blogging since 2007 about European music, travel and all things Eurovision-related, as well as a bit of telly and retro-tastic music.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
I don't usually go into the little personal bits of my life here but just a brief exception as it's the end of the year. All I'll say is that if they made a film of the last 52 weeks, it would probably be called "A Series of Unfortunate Events" - oh wait, they've already made one with that title! - anyway it would be enough to say that it was a catalogue of mini-disasters in relation to home and health, not just for me but for my loved ones too. Therefore I will just say "good riddance" to 2007 and hope we got all the bad bits out of the way this year. Therefore by the law of averages, 2008 should be fantastic. Fingers crossed ;-)
When I started this blog back in March I soon realised that it also became a kind of escapism for me, by focusing on the things that I wanted to share my enthusiasm about. I know it sounds corny, but doing EuropeCrazy (and its parallel universe, Planet Salem) got me through some bad times. If you are reading this you probably have a blog already, but if you haven't, I'd recommend starting your own blog, about whatever "floats your boat" - it's great therapy!
This is all getting a bit heavy (!) so I'll just wish everyone good health, happiness and all the best for 2008. I thought the following song was appropriate for the end of the year: it's a sweet and funny little song called "52 Weeks" by Marit Bergman and Salem Al Fakir, enjoy!
EuropeCrazy will return on Tuesday 1st January 2008 with another year of random ramblings - see you then ! X
Is it just me?
Swedish Grammys - Nominations Shortlist and Predictions (long post!!)
KENT – TILLBAKA TILL SAMTIDEN
LARS WINNERBÄCK – DAUGAVA
SAHARA HOTNIGHTS – WHAT IF LEAVING IS A LOVING THING
SALEM AL FAKIR – THIS IS WHO I AM
SÄKERT! – SÄKERT!
Prediction: Salem should win this of course, but I think Kent will probably run away with this category, only because of their massive popularity. I won't really mind though if they win it - but why did The Ark's "Prayer For The Weekend" miss out on the final 5?
Best Dance/Hip Hop/Soul
ADAM TENSTA – IT’S A TENSTA THING
FAMILJEN – DET SNURRAR I MIN SKALLE
KEN – ÄNTLIGEN HEMMA
MANGE SCHMIDT – KÄNSLAN KOMMER TILLBAKS
PETTER – GOD DAMN IT
Prediction: A category I know nothing about, so I have no preference. I'd guess that Petter or Mange Schmidt would win as they seem to be the most popular.
BENNY ANDERSSONS ORKESTER/H. SJÖHOLM & T. KÖRBERG – BAO 3
DRIFTERS – ETT LIV MED DIG
LASSE STEFANZ – VAGABOND
MAGNUS CARLSSON – LIVE FOREVER - THE ALBUM
NANNE – JAG MÅSTE KYSSA DIG
Prediction: I'd love Magnus to win, but the public are likely to show their love for Nanne.
KENT – TILLBAKA TILL SAMTIDEN
MANDO DIAO – NEVER SEEN THE LIGHT OF DAY
SAHARA HOTNIGHTS – WHAT IF LEAVING IS A LOVING THING
THE ARK – PRAYER FOR THE WEEKEND
THE HIVES – THE BLACK AND WHITE ALBUM
Prediction: Very likely Kent. You know I like Kent, but I love The Ark more so I hope they win this one.
Best Hard Rock
ENTOMBED – SERPENT SAINTS
HARDCORE SUPERSTAR – DREAMIN’ IN A CASKET
LILLASYSTER – HJÄRNDÖD MUSIK FÖR EN HJÄRNDÖD GENERATION
MUSTASCH – LATEST VERSION OF THE TRUTH
TAKIDA – BURY THE LIES
Prediction: A category I know nothing about, I don't know any of the bands so I can't predict this one.
ANNIKA NORLIN – SÄKERT!
BENNY ANDERSSON – BAO 3
JOAKIM BERG & MARTIN SKÖLD – TILLBAKA TILL SAMTIDEN
OLA SALO – PRAYER FOR THE WEEKEND
SALEM AL FAKIR – THIS IS WHO I AM
Prediction: Given the incredible musical diversity on his album, I can't see past Salem Al Fakir for this one.
Best Female Artist
ANNA JÄRVINEN – JAG FICK FEELING
LALEH – PRINSESSOR
MISS LI – GOD PUT A RAINBOW IN THE SKY
SONJA ALDÉN – TILL DIG
SÄKERT! – SÄKERT!
Prediction: Annika Norlin a.k.a. Säkert will win this, no question.
Best Live Act
LENA PH & ORUP
Prediction: I'd like to see Lena & Orup win this for sentimental reasons, but it's The Hives all the way.
LARS WINNERBÄCK I DUETT MED MISS LI – OM DU LÄMNADE MIG NU
MANGE SCHMIDT FEAT. PETTER – GIFTIG
SAHARA HOTNIGHTS – CHEEK TO CHEEK
SALEM AL FAKIR – GOOD SONG
THE ARK – THE WORRYING KIND
Prediction: I'm shocked that Martin Stenmarck's "100 År Från Nu" and Mans Zelmerlöw's "Cara Mia" missed out on the final 5. You probably think it's just favouritism here, but I genuinely think "Good Song" will do it.
Best Male Artist
LARS WINNERBÄCK – DAUGAVA
MONEYBROTHER – MOUNT PLEASURE
MÅNS ZELMERLÖW – STAND BY FOR…
SALEM AL FAKIR – THIS IS WHO I AM
TIMBUKTU – OBEROENDEFRAMKALLANDE
Prediction: You know who I want to win, but I think the inexplicably popular Lars Winnerbäck will get the award.
ADAM TENSTA – IT’S A TENSTA THING
MAIA HIRASAWA – THOUGH, I’M JUST ME
OH LAURA – A SONG INSIDE MY HEAD, A DEMON IN MY BED
SALEM AL FAKIR – THIS IS WHO I AM
SÄKERT! – SÄKERT!
Prediction: Salem Al Fakir! Not just because I want him to win, but because I know he will get this one.
BENNY ANDERSSON – BAO 3
BJÖRN OLSSON – NEVER SEEN THE LIGHT OF DAY
BJÖRN YTTLING – WRITER´S BLOCK & WHAT IF LEAVING IS A LOVING THING
JON JOSHUA SCHUMAN & KENT – TILLBAKA TILL SAMTIDEN
SALEM AL FAKIR – THIS IS WHO I AM
Prediction: Schuman and Kent I reckon, but if it was my choice....well you know who.
ANNIKA NORLIN – SÄKERT!
EVA DAHLGREN – PETROLEUM OCH TÅNG
JASON DIAKITÉ – OBEROENDEFRAMKALLANDE
JOAKIM BERG – TILLBAKA TILL SAMTIDEN
SALEM AL FAKIR – THIS IS WHO I AM
Prediction: Where is Ola Salo - the best lyricist in Sweden? Why is he not here? Oh well it'll just have to be Joakim Berg then.
MTV Prize for Best Video
ADAM TENSTA - MY COOL (REGI: MARCUS LUNDIN)
FAMILJEN - DET SNURRAR I MIN SKALLE (REGI:JOHAN SÖDERBERG)
KENT - INGENTING (REGI: MATTIAS MONTERO/ADAM BERG)
SLAGSMÅLSKLUBBEN - MALMÖ BEACH NIGHT PARTY (REGI:ANDREAS NILSSON)
THE ARK - PRAYER FOR THE WEEKEND (REGI:MAGNUS RENFORS/KINDPEOPLE)
Prediction: The Ark will have to get an award one way or another, so give them this one!
Album Review: "Tillbaka Till Samtiden" - Kent
"Tillbaka Till Samtiden" however is less bleak than you’d imagine, and brings a bit of electronica into the mix. "Elefanter" kicks off the album slowly building into a pumping atmospheric anthem. "Berlin" is my favourite track, with Mr Berg’s distinctive voice over and electro-rock background, this track really defines their new sound. "Ingenting" didn’t take long to be loved at EuropeCrazy HQ and is arguably one of the most catchy, accessible songs they’ve ever made, yet with surprisingly angry lyrics. (Not sure about the choice of "Columbus" as the follow-up as it is more deserving of the ‘bleak’ tag).
On the whole, "Tillbaka" stands up as yet another high quality album from a band who are sounding stronger than ever. "Ensammast I Sverige" is the album’s epic closer, over eight minutes long. Listening to Kent, I wish I knew more Swedish as their songs have a great lyrical quality.
Nordic bleakness? Well admittedly it’s as far removed from Lucky Twice as you’ll get, but "Tillbaka Till Samtiden" is certainly not bleak - far from it.
Album Review: "Tangled Up" - Girls Aloud
Call The Shots is more subdued than what we’re used to, and to be honest is not really my favourite of their songs, but is still doing very well at the moment.
Close to Love is more high-energy and repetitive and its lyric gives the album its title.
Sexy! No No No.... This is still a high-powered treat and again defies the traditional conventions of verse-chorus-verse, and in typical Girls Aloud style has about six different songs in one.
Girl Overboard is a great Europop-style stomper which I could see being a big big hit all over Europe. Very catchy.
Can’t Speak French is a sophisticated foot-tapper which is now lodged in my brain. Apparently this will be the next single - good choice!
Black Jacks is another cracker with great vocals by Nadine on the chorus. Again the strength of this is a more unconventional approach.
Control of the Knife - a catchy mix of reggae and vocoded vocals, and another different style. Possible future single choice perhaps?
Fling - possibly my least favourite track on the album only cause it’s so annoying with that "fling baby fling baby" hookline. Goes off on a funky tangent though!
What You Crying For - uses that drum & bass style which was in vogue a couple of years ago. Filler it may be, but high quality filler nonetheless.
I’m Falling - this time they experiment with rock/pop. What I like about Girls Aloud is that they’re not afraid to stick to the one style.
Damn - Catchy and offbeat, not really much else to say!
Crocodile Tears - Girls Aloud don’t do ballads of course, but this comes quite close.
All in all, this is possibly the best British pop album of 2007. I don't know how much longer they’ll be around, but they’ll never outstay their welcome as long as they make records as good as this.
CMON! (Another one....!)
Meet Moo. She is the second CMON to join us here at EuropeCrazy HQ. Moo is lovely and special and we love her very much. Awww.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Star Academy: catch-up time
Can't believe that the students have remained in the chateau over Christmas - I thought they'd have been sent home.
This week's prime (28.12.07) is a special dedicated to the late Gregory Lemarchal, who won Star Academy 4. Guests this week will be Nolwenn Leroy, Davide Esposito, Gérard Lenorman, Patrick Fiori, Helene Segara, Julie Zenatti, Emmanuel Moire - oh well at least I like Nolwenn and Emmanuel, otherwise :(
Anyway everyone will be singing songs which were recorded/made famous by Gregory, either during his winning run on the series or in his tragically short recording career. Hopefully it will be a fitting tribute to the young man with the outstanding voice.
Elf Elf Baby.
The 2007-50: My top 50 songs of the year, in full.
1. Good Song - Salem Al Fakir
2. Dream Girl - Salem Al Fakir
3. Inga Problem - Snook
4. Relax, Take It Easy - Mika
5. Stronger - Kanye West
6. Heavyweight Champion of the World - Reverend and the Makers
7. Count Me Out - Salem Al Fakir
8. The Way I Are - Timbaland
9. It’s True - Salem Al Fakir
10. Cara Mia - Mans Zelmerlow
11. Same Jeans - The View
12. Grace Kelly - Mika
13. This Is Who I Am - Salem Al Fakir
14. Stop Me - Mark Ronson feat Daniel Merriweather
15. The Worrying Kind - The Ark
16. Because of You - Ne-Yo
17. It’s Only You - Salem Al Fakir
18. Makes Me Wonder - Maroon 5
19. Elu Produit de L’Annee - Christophe Willem
20. When The Night Comes Falling - Sebastian Karlsson
21. Ingenting - Kent
22. Kiss The Bride - Christophe Willem
23. Don’t Hate On Me - Vincent
24. Late Night Session - Ali Love
25. Segdu Mer - Jonsi
26. Shine - Booty Luv
27. Suburban Knights - Hard-Fi
28. Work Your Magic - Dimitry Koldun
29. I Love You Mi Vida - D’Nash
30. Work Of Art (Da Vinci) - Mans Zelmerlow
31. Miss Blue - Vincent
32. Ready Set Go! - Tokio Hotel
33. Your Loss - Paul Steel
34. Come Marry Me - Miss Platnum
35. Live Forever - Magnus Carlsson
36. The Pretender - Foo Fighters
37. What Have You Done - Within Temptation
38. With Every Heartbeat - Robyn
39. Vayamos Companeros - Marquess
40. Tokyo - Danny Saucedo
41. Hooked On You - Infinity
42. Who’s Gonna Find Me - The Coral
43. Acceptable In The 80s - Calvin Harris
44. Everything - Michael Buble
45. Let Me Think About It - Ida Corr vs Fedde Le Grand
46. Just Another Summer - Moneybrother
47. Love Is Gone - David Guetta
48. Through The Monsoon - Tokio Hotel
49. The Girls - Calvin Harris
50. Bubbly - Colbie Caillat
2007-50: the ones that got away
Bonafied Lovin' - Chromeo: This came into my life too late for inclusion in my countdown, otherwise a definite top 10 contender. Funky and fabulous.
Valerie - Mark Ronson featuring Amy Winehouse: Ronson turned the Zutons' tune into a party anthem. This is how a cover version should be done. (Watch and learn, eh, Westlife???)
Apologize - Timbaland featuring OneRepublic: Unfortunately, OneRepublic's album "Dreaming Out Loud" failed to live up to the greatness of this track, one of my favourites of the past 2 months.
Handle Me - Robyn: Once I got over the shock of hearing that this and not "Be Mine!" would be the follow-up to "With Every Heartbeat", I actually rather liked this track. Just the right amount of quirky weirdness.
Tell Me - Salem Al Fakir: narrowly missed the chart purely because I didn't want overkill. One of the more soul-influenced tracks on the album, and shows off his brilliant piano playing.
Bejbi - Snook: I love Snook's album and could have chosen three or four songs for this list but this really nice hip-hop-ballad had the edge. Nothing to do with Salem singing the chorus (in Swedish!) of course :-)
Lovestoned - Justin Timberlake: I still think he's the best at what he does and he would seem to be one of the few genuine pop superstars around. Nothing particularly original about this, I just like it.
Dimmi Perche - Nyco: A young Frenchman singing in Italian: now if that's not a candidate for a mention on EuropeCrazy then I don't know what is. Very good catchy pop song from earlier this year.
Wanna Love U Girl - Robin Thicke: I don't really like him that much, but this Timberlake-ish song was the exception to the rule.
Behind The Cow - Scooter: Typical Scooter fare, does what it says on the tin. You shouldn't like the usual play-loud/guess-the-sample/formula techno which you expect from them, but, deep down, you know you want to.
Thanks to the most important people in my life for making it so special - you know who you are.
Got lots of lovely presents too.
Thanks to a combination of live and recorded shows, TV wasn't too bad either...
Christmas Crackers: "When Joseph Met Maria" (BBC-1): Ok I know this was on last night but I videotaped it as I thought it would be perfect to watch today. I wasn't wrong - this TV special featuring the finalists from "How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria" and "Any Dream Will Do" was rather wonderful, and you can never have enough Lee Mead - gorgeous, talented etc etc, need I say more....
"Harry Hill's Christmas TV Burp" (ITV): The king of absurd TV comedy fully deserved his prime spot in the Christmas TV schedule: spiced peaches, Dot Cotton's zip, and a goose/turkey "FIGHT!" were three good reasons to love this. Even better news is that a new series is on the way!!
"Strictly Come Dancing" (BBC-1): Or rather, the first 55 minutes of this Christmas special, featuring the top 4 couples from the recent series (Alesha/Matthew, Matt/Flavia, Gethin/Camilla, Leticia/Darren) and the last two series winners (Mark/Karen & Darren/Lilia). Particularly enjoyed Mark and Matt, who are not only rather pleasant to watch but they also dance very well indeed.
Christmas Turkeys: "Strictly Come Dancing" (BBC-1): Or rather, the last 5 minutes of this Christmas special. Darren Gough? Eh? I was puzzled when he beat the brilliant Colin Jackson two years ago. Ditto tonight. Better than Mark? Alesha? Matt? Gethin? Even Leticia? No way no way. I don't understand his appeal, and I'd be grateful if anyone could explain it to me. Talking of turkeys, Tess Daly was dressed in an outfit which looked like a pair of old curtains, reminiscent of something the wicked stepmother would wear in panto. Someone in the wardrobe department must hate her that much.
"Coronation Street" (ITV): One of our all-time favourite soaps is going through a bad patch at present. No surprise therefore that this was a typically unremarkable Christmas Day episode, although I did cheer when Kevin Webster thumped the two-timing teacher. Otherwise, very boring. And why does everyone in soaps end up in the pub on Christmas Day?
Anyway I should watch less television now that I've got a fab new digital radio to listen to!! :-)
Monday, December 24, 2007
Just before I go...
I'm off now to get ready to see Santa (who looks suspiciously like faithful travelling companion) who'll be over later tonight. We'll be exchanging presents tonight but will wait till tomorrow of course before we open them!
Have a great time everyone! :-)))
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Strictly Come Dancing: a fabulous finale
It's time to pack away the sequins as last night saw the end of the latest series of "Strictly Come Dancing", which is such a successful formula you can see it going on for ever, as long as there are enough willing actors/sports people/TV presenters to take part!
I thought it was over, but it's not.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
There can be miracles...
Since Leon Jackson won the latest series of "X Factor" last Saturday night, he has been a target for criticism, and not just from disgruntled Rhydian fans. Like many others, I thought Rhydian had it in the bag, whilst Leon and Same Difference were just there on the final night to make up the numbers.
Why did Leon win? Hopefully not because of the "sob stories" aspect, which IMHO ruins the show from the audition stage onwards.
Again in my own humble opinion, Leon clinched victory because in his rendition of "When You Believe" he made that connection with the audience, even an old cynic like me who hates everything about "X Factor" (although I still watched it every week). Yes, Rhydian was a note-perfect, professional singer who was too good for this contest, but in the end he failed to connect. I doubt if Leon has the emotional strength or charisma to survive in the cut-throat pop world, but what he does have is a great voice, and that's what impressed me in the end, and I like the way he sang that song.
I was genuinely delighted when Leon was announced as the winner, as it was one of those moments which hadn't really happened since the Will-Gareth "Pop Idol" showdown when you expected a foregone conclusion only to get a major surprise. Leon is no Will Young however, and his career will need to be carefully managed and the correct songs chosen for him, otherwise he may just remain a one-hit wonder.
Good luck to Rhydian though: a long career in musical theatre is virtually guaranteed, and in the end it may be more rewarding than the five minutes of fame and Christmas number one that being an "X Factor" winner brings.
For the moment though, I like Leon singing "When You Believe", and I've never liked an "X Factor" winner's single before. So there is indeed a first time for everything.
Our best wishes are with Andreas and we hope that he will continue to carry on making music and entertaining us for a long time to come - with the emphasis being on the "positive".
Christmas time is almost here....
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Star Academy: Maureen's walked out!
Why do all my faves walk out? Last year it was Gael and this year it's Maureen. Seemingly citing "health problems" but I don't know any more about it.
Acer Ben - have you got any more news on this one?
Yet another attempt to launch BWO in the UK....
But here we go again with another attempt to launch BWO over here. Tonight I was watching The Box and they played the "Sunshine In The Rain" video, which in typical Alexander Bard-style is just a little bizarre. Oh, and Martin's cute in the video too. I like the song, maybe not as much as "Chariots of Fire" or for that matter "Temple of Love" but I wish they would have a hit here.
2007-50: No.1: If you ever let me, I'll do my best to bring you up again
2007. A year full of dreary-pop, uninspiring r'n'b, tenth-rate guitar bands and dull singer-songwriters.
And then on 14.07.07, Salem came into my life. When I heard "Good Song" for the first time, I thought it was amazing. Catchy, full of singalong hooks, and musically both simple and complex at the same time. As with "Dream Girl", I love it as much now as when I first heard it. A timeless classic loaded with 70s retro influences, and a video which is equally great fun.
This is my favourite song of the year because it's uplifting and happy and always cheers me up, and musically it's a delight.
I've previously posted the link to these before but here they are again: the video for the song is at http://www.emi.se/artists/salem/tiwia/index.htm (follow the link to the "Good Song" video), but there is also a brilliant live performance from this summer's Allsång pa Skansen show, by which time I realised that he wasn't only a great singer and musician, but that I was in love with him too! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tuE-lxrWwE
2007-50: No.2: Now I just wish you could come back tomorrow
Retro Saturday: Mathieu Johann & Maxim Nucci
Talking of solo careers: Mathieu - will you spend less time hanging out with that Clemence woman and get that album released! (At least he's got a Myspace now, so I'll keep checking that out)
Wallow in the gorgeousness of Mathieu and Maxim at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHKIwMpQuQ0
Retro Saturday: Calogero
Retro Saturday: Leslie & Amine
Retro Saturday - French language special: Maurane
"Toutes Les Mamas", from 1989, is my favourite song of hers. I like "Danser" too. She may not have had traditional pop star looks - I always thought she was a bit 'mumsy' - but there's no doubt that her jazzy and distinctive voice put her well ahead of many of her contemporaries.
video for "Toutes Les Mamas" at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29YwVLb4Nfw
Swedish charts update: it's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah
Welcome to the weird world of this week's Swedish "Digilistan" singles chart, which has gone "Hallelujah"-crazy after Idol finalist Amanda Jenssen sang the song in the competition. Now that downloads figure in the singles chart, the song appears no less than 3 times in the top 60: at no.4 (Buckley), no. 10 (Cohen) and no.57 (Wainwright).
Ms Jenssen herself also makes an appearance at no. 31 with her "Look What They've Done To My Song Ma"!
Not too much else to report apart from "Apologize" finally being deposed from no.1 by Leona Lewis' "Bleeding No.1 For Another Week In The UK Singles Chart" (OK it's called "Bleeding Love" but I couldn't resist :-))
This week's playlist: ok I said there wasn't going to be one, but...
Black Jacks/Control of the Knife/Can't Speak French/Girl Overboard - Girls Aloud: I never really considered myself a GA fan as such, although they have made some great, unusual pop records. "Tangled Up" is full of them, and I will review it one day.
Flux - Bloc Party: I don't really like this band that much, but this is a rather good bit of frenzied electro-pop which is a bit different for them.
Bonafied Lovin' - Chromeo: discovered them thanks to Popjustice, this is an outstanding and witty slice of electro-funk which would have crashed my 2007-50 had I heard it earlier.
Saving My Face - KT Tunstall: another example of not liking a particular artist but liking a song on its own merits.
Some Kinda Rush - Booty Luv: dance duo which have done no wrong this year, with another uplifting dance delight.
Caritas - Doll By Doll: an old song from the early 80s, which still sounds stunning today, thanks to singer Jackie Leven's stunning voice - what an underrated singer he was.
Take Me Away/The Power - D:Ream: another underrated 90s dance outfit best known for "Things Can Only Get Better" but they made much better tracks, like these two for example.
2007-50: No.3: Är det så här det känns att va lycklig? Det är inga problem.
Awesome rap song, in Swedish, by two extremely talented (and photogenic) young men. They may have passed me by, were it not for their connection to Salem Al Fakir, who produced and co-wrote their brilliant "Är" CD, and who was previously a member of their live band. Narrowly missed out on the top spot this year, but I can't wait to hear what they do next.
The top two positions in my chart will be revealed tomorrow, and should be self-explanatory...!! :)
Saturday, December 15, 2007
2007-50: No.4: It's as if I'm scared, it's as if I'm playing with fire
Put aside the fact that it is reminiscent of Cutting Crew's "I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight" and just enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. It's my favourite Mika track, and the biggest mystery of 2007 was that we in the UK watched "Love Today"/"Big Girl"/"Happy Ending" get released one after the other with "Relax" overlooked, whilst our more fortunate continental neighbours didn't miss out.
Friday, December 14, 2007
The 2007-50: not long to go till it's over
You will not be surprised by my final choices: for a while I couldn't decide between the top 2 but my decision is made and I'm sticking with it! Numbers 3 and 4 will appear tomorrow night and the top 2 will be revealed on Sunday afternoon.
2007-50: No.5: Bow in the presence of greatness
My 5th most favourite song of the year. What sets Kanye West apart from others in his field is his inventive sampling, and this Daft Punk "Harder Better Faster Stronger" sample was a fantastic and inspired choice. I doubt if he will ever make a better record than this - no doubt he would disagree!
2007-50: No. 6: Be like everybody else, just be like everybody else
A perceptive anthem about what might have been - everyone can identify with the sentiments in the lyrics of this song, set to an irresistibly funky-indie backing. Having the Arctic Monkeys as your mates helped: but Jon McLure and his band made it this year on their own considerable merits.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Checking to see it's not April 1st.
Not O.M.D., but E.M.D. Sweden's newest boyband. The most remarkable thing about this new boyband is that it's made up of not one, not two, but three former contestants in "Idol" - Erik Segerstedt, Mattias Andreasson and Danny Saucedo. Aftonbladet revealed today that they have already recorded their first single, a cover version of Sting/Bryan Adams/Rod Stewart's old hit "All For Love".
2007-50: No.7: Just let it go, just let me off your mind
What made "This Is Who I Am" my favourite album of the year was its incredible diversity. "Count Me Out" is a lovely, deeply soulful, break-up song, and its key factor is the complex musical arrangement, which like everything else on this album, Salem was responsible for. A truly brilliant talent.
2007-50: No.8: I ain't got no money, I ain't got no car to take you on a date
Nobody revitalised the tired world of r'n'b pop quite like Timbaland in 2007, with an amazingly diverse album - "Shock Value". "The Way I Are" was, and is, a great catchy song with wide appeal and still sounds as good even now as it did when it was released.
2007-50: No.9: The grass is greener on the other side, I told some people, now they know it
Two versions of this, both of which I love: Salem's original version, and the dancefloor reinvention by Axwell & Ingrosso. A very simple song with an uplifting vibe and a strong sentiment that "life will smile for you". Even if that isn't always the case, this song will still make you smile.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
2007-50: No.10: When someone loves like I do, dreams can come true
If "The Worrying Kind" won the Melodifestivalen battle, it could be argued that "Cara Mia" won the war. It was certainly the most played song during my trip to Stockholm earlier this year, and proved that coming 5th in "Idol" is no drawback to a successful pop career.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Weekly playlists: back soon
Melodifestivalen 2008: Linköping and Karlskrona line-ups
"Jag saknar dig ibland" - Ainbusk
"Lay Your Love On Me" - BWO
"Smiling In Love" - Caracola
"Upp o hoppa" - Frida Muranius
"Izdajice (Never fall in love)" - Mickey Huskic
"Under mitt tunna skinn" - Patrik Isaksson
"When You Need Me" - Therese Andersson
"If I Could" - Calaisa
"Hero" - Charlotte Perrelli
"Pame" - Daniel Mitsogiannis
"Ingen mår så bra som jag" - Fronda
"Hur svårt kan det va?" - Linda Bengtzing
"I lågornas sken" - Nordman
"That Is Where I’ll Go" - Sibel Redzep
Go go BWO!!!
Marie Picasso: debut album already!
2007-50: No. 11: Everybody's dressing up, I'm dressing down
IMHO it's been a disappointing year for British guitar-music, with a succession of Arctic Monkeys/Kaiser Chiefs wannabes which didn't inspire me at all. One of the few tracks which did, was this one which I still play every week. It's upbeat and it always cheers me up.
2007-50: No. 12: Why don't you like me? Why don't you like me?
Of all this year's pop newcomers, nobody divides people's opinions like Mika. Even now, sometimes I like him and sometimes he annoys me. "Grace Kelly" immediately grabbed me from the first listen and is one of the year's more enduring pop singles.
Star Academy: this week's nominations
Not too excited about this week's guests line-up: James Blunt, Cyril Cinelu, Vitaa, Pierre Perret, Sylvie Vartan and Yael Naim. I don't know why, but I'm just not really getting into this series as much as I have in the past, maybe it's just because of the late start as it should be finishing just now, rather than getting into its stride?
Monday, December 10, 2007
NRJ Music Awards: full list of nominees
Christophe Willem / Justice / Melissa M / Vitaa / Yael Naim
Amy Winehouse / Fall Out Boy / Mika / Plain White T’s / Sean Kingston
Artiste Feminine Francaise:
Amel Bent / Celine Dion / Jenifer / Shy’m / Zazie
Artiste Feminine Internationale:
Alicia Keys / Avril Lavigne / Fergie / Nelly Furtado / Rihanna
Artiste Masculin Francais:
Calogero / David Guetta / Christophe Mae / Emmanuel Moire / MC Solaar
Artiste Masculin International:
Akon / James Blunt / Juanes / Justin Timberlake / Timbaland
Diam’s & Vitaa / Fatal Bazooka / IAM / Magic System / Superbus
50 Cent & Justin Timberlake / Linkin Park / Maroon 5 / P Diddy & Keyshia Cole / Tokio Hotel
"1973" - James Blunt / "Relax Take It Easy" - Mika / "Don’t Stop The Music" - Rihanna / "Beautiful Girls" - Sean Kingston / "The Way I Are" - Timbaland
"Soundz of Freedom" - Bob Sinclar / "Mon Paradis" - Christophe Mae / "Inventaire" - Christophe Willem / "Pop Life" - David Guetta / "Divinidylle" - Vanessa Paradis
"Back to Black" - Amy Winehouse / "Blackout" - Britney Spears / "All The Lost Souls" - James Blunt / "Life In Cartoon Motion" - Mika / "Good Girl Gone Bad" - Rihanna
Clip de L’annee:
"Ayo Technology" - 50 Cent & Justin / "Pomme C" - Calogero / "Parle a Ma Main" - Fatal Bazooka / "D.A.N.C.E." - Justice / "Relax, Take It Easy" - Mika
My votes and predictions will be revealed shortly....
2007-50: No.13: How many days will it take for you to understand?
Title track of my favourite album of this (or any other) year. A delightful slice of 70s style retro-soul which proves that he is an extremely talented multi-instrumentalist. This song also has a clever, funny music video, and a pullover sighting (!)
2007-50: No. 14: Nothing's changed, I still love you, oh I still love you
Cover versions. That's never a good idea. So when Mark Ronson made an album full of them I was sceptical. But when they are as truly great as this amazing reworking of the Smiths song, with vocals by the equally amazing Daniel Merriweather, then all is forgiven.
Melodifestivalen fever starts here.
"Lullaby" - Brandur
"I Love Europe" - Christer Sjögren
"Line of fire" - The Poodles & E-Type
"Alla gamla x" - Face 84
"That’s Love" - Michael Michailoff.
"Visst finns mirakel" - Suzzie Tapper
"Deja vû" - Velvet
"Den första svalan" - Alexander Schöld
"Kebabpizza, Slivovitza" - Andra Generationen
"Du behöver aldrig mer vara rädd" - Lasse Lindh
"Love In Stereo" - Ola
"Just A Minute" - Rongedal
"Empty Room" - Sanna Nielsen
"Razborka" - The Nicole
The thing about MF is that the songs you think you'll like are the ones you don't, and the ones you don't think you'll like are the ones you do. After reading the above list I'm excited about the Poodles/E-Type collaboration (OK, laugh at me if you must), also the return of Velvet, but really really excited about...Ola! Ola! Ola! Hope the song's good.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
NRJ Music Awards are on the way!
No time to go into detail tonight but I'll have more info tomorrow. Some hotly-contested categories by the look of it...
West End Star: another new Swedish talent contest
This show only started last night so I'll give it a couple of weeks and go back and see how it's going.
Star Academy: brief review of this week's prime
Quentin and Alexia are still good, but two things to mention here: 1) how cheesy was Quentin’s "Dreams Are My Reality" song?, and 2) whoever did Alexia’s hair this week should be shot.
French charts update
Unfortunately Fatal Bazooka aren’t going away but I still don’t get the joke. "Parle A Ma Main" is no. 2 this week. Jenifer is at no.4 with her comeback single "Tourner Ma Page" which failed to reach no.1. Another former no.1, Koxie’s "Garcon" is no.5. Things still not moving very quickly in the French singles chart then.
It’s that time of the year when...France’s most famous Christmas song,."Petit Papa Noel" by Tino Rossi is exhumed yet again and is back at no.10 in the French chart. I won’t scoff though because the UK chart is about to be overrun once more with "Christmas classics"!
Over in the album chart, it's same-old, same-old. Johnny Hallyday's latest album "Le Coeur d'Un Homme" is at the top with Christophe Willem's "Mon Paradis" still doing very well at no. 2. Florent Pagny's "Pagny Chante Brel" is also in the top 5. Christophe Willem's excellent "Inventaire" is climbing the chart again thanks to the success of "Jacques a Dit".
2007-50: No. 15:Just a mortal with potential of a superman
Put aside the plagiarism accusations and you're left with a bit of glam retro fun. Many schlager fans weren't too happy with them representing Sweden at ESC with this, however I've been a fan of The Ark for years and was glad to see them reach a wider audience.
2007-50: No.16: I need it when I want it, I want it when I don't
I'm not usually into this kind of r'n'b stuff but this song was very much the exception, I heard it a lot on holiday in May and it became one of my most-played songs from then on. Soul-pop with some Michael Jackson influences thrown into the mix.
Retro Saturday: Christopher Cross
Retro Saturday: Was (Not Was)
Retro Saturday: Wendy & Lisa
Retro Saturday: Sheila E
Thank you Popjustice. Don't know what I'd do without you.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Star Academy 07.12.07
I can't access the link on TF1's site at the moment so can't watch the videos from last night, but anyway managed to find out that the public saved Mathieu with 48% of the vote, (this is getting more like Groundhog Day by the minute) and the jury saved Sevan (even though he caused a bit of grief earlier in the week) therefore Eva was eliminated.
Presumably Quentin and Maureen were wonderful as ever?
Marie Picasso is Sweden's new "Idol"
2007-50: No.17: When I see you I start smiling, just want to hold on tight
His first (and possibly not the last) appearance in this top 50. A pretty, simple and touching song, and his vocals are just so lovely and warm; this is the audio equivalent of wrapping yourself in a warm cosy blanket on a cold night.
2007-50: No.18: I wonder if it even makes a difference to try, so this is goodbye
It seems to have become very trendy to knock Maroon 5, and the worldwide success of "Songs About Jane" has not been too easy to follow, but you can't deny that this was a fine and funky Europe-wide hit with a very good video, back in the day when Adam Levine still had hair. (!)
Friday, December 07, 2007
2007-50: No.19: Et quand viendra l'inventaire, je serai le produit de l'année dernière
Witty French-language comment on being here today and gone tomorrow, certainly the Nouvelle Star winner has a very strong sense of irony-laced humour. This was a very classy declaration that Christophe is more than just a one-hit talent show winner. A well-produced, excellent record.
I can't believe there's only 9 days of this countdown to go! The remaining 18 songs won't be too surprising to anyone who's ever passed this way...
2007-50: No.20: There is hope to seek in times of madness, this day is almost done
There will always be love on this blog for the Swedish Idol 2005 runner-up of course: he did Melodifestivalen with this and was rather wonderful, even if his red "outfit" wasn't. Nice uptempo anthemic pop-rock song from a rather good second album too.
Here come the girls
Thursday, December 06, 2007
2007-50: No.21: Ingenting, först kom ingenting, sen kom ingenting, sen kom ingenting
Long-awaited first single from the rather good "Tillbaka Till Samtiden" CD (which I will review here, one of these years). 'Sweden's biggest rock band' as they are known, Kent may have been around a while, but their music is sounding fresher than ever, now with added electro influences.
2007-50: No. 22: I don't need you to explain, I don't need to wait in vain
And the geek will inherit the earth. Christophe Willem made a most unlikely Nouvelle Star winner: but he had the last laugh with a great debut album "Inventaire" and this English-language electro-pop cracker was one of its highlights.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Swedish Grammy Awards: full list of nominations (long post!)
Anyway here are all the nominees, initially ten in each category which will be narrowed down to five by a public vote prior to the Grammisgalan on 09.01.08.
Best album:Jens Lekman - Night Falls Over Kortedala / Kent - Tillbaka Till Samtiden / Lars Winnerbäck - Daugava / Moneybrother - Mount Pleasure / Sahara Hotnights - What If Leaving Is A Loving Thing / Salem Al Fakir - This Is Who I Am / Säkert! - Säkert! / The Ark - Prayer For The Weekend / The Hives - The Black And White Album / Timbuktu - Oberoendeframkallande
Best dance/hip-hop/soul:Adam Tensta - It's A Tensta Thing / Dogge Doggelito - Superclasico / Familjen - Det Snurrar I Min Skalle / Fjärde Världen - Världens Ände / Ken - Äntligen Hemma / Mange Schmidt - Känslan Kommer Tillbaks / Million Stylez - From A Far / Petter - God Damn It / September - Dancing Shoes / Vincent - Lucky Thirteen
Best group:Eldkvarn - Svart Blogg / Kent - Tillbaka Till Samtiden / Mando Diao - Never Seen The Light Of Day / Sahara Hotnights - What If Leaving Is A Loving Thing / Shout Out Louds - Our Ill Wills / The Ark - Prayer For The Weekend / The Hives - The Black And White Album / Oh Laura - A Song Inside My Head, A Demon In My Bed / Peter Bjorn And John - Writer's Block / Weeping Willows - Fear & Love
Best hard-rock/metal:Arch Enemy - Rise Of The Tyrant / Candlemass - King Of The Grey Island / Clawfinger - Life Will Kill You / Crashdiet - The Unattractive Revolution / Dark Tranquillity - Fiction / Entombed - Serpent Saints / Hardcore Superstar - Dreamin' In A Casket / Lillasyster - Hjärndöd Musik För En Hjärndöd Generation / Mustasch - Latest Version Of The Truth / Takida - Bury The Lies
Best songwriter:Anna Järvinen - Jag Fick Feeling / Annika Norlin - Säkert! / Benny Andersson - Bao 3 / Christian Kjellvander - I Saw Her From Here, I Saw Here From Her / Joakim Berg & Martin Sköld - Tillbaka Till Samtiden / José González - In Our Nature / Moneybrother - Mount Pleasure / Ola Salo - Prayer For The Weekend / Peter Bjorn And John - Writer's Block / Salem Al Fakir - This Is Who I Am
Best female artist:Anna Järvinen - Jag Fick Feeling / Eva Dahlgren - Petroleum Och Tång / Jaqee - Nouvelle D'amour / Laleh - Prinsessor / Louise Hoffsten - Så Speciell / Maia Hirasawa - Though, I'm Just Me / Miss Li - God Put A Rainbow In The Sky / Sonja Aldén - Till Dig / Sophie Zelmani - Memory Loves You / Säkert! - Säkert!
Best live act:Benny Anderssons Orkester / Jens Lekman / Lars Winnerbäck / Lena Ph & Orup / Parksommar / Per Gessle / Peter Jöback / Takida /The Hives /Timbuktu
Best song:Lars Winnerbäck & Miss Li - Om Du Lämnade Mig Nu / Mange Schmidt Feat. Petter - Giftig / Markoolio - Ingen Sommar Utan Reggae / Martin Stenmarck - 100 År Från Nu (Blundar) / Måns Zelmerlöw - Cara Mia / Sahara Hotnights - Cheek To Cheek / Salem Al Fakir - Good Song / Sonja Aldén - För Att Du Finns / The Ark - The Worrying Kind / Ola - Natalie
Best male artist:Christian Kjellvander - I Saw Her From Here, I Saw Here From Her / Jens Lekman - Night Falls Over Kortedala / José González - In Our Nature / Lars Winnerbäck - Daugava / Moneybrother - Mount Pleasure / Måns Zelmerlöw - Stand By For... / Peter Lemarc - Kärlek I Tystnadens Tid / Salem Al Fakir - This Is Who I Am / Timbuktu - Oberoendeframkallande / Timo Räisänen - Love Will Turn You Around
Best newcomer:Abalone Dots - From A Safe Distance / Adam Tensta - It's A Tensta Thing / Anna Järvinen - Jag Fick Feeling / Maia Hirasawa - Though, I'm Just Me / Måns Zelmerlöw - Stand By For... / Oh Laura - A Song Inside My Head, A Demon In My Bed / Salem Al Fakir - This Is Who I Am / Sonja Aldén - Till Dig / Säkert! - Säkert! / Vincent - Lucky Thirteen
Best producer:Benny Andersson - Bao 3 / Björn Olsson - Never Seen The Light Of Day / Björn Yttling - Writer's Block & What If Leaving Is A Loving Thing / Jari Haapalainen - Svart Blogg / Jon Joshua Schuman & Kent - Tillbaka Till Samtiden / José González - In Our Nature / Laleh - Prinsessor / Maia Hirasawa - Though, I'm Just Me / Salem Al Fakir - This Is Who I Am / Vincent Pontare - Lucky Thirteen
Best lyrics:Anna Järvinen - Jag Fick Feeling / Annika Norlin - Säkert! / Eva Dahlgren - Petroleum Och Tång / Jason Diakité - Oberoendeframkallande / Joakim Berg - Tillbaka Till Samtiden / Lars Winnerbäck - Daugava / Ola Salo - Prayer For The Weekend / Peter Lemarc - Kärlek I Tystnadens Tid / Plura Jonsson - Svart Blogg / Salem Al Fakir - This Is Who I Am
Whatever your views are about the above nominations, it just proves the diversity and quality of pop and rock music coming out of Sweden these days. Apart from the obvious favourite of mine (guess who!!!) I'm hoping that some of my favourite acts make it to the final five in each category. What a great awards ceremony it's shaping up to be.
2007-50: No. 23: We're the right train running on the wrong track
Excellent reggae-flavoured debut pop song by very talented Swedish singer/songwriter/producer Vincent Pontare. He is already writing for international acts like the Backstreet Boys; but he deserves some international success himself too.
2007-50: No. 24: When the sun goes down on this part of town it's time for dancing
Bring your own glitterball along and boogie down to one of the most underrated pop/dance songs of this year which despite being championed by Popjustice, didn't make the UK top 40. Can't wait to hear Ali's debut album which hopefully will be released in 2008.
2007-50: No. 25: I won't even attempt the lyrics of this one...
We've reached halfway point in the chart and now a great swaying anthemic ballad from a lovely Icelandic singer, this was one of the best songs from ESC national finals season this year. Even now I still love it, in spite of the terrible styling (!) Check out YouTube for the clip if you don't believe me.
2007-50: No. 26: Tonight you're gonna get your time to shine
One of those rare dance acts which proved to be more than just a one hit wonder ("Boogie 2Nite"), this Big Brovaz spin-off provided several slices of dancefloor delight this year and this was my favourite.
Monday, December 03, 2007
Basshunter: he's back, and this time there's no escape
And now the bad news.
There is now an English version entitled "Now You're Gone", the video has already been on the music channels in the UK and I'm running for cover....
Reality TV round-up
I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!: IMHO the most disappointing one so far, mainly due to the lack of interesting personalities. I don't understand the appeal of the winner, Christopher Biggins: but he's got so many showbiz friends, their votes would be enough for him to win. Janice "Awww Maaan!" Dickinson was runner-up, with Jason 'J from Five' Brown third. Yawn.
2007-50: No.27: We're the ones that they've forgotten, but we will not be denied
2007-50: No. 28: You set my beating heart in motion, when you cast your loving potion
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Idol 2007 30.11.07: And then, there were two.
"I Have Nothing" - Marie: Honestly, if I hear another Whitney song in one of these reality-pop contests I will scream and scream and scream....anyway, another assured performance by Marie, who surely must win it now?
"Cryin'" - Andreas: He does have a good rock voice which went well with this Aerosmith number, however overall he still lacked star quality and seemed resigned to the fact he was going this week.
"Hallelujah" - Amanda: This may just have been the performance to convert the haters, but I'm sorry, but I still don't get her. This was ok, but that was all.
"Conga" - Andreas: Who said 'stitched up'? Giving a rock singer such a throwaway number was such an obvious attempt to get him out. Or am I just paranoid?
"Maneater" - Marie: IMHO possibly one of her worst performances of the series, but there's no denying she's still got lots of potential and I think she'll have an interesting career ahead as a recording artist.
"No One" - Amanda: very shrewd song selection, choosing the current Alicia Keys hit. However I don't like this song very much, and her off-key vocals didn't help. Is it just me?
Result: the biggest foregone conclusion of the series to date, as Andreas went out, leaving the first ever all-female Idol final contest in Sweden.
It's Marie versus Amanda: hope Marie wins, but I fear the worst. Anyway I'm off to watch my Christoffer videos and dream of what might have been....!
2007-50: No. 29: Ven hacia mí, descubre el amor
It was a long, long, long process to choose Spain's ESC entry this year, but it resulted in a piece of rather fab Spanish boyband brilliance. Catchy song, and I could think of a million worse things than drooling over the D'Nash boys. This one's for you, Poster Girl!
2007-50: No.30: She's a Mona Lisa always smiling
Follow-up to the now-legendary "Cara Mia", this wasn't too well-received in the schlager community but I really liked it. Proof as if it was needed that the former Idol contestant and Let's Dance winner wasn't going to be just a one-hit wonder - but he became one of my favourite Swedish-pop-boys of the year.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
Important changes at EuropeCrazy: a new blog is born
Over the last few weeks I've been thinking about creating a spin-off blog devoted to everything Salem-related, leaving EuropeCrazy to do the job it was supposed to do in the first place.
In the words of those great philosophers Moloko....the time is now.
Today sees the birth of the UK's no.1 unofficial fansite for Salem Al Fakir. It's called Planet Salem: find it at http://planetsalem.blogspot.com.
I'll still be mentioning him on this blog though - you don't escape from him so easily!
Salem's tour, and other stuff from this week
There was a really positive review of his Linköping show in one of the Swedish papers, whilst I liked an amusing post by an Expressen blogger in Örebro, who had a dream that Salem's hair was actually a wig made of foam rubber!!
There's a couple of clips from Uppsala on YouTube, one of them is "It's Only You" which I hadn't heard him sing live before.
Salem was interviewed by one of the Swedish newspapers this week and he said that after his tour he will take some time out and write new songs, but he didn't know when he would release any new material, and there was no news about him being launched internationally. (That's not to say he won't, of course, but I had been hoping for something very soon).
He will however play at the Bylarm festival in Oslo along with a number of other Nordic bands, between 23-25 February 2008.
I have some other stuff I want to say about Salem and this blog: see next post.
2007-50: No.31: And I would do whatever to get on your case
A recent discovery of mine: Vincent Pontare is yet another one in a long line of multi-talented young Swedish musicians with the potential to achieve international success. This is his current single, a bright and cheerful pop song to brighten up these early winter days.