Friday, May 29, 2009

Retro Saturday: Clubhouse

Into the 90s now with some rare but (of course) classic Euro-house, all the way from Italy if I remember correctly :) : no video but you'll be too busy dancing around to notice.

Clubhouse were also the people behind "Light My Fire" from 1993, which was a great dance track and pretty special for me for a variety of reasons :))

Again no video but well worth a listen at

Unfortunately you can't now listen to this song without thinking of Boyzone dancing to it on the 'Late Late Show' :, which is probably one of the classic TV clips of the past 20 years. Utter comedy gold.

Retro Saturday: Marcel King

"Reach For Love": a forgotten classic from 1984 which may just have passed most people by, back then....but it got quite a bit of airplay on night-time Radio 1 and it held a lot of interest for us New Order fanatics at that time as it was produced by none other than Bernard Sumner. There's a brief clip (with some amazing break-dancing) at

Fascinating fact: Marcel was also a member of 70s hitmakers Sweet Sensation who had a big hit with "Sad Sweet Dreamer".

Retro Saturday: Goodbye Mr Mackenzie

It's Friday night, but tonight, for blogging purposes, is Saturday, because tomorrow will be my Friday, if you see what I mean.

So with that in mind here's the first of my Retro Saturday songs for tonight....the eponymous (now there's a word) Goodbye Mr Mackenzie by ....Goodbye Mr Mackenzie. A forgotten 80s classic, find it at I always thought they were quite a flamboyant and colourful band!

This band featured Shirley Manson in its line-up, who later went on to find worldwide fame as the singer in Garbage.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Album Review: "Big Science" - BWO

Confession time. I've never really seen BWO as an "albums band", more a "singles band" and consequently the only album of theirs that I've bothered with in the past has been (surprise surprise) "Pandemonium" - their wonderful greatest hits collection.

So I thought it was about time to put that right. On their latest album they don't really break new ground, although if it ain't broke there's no need to fix it!

"Right Here Right Now" is a very strong opener and it's no surprise that it's the new single. "Love Came Crashing Down" is more 'dramatic' and dare I say that it reminds me of "Everlasting Love" - not in terms of melody, but more in the syllable-structure if you catch my drift. (!)

Whilst we're playing 'name that tune', I'm not the first to mention the similarity between "Kings of Tomorrow" and Takida's massive radio-hit "Curly Sue" but I'll mention it anyway. As with "You're Not Alone" there are two versions of the song on the album and inevitably I prefer the dance-remix-versions of both songs at the end.

Most of the best tracks come in the first half of the album - the catchy "Burning Down The House" (with its 'let's go party like there's no tomorrow' line), "Rise To The Occasion" and my favourite track - the Europoptastic "Bite The Bullet".

I prefer BWO's uptempo numbers to their ballads - "In Too Deep" is OK, bears a little similarity to "Let It Rain" which I prefer if I'm honest. "Thunderbolt" is BWO on automatic pilot, "Rhythm of the Night" is OK, whilst "Sleeping In My Car" is probably my least favourite track on the album. "Shoot From The Heart" however impressed me with its killer chorus..

On the whole I really like this album - and it proves that BWO isn't just a singles band after all. I think this will probably end up in my top five albums of the year.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Osmo !

Regular readers will be aware of my undying love for Signmark featuring Osmo Ikonen's "Speakerbox" - a delicious combination of rap, sign language and soul vocals, which narrowly missed out at representing Finland at this year's ESC, although I doubt if it would have done much better than Waldo's People if I'm honest. (And once again, thanks to the legendary Keira who introduced me to this song in the first place).

What I really love about this song is the distinctive vocals on the chorus by Osmo Ikonen, so I thought I'd investigate further and get some more info about him.


It turns out that he is yet another one of these extremely talented European singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalists which are always very popular on this blog! He started playing classical cello when he was 6 years old but then moved on to piano, drums, guitar, bass and violin. Sounds like a Finnish version of Salem Al Fakir! You must check out his MySpace page where you can hear a selection of songs from his debut album "Stories From Within" which was released in 2008. He has a great soul voice and his music is very much in that retro-soul style too. The first song on his MySpace playlist, "Storm", is absolutely great.

The Square-Eyed Couch Potato: May 2009

I'm actually surprised that I have anything to write about at all, as there is nothing remotely decent on the box these days and don't even start me on "Britain's Got Talent" - am I the only person who doesn't "get" this show?

Another of Simon Cowell's long-running (and maybe past its sell-by date) shows is American Idol. I used to be a really big fan of this show but again I got bored with it after about 4 series. Nevertheless I couldn't resist sneaking a peek at the final, which was, in the words of Ryan Seacrest, "the guy next door versus the guyliner". The guy next door (Kris Allen) won: he's a handsome young man with boy-band appeal, but IMHO he lacked the charisma and originality of the very 'theatrical' Adam Lambert, who just screamed (literally) worldwide star. Much has been written elsewhere in blog-land and cyberspace so I don't have anything to add, except to say 'Adam woz robbed'.

I've even got round to watching a few films which have been on Sky Movies! I expected to hate "Juno" because it received so much praise and hype when it was released. However, I thought it was rather fab. This tale of teen pregnancy could have been a potential disaster but instead it was smart and funny with one of the best scripts in years.

A more conventional chick-flick was "27 Dresses" starring Grey's Anatomy's Katherine Heigl in the leading role. I'm not a girly-girl or a chick-flick fan but sometimes you just need some light, fluffy, undemanding and predictable viewing, and this fitted the bill.

Another pleasant surprise for me was "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" which I actually found quite funny, and as it did have Judd Apatow's name on the credits it wasn't exactly 'family viewing' so I knew what to expect. And Russell Brand was in it, playing, well, a version of Russell Brand.

Whilst many reality tv shows are ready for the dumper, "The Apprentice" is still going strong. It has nothing new to offer, but its got tons of car-crash-tv appeal and I just keep coming back for more. I don't envy 'Siralan' having to pick from this year's dismal bunch, whose egos are a long way from their talent: remember Harry Hill's "This week's Apprentice in a nutshell" :)

As usual I'm a bit late getting into something which is probably old news already, but I've just discovered "Flight of the Conchords" : season two is currently airing on BBC Four, and I liked it enough to go out and buy the season one box set. (More about this next time)

"Coronation Street" has been much improved of late - perhaps due to some really sharp, funny scripts, perhaps due to it being a Platt-free zone, I don't know why? - but what does it have to do to win Best Soap at the "British Soap Awards" which recently took place. Change its name to "Eastenders" perhaps?

A brief mention for "ER" which finishes for good, tomorrow night on More 4. I'll do another post about this later on, but in the meantime what I will say is that I've rather enjoyed the final series, with the guest appearances of old characters being done in a meaningful and not just a token way. All good things must come to an end though, and they are doing the right thing finishing it now. Hopefully all the loose ends will be tied up too and will it be too much to ask for a happy ending?

Monday, May 25, 2009

I'm bringing pastry back

Because special people deserve special things, I'm posting these tonight because they made my mum laugh for a long long time today - especially the first one. You won't be able to listen to "Take On Me" or "Sexyback" again in the same way.

Ladies and gentlemen I present Weebl and Bob!



I’m bringing pastry back (yeah)
When I transport it I like to wear a hat (why?)
I not too sure, but it don’t look wack (word)
Where we going to hide this to protect from attack (hmmm)
Take it to the fridge!
Cos this pastry (a haa)
Will be the casing of a tasty pie (a haa)
I let you have some if you help me bake (ok)
Because I can’t read this recipe (you suck)
Look out for the walrus!



The Düsseldorf Diaries: Day 1: Monday 4 May 2009

OK, not so much day 1 as night 1, as we didn't arrive till early evening.
One of the best things about flying into Düsseldorf International Airport (as opposed to Weeze, which is so far away that it's almost in another country) is that it's only a 15 minute, 16 euro taxi journey to the city centre, in one of those distinctive cream Mercedes cars.

After checking in at our hotel we headed out and our mission tonight was to discover the main selling point of Düsseldorf nightlife - the Altstadt, dubbed "the longest bar in the world" in reference to its numerous bars and restaurants.

We entered via Ratinger Strasse, at the beginning of the Altstadt and seemingly this is quite a popular street at weekends with the student set. Very quickly realise that unlike Cologne, Düsseldorf makes little concession to tourism and English-language menus are a rarity. Luckily, for me, faithful travelling companion has a very decent knowledge of German, and I had a dictionary and menu reader so all was well.

However, the other thing that became very apparent over the next few days was that red meat, pork and fish are the big attraction, and there is very little concession to vegetarians (or almost-vegetarians like myself, who only eat chicken). So it was pasta for me tonight at Brauerei Zur Uel (pictured above), the kind of typical German brauhaus which we'd expected from the city, and our first encounter with Alt.

There is only one beer in Düsseldorf, and that is Alt. It's a dark beer, served in small glasses which are just a little bit bigger than the Kolsch glasses from Cologne. Now I'm not a beer drinker, but I found Alt to be more drinkable than I had imagined.

After dinner we headed on down the winding streets as night fell, and it wasn't so long until we were in the most famous street in the Altstadt - Bolker Strasse, which was pretty busy for a Monday night. Yet despite the multitude of bars, the city is almost eerily quiet and peaceful. We explored further and wandered out to the riverside later on. The Rheinturm (a big tower) was illuminated in the darkness. The promenade in Düsseldorf has been developed with walkways, bars and restaurants and you can just imagine it being very lively in the long hot summer nights, but all was quiet on this dark May evening. Weather-wise it was a reasonably calm night, unlike the cold, windy weather we had left behind at home.

Arguably Düsseldorf's most famous bar is Uerige, which brews its own Alt, so we stopped off there before going home. I like the way the "kobes" (waiters) just come over with the beer trays and hand over the beer, marking each one ordered on the beer mat and then they are all added up when it's time to pay the bill.
Düsseldorf also has a U-bahn (underground) system but it had been a long day and I couldn't quite work it out, so we walked back to our hotel. My other immediate impression of Düsseldorf was that it was a very safe city - nothing happened to change my first impression, and never at any time did we feel unsafe.

The Swedish Invasion continues...and Rybak's in the UK top 10!

Star Pilots' fab "In The Heat Of The Night" has entered the UK singles chart at no. 21 this week, and it's also on BBC Radio 1's A-list playlist.

On Radio 1's B-list playlist is "Release Me" by Agnes, whilst "Hold On" by Lazee featuring Neverstore is in the 1-Upfront list.

Kleerup feat. Titiyo's "Longing For Lullabies" is on BBC Radio 2's A-list playlist this week (and yes I even saw the video on The Box last week!)

"Until I Die" has been confirmed as September's next UK single release - and not before time I say, as it's one rather amazing pop-dance record.

The Box and Smash Hits have always been supportive of Hard2Beat acts so it's no surprise really that they're backing Gathania's "Blame It On You". I wasn't really a fan of her when she was in Swedish Idol a couple of years ago but she does the dance-pop thing quite well and the more Swedish acts in the chart, the better!

Finally, a non-Swedish bit of news: for the first time in many many years, the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest enters the UK chart. Who'd have thought it? Alexander Rybak's "Fairytale" is no 10 this week - and it could have gone higher were it not for some iTunes mix-up during the week. It's not the only Eurovision song in our top 30 this week: the UK entry, Jade Ewen's "It's My Time" is no. 27.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Throw The Groove Down, R.I.P.

Some very sad news this week as one of my favourite blogging friends Acer Ben has decided to call it a day and has closed down his blog Throw The Groove Down (formerly Pop Unlimited).

You can still visit his YouTube channel Pop Unlimited 2U which has lots of his trademark 90s dance and TOTP favourites.

(If you're reading this Acer Ben, I'd just like to wish you all the best with all your future adventures and hopefully one day you'll return to fill that void in blog-land which will be left behind with the loss of your fabulous blog).

This week's playlist: and with a little luck I'm gonna meet you on the dancefloor

Dance With Me - Zoli Adok: on record, this is just the most disco-tastic thing ever, which sadly didn't translate on stage to Eurovision final qualification for Hungary. Still love this song though.

The Highest Heights - Lovebugs: on record, this is just the most pop-rock-tastic thing ever, which sadly didn't translate on stage to Eurovision final qualification for Switzerland. Still love this song though.

Bistra Voda - Regina: I'm still surprised this didn't end up in a higher position on the scoreboard as I thought it was a cert for top 5. It's still standing up to repeated play, which is more than can be said for most of the songs that finished higher!

Let It Rock - Kevin Rudolf: for some strange reason I've developed an unhealthy obsession with this song since I came back from my recent holiday. Great rap/rock commercial crossover which I didn't appreciate much when it was in the charts. Better late than never I guess.

Rise to the Occasion/Bite the Bullet - BWO: I'm really loving their "Big Science" album at the moment and these are my two most played tracks from it this week!

We Made You - Eminem: another song which probably wore my resistance down on holiday, although it's a long way from classic Eminem, there are still some witty lyrics in there.

Gloria - Mando Diao: saw their video for this a couple of times on Viva when I was away. Very 'retro' in sound and vision, a band out of time (and I say that as a compliment).

Heartbreak Make Me A Dancer - Freemasons feat Sophie Ellis-Bextor: welcome back Sophie, no-one does posh dance music like you do, no one sings "daaaaancer" or "aaaaanswer" like you do.

Ayo Technology - Milow: still addictive. When is this going to be released in the UK? Anyone know? Or will it pass us by like most other big Euro-hits?

When It Was Good - Flipsyde: this will be one massive, massive hit record. It's not getting a mention yet in the UK new release schedule: will it be another Lady GaGa and we'll be the last to know?

Jai Ho - AR Rahman/Pussycat Dolls: this is turning out to be one of this year's more enduring pop hits. I never get tired of hearing it.

Christophe Willem album on the way...

Not long now till the release of "Cafeine" but you can get a little preview of some of the tracks in the meantime if you go to

Album Review: "Disco Defenders" - Alcazar

It's catch-up time now and over the coming weeks I'm going to post lots of album reviews, starting with the latest from Sweden's finest ambassadors of disco-pop, Alcazar. "Disco Defenders" was released back in March 2009.

This is Alcazar 3.0: their third line-up currently consists of the ever-present Andreas Lundstedt and Tess Merkel, and they were joined by Lina Hedlund in 2007. The cover is bold, flamboyant (and very pink!) and their mission remains the same - it's a party and everyone's invited!

The party kicks off with "We Keep On Rockin'", a song which I didn't really like to begin with but slowly grew on me and even made it into my top 50 songs of last year. "Burnin'" has Star Pilots written all over it. The highlight of the album IMHO is "Stay The Night", their Melodifestivalen 2009 entry, which was probably the most played song on the radio during my recent trip to Sweden so it'll always be very special for me!

"From Brazil With Love" has that once heard, never forgotten chorus, although it also has a strange familiarity about it as if we've heard it somewhere else before. My description of this song is schlager-carnival-pop, and it's very catchy indeed.

I wasn't really too excited about "Inhibitions" which is a more straightforward pop song perhaps more suited to a boy band/girl band than the discotastic Alcazar. As for "Harlem Nights" - disco goes jazz! You can just imagine them in a 1920s nightclub or something (!) it's a playful and fun diversion.

I was a bit disappointed by "Baby", the Pet Shop Boys song. It's all a bit....ordinary and mundane, compared to the fabulous "Love Life" from "Alcazarized" which is still one of their best songs. The party gets started again with "Jump Straight Into The Fire" which is more like the Alcazar we know and love, whilst "My My Me and Mine" is again a little bit Alcazar-by-numbers but I'm not really complaining. "Funkytown" didn't need remade, but if it has to happen then who better to do it than this band? They do a good enough job and don't really take it too far away from the original.

"Put The Top Down" is one of those 'let's get away from it all' songs with a very summery feeling to it, whilst "Thank You" is very reminiscent of Abba - quite ironic as Alcazar used to get compared to Abba quite a lot!

For me, "Disco Defenders" doesn't quite hit the dizzy heights of "Casino" or "Alcazarized" - there is no "Crying at the Discoteque" or "Not A Sinner Nor A Saint" for example. It's my own view that Alcazar's best days may be behind them but that's not to say this is a disappointing album, because it isn't. However when you set your standards so high it can get very hard to maintain them over the years and I think that's what has happened here.

On the plus side though, Alcazar remain committed to keeping disco alive - why else would they call their album "Disco Defenders"? - and we can't argue with them. They are still a very, very great pop group, but this is only a very good album rather than a great one.

Tomas Ledin on Nyhetsmorgon 23.05.09

He may be 57 years old now, but Tomas Ledin is still rockin' and rollin'. He appeared on Saturday's TV4 Nyhetsmorgon and sang "500 Dagar" and "Att Inte Göra Någonting Alls"

If I have a minor criticism it would be that his best days are probably behind him - his music has got a little formulaic in recent years and and he only seems to do two types of song now (the 'rocky' one and the 'soft-rock-acoustic' one) but he still has a very distinctive style and he's always a very popular live performer and will no doubt wow the Swedish crowds on his forthcoming summer tour. Here are a couple of screencaps from yesterday's TV performance.

Retro Saturday: Department S

I bought this single back in 1981, don't you know!

I loved "Is Vic There" and I hadn't heard it for a few years, until tonight. It may have been a little bit of a novelty song and a one-hit wonder, but you know something? It still sounds great.

Retro Saturday: The Knack

One of my favourite TV ads of the moment is the Oatibix ad with the three guys in the lorry singing along with "My Sharona" by The Knack. Here's the ad, if you haven't seen it yet:

So that provides me with a very obvious/poor excuse to feature The Knack tonight on Retro Saturday. They were a U.S. powerpop band and I thought they had quite a good look going on. Here is "My Sharona" :

Retro Saturday: Frank Sidebottom

A bit of a comedy-crossover this one. A man with a papier-mache head he may be (when he's not being Chris Sievey) but a man of undeniable musical genius nonetheless :)

People of a certain age, who listened to certain radio shows/watched certain TV shows in the 1980s, may just get a little misty-eyed with nostalgia at "Match of the Day"....

A classic. You know it is, it really is.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Retro Saturday: Falco (revisited)

Yes I know we've had him on Retro Saturday before but I thought he was worth another mention. Recently, faithful travelling companion has been going through a bit of a Falco-phase, and this particular track quickly became a cult favourite for both of us - enjoy the mighty, and quite frankly bonkers, "Mutter, Der Mann Mit Dem Koks Ist Da":

You will not be able to get that chorus out of your very afraid!!

Retro Saturday: Basia

OK laugh at me if you want to, I don't care, but I always liked Matt Bianco ("Good Times" and "Say It's Not Too Late" are undervalued pop classics IMHO) anyway their ace card was the very distinctive voice of a young Polish lady named Basia (her full name is Basia Trzetrzelewska)

I liked the singles she subsequently made as a solo artist and wanted to give them a mention tonight. They were very smooth and sophisticated and jazzy in that 80s kid of way. A very good and underrated singer.

"Cruising for Bruising":

"Time and Tide":

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Another apology :(

Things continue to be very busy at EuropeCrazy HQ at the moment (decorating and spring-cleaning and a number of other time-consuming things) so there's not enough hours in the day to blog to a decent standard, blah blah blah.

So once again apologies for the lack of posts here - that very belated ESC review will be delivered in the next few days, and normal service should finally be resumed on Saturday 23rd May.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Victory for Norway!!

So Norway are the winners of the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest with "Fairytale", sung by Alexander Rybak. Once again the "pre-determined winner" actually goes ahead and wins the thing, as per "Molitva" (2007) and "Believe" (2008). I'm rather glad about this, if only for the reason that it wasn't one of the more-obvious-Eurovision-nations-of-recent-years running away with the whole thing.

When the results were coming in I was in the advance stages of a bottle of red wine so forgive me if my recollection is vague, but I distinctly remember yelling -with some delight - that Stian Barsnes Simonsen was giving the votes of the Norwegian jury (please please please give him the ESC presenting job next year NRK!!) - anyway my mum asked "who's Stian?" and I had to go into great detail about how he presented the final until 2007 and then he was replaced by the considerably less attractive Per Sundnes :( well you know the story....

Anyway I digress.

Well done to Russia for organising a massive extravaganza on a very grand scale. Tonight's final went very well indeed: presenters Ivan and Alsou were a vast improvement on the mega-shouty semi-final presenters.

Still trying to come to terms with the shock of Royaume-Uni not being in the bottom half of the scoreboard. I'm no fan of "It's My Time" but it was a job well done tonight. Therefore, my congratulations must go to Jade Ewen and Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber: proof that effort does indeed bring rewards.

Full review here tomorrow: in the meantime here are the final results.

1. Norway 387
2. Iceland 218
3. Azerbaijan 207
4. Turkey 177
5. UK 173
6. Estonia 129
7. Greece 120
8. France 107
9. Bosnia-Herzegovina 106
10. Armenia 92
11. Russia 91
12. Ukraine 76
13. Denmark 74
14. Moldova
. Portugal 57
16. Israel 53
17. Albania 48
18. Croatia 45
19. Romania 40
20. Germany 35
21. Sweden 33
22. Malta 31
23. Lithuania 23
24. Spain 23
25. Finland 22

Anyway just after the final I got a text from faithful travelling companion - not an ESC fan, but making an exception this year once he knew Patricia Kaas was singing the French entry - and expressing considerable disgust that La Kaas was only 8th, 'amongst so much c**p' - of course I had to reassure him that this was actually a decent result by recent Eurovision standards :)

More to follow. It's been a long day though, involving retail therapy, decorating the EuropeCrazy HQ living room and finally Eurovision, so I'm off to get some well-earned rest. Back tomorrow afternoon - see ya then. :)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Spot the deliberate mistake :)

Eagle-eyed viewers will have noticed that I predicted one too many qualifiers for tonight's semi-final. I obviously didn't notice till tonight ha ha....

Anyway that aside, I'm drowning in a river of Alexander Rybak-esque self-satisfaction on realising that I got most of my predictions right, although that necessarily doesn't mean that they were my favourite songs.

Tonight's show was all "show" and some very poor vocal performances.

Even the favourites couldn't escape the curse: Alexander wasn't perfect - although he's still my tip to win - and Sakis was drowned out by his backing vocalists...and left me cold.


Serbia not qualifying - what a shock! Do people not like joke entries anymore? (They must do...Ukraine got through after all)

Ireland: what more do they have to do? That Pink/Kelly Clarkson/Avril Lavigne style is still very big in Europe - but Eurovision plays by some very different rules.

Slovakia/Slovenia/Latvia: some very painful moments tonight, maybe not in the class of Bulgaria 2009 but ran it pretty close.

Poland - this was a major surprise for me as it wasn't actually that bad.

Lithuania - strange song. Lots of words and not much of a tune, but the subtlety and the hand-on-fire gimmick must have been enough.

Estonia - A bewitching and subtle song sung by a captivating girl with fabulous hair. A very nice change from many of tonight's choreographed-to-death circus acts.

Denmark - one of my pre-contest favourites, but holding something back. Hopefully he will find the magic again in the final.

Hungary - On record this is fabulous, but tonight he fell victim to the off-key curse. I've got the Kleenex here Rachel, if you fancy sharing a box with me. Saturday night won't be the same without him. (Of course there is always Regina, singing, as my mum calls it, "the battle hymn of the republic" lol)

I still think Norway will win, which probably means they won't.

Oh, and I think Royaume-Uni might just spring a surprise: I may not particularly like the pile-of-mince that is "It's My Time" but the one thing you can say is that it has a memorable chorus. Which is more than can be said for many of this year's contenders.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Relaunch on the way (I promise)

Apologies as my big-blogging-frenzy hasn't quite materialised - things are very busy at the moment at EuropeCrazy HQ (combined with the distraction of Eurovision week!) so I haven't had much time to post, therefore it will probably the start of next week before I post the holiday diaries and the multiple album reviews.

Once again sorry folks :(

Eurovision Semi-Final 2: my foolish predictions

As I haven't heard all the songs from semi-final 2, there's a bit of guesswork involved this time!

Here's my predicted qualifiers for Saturday's final, as usual in no particular order.


As I's mostly guesswork...all will be revealed tomorrow night!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Eurovision Semi-Final Part 1: Quelle surprise (not)

Hey I'm getting quite good at this prediction thingy....

Only got a couple wrong and not too surprised:

1) Montenegro had a poor draw - we would liked to have seen that dancer again :O
2) Switzerland's vocals let them down.

Glad for Finland though - still a long way from the greatness of the recorded version, but they did enough I suppose....and glad for Iceland - she was very good tonight. Portugal was sweet and charming, whilst BiH only gave me minor goosebumps rather than major ones: methinks they were holding back tonight and going for the big one on Saturday.

Relief as Sweden got mum still thinks "La Voix" is in with a good chance, but I'm still not sure. It's OK, but maybe I'm still a little bitter, as my repeated rants of "It should have been Hope and Glory" throughout the three minutes of "La Voix" might just have given my feelings away :)

My "they only have to turn up and they'll qualify" award goes yet again to the reigning champions - Turkey and Armenia, with Romania also firmly in that category. I've got my toilet breaks timed for Saturday...!

So we have to put ourselves through it all again on Thursday night, preferably with the volume down when those shouty, shouty, SHOUTY!!!! presenters are on, (worst presenters ever) and their interminable, embarrassing results act. BTW, did anyone else get the urge to shout "just push the f*****g button why don't you???" tonight? Thought so.

Eurovision: think I might be changing my mind and it's not even finished

Some observations:

Iceland - wow! Not only a cert to qualify, but on this performance, a real contender.

Switzerland: really disappointing vocals may have just killed it for them.

Turkey/Armenia/Romania: meh.

Bulgaria: still wiping the blood from my ears.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Eurovision Semi-Final 1: my foolish predictions

Here are the 10 countries which I think will qualify from tomorrow's first semi-final, in no particular order of course - nine of the songs with the most televotes will go through and the remaining finalist will be chosen by a jury. I'm not even going to predict which one that will be.

Switzerland (I admit this is more out of hope than expectation!)
Bosnia & Herzegovina

You'll have noticed that I've missed out Finland - which may come as a shock as it's been one of my pre-contest favourites, but I now fear that it will suffer a "Vampires Come Alive" result, i.e. will fail to qualify. Hope I'm wrong though.

All will be revealed tomorrow night!!

(OK I'm slightly excited because I'll get to see both semi-finals and final live this year, but on the other hand I don't really care about it all as much as I used to, especially in a year as poor as this one.)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

SVT's "Popcirkus" axed :(

If you remember I wrote a previous post in defence of Sveriges Television's much-criticised "Popcirkus" music series which aired in March/April 2009 :

Anyway Aftonbladet now reports that SVT has now confirmed that the show won't be returning after all:

I'm very sad about this, as it was a very brave and bold experiment which deserved to be given another chance.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

The EuropeCrazy Holiday Hit List: Dusseldorf 2009

It's not too different from home...

My playlist is based on watching Viva (thank goodness for this channel, as MTV Germany seems to be like our MTV, with constant reruns of 'The Hills' etc in favour of actual music)

Poker Face - Lady GaGa: the international nature of the pop hit these days means that you're never too far away from the GaGa....

Stadt - Cassandra Steen/Adel Tawil: I don't know anything about her, but he's the Ich & Ich/Prison Break theme guy with the very distinctive voice. This is quite a nice little mid-paced pop number.

Jai Ho (You Are My Destiny) - AR Rahman/Pussycat Dolls: it may be a Slumdog-rip-off, but it's arguably the best thing PCD have ever done.

Love Sex Magic - Ciara & Justin Timberlake: this is no favourite of mine by any means, as it's possibly the worst example of conveyer-belt r'n'b as I can think of - but I've mentioned it here purely because it was played to death....

Boom Boom Pow - Black Eyed Peas: as a former BEP fan (who even went to see them live a couple of years ago) I'm really disappointed in this - but I had to mention this here purely due to the amount of airplay this got on Viva.

Ayo Technology - Milow: there's no doubt that this is an inventive reinvention of the song - watch this become the next big pan-European hit - but the video is maybe just a bit unsettling at times.

Played to death category: Pink/Kelly Clarkson/Ashley Tisdale/Kid Cudi.

"Walking On Air" - Kerli: is this the same Kerli who did MF a few years ago? Estonian Kerli?

"We Made You" - Eminem: not quite past glories but it's good to have him back I guess.

"When It Was Good" - Flipsyde: I will stick my neck out and dare to suggest that this will be one of the biggest pan-European hits of the coming months. Watch this space.

EuropeCrazy Day!!

Hi folks....!

Yes I am back from Dusseldorf, and a rather fab short break it was too. The weather was variable - it started off dull, wet, windy and rainy (Tuesday afternoon probably the low point) then the rain went off and it was still a bit dull (but not cold) and then it came good on Thursday - the sun came out and summer arrived, and stayed till our flight left the runway on Friday night at which time the rain returned. By that time it didn't matter of course!

The inevitable travel diaries will follow over the next week - stay tuned.

Anyway today is "Europe Day" which rather appeals to me. This is a day of celebration of European unity - an event which is commemorated on the continent, but is sadly overlooked here in the Euro-sceptic UK, which views "Europe" as some dull political organisation foisting rules and regulations on us, rather than a varied and vibrant continent with so much to offer: places to visit, music to listen to, culture to absorb and lifestyles to envy. That was one of the reasons I started this blog in the first place: I am proud to be a citizen of Europe, and with that in mind I'd also like to declare today "EuropeCrazy Day" and officially relaunch this blog after a couple of months' reduced service (for reasons which regular readers will be well aware of!).

I thought I'd get a little celebration going here, so appropriately let's have something German - "Allein Allein" by Polarkreis 18, still getting lots of airplay and still very popular at EuropeCrazy HQ!

Sunday, May 03, 2009


Going to Dusseldorf tomorrow with faithful travelling companion. Reasonably organised, just a couple of last-minute bits of packing to do.

I'm still on this euphoric high, what with everything that happened in Gothenburg, and then my training course at work was a big success. A couple of amazing - although emotionally draining - weeks.

So now it's onto a more 'conventional' holiday, our annual spring break. I'm looking forward to returning to Germany again, and needless to say I'll post my travel diaries here.

After my return home I'm planning a bit of a relaunch for this blog: with things finally winding down over at Planet Salem I'll be able to devote more time to EuropeCrazy. This blog will be back on Saturday 9 May - appropriately Europe Day, so it will be 'EuropeCrazy Day' on here :)

In the meantime take care everyone...and I'll see you all back here next weekend!

Will you catch me when I fall?

The rehearsals for this year's Eurovision Song Contest have started in Moscow, with the first semi-final just over a week away. Of course regular readers of this blog will be aware that I've had some big important stuff occupying my time over recent weeks, meaning that this year's contest has probably passed me by - I only really followed Melodifestivalen in any detail, and haven't heard too many of this year's ESC entries so I'm a bit late to the party I guess :) anyway my favourites so far are still Finland, Denmark and Hungary, who knows, I may even find some other songs I like among the ones I haven't heard yet....

(I think "La Voix" is in with a good chance, but I still can't get the same enthusiasm for it as I would have for "Hope and Glory". Sverige should just have sent "Tingeliin" anyway!!)

Anyway one that I just recently came across is the Swiss entry, "The Highest Heights" by a band called Lovebugs. Possibly the most un-Eurovision song this year, it's different and contemporary and I really hope that it's enough to stand out within its semi-final. I can tell you that this will be one of the songs which will definitely have a post-Eurovision run on my iPod. Here's the official preview video:

The problem I have with Eurovision is that it's just got too big, and so many of the entries from one year to the next are interchangeable same-old same-old "My Number One" ripoffs - and that song was one of my least favourite winners ever. No doubt this year will bring a new crop, many of which will inevitably pick up more votes than they deserve: I'm just so tired of that style of Eurovision song which seems to have taken over the contest in recent years.

When I come back from my holiday I'll have to do a crash-course in this year's ESC before the semi-finals kick off. According to what I've been reading on the web, Norway seems to be the "chosen one" this year...

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Mylene Farmer's tour starts tonight in Nice!

Yes, the latest long-awaited tour by my favourite French musical icon is kicking off at the Palais Nikaia in Nice tonight. As Mylene herself continues to be a woman of mystery, giving absolutely nothing away, the web is awash with rumour and counter-rumour about the stage, the costumes, the setlist....all will be revealed after tonight.

One thing's for sure, she will certainly put on one spectacular live extravaganza, and I can't wait to see the live DVD, which is expected to be released towards the end of this year.

(In the meantime, if you were at the show and you read this blog, then please feel free to leave a comment!)

I'm tired of using technology

Just thought I'd check out the German singles chart before I head off to Dusseldorf on Monday.'s same-old same-old with Lady GaGa at no. 1 with "Poker Face" and the chart doesn't really look too different from any other European chart, with perhaps the exception of Peter Fox, Silbermond, Polarkreis 18 (and I know they're not German, but it's nice to see that Mando Diao are still very popular indeed in Germany!).

One name which I have seen popping up in various European charts in recent weeks is Milow, whose unusual acoustic-style cover version of the 50 Cent/Justin Timberlake track (which coincidentally was out when I was previously in Germany) is currently at no. 2 in the German singles chart.

So I decided to find out more information about this artist, and he turns out to be a Belgian singer-songwriter (real name Jonathan Vandenbroeck) who has released two albums of acoustic pop - which may appeal to fans of Jason Mraz or James Morrison, for example - and if you want to hear more of his songs then go to his MySpace: