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

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.

FINLAND

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

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.

2 comments:

Rick said...

My word. Another PPG masterpiece. So informative and with loads of things I don't see on any other blogs. Well done.

Poster Girl said...

Wow, Rick, thank you! That means a lot.