Monday, April 30, 2007



Oh no...

Grégory Lemarchal (here pictured with Lucie Silvas), one of my all-time favorite singers, a boy with amazing potential that, despite his producing some of my favorite songs ever, had not even begun to be fulfilled, has just passed away.

I knew he'd just recently had to cancel a concert on the advice of his doctors and he's always had health problems--cystic fibrosis, he's had to go into the hospital multiple times--but I'm in complete shock. This is horrible, incredibly sad news, and my best wishes of course go out to his family and friends.

I have something really huge coming up today in non-blog life and so I can't expand on this at the moment, but I promise some sort of post about him later today.

Sigh...where to even begin?

It boggles the mind that someone that full of life can just suddenly be gone...literally only two days ago he was apologizing to his fans for having to cancel a special fan appreciation concert, saying that his doctors had told him he had to take three months of rest. He'd had to take similar breaks in the past, and been rushed in for surgeries, but who could have known...

I treasure his debut album, Je deviens moi (his only studio album; he's got a live album out, too); I know I say this every time I write about him, but I cannot recommend it enough (you can buy it here). Yes, there are some covers on it, but it contains three of my favorite songs ever. Ever. On one album. A debut album. Most people will probably know him for songs like "Ecris l'histoire" and his duet with Lucie Silvas, "Même si (What You're Made Of)," both of which are lovely and show talent. However, the songs I will always associate him with go far beyond the simple loveliness of those, instead being giant sweeping epic songs in the very best pop sense. The trilogy that anyone who listens to music must have in their collection is as follows:

"Je suis en vie"

The best Eurovision song that was never even a contender. I always hoped that Gregory would enter Eurovision in the next few years, maybe even next year--with his stunning voice, predilection towards knock-you-off-your-feet songs, and good looks, he would have been a perfect candidate.

"Le feu sur les planches"

Utterly amazing--one of the brightest songs I know. Uplifting, still with that sense of epicness and sweeping, and yet intimately reassuring. Also a case of a perfectly matched video and song.

"Je t'ecris"

His masterpiece. More than six minutes long, and I wouldn't lose a single second of it. Quite possibly--in all seriousness--my favorite song ever. The first four minutes are filled with anticipation--you just know that build, that climax, is coming, and the song teases you, starting to build but then dropping back to its simple piano ballad state. That cycle repeats, leaving you never bored but so desperate for that peak you know is coming that when that sped-up piano kicks in, you're worried that the forthcoming explosion of electric guitars is going to be overshadowed by all that pent-up anticipation...and yet, somehow, it never is; the gloriousness of the song never fades, those soaring highs are just as effective at sweeping you away...and when it's over, you're left exhausted, spent, unable and unwilling to do anything other than bask in the afterglow in silence--nothing else could possibly follow it up.

This is undoubtedly a huge personal loss to those who know him; with only a few weeks until his twenty-fourth birthday, he was clearly far too young. It's also an enormous loss for music as a whole; anyone who could give stunning performances like these...

...when he was only twenty-one--he won Star Academy with more than 80% of the vote, which is incredible for any reality TV show--clearly had a bright future ahead of him in the music industry.

To one of the few popstars who could bring out the swoony fangirl side of me, certainly with his looks but more importantly with his soaring, beautiful voice: you will be missed. To his family, friends, and anyone who knew him: my deepest condolences and I wish you the best in this difficult, difficult time.

In memorial, there will be no further posts here today or tomorrow.

L'endroit où, d'un clin d'oeil, j'espère
Fuir de l'ordinaire
Fuir de l'ordinaire

Cet endroit où l'on pourrait se faire
Une vie moins ordinaire

Croire ce qu'on veut
L'existence en plein dans les yeux
Imaginer des rêves sans sommeil
Ils s'ront beaux pareil

Pour me plaire, j' saurai me faire
Moins ordinaire
Moins ordinaire

Pour nous plaire, on pourra se faire
Une vie moins ordinaire

-from "Une vie moins ordinaire," the final track on Je deviens moi

Sunday, April 29, 2007

I leave my pride, yeah, I let it slide and I let you know

Danish singer Bryan Rice seems lovely. He's also got a great "backup singer to national star" story. And, though a lot of people will brush off many of his songs as MOR and dull, I like most of them. Shayne Ward's version of "No Promises" may have improved on Bryan's original version, but the Weekend Wonderz remix of Bryan's version is so good that there's no clear winner on the "No Promises" front. "Homeless Heart," even if Amanda Stott might have done it first (I can't tell), fits Bryan perfectly, and he's got some other good songs buried on his album, something which record executives seem to recognize as they've been passed around to numerous other artists, too. It'd be lovely to see Bryan get some more international attention (though I think he's done all right in South Africa, and maybe elsewhere), but I'm worried that, if that was ever going to happen, his debut album would have been the time to do that. I'm certainly not writing off the quality of his new album yet, but I would guess that the lead single for it (and the song I'm posting today, with some reservations) has less chance of getting him that international break than several songs on his debut album.

I Lied--I've been listening to this song for a few days now and I think I know what my main issue with it is: it's a good bridge and some pretty good verses in search of a good chorus. The build-up through the verses and the bridge works really well, but the chorus just doesn't live up to the rest of the song. The end of the first chorus is even OK, when Bryan switches back to a more normal register and practically speaks that last "I lied," but for some reason, the main part of the chorus just doesn't click with me--I think it's especially true for the highest notes. Still, when the second chorus transitions into that big long note, I'm willing to buy the song. I do enjoy "I Lied"--I don't want to give the impression that I don't--but I can't help feeling that it could've been better with some change in the chorus. Still, I like most of it enough to look past that (knowing me, I'll completely love it in another week) and I'm interested to hear more from the album.

To buy Bryan Rice's new single, "I Lied," the lead single for his second album Good News (due out this fall), you can visit his website, which has a digital music store. However, it's worth noting that, unless I just haven't updated Windows Media Player or something, it's not burnable to CD. Since this is a new single, it'll only be posted for a few days.

If you're interested, you can hear another song from Darren Hayes's upcoming album, this time the non-remixed version of "Step Into The Light," on his MySpace.

Next up: I'm not sure--maybe something French.

(P.S. The most interesting description I've read of Bryan is "a mix of Gavin DeGraw, James Blunt, and Savage Garden," which I've only just heard and will have to think about some more.)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

You gotta love me, say that you need me

Poor Fabrizio Faniello. Yes, I know the line is that his live performance at this past year's Eurovision was a car-crash contest between which was worse, the styling or the vocals (though I'll have to take people's word on the vocals, as I have no ear whatsoever for such things), but he still deserved better than last place. The studio version of "I Do" was one of my favorites (and a song I still listen to now), a happy upbeat poppy (Euro-poppy, maybe) song that easily got stuck in your head and you didn't really mind having there. Anyhow, 2006 wasn't the Maltese singer's first encounter with Eurovision--back in 2001, he did much better with "Another Summer Night," sort of Latin- or Mediterranean-light and less aggressively upbeat than "I Do," taking ninth. He's also released some great non-Eurovision music over the years. I think he may be best known for "I'm In Love (The Whistle Song)," but, if you're into this sort of male-sung super-poppy songs, he's got a lot more that's worth checking out, including the following song, the single from his recently released greatest hits album.

Love Me Or Leave Me (Radio Mix)--I practically live for songs like this. It's pop of what would most likely be called the cheesy variety, and I love my cheesy pop, but I'm not really sure that this totally qualifies. Still, that phrase should give you an idea of what to expect from this song, and it won't disappoint. Definitely pure pop, utterly adorable, super-catchy--what's not to love? This won't convince any of you of its merits, but--not that I don't love other sorts of music--if this doesn't sum up my musical tastes (or at least one half of them), I don't know what does.

To buy Fabrizio Faniello's greatest hits album, Hits and Clips, go here (physical); however, you might be better off buying his music through iTunes--even the U.S. store has a good amount of his music; not his first album or his greatest hits, but it does have the "Love Me Or Leave Me" and "I Do" EPs and his second and third studio albums, among other things.

Sigh...I was hoping by now to be raving about Laakso's new album Mother, Am I Good-Looking?, but I somehow managed to mess up my address on the preorder form, so who knows when or if it will arrive. I'm very excited about it, though--"Norrköping" is easily one of the year's best songs so far and "Italy vs Helsinki" is great as well--and wanted you all to know I haven't forgotten about it.

Next up: I'm not sure--maybe that Icelandic song, or a different one.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Här står jag

Swedish singer Sonja Aldén made it to the finals of Melodifestivalen this year with her ballad "För Att Du Finns," which is, with the benefit of time and not being desperately hoping for certain songs to win, actually a quite good ballad. Previously, she'd been best known for her Melodifestivalen entry "Etymon" and for being Shirley Clamp's friend and backup singer. Her new album, Till Dig, came out this week. If you're looking for an "Att älska dig," you're not going to find it on this album. In fact, Sonja's description of "För Att Du Finns" as being like a wave washing over you could pretty much apply to the whole album. Ideally, from my perspective, there would've been some big schlager stompers, but at least so far it seems to fall into the right sort of ballads and mid-tempos; dullness could have definitely been avoided if she'd been willing to mix up the tempo a bit more, though. Basically, if you don't mind the idea of an album full of songs like "För Att Du Finns," you'd probably enjoy it, but I have a feeling it would seem boring to some people.

Här Står Jag--the album's opening song and, as my opinion stands right now, easily the best on it. It's the closest a song on the album gets to being what you could call dynamic, though it's not at all what you'd call a "stormer." It really is lovely, and one of those songs that manages to be pretty while also appealing to someone who lives for the pop hook and "pop" melody.

To buy Sonja Aldén's debut album Till Dig, go here (physical) or visit iTunes--it's available in all countries' iTunes stores, including in the U.S.. I am enjoying it (though it's too early for an overall final evaluation), but one person's sweet and soothing is another person's elevator music, so I'd really suggest listening carefully to the preview clips before you buy.

Things that make me happy: discovering Jon's second album is on the U.S. iTunes store. Strangely, it doesn't come up when you search for his name, but if you search for, say, the album title or Jessica Folcker (who guests on one of the tracks), it comes up; it can be found here.

Next up: maybe something from an Icelandic girl group.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

And it wipes away the one I've been

Swedish (born in Uruguay to Uruguayan parents, though) singer Andrés Esteche, a Fame Factory graduate, may be best known for his two Melodifestivalen entries (and maybe the song "Bad Temptation"...he apparently also had another single in 2006, "Ängel," which was in Swedish and peaked at #7). By far the better of the two was "Just Like A Boomerang," but it took fifth in its semifinal in 2003 and therefore failed to make it to the final. One year later, the not-as-good "Olé Olé" would take him to the finals and ninth place (incidentally, I like his version of "Tango Tango" more than Petra Nielsen's, which took fourth). Pandora was in newspapers just recently for her accusations of plagiarism directed at Scooch's "Flying The Flag," but let's try to forget that, as she's made some great pop--especially of the dance-pop sort--over the years. The following song finds them teaming up for something not quite from either of their respective genres, or at least the genres they're associated with.

Summer Rain--this track is the exact opposite of what I would expect a collaboration between these two artists to be like--I know Pandora from her dance tracks and Andrés from his upbeat Latin-influenced (just in case titles like "Olé Olé" hadn't given that away) entries. "Summer Rain" though, is a smooth, relatively simple mid-tempo, maybe down-tempo song; if I had to sum it up in one word, it would definitely be "chilled." Perfectly so. Even without the title, it's definitely a spring or summer song, too, although you could probably use some Hilary Duff "Come Clean"-esque imagery, where it's not winter but sort of feels like it, or maybe feels like winter is melting away, if you wanted to.

I don't actually know anywhere that is selling Andrés Esteche's debut album, Just Like A Boomerang, which has "Summer Rain," but I do know you can get it on the compilation album Fame Factory Summertour 2003, which you can buy here (physical).

Next up: Swedish singer Sonja Alden's album came out this week, so probably something from that--that was almost today's post, but I didn't want to rush writing about it. As of now, though, I wouldn't say everyone should run out and buy the whole thing.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

She's devastating, manipulating, no good

Hi all! Just something quick tonight--not a song to change the world, but still fun.

I know I've featured Jimmy Jansson a couple of times before, but I thought today I'd share one of the few English songs I know he's done. I know he's got a few English language versions of some of his songs with the group the Poets but, as far as I know, he's only recorded a couple of solo songs in English. He's Swedish and has competed in Melodifestivalen several times, most recently this year with "Amanda," a very McFly-esque song that I loved and that made it to the second chance round but no further.

Miss Julie--I'm pretty sure this is from Jimmy's younger years, and you can hear that in the sound, to some degree. Actually, come to think of it, that has to be the case, because he's pretty young in this performance of it, so I'm thinking it's from either during Fame Factory or very soon afterwards (if Jimmy's current image befuddles you a little bit, it's worth taking a look at that performance, as it shows him before his styling went overboard--he looks much more natural and it's easier to understand how he was something of a teen idol; even if you don't go that far, it's all very "aww, bless, how sweet/cute!", which I think has influenced my perception of him now). It doesn't have quite the bounce of some of his other songs, nor some of their originality (though "Amanda" bears quite a lot of McFly similarities, "Som Sommaren" and "Godmorgon Världen--or even most of the songs on his most recent album--really don't, beyond being pop with guitars) or, to be entirely honest, all of their quality (it's good, but far from his best), but it's still quite sweet pop-rock and does have the advantage of being in English. Plus, I really can't argue with any song that mentions Moulin Rouge, even if it's not the movie.

To buy the album Fame Factory Vol. 6, which has this song on it as well as others by various Fame Factory contestants, go here (physical). I'm still really enjoying Jimmy's most recent album, Sån E Jag, and he's got some good songs on previous albums, so I recommend listening to some previous clips if you think you might like to hear more from him.

Next up: I'm not sure--maybe that something Danish.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Who's gonna take my place and stand by your side?

Ahhh! Guess who's just put out the title and cover (I think) of his debut album?

In case you can't read that (sorry, biggest picture I've got at the moment), the title is Stand By For..., which I just love. The photo is, if nothing else, better than the one on the single. May 23 cannot get here soon enough.

(Edit: err, on second thought, that may be old news that I just didn't notice the first time, though I did pick up on the release date earlier...not sure how I managed to do that. Oh well--sorry about that, if that's the case. I'm still excited anyhow!)

Jag vill byta land och vara han som försvann

(Each of my posts about this artist seems to turn into a book, so I'm going to try to avoid that this time.)

Remixes of dance songs can be quite fun. Other times, a remix can totally remake a non-dance song, be it making it into something epic like the Thin White Duke Mix of "Mr. Brightside" or just cheesy fun like, say, the Almighty Mix of V's "Blood Sweat and Tears." However, there's something to be said for a remix that keeps the essence of the original song, just changing it into exactly what it should have been to begin with. Today's song is one of those last cases.

Martin Stenmarck probably needs no introduction here, given my past raving about his work, but suffice to say: Swedish singer with a brilliant debut album that should have been a classic worldwide and packed full of songs that are so perfect and so radio-friendly that they should be staples of even U.S. radio stations...such a great album that it's been pillaged numerous times, both by other artists and Martin himself for later albums. Martin beat out Nanne Grönvall in Melodifestivalen 2005 with a song not really typical of his usual style and, at Eurovision, got Sweden one of its lowest placings in a long time, which, for a country as serious about Eurovision as Sweden, is quite the crime. Last year, though, his comeback single "7milakliv" (or "Sjumilakliv"), which I think means "Seven Mile Leaps" and is roughly equivalent to the expression "Leaps and Bounds," was a huge hit and, though I wasn't over the moon about the song itself, I was rather thrilled for him--to see him make such a comeback after such a big defeat is sweet, and his first album is just so amazing that he deserves loads more success than he's had. Anyhow, though I thought the original version of "7milakliv" was all right, there's a remix of it that vastly improves on it.

7milakliv--the original version, included mainly for comparison purposes. A rocky piano sort-of-ballad thing that gives way into a big chorus, complete with backing vocals that just make it seem all that much closer to epic.

7milakliv (Bassflow Remix)--forget the original--this is what it should have sounded like; this remix is glorious, making the song positively anthemic. It's faster, shorter, more energetic, and basically better in every way. That climax around 2:48 (including the build-up beforehand and the continuation afterwards) is just amazing--all that overdone emotion of the original is finally put to good use as an explosion of drama and light. There's one beat I wish we could take out--a periodic, almost heartbeat-like beat, but less regular--but otherwise, this is the song that should've been all over Swedish radios--and in some cases, it was.

You can buy Martin Stenmarck's third album, 9 Sanningar Och En Lögn, here (physical); "Han är galen" from it is pretty fun. The album I really recommend getting, though, is his debut album One, which is in English, if that makes any difference, and excellent; it shares a spot with about two other albums in my trinity of music used to explain to people why I have to listen to music not big in the U.S. Call it rock if you will, but it's smoother and got better melodies and more hooks than most "this is definitely pop" music out there; "Frozen In My Heart" isn't even that far from being a boy band song. The album isn't necessarily one I would call pop-rock, but it is some fusion of rock and pop, if that makes sense.

Next up: maybe someone Danish.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Second thoughts on you at night

Random thoughts late on a Monday night:
  • My Internet connection is awful right now. It's been steadily deteriorating, but it's now it's practically to the point of unusuability--I don't dare (legally) download an album, for fear it stops midway through and lose my money (or have to go through the hassle of writing to the service). Also among the casualties is anything from LiveJournal, meaning I can't read CFB Goes Pop at the moment. My "real" e-mail has become just about useless, too...
  • ...of course, having to refresh pages three times before they properly load somehow hasn't cut down on my blog reading. I'm rather loving this blog at the moment, which, along with featuring Take That's Beautiful World, the Feeling, Fountains of Wayne, his top 10 soundtracks (Quantum Leap reference! Star Trek reference!! [Can we tell what kind of house I grew up in? Just be glad I didn't dedicate a whole post to the fact that Xena was releasing a single]), and very good writing, has a problem with far too many CDs that I can imagine myself relating to all too easily in a few years. It's also got me considering buying something by Australian singer Eran James...
  • ...and speaking of blogs, Nordic Noise has me strongly considering buying an Espen Lind album (or albums). I only know "When Susannah Cries" and his duet with Sissel, "Where The Lost Ones Go" (the former being what he's mainly known for, but I strongly recommend getting the latter, too--it's even available on US iTunes--as it's gorgeous; Sissel's voice just soars and Espen's is perfect), but I have a suspicion I'd really like--probably love--his work. Maybe Red and This Is Pop Music?
  • Danish singer Bryan Rice's (original singer of "No Promises" and whose songs have been recycled a ridiculous number of times, as I ranted about at A Kind Of Love In for a while) new single "I Lied" is out now/Wednesday, depending on where you're shopping; if you liked his past style, you'll probably like this new one--ballad that's not quite "big" but getting there ("if you doubt what you did was right, you should know [crescendo into the chorus] that I liii-IIIiii-iied when I said I'm over and done with you"--despite that line, I think it's supposed to be about how broken up his after a break-up, or else it makes no sense), some high notes in the chorus. You can listen to what I'm guessing is about half of it on his MySpace; at first listen, not his best work, but good. His new album, Good News, is out this fall. Fact I still can't believe is true: the title track of his debut album Confessions was originally meant for Britney Spears. Of course, there are probably loads of songs you could say that about. I guess I can sort of see it.
  • Songs I like, courtesy of Popjustice (or rather, the people over there): Christophe Willem's "Double Je" (technically the remix of it, but it's the version being marketed), a great poppy song with electro (I guess) influences. "Kiss The Bride," an English song, sounds good from the preview clip, too. I love the fact that he won France's version of Pop Idol--he would never have stood a chance of being any more than a joke here; in France, he wins and goes on to release an excellent pop song. Also good is Sofia Zida's "Disco Mamazida," Finnish dance-pop that should hook you in from the moment you hear that beat. "Money (Greedy Honey)" from her album is also worth a listen.
  • Brilliant interview with Dan from the Feeling over at Chart Rigger--I completely blame the blog world for making me read Dan Gillespie (Sex) Sells every time I see his name, whether or not it actually says that, though.
  • Dutch group XYP prove they have much better songs than "Body to Body" over at Don't Stop The Pop. "Blue Day" reminds me of something the Brady Bunch or Partridge Family would sing today if they had good pop producers, and that's a very good thing. It makes me want to crowd into a Little Miss Sunshine-esque van with my family and sway back and forth singing it.

But the vision of your face will haunt me every day

I'm still not over the loss of my favorite digital music store, even more so because they're literally the only place I know selling one of my favorite songs of the moment, a song I'd love to have in high quality but instead am having to make do with a low quality version. Frustrating. I'll stop complaining eventually, though, I promise. (I feel slightly hypocritical--I mean, if I had purchased the high quality version, wouldn't I be posting it here and therefore defeating the purpose of people being able to purchase it? But I buy far more than I post, and this song has made me wonder why on Earth I only bought some of this artist's songs in the past--if I could, I'd easily go back and complete his previous albums.)

As for the song itself, people may remember the Jon vs. Musikk remix of Jon's song "Every Girl I've Ever Wanted," one of my favorite "songs of summer" in 2006; I posted it back in July, I think. However, credit really must go to Don't Stop The Pop for featuring Jon back in its Danish special--I've been hooked ever since then. I was messing around the other day when I noticed what seems to be a documentary about Jon and his rise to fame has been recently released (or will be soon--I need to learn Danish--it seems to be getting really good reviews, though)...and poor Jon--it doesn't look very happy. Even the promotional image for this single (Jon's in the middle) doesn't have him looking very happy! Which sort of fits with the song, I suppose, and with the billing (via the documentary) of him as "Denmark's most controversial man" (at least, I think that's what it says; it could be talking about the director for all I can tell). Anyhow, Jon was on the show Popstars and is now on his second album, which he's been releasing songs off of for quite some time; in fact, even the current single is from it, though I think the emphasis may be going to a new remix of it--which is the song I'm posting. The remix, as mentioned, reunites Jon with the two guys of dance and remix group Musikk.

Falling--as mentioned, the audio quality here is subpar, and I apologize for that. The original version of this song is a simple ballad, which you'd probably be able to guess from the remix. While the Jon vs Musikk version of "Every Girl I've Ever Wanted" took the original and made it even more upbeat and very beach-worthy, their reworking of "Falling" keeps the emotion of the original; in fact, I'd say it plays up the emotion even more, making it even sadder despite placing it over more danceable beats. While the original is more down-tempo, it takes the subject of the song--best summed up through "I only want you to be falling for me as I'm falling for you"--almost as a fact, or maybe...hmm...I guess the original is like something in movies, where the boy serenades the girl and you just know they're going to end up together, even though the song itself isn't necessarily brimming with confidence; there's a quiet strength to it. In contrast, though this remix has peaks with more hope, the very fact that there has to be hope means that it's no sure thing that the subject will fall for him. The vocals have either been slowed down or just seem slower when juxtaposed with the faster beats underneath them, but either way the sense of longing is emphasized. For all this rambling, though, it's a very simple song, which makes its appeal all that much stronger.

As I've said, I know of no place you can buy this song, either as a real physical single or digital version, but if someone knows where you can, please let me know.

Next up: possibly something Swedish.

(Edit: ooo! IMDb, which of course could be completely wrong, says that the documentary, Solo, is going to be released in Australia this September--if that's true, then there must be going to be an English version, right? If so--or even if I know there's a version with English subtitles--I'm going to track it down, if it comes out on DVD--the film looks really interesting, even if you don't know or care about Jon in particular. Given my interest in contestants off of reality TV singing shows, I think it'd be an especially good watch.)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Remember the way you told me someday, sometime

Janne Saar, or just Janne, is an Estonian singer who used to be part of the girl group Nexus. In 2006, the group split up and she went solo, releasing what I think is her debut single, "Millist armastust," a pleasant enough mid-tempo, kind of ballad song that, as you'd probably guess from the title, was in Estonian. She must've become tired with that direction, though, because what I think is her second single sounds nothing like what I think is her first. Then again, the songs of hers I've heard are somewhat schizophrenic. Her MySpace is sort of hilarious--it features blogs with declarations like "YOUR LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ...your gift!" and "I have my own music style - SpaceBeat. It consists of space & beat:)" [sic], liberal use of exclamation marks, a good dash of glitter, photos with captions like the one of her half-clothed on a beach lounging on a boat that's labeled "Can I take ur boat?", and a misspelling of "Señorita" that makes me wonder if she's been working with whoever wrote Sofia Zida's "Disco Mamazida." She seems sweet, though.

Shiny Lights--to begin with, this song is in English. Less superficially, though, it's in a very different style than "Millist armastust," being more on the dance-pop side. It can seem a little cheap at times and it's definitely repetitive, but it's catchy and fun. The rarely-occurring male voice in the background is a nice touch, too. Basically, if the idea of a blonde girl with giant popstar sunglasses standing amongst a bunch of shiny disco-esque lights repeatedly singing "ooo shiny lights yeah" over a dance backing sounds appealing to you, you'll probably like this song.

Remember--this is pretty much ripping off Kylie Minogue's "Love At First Sight," right? Well, at least she's chosen a brilliant song to rip off. Of course it's not as good, but it is still pretty enjoyable. The chorus, sparse as the main vocal melody is--and I sometimes think it would've been better to give us something more fully-developed there, with a real hook--feels a little overcrowded at moments, as if they should've just taken out one of the elements (there's a specific beat that it could do without). That's being picky, though.

"Remember" isn't out yet, but presumably it will be on her debut album, due out sometime this year; you can, however, purchase Janne's single "Shiny Lights" here (physical).

I've been meaning to mention this for the past few days, but I have an awful memory: Digital Technique is back! It has a new location--The Digital Technique--and it's as great (or better) as it always was. I very much like the Tiesto and Christian Burns (formerly of BBMak) song.

Next up: maybe something Swedish.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

It's driving me crazy trying to second-guess you

Sigh...I had heard clips and a live performance of Dean's (previous posts here and here; he's a born-in-South-Africa, now-Australia-residing, former-Idol-contestant singer) lead single "If You Don't Mean It" and I was prepared to be totally scathing about it, or at least brush it off, point out that even Millsy managed to get someone to give him a better lead single (I do very much like "Miss Vanity," I have to admit)...but, after hearing the whole studio version, I can't. I like it. There are so many reasons I shouldn't, and a lot of people won't--heck, it's pratically only a shouty voice away from being a Daughtry song, you wouldn't be surprised to hear him say in an interview that he grew up listening to Bon Jovi and the Goo Goo Dolls (I do like some songs by those groups, though), and I imagine many people are going to be using the words "dull" and "generic"--but I do. I do have to throw in a comment about his official website, though: while no one could be bothered to put anything in the "Music" section--it says "Coming Soon"--or even mention the single's release date on the front page of the news section (you have to go into "read more"), the "Photos" section is already up and running. Does that say something about the behind-the-scenes thought processes about his music career?

(Edit: sigh again...please ignore any snarkiness! Not the sort of thing I like to do, and it's undeserved, but I'm too tired at the moment to go back and edit things. Basically, good song...and that's all that matters.)

If You Don't Mean It--I don't really know how to describe this's one of those sort of ballads, sort of mid-tempo pop-rock songs, but not pop-rock from the fun Busted and McFly schools. We're getting dangerously close to the whole earnest boy with guitar phenomenon that I'm not so fond of and yet this song works for me. Dean does have a good voice, at least in studio, for songs of this style--I'm not actually talking about reality or technique here, but the way it sounds is smooth and strong, which I think helps this song manage to balance precariously in the acceptable middle ground of this sort of music, with shouty gruff voices (say, Nickelback) on one side and that kind of whispering, intimate voice (say, John Mayer) on the other--by avoiding either of those dangerous styles, Dean's able to get away with a song that could easily be reworked into something I'd have no patience for whatsoever. It doesn't have the sense of fun that something like "Addicted To You" or even "Elevator Love" had, but I guess every now and then you just need a little earnest pop-rock balladeering.

Supposedly the single is out May 5, but I don't know if you can preorder it anywhere yet; however, when it is out, you'll be able to buy it from here (physical). This song will only be up for download for a few days, since the single's not actually out yet.

WAIT! Stop the presses! I was just about to publish this post when I found out one (there are many) of the people he'd worked with on the album: Daniel Jones out of Savage Garden! Suddenly, my interest in the album has just increased an awful lot, even if in all likelihood it was just on one song or something. Dean then went on--and keep in mind, earlier in the interview, he'd said he grew up listening to Bon Jovi and the Goo Goo Dolls--to list other people he'd worked with, and the examples of the acts they'd worked with included the Veronicas, Nick Lachey, Jessica Simpson, and the Backstreet Boys. Do we have a closet pop fan on our hands? They ask him what the album is like, and he says "It's pop"--but then, after a beat, rushes to follow that up with "rock-pop" and "with an edge," but I think he's less "edgy" than his image...not that that will necessarily manifest itself in the music, but it's worth checking out, anyway. And! And! And! "If You Don't Mean It" is, according to Dean, written by a Swedish writer who's name he can't remember...I could start throwing out some guesses, but I won't, in case I'm wrong; I'll just say that suddenly my enjoyment of this song may be starting to make a lot more sense. I'd bet we'll be seeing a familiar name in the writing credits for this song.

Next up: I'm not sure...possibly something teen pop-ish.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Hold tight, we're in this together

If, like me, you couldn't go to Popjustice Live, you missed the first performance of BWO's new single "Save My Pride," a reworking of an Alcazar song. However, ESC Today was good enough to record the performance and upload it to YouTube--and it's actually a good recording.

There's a lot of things I could say, but, among them, is the fact that this video makes me realize just how much I love Martin's singing voice--it really is perfect for pop. Also, I need to see them live.

Edit: oops--I forgot to mention that you can watch videos of the rest of their performance here, as well as an interview with them in which they refer repeatedly to the possibility of them representing Poland at Eurovision and say that "Chariots of Fire" was inspired by "Like a Prayer"--or rather, after someone said that Madonna's "Hung Up" was using the idea of Alcazar's "Crying at the Discoteque," they decided to "steal" from Madonna.

Regalarte las estrellas en una caja de cristal

Shock: a recent iTunes free download is actually quite good. I've never been one of those people who leaves angry messages about how awful all the free songs are, but there's a difference between "this doesn't sound bad so I might as well et it" and "this is going straight on my iPod." Most of the good free songs that I can remember have been ones I've already known, things like Robbie William's "Kiss Me," but I'd never heard of Jesse & Joy before. They're a brother and sister duo (Joy does the lead vocals) from Mexico who apparently released this song in 2006; they've got an album out as well, which I'm very tempted to buy, given how much I like this song.

Espacio Sideral--do not be turned off by those opening acoustic strums--this is not that sort of dull singer-songwriter sound. Yes, it does use an acoustic guitar, but it's got a very cute pop melody that gets fuller and fuller as it goes along; you'll begin to hear that around the :40 mark and, by around 1:20, the song hits its true sunshiney, catchy cheeriness, which only grows as the song proceeds; the run-through of the chorus that final time is just about as good as pop gets. Sort of bouncey and definitely smile-inducing, it's also thrown in backing "ooo-ooo-ooo"'s for good measure--how can you argue with that? I really love it.

To buy Jesse & Joy's debut album Esta es mi vida, go here (physical) or here (digital); it's also available in all iTunes stores.

Next up: maybe something Icelandic or Russian.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Now I only wish I never met you

So, this news is rather old, but I just saw the video (it's about the song, though, not the video)--it's Jessica Folcker's new single, "Snowflakes"!

It's not exactly the type of song that screams #1 hit (for style reasons, not because of quality), but I really like it; I think I may love "Desperately" on her MySpace even more, though, and "Spell I'm Under," which you can no longer listen to, is also great. Really, all the songs she's put up have been good. I just love her "About Me," section, too:

"The above tracks are taken from my first English speaking record since 2001. I'm working on it at the moment here at Cosmos Studios in Stockholm and it will be finished within the next few months. Musically I guess I've taken a few steps to the left this time, even though I’m still the same sucker for pop as I've always been. Me: the eternal pop bitch, ha-ha...

"But this time it’s personal...very personal.

"My desire is that people will feel touched by the new vibe on this album. Pretentious? Oh, I really hope not! I'm still the same...still LOVING that eighties pop, which sometimes is a bit saccharine and glossy. But there’s nothing wrong with pop music that wants to be FELT. Good pop should ALWAYS make you feel something…whether it's in your heart, in your hips or between your legs ;-)

"Now I just wanna get out there, play live and get people dancing..."

The album, Skin Close, will be released on an independent label in late May 2007 and is described by her label as "spiked with 80s and electro-pop flavors." It's looking to be a very expensive late spring/summer, at this rate.

Edit: clearly I was a little out of it last night--I meant to give credit to this lovely forum for alerting me to the existence of her MySpace.

You got me on my knees

The Click Five have an announcement on their MySpace page stating that their new singer's name is Kyle (last name Patrick, or so the goes the official line). Possibly more excitingly, they've given us the name of their new album, due out June 26:

Modern Minds and Pastimes

Oooo...I like it! I'd like it more if it was an actual rhyme as opposed to trying to use the same word to "rhyme" with itself, but it rolls off the tongue quite nicely.

They've also got a new picture up:

Well, it's mildly better than the last set. Someone needs to teach Kyle what artfully tousled hair is supposed to look like, though.

She bought a ticket from a dot com airline

(Picture from BopPop.)

I can't believe I didn't mention this earlier in the week, but Matt Willis's briliant cover of the Primitives's song "Crash" is out this week, and it's very much worth buying--you can get a physical copy of it from here and buy it digitally here. Keeping up an apparent tradition, then, in addition to hoping and asking that people buy the single, I actually have to post a Matt Willis song. I suspect many people who have any interest in the album already have it and I've posted a lot of b-sides in the past. What does that leave? One of those old leaked demos.

Goodbye Lucy--in terms of production and fullness of sound, it's probably important to remember this is a demo. I'll add a lot of caveats--"Up All Night" this is not, but then, most songs aren't as good as "Up All Night" (the world would be a much better place if they were). Still, if you're looking for fun pop-rock, you could do worse than this. It's not the sort of rocky anthem that "Up All Night" or "Rock Ya" was and it's a little more down than "Hey Kid and not as fast and fun as "Get Bored" or "Ex-Girlfriend," but it manages to find a sort of middle ground between the album's ballads and those aforementioned upbeat songs--still mid- to up-tempo, but somewhat sadder. Maybe the best way to put it is it's not the sort of song that'll have you bouncing around the room, jumping on beds and making lots of dramatic gestures. It'd still probably be appropriate for hairbrush singing, though.

You can't buy "Goodbye Lucy" anywhere, but you can buy poor Matt Willis's new single "Crash" here (physical) or here (digital). The physical copy includes the b-side "Power Of Love," which is, yes, another cover, but really, how can you go wrong with anything associated with Back to the Future?

Next up: maybe that Mexican song I've been mentioning for forever.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Haruah teshane at kivana

Do you ever see someone and then think "gosh, I hope he/she has good music"? That's how I was with Harel Skaat, an Israeli singer off an Idol-like show; he took second in its second season. From snippets I'd heard of his music, I was initially worried, as it seemed to all be ballads that just dragged...but you know what? After actually having heard the album and the songs all the way through, it's not bad! I'm enjoying it a lot--it's very pretty in a melodic, flowing sort of way. Hebrew is a very easy language to listen to, too. I am convinced that he should represent Israel at Eurovision at some point in the future. There's definitely been talk about it in the past, and the second place contestant from the first season of the show, Shiri Maimon, did go on to be in Eurovision, so maybe it'll happen.

The Wind Is Changing Its Direction--or maybe "The Spirit Will Change Her." Or, transliterated, "Haruah Teshane At Kivana" or "Haruah Teshane Et Kivuna" or something along those lines--I really don't know; "הרוח תשנה את כיוונה" in Hebrew (I think). Seeing the English title, I was initially sort of hoping this would be a cover of Fame's song "Vindarna Vänder Oss," though I knew that was unlikely, since the English translation of that isn't all that different. It isn't, but the song is still very good, though in a decidedly different manner from the Fame song. This is one of the more uptempo songs on the album, but the vocal melody is more sweeping, bigger, with more of that sense of flow I mentioned. Though I love the Fame song, I wouldn't call it lovely, but that is an adjective that I'd apply to this song. The first thirty seconds are deceptive, as they don't indicate the real beat of the song--you'll start to get a feel for that around thirty seconds in, when more instruments join in, and a little after one minute in, where what you'd probably consider the real beat enters. It's the chorus that really draws you in, though, and the further and further you go into the song, the more that chorus is played with and the better it gets. The last forty seconds remind me of my favorite parts of Grégory Lemarchal songs--I think it's that certain type of guitar riff or effect that just sounds, for lack of a better word, bright. "The Wind Is Changing Its Direction" could quite easily be made into a Eurovision-friendly song--make that beat a little stronger, speed the song up a little more--but even if Eurovision songs usually feel too put on, too classless to you, take a listen to this; it's upbeat in a wonderfully pretty, almost inspirational sort of way.

This review doesn't think the song should've been included on the album, as it "undercuts the unique aspects of Skaat's talent," but I couldn't disagree more. Just because you can sing ballads doesn't mean that's all you should sing, and really, this song isn't that far away from the rest of the album; I'd argue it's an interesting mix of that sweeping vocal melody with the upbeat backing music that gives the album a much needed burst of energy just when it needs it.

In "oh, that's helpful" fashion, I don't really know where you can buy Harel Skaat's self-titled debut album; there are several places that are selling it, but I've never used them before and can't vouch for them. I think this store is reputable, though. It's worth noting that I think he's probably best known for his ballads--"Ve'at" is the song most people know him for--but he can do mid-tempo and up-tempo songs just as well, too.

Next up: something quick, probably, but maybe something from Russia the day after that.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

You say we all want the same thing

Do you ever wonder how much what artists do outside of their own music should influence your opinion of their music?

It's not an issue I've really had to face yet--I mean, sure, you could argue that Charlotte Church's attitude on her show means I should like "Moodswings" less, but what she's said is really nothing, in the scheme of things. Most of the artists I listen to aren't known for their politics in either direction (and in the rare cases I do know their beliefs, there's been nothing I significantly disagree with), so I've managed to pretty much avoid this dilemma until now.

I've always tried to keep this blog separate from politics and from news, unless it's music-related, and, to whatever extent I can, I'm going to continue to try to do so. The issue at hand isn't one I imagine anyone reading this blog would be likely to hold close to their hearts, so perhaps that's why I'm about to do the following; more likely, though, is that I need a forum to work this out, and a blog provides that.

The story: I heard a song by a South African boy band. Liked it. Sure, you could call it MOR, compare it to Westlife, but I thought it was quite sweet--there were these little "don't know" backing vocals at the end of the chorus that I keyed in on and enjoyed.

A few days later, I found out about Bok van Blerk. If you just want a quick summary of the controversy surrounding him, Wikipedia is a good place to start, or, for more detail and an official source, you could read the New York Times article about him. In short, Bok is an Afrikaaner singer whose song "De La Rey" has become a flashpoint for the issue of Afrikaaner identity in South Africa. The song itself is about Afrikaaner general Koos de la Rey, a figure from the Boer Wars who fought against the British and is a symbol of Afrikaner nationalism. As I said, I want to keep this blog out of politics as much as possible, but I think the best and quickest way to sum up the reason such Afrikaaner nationalism causes concern is this: Afrikaaners are an ethnic group (or a nation, take your pick), and there are many groups in South Africa--it is, after all, the "rainbow nation"--but, as a result of South Africa's history, does Afrikaaner nationality carry particular connotations or particular dangers that make the assertion of it something more worrisome or problematic than the assertion of, say, Xhosa or Zulu identity? Or are they just a group worried about the erosion of their identity and so with every right to use the symbols and language they identify with, who, because of those historical connotations which are from the past--not now--are having their own right to a group identity threatened, and are consequently being marginalized? Even after that, the song itself has been questioned--is it just historical? A sort of reflection of youthful disenfranchisement and the desire for direction? Or a call for Afrikaaner revolution? What does it mean if you're of African background, or if you're of British background?

At the very least, whether or not one views the song "De La Rey" as acceptable, it has led to some less-than-desirable reactions by some people (extremists, if you want), including people flying the old (pre-end of apartheid) South African flag, and the song has indisputably led to a huge number of debates in South Africa.

What does all this have to do with the South African boy band I mentioned? Well, one of its members co-wrote "De La Rey." With that in mind, and how that in all likelihood reflects that particular member's beliefs and possibly the group's as a whole, does that or should that change my reaction to their music--or rather, the one song of theirs I know...which, it's worth noting, is in English; if I heard more of their music, much of which is in Afrikaans, and understood it, that might change my perceptions, too. Actually having more background about the group itself would certainly do so, as I have no idea what they're like or what reputation they have, though I'm worried now about some of the possible hints I've dug up.

One sweet little MOR ballad now carries all this weight. Can it hold up under that? Should it? I have no idea. To be honest, it's colored my perception of the song, of the group as a whole, and it's without doubt uncomfortable to listen to the song now (the boy band's song; I don't own "De La Rey"). I feel I'm in an especially bad position, though--I've only got small snippets of information, making it impossible for me to really reach an accurate conclusion about what "De La Rey" means and what this group is like. Then again, if even the people of South Africa can't reach a consensus about what "De La Rey" means, how am I, an American operating both on little information and a lack of context, not actually being there, supposed to know what it means and what its implications are? And yet, I feel like I have to--ultimately, it's my decision as to whether or not to listen to it, and at this point, a decision either way means something. What does it mean that I still listen to it, though less often, but do so uncomfortably? Is that hypocrisy? Compartmentalization? Or simply trying to stay in the middle ground and remain ambivalent instead of actually reaching a real conclusion?

The song in question is below; it's off of boy band Eden's self-titled and most recent album, which has sold platinum and won a South African Music Award for best pop album in Afrikaans (though the song I'm posting, as well as several others on the album, are in English).

Running Away

To buy Eden's album Eden, go here (physical). In a move that I'm quite sure is designed to capitalize on whatever press he may be getting, Bok van Blerk's record company has made his album available on the U.S. iTunes (on a lighter note, I'm amused that the album containing such a controversial song also contains songs with names like "Girls in Bikinis," "68 Chevy," and "Vodka en O.J."); however, if you want to see what the debate is about, you can just watch the video on YouTube. It is in Afrikaans, though, but some of the imagery and sound effects are worth noting. Edit: link updated to a version that has English subtitles.

(Random: their previous album, The Point Of No Return, included a cover of Nick Carter's "I Got You.")

(Preemptively, before anyone might ask, I’ve not bought a Carola album—yet.)

Next up: maybe music from Israel.

Monday, April 16, 2007

It's killing me

Oh my...

So, you know, I get that the Click Five don't want to do the whole scrubbed-up-in-suits thing anymore, and I'm fine with that. The suits were nice, but they still looked pretty good in their "Catch Your Wave" video even when they weren't wearing them. However... have got to be kidding me. If I saw a group of people looking like this, I'd be afraid they were going to mug me. I think they may have gone a little too far in the opposite direction.

Maybe they're being ironic?

Let's look at some of the transformations.

I swear Ethan was good looking--arguably the best looking, at least second best--when I saw them live.

And Ben didn't look that bad either.

Joe used to be at least half-decently styled.

I guess if nothing else this video makes it clear that the obvious "look, it's the nice-looking one" role is falling to Joey, since the rest of them look like they need to be sent to prison or THROWN INTO A SHOWER and given a few hours to sober up or come down. His shirt is reminding me of Patrick Wolf, though.

Image of course is not everything, nor even really that important, but I can't help but be a little disturbed by all this.

(Incidentally, I didn't blur out the fifth person--they did that in the video, even bleeping his name out when Ben said it, because for some reason they persist in this whole "guess the singer" thing even though anyone who could possibly care or who visits their site at all and so would see this video knows that it's Kyle.)

I can't control it, I can't refuse it

You all are going to think I'm crazy, but...

I love this.

I was getting ready to complain about Danny K winning best English pop album at the South African Music Awards this weekend, as his third album, This Is My Time, is 1.) clearly not a pop album--definitely R&B, 2.) doesn't even sound that good, from the clips I've heard (and Boris did the whole "let's rework that Terri Walker song" thing last year, too, and better) when I got distracted...first, I may even end up buying his debut album, as "You Don't Know My Name" sounds like it might be OK, but more importantly, his 2004 collaboration album with kwaito star Mandoza, Same Difference, sounds brilliant. You can listen to clips from it here, but you'll probably want to open that link in a new window.

I just bought it; it'll take some weeks to get here, but you'll definitely see Mandoza and Danny K cropping up here again. I think I may have found my summer album.

(Why is it I think of Ben Stiller when I see Danny K in that video? Whatever, the song is still great.)

My fever is only getting stronger

Grrr...I'm pretty frustrated at the moment, seeing as my favorite music purchasing site has decided it's no longer going to accept U.S. credit cards. I'm going through withdrawals already. It's put me in a somewhat of a mood, to be honest, so the following post will be about Velvet. Yes, I know she's very well-known already, and I'll try to do someone more obscure tomorrow, but something easy, fun, and upbeat is really what appeals to me the most right now.

(You know what the easy solution would be? Just move somewhere in Europe. Anywhere, really, but probably Sweden. Sigh.)

Velvet, by way of a quick background, is a Swedish singer, actually named Jenny Pettersson. Like lots of other great Swedish artists, she's competed in Melodifestivalen before. She's on her fourth single at the moment, and I presume it must be the lead single for a new album; she's released one album so far, and it peaked at #46, despite having some great dance-pop songs on it (then again, all her singles have gone top 10).

Fix Me--Velvet's most recent single (possibly her best--the only other real competition would be "Mi Amore"), and a really great dance-pop song. If you know "Mi Amore," her Melodifestivalen song, it's more dance than that, though that makes sense; dance music doesn't seem to do too well in Melodifestivalen (poor Therese and the Attic). There's no need to analyze this song--just listen to it and smile. Maybe dance. And enjoy it.

Fix Me (DiscoDisco Version)--just for kicks, here's a remix of it. Eight minutes long, heavier beats, but good if you're into club music. To be honest, the original is so good that I rarely listen to this, but if you want to put on a nice long song while you're doing something else, this is a good choice.

To buy Velvet's single "Fix Me," go here (physical).

Edit: oops--I forgot to mention a couple of things.

Jim Verraros has two new songs on his MySpace. "Dirty Criminal," which isn't new, was one of my favorite guitarry (ish)-pop songs for a while, so it's definitely worth a listen if you haven't heard it yet (actually, it's not really that guitarry at all, but I always think of it as being so, maybe just in contrast to some of his other work.)

Last night, at a live performance, Magnus Carlsson debuted a new song from his upcoming album, "Waves Of Love." I'm not sure if it's the new single--they might just have been testing it. Magnus said the album is supposed to come out before summer and should be a mix of or be in between Alcazar and Barbados (he's working with the people that produced Alcazar's albums, apparently), with '70's and '80's influence. If you can read Swedish, check out his official site and an article in QX for details.

Next up: maybe that Mexican song. Or something French. Or South African.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

You notice she's looking through you at herself in the mirror

(A note: I do try to keep some standards here, but when the best photos--by a long shot--of him happen to be shirtless, what am I supposed to do? Plus, 90% of his promo shots seem to be topless anyway.)

Most of my extremely minimal knowledge about Greek music is on the severely cheesy side, so I'm really enjoying the more sophisticated music PopMusicWorldWide posts. In the meantime, though, here's some of that cheesy stuff.

Sakis Rouvas is probably best known outside of Greece for his Eurovision connections, taking third in 2004 and co-hosting the contest in 2006, but inside of Greece, he's been popular since his debut album back in 1991. I never quite got his Eurovision song "Shake It"--it wasn't bad, but, especially on the first listen, it didn't quite pop for me like it should have (it really only comes alive with the performance); I mean, anything people compare to a Ricky Martin castoff (whether or not it actually sounds like that) should be right up my alley. However, a little investigation revealed he has some songs that I like a lot more. I thought the best thing to do for today would be to stick to English language songs, as those are probably most accessible to people, but maybe we'll get into some of his Greek (and arguably more sophisticated) songs in the future.

Disco Girl--there is a Greek version of this, too, which you can hear in the super cheesy video (what exactly happens at the end?). It should probably trouble me more than it does that my favorite part of this song is the backing vocals' melody. Really, though, you throw "disco" in the title of a modern pop song and you've already got a good chance I'll like it...and I do really like this song, even if it feels like . However, it's calling out for a remix to make it even cheesier and dancier (it has been remixed, but not in the way I'd like yet, or at least that I've heard; most don't play with the vocals enough).

To buy Sakis Rouvas's album Ola Kala, go here (physical) or here (digital). If you're looking for more English songs by him, it's got two others: "Ola Kala" (more danceable stuff and possibly the subject of a future post, if only so I can write about the video) and "The Light" (a surprisingly good if rough around the edges ballad, and maybe also in a future post).

Next up: possibly something Swedish.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Everybody's dancing on the disco floor

Blog links! I forgot to mention these in the last post, so I'll do it now, though I know when you list a bunch of links at once, people are less likely to visit them.

So many blogs I love seem to be disappearing, which makes it all the more exciting when the opposite happens--both Poptext and Popsound have come back! Poptext specializes in an incredibly vivid writing style and Popsound features loads of pop artists you've probably never heard of before. I was reading Popsound back before I probably even knew what Melodifestivalen was, or at least before I cared about it, as my first introduction to Fame's "Vindarna Vander Oss" was actually through a cover of it posted on that site--and am so glad to see it back. It's currently featuring several Dutch artists, including a great super poppy song by Chipz--as the song says, "Chipz goes disco!"

If you're into Eurovision, Londonboy79 is a must-read--really funny--and it's not just Eurovision, either; the blog has already written about that UK TV show about Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Or you could just go for the pictures of Dima Koldun (though he's not to my taste).

I love the analysis of spam messages going on over at My Citrus Sarcophagus, and the "Chalk and Cheese" features (I don't know why everyone on American Idol acted so confused when Simon used that phrase--the first time I'd heard it, I thought it was pretty self-explanatory), where two seemingly incredibly different artists are compared, are always interesting.

Nordic Noise loves its female singer-songwriters and loves its Nordic pop; check it out if you'd like to hear some more sophisticated forms of pop from countries like Iceland, Norway, and Finland.

Let's say a prayer that I'll be in your hearts forever

Let me preface this by saying that other better blogs, including Dirrrty Pop and Poplicious, have written about Silvia Night this week; it really was just coincidence, as I bought her album just recently--Tonlist has been advertising her new single for a while now, so I finally cracked and got the album--and had been planning to write about it, too.

In regards to background, if you follow Eurovision, you probably already know who Silvia Night is; she was Iceland's entry last year, and a pretty divisive entry, too. Silvia wasn't a real person, but rather a character played by an actress (sort of like Ali G), but her antics still managed to upset some people. Her song, "Congratulations," which included a phone call to God ("Hello, is it God? What's up, dog?"), didn't make it beyond the semifinals, which of course led to even more over-the-top behavior.

The Gospel Of Silvia Night--this is easily my favorite song on the album right now. The last two minutes, where it goes all pseudo-magnificent and even starts to actually sound gospel, are great. Appropriately, it essentially closes out the album, save for "Congratulations," which one could probably sort of view as a bonus track. Think of the mood of "Congratulations"--self-congratulatory, speaking down to the "little people" below--and you'll essentially get the tone of this song, though in this case it's about Silvia leaving instead of saving Eurovision.

To buy Silvia Night's album Goldmine, go here (digital), but you'll have to deal with super-strict DRM.

Next up: I'm not sure...maybe something from Finland.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Que je retrouve le prix de la vie...enfin!

I don't expect this is a post that will interest anyone except me, but I just love this performance, so I have to share. Consider this day four of Grégory Lemarchal Appreciation (parts one, two, and three). If this is the first time you've heard of him, I suggest reading those posts first and grabbing the three songs by him that everyone absolutely must own: "Je suis en vie," "Le feu sur les planches," and "Je t'ecris."

L'envie (Live)

The key word for that performance would be "intensity," I think. I know if anything it may have made you wonder who the girl is--her name is Hoda and she, too, was on Star Academy (that's what this video is from; it's a cover). As far as I know, she's only released one single so far.

A lot of the credit for this performance goes to the lighting and arrangement of the music; I adore the moment when the electric guitars really kick in and the tempo picks up (and the use of those strong electric guitars without it ever seeming like a rock song foreshadows some of what we would eventually see on Grégory's album) as they circle each other. It's true that Grégory's probably supposed to actually complete that one note, but overall, I think it's a brilliant performance by the two of them. As usual, I can't speak for vocal qualities or subtleties, as I'm a horrible judge of that, but I really like it. Especially that ending pose.

You can buy his debut album, Je deviens moi, here (physical).

By the way, I'm still backing Grégory to compete in Eurovision someday (and I still say even ripping off "Je suis en vie"--maybe amping it up even a little more, and condensing it to three minutes--could work); maybe not quite yet, but in some years (not too many, though).

He's just such an adorable little popstar--take the following video. I don't speak any French whatsoever, but it's still...what? Cute? Endearing? Funny? Some combination, I think.

(And don't think this is the end of Grégory Lemarchal Appreciation! I've been toying with buying his live album for a while now, even if for no other reason that to get the few covers he did that I don't have any version of, and I may just do it.)

Next up: probably that song from Mexico.

(P.S. Grégory, please don't grow a mustache!)

I've been so certain

I'm very tempted to shout, but instead I'll just say:

May 23. The official release date of Måns Zelmerlöw's debut album. Mark your calendars.

(That boy really needs to release another song already, because I'm running out of lines to quote! By the way, "Cara Mia" is still sitting atop the Swedish singles chart this week.)

You just knock me out, no matter what you do

Ooo! The video for Darin's song "Desire" just came out--you can watch it here, but it doesn't work on Firefox--so it must be the new single, right? Great choice, although there are a lot of songs on the album I'd probably say that about. Love the song, love the album--let everyone else have Justin Timberlake; I'll take Darin's music over his any day. Rather strangely, you can buy the video for "Desire," as well as the one for "Everything But The Girl," on the UK iTunes. Hopefully "Desire" does better than "Everything But The Girl," which was far better than any of the other ballads he's released as singles and yet peaked at #38 (that's really low for him, considering no previous single had peaked at lower than #6--does anyone know why?)

Real post coming in a little bit!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I'm standing on the edge, and I don't know what else to give

(For what I'm talking about, see my previous post.)

I finally heard the whole English version of Enrique Iglesias's new single, "Do You Know (The Ping Pong Song)," today, and oooo! I love it! It's such a cute poppy song--not perfect, but any criticisms I might have had (I like the middle part--repeated "how can I love you"'s in the English version--better in the Spanish version, "Dímelo") are washed away during the first part of the chorus, the "Do you know what it feels like, loving someone that's in a rush to throw you away" and accompanying "doyouknow doyouknow doyouknow" backing vocals; the line doesn't look impressive written out like that, but it's absolutely perfect for the song, and I love how it sounds--I'm going to be singing along to it for ages. I've been desperately craving some good boy pop lately--who knew Enrique Iglesias would be the one to step up to the plate? Super cute (despite or because of the subject) and catchy, and probably pretty safely one of my favorite songs of the year so far.

Do You Know (The Ping Pong Song) (Web Rip)

I still don't know anywhere you can preorder this single, which is on the radio now, or the album, Insomnia, which I think is rumored to be or is coming out in June, but you can buy one of his previous albums, Escape, here (physical) or here (digital).

(My Internet is back! Yay!)

Caught in a catsuit

Argh...the Internet doesn't like me today; if this post seems rushed, short, unclear, or off at all, it's probably because I've had to resort to some sort of unusual circumstances to actually find a working Internet connection around here.

Nick Carter's debut solo album, Now or Never, had enough good songs on it that, not only did it deserve to do better than it did, it's sort of a shame I'm not posting any of the songs technically on it. Still, I imagine a good number of pop fans already own the album. I might post some songs from it at some point (I know I've already posted "Is It Saturday Yet"?), but I thought I'd post a bonus track by him instead.

Scandalicious--OK, so that title, right? Well, I know it's sort of ridiculous, but I think it's kind of funny--probably because of how ridiculous it is. Don't expect the lyrics to make it any more grounded, either; when your opening line is "I entered the party ready to leave/When somebody offered me sex on the beach," you're probably not very concerned about actually being taken seriously. In fact, the overdone lyrics ("There's not any interest in touching our hearts/I guess we're just on to every other part") are probably tolerable to me because they never even come close to working as a come-on; they're honestly nothing more than laughable, which really makes the song all the more fun. None of that is to say Nick can't pull of some sort of real emotion when the song calls for it--somewhat surprisingly, he's very effective on the ballad "I Got You"--but especially given that this is a bonus track, I just can't help imagining this as the sort of track you come up with when you're just goofing around; no one could take a word like "scandalicious" or the lyrics in this song seriously, but I have a feeling that's on purpose, or at least it was all done tongue-in-cheek.

To buy the edition of Nick Carter's album Now Or Never which has the bonus tracks, go here (physical). Alternatively, you could buy a digital version of the album without bonus tracks here (you'll have to search for "Nick Carter").

Next up: probably that Mexican song. I had a bunch of blogs I wanted to point you in the direction of, but due to being short on time due to my Internet situation (hopefully that'll be remedied soon, maybe even later tonight), that should be tomorrow, too.