Sunday, September 30, 2007

An honesty with a pleasant surprise

I wasn't planning to open this special with this group--I was going to go with something poppier in a traditional sense--but I wanted to prove this special doesn't mean people who don't see themselves as fans of "Swedish pop" (how can you not be?) shouldn't turn off. Of course, there will be a little bit of schlager (not much, though, I think) and loads of the poppy melodies you expect from Sweden, but today's group--well, if I had to compare them to anything or anyone, I think I'd go with (and don't hurt me for this, OK? I lack reference points) the Beatles. In a really cheery, poppy, young, more modern way.

The Wallstones are made up of two Fame Factory contestants, Karl Martindahl and Johan Becker. The group competed in Melodifestivalen 2005 with "Invisible People." Today's song, a single from 2004, is better, though, probably because it's so relentlessly upbeat in a more genuine, committed way.

Good Old Stonecake--don't ask me what the title's referring to; I have no idea. What I do know is that this song takes a while to get going, but that chorus is pure joy and by the time we're two thirds through, I'm in full "can't get this cheesy grin off my face" mode. I think it's the high-pitched "whyyy-yyy-yyy" that seals the deal. The "na na na"s help too, definitely.

To buy the Wallstones' album Pleasure and Pain, go here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: a female singer, I think.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

I've been drivin' 'em crazy

All right, so it's decided: Terri Walker's "Whoopsie Daisy (Hit 'n' Run So So 90's Discomix)" (is that not a fabulous name for a remix? How could I not want to hear it after that?) will have to wait because, starting tomorrow, I'm going to attempt to do that (Swedish) Fame Factory special I mentioned awhile ago. Since I didn't watch the series, though, for a lot of people, it's not necessary going to be singers I like, but more songs I like, since often those songs are virtually the only thing I know about them--but there have been so many of those over the years I'm sure I've missed some, so it'll be far from complete.

Knowing me, I'll get through three days of the special, get sidetracked for a day, come back to it for two days and then decide it's not worth finishing, but I'm going to try!

I would write a sonnet, put your name upon it

Fact: I have literally never heard someone say that they like One True Voice's "Shakespeare's (Way With) Words." Even the times when someone will say something good about them or their debut single, they inevitably include a comment along the lines of "let's forget about the second single" or "and then they followed it up with the awful 'Shakespeare's (Way With) Words.'" I imagine if you asked the former members of the group themselves, they would completely disavow it (though I expect they'd disavow everything to do with the group altogether as well). Formed as a result of the TV show Popstars: The Rivals, they faced Girls Aloud in a chart battle with their debut singles. Am I claiming "Shakespeare's (Way With) Words" was a better song than Girls Aloud's second single "No Good Advice"? Not by any stretch. But I like it! It's a nice cheesy boy band song. This was the last song they released--never even made it to an album, which I'd say is a shame, but I'm sure it would've flopped horribly. I'd probably still like it, though :-/

Shakespeare's (Way With) Words--one of the strangest uses of parentheses you'll see in song titles, but that doesn't take away from the song itself, even if it does make it annoying to type out. It is unarguably cheesy, but it's catchy! Maybe it's just proof that I like the "boy band sound" enough that I'll accept almost anything from it, but I don't see why it's so awful. It's not modern at all and yes, the lyrics are dorky, but how is it so much worse than a lot of the other things coming out at the time that it's universally a punchline? Wait--on second thought, don't answer that; let me just go on enjoying this.

To buy One True Voice's second single, "Shakespeare's (Way With) Words," go here (physical).

Next up: maybe a remix of a British singer's song.

Saturday night we'll pack the floor

So I was messing about on this site (which is excellent for Melodifestivalen history) and looking at some of the songs that have been rejected over the years when I noticed that one of the songs rejected on the last day in the 2007 review process was called "Work It (Everybody)"--that's got to be the song Gerard went on to cover in Spanish and that I mentioned you can listen to a demo of on another site, doesn't it? I noticed there was another song in the same situation called "Tid att gå vidare"--I'm not sure about timelines, but that could've been the Thomas G:son-penned song Barbados would go on to release, couldn't it (not necessarily, of course, given that there have been other songs with that title and it's not an uncommon phrase)? The title "Gomenasai" jumped out at me considering that BWO have a song with that title on their album, but I imagine those one word titles can be deceptive (it's hardly as if they're the only act to ever record a song with that title), and that doesn't seem to fit with the image I have of what BWO were wanting to do (which really isn't based on anything, to be honest).

More speculative stuff: another of the songs on that list is called "Addicted" and that's the title of another song Gerard has recorded, written by the same people who did "Work It (Everybody)." If I'm remembering correctly, that's also a title of a song that supposedly Ola was considering as releasing as the second single after "Natalie." Could potentially be either of those, both of them (though I would tentatively lean towards not; if Gerard is going with the style of "Work It (Everybody)" and his "Addicted" also fits with that style, it seems like a song that would fit better on Ola's first album than second, from what we've heard so far), or neither. Another song on the list is "Looking For A Star," which has the same title as the song Rednex would go on to release that summer.

(It's always really obvious when I've been trying to educate myself/catch up on what I've missed out on, isn't it? And yes, I really am that excited about Melodifestivalen that I've been spending time guessing what songs were in the running for last year's. Sigh. What can I say? I'm addicted.)

(Oh, and I noticed that one of the 2006 rejects was called "Värsta schlagern"--but surely if it had been the "Värsta schlagern" [or even if there was a chance it was] there would have been more talk of that by now? And that was a longer wait to release it than I would have expected--the timeline seems off. Plus, I thought I remembered hearing/reading that Markoolio had turned down the offer to compete in Melodifestivalen with it, and that he sort of regretted it. I could have invented that, though. Same list--of the top 103 songs in 2006--also mentions songs called "Amanda" and "Drop Dead," so I'm completely confused at this point.)

In the shadows of sin my soul is yearning

Song I'm currently quite taken with: Swedish singer Verah's "Fall Again" (listen to it on her MySpace here). It's dancey pop, catchy and really good! She's signed to Lionheart, apparently, so that's a good sign for it getting released or for us at least getting to hear more from her.

Relatedly, one of the song's co-writers, Irini (or iRiNi, as she has it stylized), has a song on her MySpace called "Play" that has some fantastic backing music. I'm not 100% sold on all its vocal melody yet, but boy, has it got some fantastic music--just listen to that revvy opening! Fabulous. And I'm quite sure I'll be wholeheartedly saying I love the full thing without qualifications in a matter of minutes.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Here come the drums

A THREE-PARTER? Who on Earth makes three part television shows? How am I supposed to cope for the next week?

At least I got to see McFly and listen to "Voodoo Child," but that is SMALL CONSOLATION for another week of torture waiting to find out what happens next.

(Music related coverage back after this.)

There's gotta be a way that's better than just getting by

From the Department of Weird or Surprising Covers:

  • Portuguese singer FF does Martin Stenmark's "7milakliv" on his second album (renamed "Eu Só Quero Ser")
  • German group Cinema Bizarre (who are awkwardly gothically styled) do Protocol's "She Waits For Me" as the b-side to their debut single
  • American artist Lucas Prata (who did the good dance-pop "...And She Said") does B3's "All The Girls" for his latest single (and I'm surprised at how close a cover it is to the original--not dance-popped up like I'd expected)
  • Icelandic singer Sigrún Vala does Shirley Clamp's "Min Kärlek" and Sahlene's "We're Unbreakable" as singles (renamed "Því ástin" and "Ekki gera neitt," respectively)
All of these, save for maybe the Sigrún Vala ones, are relatively recent (as in, from the past few months), I think.

(By the way, this post title isn't taken from any of the above songs but a new-ish American song I may actually like and post soon; super-cheesy title but pop-rock stylings, though not quite as hooky as I'd like. Literally everything I've seen has compared them to Avril, but don't think "Girlfriend" or "Sk8r Boi" Avril, sadly; too earnest for that. I could end up going off it quickly, though.)

You never rise above being with the one you love

Esther Hart deserved better than her thirteenth place finish in Eurovision 2003; she should've at least qualified the Netherland directly into the final for the following year. She gave a solid vocal performance (even voted the best)--you really can't argue with her voice. Outfit choice, yes, but not voice (she looked better at the national final)--and her song "One More Night" was great, catchy and uplifting. The Dutch singer got to release an album, Straight From The Hart, after her participation in Eurovision, but I don't think she's released any solo commercial music since. I've been meaning to investigate more of what she's done, but never got around to hearing any more of it than what Popsound once posted. Don't be surprised if she ends up cropping up here again, though. On an interesting note, that same year she was also in the running to represent the UK (with a different song, "Wait For The Moment"), but she decided to represent her home country and pulled out of the UK contest; her song was given (with a new name) to Simon Chapman, who...well, didn't win A Song For Europe.

One More Night--this is a slightly cheesy, cheery pop song written by the same people who did Marlayne's 1999 entry "One Good Reason," which some people have pointed out similarities with, but "One More Night" feels stronger (in terms of tone), though I suppose that could have something to do with Esther's voice. It's simple but good, not challenging but really enjoyable.

To buy the album for Eurovision 2003, go here (physical).

Next up: maybe a British singer.

Can't take it anymore

Well, it's nice to know the record company have decided it's not worth putting any effort or money into Linda Kiraly's new music video. So can we safely assume they're writing the project off then?

I can honestly not remember the last time I saw a video this cheap looking (and dull) from an American (or American-releasing) artist ostensibly with major label backing. Whoever's handling this should be ashamed--the song is fantastic and deserves to do well and I'm sure it could lend itself to lots of decent video concepts, but even if I didn't love the song, I'd be embarrassed to see this. Seriously, if you're giving up on the song after its failure to take off at radio over the past two months, just don't bother filming a video--don't release this.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

With my stunner shades on

The opportunity for me to be enthusiastic about a U.S. song seems to come out once in a blue moon nowadays, so I was extra-thrilled when I found myself loving Don't Stop The Pop's latest recommendation: Keke Palmer's "Bottoms Up." To paraphrase myself over there, it seems like so much of what comes out of the Disney stable nowadays is bland and dull which is a shame because, from what I understand, Radio Disney used to play some fantastic songs and Disney used to have connections to some great artists (back in, say, the late '90's and early 2000s). Luckily, this song isn't dull or bland; it's cute, catchy, fun, poppy (with a little electro backing), and youthful in a good, appropriate-for-who-she-is way, and definitely worth checking out--I ran to iTunes and bought it straight after hearing it.

All I know I learned today

I mentioned--what, back in May, I think?--a while ago, anyway, that one of my albums of the summer was the Tough Alliance's A New Chance. I meant to write about it back then, but somehow it never happened. I'm sort of reluctant to do it at this moment--I don't think I'm in the state to come up with anything clever or significant to say about it and I have a feeling I'll end up choosing the wrong song to post--but I guess I am anyway!

The Tough Alliance are indie. But they're also Swedish and do electro-pop, which--especially when the group's made of two guys--seems to be a recipe for success, or at least good music. Basically, them being "indie" here only means that they're a little bit left-field, but along with those hipster stylings, they also happen to make really catchy music which I guess you could also say is pretty cute. Maybe not quite as cute as Lo-Fi-Fnk, but definitely enjoyable, even if I sometimes surprise myself by liking them. A New Chance was their latest album/EP/whatever and it sounded exactly like summer, though in retrospect maybe it's a good thing it's actually a good thing I'm writing about them in the middle of the summer--though their sunshiney tunes are perfect for making me imagine the beach in the middle of a rainy (still) fall day, it can sometimes be a bit much when you actually are out in the middle of the summer heat on a beach.

1981--the album's closing song, and I was hooked on on it from those opening instrumental notes. I know this is an odd comparison to make, given that there are a plethora of Swedish male duos making electro-pop and consequently surely much more accurate comparisons available, but for some reason this song reminds me of what I imagine the Attic might sound like if they ever decided they wanted to be "hip" or more left-field. It's lovely and lush and a change of pace from the rest of the album--more "typical song"-like, I guess, though still not exactly standard pop structure (for the closest you'll get to that, look to the album's lead single and most commercial sounding song "First Class Riot"), and literally slower as well. If the duo's voices ever get on your nerves, this song tones them down a bit; they spend most of the time doing backing vocals (yes, backing vocals when there's no main vocals; if you can think of a better name for those "ahhh"s, let me know) and creating the fantastic, slightly exotic sounding music.

To buy the Tough Alliance's A New Chance, go here (physical) or here (digital). It's also available on iTunes stores worldwide.

This reminds me: do well all know Le Sport's "Your Brother Is My Only Hope"? Now that's a great Swedish male electro-pop duo song! (They've also done a song called "If Neil Tennant Was My Lover," for what it's worth.)

Next up: I'm not sure--maybe a poppy Dutch Eurovision song.

Take my heart as a token, it's no use to me; I don't need it, it's broken

I've been meaning to post the following song for a while now, but at the rate I'm going, I'm never going to get around to it (watch me end up posting it two days from now), so I thought I'd post the music video for it.

Periodically I fall for this certain type of R&B song--pretty, melodic, sad...Ne-Yo's "So Sick" and Mario Vazquez's "Gallery" (which Ne-Yo wrote) come to mind. Norwegian (Indonesian-born) singer (from Idol, I think) Wisnu's "Love Like That" falls into that category. I suppose it's arguably generic, and maybe it's just tradition now that I take one of these sort of songs to heart every now and again, but "Love Like That" has hooked me in. It's not mind-blowing, but it crept up on me and I soon found myself really liking it in a "I really wouldn't mind hearing that on the radio" way.

For what it's worth, I think it's written and produced by Stargate (who, among other things, have often worked with Ne-Yo, including on "So Sick"). I wish I knew more about music to describe them, but there's a certain set of notes that keeps repeating--it's what makes the song.

Wisnu's single "Love Like That" is available for purchase here (digital).

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Babe I'm gonna get you back, gonna show you what I'm made of

Though it's been officially fall for a few days now, today was the first day that it really felt like it--the unseasonable 90-plus degree heat of the past few days was replaced with rain, falling leaves, and a grayness that seemed to seep into everywhere and erase all vestiges of the sun. With the weather like that, my plan to post this song was truly set; it's very much an end of summer song.

Yes, you thought we'd be taking a break from songs involving Espen Lind for a while, didn't you? Well, not quite yet, though today it's not just about him--it's also about Kurt Nilsen, Alejandro Fuentes, and Askil Holm. All four are Norwegian and are signed to the same record label, I think, which led to them going on tour together in 2006, singing a mix of classics and their own hits, but all together. They do make sort of an odd-looking group, but who cares when they sound as good together as they do? The tour and album (a recording of it) found incredible popularity, as did the lead single from it, their version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." The song I'm posting, though, isn't that one; instead, it's a song that I love hearing just about any version of, so long as it stays "pretty." Actually, I take that back--browsing through iTunes, there's an awful lot of bad covers of it. Why so many trance and punk covers? Maybe this is a better way to put it: if someone sang it on Idol and did at least a passable job, I'd love it; in my eyes, the song is just that strong.

Boys of Summer--the Don Henley song loses about a minute or so in this cover, which is fine with me. The four guys' voices really do sound fantastic together, and this song suits them perfectly they can do wistfulness well. Why someone so paranoid about birthdays should love listening to a song emphasizing getting older, I have no idea (the Don Henley video does my head in--the bit with the guy looking miserable in the office?). I know this isn't the sort of song you'd call "poptastic" by any stretch and I imagine if there was any sort of ideological basis to my love for pop beyond "I enjoy it," this is the sort of song I should hate, but I love it. It's just such a hypnotic and well-written song.

To buy the album Hallelujah Live, go here (physical).

Edit: I forgot to mention that Jonathan Fagerlund's next single will be the excellent "Playing Me," which I'm really excited about--I hope it does well. And I hope it's available for purchase on iTunes worldwide and from Klicktrade regardless of region again.

Next up: maybe an American singer.

Du spann ett nät av lögner men du kunde aldrig snärja mig

Mini-update on two Eurovision winners:

Helena Paparizou has a new song out in Greece. It's called "To Fili Tis Zois" (which I hear means "The Kiss Of Life") and you can listen to it here, apparently (I say "apparently" because my computer seems to have decided it doesn't want to cooperate with 95% of online Windows Media Player things at the moment; I have heard a low quality version of it elsewhere, though). YouTube also has a thirty second clip of the actual music video (updated) the whole music video. It's no "Mambo," "Gigolo," or "Game Of Love," but at least it's better than "Three Is A Magic Number." I think I'll have to listen to it a few more times before I reach a conclusion. It does have guitars and sounds sort of moody.

Charlotte Perrelli has a new (ish) song on her MySpace. It's called ""Jag är tillbaks"" (which is a nice promising title--"I am back") and, interestingly, when you play it, it says it's from 2008. It's uptempo, breezy, sort of disco-y, and I really like it. With "Som du," this brings us to two songs without an album (yet) so far.

Anyhow, Expressen ran an article about it yesterday and apparently it's about her troubles with Bert Karlsson. She was meant to sing the song in the 2003 Melodifestivalen, but I think it's message/background meant she wasn't allowed to. According to the article, the song will be released in a few weeks.

You'll always be the one

ESC Today is going to give me a heart attack with all this "Selma news" that turns out to not ever really be as big as I'm hoping it will be--first the whole "guess what? She'll be involved in Söngvakeppni Sjónvarpsins...but just as a judge" thing, and now the headline "Selma song sees UK single release." Can you imagine my excitement?

Well, it's "All I Know Of Love," a two year old duet she's done that featured on Icelandic singer Cortes's album, and it's being released as a b-side. Basically, nothing fantastic or worth getting excited about (I imagine I'd like it a lot more if Cortes wasn't such an operatic singer--that's just not my preferred style). Sigh. Some day!

On the other hand, they did alert me to the fact that you can preorder a signed copy of Martin Stenmarck's new album Det är det pojkar gör när kärleken dör (has he been taking album naming lessons from Lena Philipsson?) here. Lead single "100 år från nu (Blundar)" is still a fantastic song (it was really nice to see it top the Swedish singles chart last week, even if how much the singles chart [as opposed to, say, radio play or albums sales] means is debatable), so I'm very excited to hear more. It's released November 7.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


No way!

I didn't bother to look anything up about Jacques Terre'blanche before the last post--I mean, wasn't he pretty much out of commercial music? And there used to be practically nothing about him on the Internet--but, shockingly, he's back back back. New album called The Colour Red coming out mid-October, apparently.

I love how his very own press release seems to know what to focus on: "gorgeous," "deliciously handsome," and, of course, the mention of his famous shirtless Idol performance...and I quote: "shirtless and body painted, he blew the audiences away with his amazing rendition of the classic song, as well as yielding the now infamous torso that had female fans around South Africa swooning for weeks."

Given that it looks like the album will be jazzy with a little R&B influence (it apparently has a song with Akon), though, probably the only reason to be excited for it is new promotional pictures. Which we've already got online now, don't we? Oh well--at least the world can rejoice that the Fabio-like hair is gone.

(Yes, I know I'm being rubbish at the moment--I'll try to post something classier tomorrow, 'K?)

Who I am depends on what I've done

Anwar Robinson (finalist on some season of one of the seasons of American Idol) and Heinz Winckler (winner of the first season of Idols in South Africa; he's done some really good stuff over the years) are apparently both going to be appearing in Rent. Following the news that Anthony Callea is appearing in it (not with them--although theoretically they could do a tour together, since Anwar is playing Tom, Anthony's playing Mark, and Heinz is playing Roger), is this the thing for Idols to do now? I mean, I've always known them to do musicals, but what's with the sudden Rent mania?

I suppose if you've been dying to see Heinz Winckler live, now's your chance (if you live in the U.S.)--the tour starts in Pennsylvania this October. I'm not planning on going, though it's mildly tempting if only to pretend to be a crazed fan (I really like Heinz, but I wouldn't say I'm an intense fan)--I can't imagine too many people here have all three of his albums (and a German single!) and I've never gotten the chance to be truly fangirly live, and I should probably practice before seeing someone I'd actually want to be fangirly about.

Obviously, though, Heinz appearing in Rent comes nowhere near rivaling second season South African Idols' finalist Jacques Terre'blanche's musical career--which, as far as I know, just consists of starring in a musical version of Debbie Does Dallas that was produced by and featuring Caprice, but let's face it, no one's ever going to top that in terms of musical career, are they? There's no point in even trying.

May not know a thing about you, you don't know a thing about me

Given that I'm writing about Jennifer Brown, I do feel maybe a bit bad by not posting, say, "Tuesday Afternoon," which has a more distinctive sound and maybe gives a better sense of creativity. Really, though, I can't help featuring the song I am--some songs are just so comforting and sweet you can't help but love them (though "Tuesday Afternoon" is great as well!). Stepping back for a second, Jennifer is Swedish. She's released four albums so far; from what I understand, though I haven't heard the first two, she changed her style somewhat after the first two--I think she got a little less soul and a little more pop (though I don't think that "pop" really sums up Vera--I mean, it is, but that doesn't really capture what it sounds like). The song I'm posting today is from Vera, her third album, but I'd also (or instead) recommend looking into her fourth album, Home. (She did take a while to release Home, but surely we've got to be due for another album sort of soon, maybe in the next year or so? It's been four years, I think.)

Alive--this is one of those songs that just makes me want to sigh and say "lovely." Sweet, simple, and uplifting, I'd say it's also one of Jennifer's more straightforwardly pop songs.

To buy Jennifer Brown's third album Vera, go here (physical; it's going for only a little over a dollar on Amazon Marketplace) or here (digital).

YouTube also has the video for "Tuesday Afternoon," which you can watch/listen to below.

Next up: maybe another Swedish singer with a distinctive voice. Probably a cover coming out of Norway, though.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Que 24 heures c'est trop court dans ma journée

If you're looking for young-sounding French pop by a female singer, Alizée is the more credible option--and that's certainly no bad thing; anyone who can give us a song as amazing as "J'ai pas vingt ans" is a popstar I have a lot of time for (and speaking of Alizée, she's back as well--check out the lead single for her upcoming non-Mylene Farmer assisted album over at Into The Groove). However, I have to admit I'll probably always (well, at least for the near future) have an interest as well in Lorie, the more bubblegummy, less credible, and yes, more cheesy of the two. Anyone who can create as fantastic a pop song as "Fashion Victim" is someone worth having around (and the dancey "On chante" is great as well, among some of her other good songs--I'll really have to post that at some point)! She's back now, releasing a new single in the lead up to her fifth studio album, and, though it's not going to change the world, I really like it.

Je vais vite--like most of Lorie's songs, this is pretty much straight-up danceable pop, though maybe with a little electronic influence. It opens with noise from an airplane (helicopters and airplanes in the beginning of songs: always a good sign!) and proceeds into a nice chorus that's a little bleepy but far from minimal. It also throws in some piano, spacey sound effects, the word and sound "beep," noise from the people on the plane, and strings, all the while keeping that pop-with-some-dance-and-electronic-stuff core. Basically, it's catchy and makes me wish I knew French to sing along with it. I wouldn't argue by any stretch that it's a revolution in Lorie's sound, but I do think it's slightly more grownup-sounding (not that that really matters to me), thought from what I've heard (I don't have all her albums) I think Rester la meme included a little growing up as well; I think that's certainly what she's trying to do with her sound, anyway (it's obvious even down to the new image she's gone with for this era).

Lorie's fifth album 2lorenmoi (which I've also seen written as 2lor en moi) isn't out yet (it's due out November 19), but you'll be able to order it from here (physical).

Speaking of French singles, here's a mini-update on some artists I like or have written about:

Nyco has wisely gone with "Paura," one of his album's stand-out tracks, as the second single. Has he had much success so far? If not, I don't see this turning around, but that'd be a shame.

Nâdiya of "Tous ces mots" (which I wrote about last year) and "Roc" has a new single for a new album; it's called "Vivre ou survivre" and marks somewhat of a changed sound; I'd say it's more Eurodance-influenced (thought it's not really that Eurodance-sounding; the hard beats just remind me of that). Sadly, at the first few listens, I'm not all that impressed--maybe I want it to be faster or something. Still, I'm hoping I change my mind later; I still listen to and love "Tous ces mots," which is this fantastic aggressive '80's-sounding pop song that should soundtrack The Fast and the Furious--if those movies deserved a song that good. The chorus of "Vivre ou survivre" just doesn't feel hooky to me yet. There's a montage video to listen to it on YouTube if you want to. I think you're just better off listening to "Tous ces mots" below, though. If you don't think Nâdiya is an ace popstar by the end of this video, something may be wrong with you.

Oh, what the heck--here's the video for "Roc" as well. The song isn't as strong as "Tous ces mots" mainly because it feels more pasted together, but watching the video somehow manages to make you completely forget that and feel like you've been swept into a huge cheering stadium at the best '80's revival ever (even better is that the song itself actually contains those crowd noises, which alone pretty much make it amazing)--and really, I love it and think it's fantastic (though not as good as "Tous ces mots"), though I know it's not really all that strong a song. I guess it's sort of a song that gets by on sheer attitude and craziness.

(By the way, I keep seeing references that imply that she's shouting "Roc" as in "Rock" as in "Rock n Roll," and they could be playing on that, but I think--though I could be wrong--it's actually referring to a rock as in a stone--lines like "solid like a rock" make me think so, at least.)

I think there was someone else I wanted to write about here, but I've forgotten now--I'll mention it tomorrow or later if it comes to me.

Next up: look, two days without posting a Swedish song! Which probably means I won't be able to resist and I'll go back to Sweden tomorrow. Or maybe another Lorie song. Or Nâdiya.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Just knowing there's a chance for us could save me from disaster

Is Ginza's description of Ola's new album the recipe for a fantastic album or what? If we pretend "poppigare" means "poppier" (I have no idea if that's the case or not), then apparently Good Enough has more hits (of course everyone says that about their new album) and fewer ballads than Given To Fly and is much poppier--considering Given To Fly was pretty much pure pop (OK, I guess a few of the songs were R&B influenced), this is going to be a total pop overdose, isn't it? And I love that!

His newest single "S.O.S." is still COMPLETELY FANTASTIC--you can listen to a low quality radio rip of it on YouTube below (it sounds better in high quality, of course, but this gives an idea of it).

It's really, really good. The sort of music I love. And totally quote-worthy.

Good Enough is out October 3 and can be purchased here.

Uno sguardo può durare un giorno

Tiziano Ferro (see also: Pinkie's post on him) has had some controversy over the years: demeaning statements about Mexican women, for one (he subsequently went on a sort of apology tour that included, among other things, getting his legs waxed on Mexican TV), and accusations of plagiarism for another. One of the songs on his 2001 album was said to sound like an R. Kelly song and when his 2006 single "Stop! Dimentica," came out, everyone said it ripped off Kelly Osbourne's "One Word." But, to be fair, didn't everyone say that ripped off something else, too (Visage's "Fade To Grey")? As long as we keep getting good songs, I guess I'm happy. Anyhow, those accusations certainly didn't seem to harm its success, considering how big a hit it was in Italy. I've read some people say that it was his popularity that opened the doors for people like Paolo Meneguzzi and Luca Dirisio, some of the few Italian popstars I like (I'm sure there must be more good Italian pop out there, but, considering it's a language I love listening to in music, I've found/know surprisingly little, though more than what I've just listed--pretty much all of it through Pinkie's posts), so if nothing else, we should be grateful to him for that.

Stop! Dimentica--the beat for this is dark electronic, half-dance stuff (as you'd guess, given the accusations), but the vocal melody over the top is more solid pop stuff, albeit dramatic processed pop. "Dramatic" is actually a really good word for this song, but it's dramatic in a very catchy way. As you might expect from a song with "stop" in the title, a good deal of its sung melody relies on pauses in the music and words that seem short, tossed out and quickly cut off. Ripoff or not, this really must have been one of 2006's best singles.

To buy Tiziano Ferro's third album, Nessuno è solo, go here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: maybe that Portuguese group.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

All the world will stop to watch you shine

Australian singer Shannon Noll became famous when he took second to Guy Sebastian on the first season of Australian Idol. Since then, he's gone on to become one of the franchise's more successful singers, molding himself into a pop-rock artist. Apparently he's just recently released his third album, which I've not heard anything from (nor, to be honest, have I looked for anything from it; I've got no idea if I'm missing out on anything). The song I'm posting today was the lead single for his second album, Lift.

Shine--the first time I heard this song, I really thought I'd heard it before, thought maybe it was a cover or something; in reality, it's not and I'm relatively sure I'd never heard it anywhere before--I think it just taps into that "instant familiarity" vein, which, in this case, is a good thing--it's comfortable and reassuring because of that, and really, that's what I'm looking for in an upbeat inspirational half-rocker like this. It's also really really catchy--just about anything that can possibly be turned into a hook is, though, once again, it's not an aggressive sort of catchy, just the sort that gets instantly stuck in your head and has you singing along or, at least, finding the song a good listen. The repetition of words or phrases ("get up get out get out," "c'mon c'mon," "go now go now go now," and "hey now hey now hey now" all come to mind) are definitely examples of hooks, but I think you get the best idea of what I mean when I say that it just throws all the hooks it can at you in the middle section (rising guitar parts, "hey" chant, the whole chorus). Yeah, the lyrics are basic, but if they were anything other, the whole simple upbeat feel of the song would be lost--it wouldn't feel like the great big anthemic singalong song it is otherwise.

To buy Shannon Noll's second album, Lift, go here (physical). I'd also recommend "Lift" and "All I Want Is More" from that album and "Drive" from the first, though I may be missing out on some good songs, since I've never listened to the full first album and haven't listened to the second all the way through in a while.

Next up: maybe a Portuguese group.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Another year over, but we're still together

Time for a McFly news break.

New single "The Heart Never Lies" (which you can read a lovely write-up of over at I'm Always Right) will come in several versions, but the most important thing is that we'll be getting 2 b-sides: their cover of Rihanna's "Umbrella" (my first thought was "What?!? that a good match? And it'll probably get them burned by everyone," but then I realized that Scott Simons's cover of it has at least made me possibly open to the idea of covers of it) and the Dougie-penned and -featuring "Ignorance." Given Dougie's involvement in "Transylvania" and "Silence Is A Scary Sound," that could be something to really look forward to.

The video for "The Heart Never Lies" just recently debuted. This song, if there is any justice, should really win them some crossover appeal. Of course, if there was any justice, "Transylvania" would have been a big hit (as "Friday Night" should have been) or at least silenced all those "they're so generic" arguments, so I'm not counting on anything. Honestly, though, as long as you don't hate guitars, give it a listen, or at least listen to part of it.

As Paul mentioned, McFly are also participating in that whole Radio 1 covers album; they've done a version of the Jam's "A Town Called Malice," which you can listen to on YouTube here.

Finally, at the same time that I like them for their music, I also affirm my right to appreciate if any of them is looking particularly fine. Normally, I'm all about the spiky popstar hair, yeah? And the almost-shaved look is one I strongly disapprove of?

Well, there are exceptions to every rule.

Not gonna run away, not gonna let it go

I swear, up until just a few hours ago, I had plans to post something that wasn't Swedish. I was listening to the song I was planning to share as I walked around, really enjoying it, thinking about what I'd say about it--and now...sigh...I've been sidetracked by yet another Swedish singer. I swear this wasn't planned! I really will try to post some non-Swedish songs soon.

So, anyhow, on to where we are now: Emilia de Poret. To be honest, I don't know that much about her, except that she used to release music (a few singles) under another name and in 2005 released her debut album, A Lifetime In A Moment. That album found her collaborating with Jörgen Elofsson, but apparently she's working with Arnthor Birgisson of Maratone for her second album, which her MySpace (where you can hear the Amatiello Remix of the following song, which I like despite the fact that I really shouldn't) says is due out this fall.

I Can--this is an adorable poppy (maybe with a just a little R&B influence) song--sweet and cute. It's got sort of an old school pop sound and isn't as "ohmygosh, poppoppop!" as, say, Marie Serneholt's "That's The Way My Heart Goes"--it's a more laid-back sort of pop than that. There's a nice fluttery, up-and-down backing. I can already tell I'm going to have it stuck in my head for ages, but it's a nice pleasant sort of catchy, one you don't mind having in your head. This is also the sort of song where it's all too easy, having played it once, to just think "let's listen to it one more time," and, before you know it, you've listened to it five times in a row and show no signs of stopping--it's just really easy to listen to. Oh, and I'm going crazy trying to remember which song one of the sound effects in this one is also in--it's high-pitchd and at 0:08 (among other times) and I know I've heard it before (and listened to it a lot, I think).

I don't think any stores are selling Emilia de Poret's single "I Can" (if there are any, let me know), so it'll only be posted for a couple of days. Since I can't point you in the direction of any stores to buy this single from, the best I can do is say that you can buy her earlier album, A Lifetime In A Moment, here (physical) and say to keep an eye on her MySpace and official site.

Next up: that Australian singer, I think.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Kick back, the radio's playin' our song

I'm starting this post and I still don't know which song to feature. I mean, how do you even begin to pick a standout on an album like this? I know there's some mixed response to it, but all I can say is that I love it. I guess if I really think about it, make a conscious effort to compare and analyze, there's something...hmmm...I'm not sure what the word would be, but I guess there's something different, at least, between the songs on this album and, say, "Midnight Heartache" or "Cry For You" (my favorites from In Orbit, I think, though "Looking For Love" and "It Doesn't Matter" are close contenders as well and the album is so consistent that it's difficult to really choose). Maybe Dancing Shoes feels more like a "good times" album (I wish I could think of the right adjective)? So I think I understand where people are coming from and it'll be interesting to see where I stand in a year. The thing is, though, when I'm listening to Dancing Shoes, I'm enjoying it too much to begin to have thoughts like that.

Start It Up--so I suppose there might be some songs on the album that would be better choices to post, but I just need to rave about something, though I mentioned it yesterday: the "I want it, I need it" part which comes in two-thirds way through the song. I don't like it as much when all the music drops out and that's all we've got, but wow, do I love it as backing vocals. Why have I keyed in on that? No idea, but it's just so lovely, so catchy (and with the main vocal melody being a nice complementary floating thing there), that I sometimes think I listen to the song over and over again just to hear them, and it's probably the reason it's getting posted instead of "Sad Song" or "Taboo," which probably should be here instead (though I have a pretty deep love for "Follow Me" as well at the moment--seriously, pipes! There need to be more pipes in music! [And "Just An Illusion" gets played an awful does--oh, well, everything]). Of course, the song also has numerous other draws--the catchy repeated nonsense syllables and the little electronic riff that accompanies them maybe being the most notable.

Preorder September's third album, Dancing Shoes, here (physical). Really, it's very much worth it.

Next up: a Portuguese group or Australian singer.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

So here I am, let me be just what you're looking for

Gah! Could so much good music stop coming out, please? With the BWO and September albums hitting the Internet in the space of a few days, how on Earth am I supposed to get any work done?

(Yes, I know, alternatively I could have just showed some restraint and waited until my physical copies got here, but I couldn't help it.)

All right, so the real reason for this post: have you ever heard an album and on the first listen through, you love it so much that you just absolutely have to let the world know, even if you've really got nothing to say besides repeating the words "love" and "fantastic" about 50 million times? Yeah, that's how I am at the moment. I'm trying to remember when the last time I was this "oh my gosh, I need to talk to someone who'll get what I'm going on about when I rave about this because no one around here is going to get it" was--could it have been the third semifinal of Melodifestivalen?

"Taboo"--I'm addicted. Perfect, catchy, playful.

Plus, "Follow Me"--pipes! Why aren't there more pipes in music? Love love love it.

And "Start It Up"'s opening--complete "OMG" moment for me. Some of the catchiest "duh-duh-duh-duh"s you'll hear in music this year in this song. And oh, those "I want it, I need it"s--I'm in love with this song. Who am I kidding, I'm in love with the whole album.

"Because I Love You"--it's got some guitar strums. And it's so catchy. Very summery and light but not really floaty--it feels anchored, which is a good thing.

"Just An Illusion"--disco! Old school! "So here I am, let me be just what you're looking for" and "what you see is nothing like the real me" this.

"Sad Song"--"it ain't a crime to sing a sad song, one about love, now that it's gone"--handclaps! Handclaps!

Basically, I could do this for every song on the album. I think it actually gets better as it goes along, and I'm not sure how that's possible, given how amazing the songs that open it are. Buy it! Really! Have you bought it yet? You really should.

If I don't end up writing about it tomorrow, the best song of the last five years must've come out, because I'm not sure what else could possibly distract me.

(You haven't preordered the album yet, have you? Go do it!)

(September = Swedish dance-pop artist, if you've never heard of her--and if you've never heard of her, you better go buy her second album, In Orbit, too.)

(Edit: I'm probably the world's worst person for recognizing samples, mainly because I tend to have never heard the song being sampled before, so if anyone wants to step in and point any out, I'd love that.)

När kalla nätter sänker sig och fängslar mig, då väntar jag

I really will try to do some stuff that's less "Swedish songs everyone already knows, loves, and has" soon, but after mentioning Jessica Andersson yesterday, I have to post this. Jessica first became famous on the TV show Fame Factory (speaking of Fame Factory, I've been thinking about doing a Fame Factory special, but 1.) it's more Swedish stuff and I don't want to completely overload people, and 2.) I'm incredibly far from an expert--it would just be what I know and love...oh, and 3.) I can never seem to make it all the way through a special without getting distracted, though I think I've eventually finished all of them); though she dropped out partway through the season to have a baby, she would be teamed up with eventual winner Magnus Bäcklund to form Fame, the duo that won Melodifestivalen in 2003, released an album which has some good songs but doesn't contain most of their best ones, reentered Melodifestivalen 2004 and made it to the finals, and went their separate ways for solo careers with the possibility of reforming at some point left on the table. Both Magnus and Jessica entered Melodifestivalen in 2006; Magnus made it to the finals via the Andra Chansen round with the nice but not amazing "The Name Of Love" (I guess it's pop-rock), but poor Jessica ([in]famously clad in hotpants) didn't make it out of her semifinal, despite having one of the year's best songs.

Kalla Nätter--I don't really think of this as true schlager, though maybe it is--it's more along the lines of really poppy electro-pop than something like, say, Linda Bengtzing's "Jag ljuger så bra" from the same year is. If I had to describe it in just one word, though, I'd go with this: fantastic. Seriously, dramatic in the right poppy way, catchy, a chorus you can sing along with even if you speak no Swedish--it's a song that does everything right (and yes, we even get a key change in it). Maybe imagine if Rachel Stevens was Swedish?

To buy the Melodifestivalen 2006 album, which includes Jessica Andersson's song "Kalla Nätter," go here (physical). I really hope we get an album from her some day.

Next up: maybe a Danish singer.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I'll give you all that I can offer, the rest is all up to you

What does this make this, my sixth post today? Oh well--I couldn't help it when I noticed an ESC Today article about Iceland's national finals for Eurovision--apparently they're starting September 29 (which is really early). At the very least, those are something worth getting excited about; Iceland has sent a lot of great entries lately and Jónsi's "Segðu mér," which made it to the overall national final but didn't win, was great (though admittedly I wasn't paying close attention to most countries beyond Sweden--I'll get there eventually). The real reason I had to post, though? Selma news! Though, in the vein of the Jessica Andersson "news" below, it's probably not anything really worth getting excited about, but I so wish she'd make a commercial music comeback (especially if it was in the vein of "If I Had Your Love"): she's going to a jury member for the national finals.

Though I wasn't a huge fan of Iceland's 2007 entry (I haven't listened to it much, but I remember thinking it was pleasant when it was performed), they're overdue for some success, so I hope everything goes well for them this year.

Speaking of Iceland and Eurovision, Birgitta has a solo song on the Astrópía soundtrack which I remember thinking wasn't bad, but it's since been taken off MySpace; it was in Icelandic, though.

Men vi vågar igen

Sorry, another YouTube video, but, after writing about Jessica, I just have to reiterate how much I love this song. My favorite from Melodifestivalen 2004 (I know, I know, I'm sorry, Lena! And Shirley!), I think.

It's so fantastic, so hard-hitting, so perfect! Love it. Love the performance. Love everything.

Ja kello käy

I'm also still obsessed with Antti Tuisku's latest single. "Ei Aikaa" is so darn cute (in sound, not necessarily lyrics)! And parts of the video for it are truly lovely to watch from a sort of cinematographic perspective (seriously, I want to live "there," when "there" is only a bunch of random locations, most of which are probably computer generated or enhanced and are lit by an icy blue light. And feature sand, usually falling)...

...but other parts feel awkward. I really, really wish someone would just take Antti aside and talk to him. Maybe Jonah?

Having sex on a night safari, cruisin' like a star

More random news bits:

BWO's new music video is apparently expensive and Alexander Bard caught fire on the set of it (he's OK save for a scar on his leg now). Apparently BWO worked in "the old Cheiron studio" while recording the album; Alexander says it felt a little holy.

Eric Dill's (former Click Five lead singer) new role model is Jared Leto--and I'm not just saying that because he's dyed his hair black; his A&R guy says he wants his new material to sound like Jared Leto's band 30 Seconds to Mars. I give up. Of course, the same article then goes on to say he's written with Kara DioGuardi, so make of that what you will. (Also, in a pop connection fact for you, rumor has it he's dating Ashlee Simpson backup singer turned popstar Lucy Walsh.)

(Incidentally, I'm probably going to take any excuse I can to write about BWO in the near future just so I can quote these new lyrics from them as much as possible. I can't wait until I actually get my copy so I can look through the booklet and know them for sure.)

Say a word, you got it

Bad news: Jessica Andersson's official site denies the rumors that she now wants to sing in Fame again (as an Aftonbladet article reported, or at least created some fuzziness about by focusing on the wrong or less important thing from an interview with its headline)--well, sort of; she doesn't rule out doing it some day, but there are no plans for it at the moment.

Good news: why are their no plans for her to do Fame again? Because she's currently focused on musicals...and her "solo career"!

I know, I know, I'm probably reading too much into this, and the likelihood of her launching an album at this point, off the back of no single or Melodifestivalen entry (though she could release I single, I suppose; there's no guarantee of how it'd perform though), doesn't seem that great, but I'm hoping that at least means the door is open to us getting some more non-musical music from her eventually. Grasping at straws and all that, but I can hope...even if who knows when it'll ever occur.

Anyhow, that aforementioned Aftonbladet article also reported that once the musical she's currently starring in ends, she'll think about what she wants to do. She wants to release her own album and, I think, enter Melodifestivalen again (though that part, like all of it, could be me misunderstanding). I don't think she has a record contract at the moment, though.

So basically, no one get too excited, but I keep hoping we'll hear more from her, so I can't help reporting it.

I've toyed with posting "Kalla Nätter" or "Du får för dig att du förför mig" for a while now because both are fantastic, but never done it mainly because I'm guessing most people who would be interested have them already. I might end up doing it anyway, though--they're must-hears.

Don't tell anyone or you'll be just another regret

Fact: the very first concert I ever went to was by the All-American Rejects. I didn't really have any idea who they were at the time, but I enjoyed it and my curiosity was piqued afterwards (though I think my main impression leaving it was "wow, Tyson Ritter is ridiculously skinny"). "Dirty Little Secret," the lead single for their second album, was released in 2005 and seemingly took forever to get popular; I didn't really mind, though, because the long drawn out process of picking up radio and video play provided lots of opportunities for me to annoy people by saying "ooo, I love this song!" and turning up the volume literally every time it came on. What can I say? It's rare that I song I love takes off in the U.S., so I had to take advantage of the opportunity while I had it.

Dirty Little Secret--yes, this is a guitarry song. Unlike many of their other singles (which I like as well, let me say), though, I think it has a strong pop core. The guitars here are focused instead of just creating this fuzzy background of noise (something which a lot of bands do that I can't stand); that's almost always a must in terms of winning me over. There's no time for messing about with rambling guitar solos or just playing for the sake of noise--everything here is sharp, crisp, completely in the service of hooking you in. Everything from those opening strikes of the guitar to that verse crescendoing into the catchy chorus to how the guitars drop out and become more sparse and staccato-like going into the following verse to the whole middle 8/middle section (strong, moving into a half-shout, quick guitar break, quiet repeat of the chorus and then explosion into that great chorus again--love it all; I think this whole middle section may be my favorite part) is designed to draw you in, and it does. Upbeat, too, just the way I like it. With music and vocal parts that are both strongly catchy, this song was irresistible from the first time I heard it, and it's still one of my favorite driving and "shout along with" songs.

To buy the All-American Rejects' second album, Move Along (the title track and second single is truly fantastic), go here (physical) or here (digital). If you're looking for something else in this sort of poppy vein, though, I'd also recommend at least getting "Swing Swing" from their self-titled debut album.

Next up: maybe something British or Swedish.

Monday, September 17, 2007

If I'm telling the truth tonight, I'm looking for a way of saying goodbye

Super quick post today as I'm attempting to finish something I probably should have started earlier (yay for procrastination! Or not). As promised, Bryan Rice today, and just check a few posts below this for information on him.

I mentioned yesterday that there was something endearing about Bryan, and I've said before that I love his backstory--well, it's stuff like this (which yes, I know, has been filtered through the publicity machine) that makes me feel that way (remember, he used to be a backing and demo singer before making it big):

Bryan had recorded the song ["No Promises"] as a demo for the songwriters, Jonas Schroder and Lucas Sieber and, in fact, "No Promises" had been earmarked by several bigname pop artists who know that Denmark and Sweden's songwriters have pop hitmaking capabilities of epic proportions. Says Bryan: "I was given a copy of the song and I loved it. Of course, I couldn't help dreaming that it could be mine, never for a minute thinking that was possible. Then, about a year and a half after we recorded 'No Promises,' I got a call from the songwriters saying that the song was going to be on the soundtrack for Nynne and I said 'oh that's great, who's going to sing it?' They said it was my version but I was very skeptical because you know, there are big promises in the music business and I really didn't take it seriously. Then I heard it on the radio and I was like, 'OK, now it's beginning.'"

Which sort of makes me sad that Shayne would go on to have the bigger international hit with it...even if, unremixed, I prefer Shayne's version.

The song I'm posting today is his debut album's title track and the first song on it. Apparently it was "on hold" for Britney Spears, but Bryan got to release it. I'm sure there are loads of tracks you could say were "meant for Britney Spears," but ever since hearing that, I've been unable to listen to this mid-tempo, slightly mysterious-sounding (in a very mainstream way, if that makes sense) track without imagining her voice on it, which really isn't that difficult to do, especially if you envision it a little less "raw," a little less "with real instruments" (even if these aren't) sounding. I love how it's actually a breakup song--a title like "Confessional" sets up this idea of intimacy, but it's actually because of that intimacy that the singer feels able to confess that he's (/she's) "looking for a way of saying goodbye." When I actually bother to pay attention to them, there's actually a lot of lyrics in this song that I like.


To buy Bryan Rice's debut album Confessional, go here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: maybe a Swedish singer or group.

Fell in too far, and now I'm drowning, save me

This just in:

Linda Kiraly's "Can't Let Go" (MySpace here) is still totally obsess-worthy. Sigh. I wish it had taken off at U.S. radio. Maybe there's still a chance? Not only do I love the song, I still thing she has the potential to be the vehicle for some fantastic pop songs--she's got a great voice. America, start paying attention to good music!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Not a clue where I'm going, but going all out for you

I've been meaning to mention this for aaages now, but I only ever seemed to remember when I was away from a computer or otherwise unable to post: Danish singer Bryan Rice has a new single out. It's called "Good News" and is the second single and title track from his upcoming second album, which is coming out October 8. You can listen to part of it at his MySpace. I could be completely wrong on this, but I get the impression "I Lied" didn't take off like they wanted it to, so I'm worried for him. Fingers crossed, though--I know to some people his style of music would seem dull, but there's something about him that seems really endearing and I generally enjoy his music.

In case you've missed my earlier posts on Bryan or not heard of him before: backing singer and demo recorder turned national star when "No Promises," his song for Danish Bridget Jones film Nynne, took off. He had several other hits as well and even found some success outside of Denmark, though many of the songs on his album appeared/would go on to appear (usually the latter) on other artists' albums; most famously, Shayne Ward would cover (and in my eyes, improve on [because of the arrangement and production, not singing], though there's a remix of Bryan's version that I love at least as much as Shayne's version) "No Promises," and you might have heard Erik Segerstedt's cover of "Can't Say I'm Sorry."

My tentative Bryan "best of," based just on first album stuff: "Homeless Heart" (call me mushy or girly, but I love this ballad), "No Promises" (get the Weekend Wonderz mix), "In Your Room," "Confessional," and maybe throw in "Not Enough," "The Last Two On Earth," and "Can't Say I'm Sorry" too.

Actually...hmm, I've never posted "Confessional" before, have I? I may have to do that tomorrow!

Quiero decirte que sé que me equivoqué

It occurred to me today that I must love the sound of Denisse Guerrero getting her heart broken. Sure, Fantasía Pop's "One, Two, Three, GO!" has a punky pop-rock charm that's led to me getting "Oye niño, no tengas miedo" stuck in my head several times so far, but I don't think I could stand it if they released an album all in that sound; almost all of my favorite songs by Belanova, the ones that I think have that truly timeless sound, deal with heartbreak and not being with the one you want, whether it's because of a breakup or because you never could have them in the first place. Luckily, few bands can manage to make misery sound as sweet as Belanova without losing the emotional core you'd expect from the lyrics. With this, their third studio album, Belanova has been accused of going too pop, too commercial, and too young, and I could see how "One, Two, Three, GO!" would give you that impression, but the album also contains songs that aren't that far a departure from their sound on Dulce Beat. Like "Por tí," "Baila mi corazón" proves that, when they're on, Belanova can make surrendering to total joy sound just as sweet as they make misery sound, but "Cada que" and "Aún" hint at Belanova's forte: expressing longing. Even "Rockstar," despite its title and somewhat upbeat opening, is another example. Still, the true peak of the album comes midway through and is the song that follows "Rockstar."

Paso el tiempo--I don't think we quite get another song as perfect as "Niño" on this album, but "Paso el tiempo" is the closest we get, and it's possibly a sequel of sorts to it. I'm not sure if anyone else knows how to swoon as perfectly as Denisse; like "Niño," the chorus to this song makes me completely melt. The whole song does, to be honest, with lyrics that are simple but oh so perfect, but the way she uses her voice on the chorus, especially that first sentence--flawless. The chorus comes in two halves, and the opening lines of each half--"Quiero decirte que/sé que me equivoqué" ("I want to tell you that/I know that I was wrong" [or "made a mistake"]) and "Quiero decirte que/nunca te olvidaré" ("I want to tell you that/I will never forget you")--could not be better in sound or meaning. I know they look trite written out like that, but trust me, when sung in Denisse's voice over that synth-pop backing, they for all the world sound like someone has finally captured longing in song...and, surprisingly, it sounds slightly playful and definitely gorgeous--but no less heartbreaking.

And, because I haven't been able to get it out of my head since I first heard it, here's "One, Two, Three, GO!". It's been compared to Avril Lavigne and, though I see where that comparison is coming from--Denisse's voice does take on a schoolyard sort of tone and it does feel rockier--it's still not got the whirling guitar riffs I expect from an uptempo Avril song. It has a great shout-along chorus (opening with that "Oye niño, no tengas miedo" that I've had stuck in my head) and some backing "ohohOHoh"s and "hey! hey! hey!"s. I don't mind them dabbling in this, but, as I said, I hope it doesn't become their dominant style.

To buy Belanova's third album Fantasía Pop, go here (physical) or, if you live in the U.S., it's available on iTunes. After all the raving I did up above, I do feel the need to point out that, in my eyes, there's a good amount of filler on it, but to ignore the best songs on it would mean you're missing out on a lot.

Next up: maybe some dance music.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Boy, you got me stranded with you

Though the predominant opinion about this past year's American Idol seems to be that it was one of the worst years so far, I really disagree; I can't remember a time the last time I was so content with the top few contestants and I'll be very interested to hear what Blake Lewis comes up with for his debut album A.D.D. (which apparently stands for Audio Day Dream and is listed as coming out November 27). That said, I'm not sure whether it's because Sweden has better singers or better songwriters--both, probably--but Idol contestants from Sweden have much higher odds of releasing a good album or at least an album with some good songs on it. Agnes Carlsson, only nineteen years old, is one of them; in 2005, she won the second season of Idol in Sweden, a season which also included Sebastian Karlsson (the runner-up), Måns Zelmerlöw (fifth place), and Ola Svensson (eighth place), all of whom have released songs I like. Speaking of Måns, he and "Cara Mia" only got to compete in this year's Melodifestivalen because two songs were disqualified; Agnes's "More Than A Girl" was one of them, disqualified when Agnes talked about it to the press, and we still haven't heard it--I hope we get to at some point! I think my two favorite songs by her are "Emotional" from her first album and "Love Is All Around" from her second, but since I was introduced to those songs by Catchy Tunes of Sweden, it wouldn't be right to post them; instead, here's her second single, the first one released after her winner's single "Right Here, Right Now" and which is almost as good as the two songs I just mentioned.

Stranded--for some reason, this song reminds me a little of Whitney Houston, though I've really not listened to that much of her work and don't have much basis for saying that. It's upbeat, catchy, and super-poppy, a song that feels refreshing and is sure to bring a smile to your face.

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

By the way, I mentioned Ola up there briefly--I think I may be slightly obsessed with his new single "S.O.S."--it's great! And I actually get what he was talking about with the '80's comparisons now.

Next up: maybe Belanova. I'll get back to them eventually, really.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Jag har allt jag vill ha, det är klart jag mår bra

I forgot to mention this yesterday, but there's an interview with Linda Bengtzing over at the Schlager Systems. Some highlights: her favorite song on her Ingenting Att Förlora is "Medan Du Sov," she just recorded a song she'd like to take her all the way to Eurovision, and she wants her next album (coming out in 2008) to be in both English and Swedish.

Y esta calma que rompe el corazón, de esta guerra yo he sido el perdedor

I said last November that "Silencio" was the best track on Spanish singer David Bisbal's latest album Premonición and that I'd write about it soon--well, it's been less than a year, so that counts as "soon," right? It's a little pointless by this point, I suppose, with "Silencio" already having been a hit in several countries and even having spawned a hit Dutch cover version, but it's still my second favorite song from him, after "Ave María," I think, so it's worth sharing anyhow. David was on Operación Triunfo, the TV series that began the whole Fame/Star Academy thing and has been one its most successful contestants despite not winning, even if his sales have dropped with this latest album. In case you haven't heard it before, though, here, from his first album, is "Ave María," which is, in my eyes, a modern classic--incredibly catchy and nothing but pure unadulterated fun. It reminds me a little bit of Ricky Martin when he was still having fun, but all in Spanish, slightly updated, and maybe slightly less cheesy (though still cheesy, and the video's really cheesy--I love cheese, though) because it has absolutely no pretensions about being anything "hip" or other than a great good time song.

Silencio--why David messed about with so many other songs in some countries before releasing this, I'll never understand; it's easily Premonición's highlight. It's just as catchy as "Ave María" but somewhat less "Latin" sounding and with more guitars, or at least more typical guitars. That chorus, though--it's a perfect pop chorus--I really can't get over how catchy it is! The whole song is catchy, actually; even if you don't speak any Spanish, I dare you not to be singing along with the chorus after one listen ("Ave María" only slightly edges it out in the contest to be my favorite because after one listen to that, not only are you singing along, you're fighting the urge to dance along as well). Not many songs about the silence that remains after the end of a relationship will leave you feeling this good.

To buy David Bisbal's third studio album, Premonición, go here (physical) or here (digital) or visit iTunes.

Next up: maybe Belanova.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

365 je prošlo dana

I don't know any more about Saša, Tin i Kedžo than Wikipedia tells me, so I have to assume that they were formed in 2003 as a result of a TV contest, were the first Croatian boy band, and weren't particularly happy about being forced to join the group (this last part comes as no surprise, given some of the stuff they say on the album, even if it supposedly joking). Apparently they released one album before breaking up, though I think they may have competed in Croatia's national final for Eurovision in 2005 before going their separate ways. And yes, like most boy bands, I get the impression they had no credibility, but I've found myself quite liking the following songs.

365--this is really pretty catchy, though, since it's not in English, it might take you a few listens to get used to. It knows when to sprinkle in a dose of "stop-start" rhythm to keep you musically interested, throws in a few sirens for good measure. It's a good entry in the worldwide boy band catalogue, but it's also got a spin to it that doesn't really sound like what we'd get from, say, a U.S. or UK boy band, I think (watch this end up being a cover of some British boy band's song), though I guess I could imagine a German-but-singing-in-English boy band covering it--this version would probably be better, though; it just seems to suit the rhythm of the language better.

Neodoljivo--this is no world-changing song by any stretch, but the chorus is nicely catchy. The song is mid-tempo and I imagine it's supposed to be slightly edgy boy band in sound. There's some nice "ahhh"-ing in the vocals at various points.

I've never used a Croatian music store before, but you could consider using this one if you want to buy Saša, Tin i Kedžo's album Instant (they could also be listed under Saša, Tin & Kedžo or Saša Tin Kedžo, depending on the store).

Next up: Belanova, probably; I just want to get a feel for the album before writing about it.

Look at the horizon, just look at the stars babe

It's been two months and I am still OBSESSED with Take That's "We Love To Entertain You," which is apparently a version of a song a German TV channel uses for promotion, but don't let that put you off, because it's SO. GOOD (in a really sweet, melodic, unassuming way). I just searched and couldn't believe I'd never mentioned it on here after You Don't Know Pop posted it, but it's surely one of my favorite songs of the year so far, so go download it.

Virtually all of my favorite songs from the reformed Take That have not been real album tracks (b-sides, bonus tracks, TV songs), so I'm really looking forward to "Rule The World" from Stardust--if the pattern holds, I should love it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Times can change and things can break, but you and I know where our hearts belong

Hi all! Sorry, but since I'm a little pressed for time today, it'll be a quick post; that doesn't mean the song's any less good, but it is less creative choice of singer. Anna Sahlene, or Sahlene as she went by for a while, is a Swedish singer who took Estonia to third place at Eurovision singing "Runaway" in 2002, but so far has criminally never made it out of the semifinals (not even to the second chance round) in Melodifestivalen, despite being a fantastic live performer and having had some great songs, though there's one of her two entries I prefer--and it's the one I'm posting today. If you've not heard anything else by her, though, I strongly recommend picking up her album It's Been A While (available on iTunes stores throughout the world); it's incredibly consistent and a truly great pop album. In fact, with such an abundance of great tracks on it, it's sort of a shame that I'm posting one of her best known songs, but I love it so much that I can't help it.

We're Unbreakable--sigh. I love this song. It works whether you're in a good mood or a bad one, whether you're just in the mood to sing along to something great or need some cheering up. It's once again one of those songs I don't want to call pop-rock because, though it's got guitars, they're just a part of the instrumentation, not particularly in your face or the overwhelming impression you leave the song with, so I'm not sure what to call it--just pop with guitars, I guess. "We're Unbreakable" is strongly upbeat in just the right fashion to never be annoying. In short, it's a fantastic pop song.

To buy Anna Sahlene's album It's Been A While, go here (physical; or check eBay) or here (digital) or visit iTunes, but remember that she was going by just "Sahlene" at the time. It's very much worth it--I guess it's a "girl pop" album, but that doesn't mean it's just for girls by any stretch. She went on to release Photograph afterwards, in a very different style, and then switch styles again for Melodifestivalen 2006, going disco. I really wish she'd release another album...though seeing her performing "Holding Out For A Hero" helped a little. Last I read she was due to star in a movie, I think.

Next up: maybe another female Swedish singer.