Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Goodbye 2008...

Just want to wish all my readers a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2009.

Thanks to everyone who's visited, read, commented and supported this little blog over what has been (personally) a very difficult 12 months however I really enjoy doing this blogging thing and I don't intend to stop it anytime soon. Your support and friendship continues to be very special and means a lot to me.

Carry on visiting in 2009 and hopefully, in the words of the great philosopher Magnus Carlsson, it will be "a happy happy year for us all".

I should be back here on New Year's Day (current domestic crisis permitting!!) :)))

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The 2008-50: full rundown

Here is the full list of my top 50 fave songs of 2008.

1. It’s Only You Part II - Salem Al Fakir
2. Black and Gold - Sam Sparro
3. Twelve Fingers - Salem Al Fakir
4. Let It Shine - Tingsek
5. Beggin’ - Madcon
6. Lay Your Love On Me - BWO
7. Just A Minute - Rongedal
8. Viva La Vida - Coldplay
9. Save The Lies - Gabriella Cilmi
10. Propane Nightmares - Pendulum
11. Homecoming - Kanye West & Chris Martin
12. American Boy - Estelle & Kanye West
13. Do You Love Me - Amanda Jenssen
14. Divine - Sebastien Tellier
15. I’m Yours - Jason Mraz
16. Love In Stereo - Ola
17. Bang On The Piano - Jack McManus
18. 42 - Coldplay
19. Happy Hour - Palladium
20. This Is My Life - Euroband
21. Until I Die - September
22. Jennie Let Me Love You - E.M.D
23. Come On Girl - Taio Cruz
24. Dance Wiv Me - Dizzee Rascal, Chrome & Calvin Harris
25. Built To Last - Melee
26. Dangerous - M Pokora
27. Beli Jablan - Aleksa & Ana
28. Smilin’ - Bryn Christopher
29. Cry For You - September
30. Sex On Fire - Kings of Leon
31. My Cool - Adam Tensta
32. The Age of the Understatement - Last Shadow Puppets
33. Comme Avant - Mathieu Edward & Sheryfa Luna
34. What You Look For - Sam Beeton
35. Who Do You Think You’re Foolin’ - Rongedal
36. They Said I Said - Sugarush Beat Company
37. Would You Believe - Daniel Karlsson
38. And I Lie - Prata Vetra
39. Hur Svart Kan Det Va - Linda Bengtzing
40. Just Dance - Lady GaGa
41. Femme D’Aujourd’hui - Sofia Essaidi
42. Last Goodbye - Avenue
43. Shady Lady - Ani Lorak
44. 4 Minutes - Madonna & Justin Timberlake
45. Always Always - Zuma
46. La Histeria - Marquess
47. Work - Kelly Rowland
48. If Only You - Danny
49. When You Touch Me - Freemasons
50. We Keep On Rockin’ - Alcazar

The 2009-50 will start on 19th November 2009!


I've been on YouTube watching BWO videos and also various Melodifestivalen videos from over the years.

"Your Country Needs You" starts next Saturday, I saw a trailer for it after "The Weakest Link" and I got rather excited about this, which is quite unusual as I'm not usually too over-excited about the Royaume-Uni selection process.

My mum was a bit puzzled about Eurovision season starting so early, so I had to reassure her that "on season" started from December onwards....anyway it will be something for us to watch next Saturday now that "Strictly Come Dancing" is finished.

It might just get a mention on here this time next week..... ;))))

NRJ Music Awards 2009

One of France's most prestigious awards ceremonies is due to take place on 17 January 2009. I should have mentioned this here a while ago but you know how it is...anyway here are the categories and nominees in this year's NRJ Music Awards.

Artiste Masculin Français: Christophe Mae; Renan Luce; David Guetta; Laurent Wolf; Martin Solveig.
Prediction: Christophe Mae should win this one.

Album Français de L'annee: "Blonde Comme Moi" - BB Brunes; "Comme a la Maison" - Christophe Mae; "Ersatz" - Julien Dore; "Repenti" - Renan Luce; "Point de Suture" - Mylene Farmer.
Prediction: Christophe Mae.

Album International de L'annee: "This Is The Life" - Amy MacDonald; "Viva La Vida" - Coldplay; "Rockferry" - Duffy; "One Of The Boys" - Katy Perry; "Funhouse" - Pink.
Prediction: Coldplay or Pink.

Artiste Feminine Française de L'annee: Jenifer; Nadiya; Shy'm; Zazie; Mylene Farmer.
Prediction: Mylene Farmer.

Artiste Feminine Internationale de L'annee: Britney Spears; Christina Aguilera; Pink; Rihanna; Beyonce.
Prediction: Britney Spears.

Artiste Masculin International de L'annee: Chris Brown; Enrique Iglesias; Lenny Kravitz; Akon; James Blunt.
Prediction: Chris Brown.

Chanson International de L'annee: "Viva La Vida" - Coldplay; "American Boy" - Estelle & Kanye West; "I Kissed A Girl" - Katy Perry; "Beggin'" - Madcon; "Disturbia" - Rihanna.
Prediction: "I Kissed A Girl" - Katy Perry.

Clip de L'annee: "Womanizer" - Britney Spears; "I Don't Care" - Fall Out Boy; "C'est La Vie" - Martin Solveig; "La Debacle des Sentiments" - Stanislas & Calogero; "C'est Chelou" - Zaho.
Prediction: Britney Spears.

Groupe/duo Français de L'annee: Cleopatre; Enrique Iglesias & Nadiya; Magic System; Sheryfa Luna & Mathieu Edward; Stanislas & Calogero.
Prediction: Sheryfa Luna & Mathieu Edward.

Groupe/duo International de L'annee: Coldplay; Estelle & Kanye West; Fall Out Boy; Madcon; Pussycat Dolls.
Prediction: Coldplay.

Revelation Française de L'annee: Gregoire; Marc Antoine; Sheryfa Luna; William Balde; Zaho.
Prediction: Zaho.

Revelation Internationale de L'annee: Amy MacDonald; Duffy; Katy Perry; Jonas Brothers; Leona Lewis.
Prediction: Katy Perry.

I've just made my predictions the way I think the vote will go....of course I will be voting on the website and many of my choices will be different from my predictions of course :))))

Three weeks tonight in Cannes, all will be revealed!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

That (belated) Strictly Come Dancing write-up.

I'm on catch-up mode tonight :)

Last Saturday saw the final of Series 6 of Strictly Come Dancing. I think it would be fair to say that I didn't really enjoy this series, for many reasons. Notably the favouritism shown by the increaingly powerful judging panel, towards Rachel "desperate ex-pop star in need of career relaunch" Stevens; and Lisa "Model and TV presenter" Snowdon.

This blatant favouritism managed to get these two to the final, via an embarrassing semi-final vote mix-up which meant that, despite Tom Chambers winning the viewers vote, he would not escape the 'dance-off'; a ludicrous idea introduced in Series 5 to ensure that the panel's favourites would progress as far as possible in the competition, with (IMHO) a complete disregard for the public vote.

So on 20.12.08 we ended up with the following three couples in the final:

Rachel Stevens and Vincent Simone;
Lisa Snowdon and Brendan Cole;
Tom Chambers and Camilla Dallerup.

It all went in a predictable fashion: Rachel was all posing and no dancing and the panel continued to fall for it; Lisa's desperation outweighed her efforts on the dancefloor, and Tom....well, he was back on form after the semi-final.

Tom had excelled since day one and had managed to crack the crucial, crowd-pleasing combination of showmanship and the sheer joy of dancing which ensured his progress all the way to the final.

Note to judging panel: Tom was never in the dance-off. Rachel and Lisa were. Make of that what you will.

Above: Rachel and Vincent's 'Rhumba': all style and no substance.

On the night, Lisa was first to go, leaving Tom and Rachel to go head-to-head in the show-dance. Tom and Camilla managed to reignite the Fred-and-Ginger magic of previous routines when it mattered....and won.

Above: Tom and Camilla celebrate their win.

I was very happy indeed with the result, as I hate the increasing manipulation of such shows by the judging panel. At least the whole John Sergeant saga this series proved that the more the panel hate you, the more the viewers save you...even this ended with a bad taste as Mr Sergeant felt the need to quit, quoting the risk that 'he might just win it....'.

The eviction of Austin Healey in week 12 also left a bad taste: he and Tom were arguably the best dancers in the contest, and both should have been in the final.

The Strictly Christmas special, screened on BBC-1 on Christmas Day featured this year's three finalists and their professional partners, in competition with former winners Jill Halfpenny/Darren Bennett and Alesha Dixon/Matthew Cutler, and Kelly Brook got another chance as she had to quit the contest in 2007 following a family bereavement. She was previously partnered with Brendan Cole but as he was dancing with Lisa, Kelly's new partner was Brian Fortuna, who was one of this series' new dancers. We decided some weeks back that Brian is the best (and fastest) of all the male dancers!

It was an enjoyable show, made all the better by Jill, Kelly and Alesha, all of whom had dancing talent, likeability and personality- something which was noticeably missing in Rachel and Lisa IMHO.

In the end it was between Jill/Darren and Kelly/Brian: I thought Kelly and Brian were fabulous on the night and just had the edge, but the final result - a combination of judges vote/studio audience vote - meant that the title of Strictly Christmas Champions 2008 went to series 2 winners Jill and Darren, who still remain very popular with Strictly fans.

Those British TV Christmas Day ratings in full

Christmas Day TV seems to be a particularly British obsession, as the two main channels battle for the highest viewing figures. This year it was BBC1 who had cause for celebration with nine out of the top 10 shows.

The highest-rated show this Christmas was the latest, long-awaited Wallace and Gromit short film - A Matter of Loaf and Death. I absolutely love these shows - they have a "cracking" mix of witty scripts, sharp visual gags and stunning animation. As ever, Gromit saved the day, and there was also a potential love interest in evil Piella Bakewell's nervous pet poodle Fluffles....

Above: Fluffles and Gromit (picture courtesy of www.wallaceandgromit.com)

Courtesy of the ultimate TV/entertainment website Digital Spy, here are the 20 most-watched TV shows in the UK on Christmas Day.

1. Wallace & Gromit: A Matter Of Loaf And Death - BBC One, 8.30pm - 14.25 million, 53.3%
2. Doctor Who: 'The Next Doctor' - BBC One, 6pm - 11.71 million, 50.5%
3. EastEnders - BBC One, 9pm - 11.47 million, 44.9%
4. The Royle Family - BBC One, 9.30pm - 9.98 million, 41.7%
5. EastEnders - BBC One, 8pm - 9.89 million, 40.6%
6. Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special - BBC One, 7pm - 8.57 million, 35%
7. Coronation Street - ITV1, 7pm - 7.36 million, 30%19:00 Coronation Street (7356, 30.0%)
8. Wallace & Gromit In The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit - BBC One, 4.30pm - 7.22 million, 39.8%
9. The Queen - BBC One, 3pm - 6.45 million, 42.6%
10. Blackadder Rides Again - BBC One, 10.30pm - 5.58 million, 30.9%
11. Dancing On Ice At Christmas - ITV1, 8pm - 5.2 million, 20.4%
12. Emmerdale - ITV1, 6pm - 4.76 million, 20.5%
13. Shark Tale - BBC One, 3.10pm - 4.69 million, 31.1%
14. It'll Be Alright On The Night - ITV1, 9.30pm - 3.8 million, 15.9%
15. Top Of The Pops Christmas Special - BBC One, 2pm - 3.74 million, 30.6%
16. Harry Potter and the Prisoner Of Azkaban - ITV1, 3pm - 3.32 million, 20%
17. Dad's Army - BBC Two, 8pm - 2.7 million, 11.1%
18. The Two Ronnies - BBC One, 1.05pm - 2.52 million, 22.5%
19. The Santa Clause 2 - BBC One, 11.25am - 2.37 million, 22.2%
20. Stanley Baxter: Now & Then - ITV1, 10.30pm - 2.16 million, 11.8%

Friday, December 26, 2008

Eartha Kitt, R.I.P.

Just found out that Eartha Kitt has died - now there was a legend.

Decided to pay my own little tribute here with the mighty "Cha Cha Heels" which was a big favourite here at EuropeCrazy HQ back in the day :)

Dave Fanning's Fab 50, 2008

Just thinking the other day about all the musical Christmas traditions I used to love in the 1980s:

1. Listening to (and voting for) John Peel's Festive Fifty;
2. Buying the Christmas issue of the NME - it was always a double edition with year-end charts and rock stars dressed up as other celebs; (I stopped buying NME when it went from a newspaper to a 'glossy')
3. Tuning my radio and hoping for a decent signal from RTE Radio 2, to hear Dave Fanning's Fab 50 chart, which was also a listeners' choice but a bit less left-field than the Peel one.

Reassuringly, Fanning's Fab 50 is still going, and here is this list which is reproduced courtesy of www.rte.ie.

It can always be relied upon to provide a mix of old rock, 80s and 90s indie, and recent/current favourites.

1 - One - U2
2 - Sex on Fire - Kings of Leon
3 - Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana
4 - Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd
5 - Bad - U2
6 - With or Without You - U2
7 - How Soon Is Now - The Smiths
8 - There is a Light That Never Goes Out - The Smiths
9 - Black - Pearl Jam
10 - I Am The Resurrection - The Stone Roses
11 - Dearg Doom - Horslips
12 - Run - Snow Patrol
13 - Love Will Tear Us Apart - Joy Division
14 - Stairway to Heaven - Led Zeppelin
15 - Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen
16 - Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen
17 - Hurt - Johnny Cash
18 - Chasing Cars - Snow Patrol
19 - Human -The Killers
20 - Imagine -John Lennon
21 - Gimme Shelter -The Rolling Stones
22 - Kids - MGMT
23 - Viva la Vida - Coldplay
24 - Comfortably Numb - Pink Floyd
25 - Use Somebody - Kings of Leon
26 - Live Forever - Oasis
27 - I Wanna Be Adored - The Stone Roses
28 - Hallelujah - Jeff Buckley
29 - Sweet Child O'Mine - Guns N'Roses
30 - Mr. Brightside - The Killers
31 - A Day in the Life - The Beatles
32 - 1979 - Smashing Pumpkins
33 - Intervention - Arcade Fire
34 - Where the Streets Have No Name - U2
35 - Teenage Kicks - The Undertones
36 - Debaser - The Pixies
37 - Creep - Radiohead
38 - Thunder Road - Bruce Springsteen
39 - Rebellion (Lies) - Arcade fire
40 - Bullet with Butterfly Wings - Smashing Pumpkins
41 - Sunday Bloody Sunday - U2
42 - One Day Like This - Elbow
43 - Don't Stop Believing - Journey
44 - Fans - Kings of Leon
45 - Time to Pretend - MGMT
46 - November Rain - Guns n Roses
47 - Fool's Gold - The Stone Roses
48 - Enter Sandman - Metallica
49 - Love is Noise - The Verve
50 - Back in Black - AC/DC

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas Everyone!!

As usual I failed miserably this week and haven't done all the posting that I was going to do :(

Anyway, I'll keep it brief.....have a great Christmas everyone, and hope it's filled with love, happiness and good music!

I'm off now to prepare for Santa's visit. I may be back on here later tomorrow night, but failing that I will definitely be back on Boxing Day - Friday - with all those overdue posts.

Have a fab festive season!! XX

Monday, December 22, 2008

Star Academy 8: it's all over

With, thankfully, a satisfactory result.

It was Mickels versus Alice in the final - and thankfully we got the right result, although it was very close. Mickels won by 52.2% of the vote (I wish British TV talent shows would be so forthcoming with voting stats).

I haven't had time to watch the videos of the show so will catch up in the next couple of days.

Will there be a season 9? Rumours were rife since the beginning of this edition that it would be the last, mainly due to poor ratings and a lack of exciting contestants, but more rumours suggest that a 9th, and heavily revamped, season could be on the way.

What we do know is that another two familiar faces will be missing from the line-up. Choreographer Kamel Ouali will be working on a new dance movie, whilst fitness guru Christophe Pinna would appear to have had enough, if French press reports are anything to go by.

If you want to see just how good Star Ac was in its heyday, head over to http://staracademy.tf1.fr and follow the link to '8 ans de Star Ac' where you can find lots of videos and info on all the past 8 seasons. I don't know how long this site will be around as TF1 has a habit of removing its Star Ac stuff once the season is over.

Dansbandskampen: beware of men in jumpsuits

This Swedish TV series gave a great insight into that country's love of the dansband, something those of us outside Sweden often struggle to understand...nevertheless it was great fun to watch, and a genuinely new idea for the reality-talent format.

Larz-Kristerz and Scotts had progressed, week by week, beating off all contenders on their way to the final. Some other wildcards were selected to try (and inevitably fail) to overthrow the dynamic dansband duo.

Jannez: quite unremarkable IMHO and there wasn't really anything special about them.

CC & Lee: imagine Nina & Kim with big 80s hair. They were like a pair of schlager-robots at Melodifestivalen - and they probably will end up there too. Be very afraid...

Bengt Hennings tried to cash in on post-Idol Kiss mania and go down the Larz-Kristerz route by dansband-ing an old rock song, "I Was Made For Lovin’ You" but it didn't work.

Shake was just like a cabaret band and their "Mercy" didn't really impress me either.

In the end the real battle was between Larz-Kristerz and Scotts.

Scotts had a more modern outlook and Henrik was for me the best singer in the contest. Perhaps in the end, they weren't really dansband enough, although I think their future success is assured. They've already bagged a spot on Melodifestivalen 2009 and I don't think we've heard the last of them.

Larz-Kristerz on the other hand, managed to capture the spirit of old-fashioned dansband perfectly, with naff costumes and big on entertainment value. I liked the way they turned "Purple Rain" into a cheesy old dansband classic. Although their vocals lacked the punch of Scotts-Henrik, the overall package was enough for them to win. Aftonbladet revealed the voting figures for the season: L-K got the most votes every week, so no surprise that they won.

This series has been a ratings winner, and at the end of the show, host Peter Settman announced that there will be another series in 2009. Jumpsuits at the ready!!

Above: Larz-Kristerz win Dansbandskampen. (photo courtesy of Aftonbladet)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Time for a break...

But don't worry folks, it's only for a few days to allow me to catch up with pre-Christmas preparations and other completely unrelated stuff.

The blog will be back on Monday 22 December with reviews of the Star Academy and Strictly Come Dancing finals.

Retro Saturday's also taking a break and will return on 3 January.

In the meantime, have a good weekend everyone!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

2008-50: The ones that got away

Here are a few songs which missed out on inclusion in my top 50 of 2008.

These are in no particular order, just totally random.

It may not have made the MGP final, but "Colliding" by Nicholas Carlie was a nice swaying ballad.

Question of the year? "Are we human or are we dancer?" The Killers were back, and "Human" was (and is) fab.

The return of Darin was cause for much celebration in blog-land: "Breathing Your Love" was a very good electro-pop style comeback.

Another Swedish talent returned this year: Christian Walz. I loved the retro-70s vibe of "What's Your Name".

I finally got into Jason Mraz's music this year. We all know how great "I'm Yours" is, but "The Dynamo of Volition" was a fast-talking little gem from his great "We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things" album.

Alphabeat deserved much credit for bringing pop back to the charts - "Fascination" was just such a foot-tapping feelgood song.

One song which did very well at MF was "I Lågornas Sken" by those witch-burning cheeky boys Nordman. Very dramatic and very...Swedish!

Talking of Swedish, one of our old faves Brolle returned with an album in his native language. He's a great singer in any language, and I liked "Solo i Stockholm".

"Flyer (Under Fire)" by Sergey needs no introduction for fans of Russian pop...and if you like this then visit Rachel's wonderful Work Your Magic.

The comeback single "Måndagsbarn" by Veronica Maggio was in that retro-60s style which seemed to be popular this year, and she did it particularly well. Produced by her other half Oskar (Kihlen) from Snook, which is another good reason to love it.

Everytime I hear "The Bells of Freedom" by BWO I just feel like dancing around the room. There's nothing new or original about it, it's just BWO being BWO but that's a good thing!

"Outta My Head" was a ridiculously catchy single by Ashlee Simpson and it should have done better in this country.

"Love Song" by Sara Bareilles was a massive radio airplay hit so I got tired of it eventually, that's why it probably never made my top 50. Still quite like it though.

I once referred to Sara Bareilles as the female Daniel Powter, well the man himself was back this year with "Next Plane Home" which might not have been as classic as "Bad Day" but it was still rather nice.

If you needed a Prince-tribute this year then you couldn't get better than "Hot Mess" by Sam Sparro. It should have been a single IMHO, but I wonder what will happen with his career now after the failure of "21st Century Life"?

"The World Should Revolve Around Me" by Little Jackie really grabbed my attention this year...the backing track reminds me of "Kommer Ifrån" by Snook, which is a good enough reason to love it.

One of the year's best new acts with major international hit potential is Irish trio The Script. They released a very impressive debut album, and "The Man Who Can’t Be Moved" really deserved its hit status.

Great to have Will Young back again. "Changes" had the same kind of musical feel as James Morrison's "You Give Me Something" and I really identified with the lyrics. Will is just a great charismatic artist.

Watch out for VV Brown next year - if there is any justice she will take the world by storm. "Crying Blood" is catchy and irresistible. And she has such an amazing look!

Incredible but true: my hatred of Snow Patrol was abolished thanks to "Take Back The City" which proved that they had a bit of life about them after all. A really good track - what a pleasant surprise!

When I heard "Viva La Vida....." initially, I didn't really like "Cemeteries of London" however a couple of days later I heard this played loud in a record shop and suddenly it all made sense. Coldplay made an amazing album.

My introduction to Hot Chip came with "Ready For The Floor" which was an incredibly catchy tune. I never did get round to hearing their other stuff, but I liked this.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

(Belated) Reality Roundup

Strictly: what a farce that semi-final results show turned out to be, hasn't the BBC had enough voting scandals to last a lifetime?

This show is so over-manipulating now that it has ceased to become entertainment. Yes, Tom did have an "off" week but he's been given another chance in the final: fingers crossed that we get the old Tom back.

X Factor: I haven't watched any of it but I wanted JLS to win as it's about time a group won. What's the point in having groups in it if they're never going to win? I don't particularly have any love for "Hallelujah" but I have even less love for it when it's bawled out Whitney-style by 2008 winner Alexandra Burke.

Swedish Idol: I said "Beware of the Borg" and I was right. Oh well done anyway to Kevin Borg, the young lad who moved from Malta to Sweden one year ago - he's Sweden's new Idol, but I still can't see him having a long career. At least runner-up Alice Svensson had a nice understated singing style and in good old Idol tradition she might get a nice career out of not winning.

Dansbandskampen: Scotts and Larz-Kristerz to the final, along with some other wild cards who shouldn't even bother turning up as they won't win it anyway.

Star Academy: An Alice vs Gautier semi-final was always going to be the musical equivalent of the devil and the deep blue sea. Couldn't work out who was which, but I'm just glad we don't have to look at Gautier's scowling face any more. It's Mickels (who can sing) versus Alice (who....can't) in this week's final. Go Mickels!!! - but don't be surprised if the viewing public get it wrong again.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A broadcast on behalf of the frustrated chart compilers party

Whilst I enjoyed compiling the 2008-50, it also became rather frustrating as it just brought it all back to me how there were so many amazing songs with massive hit potential, but most of them failed to achieve any commercial success in this country because they aren't being played on radio and thus getting out to a wider audience.

They say that the music business is in a horrible mess at the moment, but I'm not really surprised.

The record companies and the media, notably radio stations, are failing promising new artists.

1) There are now no prime-time TV outlets for new music - only Later with Jools Holland (not on at the moment) and Sound (tucked away in a stupid Saturday afternoon slot).

2) There may be a lot of music video channels now, but they are all completely lazy, mostly playing the same boring r'n'b songs all day and night. Only The Box has tried to break new (often European) acts but there are now less than before, in favour of top 40 hits.

3) Local radio stations are the worst offenders: why play new music from unknown acts when you can play boring oldies or Pink, Rihanna and Amy Winehouse all day long?

Sorry for the rant but I'm just fed up with the lack of priority given to music now. Even the record shops seem ashamed to sell CDs in favour of games and DVDs.

Thank goodness for blog-land, where fanbases can be built with word of mouth (or should that be word of mouse???) and we can get to hear about great music. Long live bloggers!!

2008-50: No.1 - Shouldn't tell you what I got inside but I just need to let it out

"It's Only You Part II" - Salem Al Fakir.

Deja vu? You may remember the original version of this song appearing in my 2007-50, no. 17 to be precise. So you could argue that this song shouldn't even be here on a technicality. But it is, it's my chart, I make the rules here...and besides, it's such a radically different version that it's like a new song anyway :)))

I immediately loved this new version of the song: it is bright, sparkling, happy and uplifting, and as you would expect from Salem it is just pure musical perfection with a timeless quality. My love of this song is reflected in the fact that it is now in the top 10 of my iTunes play count. I won't let a day pass without hearing this song. I just love it.
But this presented me with a dilemma. To have a Salem song at no.1 for two years running would be a bit reminiscent of the Spice Girls or the X Factor getting the Christmas no.1 every year. I didn't want it to be a foregone conclusion.
But then I thought about it again: the no.1 should be my favourite song of the year. And this is.
I know it's a bit early to talk about the 2009-50, but if Salem's new album lives up to the greatness of his 2007 debut, then don't be surprised to see him here again 365 days from now!!
So that's the end of my 2008-50 countdown. Over the next week I'll be revealing my "ones that got away" - the 25 songs which just missed out on my top 50. Some goodies in there too!!

2008-50: No.2 - Cause if you're not really here, then I don't want to be either

"Black and Gold" - Sam Sparro.

Do you ever hear a song and just know that it’s going to be your favourite of the year? And so it was with "Black and Gold". Mr Sparro signalled his arrival on planet Pop with this fantastic song which sounds as good after the ten thousandth listen as it did the first time. A sophisticated pop song oozing genuine quality, no more no less. Without question, the best song to grace the British charts in 2008.

Unfortunately there was nothing on his debut album, good though it was, to even come near equalling this.

This reigned supreme as my favourite song of the year until about 8 weeks ago, when it was overtaken by my no.1.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

2008-50: No. 3 - You can't blame me for shining cause I'm a star

"Twelve Fingers" - Salem Al Fakir.

From the "It’s Only You Part II" EP, and like everything he does, instantly likeable. More punchy than anything on "This Is Who I Am" and indicative of his move towards a harder sound, but still distinctively Salem nevertheless with the distinctive vocals and keyboard lines. Great lyrics on this one too. I also like the clarity of the production - is there anything this man cannot do well?

No video available for this song, but you can hear it at www.myspace.com/salem.

2008-50: No.4 - I think I never trusted you enough

"Let It Shine" - Tingsek.

Yet another one of those Swedish musical geniuses who blend pop and soul effortlessly (I don't even need to mention them here, do I?) And like his contemporaries this has an almost 70s retro/laid-back feel to it: from its sparse beginnings it builds into something rather beautiful and uplifting. The minute I heard this song I knew it would be in my top five singles of the year: I was right.

Friday, December 12, 2008

This week's playlist: Ain't nobody working on the loveshift

"Loveshift"/"What's Your Name" - Christian Walz: I discovered his music thanks to Poster Girl, and these are two cracking tracks from his new album.

"The Astronaut"/"Someday" - Salem Al Fakir: two live tracks from his appearance at the Swedish Radio P3 Guldgalan press conference. These will be on his forthcoming second album, but hear them in very different acoustic form at http://www.sr.se/sida/artikel.aspx?artikel=2482155&programid=3266 and follow the link at 'lyssna: från presskonferensen'.

"Broken Strings" - James Morrison & Nelly Furtado: a very nice little duet which sounds great on the radio. I'm not a massive James Morrison fan, although I like some of his songs and I think he is rather underrated nonetheless.

"Crying Blood" - VV Brown: this is soooo ridiculously catchy and should have been a massive hit. Expect to hear a lot more from her in 2009: she's certainly a lot more lively than many of the female singers around at the moment.

"Ping Pong" - Stereolab: an oldie, but what a great one! For no reason whatsoever, I've been listening to this a lot lately. The lyrics are brilliant too.

"Silly Really" - Per Gessle: a very welcome change in musical style, more lively and catchy than anything he's done lately, and recalling Roxette in places.

"Rehab" - Rihanna: I'm getting really tired of her being a constant fixture in the charts and on our radios, but I rather like this, probably because it sounds like "What Goes Around Comes Around" with new lyrics.

"Rule The World" - Take That: this is having a revival at the moment, and already it's sounding like a timeless classic. To think I hated it at first....unthinkable now.

"Up All Night"/"Hello" - Take That: I haven't listened to "The Circus" too much yet - will need to rectify that. Strangely enough I'm gravitating towards the Mark Owen songs which on first/second listen are the most instantly catchy tracks.

2008-50: No. 5 - Put your lovin' hands out baby

"Beggin' " - Madcon.

One of the year's biggest European hits - even here in the UK! This was an old Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons which was turned into an absolutely fabulous dance-pop-rap stomper by this Norwegian duo.

Like many of the other songs in my chart I never get tired of hearing this - and it got yet another lease of life during my summer holiday in Nice, where it was probably the most-played song of the holiday.

Video: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=UiUkyPHyrSI

2008-50: No. 6 - We can dance all night with the bourgeoisie

"Lay Your Love On Me" - BWO.

My undisputed favourite of the 2008 Melodifestivalen, and I still can't get enough of it. It may have owed a little to "Hung Up" but mixed with some of the old BWO magic, the result was just a great pop song. Their performance on Melodifestivalen was one of the most memorable of this year's contest, and their visual style was as understated as ever - NOT!!

It was a good year for BWO: they released their fabulous greatest hits compilation "Pandemonium" which is a great introduction to their effortless, catchy Swedish pop. Oh, and did I mention that I was in love with Martin Rolinski? (yeah, shallow again, I know ....!)

Happy days ahead: they'll be back at MF in 2009.

Bye bye Boston

I just learned tonight that one of my all-time favourite U.S. drama series, "Boston Legal" has finally come to an end in the USA after a four-year, five-season run. Forget the overrated shows which seem to run and run for ever - "Boston Legal" was hidden away on Living TV in the UK but I reckon it could have been a massive hit if one of the bigger networks had bought it.

Sharp, witty writing and often exceptional acting performances made the show a must-see every week, even if some of the plots and storylines became a bit too bizarre at times!

The fifth and final season should be on Living TV in 2008; series 1-4 meanwhile are available on DVD.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

2008-50: No. 7 - I got haste, I got taste, I can't wait no more

"Just A Minute" - Rongedal.

Imagine if Mika and the Scissor Sisters were to have a musical baby (!). Their offspring would sound like this Melodifestivalen 2008 finalist. I wasn't expecting much from the Rongedal brothers this year, more famous as backing singers and game show panellists than real pop stars. What a surprise I got. An immediately catchy song with a catchy falsetto hookline, performed with such professionalism as if their lives depended on it.

I never get tired of hearing this song.

2008-50: No. 8 - Revolutionaries wait for my head on a silver plate

"Viva La Vida" - Coldplay.

OK, ridicule me if you wish, but here goes..."Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends" was my favourite album of 2008. The title track may have been overplayed to death, but it’s so anthemic and timeless that I’m still glad whenever it comes on the radio. And when that whoa-ho-ho-ho-ho bit comes in, three minutes into the song, it's just one of those moments that make you happy to be alive. And that, after all, is what great music is about.

Or, for the conspiracy theorists who might have heard that song before....

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

2008-50: No. 9 - You better treat me nice, or I'll come back to bite

"Save The Lies" - Gabriella Cilmi.

She will always be remembered for her breakthrough hit "Sweet About Me", one of 2008's 'sleeper hits' but it was the follow-up which really impressed me. A funky, gutsy upbeat number which, again, wasn’t the massive hit that it so deserved to be.

In this year of post-Winehouse girl-pop, Duffy may have got all the attention but I thought Gabriella was much better and deserved to be more successful. Young, pretty, talented....I hate her! (only kidding). Looking forward to hearing much more from her in the future.

2008-50: No. 10 - I just wonder what we've gotten ourselves into

"Propane Nightmares" - Pendulum.

Top ten time!! I'm doing four songs tonight as I won't be on here tomorrow night as I need to catch up with some other stuff.

At one point in the year I actually had this song in about 3rd/4th place but even now, 10th is pretty respectable.

I remember the first time I heard this truly epic track, arguably the most 'exciting' record of the year for me. I am still gripped by the same excitement every time I hear this song, even though I'm not really a fan of their other music. An incredible fusion of drum'n'bass and rock, with an appeal to a much wider audience.

Australian acts are doing very well in my top ten this year!!

2008-50: No. 11 - They wanna rap and make soul beats just like you, but they're just not you

"Homecoming" - Kanye West featuring Chris Martin.

Kanye again, this time someone featuring on his record instead of him featuring on someone else's. One technically from 2007, I know, but I only got to hear it at the beginning of 2008 and I make the rules, so it qualifies!!

This really came into its own thanks to the addition of Chris Martin, outwith his Coldplay-comfort-zone. A memorable piano hook, and Martin sounding as if he was really enjoying himself here. This is now my 17th most played song on iTunes!

I haven't listened to Mr West's new album yet, I wasn't too thrilled by "Love Lockdown" so I hope there's better songs to come from him.

2008-50: No. 12 - I just met this five foot seven guy who's just my type

"American Boy" - Estelle featuring Kanye West.

For me, one of the most enduring chart hits of the year. Featuring Kanye West - I know that was quite a common thing a couple of years ago - every record that was released seemed to be 'Featuring Kanye West' but his rapping on this one just makes the song extra special, and it's quite funny too.

Estelle hasn't really had much commercial success since, possibly because this song will always cast a big shadow over anything else that she does. This song was a breath of fresh air for many of us who were becoming bored by the dull formula r'n'b that ruled the charts this year: just a great crossover record.

Monday, December 08, 2008

2008-50: No. 13 - Truth be told simple and bold, I think you're special

"Do You Love Me" - Amanda Jenssen.

Premiered -memorably - at January's Grammisgalan, this Vincent Pontare-written song was a stunning debut. In a year full of 60s-influenced post-Winehouse girl-pop songs, this just destroyed all of them. She may have only been runner-up in last year's Swedish Idol contest but it looks as if her musical career will outlive that of winner Marie Picasso.

Video: (from Grammisgalan): http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=LgoPXj5Wzhk

2008-50: No. 14 - Look away, they try to find the milky way

"Divine" - Sebastien Tellier.

Into the final week of my chart - yes I've finally caught up! - with a song which has just grown in stature over this year.

In the predictable landscape of the Eurovision Song Contest, France did something daring and different this year and selected Sebastien Tellier's "Divine": the least Eurovision-y song you are ever likely to hear. It became one of my most played songs of the year on the iPod, it's such a likeable feelgood song with its Beach Boys-type harmonising.

But that wasn't the end of it. This song then turned up as background music in various TV shows, and is now featuring in the latest Renault Megane advert, which has given the song yet another new lease of life. And as I type this, that ad has just come on TV!!

2008-50: No. 15 - I can't hesitate no more, this cannot wait

"I'm Yours" - Jason Mraz.

A hit all over Europe this year but....oh you know the rest. Still there is hope: I heard it on my local radio station today at work, and I leapt out of my seat and yelled "Jason Mraz!!!!" (Needless to say I got some funny looks and no-one seemed to share my enthusiasm for the song, but hey I still love it anyway).

This song got me into his music and I am now a fan of his laid-back gentle lyrical acoustic sound, which musically comforted me through a turbulent summer.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

2008-50: No. 16: Give me more of the attraction

"Love In Stereo" - Ola.

Yet another song from this year's MF - there are another couple to go!

I totally fell in love with this song and I thought Ola looked great singing it too (shallow, yeah I know). It's just the kind of thing I watch Melodifestivalen for.

2008-50: No. 17 - I wonder if you could be my therapy?

"Bang On The Piano" - Jack McManus.

OK at the risk of repeating myself - why wasn't this a hit? It got radio airplay, it got video airplay, he's good-looking and he's got a famous girlfriend (Martine McCutcheon) so it was all quite high-profile....yet it all didn't quite work out.

A catchy, uplifting, radio-friendly song and one which was bigged-up rather a lot on this blog in the early part of this year. I'm not sure what will happen with his career now, but this is still a good record anyway.

Video: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=YMla35_YWoM (almost 400,000 views of this on YouTube - imagine if this had translated into record sales!)

2008-50: No. 18 - You thought you might be a ghost

"42" - Coldplay.

First (and, clue, not the last) song in my chart from possibly my favourite album of the year. I know a lot of people don't like them - and I went through that phase myself - but I just thought "Viva La Vida" is a great album, and they won't make a better one.

Three-part epic "42" starts off in a slow and bleak way, but then halfway through it erupts into something quite anthemic and joyful, before retreating back to where it started.

The sound of a band in their prime.

2008-50: No. 19 - A slap on the face and a look of disgrace

"Happy Hour" - Palladium.

One of those post-Feeling bands who I really expected to do big things, but ....well you know the rest.

In terms of actual songwriting, "Happy Hour" was one of the year's best - with acutely observed lyrics of a relationship breakdown against the cliches of 'happy hour'.

2008-50: No. 20 - This is my life, I don’t wanna change a thing

"This Is My Life" - Euroband.

I really really wanted Iceland to get their first (long-overdue) ESC victory with this Eurodance stomper, which was sung by two of the best singers in this year's contest. Maybe Iceland should move itself lock stock and two smoking geysers to Eastern Europe and then we'll see if they do any better.

My bitterness aside, I really hope to see these two back on a Eurovision stage again some day.

The reality round-up

OK here goes with this weekend's reality TV roundup.

Strictly Come Dancing - I can't really talk about this at the moment as I'm pretty disgusted. Pathetic result BTW. There are three people left in this competition, and two of them do not deserve to be there. I hope the other one wins, or the 1% credibility this show has left will have just gone out the window.

EDIT: So Austin is gone, and I'm not happy. The manipulation of this show by the judging panel has got to stop or the viewers will stop watching. I can't understand the blatant favouritism shown towards Rachel Stevens and Lisa Snowdon, as IMHO their dancing just doesn't merit this. Tom Chambers to win - he's the best dancer, however none of the remaining contestants have the sparkle, charisma and star quality which you'd expect from this show.

Dansbandskampen: Aftonbladet reports.....oh it's Groundhog Day. Guess the result!!!!

Star Academy: well, well, well! Mickels is in the final!!! I'm very happy about this although quite sad that it wasn't actually a Mickels-Joanna final as both of them deserved to be finalists :(

Stjärnor på Is: I haven't been following this, but tonight's final was won by Markus Fagervall, ex-Idol winner so congratulations to him.

I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here: cheeky Cockney chappie, ex-Eastenders Joe Swash won this on Friday night, beating tennis legend Martina Navratilova to the title. Ex-Star Trek and Heroes actor George Takei was third, with camp-nemesis David Van Day (ex of Dollar!!) in fourth place. This was always one of my favourite celebrity-reality shows but like the rest of them, it's all gone pretty stale :(

Saturday, December 06, 2008

2008-50: No. 21 - I'll be crossing over the borderline

"Until I Die" - September.

She gave an incredible performance of this on the Aftonbladet Rockbjornen back in January, and I loved this song ever since. Unlike many faceless dance acts, Petra Marklund has a genuine talent and staying power which was rewarded with an international hit this year with "Cry For You" - I can't wait to hear what she does next.
Video: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=N1W7GyumTqo : now you know where Madonna got her "4 Minutes" clock from :)

2008-50: No. 22 - You should know that I am head over heels for you

"Jennie Let Me Love You" - E.M.D.

To say that I was sceptical when E.M.D. came on the scene was an understatement. A boyband made up of ex-Swedish Idol contestants - including Danny Saucedo - was doomed to fail, it seemed. Only it wasn't, and Erik, Matthias and Danny did very well out of it this year in their home country. This was their best song IMHO - just a catchy Swedish pop song which was very popular at EuropeCrazy HQ this year.

Video: they won't let us watch the official video on YouTube so here's their 'Let's Dance' performance instead: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMCfaTB7ln4

2008-50: No. 23 - Now I know that you want it, you've indicated

"Come On Girl" - Taio Cruz featuring Luciana.

I don't think any of his subsequent singles have even come close to this slice of electro-r'n'b excellence! One of those songs which I never got sick of listening to this year and which always gets me bopping around the room :0 It also features dance-diva Luciana, who is just soooo cool.

2008-50: No. 24 - If I'm out on my own then I can look at you, looking at me

"Dance Wiv Me" - Dizzee Rascal, Chrome and Calvin Harris.

What an incredible track! I'll let you into a secret - the first few times I heard this I hated it, but then one day I realised that I loved it. I'm not a Dizzee Rascal fan, but this is such a catchy rap song and one of the few number one singles in this year's UK top 40 that I would actually choose to listen to. And Calvin Harris is on it, which is always a good thing. (I'm looking forward to hearing his new material in 2009).

2008-50: No. 25 - This is real, and this is good

"Built To Last" - Melee.

Fans of Keane’s old piano-driven sound would have found much to love in this song, which introduced me to this band. This screamed HIT RECORD!!!! yet it was, like many other songs in my chart, criminally ignored this year. Such a warm, likeable, life-affirming and uplifting song about the joy of being in love.

2008-50: No. 26 - She's supersonic, her eyes are so hypnotic

"Dangerous" - Matt Pokora.

This was the year that the French Justin Timberlake™ released his first English-language album, produced by Team Timbaland - but ironically it wasn’t so well-received in his home country. This single had limited international success, well it was all over the radio whilst I was in Latvia anyway! I still like this song a lot and play it regularly, although I never really took the time to listen to the rest of his English-language stuff.

Video (with ubiquitous Timbaland appearance): http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=2mwMBSYe0gk

Thursday, December 04, 2008

2008-50:back soon

Apologies as I seem to have messed up with this over the past few days but I promise a chart catch-up marathon this weekend. :)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Star Academy: what kind of semi-final draw is that???

Semi-final 1: Joanna vs Mickels.

Semi-final 2: Alice vs Gautier.

Now I didn't watch last week's prime to find out how we got to this, but I can't help thinking that there's something not quite right about this draw :(

What happened to the old days of the boys' semi-final and girls' semi-final? Oh well, maybe not, as we'd probably end up with a Alice vs Gautier final.

If Star Academy was to go out on a high (for despite the denials, I can't see it coming back for another series) it should have been a Joanna vs Mickels final, but it's reality TV, and we know all too well that it's not about the 'best' anymore.

Monday, December 01, 2008

2008-50: No. 27 - Can I pass on the Serbo-Croat lyric??

"Beli Jablan" - Aleksa Jelic & Ana Stajdohar.

I'm no expert on Balkan pop but this was a refreshing little disco-tastic Serbian pop song which I still play a lot. Ridiculously catchy, even if you don't know a word of Serbo-Croat.
Have decided that Aleksa is probably my favourite Serbian pop star, and makes a nice change from the usual deep and meaningful Zeljko-type stuff which now always seems to represent them at ESC. This narrowly missed out on the chance to represent Serbia this year: more's the pity. I'd love to see Aleksa get the chance to represent his country one day though.

2008-50: No. 28 - Why am I addicted to you?

"Smilin'" - Bryn Christopher.

In a year of dull, identikit r'n'b, it was refreshing to hear a fabulous old-style soul singer for a change. Bryn Christopher was that man. Amazing vocals harking back to the golden age of Terence Trent D'Arby - yes!

Not only vocal talent either, but good looks and star quality too.

So why isn't he a massive star yet??? Probably because he's too good!
Bryn then appeared on the Electric Proms 'Saturday Night Fever' show (check back for my earlier post) and absolutely stole the show. He has been supporting The Script on their tour so maybe that will bring him to a new audience.
This is just a great record and I totally love the video. One gorgeous man in a white suit...Oh yessssss.......(calm down!!)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

2008-50: No.29 - Forever never comes around

"Cry For You" - September.

One of the nicest surprises of the year was seeing this track become one of the year's major European dance hits. In the UK, her record company did a very smart thing - targeting the same market as the likes of Cascada and Basshunter proved to be very successful indeed. I can only hope that her career is steered in the right direction in order to avoid her becoming a one-hit wonder, so hurry up with the follow up single. She has so many good songs to choose from!

2008-50: No. 30 - Hot as a fever, rattling bones

"Sex On Fire" - Kings of Leon.

I'd been aware of them for a few years but had never actually heard anything by them till this song which became an absolutely massive hit for them over the last couple of months - and got lots of radio airplay too.

I'm going to have to listen to their album now, to see if it's as good as this single.

Another weekend at reality central

Idol: Gospel week on Idol, oh well any excuse for an appearance by Carola and a gospel choir backing the contestants. Teens' favourite Johan (who looks about 12 years old) was voted off this week, leaving Robin, Alice and Kevin as the final three.

I said it before and I'll say it again - beware of the Borg. For he is going to win it. Even though my view has not changed that he is a boy-in-search-of-a-boyband and there is nothing really special about him. He is very confident though.

Anyone else think that Robin bears a spooky visual resemblance to Markus Fagervall? Robin does have a good voice though, but again he lacks star quality.

And what's with the restyling of Alice into some kind of Beyonce clone? It just doesn't suit her at all - she is far too 'nice' for that style.

To be honest I don't really care who wins this year, but will continue to watch it anyway.

Strictly Come Dancing: this programme is being spoiled now by the crawling favouritism shown by the judges towards Rachel Stevens and ultra-desperate Lisa Snowdon, whilst Tom Chambers and Austin Healey don't seem to be their flavour of the month any more. Do not underestimate the Great British Public - for they do not love Rachel the way you do, dear judges, and she found herself in the bottom two. Poor Christine Bleakley didn't have a chance however as the judges took the opportunity to save their fave.

Worst moment of the week: when Arlene Phillips dared to compare Ms Stevens to Alesha Dixon. Umm....no, I don't think so. Alesha had it all and she could dance, but as for Rachel - well, she does nothing, the girl does nothing. Except pose.

I want a Tom vs Austin final, not just because they're the best dancers but also because their partners Camilla and Erin seem to be getting genuine enjoyment out of it, whilst the professional males Brendan and Vincent are just too tense now.

I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here: Celebrities? Sorry but who are Brian Paddick and Nicola McLean? (A dour personality-free ex top cop, and a pneumatic Jordan wannabe-WAG). Only David Van Day is keeping the carcrash quota up this year, and for that reason he must be kept in, especially now that his partner in crime Timmy Mallett is gone. Joe Swash, ex of Eastenders, has the sufficient cheeky-chappie quality to win, but who knows?

Star Academy: the semi-final line-up is now known. It's the talented singers (Joanna and my favourite Mickels) versus the Chosen One (perma-scowling Gautier) versus the People's Favourite (Alice, aka Elodie Frege Mk II). There was no room for Solene, who looked the part but her inconsistent performances let her down.

Dansbandskampen: Scotts and Larz-Kristerz....oh wait, it wasn't on this week, replaced by some Nordic junior Eurovision nonsense. Normal service is resumed next week!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Retro Saturday: Bjorn Skifs

I noticed his name among the Swedish Grammy nominations this week. So let's take a little nostalgia trip with the man who represented Sweden at ESC in 1978 and 1981.

"Fangad i en Drom" which he sang in Dublin in 1981 was my favourite of his two entries, although I never figured out the significance of the gloves :) indeed his styling was completely wrong but his vocals were just right for the drama of the song. http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=qKd8aqEqbVw

"Det Blir Alltid...." from Paris in 1978: indeed his styling wasn't any better three years earlier either, this achieved notoriety in Sweden for him just making up the words as he went along. http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=LYoPjN0CbXI&feature=related

Retro Saturday: Mansun

One of the most underrated bands of the Britpop-era may I say!

I was listening to a few Mansun songs on my iPod today and wondered why I hadn't featured them here before now. "Attack of the Grey Lantern" was a fab album which I played and played and played for a long long time.

"She Makes My Nose Bleed" was a great record. In this video, http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=-8MPDK0gW9w, lead singer Paul Draper looks as if he's paying tribute to Midge Ure!

"Wide Open Space": http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=tj7aNPWbvgo&feature=related again a very well crafted and produced song, maybe forgotten now but a classic of its time.

"Six": http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=jpYNvwmlrJY&feature=related An amazing song. This was from later on in their career. I know they weren't always the media's favourite band but I thought they were great, that's what we are missing at the moment - inventive, creative guitar bands rather than the generic indie rubbish which is played to death on Radio 1 :(

Retro Saturday: Mark Morrison

Kicking off with one of those tunes which was always guaranteed to get me onto the dancefloor back in the day, when I did that sort of thing :)

"Return of the Mack" was one truly magical musical moment from 1996 from a man who was better known for his criminal record, notably when he got someone else to do his community service. The video is just bling-soaked and as close to hip hop parody as you can get: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=uB1D9wWxd2w

2008-50: No. 31 - That's my cool and I can't take it off

"My Cool" - Adam Tensta.

Swedish rap's award-winning man of the moment. He even got a shout-out on Perez Hilton's blog earlier in the year. What makes this really special is the addictive electro backing track: this is equally as good as anything Kanye West would do.

2008-50: No. 32 - And my fingers scratch at my hair before my mind can get too reckless

"The Age of the Understatement" - The Last Shadow Puppets.

If an appearance by Madonna in this chart was a shock, then here's another one. Maybe it's just me, but I happen to think that Alex Turner and his Arctic Monkeys are possibly the most overrated band of the last five years.

So no-one was more surprised than I was to hear what Mr Turner did next. His side project The Last Shadow Puppets produced a very good album of 60s-influenced pop. The title track and first single has a galloping backbeat and a dramatic spaghetti western widescreen feel. Infinitely preferable to the Arctic Monkeys.

Friday, November 28, 2008

2008-50: No. 33 - Pardonne moi si je te délaisse, si je m'éloigne encore

"Comme Avant" - Mathieu Edward & Sheryfa Luna.

Star Academy finalist meets Popstars winner and the result is a very appealing mid-paced French r'n'b duet. I wasn't a Mathieu fan during last year's series but he makes sense as a recording artiste, whilst Sheryfa is certainly a bright new talent. I'm not generally a fan of duets either, but this is very nicely done with their voices flowing in and out of the song and blending perfectly.

2008-50: No. 34: I guess what I'm good for is laughing at

"What You Look For" - Sam Beeton.

Ridiculously young singer-songwriter with maximum teen appeal, now if that's not a recipe for success then I don't know what is. Yet despite lots of video airplay on The Box, this failed to trouble the top 40. Such a bright, lovely debut single too, promising much for the future. Debut album expected in spring 2009 - I'll be listening out for this.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

2008-50: No. 35 - Can someone help this foolish heart?

"Who Do You Think You're Foolin'?" - Rongedal.

First (but not last) appearance in my countdown for the Swedish singing twins Magnus and Henrik Rongedal, who stepped out of the backing vocalist shadows to become stars in their own right at Melodifestivalen. Their debut album was a revelation - full of strong pop songs with singalong hooks.

And this was one of them: catchy, uptempo, driven, uplifting falsetto-pop, and like their other entry later in my chart it may be just a little too influenced by Mika/Scissor Sisters - but I can think of worse things to be influenced by. :)

2008-50: No. 36 - It's not that I hate you but I just can't seem to love you

"They Said I Said" - Sugarush Beat Company.

I have loved this irrestistibly infectious soul-pop song ever since the first time I saw this band perform it on "Later With Jools Holland" (which is a live music TV show here in the UK featuring a very varied musical line-up every week.)
Fronted by an old favourite of this blog, big-haired Danish disco diva Ida Corr, this band brought a very refreshing sound to 2008's music scene. Even if - like most other songs in my chart - commercial success eluded this track, I still love this, it's so fresh.

Square-Eyed back at the end of January

Decided to give my monthly TV reviews a rest until the end of January, purely because I don't watch much TV these days apart from the soaps, Harry Hill and Strictly Come Dancing.

Telly is really poor at the moment isn't it! No wonder I prefer blogging.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Swedish Grammys 2009: nominations announced!

The first lists of nominees for the Swedish Grammy awards - to be held on 7 January 2009 - were announced today.

Voting is open at www.grammis.se between now and 10 December, then the final shortlists will be announced.

Here are the nominees in some of the main categories:

Best Album: Amanda Jenssen / Anna Ternheim / E.S.T. / Frida Hyvönen / Håkan Hellström / Hello Saferide / Kleerup / Lykke Li / Titiyo /Veronica Maggio

Best Group: Backyard Babies / Bo Kaspers Orkester / BWO / Dungen / Eldkvarn / Fatboy / Hästpojken / Kent / The Hellacopters / The Soundtrack Of Our Lives

Best Dance/Hip-Hop/Soul: Afasi & Filthy / Chords / Firefox Ak / Form One /Lazee / Looptroop Rockers / Melo / Petter / Sophie Rimheden / The Last Days Of Disco

Best Dansband/Schlager: Charlotte Perrelli / Christer Sjögren / Drifters / Lasse Stefanz / Linda Bengtzing / Rongedal / Sarek / Sten & Stanley / Streaplers / Thorleifs

Best Newcomer: Afasi & Filthy / Amanda Jenssen / Anna Maria Espinosa / Detektivbyrån / Hästpojken / Joel Alme / Juvelen / Kleerup / Lazee / Markus Krunegård

Best Female Artist: Amanda Jenssen / Anna Maria Espinosa / Anna Ternheim / Frida Hyvönen / Hello Saferide / Lykke Li / Miss Li / Sophie Zelmani / Titiyo / Veronica Maggio

Best Male Artist: Eric Gadd / Håkan Hellström / Juvelen / Kleerup / Markus Krunegård / Per Gessle / Timbuktu / Timo Räisänen / Tingsek / Ulf Lundell

Best Live Act: Lars Winnerbäck / Robyn / Håkan Hellström / In Flames / Björn Skifs / The Hellacopters / Ulf Lundell / Veronica Maggio / Peter Lemarc / Lykke Li

Best Song: Empty Room - Sanna Nielsen / Hero - Charlotte Perrelli / Do You Love Me - Amanda Jenssen / Jennie Let Me Love You - EMD / Måndagsbarn - Veronica Maggio / Det Är Hon - Brolle / Lay Your Love On Me - BWO / On And On - Agnes / Jag Är En Vampyr - Markus Krunegård / Longing For Lullabies - Kleerup Feat. Titiyo

The Swedish press are focusing on the female domination of the Swedish music scene in 2008 and this is certainly reflected in the nominations so far.
I'm not really too bothered who wins all the awards this year as it's not like last year when I did want a certain person to win everything (!) however the list just once again proves the diversity of musical talent coming out of Sweden.

2008-50: No. 37 - Love hurts, but life goes on

"Would You Believe" - Daniel Karlsson.

A recent, last-minute addition to my chart, this is a great debut single from the "Kapten" from 2007's Swedish Idol, and if he gets the chance to make a debut album then I'm very excited about it indeed - especially if it's as good as this song. A high quality, credible pop song which stands up to repeated play.

2008-50: No. 38 - More or less, everyone has a mess in their hearts and heads

"And I Lie" - Prata Vetra.

Everyone's favourite Latvian band returned this year with a new album, and a more edgy, different sound. "And I Lie", the first single from the album, was possibly the most accessible of their new songs, but was still a shock to the system for those with fond memories of "My Star" and "A Day Before Tomorrow". And, to complicate matters, it was the Latvian version of this song, not the English one, which appeared on the album.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Reality TV update

Idol - well what a shocker, the pre-contest favourite Anna Bergendahl was voted out last Friday. Maybe the public just got sick of her quivery voice which was even more quivery on "Over The Rainbow". I'm definitely predicting a Kevin Borg-Johan Palm final now. ( reckon Robin will go next week, then Alice). I'm not really into Idol this year and I don't think there are any great talents - like all other reality talent shows, it's all just a popularity contest now.

Star Academy - first week of all contestants being up for the public vote, and the two out this week were Edouard and Anissa. How these two can be evicted yet Alice and Gautier remain in the contest...it's all down to popularity again folks!

Dansbandskampen - oh, just give the title to Scotts and be done with it! As Poster Girl reported, Scotts have been given a song to sing at next year's Melodifestivalen and I reckon they should do quite well. They would appear to be the natural successors to Barbados, appealing to both the older dansband fans as well as a younger market. Yet another foregone conclusion this week as Larz-Kristerz also went through along with Scotts to meet (and presumably beat off) next week's batch of contenders.

2008-50: No. 39 - Se mig, hör mig, rör mig

"Hur Svart Kan Det Va'?" - Linda Bengtzing.
The song and performance which converted me from a Linda-hater to a Linda-fan. It was like "Grace Kelly"-meets-schlager (and here's a clue, there will be another song later in my chart fitting that description), and what really did it for me was her lively performance of the song at this year's MF - she was really going for it!

I don't think she'll be back at MF for a little while, but I'm sure she'll be back some day - hopefully as good as this.

Normal service should be resumed tomorrow night, now that this holiday nonsense is over! - as the 2008-50 gets back to two songs per night and the countdown continues.

2008-50: No. 40 - I can't remember but it's alright, alright

"Just Dance" - Lady GaGa.
Yet another one of those pop singles which was massive in Europe for this American singer over the last 6 months or so, yet completely overlooked in the UK - although this could change as it's finally being released at the end of this year. The electro-sound dominated many pop singles this year; this was one of the better examples and it will always remind me of my summer holiday in France. I haven't heard much of her other stuff though, and I'm not so keen on "Poker Face" yet, but this is certainly a great pop record.

2008-50: No. 41 - Une femme qui se devoile et qui suit ses envies

"Femme d'Aujourd'hui" - Sofia Essaidi.
In recent years the worlds of musical theatre and pop success have been interchangeable in France. After Kamel Ouali's hugely successful "Le Roi Soleil" we were all eager to see what he'd come up with next. Answer: a musical about Cleopatra, with Star Academy 3's Sofia Essaidi in it. That's certainly ok with me, and so was the first single from the soundtrack album (which I bought on my travels in Nice). "Femme..." is less the sound of ancient Egypt and more influenced by "Umbrella" ...a totally contemporary sound and a welcome return for Ms Essaidi. The musical hits the stage in Paris early in 2009.

2008-50: No. 42 - This ship's already sailed away

"Last Goodbye" - Avenue.
They came, they saw and they...kinda disappeared without trace. Avenue first came to our attention when they auditioned for X Factor a couple of years ago, although didn't progress in the competition once it was revealed they already had some kind of management contract. Anyway we heard no more from them until this single which I liked a lot. It's not r'n'b-boyband, it's not Westlife-on-stools boyband, but just a rather good pop single. However it failed to get the airplay and promotion needed for a hit record these days, so promptly flopped. Aw well, never mind guys, you're my 42nd favourite song of the year.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Back from Dublin...

Seems no time since I was heading for my weekend in Dublin, but I'm back already. We had a great time and although the weather was very, very cold, it didn't spoil our usual agenda of sightseeing, eating and drinking.

I particularly liked this very unusual Christmas tree outside the GPO on O'Connell Street: it regularly changed colour and was a very fascinating sight indeed.

We were based south of the river, within walking distance of the notorious party area of Temple Bar, but we managed to avoid being caught up in the numerous stag and hen parties' Saturday night adventures. Thankfully, Dublin is more than that, and we found enough venues for us to enjoy our Saturday night without the irritation of those stags and hens.

It had been 13 years since we first visited Dublin for a holiday. Earlier this year we briefly returned for a friend's wedding and we got the urge to go back yet again. This time we decided to do some more obvious touristy things like the sightseeing bus tour for example, although we ran out of time to visit the Guinness Storehouse. Something we did do was cross the famous Halfpenny Bridge (pictured above).

Last night we went in search of the "craic" and found a bar with some live Irish music - great stuff!

Dublin has changed so much. It's such an international city now - we hardly heard an Irish voice when we were there, what with the numerous tourists and also the influx of young Eastern Europeans who, it would appear, almost exclusively dominate the 'service industries'.

One other notable change is the steep rise in prices of everything from food and drink to clothes and consumer items. The Euro is very strong against the pound at the moment (I think that's the expression), therefore we're not really getting good value at the moment - whereas many Irish citizens are heading to Northern Ireland for their bargain shopping. However, we saved up our money and consequently...spent it!!

I'm not really a fan of weekend breaks, as I don't feel that two nights is ever enough for anywhere, but Dublin fits the bill perfectly as it's compact and within easy reach. It may not be the most beautiful/picturesque city in Europe, but it has an irresistible buzz which you can't resist. Well worth a return visit, and if you haven't been yet then you have to go!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Off on my travels again...!

I'm going to Dublin this weekend with faithful travelling companion so I won't be back on here till (probably) Monday night, at which time I'll catch up with Idol/Star Academy/Strictly results.

Can't believe how the whole John Sergeant saga on "Strictly Come Dancing" made the front page of almost every newspaper in this country this week. Basically, the guy was good entertainment and was to dancing what George Bush was to world peace - but as the weeks progressed he became a cult figure. The more the judges hated him, the more the public loved him, and he was the latest in a long line of "vote for the worst" candidates.

Faced with the serious possibility of actually winning the thing, Sergeant quit the show a couple of days ago. But did he jump or was he pushed? That, we will never know.

So now Strictly goes back to being a serious dance competition, but the problem is that some of them are taking it a bit toooo seriously, and the more serious it gets, the less entertaining it becomes. The fun needs to be put back into Strictly Come Dancing, and fast.

Anyway, I'm off now to get an early night and I'll be back on Monday.

Bye y'all! X

Thursday, November 20, 2008

2008-50: No. 43 - Since I've lived in your shade, every step that I made brought me nothing but zero

"Shady Lady" - Ani Lorak.

One of those songs this year which actually had a life beyond ESC for me, even though I didn't really appreciate it at the time. I can't really say why I like it, but it has that certain ooomph (!)about it and is rather dance-pop-tastic in its own way.

The 2008-50 will be back on Monday 24th (or more likely, Tuesday 25th) with more of my favourite songs of the year.

2008-50: No. 44 - I'm outta time and all I got is 4 minutes

''4 Minutes'' - Madonna & Justin Timberlake.

If someone had said to me at the beginning of 2008 that I would actually like a Madonna song I wouldn't have believed a word. But she threw Timbaland and Timbalake into the mix, which is always a good thing in this blogger's world. The result was ''4 Minutes'' which despite (still) being played to death I still never really got sick of it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

2008-50: No. 45 - A beautiful land coming at you

"Always Always" - Zuma.
Norway’s MGP delivered a reasonably successful winner - Maria Haukaas Storeng’s "Hold On Be Strong" - but this was a particular favourite of mine with its 80s New Romantic vibe and mad, nonsensical lyrics. Rachel at the brilliant Work Your Magic also loved this too!

You'll have noticed that I've posted four songs from my chart tonight, because after tomorrow I won't be posting anything again till Monday. Another two songs tomorrow though.