I should also mention that Laura, another singer in the national final, has had a good song in the past, too: "Moonwalk," back in Eurolaul 2005. It's singer-songwritery and that delicate-yet-catchy, half-of-another-world sound that Estonians do so well. Her song this year is called "Destiny."

The songs of two other contestants, Chalice and StereoChemistry, are out there, too (check YouTube if you're interested), but I'm not even going to dignify Chalice's song with a proper review and StereoChemistry's rock song feels like something I can't write about yet.


For reasons of time, I'll just say that as of right now I'm for Waldo's People all the way. The '90's Finnish dance group rode on the dance music-with-talky-deep-voiced-guy-and-female-vocalled-chorus wave until breaking up and then reforming this year, and in their reformed existence they've done a pretty good job of making good music so far--I kind of feel like they've taken "1000 Ways," my favorite track of theirs from their original era, as their jumping off point, only gone even more pop. Check out my earlier posts on the group here. Listen to their great Eurodance-sounding entry into Finland's national final, "Lose Control," here--if you like dance-pop or that '90's Eurodance sound, I really recommend it. As with the chorus of "1000 Ways" (which as a song admittedly had a significant guitar sample), I kind of feel like if Alcazar were influenced by Eurodance as opposed to disco, this is what they'd sound like.


Norway has announced its first eleven songs and songwriters (not the artists for all yet) and there are some songs I'm just dying to here. The biggest example of that?

"Tricky" (Hanne Sørvaag/2N)
This one just about killed me. The incredibly lovely Hanne with the amazing dance music creators that are 2N? Hanne has an incredible skill with melody--see Maria Arredondo's "Brief And Beautiful," for example, though she's also done No Angels's "Disappear" and Nikki's "Bring Me Down"--and 2N are just...amazing. I mean, they're the people behind Kate Ryan's music of recent years! "Je T'Adore," anyone? Her last album? Danny's "Radio" and production on "Only Wanna Be With You"? And loads more? If this is dance music like they can make combined with a killer melody like Hanne can make, there'll be no competition for the title of my personal favorite in this final.

Also on my radar...

"Do It Again" (Hanne Sørvaag/Harry Sommerdahl)
Lovely and talented Hanne again, this time teamed up with her frequent songwriting collaborator Harry. They've both got proper pop pedigrees, though what exactly the sound they'll give us here will be we can't be sure; if we look at their work--not necessarily together--that I haven't mentioned yet, it could easily be a ballad (see Bryan Rice's "I Lied" and "Homeless Heart," Darin's "Sail The Ocean"), mid-tempo (Darin's "The Way I Am," Ace of Base's "Remember The Words"), or up-tempo (The Saturdays' "Work," Danny's "Only Wanna Be With You"). I don't adore absolutely everything they've done, but they're one of the writing teams I follow and will check out their work if I hear they've done something.

"Find My Girl" (Alexander Stenerud)
ESC Today reports that he's part of Zuma, the '80's electronic-sounding group who entered last year's national final with "Always Always." I would never have known that on my own, but knowing it makes me interested to hear "Fairytale"--Zuma have an interesting sound.

"U Look Good" (Surferosa/Lars-Erik Westby/Mariann Thomassen)
We do actually know that this is for Surferosa, as if the writers list wouldn't have given that away. The group has a sort of electro-rock-punk sound ('80's influenced, I think we can fairly say) and is credible enough that I'm surprised to see them doing this, but I'll be interested to hear what they've come up with.

"Butterflies" (David Eriksen/Tone Damli Aaberge/Mats Li Skåre)
The name David Eriksen would usually be enough to get the pop fan in me jumping up and down--we're not just talking a writer for random Norwegian acts here, though that would be enough; he's done quite a lot of international work over the years...it's a list that could go on and on and on, but to just give you a bit of a flavor, he did Rachel Stevens's "Dumb Dumb," Amy Studt's "Misfit," the A*Teens's "Oh, Oh... Yeah", Lindsay Lohan's "To Know Your Name," the 2005 Norwegian Idol finalists' "Dreaming" (I know that will mean nothing to most people, but if you've been reading for a long time you'll know what a fun pure pop song that is), and recently, work on The Saturdays' album (including my much-beloved "Lies," as well as "Set Me Off" and "Keep Her"). HOWEVER, given that this song is for Tone Damli Aaberge, a former Idol contestant, it'll probably be something jazz-poppy and floaty and delicate and all its gentle happiness is going to drive me CRAZY. You all may love it, though. I have nothing against Tone and would like her to make a song I like, but her work so far isn't really my style, even though I know I should be able to appreciate it. Check out "Fever" or "The Bliss Song" to get an idea of what his work with Tone sounds like.

"Sweeter Than A Kiss" (Christian Ingebrigtsen/Laila Samuelsen)
I'm fully expecting a ballad--it's not liking Christian really does much else these days, beyond some occasional slightly country-tinged mid-tempo radio pop-rock--but he was in a1, so I have to give him the benefit of the doubt. More than that, though, Laila, the former lead singer of the group The Tuesdays, hasn't really done anything beyond ballad-ish songs that I can think of off the top of my head. Still, some have been lovely ballads, often mature singer-songwritery but with a good melody. I'm not expecting to find this song memorable--I was left cold by Laila's songwriter entry in Norway's national final last year, Veronica Akselsens "Am I Supposed To Love Again," while many fans liked it--and most of the ballads she's written lately lately haven't clicked with me, but I know I'll end up wanting to hear it. If nothing else, Laila co-wrote Alejandro Fuentes's David Gray-like "Hell If I," which I adored.

I know I told you dinner, wine, and candlelight

Swedish radio show Morgonpasset is having some of the artists who come to sing live perform Christmas songs and they've got the songs linked to on their site for you to listen to. If you like the idea of Darin singing "Oh Holy Night," Danny singing "The Christmas Song," Sibel singing "What Child Is This," or Amanda Jenssen and Erik Hassle singing original Christmas songs--all in acoustic, live, and usually abbreviated versions--go here.

Also on the Swedish music front, I recommend checking out the Idol medley from the Idol finale on Dirrrty Pop and Robyn performing at the Nobel ceremony on Oswalds Popcorn.

Friday, December 12, 2008

It's getting harder to read your silence

I can be so clueless sometimes...how did I not notice until now that Danish singer Bryan Rice's radio-pop-rock album track "In Your Room" was co-written by Gareth Gates?

I've had this ongoing amusement (initially on defunct blog You Call That Life) of documenting all the various people who have performed the songs from Bryan Rice's 2006 debut album before and after him--they're the absolute epitome of how songs in the music industry get recycled. The big example was Shayne Ward covering "No Promises," but pretty much all of the other tracks on the album have shown up in incarnations on other albums...except, as I've long been surprised by (given that I like the track), "In Your Room" (well, there may be versions of it out there somewhere, but I've yet to hear them or have forgotten them).

If I'm making guesses, though, it seems likely the song was originally intended for Gareth--correct me if I'm wrong, but there aren't very many Gareth co-writes floating around that are sung by someone other than Gareth. Instead, he didn't end up using the song and eventually it was passed on to Bryan.

Anyway, it's written by Gareth, Andreas Carlsson, and Lisa Greene.

Fall into my melody

Though I've still not bought the full B.L. album, I liked enough songs from what I do own that I'm looking forward to their comeback. I'd say that, if it makes their new album, "Fever" will do nicely as a sign that the British duo, formerly members of Big Brovaz, is still worth your attention. Beware, though: this song is not yet in its finished form--in fact, these are still demo vocals. Even as is, though, I'm liking the sound of it--dance-pop, with a combination of a beepy melody on top and deeper swooshes (including that sort of going underwater effect you get in, say, Kylie's "Love At First Sight," only in reverse) and periodic guitar-type flourishes underneath. I'm not prepared to put it up there with "Some Kinda Rush" yet--that's a more insistent dance track, whereas that beepy top melody here means this isn't as much of a lose-control hands-in-the-air dance track--but we haven't heard the final version yet either.

There's nowhere you can buy "Fever" yet, but buy the group's debut album, Boogie 2Nite, here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: maybe that American singer, finally.

Fall into my arms tonight

I just got around to reading the description of Danny's new album on Ginza and was thrilled by one piece of information in it. We already knew that Andreas Carlsson wrote and produced "Utopia," that Danny wrote or co-wrote "Turn Off The Sound," and that "Radio" is the work of Michel Zitron (who's said to have done most of the tracks on the album; he's also the writer of "If Only You," among other things), but up until now I'd not known that The Attic--Eric Amarillo and Michael Feiner--also wrote a track on the album! Fantastic news, as well as something I have no idea why I wasn't calling for before--it seems like it should be a natural fit, so I hope it plays out as well in reality as it does on paper.

Speaking of Andreas Carlsson, Sweden now has its very own David Archuleta...only he's just won the whole contest.

(Sorry about the upload quality--the audio's fine, but the video's odd--I'll swap out the video for a better one when one's available.)

I really do love the sound of Kevin Borg's voice, but I'm already envisioning him ending up with an album that sounds...well, a lot like that track repeated over and over again. I hope I'm wrong, as I do love some good boy pop, but right now I'd guess runner-up Alice Svensson is going to end up making pop that's more fun and interesting than him (I'm very interested to hear music from her). Oh well--maybe he'll at least give us a "Crush"-level track. There's no good reason that Sweden, the home of so many brilliant songwriters, should end up giving us a "pleasant-but-uneventful" album like David A.'s as Kevin's debut, but that's what'll probably end up happening. It shouldn't be, though--would it be so much to ask for a bit of effort to be put in?

The Andreas Carlsson connection comes through the track he's singing there--it's the Idol winner song and it's written by Andreas (a judge on Idol this season) and Jörgen Elofsson. I think the teaming up again of two writers who'd given us such pop classics back in the late '90's/early 2000's may have got my expectations to high; ultimately, what "With Every Bit Of Me" is isn't as excellent as the best boy band ballads from that classic era. That said, I've already been listening to it more than I thought I would when I first heard it...maybe that bodes well. Or not.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What if?

I'm sorry that I was a bit too busy for the past two days to do my Melodifestival announcement post at the time...here it is now, though. I don't know that there were a bunch of names worth getting exciting about in this particular announcement--and in fact some of these song and artist combinations we already knew--but there are at least a few. As usual, SVT and Gylleneskor are the sources for this information, the pictures come from SVT, and I strongly recommend you read Schlagerprofilerna if you want to keep up with all the Melodifestival news and gossip.

Cookies 'n' Beans, "What If" (Robin Abrahamsson/Amir Aly/Maciel Numhauser)
The singer from Oh Laura is a member of this country group (apparently she was also a member of La Roxx, who sang "(Are U) Ready Or Not" in Melodifestivalen 2004), which is singing a song described by its writers as an expressive and dynamic song which takes hold and makes you want more. An earlier report from QX said that the song was neither a ballad nor up-tempo and that it's similar to Suzzie Tapper's "Visst finns mirakel" (a song these songwriters wrote) from this year.

Nina Söderquist, "Tick Tock" (Johan Lyander/Matti Alfonzetti)
Nina, currently performing in the West End as the Lady of the Lake in Spamalot, is singing a song which the writers describe as up-tempo rock with a lot of energy, a rock diva sort of song with just a little bit of flamenco. Nina earlier also described the song as a tough rock song with a lot of energy. Both songwriters have done other songs for Melodifestivalen, but given "Tick Tock"'s rock description, maybe the most relevant song they've done is the Poodles' "Night Of Passion" in 2006.

Anna Sahlene & Maria Haukaas Storeng, "Killing Me Tenderly" (Amir Aly, Henrik Wikström, Tobbe Petersson)
Half of the songwriter team that so successfully jumped on the falsetto pop bandwagon with Rongedal's "Just A Minute" takes on another trend: '60's-inspired pop. That's what early reports of the song had told us "Killing Me Tenderly" had told us it was like, and with the songwriters' official description comparing it to Duffy, that's not being negated. Still, the songwriters also describing it as a combination of Tina Turner and ABBA--with inspiration from Duffy--with a little James Bond theme influence, maybe it won't be exactly like all the '60's knockoffs (and it's always that particular type of '60's music, you know?) we've gotten recently. The big thing for me here is the return of lovely Anna Sahlene, a Swede who took Estonia to third place at Eurovision in 2003 but has since failed to make it out of the semifinals in both her tries at Melodifestivalen. Her It's Been A While album was great and also featured the original version of Hilary Duff's "The Little Voice" (though for my money there are better tracks on the album). She's teamed up with Norwegian Maria, Norway's representative to 2008's Eurovision and one of the co-hosts of Norway's national final, the Melodi Grand Prix, in 2009. Maria's an artist I really like but I never fell for her '60's-sounding song, "Hold On Be Strong" (which apparently "Killing Me Tenderly" is a little like, according to Anna) as much as I wanted to or as much as many Eurovision fans did. Their combination here seems...I don't know, a little forced or something to me; I'm not sure I'm seeing the duet side as anything more than a novelty yet, but I'd like to like them together and their song (which as a demo was sung by Pauline, who apparently didn't want to sing the song at Melodifestivalen, and which it was rumored SVT wanted Brolle to sing before he ended up having other commitments), given my general goodwill towards both artists. Anyway, back to the song: Anna, too, compares it to Duffy, ABBA, Tina Turner, and Bond songs and says it's a mid-tempo song with a groove to it. She adds that it's got a big, melodic chorus and verses that are a litttle funkier.

Thorleifs, "Sweet Kissin' In The Moonlight" (Lina & Mårten Eriksson)
The long-running dansband will be singing a Swedish shuffle with a spoonful of schlager and a pinch of ABBA seasoning, served in a danceable (dansband?) style. It was originally called "Den första kyssen" (and Mårten's name was originally given as an obviously fake pseudonym--I wonder what changed to cause the reveal and what the original reason for it was, considering it's neither writer's first appearence in Melodifestivalen).

Scotts, "Jag tror på oss" (Lars "Dille" Diedricson/Martin Hedström/Pling Forsman)
Scotts, as I've mentioned here previously, are a dansband competing on SVT's still ongoing dansband competition song. Linda Bengtzing sung the demo for this track (and all of these songwriters helped create "Jag ljuger så bra"), described by its songwriters as rocky, energetic, and about love with obstacles. Earlier, it was described as fast Swedish guitar pop with a sharp chorus. The band has a single, "Om Igen," out at the moment and an album coming out before Christmas.

Susanne Alfvengren, "Du är älskad där du går" (Pling Forsman/Bobby Ljunggren/Henrik Wikström)
Susanne is big-in-the-'80's artist who, despite releasing some music earlier this century, I'm not familiar with. Her song is said by its songwriters (all Melodifestival stalwarts) to be a calm, melodic ballad which grows and has hopeful lyrics. "Du är älskad där du går" was originally announced as "Människobarn," but it's name has been changed.

Of note is the fact that the last joker has not yet been announced (though rumors that it will be E.MD. continue to fly around) and that the artist for "Higher" has not yet been announced, though Schlagerprofilerna reported that the reason for the latter is the fact that, though Star Pilots will sing the song, the group needs to be "recast."

Finally, SVT announced which artists will be in which semifinals today. This isn't the start order, but it still lets us know which artists will be going head-to-head.

Semifinal 1: Göteborg (Feb. 7)
Marie Serneholt, "Disconnect Me"
Scotts, "Jag tror på oss"
Shirley Clamp, "Med hjärtat fyllt av ljus"
Caroline af Ugglas, "Snälla, snälla"
Alcazar, "Stay The Night"
Nina Söderquist, "Tick Tock"
Jonathan Fagerlund, "Welcome To My Life"
Emilia, "You're My World"

Semifinal 2: Skellefteå (Feb. 14) (no exaggeration, I can't think of a better Valentine's Day present than Melodifestivalen)
H.E.A.T., "1000 Miles"
Måns Zelmerlöw, "Hope & Glory"
Lasse Lindh & Band, "Jag ska slåss i dina kvarter!"
Amy Diamond, "It's My Life"
Markoolio, "Kärlekssång från mig"
Jennifer Brown, "Never Been Here Before"
Lili & Susie, "Show Me Heaven"
Cookies'n Beans, "What If"

Semifinal 3: Leksand (Feb. 21)
Sofia, "Alla"
Mikael Rickfors, "Du vinner över mig!"
Maja Gullstrand, "Här för mig själv"
Rigo & The Topas Sound feat. Red Fox, "I Got U"
Molly Sandén, "Så vill stjärnorna"
Velvet, "The Queen"
BWO, "You're Not Alone"
Unannounced-so-far Joker

Semifinal 3: Malmö (Feb. 28)
Susanne Alfvengren, "Du är älskad där du går"
Next 3, "Esta noche"
Artist not yet announced, "Higher"
Anna Sahlene & Maria Haukaas Storeng, "Killing Me Tenderly"
Malena Ernman, "La voix"
Agnes, "Love Love Love"
Sarah Dawn Finer, "Moving On"
Thorleifs, "Sweet Kissin' In The Moonlight"

At first glance, that's a pretty good distribution of my likely personal favorites (not who I think will do well) among the four semifinals, which gives me at least something to look forward to each week. I think a lot of people will be looking to the first heat more than they have been recently. Is it too early for my hopes about 2009's Melodifestival to be getting really high?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Always better late than never

I could've fallen in love
I wish I'd fallen in love...

"Falling In Love" just might be my favorite straightforward ballad McFly have ever done...and that's saying something. There is, to be a fair, a little bit of the slight jaunt of "All About You" or "Obviously" in the music of the verses, but it's no more than part of the McFly style or, if you're feeling particularly over-the-top, a method of bringing about a brief flash of wistful nostalgia to accompany the song's lyrics of regret.

Regret and momentary hope, to be more accurate. Life in the aftermath of the one that got away is common enough songwriting fodder, and yet somehow something the band have done here has made the subject feel worthy of revisiting.

It's a song that's fully filled in, never left feeling sparse or acoustic, and an example of excellent songwriting--their sense of melody and orchestration has never been better--and yet fairly simple for all that, with no showing off. A little guitar strumming, just enough to keep the song moving forward, a little percussion, a few piano runs here and there, but it's all meshed together into a gentle backdrop verging on the swoonworthy, especially when the backing vocals come in. Danny and Tom's singing is spot-on, expressive but never overdone, and their combined middle 8, that moment where the sound drops and Tom sings a backing chant "sick of waiting, I can't take it, gotta tell ya" while Danny finally stirs up the courage to pick up the phone and then moves into the backing vocal-style "ohh"s of before, is nothing less than music at its most sadness-extinguishing-hope enchanting, both lighters-in-the-air and tragic. It's not a song that should be overanalyzed (much as my impulse is to do so): just a well-done pop song.

I've gone on the record at various times in the past as worried that McFly have turned or are going to turn into a band no different than, say, the Plain White T's--it's the "Friday Night"s, the "Transylvania"s, the "We Are The Young"s, the "Sorry's Not Good Enough"s that get me the most excited--but when they give us a song this perfect, that little voice telling me that they really are some of the most underrated songwriters going begins whispering in my ear again.

To buy McFly's fourth studio album, Radio:ACTIVE, go here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: maybe that American singer...but probably not.

Monday, December 08, 2008

What they dream about I get for free

Writing about one of this blog's early obsessions (Ben Adams) a few days ago has got me in the mood to recap what some of the others (those I haven't written about recently--it doesn't necessarily mean I've stopped liking them...though it doesn't mean I haven't)--are up to. Incidentally, I've never gone back and tagged this blog's first half-year of life or so, so the tags for this post won't necessarily be too helpful until I finally get around to doing that.

In February, Gareth Gates is going to be playing Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat somewhere. Awww. You know I'd end up buying tickets if I was in London (well, presumably that's where it is), right? Tyler James-penned "Absolutely" from his second album is still a-maz-ing (as are many other of his songs, but that's album-track-more-people-should-really-know-about amazing...as are some of his other songs).

Speaking of musicals, apparently Darius is up for some award for his performances in the West End. I'd rather have new commercial pop music...

Alex Vargas (I was obsessed with "Diamonds In The Dirt") is the lead singer in Xenomania-backed band Vagabond. Most of what I've heard from them isn't really my sort of thing--it's this kind of lazy (not as in no effort, but as in the vibe it gives off) soul-funk mix and in most cases doesn't show Xenomania influence at all--but limited single release "More Than You Can Take" (on YouTube) is sort of an interesting falsetto-featuring sort of soul-dance-indie mix; I like it enough that if I had any ability to play a vinyl single, I'd probably have bought it. First proper lead single "Sweat Until The Morning" (clip on their MySpace) doesn't get me excited, but it's due out next year, with plans for an album in summer. Maybe they're holding off from putting the great stuff on MySpace? I'd like to be enthusiastic, but I'm not yet.

The Click Five, creators of probably/possibly my favorite album ever (as of now), are messing about in Asia. At least they're still together! This despite replacement lead singer Kyle having apparently gone on a solo acoustic tour this summer/fall. I've got a giant post about them that I'll probably dig out at some point.

Speaking of TC5, original lead singer is still writing songs for his solo career. So that solo acting and music career is really working out, huh? Such a good thing you left the group... Neither party is as strong as they were together. "Go into the record industry so I can steal the pre-singer switch demos for the second album" is still my fallback career plan.

Matt Willis, in between being a TV presenter, is apparently writing songs for a new album. He's not with his old--or any--record company anymore, but I'd still love to hear more music from him in whatever context and however it's distributed. The era of his first solo album really was excellent--even the b-sides were great. I may feel a proper Matt flashback post coming on...

Also on the ex-Busted front, James Bourne apparently finished up his debut solo album just days ago--eleven songs and "100% electronic," "NOT a rock album"--it has no guitars except for at the end of one song. Out early next year. There's a version of one of the songs on his MySpace, but apparently the version on the album is mixed differently.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Kungen för natt

One of the few good things about not being a Swedish speaker is that I can pretty much ignore awful Swedish lyrics. That can be particularly useful whenever Markoolio, a kid-oriented rapper, manages to come up with a good song--since the only time I ever have a chance at understanding Swedish lyrics anyway is when I really focus and even then I'll usually miss most of them, all I have to do is not think about it and I can just take the instrumental part and the sound of the words on their own merits. That doesn't really sort out the issue of Markoolio's voice, which is constantly in this probably put-on state of oddness, and there are times when to naturally and easily understand his lyrics would be wonderful (see "Värsta Schlagern," for example, and he may have some genuinely funny lines in his songs), but in general, it all adds up to a situation which allows me to appreciate a handful of his songs. As I've noted in the past, he's smart enough to rely heavily on female-sung hooks, which only makes it easier to appreciate some of his choruses.

I'm on the record as loving "Värsta Schlagern" and "Emma Emma" (one of those cases where not being a Swedish speaker comes in handy) and I like "Idollåten" from his previous album as well, but "Markoolio Anthem," the latest single from his new album, is decent as well, mainly because it's been so dressed up in Eurobeats and includes that whole Boney M/Lady GaGa "ma ma ma ma" section.

"Vacker & Rik," in its best moments, keeps the Euro feel of "Markoolio Anthem" and plays it up even more--just listen to that catchy chorus and tell me you aren't left wishing the whole song was in that style. Once again, it's mainly in the hands of some female singer, but even Markoolio's raps work better there, to the point where I find them great--they're more melodic, catchier, and surrounded by strong almost dance-disco type beats, as well as almost part of a back-and-forth with the female singer, albeit only an A-B-A one. Surrounded by catchy Europop music and female vocals--that's how I tend to like Markoolio best, and that's what this song gives us, at least for its chorus...and it's a good enough chorus that I've been listening to the whole song just to get to it.

To buy Markoolio's new album, Jag är konst, go here (physical) or here (digital).

Thing I learned about Markoolio today: he and Velvet used to be a couple. Random.

Next up: maybe that American singer, finally, or a French singer making a return to the music scene.

I never felt so weak

Sorry for the abundance of the "Poster Girl is way behind the times"-type posts recently, but has everyone else heard the clip of one of Alcazar's new songs, "Burning"? The song was supposedly going to come out this November, but as we can see that didn't end up happening (presumably they're just going to wait until Melodifestivalen to release anything else)--still, this means we know they've done "Burning" with Johan Fjellström/Joakim Udd/Karl Eurén and "Jump Straight Into The Fire" with Anton Malmberg Hård af Segerstad, as well as their Melodifestival track "Stay The Night" (which they co-wrote) with Anders Hansson and Mårten Sandén. Then there's the two singles already released, "We Keep On Rockin'" and "Inhibitions." Hopefully the album's coming out in tandem with Melodifestivalen.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Nobody I'd rather be

As we wait to find out whether newspaper predictions that Johan Becker/Star Pilots will sing Melodifestival track "Higher," Star Pilots themselves are apparently releasing a new single. Much like their (fantastic) debut, "In The Heat Of The Night," it sounds like a cross between Uniting Nations and Sunblock. Unlike their debut, it's a cover--of Chesney Hawkes's "The One And Only." Listen to a clip of it here. Despite Chesney's song being from the early '90's and this cover being a product of 2008, I doubt the song has ever sounded more like it belongs on an '80's sound track.

Can I just confess that I have a giant weakness for uplifting dance-pop in this style? If they are in Melodifestivalen and they continue in this style, I'm going to fall head over heels for their track (as long as it's got a good melody).

Need to know

The tracklisting for Danny's Set Your Body Free is out. This--spelling and all--is from CDOn.

1.) Radio
2.) Kiss You All Over
3.) Emely
4.) Utopia
5.) All On You
6.) Unite This Heart
7.) Need To Know
8.) Set Your Body Free
9.) Running Away
10.) Schitzophrenia
11.) Turn Off The Sound
12.) Just Like That
13.) If Only You (Bonus Track)
14.) Tokyo (Bonus Track)

Am I the only one who can't look at the title of track 2 without thinking about the Britney Spears song? I'm sure that'll change once we hear the track.

Friday, December 05, 2008

It'd be too obvious that I'm so jealous

As if we needed further time I spend WAY more time perusing MySpace songwriter and producer sites than I should...

Forgive me if this is known already, but you know the Max Martin/Robyn/Rami/Patrik Berger track "Extra Ordinary Love" (yes, that's how they chose to spell it) that appeared on Darin's third album, Break The News? There was some speculation that it had to have been written with intentions for another arist to sing it, given that it just seemed unlikely that all those people would come together for a random Darin album track, though that was never a certain thing.

Anyway, what I can only presume is a clip of Robyn's demo is playing--albeit with some significant lyrical changes--on Mats Nyman's MySpace; it's labeled both as "Extraordinary Love" and "Extraordinary Girl." This is not a new development (just a new realization by me) and the song should really only be viewed as a curio--this is not something we're going to start mentioning in the same breath as the "proper" tracks from, say, Robyn. It doesn't sound anything like that era at all, in fact--younger (on Robyn's part)/older (if we're talking about the song's sound).

Let me repeat that: I'm only mentioning this song as a curiosity, NOT as a "you must go listen to this now" sort of thing. It is NOT new, either. Music dork and demo listener that I am, though, I couldn't let it go unmentioned.

Come January, hit the shops and take my gifts back

If you read this blog in its first year of existence, you'll know how much I loved the solo career of this former a1 member--in fact, I fell in love with his solo music before I'd heard anything from a1, though I changed that quickly and fell in love with a1, too.

His debut solo single "Sorry" should have been a much bigger hit than it was, mainly because it's great but secondly because I still desperately need to hear It's Brutal Out There, his debut solo album (I'm never giving up hope). The songs on the album sampler (amazing fun danceable songs "Get Off My Girl" and "Don't Tread On My Toes" and excellent ballad "I Don't Wanna Stay") were all unfailingly great (and still sound fresh these, what, three, four years on), as have been some of the songs he's posted on his MySpace over the years, b-side "Delicious," and songs he's written, like Sergey Lazarev's "Fake" (and you don't know how much it's driven me crazy to not be able to hear in full the songs in that Writing 2006 video he posted--work with Jörgen Elofsson, Eg White, Robin Thicke [though maybe for Thicke], and typical quirky Ben pop songs...life is not complete until I've heard some of the songs in that video).

The point of all this "I love his music" is to communicate that such is my level of liking this artist that it's practically required that I mention any new music he chooses to give us. It's for that reason, then, that I report that he's recently unveiled a Christmas song. Being him, of course, half of it is innuendo and the other half is snarky bemoaning about the Christmas season. It actually is a good catchy mid-to-uptempo pop song, though, and though it's a song probably never meant to go anywhere beyond MySpace and is sort of deliberately restrained and semi-chintzy, I imagine it'll get a lot of plays from me. It makes me want this singer back on the scene even more so.

Also, if you think "Same Old Brand New You" is anything other than AMAZING, you are wrong. One of the best boy band songs ever, and that's saying an awful lot--one of the best pop songs ever, probably.

There's nowhere this song can be purchased, but you can visit this artist's MySpace here and buy the single for "Sorry" here (physical).

Next up: a demo from an American artist.

I know you think of me

Oh, Danny, Danny, Danny...

My love for the song has only grown and grown, though, and Set Your Body Free can't get here soon enough. Why can't any of our American Idol boys have this much success with music this good?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Romance is the real art

This is one of those posts where you all just have to let me indulge myself--this song absolutely won't be for everyone, but I love it.

Back when Christian Walz posted his new album, The Corner, on MySpace, I wrote that I couldn't wait to hear the strings in "Loveshift" in high quality. The good news is that they--and the musical backing of the song--are exactly what I was hoping they would be. The bad news is that I still hate the opening two lines of the first verse. Still, I've gotten over them enough to appreciate the song as a whole.

"Loveshift" is, in its own way, cheesy as all get-out, but it's not cheesy in a '90's pop sort of way--it's that relentlessly upbeat string section and the deeper '70's style mid-tempo beat underneath that do it, that and the little xylophone part periodically perched on top. It reminds me so much of something, but I can't quite place what. I do always end up wanting to sing the chorus to "Love Train" every time we move towards the chorus, but I don't think the instrumentals match up totally, to the extent as they would with whatever song it's reminding me of. I'm absolutely convinced that if you listened to an instrumental version of this, you'd be convinced you were listening to some long-lost song from decades ago--the '70's, probably (this is where my lack of music history knowledge hurts me). Like "What's Your Name," though, and in fact probably even more so, it avoids the novelty record category by being just so darn good. One more note: I love that this song sounds fully, properly produced, as opposed to going the deliberately lo-fi route.

To buy Christian Walz's third album, The Corner, go here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: maybe that British pop-rock.

I don't know what's right and what's real anymore

I don't think I've mentioned on here yet that Lily Allen's new single, "The Fear" (formerly "I Don't Know") is great--it is, definitely, and since the trailer park-to-mansion music video (featuring choreographed group dancing and lots of balloons) has just debuted, now's as good a time as any to listen to the song, in all its melancholy and slight electro loveliness.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Pensando que es pronto, que aun puedes llamar

Those of you who could be bothered to pay attention to Salvemos Eurovision, Spain's giant Eurovision selection process this year, may remember Anael and her song "Piénsame" or "Thinking" or "Piénsame (Thinking Thinking)" or whatever title you want to go with. "Thinking," despite not making it to the final, was a good solid "Bleeding Love" type song written by Thomas G:son, Tony Sánchez-Ohlsson, and Andreas Rickstrand.

Anael recently released the news that her debut solo album will come out in 2009 as well as most of the tracklisting and songwriter information for the album. See the whole thing here, but the gist of it is this:

  • Nine tracks by G:son and Sánchez-Ohlsson, and eight of those with Rickstrand. Those three make up the team behind "Thinking" (which is one of those nine tracks) as well as the team behind Baltanás's "Te prefiero" and Coral's "Todo está en tu mente," also from Spain's preselection. With Rebeca, they also co-wrote Rebeca/D'Nash's "I Love You Mi Vida." G:son and Rickstrand have collaborated on songs like Jannicke Abrahamsen's "Rocket Ride," Sandra Oxenryd's "Superhero," and Man Meadow's "Viva La Musica." I am not expecting an all-out dance-fest, though, considering 1.) the style of "Thinking" and 2.) the album's description as commercial and contemporary pop-R&B ballads, mid-tempos, and uptempos.
  • One track composed by Andermay
  • One track by Fede Monreal (a former Operación triunfo contestant who did D'Nash's "Lo haré por ti")
  • One track by people I should probably know for other things but one of whom--Mar de Pablos--produced D'Nash's debut album and the other of whom--Alejandro Parreño--was on OT as well
  • A remix of "Thinking" (presumably the one by one-half of Andermay, a clip of which is on Anael's MySpace)
The disc is in post-production in Sweden right now.

There you go blowing kisses my way and I'm so in love it shows

Marie Serneholt definitely in Melodifestivalen with a Bassflow and Tony Nilsson track? AMAZING (hopefully). The artist I kept hoping would be in Melodifestivalen with the music creators I adore? How could I be anything less than thrilled?

Her song is called "Disconnect Me" and is described by its (fantastic) writers as having a pinch of John Barry (I must confess I had and have no real idea who this is referencing--a film score composer who did a lot of the James Bond movies, maybe?) with a little electro and as being warm with (and I may be totally misunderstanding this part of the description) Mediterranean influences and joyful and hopefully make you weak at the knees. I really hope it's a song that's as great as Marie deserves--I need more music from her A.S.A.P.

(Christer Björkman said of the track that it had a a very clear Eurovision style.)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Love love love

Another Tuesday, another set of confirmed Melodifestivalen performers. The information on the songs, as usual, comes from SVT, QX, and Gylleneskor, and the photos are all from SVT. As always, I strongly encourage all Melodifestival fans to read Schlagerprofilerna, the best blog out their for Melodifestival information. Most of this set of all-female artists have competed in Melodifestivalen before.

Velvet, "The Queen" (Tony Nilsson, Henrik Janson)
Velvet's competed in Melodifestivalen twice before, with "Mi Amore" and, last year, "Deja Vu." This year, she returns with a Tony Nilsson co-penned track; given my on-the-record love for his work (Ola's "S.O.S.," "Natalie," "Can't Get Enough," "Love In Stereo," and "Feelgood" and Elin Lanto's "Discotheque," among other songs), you can bet I'm interested to hear this. Hopefully her entrance in Melodifestivalen means that her second album will finally come out--it'll be something like two years since the debut of "Fix Me" by then (and with a bunch of in between tracks in the meantime)! The description for this song calls it (I think) a kind of stuck-up retro song which people will either hate or love. Velvet says that it's a Velvet-type song with attitude, an up-tempo song that won't disappoint people who liked "Deja Vu."

Agnes, "Love Love Love" (Anders Hansson)
After the drama of a disqualified track in 2007, Agnes is finally in Melodifestivalen. The former Idol winner will be singing a song by the man behind her latest album, so we have reason to believe him and be excited when he describes "Love Love Love" as a positive disco-pop song. Agnes says this song was the first she worked on with Anders and that it's a little (a little?!) in the same style as the songs on the album.

Shirley Clamp, "Med hjärtat fyllt av ljus" (Ingela Pling Forsman/Bobby Ljunggren/Henrik Wikström )
Shirley Clamp returns to Melodifestivalen for the first time since 2005 and fourth time overall. Quite a lot has happened since then, including a movement away from the schlager of her 2004 and 2005 entries, the former of which, "Min Kärlek," is the big keeper. Her entry this year is described by its writers as a melodic mid-tempo song which is demanding of its singer and which is about being in the middle of life and realizing its true worth. Shirley, though describing it as a ballad (in two separate sources), also agrees that you can almost call it mid-tempo and calls it powerful, adding that it is more like her previous Melodifestival songs (though more mature) than like her last album. Its creators are certainly big Melodifestival names--will that add up to something great?

Sofia, "Alla" (Nina Karolidou/Irini Michas/Dimitri Stassos/Henrik Wikström)
Sofia returns to Melodifestivalen after 2007's underrated "Hypnotized" (which, along with Andreas Lundstedt's "Move," was my easy favorite from that year's first semifinal). Her song for 2009 is described as a rock-inspired ethnic (Greek) pop song and heavy pop-rock with a cool riff, which sounds like a switch away from the maybe more Greek dance sound of "Hypnotized."

Lili & Susie, "Show Me Heaven" (Susie Päivärinta, Calle Kindbom, Thomas G:son, Pär Lönn, Nestor Geli)
The return of '80's pop duo Lili & Susie! And their song is described as longing '80's nostalgia with a strong chorus and clear melody, a song which won't disappoint those who like the duo; it's said to be a little like their earlier hit "Bara du och jag" in a dance version and have the happiness of "What's The Colour Of Love." I really need to do a post about them at some point--they really did have some great fun hits; I'm hoping "Show Me Heaven" will be great as well, as opposed to some of the not-so-great comebacks that have taken place. They'll be releasing an album of old songs but also with new material.

Amy Diamond, "It's My Life" (Alexander Bard/Bobby Ljunggren/Oscar Holter)
Just look at those writer names--that's some real pop and/or Melodifestival royalty right there, especially in the first two (Bard of Army of Lovers, early Alcazar, and BWO and Ljunggren of too many Melodifestival entries to name, though he was incredibly successful in last year's Melodifestival). I loved Amy's Melodifestival song last year, too, as well as the album that preceded it (and her earlier work), so I'm hopeful "It's My Life," described by its writers as an uptempo electro and dance song with attitude, will continue her growing up process while still being great.

Aftonbladet is also reporting that Marie Serneholt will be the next joker announced, which would be amazing news--I really want new music from her. Interestingly, apparently--in addition to the (not coming to fruition) rumored idea of her and Agnes dueting on "Love Love Love"--there was a proposal/interest from the contest in reuniting A*Teens to compete, but the group's members said no. Aftonbladet also says that Thorleifs, a dansband, will take over "Den första kyssen," the track Lasse Stefanz declined to sing.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Tant que le sang coule dans nos veines

Ever since Digital Technique introduced me to Julian Cely and his single "Pour Elle," I've half-followed him; as arguably shamelessly designed to "appeal to young girls" as "Pour Elle" was, it was still a completely adorable catchy mid-tempo piano-featuring pop song, one that stole my musical heart. Last year's "Billy" (also good, though musically not quite as much so) was both a lyrical and musical switch for Julian--a song about a boy in love with a boy who doesn't love him, who sees him as a just a friend, it was a little darker and more electronic. It was an interesting direction for him, but given the song's failure to properly take off in France (I think he's had a little more success in Indonesia)--fully in keeping with Julian's track record there so far--we've yet to hear anything more from him on the commercial release front...unless you count the more R&B "Plus fort," which was scheduled to be his next single. I'm not sure if it ever got a proper release beyond inclusion on a compilation album. It and "Mantra," presumably another song from his planned more R&B next album (edit: French Wikipedia says "Mantra" was released in Indonesia), can be heard on his MySpace.

Luckily, in Julian's attempts to establish himself, he landed a small-ish role on Sous le soleil, a soap opera which has given him the opportunity to make a few more songs (though chronology wise they aren't post-"Billy"). My favorite of those is like neither "Pour Elle" nor "Billy," but rather that upbeat-yet-gentle pop-with-guitars I seem to keep mentioning these past few weeks.

Pour le présent--kind of pop-rock, but maybe more properly just pop with guitars, "Pour le présent" has this lovely melodic feel to it. Upbeat, uptempo, and uplifting (even if arguably cheesy), it's very pop, very accessible, and exactly the sort of thing I can never get enough of. It's absolutely not a song to change the world, not a song with an exciting new sound, but for me, it's a song that makes the sun seem like it's shining just a little brighter on a gray day, as well as the sort of thing I'd absolutely be singing along with if I knew any French at all.

I know of nowhere where you can buy "Pour le présent," but you can buy a few singles of his here (physical) and a few songs of his here (digital).

Next up: maybe something British and amazing but very well-known.