Thursday, November 30, 2006

Put them hot jeans on

Thank goodness for Darin. Really. Both of his previous albums, The Anthem and Darin, were great, and consistently so, and he hasn't disappointed with new album, Break The News. The generally tossed-around phrase to describe his music seems to be "one-man boy band," but, while that's often used to signify songs in the vein of Westlife or Nick Lachey, here it should reflect a closer similarity to a (on this album, slightly more electronic) 'N Sync, at least in attitude and predilection for up-tempo, danceable songs. The fact that he's able to release each album so quickly after the former one astounds me, and really proves the lack of necessity of the cross-country song-swapping that so often goes on in the world of pop; to my knowledge, none of Darin's songs have been covers. If Darin was to launch himself internationally, I still think one of the songs from his previous albums might work best as lead single (I would love to hear "Step Up" on the radios here, and it would probably have a better chance than "Money For Nothing," though success would still be extremely iffy), but as a whole, I think I like this album even more than Darin.

Saturday Night--those searching for Darin's next party anthem need look no further than this (though there's some other contenders on the album, too). It's poppy but with a hint of electro-rock; there's even a guitar break, but Darin talks over it, preventing it from getting boring. Incidentally, this completes my set of paired weekend songs (the Click Five and McFly both have a song called "Friday Night," and now McFly and Darin both have a song called "Saturday Night," though that's one of my least favorite McFly songs from their debut album). With a song like this, who wouldn't want to go out with Darin on Saturday night?

Everything But The Girl--with a title like that, you know this could be really awful or really excellent; luckily, it's the latter. This is how to do big (though not genre-busting; for that, listen to Gregory Lemarchal's "Je suis en vie" or "Je t'ecris") pop ballads (and it's much better than Darin's previous ballad with "girl" in the title, "Who's That Girl"). The lyrics may be cheesy at parts, but the chorus more than makes up for that; by the time Darin is saying "I have everything but the girl," with perfect build and emotion, you're hooked. There are strings, but they aren't overwhelming, instead being present just enough to give the song a tiny bit more melody and drama.

To buy Darin's third album, Break The News, go here (physical) or here (digital). It is definitely worth it, as it's filled with great pop songs.

By the way, my CD came with a sticker boasting that Break The News contained "the hits 'Perfect,' 'Desire,' and 'Everything But The Girl'" (ah, confidence; they all should be hits, though). I'm a bit surprised to see that, as I presume those must be the future singles, but "Desire" is a good song, so hopefully it will do well.

Next up: the beginning of a Christmas special. It probably won't last more than a week, and they'll all (as it's currently planned) be pop songs, often ones I find myself listening to in the middle of summer. First up will be a Swedish singer who's been a member of two groups but is now solo.

(By the way, I've had the thirty second iTunes preview for "Stranded," one of Anthony Callea's new songs, stuck in my head all day, and having thirty seconds replaying in your head when you don't know the rest of the song is apparently pretty frustrating! I may also have a zip file labeled "A New Chapter" sitting on my desktop right now, taunting me and daring me to open it...)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Doin' my own thing, don't believe the hype

Apologies in advance if this post seems random or rushed at any point; as if waiting for Anthony Callea's newest album to arrive in the mail (a week and a half, if I'm lucky) wasn't bad enough, news of the Gareth Gates concert ("gig" might be a better word) showcasing some of the songs from his new album is just starting to hit the web. I'll probably sum up some of the information at the bottom, but for now: Ultra. Ultra (named after a Depeche Mode album) are a boy band most popular in the late 1990's, but they've recently released their second album (which you can buy here; it features some songs by former member and Fame Academy contestant Alistair Griffin). They're probably most famous for their singles "Say You Do" and "Say It Once." Their voices (though it often sounds like--maybe is--one voice) are pretty distinctive; there's sort of a laid-back feel to them, as well as a quality that I can't really describe. These songs today are B-sides from the "Say You Do" and "The Right Time" singles.

Stereotype--a mildly edgy up-tempo (maybe mid-tempo) song. It's not ear-catching enough to be a single, but there's a good chance you'll have "stereo-stereo-stereo-stereotype" stuck in your head at least for a little bit.

Whatever--taking the tempo down, we have a sweet ballad, but it's a ballad in the "you could clap your hands to this" vein--not quite as bouncey as Shayne Ward's version of "No Promises," but not really slow-paced. And really, you just can't go wrong with "ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo"'s. The bridge is just adorable, too: "don't you see/you gotta have a lover like me" (but what really matters is how they sing it).

To buy the single for "The Right Time," which has "Stereotype" as a B-side, go here (physical); to buy the single for "Say You Do," which has "Whatever" as a B-side, go here (physical).

(Credit for this picture goes to the lovely Moliudaima; thank you!)

As for the Gareth concert, none of this information comes directly from me; it's all second or third hand, and all credit for it goes to here. Here's a couple of notes:
  • The performance was being filmed for the upcoming (late December) documentary about Gareth, so at least bits of his new music should be in it.
  • He performed eight songs (repeating two of them in an encore), all new ("new" as in not yet on an album; apparently at least one of them was written back in 2003). Three of them were slow ballads, but the rest were mid- to up-tempo pop-rock.
  • The album may be out "early next year" (as per recent responses, very vague).
  • He thanked one of the co-writers of James Blunt's "Your Beautiful." Does this mean...?
  • Simon Fuller was there, which, since Gareth is still managed by 19, does make sense, but I'm hoping that's a sign that he has their full support and not just that Simon wanted to make sure that nothing bad got filmed for the documentary.
  • As you can see in the picture, it may not be at its peak as it was in, say, 2003, but at least he's making an attempt: Gareth is doing popstar hair! All is (almost) right with the world--surely it's a step in the right direction?
Anyhow, I cannot wait to hear his music, as I think he's a brilliant popstar (though I want him to release it at the proper time) and I love his music--I calculated once that I could run this blog for a month on good Gareth songs alone (I'm not going to do so, though; don't worry!). I'm worried, but hopeful. One more piece of good news: apparently the absolutely awful title of the documentary (and I mean awful--the worst possible title, really, unless it's just because I didn't grow up with the UK music scene that I don't think the possible pun is that great an idea) is not set in stone.

Next up: I'm not really sure--maybe a female singer.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

All by the glimpse of an eye

The artists competing in Melodifestivalen (Sweden's contest to decide who will represent them at Eurovision) were announced today (you can see who they are, what song they'll be singing, and the final they're in here--scroll down; it's not the top message--and read a little more about some people tipped to do well here; the wilcards haven't been announced yet, though). I'm really excited to get to follow Melodifestivalen and Eurovision this year, and there are a lot of artists to be excited about in the line-up. Today's post was inspired by seeing the name of this artist on the list (though presumably Therese, who is "featuring" in their song, will be doing the singing); it's earlier than I planned to write about them, as I just got their album yesterday, and I wasn't even sure if I should write about them at all (lots of excellent blogs have already done so), but they're too good to not mention.

Swedish duo the Attic, made up of Michael Feiner and Eric Amarillo, have been working together for several years, but, until recently, mainly on the songs of other artists (in fact, I posted one of their other songs earlier this year without even realizing it: their remix of Darin's "Who's That Girl," which I love so much more than the original); their debut album, The One, just came out this month. The One is full of dance-pop (or house/pop, as their description says) that is just entrancing. Their songs aren't just '80's-sampling gimmicks, nor are they really in-your-face dancefloor anthems, instead being classy but catchy, fun, always danceable, and practically hypnotizing. One of the songs on it may even win the award for my favorite title of the year: "Catch Me When I Fall For You." Choosing just a few songs to post was really difficult, and it's an album I definitely recommend picking up. I'm sure I'll end up reviewing it in the future, too, because (and I may be premature in saying this, only having listened to it for a day) it is one of the year's must-own albums.

In Your Eyes--a single that's still probably my favorite song by the Attic, even after listening to the whole album. This is going to sound crazy (and please don't be turned off by this), but I think it's the sexiest song I've heard this year (and sweetest, too)--it doesn't actually sound like it's trying to be, but that effortlessness makes it absolutely captivating. By the time we get two-thirds in and are hitting the high-pitched "wooo"'s, you're completely sucked in; it's danceable, mesmerizing, swirling, engrossing--everything you could want in this type of song.

The One--I ultimately chose this song because it's one of the catchier non-single songs on the album, and so might transfer better to the out-of-context, you-only-have-thirty-seconds-to-get-my-attention world. However, songs like "Minute After Minute," with its breathy, building, intimate-yet-distant gorgeousness, must absolutely be heard.

To buy the Attic's debut album, The One, go here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: maybe a boy band.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The silver screen and Seventeen

(Picture credit to Tammin Online; thanks!)

Tammin Sursok, like so many other female Australian singers, first became famous through her work on a soap opera (in this case, Home And Away). In 2004, she released her debut single, "Pointless Relationship," and followed it up with two more singles (one of which was later covered by High School Musical star Vanessa Anne Hudgens) and an album, Whatever Will Be. There were rumors that Tammin would release a single in the UK, but nothing has yet materialized. Though she's writing songs for her next album, her focus seems to be on acting at the moment; she moved to L.A. and has been doing the casting call circuit (she had a role in the JoJo-starring mermaid movie Aquamarine). I do really hope she releases another album, as her sweet voice and smooth pop songs added up to a great first album.

Pointless Relationship--this song doesn't have quite as much of the happiness that infuses some of Tammin's other songs (though they aren't always about happy subjects). It also doesn't even (shock!) have the title somewhere in the lyrics. It's such a good song, though--catchy, and somehow a bit rocky but not too much, sounding meaningful and not trite. Marion Raven (ex-M2M) was one of the co-writers of it.

Better To Be Lonely--despite lyrics about refusing to be coupled up with someone--actually, probably because of them--this song has more happiness about it. It's sort of like Natasha Bedingfield's "Single" in subject, though definitely not sound; Natasha's song is more R&B-influenced and tries to be edgier. Tammin sings so sweetly, and she does say that after "one look I'm giving out my number," but there's still something empowering about this song.

To buy Tammin's debut album Whatever Will Be (and I really recommend it), go here (physical).

Next up: maybe another plea for people to buy a certain album, or a singer from Sweden.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

We are tigers in the dark; we are burning!

I don't know that much about this band--really, I'm only familiar with them through their greatest hits album, but it's a nice greatest hits. Go West was a UK duo made up of Peter Cox and Richard Drummie who released music in the 1980's and early 1990's. Most of their success occurred in the UK, but you can occasionally still hear them on U.S. radio, mainly because of their song "King Of Wishful Thinking," used in the movie Pretty Woman, which gave them their highest-charting U.S. song (#8). In the UK, chart-wise, they had the sort of career that apparently is no longer good enough for most record companies (which frustrates me), with songs usually reaching in the 10-25 range. Their sound is very '80's, with synths and percussion and probably some other things I can't identify.

We Close Our Eyes--Go West's debut single, and one of two songs that helped them get signed. It's up-tempo and energy-filled, though that doesn't mean it's super fast. There's a great build up in what is either the middle 8 or leading into the middle 8 and, despite talk of hiding feelings and girls being shown up, there's something oddly empowering about it.

The King Of Wishful Thinking--a little more ballad-oriented, though it's not really that slow. As you might guess from the title, it is about love, with the singer promising "that I'll get over you, I know I will," while at the same time knowing that he's actually just trying to fool himself. That probably sounds really sappy, and I suppose it could be, but the fact that this isn't a straight-up ballad helps prevent it from seeming to be (or seeming too much to be).

Don't Look Down--returning to more up-tempo songs, we have a song that's reminiscent of "We Close Our Eyes" (and that makes sense, because it's from the same era as "We Close Our Eyes"). It's fun, catchy--really, what more could you ask for? Just a rhetorical question, as I know one could make an argument for the more arty groups of the '80's, and those are important, too; it would be a shame, though, to ignore a group that had a knack for catchy pop songs, an art of its own.

To buy Go West's greatest hits album, Aces And Kings: The Best Of Go West, go here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: maybe an album review.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Sing out this song and I'll be there by your side

I had two signs today about what this post should be about (maybe what I was planning for today will be tomorrow). It's a little unusual, compared to what I normally post; I would never have guessed that I would ever write about these songs, but I do adore them--completely and totally. The first sign was when I turned on the TV to find it on the channel playing the movie these songs are from, with twenty minutes left (and if you know the movie, I couldn't very well not watch it from there once I'd seen even a couple seconds of a broken-hearted Nicole Kidman watching as her lover walked away from her in front of a packed auditorium; I couldn't stand to watch the very end, though--as is, this is my favorite movie, but it's not one I can stand to watch all that often because of the ending). The second sign was when I went to see the movie Happy Feet (I think I was the oldest non-parent in the theater, but it had adorable dancing penguins in it--really, I had to see it--and I was surprised at how much I ended up liking it; I may even say more about it tomorrow), which also has Nicole Kidman singing in it.

There are so many reasons to love Moulin Rouge--the music, the visuals--but it's all centered around a love story. In my eyes, it's an absolute must-see. As a musical, it adopts the interesting strategy of incorporating both classic popular music and original music (there's far and away more of the former than the latter, though rearrangements may sometimes make it difficult to identify the originals). It may have launched the inescapable reworking of "Lady Marmalade" by Christina Aguilera, Lil Kim, Mya, and Pink, but if that's the only music from it you know, you're missing out.

Elephant Love Medley--this is one of the cases in which the movie incorporates classic pop songs, here in the form of a medley and duet between Nicole Kidman's Satine and Ewan McGregor's Christian, with Christian trying to convince Satine that she should give him (and love) a chance. As a warning, all of these songs are even better when watched in the context of the movie, both so you can understand the characters and so you can see the absolutely stunning and stylized visuals accompanying them. The one trouble with it being a medley is that I'd love to hear even more of their versions of each of these songs.

Your Song--another cover (of the Elton John song), this time sung by just Ewan McGregor (with some backing). In the movie, this song does precede "Elephant Love Medley." It's a lovely cover, too, though, of course, it's done up to be more showy in parts. Still, there's a disarming simpleness about Ewan McGregor's singing that, despite all the orchestration and operatic background singing, keeps this song grounded and sweet.

Come What May--another duet between Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, but this time an original song. Of course, it's a love song, and a ballad, but I still love it. Once again, I'm not sure how much power these songs will have out of context, but I'd really, really encourage you to go rent the movie if you haven't seen it. It may have a simple love story at it's heart, and that alone is reason enough to love it--that it tells a love story beautifully--but there are so many other levels on which to appreciate it that you're almost sure to find one on which it can resonate with you. Random trivia: this song was originally written for another of director Baz Luhrmann's films, Romeo + Juliet (starring Claire Danes and a pre-Titanic Leonardo DiCaprio), but it wasn't used in the film.

To buy the soundtrack for Moulin Rouge (there are actually two, but for the "main one"), go here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: maybe another sort of left-field post.

Friday, November 24, 2006

God knows I love to tan

Robbie Williams caught my attention with the singles (and some other songs) for his most recent album, Rudebox. Before that album, though, there was one other song that had really piqued my interest in Robbie. I heard it on UK radio and was thrilled to find out it was from Escapology, one of the albums Robbie had released here in the U.S.; I figured I'd be able to find it easily, maybe even on iTunes. Of course, the first Robbie song I'd heard and wanted to get turned out to not be available in the U.S., as for reasons I can't comprehend, it was taken off the U.S. version of Escapology (maybe to avoid controversy? It surely can't have been because it was judged to be one of the worst songs on the album!)...thank goodness for 7Digital!

Hot Fudge--piano-driven (and with horns!), "Hot Fudge" is one of those songs that will get stuck in your head and refuse to leave, even if you can't remember all the words (I spent a day tramping through the forest trying to remember any of the verses). Robbie sings about Los Angeles and California, and is often less than complimentary ("Can't find a virgin, I can get you a surgeon/24 hours a day"), though he says he's "moving to L.A." I just don't understand why this song wasn't on the U.S. version of the album--I really don't think it could be because of what he says about L.A. (though in a world where McFly felt they had to change "It's like a neutron bomb explosion" to "keep polluting like the ocean," who knows!).

To buy the UK version of Escapology, go here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: I just saw a movie tonight that I should probably have seen months ago, so it might be music from that (though since I think the entire world except me already knows the songs, maybe not!). I think I may postpone the particular song and cover for a little while because when I get to the Christmas songs (starting this December; it won't be a very long feature, though), I'm probably going to feature the artist who did the covering twice.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Cuando yo te veo, no sé lo que siento

Happy Thanksgiving to any American readers (and to any readers who aren't American, if they'd like to have a happy Thanksgiving, too)! I don't really have any Thanksgiving songs, so this post is, unlike the one on Halloween and the ones to come in the beginning of December, not holiday-themed. Maybe we could all give thanks for good music? Anyhow, I'm in love with today's song at the moment. It's sung by David Bisbal, who took second (to Rosa López) on Operación Triunfo, the Spanish television show that was the first manifestation of Fame Academy. From what I understand, he's very successful in Spain and has released three original studio albums, with the most recent one coming out last month. I haven't been listening to the most recent album, Premonición, for long enough to really review it yet, but so far it seems to be a great album. This song, though, is from his first album. Interestingly for anyone who knows my belief in the importance of popstar hair (thank goodness Paul also knows how important it is!), one of the things David was known for was his curly, medium-length hair (sort of mop-styled), but he recently cut it off in order to bring attention to the plight of child soldiers (watch it in his music video for "Soldado de Papel" here).

Ave María--the sort of song that definitely makes you want to dance (though I'm not quite sure how you would dance to it). It sounds very Spanish, but in the best possible way, and is completely full of life and exuberance. It also features what may be the most infectious rhyme in music ("Ave María, ¿cuando serás mía?"). "Ave María" is the sort of song I can imagine students in Spanish class becoming totally enamored with, but it deserves a far wider audience than that; from the beginning, which jumps straight into the chorus, to the end, where David is begging his girl to just give him an answer already, and with the aid of horns throughout, the song radiates a happiness that you can't help but absorb some of.

To buy David Bisbal's first album, Corazón Latino, go here (physical) or check iTunes; for just "Ave María," go here (digital).

Some quick updates on some artists whose music I love:

If you live in Australia, since November 21 you've been able to buy Anthony Callea's new album on iTunes. For some reason, the actual album doesn't come out and won't ship until November 25, but, even if you don't live in Australia, you can still listen to the preview clips on iTunes if you like (they're not as long as the clips on his website, but they are higher quality). There's also what appears to be another Australian iTunes-only song, "Whatever It Takes," that you can preview, and buy if you live in Australia. Sigh...I'm glad we're getting to hear the songs he had to cut from the album, but what about the non-Australian fans? I'm hoping it's a hidden track on the album, but I don't think it is. In some old-ish news that I think I may have forgotten to mention earlier, he'll also be covering a song for a charity album, Home: Songs of Hope and Journey, the album whose lead single is the Shannon Noll and Natalie Bassingthwaighte duet (and cover) of "Don't Give Up."
Edit: ooo--my copy of A New Chapter actually shipped today! I'm shocked! Now the question is how long it will take to get to the U.S....

Gareth Gates is going to be giving an invitation-only (though fans can enter to win tickets) mini-concert featuring some of the songs from his new album later this November. Of course, I won't be going, but hopefully we'll get news about what the songs are like! This fact is somewhat reassuring, as I was still worried by his/his management's lack of real, specific news about any new music from him. At least this will prove it exists...

Don't forget to buy poor Matt Willis's new album, Don't Let It Go To Waste--it sounds as if it's very good and he needs all the help he can get! Go here to buy it.

Next up: I really want to write about David Bisbal's most recent album, because it has some excellent songs (including the must-be-a-future-single "Silencio") on it...that probably won't be tomorrow, though; maybe it'll finally be time to get to that song and the Swedish cover of it.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Natten gjorde mig vild då

I'm going to put off the song and cover for another day; instead, today's songs will be two covers. Both songs are also rather interesting covers, since they were originally sung by graduates of an Idol show, but are now song by former Fame Factory contestants. Even more interestingly (or, from the perspective of someone used to the original version, oddly), the songs, originally sung in English, are now sung in Swedish. I'm guessing the reason both of these songs were included on their respective cover performers' albums is that, while on Fame Factory, they performed those particular songs, much like Anthony Callea's debut album included his supposedly best performance, "The Prayer."

Jessica Andersson - Ett Kort Ögonblick--I've featured songs with Jessica Andersson once before; she's one-half of Fame (or was; the last few songs I've heard from her have been solo songs, and the male half of Fame, Magnus Backlund, released a solo album recently). After getting Fame's album, I was rather surprised to suddenly hear a very familiar melody playing when I got to the third song. It's also a melody that will be coming to the radios of UK residents at the end of November, when the X Factor winner releases their own cover of the song. What song is it? American Idol season 1 winner Kelly Clarkson's "A Moment Like This." Jessica's version is a little poppier than Kelly's, with less emphasis on belting or soulfulness.

Mathias Holmgren - Något som kan hända--Mathias Holmgren, in addition to competing in Fame Factory, was also a member of boy band Barbados. He's now solo, though, and has even competed in Melodifestivalen in the past. "Något som kan hända" is a cover of what I see as a classic pop song: Gareth Gates's "Anyone Of Us (Stupid Mistake)." Hearing it for the first time was a strange experience, too--I am so familiar with Gareth's version! It does prove that it's a good song, no matter who sings it, but I still tend to prefer the original (it might just be because I can't understand the language, but this version feels a little more flat--not in the sense of flat vs. sharp--to me). Mathias's album, including this song, is great, though.

To buy Fame's album Give Me You Love, go here (physical); to buy Mathias Holmgren's album, Vägen Hem, go here (physical).

Next up: I'm not sure--maybe that aformentioned song and a cover of it, with the cover also in Swedish.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I don't want to leave you with a shadow of a doubt

I hate the American Music Awards right now. I know "hate" is a strong word, but this is ridiculous. Some issues are just a matter of personal taste (Me: "Aww...I like Ne-Yo! And Chris Brown's OK. Just not Jamie Foxx." Announcer: "And the winner is...Jamie Foxx!"). Other times, though, the awards are completely incomprehensible. Do you know who was nominated for best male pop/rock singer?
1.) Nick Lachey. All right, though he might not be my favorite singer, he is pop. I will accept this.
2.) Sean Paul. What?!
3.) Kanye West. Kanye West! KANYE WEST. It's like someone was afraid that the skit with Diddy, where he pretends to be upset that he didn't win best female country singer in order to mock Kanye, might have actually have happened with Kanye if he didn't get a nomination. In what world is Kanye West pop, rock, or pop/rock?

In honor of the only nominee in the category who actually belonged in the category (Sean Paul won, if anyone's interested), here's a bonus track from Nick Lachey's second solo album, What's Left Of Me, only available (I think) on his album when purchased at Target.

Did I Ever Tell You--though I still haven't listened to all of Nick's album yet, this track has jumped out at me because, unlike many of the songs on the album, it's not a really slow ballad! I suppose you could make a case that it is a ballad, but it feels more mid-tempo to me, but more importantly, it's just a great song. Like yesterday's song, it's guitar strummy, though not quite to the same extent. I love how melodic it is, and how it's both pretty and uplifting; finally, Nick's not getting run over by the love bus, but revelling in how amazing it is to be in love and desperate to tell his partner how he feels.

To buy Nick Lachey's second album, What's Left Of Me, go here (physical) or here (digital; you'll have to search for "Nick Lachey" and, if nothing's changed, choose the third album labeled "What's Left Of Me").

Next up: the song by a singer popular in Thailand, and a strange cover of it.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The return of !!!!!

I suppose I could have edited this into today's earlier post, but it is totally worthy of having its own post.

Anthony Callea's official site now has about one minute long preview clips of the songs from his new album, as well as commentary from him about each track. A New Chapter is one of my most anticipated albums of the year, so you can imagine my reaction to this news. The clips have extremely low audio quality, so you really can't get more than a general feel for each song, but they are definitely worth listening to (unless you can be stronger willed than I and prevent "spoiling" the album). How I'm going to wait the half a week until its release plus the two weeks it will take to ship here, I have no idea.

Some highlights:
  • Learning that Anthony was tipsy/sloshed (take your pick!) while recording "Perfect Mistake"
  • Finding out that he worked with someone who worked on Kylie Minogue's Fever (I know that's so vague that it could be referring to the coffee go-fer, but Anthony's more specific than that; not that it really means anything, though, given the difference in the albums' sounds)
  • "If Only"--where did that song come from?! There's been no buzz about it (well, probably because no one had heard it...). Amazing!
  • Lyrics referencing Snow White!
This, and much more, await you at his official site.

Incidentally, according to my admittedly inexact calculations, this album is 53.33% uptempo (it feels like far more than that, though, but maybe that's just because the uptempo tracks are sticking in my head more), as opposed to the 31.25% of the first album. Since there are also more tracks on this album, that means there are (to an even greater extent) quantitively more uptempo songs, too! I'm sure the ballads will grow on me, but, just from a personal perspective, the more uptempo, the better (for the average artist, I'd say that percentage should be more like 80%, but I do understand that many people love Anthony's ballads, and he can do some very good ones--"When You Were My Girl" and "When I Get There," for example).

From what I've heard, the album starts off strong and fast-paced, with 3 of the first 4 songs being uptempo and rocky. It then moves back and forth between uptempo/mid-tempo and ballad for the rest of the album. Also, in the past, Anthony used "pop/rock" to describe songs like "Rain;" this time, when he says "guitar-driven," he means it.

This is all just too much for me to take in at the moment; I might attempt to form some more coherent thoughts tomorrow, but then again, I'm also thinking about trying to avoid listening to the previews again, as I still want the album to be somewhat of a surprise. Most importantly, though, this album sounds as if it will have a bunch of top-class songs on it; in addition to the previous fan favorite "Addicted To You" and previous previous fan favorite "Runaway," I'm just desperate to hear more of "Perfect Mistake," "If Only," "Stranded," "Want You To See," "There's Always Time," and "Almost,"with "Best I Can Be" (and maybe "A New Chapter") following closely behind. I can tell already that whenever I get around to reviewing the album, I am going to run out of superlatives.

I just can't wait for that one week in summer

(Picture credit to Matt Willis Zone; thanks!)

Matt Willis's debut solo album, Don't Let It Go To Waste (and I'm going to resist the urge to turn my plea for people to buy it into a pun based on the title), is out this week, and I really want it to do well. Though I won't be able to give my thoughts on it until next week (it's shipping to somewhere I'm not actually at yet), I have a lot of faith in its quality; though I was a bit worried a month ago, the clips I've heard have assuaged my fears to a large degree--it should be a good album of rocky or guitar-based pop. Though I hear Matt hasn't provided the most fascinating of television on I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!, I still hope he does well on the show, and that it manages to help his album sales. As encouragement to go out and buy his album, here's a B-side from "Hey Kid;" it's not as good as the single "Up All Night" or the B-side "Rock Ya," but it is good nevertheless and does show Matt doing a different style.

Me And Your Mother--it's been a little while since we've had some guitar strummy goodness on this blog, and this song brings that back in full force. It's not a rock out song like "Up All Night," with Matt instead giving a more subdued performance. Contrary to what you might expect given Busted's songs about exploits with older women, this is actually a song sung from the perspective of a divorced man singing to his child. Despite that, it's not a ballad.

To buy the single for "Hey Kid," go here (physical) or here (digital). More importantly, though, please consider buying Matt's new album, Don't Let It Go To Waste, here (physical) or here (digital); "Me And Your Mother" is, in addition to being a B-side, at the end of the album.

Some other albums out this November to consider buying (not an all-inclusive list):
  • McFly--Motion In The Ocean (already out; buy here [physical] or here [digital]) (their best album yet, combining the pop of their first with the maturity of their second to create what will be a classic)
  • Darin--Break The News (out in a few days; pre-order here) (given the quality of his first and second albums, this should be pop perfection, possibly with a bit of RnB influence, but no more so than a boy band might have)
  • Anthony Callea--A New Chapter (out this coming weekend; pre-order here) (amidst some probably-quite-pretty-if-you-like-that-sort-of-thing ballads should be some catchy, almost pop-rock numbers)
  • The Attic--The One (already out; buy here) (dancey, electronic pop...probably more on this once my copy arrives)
Next up: maybe a singer popular in Thailand.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

No dejes de pensar en mí

I may have my reservations about Ricky Martin as a person, but I will stand by my belief that he has been (and has the potential to continue to be) connected with some great songs (including the far too little known "Til I Get To You"). Though his most recent studio album, Life, may have not had too much of an impact on U.S. top 40 radio, he's still popular enough worldwide that MTV decided to bring him in for a session of MTV Unplugged. His live acoustic performances of a bunch of songs (all in Spanish) were recorded and shown on TV and released as an album this month. This song was the lead single, which, if he was intent on releasing a single from this album, was a good choice.

Tu Recuerdo (feat. Mari of Chambao and Tommy Torres)--I was mildly enchanted with this song for a few days this week. I'm not sure how much of it has to do with Ricky himself; it might have a lot to do with the backing part (not Mari's accompanying part, but just the backing voices in the chorus) and the guitar part. Nevertheless, Ricky has his moments here, especially when you can hear him getting too close to the microphone (as in the beginning)--there's a warmth and almost a sensitivity to his singing. My preconceptions may be unduly influencing me, but I do feel like he starts to go a bit too over the top near the end; overall, though, I do really like it (and I'm generally leery of live songs and acoustic songs)--it's the sort of song I could see having an effect on you if you're in an emotional mood. The toned-down nature of this song helped with my enchantment--it's not really sweet, nor is it really sad, falling instead somewhere in between, with perhaps a hint of nostalgia that never slows down its mid-tempo pace. In feel, it's closer to "Private Emotion" than "Livin' La Vida Loca."

To buy Ricky Martin's album MTV Unplugged, go here (physical) or here (digital; you'll have to search for "Ricky Martin").

Next up: a B-side from an artist with an album coming out this week.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

One time is all it takes, but I'm not counting on that break

Watchers of American Idol will be familiar with the ridiculous skits the contestants do to promote the products of the show's sponsors. They can be mildly funny, but I'd swap what our contestants film and record as a group with what the Norwegian Idol contestants do in a heartbeat. While the American Idol contestants are off covering snippets of old songs and dancing on billboards to sell a car, the Norwegian Idol contestants record and release an original song (at least, I don't think it's a cover) and music video. They aren't exactly pop masterpieces, but they can be cute and fun. This song comes from the 2005 season of Idol in Norway, the year Jorun Stiansen won.

Dreaming--this song sounds like what I expected an S Club 8 song to sound like before I'd actually heard one (though it's not a cover of the Frankie and Calvin song). Norway's Idol contestants must all be pretty young, judging from the video and the sound of their voices (though they all are drinking champagne by the end, so they can't be too young). It's very bubbly and happy--I'm tempted to say it's filled with youthful joy, but that just makes it sound staid. The horns don't work quite as well as they could--they just seem a little blah, for some reason--but overall, the song is so poppy and fun that I really can't believe it was released in 2005. Are any of them having solo success? They should get back together, rope in some producers who know they're not just making a one-off and so put in a bit more effort, and release a full album.

To buy the group album from the 2005 season of Norwegian Idol (except for this original group song, it's just like most other Idol group albums, with each contestant performing a song they did on the show), go here (digital).

Very important news update: the documentary about Gareth Gates that is supposed to help him relaunch his career may be airing Saturday, December 23, at 6:40 PM. This is an event rivalling Christmas in its significance, not so much because we will get to hear about Gareth's life, experiences in the music business, etc., but because two very important questions may be answered: 1.) what does Gareth's hair look like now?, and 2.) what does his new music sound like (questions which are of almost equal importance)? I genuinely believe Gareth has done some really top-quality pop songs (based on quality, his second album should have done infinitely better than it did) and should get to release another album. I really am curious about what his new material will sound like (and perhaps a tiny bit worried, since he seems to have taken to singing covers of classic rock songs recently...but use of guitars is no bad thing in and of itself [see "Enough Of Me" and "Face Myself"], so I'm hopeful).

Can someone please explain to me why McFly thought it was a good idea to go for Christmas number one? They have two excellent songs ("Sorry's Not Good Enough" and "Friday Night") on the single, but that's such a competitive week...and, presumably, since it's a AA side, there will be no new B-sides to encourage everyone who already has the album to go buy the single. Good luck to them and their mariachi-suit-clad (which I like to imagine is a reference to Busted's video for "Crashed The Wedding") selves, though! The album is amazing--I really will have to write about it at some point.

Next up: the song in Spanish will have to be tomorrow, or wait until at least Tuesday, because I do have something definitely planned for Monday.

Friday, November 17, 2006

My bed's so cold at night

All right, so no, this isn't the song I said it was going to be--I really do think that will be tomorrow! This song just seems a better fit for today.

We are now, what, four months into this blog, and I have not posted a Darren Hayes song. Does anyone else find that hard to believe? I have no good explanation for that--all I'll say is that some artists are just so...magic...that you're hesitant to even try to write about them, because there's just no way you can do them justice. It's sort of a shame that the first Darren song I'll post here is a cover, but it's such an exquisite cover that I really don't have any regrets about it (plus, hopefully it will help me work up to being able to write about his own songs). Anyhow, Darren first became famous as a member of internationally successful duo Savage Garden, perhaps best known for the ballads "Truly Madly Deeply" (the "I wanna stand with you on a mountain" song) and "I Knew I Loved You." After releasing two albums, Savage Garden split up and Darren has gone on to have a solo career. He's so far released two albums and is working on his third, which is going to be a double album.

Lost Without You (Live at the ARIAs)--Darren covers Delta Goodrem's "Lost Without You" at the 2003 ARIA Awards (the big music awards ceremony in Australia). He's accompanied only by piano, but that's all he needs. Gorgeous. Really. Whether you do or don't like Delta, give this song a listen. It is a ballad, and, though it was sung in support of Delta, who had cancer, when you just listen to it, there's something tragically sad about it. I'm not the only one who loves this performance--it recently was part of the top spot on a countdown of the ARIAs top twenty moments (you can watch the top spot of the countdown here).

Finally, for the sake of completeness, here's Delta's closer to mid-tempo original version.

Lost Without You

To buy Delta Goodrem's album Innocent Eyes, go here (physical) or, for just the song "Lost Without You," go here (digital).

Next up: I really think it will be that song in Spanish; it, too, is a live performance.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Te atrapé en mi red

Fey grew up in Spain, but she was born in Mexico and is almost always thought of as a Mexican artist. She's had a relatively long career, releasing her first album back in 1995. Her music career has almost ended multiple times--back in 1999, after a year of especially intense promotion for her third album, she announced her retirement. She decided to come out of retirement in 2002 to release her fourth album, Vertigo, of which there were two versions, one in Spanish and one in English. When the album, despite its positive critical reception, didn't sell quite as well as her previous ones, she "retired" again. In 2004, though, she returned yet again, releasing her fifth album, La Fuerza de Destina, which did well commercially. Her most recent album, Faltan Lunas, came out this past summer, and has some really cute songs on it. Sound-wise, it's an interesting album; the songs definitely feel like pop, often with a bit of dance influence, but there's often a sense of them being underlain by electronica (though you can't hear that as much with the following song).

Me Has Vuelto Loca--I'm sort of a sucker for almost anything that has handclaps in it. However, those really aren't the main focus of this song; instead, it's the light, happy beat, over which all Fey really has to do is sing sweetly to ensure that the final product is just adorable. It's not obviously innovative, and it's not a challenging listen (though I suspect it's more complex than it may feel), but those aren't requirements for a good song. It's not necessarily the sort of song that, if you heard it on the radio, you'd stop in your tracks, stunned by the sheer amazingness of it, but more the sort of song you just want to coo at, pat encouragingly on the head, or cuddle with. I don't mean that in a patronizing sense, but rather that the song is designed to be so cute and shiny that that's your innate response.

To buy Fey's album Faltan Lunas, go here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: some of the other songs (especially "Faltan Lunas" and "Tres Razones") on Faltan Lunas are just so adorable and fun that I'll probably be posting a couple of them soon (but don't let that stop you from buying the album--it's definitely a worthy purchase, and given my track record, who knows when I'll actually get around to writing about the other songs), but tomorrow will most likely be that song in Spanish that I keep promising (don't get your expectations for it too high, though!).

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

She even lied about the dog

I am mildly but pleasantly surprised by Guy Sebastian's new album. It's too early for me to judge it as a whole, but at the very least it has some very good--and very fun--songs on it. In the past, I've only bought single Guy songs, not whole albums, but this one has intrigued me enough that I may have to reevaluate that decision. I've written about Guy before, but as a brief recap, he won the first season of Australian Idol and, although his single placings are no longer quite as high as they used to be, he not only has a league of extremely dedicated fans, he also must be having crossover success--the lead single, "Taller Stronger Better," for his third album peaked at #3 in the charts and that album, Closer To The Sun, reached #4. I am tempted to propose that he and Anthony Callea must have recently switched to the same hairstylist, because both previously had distinctive hairstyles (Guy's afro and Anthony's spikey popstar hair) that have largely been shorn off before the promotion of their new albums. On to the music, though; I'm not going to post his upcoming single "Elevator Love" because, when I did so before, I had a request to remove it, and that makes sense (you can listen to it here, though)--I wouldn't want to hurt the single's sales, especially because it really is very good. In fact, it's excellent! Instead, I'm going to post one album track in an attempt to intrigue people about the album and get them to go buy it. Remember, if you like the following song (which is good), "Elevator Love" is even better (by a long shot); if "Taller Stronger Better" can get to #3, there's no reason why "Elevator Love" shouldn't reach #1.

Boyfriend--this is a bit like "Elevator Love" (especially when compared to songs like the ballad "Taller Stronger Better" and the surprisingly fun, Caribbean-influenced "I'm Gon Getcha"). It doesn't quite have the same rock-out element, but it does have that guitar-based sound--from the verses, you wouldn't be surprised if it turned into something like "Elevator Love" (which has that Kelly Clarkson-esque pop verses and rockier chorus structure). The moment it starts, you're hooked--there's a feeling that it's going to build up to something big. It's a pleasant surprise, though, that it doesn't just fall back on that rock-out chorus--it's definitely got guitars, but it stays sort of poppy and definitely catchy. Like the Rooster songs of yesterday, one of the great things about this song is that even the chorus and bridge are catchy. I really want to see the writing and producing credits for this song, and much of the album--from how good this song and "Elevator Love" are, I'm really curious to see who's responsible for coming up with them. Guys graduated from Idol who think that guitars are the solution to everything (including Heinz!), take note--this is how you do it!

These new Guy songs are such a refreshing surprise compared to some other comeback songs I've heard lately. I wouldn't say every song on the album is a must-listen, and maybe it's just because I didn't really have many expectations (not that I had low expectations--I really just didn't have any expectations) going into the album, but songs like "Elevator Love" and "Boyfriend" show a side of Guy I didn't know existed but still fit in more than comfortably on an album that jumps around between multiple different styles. In short, Closer To The Sun confirms that Guy more than deserves a place among successful Australian pop artists.

To buy Guy Sebastian's third album, Closer To The Sun, go here (physical).

On a completely unrelated note, can anyone tell me who Jan Smit is? More specifically, why is his song "Als De Morgen Is Gekomen" topping the charts in the Netherlands (it spent 5 weeks at #1 on the Dutch Top 40 and is now at the top of the Dutch iTunes chart)? Why did the U.S. iTunes decide to add the song to its collection? I feel very out of touch with the Dutch music scene (well, I was never really in touch with it to begin with) if this is the sort of music that tops charts over there. Not that it's atrocious or anything, but...well, listen to it and see if you understand my confusion:

Als De Morgen Is Gekomen

U.S. iTunes commenter DannyRay wrote, "I don't get it. Is this a post-modern-commentary on something? Is one supposed to listen on another level? Is this a forgotten Dutch treasure from the 70s? Is the talent pool in the Netherlands that meager? Is he cute enough that one should be able to look past his musical shortcomings? Would someone buy this, now that my grandparents have passed on? Would someone please help me?"

To which I have to respond: well-played, DannyRay. Well-played. I had to fight really hard to prevent myself from bursting out laughing at that (though I might not totally agree--since I'm not living with it, it's a little too cute in a novelty song way for me to really come down that hard on it).

I think Jan Smit might have been on a reality TV show or something...maybe? Can anyone fill me in? Is there some outside factor explaining this song's striking success?

To buy Jan Smit's album Op Weg Naar Geluk, go here (physical) or, for just "Als De Morgen Is Gekomen," go to iTunes.

(Update: apparently, Jan has released multiple albums, starting from when he was very young, which does sort of make me discount the "novelty song related to TV show" theory, but I'm still very confused...truly, I have much to learn about popular music in other countries.)

Next up: a cute little song in Spanish (though it's not the song in Spanish I've been saying I'll write about for the past several days--that will probably be in two or three days).

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Kick him to the curb baby, don't stop running

If you listened to Wikipedia, your main impression of Rooster would be that they were an "English indie rock band." Now, not that there are no good indie bands, but the term "indie" definitely carries with it certain associations (are they really signed to an independent label?) and expectations of a certain sound. Rooster might not be pop (they could be, but I have suspicions that, especially recently, they might not liked to be called that), and they might not be pop-rock, but they definitely don't sound like what you (or at least I) expect an indie band to sound like; if you're not going to call them pop or pop-rock, I think the best description would just be rock. In fact, their sound is something that might even appeal to classic rock fans. That said, some of the songs from their self-titled first album are really catchy and worth listening to as long as you're not turned off by a large dose of guitars.

Come Get Some--Rooster's debut single, and a good choice for that--though rocky, it's also catchy, with a great shout-along chorus. In fact, the bridge would be great to shout along with as well. Don't let all this talk of "shouting" fool you, though--underneath it all is a very pop structure, as well as song (you can already hear that pop-ness if you really think about it--imagine the song without guitars, or without such loud guitars, and it really would be clearly pop; since the guitars, though, are mainly busy with hooks or just adding a bit of added power to the lyrics, the catchiness is only enhanced). In fact, this song, even in the verses (though they're not as shout along-able), just oozes catchiness--or, more accurately, threatens to smash a guitar over your head with its catchiness.

Platinum Blind--an album track, but for me, it's one of the catchiest songs on the album. One of the great things about both "Platinum Blind" and "Come Get Some" is that their bridges are at least as catchy as their choruses (here, I'd argue that the bridge is even catchier than the already catchy chorus)--not only will you have "Wanna lose the plot/spend some money that I ain't got" stuck in your mind, you'll also have "Acting like you're loaded/Knowing that you're broke" replaying in your head all day. I expected this song, with a title like "Platinum Blind," to be about something like falling in love with a blonde, but it's actually about overspending on your credit card--and really, there aren't enough songs about that, are there? Especially ones backed by guitars?

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

Huge thanks to Tip Top Pop (which linked to me forever ago, but I kept forgetting to thank) and Catchy Tunes of Sweden for linking to be. Tip Top Pop is incredibly thorough and will introduce you to both artists and versions of songs you didn't even know existed; Catchy Tunes of Sweden has songs with more catchiness than is probably legal and will introduce you to some absolutely amazing artists. They are both sites I check possibly obsessively (I'm beyond thrilled to be linked to by them) and absolute must-visits for anyone who doesn't already read them!

Next up: maybe an old song by someone who was an album coming out soon.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Hold my hand, let's chase the sun

Please forgive (this is the second day in a row I'm starting out with that phrase!) a relatively short post today--partially, it's because I don't know that much about this particular artist, but mainly because I'm distracted by McFly's ABSOLUTELY AMAZING new album (if you haven't already bought it, what are you waiting for? Buy Motion In The Ocean here [physical] or here [digital]). There's been a little bit of debate about what song this one samples from--some people have said it's "Insomnia" by Faithless, but apparently it's actually "Encore Une Fois" by Sash (neither of which are songs I know). Regardless, this song is the debut by Stunt, a group made up of producers Pete Kirtley and Mark Dowling and singer Molly Smithen-Dowes (and, as you might guess for the output of a "group" which has two producers, it's a dance song). It's been around for a little while--apparently, it was being used in clubs last year, and was official released this December or January, depending on where you live.

Raindrops (DJ Demand Remix)--this is a remix, and not a radio-length one either (it's about 6 minutes long). However, after listening to this version, there's really no going back to the original--the power and danceability of the DJ Demand Remix far outweighs that of the original. My vocabulary for describing dance music is somewhat limited, but basically, it's fast, fun dance music--not quite as "colorful" as Cascada, and not electro-rock like the Superjupiter or Young Love songs I've posted before--more just a regular fast-paced dance mix, if there is such a thing.

For anyone who really doesn't want a six-minute long song (I can understand--for a while, I had no patience for anything that wasn't radio-length), here's the radio edit.

Raindrops (Radio Edit)

To buy the EP for Stunt's "Raindrops," go here (physical) or go to iTunes.

Next up: maybe that song in Spanish.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sweeping eggshells still at 3 AM

I've focused on fun uptempo songs (normally my true love) for the past few days, so please forgive me as I temporarily detour into music that's far from poppy and far from uptempo: Josh Groban's latest album, Awake. It's too early for me to judge the album as a whole (it was just released this past Tuesday), so this will only be a couple of songs that have jumped out at me. Josh's songs don't ever seem to be about hooks, or fun, so it may be somewhat surprising that I like them. I think the key with him may be acknowledging that a good portion of his songs is about atmosphere. There's also something about his voice--how you rise and fall with it--and the instrumentation of his songs that allows him to get away with could-be-trite lyrics like those of "You Are Loved (Don't Give Up)." It also feels like there's a hint of mystery underlying many of his songs. You could argue that the purpose of his music--which appropriates some elements of classical music and some elements of pop--is to shamelessly exploit a certain demographic, and I don't tend to listen to all the songs on his albums (I still haven't really gotten around to listening to Closer), but when he (or his producers) gets it right, he can do some really great songs.

Now Or Never--this is the song that's jumped out at me the most (though admittedly I haven't listened to most of the non-English tracks yet). As I mentioned before, I feel like many of Josh's song have an aura of mystery, and sometimes a surprising darkness, about them--this is one of those. Easily the best part of this song occurs about two-thirds in, where Josh sings "now or never" and a series of Joshes answer back in round, overlapping and harmonizing--it's just gorgeous; even if the rest of the song wasn't that good (and it is good), it would be worth listening through to get to that part.

Awake--I almost posted album opener "Mai," a strong, dramatic track, instead, but a few factors swayed me to include this song instead. One is that the normal physical album doesn't actually include it, and some Internet download sites don't even have it, which I think is a shame. More importantly, though, I wanted a slightly more minimal, less effects-driven song. The huge drama of some songs Josh does works really well, but I also wanted to show that, even with the focus very much on his voice in a comparatively simpler song, his music can still work. Of course, an album full of songs like this might get dull, but, used in the proper proportion, they help ground Josh's music, providing the sweet but solid base for songs like "Now Or Never" or "Mai" to contrast with. "Now Or Never" is probably the stronger song, but if you just want something soothing, "Awake" is more up your alley.

To buy Josh Groban's third album, Awake (the version with two bonus tracks, "Awake" and "Verita"), go here (physical) or here (digital). If you're just starting with him, though, I'd recommend getting his debut album, Josh Groban, first--you can buy it here (physical) or here (digital). The first song, "Alla Luce Dal Sole," is amazing.

Next up: I think "Mai" may make an appearance here at some point, but up next will probably be a very famous Puerto Rican singer.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Musiikki vie mut taivaisiin

After a couple of days in Sweden looking at some artists with Melodifestivalen connections, we're off to Finland and an artist who has gotten a little bit of Eurovision buzz (though he's said he doesn't want to compete in it yet): Antti Tuisku. Like many of the artists I've written about, he, too, rose to fame through a Pop Idol show--he took third in the first season of Finland's Idols. However, he's since become probably the most popular out of any of Finland's Idol contestants, releasing four "real" albums and a Christmas album. In fact, two of those albums were released simultaneously this October and took up the #1 and #2 slots in Finland's album charts. The #1-reaching album, New York, was dance-oriented, while the #2 album, Rovaniemi, was more pop. The album covers look pretty neat next to each other--New York, with a blue theme, has Antti facing towards the left with a close-cropped haircut and Rovaniemi, with a red theme, has Antti facing towards the right and with spikey popstar hair (you can get the general idea by looking at his official site). Overall, I think the one dance album, one pop album--at the same time!--idea is a great concept (even if it would be difficult for most people to do) and I love that he was (apparently) successful with it.

Sekaisin--as you might guess from the title, Antti's songs aren't in English, and although that might make it slightly more difficult for the English speaker to appreciate an entire album of his, it doesn't really hurt the single songs. "Sekaisin" was the lead single from the New York album, so it is definitely danceable and full of electronic-based music. It seems like his voice might be a little overpowered by the music at first, but stick with the song at least until the first chorus, where it gets really fun and almost catchy (but not really hooky--it does really feel designed more for dancing to than sitting around appreciating its merits).

This is where I'd normally tell you where you can go to buy the album, but I actually have no idea where you can get it--if anyone knows of any Finnish music stores (keeping in mind that I live in the US--I don't think CD On ships to the US, does it?), either to buy digital music or actual CDs, please let me know, because there's some music coming out of Finland that I'd like to hear, including Antti's. In lieu of that, I'll just say you can buy his second album, Antti Tuisku, here (digital).

Next up: possibly the songs I keep saying I'll write about, or an American singer who makes me think of California.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Change of heart, and now you wanna fool around

Argh...I'm far too distracted thinking about McFly's new album (if it doesn't arrive tomorrow, I may very well go crazy) to post something truly coherent, so, though there are a bunch of songs I want to write about, I'm going to check in on what's going on around the Internet instead.

There's been no news from Alex Vargas lately, which is disappointing, but I don't think there's any reason to truly worry yet. I'm not sure about what the rest of his album or EP will be like, but in "Diamonds In The Dirt" (posted before, but resurrected) he's given up a catchy, melodic, piano-led pop-rock song. Visit his MySpace here.

Diamonds In The Dirt

Matt Willis is going on I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! I'm skeptical about the effectiveness of this promotional strategy, but I hope it works.

Even if "The One" entered the UK charts at #35, the show that launched it, Totally Boyband, must have gotten decent ratings, because the US is now going to get its own version: Man Band. I can't really envision this show being seen as a route towards a viable music career, so the focus must just be on TV ratings. VH1 has roped in someone from a big boy band (Chris from 'N Sync), someone from a sort-of-known boy band (Jeff from 98 Degrees), someone from a (to Americans) one-hit-wonder boy band (Rich from LFO), and someone from a group much older than any of the others (Bryan from Color Me Badd--will he be filling the Danny role?). When I first heard about the concept of Totally Boyband, I was really intrigued and wanted to watch the show, but from the sounds of it, the boys/men involved came off awfully.

I am surprised to see someone from 'N Sync involved, but Chris was always the least popular member. On the other hand, it's not surprising that VH1 couldn't land Nick Lachey--easily the most famous member of 98 Degrees--but I am a little surprised 1) that they didn't get Nick's brother, Drew, who won Dancing With The Stars earlier this year and so is at least sort of in the public's memory, 2) to see Jeff, who apparently is going to host VH1's version of Top Of The Pops (if it still happens), involved--two series at once? one series leading into the other?, 3) to see a member of 98 Degrees participating, because both Jeff and Nick have said 98 Degrees will be releasing another album. Of course, it might have been even more surprising if 98 Degrees actually had released another album.

I wrote about Billy Phillips a while ago, posted some of his songs, and said I was really worried that his MySpace had disappeared. I can't remember whether or not I mentioned that it reappeared (and even if I have, he's someone worth bringing up again), so here's the link to it--pop that sort of reminds you of acoustic guitar pop, generally sweet...I would love a whole album from him, but who knows if that will happen...

Over at his MySpace, Josh Hoge is taking requests for what songs you'd like to hear him cover and putting up a new one for download each week. I still think "360" deserves to be a radio hit, and the other songs of his I've heard are quite good. I'm not sure how well the marketing is going, though.

Darius, after his in-depth analysis of global warming (which I still find funny for some reason--not global warming, but how he wrote about it), has another surprisingly eloquent and arguably preachy (I only tease because I love) message up at his MySpace, this time about perspective and innocence. You all are lucky there's been no new music from him lately, or you'd probably get a McFly/Gareth Gates-esque flurry of posts about him. Some day, I may have to explain how Darius is the whole reason why I care about music from outside the United States (so one might be able to argue that my love of his music is nostalgic, but he really has a knack for amazing pop songs...I know many people disagree with me, though, and I'm fine with that :) ).

Oh, Jesse McCartney...from his MySpace blog: "One cool thing on myspace that a friend just showed me is that you can forward profiles to your friends. This made me think that if each of you forwarded my page to a couple of friends that don't know me or my music, it adds up to almost 200,000 people that will get to hear the new songs! sounds good huh?" I'm not sure whether it's the shamelessness or the possibility of a hint of desperation that puts me off that message, but it just doesn't feel right. Some day, I really will get around to reviewing his most recent album.

On the subject of Lil Chris: I am not sure if I like him because of or in spite of his videos, because of or in spite of his voice, or even if I like him at all--it's very confusing. I think there's some catchy pop underlying his work. I don't listen to his songs often, but I somehow have this impression that I like them. You can listen to his first single, "Checkin' It Out," and his new single, "Getting Enough," at his MySpace.

In the world of blogging: Nick, in addition to his reviews of some excellent TV shows, has a review of the McFly album that isn't helping with my desperation to get my hands on it--it's exactly what I wanted to hear about it; I've somehow missed out on the Attic until now (no, I don't understand how it happened either, because everyone's been writing about them), but they are amazing--go over to Catchy Tunes of Sweden to check them out; I can now disprove my Ghanaian professor's claim that I don't know any music from his home country thanks to PopEatsPop and the songs of Ruby Amanfu (who, granted, did grow up in the US); and the ever-so-amazing Paul over at the Zapping has Fame's excellent Melodifestivalen song "Vindarna Vänder Oss" for anyone else who might have wanted it.

Next up: something somewhat more coherent--probably one of the two topics I've been saying I'll talk about for the past two days.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Love the smell of the green

Staying in Sweden for another day, we're focusing on a member of a hugely popular (at least in pop circles) group, Alcazar: Andreas Lundstedt. As the group "takes a break," Andreas has embarked on a solo career, releasing one "real" single, "Lovegun," which reached #1 in Sweden. Before that, he had competed in Eurovision 2006 as part of Six4One, representing Switzerland. He'll also be competing in Melodifestivalen to represent Sweden in 2007. This September, though, he released another solo song as a download-only single. The song, "Dollar Queen," is the theme song for a computer game, Dollar, which, based on its website, looks rather violent. Don't worry, though--the song itself is fun, which you might not expect based on the blood-spattered image on the game's home page.

Dollar Queen (Radio Edit)--though this is still fun pop (with strings!), it also has a hint of intrigue about it, which is suitable for the theme song to a video game, I suppose. It's faster than "Lovegun" and, though you might argue it's repetitive (I'd say it just gives you more of what you want), it's also got some nice lyrics scattered throughout (nice as in they sound good...I'm not sure why, but I love the "looking for more, like a simple whore, on a nightstand store" part--it sounds better than that reads, really, thanks to the music and the way Andreas sings it). The deviation from Andreas's singing, where a woman takes over for a couple of lines, is a nice touch--it slows the song down for a moment and adds some feeling.

To buy Andreas Lundstedt's single "Dollar Queen," as well as a great remix of it, go here (digital). I really hope he releases a full album at some point.

(Picture source)

If you all are wondering about the complete lack of McFly mentions here lately, it's because I'm trying to wait until my copy of Motion In The Ocean arrives before I listen to any of the songs on it (except the singles...and B-sides...and the medley on their MySpace...but I've drawn the line there! Who knows how long it will be before I scrub that line out and draw another, more favorable one, but, for the moment, that's where it is).

Next up: a song in Spanish or a singer who, though American, often sings in Spanish and Italian.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Can't get away from my one-track mind

After a run of songs that seemed to all be serious, hip, or rocky, today we're returning to "pure pop" that is, most importantly, incredibly fun and happy. Fame (who should really be shown in a color picture, because black-and-white just doesn't represent them) were a Swedish duo made up of Magnus Bäcklund and Jessica Andersson, two contestants on Fame Factory, a reality show singing contest. Though Magnus won (Jessica dropped out), the two would team up to form Fame and ended up representing Sweden in the 2003 Eurovision with "Give Me Your Love," which took fifth. Supposedly, from what I've heard (which could very well be out of date--does anyone know?), the duo is still sort of together, but Magnus released a solo album this year (it's more pop-rock than Fame's music) and they each competed separately in Melodifestivalen. Though the studio recording of "Give Me Your Love" on their album (also called Give Me Your Love) lacks some of the energy and emotion of the live version, the album nevertheless has some really great songs on it--it's incredibly poppy.

Anyway You Want It--some of the album's songs have, like "Give Me Your Love," Magnus and Jessica singing together. Others, though, feature just one of the two. This is one of those--it's a Jessica song. "Anyway You Want It" starts out with this neat overlapping, harmonizing effect before it jumps into the energetic, upbeat part of the song. The whole song is cheery, poppy fun, but the chorus deserves special mention--it'll have you wanting to sing along with it.

Like The Sun After Rain--a little more balladish than "Anyway You Want It" (though catchy and still not really slow), "Like The Sun After Rain" features both Jessica and Magnus. It's sweet and, though still very pop, it's a little more toned down--not quite bursting with exuberance like some of their other songs, but still happy.

To buy Fame's debut album Give Me Your Love, go here (physical).

Next up: Give Me Your Love also has a surprising (though I can guess why it's there) cover on it that will be appearing here in the near future. For now, either a song in Spanish or a couple of songs from the new album of an artist who often sings in languages besides English, but is American.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Je t'écris de ce rêve de t'avoir tant aimé

It's only been about a month since I last wrote about French singer Grégory Lemarchal (you can see my original post here--the songs still work, and, if you missed them, "Je suis en vie" and "Le feu sur les planches" are definite must-listens), winner of the French version of Star Academy, but I have to write about him again. I know I originally said I wasn't sure if the following song would transfer well to the world of music blogs, and I'm still not sure it will (it's long--more than six minutes--and I have a feeling that, since there are so many great music blogs, if a song doesn't grip you instantly, it's often ignored), but I just have to post it.

Je t'ecris--I may have a tendency to talk songs up too much. For this one, though, I'm going to avoid superlatives--there really are no words for it. I'll just say this: you absolutely must listen to it. All of it. Even if it means letting it play in the background while you do something else. Please?

It starts off as a simple piano-led ballad--very minimal, just Gregory and the piano. Much of the beginning is sort of hushed, but, as the song progresses, there are a couple of moments where his voice starts to rise and gather a bit more power, but then it descends back down. By about halfway in, those high points are mixed about half-and-half with the toned-down parts. However, it's when the song hits four minutes that magic happens: the pace picks up. There's a little bit of overlapping vocals, and the electric guitars come in, with the piano continuing but faster. I really can't do this song justice in words, but that build--it simply has to be heard.

To buy Gregory Lemarchal's debut album, Je deviens moi, go here (physical). It's an amazing album--definitely worth buying.

Next up: probably another song in a language besides English.