Saturday, June 30, 2007

I've been loyal without having something to prove

Somewhat exhausted and after a week with no Internet connection, I'm back! I'll catch up on everything eventually, but for now, I'm just going to copy up what I wrote about the new Click Five album, Modern Minds and Pastimes, on the day I bought it. I do think I underrated it at the time--written now, the review would sound a little more positive, but I think I still agree with all the general points made. My writing is probably too long, but when one of your favorite two bands releases a new album, it's hard to resist having too much to say.

Given how much I loved the Click Five's debut album Greetings From Imrie House, there was always a chance that the followup might disappoint--and it does. Don't get me wrong--it's generally listenable--but, while almost every song from their debut still makes my iPod nano two years on, I truly doubt the same will be true of Modern Minds And Pastimes--three or four songs, maybe. There are a lot of possible reasons--change in lead singer? songwriting? musical direction? budget?--that I might delve into later (some more important than others), but I think my thoughts can be summed up like this: where's the joy? GFIH, in addition to being chock full of hooks, was packed full of bouncing-off-the-walls, feel-good, youthful energy; even songs about how badly their girlfriend treated them were made to seem like almost the happiest thing in the world (possibly related to this change, music- and rhythm-wise, jerkiness has replaced the swirling of GFIH). It's not new-Kelly-Clarkson-esque angst (maybe more on that later), but where are the songs that make me want to sneak off to my room, lock the door, and dance?

I suspect one of my main problems, one of the hurdles I keep running into, is new lead singer Kyle Patrick (formerly known as Kyle Dickherber)'s voice. It's not that it's a bad voice, and trust me, I wanted almost nothing more than to be fine with the singer switch; wishing for original lead singer Eric Dill's voice, after he left the band, seems like siding with the parent who's run out on the family. Change happens, I know; music evolves. We all know cases where fans go crazy and refuse to accept a new singer just because it's a change, and I wanted to avoid that, to show that I'm open to change--I wanted to love their new material even if it was different. Maybe especially if it was different, just to show that I was open to it. But there's a spark missing. Everything has been toned down--tempo, fun, even those high sung bits (gone, given Kyle's lower voice) and synthesizers. "All I Need Is You," performed live on tour by Eric, is the case in point for this problem. Slowed down and without Eric's distinctive and often high vocals, the song pops less, sounds more generic; it's still at least a good song, but it used to be great; now, it's close to the "aren't there a million other bands or singers that could make songs like this?" trend that prevails throughout much of the album.

I'm never sure to what extent songwriters have an impact on any given song, but it might be worth noting that, although keyboardist Ben Romans continues to be the main man behind the Click Five's music, the contributors have shifted--names like Andreas Carlsson, Kristian Lundin, and Chris Braide all crop up on MMAP, while GFIH had co-writers like Fountains of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger and KISS's Paul Stanley. Looking at those names, you'd probably expect me to side with the former's songs, but really, it seems like the Click Five create better pop songs when working with rock artists like the latter. Interestingly, my favorites tend to be written by Ben Romans and guitarist Ethan Mentzer with little or no outside help. If it means better songs, I'm all in favor of giving some or all songwriting duties to professionals, but that does make me wonder if the Click Five would have been better off with less help--or maybe just better help, since their songwriting instincts, though often excellent (my favorites on the first album also show the same trend), aren't always spot-on; witness "When I'm Gone," written by Ben and Ethan, a harder song which suits Kyle's vocals and should be an easy contender for any list of the album's best songs but is dragged down by what may be the worst instrumental break in music history. Though the break, which sounds like someone just let a bunch of teenage boys into a room full of musical instruments and told them to make noise, is short and quickly followed up with a nice (and also short) revving guitar part, it completely throws off the pace of the song. The rest of "When I'm Gone" is strong enough (very strong) to make it worth listening to, but as a single option or song to play to others, assuming no "single edit," it's irreparably maimed.

So, after all this, what are the songs to look out for? As mentioned before, "When I'm Gone" and "All I Need Is You" are, with the aforementioned caveats, good. Given the sticker on the front of the album, "Happy Birthday" may be the next single (if they even get one), and it's OK in a generic sort of way, mainly based on this repeated up-and-down vocal hook. "Addicted To Me" may have a title that makes me think of Anthony Callea's "Addicted To You," but it was definitely the pleasant surprise of the album; the Click Five's trademark synths have never sounded more '80's than on this somewhat sparse track. Though "I'm not a killer/I'm just killing your doubts" may be a heck of an awkward lyric, the music is great, rhythmic switchups and all, even if it doesn't start to come together until the first bridge. "Flipside" should be more of a highlight than it is; it sounds like it was influenced by the time spent opening for McFly last summer, though the "doo-doo-doo"'s, the most obviously co-opted element, are more first album McFly than the later McFly they were actually touring with. I adore McFly and love nonsense syllables and handclaps in music, but these almost seem half-hearted, cheap. The chorus is harder and more explosive and, in context, good, but without those stolen McFly traits, the song might not pop much. Lead single "Jenny," with its melancholy synths, may not have been the exuberant burst of guitar pop I was hoping for, but in retrospect, it's pretty good. As expected, "Headlight Disco" is a stand-out. The female voice (listed as "Amazingly Sexy vocal on 'Headlight Disco'" in the credits) may be disconcerting at first, the song at times may veer towards "we've found one good line, let's just keep reusing it," the synths may sound a tad cheap, and, like several other songs on the album, it doesn't know when or how to end, but the song is great overall--catchy chorus, good music in the verses, and, though not fulfilling my desire for uptempo dance-like-you-don't-care songs, it does bring back a sense of playfulness that GFIH had and that's missing from much of this album. If you like ballads, you may enjoy "Mary Jane," but, since it too was performed live with the original lead singer, I can't help imagining what it would sound like with him. Here, it may have been improved, though it's difficult to tell whether it's Kyle's voice or just studio production that has made the difference.

So, if you only buy three songs? Make it "Headlight Disco," "Addicted To Me," and "When I'm Gone." "Jenny," "Flipside," "All I Need Is You," and "Mary Jane" are all noteworthy. "I'm Getting Over You" (which I expect to be a grower), "Happy Birthday," and "Long Way To Go" (which has a primarily chanted chorus) are worth a listen, too. “Empty,” which I presume is the theoretical third single based on the album cover, would be a baffling choice (as would be “Happy Birthday” as a second single), as I suspect it, like the better "Resign" on GFIH, exists mainly so the lead singer has at least one writing (co-writing) credit on the album.

Headlight Disco

Addicted To Me

To buy the Click Five's second album Modern Minds and Pastimes, go here (physical) or, if you live in the U.S., visit iTunes.

Let me make one thing clear: this album is not perfect like their last one was--maybe a three out of five as opposed to a five out of five--but the Click Five are still one of the best groups out there.

(But will we ever again such a perfect pop moment as when Eric's voice soars over the penultimate chorus of "I Think We're Alone Now"?)

Friday, June 22, 2007

You never need to doubt it

As of tomorrow, I'm going to be on the road for a while--I'm not exactly sure how long, but something like seven to ten days. With luck, there will there be no interruption in service, but it's also possible they'll be no posts for that time...or maybe something in between. On the off chance I'm not able to post, have a great week or so--enjoy summer! Play Magnus Carlsson's "Crazy Summer Nights" a bunch of times and enjoy the sun.

(By the way, more songs I recommend: Dutch singer Jim's b-side "Altijid" [revving electro-poppy and not exactly typical] and Bastiaan Ragas's "Fill My Heart" [uptempo but nonaggressive pop with guitars]...and loads of other things over at PopSound. Oh, and DSTP's Depeche Mode-sampling "Superstar" by Marta Sanchez and Daniel Zueras's "No Quiero Enamorarme." Speaking of which, I've been meaning to ask for a while: was the Daniel Zueras song produced by the same people who produced Marie Serneholt's "That's The Way My Heart Goes"? I know that sounds strange and I don't know anything about the creation of music, so I could be mishearing things and maybe there's some standard sound bank all producers and writers use, but there's this female "oh" in the Daniel song--around 1:21--that sounds like ones in the chorus of the Marie song.)

To make me feel better

Do you know who is on TV right this very moment?

Without aid of a DVD or anything?


Excuse me while I have a heart attack.

Of course, why any channel would choose to run Just My Luck on TV after its less than wonderful initial run, I'm not sure, but since I've never seen it, I think I'll have to watch the last few minutes now.

The way you dance makes me want your autograph

Russian singer and Eurovision 2006's second place finisher Dima Bilan must be the most overexposed singer on the Internet. Seriously, there are more photos of him floating around than anyone could ever want to see, the vast majority of them featuring him in various states of undress. Though my interest in him doesn't quite slide that way, I really love some of his songs and so will probably always have interest in him as a popstar. I was unsure about upcoming Timbaland-produced single "Number One Fan" when I first heard it--it wasn't so much the change in styles that I was against (though that shocked me), but more that I felt he was bandwagon jumping with a poor example of the trend. The thing now, though, is that I'm enjoying it; I don't know that it's going to make most people's year end lists, but it is genuinely a good song, and Dima's voice on it as opposed to other conceivable alternatives certainly helps, too. The fact that other leaked tracks are less of that style and more a less surprising evolution of his own work helps as well; though I'm not technically sure when "Kosmos" is from, I think it's relatively recent. Love it anyway, though.

Number One Fan--for all I know, "Kosmos" could be Timbaland produced as well, but this song is the one that I know is, and it definitely sounds like it. Though it's good and I do enjoy it, I also have reservations--I don't want Dima turning into a Russian Justin Timberlake knockoff. Still, this song, even if it sometimes feel sort of generic (I enjoy the song, but I don't necessarily think "quality" when I hear it, something which isn't true of most of his other English language songs), is good. Incidentally, the video for it was just shot a few days ago. Oh, and I'm pretty sure the version of this that has been doing the rounds in most places is just a high quality radio rip (it's missing the intro and has a tiny bit of talking/tagging right around :07-:08); this is, I'm pretty sure, the actual studio version (no talking and with intro included, so it's at least a better quality and more complete version).

Kosmos--as I said, seeing Dima pursue this path surprises me less, but it's still a change; more dance-influenced. That's a good thing, though; if you pulled that dance beat from underneath this song and slowed it down, it wouldn't stand up to much, but I love it as it is--by now, in fact, I listen to it more than "Number One Fan," so hopefully it's on the album. If you're at all disappointed with "Number One Fan" (which, as I've said, I like now and find myself liking more as time passes), try this song.

I'm so clueless about Russian music--where to legally purchase it, what's been released, what songs are from. I don't know anywhere you can preorder Dima Bilan's new album (I read one rumor that it would have a duet with Nelly Furtado on it, but I have no idea if that's true or not) from and I'm sure there must be better places to buy his most recent album Vremya Reka from than Amazon (or eBay), but I don't know them.

Next up: I'm not sure--maybe another Russian singer or an American group.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Hey DJ, I know the song you're gonna play

I don't know that much about Texas Girls beyond the fact that they're French based (I should really try to learn some French some day). Made up of four girls, the group has released one single so far, and I think they have/are going to have a TV show about them, which is not usually a sign of a promising long-term career. Today's song is on the trashy side, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Dallas, It's My Life--I think this song is based off of the theme to the TV series Dallas--I'm not sure, since I've never seen it. It's dance-pop, it's fluffy, it's silly, the chorus isn't particularly hard-hitting, and in all likelihood it has no lasting value, but it's fun. Try to make it past those awkward opening seconds with their horribly kitschy "ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Texas girls!"...though, to be honest, the kitsch doesn't end there--we even get "yeehaw"'s interspersed throughout the song. It's still fun, though, in a far from serious and far from sophisticated way. By the way, the video appears to have had a budget of about, oh, zero dollars--everyone complaining about Girls Aloud videos: at least half the time isn't spent watching still photo montages. This is the original edit of the song; from the sounds of it, the pop edit doesn't sound very good at all.

To buy Texas Girls' debut single "Dallas It's My Life," go here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: maybe something Swedish.

That's right, our love is overrated

Music I'm loving on other blogs at the moment (and as I write, it's expanded to just things I love on blogs in general):

You can never have enough Lena love, can you? You Don't Know Pop features Lena Philipsson, Helena Paparizou (if you like pop and haven't heard her music before, you absolutely must--start with "Mambo," "Gigolo," and "The Game Of Love"), and loads more.

Poplicious has a great song by Polish girl group Queens, written by a Swede; very catchy.

I know it's old, but the more time passes, the more I wonder: how did blog world not flip out over Dhany's song "Miles Of Love"? This is what dance music with pop sensibilities should sound like! The definition of a storming dance anthem. Find it at A Kind Of Love In.

I somehow missed the fact that Swedish artist Montt Mardié had a new (well, it's not even really new anymore at this point) album out, despite it being mentioned all over the place (including, most notably, on It's a Trap and Swedesplease) but I love current single "Metropolis," floaty pop with electronic influences that features one of the former members of Le Sport. Find it over at Swedesplease. With my love for the new Tough Alliance album and a personal Lo-fi-fnk revival going on, I'm thinking I may go through a mini Swedish indie pop phase.

Everything Don't Stop The Pop posts is a must-listen, but I have to single out the new Patrick Nuo song, even if only to give me an excuse to include a picture of him; catchy pop with guitars with chorus lyrics that, despite not being anything that should be particularly memorable, I love (note that the title of this post is not a coded message to these blogs; I just wanted an opportunity to quote the song).

Not actually mp3s, but I can't not mention Adem IAR's amazing post about McFly--you have to love his writing.

Why is everyone in the world not reading Thnairg's work? Some of my favorite writing on the Internet--well thought out but never pedantic. You know those sort of blogs where you know you'll at least search out samples of anything the writer mentions, just because of their writing and your trust in their taste? This is one of them.

The Zapping interviews up and coming Swedish singer Jonathan Fagerlund; "Playing Me" is still a great boy pop song I can't wait to hear the rest of.

Pop Unlimited must surely be one of the best blogs around. I was just thinking I wanted to hear more from the Tamperer when we get a post with three songs; I could go on and on and on about the great pop songs on this blog, but just visit it already! Poppy and international.

Great mini-reviews of a bunch of albums, including Just Jack, Maroon 5, Mika, and Mutya, over at XO's Middle Eight.

This news is ages old, but you absolutely absolutely must go listen to a clip of Darren Hayes's upcoming single "On The Verge Of Something Wonderful" over at Popjustice; it'll probably be a contender for my favorite song of the year when it comes out, based just on that clip. Still electronic, but so uplifting in a "wow, suddenly everything seems just that little bit better" way. Everything I could have hoped for from this album.

It's hard to know what's the best part of Chart Rigger sometimes--the pun-filled or blatantly honest titles? The writing? And you can't visit without reading the comments. Whether it's Shayne Ward in Sweden, Rihanna's new video for "Shut Up And Drive," or Enrique's single finally starting to rise up the U.S. charts, even if it's only still in the 20's, it's news with a slant--and that's a good thing.

Mobius has been writing about Jason Donovan's new single for a while now, and with good reason--it's really good! Definitely worth buying.

Worrapolava is back from France, bearing great songs like Christophe Willem's "Double Je" and a dance song by Tom Snare.

Ever wondered what it would be like to see Sahara Hotnights, Fibes, Oh Fibes, the Ark, Laakso, Laleh, Juvelen, Marit Bergman, Those Dancing Days, the Pet Shop Boys, Lisa Misokovsky, and amazing acts you didn't know existed yet in the space of three days? Read #1 Hits From Another Planet's report to find out.

Roxane's song "I Ain't Playin'" is so summery and so poppy! Featured on Pop Trash Addicts, which is also writing about drama surrounding Salt 'n' Pepa's "Push It," Sophie Monk, and Roxane.

Just in general, I'm loving Work Your Magic, a blog which loves Russian music and Dima Koldun, and EuropeCrazy, which loves European music, Måns Zelmerlöw, and Sebastian Karlsson.

The return of one of my favorite blogs--Digital Technique is back!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Si buscas la fiesta, la tendrás

I'll be honest: I didn't pay the closest attention to the whole process of Misión Eurovisión, Spain's televised competition to choose its Eurovision representative; without the ability to watch it online or anywhere besides post-contest YouTube clips, my involvement on a watching-all-the-performances level was mainly limited to the final...which is probably how I missed out on Gerard (full name Gerard Martí). From the little bits and pieces I've seen of his performances from ME, I don't think I would have been particularly enthusiastic about him during the contest. However, for many artists, it's the material that makes them, not necessarily their voice (even if it's a good voice), and it's only with his debut single that I'm starting to pay attention to him.

Work It (Everybody)--this song is of a certain sort that I both often fall for and am turned off by. Not only is any pop song going for that hard-hitting club feel probably always going to be compared to Darin's "Step Up" in my mind and come up lacking, it's a type of song that can easily sound cheap and that lends itself to lots of ridiculous "oh look, I'm so hip and edgy!" posing that makes me uncomfortable. There is a certain aura of cheapness around the song and the backing vocal "work it everybody"s sound maybe ten years old, but it's fun, danceable, and has crowd noises in it and, as I said, I ultimately almost always end up enjoying this type of song, and this one is no exception. I don't expect it to do well chartwise in Spain, but I do really like it. Despite the title, it's almost all in Spanish, which I'm very glad of; the rhythm in Spanish gives it a certain feel I like and I imagine the lyrics in English would be too silly and posing-esque as well as unable to capture the flow of these ones (plus, Gerard sounds like he's much more comfortable with Spanish).

I thought I read that the single was going to come out in September, but if it's floating around this early, maybe it's due out earlier; at any rate, I don't know anywhere where you can preorder it yet, but keep an eye on El Corte Ingles.

Credit (once again) to PubliSpain for the song; strangely enough, I was planning a post on him and thought I'd just have to use a low quality MySpace rip, but luckily someone found the better quality audio version.

Next up: a French singer.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Gucci shoes, beluga caviar

It's been a while (well, comparatively, given that my support of him has already been established ridiculously often) since I've written about Gareth Gates, hasn't it? I've neglected to mention loads of news--new songs on his MySpace, album cover, Popjustice interview, and so on. With the physical single of "Angel On My Shoulder" out this week and the album out June 25, there may not be a better time to revisit him. I said once that I could run this blog for a month on good songs Gareth has done, and I wasn't joking--I really could (though don't worry; I'm not planning on it). I've heard "Anyone Of Us (Stupid Mistake)" several times on Internet radio recently, surprisingly enough, and each time I'm reminded of how good a song it is--good enough that it's been released in several other countries by several other singers in their native languages (I know I've posted Swedish singer Mathias Holmgren's version before and Sarbel, Greece's representative to Eurovision this year, has released a version as well; his version includes more differences in the music itself than Mathias's does). I can't believe I've never posted the following song, but it doesn't show up when I search, so I guess I haven't!

Absolutely--Gareth's second album is full of great songs, but I think this is one that seems to be popular (relatively) among people who don't particularly think of themselves as Gareth fans. This song is one of the Tyler James-penned ones (along with "Foolish"), but it's less soul-inspired than I guess I think of Tyler's work as generally being; you could probably call it "funky," though that's somewhat of an awkward adjective. "Absolutely" is thoroughly pop, completely catchy, and very electronic--not in the sense of electronica, but rather that it's not a live instruments sort of song. Hinged upon a prowling sort of electronic line, the song, an ode to the pinup model who you also happen to be sleeping with ("I've got your pictures all over my wall/But I've got the greatest secret of all"), also throws in some repeated nonsense syllables for good measure; it all adds up to a song with a little attitude and a whole lot of catchiness.

To buy Gareth Gates's second album, Go Your Own Way, go here (physical) or here (digital). You can pick it up on eBay or Amazon Marketplace for incredibly low prices and, given that it's a double album and has tons of great songs, it's definitely a good investment. Possibly more important, though, would be getting his new (not-yet-out) album Pictures Of The Other Side, which you can buy here.

Next up: maybe something Swedish. But I'll try to avoid going so Swede-crazy again, at least as much as possible.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Somewhere there's a dancefloor and the music that goes all night

I don't know much about American singer Brendan Velasquez. I guess you could say he's a "MySpace artist" and I'm vowing not to get too attached to any of those--groups break up, songs disappear, quality's not always a guarantee (does someone have more than one good song in them?)--but, if we can ignore thoughts of the future and really just context generally, the following song is pretty good. Theoretically, there's an album coming out this summer, but who knows with anything--even JC Chasez is having trouble getting another album out there.

Anxious--boy-sung kind of electro-pop. The chorus is pretty catchy--really, most of the song is. [Edit: previously a long tangent, which basically sums up to 1.) Simon Curtis's music is excellent, but 2.) this isn't Simon Curtis.] Anyhow, after that extended tangent, back to the song: it's pop, it's mid mid-tempo, it's catchy in this sort of laid-back but dark way (the title is "Anxious," and the song fits that--it feels on edge), and it's good. Very good.

To buy Brendan Velasquez's song "Anxious" as well as several others, go to his MySpace.

Given that this is an artist on an indie label, the song will only be available for a few days.

Next up: maybe a Spanish singer.

When you're moving up with...

The best concert line-up ever (for me) was last year's series of concerts where the Click Five opened for McFly--my two favorite bands, both at their peak (well, McFly have improved with every album, so that's more like "peak so far"). It narrowly beats out the whole V/McFly/Busted thing, though it's close.

Now, though? We've got another rival. I don't expect it to ultimately win out, but it'll put up a good fight.

Army Of Lovers
Alcazar (!!!!!!!)

At G-A-Y on July 21. Can you imagine? I'm a little confused as to why Alcazar would perform in the UK, especially if it's a one-off--surely this would be huge if in Sweden?

(By the way, some of Sweden's summer tours should be in contention, but I guess I think of those as somehow different--more festival-like, or something. Illogical, but whatever.)

I min fantasi

Oh no!

Please tell me "Musikal in, Schlager ut" doesn't mean what I think it does...

I think, if I'm understanding this article correctly, Swedish singer Jessica Andersson (soloist and former member of the duo Fame) is taking a break (though not necessarily a permanent one; the possibility for a return to her solo work or work with Fame is left open) from music of the commerical/Melodifestivalen/schlager sort and focusing on musicals instead.

I was really hoping we'd finally get an album from her this year. I may not have been a particularly big fan of "Kom," her Melodifestivalen entry this year, but I thought "Kalla Nätter" and "Du får för dig att du förför mig" were both great.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Eyes that flash like streetlights

Just a comparatively quick post today. With Stand By For... released, the Måns Zelmerlöw updates may have slowed down around here, but that doesn't mean I've stopped enjoying his music (or stopped following news about him, for that matter). With the release of his new single, for example, I had to buy the remixes that accompanied it. To be honest, I haven't noticed a difference between two of them yet, which could mean that I've not had the patience to listen to two long remixes back to back and compare them and so haven't noted differences or that the store I bought them from has accidentally provided one song when they should have provided two. Genreal mislabelling is a possibility as well, but whatever version it is, I like it (though it's not necessarily my favorite version--I haven't properly listened to the others yet).

Work Of Art (Da Vinci) [Ali Payami Club Remix]--while the original has drawn comparisons to Andreas Johnson and Mika, this remix--which is a longer version, clocking in at a little over six and a half minutes--makes it more housey. Surprisingly (at least for me), it works well in this style; it's a catchy song no matter what and I now love the original, but I could maybe even see myself listening to this version more. If you don't like any house songs, this one's not going to change your mind, but it's well-done, fun, and, like the original, catchy.

To buy Måns Zelmerlöw's single "Work Of Art (Da Vinci)," which comes with the original song and four remixes, go here (physical) or here (digital).

I was going to say more about this, but maybe I'll do that tomorrow; for now, I'll just mention that you can hear thirty second clips of all the songs on the new Click Five album here.

Next up: an American singer.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

She's who I wanna be

Swedish singer Denise Lopez, or DeDe, first became famous back in the 1990's, working with people like Max Martin. Like many Swedish singers, she's also entered Melodifestivalen, but her song "Someone, Somewhere, Someday" only took seventh in her semifinal. She released an album that same year, 2003, which I think was basically a repackaging of an album she'd released in Japan the previous year; the album included two unreleased Dannii Minogue songs, which you can read more about here. Now, she's back again with an album due out August 22 and a lead single currently sent out to radios.

B.I.T.C.H.--her MySpace is trying to pass this off as standing for "Being In Total Control Of Herself," but let's ignore that--this is a song that demands a little attitude, and DeDe delivers, though in a restrained way. I love the little string touches. Spelling in songs has never been quite my "thing" as much as it is for some people, but it's fun and used to good effect here. The backing vocal-ish singing is nice as well, a little ominous especially during the first verse, though the chorus forsakes some of that ominousness to go for--well, it's not a blow-out chorus, but it's more straightforward. That's a good thing, though.

To buy DeDe's song "B.I.T.C.H.," go to her MySpace (digital).

Since this song is a new single of an artist and I'm not sure what it's level of success will be (I'm hoping it does well and I don't want to in any way hurt it), it will be posted for only a few days.

(By the way, though it's not how I discovered the song, I should note that this song was written about weeks ago over on the great Cheiron Songwriters Forum.)

Next up: an American singer.

Friday, June 15, 2007

You're not into it? Get into it

I love finding new digital music stores. They can come and go--I lost my beloved Urban Payload and now Pick n Play seems to be requiring you to be South African to buy from them, while Tonlist is currently remodelling its English version and thus inaccessible. Luckily, Gucca came along to replace Urban Payload; even if it's more expensive and has a more confusing search function (if I'm not sure if Gucca will have something, I almost always check Urban Payload first just to see if it's worth trying to find it on Gucca), I am so thankful to have even minor access to Nordic music. I also like faithful Magix...but now I've got another German music store to use too, one with some other songs (including Espen Lind's first two albums, which is strange, considering Gucca, which is Danish but has some Nordic stuff, doesn't even sell those) and that seems to generally be cheaper: Medion Music. Conveniently, they also have the new Barbados song, but, to be honest, the reason I was originally searching for another German music store was to buy the new US5 single. As I've mentioned several times, US5 carry loads of baggage musically, stylistically, personally, and management-wise and their new single may be a completely shameless attempt to simultaneously rip off Timbaland and the Backstreet Boys, but I like it.

Rhythm Of Life (Shake It Down) (Single Edit)--thankfully, this version cuts out the dance break. I'm the first person to call for choreographed group dancing in music, but sometimes, if you're just listening to a song and not watching it performed, a musical dance break can slow down the song. The rap sadly still stays, but without the dance break, it's less damaging to the song--two things back-to-back that slowed down the song really hurt it. The first bridge and chorus are where it starts to truly get good. Really, it's just a great boy band song, worth checking out even if you've not liked their previous work (though having a fondness for boy band music certainly helps).

To buy US5's new single "Rhythm Of Life (Shake It Down)," go here (physical) or here (digital).

In somewhat related news, Lou Pearlman is being held in Guam after being expelled from Indonesia as an "undesirable visitor." That's putting it mildly (for more, see one of Chart Rigger's old posts). Apparently he disappeared after going on tour with US5 and was found by law enforcement officials after sending a letter with an Indonesian return address to an attorney. In the meantime, a liquidation sales of his possessions was held. I'm actually really curious about what this means for his current "projects" like US5 and not because I like their new single--what happens to a music group, especially one so engineered and so young, when your manager is arrested? As my parents would say, "another dollar in the therapy fund..."

Next up: maybe something Swedish. Or Spanish. Or Russian.

(By the way, I think this is a somewhat old picture of them--it's almost worth watching the first few seconds of their new video just to see them trying to bring back Flock Of Seagulls-style haircuts.)

(More unrelated, I'm thinking about buying Barbados's album Stolt--or, more accurately, putting it on my long term "to get" list--since a good number of the songs on it sound pretty good, but I'm not sure; on the off chance anyone owns it, is it worth buying? I'd have to get the whole thing, since sadly I don't know any digital music stores selling it.)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I feel invincible

Swedish girl group Caracola aren't new; they've already released an album and had several singles that peaked fairly highly--suprisingly highly, from my perspective, though it's nice that they did. However, it's with their most recent single that they've switched over to English and might have a chance at winning over some more fans, even if only in blog world.

Mango Nights--for little bit, I ignored this song; it sounded maybe too dancey-trancey for me. As soon as I heard the full decent audio quality version, though, I loved it--well, that might be a little too strong, but this song is a lot of fun. It's perfect for summer, but, while some of the other "summer songs" I've mentioned feel designed for lazing around on the beach or sunny roadtrips, this is definitely--as you might expect, given the title--a song for the night. Glitzy and danceable, "Mango Nights" may have a title that seems to have little logical sense beyond being designed to make you think of tropical locales and clubs, but its upbeat catchiness should be enough to win you over.

To buy Caracola's single "Mango Nights," go here (physical) or here (digital). It's also worth noting that their earlier work, in addition to being on Klicktrack, is available in iTunes wherever you live.

Speaking of Swedish groups, the Schlagerboys have pointed out Barbados's new single, "Tid att gå vidare," which is a great dansband/schlager (I'm still not really able to tell the two genres apart usually, though I'm sure it's pretty obvious to anyone who's spent a decent amount of time listening to the two) song that happens to available for purchase on the UK iTunes.

Next up: maybe a Swedish singer. Or Spanish one. Or Russian one.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Just tell me the truth 'cause I think that we both deserve to know

Knowing I wasn't going to be around when my copy of the Bosson album (or the Magnus album, for that matter) arrived, I did cave and decide to let myself listen to a few of the songs from it--not everything yet, though (and, much as I'm crazy to hear it, I'm going to try to wait for my actual copy of the Magnus album). If you haven't heard lead single "You" yet, I'm begging you to go buy it for your own sake--I've been completely in love with it since Catchy Tunes of Sweden posted it last summer. Followup singles "What If I" and "I Can Feel Love" were both good but, if "Believe In Love" is the next single (and it might not be--I don't see anything about it on his official site), I think it'll be the second best single off of this album so far. By way of quick background, Bosson is a Swedish singer; if you're a kid in the U.S., you probably know him for "One In A Million," used in the movie Miss Congeniality, but he's done far more than that--Future's Gone Tomorrow, Life Is Here Today, released this week, is his fourth album.

Believe In Love--as is probably well-documented at this point, there are some things I adore in pop songs. The feeling that it's designed for choreographed group dancing and handclaps are up there, but right with them is repetition of nonsense syllables. McFly are masters at this, but I think Bosson's sharp "oh-ohh"'s in this count--and I love them; they just help the song pop that extra little bit more. Even beyond them, though, this is a catchy, fairly fast, poppy song, just the sort of thing missing from the U.S. charts that I know stands no chance here but that I adore nevertheless.

To buy Bosson's album Future's Gone Tomorrow, Life Is Here Today, go here (physical). Apparently roses are in this summer in Sweden, no?

(By the way, if it turns out this is a single, I'll take it down in a few days.)

Next up: maybe something Spanish.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

We can go for a ride

A little while ago, I said the two songs I was counting on to save the new Click Five album, if anything could save it (gosh, this is sounding awfully negative), were "Headlight Disco" and "Flipside." Well, guess which two songs the Click Five have chosen to reveal snippets of in the runup to their album?

Yup, "Headlight Disco" and "Flipside." Assuming you want to promote yourself with your best work, this has me worried. The two songs sound fine (if maybe a little cheap, but hopefully that's just a sound quality issue) and I'll probably end up loving them, but the fact that there weren't other better songs to showcase, that they (the Click Five, not the songs) didn't confound my expectations in any way by revealing some as-yet-unheard great song, has me worried about how much depth (number of good songs-wise) there will be on this album.

In terms of thoughts before albums come out, I'm often harshest on the artists I love most, so don't read too much into this. I'll probably adore the album once I get my hands on it, and the two songs they've posted, based on the clips, do sound good. I can't shake my worries, though...

(There's also a long description of the album on that page that I haven't bothered to read yet.)

Jag tänker inte bara sitta här och vänta på att bli kysst

Apologies in advance to anyone who regularly follows Swedish music, as you'll probably already have this song, but really, given my love of Swedish pop, how could I not mention Lena Philipsson?

I am far from being the Lena scholar that many pop fans are, but she's amazing--the definition of a star. If you watch Eurovision, you'll have seen her and her famous microphone stand dance take the song "It Hurts" (the English version of "Det gör ont") to sixth place in 2004, but she's been releasing music since the 1980's, racking up two 2nd places and one 5th in that decade's Melodifestivalens and being a general "teen idol" (even if technically in her early 20's). She continued to have success through the early and mid-90's. Still, her entrance in the 2004 Melodifestivalen truly marked a comeback, and it was a deservedly huge one; the great followup album Det gör ont en stund på natten men inget på dan went double platinum in Sweden.

Though it's not the song I'm posting today, I really have to include her first performance of "Det gör ont" speaks for itself.

Lena Anthem--also from Det gör ont en stund på natten men inget på dan, this song is all sorts of brilliant. From that revving beat to the musical reference to previous single "Dansa i neon" to the brushing off of past rivals (including Regina Lund, who competed in this year's Melodifestivalen), it's--well, fabulous. Incredibly catchy (the phrase "ridiculously catchy" was practically invented for "Lena Anthem"), this is the sort of song you don't have to speak Swedish to appreciate, though understanding the lyrics would make it all the better, given how clever I think they are--it really is an anthem to herself.

To buy Lena Philipsson's album Det gör ont en stund på natten men inget på dan, go here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: maybe something Spanish.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Mil historias que contar

(Post-writing preface: I sometimes run into a problem with albums or artists whose music I really enjoy, especially when few other people listen to them--I don't want to give the impression that they're world-altering or even for everyone, but I think that's often how it appears when I attempt to get across how much I enjoy listening to their work.)'s still June, right? That means I can't even pass off the fact that I listened to three Christmas songs yesterday as a "Christmas in July" phenomenon. Still, there can't be any bad time to listen to "All I Want For Christmas Is You" or Shirley Clamp's version of "Do They Know It's Christmas," and mention of the following song had me listening to it again. I promise not to get carried away again with Nash (I still refuse to write NASH or D'Nash or D'NASH or however it should be written now...maybe I'll start calling them D'Nash eventually) news, but I do think they're very underrated--"Que sabes del amor" is still the best straight-up (i.e., non guitar-playing) boy band song I've heard in ages, their performance of "Una lágrima" in the Misión Eurovision finals was a very interesting and good one, their Eurovision performance was leagues ahead of what they delivered back in the Misión Eurovision days, and their album has a lot of great songs on it--and, though "Dondé estás" may be a cover, on most of their songs they sound unique, very much in the boy band school but not really a rip off of any other group. I think it's fair to say I love them, or at least their music; their album is not only probably one of the most consistent boy band albums I've heard, it's just so fun to listen to even without the "for a boy band" qualifier. I mean, they're a boy band singing in Spanish, for goodness sake, and they get me to care more about the lyrics than probably any other artist I can think of (though sometimes they can be naff). The fact that there's a boy band out there making great music that doesn't sound out of date or doesn't make me feel uncomfortable is such a relief for me and something I didn't really think I'd see again (though that doesn't stop me from seeing that they can make some pretty dubious fashion choices at times). Anyhow, fulfilling a request; I've written about them a bunch of times (even over on A Kind Of Love In back in January, when I was far more snarky about them), but posted songs twice--here and with my album review.

Más allá de las estrellas--yes, I now have it, after all the complaining I did. I realize they were never exactly setting the album charts alight and so probably really wanted to sell as many copies as possible, but three copies of one album is pushing it, especially when there's no one album that has all their songs on it. Anyhow, this song was only released on the second edition of the album, which added two bonus tracks to the original. As the jingle bells probably give away, it is a Christmas song. It's also a ballad, but a pretty good one--their best, I think, though it might be close. Plus, considering they don't do that many ballads (the first edition of their album had twelve songs and three ballads), I'm able to appreciate it more--knowing that they're not an "all ballads, all the time" group does influence my perception of and tolerance for or enjoyment of the ballads they do do.

As I said, this song comes from the second edition of the album, but, assuming you've either grabbed this song or have no interest in it, you're better off buying Capaz de todo - Misión Eurovision, the third edition, which has all the songs from the first edition, one of the bonus tracks from the second edition, and all the songs they performed throughout Misión Eurovision; in other words, the only song it leaves off is "Más allá de las estrellas."

Next up: maybe something Estonian.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Happy days and "Disco Inferno" on the radio

June 11 marks the release of this year's Disco Estrella. I know to most people in Spain it's one of those "I've heard all this before"/"couldn't they come up with a better tracklist?" compilation albums (in this case, of potential summer hits of the danceable pop and dance sort), but, not living in Spain, it's something I look forward to--if you don't live in a country, compilation albums move beyond collections of overplayed songs to introductions to new artists. If you bought last year's, for example, back in June you would have been introduced to Lucky Twice, the poppy Swedish duo whose debut song "Lucky" went double platinum in Spain; Rebeca, who would go on to write the song that won Spain's Eurovision national final and whose own song "Que no daría yo" is great as well; and David Tavare's "Summerlove," which may have been a cover but was a very good one. It also featured September and Akcent among lots of other great artists (or at least great songs). There are a lot of songs to sort through, but I'd bet there will be some gems this year, too--we already know it contains the following song from Lucky Twice and Morandi's "Oh La La" which should have been a hit last year (even if I prefer the extended mix to the radio edit). I'm really looking forward to it.

Hop Non Stop--all right, let's get this out there to begin with: it's not as good as "Lucky." That's a pretty high standard, though, and this is a good song that I like more and more the more I listen to it. "Hop Non Stop" is bleepier, slightly less...Melodifestivalen sounding, if that makes sense (not that it couldn't be a Melodifestivalen entry). Less cheery, too, and younger-sounding. Still, it's a fun song, complete with an "oohhhHHHH," half-giggles, and a catchy fast chorus, and I'll probably be playing it repeatedly this summer (though that'll probably drive anyone near me crazy pretty quickly, since I suspect most people will have a reaction opposite to mine and find it gets more annoying if heard repeatedly; hopefully I'm wrong, though).

Credit to PubliSpain for the song; thanks!

You can buy Disco Estrella Vol. 10/Disco Estrella 2007 here (physical). I think Lucky Twice's debut album is scheduled to come out June 11, too.

By the way, for loads of last year's "summer songs" in Spain, check out this post from the ever-excellent and trendsetting Don't Stop The Pop.

Next up: maybe a Swedish group or a British singer.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Words don't come easily

Let me preface this by saying that if you are at all interested in the new Magnus Carlsson album, you should check out the comments in the post below this one because Alexander has not only posted a better version of "Waves Of Love," he's also posted the wow-this-is-brilliant "Crazy Summer Nights." This album cannot get here soon enough...

So, I cracked. I listed to the Enrique Iglesias album ahead of time. I've never seen him as the most consistent artist, but when he's on, he's really on, and he can produce some great pop songs. "Do You Know (The Ping Pong Song)" is still great, still probably my favorite song of the summer, and the video, even if it could use one more situation (things like that work better in threes) must appeal exactly to my sense of humor (which is a little scary, given that it involves death) because I burst out laughing each time it comes on. I still don't think I've heard the single on American radio even once, but, much as I'd love to see it conquer the world, the U.S. (or the Billboard top 40) is not the be all and end all of his market, I guess.

It's too early to assess the whole album (this will be just random thoughts), but I'm already pretty sure the most "what on Earth"?/hate it song will be "Push," the hip-hop influenced collaboration with Lil Wayne. Well, I could do without Lil Wayne's rapping, but I do like it (though not love it--it's nowhere near my favorite song on the album--and I'm glad it's the only one of its sort). Possibly just for the squawky way he says "girl." Then again, I love Usher's "Yeah," so I'm at least open to that sort of music. I know, it's very :-/ If anything bothers me, it's the title "On Top Of You." I mean, really? I get the sense Enrique has a sense of humor, so I expected something with a title that ridiculous to end up as a joke, one of those "let's find a way to work that phrase into the song so that in context it sounds innocuous even though we all know it's really..." sort of things, but it's played completely straight and sincere (though I still think it's tongue-in-cheek).

I really like "Ring My Bells" but every time I hear it now I think of that Tommy Hilfiger commercial (which it was perfect for). It sounds very cool, both in the sense that it doesn't have the cute exuberance of "Do You Know" and it's a little icy, glistening. It's a very good opening track, because that's what it sounds like: an introduction...which is probably why it works for the commercial so well.

I haven't even listened to all the songs on the album yet, so I may be overlooking an absolutely amazing song near the album's end, but the two songs I found myself deciding between for today were "Tired Of Being Sorry" and "Wish I Was Your Lover." Both pop, both more "typical Enrique"-sounding, and a close call--but ultimately, one won out.

Wish I Was Your Lover--"Tired Of Being Sorry" is more upbeat and I listen to it just about as much as "Wish I Was Your Lover," but something helped give "Wish I Was Your Lover" a slight edge. Maybe those strings (or string-like effect)--I love strings used as punctuation in poppy songs. Love the ending, as well. The song is sort of a midway point between the pop of "Do You Know" and that more glistening feel, less exuberant, that "Ring My Bells" has. Enrique does desperation so well--he always sounds like he's on the verge of a breakdown, doesn't he? This song doesn't find him quite so at the brink, though, despite the subject; there's less trembling in his voice. Despite all the production going on, though, the smoothness of this song, there's always something about his voice that sounds very...raw. Intimate, maybe.

You can preorder Enrique Iglesias's new album Insomniac (due out next week or the week after that, I think, depending on where you live) here (physical) or here (digital). It's also going to be available in iTunes stores around the world.

Next up: I'm not sure...maybe another Spanish artist.

Friday, June 08, 2007

It's almost frightenin'

Hi all! I'm literally just about to rush out the door, but I thought I'd really quickly post this radio rip of the new Magnus single, mainly because I know I was really curious to hear it and I thought some other people might be, even if it's not in top-quality audio (not only is the audio quality low, it's a bit messed up in the beginning, which is my fault; I'll try to come back and update this with a fixed version later, if I can).

Waves Of Love (Sort-Of-Messed-Up Radio Rip)

Up for a few days only, as is usual.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

No tengo nada para ti

Spanish singer Merche, like so many of the artists I write about, does have a Eurovision connection: she's competed in Spain's national final, though she's never made it to Eurovision. She's released three albums so far, all of which (if Wikipedia can be trusted) have gone at least platinum, with her third album, Necesito libertad, even going double platinum. Though it was probably mainly "Eras tu," the album's lead single and a ballad, that helped push the album to such success, it's the third single off the album that I prefer.

Bombón--I know it's a huge generalization to just refer to "Latin" music and to write it off as a whole, and I'm sure there are exceptions, but generally just straight-up Latin music doesn't jump out at me. However, given me upbeat Latin pop that doesn't overdose on the Latin elements and there's a good chance I'll enjoy it. That sort of oft-mocked Ricky Martin-style music? I like it. And David Bisbal's "Ave Maria" is in contention to be one of my favorite songs ever. "Bombón" really isn't that far away from those sorts of songs, though it might have slightly more of that Latin influence. Still, it's got one of those catchy choruses designed for dancing, even if it's of the ridiculous Sarbel type, which is almost always enough to hook me in. Throw in some attitude from Merche, and you're set.

To buy Merche's third album, Necesito libertad, go here (physical) or go to iTunes; for example, if you live in the U.S., go here.

Edit: the tracklisting for Magnus Carlsson's upcoming album was released today--given that Bosson's upcoming album has a version of "Live Forever," I wonder if there's a chance that Magnus's "You" is a version of Bosson's song? Oh, and speaking of Bosson, I heard "Believe In Love" on the radio the other day and I really like it (it's got some great "oh-oh"s), so I presume it's the new single--that leaves me with a dilemma, though: I've liked or loved all four of this upcoming album's singles, but when I listen to the preview clips for the album, I have my doubts about its quality. Silly, right? I mean, if I like the first four singles, I should definitely buy it, right? I'm probably just underestimating it.

Next up: maybe a Swedish duo.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

C'mon, let's get get get together

Belgian singer Kate Ryan's fate back in the 2006 Eurovision was much bemoaned (and rightly so) by fans. Whatever the reason for her failure to make it out of the semifinal, "Je T'adore" was, in its studio version, pretty much inarguably one of the best songs of the contest (though I wouldn't say it was the best; I think I preferred Mihai Traistariu's "Tornero" and Dima Bilan's "Never Let You Go"). Her followup album also had some great songs, like "Alive," "All For You," "Spinning Around," and "How Many Times." Now she's back with a new single. The main song is a cover of "Voyage Voyage," but the b-side (at least, I think it's the b-side or less emphasized side, but it could be the "main" A-side), an original song and the theme for this year's Eurogames, was the song I was more interested to hear.

We All Belong (Web Rip)--this isn't top quality audio; sorry about that. Even if this song doesn't end up causing the hyperventilating that "Je T'adore" did in some cases, it's still a more than respectable entry into Kate's repertoire. If you've listened to any of her past singles, you'll know what to expect out of this one--it's catchy, poppy, and danceable--but there's nothing wrong with that. It's fun pop, and a good example of it.

(This song will only be posted for a few days, since it's a new single.)

I'm not sure where you can preorder Kate Ryan's upcoming "Voyage Voyage/We All Belong" single (if anyone knows, please let me know!), but her most recent album, Alive, is worth picking up; you can buy it here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: a Spanish singer.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

All the flaws I have, make sure you've found them

Danish singer Inez seems to be assciated with house or club music wherever I read about her, but I'm guessing that has more to do with remixes than all her songs themselves--sure, most of them are danceable, but, in their original formats, they could just as easily be called pop. If Wikipedia can be believed, the following song was her least successful, though that's just based on the dance charts, I think, and I guess I can understand that--comparing remixed versions, other songs win out. In the original versions, though, I think this is her best song.

Walk Away Tonight--Inez's voice is, for lack of a better word, rough; it's not the sort of voice people are ever going to refer to as pretty or delicate and some people might even find it obnoxious, but it does fit this song--if she sounds rough and world-weary, she should, based on the "trying to break the cycle and leave behind someone who's done you wrong" theme of this song. The sweeter backing vocals (which could be her, for all I know) are a nice contrasting point, though, almost highlighting the roughness voice while also bringing another catchy element to this not particularly complex song (by that, I mean it doesn't sound "busy"). This is also the slowest and least danceable--not dance at all--of her songs, but it sounds, from what I've heard, like it's the best, strangely catchy. It's not in-your-face, but it can be slowly addictive.

(By the way, the lines in what I think is the middle 8 were too long for me to quote entirely as the title, but I like them and how they're delivered and the tone of them--it's not particularly strong, despite being a brushoff.)

To buy Inez's single "Walk Away Tonight" (she's released four singles but no album yet, though I think her album Bed And Breakfast is due to come out sometime soon), go here (digital) or go to iTunes.

Next up: a Spanish singer.

Monday, June 04, 2007

I love ya too much to hate ya

I said I was going to try to steer away from Sweden for a post or two...and what country do I go to next? The other one whose artists I keep writing about recently: South Africa. There really are some artists from other countries coming up, but for some reason I'm pretty engaged in those countries as the moment. Anyhow, Wafeeq was on the second season of Idols, which was back in 2003. Despite a lot of gigging around the country (he's opened for a lot of bigger acts, but the one that caught my eye most was Phixx), he just released his debut album this year. As intrigued as I am to hear it, I can't justify paying $40 for one album right now, so I've made do with just buying this song (and, on that front, I think my South African digital music store is now closing itself out to foreign customers).

Love Crime (Pop Version)--given my lack of knowledge about R&B (even pop-R&B crossovers), I can't help but think this song was inspired by Thicke's "When I Get You Alone"--it's not as funky or fast and definitely not as good (I'm not generally a fan of Thicke's own material from what I've heard of it, but "When I Get You Alone" is a high standard to hold anyone to), but the similarities (including, most notably, a Beethoven sample) are there. "Love Crime" is more influenced or crunk music, I think (I am so out of my league here; it's definitely not really crunk, but I'm not sure what the proper term for club-friendly R&B is, since just saying "club music" will probably make most people think of dance). I know I've said it's R&B several times, but really, this is pretty pop, even if dressed up in R&B trappings, and I think that has something to do with Wafeeq's voice. (This is the pop version, which cuts out the rapping the original has.)

To buy Wafeeq's debut album, Hit 'n Go, which sounds pretty diverse, go here (physical).

Next up: something definitely pop from Denmark.

You're my superstar

Have you been wondering what it would sound like if Russian singer Dima Bilan worked with Timbaland?

Well, wonder no more.

Dima performs "Number One Fan" at an awards show

And if your answer was no (as mine would have been)--sorry, but apparently Dima's been off in the U.S. working with Timbaland and Jim Beanz on his new album. I am--again (I'm saying this a lot lately)--in shock. Granted, I haven't listened to all his material (I love some of what I know, though; "Lady Flame," which I know I've posted before, is especially worth listening to, as is his Eurovision song "Never Let You Go" and earlier single "It's Not That Simple") and some of his early material has R&B hints, but his English language songs that I know are nothing like this. (And are much better than this--though I reserve the right to arbitrarily change that judgement at any time.)

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Locked and loaded

The Dirty Skirts come straight from the school of "I don't think I'd ever like a full album by them." They also scare me a litle bit. Still, they've managed to come up with at least a few songs I like. Let's do things a little differently today--here's what's probably my favorite song by them.

Home Wrecker

They pretty much sound very British indie, don't they? Some people even say too much so, that they're derivative of bands like Franz Ferdinand, the Kaiser Chiefs, and so on, but when you've got a song as catchy as "Home Wrecker," that doesn't matter.

So, where are they really from? South Africa.

As a general rule, I am not a fan of "indie," and not only do the Dirty Skirts sound indie, I don't think you can get more technically independent than them--they're unsigned (deliberately so, though; as one of South Africa's most buzzed about bands, they could easily get some sort of record deal if they wanted one). Still, you throw enough handclaps and "oh-oh-ohoh"s in a song, give it a catchy singalongable chorus, and I'm going to like it.

To buy the Dirty Skirts' debut album On A Stellar Bender, go here (physical) or go to iTunes; for example, if you live in the U.S., go here. They also have a couple of free downloads from their earlier EP on the old version of their very professional-looking website, including "Feeling The Pressure," one of their better songs.

Next up: maybe another South African artist or a French one.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

I made my mind up when I got that groove

New Venke Knutson song out!


...I almost fell over...'s the same song as the new Nylon single!

"Holiday"--same song, released by both artists about the same time (Nylon's was first)...

...that just seems so strange to me, for some reason. Her new album will come out this summer, apparently.

While I'm reporting random music news, there's a new Jesse McCartney album due out October this year--wow, that was fast. Of course, apparently most people didn't notice the second album happened, which is sort of a shame, if for no other reason than "Daddy's Little Girl" and "Running Away."

What should we expect?

"I'm going for Prince chords, Michael [Jackson] melodies, and the bigness of Madonna--fun '80's stuff."

I'd take that with a whole saltshaker full of salt--just about any pop artist searching for credibility is going to namedrop those artists. Still, I'll be paying sort-of-attention. I don't necessarily expect an album full of great songs, but a really good song or two? A definite possibility.

Australian (soul?) singer Eran James (his debut album arrived at my home the same day Måns's album did; I ordered it after it was mentioned by Thnairg and I cannot believe he was fifteen when it was released--he sounds much older) must have his second album, Ten Songs About Love, coming out later this year; given that there's a video for "Halo" on YouTube, it must be the lead single, but I much prefer the upbeat "Touched By Love" (you can listen to it on his MySpace), already released on the Australian version of the Shrek 3 soundtrack but due to be on the album as well.

Nu är det vi och inga andra

There's been sort of an overdose of Swedish music going on here recently, I know; I'll try to move away from that somewhat soon, but for now, at least one more song. It also fits in with the other theme that keeps cropping up: summer. It features three different Fame Factory contestants, Ida Hederg, Hannah Westin (who I've featured once before), and Markus Landgren.

100% Sommar--if you're looking for something deep and sophsticated, you won't find it here. On the other hand, this bouncey song--the rhythm reminds me a little bit of what you'd call "reggae-influenced," I guess, for lack of a better phrase--couldn't sound more like summer if it tried. It's cute, it's simple, and it's catchy in a laid-back sort of way. Throw in some "ay-oh-ay-oh"s, and you've got a harmless but pleasant summer song.

To buy Fame Factory Summertour 2003, go here (physical) or here (digital).

While we're on the subject of Swedish music, I've been meaning to mention for a while that both Sebastian and September seem to have new singles out; Sebastian's is "I Can Feel You" from his second album The Vintage Virgin and September's is "Can't Get Over," which I presume is from an upcoming album. More important, though, is the fact that Ola's "Natalie" continues to be excellent and may soon be rivalling Enrique Iglesias's "Do You Know (The Ping Pong Song)" for the title of my favorite summer song released this year.

Next up: maybe an American singer. Probably a Swedish one, though, though hopefully with a song in English.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Jag slänger in i mig första taxi jag ser

I've never heard a whole Markoolio album, but his duet with Linda Bengtzing was enough to interest me in getting a few of the songs from his most recent release, Värsta platten. Though the fact that I don't speak Swedish is surely hurting my ability to truly "get" these songs--there's got to be a lot of humor going on--I like all the ones I bought. One thing I like about Markoolio is that, judging based on these songs, he's not afraid of bringing in a female singer to accompany him and to give the songs the poppiness they need (lest they get a little too goofy and only appreciable on a novelty level), whether it's through significant backing vocals or an actual featured vocalist; he's a little like former Five singer Abs in that way (though he predates Abs's solo career).

Emma, Emma--with its techno or Euro-dance influence, this is in a completely different style than "Värsta schlagern" or "Ingen sommar utan reggae," which has a reggae beat (and which seems to get played on the radio constantly), but it's still catchy. Markoolio has a distinctive voice and style that I'm not sure I could handle over a whole album, but he's surprised me so far--maybe I could (I wouldn't bet on it, though). Regardless, the racing pace of this song, the woman's singing, and its general catchiness make it one of the album's stand out songs, from what I've heard (though if I had to listen to it repeatedly on the radio, I might change my mind). As for what it's about...well, let's just say it's about trying to get to Emma, and leave it at that.

To buy Markoolio's album Värsta platten, go here (physical) or here (digital). The female-sung part on "Idollåten" makes it possibly worth a listen (well, that's not the only good part, but I think it makes the song) and "Värsta schlagern" is definitely great.

Next up: maybe a young American singer.