Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A contracorriente vive hoy mi razón , por ti no sé ni dónde voy

Help! I think I'm verging on obsession's like infatuation, but without any physical interest, and it's not as if they're making the world's best music either. On the other hand, I'm not being ironic about it at's very confusing.

More random things about Nash:

(Apologies about the picture quality, but I couldn't find a picture, so I had to take a screencap of the YouTube video)

What on earth is Mikel Nash wearing? Am I that out of the world of "in"? Is wearing either boots or shoes with the tongues pulled out and rolling up your jeans so that there's a giant gap between where they end and where your giant shoes stop in style? I wonder if that's why they're not showing the bottom of his pants in this photo...

(All right, so they do scrub up nice. But I legitimately think that has nothing to do with why I'm fascinated by them. And, as I've said, I don't think it would matter for me anyway.)

This may be even better, though--read their explanation as to why they called themselves Nash (apparently it's technically NASH):

"The name was formed mixing 4 very important letters for us. N is for Basty’s grandma, A for Ony’s father, S for Seville, the city where Javi was born, and H is for Hennet, Mikel’s family name."

(Source: ESC Today)

That may possibly be the most random thing ever; I don't even know what to make out of it. Did they seriously all go away to think and come back with the first letter of something that was important to them, without any guidance as to what that something should actually be? At least with 'N Sync (or at least I remember hearing this at the time), it was all based on the last letter of their last name--some of the Nash boys chose places, some chose first names, some chose last it more likely that they just chose the name "Nash" and then invented an explanation for it?

New album coming next fall, apparently.

If anyone knows some place to buy an actual physical copy of their first album, Capaz de Todo, that's not going to take four weeks before they ship it ( or charge me $30 for shipping (El Corte Ingles), please let me know!

If you all are lucky I'll be over this soon. Until then, feel free to skip reading all my random Nash updates...and there will probably be more. I just sort of love them as a group--no, scratch the "just," I do, even if I don't know why.

(It's difficult for a girl to have a lot of credibility when writing about a boy band; I know what the assumptions are, and I play to them sometimes, so it's partly my own fault when I find myself struggling to explain and justify my interest in and support of them...I'm going to try to come up with something more coherent explaining it all, I think, if I can sort it out.)

I wanted you to go your way, I wanted me to go mine

Friday Hill were formed out of the remnants of ten person pop-rap group Blazin' Squad. Made up of Celebrity Big Brother-appearing Kenzie and two others, Mus and James, the group released two singles from 2005 to 2006 as well as an album (all of which are randomly available on the U.S. iTunes, despite the fact that iTunes continues to remove albums by artists like Will Young, Gareth Gates, and Alcazar; I can't figure out any reason for them to keep removing albums--it's not as if it's really taking up space to "stock" them, is it? I'm very untechnical, but it doesn't seem like it's really costing them much bandwith or whatever. I really have nothing against Friday Hill's music being there--I'm glad it is--but I am upset with iTunes for continuing to pull music from the store). Though the first two singles had decent chart placings, the album peaked at #67. Their MySpace has demos that they say are for their new album, although whether that's a hoped-for album or an actually planned one is anyone's guess.

Baby Goodbye--oh, come on, don't pretend you don't love it, too. "Baby Goodbye" would fit in with any of the classic boy band stuff. That bridge and chorus are great, with that hint of "we want this to be timeless" (created with the help of certain sound effects that I can't actually name) that helps set this apart from a lot of the pop ballads that are released. All right, so you could probably criticize the lyrics in the rap, but the almost back-and-forth feel of the chorus (those "I"'s? whoever thought of doing them like that deserves an awful lot of credit for the effectiveness of this song) and the moments in the bridge where the backing vocals come in are touches that work. Even the only-somewhat-more-impassioned "and why weren't meant to be!" is perfect. I've only bought their singles, but I'd be very surprised if the album has anything this good. Still, it was worth having Friday Hill around even if only so we could get this song.

To buy Friday Hill's album Times Like These, go here (physical) or go to iTunes; for example, if you live in the U.S., go here. I really like "One More Night Alone," too, even if it is a cover. Their two singles are very much the (well, a--not the only) type of music I'd like to hear more of nowadays.

Next up: back to Sweden, I think.

All over the world

A super-quick post: the UK has announced which artists will be competing in Making Your Mind Up (that is, who will be competing to represent the UK at Eurovision)! The line-up:

Big Brovaz
Cyndi (Almouzni)
Brian Harvey (ex-East 17)
(Justin) Hawkins & (Beverlei) Brown (Hawkins: ex-The Darkness)
Liz McClarnon (ex-Atomic Kitten)

You can listen to clips of the songs they will be singing here.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Juegan a ser mayor

All right, last post for the day, I promise (of course, that's easy to promise when it's 11:54 PM).

I am so fascinated with Nash. They aren't the world's best looking boy band, and they certainly aren't the world's best singing boy band...but something about them makes me keep watching. Take, for example, one of their shorter performances from Mision Eurovision. As I mentioned, 5 song-and-performer combinations made it to the superfinal, but before that each of the songs was performed by each of the five artists, albeit only about a minute and a half of each song. Watch what Nash does what with this performance of "Una lágrima" ("A tear").

Did you see that? They went...arty and political! Granted, not a very sophisticated message, but still. They've got outfits on reminiscent of military garb, the blindfolds they're wearing read "fear," "hunger," "war," and "poverty," and when they tear open their jackets at the end, their shirts read "peace." I mean...a political boy band? An arty performance? It all could come off very wrong, but it somehow works. I was a little worried during the spinning part, but when they hit the chorus and break the circle, tugging on the ties binding them together, swaying back and forth, and upping the strength in their delivery--well, I love it. And when they're singing to the audience, during the part about begging for water? They look like they mean it. The "yo"'s (or "go"'s) chanted at the end and the rapid-paced singing they're backing up? I like those, too.

They're incredibly rough around the edges in pretty much every way possible, but, though I don't know why, I I said, "fascinated."

(If you want to see how everyone else performed the song, you can do so here.)

Plus, Mikel apparently spent some time studying and living in the UK! Who knew?

I think I need some time by myself, without anybody else

I think the Click Five are trying to tell us something...

That's the picture on their website's front page.

It's totally normal for the rumored-to-be-gone/leaving lead singer to be posing yards behind the rest so that he's positively miniscule in the picture, right?

Your life will go on and on, from dusk till dawn, celebrate the night!

Birthday wishes go out to two amazing blogs:

The Zapping (oops, I mean thezapping) celebrates its one-year anniversary with a facelift! Ooo, how very L.A.. Paul's writing and the amazing number of upcoming artists he champions provide constantly interesting and amazing reading, and I can't imagine the blogosphere without him!

CFB Goes Pop celebrates four years--four years! I can't even imagine. The Australian-based blog recently featured what may possibly be the best music journalism ever featured anywhere on the Internet, and it always leaves me in stitches.

I love both these sites more than is probably healthy...thanks so much for the time you put in! You both rock!

(And, umm, because I have no memory, did I ever wish happy birthday to Chart Rigger or the Razor Wire? I don't think so--I'm awful, I'm sorry! Happy super-incredibly-belated birthdays to both of those blogs!)

The reason I'm living without you

Aww, I love Anders Johansson! It may be incredibly uncool to do so, and not all of the songs on the Swedish singer and Fame Factory winner's albums are must-owns (I don't own the the third album yet, so I can't speak in regards to it), but if you combine his first two albums (well, first two under the name Anders Johansson--he released some singles under the name Anders before going on Fame Factory, but I don't think he actually released an album--please let me know if I'm wrong!), you'd have something very worth listening to, and he has some songs I absolutely adore, like "Lost and Found" and "Missing You Crazy ('80's Revival)," among many others. My first instinct is to say that he sounds like a one-man boy band (and on today's song he does), but about half his songs aren't quite what you'd expect based on that description--they're more guitar-based, driven, though I wouldn't call them rocky. His albums also seem to inevitably include some covers on them, but (surprisingly for me) I don't mind (well, with the exception of the cover of Bryan Adams's "Heaven," but that was on his first album and it seems to be practically obligatory for most reality TV grads to include a studio version of some definitive performance they gave on TV; also, don't let the fact that he covered "Heaven" throw you off); he covers songs that most people probably wouldn't know and they seem to work well for him--they're good choices. I think the fact that he has a very distinctive (but pleasant) voice helps prevent me from thinking too much about the originals. Well, I say he covers songs--it's sometimes difficult for me to know who performed it first, but at the least some of his songs seem to be in rotation in the Pop Eats Pop circuit.

Is He The One--this song is one of those in that circuit, though I'd guess that Anders's version is the most famous; the other two versions I know of are by a Portuguese boy band (used as a TV show theme) and another Swedish singer who actually released the song in Swedish, I think, as "Stannar Han Kvar." I'm very confused as to how the whole thing worked, so if someone could fill be in, I'd really appreciate it! From what I can make out, though, it seems as if this Swedish singer, named Daniel, released his version of the song in April of 2004. I guess it must not have charted, though, or at least didn't become really famous, because Anders--also from Sweden--released his version of the song, in English, in October of 2004. I suspect the song was written in English first, though, given who was involved in writing it, but I'm not sure. I'm surprised it didn't do better in the charts (it peaked at #26) because it sounds like a song that should be a big hit. I'm also surprised that (eep) Westlife haven't covered it...but then again, I probably shouldn't be, given that one of the co-writers is Brian McFadden (I know, I've just mentioned Westlife and Brian McFadden and have probably driven off most people before they've even listened to the song)...and, you know, I don't know how much it would actually suit them anyhow. As for what the song actually sounds like, it is--continuing the theme of the week--a very boy band-esque ballad with only the slightest hint of bounce but still catchy. I love it, and not just because at the end, out of nowhere, you suddenly get handclaps (hanclaps! handclaps! they improve any song), which completely seal the deal. As I mentioned before, Anders has a distinctive voice, and it really could limit him, but I love it and he makes good choices in regards to song style--he or whoever he works with seems to have a very good sense for what styles suit it; even the upbeat songs he does--and he does do them--take full advantage of it and don't try to overwhelm him. He also avoids the sort of "wall of sound" impenetrable mess of guitars some singers use, which is another reason I love him.

To buy Anders Johansson's second album, When I Become Me, go here (physical) or here (digital). I really recommend picking up it and his first album, If It's All I Ever Do, as they both have some great songs on them.

Next up: back to the UK.

Monday, February 26, 2007

You stole the sun from my day

It's the week of the boy band-esque ballad (at some point in the future, they'll be a special about another sort of ballad, but writing about those songs is going to require more planning)! For the next five days, I'll be providing evidence that I do not dislike all ballads (although given that I like the ridiculously MOR ballad "Burn," that proof probably isn't necessary). However, I'm trying to avoid anyone who's really famous or successful internationally--so, no Take That, no Westlife, no 'N Sync, no Blue, and think of this as the Backstreet Boys memorial list if you will, as they would easily dominate in an open competition. It's also worth noting that this isn't a "best of" list, just some random good songs that fit this category.

You might be able to argue with me about Point Break in regards to fame--after all, they released a bunch of singles from 1999 to 2000--but they don't seem to crop up on lists of the most famous boy bands too often (though it might just be my US perspective influencing my perception). The three person group was a spinoff of the TV show Byker Grove, which also launched the careers of Ant and Dec. Point Break's lead single, "Do We Rock," peaked at #29 on the charts, but followup "Stand Tough" reached #7, their best placing. After two "rocky," "edgy" songs, they released the horribly titled ballad "Freakytime" and then today's song, and then "What About Us." One member would later go on to provide lead vocals for the guitarry, sort of pop-punk band Freefaller.

You--I guess this is a ballad with energy, given the backing instrumentation (that backing beat is one of the most important and best parts of the song), but it's still a ballad. There's something almost epic about it--not quite, but almost. It manages to seem big and sweeping without actually being that big and sweeping, if that makes any sense at all. For a boy band ballad, there's something almost grand about it. I don't know that it's actually timeless--when I think of that word, I think of the classiness and pureness and perfect nature of the best Backstreet Boys ballads--but it sounds like it's aiming to be, and even if it doesn't quite get there, it is a great song. There really is a good deal of similarity between "Freakytime" and "You," but, even if the horrible bridge and chorus lyrics in "Freakytime" hadn't already knocked it out of contention, "You" would win out for being more dynamic and desperate (the first verse in "Freakytime" is great, though--I've been known to listen to it on repeat--and there is something strangely hypnotizing about the song as a whole, which has some nice strings)--the singing to the skies feel of "You" beats out the strange come-on of "Freakytime."

To buy Point Break's debut album Apocadelic, go here (physical) or here (digital).

On a side note, I'm thrilled to see Magnus Carlsson's "Live Forever" topping the iTunes chart over in Sweden, though disappointed at how fast Andreas Lundstedt's "Move" is falling.

Next up: Sweden, I think, and you'll see why it's "boy band-esque" ballads.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Elegante y guapa y con sensualidad

Oh, this is too cute in a car crash television sort of way. Out of the five artist-and-song combinations that made it to Spain's superfinal last night, Nash had two of them. I've already posted a link to the winning performance, but this was the other one.

What's going on at the beginning of that first verse, boys? Forget the words? Still, the holding up the pictures part is just too cute and clever in a novelty-esque way--the pictures they're holding up when they say "I'm lookin' for a girl" are of the four girls they were competing against in the final.

How amazing is Mirela, though? Singing "La Reina de la Noche," she took second. I think there are other songs I would have preferred her to be singing, but I hope she enters Mision Eurovision again. She can sing, she's gorgeous...and she's only 16!

However, I think the following may still be my favorite performance out of all that I've seen of Mision Eurovision (if you only watch one thing out of all these videos, make it the first minute of this one.)

How brilliant is that chair idea? The singer, Gisela, was only demonstrating the song, back when people were voting to choose which songs were best; she was never in the running to represent Spain, but I think Spain should swap the dancers for Turkey's dancers from last year and send this song and this routine next year.

(I still have to watch Nazaret's performances.)

Then I get near you, I stop thinking clearly

Much as I am not rooting for Marie Lindberg in Melodifestivalen, I do have my moments where I like the sweet female singer-songwriter sound, though it's got to fall solidly into the category of pop. American singer Arden Kaywin fits into that description perfectly. I'm not the betting sort, but I think there's a very good chance she'll break into the mainstream in years to come; her debut album is good, but I have a feeling the followup will surpass it. Unlike so many singer-songwriters, she seems to have a real knack for creating memorable songs that will be floating through your head for days and have you singing along. She's also very definitely pop, which I love; she just happens to fall a little more on the singer-songwriter side of the spectrum. Plus, she's got an Ohio connection: she graduated from Oberlin College. Her biography compares her to Sarah McLachlan and Alanis Morissette (which could intrigue you or turn you off, but either way doesn't really get across her style), though I'd probably throw in Sofia Loell. Give her a try, though--she's got such a pretty voice, and her songs fit perfectly with it, really nailing the pop appeal aspect.

On The Edge--if I was going to usually compare Arden to Sofia Loell, here I'd say she also picks up a bit of the best of Vanessa Carlton. Lovely melodic piano-based verses lead into a stop-start, up-and-down chorus. In just about two and a half minutes, she manages to construct this gorgeous sweet little song that just envelops you in the best possible way. In fact, I sort of wish it was a little longer--I'd love to hear that chorus one more time.

To buy Arden Kaywin's debut album Quarter Life Crisis, go here (physical) or go to iTunes; for example, if you live in the U.S., go here, but I think it's available in all countries' iTunes stores.

Next up: possibly something Melodifestivalen related, but maybe not.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Descubre el amor

Spain wraps up Misión Eurovision and chooses their Eurovision representative, and it's a boy band! Nash (who I wrote about over on You Call That Life) will be singing "I Love You Mi Vida" in Helsinki. You can watch a video of their performance here.

They need to work on their voices--this song needs to be sung with more force--but it's still pretty fun. Assuming they can up their game with the singing, this could be one of my favorites. It's very singalongable and very danceable. I'm not going to say I love it yet, but I have a feeling that's exactly what I'll be saying in the near future.

Edit: in case anyone wants it, here's an mp3 of Nash singing "I Love You Mi Vida" live, but it's only a low quality video rip. As I said, they need to work on the singing some (as well as the performance), so I'm not sure if they'll be any interest in this, but I thought I'd post it anyhow. It's probably worth remembering that they only had a short period of time to learn the song, and they had to learn five songs (the way Spain did its national finals was allowing people to vote out of a bunch of songs and artists to choose the top 5 songs and top 5 artists. Tonight, each artist performed part of each of the songs, meaning that there were 25 possible combinations that people could choose to vote for. Then, once the top 5 song-with-artist combinations were chosen, each of them was performed in full, and Spain voted again to choose the winner)...I think I'm going to really end up liking it, though! It's very in line with my tastes. What that means for Spain's Eurovision results, I have no idea, and I know a lot of people are saying Mirela's "La Reina de la Noche" or some other song would have been better, but I haven't heard those yet.

Nash - I Love You Mi Vida (Live) (LQ Video Rip)

This of course means we need to face the all important decision of which member of Nash is the best looking (hey, I don't make the rules; that's just what you do with boy bands), though I suspect for me it's a moot point. Your options:

Basty Nash...

...Javi Nash...

...Ony Nash...

...or Mikel Nash.

(Look, I know they're no V, but just be grateful there's no Aaron Carter look-a-like.)

There was no Internet stream, so I haven't seen any of the other performances and have no idea how justified their win was...hopefully it'll all show up on YouTube soon!

You're my song and dance

And it's off! No technical problems's hoping that keeps up.

Edit: Magnus: started off not as good as I was expecting--less boppy and fun--but the middle part is still lots of fun, and it picked up after that. Plus, he had his name illuminated in lights behind him!

Edit: whoever styled Emile tonight made him look better than he did in the promo shots (but then that red shirt he was wearing in those was not good at all, so practically anything would've been better); I hope the same is true for Sanna. His song is still cute, but live it loses some of its smoothness and slickness, and as a result, some of its cuteness. Nothing special. It reminds me of someone, though--some R&B singer I can't place and maybe a little pre-recent albums Antti Tuisku.

Edit: ...and, halfway through Sanna's performance, my Windows Media Player feed dies...Real Player is working, but I missed the end.

Edit: and now Real Player is messing up, but at least it's just Caroline af Ugglas I'm missing.

Edit: but now I'm missing After Dark, and that is something I'm upset about. Just listening on the radio won't get it across...

Edit: WM started working again in time for me to see the last minute or so of After looked great, and really fun, but I missed all the outfit changes!

Edit: I like the sound of Sarah's voice less live than on the recording. It is a nice ballad, but I fear it knocking out something I really want to go through.

Edit: Verona's outfit isn't what I was expecting; it's brighter and more go-go than I would've thought. Her performance does make me like the song more, though I'm not sure why. And she has her name in lights behind her, too--have they all had it and I just didn't notice?

Edit: Andreas starts standing in the audience...and what is he wearing? He is shiny from head to toe! I do not dislike his song, but I think I might like it more if Sebastian was singing it.

Edit: top 5: Magnus, After Dark, Andreas, Sanna (yay!)...I predict Sarah for the last slot...yup, and Sarah.

Edit: wow, does "Dolce Vita" sound different sung this way! It's all dark and corporate. I still wish I could understand Swedish so I could understand this musical.

Edit: I've lost the picture, though I've still got audio...

Edit: picture back. I'm sure this is fascinating reading.

Edit: Sarah to the final...I'm sort of surprised she beat Magnus (Andreas must surely be in the final, too), but I was afraid this would happen. It was a moving performance. Now, though, Magnus will probably be in the second chance, leaving After Dark and Sanna to fight it out for the other second chance spot. Uh-oh...

Edit: continuing to think, I can see a lot of people liking this song (Sarah's)--it's grown on me--and I can see it doing well, but it's not making the final very exciting, is it?

Edit: yup, Magnus to the second chance...c'mon, Sanna!

Edit: yay! Sanna to the second chance round!

Edit: no surprise there...Andreas to the final, leaving After Dark out of the competition. It's a shame they're out...I didn't get to see the whole performance, but it looked great based on the end of it, and the song was so fun. I'm incredibly relieved Sanna's still in it, though.

Edit: so, in terms of the semifinals, this means Jessica Andersson is facing Elin Lanto, Jimmy Jansson is facing Sanna Nielsen, Uno and Irma are facing Sonja Alden, and Nanne is facing Magnus Uggla, with the winners of each of the first two pairs then facing off and the winners of the latter two pairs facing off. The finals include (in no particular order) Tommy Nilsson, Anna Book, the Ark, Marie Lindberg, Sebastian, Mans Zelmerlow, Sarah Dawn Finer, and Andreas Johnson, as well as the top two from the second chance round. I don't know how the show's format works for the second chance round, though--does anyone?

Next up: I'm thinking about something else Melodifestivalen-related, though there are no new contestants to preview. Possibly an American singer, though.

Friday, February 23, 2007

We break up a little bit

It's a bittersweet day--we get to hear another set of Melodifestivalen songs, but this is the last set, though contest-wise we still have the second chance round and the finals to go. There's not much here taking me to the ecstatic heights of last week, but there are some good songs...I'll update soon.

Sanna (utter schlager, and certainly deserving of going straight to the final. Love the climax, love the beats at 2:25, and love the song. Plus, it's got a real ending.)

After Dark (sounds like "Go West" by the Village People mixed with something that's escaping me at the 1:22 point. Very fun, and I can't wait to see it performed! I do wonder if the really strong similarities with other songs are going to hurt it, though, or cause further accusations of plagiarism. If you want to know what this song is really about, the Schlagerboys have explained it. This song and Sanna's are easily my favorites this week.)

Sadly, those are the only songs I feel like are absolute must-listens. Maybe I'm just tired (in general--definitely not tired of Melodifestivalen!). Though I didn't want to like Emilè "I don't really care about being in Melodifestivalen" Azar, his song is inoffensive enough, sort of cute, actually. I like Andreas's song more than "Sing For Me," but I was never really a fan of that song. Sarah's song is a nice ballad. I've shocked myself by liking Magnus's song more than I thought I was going to (but then I thought I wasn't going to like it at all); "ohhh"'s get me every time, and I can imagine some ridiculous but fun marching-around choreography at 2:21. I still don't want it in the final, though. Verona's song is very clubby, and if the Attic and Therese couldn't get through last week with their better song (it's not an awful song, but it's far from amazing), I can't imagine she has a chance. However, none of these songs comes close to Sanna's and After Dark's--they just have to be the top two places this week, though, given this year so far, they probably won't be.

Since I pretty much need to post a song in English so I actually have something to quote for the title, here's Andreas's song.


Next up: the performances! Can't wait, as always. And I may go back and edit and expand this post, as it seems a little short right now. I'm hoping some more songs will grow on me.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The politics of nations got me down

I think that not living in Canada means I'm not able to totally understand Prozzak (technically Prozzäk). Ostensibly the cartoon duo Simon and Milo (the name under which they released their U.S. album), the actual minds behind Prozzak were Canadians Jay Levine and James McCollum, who developed the duo as a side project to entertain themselves during the bus rides between performances for their "real" band, the Philosopher Kings. They had quite the backstory behind them, as well as lots of animated videos illustrating their adventures as Simon, from the Isle of Man, struggled to find love, a task he never seemed to complete (that's making it sound too mushy--it wasn't at all; despite the fact that the music, complete with the accents--in addition to Simon's, tall guitar-carrying Milo is supposed to be Austrian--seems as if it might appeal more to kids and the fact that the lyrics can seem very young as well, I think Prozzak was supposed to feel slightly subversive to kids in a funny way...not that they were actually subversive...they were parodies, I guess, though exactly of what I'm not sure [the New York Times--yes, they even had their own article in it!--and maybe even the band's own creators would have you believe it's Europop groups, but I think that's a conversation for another time], and with some of the things they got involved in or said, you wouldn't necessarily want five-year-olds to be watching). If you want to sort of understand them (not that I totally do--as I said, I didn't really live through them), the song and video for their hit "Sucks To Be You" (and that title should give some indication of what to expect from them; sadly, I can't find a version of the video with the introduction, teaching us all the important life lesson that when your friend is down, the thing to do is buy him a milkshake...which apparently all bars serve), though I prefer one of their second album songs. For further viewing, you could watch their "legend" (i.e., backstory).

Omobolasire--this is a song that's easy to not like; it's definitely not to everyone's taste. It also, like Zoop's song a week or so ago, traffics in broad cultural generalizations. However, it's incredibly catchy, with a beat that feels designed to clapping along with, especially near the end. For me, "Omobolasire" (which I can never seem to spell correctly) has a lot more appeal than the more novelty-esque "Sucks To Be You;" it's more energetic, fun, and happy, too, which may have something to do with my favoring it. Regardless, expect a bouncy pop song. Prozzak seem to draw a lot of comparisons to Europop, but, though I guess I can see where those are coming from, I don't know that I totally agree with them; some of the beats, maybe, and maybe even some of the songs, but some of their songs seem less...vibrant and bright, I guess, than what I associate Europop with; that probably has something to do with the vocals. There's also (acoustic) guitar in them, as should probably be expected when one of the characters is always carrying a guitar around with him. You'll probably have this song stuck in your head for days.

To buy Prozzak's debut album Hot Show, go here (physical). I still need to buy their second album, but I've heard good things; you can buy it here if you want to (physical). Their first album came out in the late '90's and their second in 2000 (later followed by a U.S. album mixing the two); they released another album in 2005, but from what I've heard, it's more serious and less poppy.

Next up: Melodifestivalen! C'mon, Sanna, we're counting on you!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Hope this happens today

Gosh! Melodifestivalen fever takes over, I pay a little less attention to UK artists, and look what happens--Gareth Gates puts clips of songs on his MySpace, is working on redesigning his official site (though the version there at the moment is a redesign, too), announces the release date for his new single "Changes" (April 9), and announces the title of his new album (Pictures Of The Other Side). Heck, it's even being reviewed already (though I haven't heard anything about any songs we didn't already know)! He's doing a showcase of his new material tonight, so hopefully there will be more reviews and we'll get to hear about some of the other songs. Now, I promised over at You Don't Know Pop that I wasn't going to say anything bad about ballads in general for a week (if you haven't been checking that blog lately, absolutely go look at Troy's Valentine's Day dedicated post--all ballads, and so many good ones that I was inspired to make the aforementioned promise!), so I'll just say I hope there's news about some more mid- to up-tempo stuff. An official release date for a single, an official album title--I'm in mild shock!

I still maintain his second album is a classic--go buy it if you haven't already.

Nolwenn, come into the light!

French singer Nolwenn Leroy first became famous when she won the second season of Star Academy. Earlier, during her high school years, she spent a year studying abroad in Ohio in the U.S., which isn't really that interesting to most people but is sort of exciting for me, though why she'd choose Ohio out of all the places here baffles me. She's released two albums so far; as is usual for someone off of a reality TV show, her sales have gone down somewhat, but that didn't stop the second album from reaching #3 on the charts or its lead single (today's song) from reaching #1. I haven't heard any more from her than this single, so I can't really characterize her overall style, but I have no idea why I haven't sought out more from her yet--I love this song.

Nolwenn Ohwo--I was tempted to just write "Put on this song as you're getting ready to fall asleep and be swept away to a universe where everything is gorgeous and light and bright" and leave it at that--"Nolwenn Ohwo" is so exquisite that I feared too many words might take away from it--but I can't help myself; there are a few more things I have to add. The verses feel sort of meandering, but they get more playful as they go along and somehow manage to add up to more than they should. The song uses one of the most dangerous gimmicks out there--a children's chorus--but it never seems gimmicky; it's actually a perfect fit for the song, giving it not only more lightness but also a youthful energy that manages to seem (and please forgive the ridiculousness of how this sounds) celestial, not immature. Alongside the chant, the best parts of the song are the chorus, fluttery and beautiful, and a beat that I can't figure out how to identify, but it's what helps the song have energy and seem spacey, floaty, extra-dimensional. These are all just small individual elements, though--though the song feels light and simple, there's so much going on that ultimately all I can do is beg you to listen to the whole thing--it's worth it!

To buy Nolwenn Leroy's second album Histoires Naturelles, go here (physical).

Next up: possibly that German band I said I was going to write about a while ago.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I wouldn't make it in a million years

I'm going to put Xandee in the category of "Belgians who should have done better at Eurovision," along with Kate Ryan. She was their 2004 representative and, though I didn't watch the performance, with a song like "1 Life" can she really have deserved 22nd out of 24? I don't know very much about what she's done since then, though she did release an album also called 1 Life and later released a cover of "Conga." It seems like she's still performing, though, given that she had to cancel a concert when she gave birth to a baby girl last August.

1 Life--just in case anyone doesn't know it yet, this was her Eurovision song. It's very danceable and, though it's also pop, it's also got a more electronica backing part than you might expect, and it's that part that really seals the deal here--it's what's responsible for a lot of the song's catchiness.

Payback Time--not much of the album sounds like "1 Life"--it's generally less "you must dance now!"-sounding, which is sort of a shame. Still, this song is good, in a smoother, slightly less shouty way, and I might even prefer it to "1 Life." Her voice also sounds somewhat different on this song compared to "1 Life," but maybe that's a function of the different styles of the songs. The chorus is catchy, the song's fun...really, that's enough for me.

To buy Xandee's album 1 Life, go here (physical).

Next up: music from France.

Monday, February 19, 2007

You struck a match inside this frozen heart of mine

As much as it's the hope of a Jessica Andersson album that has me salivating, her former Fame partner Magnus Bäcklund has surprised me by coming up with some songs I like. They are, to be fair, more on the MOR side of things, but they're catchy in a not-particularly-aggressive guitar-based way. I suspect I may regret this post at some time in the future, but at the moment, I'm enjoying listening to some of his work. Magnus won a season of Fame Factory and was later a member of the duo Fame, which represented Sweden at Eurovision 2003 with the great "Give Me Your Love." After an album, some singles, and another try at Melodifestivalen, Magnus and Jessica are pursuing solo careers; Magnus made it to the final round of Melodifestivalen 2006, released an album, and now has a single out that I presume must be the lead single for his second album.

Burn--a ballad and Magnus's new single. I read somewhere that he was planning on releasing it in the U.S. and some places in Europe outside of Sweden, and it definitely has that "designed to be a hit" sound to it (whether or not one thinks it actually should be a hit); I can, if nothing else, imagine this being used to soundtrack TV shows. When I first heard it, it had an instantly familiar feel to it, which at first I thought was just a sign of writers tailoring a song to fit perfectly into the current music environment, taking the tropes of this sort of music and working them to their advantage...but a little research revealed why it felt so instantly familiar: it's a cover. The first version I know of is Shannon Noll's (the Australian Idol runner-up who's gone on to have continual success), but please let me know if you know of an earlier version (a version of it was released in the Netherlands by Van Velzen, but Shannon's version predates that one)! Whoever is responsible for Magnus's version seems to have decided they really wanted to go for drama and pathos--everything, from the new violin part to Magnus's voice, somehow managing to seem both stronger and more broken, is taken up a notch...and, do you know, I actually prefer it to the original. If you're going to go for a power ballad of this sort, go all the way, and the producers have, punching up "Burn" to make it more...anthemic.

"Sweet Catastrophy" (yes, that's how they've spelled it) from his first album, Never Say Never, is also good, if you want to look into what he's done any further; it's more upbeat and sort of reminds me of Anders Johansson.

You can buy Magnus Bäcklund's single "Burn" here (physical).

Next up: something far more danceable, but not from does have a Eurovision connection, though.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Was it something I...never had?

No songs today--not only am I still in mourning over Magnus being eliminated, it'll be another run-down of next weekend's Melodifestivalen participants instead. I'm a lot less familiar with this coming week's participants than I was with last week's participants, so please let me know if I've gotten anything wrong or left anything important out!

1.) Magnus Uggla--I should know more about Magnus Uggla, because he's been releasing music for a long time and I think he's pretty famous, but I don't. All I know is he does rock music and Wikipedia says his lyrics are very satirical. Cany anyone fill me in? As for his song, "För kung och fosterland," it has both fast and slow parts.

To watch: the music video for his song "Värsta grymma tjejen."

2.) Emilè Azar--a session and demo singer who has yet to release any music of his own. His answer to "Was it a dream come true for you when you were asked to sing in Melodifestivalen?" was "No," so I'm not expecting much. As if that wasn't enough, his song "Vi hade nåt" is described as an R&B ballad. However, the writers behind it did do After Dark's 2004 entry "La Dolce Vita."

To watch: I can't find anything on YouTube--this really will be his first brush with fame, I think.

3.) Sanna Nielsen--despite being only 22, Sanna's pretty much a music veteran--she released her first single before she was a teenager and has already competed in Melodifestivalen three times, most recently in 2005, when she took eighth with her duet with Fredrik Kempe. Kempe, who wrote this year's "Rainbow Star" and "Cara Mia," wrote her song, "Vågar du, vågar jag," which is described as poppy schlager with a strong chorus.

To watch: her duet "Du och jag mot världen" with Fredrik Kempe at Melodifestivalen 2005.

4.) Caroline af Ugglas--the very little I've heard of her work is sort of rock-folk stuff. Her music model is Janis Joplin, and she's just released an album of Joplin covers in Sweden. If I'm understanding Expressen correctly, she entered Melodifestivalen because someone told her there was too much schlager. Her song "Tror på dig" is described as a Joplin-esque rock ballad.

To watch: the music video for her song "Egoistic."

5.) After Dark--the drag group that took third in Melodifestivalen 2004 with the aforementioned "La Dolce Vita." We can surely count on them for a good show and a good song, especially given that their entry "(Åh) När ni tar saken i egna händer" is described as "schlagerdisco."

To watch: their Melodifestivalen 2004 entry "La Dolce Vita."

6.) Sarah Dawn Finer--mainly a session/backing singer, she has also opened for Gavin DeGraw and dueted with Peter Jöback, though that might just be live. She currently has a song high up on the Swedish iTunes chart, which seems a little strange, timing-wise. The clips of the songs on her website generally sound acoustic and slow, sometimes a bit bluesy or honky-tonk, but her song "I Remember Love" is described as poppy schlager with a strong chorus.

To watch: I've got nothing.

7.) Verona--apparently a group, despite all the pictures showing only one person, Veronica, the lead singer. Veronica says her musical models are Kylie and Madonna, but given the number of female singers who would probably give that response, that probably doesn't tell us much. Still, their song, "La Musica," which is in Italian, is described as "modern euro-club."

To watch: don't actually watch this--it's one of those slideshows of pictures people set to music--but let it play and listen to it. I think this is the only song Verona has previously released, or maybe the one they're most famous for? At any rate, it's the only one I know by them, and it's a cover of "Ti Sento."

8.) Andreas Johnson--outside of Sweden, he's probably best known for his song "Glorious," but last year his song "Sing For Me" took third in Melodifestivalen. If you've heard Sebastian's song this year, a lot of people have compared it to "Sing For Me," which might give you an idea of what Andreas's music sounds like (though I can sort of see the comparison, I like "When The Night Comes Falling" a lot more than "Sing For Me"). Andreas has said his song this year, "A Little Bit Of Love," is catchy, more American, and more guitar-based. The writers of the song described it (really rough translation) as "Roy Orbison picks up the Ronettes in his convertible and drives home to Bruce Springsteen's cocktail party. And Phil Spector produces."

To watch: it would probably be more accurate, both music- and appearance-wise, to have you watch his Melodifestivalen 2006 performance (which you can see here), but, shockingly for me, I prefer the moody "Glorious" (great chorus) to the peppy upbeat "Sing For Me," so I'm going with the music video for the former.

Based on names alone, I get the impression the people likely to do well seem to be Andreas Johnson, After Dark, Magnus Uggla, and Sanna Nielsen. The artists I'm probably most looking forward to are Sanna and After Dark, though it'd be nice if one of the unknowns like Verona or Sarah Dawn Finer, based on their song descriptions, could surprise us, and I might like Andreas Johnson's song. After how amazing last week was, I think this week may be a little bit of a comedown.

Speaking of last week: Magnus Carlsson releases these super-happy songs, and mentally I've just sort of transferred the aura around those songs to him, so I imagine him as being a super-happy, maybe even happy-go-lucky guy--so seeing him teary in this interview is really upsetting. Especially sad. Sweden, what have you done? I vote for cutting some of these week's participants and replacing them with people unjustly cut earlier in the competition--it'd be a much more interesting week and maybe we could come a little closer to justice.

Sources: ESC Today, Expressen, SVT's Melodifestivalen site, P4. Huge thanks to all of these sites!

Next up: probably a song from Sweden, though I'll try to avoid spending so much time on Swedish music next week (no promises, though!)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

How can you leave me now?

After my computer basically breaking at 2:03, I managed to get it up and running again just in time to see the beginning of Måns's performance...not as fab as the studio version, of course, but such an amazing song!

Edit: you know, I do like this MissMatch song, even if one of the girls is looking rather wide-eyed. Plus, they've got pyrotechnics! The fact that it's only sixth or so in my ranking of this heat is a testament to how strong this semifinal is.

Ahhh! Magnus is up!

Edit: leather! oooo!

Have I used the word brilliant to describe this song yet? Well, it is! To the final, along with Måns, please!

Edit: I think I may have to go buy all albums Therese has been involved in. As a performer, she is, to borrow a British word, "ace." She's spinning around on a platform! Oh, and now the shot cuts to looking down, and she's lying down on the platform, which is revealed to look like a CD! While the Attic stand in the middle and do very little, she has to provide the show...and I think she does a good job. Really, the spinning and the CD is enough for it to win my approval.

Edit: the Schlagerboys are so right...Sebastian has totally taken one of the Alcazar boys' costumes from 2003, but it doesn't quite fit him. As much as I love Måns's song, and I love Måns for singing it, Sebastian seems to be more of a solid performer--vocally, yes, but there's also just a certain presence he has.

Edit: Sonja, where are the seagull sound effects? They were totally taking your "my song washes over you like a wave" statement to the next level.

Edit: I want platforms like Nanne's. Nanne, you're such a great singer and performer--I just wish the instrumental part of your song had some extra punch, some more "oomph," was less acoustic.

Edit: the top 5--Nanne, Magnus (yay!), Sebastian, Måns (double yay! triple yay!), and Sonya (I'm afraid she's going to end up making the top 4...). I'm actually very happy with that, though, but that's conditional on the final result.

Edit: I really need to learn Swedish so I can understand this musical--I really like the idea of it.

Edit: wait, what's happening? Why are the credits rolling? Ohhh...maybe it was a joke?

Edit: Sebastian to the final...which normally I would be sort of pleased with, because I like the song, but Nanne will certainly take the other spot, which means, even if my two favorites both make it to the second chance, they can't make it to the final. Sad...but I'm still hoping!

Edit: oh no! Sonya to the second chance!

Edit: no way! Nanne to the second chance! Who beat her?

Edit: ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!?!

I'm shocked and thrilled Måns is in the final, but Magnus's song is out of the running? Are you joking?

I'm starting my own alternative Melodifestivalen. Andreas, Cosmo4, and Magnus are all going to be in the final. Boooooo!!!!!

Edit: I don't like to look for alternative reasons for placings, but is the Swedish public just sick of seeing Magnus and Andreas? I don't understand at all how "Live Forever" could fail to make at least the second chance round. Seriously. I am hugely excited about Måns going straight to the final now, though (and I can't believe he and Sebastian beat Nanne), and how excited he was was adorable--he even jumped on the announcer's back! It does make me wonder about whoever is selecting the songs for Melodifestivalen--"Cara Mia" wasn't originally selected, only making it in because two other songs were disqualified. I just don't understand how a song as brilliant as "Live Forever" could fail to do anything in the competition.

Make me believe you

After a night of barely being able to sleep because I kept feeling compelled to go listen to the songs from this semifinal, I've reached a few conclusions.

My two absolute favorites that I'm desperate to see do well are definitely Magnus and Måns. Their songs are both bounce-around-the-room-like-a-crazy-person tunes that are instantly amazing (I know, now I'm overusing that word more than last year's Eurovision hosts) and I've run out of adjectives to describe them.

After that, I think my favorite is the Attic feat. Therese, though I don't expect it to do too well. Still, in my dream world, it would make it to the second chance round. The second second chance slot--well, I'd probably give it to Sebastian, just narrowly beating out Nanne, but, with performances, I'm sure Nanne will deserve to do very well.

Some random news about some Melodifestivalen contestants:

Jimmy Jansson and Sebastian have both updated their sites and have albums coming out in early March, both I've which I'm planning on buying. Jimmy's got a bunch of pictures on it (not necessarily new), but I think this one is the classiest:

Sebastian's new album is going to be called The Vintage Virgin (really?) and he'll be previewing some of the songs from it on his site.

Also on the subject of photos, this is definitely my favorite one of Måns:

So, anyhow, Magnus and Måns! Please, Sweden! I'm most worried about Måns--I could see him not even making it to the second chance, but, based on song along, he unquestionably deserves to be in the final, as does Magnus. Their songs--I can't even express how good they are.

Friday, February 16, 2007

All the stars in heaven will shine for me

Ohhhh, yes. It is on. At this rate, this semifinal is going to be better than the actual final. The songs...they're amazing. I'll update in just a couple of minutes.

I am incredibly impressed. All predictions were that this was going to be the best semifinal round, and so far it easily is, but I had no idea it was going to be this good. Wow. In no particular order, the best:

Magnus (opening with Bosson-esque "ohh"'s, this song is so good. It's fast, it's poppy, it's got everything you could possibly want in a song. My favorite of the round, I think, though there's so much quality here that title could end up shifting around a lot, but this was the song I found myself wanting to listen to while I was sitting around waiting for my computer to do some stuff, so it wins out for now. It's one of the favorites to make the final, and it better! To quote someone else, though--I can't remember who, or I'd cite it--it might be very Melodifestivalen but maybe not very Eurovision. I don't care, though--it's sensational. Really. I can't even begin to get across how good it is--just listen to it already!)

Nanne (I was a little worried at first because it's acoustic-sounding, but she is going to perform the heck out of this, I'm sure, which will really elevate the song. Catchy vocal part, catchy guitar, and some lovely orchestral-ish punctuation of the song...I just sort of wish it wasn't so acoustic. As I said, though, I'm sure my opinion of it will climb immensely when I see it performed--she's such a powerful performer and really makes you see how brilliant her songs are.)

Måns (I'm hoping Mans does really well with this song and then decides that he wants to continue with this musical direction, as opposed to the "singer-songwriter" direction he's threatening. Nanne's a singer-songwriter, too, but I suspect he means something less fun, and this song is AMAZING. He's probably singing "When someone loves like I do, dreams can true," but to me it sounds like "When someone looks like I do, dreams can come true," and that's what I'm going to imagine he's saying instead. I'm not sure how well he'll perform it, but on quality of the song, I'd love this to at least make it to the second chance and the final from there. Please, Måns, release a full album of music like this! He seems a little emotionless at points, but oh gosh...I love this song. It starts out dark and slower, with Mans's voice muffled, but it breaks out into fantastic dance-pop. As if that wasn't great enough, out of nowhere, we get handclaps. Handclaps! Oh my gosh, is it good. It may, ignoring the performances, steal the title of my favorite from Magnus.)

Sebastian (ahh, this is great as well, up there with some of the best of his work. Don't let my lack of words here fool you--I love it as well.)

The Attic feat. Therese (it can't be a coincidence that this song opens up with a reference to "human rights" when the theme song for Melodifestivalen last year, also made by the Attic, was called "Human Rights," can it? Very clubby, very good. Even it fails to make the final--and I wonder if it being so clubby might hurt it--I don't know how it couldn't be a club hit...I love it a lot.)

MissMatch (these girls will probably be overlooked, cursed with being in the toughest semifinal and not being famous ahead of time, and I have a feeling a lot of Melodifestivalen fans might not like it, but I like it--I hope we hear more from them. It's a little rocky without being what I would necessarily call pop-rock. Plus, it's got panting.)

Sonja also has a beautiful ballad that is growing on me, but with this much amazing up-tempo stuff, there are so many other songs I'd rather see make it through. The Shieda song is nice enough, but can't compete when up against songs like these. You can listen to all the songs here.

Please, please, please let the stream work tomorrow! My hopes for the final and second chance--well, it's tough. I'm narrowly going to go Magnus and Nanne based on the reports that Nanne's performance easily tops everyone else's (otherwise--and I can't believe I'm saying this--it'd be questionable for me as to whether she should even make the second chance. Oh, saying that feels awful!), but Måns is close, and I definitely want him at least in the second chance and making it to the final out of there (or maybe in the final instead of Nanne...I love his song so much!). The second second chance spot--between Sebastian and the Attic feat. Therese, for me. There are five absolutely top-quality songs in this round, though, and it's such a shame more can't make it to the final. In fact, given the new structure of the second chance round, there's no way more than three songs from this semifinal will end up being in the final, which is ridiculous.

I'm in music paradise! I can't believe how great this round is. It really is going to be better than the final, I think.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

We play it cool, but underneath we're steamin'

The jury's still out on if the following song will be anything more than a passing fancy, but for the moment, it's just nice to see someone out of an Idol show doing something different (or relatively so). Danny Saucedo, who is continuing in the great tradition of most of Sweden's male Idol contestants and just going by his first name, took sixth this past season, which Markus Fagervall won and Erik Segerstedt took second in. While most Idol grads nowadays seem intent on using guitars, Danny, if his first single is anything to judge by, is keeping far away from them.

(I don't actually have anything against guitars, but so many people coming off reality TV shows now seem to think they're the magic ingredient to improve their fortunes--"well, I want my xth album to sell...bring on the guitars!" I wouldn't even have a problem with that if people did it well, and some do, but so many do not, just tossing them in without any regard to how to make them work, to how powerful they can be if used well, to how important melody is. Guitars are not a panacea.)

Tokyo--dance-pop. And yes, I know we just did dance-pop from Sweden yesterday, but I'm still pleased enough to see someone off of Idol pursuing this direction (and pursuing it fairly well, even if there's a lot to work on still) that I thought it was worth posting. Maybe it's processing, but Danny's voice isn't particularly smooth, and one could raise the question of whether he's the best person to be doing this song--whether there might be some singers out there who would take the song's quality to another level. Still, it's catchy and fun and not "faceless," all of which means I'm inclined to enjoy it. It's not the sort of song that pushes boundaries or stops you in your tracks, but if he can come up with an entire album around this quality, it'll be worth buying...and hopefully, it would have some songs on it that were even better.

If you live in Sweden, you can buy Danny's single "Tokyo" from iTunes here. Wherever you live, you can buy the single here (physical).

Happy first birthday to the amazing blog #1 Hits From Another Planet! It's a must-visit, guaranteed to introduce you to artists you've never heard of before but love (the first blog to discover Alphabeat, for example).

If you loved Adem's story about him and Take That (and how could you not?), you're sure to love his description of growing up with Madonna--visit I'm Always Right to read it.

Andreas Lundstedt's unjustly cut from Melodifestivalen single "Move" is pretty high on Sweden's iTunes charts--I just hope it does well on the real charts (it isn't yet)... Hopefully Regina's song rises, too--it's around #80 on iTunes right now, but it may be too early to judge.

Edit: ohhh...go read this. Now. Now.

Next up: Friday! I can't wait! The debut of the next round of Melodifestivalen songs.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

You got the best of them, you got the best of us all

Happy Valentine's Day! And, even if certain bands seem set on breaking my heart, we're still going to celebrate it, so today's song is, yes, a love song. Forget all those boring ballads, though--who wants those (I know, what I posted yesterday was sort of ballad-ish, but at least it was mid-tempo...and shhhh)? Accordingly, today's song is very catchy, very danceable, and far better than all the stuff iTunes is trying to convince you to buy for your Valentine. Oh, and it's Swedish--if giving someone Swedish music isn't the ultimate sign of affection, I don't know what is.

Natalie--by Toni (or ToNi), who I don't actually know that much about (except that he also wrote and produced this song), "Natalie" was on a summer 2006 compilation, so it's not exactly recent. I think this is his debut and so far only single, but it's a great one. I'm starting to wonder if I have a thing for strings in dance music--they're one of the reasons I enjoyed the Freemasons' remix of Beyonce's "Ring The Alarm" so much, and now, here they are cropping up again, though this time pretty instead of agressive. Beyond that, this is a pretty much straight-up dance or dance-pop song, full of energy and fun.

To buy Absolute Summer Hits 2006, which has this song on it, go here (physical). Alternatively, you could just buy the single, which you can get here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: maybe that German band I was promising to write about a while ago.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

This better just be another stupid Internet rumor

Proving I am far from cutting edge, I've only found out about this about a month after it hit the net. However, that does not mean I will not be ABSOLUTELY DEVASTATED if it turns out to be true.

Just in case it is a case of someone trying to spread a rumor, I'm not going to use names...but suffice to say, there is a very good chance that the lead singer of what is without doubt the best American band in existence and quite possibly the BEST BAND IN THE WORLD has left the group and gone solo.

It's been reported by some semi-reliable news sources and a new official site (complete with somewhat sketchy bio--the wording in some parts seems strange--but also what I have to admit are some rather lovely photos) for him has appeared, but the band has yet to confirm anything. No one really knows anything for sure.

I've never actually lived through a band I love breaking up before...I'm not sure if I can handle this! Though I'm horribly behind and have not actually sent my list of the top ten pop albums to Adem yet, their album is without doubt featuring on it...and probably featuring quite highly.

If all this is true, I'm not going to go all crazy hater-ish or anything, and I'll follow his solo career and the band if they continue...but I will be very sad.

C'est tout c'que j'espère

I noticed a little while ago that a Jonatan Cerrada (winner of the first season of France's version of Pop Idol--I first wrote about him here) song was near the top of Belgium's iTunes chart. It seemed really random, and I still have no idea why this was--was "Ruban Noir" an actual single, and was it released recently? If so, why? It's been so long since his album came out and since any single was released off of it. His official site hasn't been updated in a long time, so I have no idea what's going on with him. I was pleased to read, though, that he attended the announcement France's possible Eurovision contestants (he represented France in 2004 with the quite nice ballad "A Chaque Pas," though few people seem to agree with me about the "nice" part; the presentation was definitely odd, so perhaps it did not deserve a particularly high placing--it took fifteenth--but I think the song itself is good...and I don't even usually like ballads!), so at least we know he's alive. If anyone knows anything about what he's doing, please let me know; as of right now, I can only presume that the all-Spanish third album is still coming at some point (though I'm not sure we can count on it ever arriving). I thought about posting "Ruban Noir," as it is one of the album's better songs, but I just don't know if I feel comfortable with it--it feels like it would be sort of liking posting the post-9/11 version of Enrique Iglesias's "Hero." Maybe in the future, if I feel like I've worked out something to write about it that feels appropriate.

La preuve du contraire--having eliminated "Ruban Noir" as an option, I faced the dilemma of which song I should actually post. You really couldn't get much different from "Ruban Noir" than "La preuve du contraire;" while the former is powerful (or at least trying to be) and disturbing, there's something inherently comforting about the latter. A bit acoustic guitar-strummy and mid-tempo but ballad-y, it's one of those "getting ready to fall asleep" songs for me, but it also works well if you're in a mildly melancholic mood--it's subdued enough that you're not going to turn it off, frustrated at its in-your-face joie de vivre, but mildly (perhaps "sweetly" or "laid-back" would be a better word there) uplifting enough (at least in feel; the lyrics might very well not be) that it may help you gradually move out of that mood. I'm glad it's in French, as opposed to a language I might understand, because I'm not sure there are words that could really capture the sort of feeling this song conveys without seeming trite. "Comforting" really is the best word for it.

To buy Jonatan Cerrada's second album La preuve du contraire, go here (physical) or here (digital). It has Jonatan's best song "Mon paradis" on it, which is definitely worth looking up.

Next up: music from Sweden (yes, I know...I'm going to try to avoid writing so much about Swedish music when I can, but I just can't help myself in regards to tomorrow).

Monday, February 12, 2007

Här är jag född


Congratulations to Sandra Dahlberg and Jimmy Jansson (they competed in the same season of Fame Factory and have also both competed in--and, in Jimmy's case, is also currently competing in--Melodifestivalen)--Sandra just gave birth to their son Vilmer (eighteen days after expected!)! Ever since I read about the upcoming birth on Schlagerprinsessan, I've had a new favorite word, and I figure now is as good as time as any to share it with you all:


Seriously--is that not the most adorable world ever? How can you not want to have a schlagerbaby?

I think they may be trying to create the ultimate Melodifestivalen contestant.

Honestly, though, congratulations to the both of them!

(Picture credit: Expressen)

You got to leave no stone unturned

Maria Haukaas Storeng, or just Maria, was in the same season of Norwegian Idol as blogger favorite Margaret Berger, but she's taken a decidedly different stylistic path; her debut album, Breathing, released in 2005, is full of great, if young-sounding, girl-pop, generally with guitars, though not heavy ones, and sometimes a hint of country. There were rumors of her participating in Melodi Grand Prix (Norway's Eurovision selection process) this year, but they turned out to be nothing. If you like girl-pop, I really recommend the album; there are a couple of disposable tracks, but overall it's really solid and enjoyable; choosing just one song was very difficult.

Should've--this isn't the best of her songs, but it is the one that first got me interested in her. Her music is almost always upbeat and fun, and this song's no exception (even if it is about learning from her mistakes), though it's a little less guitar-ish and country-influenced than some of her other songs (which are never unpleasantly guitar-based or really that country). It's also very light, and though I wouldn't say her songs are ever heavy, this one is probably a little lighter than most.

To buy Maria's debut album Breathing, go here (digital) or check iTunes. I really recommend checking out some of her other songs--she has some with more staying power, and it's a great album.

In the world of links, go visit the Schlagerboys for an exclusive interview with Melodifestivalen contestant Magnus Carlsson--they get great interviews, and they're always funny to read. In fact, their site is always hilarious, and great for keeping up with Eurovision.

The HotStuff Files has an alternate music video for Justin Timberlake's "What Goes Around...Comes Around," and it is truly brilliant. Really. Go watch it.

Next up: maybe that German band I said I was going to write about forever ago.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

I've waited tonight

My incomplete guide to this week's Melodifestivalen semifinal.

I'm far from an expert on Swedish pop, but I thought I'd give some brief background based on what I do know about the artists who'll be competing this Saturday. (If any of this is wrong or you know more, please let me know!) Since Melodifestivalen seems to take over this blog on the weekends, I thought some information ahead of time might be a good idea to give a better idea of what to expect and what's happening.

1.) Måns Zelmerlöw--a former competitor on Idol (he took fifth) and later the winner of Let's Dance, Sweden's version of Strictly Come Dancing/Dancing With The Stars, so, even though he's only twenty, he's practically a veteran of televised performance competitions. Originally, he wasn't going to be in Melodifestivalen, but after Agnes's (who beat him in Idol) song and another one were disqualified, he was called in. He's described his song, "Cara Mia," as danceable, with some ABBA and BWO influences, starting out sad but building up to something much happier. Enjoy it while you can, though, because he's also said his CD will be in a more singer-songwriter style.

To watch: he hasn't released any music yet, but you can watch him singing Roxette's "The Look" on Idol.

2.) MissMatch--I don't know anything about them except that they're made up of two girls--does anyone know more? All I've got from their Melodifestivalen profile is that they're best friends and neighbors. Their song is called "Drop Dead." Expressen compares them to t.A.T.u, though I'm not sure why, and there's a reference to schlager, though the girls do say they're not typical schlager.

3.) Magnus Carlsson--former Barbados and Alcazar member turned solo artist. He competed in Melodifestivalen last year (he's actually competed in it every year since 2000 except for 2004) with the great "Lev Livet" (one of the three happiest songs of last year), making it to the finals and placing eighth. I think I've heard that there's been a lot of positive buzz around his song this year, "Live Forever," which he's said is '80's-ish (he compared it to a-ha, among other things), happy, and fast, and has said it's typical of his upcoming album (which he's also said will be pop and disco).

To watch: his performance of "Lev Livet" at Melodifestivalen 2006

4.) Shieda--I don't know anything about this group--does anyone? Their song is called "I mina drömmar" and, from what I can understand from their Melodifestivalen profile, is sung in three languages. From what I can understand from Expressen, their song is "ethnic" or "world" music.

5.) The Attic feat. Therese--the Attic released a brilliant album last year which they described as pop-house, and that's about right. They've been around for longer than that, though, releasing singles and remixing songs for other artists, and they made the music for Lena Philipsson's entrances at Melodifestivalen 2006 (she was the host). Therese, too, does really danceable music; she might be most famous for "Put 'Em High," which she did with Stonebridge, but her song "Time" is also great. Together listed as "The Attic feat. Therese," they'll be singing "The Arrival."

To watch (for the Attic): or actually, don't...just let it play so you can hear the music, but it's a typical dance video featuring a bunch of scantily clad women...which is a shame, because a truly brilliant song like this one deserves so much more. The album version is much better than this video mix, too (that quiet part in the middle doesn't exist). You don't see the two members of the Attic until the end, in the police line up.

To watch (for Therese): the music video for "Time."

6.) Sebastian--a former Idol contestant, he's a little bit of a rocker and was in the same season as Måns, ultimately placing second. He released a debut single that I couldn't stand ("Do What You're Told") but followed it up with the good "Indifferent" and the excellent (as in, one of the best singles of last year/this year) lead single for his new album, "Words And Violence." At the rate his singles are improving, his song for Melodifestivalen, "When The Night Comes Falling," should be absolutely out of this world. However, if I'm understanding his interview in Expressen correctly, he compares the song to Bruce Springsteen circa 1975, and I think it's also saying a lot of people have criticized it, but I could be completely wrong.

To watch: his live performance of "Words And Violence" on the Idol 2006 finale (not the season he was competing in).

7.) Sonya--or Sonja Aldén, as I guess she is going by. She used to be one of Shirley Clamp's backup singers. Sonya competed in Melodifestivalen 2006 with "Etymon," but didn't make it out of the semifinals. She also co-wrote the Poodles' fourth-placed "Night Of Passion." She's contrasted her song this year, "För att du finns," with "Etymon," saying that while the latter was energetic and wild, this year's is calm and will contrast with the many uptempo songs she's up against; it's a lighters-in-the-air sort of song, according to her. The co-writer of her song also worked on "Etymon," Carola's "Invincible," Shirley Clamp's "Min kärlek," and Alcazar's "Not A Sinner, Nor A Saint," among other songs.

To watch: her Melodifestivalen 2006 performance of "Etymon."

8.) Nanne Grönvall--brilliant and maybe crazy, Nanne's competed in Melodifestivalen a bunch of times, sometimes as part of a group and sometimes solo, and also tried to represent the UK once, too. In 2005, she was the viewer favorite with "Håll om mig", but the jury's votes were enough to give Martin Stenmarck the win. Her song this year is "Jag måste kyssa dig," which means "I Must Kiss You." She's definitely one of the contestants to beat, and with good reason; given her history in Melodifestivalen, her performance is sure to be entertaining and her song should be great.

To watch: her Melodifestivalen 2005 performance of "Håll om mig."

Sources: Moopy, ESC Today (1, 2), Catchy Tunes Of Sweden, Wikipedia, SVT's Melodifestivalen site, Expressen. A huge thanks to all of these sites!