Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Alejandro Fuentes

Thanks again to Poster Girl for introducing me to this young man's music. Yes I'd agree with the David Gray comparison, similar style of music. Anyway his good, catchy, mid-tempo song "Hell If I" is no. 1 in Norway, so I thought I'd go over to YouTube and watch some of his videos. He certainly has come a long way since appearing on "Idol" in Norway and (shallow moment alert) he is also looking much better these days too.

"Idol" preview: this week's songs.

Thanks again to Aftonbladet, here's the list of songs for this Friday's "Idol". This week's theme is "Love Songs" (yawn)

1. Mattias Andréasson - "If I could turn back time"
2. Christoffer Hiding - "Something"
3. Daniel Karlsson - "Baby one more time"
4. Marie Picasso - "Always on my mind"
5. Sam Hagberth - "The Power of love"
6. Amanda Jenssen - "Baby can I hold you tonight"
7. Andreas Sjöberg - "Is this love"

Anyway the controversy rolls on in Sweden about the female contestants being evicted for four consecutive weeks.

Prediction time!! Think (hope) Sam or Andreas will go this week, as long as Christoffer stays in I'll be quite happy.

Me and my iPod.

Forgot to mention that last weekend I finally succumbed to the lure of the iPod Nano and bought a nice new shiny black 8gb model.


I like it.

A lot.

Have been filling it with music over the last few nights therefore haven't really had time to do much blogging, or for that matter checking out new European music to blog about. Will need to remedy that situation very soon!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Star Academy: nominees

The first three nominees for eviction in this year's Star Academy are Dojima, Alexandra and Mathieu. Claudia was saved at last night's "rattrapage".

MTV New Sounds of Europe: the plans we had went all wrong

So near but yet so far. After Christophe Willem making it to the final five then being eliminated, Sunrise Avenue fell at the final hurdle and came 4th in the competition, leaving Bedwetters (Estonia), Firma (Romania) and Yakup (Turkey) to fight it out for the MTV New Sounds of Europe title at the MTV Europe Music Awards this Thursday. Quite frankly now I'm not too bothered who wins as all my favourites are out, but I've enjoyed the excitement of the daily eliminations. Good idea MTV - bring it back next year!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Salem: More from Norway, and another pullover sighting.

Found a clip of a recent interview on NRK-TV from a show called Lydverket, which is a music magazine show as far as I can tell. It kind of went like this: Salem playing the guitar, Salem playing the bass, Salem playing the drums, Salem playing the keyboard. That must be one mega-talented multi-instrumentalist, no doubt. And wonderful big hair too.


We at EuropeCrazy are now becoming concerned that all that time writing, playing, producing, mixing and performing has left Mr Al Fakir with no time to go clothes-shopping.

For once again, that pullover made yet another appearance, this time on his Norwegian TV interview. My research has shown that over the past 12 months there has been many a pullover-sighting during Salem Al Fakir's meteoric rise to fame, firstly in Sweden and now in Norway. Where will it turn up next? Surely he has now made enough kronor to buy himself some new clothes? Get yourself down to H & M young man!!!

Can the British charts handle Robyn?

...em, apparently not. After hitting no.1 with her last single, "With Every Heartbeat", Robyn hasn't done so well with the follow-up "Handle Me" which has only reached no. 43 this week. Maybe it will climb the charts next week? Hope so.

Everybody wants Danny!

Aftonbladet reports today that ex-Swedish Idol finalist and now fully fledged pop star Danny Saucedo is in demand. Not only is he tipped to enter next year's Melodifestivalen, but "Let's Dance" wants him too. It's big decision time....

Sunday, October 28, 2007

EuropeCrazy's German Film Festival

OK, I'm exaggerating as usual (!) but I thought I'd do a post about two German films I've seen recently, one old, one new, and both rather excellent in their own way.

"The Lives Of Others" recently came out on DVD and I highly recommend this film, which won the Oscar for best foreign language film. It's a story of how a Stasi officer was ordered to spy on every waking moment in the lives of an East German playwright and his girlfriend, only for him to later realise the cold and miserable nature of his own life. The tension is cranked up throughout. It's a dark and intense film, yet in the end there is also hope, compassion and forgiveness. A great film, and although it's a fictional tale, it provides a remarkable glimpse into how surveillance became a way of life in East Germany.

Five years ago, another German language film, "Goodbye Lenin" was taking the world's screens by storm. Whilst Alex's mother was in a coma for six months, the world changed and the Berlin Wall came down. She then recovered but warned that any shock could kill her, Alex then sprung into action and recreated East Germany in the family's home. There are many moments of laugh-out-loud classic farce and comedy throughout, but it's also a very moving film too, as son and daughter discover the truth about their family's past. I have seen this film three times now and have always enjoyed watching it. It was also the first time that we saw Daniel Brühl, who was also very good in "The Edukators" and I think he is one of Europe's most talented young actors at the moment.

Star Academy: time for me to catch up

I should be ashamed. Star Academy 7 started last Tuesday and I haven't really seen any of it. About time I remedied that situation.

Watching the evaluations and I haven't really seen anyone that I don't like.

Bertrand looks like a flamboyant character so far and his voice really reminds me of Florent Pagny.
Sevan had a gritty quality a bit reminiscent of Nicolas from last year.
Claudia was quite entertaining with her version of Christophe Willem's "Double Je".
Pierre's got quite a rough-and-ready voice and I'm not sure how well he'll do.
I don't know how good Claire-Marie is because she sang that Carla Bruni song which I don't really like much. She might be this year's Marina?
Antoine looks like a member of Busted, or McFly, but had a surprisingly mature, jazzy style.
Lucie looks like Julie from Nouvelle Star, only with a better voice.
Dojima was OK although a bit boring and my attention wandered. Didn't really like his Jamiroquai version either.
Eva was again OK rather than spectacular, kind of been-there, done-that.
Mathieu was doing his best Corneille vocal impersonation and again this was more OK than great.
Maureen intrigues me. She may not be the greatest vocalist in the world but she has charisma and could well be France's answer to the mighty Ms Winehouse, only with blonde frizzy hair.
Quentin! Dare I say he might be my favourite? Jazzy voice, good looks, tons of charisma. He will go far in this competition.
Anyway, Mathieu, Claudia and Dojima are three of the four 'pre-nominees', the fourth to be revealed tomorrow.

Salem Al Fakir - new interview for ABC Nyheter, Norway

There is a long interview with Salem on which I have been translating with the help of an online translation site.

Good interview (but I didn't really learn anything new) nevertheless the more people who get to hear about him the better. Yesterday Sweden, today Norway, tomorrow...the world!

MTV New Sounds of Europe: final four

Sadly, Christophe Willem went out yesterday :-(((

The final four acts are Sunrise Avenue (Finland), Firma (Romania), Yakup (Turkey) and Bedwetters (Estonia).

May the best act win!

That boy needs therapy

Was flicking through the music channels on TV today and came across an old forgotten gem.

It's impossible to describe "Frontier Psychiatrist" by The Avalanches so I'm not even going to. Instead I'll just point you in the direction of

where you can see this amazing video. One of the most magnificent, crazy, laugh out loud pop videos ever made. By the time the crazy mariachi musicians arrive, you will be rolling on the floor with laughter.

Idol Sweden Live Show 4: 26.10.07

This week's theme - "Blood, sweat and tears" - songs with a message.

Amanda was first on with "Born to Run". I can't really understand why she's still here, as there's no reason why she should be. I liked her song last week, but this was just dire. Bottom three: no surprise there.

Daniel's "Imagine" was a solid version of a very simple song. You couldn't really ask for more, and it was enough for him to sail through to another week.

No secret that I've never been a fan of Andreas and his unforgivable crime of botching Andreas Johnson's lyrics last week was just...well, unforgivable. Nevertheless he redeemed himself this week on "People Get Ready", even if it's better if I only listen and don't watch him.

I had developed a soft spot for Evelina, who was a nice variation from the blonde-bombshells, and she seemed to have some potential. So why was she voted out this week eh???? OK the vocals on "Faith" weren't always perfect but she should have stayed in the competition.

I don't get Sam at all, with his stupid hats and zero personality. He did no justice at all to "Nothing Else Matters". Who is voting for him?

Mattias continues to hang on by a thread. He is a pleasant looking young man but that's all. Otherwise he's rather ordinary and once again ended up in the bottom three with the dreary "Heal The World".

Marie played it safe with "I'll Be There", that good old TV talent show staple. Is she trying to clean up her act and make her image a bit classier? That might just gain her more votes. I still like her, but I still have some reservations.

And now to a big announcement.


Repeat this often enough and you will believe it. Surprisingly I even liked him singing "It Takes A Fool To Remain Sane" because by this point I have decided that he's my favourite contestant this year. There's something quite compelling about him which I can't describe.

Now, please, lovely people of me a favour and get Amanda and Sam out. Please. Pretty please.

Paul Steel: he's on the mend

Our favourite new UK musical genius recently suffered a setback - one fractured metatarsal to be precise - but by the look of things he's now on the mend and is planning a UK mini-tour as support act to Electric Soft Parade towards the end of this year.

Paul's MySpace currently featuring the delightful "In a Coma" and "Moon Rock" as well as "Summer Song" and a remix of "Your Loss".

Really excited already about his album which will be out next year. 2008 - it's gonna be great.....

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Review: Mark Ronson - Electric Proms

The BBC has been running this Electric Proms thingy all week but I haven't really seen much of it. Same as last year, when it began, when I only made a point of watching Jamiroquai. (Ah, wherefore art thou....?)

Anyway, Mark Ronson made an album this year called "Version" which basically did what it said on the tin - an album of rather inventive cover versions. This concert featured the producer/guitarist backed by the BBC Concert Orchestra and was screened the other night on BBC2, which is what I'm reviewing.

"Oh My God": guest vocalist Ricky Wilson. Oh the irony - the original singer instead of Lily Allen. Unfortunately he thought he was still at a Kaiser Chiefs gig. Oooohhhhhhhhh.....
"Sunny": guest vocalist Candie Payne. There's something delightfully old-fashioned about her. Old is the new new.
"Back To Black": guest vocalist Charlie Waller. Sadly I didn't share Mr Ronson's enthusiasm for this guy's interpretation of Ms Winehouse's dark dramatic number.
"Sail On Sailor": guest vocalist Sean Lennon. I didn't recognise him under all that hair and beard. Ronson only heard this a year ago but loves it. I love it too, but Lennon's version couldn't top the Beach Boys.
"The Only One I Know": guest vocalist Tim Burgess. The floppy-fringed one has aged well and still looks great. This put a lot more funkiness and soul into the original.
"Valerie": guest vocalist Kyle Falconer. Revelation of the night. This was good. This boy can actually sing. You can't keep a good song down, and this energetic version proved that once more.
"Stop Me": guest vocalist Daniel Merriweather. A blasting orchestral finale and the song that brought Mark Ronson to everyone's attention - but it's Merriweather who is the real star here, great voice, lots of soul. I will stick my neck out here and say that 2008 will be his year. Mark my words.
All in all an enjoyable experience and even if it's just glorified karaoke, Mark Ronson has provided a real bright spot in what, UK-wise, has been an unremarkable musical year.

This week's playlist: this is for you, this is for me

Don't Hate On Me/Miss Blue - Vincent: our absolute favourite new Swedish singer of the week, who I came across purely by accident. Delightful feelgood quality pop music. Album coming not a minute too soon.
It's True/Dream Girl/Good Song/Bright Side of Life/This Is Who I Am - Salem Al Fakir: did you honestly think these wouldn't be here? Another week on the playlist for our (award-winning) main man.
Play It For The Girls - Danny: OK I know it's a bit out of date now but I'm still playing this. And why not?
I Love You Goodbye - Thomas Dolby: a rediscovered rarity from the man mainly remembered for his mic-80s 'novelty-science' songs but this later song displayed remarkable lyrical and musical depth.
Rule the World - Take That: it's grown on me now. Get well soon Howard, and when you do, go easy on the backflips eh?
Stop Me - Mark Ronson feat Daniel Merriweather: after watching them at the BBC Electric Proms, I'm playing this again. Going to do a post about Mark Ronson as well.

Not really much else on my playlist this week. Need some new tunes!

Grattis på födelsedagen Salem!

It's Salem Al Fakir's 26th birthday today and we at EuropeCrazy couldn't let that occasion pass, could we?

So we just want to say happy birthday Salem, and thanks for being the beautiful little genius that you are. Your music has taken me to a much happier place.
Birthday hugs & kisses ! :-x
P.S. Can we have a new album before your next birthday???? :-))

Friday, October 26, 2007

Årets nykomling...Salem Al Fakir!

The Swedish Music Publishers' award winners for 2007 were announced today.

Best songwriter of the year went to Ola Salo, The Ark's main man. Very happy about this one, even if he did beat Salem, but he still deserves it. Other nominees: Jason Diakite; Maria Andersson & Josephine Forsman.
Best Swedish song of the year - "Release Me" by Oh Laura. I don't understand all the fuss about this one, but it was one of the more high profile hits of the year due to its use in a car advert.
Other nominees: "Good Song" - Salem Al Fakir (the Swedish song of the year!!); "7milakliv" - Martin Stenmarck; "Young Folks" - Peter, Bjorn and John.

Best international success - Peter, Bjorn and John. They've achieved big international success with their whistling anthem "Young Folks" this year - including in the USA and UK. Other nominees: Mando Diao, Max Martin.

Lifetime achievement - Thore Skogman. I haven't heard of him, but apparently he's been a very successful songwriter with 1200 songs published over several decades.

But now the result we're really interested in.....big fanfare.....

Best newcomer - Salem Al Fakir !!!!!!
I'm thrilled to bits about this. He absolutely, absolutely deserves every award that's going this year. Other nominees: Måns Zelmerlöw; Maia Hirasawa; Oh Laura.

The prizes will be presented at Berns in Stockholm tonight and if I hear any more about this then I'll do a post tomorrow.

Edit 29.10.07: Yes I have seen the photos, and it's not good news. The flat cap is back. And so is the pullover !!!! Now come on Salem, you could have made an effort!!!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Come on Barbie, let's go party - one more time

It's been the year of bands reunited, some for better, some for worse. Aftonbladet reports today that none other than Danish 90s cheesy pop legends Aqua are to reform for a new album and tour. Were they inspired by the cover version of "Barbie Girl" by 'Big Brother'-Samanda? (NO - THOUGHT NOT!!)

Or maybe they just hope to "Turn Back Time" (groan)

Tomorrow night's "Idol" - here's the songs

Thanks to Aftonbladet who have the list of songs which will be sung on tomorrow night's "Idol".
1. Amanda Jenssen
Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen
2. Andreas Sjöberg
People get ready - Curtis Mayfield
3.Daniel Karlsson
Imagine - John Lennon
4. Evelina Sewerin
Faith - George Michael
5. Mattias Andréasson
Heal the world - Michael Jackson
6. Sam Hagberth
Nothing else matters - Metallica
7. Marie Picasso
I´ll be there - Jackson 5
8. Christoffer Hiding
It takes a fool to remain sane - The Ark

They'll have to start throwing the boys out now of course, my money's on either Mattias or Sam to go. Christoffer sings The Ark!! I fear the worst - but go on, surprise me...!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Star Academy: evaluations and stuff

Alexia L-J (and her ever growing bump) explained the evaluation process. There is no prime this week (next one is on 02.11.07) so evaluations will be done over four days and the students will be put into four groups. One from each group will be nominated. Then Monday will bring the "rattrapage" and one nominee will be saved, leaving three to be nominated for the next prime. Each of the following will be in charge of a group - Dojima, Bertrand, Sevan, Jérémy.

Guests announced for next week's prime: Celine Dion, Christophe Willem, Avril Lavigne, Calogero, Rihanna-anna-anna and Peter Cincotti.

The Eros Ramazzotti playlist

The blog's been a bit erratic this month and I had actually forgotten to get round to this even though he's our hall of fame artist of the month. Anyway here are ten essential songs by the Italian star.

Cose Della Vita (Can't Stop Thinking Of You): there's been two versions of this - his original and then a re-recording which he turned into a duet with Tina Turner. Both are very good.
Fuoco Nel Fuoco : extremely catchy tune from 2000, and one of his best.
Una Storia Importante : it starts off quietly and calmly then builds into a rather wonderful chorus.
Terra Promessa : a fine funky start to the "Eros" album.
L'Ombra del Gigante : a particular favourite of mine, nice uptempo tune with a good dance beat.
Piu' Bella Cosa : possibly the first song of his that I remember.
Stella Gemella : a very good atmospheric ballad.
Dove C'e Musica : title track of album from the same era.
Un Altra Te : another good ballad from the "Eros" album.
Un Emozione Per Sempre : most recent of the songs on my list.

Personally I feel that his recent output has been a little disappointing therefore none of the songs from his last album "Calma Apparente" made my list. However the fact remains that he has been one of European music's most consistent superstars over the last 15 years, with success all over the continent, which I reckon is worth a place in our hall of fame.

MTV blah blah blah...last 8

Down, down, down to the last eight they go in the New Sounds of Europe elimination round - and out went the UK's representatives, the Klaxons. Now I'm not all that familiar with their work, I only know "Golden Skans" so I can't really comment but it would appear that one hit does not a New Sounds of Europe finalist make.

Christophe Willem and Sunrise Avenue....yep. Still there. Still voting.

MTV New Sounds of Europe update....

...Christophe Willem and Sunrise Avenue still in it, as are the Klaxons.

The Swedish representatives Neverstore are out - now if they'd made the right decision and sent you-know-who, it might all have been different...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Star Academy - more info

The show kicked off with a tribute to season 4 winner, the late and much missed Gregory Lemarchal who very sadly passed away earlier this year. Most of the singers did quite well on this song, I thought, although it's always difficult at this stage as there are too many of them to take in. Videos are being added over at as I write.

Introduction of les profs - Alexia Laroche-Joubert (ready to drop any minute - she could give birth in the chateau) and - would you believe it - Raphaelle Ricci is back!!!!! Kamel Ouali! Richard Cross! Christophe Pinna! Jasmine Roy! Matthieu Gonet! Pascal Negre, Passi and Yvan Cassar are also this year's professional jury members.

Les marraines: this year there is no godfather, but there are two godmothers - Kylie Minogue and Celine Dion. I was quite impressed by Kylie's little French speech in the video. The moral of the story is, if you need to improve your French, get a French boyfriend. Mmmm....just thinking, my Swedish badly needs improving...! Anyway, Celine Dion? I'm not really thrilled about that one, but with any luck we'll only see her a couple of times during the series.

Star Academy 7: et c'est parti!

I've only just gone online so haven't seen any of the videos or read any of the forums yet, but I've been over to the official site. We have names.....

Boys: Dojima (23), Bertrand (35), Antoine (17), Jeremy (18), Quentin (19), Sevan (22), Pierre (26), Mathieu (20).

Girls: Claire-Marie (21), Claudia (19), Alexandra (17), Alexia (25), Eva (17), Yaëlle (17), Noémie (21), Lucie (17), Maureen (25).

17 academiciens, 16 weeks of competition. I'm excited already and I haven't even heard them sing yet.

Couple of random Swedish bits of news

Swedish tabloid Expressen will announce it's top 40 list of Sweden's hottest artists tomorrow. Expect to see some of our favourites in there. :-)

It's also been announced today that the Hultsfred festival - the biggest annual rock festival in Sweden - will take place from 12th to 14th June in 2008.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

More about Vincent!

Been digging again tonight as I need to know more about this guy. Turns out that he is none other than Roger Pontare's son! Roger "Nar Vindarna Viskar Mitt Namn" Pontare!! What is it about talented musical families in Sverige!

Already I am loving his music. 4 songs over at his MySpace (I'll put a link in my favourite sites list). Utterly catchy pop songs with hiphop, reggae and rock influences. Have already played "Don't Hate On Me" three times tonight - thanks to Amanda for singing it in Idol, otherwise I might not have discovered Vincent. Seemingly this song also appeared in a mobile phone TV ad in Scandinavia. According to an interview I've just read he is also aiming for international success. Let's hope so as I think he's great.

His music has that nice uplifting quality to it, just like another young Swedish favourite of ours :-)

Vincent: another great Swedish singer to love....

Today I just discovered Vincent, I don't really know anything about him but after hearing that "Don't Hate On Me" song in this week's "Idol" I thought I'd check him out and have decided that he's rather great. There's a few of his songs over at his MySpace - "Miss Blue" is wonderful as well. I want his album! What are they putting in the water in Sweden to make such brilliant pop music, and can they bring it to the UK? Pretty please?

X Factor Live Show 1: 20.10.07

I'm not even going to do a full review of this as a) the standard was so poor and b) I missed the results show.

I liked Leon's voice but the arrangement of "Can't Buy Me Love" was catastrophic. Same Difference make me want to throw up. Surprisingly the manufactured groups Futureproof and Hope weren't as bad as expected. Rhydian was just scary, but at least he has the potential to be a cult figure. Emily was rubbish and out of tune. Everyone else no more than average karaoke/cabaret.

Kimberley and Alisha were bottom 2, Kimberley went out.

Think the X Factor is now well past its sell-by date and will have to drastically improve to keep us interested. I'll probably still keep watching though...

Strictly Come Dancing Live Show 3: 20.10.07

After boys' week and girls' week, all the contestants came together this week and the serious competition began.

Gabby & James: reasonable but I thought the legwork was slow. She may just be the year's most overrated contestant. Oh wow, she did the splits. She should be able to - she's an ex-gymnast after all!
Gethin & Camilla: passionless, poorly choreographed tango. Pin-up boy Gethin looked like a rabbit in the headlights.
Penny & Ian: the jive wasn't her dance was it? After a good week last week this was just scrappy and messy.
Kenny & Ola: he was just a wee bit better this week but another case of rabbit-in-headlights syndrome.
Matt & Flavia: best so far. Matt rules! He looked as if he was really enjoying it too. Lots of movement.
Kate & Anton: poor old Mr Du Beke, being landed with a wooden lifeless lump. She wasn't too happy with the judges comments either.
Dominic & Lilia: he's an energetic little bundle isn't he! Lots of fun and enjoyment. Lilia is also one of the best choreographers in this show and this once again proved it.
Letitia & Darren: a more flattering dress for her this week, and Darren looked nice too. They may have danced to a Madonna song ("Material Girl") but her expression reminded me of another Madonna song - "Frozen"!
John & Nicole: good movement from such a big man and a better jive than I expected. Improving.
Erin & Willie: more traditional tango music, but it was all rather lifeless and the best thing about it was her dress.
Alesha & Matthew: very good again. She's becoming a very consistent performer with a likeable, bubbly personality - top marks!
Kelly & Brendan: in typical Brendan style, a sizzling, passionate and dramatic tango which ended in Kelly slapping Brendan!

Was a bit confused by the judges' marking as they seemed to be at "sixes and sevens" for a long time. Anyway it was a good show last night.

Result after judges scores:
1. Alesha 2. Kelly 3. Gabby 4. Matt 5. Gethin 6. Letitia 7. John 8. Penny 9. Kenny 10. Dominic 11. Willie 12. Kate.

Results revealed tonight. Kate must go!!!

Results show: well, Kate didn't go (WHY OH WHY NOT???)

John versus Willie in the dance off. Judges unanimously saved John. Bye bye Willie, whilst wooden Kate and the hideous Logans remain.

Idol 2007, Live Show 3 - 19.10.07

This week's theme: recent top 40 hits.
Daniel first, with "I Don't Feel Like Dancing". It emerged very quickly that the only person who can sing this is Jake Shears, as Dan abandoned the falsetto mid-chorus. Probably his poorest week so far.
Mattias was quite appealing in a boyband-reject kind of way, OK but nothing special.
Why Amanda remains in this competition is a mystery, but surprisingly I took the advice of her song ("Don't Hate On Me") although that's not to say that she's all that great either.
Tonight, Matthew, Gathania is going to be Rihanna. She decided to go the whole hog and not just sing "Umbrella" but actually turn herself into a (third rate) tribute act. Vocally disappointing.
I don't like Sam all that much purely because of those stupid hats. I didn't like his version of "Tired of Being Sorry" either, and his days in this contest are numbered.
Had Andreas never heard "A Little Bit Of Love" before? A song which is one of the most-played of the year? In the first verse and chorus he forgot the words and the tune, pity because he's got an OK voice but I thought it was unforgivable really.
Now, Christoffer, the nearest thing in this year's Idol to an ....idol. His "Say It Right" was very good indeed and he's getting better and better every week and dare I say he might just make the final 3!
Marie decided to become a Fergie lookalike for her "Big Girls Don't Cry". Although Marie has a good enough voice, I find her cheap tacky image rather offputting.
Finally, Evelina sang "Apologize". I still don't know what to make of her. There's something gutsy and appealing about this girl, yet there's something missing. She could either go very far or go very soon.

Results: Mattias and Gathania in the bottom two. Gathania became the third girl in three weeks to leave the competition - will one of the boys go next week?

This week's playlist: it's time for dancing, yeah

Late Night Session - Ali Love: one of the year's brightest new pop/dance acts. Really looking forward to his debut album.
Say It Again - Danse Society: From 1985. I can't stop playing this. A forgotten gem.
Ingenting - Kent: Album out this week. Haven't heard it yet. Getting impatient now!!
Let Me Think About It/Put Your Hands Up For Detroit - Fedde Le Grand: the man responsible for my knee injury this week, as I got a wee bit too enthusiastic on the step machine. :-((
Wanna Love You Girl - Robin Thicke: I don't really like him, but this ticks the boxes.
Musikbyrån Live (SVT) - Salem Al Fakir: a.k.a. "The Pullover Years" ha ha. Decided to put his SVT concert on the playlist this week. Highlights - well, all of it of course, but I particularly like the bit when he seems to forget the words during "Dream Girl" but turns it into something even more special.
Bright Side Of Life - Salem Al Fakir: impossible not to love this reggae-flavoured number which I played a lot this week. Like everything else he does, it puts the biggest smile on my face.
Everything - Michael Buble: I really need to hear more of his songs as I like this. Westlife have of course covered "Home" in typical Westlife fashion, draining any life and soul from the song and killing it stone dead.
Heavyweight Champion of the World - Reverend and the Makers: one of the year's best singles, and back on my playlist for no other reason.
Tourner Ma Page - Jenifer: I take it all back, I like this now. Looking forward to her third album.
Bubbly - Colbie Caillat: still reminds me of my recent trip to Berlin. Laidback American acoustic chillout music, very appealing.
You're My Flame - Zero 7: they make such unique music don't they? I'm playing them a lot again, think their music rather suits the autumn season. And don't even start me on how good "Destiny" is.

Star Academy 7: three days to go

It's all been a bit strange this year hasn't it. The end of August every year usually brings a new season of my favourite reality-TV talent contest, but this year was different, thanks to the Rugby World Cup being staged in France. It was decided that season 7 of Star Academy would start later than usual - towards the end of October.

That's fine. But on a Tuesday???? Is nothing sacred?

Yes it all kicks off this Tuesday 23.10.07 at 8.50 pm French time on TF1. The final 40 contestants are in the above picture, and the finalists are among them. I wouldn't like to even hazard a guess at who will make the final line-up, but one thing's for sure, once it starts, I'll be hooked.
For approximately three months this blog will be taken over by all things Star Academy. Hoping this year will be a good one - and also hoping that we get a worthy winner this time.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Melodifestivalen 1989

The first MF staged at the newly built Globen in Stockholm. I thought the pairing of Anders Glenmark and Orup on "Upp Över Mina Öron" was quite inspired. Obviously they thought so too as they continued their musical collaborations over the years.

That year also brought Fingerprints' "Mitt Ibland Anglar" which is still a favourite of mine. I hadn't previously heard "Världen Är Vår" by Visitors & Sofia Källgren but it's quite catchy. I used to like the Visitors back in the 80s, I remember songs like "One Track Heart" and "Never So Blue".

"Nattens drottning" by Haakon Pedersen & Elisabeth Berg is a bit 80s schlager by numbers, with some weird opera wailing thrown in. Very odd.

Anyway Tommy Nilsson's "En Dag" won it of course and I had no argument with that decision as I really liked that song and I really liked him at that time too. Fantastic hair too, very 'of its time' but you know me, I've always liked men with big hair (and still do!!).

Sadly Tommy's MF entry this year was the aural equivalent of a sleeping pill. In case anyone's interested, he's now appearing onstage in Stockholm in a new version of "The Sound of Music" in which he's Captain Von Trapp to Pernilla Wahlgren's Maria. All together: "high on a hill was a lonely goatherd...."

Retro Saturday: Jesus Jones

To 1990 now and what I consider an underrated golden age of Brit(ish) pop which followed in the footsteps of the Stone Roses and Happy Mondays. Critics may have laughed at the 'baggy' trend but I thought there were a few good bands around at that time.

"Real Real Real" was arguably Jesus Jones' finest (and certainly most commercial) moment. By that time they had refined their sound which had become tight and funky and appealing. I also had a bit of a minor crush on Mike Edwards too, but I could never explain why, I just did.

They also had a hit with "Right Here Right Now" the lyrics of which described how the world was changing at the end of the 1980s.

I also liked "The Devil You Know" which was out a year or so later.

They never really troubled the charts in a big way after that. I bought their 'Best of' compilation maybe about 4 years ago and thought about them again tonight so that's why I thought they'd be worth a mention on my Saturday night retro.

A point is all that you can score

Kicking off our Saturday night retro with a trip back to 1984. Frankie Goes To Hollywood's "Two Tribes", possibly was one of my most played records of that decade.

In the beginning, I hated the Frankies and thought they were just irritating attention seekers. Until of course they released "Relax" and "Two Tribes" and "Welcome to the Pleasuredome" all touched by the mighty production hand of Trevor Horn, and things would never be the same again.

"Two Tribes" boasted a memorable video which saw then Cold War enemies 'Reagan' and 'Chernenko' have a good old fight with each other in the ring. Maybe the world's enemies should try that method today, rather than invading countries unnecessarily or blowing everyone to pieces. We can dream can't we...!

Friday, October 19, 2007

MTV New Sounds of Europe: 13 acts remain...

...and Christophe Willem and Sunrise Avenue are still there. Also in the final 13 are Firma, Delain, Zero Assoluto, Neverstore, Yakup, Jaula de Grillos, Bedwetters, Buraka Som Sistema, Klaxons, Dani and Chakuza.

On with the voting!

MTV New Sounds of Europe update

Christophe Willem and Sunrise Avenue are still in it!!! Vote vote vote ....

Thursday, October 18, 2007

New Way Out West footage on YouTube!

Well well well, just when I thought there was nothing new in the Salem universe this week apart from gratuitous reruns of "Musikbyran Live" at EuropeCrazy HQ on an almost nightly basis, today I see that a new clip of GPTV's footage from the recent Way Out West festival at Slottskogen, Gothenburg, has appeared on YouTube which has brief clips of Salem, in his red suit, onstage doing lots of headbanging and jumping around.

There is also an interview in which he looks more stunning and gorgeous than I've ever seen him looking before. What a beautiful man. Please please please keep this on YouTube, as I've got a feeling I'll be checking this out at least another 1500 times (!)


Like I said, no news this week apart from the fact that "This Is Who I Am" has re-entered the Swedish album chart, presumably after everyone watched his Malmo gig on telly this week and realised just how fantastic and talented Salem Al Fakir is.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Swedish Radio Playlists update: 17.10.07

A great big yayyyyyyyyyy! as P3 has now promoted "It's True" to the B-list, it's moved up from the C-list. Lykke Li and Vincent's new songs are A-list additions this week, with Kanye West and Craig David also promoted to the B-list. David Guetta, Laleh, Kylie and Jonna Lee are all new additions to the C-list this week.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

MTV New Sounds of Europe: the eliminations begin

We're now into the elimination stage of the MTV Europe Music Awards' new category, New Sounds of Europe. Sadly one of my favourites Aleksander With (Norway) is one of the early eliminations. Christophe Willem (France) and Sunrise Avenue (Finland) are still in there and I'm still voting. The UK and Ireland is now represented by the Klaxons, as original winner James Morrison is now unable to go to the Munich ceremony in 2 weeks.

Oh yes, and the Swedish representatives Neverstore are still there. I'm not voting for them though, because IMHO they shouldn't be there, it should be my lovely Salem instead!!!!!!

Melodifestivalen 2008: songs announced

Just over 4 months to go till Melodifestivalen 2008 in Sweden. Today saw the announcement of 28 of the 32 songs which will compete next year. The songwriters were also announced - and some of the performers too.

Rumoured performers: BWO (or possibly the new Alcazar); Calaisa; Patrik Isaksson; Wille Crafoord & Meja; Lasse Lindh; Charlotte Perrelli (!), Frida Muranius; the Rongedal brothers, Velvet; the Poodles; Linda Bengtzing, E-Type...the list is endless. But how many of them will actually appear? Won't know for a while yet.

What we do know now...the 28 song titles.

"I love Europe"; ”Du behöver aldrig mer vara rädd"; ”Pame"; ”Jag saknar dig ibland”; ”Visst finns mirakel”; ”Lay your love on me"; ”Under mitt tunna skinn"; ”Raz Borca!”; ”Just a minute"; ”If I could”; ”Alla gamla ex”; ”Love in stereo”; ”Den första svalan"; ”Leva livet"; ”Deja Vú”; ”Hur svårt kan d va?”; ”Ingen mår så bra som jag”; ”That is where I'll go"; ”That is where I'll go"; ”Empty room”; ”Line of fire”; "That's love"; "Smiling in love"; ”I lågornas sken”; ”When you need me”; ”Kebabpizza, Slivovitza”; "Lullaby"; "Hero"; ”Never fall in love (Izdadje)”.

New Swedish TV show for Salem's big brother

OK in the absence of any news stories this week about our main man, then our attention turns to his big brother Nassim Al Fakir, previously known as a kids' TV presenter in Sweden. Now Nassim turns his attention to a slightly more grown up audience - well, "youth TV" anyway. "Anaconda" would appear to be SVT's home-grown answer to the famous US TV show "Jackass" with one crazy stunt after another, if the clips I've seen so far are anything to go by.

Edit: (the next day) Expressen's TV critic decided to kill two brothers with one stone - firstly she criticised Salem on Muskibyrån Live, then saved her fiercest criticism for Nassim's "Anaconda" which admittedly by starting at the "bottom" end of things if you catch my drift, wouldn't be to everyone's taste.

Pascal Obispo: yet another live album

Why make one album when you can make four?

French superstar singer/songwriter Pascal Obispo will release his 4th live album "Les Fleurs de Forest" at the end of this month.

Recently there were rumours in the French gossip magazines that he is about to quit the music industry. Certainly his music isn't as good as it once was, but I might miss him just a little bit if he wasn't around.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Feeling: new album news

Channel 4 teletext revealed in an interview with The Feeling singer Dan Gillespie Sells, that the band's new album should be released next March.

The Feeling were, of course, one of 2006's bright new British pop discoveries and I loved their debut album "Twelve Stops and Home" or should I say most of this, apart from the hideous overplayed nonsense that was "I Love It When You Call".

But we will forgive them and eagerly look forward to their second album, which no doubt I will be reviewing on this blog!!

Everybody cut Footloose!

That very popular 80s film "Footloose" has also been a hit stage musical in recent years. Now there's a Swedish version of the show - starring none other than Måns Zelmerlöw, playing the role which Kevin Bacon played in the movie. His co-star is none other than popular Swedish singer (and one-time export to Estonia!!) Anna "Sahlene" Sahlin, last seen quickstepping and cha-cha-cha-ing in "Let's Dance" earlier this year. The two are pictured above with co-star Peter Johansson.

The show will premiere on 08.11.07 in Gothenburg, so if you're lucky enough to live in Sweden, why not "kick off the Sunday shoes" and check out this show.

Strictly Come Dancing week 2: a very late review

Meant to post this on Saturday or Sunday but too much going on so here it is.

It was the ladies' turn to impress on the dancefloor this week.

Already there are three possible contenders to win: Penny, Alesha and Kelly.
Outside contender: Gabby.
Making up the numbers: Kate, Leticia and Stephanie.

First female to be eliminated was Stephanie Beacham, who now looks younger than she did when she was in Tenko and Dynasty all those years ago. We had speculated that one of the reasons she was in the bottom two was that she now bears no facial resemblance to the real Stephanie Beacham, and therefore no-one would know who she was!!

Now get Kate out, and give Leticia some decent outfits to wear!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

This week's playlist: same old same old!!

Late Night Session - Ali Love: super funky tune for those of us suffering from Jamiroquai withdrawal symptoms.
It's True/This Is Who I Am/Good Song/Dream Girl/Thank You/Count Me Out/Tell Me/It's Only You - Salem Al Fakir: All eight songs, all the time, all week!
Handle Me - Robyn: still liking this.
Ingenting - Kent: new album out this week and I can't wait.
Relax, Take It Easy - Mika: I've said it before and I'll say it again - release this as a single in the UK!
Bubbly - Colbie Caillat: I saw her described this week as the female Jack Johnson, which is a nice comparison.
How Could This Go Wrong - Exile: still playing this obscure oldie.
Mister Cool/Jag Gor Min Grej/Bejbi - Snook: can't stop playing these either. Great!
Tourner Ma Page - Jenifer: really like this now.

Need to get some new songs on this playlist....but when these songs are so good, it's going to be hard to shift them.

Etienne Daho: new album "L'Invitation"... out 5 November!

Just in time for Christmas. Another one to add to Santa's list...

Swedish Charts Update

Magnus Uggla's new single has knocked Martin Stenmarck off the no. 1 spot :-((

Highest new entry this week is Mange Schmidt's "Jag Talar Ut" whilst climbers this week include Dede's "Turn Me On", Jonah's "Summer High", "Hush Hush" by Ninja, "Apologize" by Timbaland, and "Gimme More" by Britney Spears.

Over in the album chart, Bruce Springsteen's "Magic" is no. 1 with Lars Winnerback at no. 2 and Peter LeMarc at no. 3.

Big event this coming week of course is the release of Kent's "Tillbaka Till Samtiden" which is already picking up rave reviews from those notoriously hard to please Swedish press critics. It's tipped to be the biggest album of the year in Sweden. I'm going to buy it anyway and it will be reviewed on this here blog.

What About Brian: it's all over

"What About Brian" was an American TV series which I stayed with all through its two seasons. It then got cancelled of course, so there won't be any more of it. The problem with "Brian" was that it wasn't really about anything at all, just a group of friends and their relationship merry-go-round. When it began, Brian was the odd one out among his happily married or engaged friends as he was unable to settle down into a relationship of his own. Happily, by the end of the final episode, it looked as if he would finally get his happy ending - and all's well that ended well for Dave and Deena, who finally renewed their marriage vows. Awww.

TMF Awards Belgium: a good night for Tokio Hotel and Clouseau

Last night the TMF Awards took place in Belgium. Here are the winners:


Pop Act - Clouseau
Male - Koen Buyse
Female - Natalia
Urban - Hadise
Rock - Nailpin
Dance - Milk Inc
Alternative - Goose
New Act - Milow
Album - Crosses - Zornik
Video - Black Hope Shot Down - Zornik
Lifetime Achievement Award - Clouseau


Urban - Timbaland
Album - Scream - Tokio Hotel
Male - Justin Timberlake
Female - Nelly Furtado
Pop Act - Tokio Hotel
Rock - Fall Out Boy
Dance - Chemical Brothers
New Act - Tokio Hotel
Live Act - Within Temptation
Alternative - Fall Out Boy

So Tokio Hotel were the big winners of the night as they collected three awards in the International category. There's no doubt about it - it's been a massively successful year for the German band all over Europe, and I'm sure there will be many more awards to come in the next few months.

It was also a very good night for Clouseau who performed at the show and also collected an award for best national pop act, however more was to come as they were named winners of the lifetime achievement award to celebrate their 20th anniversary in the music business. Well done to all the winners.

Ali Love: maybe he's just too good for the top 20

Agree agree agree with the posse over at Popjustice: why did Ali Love's brilliant "Late Night Session" only reach No. 125 in the singles chart? It's a great funky commercial tune which sounds great and should be in the top 20 at least.

So who's buying "1973" by James Blunt? Or for that matter "Beautiful Girls" by Sean Kingston? They'll have you suicidal....

They tried to make me go to rehab, I said no no no

Just over 24 hours ago I was at the local beer festival, an event which takes place every year and 2007 is the final one so I decided to go out on a high :-)

Fruh Kolsch
Liefmans Frambozen
Lapin Kulta
Stockholm Festival Lager
Kasteel Cru
one very hungover blogger!!

Anyway I'm OK now! ;-))

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Idol 2007: Live show 2, 12.10.07

This week's theme: songs from movies.
Mattias Andreasson reminds me of Erik Segerstedt for some unknown reason. He did "Your Song" in a Moulin Rouge-meets-boyband style. Like Erik, he's OK but not too special, I don't think.
Sam Hagberth did an interesting rendition of "Respect". Quite an unusual performer whom I feel is still falling short of his potential.
I still don't really like Daniel Karlsson's image but you can't deny he's potentially the best of this year's contestants. His "Live and Let Die" was controlled and very well done.
I didn't look forward to the prospect of Gathania Holmgren doing "Calleth You Cometh I" but strangely it was't as horrendous as I expected, although it was still reduced to powerless pop pap.
And so to Christoffer Hiding. There's something quite cute and compelling about him. He's gathering more fans by the week and even if his performance of "What A Wonderful World" was more competent than earth-shattering, I've changed my mind and think he'll now be around for a few weeks to come.
Evelina Sewerin is one of the more unusual girls in the contest and that's her appeal, quite liked her "For Your Eyes Only".
Favourite Marie Picasso gave us "What A Feeling". Yes she is good, and quite a natural performer, and she will go very far in the competition.
Patrizia Helander's "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" was done in a soulful style but vocally she was rather anonymous.
"Lovefool" was sung by Amanda Jenssen whose performance was quite frankly horrendous. She is trying to look like Gwen Stefani but there the similarity ends.
Andreas Sjöberg, IMHO bears a slight visual similarity to Kurt Nilsen. His performance of "When You Say Nothing At All" was ok though, and again think he'll be around for a few weeks to come.

Result: Patrizia is eliminated, OK she wasn't that great but Amanda and Gathania were equally worthy of elimination this week.

Life will smile for you: Salem Al Fakir on Musikbyrån Live

Firstly, thanks to SVT Play, without whom I would be denied the opportunity to see last night's Musikbyrån Live, featuring the wonderful Salem Al Fakir in concert, recorded in Malmo on 25 February 2007.

Anyway I promised a headbanging man in a pullover...and I was right. SVT describes him as a "permanent smiling snowstorm" which kind of sums him up really. Salem is a lively and charismatic performer whose warm personality shines through in his energetic live performances. He never stops smiling and seems to enjoy every minute of what he's doing. His enthusiasm is infectious and it is impossible not to love him.

During the concert we were discussing how he might be too good to break through in the UK, as this country is too cynical and bitter to appreciate someone as genuinely charming and talented. Hopefully we will be wrong, but in the meantime I'm just glad that the Swedes know good music and are not swayed by what's-trendy-this-week.

You couldn't call Salem 'trendy' but you can call him a genius. A brief burst of "Tell Me" kicked off the proceedings then straight into a cracking "Good Song" which strangely is always played early in the live set. followed by the bonkers Focus-style prog-rock instrumental "Two Long Distance to Great Thought". "Dream Girl" has a harder, funkier edge played live whilst retaining its melodic sweetness. Salem introduced "It's True" by calling it his favourite song, and it is the crowd-pleaser of the set. "This Is Who I Am" (with strangely-edited key change!) closed the set before an encore of "Thank You" which he started off on his own before the band joined in.

Very important to mention his excellent band, particularly Gunnar - the cat in the hat - whose bluesy guitar riffs add a different dimension to the songs played live. Initially you wouldn't think that many of the songs on "This Is Who I Am" would work in a live setting, but with this band combined with Salem's wicked piano playing and jazzy, soulful, distinctive vocals, the result is a hugely enjoyable live experience.

Set List:

Tell Me
Good Song
Two Long Distance to Great Thought
Dream Girl
It's True
This Is Who I Am
Thank You

I've posted the link below, hopefully it should work!! (Have already watched the show twice: presumably will watch it at least another 300 times, SVT Play permitting!)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Magnus Carlsson: new single

Big shout out to the mighty Schlagerblog and thanks to them for bringing us the new Magnus Carlsson single "Another Rainbow" which I'll agree is a bit of a "Live Forever" clone. Now you know I love Magnus but if the truth be told, I prefer him a) singing in Swedish and b) not singing falsetto as he's got a lovely deeper singing voice. Oh what the heck, there's a keychange at the end, so all is almost forgiven.

A headbanging man in a pullover: two days to go

I reckon that this blogger will completely go into meltdown this weekend. The reason?

SVT will be featuring Salem's Malmo gig from February 2007 on its Musikbyrån Live tomorrow night. Hoping it should be on SVT Play on Saturday, although there were a few problems last weekend with the link to the Bloc Party gig from last week's show, so fingers crossed there are no technical hitches.

What to expect: musical brilliance, audience singalongs, between-song banter, the odd forgotten lyric and lots of headbanging. Also expect that pullover. But as I said before, he can get away with anything cause he's so sweet and lovely and talented.

Double celebration

Just realised a couple of things today:

1. Have now reached 400 posts on this blog...

2. ...which is 7 months old today.

Still realise that I have a lot to learn about blogging and it's still early days. Also realise that anytime I try to structure this blog, the best laid plans fall apart.

Maybe it's just best to stay random.

Therefore I won't promise any new features....they'll just happen in a random rambling kind of way. Apart from the weekly playlist, which will always turn up here on a Saturday or Sunday.

BBC Radio 1 playlist news

Robyn's "Handle Me" now A-listed whilst Peter Bjorn and John's "Young Folks" is also still on the A-list. The Hives' "Tick Tick Boom" is B-listed this week.

The more Swedish music on British radio, the better!

This week's Swedish radio playlist additions

Mange Schmidt and the ubiquitous Plain White T's are A-listed this week.
Kate Ryan's "Voyage Voyage" B-listed.
Måns Zelmerlöw's "Brother Oh Brother" added to the C-list. The latter is also Rix FM's single of the week. Yay!

Salem Al Fakir: 25th most influential young person in Sweden!!

Today the annual list of the top 100 most influential young people in Sweden was published. Guess who's at no. 25!

The criteria for this list is as follows:

to have achieved something during the last year and have a direction; to see an opportunity which nobody else has taken; to be a visionary; to have pushed themselves forward; and to have potential in order to play a dominant role in the future.

Definitely sounds like a description of our main man. Big congratulations!

The list mainly comprises entrepreneurs, and the only other musician of note in the top 100 is Robyn Carlsson, so congratulations to her as well.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Salem in Oslo 05.10.07: review (sort of)

Firstly, I don't understand Norwegian, so apologies in advance. There's a review of Salem's Oslo gig last Friday at so I attempted to translate it via a Swedish translation site (!!!!!) The reviewer seemed to like it and highly praised his band, the fabulous Gunnar, Jakob & Nisse. The review also said that Salem stole the show as an entertainer who had the audience in the palm of his hand throughout, particularly in "Japanese Man" which is becoming a high point of his live set. One minor point was that the duration of the concert was too short but we need to remember he's still relatively at the start of his career and this will change as time goes on. Who knows, he might go in the opposite direction and end up doing 17-minute keyboard solos....!

But I digress. "This Is Who I Am" is now being released in Norway this week and has already had great reviews in the Norwegian press.

Put your hand on your heart and say it, say it, say it, say it again

A post about The Danse Society is well overdue I reckon.

The Danse Society, a band from Barnsley, came into my life in the early 80s when they released the brilliant "Heaven Is Waiting" album. I suppose you'd have called them 'goths', anyway I thought they made a very unique blend of electro-glamorous-futuristic-goth-dance-rock with deep dark vocals from Steve Rawlings which didn't match his beautiful babyfaced looks.

The most bizarre thing of all was that, in a last throw of the dice for commercial success, which sadly eluded them throughout their career, was to team up with then little-known production team Stock, Aitken and Waterman. Ridiculous, yes, but 22 years after its release, I now realise how good "Say It Again" is.

Monday, October 08, 2007


Here we are in autumn. The good bit of autumn, when it's still daylight when work is over, before the leaves fall off the trees, before British Summer Time (in name only, as far as 2007 went) ends and the dark nights take over.

Anyway just wanted to mention that just yards from the office where I work is a car park surrounded by trees, each tree turns a different colour at this time of year and the overall effect is like a mini-New England in the fall. Only in a car park in a rubbishy little town. But it's a natural wonder nonetheless and it's one of those things which I just wanted to celebrate anyway.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

10 things to love about....Berlin!

OK I know it's 4 weeks late but here goes.

1. Getting around

Berlin is such a massive city so don't even think about seeing all of it on foot. Get a "Welcome Card" (21 euros for 3 days) and you'll get unlimited travel on the excellent U-bahn (underground), S-bahn (local trains) and local buses. All in all a fantastic, well-organised and easy to follow travel network.

2. The Wall (what's left of it)

Even if the powers that be moved very quickly to erase recent history, it's hard to visit Berlin and not be swept away by its recent past. Most of the wall is now gone, however there are two significant sections: the East Side Gallery (which we didn't see this time) and another preserved section which also shares its outdoor space with the Topographie des Terrors, an open air exhibition about the Nazis. Both of these are not too far away from...

3. ...Checkpoint Charlie

...OK so it's a tourist trap but it's also a must-see. The original Checkpoint Charlie no longer exists and has been replaced by a replica, complete with photo-opportunist 'soldiers' but the Haus am Checkpoint Charlie museum provides a fascinating way to spend a couple of hours, and details all the different methods people used to get over, under, or through the Wall.

4. The DDR Museum

So how did ordinary people spend their day to day lives in the German Democratic Republic? This modern, hands-on museum will answer that question. It doesn't dwell on sensationalism but rather the more mundane and normal aspects of East German daily life before the Wall came down, which makes it all the more interesting and insightful.

5. The Zoo

Knut's the main draw here: he may no longer be small and cute but he's a celebrity and boy, does he know it. Berlin Zoo is vast but most of it can be explored in a day. Special mention for the ape house, which I loved.

6. Kurfurstendamm

Shop till you drop on Berlin's most famous shopping street. Or at least window shop; lots of mainstream/designer stores to give you ideas of what to buy in the event that you ever get rich.

7. Food and Drink

Berlin provides an excellent choice of international eateries - you may find traditional German restaurants a bit harder to find though. For those on a budget, get your wurst from the many Imbiss (takeaway) vans all over the city; but don't worry, eating out is affordable and enjoyable. It's beer country here so don't forget to try the local ones Berliner Pilsener/Berliner Kindl.

8. Alexanderplatz

Get a feel of the old east by visiting this part of the city which is home to the TV tower and the world clock, two essential photo opportunities which have lived on even after the fall of the Wall.

9. Nikolaiviertel

Possibly the prettiest part of the city, this recently renovated historical quarter on the banks of the river manages to look and feel authentic. Lots of traditional German restaurants here too. Decided this was our favourite part of the city.

10. Hot hot hot

Not the weather, which nevertheless was pleasant and bearable for an intensive city break, but I refer to many of the young men of this fine city, who were very visually appealing indeed. (My faithful travelling companion also said that he was equally impressed with the young ladies too.)

Edit 20.10.07: Been having a few problems uploading my pics but I'm ever hopeful that I'll work this out :-)

Calogero: tour starts soon

It won't be long now till Calogero hits the road for his latest French tour to promote his "Pomme C" album. The tour will start in Paris on 26 October, before visiting Lille, Rennes, Nantes, Le Mans, Dijon, Nice, Marseille, Montpellier, Limoges, Clermont-Ferrand, Caen, Rouen, Nancy, Orleans, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Toulon, Lyon and Amneville, finishing with three dates at Paris Bercy on 21, 22 and 23 December. The tour then resumes in late February and will carry on until early April. He is a great live performer and I'm sure that the tour will be up to his usual high standard.

Andreas gets engaged

We at EuropeCrazy say a great big "Grattis" to Alcazar's Andreas Lundstedt who has got engaged to his partner Mattias Löfstrand. The couple hope to marry next summer.

Namedropping Melodifestivalen 2008

Today Aftonbladet gave us some of the names who we might expect to see in next year's Melodifestivalen....Linda Bengtzing, Måns Zelmerlöw, Christer Sjögren, Lasse Brandeby (! - give him a dance routine lol), Lili & Sussie, Erik Segerstedt, Sara Löfgren, Sibel Redzep. Jimmy Jansson has also sent in 2 songs but he says he won't be performing next year.

MTV Europe Music Awards: Votes and Predictions continued.

"Headliner". Nominees: Muse, Foo Fighters, Beyonce, Arctic Monkeys, Justin Timberlake.
Voted For: Justin Timberlake.
Prediction: Muse.

"Album". Nominees: "The Best Damn Thing" - Avril Lavigne; "Minutes to Midnight" - Linkin Park; "Loose" - Nelly Furtado; "Konvicted" - Akon; "Back to Black" - Amy Winehouse.
Voted for: Amy Winehouse.
Prediction: Linkin Park.

"Solo". Nominees: Justin Timberlake, Mika, Avril Lavigne, Rihanna, Christina Aguilera, Nelly Furtado.
Voted for: Justin Timberlake.
Prediction: Justin Timberlake.

"International Act". Nominees: My Chemical Romance, Depeche Mode, Fall Out Boy, Tokio Hotel, 30 Seconds to Mars.
Voted for: Tokio Hotel.
Prediction: My Chemical Romance.

"New Sounds of Europe". Nominees: Gravel, Christophe Willem, Yakup, James Morrison, Sunrise Avenue, Zero Assoluto, Aleksander With, Jaula de Grillos, Chakuza, Delain, Buraka Som Sisterna, Dani, Firma, Alphabeat, Neverstore, Bedwetters, Astro'n'out.
Voted for: Christophe Willem, Aleksander With.
Prediction: Too many in this category to even guess. If things had been different it might have been easier. :-(

"Best UK and Irish Act". Nominees: Arctic Monkeys, Mark Ronson, Muse, Amy Winehouse, Klaxons.
Voted for: Mark Ronson.
Prediction: Arctic Monkeys. (hopefully I'll be wrong, as they're the most overrated band on the planet).

Oh yes and I voted for The Ark as Best Swedish Artist as well!

All will be revealed at the MTV Europe Music Awards in Munich on 1 November.

Idol (Sweden) 2007

Strangely enough, I was really looking forward to this but I hadn't been able to work up enough enthusiasm to watch it till now ;-)

Marie Picasso was a bit of a rock chick on "Baby Love" , and she would appear to be one of the favourites. Still not sure about her.
Christoffer Hiding tackled "Baby I Love Your Way". Aww! There's something quite sweet and geeky and appealing about him, think a Swedish Christophe Willem with longer hair and without the glasses :-) Anyway he probably won't be around for too long so enjoy while you can. Very nice blue eyes too ;-)
Anastasia Roobol was nervous and off-key on "Sleeping Satellite" and her only redeeming feature was her spiky red hair.
Sam Ragberth with "She's So High". Unfortunately he didn't soar in the style of Kurt Nilsen and again I'm not sure, although he may improve.
Daniel Karlsson did well on "You're The Voice" although I hated his outfit. Think he might be the stand-out performer of the night.
Mattias Andreasson reminded me a little of runner-up Erik Segerstedt from last year. "Would I Lie To You": kind of boyband-style, he'll be around for a while though.
Evelina Sewerin gave "The One And Only" her best shot. A little more intense than Chesney intended, but good in a strange way.
Patrizia Helander's "Runaway Train" was ok.
Amanda Jenssen gave us "Tainted Love". Again a little nervous and I don't think she'll go too far in the contest.
Gathania Holmgren next with "Walking On Sunshine". OK but a bit karaoke.
Finally Andreas Sjöberg and "I Want To Know What Love Is". He's a little unconventional but I thought he did very well with this.

Anyway at this stage I will stick my neck out and say it will be between Daniel and Marie.

Subject to change, of course!!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Countdown to the MTV Europe Music Awards

It took me a while to get over the whole New Sounds of Europe thing , but time heals (!) and I thought I'd take a look at a few of the categories, and mention my votes and my predictions.

"Rock Out". Nominees: My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy, 30 Seconds to Mars, Evanescence and Linkin Park.
Voted for: Fall Out Boy, purely based on how much I like "This Ain't A Scene".
Prediction: Linkin Park - they're massive in Europe.

"Ultimate Urban". Nominees: Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, Kanye West, Timbaland, Rihanna, Gym Class Heroes.
Voted for: It was close, but I chose Timbaland, because he's been so influential this year.
Prediction: Kanye West.

"Band". Nominees: Linkin Park, Tokio Hotel, Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, Good Charlotte.
Voted for: it's the Europe Music Awards, so a European act deserves it - Tokio Hotel.
Prediction: Linkin Park. Or My Chemical Romance.

"Most Addictive Track". Nominees: "All Good Things" - Nelly Furtado; "Umbrella" - Rihanna; "Grace Kelly" - Mika; "Beautiful Liar" - Beyonce & Shakira; "Rehab" - Amy Winehouse; "Girlfriend" - Avril Lavigne.
Voted for: "Grace Kelly". Even if he's beginning to annoy me.
Prediction: "Umbrella". Ella, ella, ella, ay, ay, ay.

More categories tomorrow, or possibly Monday.

Retro Saturday: Orup

Doing some "Random Play" stuff again tonight. Thought I'd play some of Orup's music tonight, from his best-of which was released 3 years ago, and I would absolutely recommend "Elva Hjartan", his disco-flavoured album from 2000 (can it really be 7 years ago????). Right now I'm playing "Vi Ses Ett Annat Liv" and "Jorden Snurrar Runt Ändå", which are musically rather wonderful.

Strictly Come's back!

You know it's that time again. When the year is moving on, the nights are getting darker....and "Strictly Come Dancing" (BBC-1) is back on our screens again. You just know that a) Tess Daly's dress sense won't be any better; and b) Brucie's jokes will be from the prehistoric age.

But you also know that there will be lots of glitz and glamour to brighten up these Saturday nights (although sadly no Mark "Hot-hot-hot" Ramprakash :-(((( )

Tonight it was the celeb-boys turn to dazzle on the dancefloor - but the judges were in mostly unforgiving mood and mostly awarded 4's, 5's, 6's and 7's for tonight's first efforts.

Tonight's line-up:

Matt Di Angelo and Flavia Cacace: Another Eastenders actor, quelle surprise, and the queen of tango.
Brian Capron and Karen Hardy: Richard Hillman lives! And we think Karen is rather fab and we liked her frock tonight.
Dominic Littlewood and Lilia Kopylova: Bald bloke off the telly, and Mrs Bennett, who's won and been runner-up in last two years.
Willie Thorne and Erin Boag: Snooker-loopy big man partnering the ever-classy Ms Boag.
Gethin Jones and Camilla Dallerup: Blue Peter presenter who would appear to be this season's eye candy, and Brendan's ex.
Kenny Logan and Ola Jordan: Big rugby chap and saucy little Mrs Jordan.
John Barnes and Nicole Cutler: You got to hold and give....ex footballer and rapper and the ex Mrs Matthew Cutler.

Anyway John (despite unflattering yellow outfit) managed to find himself at the top of the leader board, whilst Kenny and Brian look like fighting it out in the dance-off. But, of course, you the viewer can all change that blah blah blah. Not likely, BBC. Not after all the recent phone vote scandals.

But in spite of all that, we at EuropeCrazy still love "Strictly Come Dancing", it's our most fave celeb reality show, and at last there is something worth staying in for on a Saturday night.

On the down side, we now have to wait till Sunday night for the results show. Oh well :-((

Anyway for what it's worth I think it'll be one of the ladies who will win it this year as they managed to outshine the chaps tonight with their show dance.

Update following Sunday's results show (really don't like this whole Saturday/Sunday thing):

The return of Mark and Karen! Feelin' hot-hot-hot! Needed a cold shower after this. He is just our favourite Strictly competitor/winner ever ever ever.

Brian and Karen and Kenny and Ola in the bottom 2 dance-off. The judges chose to save Kenny by a 3-1 vote. Quite sad that they are out, as Karen has gone from reigning champion to first eviction, but the problem with Brian this week was that he looked more as if he was going through an ordeal than taking part in a joyful activity like dancing.

And it's goodnight from him

Classic comedy never dies. And so it is with The Two Ronnies, circa 1975, which is getting yet another run this time on ITV3. What I liked most about Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett's brand of comedy was the intelligent wordplay which characterised their sketches. Nobody these days even comes close.

Hall of Fame: October 2007

Another month brings another artist into our Hall of Fame. This month's featured artist is due to release a greatest hits compilation, "e2" this autumn so what better time than to feature Eros Ramazzotti.

He's an Italian singer/songwriter whose fame has gone beyond his country's borders. Eros came to my attention in 1996 when his "Dove c'e Musica" album was out. Back in those days MTV featured European artists and his "Piu Bella Cosa" video was on the channel regularly.

Fast forward to 1997 and whilst on holiday I bought his "Eros" CD which was his first greatest hits compilation. This album featured a new interpretation of one of his biggest hits "Cose Della Vita/Can't Stop Thinking Of You" in a duet with Tina Turner. Eros duetted on subsequent albums with Cher and Anastacia, and his forthcoming single will feature Ricky Martin.

Since that 1997 compilation, Eros has released a live album and DVD (I've got the DVD, recorded in Rome, very good) and three studio albums "Stilelibero", "9" and "Calma Apparente". If I'm honest, I haven't liked the last two albums as much as "Stilelibero", but I still enjoy his music. Eros' music has wide appeal and he has a worldwide fan base. And how many times have you visited an Italian restaurant and his music has been playing in the background? (Just last week, as it happens, in my favourite local Italian restaurant whilst out for my birthday meal!).

Coming soon: my Eros Ramazzotti playlist.

This week's playlist: riding on the big waves of love

Suburban Knights/I Shall Overcome - Hard-Fi: Got "Once Upon A Time In The West" as one of my birthday presents. Very good album, will review it soon.
Waves of Love - Magnus Carlsson: It took me a while to get into this but playing it a lot now.
Good Song/Thank You/Dream Girl/Bright Side of Life - Salem Al Fakir: need we say more?
It's True - Axwell & Ingrosso vs Salem Al Fakir: This remix turns an uplifting and happy song into an utterly massive euphoric tune.
Bejbi/Mister Cool - Snook: Not going away. Not for a long long time.
Ingenting - Kent: Great track. According to the Swedish press, the new album is going to be fantastic.
Come Marry Me - Miss Platnum: That holiday song.
Tourner Ma Page - Jenifer: Didn't like it at first, but now I do. Very different sound for her.
Handle Me - Robyn: won't be as big a hit as "With Every Heartbeat" but should be a hit.
Bubbly - Colbie Caillat: Very laid back Radio 2 type nice little acoustic summery song, looks as if it's sadly missed the charts here.
How Could This Go Wrong - Exile: Obscure oldie of the week, heard it on holiday for the first time in years and now I can't stop playing it.
100 År Från Nu (Blundar) - Martin Stenmarck: This is very very good, and we like him at EuropeCrazy HQ.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I can't wait for the weekend to begin...

...and I'll be able to catch up with some things I meant to post earlier in the week, such as this month's Hall of Fame featured artist, and the long overdue Berlin review, and a few singles charts updates.

And a 15,000 word thesis on the significance of Salem Al Fakir's moustache. (ONLY KIDDING!!! it will only be 5000 words ha ha)

He's bringing his brand of live musical mayhem to Oslo tomorrow night, and it goes without saying that it will be an amazing show.

Take That "Rule The World": our new verdict

Must have been in an uncharacteristically grumpy mood the first time I heard it as I didn't like it at all. The next few times it wasn't much better, but then finally it started to grow on me. It will never grow on me as much as the magnificent "Mancunian Way" or "Like I Never Loved You At All" or "Patience" but we at EuropeCrazy love Take That so much that we will even forgive them a less-than-brilliant effort from time to time.

P3 Playlists update

Thanks to the wonderful which has all the latest Swedish music news. Every week they publish the additions to Swedish radio P3's playlists. Here's this week's....

A-listan Mando Diao If I Don’t Live Today, Then I Might Be Here Tomorrow / Ola S.O.S.
B-listan Foo Fighters The Pretender / Nightwish Amaranth
C-listan BWO Destiny Of Love / E-Type Eurofighter / Alicia Keys No One / Babyshambles Delivery / Armand Van Helden I Want Your Soul
S-listan Dogge Doggelito Softa med din guss / Ernesto I Get So Alone /Hammerfall Last Man Standing / Maia Hirasawa Mattis & Maia / Christian Kjellvander Two Souls / The White Stripes You Don’t Know What Love Is / Rooney When Did Your Heart Go Missing

I will try to publish these as often as I can remember to!

Meant to mention Mando Diao's new song, which is ok and quite nice but very short though. Still, it does all it needs to do in two minutes and doesn't overstay its welcome.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Welcome back Juanes

It seems no time since we at EuropeCrazy were shaking it to "La Camisa Negra", well now Juanes is back again with "Me Enamora". Just when you think it's ok and not much more, along comes an absolutely catchy chorus which will have everyone's feet tapping when they hear it. Looking forward to the new album "La Vida....Es Un Ratico" which is out on 23 October and promises to be yet another great mix of rock and Latin rhythms.

Ping ping pong ping pong

Over the last couple of days there's been a bit of a running gag at work about Enrique Iglesias' "Do You Know" (The Ping Pong Song) which mainly has us mimicking ping pong noises and Enrique's vocal delivery on the chorus. I may be getting older, but no-one said you had to stop being immature, right?

Believe that is what you are

Watching one of the music channels last night I saw a video of a song called "Reflection" by a singer songwriter named Shayan Italia and for some reason it made me sit up and take notice. Yes, it's incessantly romantic and Radio 2-friendly, but somehow it had an emotional pull to it which I couldn't really describe, even though I didn't really think the song was that fabulous.

Anyway I've been digging and found out that he was born and raised in India, and financed his music career in a very unique way, by auctioning online a portion of his future earnings before he'd even made them.

The singer claims to have a ten year plan, to release his debut album worldwide in the next 2-3 years. He also has the next two albums already written. Will he succeed or will he have to pay back the money from his online auction? Time will tell.

Salem & Maia, in Stockholm, in November

Today Salem Al Fakir has added another date on his autumn mini-tour of Sweden. It was announced that on 18.11.07 he will play a gig at the Rival in Stockholm, along with another of this year's critically acclaimed Swedish discoveries (who also played Allsang Pa Skansen), Maia Hirasawa. I've heard a couple of her songs, she's OK, kind of Bjork-ish but less extreme. Also on the bill is Jonna Lee, a young female singer who is tipped for big things in Sweden next year.

Now we've got the news out of the way, let's go for serious journalistic insight into the above picture from today's Aftonbladet and ask the big question: WHAT'S WITH THE MOUSTACHE, MR AL FAKIR? But hey, he's such a sweet and gorgeous man and is now at the stage where he can get away with anything as far as this besotted blogger is concerned. The hair! Yayyy! Loving it loving it loving it. And nice to see the whole suit/shirt/tie thing again.

More news, trivial though it is: been over to Salem's MySpace tonight. Out goes the grey/blue revamp and in the immortal words of Amy Winehouse, it's back to black. As I still continue to refuse to get myself a MySpace account and go down that route it is therefore impossible to check out what's on his MySpace beyond the home page.

One even more trivial bit of news: there's a funny new trailer on YouTube for Salem's brother Nassim's new TV show Anaconda. He is mobbed by Carolina and Carina from "Idol" for autographs as they think he's Salem, only for them to disappear very quickly indeed when he tells them that he's his brother.