Wednesday, January 31, 2007

It's 99 degrees and the temperature is creepin' up

To close out the month of January, we've got a group everyone knows, but hopefully not a song everyone knows...and before you all give up the moment you hear who it is, just try giving the song a chance; if it came from an unknown group, I have trouble believing it would be met with the passionate hatred that will probably rain down upon it the minute I mention who it's actually by.

Westlife. I've stated my feelings on them before--though I've never bought a full album of theirs (I may do so at some point), I do think they've done some good songs, "Amazing," "World Of Our Own," "If I Let You Go," and especially "When You're Looking Like That" among them. Maybe if I lived in the UK and was forced to listen to all of their songs, my feelings might be different, but since I can pick and choose which songs to listen to, I have nothing against them. Oh, and though I probably wouldn't have liked the album at all, I still think Allow Us To Be Frank was a brilliant title (but this is coming from the girl whose favorite song titles in past years have included "Catch Me When I Fall For You" and "Rockin' On Heaven's Floor," so clearly I like cheesy wordplay).

Anyhow, given that I've not bought any of their albums, I only heard the following song recently, when Paul mentioned their new single "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" was getting remixed and included a link to their MySpace; this song was one of the songs on it, and I immediately liked it. By posting it, I'm hoping to prevent other people from missing out on a good song on an album they might not usually listen to.

Hit You With The Real Thing--first things first: "Hit You With The Real Thing" is uptempo. That might disappoint their ballad fans, but for me, that wins it some automatic points. It also includes phrases like "electro paradise," another "how can you not love it" aspect. Saying the song is electro might be going to far, but it is very danceable and not guitar-driven. It starts out with an admirable amount of tension for a boy band song, thoroughly poppy but with almost the slightest hint of danger, before bursting into the first use of the chorus. One of the big things about Eurovision songs is how long it takes them to hit the chorus; "Hit You With The Real Thing" is sure to give any of them a run for their money by reaching the chorus in 27 seconds. That's right--27 seconds. Given my love for the chorus, that's another point in Westlife's favor--as Roxette would say, don't bore us, get to the chorus (I know, now I'm putting Roxette and Westlife in the same paragraph--how much more heretical can I get)! After that, the verses, which are great, are less minimal and more energetic, though it's still the small explosion of the chorus that seals the deal. Plus, the whole thing's over in under 3 minutes--no messing about or pretension, just pure catchiness and fun and then out. It's a song any boy band from the peak of the boy band era would love to have on their album, but since Westlife made it, many people (myself almost included) will probably never hear it.

To buy Westlife's album Face To Face, go here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: maybe that Norwegian singer, or the German band, but possibly a dance song.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

And when you grow silent, I start to fall

Back in August, I wrote about American singer Jon McLaughlin, but he was in my big post on piano-based songs, so I don't know that he really got the attention deserved. I just found out some news about him, though, so I wanted to take the opportunity to write about him again. Jon has released albums before, but I think his new one, Indiana, is going to be his attempt to really "make it"--not only does he have more backing behind it, he also worked with the Matrix, among other producers, which to me implies he's really hoping for a hit off of this one (and apparently he's linked with an upcoming Disney movie; if you listen to the lyrics for what I think is going to be the lead single, "Beautiful Disaster," it sounds like it would fit in with the movie--the movie is about a princess, and the lyrics reference "happily ever after"--so it wouldn't surprise me if he tries to launch the single in tandem with the movie). I have nothing against singer-songwriters; after all, McFly certainly write their own songs, and, slightly more in the category of what you think of when you hear that term, Darius is a singer-songwriter. However, I think there's a certain sound you really expect when you hear "singer-songwriter"--something like John Mayer or Ben Folds--and, though I love my "boys with guitars" (or more accurately, in Jon's case it would be "boy with piano and some guitar") music, the "singer-songwriter" sound is one that I'm generally not all that fond of; rarely does it "pop" for me in the way that I prefer music to do. It remains to be seen whether or not Jon's album will impress me, but I still absolutely adore one of the songs that will be on it, and it's one of the ones I posted back in August.

Industry--since this is already shameless reuse of a song I posted months and months ago, why don't I just go all the way and recycle what I wrote then, too? (Lame, I know). "His songs are beautiful but there's also a bit of fun or passion in them--maybe something that I feel is missing from The Fray's song. The chorus has a bit of an anthemic feel. Midway through the song, there's a sudden quieting followed by an amazing build up; then, suddenly, the song feels like it stops, and you're left in the lurch, wanting more, before the chorus returns for one last go-round." I think that still stands, especially that last sentence. The song takes a little while to get going; though the chorus is good that first time around, you really have to wait for the second verse for it all to begin to come together, to get a feeling for where the song is going. Just when you think you know where it's going, though, you get that sudden drop in volume and that buildup I mentioned, and continue to love. The final return of the chorus is just as unexpected, too. If Jon himself wrote this song--which I presume he did, though I could be wrong--I think it shows he's someone worth paying attention to. Not everything I've heard by him has the same strength (some of it, which you can listen to here, falls too much into the singer-songwritery category for me; some of the songs he's had on his MySpace are on the CD and are better than the ones you can listen to there--I like "Praying To The Wrong God" a lot, too), but "Industry" means I'll be paying attention to him in the future. Basically, "Industry" is piano-based (piano pop-rock, maybe) with just enough jaunt for me to stay interested, pretty, catchy, and generally well-done, so if Jon's ever reduced to soundtracking Grey's Anatomy, at least you know he does have some good songs out there.

Jon McLaughlin's next album, Indiana, isn't out yet, but keep an eye on his official site so you know when you can buy it. Until then, you can buy an earlier album here.

Next up: hopefully that German band, but possibly that former Norwegian Idol contestant.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Don't you know a wave is coming through

Breaking news alert! Go visit Electroqueer for some news about the new Darren Hayes album.

Give me some insight, aiight?

(Apologies for the less than great picture, but I couldn't find a better one.)

Yay for insomnia! Another late night post tonight, although really, it's not that late...

It's not a word I use often, but are you all ready for something completely poptastic? Sounding like something straight out of the late '90's or early 2000's (and after all, it did come out in 2002), today's album is nothing other than cheesy fun pop. Given that she has a ridiculously low number of listeners on, I had to share the love for this artist.

Karen Mukupa, also known as Mukupa, Miss Mukupa, and Ms. Mukupa, comes from Denmark (though she was born in Zambia) and first broke onto the music scene in the early 1990's as part of the hip-hop group No Name Requested (another ex-member, Natasja, released her debut solo album a couple of years ago and has songs still getting radioplay). She later returned as a solo artist and released at least two albums. I don't have Mukupa's Law, but 2nd Base, which veers between dance-pop and pop-rap, might not be a classic, but it's definitely enjoyable, and deserves a lot more fame outside of Denmark than it has (unless it's already famous and I'm oblivious).

Stop Stop--the album's second single. This is one of the more pop-rap-R&B songs, but it's far more on the pop side than anything else. In fact, the whole album is thoroughly poppy and a great mood-lifter. Plus, there's not a single ballad on it! You really can't beat that. Anyhow, back to "Stop Stop": it's got a great catchy chorus that really, to me, has a "take you back" feel; it's fun, but I also get the tiniest bit nostalgic for the days of music like this. If you like your pop more dance-pop, there's a remix of this song at the end of the album that you'd probably prefer even more than this version. (Incidentally, if we can believe Amazon, this song also got a UK release--does anyone know?)

I Need You--this song was never a single, despite the fact that four singles were released off the album, if that gives you any indication of how much good stuff is on it. "I Need You" is definitely on the dance-pop side. It's not of the storming kind, more of the smooth slick kind, though that slickness is briefly interrupted by Mukupa's pop-raps (we need more rapping like Mukupa, Verbalicious, and Tara Chase in music!).

I definitely recommend buying the album, or at least some of the songs on it; you can buy Mukupa's album 2nd Base here (physical) or here (digital). If you miss this style of pop, you will love a lot of the songs on it. It even has a ridiculous cover/reworking of Whitesnake's "Here I Go Again" on it! And a disturbing song about making sure the man hitting on you isn't your father before you do anything with him! How can you not want to hear it?

Next up: maybe that German band finally, or I may repost a song from earlier because something I've just seen has got me very excited about that particular artist all over again.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

And I'm allowed to change my mind

It's been a little while since I've done a real news round-up (though I know I've done a lot of "breaking news" sort of posts lately), and there's a lot I'd like to mention, so today will just be some random thoughts and news.

In the "news I should have brought to you yesterday but didn't want to mention" file is information about Gareth Gates's new single. It's confirmed for an April release, and he's also confirmed which song it will be: "Changes." It's the latter that resulted in my hesitation to mention it yesterday. I haven't heard the whole song yet, let alone heard the whole studio version yet, but from what I've heard of the song, I'm not sure about the choice. Well, that's not entirely correct--it would be more correct to say I have an opinion which could be totally wrong, but I'll throw it out there anyway: I see this as the sort of song that might be loved by fans, but isn't a good choice for lead single. Facts about "Changes": it is a ballad. You can't view it as anything else--it's not a Shayne Ward "No Promises" or Anthony Callea "Rain" song that you could maybe make a case for it being something else. I'm trying not to let my own preference for the uptempo influence my analysis of this decision, but that might seep in somewhat, which is why I'm so leery about actually saying much. It's also a very intimate-sounding ballad. Very singer-songwritery sounding. And (I can just hear the screams of derision coming from the PJ Forums already) it's co-written with one of the writers of James Blunt's "You're Beautiful." Ballads can do very well, but I feel as if normally they tend to be catchy, or less..."rambling" isn't the right word...less hushed? More commanding of your attention? As I said, I haven't heard the whole thing, so I could be utterly wrong on this (and I hope I am), but to me it just doesn't feel like the super-strong comeback single he needs. I don't expect anyone to want to download these, but if anyone wants to listen to them, here are a couple of clips (taken from the documentary) of "Changes": longer clip (the song's beginning, I think) and shorter clip (probably leading into the chorus). Anyone else have any thoughts? And be honest--I can take it!

Also, speaking of singles, Sebastian (Karlsson)'s latest single "Words and Violence" (which I wrote about and posted a live version of back in December) is finally availabe to purchase in a physical format, meaning we non-Swedish residents can finally get hold of it. I'm not sure if anyone else has grown as obsessed with this song as me recently, but if you want to, you can buy the single for it here.

No news from Go:Audio (except that they keep redesigning their MySpace), but I just wanted to mention again how great their song "Made Up Stories" (which you can listen to on the aforementioned MySpace) is.

Also on the guitar-pop tip, the Click Five's song "Time Machine" is being used to advertise Orlando--that's lovely, boys, but when do we get a new album? (Rumors say fall 2007, but that's based off of nothing.) Those live performances of some of your new songs are too low quality for me to stand listening to, no matter how intense my withdrawal symptoms get.

What has happened to Veto Silver? According to their MySpace, they still have shows coming up, and it looks as if they've lost and replaced a member, but when are we getting new music?

My reporting that Anthony Callea's single "Addicted To You" would have two new b-sides was wrong--one will be "Meant For Love," previously only available on the Australian iTunes. The other is called "Try," and is, as far as I know, new.

Ever since Kevin recommended Sondre Lerche in the comments, I've fallen in love with him. His upcoming album, Phantom Punch, might be more hipster than what I normally listen to, but it's so much fun...I definitely recommend picking it up when it comes out in early February! I really want to write more about him later, but if I do, Kevin gets all the credit (and huge thanks!) for introducing him to me. In the meantime, if you like well-done music videos, check out the one for his song "Two Way Monogue" (also courtesy of Kevin's recommendation).

I'm a horrible comments lurker, but I do it in hopes of finding new blogs. A couple of blogs new to me: Give Your Ears A Taste Of The Visual and PopMusicWorldWide. I only just found out about PopMusicWorldWide this morning, and I absolutely adore it already; when its creator says "world wide," that's the complete truth. Incredibly thorough, it's already introduced me to artists I'd never heard of before and given me a lot more information about artists I only knew in passing. I only wish I'd known about it sooner. Give it a visit--you'll love it!

Other excellent blogs have relocated: Digital Technique is now at the All New Digital Technique and Aria of Pop is now at Synth Me Spaghetti. Both are top-quality blogs that I adore.

Next up: maybe that band from Germany.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Remember me when I'm gone

Random trivia before we get into today's actual post:
  • Yesterday's song ("Tidsmaskin") was co-written by today's singer's brother and Nick Jarl (as well as Jessica Asp), who also co-wrote a lot of the songs on today's singer's first album (and presumably later albums), though you'd probably never guess that by listening to it.
  • Today's singer voiced Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson in the English version) in the Swedish version of the movie Cars.
Is it possible to adore an artist even though you deliberately own only one of their three albums, and it's their first? If so, I think that sums up my feelings about Swedish singer Martin Stenmarck. Though I do have a couple of his other songs (one from Think Of Me, though I might buy another soon, and a remix of "7milakliv"), and I quite like them, from what I've heard of Think Of Me and 9 sanningar och en lögn, I haven't felt compelled to buy them (heck, both even recycle songs from his first album), but his first album, One--oh my gosh. It's some of the best money I've spent; full of should-be-radio hits, it's the sort of album that should have won him international success (and to some degree, it did, as he released it in a couple other European countries, but I'm talking truly worldwide success). I wrote practically a mini-essay on just one song from it, "I'm Falling," if that's any indication of how much I love it. In fact, it's in the pretty elite club of albums I actually force other people to listen to or will put on when I want to explain why I listen to music that's not known in the U.S., and that's a club that only has three albums in it. I very much recommend buying it; poppy it is not, but pop? Definitely yes, although classifiable as rock, too.

I Got To--while "I'm Falling" could be seen as a stomper, this has a more literally stomp-oriented beat, broken down and edgy. There's an interlude in the middle that's rather strange--it gets all soulful for a couple of lines--but besides that, this is storming rock-friendly pop of the highest order. So catchy that you might want to avoid listening to it if you don't want to be thinking about it for days, this probably wouldn't be heralded as boundaries-pushing, but it's also far from generic, with a beat and melody that separate it from the pack and would be perfect for shouting along with. The song itself also seems ideal for live performances--it couldn't fail to get the crowd excited, and it'd really lend itself to some manhandling of the microphone stand. As always, Martin's voice is perfect for this type of music, smooth (though he can break out the grit when he wants to) but strong. "I Got To," like many of the songs on the album, is so radio-friendly (and video-friendly) that it practically hurts. The song manages to capture an emotional state perfectly, as in that chorus, vehemently spat out in brief phrases, like bursts of anger and power, and the brief "eye of the hurricane" moment, the moment where the singing stops and the guitars drop out and all we get is an almost haunting xylophone (maybe bells?) part that somehow manages to make the usually pretty tinkling sound of the instrument sound ominous, before Martin's voice returns, and gradually gets stronger and stronger, maybe angrier and angrier, almost desperate, perfectly intersecting with those bells, which continue even once we get the guitars back. This isn't artsy music, but it is art, so incredibly capturing how powerful guitars can be (even when they're not breaking loose) that it should be required listening for the countless Kelly Clarkson-inspired "rocky guitars are the route to success!" knockoff singers abusing the instrument at the moment.

What are you waiting for? Buy Martin Stenmarck's amazing debut album One here (physical)--I can't recommend it enough. I might eventually end up buying his second and third albums, though the little I've heard of them has yet to impress me, just on the strength of the first.

(Edit: I forgot to mention that his official site has clips of all the songs on the album, if you're still not sure about buying it; go to "Music" and then "One.")

Next up: possibly a former Idol contestant from Norway, but most likely she'll be in a few days; it might finally be that German band's turn.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Jag fattar inte hur det blev så här

Swedish singer Mathias Holmgren was a competitor on Fame Factory during the same season as Jessica Andersson and Magnus Bäcklund. He also went on to replace Magnus Carlsson as the lead singer of Barbados before getting kicked out (I think; I'm not sure what happened). He's been to Melodifestivalen a couple of times, once with Barbados and once as a solo singer (where he made it to the second chance round but no further with "Långt bortom tid och rum," which was co-written by Thomas G:son). Since then, he's released one solo album, Vägen hem, and he's working on his next album, but if I'm understanding this article correctly, it won't be anything like the first, which is sort of a shame (though I'll hold out final judgement until I've heard his new material)--Vägen hem is full of fun light pop. I've posted one of his songs, his cover of Gareth Gates's "Anyone Of Us (Stupid Mistake)," before; today's, though, is an original (as far as I know).

Tidsmaskin--I keep expecting "Tidsmaskin" to turn into some other song--maybe "Anyone of Us" or Westlife's "Amazing" (which is predates)? This isn't one of the faster songs on the album, and it's probably a ballad, but it's not exactly slow, especially in the chorus. It's pretty but also pretty catchy, though not in an in-your-face manner.

To buy Mathias Holmgren's album Vägen hem, go here (physical). If you like this style of music, I recommend it--it won't blow your mind, but there's a lot to enjoy on it.

Next up: possibly the winner of Melodifestivalen the year Mathias competed in it, or that German band.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Do a little talkin' then a cafe latte

I sometimes think Ida Corr's second album, Robosoul, may be the weirdest album I own. The only reason I say "may be" is because there are a couple of dull tracks (usually the ballads) that aren't anything unusual, but the rest--well, it's an album that I'm sort of surprised got released. Ida seems to have decided to find out what happens when you mix pop, soul, R&B, and electro, but it's far stranger-sounding than that makes it sound. I alternate between thinking she needed a producer that would rein her in and thinking she's actually onto something and is pretty clever. I don't know that much about Ida herself, except that she's a Danish singer who, before going solo, was in a three person girl group named Sha Li Mar, who I don't really know anything about--only that they released an album full of random covers. After that, she released her debut album Street Diva. The songs today are some of the less weird ones from Robosoul.

Superficial Man--so far, this is the most accessible track for me on the album, but it's still pretty random (and funny) in parts. I like the rhythm of the verses, as well as her delivery and way with words--it's really playful. Ida seems to like to mess around with rhythms and productions. "Superficial Man" doesn't really show how spastic the album can be, though the whole shouted bit in the middle hints at that. Like most of her album, when I've finished listening to it, I can't ever decide if I've just listened to a good song or not, but I generally want to go listen to it again to figure it out.

Let Me Think About It--I almost posted "Lonely Girl," which I think is the lead single for the album; it's probably the most commercial sounding of the tracks on the album, but this song is just more ear-catching to me. "Let Me Think About It" features an almost whispered chorus as well as a standard issue male R&B singer cameo in the middle, but it still manages to sound unusual. Like a lot of the songs on the album, it's a little bit throwback, but also sounds like something on the fringe of today.

To buy Ida Corr's album Robosoul, go here (physical) or here (digital). I know I might have sounded sort of ambivalent about it, but listening to it is an experience I recommend having, though not everyone will enjoy it; listening to some preview clips first might be a good idea. She also has a MySpace where you can listen to some of the songs.

Next up: I wanted to write about that German band today, but I need to give them their full due, so they're probably up tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I am at the crossroads again

The news about Anthony Callea's new single got me thinking about his second album again. I really want to do a complete review of it at some point, but for now--since who knows how long it will take me to do that--I thought I'd encourage people to go get the album--because it is worth it--by writing about one of the other songs on it. I've written about Anthony a lot before, and that's mainly because I see him as having a lot of potential. As a brief catch up for anyone who hasn't heard of him before, he took second on the second season of Australian Idol, but has gone on to have more commercial success than the winner, Casey Donovan. On the show, his definitive performance was Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion's "The Prayer," and when he released his cover of it as a single, it became a record best-seller. Unfortunately for me, the fact that single did so well (and granted, his performance on Idol was very good) has, I think, led to his record company or him thinking that the route to continued success is to keep up with songs like that--big, classical-esque ballads. Until the upcoming release of "Addicted To You" as a single, three of his five singles are basically in that vein; of the other two, one was a pop ballad called "Rain"--a very good ballad--and the other was a Latin-sounding mid-tempo called "Hurts So Bad." His most recent album, A New Chapter, sees him trying to follow the Kelly Clarkson route; in between the now-traditional classical-esque ballads are rocky pop songs that a few months have revealed to be pretty enjoyable, and I wouldn't mind him continuing to make some songs like those. Still, I hold out hope that in the future we'll see more uptempo dance-oriented tracks from him (though I'd even take more things like "Rain"); to me, songs like album track "Into Your Heart," b-side "Wanna Be The One," and his pre-Idol cover of Lionel Richie's "Angel" hint that he at least has an interest in songs like that, and show that he could do them well. None of those songs has quite allowed him to fulfill his potential yet, but they're all worth listening to if all you know of Anthony Callea are songs like "The Prayer," "Per Sempre," and "Live For Love."

Perfect Mistake--to me, this song sounds like what would happen if someone decided to make a rock-out pop song using violins instead of guitars (though it's definitely got its guitars, too). I'm not sure about the earnestness of that first line--"Do you run a red light sometimes?" is made to sound like a major confession--but there's something I find gripping about this song. Actually, I think I know what that thing (or the most important something) is: I love the part two-thirds in (the "falling down like an angel" section). It's around there that the song finally breaks loose and reaches its peak (and it's worth sticking around for). I really would have loved to hear more of that in the song, but the rest of it is still good.

I almost posted another song, but there were so many options that I wasn't really sure which to choose (there are some I'm dying to write about, but maybe I'll just incorporate that into the album review). I'll freely admit that there's about half of the album I don't listen to--those big classical ballads, though he does them well, just aren't my thing--but I think of it this way: even on a Darin album, which tend to be short, not all the tracks are keepers, so if A New Chapter gives you seven songs (the album is sixteen tracks, and I do listen to more than seven) you'll actually keep on your iPod, that's not bad. You can buy Anthony Callea's second album, A New Chapter, here (physical). His website also has some approximately one minute clips (albeit very low quality) of all the songs on the album; you can listen to those here (you'll have to click on "AC Album Preview").

Next up: maybe a German band.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I saw you covered in sunbeams

I'm going to detour away from the all girls/no guitars/all Denmark special, though I'm sure I'll get to the two remaining artists soon. Today's group comes from Norway and, though it turns out they've been written about elsewhere, they are new to me. Briskeby is made up of four people, including lead singer Lise Karlsnes, and they've had a lot of commerical success and even gotten to open for a-ha. They're on their third album, which is the only album of theirs I've heard, though apparently their debut is absolutely amazing, so I think I may have to get it (and I'll report back on it, of course). Lise is known for being super-stylish, and that completely fits with the impression of her I get from her from the music--she sounds incredibly cool, but she's surrounded by loads of pop hooks. You might be able to argue that their music isn't incredibly original, but they do what they're doing incredibly well. Their website no longer exists, though, which worries me...

Miss You Like Crazy--the album's lead single, and I absolutely, completely adore it. Thematically, file it away with songs like Patrick Nuo's "Five Days" and Wave's "California" as an end of summer song, but musically, it's nothing like them. It's a bit electro, a bit rock, and definitely pop, with Lise sounding both sweet and cool, her voice perfectly evoking the feeling of a fleeting fun-filled summer. This would be a great song no matter who was singing it, but Lise's attitude and delivery manages to elevate it to another level. Beautiful and fun and sad all at the same time.

Shaking Like A Tambourine--lyrically, that title-inspiring line seems sort of awkward to me, but the band manages to make it work--I'm so caught up that I don't really question the sort of absurd metaphor. It starts off with this sort of dream-like synthline before the music gets a little harsher and sharper, and the verses continue in that vein. The chorus gets sweeter and softer, but the song never quite loses its edge.

To buy Briskeby's third album, Jumping On Cars, go here (digital); you can get their first two albums from Not all the songs are this "soft" or "sweet"--some of the others have a lot more attitude--in case you're worried about getting bored.

Don't Stop The Pop has the final part of their girl bands special up, and it's an incredibly long but really interesting group.

Next up: one of the Danish women I was supposed to write about today, probably.

She's a rainbow baby when she's painting the town

(After suffering from yet another bout of insomnia, I decided I might as well check up on some of my other popstars. I promise there will be a real post later today, but I just couldn't not share this now.)


There are pretty much no words for my excitement at the moment--I got hit with two pieces of huge news tonight/this morning. I don't even know where to begin, or what to say, or...well, let's start off with the one that's easier to deal with first.

There were two bits of Gareth Gates that I neglected to bring to you all earlier this week. One is that he's having an online question and answer session this Friday (news which was accompanied by this photo at left). I mainly didn't mention it because I can't imagine it'll be anything other than chaotic, and any important questions will surely be answered or deliberately left unanswered by him. The other piece of news was that HMV had a listing for a new single by him, but the supposed release date--earlier February--was clearly far too soon to be accurate, given the time needed for promotion.

So, the news update on the Gareth front? HMV is now listing the release date of his new single as March 19. Now, that doesn't mean it's guaranteed, but it is more reasonable, and is pretty exciting. The real question is: what does the song sound like?

(Picture credit to; thank you!)

Onto the other popstar update, and it's one I can't even believe I'm reporting: news from Ben Adams! Though he's always been pretty good about rotating new songs onto his MySpace, there's generally not very much heard from him. Before you get too excited, there's no mention of an actual release date or even of the album "coming together;" however, when it comes to Ben, I'll take what news I can get.

His official website now has a video showing--well, it's difficult to say what it's showing, because basically it's just Ben running around with a camera and interviewing a bunch of people he's working with, both in Sweden and in the U.S. (it's all from 2006). The video is pretty long, but it's definitely worth sitting through if you're at all interested in him. Early in the video, a song came on that I didn't know, and I was pretty excited: "ohh, that's lovely--he's letting us hear one of his new songs--cool!" But no--the entire thing is filled with clips of brand new songs (one of which sounds decidedly Prince-esque, I think, and even says "her favorite color's purple")--I can't even begin to say how many there were, but a lot. They also played a clip of "Get Off My Girl;" I found that really reassuring--I don't know why I was worried they might scrap it, but I thought maybe, despite that track's strength, they might go in an all new direction). I honestly cannot wait to be able to buy his album, whenever it finally gets released!

Other highlights? I might have missed some names, but I'm pretty sure I heard Ben refer to one man as "Jorgen" and he referenced the records he'd sold with Britney Spears, which would mean that must be Jorgen Elofsson; I don't know what he actually looks like, so I can't confirm, but I don't know who else that could possibly be. Also with a cameo in the video: Robin Thicke, who Ben is apparently writing with.

As for the song clips themselves, I was hugely relieved to hear that most of them still have that slightly experimental, producer-oriented, maybe electronic (as in produced, not all "real" instruments) sound and are mid- to up-tempo (though there was a pretty nice ballad played at one point).

I'll see if I can come up with something slightly more intelligent to say when I'm not incredibly sleep deprived (maybe I just need to go take a bunch of NyQuil?), but basically: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Real information! New songs! Just actually seeing that Ben is still alive and working!

So, basically: possible single release for Gareth in mid-March and Ben is still actually doing real work on the album--good news all around, then. Anyone else want to wish for any comebacks while the good luck seems to be running so high?

(Can I just say, though, Ben, that perhaps, given the situation your former girlfriend is in, group joking about racism--even if it was filmed in 2006--might not have been the best thing to include?)

Monday, January 22, 2007

I can't sleep

You knew my promise of no guys, no guitars, all Denmark was too good to be true, didn't you? I swear I wasn't planning to, but I'm about to break all three of those rules. Because I'm suffering from a horrible bout of insomnia tonight, let's look at what arrived in my e-mail inbox at 1:50 AM.

Oh, Anthony Callea...just when I thought I had this second album project pinned down, you go and throw a bunch of stuff at me. Let's go in order of discovery.

Your newest single is "Addicted To You"--no new news there, but new news in that it will be released Feb. 3. The b-sides? Two new non-album tracks! Woo!

Plus, I've been very worried about your style lately, and I'm still not sure I've gotten over the haircut yet, but I think this promo picture is pretty good, no? Not awkward or anything--this is promising!

OK, next up--you've got a new video for "Addicted To You." Well, it would be nice if whoever does your promo had gotten the HTML right, but we'll just copy that link and add an "h" in front of the "ttp"...

Watch Anthony Callea's new video for "Addicted To You" here

And suddenly the reason for Anthony's new haircut becomes clear! He's turning into Chris Daughtry. That's the same outfit as in that photograph, isn't it? It somehow seems to not work as well live, but that's OK, let's keep watching.

Still, you know what? He seems to be really having fun, especially near the end, and I quite like the song (it's exponentially better than that Daughtry song); it's even grown on me since I first got the album. Catchy rocky pop...I hope he does well with it. Even if it does mean my chances of another "Wanna Be The One" are getting further and further away.

So, final ruling? It's a single worth buying, especially if you live in Australia, where the singles will count towards the chart. You can get it here, when it eventually shows up as for sale.

(I was listening to A New Chapter while typing this up, and it's aged pretty well; I'm actually really glad this forced me to revisit it, because, the more I'm listening to it, the more I like it. I really need to post up the mini-review I did forever ago, because there are some great tracks I'd love you all to hear.)

Next up: hopefully back to our regularly scheduled program.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

When you just wanna tell him everything

I do love my boys with guitars music (when it's done well, and some types of it are better than others), but for the next three days, if all goes as planned, we'll have none of that: three women, no guitars (well, pretty much), all from Denmark. We'll start with the cheesy uplifting music from a young singer, then move onto the former reality TV contestant, then move on to the most..."interesting" of them.

Simone is fourteen years old, but she's already on her third album. Of course, the first was all Disney covers and the second was all holiday covers, so how much they count is debatable, but she nevertheless released them. As with a lot of these Danish singers, I don't know that much about her. I do always feel strange listening to music by these really young popstars (well, except JoJo, I guess, but she doesn't sound that young when she sings).

That's When You Know--I really feel like this is a cover, but I don't know of what, so please let me know if you know (or if you know that it isn't)! It is very young-sounding, but it's also superhappy uplifting girly pop. It's not going to win points for sophistication, but hopefully that combination of cute verses (one of the few moments Simone's youth works to her advantage) and the ending of the choruses (the chorus is sweet, but possibly the best moments in them occur when we get this almost...for lack of a better word, gospel-like backing, especially when we get them to close out the song). And really, it is, in its own way, sort of fabulous.

Losing My Cool--I'm convinced that Simone can't be singing this whole song, and I'm not just referring to the backing vocals--there are some moments where a change occurs (for example, around 2:17 and 3:07) that can't just be a change in her voice, can it? Maybe it is. Well, it probably is her, but it's just such a change that I feel like I'm listening to a duet sometimes. This is more low-key than "That's When You Know" (and in my opinion "That's When You Know" is better), but still sweet. It is still very young-sounding, which might put some people off, and I'm not sure that it won't reach its expiration date soon, but right now I'm enjoying it.

To buy Simone's album Dreams Do Come True, go here (physical) or here (digital). I'd probably recommend going the digital route so you can pick and choose what songs you want to buy; there are a lot that aren't essential.

Next up: a former reality contestant runner-up.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

If I'm right then prove me wrong

I am an awful McFly fan. Apparently, on January 16, they announced their next single (due out February 26)...

...and it's the Dougie-penned and -featuring "Transylvania." I'm not sure what to make of this news--on the one hand, it's the song a lot of people have been praising and wishing was a single. On the other hand, IT WAS ALREADY the b-side to "Star Girl." Not only that, the confirmed b-sides are all live tracks or already released (though they're hinting that there are some others, and one of the live tracks is a song called "You’ve Got To Fight," which I don't know--is it a cover? Something they performed on tour?). Wouldn't you want to give the fans a real incentive to buy a single if they already have that song on the album? They must think that their fans will buy anything they put out (which maybe they will)...I don't know, the whole thing just doesn't seem very well planned out to me.

All that, though, does not take away from the fact that this is an AMAZING song, one of the best songs on the best album of 2006. Hopefully the general public will come to realize that...

In terms of the video--well, let's just quote their official site:

"[The video] will see all the boys dressed up as…..well girls in a gothic castle, with nasty villains, damsels in distress and over the top shenanigans. Think Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare before Christmas mixed with , Grease, Bugsy Malone and a bit of Charlie Chaplin!"

Let's hope the good video streak started by "Sorry's Not Good Enough" isn't broken. Traditionally, the fourth singles from the albums do tend to have the most out-there videos ("Room On The Third Floor," "The Ballad of Paul K"), so this one should be interesting, if nothing else.

(Incidentally, while I was finding that picture--credit to was an interesting Google ad over in the sidebar:

What do you suppose the going price is?)

My mind says I'm a fool

I don't think I've mentioned it here yet, but I think Bosson's "You" was one of the absolute best songs of last year; if you don't have it, definitely go get it from Catchy Tunes of Sweden. Since "You" came out last summer, I've been waiting for news of an album, but I haven't heard anything yet. Apparently his newest single, "What If I," has been on radios since November, but I only now found out about it (can it really have been two months since I last checked his website?). As for Bosson himself, he's probably best known--at least in the U.S.--for his song "One In A Million," which was featured in the movie Miss Congeniality.

What If I--the sound quality here sounds subpar to me; sorry for that! This doesn't really have anything on "You," but, then again, that'd be pretty difficult to do. Also unlike "You," it's a ballad. Bosson's voice, distinctive as always (and we get some "ohh-ohh-ohh"s!), is accompanied by this big sweeping backdrop of music. It's without doubt pop (it's Bosson--would you expect anything else?), and possibly even poppy pop, but it's also dramatic.

While we're on the topic of Sweden, Erik Segerstedt (runner-up in this year's Idol contest), after releasing his first single, a cover of Bryan Rice's "Can't Say I'm Sorry" (from the clip of it, I still definitely prefer Bryan's version), is going to release his album, A Different Shade, on February 21.

To buy Bosson's single "What If I," go here (physical); it's backed with "You," so I'll probably be buying it soon--it's a great combination.

Next up: hopefully some of those songs from Denmark.

Friday, January 19, 2007

To me he's just a mess

I haven't been able to find out too much about Norwegian singer Anne Hvidsten. She released her debut (and so far only) album Need To Know back in 2003 or 2004, but her website hasn't been updated since 2004, which is not a promising sign, to say the least. That's really unfortunate, because, from the little I've heard of her work, she seems to have made some great songs (though I haven't heard any that I like more than this one yet). Musically, she tends to draw comparisons to Lene Marlin and Venke Knutson, which is pretty good company to be in.

Star (Radio Rip)--this is just a radio rip, since I can't find anywhere for people not living in Europe to buy the album, but it's of listenable quality (128 kbps); it's just cut off very quickly at the end. "Star" falls into the category of acoustic guitar pop sung super-sweetly by female Norwegian artists, and there's a good chance that you already know if you like that sort of music or not; this, though, is a very good example of that. Anne's voice is practically heartbreakingly sweet and the song, depending on your mood, is either pretty, beautiful, or gorgeous.

If you live in Europe, you can buy Anne Hvidsten's first album Need To Know from CD On (physical).

Next up: maybe a song from the UK or Denmark.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The talk of the town

Do you know what? Disregard my entire "we're not going to get to that Swedish singer until Friday or Saturday" speech--why not do it today? You all know me--I absolutely love the Click Five, McFly, and Busted--well, if you love those bands (and Hanson's song "Lost Without Each Other") as much as I do, there's a very good chance you'll at least like Jamie Meyer. Don't let my mentions to those bands throw you--he doesn't sound quite like any of them, and I'm sure there's a closer reference point out there somewhere, but it's escaping me at the moment. Jamie was on the Swedish version of Popstars, and, if I'm not mistaken, he was competing against future BWO singer Martin Rolinski. Though his official website makes no mention of this connection, they must still be on decent terms, because his website links to BWO's. Since releasing his first album in Sweden, he's spent a lot of time in the U.S. trying to make it here, and he's also released another album (or, probably more accurately, an EP).

Good Girl--the moment I heard the title of this song, I was pretty sure I wouldn't like it--I was expecting a response similar to the one I had to Sebastian's "Do What You're Told." However, several things changed my opinion:
  1. The video. If you have time, I really really recommend watching it; though it's nothing artsy or too creative, and though it seems too be trying a bit too hard to be cool in some parts, it's really endearing. You can stream it here, courtesy of his official site.
  2. The lyrics. Message-wise, it's nothing like Sebastian's song (side note: before you all get the impression I don't like Sebastian, that's not the case at all; as I mentioned when I wrote about "Words And Violence," I love that song, and it's sort of shocking how quickly I've gotten excited about him and his participation in Melodifestivalen based solely on the quality of "Words And Violence" and "Indifferent"). While "Do What You're Told" is about Sebastian wanting control of the relationship and includes lines like "I'm the man, gimme control" and "You've been wearing the pants/It was cool, but I'm taking them back,"Jamie's song has lines like "baby, tease, tease, tease/come put my heart at ease"--basically, nothing serious and nothing that's going to limit my ability to have fun listening to the song.
  3. The music. Possibly most important of all, "Good Girl" is catchy, upbeat pop-rock done really well--exactly the style I love.
All around, it's both the sort of song and video I'd like to see on the TV more, but it's also the sort of fun pop-rock great for putting on in your room and just jumping up and down and miming along to (though it's not as jump-around-worthy as Busted's best energy-filled songs--those tend to be more spastic than this).

I bought his album through Skivhugget, but they don't seem to carry it anymore; however, you can get information about how to buy Jamie Meyer's debut album, It's All About Me, from his official site, as well as find information about purchasing the followup. His first two singles, "Psycho" and "Good Girl," were, quality wise, a great (seriously great--top-notch) one-two punch; if you like "Good Girl," I really recommend getting It's All About Me, if for no other reason than to also own "Psycho" (there are definitely other good songs on the album, too, but "Psycho" is another excellent fun song like "Good Girl"). You can watch the video for "Psycho" here (courtesy of his official site). Also in terms of his official site, he's put several songs from his first album and his newest album/EP up for free download, so it's worth checking out.

By the way, there's another great pop blog out there for you all to consider visiting: You Don't Know Pop (which is going in the sidebar soon)--it's already featured some groups and singers I love (the Attic, Savage Garden, and lots of others), and introduced me to some new ones (German singer Sasha--I especially like "Rooftop" and "This Is My Time," which reminds me of/samples "Gimme Some Lovin'"--once again, among lots of others). Very poppy (Bardot, Six, Nina & Kim), which is perfect!

Next up: maybe a girl from Denmark.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I would give you every minute

To begin with, a few days ago I promised a better quality, non video-rip version of Part Six's "Drive So Far"--here it is.

As for today's song, I really don't know anything about it; it is a dance song and, like many (though far from all!) of the artists that have dance hits, the actual singers don't seem to have done too much else (though iTunes has a song by a group of the same name called "B Where I'm At"). It also isn't new, and I have a feeling anyone into dance music already knows it, but I just heard it recently. Anyhow, the group itself is Natural High, but I think (though I haven't heard the original) that it's the remixers who probably really deserve credit for this song.

Live For One Day (Haji & Emanuel Remix)--It's the middle of winter (and finally starting to feel like it), but maybe that's why I'm loving this song so much at the moment--there's something about it that just feels like summer to me. I don't know that I can really say that it feels like it's going anywhere, but I can imagine that, for four minutes, this song would make you feel amazing on the dancefloor. Basically, it makes me happy, and I love it--I want to live somewhere where life feels like this song.

To buy Clubber's Guide 2006, which has this song, go here (physical) or, if you live in the UK, you can buy a longer version of this song from iTunes here.

Do you know what song I really like at the moment? Katharine McPhee's "Over It" (which you can get over at Poptastic)--who'd've guessed? We'll see how it holds up over time, but, for the past day, I've been really liking it--there's something laid back and almost soothing about it, despite it being about a breakup.

Next up: I am really excited to get to write about that Swedish singer--he's pop/rock, though maybe I can write about a very poppy Swedish singer soon, too--but writing about Invertigo has got me listening to their album an awful lot now, and I want to make sure I give him his full due, so he probably won't get his turn until Friday or Saturday. Maybe a song that did really well in the UK but I just heard. And I still want to get to those Danish songs soon, too...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

You know it's much better just to run and forget

Today, we're in Australia for one more day (though this post was very nearly about a song I absolutely adore from Sweden--that'll be soon, though). If you're actually from Australia, I apologize, because I get the impression that this group's songs (or at least one or two of them) may have been overplayed at one time. The group in question is Invertigo, a four person band (three brothers--some of whom were previously in Australian band Pseudo Echo--and the lead singer), who released their one and only album, Forum, in 2001. They released three actual singles off of it, as well as sent a fourth song to radio. The last I know of them, they went to the U.S. in hopes of making in big there; I'm not sure if they ever even released a single there, though there is a U.S. mix of one of their songs. I think the most publicity they ever maybe got (and keep in mind, I wasn't paying attention at the time, so feel free to correct me if anyone knows differently) was getting a song on the soundtrack to America's Sweethearts; the release of their album in the U.S. just kept getting pushed back. In 2003, their lead singer, Christian Argenti, left the group. I'm not sure what all the members are doing now, though I do know that Christian did some of the singing for the satirical Australian movie Boytown (about what would happen if the greatest boy band of the '80's got back together), but I won't hold that against him--I'm just glad he's getting work.

Forum was produced by Charles Fisher, who worked on most of Savage Garden's debut album. For someone like me, obsessed with poppiness and catchiness, for some reason only a few of the tracks on the album jumped out at first listen--it's a problem I often have with this sort of music, which probably falls into whatever subgenre of pop BBMak fall into (as a side note, I don't think Invertigo were generally referred to as a boy band, but you can't tell me these songs don't have a boy band-reminiscent element to them, especially if you're going to view BBMak as a boy band. Heck, one of their songs, "Slave," even has lyrics that sound ripped straight out of a Phixx song! Though Invertigo do predate Phixx). However, repeated listenings were extremely rewarding and revealed a flat-out great album. I could honestly post any of the eleven tracks from this album, and that's something I can very rarely say; I don't even know that I'd say that about the Click Five's album, which I absolutely love (Greetings From Imrie House is still a better album, though). That might lead you to wonder why I'm only posting one song today--the truth is, if I tried to choose any more than that, I wouldn't be able to stop.

Desensitized--the album's lead single. The chorus is great--catchy and full-sounding (two adjectives that could be used to describe the whole song, and much of the album), especially distinctive because of the moments Christian breaks into higher notes. All right, perhaps the lyrics are sort of cheesy, but no worse than a lot of the songs I love.

And, just because I can, here's the video for their second single, "Chances Are," the only video of theirs YouTube has. The video isn't particularly special, but they were just such a great band that I couldn't resist posting it.

In case you hadn't guessed, I very much recommend buying the album, especially if you like this song or this style. Not even Sanity sells it directly anymore, but you can get it from some marketplace sellers on Amazon, or keep an eye on eBay for it.

Next up: probably a song from the UK, but possibly a Swedish singer.

Monday, January 15, 2007

My new obsession

Oh. My. Gosh.

Huge huge huge thanks go out to MaryCherry of Don't Stop The Pop, who just wrote about Patrick Nuo and his song "Watchin' Over You." This video is for his first single, "5 Days."


Oh. My. Gosh.

I'm speaking purely about the song, of course.

Shall we watch--I mean, listen to it again?


This is my floor; you're just dancing on it

You know how iTunes gets celebrities to make up playlists of their favorite songs? Well, guess which Aussie singer they just got to make one...

Anthony Callea's Playlist--An Analysis

Bryan McKnight, "Back At One"--he sang this on Idol--no surprise that he likes it.

TV Rock, "Flaunt It"--I feel like I've heard of them before (maybe from Popalastic or I'm Always Right?), but I don't know if I've ever actually heard one of their songs before. The singer's (well, if he can be called a singer) voice sort of reminds me of the singer in Right Said Fred's "I'm Too Sexy." It's completely unlike anything Anthony sings, but it was probably one of those songs that took over and everyone laughed about but loved.

Christina Aguilera, "Can't Hold Us Down"--is now not a good time for me to confess that I've never heard all of Stripped? I think I've heard this song before, though, and it's all right.

George Benson, "Give Me The Night"--I think I borrowed a George Benson CD from my parents once. That doesn't mean I know anything about him, though.

James Ingram, "How Do You Keep The Music Playing"--don't know this song either. This isn't too exciting so far.

Pussycat Dolls, "Buttons"--yes! I love this song, and I don't care what that says about me. Very pop--let's see if the list improves from here.

Nick Lachey, "What's Left Of Me"--Anthony says: "When I first heard this song, all I remember thinking is 'Why couldn't they write that song for me?'"
Gee, Anthony, if that's the sort of song you want to sing, why wasn't there anything like that on the album?!?

Robbie Williams, "Lovelight"--ooo, we're 3 for 3 for the last 3 songs--this is great as well. Plus, Anthony says "Robbie can just do no wrong lately," which a lot of people would probably disagree with, but it implies that he likes "Rudebox." I approve.

Kelly Clarkson, "Beautiful Disaster"--Anthony says: "Gee, this chick can sing."
No kidding. But he did choose a good non-single from her first album, which is a sort of promising sign in terms of his knowledge of pop.

Justin Timberlake, "SexyBack"--Anthony says: "Trust Justin to bring sexy back onto the scene. He just has too much talent. It's really not fair and should not be allowed."
Meh. "SexyBack" has grown on me, but FutureSex/LoveSounds never grabbed me as an album (though I might love the radio edit of "What Goes Around...Comes Back Around;" I haven't decided yet). So, if he has too much talent, he's an example of someone not channeling it properly (...).

Kylie Minogue, "Fever"--Anthony likes Kylie Minogue! "She is the ultimate female performer" (or it's just a token reference to a popular Australian artist, but I'm going to take it at face value). Anthony, you like "Buttons," Kylie Minogue--give us some sort of storming uptempo dance masterpiece! Or at least call up the folks who did Kate DeAraugo's "Faded" Reactor Mix or Stephanie McIntosh's "Mistake" Jewel & Stone Mix. Look, you even have pop-rocky singles now--that's what both of those songs originally were.

Scissor Sisters, "I Don't Feel Like Dancing"--see, Anthony, we know you really want to be doing fun uptempo poppy songs. I approve of this choice as well.

Augie March, "One Crowded Hour"--I don't know this song, I'm sorry. It sounds meandering (not necessarily a bad thing) and intimate from the preview.

Eskimoe Joe, "Black Fingernails, Red Wine"--OK, I know I've heard their name before, but I've never heard their songs. Sort of rocky--well, it's rock, but it doesn't seem rock-out.

Pink, "U + Ur Hand"--brilliant! I love this song, even if it does sound like the Veronicas' "4ever." Rocky pop that's still fun and poppy. Actually, now that I think of it, I'm sort of surprised there's no Veronicas on this list--I bet there would have been if he'd done it a year ago.

U2, "Beautiful Day"--I'm no U2 expert, but I do like this song of theirs.

James Morrison, "You Give Me Something"--this is the second time I've seen Anthony mention James Morrison; he compared the production on "Now You're Gone" to James Morrison's music. I like this song--not extremely exciting, but a solid ending.

In the end: it's no surprise to learn that Anthony likes sentimental ballad songs. However, though some of the songs he selected could be viewed as classics, there was a surprising lack of truly classical-esque songs. He also chose some rock songs, but the most rock-out of all of the songs was actually a pop song ("U + Ur Hand"), and it was the latter sound he was probably going for on many of the songs on his album. There were also a lot of songs that can't be viewed as anything other than complete pop, and were extremely catchy--I'd love to see some more like this on the next album; ballads, like "Rain," would be great--and we know he likes that style still, given his reaction to "What's Left Of Me"--but I'd also love to see some uptempo songs in the vein of "Into Your Heart" and "Wanna Be The One." Of course, my biases are well-known: from a selfish "what I like most" perspective, if Anthony wants to keep the pop-rock, that's fine, more than fine; I'd just like the other half of the album to be catchier and poppier--some ballads, and some not.

So, anyhow, today you all get the TV Rock song (it's definitely designed for clubs). If you don't like it, blame Anthony Callea.

Flaunt It

To buy TV Rock's album Sunshine City, go here (physical).

Next up: probably another day in Australia, but maybe some cute songs from Denmark.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Do your thing and show 'em how

While we're on the topic of German groups that have a suspicious similarity to other pop groups, I couldn't not mention Soccx, the girl group who seem to have been, at the very least, inspired by the Pussycat Dolls' success (and maybe a bit of Danity Kane, too). In fact, one member of the group, Claude, used to dance with the Pussycat Dolls (back in the Lounge, when they were a performing group but not releasing music). Apparently, there's also a "mysterious 7th doll" in the video for "Don't Cha," and rumor has it that that girl is actually Claude. Though the group is based out of Germany, the girls themselves are American or Canadian. Robpop has already written about them in his girl groups feature; to hear their first single, head over there.

Scream Out Loud--the beginning of this song feels, to me, really awkward (and most of the verses continue in that vein). However, it's saved by a super-catchy, almost girl group-anthemic bridge and chorus--just try not to shout out "Oh-ohh-hh-hh! Throw 'em up and scream out loud!" along with them. There's even pause for a dance break. Sure, maybe we're being shamelessly manipulated, but at least it's a fun manipulation. (Much like the Pussycat Dolls, I think they're designed to be a very visual group, so, if you want, you could watch the video for this song here.)

To buy Soccx's single "Scream Out Loud," go here (physical) or here (digital; you'll have to search for "Soccx").

For more music from Germany, go over to the always wordly and musical knowledge-expanding Club Contact to hear "Habibi" by Milk & Honey--you will absolutely love it.

In further links, one I forgot to mention yesterday is Russkipop, which is reporting that Dima Bilan will be singing at a festival and is about to launch in Western Europe--does that mean more songs in English (although I quite like some of his Russian songs, it would just be--rather selfishly--even easier to appreciate them in English)? I hope so!

Next up: off to Australia for two days, probably.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Baby, we can make it through these hard, hard times

It's been too long since I posted something from a full-fledged, out-and-out, there's-no-disagreeing-with-it boy band...and luckily, Part Six are stepping in to fix that. The German-based boy band (is there room for both Part Six and US5?) wasn't one I planned on paying any attention to; their first single was a cover of Darin's "Want Ya" that had nothing on the original--and I mean absolutely nothing. Sometimes boy band covers can work great--I really like A1's cover of a-ha's "Take On Me," for example. This one, to say the least, did not. The singing, the power, the fun--nothing could measure up to Darin's version, and it just sort of all felt awkward to me. That's not to say I held a grudge or anything against Part Six or anything--I just wasn't interested in them. Their most recent single, though, has caught my attention. Before we get to it, though, I want to point something out: what is the world coming to when it's easier to enjoy boy band songs when you don't know what the boy band looks like? There's something about how they're presented nowadays that throws me off. (By the way, if you need some amusement, you could watch the video for this song--standing in the rain! Classic. Though I have to to admit I like the dancing near the end, cheesy as it is. Plus, I can't be too upset with anyone who manages to find a way to work choreographed group dance routines into even a ballad.)

Drive So Far--this is a ballad, I guess, though it's got a back beat that's supposed to give it a little extra energy. What on Earth the whole talk at the beginning about "people on the streets all alone" who "lost all they had because of a loan" has to do with anything, I'm not sure--is it supposed to be social commentary? Just an easy rhyme? I'm not sure. This isn't exactly classy boy band stuff, but whoever wrote this song somehow managed to make it work, despite seemingly countless attempts to mess it up (more lyrical issues: the whole "you're like a nice surprise to my life" bit? And how it's delivered doesn't help--normally, lyrics don't matter too much to me, but how they're sung here really emphasizes them). It's got some pretty bits, but, most importantly, the chorus works (plus there's a really short musical part around 2:31 that I like), and the music is generally decent boy band ballad stuff--so, as much as I may criticize this song, it is cute, and I do really like it. The audio quality isn't top-notch, but I might have a better version soon--I'll post it if I get it (I do have a better audio quality version of the "X-mas Version," but it's not as good).

To buy Part Six's single "Drive So Far," go here (physical) or here (digital; you'll have to search for "Part Six").

I've been meaning to do some links for forever now, but I keep forgetting. Finally, though, here are some things worth reading around the web:

You all remember Anžej Dežan from Eurovision, right? He was from Slovenia and sang the great song "Mr. Nobody" (one of my favorites at the contest), but didn't make it out of the semifinals. Well, Goggle over at The Goggles Do Nothing has found out that his website has just been relaunched, complete with legally downloadable mp3's of some of his songs! Now, if only we could get an album from him...

Adem at I'm Always Right has an adorable post about Take That and growing up--definitely worth reading!

And speaking of nostalgia, after a great post about Darren Hayes, Raj of Electroqueer has a great and really interesting post about music and growing up--how he got into music and all the stages he's gone through.

Trixie of Karinski likes Go:Audio, which means anyone who was worried about losing too many hipness points by liking them can breathe a sigh of relief. Plus she's also coined the word "emop"...

Craving more boy bands? Then check out the Zapping's three day feature on the Irish group D-side, the original singers of Clay Aiken's "Invisible."

Don't Stop The Pop is celebrating its one year anniversary--congratulations! Can't wait for another year of amazing pop discoveries.

Have I mentioned A Kind Of Love In here yet? It's the newest project of PinkieDust from PopEatsPop, and it's brilliant. Anything's fair game, so you'll get random but clever musings from him and Robpop (and I'll chip in something sometimes, too). It's a lot of fun--check it out if you have time!

Digital Technique continues to be as brilliant as ever, now featuring bunches of reality TV show contestants.

Continuing with reality TV, have you seen Poptastic's Popstars special yet? You're guaranteed to be introduced to some new--and great--pop songs.

The incredibly wide-ranging Enthusiastic but Mediocre reveals the top song of 2006--have you heard it?

I don't know if I've mentioned yet on this blog how much I'm enjoying Mika's music, but it's really great--you can listen to two of his best songs over at the Eye-pod, and definitely pick up his album when it comes out.

Talent In A Previous Life continues its excellent coverage of Celebrity Big Brother.

You see, that's what happens when my awful memory prevents me from doing this a bit at a time (and I'm sure I've forgotten some sites I meant to mention, too)...but all those sites are worth visiting!

Next up: maybe more songs from Germany, or a "we're not really a boy band even though we sound like it!" group from Australia.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Je peux le jurer sur ma vie

(Picture credit here; thanks!)

Today's song is a live performance--just like in the case of Sebastian's "Words and Violence," not because it's better live, but because that's the only version I've got, and I'm not sure when I'll get the studio version (if the world could get the legal issues worked out and let us buy songs digitally from any country, it wouldn't be an issue...). Anyhow, it's still a fun song as is, though I think it'll benefit a lot from not being live. Another round of France's Star Academy finished up at the end of December, and the winner was nineteen-year-old Cyril Cinelu. I didn't follow the season, so I'm not sure if he deserved to win or not (from what I've heard, there are a lot of disgruntled viewers out there, but he did get 67% of the vote; whoever's editing Wikipedia must be one of the disgruntled, though), but his first single is pretty good.

(Incidentally, you can watch Cyril perform the song live on television. Why would you want to do this? Well, besides getting to hear the song, look who's sitting off to the side during the performance...).

Délit d'amour--I know it might not sound excellent right now, and I'm not sure if it will ever be excellent, but, as I said, I think studio recording will benefit this song a lot. And can you guess why I like this song? Well, overall adorableness is part of it, but what seals the deal and makes this song stand out? It's got to be the "ooo-oo-oo-ooo"'s--I'm a sucker for those, and here, they're electronically filtered and bring a lot of cuteness to the song. That cuteness really fits a song with this subject and sung by someone this young--if it is about love, it's about a youthful, exuberant sort of love. (By the way, I was certain the title would translate to "Delight of Love," but Google Translate tells me it actually means "Offence of Love"--or "Crime of Love" would be a better wording, I guess.)

"Délit d'amour" is being sold on some compilation Star Academy CDs, but I'm not sure what online stores you can go to to buy a physical copy of those. If you live in France, you can buy the song from iTunes; it's also available in Belgium's iTunes store.

(All credit for the song goes to Star Academy Medias--thank you!)

Next up: maybe another French song, or that American album that I really will write about at some point.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Animal, mineral, physical, spiritual

Let's keep up with the poppy happy music. Mandy Moore is someone who I keep meaning to catch up on, because the only full album of hers I've heard is the self-titled one. I went through a period where I couldn't get "Yo-Yo" out of my head (and trust me, trying to remember the carbon cycle when all you can think of is "it's broken/I can't let that hope in/I know what you want" is not so easy!) and she's had some great singles, so I'm not sure why I've never gotten around to looking for more. I'm not sure about the concept of cover albums, which her fourth album, Coverage, was, but if it led to a song like this, I guess I can't say too much.

Drop The Pilot--before anyone asks, I haven't heard the full Joan Amatrading original; if I had, I might not enjoy this cover so much...and I do enjoy it a lot. I have no idea what it's about--does anyone know? I mean, I could guess for some of it, maybe, but "drop the mahout"? And what does a mahout have in common with a pilot and a monkey? I mean, if a monkey was in charge of driving or controlling something, I might be able to come up with some sort of theory--"don't stick with who you're with now, be with me instead!" (and I'll just leave it at that)--but it's not, at least that I can think of. Once the song starts, though, you probably won't be thinking about that for too much longer--it's so happy and upbeat that that doesn't matter too much.

To buy Mandy Moore's album Coverage, go here (physical) or, if you live in the U.S., you can get it from iTunes.

Next up: maybe that American album, or one from Australia.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Esclave du tee-shirt pop, accro aux bijoux hip-hop

All right, as promised, something truly poppy; it's fun, fast, and danceable. French pop singer Lorie, if Wikipedia can be believed, beat Lily Allen and the Arctic Monkeys to the punch; in the early 2000's, it was Internet buzz about her song "Près de moi"--which originally no record company had expressed interest in, leading her producer to decide to release it for free on the Internet--that first brought her to fame and allowed her to get a record deal. She's released four albums of original material so far, as well as three live albums and a greatest hits. She also has about a million fan sites all over the Internet, from what I can tell. As for her music, from what I've heard (which isn't that much), it's pretty much straight-up catchy pop or dance-pop, though that may be less true recently. I love the description for her most recent album, Rester la même, that her record label put on Amazon: "2005 Fourth Album from the French Singer Showcases her Transformation from Pop Tart to Serious Recording Artist. It's a Radical Musical Evolution from One of the Biggest Youth Pop Icons Into the Scene of Rebellion a La Bob Dylan with Serious Lyrical Invention and Social Commentary" (capitalization is all theirs). Now, not that pop can't include serious commentary, but seriously? You're going to use Bob Dylan as your point of comparison? Wouldn't it have been a good idea to find some recording icon that at least sounded a little like Lorie? Or did I just miss out on Bob Dylan's epic dance-pop stage? Anyhow, however they want to dress it up, she's got some really fun songs on the album.

Fashion Victim--the fourth and most recent single from Rester la même, "Fashion Victim" (which is in French) is also being used to promote the DVD and album of her most recent tour. "Fashion Victim" is pretty much as pure pop as you're going to get, though I guess you could say it's a bit electro-pop. It's got a super-catchy fun chorus, complete with "oooo"s, and, though I think the song might benefit from the single edit (presuming there is one), it's still far from boring. It's also got a middle section that, though it slows down the song, feels like it was designed to be a dance break, which I can't really argue with. Still, though the break works (and I like it), it's a relief when the song returns to its fun and faster side. As for the lyrics, I think they're a commentary on society's (and individuals') image obession, though, since I don't speak French, I can't comment on how well it's done. Still, this seems to be the way forward with social commentary songs--make them as brilliant catchy pop songs, and the kids'll learn without even noticing it! Or, if nothing else, it'll give you a good excuse for some interesting costumes when you go on tour.

To buy Lorie's album Rester la même, go here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: maybe an American album I keep meaning to write about, or another French song.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

You make everything simple with the greatest of ease

Before Heinz Winckler, winner of the first season of South Africa's Idols (previous posts here and here) decided he wanted to rock out, he was content to make cheesy little pop songs that never fail to lift my mood. You could argue that they're dated, but they're still adorable, and for that reason, I love his first album (which this post was almost about). However, it was on his second album, Come Alive, that I think he reached his artistic peak (that's a relative term--it's still not a particularly "artistic" album, though it's beautiful in parts). There are fewer songs on Come Alive that I listen to regularly, but those songs are some of my favorites of his. While the first album was cheesy happy pop and all the production you would expect for such songs, the second went for an uplugged feel (though that's not why I think it's his peak) and songs on it had some surprising twists. The following song may not have any twists, but it is, in my opinion, one of Heinz's best. It's also the song that took him (or appeared to take him) beyond one-album wonder, a fate many Idols fall into.

Can't Lose With You--as I think I've mentioned before, "Angel" is probably the best indication on the first album of the direction Heinz would take for this second album. Though thematically not similar, "Can't Lose With You" could be seen as Come Alive's "Angel" (though it gave no clue as to what the third album would sound like), but if it is, it also shows the growth in Heinz's material. When this song, the album's lead single, hit the radios, people were surprised that it could be Heinz singing it. One site I read jokingly suggested that Heinz must have gone off and taken singing lessons between the first and second albums and, although any young singer would be foolish not to work on improving their voice between albums, that just goes to show what a surprising comeback this was for Heinz. I'm not saying this is a particularly impressive (or demanding) vocal performance, but, listening to the song, you get the sense that Heinz had to really work to sing as well as he did for it. That sense of effort and struggle, though (even if only imagined on my part), only enhances the song, given its subject--it's like the boy who, in love with a girl, writes her a song and sings it in front of an audience in hopes of impressing her, desperate to do as well as he can. In real life, that situation would most likely be creepy or boring, but here, with a song this good, it works--it makes Heinz, or the character he's playing, more endearing. As for the song itself, it's basically just a simple acoustic guitar-based ballad--a pretty one, but one that probably shouldn't be as good as it is (though it's still nothing boundaries-shattering or life-changing). I think a lot of its appeal has to do with Heinz's delivery and tone; this could easily have been saccharine or dull, but it's not--instead, there's something achingly pretty about it.

(When I complained about Heinz's voice on the third album, it was somewhat related to this--it's not that he has a bad voice, just that it's better suited for certain types of songs than others, and for me, there are better male voices to accompany rock-out pop than his.)

To buy Heinz Winckler's second album, Come Alive, go here (physical). Incidentally, "Can't Lose With You" and "Drowning Me," another song on the album, make a perfect matched set, so, if you like this song, you might want to consider looking for the other.

Next up: something poppier, I think, or sort of dance-pop.