Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The beats are gonna drop tonight

Vita Chambers' "Young Money" is one of those songs I may have a fling with and then quickly move on with little more than one or two glances back, but it's currently on medium rotation in my iPod. Vita is one of those acts who probably seems like she's been around longer than she has, via releasing songs like "Like Boom" to blogs for free download. Though "Like Boom" wasn't entirely unmemorable, "Young Money" is the first time I've been forced to think of her as anything other than "one of those random Internet promotion acts."

"Young Money" reminds me of Cobra Starship's "Good Girls Go Bad," though it's not as infectious as that deserved hit. Still, a shouty, chanty chorus that sounds designed to be sung to a stadium full of people helps ensure the song gets stuck in your head. Vita's cute, fresh-faced look and matching voice mean the song doesn't come across as the ostentatious celebration of rolling in cash its lyricists seem to have been (inadvisedly) aiming for--it ends up seeming more like some sort of empowerment anthem. Unless I'm forgetting something, we haven't really had a female-voiced answer to songs like "Good Girls Go Bad" and "Love Drunk" in the U.S.; Vita may be premature in singing about having money, but "Young Money" is enough fun to make me hope she manages to beat the odds and put at least a small dent in the U.S. charts.

Vita Chambers' proper debut single, "Young Money," can be purchased by Americans on Amazon or iTunes.

(The Beat Review has also recently featured this song.)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Find a new way of falling in love

In news of the weird, British band McFly have been working on music for their new album with Dallas Austin. It's not that I don't have a lot of respect for Dallas--he's made some of the decade's best songs, no question--but it's a match-up I never envisioned. Hopefully he can refine the boys' sound into something that connects with me more than Radio:ACTIVE generally did. If you've read this blog since its beginning, you'll know how much I love McFly and think they don't get anything near the respect they deserve, but I never fell for the majority of their last album. I'm not sure whether the melodies weren't there for me or if the production wasn't my style, but even just thinking about it now gives me that fingers-down-a-chalkboard feeling of on-edge agitation, which is never a reaction I thought I'd have or wanted to have to the band's music.

(Picture from Dallas Austin's blog.)

As incongruous a team as Dallas and McFly seem to make, maybe a bit of spit and polish from the man behind Pink's "Don't Let Me Get Me" and "Just Like A Pill" and Anastacia's "Left Outside Alone" is just what the group needs. It's no secret that I'd prefer them to return to the sound of "Transylvania," "Friday Night," and "We Are The Young" from Motion In The Ocean, but if that's not on the cards, I'll settle for music I love, plain and simple.

Let's take a moment for a Dallas Austin song which, although probably not sounding anything like his material with McFly, is perfect.

In other McFly news, the song I class as their best work since the best songs on Motion In The Ocean, the simple, beautiful ballad "Falling In Love," is apparently at #33 in radio play at Spain's biggest station. To steal from fans of a certain underrated Minogue, $ucce$$!

In even stranger news, they also wrote with Taio Cruz. I really like Taio, but once again, I can't say I ever saw this collaboration coming. Then again, it's so easy to think of Taio as "Break Your Heart," Tinchy Stryder-collaborating Taio that you forget he also wrote Will Young's "Your Game" (though even the former Taio is one that, as I said, I enjoy).

So put your feet up and enjoy the ride

...and the award for this year's Elin Lanto, the dance-pop princess who treats us to a fantastic single in the first few months of the year, one other single midway through the year, and then pushes back that promised album to who knows when after the singles don't explode, goes to...Gathania.

Gathania's "Get It Out" was probably the 2009 single that most consistently got spins throughout the year from me; for my money, it's the best September song since "Cry For You," even if September didn't release it (the men who make Petra's music are also the men behind Gathania, though), mainly thanks to that house piano hook. "Blame It On You," which impressed someone somewhere enough to originally be lined up for a UK release before being canceled via indefinite postponement, came with a video that proved Gathania could give some of the best popstar face I'd seen coming from a new act this year; girl knows how to flirt with a video camera. Despite being dance hits, though, neither of those singles had real crossover success, which has meant we've been waiting for an album that was finished by April for two-thirds of a year.

"Spinning," Gathania's third single in her native Sweden (and embedded above as a radio rip), marks another solid single from the Von der Burg pop factory, the people who have also given us all September's songs, Danny's "Tokyo," and Alcazar's "This Is The World We Live In" and "Physical." It's catchy, classy dance-pop with a quickfire chorus that, even if it doesn't quite seem to have as strong a vocal melody as "Blame It On You," is full of the little electronic hooks you'd expect from this composers--in other words, a song that all lovers of the VDB sound and Swedish pop in general will take to their hearts, that clubbers will happily dance to, and that will probably once again fail to take off in Sweden. I hope I'm proven wrong, and hope even more so that we finally get to hear that album, but just in case I'm not, let's all legally download the single when it comes out this December, OK?

I don't know the exact date of release, but Gathania's single should be released at some point this month, at which point you can purchase it here (digital).

Friday, December 11, 2009

Did I say too much?

I've realized in the time since I did my first list of newcomers I'm looking forward to hearing albums from in 2010 that I left out some acts who I'm just as excited about as those that made the first list. Plus, just to make this post a little longer--because that's what it really needed, more words--let's cover the couple of artists who I felt fell somewhere in between having a "proper" release before the end of 2009 and not. Consider this part two in an ongoing series--the Marinas, the Ellies, the Mini Vivas, and the more established artists will be in a future post (or several).

Le Kid
Remember Le Kid? Sure you do--the swooshy dance-pop of "Telephone"? The bouncey summery feel of "Mercy, Mercy"? The four person Swedish pop group has yet to actually release a proper single, but even if they hadn't, their pop credentials alone would have me drooling: they're backed by Sharon Vaughn and Anders Hansson, '80s producer and band member whose great work has continued right up to the this decade with Alcazar, BWO, Lena Philipsson, Rachel Stevens, and Agnes's third album. The group's own music-making members are no slouches either, with Märta Grauers, Felix Persson, and Anton Malmberg Hård af Segerstad having contributed songs for BWO, Agnes, Alcazar, Magnus Carlsson, and Velvet, amongst others. The last two members of the quintet are Helena and Johanna, singers equally capable of perk and attitude. Altogether, they seem to love bold, bright colors, which is a perfect reflection of what we've heard of their music so far.

Speaking of which, in regards to what Le Kid will sound like, well, we've only got a months-old description from Oswalds Popcorn about the sound of the demos--to paraphrase/translate, thorougly commercial "Kylie-pop" meets the type of indie-electro they do so well in Norway--and the aforementioned two songs to base our expectations off of. "Telephone," which mixes bits of Kylie vocals, an "I Said Never Again (But Here We Are)" pre-chorus, and a refrain which feels like '80s pop-rock totally remade as modern dance-pop, and "Mercy Mercy," which has a beat which has drawn numerous comparisons to Girls Aloud's "Can't Speak French" but is much more sunny beachside fun (and much better) than that song, are both instantly appealing pop songs, enough so that when the group finally does come out of that studio they've been holed up in I'm expecting the pop joy to come raining down. The music seems to be there and the group comes across as nothing less than totally endearing in the video for "Mercy Mercy" and on their blog, even when explaining why they're not releasing music yet. A group of people who love pop music, are brilliant at making it, have a good image going, and seem like genuinely great, fun people--what more could you ask for?

Listen: "Telephone"

Find them on: MySpace
Buy: nothing yet. The album was supposed to be out this fall, but you get the feeling the group and their backers want to do this right.
Other people writing about them: Oswalds Popcorn, Don't Stop The Pop, Popjustice, Karinski

Sky Ferreira
Young American singer Sky, who was sneaking into clubs before she could legally drive, has sort of a mainstreamed hipster style, but it's the songwriters working with her that have caught pop fans' attention more than her image: Bloodshy & Avant (Britney Spears' "Toxic," Rachel Stevens' "Sweet Dreams My LA Ex," Miike Snow), Greg Kurstin (the Bird and the Bee, Lily Allen's It's Not Me, It's You, and, like Bloodshy & Avant, much amazingness), Lindy Robbins (Backstreet Boys' "Incomplete," Nick Lachey's "What's Left Of Me"), Paul Epworth (Florence + the Machine's "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)," the new songs on Annie's "Don't Stop"), Nicole Morier (Electrocute, Britney Spears's "Heaven On Earth" and "Rock Me In"), and Dallas Austin (Madonna's "Secret," Pink's "Just Like A Pill," Sugababes' "Push The Button," Gwen Stefani's "Cool"). On paper, that should mean there's no way we won't end up with some top-class pop songs.

The reality of what we've heard so far has been disappointing--far less electronic than I would have hoped for, much more fuzzy indie-pop-rock influenced, and even beyond that, nothing that screams "hit" (Lolita, written with Nicole Morier, has a certain cutesy catchiness and the Greg Kurstin-penned "Femme Fatale" isn't without appeal, but I guess when the buzz about Sky started I got my hopes up for some sort of fierce young pop starlet who'd have her own "Toxic" as well as gorgeous synth-decorated mid-tempo songs like "I Could Say" and "Cool")--but maybe her people are just holding back all the big guns for her proper debut? It could be that Sky has chosen to pursue a musical style that isn't one near and dear to my heart, but I can't give up the thought that she surely must have at least one fantastic song for us.

Listen: I'd rather post "Lolita" or "Femme Fatale," but her record label is being pretty restrictive even with videos streaming audio, so here's her covering Miike Snow's "Animal"

Find her on: MySpace
Buy: nothing yet, but she's signed to Parlophone and will be releasing her debut album next year
Other people writing about her: The Guardian's New Band of the Day, The Chemistry Is Dead, Arjan Writes

Two guy (yes, two, but I don't have the tech skills to edit together a picture of the two of them) act Visitor--Australian in origin, British in base--mixes electronic and rock sounds--well, I can't put it any better than Popjustice, which has surely heard more songs by them at this point anyway: "a sort of pop-hungry, high drama missing link between The Killers and the Pet Shop Boys." Calling card "Los Feeling," produced by Diamond Cut, could easily fit in amongst, say, the output of all the amazing slightly indie electronic groups coming out of Australia, and I say that as the highest sort of compliment. They've also worked with fellow Australians Van She. Without a record deal yet, they're one of those groups we can't technically count on getting out a formal release in 2010, but with the interest, I'm hopeful.

Listen: "Los Feeling"

Find them on: MySpace
Buy: nothing yet, but you can freely and legally download the demo of "Los Feeling" from most of the sites listed below
Other people writing about them: Popjustice, XOLondon, Adem with an E, Arjan Writes, Discodust

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Get my things together, gotta lose myself to you

The third album from Swedish Idol runner-up Sebastian, who lost to Agnes back in 2005, didn't make much of an impact this year. It yielded a few songs I liked, but nothing approached 2006's "Words And Violence," the lead single for his second album. Ultimately, it was "When The Night Comes Falling," his 2007 Melodifestival entry, that got the most attention from that album (though not that much, compared to his Idol friend Måns Zelmerlöw, who was the breakout act from that year's competition), but "Words And Violence" picked up where "Indifferent," his second single from his debut album (his first is better off forgotten), left off: kind of like a mini-the Ark a la "Calleth You, Cometh I" or "It Takes A Fool To Remain Sane." The simple, low budget video doesn't really do any justice to a song that strives towards grandeur; there's no sense of the drama, the outpouring of emotion that Sebastian is supposed to be conveying in the chorus, no sense of the way the shiny pop-rock song both pushes forward and soars. That's OK, though; in the end, it's enough that the song, based on nothing but a live performance, was able to hold me transfixed for months--enough to guarantee that, come what may, I'll probably always have at least some interest in Sebastian.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Jag vill om du vågar

With today's announcement of the final two semifinals for 2010's Melodifestival, we know all but one of the acts competing. Today's artists consolidate the trend towards newcomers, but there are a few big names as well as some middle-of-the-field names seeking to truly establish themselves. As usual, see my earlier article as well as the following sources: SVT, QX, Gylleneskor, Aftonbladet, Expressen. Photos are from the aforementioned SVT and Expressen. I used live ones from the press conference where available (Alcazar and Crucified Barbara didn't attend), so you can see what the acts look like now.

Semifinal 3: Göteborg (Feb. 20)

Doctor Doctor - Elin Lanto
Composers: Mirja Breitholtz, Tony Nilsson
Elin has appeared in Melodifestivalen before, back in 2007 with "Money," but this is her first post-dance-pop reinvention appearance. Tony has written all of her songs since then except the first one, "Speak 'n Spell," including "Discotheque" and "Love Made Me Stupid." Tony and girlfriend Mirja describe the song as being about a heart problem, so I think we can guess which particular pop trope the lyrics will be playing on. Over at Scandipop, Elin mentioned that her style now is more like that of "Love Made Me Stupid," with more guitars and a more pop-rock sound, though she follows up by saying that "Doctor Doctor" is a pop song and more direct and immediate (and less dark) than "Love Made Me Stupid." Earlier rumors said it was modern and uptempo.

Headlines - Alcazar
Composers: Peter Boström, Tony Nilsson
Amazing pop group Alcazar, fresh off of their success with "Stay The Night" in last year's contest, return to Melodifestivalen for the fourth time with a song from the team I love so much (behind Ola's best pop songs, amongst others). That said, I'm quite nervous; it's not a song that was definitely going to go to them or meant for them, and for some reason that makes me a little apprehensive about quality (though that's not so much that other acts rejected it--September said no without even hearing the song, for example). Still, when Tony and Peter get together (and even when they're apart), they can work magic. They describe the song as a outrageous, energetic uptempo song which is about scandal.

Heaven Or Hell - Crucified Barbara
Composers: Håkan Larsson, Björn Lönnroos, Jörgen Svensson
I'd never heard of this all-girl rock group before, but previewing their only album so far shows them to have a hard rock sound. As I mentioned earlier, the only songs I definitely know the songwriters have been involved with in the past were for Shebang, but sadly it doesn't sound like we'll be getting anything similar to that group's bouncy pop-rock: the songwriters say "Heaven Or Hell" is a hard rock ballad about escaping from unhappy love with a strong hit-friendly hook.

Hur kan jag tro på kärlek - Erik Linder
Composers: Kenneth Gärdestad (text), Niclas Lundin, Tony Malm (musik)
Former televised singing contest (the Swedish version of ...'s Got Talent) entrant Erik is one album into his career, and it sounds like the slow tempo of that album is in keeping with his Melodifestival song: a Swedish pop song with sadness and hope in the '70s pop style which can't fail to leave one moved, according to its writers. Earlier reports said it was in the style of Ted Gärdestad's '70s hits and if that's true, the song and the singer seem like a good match.

Kom (Run) - Timoteij
Composers: Niclas Arn, Gustav Eurén, Karl Eurén
Another four person group I hadn't heard of, Timoteij will be singing a song by writers who sometimes venture into full-on pop or dance-pop (Verona's "La Musica," Alcazar's "Burning," Nina & Kim's "En gang for alla"...though they can just as easily veer off into material I don't care for) but who in this case have created a song they describe as a modern pop song with a folk touch. Earlier reports did indicate that the song is uptempo, contrary to what their photo might lead one to expect, and the group confirmed that to QX, calling it hooky and uptempo.

Tonight - Johannes Bah Kuhnke
Composers: Sharon Vaughn, Anders Hansson
Likewise, I'd never heard of Johannes Bah Kuhnke (who has apparently done a good bit of theater work), though the songwriters are of course very familiar; given that "Tonight" is a ballad, maybe the most recent and relevant work of theirs is Agnes's "Big Blue Wall," though perhaps even that isn't exactly a spot-on reference point--they describe "Tonight" as a big, emotional rock ballad with a groove, soul, grime, and power.

Yeba - Getty
Composers: Getty Domein (text), Tuomas (Tiny) Pyhäjärvi (musik)
Zaire-born but Sweden-raised Getty will be performing in Lingala which he and his co-writer describe as different and exotic Congo-inspired club musisc.

You're Out Of My Life - Darin
Composers: Henrik Janson, Tony Nilsson
Former Idol contestant and brilliant popstar Darin (who, much as I love him, has been unable to equal the commercial success of his second album and its single "Step Up" with his third or fourth, though his recent cover of Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" has been his most successful release in the past few years) makes his first appearance in the contest with a song written by the men behind Velvet's "The Queen" (and in Tony's case a bunch of other songs I love), who claim this time to have written an unforgettable huge emotional song about loss. Earlier reports indicated the song was mid-tempo (though in my head I keep thinking that means a ballad with some big percussion beat beneath it or something). There's no question I'd prefer Darin to be singing an uptempo song, which is where I think his strength lies, but he does have a fantastic pop voice which can elevate just about any song and he has made some great ballads in the past.

Semifinal 4: Malmö (Feb. 27)

Hollow - Peter Jöback
Composers: Anders Hansson, Fredrik Kempe
Massively popular Peter will be singing a ballad by the fantastic songwriters Anders Hansson (BWO, Agnes, Alcazar, Lena Philipsson--the list could go on and on, but for non-Swede-pop addicts, he also co-wrote Rachel Stevens' "Queen") and Fredrik Kempe (the winning song the past two years). They describe "Hollow" as a grandiose song written in the despair of a lonely heart, which is pretty much what you'd expect a Peter Jöback Melodifestival entry to sound like, while Peter compares it to "All By Myself" in feeling while noting that Anders Hansson's production keeps it modern. Earlier reports indicated it was a ballad (as if you needed confirmation of that given its official description). After never being won over by the popular ballad entries of the past two years (Sanna Nielsen's "Empty Room," which still doesn't move me at all, and Caroline af Ugglas's "Snälla Snälla," which I can understand the appeal of even if I don't feel it myself), could Peter's "Hollow" finally mark the top-contending ballad I actually get? Let's hope these songwriters have something in store that is top-drawer quality.

Human Frontier - NEO
Composers: Anneli Axelsson, Tobias Jonsson
Yay! I'm pretty happy for Neo, who isn't signed to one of the bigger labels in Sweden and whose debut album from 2008 was very underappreciated. He's one of those artists who, in terms of music, I think has the most to benefit from the contest; his songs are very schlager/pop-fan friendly, but lacking previous national prominence or a bigger label, he was unlikely to get the exposure to establish himself without Melodifestivalen. Hopefully he's a good live performer (something which is up in the air--has anyone actually seen him sing live?) and "Human Frontier" is as good as the BWO-esque "Flower Power Supergirl" or the '80s pop "Higher." I'm still not counting on (or really expecting ) him progressing out of his semifinal, but this should introduce him to a much bigger audience. All indications are it's at least in keeping with those styles: the songwriters (behind his earlier work, too, I belive) say "Human Frontier" is life-affirming, melodious, dancey uptempo pop which gives you a burst of energy.

Idiot - Noll Disciplin
Composers: Per Aldeheim, Niklas Jarl
The lead singer of this band was also the singer in SK8, the group which won Lilla Melodifestivalen 2007 (which doesn't actually feed into Junior Eurovision). SVT's site doesn't have the official description of the song up yet, but I think we can expect rock given the songwriters and group. Earlier reports said the song is uptempo.

Jag vill om du vågar - Pernilla Wahlgren
Composers: Pontus Assarsson, Daniel Barkman (text), Jörgen Ringqvist (text), Jörgen Ringqvist (musik)
There's big positive buzz around this schlager song from Pernilla (who I love), best known in a Melodifestival context for the '80s entry "Picadilly Circus" but who has made some other great pop songs, both in those years and more recent ones. When Pontus goes schlager, he does it well--see his earlier Melodifestival entries like Fame's "Vindarna vänder oss" and Fame's "The One That You Need." The songwriters describe their song as classic happy uptempo schlager in Swedish about love. Pernilla told Gylleneskor (which refers to "Jag vill om du vågar" as the year's only schlager entry) the song is a little rockier than her earlier entries, but she also said to Aftonbladet that it's an old-school schlager song. Despite that, from the buzz, this is definitely one of my most-anticipated entries; for those of you who love schlager, it should be one of yours as well. Pernilla has somewhat of a media presence in Sweden still, but as far as actually selling music, her entry this year could be marked as an attempt at a comeback.

Magisk stjärna - Py Bäckman
Composers: Py Bäckman (text), Py Bäckman, Micke Wennborn (musik)
The writer of the winning 1988 Melodifestival entry, Tommy Körberg's "Stad i ljus," and co-writer of "Gabriellas sång" enters as both co-writer and artist this time (though she's apparently released numerous albums of her own over the years, too). She and Micke describe "Magisk stjärna" as a cool song with sharp lyrics and an instantly memorable chorus.

Stop - Sibel
Composers: Mikaela Stenström, Dimitri Stassos
The former Idol contestant who made it to the Melodifestival finals in 2008 with "That Is Where I'll Go" returns with a song whose songwriters (including Dimitri, who often writes Greek-flavored songs but doesn't seem to have done so here) describe as a fast, cool pop song with a lot of energy.

This Is My Life - Anna Bergendahl
Composers: Kristian Lagerström (text), Bobby Ljunggren (musik)
Anna, from the 2008 season of Idol, makes her commercial music debut with a song by Melodifestival stalwart Bobby Ljunggren, who along with Kristian describes "This Is My Life" as an existential declaration of independence garbed in an organic midtempo style. Talking to Gylleneskor, Anna said "This Is My Life" is a quiet, hopeful, warm song which becomes bigger and bigger as it goes along and isn't really a pure ballad. She also compared it to her early performances on Idol, before the themed weeks started.

Thursdays - Lovestoned
Composers: Sharon Vaughn (text), Peter Boström, Thomas G:son (musik)
The mainly Swedish (though only launched in Germany so far) two boy two girl reggae-pop group is working with some names I like on this song, but their folky reggae-pop has yet to be as poppy as I'd like (i.e., it's never gone into Ace of Base territory, which is where I like my reggae-pop to sit). "Thursdays" is described by its songwriters as melancholy but infectious reggae in their usual style about making the best of a weekday.

Also, it was announced a few days ago that the song "Come and Get Me Now" from semifinal two, the web joker, will be performed by the dansband Highlights, competing on Dansbandskampen at the moment (thanks Len!). There's still one joker spot left to announce. Aftonbladed gossiped earlier that it was between Lena Philipsson (who SVT really wanted but who was having a lot of trouble finding a song she liked), Pernilla Andersson, and Linda Sundblad and now Expressen says it's between Linda, Lena, and Jenny Berggen, who has just left Ace of Base..."between them" in that songs are being written especiallly for them in hopes of wooing them to do the contest. Any of those last set would make me VERY happy. I've been desperate for a proper new album for Lena for what seems like much longer than it's actually been (no, that '60s-sounding Lena + Orup album doesn't count) and she is obviously AMAZING (adding her to this year's lineup would make it feel complete, really make it a big deal in terms of both prestige names and likely pop fantasticness), I'm a big fan of Linda and would like to see this new album of her find success (and apparently radio doesn't want to play her new material, so Melodifestivalen might be her best shot), and how can you not be intrigued by what a former Ace of Base member would sound like, even if she doesn't have her former songwriters behind her?

As for who out of these names I'm excited about, well, it's a bit difficult to judge when it comes to all the newcomers--Timoteij could be good, as could Anna, maybe. I'm excited to hear the songs from Darin, Alcazar, Pernilla, Peter Jöback, Elin, and Neo, albeit with some of the aforementioned concerns. I hope I like Sibel's new song and those from some songwriters I really like. Erik's song could be a really good match of singer and song, as I said above. Basically, there are a lot of sparks of interest going up from me, just not always a lot to fuel those sparks in a sustainable way yet; luckily, there are that batch of semi-established artists I just mentioned who I'm hoping have it amongst themselves to bring some great pop and at least a couple of classics.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Åh, Kristina, guldet blev till sand

Aftonbladet reported today that Peter Jöback will be the next joker in 2010's Melodifestival, singing a Fredrik Kempe-penned ballad which their source says is of winning class. While there's not official confirmation of this fact yet, if it's true it significantly changes the picture for next year's contest. Peter is something of an institution in Sweden. As Markus Larsson of Aftonbladet rightly points out, Darin may be popular amongst young girls, but Peter is popular amonst far more demographics; songs unheard, he'll be the one to beat in March.

Peter has a voice which often veers towards theatrical, and he's done his share of theater and theatrical-sounding songs, especially piano- and string-featuring ballads. In fact, his biggest hit is the beautiful "Guldet blev till sand," from a musical written by the two "B"s of ABBA.

His latest album is a collection of covers, but the lead single for the album before that, "Stockholm I Natt," is probably as fair a representation of his sound as any (though it's not my absolute favorite of his songs).

Like any artist whose career is going on two decades of work, of course, he's accumulated a flirtation with various styles on his resumé, from Disney ballads to the more pure pop of his 2000 album Only When I Breathe to the sort of glam rock power ballad of his duet with the band Laakso; even to a previous Melodifestival entry, albeit back in 1990 before he was really an established artist.

I'm tentatively in favor of this development. I don't love everything Peter does, but there's no denying he can make a heartwrending song when he's matched up with the right material. The best we can do is hope that he has been in this case. Fredrik has composed some great ballads in his time, even if I tend to prefer his more uptempo songs. My first thought that I'd love Peter to sing a song like Patrick Isaksson's "Faller Du Så Faller Jag," a (non-Kempe) Melodifestival entry from 2006, but the song will probably be far more "polished orchestral" than that if I'm being honest with myself. Still, the idea of Peter singing one of the better ballads from Fredrik's first two solo album is pretty enticing.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Avec ma meilleure amie on dit Jack Kerouac, Bridget Jones

I was sitting here--well, more accurately, lying in bed, unable to sleep, and the thought popped into my head: has anyone in France--or for that matter anywhere--produced a song as weightlessly gorgeous as the one below this year?

There are different types of cosmic pop--some are cool and a bit aloof, like Annie's "Songs Remind Me Of You," and others, like Nolwenn Leroy's 2006 single "Nolwenn Ohwo!" are joyously, vibrantly, triumphantly warm and alive. Both types can be fantastic, but we don't hear nearly enough songs of the latter kind.

Nolwenn's new, much more folky third album, Le Cheshire cat & moi, featuring collaboration with Teitur, hit digital retailers this week and I've yet to listen to more than clips, but sadly, I don't know that it contains a song I'll love as much as this one. I could have sworn I read months, maybe a year ago (before the tracklisting was set, at any rate) that Nolwenn had done a song with Guy Sigsworth, but I can't seem to find confirmation of that anywhere online. Whether I imagined that or not, though, I'd love to hear the fruit of such a collaboration.

See also: Nolwenn covering "Running Up That Hill" live

You left me on my own at 600 feet

Sometimes you just fall for simple little pop songs far more than you'd expect to.

"Black Box," which must be the best winner's single from Idol since Aleksander With's "A Little Too Perfect," is written by Jonas Jeberg, Lucas Secon, Wayne Hector, and Mich Hanson, the same four men who wrote the Pussycat Dolls' "I Hate This Part." You can hear that, I think; the beat is no carbon copy, but it sounds like it was created using the same technique.

The video is nothing more than a way to listen to the song, but even outside of the fact that it's refreshing to hear an Idol winner's victory single be something other than a poor example of a giant ballad, something actually approaching chart relevance, "Black Box" is a lovely little pop song. There's no particular bite or edge to it, but I've yet to feel exhaustion with this template, and Stan's semi-but-not-too soulful male voice brings at least a little change from the female pop singers we've heard singing this song's cousins so far.

Stan Walker's debut album, which is mainly a bunch of covers from Idol but does contain "Black Box," can be preordered here (physical).