Friday, August 31, 2007
Found out that the 7th series of France's "Star Academy" will begin on Friday 26th October 2007 on TF1. This year's contest will pay homage to Gregory Lemarchal, who sadly died on 30.04.07. Through the magic of video the contestants will "virtually duet" with Gregory.
It's all rumours of course at the moment about who will replace Alexia Laroche-Joubert as directrice: according to VSD magazine, Endemol want none other than Raphaelle Ricci (yeah, like that will happen.....!) but the name of Caroline Diament is turning up quite regularly as a possible replacement.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Paul Steel is his name, "Your Loss" is the song, and it's a very very very good uptempo song. His album "Moon Rock" is out in a couple of weeks and I'm looking forward to it.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
But wait...! Alejandro's ex-wife Jaydy Mitchel has also found love. With none other than EuropeCrazy's favourite Mexican hunk, FC Barcelona's Rafael Marquez. Hasn't she got very good taste in men!!!!!
A new song by Jean-Jacques Goldman is always a big event in France. "Quatre Mots Sur Un Piano" is billed as a duet with Patrick Fiori, however there is also an uncredited female voice on the track - Christine Ricol. It's a slow meandering ballad which may take a while to grow as I'm not really a ballad fan, but it's also the kind of song that Goldman does so well.
At no.2 in the classement is "Garcon" by a new name to the French music scene, Koxie, which is a kind of rap song with summer novelty appeal.
A real big surprise at no. 6 is none other than the Ukrainian legend that is Verka Serduchka, with the mighty "Dancing Lasha Tumbai"!!!
"On A Change" by Les Deesses is a nice slice of zouk-like soul which is always around in France at this time of year. This summer's big zouk anthem would appear to be "C'est Dans La Joie" by Mokobe.
"Tango Princesse" is a nice change in musical style for Julie Zenatti who I'm not really a fan of, but this is worth a listen and the video's a bit of a circus extravaganza.
"Butterfly" by Superbus was one of my favourite French tracks around the end of 2006, "Lola" is their latest song. Their lead singer Jennifer Ayache sounds a bit like Gwen Stefani, although she has her own striking and individual style. Can't get that "boom boom boom boom boom boom....." hookline out of my head.
Interestingly there are very few British/American acts in the French singles chart at the moment: only Mika, Rihanna and Nelly Furtado figure in the top 20.
Snook - Oskar Linnros and Daniel Adams-Ray - do hip hop with a melodic twist, and even if you can't understand Swedish then you'll still enjoy many of the tracks here.
"Inga Problem" was of course my introduction to them, and it's still my favourite track - you know how much I love the video as well.
The other singles on this album, "Langst Fråm I Taxin" and "Kommer Ifrån" also stand out, the latter musically being a distant relative of the Black Eyed Peas' "Where Is The Love".
Where Snook stand out is their musical arrangements, they don't just rely on the usual boring samples which characterise many rap songs. Snook's ace card is (or should I now say was, now that he is a solo legend) none other than this blog's favourite all-round musical genius Salem Al Fakir, who played the usual variety of instruments and provided backing vocals on this album, he was also a member of Snook's band on their tours of Sweden and Norway. "Bejbi", one of the album's slower tracks (which reminds me of an Orup song, for some strange reason (!), has Salem singing backing vocals! In Swedish! And it sounds lovely. (sighs :-)))))
Anyway now that I've calmed down I'd also like to say that "Jag Gor Min Grej" with its brassy hookline is another favourite of mine at the minute.
I think it's great they've decided to rap in Swedish rather than English, although being rap there's a few recognisable "choice" phrases along the way.
Been playing this album a lot and would recommend it. Oh and did I mention that they're rather cute too? (especially Daniel Adams-Ray!!). This blog is getting more shallow by the day.
Monday, August 27, 2007
The cheeky "Papi Chulo" by Lorna was the song of the holiday: it’s totally outrageous and could only ever be a holiday hit!
France’s biggest hit of that summer was "Laisse Parler Les Gens" by Labylle, Devereux and Passi: summer is always time for zouk in France, and this was the 2003 vintage.
"DJ" was the breakthrough hit for Diam’s, who has become France’s best selling female rap artist and most recently cleaned up at the last NRJ Music Awards.
"The Magic Key" by One-T and Cool-T was another massive rap hit and one which I played for a long time afterwards.
Willy Denzey was another French r’n’b artist from that year: "Le Mur du Son" was a big hit in 2003.
Biggest English-language hit of the holiday was undoubtedly "Breathe" by Blu Cantrell.
It wouldn’t be a holiday in France without Marc Lavoine and this time "Dis Moi Que L’Amour" got lots of airplay.
Finally, Placebo have always been massively successful in France and "The Bitter End" was yet another in a long line of huge hits for them.
"Ma Liberte de Penser" by Florent Pagny was played non-stop on the radio, right from the off, and wouldn’t go away.
By that time Jenifer was also well-established and her nice ballad "Donne-Moi Le Temps" was also a radio favourite.
Chimene Badi had originally auditioned for Popstars, but didn’t get in the band because she ‘dodn’t look the part’. What they neglected to mention was that she had a fantastic voice which would inevitably get noticed. Chimene had the last laugh: she became a massive star and "Entre Nous" was her debut hit.
France’s obsession with Madonna meant that "American Life" was on about 83 times an hour.
Make Luv - Room 5: theme tune to "Nice People" which was like a multinational Big Brother.
Sur La Route - Jean-Louis Aubert & Raphael. Think this might have been the first time that Raphael came to the French public’s attention. He soon became a superstar with "Caravane".
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Both teams started the final with two group numbers "Don't Stop Me Now" and "Dancing In The Street". It wasn't long before Arlene was into panto-baddie mode and it wasn't long till Bruno was taunting her. Oh come on....this rivalry fooled no-one.
Team Arlene gave us "Great Balls of Fire", although it was a little slow, even if Daniel redeemed it as usual with one of his breakdance moments.
"Black Or White" - Team Bruno: this was more assured and lively and the choreography suited the music...but "granny Phillips" didn't think so, accusing the 3 girls of being out of step with each other.
"Toxic" - Team Arlene: a more contemporary tone this time and I thought the vocals were quite good...but Bruno didn't.
"I Can't Get No Satisfaction" - Team Bruno: the thing about Team Bruno is that they would be perfect if they didn't have out-of-place Claire. Marcquelle and Phoenix are good and Marie and Rana are very striking.
The thing is though, I still don't see a recording act among either team.
"Rhythm of Life" - Team Arlene: great showstopping theatrical routine from earlier in the series. Both old school and contemporary in one.
"Land of 1000 Dances" - Team Bruno: crowd-pleasing foot-tapper.
By this time I was sat firmly on the fence and didn't know who I liked best!
In "Pop Idol" style, both groups performed their version of the winners' single "Dancing In Repeat" (rubbish title), which they have both recorded and also filmed the video for, so it should be rush-released very soon. Still couldn't make up my mind.
And so to the result. The winners of Dance X were ......TEAM BRUNO!
I wasn't too bothered who would win anyway, Team Arlene were initially my favourites but when Ife went out and Camilla stayed in I wasn't happy, and Bruno's team made good progress over the weeks so congratulations to them, they'll have their 5 minutes of fame and their support slot on the Rihanna tour. As for Team Arlene - maybe someone will give them a deal as well?
Every Sunday night, right after the "Top 40" Dave plays lots of great dance tracks both old and new, and this has been essential listening for me over the last 10 years and hopefully it will go on for another 10 years..... :-)))
This was of course from the pre-Magnus days, but you will nevertheless enjoy Andreas, Annikafiore and Tess in silver lame: a completely bonkers video with (of course) an appearance by the legend that is Alexander Bard.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
It’s Only You/It’s True/Good Song/Dream Girl/This Is Who I Am - Salem Al Fakir: Fantastic songs. Nothing more to say. I have completely lost my heart to this man, who right now is my favourite singer in the whole wide world! :-)))
Japanese Man - Salem Al Fakir (YouTube video, live - Parksommar): maximum audience participation, and first look at Salem’s reinvention as rock star.
Jag Gor Min Grej/Kommer Ifrån - Snook: What, no ‘Inga Problem’ this week? (Thought I’d give it a rest) anyway still loving their album!
Stronger - Kanye West: His choice of samples always lift his rap out of the ordinary: last time Shirley Bassey, this time Daft Punk!
Suburban Knights - Hard-Fi: Effortless singalong guitar pop which shows up a lot of inferior competitors for what they are.
Worried About Ray - The Hoosiers: I’m seriously worried about...why this song has eaten its way into my brain.
Ole Black & Blue Eyes - The Fratellis: nice.
Painted by Numbers - The Sounds: something Swedish which I missed out on, but it’s on The Box’s playlist (www.thebox.co.uk) so what better time to try it out.
Whilst I was in holiday in Nice a couple of years ago I almost had the opportunity to see them playing live in the local Virgin Megastore but managed to miss this :-(((
"Je Cours" was another song of theirs I liked a lot: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnOkIsFg-h4&mode=related&search=
Yes I've decided to go back in time .... but not too far back, to the more recent past.
We begin with M Pokora's "Elle Me Controle" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cgPasMfdcc
He is known as France's answer to Justin Timberlake, the main similarity being that he started off life in a boyband, in this case Linkup - winners of the French version of "Popstars - The Rivals". Find "Mon Etoile" here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oa-6NtBAZNI
Even though Lionel Tim was the one with the best singing voice of the three, it was inevitable that Matt Pokora would become the star. Whatever happened to Otis though?
You don't have to wait that long to hear the first single from the album, which is snappily titled "If I Don't Live Today, Then I Might Be Here Tomorrow": it's out on 24th September.
Friday, August 24, 2007
It is of course all quiet on the Salem front in Sweden at the moment, but you can never say the same for this blog!!
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Believe it or not I'm actually doing this blog entry in my lunch hour at work!
Tomorrow is another day and hopefully I'll have a chance to hear it then.
EDIT (24.08.07): still no joy, it's not on iTunes yet and CDON download link still not working. Managed to read reviews of it on Aftonbladet/Expressen/Dagens Nyheter and they are all very positive. Which makes me want to hear it even more!
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
But in the meantime I haven't forgotten our Artist of the Month - Tomas Ledin, so here are 15 songs which I recommend you have a listen to if you're not familiar with his music.
Just Nu - perhaps his best known song outside Sweden thanks to his participation at the 1980 Eurovision Song Contest. IMHO this song was too good for the contest anyway!
Not Bad At All - the first time I heard him sing in English, this is disco-tastic.
Mademoiselle - short and sweet mid-70s pop song which is very catchy.
En Del Av Mitt Hjärta: the song that resurrected his career.
En Vind Av Längtan: 11 minute epic from the "Sanger Att Alska Till" compilation, building, brooding and wonderful.
Bla Bla Känslor: Another one from that album, this is a re-recording of one of his earlier songs and IMHO is a much improved version.
Helt Galen I Dig: One of the crowd-pleasing guitar anthems which he seems to have specialised in, over recent years.
Sommaren Är Kort: this is not so much a song, more an alternative Swedish national anthem.
En For Att Sova: From the otherwise patchy 'jazz album', this is an easy going jazz-soft-rock song (not sure how to categorise!)
Festen Har Börjat: If Carlos Santana was Swedish he'd have made records like this in the early 70s.
Vi Ar Pa Gång: Made this list only for the reason it was the official Swedish World Cup football song from 2006.
Det Ligger I Luften: One of the songs which he did in Melodifestivalen but didn't win.
Take Good Care Of Your Children: this was covered by Agnetha from Abba don't you know!
Det Blir Inte Alltid Som Man Har Tankt Sig: very nice song from "Djavulen Och Angeln" with a sweet acoustic vibe.
Sanger Att Alska Till: almost Latin-jazzy in its approach, and still sounds very fresh today.
There are many more songs I could have added to this list!
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Season 3 will launch in the US on 17.09.07 and the good news for those of us in the UK who have Sky TV is that we'll see it just one week later.
In the meantime I'm working my way through season 1 which, IMHO, is way better than season 2.
Talking of Skansen, there is another clip of him doing a song there at his Parksommar show and it seems to condense the whole Salem live experience into 65 seconds: he runs up and down the stage, runs off the stage into the audience and then runs back on and starts singing something which I don't recognise but has a kind a of James Brown/Prince-ish groove to it.
Phase 2 of Salem Al Fakir's brilliant career would appear to be underway.
Monday, August 20, 2007
Sunday, August 19, 2007
It's Only You/Dream Girl/Good Song/It's True/Tell Me/This Is Who I Am - Salem Al Fakir: that must be love, no doubt.
The Girls - Calvin Harris: Now a big Friday night favourite at EuropeCrazy HQ with me and my faithful travelling companion.
Green Light - Beyonce: original version mind, not the dancey remix one.
Let It Rain - BWO: just a great pop song.
Love Is Gone - David Guetta: the Guetta formula never fails these days. Cracking dance tune and funny video.
Inga Problem - Snook: didn't expect this one then, did you!!
With Every Heartbeat - Robyn: I got into this one later than most of my fellow bloggers and it's really grown on me.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
"Poison Arrow" will always be my favourite ABC song: the video has Martin Fry in trademark gold lamé suit, and just the right amount of drama. "The Lexicon of Love" was a fantastic debut album but it could never be equalled, and inevitably that would lead to their downfall. Martin Fry was a clever lyricist and an underrated genius from that decade: so that's why we've chosen to celebrate him and his music tonight.
Drama during the week: Phoenix walks out! Phoenix comes back!
This week's theme was Disco. Team Bruno kicked off tonight with a dance routine to "Canned Heat" which was good, but Arlene thought the footwork was messy and we thought....Claire must go. No change there then.
Arlene's team went for a more traditional 70s approach to "Shake Your Groove Thing"... which Bruno proceeded to pick holes in.
Next for Team Bruno was "I'm Coming Out". Noted improvement here, they are closing on Team Arlene although, do not be surprised here, Claire is still.out.of.place. Arlene even liked it though.
She responded with "Car Wash", which was a good solid performance.
Finally, Bruno's team gave us "Le Freak" which was again another good performance, although the vocals on both teams still fall short of perfect. Why could they not have made it just a dance contest?
Arlene's team finished off with "We Are Family", liked the outfits and another good performance.
On the whole, tonight was too close to call but we thought from the beginning that Arlene's team would lose yet another member in order to even up the numbers, and we thought without doubt it would be Camilla, who should have gone last week. As it happened, Team Bruno won the viewers vote, leaving Arlene with the big decision of who to drop.
Camilla saved first - why? We can understand why Daniel survives, as he's a great dancer, and Chelsey is tall, striking and pretty, but what does she see in Emanuel - he's not that great.
Bottom 2: Ashley versus Kalvin, and the result was therefore in no doubt... Kalvin goes home, leaving Arlene's team of three girls and two boys versus...Bruno's team of three girls and two boys. Hmm.
Final next week!
Friday, August 17, 2007
1. A great hotel
Hotel Allegro is a hidden little gem on the banks of the Rhine, just a few minutes’ stroll along the riverbank from the foot of the Altstadt (old town). A small and friendly hotel with helpful staff and a very nice breakfast buffet.
2. An old town
The Altstadt is where it all happens. Packed with bar after bar after bar and a very cheery atmosphere - you’re bound to end up here every night.
3. Going to the zoo, zoo, zoo
Set aside a day for a trip to Cologne Zoo - it’s massive and well worth a visit. Baboon island and the elephant house are major attractions here, but our particular favourites were the llamas, bison, giraffes and lemurs.
Use the trams (S-bahn) which in stereotypical German style are very efficient and will get you all over the city and beyond.
5. Food glorious food
Everything from old German favourites like currywurst and local speciality "himmel & äd" to most types of international cuisine - you’ll find it here. Again lots of eateries around the Altstadt, and special mention also to the Maredo which specialises in South American food, and although it’s a chain of restaurants it’s very high quality.
6. Beer, anyone?
Or more precisely Kolsch! It’s the local beer and even if you don’t like beer you will inevitably succumb to this light and drinkable local brew, made by a variety of local breweries.
7. Shop till you drop
Cologne has an extensive shopping centre, much of it is pedestrianised and there’s a massive selection of shops here, everything from discount to designer. Saturn is the place to find CDs and DVDs for your must-have German music purchases, it’s on the top floor of Galerie Kaufhof. There is also a branch of Expo, that irresistible shop for cow fanatics!
8. The Rhine
You can’t go to Cologne without taking a boat trip on the Rhine. There’s lots to choose from and if you want to go further afield there are full-day cruises in high season.
9. The Cathedral and two great museums
It’s the first thing you see when you come out of the railway station, and its spires are a stunning sight. Also even if you're not a fan of museums you'll enjoy the Chocolate Museum and Olympic & Sports Museum.
10. Joie de vivre
Cologne’s inhabitants know how to enjoy themselves. There is a sense of fun in this city and you can feel it. I mean, what other city sticks an ice cream cone on top of a shopping mall??
Can I just say that the tied-back-hair and hilarious attempt to grow a 'beard' is so not a good look, and don't even start me on the flat cap. :-(((
Thankfully all that is in the past and he was soon back to his big-haired loveliness!! (However the idea of the Snook boys and Salem on the one stage is almost too much to think about....!)
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Nassim is a presenter on children's TV in Sweden and being a member of the Al Fakir family he is inevitably multi-talented: he plays drums and percussion and he, along with Salem, was a member of the jazz-Arabic folk combo Fakir Karlsson. A fascinating interview in which the brothers discussed everything from Swedish-Arab identity to kebabs to big hair! (Yes, Nassim also has big hair, although he is nowhere near as delightful as Salem).
Can't understand why he has all those daft YouTube videos though. There is one of him miming and dancing around to Rihanna's "Umbrella" which still has me wondering why.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Tonight I found a clip which someone had very kindly posted of him singing "Dream Girl" from his Gamleby Folkpark gig on 28.07.07. Despite it being the usual wobbly mobile phone video, the sound is brilliant and his singing just gets better and better.
Worst thing about it: it's only 86 seconds long, but every second of it is marvellous.
The latest album by HIM, "Venus Doom" is out on 17.09.07 and a much darker sound is forecast. It's said to be heavier, with long songs and no keyboards.
Finally, Swedish acoustic maestro José González will release the follow-up to his hugely successful "Veneer" in September. The title of the new album is "In Our Nature". Looking forward to this as I particularly enjoyed his work on Zero 7's last album "The Garden".
Monday, August 13, 2007
Inga Problem/Snook, Svett Och Tarar/Kommer Ifran - Snook: Am loving this duo more with every week. Sweden's coolest (and cutest) rap duo. (especially Daniel Adams-Ray...!)
Selfish Jean - Travis: Nice uptempo song, they are in fine form here. Brilliant lyrics too: "You keep your chocolate biscuits/wired to a car alarm".
Let It Rain - BWO: Pop perfection, nothing more, nothing less.
It's Been Hurting All The Way With You, Joanna/Reconsider Me/Blow Him Back Into My Arms - Moneybrother: New album on the way, but in the meantime I'm getting acquainted with his old stuff. Great!
Ready, Set, Go! - Tokio Hotel: 4 weeks till I go to Germany - might be some Tokio Hotel-type purchases on the cards....
Because of You - Ne-Yo: having a revival of this one at the moment. One of the year's best r'n'b songs.
Work Of Art (Da Vinci)/Please Me - Mans Zelmerlow: he just won't go away. Not that we want him to of course.
The Way I Are - Timbaland: resisted this for a while but now I give in and it has now eaten its way into my brain.
Last Party - Fibes, Oh Fibes!: They're from Gothenburg and make nice mature pop-soul of which this is a fine example.
Suburban Knights - Hard-Fi: They're back! We love them! One of the UK's better guitar bands of the last couple of years. Another hey-hey-hey singalong anthem which is a real grower.
My Interpretation/Grace Kelly - Mika: Why is he such an easy target for the critics? Do they not know talent when they hear it?
Young Folks - Peter Bjorn and John: Swedish combo who are now getting a lot of recognition particularly in the USA. Catchy spacious foot-tapper, very Magic Numbers-ish and with that very catchy whistling hookline.
Welcome back BWO. "Let It Rain" is a little pop diamond, twinkling brighter than anything else I've heard in a long time.
The cruise ship-set video is suitably surreal (flying lobsters!!!) and they continue to have the most unusual and unique image. Oh and Martin looks quite sweet in the video.
If you don't eventually love this song then there's no hope for you.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
We at EuropeCrazy will continue to follow Salem's career and will continue to campaign to get his great music heard outwith Sweden. Surely it will only be a matter of time till that happens! In the meantime we will continue to be the UK's no.1 unofficial source for news, information and general obsession about Sweden's brightest new musical talent.
"Chasing Cars" is the national anthem of the Republic of Dreary-Pop; it's backing music for every reality TV show sob story, and songs like this inevitably turn up on those "Feelgood Album" compilations when they want something "emotional". (See also "How To Save A Life" by The Fray). Emotional my a**e. The only emotion I feel when I hear these songs is to throw the radio out of the window, only to decide that would be the waste of a good radio.
James Blunt meanwhile also had a lot to answer for: we are now being flooded with one dreary singer-songwriter after another, the latest being Newton Faulkner, who is like a stick of rock with 'dreary' written throughout. There are some good singer-songwriters out there who never get the recognition they deserve - Gavin Degraw and Ross Copperman to name two. Presumably they are not dreary enough.
At some point I will do more stuff on this blog about Etienne as he was always my favourite French male singer.
Green was, and still is, the main man behind Scritti Politti, and is one of the most underrated pop geniuses of the last 25 years.
So tonight I've decided to wander over to YouTube and rediscover the videos of "Perfect Way", "Absolute", "Wood Beez", "Hypnotize", "First Boy In This Town" and "Oh Patti", all of which are admittedly 'of their time' but the music is impeccable. My favourite Scritti album is not the obvious "Cupid & Psyche 85" but "Provision" which I still play on a regular basis, and which has some of the most intelligent pop lyrics and stunning production of that decade.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Does whatever a Spider Pig does
Can he swing from a web?
No he can't, he's a pig
Look out! He is the Spider Pig.
Would recommend this movie: even if you have never seen an episode of The Simpsons, you will enjoy this.
Friday, August 10, 2007
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Came across another TV appearance. It looks as if it was added in August 2007 but I think it may have been from earlier this year on SVT's "Gomorron Sverige" at http://svt.se/svt/play/video.jsp?a=260066 then it's 12 minutes into this video when you'll find him and his piano and (shorter) hair (curls still there though - hooray!) It's a nice, subdued and chilled out version of "It's True" with some screaming falsetto in the middle! There is also a short interview at the end and even if you don't understand Swedish it is clear that his ability to charm middle-aged female breakfast TV presenters is already in no doubt. He is just soooooo sweet, even at that time of day (6.55 am). But there are still no excuses for that cardigan!!!
Edit (11.08.07): it looks as if this has been removed from SVT's site :-(((
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
1. Musical genius: started playing piano at 2 years old and violin at 4 years old. Is said to play as many as 20 musical instruments. Toured Russia as solo violinist at 14 years old. Began writing music as a child but has only been writing lyrics for three years. Prefers writing in English to Swedish.
2. Home-boy: he recorded his debut album in his own bedroom recording studio and played all musical instruments on it with a little help from brother Sami.
6. Favourite tunes: his favourite songs which he has written are "It’s True" and "This Is Who I Am".
7. We are family: Salem is the third youngest of six children, his siblings are all accomplished classical and jazz musicians. His brother Nassim is also a children’s TV presenter on SVT. Salem is very close to his parents and siblings.
8. Future plans: Has set up own publishing company. Says he had lots of material for his first album and he’s already working on his second album. Yay!!!!!
Above: Salem doing it live in a nice red suit.
9. Live legend: already the usually hard to please Swedish print media are acclaiming his live performances. A charismatic, lively and engaging performer who is not averse to headbanging and dancing around whilst playing keyboards on stage.
Our destination was once again scheduled to be Ostend but a last minute cancellation resulted in a quick change of plan - we headed just "up the road" to Amsterdam.
The Netherlands is the home of happy techno: fans of this didn’t have too far to look in the record stores for one compilation after another. I was more interested in watching TMF (the excellent Dutch version rather than its bland British equivalent). Dutch music was almost non-existent on the radio, and I’d swear that there were whole stations devoted to Destiny’s Child. The songs I remember from that holiday were...
"Falling" - K-Otic: great pop song and a cracking video from one of the first Popstars-type bands.
"Desenchantee" - Kate Ryan: great techno cover of the Mylene Farmer classic. One of the biggest songs of that summer in Europe which was sadly overlooked in the UK because of our stupid language barrier.
"Underneath Your Clothes" - Shakira: the one song and video which certainly made my faithful travelling companion sit up and take notice!
"Hot In Herre" - Nelly: appropriate song for a nice hot June. Didn’t take the advice in the lyrics though!!
"A Little Less Conversation" - Elvis vs JXL: the soundtrack to that summer’s World Cup in Japan and Korea, and appropriately for this holiday remixed by a Dutch DJ.
"Holiday" - Madhouse: Madhouse were responsible for loads of dancey covers of Madonna songs that summer, and this was another one of them.
Decided that I couldn’t leave without buying some Dutch music. Volumia! were a cast of thousands (or it just seemed like it), fronted by the excellent Xander de Buisonje and their music was massively popular in their home country around the mid to late 90s. By the time I reached Amsterdam, the band had decided to call it a day and released a "Best of" which found its way to my record collection.
September 2002: Biarritz, France
Three months later, we were back in France - but a new destination. Biarritz is a cracking little resort on the south west Atlantic coast, in the French Basque country.
This was the holiday when I discovered "Star Academy". 2002 was the second (and best IMHO) series and I watched it every night on TF1 and was quickly hooked. It was the year of Nolwenn, Emma, Jeremy, Alexandre, Aurelie, Houcine and Georges-Alain: fantastic viewing and some really talented performers. There has been no reality TV music show better than this one.
Musically, Biarritz is in a great geographical location as you can hear both French and Spanish radio stations but of course old habits die hard and I ended up listening to NRJ. Very unusual for me, I only bought two French compilation CDs in Biarritz. However, on a day trip across the border to San Sebastian, I ran riot and bought four CDs - Alejandro Sanz, Nek, David Bisbal and David Bustamante. You’ll have guessed that I was crazy about Operacion Triunfo’s "two Davids". Although David Bisbal was always my favourite, I preferred Bustamante’s debut!
These are only some of the songs that reminded me of this holiday: there were many more which I don’t have room to mention here.
"Asereje (The Ketchup Song)" - Las Ketchup: the holiday hit of 2002.
"Manhattan-Kaboul" - Renaud & Axelle Red: most played song of the holiday. Thought-provoking post-9/11 song.
"Run Baby Run" - Bustafunk: theme tune to Star Academy. Great dance tune.
"En Apesanteur" - Calogero: the moment I stopped liking him, and started loving him.
"Come Back To Me" - Cunnie Williams: France’s answer to Barry White. Yes, that good.
"Aime" - L5: really liked this song by France’s first Popstars band.
"Dove (I’ll Be Loving You") - Moony: nice summery dance tune from the Italian singer - whatever happened to her?
"Chihuahua" - DJ Bobo & "La Bomba" - King Africa: two absolute holiday anthems which I’ll always associate with this holiday.
"Love Don’t Let Me Go" - David Guetta: long before its remix hit the UK charts, this was the original version which was massive in France that summer.
"Nos Differences (Caught In The Middle)" - A1 & Eve Angeli: British boyband collaboration with Ms Angeli. Back in those days she was a promising young singer before her reality TV reinvention.
"Happy" - Sita: ex-member of K-Otic who briefly enjoyed some success in France, both as a solo artist and later in her duet with Kyo.
Monday, August 06, 2007
The next round threw in a bit of singing: Team Bruno with "Black Velvet" and Team Arlene tackled "Can't Stop". Doing the Chili Peppers was never going to be easy, so clearly round 2 to Team Bruno.
Team Bruno's "Land of 1000 Dances" was their next number, although was a decade out of time. Team Arlene was well off-key on "Walk This Way" - the Girls Aloud version, not even the Aerosmith & Run DMC version!! I'd say that Team Bruno took this round as well, although a bit more research wouldn't have gone amiss.
Both sides managed to redeem themselves in a "dance battle" to "I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor".
Must also give a mention to Duncan James, who has now given up being a solo pop star and made a very wise move into musical theatre - "Chicago" to be precise.
We expected Team Arlene to lose one of its members tonight but yet again she won the public vote, leaving an increasingly tortured Bruno to choose a bottom two. We thoroughly agreed that Claire's jacket is on a very shaky nail: she dances like someone's middle-aged auntie, and she is very much out of place in this team. But Bruno chose to save her and sacrifice Daniele, who was in the bottom two last week. At this rate Team Bruno will soon be a duo!! Although they were a bit ropey this week, we still prefer Team Arlene.
I continue to be drawn to the music of Moneybrother, which is raw and passionate and reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen's early days. "They're Building Walls Around Us" and "Reconsider Me" and "It's Been Hurting All The Way With You Joanna" all send chills down my spine. I shouldn't really like this music, but I do.
Swedish music rules!!!!
Sunday, August 05, 2007
Tuned in to Los 40 Principales radio station which played lots of Spanish stuff which I wasn't familiar with at the time. Over the next 2 years I'd soon rectify this, thanks to my obsession with Operacion Triunfo and Spanish pop in general.
Particularly fond memories of "Conmotion" by the Fundacion Tony Manero, a delightfully cheesy tribute to the days "when disco music ruled the world".
Songs of the holiday: "Little L" by Jamiroquai and a fantastic dance remix of Christopher Cross' "Ride Like The Wind".
Otherwise: "Dig In" by Lenny Kravitz; "Androgyny" by Garbage; and let's not forget "You're My Mate" by Right Said Fred!
During this holiday I discovered the music of Alejandro Sanz, whom I have continued to love to this day. Bought "El Alma Al Aire" which I'd recommend, particularly "Para Que Me Quieras". Now I'm no ballad fan, but there's something about Alejandro which always reduces me to jelly and this song is a perfect example.
Coming soon: 2002!
Saturday, August 04, 2007
It's True - Axwell & Sebastian Ingrosso vs Salem Al Fakir: goes without saying.
Ready, Set, Go - Tokio Hotel: out 27th August in the UK. Brilliant!
Just Another Summer/They're Building Walls Around Us - Moneybrother: two great tunes from Swedish singer Anders Wendin and his band who are of course on the Parksommar tour with Salem.
Who's Gonna Find Me - The Coral: If their new album will be as good as this single then it will be one of the year's best.
Do It Again - Chemical Brothers: irritatingly catchy dance tune. That's it.
Double Je - Christophe Willem: deservedly no.1 single in France.
Inga Problem - Snook: another week for this cool rap number. Yes of course I like the video. (Salem!!!!!!)
Shine - Booty Luv: thought it was time this great dance tune was back on the playlist.
LoveStoned - Justin Timberlake: irresistible current single.
Because of You - Ne-Yo: I still like this very much and it reminds me of my recent holiday in Stockholm.
Natalie - Ola: Fresh, clean pop song from a former "Idol" contestant. What's not to like?
There is no escape from the ubiquitous "Umbrella" which is the highest new entry this week at no. 6.
Apart from what's going on at the top I'm still not too inspired by the French charts at the moment and hope that the autumn will bring some big new tunes.
Friday, August 03, 2007
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Now it looks as if she’ll finally have a long overdue hit in the UK with "With Every Heartbeat", a haunting dance number. IMHO it may not be her best track, but is one of the better songs around at the moment and it will be nice to see her get some recognition at last.
In 1972 he began making records as a young singer-songwriter, clearly influenced by acts like Bob Dylan and the other folk-rockers of that era. In the coming years he was to prove himself to be a very versatile and prolific artist. I mentioned Rod Stewart earlier: many of his songs of the 1970s were very reminiscent of Rod’s pop-rock style. What I always liked about Tomas Ledin was his voice: distinctive, rich and warm.
Last year on our holiday to Cologne we discovered the music of the German band Juli, their "Dieses Leben" video was a daily fixture on MTV. They are a very good band and I recommend their album "Ein Neuer Tag".