Sunday, January 04, 2015

The 2014-50: No.10 - No.1

No.10: "Candy Jar" - MarieMarie.

Possibly the best thing about following national finals season is the opportunity to discover new music and artists without having to go through the increasing tedium of listening to the radio.  If this was released by a Radio 1-approved A-list playlisted artist in the UK, then it would be praised to high heaven.  But a German Eurovision entry?  Well that's more than ok in my world.  MarieMarie was one of the artists competing with 2 songs in the 2014 national final and this was my favourite of the two. 

No.9: "Karma" - Burhan G feat L.O.C.

Ultra-catchy rap song in Danish.  I haven't a clue what he's rapping or singing about but this is just such an uplifting and cheerful song, and always cheers me up when I hear it.  And just like the Michael Rune/Natascha Bessez song earlier in my countdown, mentions of Copenhagen in the lyrics are always guaranteed extra points.

No.8: "Cliche Love Song" - Basim.

Scooba-dooba-dap-dap-di-di-die.... admit it, you just can't resist!  Basim's infectious performance of this equally infectious song at DMGP ensured that it would carry the home nation's hopes at ESC in 2014.  I was so delighted that this won DMGP.  Unfortunately (IMHO) the staging of the song at the final fell short of that national final performance, but this song deserved better than 9th place.  (Although having said that, there were a lot of very strong contenders in the top 10).  Here is his DMGP performance of the song.

No.7: "Silent Storm" - Carl Espen.

In a personally dark and turbulent year, I completely identified with this song.  Carl Espen brought a vulnerability to "Silent Storm" which never fails to move me.   

Those who don't take the time to watch the Eurovision Song Contest but condemn it as a monument to drivel or whatever, those who still think the contest is stuck in a 1970s timewarp, those who don't realise just how much the contest has moved on - hello, British media! - miss out on some top quality songs and performances.  This was absolutely one of them and is one of the reasons why I am proud to call myself a Eurovision fan.

No.6: "Open Doors" - Electric Lady Lab.

Time for another 'song originally released in 2013, but I never heard it until 2014' discrepancy.  I didn't discover "Open Doors" until my holiday in Copenhagen when I saw the video for the song on a music channel and then it turned up on a Danish compilation CD which I bought during that holiday.  This is just a great pop-dance song built around a sample of Jan Hammer's "Crockett's Theme" which some of you may remember from "Miami Vice".  The 'Lab' use sampling inventively to create something new and wonderful.

No.5: "Red" - Eko.

Melodifestivalen 2014: as Steps would say, better best forgotten: from the presenters to the songs, it was so poor that even Alcazar didn't get an automatic pass into my top 50.  As I said earlier in the countdown, the only songs which really impressed me were the ones which didn't make the final.  And this was the best of them, an underrated gem.  I'd originally written this off as "I Feed You My Love" covered by Toyah Willcox, but the song soon grew on me, and I love all the drama and the 80s vibe.  Oh, and Anna Lidman is bewitching and I just love her.  She and Sandra Nurmsalu are my total hairdo-crushes. 

No.4: "Happy" - Pharrell Williams.

Ubiquitous.  That could be the dictionary definition for this song, a song which has as many haters as those who love it.  I am "happy" to say that I am in the 'love' camp for this song.  It does what it says on the tin, and always lifts my mood - although I still don't understand why anyone would be happy in a room without a roof, especially with all the rain we get.  Even after about 300 million plays of the song on the radio and TV, I'm still not fed up with this song. 

"Happy" became a worldwide hit in 2014, and then went on to spawn tons of flashmob lip-synching videos - two of which, from my holiday destination Trogir and Split I became obsessed with.  (And if you hate the song, mute the volume and enjoy the scenery!)

Official video:
No.3: "I Love This Life" - Kim Cesarion.

Was he not supposed to be, like, a major international star by now?  Having said that, I did hear "Undressed" in either Emmerdale or Corrie (can't remember which one). but it was enough to stop me mid-ironing to exclaim "Kim Cesarion!!" and my mum just gave me that "Eh?????" look.  No change there then!  Anyway this was the front runner in my chart for a long time, until the next two songs came along.  This particular song soundtracked my Copenhagen holiday in May thanks to its heavy rotation on Rix FM around that time, and I still love this song.  Here's Kim performing it on the Danish X Factor final.

No.2: "Hunter of Stars" - Sebalter.

Commiserations to Sebalter on just missing out on the title of my song of the year - let's just say it was one of the closest-run contests in all my years of doing this year-end chart, and the top two songs alternated at the top for a long time. 

My favourite moment in the 2014 ESC was when it was announced that Switzerland had qualified for the final.  "Hunter of Stars" certainly deserved its place there.  Apart from Sebalter's infectious performance and bucketloads of charm, he tapped into that very popular acoustic/folk genre and brought us an insanely catchy song with a memorable whistled hookline and one particular standout lyric in the first verse: "But yet, self-confidence is a fragile concept, that often fades away in the night".  Some of the other lyrics are cheerily nonsensical, but that just makes me love the song more.

Oh, and did I mention that he is gorgeous??

No.1:  "Din Soldat" - Albin featuring Kristin Amparo.

When considering which song will be my favourite of the year, I take a lot of factors into account.  Does it remind me of a special time?  Does it stand up to repeated play?  Does it make me happy?  Will I come back to this song in a few years and immediately remember why it was my favourite song of the year?  "Din Soldat" answers all of these questions with a great big Yes!

From beginning to end, I love this song and when it ends, I just want to hear it again.  (Although I'm sure a section of the Swedish radio listenership would be happy if they never heard it again, but each to their own).

This was the biggest hit of the summer in Sweden, and is still hanging around the charts even now.  Co-written by Mattias Andreasson (yes, M from EMD!)  "Din Soldat" is lyrically a very clever song married to infectious keyboard hooks and a killer chorus featuring the exuberant vocals of Kristin Amparo,who's about to reach a much wider audience via her forthcoming appearance in Melfest 2015.

So that's it for my annual countdown.  Another year, another Swedish chart-topper.  Can anyone beat the Swedes?  Find out in exactly one year's time when I publish my 2015-50 :)

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