Monday, March 31, 2008

You hold me tight after every fight just to show that we'll never break

I don't know too much about Dutch group Da-Mezz. I do know they're a three person group, two girls and one guy. They've released two singles so far that I know of, the first, "Verano del amor," which I thought was released in 2007 but their official site (in addition to saying summer 2007 in one place) says 2006 in one section, and the second, "Allright" (their spelling), in October 2007. I didn't listen to their first single too much (it felt like a "people like to buy Spanish-flavored records in the summer, so let's toss together a Spanish-influenced song and go for a summer hit!" case to me), but their second was definitely a step in the right direction.

Allright--dance-pop that kind of reminds me of a younger, less-fleshed-out, not-as-full-or-punchy-sounding N.E.X.--as if they were the younger, not quite as sophisticated (but still good and with potential!) siblings of the aforementioned group. There's also something about the song that feels a little bit like a throwback to me, in certain aspects (one of which, for example, is the way they say "all right"). "Allright" could maybe use a little bit of polishing in a few places (I think maybe the verse would be better if it was a little fuller; maybe just because there's only one guy to sing there, there might need to be something done--beyond the current amount of multitracking of his voice--just so the song stays sufficiently...full throughout; either that, or maybe get a little more attitude in his delivery? Then again, maybe that would take away from the feel they were going through--it's not really an aggressive song), but in general it's great, especially the bridge (or first chorus, because it's kind of long for a bridge). There are hints of electro-revviness underneath the vocal part, something I always love (and could maybe be played up even more?), and it's definitely a catchy song. I hope the project doesn't end up cancelled--I'd really like to see where they go next. I hope too that all these thoughts about tweaking the song doesn't make it sound like I think it's anything less than great--it's definitely a great song, or I wouldn't be featuring it.

You can buy Da-Mezz's single "Allright" from all iTunes country stores here.

Their YouTube account also has a video set to a solo track with just Fabienne, one of the girls, called "Six Days," which is maybe worth a listen if you like this style (it's maybe a little more Eurodance-influenced than "Allright").

Next up: maybe a song from a recently released Swedish album.

Best you've ever had, it's more than I can take

Run run run over to Fizzy Pop, the latest blog from Paul of The Zapping, to read some exciting Simon Curtis news and a truly fantastic interview with Russian singer Sergey Lazarev.

Mon coeur est tout à moi, mon corps n'est pas soumis

"Femme d'ajourdi'hui," the new single from French singer Sofia Essaïdi (who I first read about on Poplicious), apparently a tie-in with her appearance in the title role of the musical Cléopâtre, is more than a little similar to "Umbrella" (as in, if I were songwriters Lionel Florence and Patrice Guirao, I'd be hoping The-Dream and Tricky Stewart don't listen to French radio)...

...but I still really like it. It did take hearing it about three times before it really clicked, but I've had the video on near constant repeat since it did--so I can listen to the song, though the video is really well-done too, with some great "popstar" moments.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Everything is going smooth tonight

Just kind of a hodge-podge of things today!

Oh no...I should have known writing about Bea Bronchal was a mistake--despite all my best efforts to wash them out with other music, I've had her songs running through my head literally ALL DAY. With that in mind, here's yet another of her amazing pop stompers; this one's called "Lo Prefiero" and was originally by Rebeca, who was in the running to represent Spain at Eurovision 2006 with it (Rebeca also had another song, "Que no daría yo," in the running), but from what I've heard, I prefer Bea's version. Is it going to scare all of you away when I say that it's got touches of reggaeton and pop-rock in it? It shouldn't--I know I'm overusing this phrase when writing about Bea, but it's a total pop stomper that, with its rapidfire vocals and "hey hey" chants, will be running through your head the rest of the day; there's no resisting that chorus. It's a song that makes me want to learn how to street dance.

Anyway, here's the Lithuanian song I've been meaning to post about the past few days. I really was going to post the song itself, but all I've found is a low quality mp3 that, to be honest, someone else frustrated with not being able to find the song probably just ripped from a video somewhere. Still, consider it the "featured song" of the day.

The singer's name is Mantas, and the song is "Lovefool Tonight," a fairly recent (past two months or so) single. It's got a little bit of a disco beat running through it, but it's kind of Robbie Williams-esque in a way (maybe not a million miles away from his version of "Lovelight"?). Despite one giant lyrical misstep, the song's really lodged itself in my head; it's not the sort of thing I expect to take the Internet by storm, and in fact I'll be more than glad to see it not really talked about elsewhere--I don't expect it would meet a very friendly reception--but I'm very glad it exists for my own sake. Could a Lithuanian music store open up somewhere on the Internet, please?

How on Earth did I miss this news earlier?

(Well, OK, I know how, but still!)

Apparently (according to an article in Aftonbladet from March 14) Fredrik Kempe and Anna Sahlene have formed a duo called Pomp, already have a record contract with Universal, are already working in the studio, have their eyes set on Melodifestivalen 2009, and have asked Jessica Andersson to join them and make the duo a trio. Fredrik, in a blog post, kind of hedged back a way from that a little bit, saying that they're just kind of testing and nothing is certain. Elsewhere, he says the music is "dansmusik med schlagertouch" ("dance music with a schlager touch").

Now, my natural preference would be for both or all three (if Jessica ended up saying yes) of those artists to have solo careers (I love all three of them as solo artists), but if we can't have that--and let's face it, we haven't had that for quite some time and there's not really any indication that's an option on the table; Fredrik's just been doing songwriting, Anna released her version of "Brief & Beautiful" in Estonia but that's all we've heard from her in terms of a commercial/pop career (though ESCToday did say an album would be out this year), and Jessica's doing musicals and released a track with Nordman--if it's a case of this or nothing, then I will definitely take this.

Next up: a Dutch dance-pop group, I think.

Impatiently waiting

This may be old news, but I only just found out that the tracklisting for Sanna's upcoming album Stronger is up.

1.) Strong
2.) Empty Room
3.) Nobody Without You
4.) I Believe It's You
5.) Heart Of Me
6.) Tomorrow Ends Today
7.) Impatiently Waiting For You
8.) Those Were The Days And The Nights Of Loving You
9.) Out Of Reach
10.) But I Know What I Want
11.) Broken In Two
12.) Magic
13.) I Can Catch The Moon
14.) This Is My Thanks

We've heard "I Can Catch The Moon" already--it's on her MySpace and she performed it on TV. Fingers crossed for maybe something like "Surrender"...please? Or "Loneliness"? Or Sonja's "Här står jag," if she really wants to avoid anything schlager-y? I just really don't think I could take fourteen songs all like "Empty Room." Fourteen tracks, though--that's a pretty long album...really, she couldn't just have all power ballads with that length, could she? There must be some variety.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Ole por sus besos, ole por su cuerpo

There are many reasons I need to make it to Spain someday, but one of them is definitely so I can finally track down some of Bea Bronchal's CDs, especially Ole. From the songs I've heard from her, it sounds like she does a fantastic job of making powerful upbeat danceable pop songs. Speaking of female Spanish pop singers making that kind of music, where on Earth is Rebeca? I need a followup to "Que no daría yo" and "I Love You Mi Vida" like nothing else! Rebeca's also got another connection to Bea: some of the songs she recorded and were planned to be hers were given away to Bea for one of her albums, if I understand the situation correctly (both were signed to the same record company at the time). Rebeca's another artist whose albums are on my shopping list for that hypothetical trip. Anyway, getting back to Bea: she's got a new single out, more of a ballad than the song I'm posting today (listen to it on her MySpace), to be followed by an album. Today's song is from several years ago, though, from her 2005 album Ole.

Ole--some songs completely abuse the Spanish pop style, taking the hallmarks of the genre and using them just because it's an easy way to make something sound "different" and because a lot of people see Spanish pop as catchy. Those sorts of songs always come out sounding soulless--they're predictable and completely lack any real spark, as well as being surrounded by more than a whiff of cynicism. On the other hand, other songs--and not just big uptempo stompers--get it exactly right. However, a big uptempo stomper as well as a song that gets it exactly right is what "Ole" definitely is. Sure, you could argue that "Ole" is just as cynical, just as guilty of that "let's just shamelessly use all those stereotypical 'Spanish music' things"--we get the word "Ole," castanets, the "Spanish guitar"--but when the song as a whole, as non-revolutionary as it might be, is constructed with such care in the name of getting you on the (as theoretical as my trip to Spain) Spanish dancefloor, that's an argument that loses power. Using backing vocals that sound like the chant of a giant crowd may be an old trick, but it's a trick that's still around because it works, as it does here, giving the song an even bigger and more commanding feel. The verses are enhanced by the aforementioned Spanish guitar, but they'd work without it as well. The best part of the song, though, is, of course, that chorus, complete with its crowd-chanted backing vocals and lines propelled along by that emphasis on the first syllable but that don't peter out because of the way the stop-start rhythm at the beginning of each "phrase" switches to a quick double emphatic punch at each phrase's end.

This is all making it sound too serious: basically, a big fun danceable pop song. That's all you really need to know.

You can buy Bea Bronchal's album Ole here (physical).

Next up: maybe that Lithuanian singer.

Friday, March 28, 2008

I'm swimming in the dark beside you

At risk of turning into an all-YouTube, all the time blog, I have to mention--with absolutely all credit to Oswalds Popcorn for my knowledge of it--German-based producer(s) Schiller. It's a month or so old at this point (and the news of it happening is even older, apparently), I think, but better late than never. Like the post below, this song involves a singer I'm kind of obligated to write about whenever she does something new, but in this case, it's not Kate Ryan--it's September. She provides the vocals for this trance-ish track, an electronica song that's not really meant for dancing (though I think it may be one of the more uptempo songs on the album, which really says more about the album's style than it does about this track); it's one of those songs that's all about creating an atmosphere.

Oh, you know what--since it was another blog that introduced me to it, I was just going to embed a video and not include the song, but really, "Breathe" is just too entrancing for everyone not listen to it in good quality. This is the sort of music where the clarity of the audio is absolutely important. The fact that this is a "featuring" appearance for September shouldn't turn you off of listening to it, though--collaborations can sometimes yield stunning results (and though I don't have the liner notes myself to check, Discogs says the music and lyrics are actually by the people usually behind September's work, the von der Burgs and Anoo Bhagavan, as well as the man behind Schiller, Christopher von Deylen). "Breathe" may be based more in electronica than September's usual work, but it's a lush, lovely, grown-up song that deserves to be heard. I'm not sure if it's a "pop radio" type of track, but it's easily singleworthy in respect to whatever radio stations play electronica music.

On a sidenote, is it just me or are there lines that reference September and her past work?


To buy Schiller's two disc album Sehnsucht, go here (physical).

Next up: maybe something Lithuanian.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Qui nous met dans un drôle d'état

One more video for now, and then I'm done: people are saying this is a remix of Kate Ryan's new single, another cover, this time of France Gall's "Ella, Elle l'a" (her album is due out May 19). I've got no idea if that's true or not (well, I know that a cover of said song was her next single), but it sounds like her--I just have no idea how a remix got out there. Anway, because it's new Kate, here it is (keep in mind that it's said to be a remix, not the original, though, so it's mainly posted for curiosity's and "oh, what do her vocals sound like on the song?" sake):

Speaking of Kate, there's a bit of news about a song in the running ("on the short list") to be on her album over at Pop Trash Addicts' interview with Peter Wilson, which is interesting for way more than that, by the way--if you want a look behind the scenes of the music industry (that's far from dry, let's just make that clear), it's worth your time.

You should know that I am head over heels for you

Sad that you weren't able to spend your last Saturday night watching Melodifestivalen? Why not try to ease the pain with your own Swedish TV mix-and-match (i.e., feel free to skip anything that doesn't interest you) special, taken from the past few months!

I'm sure other performers have used the spinny camera at the big climatic moment in the song trick, but now that Charlotte has so totally claimed it, I can't help thinking of "Hero" right in the middle of this performance of EMD's new single, "Jennie Let Me Love You," which they performed on Let's Dance. Still, I'm totally buying this when it comes out. (Plus, bonus points for the "twisted sheets"/"sore heart beats" rhyme--that should go right up there with "fire"/"desire.")

Anna Sahlene was BRILLIANT in musical gameshow Så ska det låta this past weekend. She was teamed up with Peter Johansson against Carola and Andreas Johnson, and not only did she prove herself (as if it needed further proving) to be a fantastic singer with a great knowledge of music (she and Peter ran away with the contest), she's also made me wish even more for another album from her. Heck, I'd take an album of disco covers at this point, something which we got a taste of from several of her performances. Unfortunately, though seemingly everything her partner performed has been uploaded on YouTube, most of Anna's performances haven't been yet. Still, you can watch the whole thing here if you want to, and you can watch her perform a slowed down version of "Runaway" below.

Time for a commercial break. I'm not sure if this ad is being run in the U.S. or UK (my guess is no, at least on the US front), but it's getting airing in Scandinavian countries, even causing Depeche Mode's "Enjoy The Silence" to creep up the iTunes charts there.

Taking us back into our regularly scheduled programming is Alcazar, performing their fantastic latest single "We Keep On Rockin'" (I was going to rave about it but never did, did I?) on Let's Dance. I'm beyond thrilled to have them back and can't wait to hear some more material from them. I think they're facing off against EMD on some upcoming TV show, too...

There's some great staging going on in September's performance of "Because I Love You" on Bingolotto. She really imbues those opening lines with emotion, and I love the use of lights for the transition into the more "dance" part of the song.

Not from TV--taken from her official website, in fact--but if you want to hear a few clips of Charlotte Perrelli working on songs for her new album in studio, go to near the end of this clip.

And what better way to end our Melodifestivalen substitute than with the track rejected from the 2006 Melodifestival that ended up being the biggest selling single in 2007? Courtesy of Så ska det låta again (though a different week), here's Amy Diamond and Fredrik Swahn singing it after winning.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Everything has a beginning...

April 23, people. April 23.

(Taken from CDOn, so I assume that's the real album cover, then?)

Come closer, don't wait a minute

I'm pretty sure the first time I heard Milky's single "Be My World" was on a remix CD I bought mainly for the remix of Ricky Martin's "I Don't Care" on it (oh, shush). I was reminded of it the other day when I finally got around to ripping a compilation CD from the brilliant Catchy Tunes label (September? Lucky Twice? Elin Lanto? ToNi? And loads of other great songs? All from Catchy Tunes). If Wikipedia can be believed, they were a dance group whose producers were from Italy and whose lead singer was originally from Egypt. In 2003, their single "Just The Way You Are," a lovely bit of light happy-go-lucky dance-pop fluff (in the best way possible) based on some catchy "do do doo"s, charted at #8 in the UK. "In My Mind" might have been their second single (I'm not sure), but if it is, I'd say compared to what came before and after it it's definitely a low point for the group. The song I'm posting today is what I think was the group's third single, and probably my favorite, though it's a tough call between this and "Just The Way You Are."

Be My World--I wish I knew more about the types of dance music and could say which subgenre this properly fits into. In lieu of that, though, I'll just say that it's very commercial, very light, very poppy (you could quite easily just call it a pop song, really), and very upbeat. The "do do doo"s of "Just The Way You Are" have been swapped out for some "na na na"s and the whole song just proceeds along in such a simple, sweet way and with such a nice groove--one that sucks you in but doesn't really demand anything of you--that it's a great mood-lifter (a little bit like, say, "Love At First Sight" in that respect, though not as...pure-sounding as that song). Milky's singer has a distinctive voice that makes it obvious who this song belongs to, but I can picture some other dancefloor-friendly female singers that could quite easily sing it as well.

To buy Milky's single "Be My World" go here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: maybe something Irish.

Try and understand it

The U.S. really baffles me sometimes--what's with so many people (including two-thirds of the American Idol judging panel!) never having heard (Australian singer) John Farnham's "You're The Voice" before? I mean, my knowledge of pre-2000 music is abysmal (really, no exaggeration, it is) and even I know it (one of those songs you just grow up with a knowledge of, you know?)....and, as I think I may have mentioned before, love it. Think what you will of it and me, but don't care--I think it's a fantastic song.

I'm confused, though--it's an '80's song, yes? So it being used last night doesn't make sense (the theme was songs from the year of your birth and David Archuleta, born in 1990, performed it), unless they were counting a cover that was released in 1990.

Also, I am not endorsing David's actual performance of the song, but Paula asking "why couldn't you sing a song by an American composer?" may be the most ridiculous thing EVER. DID YOU ALL NOT JUST HAVE TWO STRAIGHT WEEKS OF BEATLES NIGHTS? What, are the Beatles American now? Should everyone take to singing "God Bless The USA"? Sheesh.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

We don't care, we don't fight, we don't even know what's wrong or right

While I work on my thoughts about Linda Bengtzing's new album, I thought we'd flash back to her first album. I expect most people with interest in it may already own it, though, so I thought I'd use a slightly different approach; even if it's fairly--if not totally--well-known that Linda Bengtzing's debut album contained a cover (at least one), that subject at least has a chance of being new to people.

You may have picked up on the fact that Linda's album track "Vad Hände Sen," a kind of dramatic rocky mid-tempo ballad with a powerful chorus, was co-written by Australian duo the Veronicas, Lisa and Jessica Origliasso, which was a pretty good indication that it wasn't originally in Swedish. The sisters recorded it, with the title "What's Going On" (or "What's Goin' On") as a demo for themselves, but the song ultimately ended up being given away for use by other artists, including Japanese singer Miz (the first artist to release it, I think, since the album with "What's Going On" came out in July 2004; interestingly, apparently she released an English language album in Sweden, with the Japanese language album containing her Japanese version of "What's Going On" as a bonus disc in some versions), Australian Idol winer Casey Donovan (who made it her second single, releasing it in February 2005), Australian singer Tania Mora (who included it on her November 2006 album Sanctity), and, of course, our Swedish singer Linda (who included it on her March 2006 album Ingenting Att Förlora).

It really is a song that fits Linda perfectly, as well as fits right in with the rest of the album. I've not heard more than clips of Miz's version and I haven't heard Tania's version at all, but if we're just talking about the flow of words, I think I may prefer the lyrics in Swedish--somehow, the line "what's going on?" doesn't feel like it has a proper ending to me. Yes, I realize it's a question and therefore doesn't have a "proper ending" and that you could argue the point of the song is that there isn't a proper nice neat resolution in terms of the story, but the phrase "what's going on" just lacks that punch or impact because of the sound of the words in it (or maybe the way it's delivered). I wish I knew more about phonics and language and could get across why, but "sen" just finishes off the line better for me than "on" does.

As for who singings it best? Don't make me choose! I love the sound of the Veronicas' voices (there's this sweetness amidst the strength) and how they work together, but Casey (who must have been, what, sixteen or seventeen when this was recorded?) delivers the chorus with more power and with a certain growl in her voice that gives the song a more aggressive edge that suits all the guitars. Then again, I adore Linda's voice, and there's a certain clarity to her version, multi-tracked as the vocal may be on the chorus, that I like--it helps prevent her from getting lost in all that dramatic backing music.

For the purposes of comparison, then, and just for a short time, I give you:

The Veronicas, "What's Going On" (leaked demo) (note that DSTP originally introduced me to the fact that the Veronicas had recorded demos of songs given by them to other artists--thanks guys!--though this particular version doesn't come from DSTP)
Casey Donovan, "What's Going On" (second single, peaked at #18)
Linda Bengtzing, "Vad Hände Sen" (album track)

(Incidentally, it's coming to something when I think more people reading here will have heard a Swedish language album track than an English language single from an Idol winner, isn't it?)

You can buy Linda Bengtzing's album Ingenting Att Förlora here (physical) or here (digital) and Casey Donovan's album For You here (physical). The Veronicas' version of "What's Going On" was never released on an album, but you can buy their latest album Hook Me Up here (physical).

Speaking of Linda, I mentioned earlier that she'll be on the Swedish version of Clash of the Choirs (Körslaget), and I just noticed today that it debuts March 29. Possibly more exciting is the fact that she'll be on Swedish musical gameshow Så ska det låta on April 5, teamed up with Brolle (who's one of her competitors on Körslaget, but I think I remember reading that Så ska det låta was filmed a while ago--wasn't it one of the things that got Carola and Andreas thinking of working together, or got Christer Björkman to think of them working together? Anyway, Brolle duets with her on her new album as well).

Next up: maybe that dance-pop.

Monday, March 24, 2008

'Cause I ain't no intricated brunette

There's this certain type of beat, this squooshy oompah type beat, that's the musical equivalent of nails on a chalkboard for me. I wouldn't claim a song that used it was bad because it's just a personal thing, but it does make it difficult for me to like a song like, say, Girls Alouds' "Can't Speak French." When I heard Norwegian singer Jorun Stiansen's new single "Sticky Hands" last year, I was kind of interested in it but knew it was going to be the sort of song I could never really love--because of that beat. I mentioned it here but pretty much ignored it after that...until I ended up watching the video for it just recently (months after it was released). Jorun's gone from this look...

...for her first album--the "I'm a scrappy, slightly punky teenager" look (and even when she glammed up a bit in some of her videos, she was cute but still had this really young look to her)--to...

...well, she's more than a bit gorgeous now, no?

Anyway, that's besides the point: I somehow didn't get what the song was about until I saw the video--actually, scratch that, though it may have made me get some things, I think the video left me even more confused in the end (it's imprinted in my memory now, though--it's kind of the definition of "TOO MUCH" in its bizarre funny "what's going on?!" kind of sense). Regardless, though, the song's under my skin at the moment. It's still not the sort of song I can wholeheartedly love, but I've been playing it over and over again. Hopefully some of you won't share my aversion to that particular backbeat, too.

Sticky Hands--the lead single for Norwegian Idol 2005 winner Jorun's second album (her first album, by the way, contained the original "Takes One To Know One," later covered by Belinda and Amy Diamond--well, I think it's the original; I know it predates those two versions--I just don't know if there's some earlier version I don't know about), "Sticky Hands" is a mid-tempo pop song with that aforementioned oompah beat and little cabaret touches thrown in. Can we get back to that video, though? Seriously, what is going on? Jorun caresses an unmoving man with an animal head, then drags him out by a chain, and then blowdries her hair. And that's just the beginning--I could go on, but it's better not to spoil any of the randomness for you. It's given me a whole new appreciation for the song, though, so it's done its job. Oh, and side note: I love that instrumental section in the middle (in the video, it's the part with the spinning cabinet).

P.S. Yes, I know "intricated" isn't a word--tell that to Jorun. Or tell me what she's actually saying there, because that's sure what it sounds like to me.

I don't know of any way someone outside of Norway can buy Jorun Stiansen's single "Sticky Hands" (the album comes out later this year, apparently), but you can buy her debut album Unstable here (digital). Should you happen to live in Norway, you can buy the "Sticky Hands" single from iTunes here.

Anyway, the reason I ended up watching Jorun's video was that I was doing some catching up on other Norwegian artists. Girl group Lilyjets have a new single, "Song For You," coming out this April; R&B-oriented Idol contestant Wisnu has a new single called "Follow Me" coming out the same month; and Idol winner Aleksander With has new-ish clips of songs called "Honest Now" (my preferred song of the two; it sounds pretty lovely in his guy-with-piano way) and "Home Is Where You Are" on his MySpace.

In other random singer news, Russian singer Serebro have a new single out (in Russian) called "Opium." It (like their other songs) can be downloaded for free and in good quality from their website here. Foregoing the attitude-filled stompiness of "Song No. 1," it's got this backing in which laid-back but dark electronica washes and a stronger forward-moving guitar-type beat mix together to create something that could pass over you with little impression or come off as completely intoxicating depending on your taste and mood; I'm definitely leaning towards the latter at the moment (I completely adore it right now, to be more straightforward, though I can never guarantee how long something will stick with me), so I'd very much recommend checking it out. If the people on YouTube can be believed, there'll be an English version coming later.

Elin Lanto gave an interview saying that her album--due out this summer--was all built around the sound of "Speak 'n Spell," which is pretty fantastic news.

Next up: dance-influenced pop--or is it pop-influence dance?--from some years ago.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

I don't wanna be alive at the age of 85 thinkin' about what coulda been

"Baby, you inspay-ay-ay-ay-ire me"

I know I've written about Tim James before, but I love the song I'm posting today too much not to share it. American singer Tim is--if he's known for anything--known for his single "I'll Be Your Secret," a song seemingly designed for YouTube montages to be set to...well, if it hadn't come out years before YouTube existed. He's still in the music business now, albeit as a songwriter, mainly working with teen pop/Disney stable artists (in recent years, including Aly & AJ's "Potential Breakup Song," Miley Cyrus's "See You Again," and Zac Efron's "Bet On It"). Before leaving the artist route, though (his album that "I'll Be Your Secret" was supposed to launch was never released, though it was promoed), he did give us this lost gem of a song.

Better Man--the ballad "I'll Be Your Secret" can at times verge on too cheesy even for me, and I suppose "Better Man" could be argued to have similar basic lyrical flaws--a kind of clichéd-sounding concept designed to rope in young girls who wish they'd get someone to sing them a song like this--but really, if we're being that picky, loads of pop songs are like that; at the least, "Better Man" is somewhat less cringeworthy. Most importantly, though, "Better Man" is a better song. It's kind of a mix of teen pop and singer-songwriter sounds, but somehow manages to end up being just...perfect, for me, and I don't think I can pinpoint why. Sure, the mid-tempo song is catchy and definitely manages to coerce me into mouthing along with the lyrics, but the music, castoff as it may seem, also manages to completely ensnare me every time. There's just this certain strand of pop--Ainslie Henderson's "Keep Me A Secret,"* Marcos Hernandez's "The Way I Do," Darius's "Rushes," Paolo Meneguzzi's "Ti Amo Ti Odio"--that is pure magic for me but I can never put into words why--it just is...and "Better Man" is yet another entry into that list.

To buy Tim James's unreleased album Tim James, go here (physical).

Next up: maybe another American singer.

*This is going off on a tangent, but I've written before about how much I adore "Keep Me A Secret" (and how his other recorded material from that time period is possibly the unreleased music I'd most like to hear)--it's a perfect song, regardless of your feelings about Ainslie--and just wanted to add that apparently Ainslie wasn't happy with the production on it, which is the complete opposite of my reaction to it: the production is one of the big reasons I think it's as fantastic as it is. Come to think of it, maybe it's the production that plays a big role in why I love all those songs...hmmm...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Varje liten sak som du gör, varje litet ord som jag hör

I realize I'm at perpetual risk of sounding like all ballads, and especially those in Eurovision and Meldifestivalen, are a bad thing, so I thought I'd feature a song--a ballad--today that gets it exactly right. Its origin is made even more remarkable when you consider my general leeriness of young popstars. Let's travel back to 2006: Sweden had had a pretty dismal record in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest so far (fifteenth for three consecutive years, when there were only ever between sixteen and eighteen countries competing), which led to SVT, the state-sponsored channel which also runs Melodifestivalen, giving up the Swedish JESC national final and TV4 taking over (if I understand the whole situation correctly, SVT still runs Lilla Melodifestivalen, with the winner in that competing in the MGP Nordic--just for Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland--while TV4 runs a separate contest that determines who will go to the more cross-Europe JESC).

The result of this change in operating channel?

Det finaste någon kan få (roughly, "The Best One Can Have" or "The Best You Could Get")

A song and singer that took Sweden to third place in the JESC, its highest ranking yet. Molly Sandén, fourteen years old at the time and the writer of "Det finaste någon kan få" (as opposed to "regular" Eurovision, in which performers don't need to have any involvement in the creation of their song, performers in JESC must have written their song, a fact which I still find mind-boggling--surely the producers must play a large role in the creation of these songs, then?), presented a song that doesn't need to be followed by the qualifier "for children" with a performance that had absolutely none of that creepy child singer quality that so many young singers ooze (though, to be fair, the fact that she was fourteen and not, say, ten may help her in that respect, but she's a genuinely great performer).

"Det finaste någon kan få" epitomizes everything I want in a ballad (especially in Melodifestivalen/Eurovision) and is pure class. Completely lovely and with a feeling of genuine emotion behind it (it's a supportive song and a song about support, but something about it manages to make it completely heart-rending, as well as uplifting, every time I hear it). It's also a song I'm so glad is (as it had to be, based on JESC rules) in Swedish: the lyrics work and presumably would in any language, but the sound of the Swedish words here just fits the song so perfectly.

I'm very much looking forward to the day Molly enters Melodifestivalen, and I just hope, really hope, she does it with a song that has the quality of this one, as tall an order as that is.

You can buy the JESC 2006 CD (for one euro!) here (physical) or the CD for the 2006 Swedish national final here (digital).

Next up: I should warn you all: I've been enjoying the CDs for Sweden's final for JESC for 2006 and 2007 way more than I probably should this past couple of days, so there's a very good chance you'll be seeing more from them in the near future (honestly, give some of the songs a go in their studio versions--there are some great ones!). Sadly, I've only got a physical version of the 2007 one, though--I'd love to see more of the credits for 2006. Tomorrow may be an American singer, though.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Nothing but faith to keep me warm

I was walking down a city street a few days ago (no, D'luv, not that kind of walking on streets) when my iPod, on shuffle, turned up the following song. I know it's already got a pop classic kind of status, but something about the timing and atmosphere was just so right--late night, big city, streets empty of traffic but with just enough people on the sidewalks to get you wondering where the night is going to take each of them and you--that I fell in love with it all over again. This may be more a case of "let's appreciate this song" than me introducing you to a song you don't know but might like, but either way, I need to get this out of my system.

In My Pocket--oh, Mandy Moore, as Adem has asked, why on Earth would you ever forswear a back catalogue that includes a song like this? If this is the result of the Western exoticizing of Eastern cultures, bring it on--rarely is a song this tantalizing, this slinkily invigorating--striking just the right balance of danceable forwardness and taunting come-hither-ness--this able to get under your skin and into your head, or, to get more to the point, this perfect. Maybe it's not a song very much suited to (American) radio, but I bet it'd be a killer getting ready to go out song...or dance around the house by yourself with no other concerns song--take your pick.

To buy Mandy Moore's self-titled album, go here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: something Swedish, I imagine--many dance music.

Nothing seems to mend

Because I continue to believe that someone who made as great an album as Heart.Beats wouldn't toss all that away to join an ill-advised boy band that had no musical value, I'm kind of half-paying attention to E.M.D., the Swedish boy band that Danny Saucedo, Erik Segerstedt, and Mattias Andréasson (all off of Idol) are part of in the hopes that they'll end up coming up with something a whole heck of a lot better than that "All For Love" cover they put out. The latest news from them and the reason for this post is that they've got a new single coming out. They'll be performing it on Let's Dance tonight (with Danny just having been kicked off the show), the song will go to radio on March 24, and it'll be available for purchase April 7 (digitally) and 9 (physically).

The bad news? It's called "Jennie Let Me Love You." With that title, I'm already imagining another song that sounds just like their cover of "All For Love." Let's hope I'm wrong. Danny's official site is trying to sell it all positively, saying that it was written by Michel Zitron, who co-wrote "If Only You." However, as FANTASTIC as I think "If Only You" is, if you changed the arrangement and produced it differently, you wouldn't have that much trouble turning it into a generic power ballad a la "All For Love" (which would not be a good thing, in case there were any doubts)--in other words, I'm not taking anything for granted given the style this group has shown themselves to be pursuing in the past, but would happily accept having my doubts proved to be misplaced.

The album's currently predicted to come out in May.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

If I had a dollar for every time we had a fight...

All right, now, universe, stop messing about: I like Alex Vargas. We've established that a bunch of times. I wish him loads of success.


With the upcoming release of a version of "All The Way" on deep-voiced Canadian/French-releasing singer Garou's English language album Piece Of My Soul (out in May; apparently "Stand Up" is written by Rob Thomas and "Accidental" is by Mattias Lindblom of Vacuum), there will be no less than FOUR versions of "All The Way" out and about: Alex's version (which I've only got in low quality, but it's great), Alex's acoustic version (my favorite version, I think, oddly enough), Markus Fagervall's version, and Garou's (and who knows, maybe there are more versions out there that I don't know about). That is all well and good, but WHEN is SOMEONE going to release "Diamonds In The Dirt"? My life is not going to be complete until I have a version of it that isn't a shady low quality MySpace rip!

I still think it could potentially be an ace Idol winner song in the vein of Aleksander With's "A Little Too Perfect," and that would certainly get it the exposure and hit status it deserves...but couldn't you just put your version up for sale on iTunes? I'd buy it in a heartbeat. Heck, I even bought that iTunes EP that didn't even have my two favorite of your songs on it. Please?

(Note that, for reasons I'd like to think are related to the song being licensed out for release by someone but probably aren't given that it's been going on two years since it was last on his MySpace, there's nowhere on the Internet where you can to listen to "Diamonds In The Dirt.")

Lovesick, but I got the cure

Random thoughts on songs from some American artists:

Somehow or other, my sister roped me into watching Making the Band 4 this past summer, which means that, yes, I actually know who Donnie J. (sometimes seemingly just called Donnie) is--in the final episode, Diddy decided he didn't want him in the band but did want to sign him as a solo artist. I was kind of shocked that Diddy saw solo artist potential in him, from a marketing standpoint, and kind of expected Donnie to just completely fade away, that giving him a "solo contract" was just a way to get him out of the way. Apparently there's actually real work being done, though, because a clip of a song called "Dr Love" is out and about now (check out here to listen to it or play the embedded video below). It's kind of got an urban-electro thing going on, and I'm not sure if it'll end up as much more than a lot of nice production and nothing more (as well as a metaphor we've heard many times before), but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't really interested to hear the whole song.

Speaking of Making The Band, I haven't bought the new album from Danity Kane, the girl group formed in one of the earlier seasons, but after hearing so many good things about the album track "Sucka For Love" (all right, I'll admit it, a couple of reviews calling it "European-flavored" were a part of building up that interest), I bought it, and it's pretty good--it's too early to see how long it'll stick with me, but it's a catchy (in a laid-back kind of way) highly-produced mid-tempo song that I really like at the moment. If you like it, also check out the single, "Damaged."

Artist you're shocked to see launching a career: Ace Young. What?! Didn't he have a single out a while ago, and it didn't do well? And it's been so long since the season of Idol he was on (fifth)--artists from that season have already released an album and been dropped; how on Earth did Ace end up with a company or management that's still keeping him around and that is only just now launching him properly? I say "properly" because apparently he's got tracks from Andreas Carlsson--the mind boggles; getting a pretty big name Swedish songwriter--you'd think that implies some level of seriousness in making him successful, wouldn't you? I'm not writing any of this from an anti-Ace perspective, but for him to be seemingly treated in a way completely unlike any of the other Idol contestants have been handled is really confusing me--how did this happen? It just seems unlike the music industry nowadays. Anyway, the first single "Addicted (co-written by Andreas, as are four other songs on his album) is out and about on the Internet now (listen here, for example, or in much lower quality via the video below) and it's not blown me away so far--it's...competent, but not memorable (so far) or distinctive--kind of just pop, kind of pop-rock, kind of a little funk, some strings thrown in...I could end up changing my opinion on it after a few more listens, though), who knows, and I don't dislike it, but right now it doesn't have that "magic" for me.

Speaking up was never quite your style

Heaven help me, but I'd started to forget how amazing a group Universal Poplab are. It's a very good thing that they've released a new single to remind us all of it, then--it came out a month or two ago, but I only found out about it now (that's what I get for not checking It's A Trap daily). They're yet another group I owe my knowledge of to the much-missed Catchy Tunes of Sweden, though #1 Hits has written about them too; I've not yet bought their first album, but if you see their second (Uprising) anywhere, snap it up--not only are singles like "I Could Say I'm Sorry" and "Heart Apart" some of the best electro-pop you'll hear, there's a lot more to enjoy than just those songs. That plus the fact that this new single is great has me now very excited for their next album (skipping over their remix album), Seeds, due out May 7.

In case you missed it earlier, you absolutely have to hear their 2006 single "I Could Say I'm Sorry." "Heart Apart" is really a must-listen too, but there's no video for that (you can listen to it in the music section of their site, though).

Fame & Hate--musically this is more of the upbeat ridiculously catchy electro-pop we've come to know Universal Poplab can deliver, but the lyrics about the price of fame--which I could imagine putting some people off, but they work for me--aren't upbeat at all, as you might guess from the title. Nevertheless, just try listening to it without being hit by the urge to have a big smile plastered all over your face, just because of the fact that someone in the world is making songs this great, or to sing along. That chorus is pop perfection right down to the backing vocals--in fact, the whole song is a complete gem. Thank goodness for this group.

To buy Universal Poplab's single "Fame & Hate," go here (physical; they've made it kind of difficult to buy, but you can easily buy their album Uprising here [physical] or here [digital, as DRM-free mp3s]).

Next up: maybe that Italian/Swiss singer.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Baby, don't call me babyyyyy

I keep going back and forth on Ukraine's Eurovision entry this year. On the one hand, I love it; on the other hand, I'm very worried about it being a threat to Charlotte--they're both in the same semi (see Nina's post for more; Iceland, Sweden, and Ukraine are all in the first four entries in the second semi). However, on seeing the video for this dance-friendly pop stomper (the video doesn't really get going until the second half)...

...I am finding it VERY hard to prevent my "OMG! Shiny outfits! Giant hair! Big hoop earrings! Wind machines! Major dancing! Dramatic looks accompanied by dramatic strings! Disco balls! Exploding disco balls!" side from bursting out and just declaring the whole thing FABULOUS. And sure, maybe there's a surplus of winks (usually equally fabulous), but can't we overlook that--I mean, if you were Ani Lorak and you had this song behind you, wouldn't you go around winking all the time too?

Never perform under pressure

I was going to write about the new Linda Bengtzing album today, but then I saw the review in Expressen (it got zero little bug symbols--the equivalent of getting no stars or getting a bomb) and decided that, though it's not a review worth taking seriously, I still really needed to write about the album with more depth than I had originally planned, and that'll entail a few more listens. Instead, then, we're going with another female Swedish singer, one I've written about before but not here (over in my old HotStuff Files column): Sofia. No, not Sofia Berntsson of 2007's "Hypnotized," but a pop-rock artist from 2005. I think she was launched to take advantage of the popularity of singers like Kelly Clarkson, Ashlee Simpson, and Avril Lavigne (yes, I realize those are singers from different "eras" of pop) but to also appeal to "real" rock fans--that was the theory, anyway, but I don't think the album performed nearly as well as her record company was hoping it would.

Afrodisiac--the first verse of this song never fails to make me cringe, but after that it gets better. Well, maybe not--it's more like after that one of two things happens: 1.) the lyrics go into "so bad it's good territory"--I mean, surely there's a certain trashy appeal to be gained from being able to sing along with "So you got a problem with your manly thing/Thought you said you're Mister Masculine"?, or 2.) the crunchy guitars take over and it doesn't really matter what she's singing anymore. Or maybe both. Though musically it's a lot rockier, the ultimate sentiment behind "Afrodisiac" isn't that different from what the restyled Sandy is telling Danny at the beginning of "You're The One That I Want" in Grease: I want you, but you better step up! The difference is that Sofia's way of taunting is a lot more mocking, obviously supposed to take advantage of that whole "I'm an angry edgy kinda dirty hot chick" angle to help her cross over to those (mainly male) older rock fans (see also: posing soaking wet for FHM). Luckily, the stop-start guitars that you'll hear in and near the chorus make sure that the song doesn't get lost or fail to be catchy.

To buy Sofia's album Lifetraveller, go here (physical).

Next up: maybe Swedish electro-pop or a singer with the same first name as the one I wrote about today.

There you go blowing kisses my way, and I'm so in love it shows

My oh my...

The world has a new most poptastic couple:

Måns Zelmerlöw and Marie Serneholt.

(When are we getting a new album, Marie?)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Lights and music are on my mind

...speaking of Adem recommendations: the Cut Copy album, which you can listen to on their MySpace, is sounding VERY good. It's sometimes a bit difficult to get a proper feel for electro-pop albums when you're listening to the songs in low quality, but the greatness easily shines through here.

...but apparently there's no denying she was one

What's going on in blogworld?

Don't Stop The Pop has an interview with the AMAZING Therese. You have to love her, both for her music and her MySpace blog posts/sayings. She says she's working on TWO albums! Plus I learned something related to her 2007 Melodifestival appeareance that I had no idea about--how awful for her...

Pop Trash Addicts featured the dance song "Naughty Girl" from an Australian TV show, and I've found myself playing the video over and over again so I can listen to the song...sigh--another single I'll have to buy! Definitely go check it out.

Paul wrote about Melodifestivalen! Hurrah! Well, at least I was excited.

Thnairg reviewed the Feeling's latest album.

D'luv wrote about the latest Britney video.

Schlagerprick goes over the Melodifestivalen final; his thoughts are very much worth reading.

AcerBen reviews ALL the Eurovision entries (and redesigns his site)--color me impressed. There are definitely some I haven't been able to force myself to listen to all the way through yet.

Posh & Becks continues to be the place to go for Eurovision analysis--I'm not going to even attempt to single out a specific post because the quality is too consistently high to even know where to begin.

XO is moving!

Dirrrty Pop, like sites like PopJustice and Arjan Writes, is one of those blogs I just assume everyone is reading and never bother linking to in reference to a specific post, but I will say the fact that we've been treated to an extra high posting rate (with posts about Taio Cruz's album and seeing Marit Bergman live, for example) the past few days is fantastic.

I've been remiss in linking to the reviews on Stornisse of Melodifestivalen, but here's the review of the final--very much worth reading!

I anxiously await the return of Digital Technique...

I could go on, but that's probably good for now--much further and the chance of anyone following any of these links drops exponentially, I expect. One more thing, though: I don't think I've mentioned Axle Whitehead's single "I Don't Do Surprises" over here yet, but ever since Adem introduced me to it, I've LOVED it (that middle eight is divine). Check out Adem's interview with him (along with other information about him and the song) here.

A dedication to your love for you, a love you've left to rust

A bit of a cheat today, posting wise: I know I said yesterday I'd be posting a song from Titiyo's 2001 Come Along album, but I want to spend more time getting to know that album first, so instead, I'm going with another Titiyo song. It comes from Swedish producer Christian Falk's 1999 album Quel Bordel, which also featured "Make It Right" with Demetreus (fantastic!), which made it into the UK charts at #22, and "Remember" with Robyn, among other songs. Today's song even has a more direct connection to Robyn than that, in fact: it was co-written by her and noticeably features her on backing vocals.

Celebration--much of the album would be good "chilling" music (it's that relaxed, piano-featuring sort of "dance" that isn't really designed for intense dancing at all), and "Celebration" is no exception. It's a well-produced lovely little song that could easily wash right over you and maybe not leave much of a lasting impression (albeit a feeling that it was pleasant) if it wasn't for the simple but effective chorus and the catchy backing vocals that serve as the counterpoint to it, as well as the Robyn-featuring bridge. If we're talking of Christian Falk, it's no "Dream On," but then, very little in the world is.

To buy Christian Falk's debut (solo) album Quel Bordel, go here (physical).

Next up: I'd say there's a 97% chance it'll be something Swedish--no, wait, it could actually be something new and Italian (/Swiss--that gives it away, doesn't it?).

Feels like autumn never leaves when you're not around

I've been meaning to properly listen to a-ha for ages now--there's something about their music that I think I would adore. I've not yet done it, though, and today's post isn't about a-ha. Why open with writing about them, then? Though it's not as instrumentally grand as what I think of when I think of a-ha, today's song reminds me just a little of what I think I'd like about the Norwegian group; there's this melancholy swoony quality to it. Swedish group Bobby's song "Autumn Never Leaves" has been out for several months now, and I have known about it, but what I'd heard didn't catch my attention at the time. I periodically returned to it hoping my opinion would change, though, and now it has.

...and now, after hopefully having not scared off people with yet more talk of this Melodifestivalen thing, can I mention that (I'm fairly sure that) this song is a Melodifestival reject? For several years running, in fact, at least every year since 2006--I guess the group just got tired of nearly making the cut but never quite getting through and decided to release the song on its own. I'm glad they did--I can see them ending up with a result similar to Eskobar in the contest, though who knows.

If you're looking for Bobby in their more synth-pop mold, though, check out "Sayonara" or even "Swimming With Sharks," also on their "Autumn Never Leaves" EP, which can be purchased as DRM-free mp3s here.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Jag vill att du stannar kvar

(Obviously this isn't a recent picture of Pernilla, but I love the '80's pictures of her too much, so I'm going to keep using those.)

Awfully enough, Melodifestivalen is over for the year. Sure, we've got some albums coming out in the next couple of months to look forward to, but I'm still feeling like someone who's been forced to quit an addiction cold turkey. Consider today's song part of the beginning of the coming down process, then--technically not part of this year's Melodifestivalen (meaning you can tell yourself you're making progress and beginning to move on) but sounding like it very well could have been. It's a pretty safe guess that "I Min Värld" is a Melodifestivalen (2008, presumably; edit: or maybe 2006 [or both]--it's a 2008 single either way) reject, pure schlager that comes in at three minutes. If that's the case, poor Pernilla Wahlgren--with the exception of 2003, when her duet with Jan Johansen, "Let Your Spirit Fly," made it into the contest and to the final, she keeps getting shut out of Melodifestivalen in recent years--in 2005, she was passed over for "Alla Flickor," which was given to Linda Bengtzing (which I'm glad of, since I prefer Linda's recording); in (the lead up to) 2006, her song "Crashed & Burned" was rejected; and "I Min Värld" didn't make it either. As I said when I wrote about it earlier, it's not the best schlager song ever, but it's definitely an enjoyable listen and a great song. (I know I've written about it before, but it's still worth posting, and time has been nothing but kind to it.)

I Min Värld--a schlager song with a racing beat underneath it--well, the beat races, but the song doesn't feel ridiculously uptempo or anything, possibly because 1.) it's not really that fast, and 2.) the chorus has this big soaring feel--definitely upbeat, but not particularly fast. Anyway, the point is that the punches and crashes come at all the right moments in this song, the shiny electronically-created backing sparkles, and it's a fantastic catchy schlager song. I can't help thinking that if Melodifestivalen was really still as much of a schlager-focused event as many people think, more songs like this would make it through--but they don't. If just knowing that it's Pernilla doing great upbeat schlager isn't enough for you (and it should be!), here's further proof of "I Min Värld"'s schlager credentials: it was written by Pontus Assarsson and Henrik Sethsson, who've also collaborated on Fame's "Vindarna Vänder Oss" and Friends' "The One That You Need" (though if we're talking about them separately, they've done loads of non-schlager stuff as well).

You can buy Pernilla Wahlgren's single "I Min Värld" on her official site. Since this is a new-ish single, it'll only be posted for a little bit.

Next up: maybe Titiyo, given that oddly enough I just got her 2001 album today and then saw her featured on the front page of of PopJustice as being in the new Kleerup single.

Värför gör du som du gör?

Linda Bengtzing's new album Vild & Galen is on the Swedish iTunes now, if you're interested in getting to listen to the clips of the songs. Alternatively, if you don't feel like bothering with changing your country on iTunes, you can listen to clips here.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Honey, I just wanna do you right

A day spent mostly reveling in Charlotte's victory at Melodifestivalen last night (more on which later, probably)...and yet, would you believe it, the music world continues to go about its business and release non-Melodifestivalen songs. A few random Swedish songs out and about that weren't in competition to be in last night's final:

Juvelen and his falsetto singing are back with another '80's-sounding electropop single. I don't think I've ever mentioned him here, which is really wrong (though if you read Nick's blog you're already well-acquainted with his work); at any rate, you can hear "Don't Mess" here. His MySpace is also playing two of his earlier songs, "Hanna" and "Watch Your Step," which are worth checking out if you like your squiggly electronic backings or artists likely to get compared to Prince (you can listen to "Don't Mess" there as well, but you're better off listening to it--and most of his music, to be honest--in good quality); it also has links to where to digitally buy his music. "Don't Mess" is a little fuller-sounding than either of those songs, and--maybe because of that--feels more...exuberant (musically). After seemingly ages, apparently the album, 1, will be out in April (April 3, if the information Nick posted is still right).

Arash is back with a Shaggy-featuring single "Donya;" you can listen to it on his MySpace. I have to admit that I only know him from some of his singles, so I'm not the best person to evaluate "Donya," but if you've missed out on his Iranian-flavored music (I say this knowing pretty much nothing about Iranian music short of Iranian-Swedish exports like Arash and Cameron Cartio, so forgive me if it's actually in another style) in the past, you'd do well to check out songs like "Temptation" (with and originally by Rebecca; a catchy poppy gem) and "Boro Boro." Or, if you're just looking for "what?!" value, there's always his cover (with Aneela) of Canadian artist Snow's "Informer," which is made all the more bizarrely "what is going on?!" fascinating by its mini-action movie of a music video.

Man Meadow, the Swedish duo who entered Poland's national final for Eurovision, have a new single out--if you know the Thomas G:son-penned "Viva La Musica" (which ended up third in said final), though, you may be in for a shock when you hear "Radical": gone is the electronic dance-pop and in its place is pop-rock that kind of feels like it's going for that light rock anthemic quality. That said, I really like it and would gladly buy an album from them, but you've been warned about the drastic change in style (though "Radical" has been in existence since before the Polish final took place, I believe); if you can't stand guitars, steer clear. Oddly, their MySpace isn't streaming the song, but you can listen to a clip on eMusic.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Now I know what real love is supposed to be

Right, so, Melodifestivalen tonight: what do I want to happen?

Charlotte is who I'm hoping, really hoping, will win. I'd definitely be more than fine with a Linda win as well (though that's not at all on the agenda, based on polls), and I'd be fine or live with a BWO win, though not be as pleased and thrilled as I would be in the prior two cases (I think...I'm sure when things start happening my real emotions that I didn't even realize I had will bubble to the surface).

I like Sanna and Sibel...but I don't want either to win, though there's a very good chance the former could. I'd definitely cheer either of them on at Eurovision, though, in the event that one did.

I really don't feel like it's a sure thing at all what will end up happening, but it should be exciting. I like the vast majority of songs in the final (Amy's song is really great [I'd actually prefer to see it win ahead of some of the songs above, though that's not really an option either]--incredibly poppy--I think Rongedal's song is good and international-quality, and even if I'm in the minority, I like Frida and Headline's song too--I think it's a lot of fun), so it should make for some fantastic viewing.

So anyway: go Charlotte! And happy Melodifestival viewing to everyone watching the show--you can watch it on the Internet via a link at this site at 8 PM Swedish time (2 PM EST) tonight.

Friday, March 14, 2008

...I'll be there

Eeek! I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry--I really am! I'll be back tomorrow--it's just that there's some moving around going on, and that's making it difficult to have Internet access for any long stretch of time.

I really should be back tomorrow, though!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Soy esa mujer que no podrás tener

A ridiculously quick post today, and I'll get caught back up with everything after today. Spanish singer Marta Sánchez is someone I've written about before, briefly; for more about her, check out PopMusicWorldWide's fairly detailed background guide to Marta or Don't Stop The Pop's post on her 2007 single "Superstar." I don't love today's song as much as I love "Superstar," but to be honest a lot of the fun (though not all!) of "Superstar" probably comes from the Depeche Mode-sampled hook; to the best of my knowledge, today's song, one of the singles from her 2002 album of the same title, includes no such sample.

Soy Yo--"Soy Yo" may not have a sample, but at a guess, I think we can say it was inspired by another song, unless you think it's a coincidence that this particular diva decided to get herself a Metro-created dance-pop song a few years after another diva managed to launch a comeback with a dance-pop song from the same studio. That said, "Soy Yo" doesn't share the robotic extreme auto-tuning of that more famous song and deserves to stand on its own, or at least to be put into the broader category of post-relationship self-affirming, I-won't-let-you-destroy-me, I'll-get-back-on-my-feet/I'm-better-off-without-you female-sung dance-pop that's been around for a lot longer than 1998. The title translates to "I am me," and I bet you can fill in the lyrics from there...and maybe even guess where the song's going musically, too, but that doesn't mean you won't have fun while it gets there.

To buy Marta Sánchez's 2002 album Soy Yo, go here (physical). Be warned: it's very ballad-heavy.

Next up: maybe that Swedish song.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Hands up, I surrender--I'm ready to feel again

It is not often that an album leaves me speechless.

Given that it's happened, though, I'm just going to have to strongly encourage everyone to go check out D'luv's post on Chart Rigger about American singer Ferras's new album Aliens & Rainbows.

In fact, scratch that--I'm not encouraging you to, I'm requiring you to, and then to go check out said album. By the time I get my words back, I want everyone else to have already realized how BRILLIANT this album is.

(Note: first single "Hollywood's Not America" is deceptive.)

'Cause as long as you're with me, it's a winning streak

I'm not sure why, but I held off on getting too interested in any of this past year's Swedish Idol contestants at first--and for a while, in fact. I think runner-up Amanda Jenssen's '60's-inspired "Do You Love Me" is great now, but it was only after I'd been seemingly beaten over the head with it again and again that I finally caved in. I knew Marie Picasso's winner's single "This Moment" but didn't find it particularly compelling (it does have some interesting production or ideas but just ultimately failed to go anywhere for me), listened to clips of her album, read what other people thought about the album...but still resisted truly paying any attention to it.

I don't know if I can explain why I've had a reversal about Marie's second single "Winning Streak" then--maybe, like Amanda's single, I just had to hear it enough, or maybe I just had to be in the right mood. Whatever the reason, it's managed to capture me, making this the second day in a row that I'm posting some female-sung power ballad/adult contemporary pop type song--what's happening?

Winning Streak--stick it out past the first minute or so, which really serves as nothing more than a prelude or something that the rest of the song can then take off from (well, if it's going to build, it's got to start below where it's going to end up, right?)--it's at 1:06 where the song really begins to get going. It stays a power ballad of sorts, but it becomes much grander and with a beat underneath that keeps it from dragging and, along with the production, breathes life into the song. "Winning Streak" has a warm, encouraging, upbeat feel, and sometimes that's all you want.

To buy Marie Picasso's album The Secret, go here (physical).

Next up: maybe that older French song or a new-ish Swedish single. If I can manage to pull myself away from my new obsession.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

She's a juvenile scam, never was a quitter

The most amusing thing I've seen in the past 24 hours:

(Taken from one of those TV shows where a singing celebrity/coach is paired with a celebrity not known for singing).

Oh Anthony. I do hope you're taking notes from this song and all those covers you've been doing at gigs lately for your next (entirely hypothetical) album. Of course, I'm still waiting for your dance-pop opus, so that'd do nicely too.

Then again, do you know who else performed "The Look" on a reality TV show?

Anthony to record "Cara Mia" Mark III, please!

I want to be loved, in love--that's enough, that's enough for me

My frustration with record companies continues: is there any reason Sibel's (twenty year old Swedish singer who was in Idol a few years ago but it just now launching her commercial career via Melodifestivalen) new album The Diving Belle should be licensed out to be available on some European countries' iTunes stores (including the UK) but not in the U.S.? The whole phased release argument certainly doesn't stand here--the odds of Sibel promoting her album is the U.S. must be virtually nonexistant, and certainly much worse than the odds of her promoting in, say, Norway. For that matter (and I'm sure it's just a licensing thing based on past agreements, but I still don't get it), why does, say, Greece get it but not, for example, Austria?

Anyway, I'm not sure if I'll end up buying the whole album or not, but for now I did get two tracks, "Make Believe" and "Walking Away." "Walking Away" (co-written by Kara DioGuardi, a piece of information more useful as trivia than as any guarantee of quality in my opinion) has some fantastic verses (with great use of strings!) and a good cute chorus that probably isn't "big" enough to scream world hit or anything, but the poppy-but-fleshed-out mid/up-tempo song is definitely a very enjoyable listen (there's a clip here; you'll get a taste of one of the verses near the end). The song I'm posting today, though, is the other one I picked up.

Make Believe--the first time I heard the preview of this song on iTunes, I thought it sounded great. I then listened to the full thing over on Sibel's MySpace and felt underwhelmed--it seemed a lot less good than the preview had made out. Still, I ended up returning to it several times, and now I think it's really won me over. The strong chorus that hooked me in from the preview is still great, but my appreciation for the more toned-down piano-based verses is growing. Speaking of the chorus, I think it's a good example of something I've mentioned a few times recently: what tends to really matter to me in terms of lyrics isn't necessarily what they actually mean but how they sound, and there's something about the whole miracle/lyrical thing I love the sound of (though I could see it being too much for some people). "Make Believe" is a very pretty pop song (kind of a mix between the very produced sound of much teen-pop [as well as having a lyrical sentiment that wouldn't be out of place in that genre at all] as well as more diva-does-adult contemporary/MOR and singer-singwriter sounds...maybe with a bit of Disney), but one that doesn't sacrifice its catchiness to be pretty.

To buy Sibel's debut album The Diving Belle, go here (physical; the physical copy comes out tomorrow) or, if your country's iTunes store has it, you'll be able to buy it here (there is an iTunes bonus track, which sounds pretty great). This song will only be posted for a short time, since I think it may be the next single and/or released for charity.

Next up: maybe something French.

Jag är solo i Stockholm

Gosh, we're just getting flooded with Swedish music videos now, aren't we?

Back when I wrote about Brolle's latest single, "Solo i Stockholm," I mentioned the little making of the music video clip we'd seen made me want to see the actual thing--any video with running towards the camera at a steadily increasing pace before falling to the ground dramatically in despair in the middle of a snow-covered landscape as the camera continues to pull away had to be worth seeing.

Well, it's out now...and I think the making of clip may have made it seem better than it was. It's fine, but not worth watching unless you really like the song (plus, in the aforementioned scene, I kind of wish they'd kept pulling away after he falls to the ground instead of cutting back to a closer-up shot of his back). The funniest thing about it may be that Aftonbladet is billing it as "Brolles heta kärleksvideo"--there's like five seconds of him lying shirtless in a bed with a girl, including a quick kiss, and that's it--otherwise there really couldn't be less love or fewer "hot" scenes in it. Still a great song, at any rate, though.