Thursday, January 31, 2008

This week's playlist: keep it together, try to keep this thing alive

Alive - Mondotek: massively successful anthem of the current tektonik boom in France.
My Cool - Adam Tensta: what a week it's been for him. Namechecked by Perez Hilton, performing at the Rockbjörnen and a first appearance in my playlist! World domination now inevitable.
Until I Die/Can't Get Over - September: Still enjoying her good old fashioned dancey-pop.
Jij Bent Zo - Jeroen van der Boom: faithful Dutch-language reworking of David Bisbal's rather good "Silencio".
Early Winter - Gwen Stefani: interesting departure for her, a song written by Keane's main songwriter, and is a real grower.
Homecoming - Kanye West & Chris Martin: great collaboration. Catchy piano hookline and Chris Martin sounds refreshed. Hopefully this might have given him some ideas for the next Coldplay CD...
Tell Me What It Takes - Soulsister: For no other reason other than my iPod decided that (although it's on shuffle mode) I would want to hear this twice in one day. And why not.
Aqua Playa - Afro-Dite: another long forgotten Melodifestivalen gem which I always liked. And yes, I was one of those people who liked "Never Let It Go" as well.
Miss Blue/Farewell/Cool Me Off - Vincent: Already enjoying his CD, and will review it on here very soon.

Swedish Charts Update

Oh well, the Sverige Topplistan looks about as static as our own UK top 40 singles chart. The top five are exactly the same as last week - E.M.D. still hanging on to the no.1 spot with "All For Love" whilst Amanda Jenssen, Basshunter (now amusingly back in the Swedish chart with his English-language remake of "Boten Anna"), Timbaland/OneRepublic, and Leona Lewis. Nice to see Vincent's "Miss Blue" climbing the chart to no.14.

Talking of Mr Pontare....I finally have his "Lucky Thirteen" album in my possession (I'm well impressed with the speedy service of and will hopefully post a full review over the weekend. I'm enjoying what I'm hearing so far.

In the album charts, all the recent winners of various awards are all still doing well - Lars Winnerbäck still at no.1 with "Daugava" (which coincidentally is the name of the river that runs through Riga, which after last night's discussion is now the frontrunner for our spring break this year!!) Kent, Sahara Hotnights and Säkert! all continue to do very well, although Sonja Aldén didn't benefit from her Rockbjörnen win last week - her album has slipped to no. 58.

There are still quite a few artists in the Swedish album chart whose music I haven't heard yet but plan to do so, as there may well be some hidden treats to discover.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Carry on, carry on, we can't go wrong

I now have this whole Brainstorm vibe going on and I just found out tonight that their new album "Fire Monkey" will be out this year. The first single from it is a rather groovy tune called "And I Lie". Hear it in full at

Whether or not I end up in Riga this year, I think I'll throw myself into Brainstorm mania over the next few weeks and if this also means the occasional gratuitous picture of Renars Kaupers, then so be it. :-))))

That new Marquess song

"Vayamos Companeros"....oops sorry I mean "Histeria" anyway I've finally heard the new Marquess song and guess just sounds like "Vayamos Companeros" not as great but I'd say about 80% as good, the chorus isn't as strong/instant though. Anyway, I like them but I think I'll have to hear it another couple of times.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Eirodziesma 2008 Semi Final 1 Preview


Before I get to my preview of the first Latvian semi-final this year, can I just say that serious discussions are underway between myself and my faithful travelling companion about our spring break destination for May 2008. The Latvian capital, Riga, is among the front runners at present. (We thought we were going there last spring, but then Stockholm came along and well, you know the rest...) Plans are already in place to buy lots of Brainstorm CDs if/when I go there :-)))

Tonight I've been checking out the first set of semi-finalists for Eirodziesma, which is usually one of my favourite ESC national finals, but I was left a bit disappointed by this line-up. My comments are only based on one listen though, but a song does have to grab your attention first time so that's why I decided not to listen again.

Fly To The Moon - This is like a cross between "I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues" and a chilled out Roger Cicero. Didn’t really leave an impression on first listen though.
The One - Latvian-language rock-rap verse, English chorus. This kind of musical style’s quite popular but again I wasn’t sure....
More Than 27 - Silly acoustic nonsense with lyrical references to just about every country in Europe. Shameless attempt to get votes, that’s all.
Lovely Dexter - "I’m in love with Dexter..." This has to be one of the daftest and most offbeat songs I’ve heard this year.’s different anyway!
If I Only Knew - Floaty ballad with Enya-type backing which should be guaranteed a place in the final, although not particularly original.
Summertime - jazz-funk very reminiscent of the Brand New Heavies which can only be a good thing, but this isn’t really right for this contest either.
Wolves of the Sea - with a hi-hi-ho and a hi-hi-hey, this has win-win-winner written all over it. Camp old pirate anthem which should destroy its opposition in this semi-final.
All Come Together - this was quite good in a Blue Moon Band "Goodbye to Yesterday" kind of way. Also reminded me a bit of M2M’s "Don’t Say You Love Me". Nice.
Take Me Home - this was a nice, mature mid-tempo number which was ok, although it did drift by and got a bit repetitive and I don’t really see it as a winner.
I’m A Part Of You - again, another pleasant enough song but it really didn’t go anywhere or do anything for me.

Results to be revealed on the night of Saturday, 2 February....

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Flemish Charts Update

Long time since one of these! Going to try to get more regular chart updates back on here from now on.

Rihanna is at no.1 in the Ultratop singles chart with "Don't Stop The Music". Natalia's duet with En Vogue, "Glamorous" is no. 3. Jeroen van der Boom's great Dutch-language version of David Bisbal's "Silencio", entitled "Jij Bent Zo" previously reached no.1 and is still in the top 10. Proof that you can't keep a good song down - someone should record an English version of this one.

In the album chart it's no surprise to see "Clouseau 20" still at no.1. This is a 2 CD greatest hits collection, featuring all the band's hits from 1987 till the present day. Other Flemish acts in the top 20 album chart include Stan van Samang, Regi, Natalia, Jo Vally, and Milk Inc.

French Charts Update: it's Tektonik mania!

Fatal Bazooka still no.1 with "Parle a Ma Main". Youn? Yawn.

Since my last French charts update, many moons ago, France has been taken over by tektonik mania. Basically a kind of techno/dance music with its own little dance craze with lots of hand movements. Very lazy street dancing as the arms/hands seem to do more than the feet!! (Check out YouTube for some varying demonstrations). Could this be the next big thing across Europe?

Mondotek's "Alive" is the biggest of the tektonik hits at no. 2 this week (this is the backing music to the week's top 5 on Star Academy) whilst rival track "Sucker" by Dim Chris is no. 5. There is even a tektonik remix of Yelle's "A Cause des Garcons". Oh well, anything's better than the last French craze - kiddie pop!

Highest new entry this week was "Plus La" by Frederic Lerner, a big old fashioned French chanson ballad. I used to like Frederic but prefer him in more uptempo mode and don't really like this song much.

"New Soul" by Yael Naim is in the same musical vein as Feist and this has also seemingly been used in an Apple ad.

The ever popular Tokio Hotel are also in the top 5 with "An Deiner Seite (Ich Bin Da)" whilst Lorie's "Je Vais Vite", Sheryfa Luna's "Quelque Part", Jenifer's "Tourner Ma Page" and Alicia Keys' "No One" make up the rest of this week's top 10.

Star Academy 25.01.08

Not a full review as such, as Celine Dion was the guest of honour and I like to avoid her at every opportunity, also I couldn't be bothered watching Benjamin Biolay or Ophelie Winter either.

As you know I haven’t really been thrilled about this series, but there were a couple of moments this week which stood out for me. One of these was the five remaining students’ version of Marc Lavoine & Claire Keim’s "Je Ne Veux Qu’elle" which was simple and well staged without the usual big choreographical extravaganza. The other was one of those great emotional moments which you used to get all the time in this show. Quentin and Claire-Marie sang "Lucie" as a tribute to their lively little fellow student who was shockingly evicted last week - only for said Lucie to join them during the song. Not a dry eye in the house.
Above: It's all too much for Quentin & Claire-Marie
as Lucie steals the show.

Otherwise, some old familiar faces this week - cheesy old Dany Brillant, and the ever-reliable Chimene Badi who had an interesting duet of "Rehab" with Mathieu!
Quentin and Mathieu did a medley of Mika songs, whilst we had some old 80s nostalgia as Mathieu duetted with Imagination’s Leeeeeee John on a medley of their hits.
Above: No wonder Jeremy doesn't look too chuffed,
it's a "shoot the stylist" moment!

Result: if last week’s eviction was a shock, then an even bigger shock was to come as Jeremy was shown the door this week, getting the lowest public vote. This was a surprise to me as his popularity with both the profs and the viewers had grown over the weeks. I thought he’d be the biggest threat to Quentin and I had expected him to be in the final.

Celine Dion made the draw for the semi-finals. Could she have been any more annoying??? Next week’s first semi-final will be between Mathieu (a true survivor of multiple nominations), and Bertrand (I’m surprised he’s still there).

Above: it's r'n'b smoothie Mathieu versus the old
soul man Bertrand - may the best man win.

The following week, Claire-Marie and Quentin will complete for a place in this year’s final. If you’d asked me at the beginning who the semi-final line-up would be, the only one I’d have predicted would have been Quentin.

Above: Quentin and Claire-Marie.

The rest are just bland and limited, and below the standard you would expect at this stage of the contest. As we know, Star Academy has always been full of surprises - and I wouldn’t be too confident yet about Quentin, as the French public seem to have fallen for the delicate, fragile Claire-Marie. It wouldn’t be the first time someone like that went on to win....could she be another Elodie Frégé?

Norsk Melodi Grand Prix Semi Final 3: Bodø 25.01.08

Onwards to the frozen north once again and to another immaculately produced heat of this year’s quest to find Norway’s Eurovision entry.

"Two Monkeys (On The Roof)" - Avalanche: let’s say they’re more mature artists, an unusual and strangely likeable Britpop-style stomper with bizarre lyrics, but it didn’t really go anywhere and didn’t have a chance tonight.

"Hear When I’m Calling" - Maria Trøen: Two songs in and the wind machine has already seen lots of action tonight. Powerful uptempo pop which reminded me a little of Trine Rein - who could have taken this beyond the semi final stage.

"Som i Himmelen" - Ole Ivars: Ha ha ha. Good old fashioned Norsk dansband musikk, but disastrous on a wider European stage.

"Sillycone Valley" - Lene Alexandra. I should have dreaded this: she’s Norway’s answer to Jordan - but it was strangely catchy and that hookline is now wedged in my brain, against my better judgement. Cheeky, daft but hey, it’s Eurovision. Silly-silly-sillycone valley.

"Eastern Wind" - Torstein Sødal: this is the one co-written by Christian from A1, but don’t expect "Caught In The Middle"-style pop, rather a big theatrical ballad which was an inevitable qualifier. Good singer - big, effortless voice.

"Far Away" - King of Trolls. Was this novelty week? He looked like the offspring of Mr Lordi and Ruslana. It’s as if someone put every ‘ethnic’ ESC entry of the last 5 years into a blender and this was the result.

The interval act was a funny lip-synch to "Romeo" (my most favourite MGP winner ever, folks) culminating in an appearance from Ketil Stokkan himself. Aah. I love this show. He’s getting old now, but then again aren’t we all.

Result: Torstein and that King of Trolls chap to Oslo Spektrum, with Lene and Ole Ivars to the andra-chansen thingy. Not a great week though, and nothing to challenge "Hold On Be Strong".

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Vincent's CD on the way....

It should only be a few days now till Vincent's "Lucky Thirteen" CD finally arrives at EuropeCrazy HQ. Although it was released a couple of months ago I decided to wait till after the festive season until I ordered it. Since I've been listening a lot to "Don't Hate On Me" and particularly "Miss Blue", again, I'm really looking forward to hearing the rest of his album. Particularly since his rather impressive appearance with Adam Tensta at the Rockbjörnen the other night. And of course he is also responsible for Amanda Jenssen's rather good "Do You Love Me"!

Those NRJ Music Awards results. Hey, I got a few of them right!!!

Chanson francaise: "On S’Attache" - Christophe Maé. Strongly disagreed with this one. it beat off two stronger contenders: Christophe Willem’s "Double Je" and Jenifer’s "Tourner Ma Page"

Révélation Francaise: Christophe Willem. Yay!!! Worthy winner in otherwise weak category this year.

Révélation Internationale: Mika. No surprise as everyone would appear to love him now.

Artiste Féminine Francaise: Jenifer. Yay! Again, a worthy winner and she really has developed as an artist.

Artiste Féminine Internationale: Avril Lavigne. Another significant European award for her. Her appeal escapes me, but she seems to strike a chord with European teens.

Artiste Masculin Francais: Christophe Maé. Interesting that both ex-Le Roi Soleil guys were in this category: however I don’t really rate Maé as a solo star although he is extremely popular now.

Artiste Masculin International: Justin Timberlake. I deliberately didn’t vote for him on a technicality, as he didn’t really release any new material last year. No complaint though, but it should have been all-conquering Timbaland.

Groupe/Duo Francais: Superbus. Another one I voted for! Good winner, but again poor category.

Groupe/Duo Internationale: Tokio Hotel! Ooh I’m having a good night here, yet another of my choices win. They are turning into a European phenomenon, which inevitably means the UK will completely and unjustly ignore them.

Chanson Internationale: "Umbrella" - Rihanna. Again, a completely unsurprising winner. It should have been Mika - but on the other hand, it could have been James Blunt.

Album Francais: "Inventaire" - Christophe Willem. I voted for this too. Fully justified winner, and Christophe would appear to be a French equivalent of Will Young - an Idol winner with enough talent to guarantee a long career.

Album International: "Blackout" - Britney Spears. Eh????? Ou sont "Back to Black" ou "Life In Cartoon Motion"? In the immortal words of Jenifer, "pourquoi, pourquoi, pourquoi?"

Clip de L’année: "Parle a Ma Main" - Fatal Bazooka. I’m not French, and I just don’t get Michael Youn. Maybe there are some French people out there who don’t get him either?

So there you go, not too bad although I could have done without "Umbrella" and Britney and Fatal Bazooka, and I would always take Emmanuel Moire over Christophe Maé, but hey that's just me. Everyone's entitled to their own opinion!!

Another country, another music award ceremony.

Tonight sees one of Europe's most high profile and glamorous music award ceremonies, France's NRJ Music Awards which will take place in Cannes. This event usually attracts a number of international celebs every year and I'm sure this year will be no different.

Anyway a few weeks ago I cast my votes and here they are...

Best French Newcomer - Christophe Willem
Best International Newcomer - Amy Winehouse
Best French Female Artist - Jenifer
Best French Male Artist - Calogero
Best International Female Artist - Nelly Furtado
Best International Male Artist - Timbaland
Best French Group/Duo - Superbus
Best International Group - Tokio Hotel
Best International Song - "Relax, Take It Easy" - Mika
Best International Album - "Back to Black" - Amy Winehouse

Not sure if I'll get any of these right. My general view was that last year was quite a poor one for French music and therefore I didn't get as excited about this award ceremony as in previous years. I'll be back later tonight with the results.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Rockbjörnen reviewed.

It worked for me after all - I got to see Aftonbladet's Rockbjörnen awards gala tonight live on the internet, and the live stream didn't break down once. And the winners were...

Best Swedish Female Artist - Sonja Alden
Best Swedish Newcomer - Måns Zelmerlöw
Best Song: that boring one by Lars Winnerbäck. Yet again.
Best International Artist: Timbaland
Best International Album - "Shock Value" - Timbaland
Best International Song - "Apologize" - Timbaland
Best Swedish Male Artist - Lars Winnerbäck
Best Swedish Group - Sahara Hotnights
Best Swedish Album - "Tillbaka Till Samtiden" - Kent
Best International Group - Tokio Hotel
Best Live Act - The Ark

The show was a rather patchy affair, there were good bits, there were bad bits and there were scratching-your-head-in-sheer-puzzlement bits. Still I was very glad to see it all the same!

The good:

Måns getting best newcomer. (I had probably accepted the fact that Salem wouldn't get this after all).
Tokio Hotel winning, (although points deducted for not turning up) oh well they sent a video.
Ola Svensson being a great popstar with a lively performance of "Natalie".
September - she really is a great dance diva.
Adam Tensta and Vincent. Two very talented and very different up and coming Swedish musical talents. "Miss Blue" was great.

The bad:

Winnerbäck - winning twice. Why?
Miss Li - what the hell was that????
Ola Salo's new beard. Oi! Salo! Nooooooooooo!!! It's wrong. So. Very. Wrong.
The never-ending rap medley at the beginning of the show.
The tedious comedians who interrupted the flow.
Kent not turning up for yet another awards ceremony. Complacency???


Sonja Alden closing the show, singing with The Poodles. None of that "For Att Du Finns" nonsense here, because underneath all that....she's a rock chick!

So that's the Swedish music awards season over for another year. Only 50 weeks till the next one!!!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Rockbjornen tomorrow!

The last of Sweden's big music award ceremonies takes place tomorrow. Aftonbladet's "Rockbjornen" ("the Swedish people's music prize") will be broadcast live at and I'm going to attempt to watch it live although these live stream thingies don't always seem to work when I try them. Fingers crossed anyway. 3.5 million votes have been cast and the results will be announced tomorrow, I'll put them on here as soon as I can and hopefully the outcome will be to my liking!!

Swedish summer festival mania (already)

Aftonbladet reports that what started as a war between booking agents has just got nastier, as rival camps have announced two festivals clashing in June 2008. Sweden's biggest rock festival Hultsfred will run from 12th - 14th June and acts already announced include HIM, Timo Räisänen and Those Dancing Days. The 14th also sees the Where The Action Is festival in Djurgården, Stockholm, which will feature Foo Fighters, Hellacopters, The Hives, Mando Diao and Sahara Hotnights.

This week's playlist: cause we all just wanna be big rock stars

Rockstar - Nickelback: never really been a fan of theirs but this has grown on me and proves they have a sense of humour too, which is good.
Now You're Gone - Basshunter: The Eurodance revival is here! Now all we need is the Vengaboys and 2 Unlimited to make a comeback (lol!!)
Be Mine - Robyn: better late than never UK release, and fully deserving its place in the top 10.
Do You Love Me - Amanda Jenssen: OK OK I was wrong about her during "Idol". This is good and a very different type of single from a reality-pop contestant.
Miss Blue - Vincent: been listening to this again. Still not got his album yet but about to rectify that in the next couple of weeks.
Colliding - Nicholas Carlie: Sadly it didn't qualify from its MGP heat, but I still really like this nice swaying ballad.
Hold On Be Strong - Maria Haukaas Storeng: I now can't get this song out of my head and think it could do some serious damage if selected for Norway this year.
Can't Get Over - September: another one that's been lodged in my brain since last week's P3 Guldgalan - this is poptastic and I only wish I'd discovered it earlier.
I Thought It Was Over - The Feeling: possibly the catchiest and poppiest thing from them yet. Looking forward to their second album.

I'm back.

Been off work sick for the past couple of days, battling a heavy cold and some chronic sinus pain :-( anyway I'm now back at work, seemed a good idea at the time but now questioning my sanity for doing so.

Catching up with events of past couple of days - very disappointed that Litesound didn't win in Belarus, I guess Hasta La Vista isn't the worst, but it's a long way from the dizzy heights of "Work Your Magic".

Haven't even checked out Star Academy yet so don't know what's happening this week.

Oh well, that's teabreak over I guess, will be back on here tonight hopefully with this week's playlist and other ramblings!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

I'm not well.

I now have a heavy cold, just as I predicted last night.

Hopefully normal service will be resumed soon. Sorry there's no full review of Star Academy this week, I did watch some of it though. Lucie was evicted, bit of a shock, this leaves Claire-Marie as the only girl in the contest. Are the viewers going soft or what? All she does is blub every week about how she should have gone instead of (insert evicted contestant's name), but hey, she is still there.

Quentin, Jeremy, Mathieu and Bertrand are the remaining male contestants. Quentin must win, even if his arrogance level is now soaring through the roof. (Still my favourite though, but what's with the make-up???).

Norsk Melodi Grand Prix Semi Final 2: 18.01.08, Kongsvinger

I still love NRK's production values on this well-staged show, the hi-tech postcards showing the various facets of the host town, and the epic snowy landscapes of the opening titles. And so it was off to Kongsvinger for this week's instalment...

1. "Always Always" - Zuma. Taking the "acceptable in the 80s" theme to the limit, this was very very retro, very A-ha meets Erasure, and strangely enough I quite liked this but the lyrics are totally, totally bonkers!

2. "Would You Spend The Night With Me" - Cube. Possibly the most visually unappealing act at MGP for many a year and I don't care if I ever see them again, but I'd probably listen to it again if I don't think of what they looked like.

3. "A Little More" - Anne Hvidsten. Self-penned song which many other sites suggested would have been at home in the Estonian final. I get this idea. Pleasant but bland and didn't really leave an impact. She reminded me of Andrea Corr.

4. "Get Up" - Crash. Quite contemporary in an ESC way, their look reminded me of My Chemical Romance but they sound more like Busted. I actually preferred this to their song from last year ("Wannabe") and they performed it well. Written by Trond Holter from WigWam, too!!

5. "I'm In Love" - Sven Garås. It started like "When You Believe", it was OK, he looked quite pleasant but was a little shaky vocally and the overall result was, again, not too memorable.

6. "Hold On Be Strong" - Maria Haukaas Storeng. Old fashioned big anthemic inspirational mid-tempo ballad with in-vogue Winehouse-style backing. She's got a decent voice and this is a real contender, but she needs just a bit of restyling IMHO. Satin is soooo unforgiving.
Anyway Maria and Crash! are this week's automatic qualifiers to the final in Oslo Spektrum, whilst Zuma and Anne make the second chance contest.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

P3 Guldgalan, Gothenburg 18.01.08 - review

Over the last couple of days I've had a bit of a throat infection-type-thing which always threatened to turn into flu, but thankfully it hasn't, only as the night goes on, it's now threatening to turn into a cold :(

Anyway now catching up tonight. No Retro Saturday this week, got too much else to write about, it should be back next week though with some more 80s and 90s obscure gems.

I’ve just been watching the P3 Guldgalan on SVT Play. Comparing it to British award ceremonies for a moment, it's the Q Awards to the Grammisgalan's Brit Awards, more cheeky and daring and different. Feel free to watch it at

Anyway I read the results before I watched the show, but I'm glad I watched it because it was actually quite good fun.


Best Female Artist - Säkert! Good selection of nominees in this category, but it really was her year. (Other nominees: Laleh, Miss Li, Maia Hirasawa, September)
Best Newcomer - Maia Hirasawa. Ditto! (Other nominees: Adam Tensta, Million Stylez, Neverstore, Those Dancing Days)
Best Male Artist - Lars Winnerbäck. Er, I don’t think so. Poor man’s Ulf Lundell if you ask me. (Other nominees: Danny, Jens Lekman, Mange Schmidt and of course Salem Al Fakir who deserved this more than anyone!)
Best Group - Kent. Are they getting complacent? They weren’t there to collect their award, which isn’t a good thing. (Other nominees: Sahara Hotnights, Shout Out Louds, The Ark, Mando Diao)
Best Hip Hop - Petter. He's still popular. (Other nominees: Ken, Million Stylez, Basutbudet, Adam Tensta)
Best Rock/Metal - Arch Enemy. Yeah whatever. They don’t really do it for me though. (Other nominees: Kongh, Marduk, Dark Tranquility, Mustasch)
Best Dance Act - Minilogue. No! It should have been Axwell, the king of Swedish house! (Other nominees: Aril Brikha, Tiger Stripes, The Field and the wonderful Axwell)
Best Pop Act - Jens Lekman. Interesting that they classify the winner and his fellow nominees as pop, when I’d be thinking of the likes of Danny, Måns & September. Or indeed, Salem for that matter. (Other nominees: Anna Järvinen, Sambassadeur, Taken by Trees, Friday Bridge)
Best Song - "Release Me" - Oh Laura. Is it just me, or is this overrated dirge sooooo tedious? (Other nominees: Giftig - Mange Schmidt feat. Petter, Cheek to Cheek - Sahara Hotnights, With Every Heartbeat - Robyn with Kleerup, Vi kommer att dö samtidigt - Säkert!)
Guldmicken (Live Act): Timo Räisänen. The main, and final, award of the night. Hmph. I remember hearing him whilst sitting in a Stockholm cafe last year, thinking 'who's the strangled cat?' only to find said Mr Räisänen playing a live set in Bengans record shop across the road. Admittedly his music did grow on me, (I eventually grew to like "Sweet Marie") but again the fact that Salem Al Fakir was denied this award did not please me. AT ALL. (Other nominees: Salem Al Fakir, Säkert!, Laakso, Mustasch)

An interesting mix of live acts in-between the prizegiving....
Live, Robyn & Kleerup’s "With Every Heartbeat" is more musically muscular than its recorded version and was quite outstanding.
Female choir The Sweptaways’ acapella medley of the ‘Best Song’ nominees was bizarre yet inspired.
Björn Dixgård from Mando Diao then did an energetic acoustic "Never Seen The Light Of Day", but there were no awards for his band at this year’s Guldgalan.
Mange Schmidt leading into September singing an extraordinary medley of Umbrella, Daydreaming & Can’t Get Over. She could (and probably will) be the next Cascada, if they get it right.
Timo Räisänen closed the show, in a silver jacket, singing something which wouldn’t have been out of place on "Allsang pa Skansen", when they do that community singalong thing, before he launched into one of his more usual numbers.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Swedish Charts Update

"Cause when it's all for one, it's one for all...."

EMD stay at no.1 in the singles charts with their remake of "All For Love" - although I still wonder what Danny's doing, getting himself into this - whilst Amanda Jenssen is this week's highest new entry with "Do You Love Me". The Swedish Grammys have impacted on the chart this week as the track which was voted best song, "Om Du Lämnade Mig Nu" by Lars Winnerbäck & Miss Li, is back in the top 10. Particularly happy to see three of Salem Al Fakir's songs re-enter the top 50: "Good Song" (no.36), "It's True" (no.42) and "This Is Who I Am" (no.43)

The "Grammy Effect" has also affected the album charts as Lars Winnerbäck's "Daugava" is back up to no.1, whilst another one of his albums has re-entered at no. 19. Salem's "This Is Who I Am" has gone back up to no.6, almost a year after it's release. (I will continue to rave about this fact over at Planet Salem). Säkert's album has also re-entered at no. 21.

That sync-ing feeling.

Been very busy lately putting more songs on my iPod, now up to 565 songs. Importing my CDs into iTunes and then sync-ing them to the Pod is such a long and boring process (yawn) but I'll try and do some posting over the next few days.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

TVE's New Year Show (OK it's late...!)

TVE Internacional's New Year show is an annual highlight here at EuropeCrazy HQ, and has been for the last few years since Sky started carrying TVE on satellite. It is a very long show, goes on for about 8 hours or thereabouts so I usually record it and watch it later in January. Whilst it's great to see such an extravaganza, I moan and groan every year that it is possibly the most artificial, sterile TV celebration you're ever likely to see, and all the singers and bands on it are miming. Some more badly than others, it has to be said.

Guests this year included David Bisbal, who performed "Torre de Babel" and "Silencio". Now I will always like David but there is something quite strange about the way he stands/dances with his legs wide apart and I'm worried (or maybe not) that one day there will be an!

David Bustamante, who like Bisbal became famous in Operacion Triunfo series 1, looks very nice these days, although I don't really consider a Pringle-type pullover adequate attire for a big New Year's eve celebration. (Why do all the men I like wear dodgy pullovers? Just a thought). Good to see the "singing brickie" still around though.

Chenoa also made an appearance, her singing career also continues to be very successful. She wasn't duetting with David Bisbal though - I was really upset when they broke up as I thought they made a great couple, but their love was doomed :(

Talking of Bisbal & Chenoa, the readers of Hola! in Spain have voted them the hottest looking male and female of 2007. Nice though David is, he wouldn't be top of my list. (Now a certain Swedish curly-haired genius on the other hand...!!)

Melodifestivalen 2008: full line-up now known

I've got a day off work today, it's cold and miserable outside and I have just been lazing around doing absolutely nothing. Bliss!

Anyway here I am, it's mid-afternoon and I've just discovered (thanks to Aftonbladet) that the 'jokers' for this year's MF have been announced today. This is inevitably one of Sweden's most debated topics at this time of year, but also one of the worst kept secrets. Yes folks, Carola is back. Now I know a lot of people love her and won't hear a word against her, but we are all entitled to an opinion and mine is that I can't stand her at all. I did like "Främling", but that was 25 years ago :) This time she will be duetting with Andreas Johnson, whom I do like, but I fear the worst, as she inevitably overpowers every duetting partner she sings with.

The second joker is Eskobar, a band I know very little about but fondly remember them for "You Got Me", their English-French duet with Emma Daumas (ex Star Academy 2) which did quite well in France about 3 years ago and got a lot of airplay back then on French radio.

Third joker is Amy Diamond. The child star will turn 16 years old just in time to meet the qualification rules. I suppose she is good at what she does - and she was very good in "Allsång pa Skansen" last summer - but I just don't really like kiddie-pop.

Finally, Niklas Stromstedt is the fourth joker. He's been on the Swedish music scene for many years, I remember him as a member of Glenmark Eriksson Stromstedt. I expect his song to be a bit of a gentle ballad maybe?

Full line-up of artists and songs for each semi final:

09.02.08 - Gothenburg
1. E-type & The Poodles: "Line of fire"
2. Face-84: "Alla gamla X"
3. Velvet: "Deja vu"
4. Brandur: "Lullaby"
5. Michael Michailoff: "That's love"
6. Amy Diamond: "Thank you"
7. Suzzie Tapper: "Visst finns mirakel"
8. Christer Sjögren: "I love Europe"

16.02.08 - Västerås
1. Ola: "Love in stereo"
2. Lasse Lindh: "Du behöver aldrig mer vara rädd"
3. The Nicole: "Razborka"
4. Alexander Schöld: "Den första svalan"
5. Rongedal: "Just a minute"
6. Sanna Nielsen: "Empty room"
7. Andra generationen: "Kebabpizza slivovitza"
8. Johnson & Häggkvist: "One love"

23.02.08 - Linköping
1. BWO: "Lay your love on me"
2. Mickey Huskic: "Izdadje"
3. Frida featuring Headline: "Upp o hoppa"
4. Thérèse Andersson: "When you need me"
5. Patrik Isaksson & Bandet: "Under mitt tunna skinn"
6. Caracola: "Smiling in love"
7. Ainbusk: "Jag saknar dig ibland"
8. Eskobar: "Hallelujah new world"

01.03.08 - Karlskrona
1. Niklas Strömstedt: "För många ord av kärlek"
2. Calaisa: "If I could"
3. Daniel Mitsogiannis: "Pame"
4. Linda Bengtzing: "Hur svårt kan det va?"
5. Nordman: "I lågornas sken"
6. Sibel: "That is where I'll go"
7. Fronda: "Ingen mår så bra som jag"
8. Charlotte Perrelli: "Hero"

Just over three weeks to go....

Monday, January 14, 2008

The return of Dancing On Ice, but don't expect me to be nice

"Dancing On Ice" is a British celebrity reality-talent show now entering its third series. Basically it's a rip-off of "Strictly Come Dancing" only swapping the dancefloor for the ice rink.

It's been moved to Sunday nights, but otherwise it's same old, same old. On the plus side, we like the glittery and glamorous outfits - there's not enough of this kind of thing on telly these days. But on the minus side, the presentation is humourless, Mr Nasty judge Jason thinks he's Craig Revel Horwood, and the female celebs spend more time being lifted in the air than 'dancing on ice'. Add to that some 'what do you take us for?' editing, showing every tumble and fall in training, only for the celebs to miraculously perform without a slip once they get on the ice.

Torvill and Dean are still around to add some credibility and a weekly routine, but the producers need to focus more on the professionals, in the way that "Strictly Come Dancing" does. I still feel as if I don't know anything about the professional skaters.

This year brings a mixed bag of 'celeb' contestants (term being used very loosely in some cases). There is always one with an unfair advantage and this year's would appear to be Chris "Justin from Hollyoaks" Fountain, who already plays ice hockey. Former Pop Idol runner-up Gareth Gates, and ex-Hear'say (Popstars) member Suzanne Shaw are also in the line-up.

Week one didn't bring too much in the way of skating expertise, which was reflected in the judges' marks. This week's bottom two were Samantha Mumba and her partner Pavel, and Sarah Greene and her partner Fred. After the skate-off, Sarah and Fred were the first couple to leave the show.

Now Fred is rather lovely, we remember him from last year and would have liked to see him partnered with a decent skater which would have meant him sticking around for a few more weeks. He's the Anton Du Beke of "DOI" (only better looking) so give him a good partner next time round!

Sarah and Fred are the first to skate off this year's series. Awww, bye bye Fred, we'll miss you :-)

The Swedish Grammys: my final words on the subject

Over at my other blog Planet Salem, I've been having a non-stop party since the Grammisgalan last Wednesday night. And then I realised that I hadn't actually written about this year's list of winners, when I should have done so last week.

So here they are.

Best Album: "Tillbaka Till Samtiden" - Kent. A rather obvious choice - not only was it critically acclaimed, but it was also the year's best seller. I was disappointed that Salem didn't win this one, but if he wasn't going to, then I'm glad that Kent did.

Best Hip Hop/Soul Act: Adam Tensta. He's a newcomer to the Swedish music scene but it looks as if we'll be hearing a lot more from him.

Best Male Artist: Salem Al Fakir. A great achievement for a new(ish) artist to win this category, but when it's a genius like Salem then he deserves it.

Best Group: Kent. A tough category, with Mando Diao and The Hives also nominated - but I wanted The Ark to win this. Well done to Kent, though.

Best Female Artist: Säkert! Well deserved award for Hello Saferide's Annika Norlin, who switched to her native Swedish with great success.

Best New Artist: Salem Al Fakir. Obviously!!! No contest!

Best Live Act: The Hives. I got this one right as well!

Best Hard Rock Act: Mustasch. I don't know anything about them, but well done.

Best Dansband: Benny Anderssons Orkester with Helen Sjoholm and Tommy Korberg. What, not Magnus or Nanne? Benny Andersson...sure I remember him from somewhere :-)

Best video: "Det Snurrar I Min Skalle" - Familjen: I still haven't seen this so I can't comment.

Best Producer: Salem Al Fakir. Not only a great singer/composer/musician but also works musical magic in the studio. You need to remember that he recorded his debut album in his own home.

Best Lyricist: Annika Norlin. Interesting that she is now rewarded for her Swedish language work.

Best Composer: Salem Al Fakir. The diversity and depth of the music on his debut album proved that he thoroughly deserved this award.

Best Song: "Om Du Lamnade Mig Nu" - Lars Winnerback & Miss Li. The duo narrowly beat off Sahara Hotnights for this award. "Good Song" came 5th, but it will always be the best song for me!

I was very happy with the outcome of this year's awards - quite fitting really, as last year was such a good year for Swedish music and this is only the tip of a (very massive) musical iceberg! Hopefully 2008 will be the same.

Star Academy: guests and nominations

Jenifer / Charles Aznavour / Martin Solveig / Robin Gibb / Dany Brillant / La troupe du Roi Lion / BB Brunes / Dany Brillant. Again I'm not really bowled over by that line-up but it will be good to see Jenifer back on the show, and Martin Solveig is an interesting choice too.

The latest twist in the Star Academy adventure is that not just three, but all six remaining students - Jeremy, Claire-Marie, Quentin, Bertrand, Mathieu, Lucie and Bertrand - have been nominated for eviction this week. I also read that Raphie tried to get her favourite Pierre reinstated to the tour, but the producers were having none of it.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Tomorrow.... long overdue report on the Swedish Grammys (this will be the last word on them!), and my "Dancing On Ice" review.

Right, I'm off to bed, nighty-night everyone!! ;-)

Sweden conquers the British singles chart again!!

Basshunter's "Now You're Gone" is no.1 this week in the British singles chart as predicted. OK, I admit that I used to hate this song but now I can't get enough of it.

Is that Robyn singing on Britney Spears' "Piece of Me" at no.2? It certainly sounds like it, and the song itself is very "Robyn-esque" isn't it.

The mighty Robyn herself is no.23 with "Be Mine" (it will always be "Be Mine!" to those of us who remember it from first time round) - I think this is still her best song, yes I like it even more than "With Every Heartbeat".

Star Academy 11.01.08: review

Star Ac Speciale Tournee: in which the viewers choose who's going on the annual tour.
"Allumer le Feu" - more like the Star Academy of old.
"Vancouver" - Veronique Sanson & Lucie: I felt Lucie was in the background for the first few weeks but only now is she beginning to prove herself and may now be a dark horse.
"Crazy Medley" - Quentin & Alexia: Alexia really struggled with "Crazy In Love" but "Crazy" was a walk in the park for Quentin.
"La Solitudine" - Laura Pausini & Pierre: He did well here, singing in Italian. Still think he lacks star quality, however performs solidly every week.
"Et C’est Parti" - Nadiya & Mathieu: He has grown on me, but he’s still not great. He did all he needed to do on this one.
"You Are My Destiny" - Paul Anka & Quentin: Not being biased here, but Quentin is now at a different level from anyone else in this contest. This was an absolute treat.
"Mordu" - Patxi & Jeremy: Jeremy has suddenly become favourite to win, thanks to his good looks and rock-boy style. Nice to see Patxi back again too!
"Le Paradis Blanc" - Bertrand & Claire-Marie: C-M in full France Gall tribute act flow here. This was good, but not as good as Georges-Alain and Houcine’s version in Star Ac 2.
"Tra T'e Il Mare" - Laura Pausini & Alexia: Very nice duet. I love songs sung in Italian, and Alexia did very well here.
"Ma Reverence" - Veronique Sanson & Bertrand: I like some of Sanson’s stuff but this ballad was a bit too plodding and I got bored. Bertrand did ok though.
"Smells Like Teen Spirit" - Lucie & Jeremy: Nirvana being sung on a reality pop show? Yep! This was firmly in their comfort zone and the crowd loved it.
"If You Were A Sailboat" - Katie Melua & Claire-Marie: this really suited C-M’s fragile vocal style and I thought it was a rather nice performance.
"Le Blues du Businessman" - Pierre & Mathieu: this has become Star Ac’s ‘clash of the titans’ song (definitive version - Hoda & Lucie, Star Ac 4), and while Pierre’s vocals were never in doubt, I didn’t expect Mathieu to be good, but he was, although again not great.
"Vivre Ou Survivre" - Nadiya & Alexia: usual high-powered r’n’b pop from Nadiya, Alexia seemed uncomfortable and was off the beat at times.
"Le Manege" - Stanislas & Lucie: bizarre little song, this one, but I feel that Lucie showed some versatility this week. She’s still only ok though.
This week’s marks for the prime: 1- Quentin (yaaayyy). 2 - Bertrand. 3 - Lucie. 4 - Jeremy. 5 - Claire-Marie. 6 - Pierre. 7 - Mathieu. 8 - Alexia.
"Aimer a Perdre La Raison" - an emotional final number as it was the last time all eight students would sing together - because this week there were not just one but two evictions, and the cruellest blow of all was that the two evictees would not make the tour.

Result: Pierre and Alexia eliminated by the viewers despite (or because of) never having been nominated. Raphie shocked by both eliminations. I’m just glad that Quentin’s made it through - there will be no justice if he doesn’t win, as the rest are nowhere near the level of many of the contestants who appeared in the previous six series and some are mediocre at best. With falling sales and falling ratings for the show, Quentin may be the only contestant left this year who can save Star Academy.

"Do You Love Me" - Amanda Jenssen

What is it with Swedish Idol contestants? Most of them lose the battle but inevitably win the war.

So it was Idol runner-up Amanda Jenssen who got to go to the Grammisgalan ball, and perform her debut single "Do You Love Me". Here's the footage from her debut performance of the song last Wednesday at Globen in Stockholm. Very Shirley Bassey-meets-Amy-Winehouse, if you can visualize that combination!! :-)

Retro Saturday: "Downtown" - One 2 Many

A cracking pop song from the late 1980s by a Norwegian pop band with big hair and big sunglasses. This even got played quite a lot on British radio, which usually ignores European acts, but despite that it wasn't a big hit record - but should have been! Great piano solo too.

Retro Saturday: "I Don't Mind At All" - Bourgeois Tagg

Incredibly strong and melodic song from the late 1980s which (to me) is very influenced by The Beatles/Paul McCartney. If my choices from last Saturday sounded rather dated, then this is different, because it still sounds fresh today.

Find it at .

Retro Saturday: "Lemon Tree" - Fools Garden

One of those pan-European hits from a few years back, this was out in 1996 and will always remind me of a holiday in Gothenburg. Impossible not to sing along with its very catchy chorus. They may or may not have been one-hit wonders: I don't know what happened to them.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Norsk Melodi Grand Prix Semi Final 1: Stavanger 11.01.08

Yes I know I'm a day late with this one but that's what they get for moving it to a Friday!!

Anyway, everything is (almost) alright in the world again as my favourite-national-final-that-isn't-Melodifestivalen got under way in Stavanger last night with the first six songs.

Firstly, nice opening title sequence, same kind of idea as 2007 but with different music to last year. But oh nooooo....where's Synnove Svabo and Stian Barsnes Simonsen? They're gone, and in their place is some bloke called Per Sundnes. I want Stian back. MGP is not the same without him.

1. Lystgass - Podium: Norsk rock. Now I like rock music but I have to say this washed over me. In Eurovision terms it's still quite daring to select a song like this for a semi-final though, but I can't remember it.

2. Andagassii - Ann-Mari Andersen: Sami trad. Floaty sleeves and a wind machine - check. Think Vanessa Chinitor meets Kathy Barnes from Hollyoaks, with "Hey Ya!"-type hand movements from the backing singers.
3. Colliding - Nicholas Carlie: Swaying rock ballad. My favourite of the night. Good singer, apparently half-Swedish and rather nice. I liked this, even if it wouldn't ever be that successful in Eurovision terms.

4. Baby Don't Stop The Music - Michelle: formulaic 'modern-pop'. A tall girl in a sequinned frock. A bit too deja vu I reckon, but it was OK I guess.

5. Hold On - Tinkerbells: country-flavoured girlie pop. Unfortunately the Shania ship sailed some time ago, but this is ESC and had the right amount of schlagery undertones.

6. Am I Supposed To Love Again - Veronica Akselsen: simple ballad. Strong but old-fashioned melody with traditional accompaniment.

Result: Veronica Akselsen and Ann-Mari Andersen go directly to the final at Oslo Spektrum, and sadly the rather nice Nicholas misses out. Here he is:

ESC - German national final - some news!

The always excellent Eurovision Nation ( reports that this year's German national final will feature the following acts - No Angels, Cinema Bizarre, Tommy Reeve, Carolin Fortenbacher and....Marquess! I have really liked Marquess since "El Temperamento" and I loved "Vayamos Companeros" so have high hopes for their (as yet unheard) entry "Histeria". There was a campaign to encourage current superstars Tokio Hotel to represent Germany but this hasn't materialised, tantalising though that prospect may have been. Anyway this looks like a very interesting final line-up - I'm looking forward to this one.

Friday, January 11, 2008

This week's playlist: let's pretend we're happy now

Happy Hour - Palladium: acutely observed tale of a relationship in crisis set to a cheery backdrop. They could probably be the "new Feeling". I Thought It Was Over - The Feeling: Meanwhile the "old Feeling" are back with a new song. For me, they can't really go wrong (except for "I Love It When You Call" - let's forget that one).
Boogie 2 Nite - Booty Luv: their new song "Some Kinda Rush" doing well at the moment, but this is currently soundtracking my beginning-of-year-full-of-good-intentions aerobics sessions.
Back To Black - Amy Winehouse: It took me a while to discover her album but I'm glad I did. This track is currently enjoying a renewed lease of life.
What Hurts The Most - Rascal Flatts: This is the original version of the song which Cascada are currently stamping their cheesy stilettos all over. Nice country flavoured song.
Bonafied Lovin' - Chromeo: still achieving legend status on this playlist, their best song and a witty and funky little gem of a tune.
Born To Be Alive - Patrick Hernandez: he was on Star Academy last week singing this. I remember it first time round, great one for disco dancing to in the late 70s ;-)
Now You're Gone - Basshunter: Used to hate it, now I love it. Yet another Swedish act destined for number one...!
Can't Speak French/Control of the Knife - Girls Aloud: "Tangled Up" is still amazingly one of my favourite albums of the moment. Should I be ashamed of this? Aww, credibility is sooooo overrated !!
Sunshine In The Rain - BWO: just a good pop tune, but I still don't think it will be enough to get them the hit single in Britain that they deserve. "Greatest Hits" allegedly coming soon - could this mean the end for them?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Basshunter *Puts my hands up and surrenders*

Acer Ben, you were right. The other week I said that "Now You're Gone" (and its previous incarnation, "Boten Anna") drove me up the wall, and you said I'd eventually love it. Well, now I finally give in, it has eaten its way onto my iPod and into my brain and now I can't get this dance monster out of my head.

Those Swedish Grammy Results.

I haven't been over here because I've been over at Planet Salem having a celebration party. My favourite singer in the whole universe, Salem Al Fakir, won four awards last night at the Swedish Grammisgalan. I was too busy celebrating that fact to really notice who won what else. Kent got two, which I am happy about though.

Over the weekend I'll post the full list of winners and my thoughts on these, I have still to see some of the video footage and I've had quite a busy night so have postponed this for a while.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Vincent Pontare and Amanda Jenssen: the dream team?

Tomorrow sees the Swedish Grammisgalan, which I've already written loads of stuff about on here and over at my parallel universe Planet Salem. I will no doubt be writing even more about it after tomorrow's results are announced.

Anyway I meant to mention a couple of days ago in my previous post about Amanda Jenssen that she will be appearing at the Grammisgalan. She will give her first public performance of her debut single "Do You Love Me" which has been written and produced by Vincent Pontare, which is reason enough to love it already even though I haven't heard it yet!!

I have gone from being an Amanda-hater to an Amanda-fan over the past couple of weeks. I will always be grateful to her because she introduced me to "Don't Hate On Me" which I hadn't heard before she sang it on "Idol" - I wonder if that's why Vincent wanted to work with her? Here it is....

Monday, January 07, 2008

Star Academy: this week's guests

Nadiya, Véronique Sanson, Patxi, Paul Anka, Katie Melua, Stanislas, Laura Pausini.

Hmmm....another bit of a pick 'n' mix bag with something for everyone!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

BBC Radio 2 Johnny Hallyday documentary series

It's not often we hear about foreign artists on British radio or TV, so I was glad to hear about a new documentary series on BBC Radio 2 about the legendary French singer Johnny Hallyday, now 64 years old and still going strong (although he now has allegedly retired from performing...where have we heard that before?). The series is narrated by Johnny's son David Hallyday, who is also a successful singer and songwriter in France. Part 1 has already been aired but is available at and the next part will be broadcast this Wednesday at 11.00 pm UK time.

It will soon be that time of year again...

...ESC national finals season, which I now find more interesting than the actual ESC itself. One of the shows I look forward to every couple of years is when the Flemish-speaking half of Belgium hosts its "Eurosong" contest.

Got some info on this year's semi-finals (thanks to ESC Today)

Heat 1 - 27th January
Katy Satyn - Magical Sensation (S. Engelbrecht, J. Engelbrecht, G. Månsson, A. Lennartsson)
Raeven - Shut Down The Heatmachine (Michael Garvin, Marc Paelinck)
Brahim - What I Like About You (Brahim Attaeb, Alan Glass)
Eva Darche - We Breathe (Marc Paelinck, Jamie Winchester)
Femme Fatale - Décadence (Gerard James Borg, Mik Tanczos, Frank Jordens)

Heat 2 - 3rd February
Kenza - Breaking All The Rules (Rudolf Hecke)
E.F.R. - Your Guiding Star (Sergio Quisquater, Vincent Pierins, Patrick Hamilton)
Ishtar - O Julissi Na Jalini (Michel Vangheluwe)
Esther - Game Over (A. Ross, J. McLaughin, D. James, I. Mank, E. Sels)
Tanja Dexters - Addicted To You (Written by Bobby Ljunggren, Henrik Wikström, Thomas G:son)

Heat 3 - 10th February
Ellis T - My Music (Regi Penxten)
Tabitha Cycon - Rumour Has It (Marc Paelinck, Marwenna Diame)
Di Bono - I'm Not Sorry (R. Di Bono, L. Alea)
Nelson - If I Can't Find Love (Nelson Morais)
Geena Lisa - Wheel Of Time (S. Dutoit, Yves Barbieux, Geena Lisa Peeters)

Heat 4 - 17th February
Francesco Palmeri - Vagabundo (Francesco Palmeri)
Paranoiacs - Shout It Out (Raf Stevens, Hans Stevens)
Elisa - Around The World (Ove André Brenna)
A Butterfly Mind - Lonely Heart On Wheels (Annelies Cappaert)
Sandrine - I Feel The Same Way (Lawson, Vettese, Howard)

Lots of names which don't ring any bells to me at this stage, but once I hear them I'm sure that I'll have my favourites. ESC Today reported that "Game Over", the song in Semi 3 sung by Idol finalist Esther Sels has been co-written by none other than Duncan James from Blue! Should be interesting...or maybe not. Anyway it's going to be a busy and exciting season ahead!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Retro Saturday: Gun

Surprised that I haven't had this band in my Retro feature before now. They no longer exist of course, but at one time during the 1990s I was very partial to their music indeed, thanks in no small way to faithful travelling companion who introduced me to even more of their music and we went to see them live just over 10 years ago. I always remember "Evidence" getting a lot of airplay on MTV (yes, back in the day when MTV was good) and you can find it at

Retro Saturday: Brolle Jr

Moving on now to more recent times, to a Swedish singer whom I really liked about 4 or 5 years ago. Brolle Jr - real name Kjell Wallmark - auditioned for the Popstars TV show and was famously rejected for being too good! The Elvis-influenced singer was immediately offered a record deal and had hits with "Playing With Fire", "Heartbreak City", "Last Night" and "Sound of a Drum". The video for the latter can be found at - I wasn't able to find videos posted for any of the other songs though.

Rumours persist that Brolle is about to make his comeback at Melodifestivalen 2008 as one of the as-yet-unannounced "wildcards" - I'm really excited about this as I think he's a great singer and I'd really love to see him in that competition. Watch this space.

Retro Saturday: Dan Reed Network

Quite obscure this one, but "Mix It Up" was again "of its time", another socially aware track although musically very different to Gary Clail. I didn't really know much about them, but thought that they were really underrated at the time.

Find "Mix It Up" at Http://

Retro Saturday: Gary Clail

For some reason I'm on an early 90s vibe at the moment, so let's start tonight's 90's party with a socially-aware dance-rap-dub track very much "of its time" and which I hadn't heard for many years, but for no strange reason came into my mind today. I don't really know much more about him, all I remember was that back in those days I had rediscovered "night-time Radio 1" where I seemed to find all my new music that year.

Find it at:

Star Academy

I've got a bit behind with the goings-on in the chateau so I'm now trying to catch up. Last night's prime saw the remaining students all dressed up in their posh frocks and smart suits for the 'symphonic special' which featured a full live orchestra this week...

Again I didn't really see anything to sway my view that Alexia and Quentin will be there at the end, although I'm a bit shocked by Alexia's low marks this week. This week's guests included Roch Voisine, Faf Larage, Laam, Maurane - and the one and only Patrick Hernandez, king of the one-hit-wonders who duetted with Quentin on (what else but) "Born To Be Alive".

This week's nominees for eviction were Jeremy, Claire-Marie and Bertrand. No surprise that Jeremy was saved by the viewers...

...leaving the professional jury to decide whether to save Claire-Marie or Bertrand. Drum roll....

...oh, there's no eviction this week. Juror Passi announced that they'd decided not to evict this week because next week's prime is the annual "Speciale Tournee" and the viewers should be given the chance to choose who'll be on the tour. Yeah right. I've been watching this show long enough to know that this was probably done for another reason entirely.

If I had been a voting viewer in France I wouldn't have been too chuffed this week - they ask the viewers to save their favourite, only for the viewers to find that their least favourites are also saved!

I missed last week's prime (dedicated to Gregory Lemarchal) which featured the return of former Star Ac 4 students Hoda, Harlem, Karima and Radia. Here's a picture of them from last week's show:

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Another revamp

Made some slight changes tonight to my 'favourites' links, have added a few new ones and then split them all into separate categories. I reckon it was about time that my fave bloggers got their own little roll of honour. Hopefully I'll discover a few more as time goes by so that I can add them to my list!!

Amanda Jenssen: single and album news

Both Aftonbladet and Expressen report today that Swedish Idol runner-up Amanda Jenssen is to release a single called "Do You Love Me" and she will also be working with songwriters including (I'm quite excited about this) Marit Bergman and Vincent Pontare on her debut album.

As you know I may not have been a fan of Amanda whilst she was on "Idol" but the more I think about it, the more I like the idea of her as a recording artist and pop star!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

EuropeCrazy - now with added videos!

Yes I've finally learned how to embed videos into the blog so there ain't no stopping me now!!

Radio Donna's Top 2000

Another annual tradition which I look forward to at the end of every year is the listeners' all time top 2000 chart on Belgian radio station, Radio Donna. If you go to you can find links to the full 'Donna's Top 2000' chart which has a new number one this year, namely "Summer of 69" by Bryan Adams. The only Belgian acts which figure in the top 20 are Gorky, Clouseau and Stan Van Samang. It's an interesting, if a little predictable, mix of classic rock and radio airplay favourites.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

...and hello 2008!

Been a nice start to the new year too - great concert by Take That on the telly last night, they were fantastic.

As usual at this time of year everyone tries to predict who or what singers/bands they think will make it big in the coming year. Usually most of these predictions are overrated and overhyped by the media and are usually "the new so-and-so", and that's usually enough to put me off.

So instead I'll just get excited about some people I first came across in 2007, like...

...Paul Steel, an amazingly talented guy with such an ambitious musical vision. The "Moon Rock" album will finally be released around February/March and it’s the album I’m looking forward to the most this year.
...Ali Love, whose fresh blend of funky-disco-electro-pop has already been hailed by Popjustice and whose debut album "Love Music" will be out soon (allegedly January, but I can’t confirm this?).
...Daniel Merriweather, the voice of Mark Ronson’s debut hit "Stop Me". A great vocalist who promises to provide a cracking debut album later in the year. ...David Jordan, who I hadn’t heard of till his Royal Variety appearance. Think Michael Jackson crossed with early Terence Trent D’Arby - yes, that exciting.
...Chromeo, who I only recently got into, but would like their electro-funk to reach a much bigger musical audience.
...Snook, they’re Swedish, they’re rappers, and I love them! About time for a new album in 2008, eh boys?
...Vincent Pontare, whose debut CD was released recently. Not only does he write and perform his own music, he also writes for acts like the Backstreet Boys, and has international breakthrough potential.
...Tokio Hotel, who achieved massive international success in 2007 - when will Britain sit up and take notice?
...Colbie Caillat, aka "the female Jack Johnson" who makes nice laid back acoustic pop perfect for summer days. Now all we need is the weather to match.

...Salem Al Fakir, an incredibly gifted musician, singer and songwriter from Sweden, and a major talent. Fingers crossed that he gets launched internationally in 2008.

Hopefully I'll also find out about some great singers/bands who have escaped my attention up until now. Bring it on!!