Sunday, November 30, 2008

2008-50: No.29 - Forever never comes around

"Cry For You" - September.

One of the nicest surprises of the year was seeing this track become one of the year's major European dance hits. In the UK, her record company did a very smart thing - targeting the same market as the likes of Cascada and Basshunter proved to be very successful indeed. I can only hope that her career is steered in the right direction in order to avoid her becoming a one-hit wonder, so hurry up with the follow up single. She has so many good songs to choose from!

2008-50: No. 30 - Hot as a fever, rattling bones

"Sex On Fire" - Kings of Leon.

I'd been aware of them for a few years but had never actually heard anything by them till this song which became an absolutely massive hit for them over the last couple of months - and got lots of radio airplay too.

I'm going to have to listen to their album now, to see if it's as good as this single.

Another weekend at reality central

Idol: Gospel week on Idol, oh well any excuse for an appearance by Carola and a gospel choir backing the contestants. Teens' favourite Johan (who looks about 12 years old) was voted off this week, leaving Robin, Alice and Kevin as the final three.

I said it before and I'll say it again - beware of the Borg. For he is going to win it. Even though my view has not changed that he is a boy-in-search-of-a-boyband and there is nothing really special about him. He is very confident though.

Anyone else think that Robin bears a spooky visual resemblance to Markus Fagervall? Robin does have a good voice though, but again he lacks star quality.

And what's with the restyling of Alice into some kind of Beyonce clone? It just doesn't suit her at all - she is far too 'nice' for that style.

To be honest I don't really care who wins this year, but will continue to watch it anyway.

Strictly Come Dancing: this programme is being spoiled now by the crawling favouritism shown by the judges towards Rachel Stevens and ultra-desperate Lisa Snowdon, whilst Tom Chambers and Austin Healey don't seem to be their flavour of the month any more. Do not underestimate the Great British Public - for they do not love Rachel the way you do, dear judges, and she found herself in the bottom two. Poor Christine Bleakley didn't have a chance however as the judges took the opportunity to save their fave.

Worst moment of the week: when Arlene Phillips dared to compare Ms Stevens to Alesha Dixon., I don't think so. Alesha had it all and she could dance, but as for Rachel - well, she does nothing, the girl does nothing. Except pose.

I want a Tom vs Austin final, not just because they're the best dancers but also because their partners Camilla and Erin seem to be getting genuine enjoyment out of it, whilst the professional males Brendan and Vincent are just too tense now.

I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here: Celebrities? Sorry but who are Brian Paddick and Nicola McLean? (A dour personality-free ex top cop, and a pneumatic Jordan wannabe-WAG). Only David Van Day is keeping the carcrash quota up this year, and for that reason he must be kept in, especially now that his partner in crime Timmy Mallett is gone. Joe Swash, ex of Eastenders, has the sufficient cheeky-chappie quality to win, but who knows?

Star Academy: the semi-final line-up is now known. It's the talented singers (Joanna and my favourite Mickels) versus the Chosen One (perma-scowling Gautier) versus the People's Favourite (Alice, aka Elodie Frege Mk II). There was no room for Solene, who looked the part but her inconsistent performances let her down.

Dansbandskampen: Scotts and Larz-Kristerz....oh wait, it wasn't on this week, replaced by some Nordic junior Eurovision nonsense. Normal service is resumed next week!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Retro Saturday: Bjorn Skifs

I noticed his name among the Swedish Grammy nominations this week. So let's take a little nostalgia trip with the man who represented Sweden at ESC in 1978 and 1981.

"Fangad i en Drom" which he sang in Dublin in 1981 was my favourite of his two entries, although I never figured out the significance of the gloves :) indeed his styling was completely wrong but his vocals were just right for the drama of the song.

"Det Blir Alltid...." from Paris in 1978: indeed his styling wasn't any better three years earlier either, this achieved notoriety in Sweden for him just making up the words as he went along.

Retro Saturday: Mansun

One of the most underrated bands of the Britpop-era may I say!

I was listening to a few Mansun songs on my iPod today and wondered why I hadn't featured them here before now. "Attack of the Grey Lantern" was a fab album which I played and played and played for a long long time.

"She Makes My Nose Bleed" was a great record. In this video,, lead singer Paul Draper looks as if he's paying tribute to Midge Ure!

"Wide Open Space": again a very well crafted and produced song, maybe forgotten now but a classic of its time.

"Six": An amazing song. This was from later on in their career. I know they weren't always the media's favourite band but I thought they were great, that's what we are missing at the moment - inventive, creative guitar bands rather than the generic indie rubbish which is played to death on Radio 1 :(

Retro Saturday: Mark Morrison

Kicking off with one of those tunes which was always guaranteed to get me onto the dancefloor back in the day, when I did that sort of thing :)

"Return of the Mack" was one truly magical musical moment from 1996 from a man who was better known for his criminal record, notably when he got someone else to do his community service. The video is just bling-soaked and as close to hip hop parody as you can get:

2008-50: No. 31 - That's my cool and I can't take it off

"My Cool" - Adam Tensta.

Swedish rap's award-winning man of the moment. He even got a shout-out on Perez Hilton's blog earlier in the year. What makes this really special is the addictive electro backing track: this is equally as good as anything Kanye West would do.

2008-50: No. 32 - And my fingers scratch at my hair before my mind can get too reckless

"The Age of the Understatement" - The Last Shadow Puppets.

If an appearance by Madonna in this chart was a shock, then here's another one. Maybe it's just me, but I happen to think that Alex Turner and his Arctic Monkeys are possibly the most overrated band of the last five years.

So no-one was more surprised than I was to hear what Mr Turner did next. His side project The Last Shadow Puppets produced a very good album of 60s-influenced pop. The title track and first single has a galloping backbeat and a dramatic spaghetti western widescreen feel. Infinitely preferable to the Arctic Monkeys.

Friday, November 28, 2008

2008-50: No. 33 - Pardonne moi si je te délaisse, si je m'éloigne encore

"Comme Avant" - Mathieu Edward & Sheryfa Luna.

Star Academy finalist meets Popstars winner and the result is a very appealing mid-paced French r'n'b duet. I wasn't a Mathieu fan during last year's series but he makes sense as a recording artiste, whilst Sheryfa is certainly a bright new talent. I'm not generally a fan of duets either, but this is very nicely done with their voices flowing in and out of the song and blending perfectly.

2008-50: No. 34: I guess what I'm good for is laughing at

"What You Look For" - Sam Beeton.

Ridiculously young singer-songwriter with maximum teen appeal, now if that's not a recipe for success then I don't know what is. Yet despite lots of video airplay on The Box, this failed to trouble the top 40. Such a bright, lovely debut single too, promising much for the future. Debut album expected in spring 2009 - I'll be listening out for this.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

2008-50: No. 35 - Can someone help this foolish heart?

"Who Do You Think You're Foolin'?" - Rongedal.

First (but not last) appearance in my countdown for the Swedish singing twins Magnus and Henrik Rongedal, who stepped out of the backing vocalist shadows to become stars in their own right at Melodifestivalen. Their debut album was a revelation - full of strong pop songs with singalong hooks.

And this was one of them: catchy, uptempo, driven, uplifting falsetto-pop, and like their other entry later in my chart it may be just a little too influenced by Mika/Scissor Sisters - but I can think of worse things to be influenced by. :)

2008-50: No. 36 - It's not that I hate you but I just can't seem to love you

"They Said I Said" - Sugarush Beat Company.

I have loved this irrestistibly infectious soul-pop song ever since the first time I saw this band perform it on "Later With Jools Holland" (which is a live music TV show here in the UK featuring a very varied musical line-up every week.)
Fronted by an old favourite of this blog, big-haired Danish disco diva Ida Corr, this band brought a very refreshing sound to 2008's music scene. Even if - like most other songs in my chart - commercial success eluded this track, I still love this, it's so fresh.

Square-Eyed back at the end of January

Decided to give my monthly TV reviews a rest until the end of January, purely because I don't watch much TV these days apart from the soaps, Harry Hill and Strictly Come Dancing.

Telly is really poor at the moment isn't it! No wonder I prefer blogging.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Swedish Grammys 2009: nominations announced!

The first lists of nominees for the Swedish Grammy awards - to be held on 7 January 2009 - were announced today.

Voting is open at between now and 10 December, then the final shortlists will be announced.

Here are the nominees in some of the main categories:

Best Album: Amanda Jenssen / Anna Ternheim / E.S.T. / Frida Hyvönen / Håkan Hellström / Hello Saferide / Kleerup / Lykke Li / Titiyo /Veronica Maggio

Best Group: Backyard Babies / Bo Kaspers Orkester / BWO / Dungen / Eldkvarn / Fatboy / Hästpojken / Kent / The Hellacopters / The Soundtrack Of Our Lives

Best Dance/Hip-Hop/Soul: Afasi & Filthy / Chords / Firefox Ak / Form One /Lazee / Looptroop Rockers / Melo / Petter / Sophie Rimheden / The Last Days Of Disco

Best Dansband/Schlager: Charlotte Perrelli / Christer Sjögren / Drifters / Lasse Stefanz / Linda Bengtzing / Rongedal / Sarek / Sten & Stanley / Streaplers / Thorleifs

Best Newcomer: Afasi & Filthy / Amanda Jenssen / Anna Maria Espinosa / Detektivbyrån / Hästpojken / Joel Alme / Juvelen / Kleerup / Lazee / Markus Krunegård

Best Female Artist: Amanda Jenssen / Anna Maria Espinosa / Anna Ternheim / Frida Hyvönen / Hello Saferide / Lykke Li / Miss Li / Sophie Zelmani / Titiyo / Veronica Maggio

Best Male Artist: Eric Gadd / Håkan Hellström / Juvelen / Kleerup / Markus Krunegård / Per Gessle / Timbuktu / Timo Räisänen / Tingsek / Ulf Lundell

Best Live Act: Lars Winnerbäck / Robyn / Håkan Hellström / In Flames / Björn Skifs / The Hellacopters / Ulf Lundell / Veronica Maggio / Peter Lemarc / Lykke Li

Best Song: Empty Room - Sanna Nielsen / Hero - Charlotte Perrelli / Do You Love Me - Amanda Jenssen / Jennie Let Me Love You - EMD / Måndagsbarn - Veronica Maggio / Det Är Hon - Brolle / Lay Your Love On Me - BWO / On And On - Agnes / Jag Är En Vampyr - Markus Krunegård / Longing For Lullabies - Kleerup Feat. Titiyo

The Swedish press are focusing on the female domination of the Swedish music scene in 2008 and this is certainly reflected in the nominations so far.
I'm not really too bothered who wins all the awards this year as it's not like last year when I did want a certain person to win everything (!) however the list just once again proves the diversity of musical talent coming out of Sweden.

2008-50: No. 37 - Love hurts, but life goes on

"Would You Believe" - Daniel Karlsson.

A recent, last-minute addition to my chart, this is a great debut single from the "Kapten" from 2007's Swedish Idol, and if he gets the chance to make a debut album then I'm very excited about it indeed - especially if it's as good as this song. A high quality, credible pop song which stands up to repeated play.

2008-50: No. 38 - More or less, everyone has a mess in their hearts and heads

"And I Lie" - Prata Vetra.

Everyone's favourite Latvian band returned this year with a new album, and a more edgy, different sound. "And I Lie", the first single from the album, was possibly the most accessible of their new songs, but was still a shock to the system for those with fond memories of "My Star" and "A Day Before Tomorrow". And, to complicate matters, it was the Latvian version of this song, not the English one, which appeared on the album.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Reality TV update

Idol - well what a shocker, the pre-contest favourite Anna Bergendahl was voted out last Friday. Maybe the public just got sick of her quivery voice which was even more quivery on "Over The Rainbow". I'm definitely predicting a Kevin Borg-Johan Palm final now. ( reckon Robin will go next week, then Alice). I'm not really into Idol this year and I don't think there are any great talents - like all other reality talent shows, it's all just a popularity contest now.

Star Academy - first week of all contestants being up for the public vote, and the two out this week were Edouard and Anissa. How these two can be evicted yet Alice and Gautier remain in the's all down to popularity again folks!

Dansbandskampen - oh, just give the title to Scotts and be done with it! As Poster Girl reported, Scotts have been given a song to sing at next year's Melodifestivalen and I reckon they should do quite well. They would appear to be the natural successors to Barbados, appealing to both the older dansband fans as well as a younger market. Yet another foregone conclusion this week as Larz-Kristerz also went through along with Scotts to meet (and presumably beat off) next week's batch of contenders.

2008-50: No. 39 - Se mig, hör mig, rör mig

"Hur Svart Kan Det Va'?" - Linda Bengtzing.
The song and performance which converted me from a Linda-hater to a Linda-fan. It was like "Grace Kelly"-meets-schlager (and here's a clue, there will be another song later in my chart fitting that description), and what really did it for me was her lively performance of the song at this year's MF - she was really going for it!

I don't think she'll be back at MF for a little while, but I'm sure she'll be back some day - hopefully as good as this.

Normal service should be resumed tomorrow night, now that this holiday nonsense is over! - as the 2008-50 gets back to two songs per night and the countdown continues.

2008-50: No. 40 - I can't remember but it's alright, alright

"Just Dance" - Lady GaGa.
Yet another one of those pop singles which was massive in Europe for this American singer over the last 6 months or so, yet completely overlooked in the UK - although this could change as it's finally being released at the end of this year. The electro-sound dominated many pop singles this year; this was one of the better examples and it will always remind me of my summer holiday in France. I haven't heard much of her other stuff though, and I'm not so keen on "Poker Face" yet, but this is certainly a great pop record.

2008-50: No. 41 - Une femme qui se devoile et qui suit ses envies

"Femme d'Aujourd'hui" - Sofia Essaidi.
In recent years the worlds of musical theatre and pop success have been interchangeable in France. After Kamel Ouali's hugely successful "Le Roi Soleil" we were all eager to see what he'd come up with next. Answer: a musical about Cleopatra, with Star Academy 3's Sofia Essaidi in it. That's certainly ok with me, and so was the first single from the soundtrack album (which I bought on my travels in Nice). "Femme..." is less the sound of ancient Egypt and more influenced by "Umbrella" ...a totally contemporary sound and a welcome return for Ms Essaidi. The musical hits the stage in Paris early in 2009.

2008-50: No. 42 - This ship's already sailed away

"Last Goodbye" - Avenue.
They came, they saw and they...kinda disappeared without trace. Avenue first came to our attention when they auditioned for X Factor a couple of years ago, although didn't progress in the competition once it was revealed they already had some kind of management contract. Anyway we heard no more from them until this single which I liked a lot. It's not r'n'b-boyband, it's not Westlife-on-stools boyband, but just a rather good pop single. However it failed to get the airplay and promotion needed for a hit record these days, so promptly flopped. Aw well, never mind guys, you're my 42nd favourite song of the year.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Back from Dublin...

Seems no time since I was heading for my weekend in Dublin, but I'm back already. We had a great time and although the weather was very, very cold, it didn't spoil our usual agenda of sightseeing, eating and drinking.

I particularly liked this very unusual Christmas tree outside the GPO on O'Connell Street: it regularly changed colour and was a very fascinating sight indeed.

We were based south of the river, within walking distance of the notorious party area of Temple Bar, but we managed to avoid being caught up in the numerous stag and hen parties' Saturday night adventures. Thankfully, Dublin is more than that, and we found enough venues for us to enjoy our Saturday night without the irritation of those stags and hens.

It had been 13 years since we first visited Dublin for a holiday. Earlier this year we briefly returned for a friend's wedding and we got the urge to go back yet again. This time we decided to do some more obvious touristy things like the sightseeing bus tour for example, although we ran out of time to visit the Guinness Storehouse. Something we did do was cross the famous Halfpenny Bridge (pictured above).

Last night we went in search of the "craic" and found a bar with some live Irish music - great stuff!

Dublin has changed so much. It's such an international city now - we hardly heard an Irish voice when we were there, what with the numerous tourists and also the influx of young Eastern Europeans who, it would appear, almost exclusively dominate the 'service industries'.

One other notable change is the steep rise in prices of everything from food and drink to clothes and consumer items. The Euro is very strong against the pound at the moment (I think that's the expression), therefore we're not really getting good value at the moment - whereas many Irish citizens are heading to Northern Ireland for their bargain shopping. However, we saved up our money and consequently...spent it!!

I'm not really a fan of weekend breaks, as I don't feel that two nights is ever enough for anywhere, but Dublin fits the bill perfectly as it's compact and within easy reach. It may not be the most beautiful/picturesque city in Europe, but it has an irresistible buzz which you can't resist. Well worth a return visit, and if you haven't been yet then you have to go!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Off on my travels again...!

I'm going to Dublin this weekend with faithful travelling companion so I won't be back on here till (probably) Monday night, at which time I'll catch up with Idol/Star Academy/Strictly results.

Can't believe how the whole John Sergeant saga on "Strictly Come Dancing" made the front page of almost every newspaper in this country this week. Basically, the guy was good entertainment and was to dancing what George Bush was to world peace - but as the weeks progressed he became a cult figure. The more the judges hated him, the more the public loved him, and he was the latest in a long line of "vote for the worst" candidates.

Faced with the serious possibility of actually winning the thing, Sergeant quit the show a couple of days ago. But did he jump or was he pushed? That, we will never know.

So now Strictly goes back to being a serious dance competition, but the problem is that some of them are taking it a bit toooo seriously, and the more serious it gets, the less entertaining it becomes. The fun needs to be put back into Strictly Come Dancing, and fast.

Anyway, I'm off now to get an early night and I'll be back on Monday.

Bye y'all! X

Thursday, November 20, 2008

2008-50: No. 43 - Since I've lived in your shade, every step that I made brought me nothing but zero

"Shady Lady" - Ani Lorak.

One of those songs this year which actually had a life beyond ESC for me, even though I didn't really appreciate it at the time. I can't really say why I like it, but it has that certain ooomph (!)about it and is rather dance-pop-tastic in its own way.

The 2008-50 will be back on Monday 24th (or more likely, Tuesday 25th) with more of my favourite songs of the year.

2008-50: No. 44 - I'm outta time and all I got is 4 minutes

''4 Minutes'' - Madonna & Justin Timberlake.

If someone had said to me at the beginning of 2008 that I would actually like a Madonna song I wouldn't have believed a word. But she threw Timbaland and Timbalake into the mix, which is always a good thing in this blogger's world. The result was ''4 Minutes'' which despite (still) being played to death I still never really got sick of it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

2008-50: No. 45 - A beautiful land coming at you

"Always Always" - Zuma.
Norway’s MGP delivered a reasonably successful winner - Maria Haukaas Storeng’s "Hold On Be Strong" - but this was a particular favourite of mine with its 80s New Romantic vibe and mad, nonsensical lyrics. Rachel at the brilliant Work Your Magic also loved this too!

You'll have noticed that I've posted four songs from my chart tonight, because after tomorrow I won't be posting anything again till Monday. Another two songs tomorrow though.

2008-50: No. 46 - La histería, ritmo permanente

"La Histeria" - Marquess.
Where would my annual chart be without an appearance from everyone's favourite Spanish-language German pop combo? No offence to No Angels, but I can't help thinking that Marquess would have done better if they were chosen to represent Germany at ESC this year. The Marquess formula is a simple, tried and tested one - feelgood Spanish-language pop. This wasn’t as good as the legendary "Vayamos Companeros" but I liked it enough to have it in my top 50 nonetheless.

The 2008-50: No. 47 - Now you lookin' like you're lookin' for an explanation

"Work" - Kelly Rowland.
The Freemasons (see previous 2008-50 post) were responsible not just for their own music but also working some magic by remixing other artists songs too. One of the best was their remix of Kelly Rowland's "Work" which turned a rather insignificant song into a mighty pop-dance monster track with an Eastern flavour. Although I'm not really a fan of r'n'b artists in general, it was good to see Kelly doing something a big different, and her follow-up single "Daylight" wasn't too bad either.

The 2008-50: No. 48 - If only you could see that I'm burning

"If Only You" - Danny.

Almost a third of my songs this year are by Swedish acts and here is the first of them. This was the most played song on Swedish radio in 2008, and co-written by Vincent Pontare, a guarantee of pop quality in itself. An international hit of sorts (well, it was big in Latvia when I was there!) Danny spent most of 2008 as a member of E.M.D. (more from them later) but is now making his solo return with "Radio" and forthcoming album.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Star Academy: This week's nominees

All seven of them! Yes, the evaluations are gone and now everyone is up for the public vote, possibly in yet another effort to make the final year of Star Ac a bit more interesting.

From left to right, the nominees are:

1. Joanna

2. Edouard

3. Alice

4. Mickels

5. Solene

6. Gautier

7. Anissa

I think Anissa and Edouard could be in some danger this week: it will also be interesting to see just how popular (the profs' favourite) Joanna is with the public. Gautier and Alice would appear safe and I hope that Mickels is too. Don't know about Solene - my opinion of her varies from week to week.

2008-50: No. 49 - I'm too weak to say no

"When You Touch Me" - Freemasons featuring Katherine Ellis.

I've always liked this dance act which has produced some great records in the past, "Love On My Mind" and "Uninvited" being two good examples. Recently they've been responsible for some equally fab remixes, notably Beyonce's "Green Light" and Kelly Rowland's "Work" (more of that later). This was a more mid-paced track with its 60s influenced video. The song became one of my summer favourites - even though we didn't actually have a summer - but like many of the other songs in my chart, it didn't quite achieve the success it deserved.

2008-50: No. 50: Hey now, hey now, we're movin' on up now

"We Keep On Rockin'" - Alcazar.

My chart begins with, I suppose you could call it the 'comeback' single from legendary Swedish pop combo Alcazar. Although (IMHO) there is something not quite right about an Alcazar without Annikafiore, or indeed later addition Magnus Carlsson, it is still reassuring to know that they are around and making music again. I haven't really been too keen on their follow-up material to this single, but am still excited at (only rumours so far) the possibility of them doing MF again.


EuropeCrazy presents...The 2008-50!

It doesn't seem like a year since I was doing my 2007-50, but that time has come round again to unveil my top 50 favourite songs of the year. I'm still doing frantic scribbling/crossing out/amending this chart and even I don't know if the version I have written in front of me will be the final one posted to this blog. One thing is very sure: there have been major changes in my top 10. And if you know the way my mind (and musical taste) works, it would not take a rocket scientist to figure out what these may be...!

Same format as last year: two songs per day, counting down till I reach number one on Sunday 14th December, if my calculations are right.

I was due to start the countdown on Thursday night but as I'll be away on Saturday and Sunday then I'm starting it early, so that should explain it. :)

So let's begin!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Will "I'm Yours" finally make it big here?

I noticed whilst looking at the BBC radio playlists that "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz is on there. Continental Europe loved this song this year, but predictably it was overlooked in the UK in favour of dull r'n'b and dull guitar bands.

Great to see it being given another chance to crack the UK charts - hope it succeeds this time. It's no. 96 on the iTunes chart, oh well I guess we all have to start somewhere!!

I'll do some singles charts updates soon, can't promise when as it's going to be quite a busy week though.

This weekend's talent shows - a very quick roundup

Idol - "Soul Week" which was OK but the show is definitely missing Lars. I think it'll be an Anna vs Kevin final now. Beware of the Borg!

Star Academy - Gautier, Anissa and Quentin nominated. Yes you read it right, Alice escaped nomination for once! Gautier saved by the viewers, Anissa saved by the students and out goes Quentin. Patricia Kaas was guest of honour this week, other guests included Etienne Daho and Natasha St-Pier. Same old, same old as Joanna stays top although I still can't see her winning. I would like Mickels to win, but I can't see him winning either. Beware of the Gautier!

Strictly Come Dancing - tough one to call this week. Jodie back on form, Rachel overrated, Austin and Tom both being wonderful as usual and John being praised. Yes you read it right. He's not supposed to be praised, he's not supposed to improve. We want a bad, bad, bad John, to give us a performance to equal his paso doble!! Spoiler fans will know the result, all I'll say is yet again the bottom two are a bit surprising. And of course Heather Small's not there anymore for her predictable place in the bottom two :)

Edit 17.11.08: Cherie and Lisa in the bottom two, Cherie voted off in the dance-off. Ironically this was the first week I enjoyed her performance, maybe it was a bit too "different" for her usual voters.

This show needs to decide if it's a dancing competition or "Vote For The Worst" !!

Dansbandskampen - haven't seen it yet but uproar in the Swedish press at yet another predictable outcome for Larz-Kristerz and Scotts - and lots of demand to change the rules. Looks like they might need to, if this goes on!

This week's playlist: it's only you I think about

It's Only You Part II - Salem Al Fakir: I can't really put into words how happy I felt that Planet Salem got official endorsement from Salem himself this week, so I'll just let this lovely song convey my happiness instead.
Twelve Fingers - Salem Al Fakir: likewise.
Human - The Killers: some love it, some hate it. I'm just happy to have them back...
They Said I Said - Sugarush Beat Company: so relentlessly catchy yet like many other great tracks this year, wasn't a hit single. Expect this one in the 2008-50, coming soon!
Crying Blood - VV Brown: looks like this is yet another brilliant track which has missed out on UK chart success :(
Would You Believe - Daniel Karlsson: still listening to this on YouTube although several uploaded versions of the video have now been removed. Cracking little song though.
What’s Your Name - Christian Walz: nice little uplifting song from the Swedish chart. The backing track is very reminiscent of an old Daft Punk song, the name of which escapes me right now. His vocal style isn’t a million miles away from Salem’s, which is a good enough reason to like this.
Just Dance - Lady GaGa: according to release schedules this will finally get a UK release at the end of December. Hooray!

Grammisgalan 2009: only a few weeks to go

Make a date in your diaries, Swedish music fans...

The Swedish Grammy Awards will take place on 07.01.09 in Stockholm. Looking forward to this, and hoping that a certain favourite Swedish singer of mine who won four awards back in January 2008 will be there at least to present an award!!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Retro Saturday: Steve Levine

Something really obscure now from the 80s which I liked at the time.

Steve Levine produced Culture Club's hit records and in the mid-80s decided to make one of his own - "Believin' It All" which was co-written by Boy George, and which I always thought was a nice little pop-reggae song worth featuring here!

Retro Saturday: Falco

For some bizarre reason, my boyfriend - better known on this blog as faithful travelling companion - is a Falco fan. We were in HMV today and he became very animated on discovering that a Falco DVD exists!!

Anyway Falco hasn't been on Retro Saturday yet so now's the time I guess...

"Rock Me Amadeus"- this was his biggest hit in the UK:

"Vienna Calling" - which I specially dedicate tonight to faithful travelling companion as this seems to be his favourite !! :

"Der Kommissar" - I always liked this one!:

There was also an English-language version of "Der Kommissar" by After The Fire, so let's have this too:

Retro Saturday: Sandra

Some classic 80s Europop, for which I may need to apologise in advance ;)

I didn't realise I'd put "Maria Magdalena" on my iPod until a few days ago. I'd gone to Morrisons at lunchtime for some shopping (aah, such a glamorous life for this blogger) and on my way back to the office what came on my shuffled tunes but ..."Maria Magdalena" and I guess this was giving me some kind of subliminal message to feature the German 80s pop princess on Retro Saturday. It's maybe dated now, but dated in a soooo catchy kind of way!!

Retro Saturday: Ultravox

Where is all this reforming business going to end?

In a strange way, I'm quite excited about Ultravox reforming and might even consider going to see them live in 2009. Once a New Romantic fan, always a New Romantic fan I guess :)

"Vienna" would be an obvious one to feature but as Retro Saturday usually goes down a less obvious route, I've gone for my two favourite Ultravox songs "The Voice"


"All Stood Still": this one is a 1981 Top of the Pops performance:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Some amazing news...

I had some terrific, amazing news last night and I've been on a high ever since. Why? Well, none other than Salem Al Fakir himself mentioned Planet Salem and said some really nice things about it on his MySpace page and also posted a link. It is a totally wonderful feeling to have the subject of your fansite actually endorsing it and encouraging fans to visit.

I'm so happy :))))

Monday, November 10, 2008

Time for another quick plug...

...for my other blog, Planet Salem, which is my little fansite which I've had going on for almost a year now. Regular readers will know by now just how much I love Swedish singer/songwriter Salem Al Fakir, and how much I've campaigned for his music to be released outside Sweden. Well now it's happening, thanks to "It's Only You Part II" being used in the latest Volvo TV ad campaign. Over the past few days I've been getting a record number of visitors who all want to know more about Salem and his music, so if you've heard this song and you like it, then you're very welcome to pop over to

Sunday, November 09, 2008

We've reached the point in "Strictly" when it just gets a little absurd...

Yes, you know that point when there is one really bad dancer left in the competition, but they're such a big hit with the public that they stay in longer than they really should have. Every series of "Strictly Come Dancing" has one ...Chris Parker, Julian Clary, Fiona Phillips, Peter Schmeichel, Kate Garraway. Add John Sergeant to that list. The political reporter's non-dancing has been so entertaining this series, but we've now reached that point when the serious competition is underway, he shouldn't be there anymore, but he is, and still putting a smile on everyone's face.

Last night's show was, like last week, a mixed bag of dances.

Tom and Camilla - Quick Step: despite Tom injuring himself early in the week, it didn't stop him from delivering a light-footed perfect routine which maybe was a little over-the-top but very enjoyable nevertheless.

Jodie and Ian - Samba: we've got a soft spot for Jodie here, because you can see her making progress over the duration of the competition. We knew though that she's struggle in Latin, purely because she's too tall and in this dance, a little too wooden.

Heather and Brian - Tango: looked as if there was some tension last night between queen of the bottom two Heather and her partner. She'd improved, but her problem was that she's still holding back.

Austin and Erin - Rhumba: I never think this is much of a dance and I prefer Austin in more active mode. He appeared uncomfortable and lacked oomph - and even received criticism from the judges!

Cherie and James - Waltz: I reckon she's the most overrated contestant this year, and this got the predictable praise and big marks from the judges.

Christine and Matthew - Jive: Christine can be a little bland and boring but her jive was certainly lively and had more to it than Rachel's jive from last week.

Rachel and Vincent - American Smooth: credit where it's due, I thought this was one of the best of the night - a very high speed smooth like you've never seen before.

John and Kristina - Cha Cha Cha: but not as we know it. Not quite as legendary as his paso doble, but this guy still has such a sense of fun, and Kristina is still in on the joke. Merited one point from Craig Revel Horwood, and only 12 from the judges in total.

Lisa and Brendan - Viennese Waltz: the VW isn't one of my favourite dances anyway and I can't tell a good one from an average one, but this was pretty good I guess.

Jodie and John were bottom two this week.

I read the spoilers last night over at Digital Spy so if you want to find out who went then head on over there to the Strictly forum. All I'll say is....the viewers and the judges have a very different outlook indeed.


If they had a virtual-Swedish-nationality citizenship test, I imagine that one of the questions would be "what's your favourite dansband"?

To non-Swedes, dansband is a glorious and somewhat cheesy mystery: I suppose the nearest British equivalent is those cabaret bands in working men's clubs who play the same songs to the same people, week after week.

Now, SVT has taken the talent-show concept and given it a uniquely Swedish twist. "Dansbandskampen" is a weekly Saturday night contest which, I read somewhere (can't remember where) that it's hammering rival TV4's "Stjärnor på is" in the ratings. I decided to check it out last week and was immediately hooked. The two hot favourites, Larz-Kristerz and Scotts, progressed to this week's show (which I haven't seen yet - but I know they've made it through to next week). Larz-Kristerz is possibly the worst-dressed band you have ever seen, even by dansband standards, but their selling point is their cover versions of some very unlikely songs - I bet you've never heard "Purple Rain" done dansband-style!!

Scotts are less outrageously dressed and are more pop than dansband - they reminded me of Barbados, maybe it's the blonde singer, but seem to have a wider appeal beyond the more traditional dansband audience. I could see them at Melodifestivalen!

Above: Scotts frontman Henrik, subject of many a Swedish middle-aged woman's crush at the moment...

Above: the Dansbandskampen jury with presenter Peter Settman. Yes that is Magnus Carlsson, he's on the jury...another reason to watch!!

Idol 2008 07.11.08: Lars is gone :(

It was too good to last. Idol-rebel Lars Eriksson was finally evicted from Friday's show, which had the "Rock Week" theme. I thought everyone was rather good this week actually :)

Johan Palm - "Poison" : think a blonde version of Tokio Hotel-Bill, and you get the idea. I thought he was rather good, and I liked his black nail varnish :))

Kevin Borg - "Livin' On A Prayer": unfortunately my view hasn't really changed that our Kevin is a boy in search of a boyband. He was good though, and I think he'll go quite far now. Possible winner??

Alice Svensson - "Heaven's On Fire": she's too nice and sweet to rock-out, so was probably one of the more unconvincing rockers tonight, but she has (as Simon Cowell once said) the "likeability factor" so we'll let her away with it.

Robin Bengtsson - "Dude Looks Like A Lady" : if Aerosmith need a replacement for Steven Tyler, Robin B did his best to impress :)

Lars Eriksson - "Smells Like Teen Spirit" : our hero decided not to sing a Desmond Child song in favour of the Nirvana song. Let's face it, he didn't do it justice, but who cares, he is Lars Eriksson and he made Idol 2008 interesting for a while.

Anna Bergendahl - "Save Up All Your Tears" : she is in with a great chance of winning now, however as all us "Idol" fans know now, it's better not to win.

Robin Ericsson - "You Give Love A Bad Name": he was very comfortable on this one. although I don't think he'll last too long, but he did "I Surrender" by Rainbow a few weeks ago, and we love that song so he's ok!!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Retro Saturday: Gail Ann Dorsey

A little rarity now from the very talented Ms Dorsey who went on to become an in-demand session bassist for a variety of acts - everyone from David Bowie and Brian Ferry to Robbie Williams and Gwen Stefani. She had her own brief musical career back in 1988 and I loved her single "Wasted Country" back then. Someone has posted a video from "The Chart Show" - now that is one very sadly missed programme - at

Retro Saturday: Latin Quarter

A band from the mid-80s who were very political in their music and lyrics. They used to get played a lot on Radio 1’s evening shows and my favourite song of theirs is "Toulouse" - a very catchy song about the very unlikely subject of industrial issues and French car production....

Retro Saturday: The Mock Turtles

I’m kicking off with an early 90s vibe tonight....I loved that "Madchester" sound and all the bands that followed in the footsteps of the Stone Roses and Happy Mondays. "Can You Dig It" was the biggest hit for the Mock Turtles (and later got a re-release thanks to its use in a mobile phone ad). Fascinating fact: frontman Martin Coogan was the brother of the slightly-more-famous northern comedian/actor Steve Coogan. Here’s "Can You Dig It":

Thursday, November 06, 2008

...and who has Lars offended today?

I'm getting much amusement out of this whole Idol-Lars controversy, and it's filling the Swedish press in much the same way that the whole Russell Brand/Jonathan Ross 'phonegate' scandal was all over our media last week before the press did that rare thing and briefly got back to reporting actual news (the Obama win).

Basically, for those who've just joined us, Lars auditioned for Swedish Idol and from that moment he became one of the hot favourites. And then the finals started and slowly he began to bring a subversive touch - his deliberately awful "Money Money Money" on Abba week: culminating in last week's irreverent performance on schlager week:

The producers called it disrespectful and wanted him out: since then the Swedish tabloids have gone into overdrive and he's either flavour of the week or public enemy number one.

Anyway his latest 'crime' was to snub this week's special guest, top rock songwriting legend Desmond Child, and choose not to sing one of his songs but instead have a go at "Smells Like Teen Spirit". Sounds like a disastrous move, I think I'll sit on the fence this time and not even dare to predict if he'll stay or go this week.

Idol: "Rock Week" songs

Here's what everyone is singing on this Friday's "Idol":

Johan Palm: "Poison" - Alice Cooper
Lars Eriksson: "Smells Like Teen Spirit" - Nirvana
Anna Bergendahl: "Save up all your tears" - Cher
Robin Eriksson: "You give love a bad name" - Bon Jovi
Robin Bengtsson: "Dude looks like a lady" - Aerosmith
Alice Svensson: "Heaven's on fire" - Kiss
Kevin Borg: "Living on a prayer" - Bon Jovi

Same old songs will be interesting to see what under-fire Lars does with Nirvana. With only two girls left it looks as if one of the boys will go this week, I reckon it will be one of the Robins.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Star Academy: this week's nominees, and the end is nigh.

Maryline revoir Maryline. The viewers (if there are any left, if the French media is to be believed), in Groundhog Day-style will save Alice and the students will save Edouard.

Guests on this week's prime:

Andrea Bocelli
Patrick Bruel
Chimene Badi
Christophe Mae

Last week it was announced on a top French radio show that this would be the final series of Star Ac. TF1 and Endemol moved quickly to deny this, but the French rumour machine then went into overdrive.

Even the show's biggest fan (and I am one of them) would have to admit that the show has run its course. After 8 years it is now stale and has nothing new to offer. Every year I get excited at the beginning of the series, but it turns to inevitable diappointment as my favourites go too early/walk out/wrong candidates are saved/editing is used to manipulate voting. Same guests, same songs, same casting methods and becoming more reality-tv-manipulative with each year.

It was a great idea - still the best reality-talent idea ever, in my opinion - but I think its time is up. Inevitably I'll miss it when it finally goes, but it'll be interesting to see what TF1 replaces it with. I just hope it's something with a musical theme, rather than yet another "Secret Story"-type show.

Justice is done!

Rejoicing at the news today that the Pet Shop Boys are finally going to be given a long-overdue Outstanding Contribution award at next February's Brit awards ceremony.

About time too.

New Körslaget on the way this winter

Aftonbladet and Expressen have reported that the following acts will be choir-team leaders when the show comes back:

Timo Räisänen, Magnus Carlsson, Robert Wells, Erik Segerstedt, Nanne Grönvall, Hanna Hedlund and LaGaylia Frazier. A potential schlager-tastic treat in store!!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Lars must stay!

I haven't had time lately to follow Idol every week, but I couldn't help noticing the controversy surrounding Lars Eriksson, one of this year's finalists, who is aiming to bring a subversive touch to the competition. Not only has he criticised the contest on his own blog, then said that he wants out of the competition before he gets a place on the "losers' tour" :)))) but he then proceeded to bring "Schlager Week" into disrepute with a wig, big glasses and a daft mustard suit.
The Idol-jury ain't happy. We say: Get over yourselves.
Lars must stay! (Well, at least until he decides to walk...)

Strictly back on track?

01.11.08 After me daring to suggest in recent weeks that the shark is circling around "Strictly Come Dancing", two things happened. The first was that it hammered Simon Cowell’s X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent at this week’s National Television Awards; the second was that, finally, this week, the show came good after a few off-the-boil weeks.

Why was this week different? Well, Brucie was on very sharp form for starters (did he get a new scriptwriter?), and there wasn’t that undercurrent of tension present in recent weeks.
This week also saw the standard of dancing significantly improve, well most of it anyway - John Sergeant and Andrew Castle were still there - but most of the ‘dead wood’ has now been evicted from the competition.

The first 10 of this series was awarded to - no surprise here - Austin Healey. The little rugby man is so far ahead of everyone else in the contest that he is now unstoppable. Although I thought the same about Colin Jackson in a previous series, so anything is possible. His closest challenger, Tom Chambers, delivered a dramatic paso doble. I’m glad that his partner Camilla has really come into the spotlight this series. It will be good if either she or Erin (Austin’s partner) win this year.

There’s something bothering Brendan Cole this year, it’s as if his heart isn’t in it, but he’s still doing his best to turn Lisa Snowdon into a contender. Their tango this week was particularly good.

Arguably the most improved of the celebrities over recent weeks is previous bottom-two Jodie Kidd, who has blossomed gracefully in ballroom, however she will be tested again once she has to do the Latin again.

Someone who has been shown up in Latin is Cherie Lunghi, who has been overmarked and overrated since the beginning. Why is she being talked up by the judges so much? Is it just cause she’s ‘mature’? She hasn’t really done anything special IMHO.

Christine and Matthew were a little dull, as they seem to be every week: is it only Matthew’s fanbase that’s keeping them in?

Dance-Off: Despite John being bottom of the judges’ scoreboard, he has become the cult audience favourite of this series: search for John Sergeant’s paso doble on YouTube for evidence! There has been some controversy over recent weeks regarding possible racial voting bias by the public, which resulted in two black contestants, Heather Small and Don Warrington in the bottom two. Don went that week, but Heather survived and after all the media coverage, she managed to stay out of the bottom two last week. Heather is paired with one of the new dancers this year: the excellent American Brian Fortuna who is amazing in his Latin discipline.
This week when it was ‘as you were’ and the bottom two would be her and A.N. Other. That other person being GMTV’s Andrew Castle, who managed to keep up that programme’s incredible tradition of presenters with two left feet. Being paired with attention-seeking Ola Jordan didn’t help either: she was never a favourite with the public. Punching the air and shoulder-shimmying does not a great Latin dancer make, and his time was finally up. Heather meanwhile made some improvement in her cha-cha-cha to "American Boy", however her days are also numbered: who will be in the bottom two with her next week? Will it be time for the ‘shock eviction’ of one of the favourites perhaps?

The Square-Eyed Couch Potato: October 2008

Whatever else is on telly, all that matters is that "Harry Hill’s TV Burp" (ITV, Saturdays) is back on our screens for an extended run for the next 6 months. Shock horror, there has been some criticism on the Digital Spy forums that Harry is now playing it safe with familiar old targets - Jamie Oliver/food shows, The Bill, Eastenders - but he is sooo funny at what he does that he can do it until the end of time as far as I’m concerned. "Bring On The Wall"!!

A little while ago I contemplated abandoning "Coronation Street" around the time of Michelle’s swapped-babies storyline and the over-reliance on the Platts, but what a change over the last couple of months. Now it’s unmissable again, mostly thanks to the new super-villain Tony Gordon, who’s the best super-villain since Richard Hillman. Two weeks ago it was "Murder Week" which ended with the hit-and-run killing of Liam Connor during Tony’s stag night. Tony engineered his soon-to-be brother-in-law’s killing of course, and it will be interesting to see how long he gets away with it. This has been quickly followed by the Rosie Webster abduction storyline.

"Corry" wasn’t the only soap with a big dramatic storyline a couple of weeks ago: "Hollyoaks" ended its long-running storyline of Myra McQueen’s abandoned son Niall taking his revenge on the McQueen family. It ended in explosive fashion with Niall abducting his mother, sisters and brothers, taking them to an old church and blowing it up. Remarkably, everyone emerged with the regulation soap-scratches on their face but little other signs of injury. Apart from Tina, who (thankfully) perished. "Hollyoaks" has been in great form over the past year but I wonder if it may now go into a post-big-story slump, the way "Corry" did after the Richard Hillman story?

I’ve never been a fan of the quiz shows attached to the Saturday night lottery draw on BBC-1, but "Who Dares Wins" (BBC1, Saturdays) is an exception. I like Nick Knowles (many don’t) and this is a proper quiz show, not one of those tedious Poker Face/Golden Balls ‘what are they thinking’ strategy shows which have been all over the TV in recent years.

Griff Rhys Jones went down the Michael Palin route with "Greatest Cities Of The World" (ITV, Wednesdays), a three week travelogue in New York, London, and Paris. Sadly, as many of these shows are, it was a wasted opportunity and my patience was finally exhausted when he spent about 15 minutes of the Paris show in secret underground passageways.

Much more quality viewing is "Stephen Fry’s America" (BBC-1, Sundays) with the intelligent presenter making his way across the USA by London taxi. It’s not really telling us anything new either, but it’s beautifully filmed and is a nice way to pass an hour.

My most favourite show of the moment is an old one - "Gilmore Girls" (E-4, Saturday omnibus) which I got into after reading many positive comments about it on the internet. I started watching at season 4 and now I want to get the boxed sets from the early seasons. It’s just a simple, warm and funny show with amazingly sharp scriptwriting and good acting. At the heart of the show is the warm relationship between the girls - mother Lorelai and daughter Rory, who are not just mother and daughter but also best friends. I can definitely relate to this as it reminds me of my relationship with my own mother.

I totally missed season 2 of "Heroes" (BBC-2/BBC-3, Wednesdays) but the new season 3 continues to be very watchable and addictive, even though half the time I can’t really understand what’s going on. All those personality changes - Sylar trying to be a goodie?? - are a bit bizarre, but are central to the plot which is beginning to develop.

If the shark was circling around "Grey’s Anatomy" (Living, Thursdays) at times during season 3, it’s now swimming off in the opposite direction. I’m really enjoying this series: the scriptwriting is much better and the whole thing is just sparkling again. As long as they don’t go back down the Meredith-angst route it should be fine.

Retro Saturday: Christer Sandelin

It all looks terribly dated now, but I always liked "Det Hon Vill Ha" by Christer Sandelin who was a member of the group Style. Check out the big hair and even bigger jackets at

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Retro Saturday: King

"Love And Pride"....ah, memories from 1984!

The biggest hit from the big-haired soon-to-be-VH1 presenter Paul King's band. Here's a TOTP performance of "Love And Pride":

Retro Saturday: Danny Wilson

This band from Dundee produced some awesome, top quality late 80s pop. Their biggest hit was "Mary's Prayer" but here's a couple of their other songs:

"Never Gonna Be The Same" :

and a tribute to 1988, "The Second Summer Of Love":

Retro Saturday: Stephen 'Tin Tin' Duffy

There are three things which I didn't really like about Stephen 'Tin Tin' Duffy:

1. His stupid name;
2. His involvement in "Rudebox" :(
3. "Kiss Me", which I hated and still hate.


"Icing On The Cake" is still a fantastic pop song from the 1980s and that fact alone is worth celebrating tonight, at

This week's playlist: I almost lost it but now I'm back on track

Twelve Fingers - Salem Al Fakir: currently bulldozing its way into the upper reaches of my 2008-50 (it all starts here on the 20th November!), my favourite singer is back! back! back! and this is just a wonderful song which you can hear, along with "It's Only You Part II", over at

It's Only You Part II - Salem Al Fakir: take one mega-talented Swedish musical genius, add a Volvo commercial and mix it up for (hopefully) international super-stardom at last. An amazing electro-pop reinvention of a lovely acoustic song from his debut album.

Sex On Fire - Kings of Leon: OK it's been around for a long time, but I am still loving this. When this song comes on the radio when I'm at work, I start headbanging, which is the cause of some minor amusement to some of my younger colleagues. :)

Breathing Your Love - Darin: Soooo good to have him back again. This is growing on me more and more.

Love Child - Fibes! Oh Fibes!: still available at their Myspace ( this is a rather cracking little song. Expect some new material soon: I'll keep checking out their Myspace for info.

The Boy Does Nothing - Alesha Dixon: Impossible not to sit still when this is on. Yet another example of Xenomania's 'six-songs-in-one' pop formula, which is always a winner for me. It does have that love-hate quality though....I'm in the love camp, for now.

Womanizer - Britney Spears: possibly the first and last time I'll ever feature a Britney song on here, as I've never been a fan, but this is terribly addictive and I'm having real trouble getting that song out of my brain.

Keeps Gettin' Better - Christina Aguilera: again I've never really been a fan of her either, but I like the electro-vibe of this song and it is really growing on me.

Disco Inferno/My World/Help Me - Bryn Christopher: since he was so fantastic on the Electric Proms last week, I can't stop playing these. A truly underrated British soul talent.

Last Goodbye - Avenue: OK so this may have flopped in the chart but there is always room in my heart for one more boyband pop song, and this is it.

Take Back The City - Snow Patrol: major shock at EuropeCrazy HQ, as the ambassadors of dreary-pop actually make a record which I like a lot.

Crying Blood - VV Brown: my mum tipped me off about this one as she'd seen the totally bonkers VV on "Later With Jools Holland" whilst I was away in Nice. Catchy tune, interesting haircut, and a fun, welcome antidote to all those Duffys and Adeles....

What Is Love - Haddaway: there is no reason for this being in my playlist this week, apart from the fact I'm always partial to a bit of 90s Euro-dance, and also when I hear this I just think of Bjorn Gustafsson dancing to it at Melodifestivalen and that just brings a big smile to my face, and you can't ask any more than that.