Monday, December 31, 2007

What's the worst that could happen baby if they knew?

I was going to try to hold back from posts beyond my countdown until I'd finished it, but I can't help it; instead, here's a compacted version of the things I've been itching to write about in recent days, in the form of songs I'm loving:

The-Dream feat. Rihanna, "Livin' A Lie" and Jordin Sparks & Chris Brown, "No Air"

A great pair of pop-R&B duets. I've written about "No Air" before, and it remains just as heavenly as it was back then, both in quality and in its feel of floating up among the clouds. The-Dream, best known this year for Rihanna's "Umbrella" and J. Holiday's "Bed" (though he's done other and earlier work), released his debut solo album a few weeks ago and, though I'd be fine never hearing the lead single again, this (so far) album track from it has captured me, got me transfixed, at least for the moment. It's simple, full of repetitive synth pulses, but it just works so well for me. It isn't necessarily a huge-sounding song, but I don't think I could ever get tired of hearing it on the radio (famous last words?). It's best heard with good headphones if you've got them and, of course, in good quality.

David Jordan, "Sun Goes Down"

I've been meaning to write about this for a while, since Popjustice featured it. Fantastic fantastic fantastic. I refused to watch the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie because the ending sounded just stupid, but this song could very well have been the soundtrack to all the pirate mania that came out after the first (and excellent) movie came out. That said, as much as it sounds very pirate-y, it's not pure novelty; it's really a well-done catchy song that just doesn't sound like anything else out there. The first chorus that opens the song is sparser than the rest of the song, by the way.

Natasha Bedingfield, "Pocketful Of Sunshine"

The title track to her upcoming American album, and, though it may seem unassuming, it's one of the most transporting songs I've heard this year, at least in that chorus and pre-chorus/bridge. After thinking "I Wanna Have Your Babies" was great, I've gone completely off of it and haven't bothered to check out the album N.B., but I still think she did some fantastic songs for her first album and am thrilled she's done something I like once again.

Cassie, "Is It You?"

I know this is months old, but I'm just getting into it now. It's from the Step Up 2 soundtrack and isn't at all like "Me & U" (a song which I've recently been thinking I really underrated)--it's probably a little more "basic/disposable pop song" sounding, but I like it--crunchy but simple electro-rock underneath the verses and a cute simple chorus.

I also quite like Leona Lewis's "The Best You Never Had," though the production on it sounds odd.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

#32 Belinda, "If We Were"

We'd be the most beautiful mess
If we were forever

I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again: the English version of eighteen year old Mexican singer Belinda's "Ni Freud ni tu mama" lost my two favorite things about the Spanish original and yet somehow managed to appeal to me far more than the Spanish language original did (though after loving the English version, I went back and listened to the Spanish version again and love that too). "If We Were" doesn't have the snappy title of the original or the whole random English-in-the-middle-of-Spanish, tossed-off "you're hot...I forgot" line (its place is still there, but, though it's an important line to the song, the line has changed in meaning and loses its attitude and funny kind of randomness), but somehow having lyrics in English allowed me to better "get" how great its stompy electro-popness (with a little rock influence thrown in) was. It's a little like Kelly Osbourne's "One Word," but with more of a hard-hitting edge. Belinda sounds kind of creepy on this song, which I actually like--it takes it beyond typical "we'd be so great together" meaning and makes everything she's saying sound ominous, almost threatening. She does not sound like a girl you'd want to mess with on this song, even if, after all her "think of what'd you'd get if we were together" lyrics, she reminds us "but we're not...I forgot," giving a whole new meaning to the (even if accidental) threatening tones she's been using throughout the song.

Find it on: Utopia 2

#33 Tamta, "Agapise Me"

Ya poso kairo ya poso kairo
tha anteho na mi s'eho
ya poso kairo ya poso kairo
tha matono ego mono
ya poso kairo...

If this list was for the best songs of the year and not just my favorites, "Agapise Me" (as well as Jenni Vartianen's "Ihmisten edessä") would be crashing into the charts very near the top. I still love it, though, and every time I listen to it I get completely transfixed. It's got such an attention-grabbing opening, and not in a big kind of way; there's just this mysteriousness to the song, especially in its electro backing, that I find addictive. Class through and through, "Agapise Me" (meaning "Love me") is an achievement of a song, but not in a stuck-up way at all; the fact that it's very dance-friendly surely helps with that as well. It's a heck of a calling card for Tamta and marks her out as an artist I'll without doubt be paying attention to in the future.

Find it on: Agapise Me

Speaking of Tamta, also of note (even if more for the concept than necessarily the result) is the below (slightly risqué) performance, a blend of Mika's "Relax (Take It Easy)" and her "Agapise Me" which also, at the costume change, reveals that her giant curly hair is (at least sometimes) a wig (and also has kind of a bizarre backing).

Saturday, December 29, 2007

#34 Marta Sánchez, "Superstar"

Me haces brillar, contigo olvido lo peor

One of the dangers of just having got into music recently is that it means that I rarely know the original songs being sampled by today's singers, especially since sampling '80's songs is all the rage now. Beyond the obvious fact that I'm missing out on a bunch of fantastic older songs, why is this a bad thing? Well, it means I end up loving new songs probably mainly because of their sampled hook from an older song and without really evaluating the song outside of that hook--in other words, I give the new song more credit than I probably should, as opposed to just thinking, "wow, that's kind of lazy--they just took that sample and sang over the top of it!"

With that in mind, I can't really evaluate forty-one year old singer Spanish singer Marta Sanchez's single "Superstar" as well as someone who grew up familiar with Depeche Mode's "Just Can't Get Enough" would be able to. I can say, though, that I adore this danceable and ridiculously catchy pop song (kind of dance-pop, but definitely more on the pop side), even if that "ridiculously catchy" part is probably mainly a function of the Depeche Mode-created hook. "Superstar" may have about 0 credibility to most listeners but it's also one of the most fun songs of the year.

For for detail and context about Marta, check out this post about her on much-missed blog Pop Music WorldWide (not sure what he'd make of this song, though) and, for more information about this latest project, visit Don't Stop The Pop, which introduced me to the song.

Find it on: Miss Sánchez

#35 Danny feat. Therese, "If Only You"

(Just skip past the first 1:15)

Set me free
Before you
Press delete

After having released a giant cheesy dance-pop anthem with a huge key change and then going for a more pop but still a little dance and definitely still upbeat direction, what does a sixth place finishing Swedish Idol contestant turned artist with two consecutive #1 hits do next? Rope in Swedish dance artist Therese (whose solo records never seem to do as well as they should--she deserves real worldwide success) to create a gorgeously sad but equally catchy electro/dance half-ballad, apparently. "If Only You" was a great followup to Danny's first two singles and turning the song into a duet turned out to be a fantastic idea; the mix of the two voices gives the song added emotional punch, even if I didn't realize that at first. "If Only You" could quite easily be my #1 song of the year, and I expect it to have real staying power, probably more than some of the songs ahead of it.

I've posted "If Only You" before, though, so instead, here's one of my favorite songs from Danny's album Heart.Beats, the bonus track, "Here I Am." It kind of taps into a similar feel to "If Only You," though if anything it's even less punchy. I said "If Only You" was gorgeously sad; that description applies even moreso to "Here I Am." I adore it.

Here I Am

Find it on: Heart.Beats (actually, for the version featuring Therese, you'll need the "If Only You" single)

Friday, December 28, 2007

#36 Mika, "Lollipop"

Suckin' too hard on ya lollipop,
Oh love's gonna get ya down

Oh, how I wanted to put this song higher. It deserves it. And yet, when I look at each song ranked ahead of it, I can't say it's better--nor, though, can I necessarily say it's worse. Mika deserves a much larger presence on this chart, but the fact that so many of his songs have been around for so long (many were being legally given away free before the album even came out) somehow ended up hurting them and the deliberately small release of "Relax, Take It Easy" in 2006 means that it's not technically eligible for my chart, or else it would without doubt be on here. Mika's a very divisive singer, but I think he released one of the year's most enjoyable and consistent albums (it would be very high on a list of my favorite albums of the year, far higher than this singles list is going to make it seem). Still, if you don't like him at this point, nothing anyone can say is going to change your mind, so writing that "Lollipop" is one of the year's most infectiously happy songs of the year and even the should-be-kind-of-creepy fact that what sounds like a kids' choir is roped in to sing this innuendo-filled song doesn't hurt it in the slightest in my estimations--I love the chantiness of that part, in fact--isn't going to convince you of the song's merits.

I will say, though, that even if you don't usually like Mika's music, it's worth checking out "Relax, Take It Easy" and "My Interpretation." I imagine a lot of people have heard those from the album by now, though, so instead, here's one of my favorite remixes of the year, Swedish electro-pop duo Lo-Fi-Fnk's take on Mika's "Big Girl (You Are Beautiful). Yes, I realize that may very well be Mika's most hated song, but Lo-Fi-Fnk remix it into such a happy shiny electrofest, all squiggles and claps and chorus-y backing vocals. Pure joy.

Big Girl (You Are Beautiful) (Lo-Fi-Fnk Remix)

Find it on: Life In Cartoon Motion

#37 Ne-Yo, "Because Of You"

I got a problem and I
Don't know what to do about it
Even if I did I don't know if I would quit
But I doubt it

I didn't make a list of my favorite singles for 2006, but Ne-Yo's "So Sick" would surely have been near the top; I don't think I'd heard anything like it, and everything about it seemed flawless--a diamond of a song on so many levels, amidst the often generic or less than impressive stuff you often hear on the radio. Followup "When You're Mad" may have had me worried at the time, but "Sexy Love" showed that there was more to the American artist's singing career than just a one-off instant classic. Then he comes back with this, a song about his addiction to a girl that was unmistakably in his style--that kicky drum machine, the little up-and-down harp-like notes--but didn't feel like a retread of earlier hits, though maybe the fact that it was so upbeat-sounding and uptempo helped in that regard. Ne-Yo may be an R&B singer--and a great one at that--but there were few songs this year poppier than "Because Of You."

Find it on: Because of You

Thursday, December 27, 2007

#38 Hilary Duff, "With Love"

You could tell me I'm wrong
That I'm coming on way too strong
Don't think I'll be crushed
Just do it with love, love, love, love

If Darin would have been higher earlier in the year, Hilary could easily be higher now because of how much I'm into "With Love" at the moment--I deliberately held back from ranking it higher just because I'm not sure if this is a temporary phase or a permanent positive reevaluation of the song. That gives a slightly inaccurate impression of my reaction to the song--I did initial completely brush it off, but came to appreciate it later...gradually. It's just very recently, though, that I've started to view it as fantastic. "With Love" has skittery guitars, electro pulses, and vocals that do sound fairly young but not overly so and, contrary to what I said when I first heard the song, Hilary's voice works here--it does "pop."

The fantasticness of Hilary's reinvention doesn't stop with "With Love," though. Take "Never Stop," a track from the same album, Dignity. It's pop perfection, still with the dance/electro-pop feel established by the album's singles but so happy and sunny and youthful that it'd be criminal to miss out on hearing it.

Never Stop

Find it on: Dignity

#39 Darin, "Desire"

You just knock me out
No matter what you do
Come on do me right
Light my fire

This track probably would have ranked higher earlier in the year, even accounting for fewer songs being eligible, but I'm not quite as obsessive about it as I was when it was first announced as a single. I know their was some dissatisfaction with it as a choice, but I was pleased--at the time, it was the song not yet a single from Break The News, Swedish singer Darin's third album, that I was loving the most. "Desire" tends to draw Justin Timberlake comparisons, but I think I easily like it more than Justin's FutureSex/LoveSounds stuff (well, to be fair, if the day is right, there might be one or two songs from that that I adore), though I'm not sure whether that's because I prefer Darin's voice or because there's more actual melody going on here. Mid-tempo pop with electro-y noises in the background and what sounds like ghosts doing backing vocals, the song has a chorus that really seals the deal for me--there are shouts and nonsense syllables perfect for singing along with ("yes!", "oh!", "yeah, na na na na") which I love; they're perfectly punchy. "Boy pop" with an edge.

Find it on: Break The News

#40 Britney Spears, "Gimme More"

Cameras are flashing while we're dirty dancing
They keep watching, keep watchin'

Another song I didn't think much of to begin with, but I gradually came around to it and found a good number of songs to enjoy on the album (though I think I need to listen to the other half--not half order-wise, though--properly to know if there's anything worth keeping from it), which was more than enough to please me. Britney (or her producers, if you want to be more accurate, I suppose) delivered a deceptively catchy song that was dance-friendly but also dealt in the darker, kind of insidious sort of pop--this is pure commercial pop, but it's the soundtrack of the dark corners of maybe slightly shady clubs, not high school hallways, a wide-open greenlit dancefloor, or even the glistening white walls of a futuristic club. As much as this song is primarily slick production, there's something kind of appropriate about Britney's messy video--"Gimme More" has a different sort of gloss from many of Britney's earlier hits that is more appropriate to these darkened shots of something that you sometimes feel like maybe you shouldn't be watching but can't tear your eyes away from. Most importantly, though, the song sneaks into your head and stays there, in a good kind of catchy way.

Find it on: Blackout

#41 Anna David, "Chill"

Det eneste jeg vil
Er at ligge her og chill

This song only isn't higher because the first fifteen seconds are a little too abrasively happy and kitschy even for me. Luckily, those same elements get incorporated in a much better way into the song later on and the "ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo"s become just another element of the pure pop joy that is "Chill." Danish singer Anna David had a very pop-oriented earlier career, but it was the less-than-fantastic "Fuck dig" that was her breakout hit. Luckily, for this, the second single from her second album, she returned to her pop roots and gave us one of the year's most infectiously upbeat choruses, all sparkles and giddiness and poppoppoppopPOP! This kind and level of happiness could be too much for some people or for certain moods, but this swingy (not swing!) mid-tempo pop song is one of the most pleasant surprises from Denmark this year and definitely one of the year's poppiest songs.

Find it on: 2

#42 Brick & Lace, "Love Is Wicked"

Baby, I loved you from the very start
Even though I knew that you would break my heart

It probably says a lot about this song--and why I like it--that, though it's supposedly urban, it's done better in continental Europe than it has in the U.S. A smooth pop-R&B meld, "Love Is Wicked" is sung by two Jamaican sisters, one doing the melancholy chorus hook and verses and the other adding half-raps/spoken bits. The combination is almost intoxicating--the laid-back song is smooth, catchy, and incredibly refreshing, both in terms of standing out on the radio and in feel, though the sad lyrics about destructive love mean that, as much of a great summer jam as this might be, it sneaks up on you with a little bit of added emotional bite if you're not careful.

(Note that this review refers to the slick version of the song, not the reworked, sparser version playing on their MySpace or backing this video. Lack of whistling=points deduction, and it loses the energy and beautiful edge of the version I prefer; the honeycoated original version wins out because emphasizes the sadness in such a lovely way. Most of the versions labeled on YouTube as the original version aren't my preferred version either, though.)

Find it on: Love Is Wicked

#43 Kanye West, "Stronger"

N-n-now that that don't kill me
Can only make me stronger

I love Kanye West's "Gold Digger." I'm not really sure why--didn't think much of it at first, and then suddenly, one day, I "got it"--I think it had something to do with suddenly understanding what he was saying, and that somehow made me better able to appreciate even the music, those little squiggles, everything (it's got to be the clean version, though, not so much because it's clean but because I prefer the rhythm of the chorus this way--"broke broke" just sounds better to my ears music-wise, though maybe that's just because it's the version I got used to from radio playing it so much). Every now and then I just caught by a rap single, usually when it somehow manages to link into my sometimes bizarre sense of humor, and "Gold Digger" did that. "Stronger," the Daft Punk-sampling lead single for Kanye's latest album Graduation, managed to win me over again, though once again it wasn't immediate. Now, though, that deliberately stuttery delivery in the chorus only enhances a chorus that's already strong on its own and the way Kanye eventually starts using Daft Punk's lines to complete his own sentences is irresistable for some reason. Yes, parts of the song are over-the-top, but--and even though this isn't the song's point at all--it still manages to feel like a really good psych-up kind of song.

Find it on: Graduation

Monday, December 24, 2007

#44 Jason Donovan, "Share My World"

I've got so much more to give
So much life we've left to live
I wanna share my world with you
But you've got to try too

I'll make no apologies for my inclusion of this not commercially successful single (well, it was download only and there were hardly any places the average person could be exposed to it; I don't think it was intended or going to be a smash hit) from Australian actor and former S/A/W singer Jason Donovan. "Share My World," released this past June, may not be anything special to a lot of people--accusations that it's MOR, mature radio pop with guitars, etc. would be easy to make, and I wouldn't even necessarily disagree with them--but I love it; it's got one of the most reassuring feelings of the year surrounding it. It kind of brings out the same reaction in me that my favorite modern era midtempo Take That songs do. Well-produced (lo-fi this is not) but somehow still organic sounding, "Share My World" is upbeat, comforting, and catchy. It never fails to bring a smile to my face and that's more than enough to help it make my list of the year's best singles.

Find it on: "Share My World" single

Also check out Mobius's blog, where I found out about the song

#45 Bosson, "Believe In Love"

If you believe in love, then let it show
If you want someone, just let them know
If you believe in love, then let it show
If I'm not the one, just let me know

"You" is one of the best pop songs of the decade so far, let alone 2006 (the year it was released), and of course Bosson's biggest hit, 2001's "One In A Million," is absolutely fantastic as well. The Swedish singer further consolidated his pop pedigree with the uptempo "Believe In Love," which I think was the fourth single off his latest album, Future's Gone Tomorrow, Life Is Here Today. It's very poppy (one review compared it to "Stock, Aitken & Waterman 1987") and incredibly catchy; punchy electronically-created hooks are packed into every corner of the song and the "oh-oh"s that punctuate the chorus stick in your head almost far too easily.

Find it on: Future's Gone Tomorrow, Life Is Here Today

(Obviously the video above isn't a real music video--there wasn't one, as far as I know--but a YouTube user-created series of photos interspersed with the lyrics of a Whitney Houston song.)

#46 Groove Armada, "Song 4 Mutya (Out Of Control)"

Sat there with some new girl, what is this?
(Don't panic, panic, Mutya don't drive erratic)
That's who has replaced me, what a diss
(Don't panic, panic, don't act too manic, manic)

I don't listen to this song quite as often now, but it was the soundtrack to most of my driving around this summer. I so wish it could have been a big U.S. hit--would there have been anything better than pulling up to a car at a stoplight and hearing this song blaring out of it? Electronica group the Groove Armada team up with former Sugababes member Mutya for this catchy musically upbeat electro number about seeing your ex-boyfriend out with another girl (or, if you choose to read it that way, about Mutya's replacement in the Sugababes, though Groove Armada have said it wasn't written with Mutya in mind). Even if it wasn't quite a huge hit in the UK, it still has "personal summer hit" written all over it.

Find it on: Real Girl or Soundboy Rock

Sunday, December 23, 2007

#47 Sergey Lazarev, "TV or Radio"

Anything to make it, you wanna be
Not too proud to fake it, such a wannabe

Talk about a bizarre video. Anyway, I initially expected Russian singer Sergey Lazarev's cover of "Shattered Dreams" to end up as my favorite song from his second solo album, TV Show. I liked "TV or Radio," but it felt like it verged on annoying and didn't have enough of a chorus to have much staying value. In the past few months, though, I've found myself addicted to its short horn blurts, electronically-created pop beats (very "pure pop"), and most of all that bridge, which (simple as it is) I love way too much for some reason. I'm not sure why, as this is not a frosty female-vocalled Scandi electro-pop song, but for some reason it makes me think of Annie's "Chewing Gum"--do not go into the song thinking of that, though; I think it's just I imagine the dance routine from the "Chewing Gum" video being performed every time I hear this song.

Find it on: TV Show

And just because it never gets old, "Fake," a ridiculous-in-the-best-possible-hilarious way, completely fantastic single from Sergey's first album, which happens to have one of the campest music videos ever.

#48 Katharine McPhee, "Over It"

I'm over your lies,
And I'm over your games
I'm over you asking me
When you know I'm not OK

I still don't understand why this song flopped; I mean, if this incredibly commercial-sounding pop song, fronted by a good and good-looking singer, can't make it, there's not much hope for this, is there (even if "Over It"'s video may have had some odd shots and a pretty awful way of breaking up with someone, it's still better than that one)? Sigh. I don't think I've done much talking about how much I like this song on here, though I did mention it offhand once. Taking full advantage of the template created by JoJo's "Too Little Too Late," "Over It" is a laid-back sounding supposed-breakup song with more than a hint of sadness and melancholy and with a catchy groove that somehow wiggles its way into your brain and gets stuck there. I would've loved to see it be more successful, though once "Love Story" started to get promoted as the second single, I figured that would be successful just because I had no interest in it whatsoever.

Find it on: Katharine McPhee

#49 Audio Club, "Sumthin' Serious"/"Hot, Bangin', Supa, Sexy"

I can see you really got a crush on me
It's serious
I put that hook on you

Yes, this is two songs in one slot. Yes, that's probably cheating. Oh well--they're both about equally great and come from the same group, American duo (though now appearing as three people, the "extra" one being a behind the scenes, writer/producer type, I think) the Audio Club, who have now made two attempts to break out beyond one radio station play hell and don't seem to be going anywhere (though who knows, they apparently did get signed to a big label this past summer, so maybe something's in the works; the appearance of a bunch of their tracks for purchase from their MySpace--great as that is--doesn't seem like a good sign, though, unless most of them won't get used in whatever project they're working on now). I'm kind of sad about that, though--both these singles are pretty good. "Sumthin' Serious" was their first release (from before they actually had a record deal, I think I remember reading) and the goofy rapping, video, and single cover styled them as kind of a comedy group. Even if that's not to your style, though (and it's a song that some people will hate), the Gwen Stefani-mimicking singing by Ashley Alan-Lee provides pure pop hooks that are all sparkles and adorableness and were such pop perfection that I couldn't pass them up.

Second single "Hot, Bangin', Supa, Sexy" (their spelling and punctuation) established (or should have, at least) them as more than just some one-off comedy duo, though; pop with a little bit of dark electro running underneath it, the song kept some of the sense of fun from "Sumthin' Serious" (and also Brooks Buford's jokey raps) but was also a legitimately good-throughout, catchy pop song. The chorus is kind of half-pounding and the song has a great choreographed dance-friendly middle 8.

Hot, Bangin', Supa, Sexy

Find it on: the Audio Club's MySpace (where these and other songs of theirs can be purchased; iTunes also has "Sumthin' Serious")

#50 Elin, "Better With You"

Before you I just found myself in darkness
Know it's crazy
But I know you know the way I feel is true
It's better with you

I think of this as the year's lost teen-pop single. As far as I know, it was never released anywhere beyond Germany, and even there it didn't exactly set the charts on fire, peaking at #74 on the singles chart. That's such a waste, though, as thirteen-year-old Elin released a song that any of your typical Radio Disney popstars would probably score an easy hit (amongst the Disney audience) with; it's a little JoJo-esque as well (maybe a little Stacie Orrico's singles-esque as well?). Maybe the time for this sort of music has just passed, chartwise, but that's a shame. Somehow (and despite the Avril-knockoff clothing style Elin sports in the video), "Better With You" manages to seem fairly classy, despite also being obviously designed for a young singer (though luckily Elin doesn't sound like a "kid" singing). It's got a truly great catchy chorus that I can't believe didn't help the song soar to at least half-decent heights on the charts. Really a great song, and probably deserving of being much higher up in this countdown.

Find it on: Girl Talk

#51 Infernal, "I Won't Be Crying"

I won't be crying when I'm lonely
'Cause I'll be making sure I'll have a good time
Ain't nothing wrong when I'm alone now
'Cause I'm alone and I'm proud

I've never truly become a complete fan of Danish group Infernal. I'm glad they're out there and can't wait to hear the new material they've said they're working on, but I really only have a strong fondness for a couple of their songs. Luckily, when they're "on," they're really on, and "I Won't Be Crying" is one of those cases. It's a hard-hitting dance-pop song (there seems to be a lot of those around this section of the chart, doesn't there?), though this time sampling Depeche Mode so as to create a song designed for miming and gesturing (with lots of big hand gestures--the video's really missing out by not including more of those, though luckily they begin to pick up once we reach the midway point) along to in perfect make believe music video-style fashion. Irresistibly catchy and punchy, it's also got some great attitude going on--an empowerment anthem for the wronged partner in a breakup.

Find it on: From Paris To Berlin

Saturday, December 22, 2007

#52 Akcent, "King Of Disco"

I wanna be on stage, I wanna feel like a star

I don't think anyone does dance-pop with ridiculous lyrics like the Romanians. Morandi's "Oh La La" had my favorite (read: ridiculous and absolutely hilarious) lyrics of last year, and Akcent's "Kylie" from 2005 was just as ridiculously catchy as it was ridiculous lyrically. Early this year, Akcent apparently decided to swap out their pop music queens, trading the Kylie references of "Kylie" for the Madonna-referencing (though not as much) "King Of Disco." What's more important than those lyrics, though, it just how catchy and fun this song is--it's definitely just as good as "Kylie," which is no mean feat. Swooshy, shiny, uptempo, highly processed, and way too danceable in a way no credible club would ever accept, "King Of Disco" is a complete "throw your hands up in the air and dance without a care in the world" song, even if you have to do it in your room because nowhere else will play it. If you wanted to get all analytical for a second, there's maybe a point to be made about how the kind of amateur goofiness and campiness of Akcent's singles like "Kylie" and "King Of Disco" is purposeful, or at least desirable--the song isn't really about being the king of disco; it's more about wanting to be and imagining that you are and that your troubles don't exist once you hit the dancefloor, which is the sort of feeling of its listeners that it's designed to play into. By being so completely over-the-top, they give you license to be as well, to forget about any ideas of credibility or seriousness or whether you even actually are a good dancer for three minutes and forty-one seconds and just have fun. I mean, if these guys can be the kings of disco, surely we all can?

Find it on: King Of Disco

#53 Da Buzz, "Take All My Love"

If you wanna be in paradise,
You better put your shoes on

One of the world's most consistent pop groups releases yet another hard-hitting pop-dance single. The three person Swedish group Da Buzz has a knack for churning out great pop songs and, if you don't know much of their work, you'd do well to pick up their recently released greatest hits, which features this song, followup single "Baby Listen To Me," and two other new songs in addition to eleven previous singles (and that's not even all of their previous singles). Great as the radio edit of this song is, though, "Take All My Love" would probably come even higher (lower?) on this countdown if the club edit (which, at 3:25, is only 20 seconds longer than the radio edit) had been the main version--that opening instrumental part and the playing up of some underlying electronic squiggles just ups the strength and power of the song even more.

Take All My Love (Club Edit)

Find it on: Da Buzz's Greatest Hits

#54 Cosmo4, "What's Your Name"

Cruising the land,
Looking for somebody
Not a wimp with a tan
Not a boy thinking he's a man
Truth to the scale,
I need a real alpha male

Talk about summer anthem in waiting. "What's Your Name" may have been released upon the world back in the middle of winter, when it was performed for the second round of Melodifestivalen, Sweden's national final to choose a song for Eurovision, but it had summer-at-the-beach pasted all over it. Sung by four girls, the song is sassy pop through-and-through, with a chorus emphatically stating "Hey, I need another lover, right here right now--what's your name, baby, what's your name, babe?". "What's Your Name" also fits in the grand tradition of fantastic songs that open with helicopter noises (2006's installment having been Matt Willis's "Up All Night") and is made even catchier through the use of whistling. Tragically, the song didn't make it out of the semifinal, not even progressing to the second chance round, and despite the single peaking at a respectable #12 (better than two of their previous singles though not better than "Adios Amigos") and getting pretty good airplay on Rix FM for a while, we've yet to hear new music from the girls since, though Robpop reviewed the not-yet-released album for all of us not fortunate enough to hear it yet. I'm really hoping it gets released somewhere somehow at some point--I'll buy it from wherever if given the chance!

Find it on: the "What's Your Name" single or Melodifestivalen 2007 album

The final countdown

OK, the following few days ("few" possibly being an inaccurate description, depending on how quickly I go through them) will be dedicated to my countdown of my favorite singles of 2007. Before it starts, though, I wanted to go through some explanatory stuff.

1.) The single must have been released as a single for the first time in 2007. In other words, not only are these singles, singles that were re-released in 2007 or released in a new region don't count, even if I didn't discover them until this year. For example, Ninja's "Hush Hush" won't be showing up on the list; it may have been released in Sweden in 2007 and I may have found out about it this year, but it was a single in 2006 in Finland. You also won't see, say, Kylie's "Wow" or Darren Hayes's "Casey" because of this, since, though they came out in 2007 and are/are probably going to be singles in the future, they won't be singles this year. By the same token, songs from 2006 albums that were 2007 singles are eligible, though I think they kind of suffer in the ultimate rankings just from having been around so long.

2.) In a few cases, a "remix" may be the basis for the song's inclusion, but only if the remix got significant enough exposure that it could be seen as a single in its own right--i.e., it was the primary version of the song used or it got radio play on non-dance radio stations.

3.) There will be 54 singles on the list. It was INCREDIBLY difficult for me to narrow it down to that number, and I'm very tempted at some point to do a "#55-x" extension of the list because there are so many many fantastic songs this year.

4.) The placing in the list is really pretty arbitrary for a lot of songs--#54 could just as easily be #1. Really, it should probably just be an unranked list.

5.) I will be posting more than one song a day. These posts will also serve as my mp3-oriented posts. I won't be posting mp3s for every song on the list; the songs may be so well-known that there's no point to it, I may feel like I've shared that song recently enough that there's no point in sharing it again, etc. Sometimes, the mp3 I post in association with a song may not be the song I'm writing about but another track from the artist that I feel is worthy of note; it could also be a remix, cover, or something else.

6.) Songs that were promoed to radio but not released physically count, as long as there is not a known plan to release them physically in that region later (this applies to, say, a fourth single from an album in Europe or something).

7.) "With Every Heartbeat" was not eligible. I love that song, but for me, it is just too inextricably linked to 2006--and the middle of 2006 at that--to figure out where it truly ranked. I realize this goes against all my earlier rules (even the Swedish release took place in January 2007), but I just couldn't put it in the same group as the rest of these songs. (As I mentioned, songs that I heard before 2006 are already at a disadvantage [albeit unintended] anyway.) Kind of similarly, there's one song currently on the chart that was first released (though not as a single) back in October of 2006 that may get swapped out at the last second if the mood strikes.

8.) Songs from national finals for Eurovision 2008 that have already begun to take place (for example, in Icealnd) are not eligible for 2007, as often songs will undergo some tweaking before Eurovision should they win their national final; these songs will be eligible for 2008.

9.) Each post should have a "find it on" section linking you to somewhere to buy a physical copy of the song or, if I don't know of such a place, somewhere to buy a digital copy (the "find it on" won't necessarily refer to the mp3 posted in association with each post, but rather the main single being described).

10.) These are my favorite singles of 2007--not necessarily the best, and there will probably be heavy use of the word "I" in my descriptions; there's a good chance much of what I write will be about what I think about when I hear the songs, associate them with, what I like about them, what kind of reaction they bring out in me, etc. Not that that's all it'll be, but I'm just as likely to spend the whole post describing some anecdote or personal feeling about a song as I am likely to provide description about the song and the artist's background.

11.) I imagine by the time I've finished the countdown and actually written about all these songs, I'll want to change the order entirely, so the final final list may actually appear on the last day of the countdown.

Yeah, that makes all this look really serious, doesn't it? It's not.

Some statistics:
  • The country with the most songs on the list is (no surprise) Sweden. Second place, by only one song? The U.S.
  • There are no "pure" boy bands on the list. This should be a huge indication of how difficult it was for me to come up with this list--so many songs I adore got cut that it's practically going to be physically painful to do this list without them.
  • Three artists have multiple entries on this chart.
  • 52% of the songs have male main/lead vocals, 43% have female lead vocals, and 6% are boy-girl sung (or sung-rapped, if there's about an equal balance). Yes, that adds up to 101%; that's just how the math works out.

Friday, December 21, 2007

When you want it the most there's no easy way out

I'm not sure what it was that first got me thinking of Celine Dion the other day--I thought it might have been watching VH1's best songs of the '90's special ("I Want It That Way" at #3!) and seeing "My Heart Will Go On" on the list, but I actually started re-listening to this song before that part of the special aired. I've not really had any interest in checking out her new album, but Celine has released some good singles in the past, the following one--penned by Max Martin, Kristian Lundin, and Andreas Carlsson--being one of them. It was released back in 1999 to promote a greatest hits album and, though it may have been bandwagon jumping, who cares when the results are this good?

That's The Way It Is--this mid-tempo pop song sounds exactly like it was made by those three writers I just mentioned; it completely fits in with that whole Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, etc. sound from the late '90's and early 2000's. It--like the best of those songs--has a very classic vibe to it, the sort of song you'd be thrilled to hear those "best of '80's, '90's, and today" radio stations play. Given how rare that event would be nowadays, though, the song gets an added boost as well--kind of like bringing out the fine china or whatever (in a fun, catchy, classy pop song way).

To buy Celine Dion's album All The Way: A Decade Of Song, go here (physical) or go to iTunes.

Speaking of that '90's special on VH1, you just know VH1 is dying for the 2000's to end so that they can do "I Love The '00's" and an appropriate best songs series--and I can't wait for them. I'm such an addict to shows like that--actually, can they make a "best songs of 2000-2005" special right now? I'd so watch.

Next up: maybe an American group.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Veidi veel aega minna on sellel teel

The first time I heard Koit Toome's entry in this year's Eurolaul, Estonia's national final for Eurovision, I liked it, but I would never have guessed it's one of the this year's Eurovision-related songs that still gets a decent number of plays from me. I don't know that much about him except for the fact that he represented Estonia at Eurovision in 1998 and that his performance at Eurolaul was more rocker-styled than the song itself would lead you to expect (look at the band setup, those flashing lights, that black leather jacket, the way he handles the microphone! It's actually a really sweet contrast). Sadly, the song took tenth place out of ten in the final of Eurolaul.

Veidi veel--a slightly boppy mid-tempo pop song that also has a sweet edge--well, "edge" is hardly the right word for this song; any edges are more smoothed out into rounded corners. That kind of works as an analogy--imagine if someone had made a kind of rock song and then taken away any sort of "edge" to it to make it a pop song through-and-through, but every now and then, whether it's in the instrumentation or what, you kind of get the sense of that former state peeking through. As is, though, it's thoroughly poppy, as well as catchy.

You can buy Koit Toome's latest album, Allikas, which has this song, here (physical).

Next up: maybe something Canadian.

It's not enough to say that I miss you

Some things I'm loving in Blog World at the moment:

Pop Trash Addicts has introduced me to the Veronicas' latest single "Untouched." I loved the first three singles from their debut album but was left cold by "Hook Me Up" the first time I listened to it. "Untouched" may very well have THE BEST STRINGS IN POP THIS YEAR, though--they are fantastic.

Chart Rigger's J'ason D'luv and Moogaboo count down their favorite ten songs of the year. I like or love a lot of the songs on them--I was going to list all of the ones I really like, but a.) that would just go on and on, and b.) I don't want to give too much away about my final list, do I? If I can ever manage to settle on an order for everything, that is...

Speaking of year-end music countdowns, The Zapping is in the middle of its album and singles countdown; the most recent installment includes McFly, Magnus Carlsson, Måns Zelmerlöw, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Kylie Minogue, and more. A great read, and I'm really interested to see what the top ten are!

Adem has an epic list of his favorite songs of the year and goes through the top ten music videos of the year (rightfully including Fergie's "Clumsy" video).

CFB Goes Pop's Alyson and Claire have counted down their favorite ten songs of the year--check out their lists for Serebro, Puffy Ami Yumi, Avril Lavigne, Jodie Foster, and Barbie and Ken (come on, you've got to be intrigued by that line-up!).

Another great year-end countdown (I'm such an addict!) over at Dirrrty Pop plus the fantastic "Kiss The Bride" from Christophe Willem's (he of "Double je") album over at Into The Grove.

#1 Hits From Another Planet counts down the best singles and albums of the year, too. From Montt Mardie to Girls Aloud, Patrick Wolf to Ola Svensson in the space of a few lines--I love that about the site.

If I'm addicted to year-end countdown lists, I'm just as addicted to reading about how people's music taste came to be, or at least grew and developed, and Thnairg just covered how his taste went "international" in a really interesting recent post.

Pop Unlimited is back!

Digital Technique has featured about a million and a half songs I like since it restarted, some I knew but many I didn't. Boy bands with some traditional Irish instrumentation in their music? Christina Milian? Girl group cover of "Video Killed The Radio Star"? Got it all and way more.

Robyn deservedly wins the award for best comeback of 2007 over at Don't Stop The Pop.

XO offers prescriptions for failing popstars, mostly suffering not just from lack of commercial success but also lack of quality in recent years.

You Don't Know Pop is making me feel even worse about the prospect of seemingly endless freezing cold for the next few months (much as I'm loving the weather for this week!) by featuring an ultra-summery remix of a Supersister song. Luckily, Troy's also written about Darius, which makes me VERY happy, so I can't complain too much!

Phew--more of these later! That's only about half.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It's like I'm the one you love to hate

Wh-huh? When did lead singer guy Pierre from (Canadian band) Simple Plan become a different person? I'd heard "When I'm Gone" (co-written by Danja) on the radio for a while now, but not seen the band at all, until just now, when the video came on. I would never have recognized him! Not that I'm saying it's bad or good, just woah does he look different.

If you've heard them of before, it's probably for their single "Untitled," a ballad which was a pretty big hit in the U.S. a couple of years ago (well, I just looked up the chart position, and Wikipedia says it only reached #49 in the U.S., but it was a lot bigger than that makes it sound, at least among a certain age group). I preferred the bouncy, (pre)teen angsty pop-punk (which isn't a genre I have a huge affinity for, unless it's done really well, and then I love it) of "Shut Up," though--it's infectiously catchy, a very jump up and down and sing along sort of song.

Hmm...actually, why don't we just go ahead and make this today's song of the day.

Shut Up--as I said, this is energetic pop-punk designed to be jumped and shouted along with. It's really catchy and yes, the lyrics could not be any more generic teen angst (of a very young-sounding sort), but it's just somehow so fun and singalong worthy that I can't help it. I think the energy helps--regardless of the lyrics, the music is too bouncy to invite sitting around with self-pity. Toss in some big guitar hooks, and I'm sold. Pierre's got a good sort of voice for this kind of music, too, which helps avoid it getting too dull or too harsh. All in all, the perfect song to put on whether you feel liking playing air guitar, air drums, jumping around like a crazy vocalist singing into a hairbrush, or just acting like a crazy fan.

You can buy Simple Plan's second album Still Not Gettin' Any, go here (physical) or here (digital). It's also available on iTunes.

Next up: maybe that Danish singer.

I try to be good, but I don't wanna be

Returning to music...

Blake Lewis was on TRL (yes, it's still going) today to "deliver" his video for "Break Anotha." He passed my "what does he look like?" test (note that this picture is not from that appearance--he was going for the vest-tie-short sleeved shirt look instead). It was just nice to get to see promotion on a channel that wasn't MTV Hits (though, in true TRL style, only about half the video was played).

The first half of the interview was pretty much stuff we've heard before; the second half was rapidfire questions, the answers to which would probably look odd if I typed them out (see: how do you spell "Jordin Sparks"? Which, contrary to his phone spelling, he got right). In other words, nothing notable, but as if I was going to pass up an opportunity to write about him.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I still need you here

Sorry, you all, it's going to go personal here again for yet another day. No interruption of service this time, though, I think.

We've received the awful news that my uncle's partner committed suicide. It's difficult--they were the only people in our family to live on the West Coast, so getting there to be for him--well, it's not probably going to be an option for all of us. I know none of you knew him, but he came from the most difficult background but was honestly one of the most fun people you could ever meet. Back when San Francisco's mayor legalized gay marriage, he and my uncle were one of the first couples to get married. My uncle, who I love, was the one you'd go to if you wanted help with your chemistry homework or wanted to go see, say, the Monterey Bay Aquarium; his partner was the one who'd go get facials with you and take you to go shopping. To be me-centric for a second, the summer my cousin, stepsister, and I spent out with them in San Francisco was one of the best times of my life, and he did one of the sweetest things anyone has ever done for me. His presence will be incredibly missed by everyone you knew him. And my uncle--I can't imagine being forced to deliver a eulogy for your sister in October and then losing your husband in December. I love you. Both.

This song goes out to both of them--I was just telling Digital Technique the other day that's it's one of my all-time favorite songs; beyond the lyrics, it's that effortlessly swoony chorus that makes it so perfect and so gorgeous.

Sinéad Quinn - Ready To Run (album available here or here)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Don't listen to the others

Quick post today: rumor has it that Kostas Martakis will be in Greece's national Eurovision final with a song by Dimitris Kontopoulos. I was just saying a few days ago in that post with the Sakis song how much I was liking Dimitris's work (behind the times, yes), so I'm really excited about this. The following song is a Kostas Martakis song written by Dimitris Kontopoulos (edit: or maybe not, but it's in a similar style to songs he's done)--if we get a song like this in the national final, I'll be thrilled!

Astous na lene--I'm a sucker for revvy electro sounds in the background of pop songs (maybe one of the reasons I like "Lena Anthem" so much), and this song definitely has them, though they might be more squiggles than revving. It's an uptempo pop song that is I imagine what Kostas is referring to when he says song of the song on his album are dance, though really, it's pretty much a pop song. And a very catchy one at that.

Kind of interestingly, if you really want to hear it, there's an English version of this song, called "People Are Talking," on Kostas's MySpace, or you can watch him perform it below (it's one of several performances from a contest). I definitely prefer the Greek version, but it's still great.

Or, actually, you could watch him perform the Greek version here:

Here's another good song of his, "Thelo epigontas diakopes," which, if I'm remembering correctly, Robpop introduced me to. Good chorus--less dancey (more just upbeat pop) but still uptempo and catchy.

OK, that's probably enough. It's just so easy to embed a bunch of videos instead of writing!

You can by Kostas Martakis's album Anatropi here (physical).

Next up: something non-Eurovision related.

Hearts all over the world tonight

This just screams "let's make a male version of 'Irreplaceable,'" doesn't it (musically, not lyrically)? Only, you know, not as good (though I'd be very interested to hear if I'd like it more with a different singer's voice on it). StarGate are getting so easy to identify--not only that, you could pretty much peg that it wasn't just going to be the StarGate duo, but Espen Lind and Bluefish as well, and--shock--it is.

Much as I love the Ne-Yo template*, it's kind of nice to see them making carbon copies of this other style for a change. Speaking of which, they should be proud--that style has become so prominent that other writers are using it now (see also: Timbaland and Monrose's "Hot Summer," US5's "Rhythm Of Life (Shake It Down)," and the latest, Room 2012's [another German reality TV group, three guys and one girl] falsetto-filled "Haunted"). I'm in real love with Jordin Spark's "One Step At A Time" (not a single, but listen to it here)--it's a fantastic pop song that sounds very influenced by StarGate, though it's not written by them (thanks J'ason!).

*Edit: I should say that yes, Ne-Yo co-wrote "Irreplaceable," but I'm referring here to the songs he sings and that kind of kicky drum machine beat sort of vibe (and often that plucky string-like effect, though it could actually be keyboards) of things like "Sexy Love" and "Because Of You" (and even "So Sick," just slowed down) instead of the guitar strum-based beat of "Irreplaceable" (a song which you can probably hear Ne-Yo's influence in, but more in the vocal melody than anything else, I'd guess.)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Será tan fácil poderte olvidar

I'm not sure why, but for some reason I always think of High School Musical while listening to Mexican duo Lu. I mean, the imagery they use in their videos doesn't evoke that, but there's just some inherent sweetness in their music that I think must draw those thoughts out in me. Don't expect Same Difference-type levels of bubbly fun, though; most of Lu's songs are more ballads. The duo is made up of one girl and one guy and they specialize in a very melodic kind of pop that, despite still using what sounds like "real instruments" (but definitely other production techniques as well; it's not all that--see the good uptempo song "Grita" for that) manages to still sound very "pure pop" as well as made by people with a very strong sense of what makes for good songwriting. They've released two albums so far, the last in 2006, with decent sales.

Será--one of Lu's uptempo songs; I've mentioned that they really do ballads more often (well, at least most of their big successes have been) and this, even though it's uptempo, still feels influenced by a ballad mentality or sense of awareness. It's very sweet-sounding (musically) with a nice contrast between drawn out and rapidfire words in the chorus.

To buy Lu's first album Lu, go here (physical) or here (digital) (or check iTunes).

Next up: I really have no idea!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Took the key to my will

It's been almost a month since I was introduced to Swiss singer Patrick Nuo via Don't Stop The Pop's countdown of the best songs of 2006. I was pretty much in love from the first listen to "5 Days," and couldn't believe I'd never heard of him before. It's with a lot of thanks to DSTP for writing about him, then, that I feature the song that hooked me in today. He's released three albums so far, the most recent just this year, though, as Mary Cherry wrote, it's really kind of shocking he got to release another album given his general chart positions.

5 Days--as a warning, this isn't top audio quality, but I prefer this version of the song to the version on the album (I think it's one of the versions on the single, which I keep meaning to buy, but haven't). I'm kind of shocked there was no attempt to launch him to a wider market with this song (well, I guess it didn't exactly become a huge hit in his native Switzerland or Germany, where he also releases music), since I could've seen it being--well, not a huge smash, but one of those nice solid #15 hits along a la Ryan Cabrera's "On The Way Down." Upbeat and (or but) mid-tempo, the song is one of those that kind of comes from the teen-pop subgenre right when there was a slight change beyond just boy bands--in other words, I think what I'm trying to say is that it's not, say, Ola's "S.O.S." kind of poppy pop but it's still very very pop. And, most importantly, very catchy and very good. And has counting! I pretty much love everything about it--it's got my sort of music written all over it.

I think you can get this version of the song on the single, I think, which you can buy here (physical); otherwise, the album version of the song is on his debut album, Welcome, available here (physical; that's the version with his German national final entry "Undone," which isn't on the album's first edition), here (digital; also the reedition), or on iTunes throughout the world (the first edition; some countries have the second edition as well).

Next up: maybe that Danish song.

Miss American dream since I was seventeen

Gosh, I'm such a music dork...

Britney Spears's new video for "Piece Of Me" just came on TV over here and I got wayyyyyy too excited about actually getting to hear Robyn's voice on American television.

In other news, the video is such an improvement over the one for "Gimme More" (it actually looks like a real music video made by someone aware that she was being filmed, for one). Reactions from people besides me included "wow, she looks so much better than the tabloids are always making out" (she genuinely looks great during the scenes with the purple dress), "she's really going after the papers with this one, isn't she?", and some laughs, as well as a generally positive reaction to the song.

I have pretty positive feelings towards Blackout, even if I don't think every song is great, but I've not really been much of a fan of "Piece Of Me." I think it might be one of those songs that becomes a single and I really start to "get," though.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Do a whole lot more

I've got huuugge gaps in my music knowledge about music from the past ten years, let alone the past fifty years, so it's probably not surprising at all to hear that I'd never heard Etta James's "Seven Day Fool," released in 1961. I do know, though, that today I'm enjoying Canadian singer Jully Black's cover of it. It came out back around this late summer/early fall and did pretty well. "Seven Day Fool" served as the lead single for her second album, Revival, released this October; I've not heard anything from it beyond this yet, though (well, except a preview of the of the YUG Remix [Radio Edit], which I now really want!).

Seven Day Fool--I've read some people bashing others for mentioning Amy Winehouse in their review of this song since Etta James's version came out years before Amy was even born. That's ridiculous--the song's sat around for forty-six years and we're supposed to think it's coincidence that it's just getting covered (and in keeping with this style) now? I doubt it. Regardless, though, I'm enjoying it today, though I'm not sure that that'll last too long. For now, though, it's catchy, very '60's sounding (well, of course), and fun in a sassy (I'd say despite of the lyrics, but actually, some of the lyrics are as well, unless I'm reading too much into them) kind of way.

And, in lieu of that mix I mentioned, since that's only available on Canadian iTunes and even then only when you buy the whole album, here's another dance edit (radio length, don't worry) of the song instead.

To buy Jully Black's album Revival, go here (physical).

Next up: maybe a Danish singer doing a kind of '80's-sounding song.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Do you know what that's worth?

"Were you a fan of boy bands?"


As if I wasn't sold on Blake Lewis as popstar enough he's giving us lines like this.

You are probably wondering how much longer I'm going to be able to dedicate posts to him. I promise, their frequency will decrease eventually. He's still doing enough to inspire posts, though, so I'm going to keep writing them. I'll try not to make tomorrow's song-including post about something related to him, at the least.

On a slightly more serious but actually really interesting note, the second half of that interview has him explaining the inspiration for and creation of his version of "You Give Love A Bad Name;" he says he heard Orbital's live version of "Halcyon + On + On" that incorporates Belinda Carlisle's "Heaven Is a Place On Earth" and Bon Jovi's "You Give Love A Bad Name and that it really stuck with him--when it came to Bon Jovi week, he automatically knew which song he wanted to work with.

Thus, we get the choice of today's song: Orbital's "Halcyon + On + On (Live)," but not in the full eight-plus minute version--I thought that might be pushing it (it is maybe worth listening to just a little bit of the original though if you want to get a better feel for where this edit is coming from), but basically a version under about three minutes that skips the first six or so minutes of just "Halcyon + On + On" and instead picks up where the mashup starts. Even if you don't want to hear the last minute and a half or so of wordless vocals over an electronica backing (though the way "Heaven Is A Place On Earth" mixes with the twisted vocals from Opus III's "A Fine Day" is great), definitely take a listen to that first minute--putting "You Give Love A Bad Name" and "Heaven Is A Place On Earth" together works really well.

You can get the (full) live version of Orbital's "Halcyon + On + On" on the second disc of their album In Sides here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: a Norwegian song, I think, that is kind of tangentially related to today's post though it sounds nothing like today's song.

Just let your feelings show

And I thought I was shocked after seeing that Fred Ball and Hannah Robinson had a song in the Norwegian MGP! Hah! That doesn't even begin to compare to how shocked I am after reading the following news.

Remember Danny Saucedo? Whose album I was raving about? And who has released three really successful singles?

Well, he's now part of three person Swedish boy band E.M.D. The group's name comes from the initials of its members: Erik Segerstedt, Mattias Andréasson, and Danny Saucedo. All of them were contestants on Idol, Erik and Danny in 2006 and Mattias this year. Apparently it was their own idea and not the record company's...

Now, before you try to be optimistic, thinking, "hey, the Idol supergroup idea resulted in some pretty good stuff from the Young Divas and similarly-named NKD," we already know their first single: a cover of Bryan Adams, Sting, and Rod Stewart's "All For Love." Given that and their statement that it'll be "mature pop," I don't think we can be counting on anything disco-tastic. Edit 2: Expressen reports that the single will be out next week, with an album (half old hits and half new material) in the spring, as well as has a statement from them that they still see themselves as three separate artists and are just committing to do this together in 2008.

Given Danny's solo success, I can only presume that this is a side project for him, but who knows? And I'm still upset that he's probably not in Melodifestivalen, given that he's doing Sweden's version of Strictly Come Dancing.

I reserve the right to completely change my opinion on this if they end up being the vehicle for a good pop song in the future, but right now, I mean...really?!

EDIT to say that if, on the other hand, they decide to release an album of trashy/tragic (take your pick) boy band covers of Cher songs, I AM THERE!