Sunday, September 30, 2007

Swedish Charts Update

Focusing on P3's "Digilistan" this week which seems to vary a bit from the sales charts. As predicted, Kent's brilliant "Ingenting" has gone straight in at no.1, whilst Kate Ryan's latest cover of a French-language pop classic "Voyage Voyage" is a high climber at no. 16. Danny and Therese's "If Only You" is still in the top 5, yet another good pop single. Martin Stenmarck's "100 Är Från Nu (Blundar)" is also still in the top 10. Very good.

Meanwhile over at P3's Tracks chart, Kent are also no. 1, other Swedish acts in the top 10 include Sahara Hotnights "Visit To Vienna" and the return of The Hives with "Tick Tick Boom", there is also a new entry at no. 13 for our faves Moneybrother with "Guess Who's Gonna Get Some Tonight". Hooray!

Happy Birthday Radio 1! (and Radio 2, Radio 3 and Radio 4 of course)

Today was a very special day for the main 4 BBC radio networks in the UK as they celebrated their 40th birthday (they're just a little bit younger than me!). Radio 1's top 40 chart show revealed that the most played record of all time on Radio 1 was Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" although you wouldn't have much chance of hearing it on the station these days as they're trying too hard to be "cutting edge of new music", and many of us of a certain age seem to be migrating over to Radio 2 for a little bit more diversity.

On the whole I'm still unhappy with British radio at the moment, and the narrow playlists with the same 6 songs being repeated over and over again. Thank goodness for the internet and the opportunity to listen to European radio stations. Although many of these also have very tight playlists, there is still a refreshing and diverse selection to be found if you look for it. I'm particularly impressed with Sveriges Radio P3 which mixes the current chart hits, cheesy pop, album tracks and more obscure/alternative sounds. Check out their daily playlists over at The kind of radio station I would like to listen to if such a thing existed over here.

Are you watching, Blogs of Note?

See, because it's my birthday today I reckon that Blogger should finally acknowledge my efforts and give me a mention in Blogs of Note.

Over the past few weeks I've noticed that many of the said Blogs of Note include photographs of food, so here's mine.

Over to you, Blogs of Note.


I'm off to bed early tonight for a change.

It's going to be a very special day on the blog tomorrow, as it's my birthday and as someone once said, I'm gonna party like it's my birthday :-) !!!!

Retro Saturday: "Sowing The Seeds of Love" - Tears For Fears

Arguably one of the best songs of all time. Ambitious, big, and clever. No-one these days has the talent/would dare to make anything so epic. Incredible record, even almost 20 years later.

Retro Saturday: "Love Foolosophy" - Jamiroquai

I might have said this before but I'll say it again. Jay Kay is one of this country's most underrated musical geniuses. I would hope that one day he'll make more records, but even if he doesn't, then at least the recorded back catalogue of Jamiroquai would put that of almost any other act to shame. Utterly fantastic.

Retro Saturday: "J'en Reve Encore" - Gerald de Palmas

This song had a major effect on me, I can't believe it's 7 years old. Absolutely wonderful song, which managed to resurrect his career and introduce new fans like myself to his music. It's about time he had more new music out as it's 3 years since his last album.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Retro Saturday: "This Is Who I Am" - Salem Al Fakir

"People have tried to change me, over and over again....."

OK this isn't retro, it's current, but like much of his material has a real retro feel to it. Just thought I would throw in something from my most favourite singer right now. The idea of this video is that you should just be who you are, rather than something you're not. Like the way that the psychiatrist smiles when she sees the "real" Salem, pullover and all, although I like him in whatever disguise...!

Retro Saturday: "Le Soleil Donne" - Laurent Voulzy

Ooh this is just one of my most favourite French songs ever....well it's more of a multi-lingual effort actually as Laurent sings in French, English and Spanish. If music could convey a season, this would be the brightest, sunniest, hottest summer ever. The video is suitably exotic as well. Think I'll do something on this blog about Laurent Voulzy at some point, as he is one of French music's most enduring and enjoyable singer-songwriters.

Retro Saturday: "Just Nu" - Tomas Ledin

He is loved and hated in equal amounts, but I was always in the "loved" camp. "Just Nu" brought him to a much wider European audience, so I thought I'd take the opportunity once more to watch his ESC 1980 performance of this. I remember at the time I was well impressed with the leather suit!

Retro Saturday: "Tiger Feet" - Mud

I was always different.

Whilst my chums were debating who's best - the Rollers or the Osmonds - there was only one early 70s band for me - the mighty Mud!

Yes they were terminally un-hip, and let's face it Les Gray just wanted to be Elvis, but I defy anyone of a certain age not to do the dance to "Tiger Feet" when it gets played at a party.

Thanks to YouTube I am now able to relive my Mud-obsession - they've got "The Cat Crept In", "Dyna-Mite", "Rocket" and best of all, my other favourite Mud song, "Shake It Down" which came out in 1976 and reached no.12, was a break from their usual style and was more disco-flavoured.

Rob Davis, the guitarist with the big, big earrings, went on to become a top pop songwriter of course, with hits including Spiller's "Groovejet" and Kylie's "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" and "Come Into My World".

Retro Saturday: "Segdu Mer" - Jonsi

No 80s night or recent retro, but rather....some random stuff.

I don't know a word of Icelandic, but I know that this is rather lovely and Jonsi is also rather lovely too, even if him and his backing singers' styling at the Songvakeppni semi left more than a lot to be desired. I did play this song a lot at the time and it remains one of my favourite European songs of this year.

That's the wonder, the wonder of you

Tonight saw the final of "The World's Greatest Elvis" (BBC-1) after last week's line-up was narrowed down to five Elvii.

Firstly, Kavan, rock n'roll Elvis from Ohio, gave us his take on "Blue Suede Shoes" however marks deducted for singing "don't step on the blue suede shoe". Tut tut.

Next up was Canadian GI-Elvis Gino Monopoli, who failed to impress us at EuropeCrazy HQ because of his posh phrasing on "It's Now Or Never". And he missed the high bit at the end. Our least favourite so far.

Norge-Elvis from the comeback era, Kjell Bjoernestad a.k.a Kjell Elvis, did spookily resemble The King and (if the internet is to be believed) may have had a wee bit of help in this department. Unfortunately his "If I Can Dream" was beyone overcooked and someone really needed to cut off his windmill-arms.

We had been impressed by Britain's very own Lee "Memphis" King last week. Again this week, vocally, he was on the mark more than any other competitor in the contest, as he delivered "Way Down".

As in any contest, there's a big advantage going on last and America's Shawn Klush was in the fortunate position as pre-contest favourite as he had impressed so much last week. He did very well with "The Wonder of You".
We thought that the two finalists in the sing-off would be Lee and Shawn - but we were wrong, as the judges selected Shawn and .....Gino? Posh-Elvis? Surely some mistake.

After all the recent phone-vote scandals, there was not a phone vote in sight for this one and instead, the final decision was left to the studio audience, "Stars in their Eyes"-style, to choose their winner. Inevitably and correctly, they chose Shawn, although on the night we preferred Lee. Oh well, there you go. The TV critics may have savaged this over the past week, but we thought it was a good bit of harmless telly fun for a Saturday night, especially if you like Elvis, which we do. Uh-huh-huh. Thank you very much.

Whistling weirdness on Wossy

Thought I'd post about Peter Bjorn and John (and Victoria) on Jonathan Ross's show last night. Weren't they weird or what? So uncool they're cool, so cool they were ice cold. Unlike anything I've seen for a long while, but not really in a good way, although I like the song. A surreal experience to be sure, and they even had a bearded old hippy bloke, playing bongos. Odd!

Even more Eurovision in 2008

It's been confirmed that there will be two semi finals in next year's Eurovision Song Contest. What this now means is that it's back to square one for every country (well, every country except the hosts and the "Big 4" - the UK, France, Germany and Spain).

Rumours - these are only rumours at this stage - that there is the possibility of either the return of a full jury vote or a split between televoting and back-up jury in order to reduce the ridiculous neighbour voting, which in our view is killing the contest.

Anyway, nine countries will qualify from each semi final and there will also be a wildcard entrant chosen from each semi.

I'm not sure if this will make the contest any better, but I suppose it can't get any worse than it is at the moment.

This week's playlist: I might just show you the bright side of life

Spider Pig - Homer Simpson: I'm driving everyone in my life to distraction with this at the moment.
Ingenting - Kent: Magnificent trailer for the Swedish band's forthcoming album. Excellent track which I've played more than any other this week.
Come Marry Me - Miss Platnum: Officially our "holiday song" from our recent Berlin trip, this is catchy, funny and irresistible.
Wanna Love U Girl - Robin Thicke: Ooh who'd have thought it? A Robin Thicke song which I actually quite like.
White Lies - Paul van Dyk featuring Jessica: very good dance tune from the German DJ.
Dream Girl/Good Song/It's True/Bright Side of Life - Salem Al Fakir: the latter is on iTunes and is a cheery reggae-flavoured slice of sunshine. And the rest ... fantastic timeless pop music.
The Way I Are - Timbaland: Another regular on this playlist and a cert for my end of year top 10.
Stronger - Kanye West: ditto.
Down at the R/Guess Who's Gonna Get Some Tonight/Just Another Summer/It Is Time For Falling Apart - Moneybrother: Good-time rockin' party music.
The Pretender - Foo Fighters: another one of my holiday favourites.

Album Review: "Mount Pleasure" - Moneybrother

Rather ironic (don't you think) that I went to Germany and ended up coming home with a Swedish CD. Turns out that Anders Wendin and his merry men had a lot of success in Germany in 2005 and continue to be very popular there. This is Moneybrother's 3rd English-language CD and if it ain't broke don't fix it. You know that you're not going to get techno, or r'n'b, or bland acoustic ballads. No no no. Moneybrother's formula is melodic uptempo rock filled with fire, urgency and intensity. Think Springsteen's "Born To Run" with a bit of The Clash thrown in and you're almost there.

"Guess Who's Gonna Get Some Tonight" kicks the album off with typical urgency and fighting talk - a very good start, leading into "Down At The R" which has a bit of a David Bowie/Abba(!) 70s vibe about it. "Just Another Summer" was the first Moneybrother song I heard and it's still great. Other tracks I'd recommend here are "It Is Time For Falling Apart", "Any Other Heart" and "Will There Be Music". You could argue that most of the time, Moneybrother's songs are variations on the same musical theme, but I really don't mind when it's this good, melodic, memorable and nostalgic in a really good way. It doesn't scream "2007" but who would want it to? Would we really want Moneybrother to start playing Blunt-style dreary-pop, or start rapping? Frankly, no.

According to Anders Wendin, "Mount Pleasure" was inspired by a particularly good time in his life: and the feelgood factor is certainly alive and well on this album.

Jenifer: new Paris Match interview

After a couple of years out of the limelight, Jenifer Bartoli has broken her silence and given an exclusive interview to Paris Match magazine.

During the interview, the singer revealed that she has spent the past couple of years at home in Corsica with her partner Maxim Nucci and son Aaron, working on new songs. She has also been involved in charity work in Nepal.

One of the new songs allegedly refers to her brief separation from Maxim, however she didn't want to discuss this subject as both are now back together and very happy - but she certainly did confirm that contrary to rumours this summer (which we foolishly thought might be true) that she and Maxim wouldn't be getting married any time soon.

Jenifer also said that people might be surprised by her new musical direction (we certainly were!) and that she would like to continue to evolve as an artist.

Looking forward to hearing her new album which is out in November. Jenifer will also begin a tour on 10.04.08.

Friday, September 28, 2007

MTV awards: not that I'm bitter or anything, you know.

I happened to mention Neverstore last night at home and got the reply "Never-who?"

I rest my case.

This weekend: some treats in store

Hopefully some special things happening on the blog this weekend. Definitely promise a couple of album reviews and I'm also hoping to finally get my "10 Things To Love About Berlin" feature posted.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Celebrity fans, and a couple of nice pics of you know who.

Marie Lindberg, the bespectacled singing schoolteacher who shot to fame on this year's Melodifestivalen, has posted a nice message on Salem's MySpace. Hooray! I once read on Sarah Dawn Finer's site that she liked Salem's music, so three cheers for her as well! Nice to know he's got some celebrity fans.

Still no news so decided to go in search of some pics which I hadn't seen yet, found a couple and thought I'd post them here.

First one's from March 2007:

Also found another one from the Astrid Lindgren prize ceremony at which he performed earlier this year:

Älska hans musik! Underbara begåvade snygga man! (Aren't online translation sites utterly fab!!)

French Singles Charts Update

Koxie still no.1 with "Garcon", and new entries in the top 20 include Akon's "Sorry, Blame It On Me" and Amy Winehouse's "Rehab" about a year after it was out over here. Lucky Twice's "Lucky" is the highest new entry at no.8.

Whilst on the subject I'm getting a bit worried about my ability to spot a surefire hit record, as "Lucky" has completely flopped in the UK despite a good bit of airplay on the music video channels.

There is a special French adaptation of Timbaland's "The Way I Are" with the female vocal part being done by Tyssem.

Mika is also taking over the top 20 - he now has 2 singles in the countdown - "Love Today" and "Relax, Take It Easy".

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Axwell & Ingrosso's "It's True" released in Sweden...

....when will it get a full single release in the UK? Please please please?

Salem in Stureplan (surely some mistake?) / Martin Stenmarck: facial hair alert

Been over to which documents which hip hangouts the beautiful people of Stockholm have been, er, hip-ly hanging out in.

There's a picture of Salem there, looking very nice, although I could have done without the other bloke in the picture trying to out-grin him. (Nobody out-grins him, do you hear me?). I went to another blog which raised some concern that Salem, nice, grounded, non-showbizzy, lovely down to earth person that he is, could now be getting caught up in the whole Stureplan scene.

Anyway to get to the point: WHAT'S WITH THE FACIAL HAIR, MARTIN STENMARCK? At least he's also growing some hair on his head, but he doesn't need to grow it on his face as well.

That aside, I'm quite excited at the prospect of a new album from Martin and it should be good if the single (now no.1 in Sweden, I believe?) is anything to go by.

A new colour scheme for Salem's MySpace page

OK so I know we're getting a bit ridiculous here, but in the absence of any news items I thought I'd mention that our main man has got himself a new colour scheme on his MySpace page. Out goes the black, in comes light blue and grey. Nice!

The EuropeCrazy Holiday Hit List: Summer 2007 - Berlin

This is the last in our series of Holiday Hit Lists - the last anyway until our holiday next spring. Where will that be? In the words of the great philosopher Alex Gaudino, “Destination unknown”!

Anyway here’s a list of the songs which will always remind me of Berlin 2007.

“Come Marry Me” - Miss Platnum. Crazy and catchy, think Bollywood rhythms colliding with r’n’b and the result is irresistible.

“Big Girls Don’t Cry” - Fergie. One of the most played songs and videos of the week.

“Umbrella”/”Don’t Stop The Music” - Rihanna. Yep it’s her again. Every time we go on holiday she’ll be there. Not literally you understand, although the idea of this would appeal to my faithful travelling companion. (!)

“The Pretender” - Foo Fighters. Travelling companion initially thought this was Nickelback. Must be all that facial hair. A song which I ended up liking a lot after the numerous plays during the holiday.

“Junge” - Die Arzte. Premiered on MTV that week, new song by very popular and enduring German rock band.

“The Way I Are” - Timbaland/”Stronger” - Kanye West: both of which were among my most played songs before I went to Berlin, and equally among the most played when I was there.

“Ein Neuer Tag” - Juli. Latest video by popular and very good German pop/rock outfit.

“Te Busque” - Nelly Furtado and Juanes. Very nice. Sadly not released in the UK because of this country’s aversion to anything in a foreign language.

“Little Wonders” - Rob Thomas. Been a big hit lately, and quite unusual to hear him doing this kind of ballad.

“Hamma!” - Culcha Candela. The kind of song which always reminds you of a holiday. Infuriatingly catchy slice of German reggaeton.

“Silencio” - David Bisbal. Great to see him doing well in Germany - he’s one of the best Spanish language pop artists of recent years.

“Lovestoned” - Justin Timberlake. There is no escape from him, anywhere in the world at this moment in time. And why not? We like him.

There’s a party going on at Bobby’s place, they’re trying the limits of the human race

Firstly to clarify that this act haven’t made it into our Hall of Fame as they are no longer making records, but I just had to mention an excellent Belgian act which came to my attention almost 20 years ago. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Soulsister.

There were no ‘sisters’ in Soulsister - it was a duo made up of two extremely talented guys named Jan Leyers and Paul Michiels. In appearance and musical style they initially reminded me of Daryl Hall and John Oates (tall blonde haired one, small dark haired one) and their breakthrough hit was the extremely catchy Motown-style pop hit “The Way To Your Heart” which I believe got them some international success, I can even remember it getting quite a lot of airplay on British radio at the time although it wasn’t a hit here.
A few years later when I started my foreign travels I made sure that Soulsister’s debut album was one of the first CDs I ever bought whilst abroad. “It Takes Two” is a great album and has stood the test of time. A mix of catchy and well-written songs with pop, soul and rock influences. Songs which are lyrically very clever - you have to remember that they are not native English speakers. What made Soulsister so special was Leyers and Michiels’ own musical styles and influences. Leyers brought a pop/rock sensibility to the band, and Michiels was the soul man. Together they made musical magic.

Their career lasted for approximately 10 years or thereabouts, before both Leyers and Michiels chose to pursue solo careers with varying success.

Recently I learned that the boys are getting back together for a gig next year in Antwerp - hope it goes well, and who knows - maybe they'll join the long list of comeback bands.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Pourquoi, pourquoi, pourquoi, pourquoi

Oops. Might have been a bit rash in my dismissal of Jenifer's new song "Tourner Ma Page". Have heard it another couple of times since and am about to revise my judgement. It's not "Au Soleil" or " Ma Revolution" or "Donne-Moi Le Temps", I have to accept that and move on. (I'm having to accept a lot and doing a lot of moving on today !!) It's a new style for her, and her album will be called "Lunatic" which sounds promising.

Sorry I've not been as positive as usual today, but I'm off to bed now and will end the day on a positive note and say that I like Jenifer's song. And I've just watched Salem singing "Good Song" live at Skansen. Utterly perfect, and now everything in the world is fine again.

MTV EMAs (again - yawn yawn)

Anyway I managed to check out Neverstore and they would appear to be one of those Fall Out Boy/Blink 182/My Chemical Romance emo-punky-rocky bands, which is all good and well - BUT - and I mean no offence to the band, but there are enough of these types of band around at the moment.

That was why I wanted Salem Al Fakir to win the Swedish New Sounds of Europe (NSOE) heat, purely because he is an absolutely original talent. But he didn't win, so I now have to accept that and move on. But he could at least have been included in the nominations for Best Swedish act - after all the aforementioned Neverstore were nominated in both categories. Hmm.

I've therefore decided to check out some of the other NSOE semi finalists.

Italy - Zero Assoluto. They are a duo who seem to do some nice pop with an r'n'b edge to it.

Spain - Jaula de Grillos. I'm a bit out of touch with Spanish pop of late so I hadn't heard of him either. Commercial pop/rock.

Turkey - Yakup. Rock with some Jimi Hendrix influences. Very surprised to hear this type of thing from Turkey (again my knowledge of Turkish music is very limited to the likes of Tarkan and the annual Eurovision entrants!!)

Norway - Aleksander With. First read about him over at Work Your Magic so I knew the name already. He's young and has a very good voice. Good pop star.

Still not happy, but a bit more happy than I was 3 hours ago.

Now it's lunchtime.

Back to these MTV EMA nominations and notice that Tokio Hotel are nominated in Band of 2007 and International Act categories.

Can we also have a Best Eyeliner wearer category? We could have Tokio-Bill along with My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy etc etc!

Lots of nominations for Justin and Rihanna-anna-anna-ay-ay-ay.

Have brought myself to look at the other New Sounds of Europe semi finalists, at least Christophe Willem is through to represent France, and I suppose I'm quite happy with James Morrison for the UK, purely for the reason that he's not Kate Nash, that is good reason enough.

Sunrise Avenue for Finland - I do like that "Fairytale Gone Bad" song, so glad that they're through.

Will do another post later about the Best Regional Act nominees, as I should have worked up enough enthusiasm by then - after all we are EuropeCrazy and welcome the opportunity to have some more European music to go crazy about.

Not happy. No, make that really not happy at all. A.K.A. "Sometimes we all have bad days".

Firstly I'm back at work. :-(

Then as if that wasn't enough I finally got my hands on the list of the MTV EMA award nominees, with particular interest in the New Sounds of Europe category, to find that the Swedish winner going through to the semi-final is.....Neverstore?????? Now I don't mean any offence to Neverstore, as I've never heard any of their music and they might be absolutely wonderful, but in my currently Salem-focused universe that's just not right.

Presumably Salem isn't "MTV enough" as a look at the list of nominees for best Swedish act proves - he's not included in the list. (Laakso, Neverstore, The Ark, Those Dancing Days, Timo Raisanen).

More ramblings later today about the EMAs, if I have any enthusiasm left.

Monday, September 24, 2007

We do care about the "Young Folks"

Yes, this great single by Swedish band Peter Bjorn and John is a new entry in this week's UK singles chart at no.13. That whistling hookline is very catchy indeed and it's great to see yet another Swedish act make it in this country. Well done to the band, who were also recently nominated for an MTV award in the USA.

Oh no. It's starting again.

I am now once again listening to "This Is Who I Am" on a daily basis and I reckon that I must have played it about seventeen million times since the beginning of July. Almost as many times as my mum has watched Johnny Depp's "Secret Window".

Currently playing: "Tell Me". Next: "Count Me Out".

2 new songs today, and I'm not impressed by either.

Heard a couple of new songs today: "Rule The World" by Take That and "Tourner Ma Page" by Jenifer.

Firstly, can I just say: Take That are one of my favourite pop bands ever. Their comeback was brilliant. So why is "Rule The World" so ordinary? It's from a film, and is therefore the-big-film-ballad by numbers, and I've forgotten it already. Hopefully I'll change my mind about it after 'a million listens later' but I'm not too sure.

Now, to the comeback single from Star Academy 1 winner Jenifer. Let's just say "Tourner Ma Page" is a definite change of style, kind of reggae-ish, but it's all a bit strange and disappointing on first hearing. Again I would hope that I get to
like it eventually.

Should I get to like both songs I will blog a retraction!!

Salem on SVT's Musikbyrån on 12.10.07!!!!

Jumping up and down with excitement at the news that on 12.10.07 SVT will be broadcasting Salem's February 2007 gig from Malmo. Fingers crossed that they put it on SVT Play so I will be able to watch it over and over and over and over again!!!!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Hall of Fame: the Clouseau Playlist

Haven't forgotten about the Hall of Fame - but it's getting near the end of the month already so better get cracking with my Clouseau playlist!
Daar Gaat Ze: One of their early legendary ballads which also got them known in the Netherlands.
Louise: live version of crowd-pleasing anthem.
Gefluister en Geschreeuw: nice cover of Elvis Costello's "From a Whisper to a Scream".
Find them on: "Het Beste van Clouseau" (1990)

Geef Het Op: Belgium's 1991 Eurovision Song Contest entry, and deserved a better placing than 18th out of 22.

Live Like Kings: Clouseau released two English-language albums in an unsuccessful attempt to break the international market. This is a good uptempo pop/rock tune.
Find it on: "In Every Small Town" (1993)

Voorbij/Swentibold/Waterdrager/Keer Op Keer/Cara Lucia: "Oker" was for me their defining album, and they have never made a better one. Grown-up, commercial and although it was made 12 years ago, it has worn very well.
Find them on "Oker" (1995)

Nobelprijs/Je Bent Niets: By this time Clouseau for me were in "ballad hell" but these were the two best ones from an otherwise disappointing follow-up to "Oker".
Find them on "Adrenaline" (1996)

Heb Ik Ooit Gezegt/Zo Mooi/Ik, Jij, Hij of Zij: "In Stereo" provided a welcome return to form, led by their excellent cover of Van Morrison's "Have I Told You Lately".
Find them on "In Stereo" (1999)

Ik Geef Me Over/En Dans/Brandend Avontuur: First single from this album was a cover of an obscure Robbie Williams track from his 'Supreme' CD-single; the "En Dans" album was proof that Clouseau were back, back, back.
Find them on "En Dans" (2001)

Vanbinnen/Eeuwigheid: Proof that even though the Wauters brothers were getting older, the juggernaut wouldn't be slowing down. This album wasn't as good as the last one, but it'll do.
Find them on "Vanbinnen" (2005)

Vonken & Vuur/Oogcontact/Casanova: And so to the current album "Vonken & Vuur". 20 years on but nothing has really changed. As I said in my previous 'Hall of Fame' post, the Clouseau formula is simple: crowd-pleasing anthems with big singalong choruses. Happy 20th anniversary.
Find them on "Vonken & Vuur" (2007)

Saturday night.

OK so I'm really bored now with "The X Factor", it's got nothing new to offer but I watch it anyway.

Liked "The World's Greatest Elvis". It will probably be slaughtered by the TV critics but it was a fun way to spend a Saturday night if you're a fan of the King (which we at EuropeCrazy are of course, uh-huh-huh) and we eagerly await next week's grand final.
"Strictly Come Dancing" - our most favourite guiltiest pleasure of the winter months - starts in a fortnight. Yay!!!! Will have to go a long way to beat Mark Ramprakash though. That man certainly brightened up our dark autumn/winter evenings last year....! And I'm not even a fan of cricket.

Tonight I'm not doing any 80s night or 'Recent Retro' or watching any videos. No, instead I'm doing something I haven't done for a fortnight - listened to "This Is Who I Am" and do you know what? It's wonderful.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Kent's new song - "Ingenting"

Do I like it? Ummm......yes of course. I absolutely love "Max 500" and on first listen it doesn't come close, but need to put that aside and judge it on its own merits.

So! "Ingenting" has a pounding beat driving the song, and Mr Berg's vocals are always distinctive. My overall first impression is that since the dark and brooding (but rather great) "Du & Jag Döden", someone has opened up the blinds and let in a great deal of daylight. Very good record. The album "Tillbaka Till Samtiden" is released next month, and I'm looking forward to this very much indeed.

Time for a rant about Mika.

Initially I really liked him, but he's beginning to irritate me now, although I've still got a lot of time for his album and can understand why he's so popular now all over Europe.

Anyway the reason for my rant tonight is that yet again "Relax, Take It Easy" has been passed over for a UK single release, in favour of "Happy Ending". Is this supposed to be the obligatory-ballad-release? IMHO it's much inferior and rather .....ordinary. And that's the problem you see, because love him or hate him you can't really call Mika ordinary. Or maybe this is just an attempt to win over some new fans in the 'hate' camp?

We at EuropeCrazy still love "Relax, Take It Easy" and think it's his best song, but that's record companies for you - they wouldn't know an obvious single if it hit them over the head with a wet fish. As someone close to the heart of this blogger once sang..."How many days will it take for you to understand?"

Aftonbladet reveals Idol-Sweden scandal

According to Aftonbladet, it seems that one of this year's Idol-finalists, Marie Picasso - tipped as a possible favourite to win - turns out to be an ex-employee of TV4, the channel which broadcasts the contest. It will be interesting to see how far she goes in the contest.

Clouseau tribute album released

The very popular Belgian band is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and of course they are also this month's featured act in our European music hall of fame. Koen and Kris are also the subject of a tribute album "Braveau Clouseau" which has just been released in Belgium, featuring some top Flemish singers/bands old and new - and Marco Borsato as well! - doing cover versions of their favourite Clouseau songs. Here is the track listing.

1. Marco Borsato - Cara Lucia
2. Stan Van Samang - Je Bent Niets
3. Natalia - Vanavond Ga Ik Uit
4. Helmut Lotti - Daar Gaat Ze
5. Sandrine - Shaken & Grooven
6. Scala & Kolacny Brothers - Oker
7. Bart Peeters - Domino
8. Udo - Heb Ik Ooit Gezegd
9. Will Tura - Nobelprijs
10. Thé Lau - Sterven Op De Planken
11. Tom Helsen - Altijd Heb Ik Je Lief
12. Gorki & Isabelle A - En Dans

Friday, September 21, 2007

Today's bulletin from Planet Salem

Just discovered that all those lucky people living in Oslo will get the chance to see Salem and his wonderful band play live there on Friday 5 October.

Still haven't found any reviews/footage of the Berns Stockholm MTV gig from last night but I'm sure he was wonderful anyway. I read an interview on a website yesterday in which he confirmed that he is going to be launched internationally so that's great news.

Spoilsports of the week

Last night I went over to YouTube to watch Salem's P3 radio session footage only to find the following message:

"This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by EMI Music Sweden AB".

I know it won't be long till Christmas, but it looks as if his record company are already getting in the Scrooge spirit early.

OK then EMI. If you're going to get these videos removed then can you at least give Salem a decent official website and not the apology for one which exists at the moment.

Salem (and his big headphones) from last year's P3 session: now thanks to his record company, we can't watch this anymore.

Who's gonna love you?

Answer: Polska! Yes, the mighty Måns Zelmerlöw has now set his sights on conquering the Polish music scene. There is a clip on YouTube of his recent appearance in front of 150,000 fans on a big Polish TV pop show, performing "Cara Mia" and "Maniac". He has become a really confident and entertaining performer, and is looking very good too!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Bringing up the rear

Now you know that "Any Dream Will Do" winner Lee Mead has been one of the objects of this blogger's affection over the last 6 months since he first appeared on our tv screens.

Now he is about to be the "butt" of a few jokes as he's been chosen as this year's male winner of the "Rear of the Year". Congratulations to Lee on receiving this "cheeky" award!!

And what about Dominique Fidanza?

So while we are on the subject I've been digging for info about last year's Star Ac runner up Dominique - only to find that her official site is "under construction" and absolutely no news is forthcoming. Not a good sign...

Nicolas Charvillat (Star Ac 6): new stuff

While I've got a bit of a Star Academy vibe going tonight I thought I'd check out what Vin Diesel lookalike and my other favourite contestant from last year - Nicolas Charvillat - is up to. He's got a couple of songs on his MySpace - "Dommage" and "Un Homme Bien" which show off his rough, distinctive voice very well.

Cyril (Star Ac 6) - album news at long last

It's been a long time coming, but news finally reaches us that the winner of last year's Star Academy, Cyril Cinelu, is in the studio recording his debut album which will be a mix of 7 original songs and some cover versions by Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Terence Trent D'Arby. Cyril has told the French press that he preferred to take his time to choose his songs for his debut album rather than release an album a couple of months after winning the show.

Even though we didn't agree with the result (Dominique should have won), we applaud Cyril's attitude in doing his own thing and taking his time - a bit like his Nouvelle Star winning counterpart Christophe Willem: if Cyril can produce an album as cracking as Christophe's then he will do very well indeed.

Now it's "Dancing on Ice" for Swedish TV4

Aftonbladet reports today that the successful British celebrity-reality TV format "Dancing On Ice" will soon be coming to TV4. I have been rather critical of the British version over its two seasons so far, due to its obvious favouritism of certain contestants, and the formula where one of the bottom two couples is saved by the jury - it should be the viewers IMHO who have the final say. Probably the format won't be any different in Sweden, but if good old TV4 puts the clips on the internet, just as they did with "Let's Dance" and currently with "Idol" then you can be sure I'll be watching anyway :-)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

More nominations for you-know-who...

Nominations were recently announced for the "Musikforlaggarnas Pris" which we would guess is some important Swedish music industry thing .... and guess who's got the most nominations?

Salem Al Fakir!!!!! He's been nominated in three categories - best songwriter, best newcomer, and best Swedish song of the year ("Good Song" naturally). The winners will be announced on 26 October at Berns Salonger in Stockholm - coincidentally where the great man will be playing his MTV New Sounds of Europe gig tomorrow night. As ever, I wish I was there!

Mission impossible?

Sorry but I'm feeling a little disheartened tonight, if only because of the failure of Tokio Hotel's "Ready Set Go" to make the UK top 40. I've also now read that the UK release of their English language album has now been postponed until January 2008. (It was originally due to be released in September 2007, then November 2007). On the one hand it may be a successful strategy as many new acts are launched at the beginning of every year: on the other hand it doesn't look good and may be another case of the narrow-minded UK music media and record buying public's refusal to acknowledge musical talent from other countries - even when they sing in English!

Whilst in Berlin I noticed an incredibly broad-minded attitude to music - the record stores were full of everything from German acts to new and established British and American stars to many, many international acts from Sweden, Spain, Norway, Italy, France....the list is endless. If only it was the same over here...

Can only make him stronger/you'll find him in the huff...

Kanye vs Fiddy: the rap world's answer to Blur vs Oasis, two big hitters releasing a record on the same day. Kanye won the battle of course, hitting the number one spot in the album chart, leaving some significant egg on the face of Mr Cent who in Lisa Scott-Lee style threatened early retirement if his album didn't outsell his rival. We at EuropeCrazy enjoy all this nonsense and hype of course, even if we wouldn't buy any of their albums. However Kanye West would recently be our rapper of choice, only because we like his inventive sampling, particularly the superb use of Daft Punk on "Stronger".

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Does whatever a Spider Pig does.

David Bisbal: hair today, gone tomorrow :-(((

OK I'm going to be shallow again....(but I still like his music though)

With the massive success of "Silencio" in Germany, I decided to have a look at the video for this on YouTube to discover that all his lovely curly hair had gone!! He now looks like a member of a boyband. Admittedly still a very good looking one, though.

Some Salem news to report!

Yes it is actually news (and not just random rants from me about how wonderful he is...!).

He's playing some live dates before the end of the year in Sweden as follows:

26.11.07 - Gothenburg
27.11.07 - Linkoping
28.11.07 - Vasteras
29.11.07 - Uppsala
07.12.07 - Vara Konserthus (postponed from September 2007)

He's also playing Berns Salonger in Stockholm this Thursday along with Million Stylez and Neverstore, this is a showcase gig for the MTV EMA New Sounds of Europe thing which we're very excited about. How good would it be if he made the final three and then won it? I might just get a bit uncontrollable.....

I'm back!

I've spent the past week in Berlin - what a great city. Over the next week I'll be doing my "10 things to love" feature and another "Holiday Hit List" - the final one till my next holiday.

The German capital is huge and sprawling, but surprisingly we managed to get around and covered a big area in such a short time. There were so many great things to do and no shortage of places to see. You must do some or all of the following: Checkpoint Charlie, the DDR Museum, the remnants of the Berlin Wall, the Brandenburg Gate, Alexanderplatz, the TV Tower, the Nikolaiviertel, a river cruise, stroll down the Kurfurstendamm... yes we did all of these and more, and even had time to eat, drink and sleep (it can be done, thanks to Berlin's wonderful public transport system). And yes!!!!! We saw Knut!!!!! Knut the polar bear is of course the city's most famous celebrity of recent months, and he certainly loves the limelight.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Bye for now: I'm off to Berlin tomorrow.

Well it's almost time to head off to Berlin with my faithful travelling companion to discover all the delights that this big lively city has got to offer.
Planning to do lots of sightseeing, eating, drinking and of course shopping for CDs and souvenirs. Also going to take lots of pictures with my all new digital camera.
EuropeCrazy will return on 17th September, hopefully with lots of Berlin stuff. In the meantime I'd just like to thank everyone who's taken the time to read and comment on this blog - always appreciated, and much love to my fellow bloggers out there.
See you all again soon.

The EuropeCrazy Holiday Hit List: Spring 2007

And now we have reached the end of our series .... well at least until the next holiday.

Seems no time from when we were in Stockholm. To be in Stockholm in post-Melodifestivalen season meant that you were only ever minutes away from one of this year's MF hits.

"Cara Mia" - Mans Zelmerlow: he may not have won, but this got more airplay than anything else that week.
"Live Forever" - Magnus Carlsson: it still remains a mystery to me why this never made the final.
"The Worrying Kind" - The Ark: and I can't understand why this flopped in Helsinki either!
"I Remember Love" - Sarah Dawn Finer: one of the artists catapulted from nowhere to household names by this year's MF, and now she will be appearing in the "Jekyll and Hyde" stage musical.
"Trying To Recall" - Marie Lindberg: the singing schoolteacher who was one of the year's most unassuming and unlikely popstars.
"A Little Bit Of Love" - Andreas Johnson: still a great singalong tune.
And some non-MF songs too!
"Cupid's Chokehold" - Gym Class Heroes: clever sampling which brings out the Supertramp fan in all of us.
"Because of You" - Ne-Yo: one of my favourite chart hits of the year which I got into after hearing it so much on Swedish radio.
"What Goes Around" - Justin Timberlake: the Swedes just can't get enough Justin.
"7Milakliv" - Martin Stenmarck: it might be an oldie now, but it still got enough airplay to make this list.

During the coming week, I'll be compiling my holiday hit list for Summer 2007 in Berlin... watch this space.

Salem Al Fakir: The EuropeCrazy Video Playlist

8 weeks ago tonight I discovered Salem Al Fakir. And my obsession is not going away.

So because I'm rather prone to lists on this blog I thought I would do a video playlist of my favourite-singer-in-the-whole-wide-world:

1. The Allsång på Skansen performance of "Good Song": utterly wonderful. It is impossible to watch this and not to a) fall in love with him, and b) appreciate the life-affirming brilliance of this song.
2. 25 minutes into the 'Grattis Victoria' concert, he sings "It's True"/"Dream Girl": the first time I saw him, heard him, and realised we were in the presence of greatness.
3. The "Dream Girl" video: big, big, big, big hair. Again it is virtually impossible not to fall in love with him.
4. The utterly bonkers "This Is Who I Am" video, in which Salem gets the dressing-up box out and models a number of crazy outfits. And yes, his favourite pullover makes an appearance.
5. Swedish radio session version of "Devil Look" which clearly proves that live, he is a performer to be reckoned with.....
6. "Good Song" video. If this doesn't put a smile on your face nothing will. And Snook are in it.
7. Snook's "Inga Problem": Salem is in their video looking rather nice and playing guitar. This is a stunning track, with a striking black-and-white video, and the combination of the Snook boys and Salem will always go down well at EuropeCrazy HQ.
8. You need a Japanese man... Way Out West festival performance from Gothenburg which hints at a more rock-orientated direction, and Salem's tendency towards audience participation.
9. Why did the sun stop shining? The irresistible "Tell Me"; that P3 radio "Musikjournalen" session again, and incredibly infectious it is too.
10. You are a star, probably the best by far. Performance from February 2007 of the previously unreleased "Birthday Song" from a club in Gothenburg. And why not.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

This week's playlist: I wanna give you a good song

Good Song/It's True/This Is Who I Am/Tell Me/Count Me Out - Salem Al Fakir: what a week it's been. The Monica Zetterlund prize, an MTV Europe Music Awards nomination, the remix of "It's True" appearing on two dance compilations, and another week in the EuropeCrazy playlist. And I still love him......
Stronger - Kanye West: clever, clever, clever sampling.
Wake Up Call - Maroon 5: I don't like the video, but the song's good, although not as good as "Makes Me Wonder".
Everything - Michael Buble: Recent hit which I'm now playing quite a lot.
The Way I Are - Timbaland: another week - I'm loving it.
Suburban Knights - Hard-Fi: excellent first single off their second album.
Bejbi - Snook: previously explained and extremely shallow reasons for liking this. Good though.
Garcon - Koxie: OK, OK, I give in. Incredibly irritating, but I find myself wanting to listen. It's "Breathe" by Blu Cantrell under another name, reason enough to like. "Gare aux cons, gare aux cons, dee dee dum......"
The Angry Mob - Kaiser Chiefs: another week for this underrated tune.
4 In the Morning - Gwen Stefani: this is rather nice, I didn't realise it was her until recently.
Handle Me - Robyn: initially doubted this as a single choice but it's a real grower. She is a bit weird. But she is good.

No playlist next weekend as I'll be in Berlin: the playlist will return on the weekend 22/23 September.

Hell's Kitchen 2007: the Marco and Jim Show

I'm watching, but not really loving, this year's edition of "Hell's Kitchen" mainly because it's lacking the main ingredient - Gordon Ramsay.

I'm not impressed by Manky-Pierre White and his Rab C Nesbitt impersonation. And I'm certainly not impressed by his favouritism towards Jim Davidson either. Love or hate Gordon Ramsay, he didn't do favouritism unlike his replacement who seems to be blinded by his admiration for the hasbeen racist comic.

The best thing about HK is, as ever, Angus Deayton and his witty remarks about the celeb-chefs and freeloading diners alike.

Friday, September 07, 2007

The EuropeCrazy Holiday Hit List: Summer 2006

Almost one year ago and another new country for me - Germany. Our destination was Cologne - a great city indeed.
Got most of my music from TV as we had both MTV and Viva in our hotel. Viva is a particularly good music channel as it played lots of German tracks:
"Klar" - Jan Delay: great funky rap tune which I still play a lot.
"Sommer Unseres Lebens" - Sebastian Hamer: very good laidback summer song.
"Dieses Leben" - Juli: good guitar pop. Faithful travelling companion particularly liked them.
"Was Ist Das" - Lafee: Liked this very much, she is very talented beyond her young age.
"Tonight" - Reamonn: easy going middle of the road pop. Very nice.
"Long Before Rock N’Roll" - Mando Diao: first time I heard this Swedish band, and this totally rocked.
"El Temperamento" - Marquess: a German band which sings in Spanish and makes very catchy Latin-pop.
"Der Letzte Tag" - Tokio Hotel: the first time I saw them and realised very quickly what the fuss was all about.
"Unfaithful" - Rihanna: and here she is again!
"U & Ur Hand" - Pink: another holiday, and another song by Pink.
"London Bridge" - Fergie: one of our holiday anthems - "how come every time you come around....."
"Sexyback" - Justin Timberlake: possibly most played song of this holiday and already has classic status at EuropeCrazy HQ.

The EuropeCrazy Holiday Hit List: Spring 2006

We’re heading towards the end of this series but not before we stop off at yet another new country: Poland, and the beautiful city of Krakow.
Unfortunately my knowledge of Polish music wasn’t too great before, during or after this holiday. I went in search of some Polish-language Now-type compilations but I couldn’t find any, although my travelling companion did manage to find a female singer he liked and purchased her CD.
Therefore my list of songs this time are all international hits and not local ones, sadly :-(
"Crazy" - Gnarls Barkley: there was no escaping this, anywhere.
"Red Dress" - Sugababes: one of my favourite songs of theirs.
"Beep" - Pussycat Dolls": yes.
"Turn Your Car Around" - Lee Ryan: most played song of the holiday. Poland loves the ex-members of Blue, as I heard a lot of Simon Webbe as well.
"Je T’Adore" - Kate Ryan: A Flemish Belgian singing a song in English, played a lot on Polish radio. Now that’s what I call an international hit.
"SOS" - Rihanna: her again. Faithful travelling companion really liked the video, for obvious reasons.
"Stupid Girls" - Pink: possibly the other most-played song of the holiday.
"Cesse La Pluie" - Anggun: great singer, great song.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The EuropeCrazy Holiday Hit List: Summer 2005

Normal service resumed and we were back once more in Nice.
No prizes for guessing that I watched lots of "Star Academy" on TF1, (even though Series 5 wasn’t really a favourite of mine) but anyway there were new opening titles and a brand new theme tune - the brilliant "Love Generation" by Bob Sinclar which was the song of the holiday.
My shopping list this time included Jenifer’s "Le Passage", "De Jour Comme de Nuit" by Astonvilla, "Live 1.0" by Calogero, and the excellent "Mon Cabaret" by Sofia Essaidi. It was also the year of "Le Roi Soleil" and I couldn’t resist buying the special edition of the soundtrack CD.
So what was I listening to?
"Caravane"/"Ne Partons Pas Faches" - Raphael: he was massively popular at that time
"Un Geste de Vous" - Le Roi Soleil: third single from the musical soundtrack, this time featuring lead vocals from Christophe and Lysa.
"From Paris To Berlin" - Infernal: a hit in France long before it made the UK charts. Great dance anthem.
"Plus Belle La Vie" - Eva: easy-going theme tune to a French TV soap.
"Pas Sans Toi" - M Pokora: Matt in ballad mode this time. Rather good too.
"Pon de Replay" - Rihanna: the beginning of a trend - where there was a holiday, there was a Rihanna hit.
"Toutes les Peines" - Patrick Fiori: I’m not really a fan of his but I liked this.
"Bouger Bouger" - Magic System: the zouk tune of that summer
"Aimer Jusqu’a L’Impossible" - Tina Arena: Aussie pop songstress reinvented as a Francophone favourite.

The EuropeCrazy Holiday Hit List: Spring 2005

For the first time we went East - to Prague.
Where there’s a holiday there’s a record shop and it wasn’t long till we found Bonton Land, a big CD/DVD megastore where I bought a Now-type compilation of Czech pop.
Also whilst we were away I managed to catch a bit of "Cesko Hleda Superstar", the Czech version of Idol. In our hotel we had the delights of MTV Germany, which like all the other European MTV channels is much better than boring old MTV UK. But I digress.
My radio was permanently tuned to the Evropa 2 station, and here are some of the songs which they played regularly. Very regularly...
Boro Boro - Arash: Swedish, am I right?
Find A Way - J-Five: this makes me think of France, for some strange reason.
Suga Suga - Baby Bash: this one also reminds me of France, equally for some strange reason.
Sound of San Francisco - Global Deejays: legendary dancefloor tune still popular today.
Bad Day - Daniel Powter: one of the most enduring songs of recent years, and it was a hit everywhere else before the UK.
On My Head - Dan Barta: radio-friendly pop-rock from a Czech singer.
The Reason - Hoobastank: again one of the most popular songs in Europe that year, which didn’t really get the recognition it deserved in the UK.
Anything by Maroon 5, Anastacia or Gwen Stefani: the three international acts which at that time were possibly among the most popular in Europe.

It's a simple fact that you can't seem to handle me

...and that will be Robyn's follow-up to "With Every Heartbeat". Initially I wasn't too convinced by "Handle Me", but it's got a nice electro-meets r'n'b vibe with some very sharp lyrics and it should be a hit. Hopefully.

Still clinging on to the hope that "Be Mine" will be released sometime in the UK as it's still a great example of a rather fab pop song.

MTV's looking for new sounds of Europe

Just a brief word about this tonight (as its almost bedtime!) but I promise I'll post more in the next couple of days. The MTV Europe Music Awards ( countdown has started and the nominees are listed on that site so that we, the music-loving public, can cast our vote.

What we at EuropeCrazy are really interested in though is the 'New Sounds of Europe' category, where each country will choose its act and then go through various "knockout" stages until 28th October when only three acts will remain. They will then travel to the MTV awards in Munich to battle for the "New Sounds Of Europe" title Have already been to the Swedish site.... yay, yay and yaaaaaayyyy! Salem is nominated so if you love him as much as we do then get voting. Likewise for Christophe Willem on the French site and The Fratellis on the UK site!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Belgium's TMF Awards coming soon

Just found out that it will soon be time for the annual TMF Awards which the Flemish-speaking half of Belgium gets the chance to vote for their favourite home-grown and international acts.

Here are this year's nominees:

BEST NEW ARTIST (NATIONAL): Fixkes, Dean, Milow, Stan van Samang
BEST NEW ARTIST (INTERNATIONAL): Mika, Tokio Hotel, 30 Seconds to Mars, Air Traffic
BEST LIVE ACT (NATIONAL): Natalia, Zornik, Nailpin, Clouseau
BEST LIVE ACT (INTERNATIONAL): Kaiser Chiefs, Within Temptation, Muse, Justin Timberlake
BEST ALTERNATIVE ACT (NATIONAL): Daan, the Van Jets, dEUs, Goose
BEST ALTERNATIVE ACT (INTERNATIONAL): My Chemical Romance, 30 Seconds To Mars, Fall Out Boy, Muse
BEST ROCK ACT (NATIONAL): Nailpin, The Van Jets, Zornik, A Brand
BEST ROCK ACT (INTERNATIONAL): Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, Kaiser Chiefs, Linkin Park
BEST DANCE ACT (NATIONAL): Shameboy, Goose, Milk Inc, Regi
BEST DANCE ACT (INTERNATIONAL): Bob Sinclar, Tiesto, Chemical Brothers, David Guetta
BEST FEMALE ARTIST (NATIONAL): Kate Ryan, Katerine, Natalia, Belle Perez
BEST FEMALE ARTIST (INTERNATIONAL): Fergie, Rihanna, Nelly Furtado, Avril Lavigne
BEST POP ACT (NATIONAL): Kate Ryan, Stan van Samang, Natalia, Clouseau
BEST POP ACT (INTERNATIONAL): Justin Timberlake, Rihanna, Tokio Hotel, Mika
BEST ALBUM (NATIONAL): "Everything & More" - Natalia; "Crosses" - Zornik; "The Bigger Picture" - Milow; "Vonken & Vuur" - Clouseau
BEST ALBUM (INTERNATIONAL): "The Black Parade" - My Chemical Romance; "Good Girl Gone Bad" - Rihanna; "Scream" - Tokio Hotel; "Minutes to Midnight" - Linkin Park
BEST MALE ARTIST (NATIONAL): Milow, Koen Wauters, Koen Buyse, Stan van Samang
BEST MALE ARTIST (INTERNATIONAL): Mika, Robbie Williams, Marco Borsato, Justin Timberlake

Fingers crossed for our favourites Clouseau and Tokio Hotel. Kate Ryan's still around and still doing covers of old French hits (this summer it was "Voyage Voyage"). The Flemish still love her, and even if the Eurovision audience didn't, is it ok for me to say that I quite liked "Je T'adore"?

The EuropeCrazy Hall of Fame: September 2007

Clouseau. No, not the bumbling inspector from The Pink Panther films, but a Flemish band which has now been around for 20 years. What better celebration than an induction into our Hall of Fame.

Once upon a time Clouseau had five members, then their line up reduced to three. Today, Clouseau is a duo made up of two brothers, lead singer Koen Wauters and his brother Kris. When Koen and Kris aren’t making music, they can be found rally driving, or presenting hit Belgian TV shows like "Idol". (Belgium’s answer to Ant and Dec!!)

I became aware of Clouseau during the late 80s. They came to my attention again in 1991 when they represented Belgium at the Eurovision Song Contest with the excellent "Geef Het Op". Clouseau recorded a couple of albums in English (I’ve got "In Every Small Town" which is actually very good), but their attempts to break into the international market sadly failed.

My next encounter with Clouseau’s music was in 1995 on my first trip to Belgium. They had just released "Oker" which I still consider their best album. One hearing of "Swentibold" and I was hooked. A brassy treat from a hot summer, and for me it’s Clouseau at their very best. "Oker" was a grown-up collection of upbeat songs and ballads, and there is hardly a bad track on it. "Passie" became a massive hit in the Netherlands, but this turned out to be an albatross around their neck as in that country they are viewed differently, more
as a ‘ballad band’.

"Oker" was the last album to feature founder member Bob Savenberg, whom many viewed as the heart and soul of the band. On the follow-up "Adrenaline" his absence was clearly felt. There were more and more ballads, and only "Nobelprijs" and "Je Bent Niets" stood out for me.

By 1999’s "In Stereo" the formula was working once again. Crowd-pleasing middle of the road pop, with more uptempo songs but the album’s defining song was another ballad, a Dutch-language cover version of "Have I Told You Lately".

Rather than mellow in their ‘old age’, Clouseau found a harder edge on 2001’s "En Dans" but it was a lot more playful too, and is possibly my second favourite album of theirs after "Oker".

A further two albums have been released since then: "Vanbinnen" and this year’s "Vonken & Vuur", both of which continue to see Clouseau go from strength to strength with their mix of uptempo songs with anthemic choruses, and swaying ballads. Their musical formula is simple, but it has certainly worked in Belgium for the last 20 years, and there’s no reason why they can’t keep on doing it for a long time yet.

Check out the blog in a couple of weeks for my recommended Clouseau playlist.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Dance X winners: the Swedish link

Just found out that the Dance X winners' single "Dancing In Repeat" was co-written by none other than ex-Idol finalist Danny Saucedo, he of "Tokyo" and "Play It For The Girls" fame.

Oh and hasn't Team Bruno got a name yet?

The format is soon to cross the Atlantic and will be renamed "Dance War: Bruno vs Carrie Ann" in which the ubiquitous Bruno Tonioli and fellow Dancing with the Stars panellist Carrie Ann will form rival dance groups.

It's prizegiving time!

We never need an excuse for a gratuitous Salem pic of course, but for once I've got some hot-off-the-press news about my favourite Swedish genius...!

Yesterday saw the announcement of the three winners of the Monica Zetterlund-stipendiet, which is an annual grant set up in the memory of the late but much loved Swedish jazz singer, and which is given to outstanding musicians, both new and established. In the 'established' category the prize was awarded to jazz musicians Bernt Rosengren and Ulf Andersson, whilst the best young musician prize (all 20000 kronor of it!) went to Salem Al Fakir, whom the prizegiving board described as a 'pianist, violinist, singer and composer in Monica's spirit, without any musical prejudices'. Well done that man!
In an interview with Aftonbladet this week, Salem revealed that he'll soon start work on his new album but couldn't say when it would be released (Autumn 2008 or any time sooner will suit us fine!).

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Nolwenn Leroy live, and the return of Alizee

Whilst we have to wait just that bit longer this year for the new series of "Star Academy", some news about a forthcoming release from season 2 winner Nolwenn Leroy. In the great French tradition she will release a live album and DVD from her "Histoires Naturelles" tour. The album is out on 24.09.07 with the DVD to follow a month later.
Meanwhile her fellow finalist from 2002, Jeremy Chatelain, has been writing songs for the comeback album from his wife Alizee. Her career is no longer being guided by Mylene Farmer and Laurent Boutonnat of course, and rumours have hinted that the split was rather acrimonious. A more 'rock' sound is promised, and it will be interesting to hear the result.

The EuropeCrazy Holiday Hit List: Summer 2004

Destination Madeira, and something different. We went to a fado bar one night and it was excellent. The main singers were two ladies named Alexandra and Daniela (faithful travelling companion bought their CD during the interval), and the doormen/barmen/waiters also turned out to be singers and musicians!

Shamefully though my knowledge of the Portuguese pop scene doesn't stretch beyond fado so I didn't buy any local CDs.

Luckily we had a music channel called "Sol Musica" but all I can really remember is Anastacia's "Sick and Tired", Joss Stone's "You Had Me" and "Re-tratamento" by Portuguese rapper Da Weasel. Oh and they also played Alcazar's "This Is The World We Live In" which was always a welcome sight.

The EuropeCrazy Holiday Hit List: Spring 2004

Hope to finish this series by the end of this week, just in time for my next holiday.

Back to Barcelona this time for a short break, and armed with a shopping list of some musical items, notably David Bisbal's "Buleria", Bustamante's "Asi Soy Yo" and Nek's "Lo Mejor de Nek" - yes I know the latter is Italian, but I like him singing in Spanish :-))

Also bought Alejandro Sanz's "El Alma Al Aire" tour DVD but the sound on this is atrocious as the audience totally drowns him out all the way through.

The radio was constantly tuned to "Los 40 Principales" and here's some of the songs I remember:

"Dragostea Din Tei" - O-Zone. All together. Mai-a-hee, mai-a-hoo...ah they don't make holiday songs like that anymore..!
"My Band" - D12. You couldn't get away from the video on the music channels either.
"Malo" - Bebe. Was one of the biggest Spanish songs of that year.
"Lola" - Pastora. I rather liked this and remembered hearing their album being played in a record shop.
"Where Are We Running" - Lenny Kravitz. Spain loves Lenny Kravitz.
"Left Outside Alone" - Anastacia. She was very popular all across Europe at that time.

New HIM song - "Kiss of Dawn"

Just been having a look at the video for this on YouTube. It's surprisingly slower and more 'mellow' than I expected (not that mellow is a word I would use in connection with HIM) but since all the pre-album talk suggests that the music will be a lot heavier then, well, I expected heavier. Although this is nice and I think it will grow on me.

Swedish Charts Update

Can't really understand the appeal of Lars Winnerback's dreary-folk duet with Miss Li "Om Du Lämnade Mig Nu" but it has gone straight into no.1 in P3's "Digilistan" this week, knocking Timbaland off the top. Other Swedish acts in the top 30 this week: Mange Schmidt & Petter with "Giftig", Ola's "Natalie" (whooo!) and the return of Peter Lemarc with "Så Gott Åt Ma Gott Igen". (Very reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen). "Release Me" by Oh Laura is still around whilst Peter Joback's "Stockholm I Natt" is still climbing the chart. "Prayer For The Weekend" by The Ark didn't do as well as I expected, whilst dance-pop star September's "Can't Get Over" is still in the top 30.A new entry at no. 30 is the long-awaited new single "100 Är Från Nu (Blundar)" from Martin Stenmarck (pictured above) and it doesn't disappoint. Hopefully it will climb the chart in the coming weeks. Martin has now commenced his tour across Sweden with the "Ladies Night" show - special guest being none other than... Måns Zelmerlöw!

This week's playlist: we like who we like

The Angry Mob/Everything Is Average Nowadays - Kaiser Chiefs: sad really that these didn’t do as well as the inferior and in-your-face "Ruby".
Your Loss - Paul Steel: cracking debut from a very promising young artist and genius-in-the-making.
Good Song/Dream Girl/This Is Who I Am/Damien and Bob - Salem Al Fakir: yes, even "Damien and Bob" is getting played now. Can we have some new songs soon? Please?
It’s True - Axwell & Sebastian Ingrosso vs Salem Al Fakir: coming soon to a dance compilation near you (and hopefully the top 40 someday!)
Song 4 Mutya - Groove Armada: took a while to get into this but it’s rather good.
The Way I Are - Timbaland: still a regular on my MP3 player.
Natalie - Ola: isn’t it shaping up to be a vintage year for Swedish boy-pop!
Inga Problem/Jag Gor Min Grej/Bejbi - Snook: likeable Swedish rap which won’t go away.
Just Another Summer/They’re Building Walls Around Us - Moneybrother: Something old and something new this week. Oh and I still haven’t heard the album yet.
I Can’t Decide - Scissor Sisters: Can’t hear this without thinking of John Simm vs David Tennant in Doctor Who!
Suburban Knights - Hard-Fi: decided this is one of my favourite singles of the year and can’t wait to hear the album.
Old Black & Blue Eyes - The Fratellis: Really like this one as well and playing it a lot at the moment.
Painted By Numbers - The Sounds: Spiky retro-pop which is still being featured on The Box music channel.

He'll have you suicidal

Decided that "Beautiful Girls" by Sean Kingston is possibly the most annoying song of the year, and it’s one of those songs which you won’t manage to escape, no matter where you are in the world. We can take comfort from the fact that he’ll only be a one-hit wonder. Some other bands should do the same. Like Gym Class Heroes for example - they should have quit after "Cupid’s Chokehold" which was reasonably inventive, whilst the follow-up is just pretty dumb.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The 300th Post

This is my 300th post - doesn't time fly when you're having fun blogging!!!!

The blog will also be 6 months old in a couple of weeks' time.

So let's celebrate! :-))))))))

Take your first step and you will get there in time......

A couple of dance compilation albums out next week feature Axwell's glorious, euphoric dance remix of "It's True": Ministry of Sound's "Ibiza Annual 2007" and also "The Pacha Experience Vol 2". It's likely to turn up on some more dance compilations along the way: the more the merrier we say, as we at EuropeCrazy will not rest until there is world domination for Salem Al Fakir. "It's True" may well be the dance record of the year and possibly the most euphoric dance anthem since Bob Sinclar's wonderful "Love Generation", but hey, I'm biased. And you knew that. But it is.

Remember how I've loved you all these years....and I still do

Gemini: no, not Jemini, those notorious Royaume-Uni Eurovision, GEMINI!

I refer of course to Anders and Karin Glenmark, the duo otherwise known as Gemini. For no apparent reason tonight I want to listen to some of their music and watch some of their videos, I remember buying their greatest hits CD 2 years ago now and thought it was about time I gave them a mention on the blog.

Once Benny and Bjorn were done with Abba they turned their attention to stuff like "Chess" of course, but they also wrote for the talented Swedish singing brother and sister duo Gemini in the 1980s: it's 20 years since I first heard songs like "TLC" and "I Am The Universe" and I still like them today. Karin's almost-operatic voice always did their songs justice and Anders is just another in a long line of Swedish music legends of course. Some day I'll do something on this blog about Anders, as he does indeed merit a blog post of his own.