Sweet Swedish popstar Darin makes me want to pull out a trapper keeper and scrawl "I ♥ Darin," complete with flowers and rainbows and unicorns, in pink Gelly Roll ink all over it. It's not so much a case of pure physical attractiveness--though he's grown up to be someone who, on the right day, when he's not trying so hard, pulls that off--but because he's EXACTLY WHAT I WANT IN A POPSTAR. He has a perfect pop voice and makes perfect pop music.
01 Lovekiller by poppostergirl
Now, that said, he's yet to pull off a perfect album in my books, though his fourth, Flashback, came the closest. Catchy and often club-friendly, it was just what an international male popstar should release, even if it didn't take off internationally for him.
Unfortunately, it didn't exactly take off in Sweden either, resulting in a change of labels and change of styles. It's hard to believe given the massive success Darin found with the '90s teen pop style "Money For Nothing" from his first album and the floorfiller "Step Up" from his second, but there was reason to be worried about him having a record label given the less than stellar sales of Flashback and its singles (including the excellent "Breathing Your Love," which took the title of my sixth favorite single of 2008 and probably should have been even higher). Darin found a new home at Universal, though, and in late 2009 had his biggest hit in years with an electronic cover of Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" produced by Johan "Kermit" Bobäck.
That hit seems to have been the jumping off point for Darin's new material. His Melodifestival entry "You're Out Of My Life" is one of the best singles of the year so far, and it marks the debut of the Darin-Tony Nilsson giant percussion-based '80s mid-tempo ballad sound. I first fell in love with Tony when he was making pure pop uptempo songs like Ola's "S.O.S."; for a while, that was always the sort of song I'd hope any new track from his was. As of this year, though, I am all about him channeling his big dramatic '80s ballad side, mixing the adult contemporary and power ballads of that era to singing-at-the-steering-wheel-of-your-car effect.
Darin's song for the royal wedding, "Can't Stop Love," was in a similar style and, if not quite as fantastic as "You're Out Of My Life," still pretty good. Now, back with "Lovekiller," his first "proper" single since "You're Out Of My Life," Darin finds himself once again going back to the '80s. From the opening strings and lyrics about bloodstained hands, a smiling knife-wielder, and an irreparably scared heart, you know Tony and Darin have drama on their minds. The bridge is absolutely fantastic, building and building as Darin repeats his accusations. The chorus backs off from that intensity, which occasionally still a little iffy about (it sometimes feels a little too...musically open still, like it's a great thought that's not quite finished and just needs a little closure). Still, when the middle eight comes up and mixes the bridge from earlier with clanging bells and a choir, I'm so swept along in a tide of big pop ballad awesomeness that no sooner has the song ended than I'm playing it again. This is full-on clenched-fists-and-dramatic-lip-syncing stuff--and there's no one who could do it better than Darin who, even when he isn't releasing edgy danceable pop, proves there's a reason he's my favorite popstar going.
Darin's new single "Lovekiller" is available on iTunes in Sweden here. It will be on his fifth album, also titled Lovekiller, which is due out August 17. You can preorder the album here (physical).