Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Next Best Thing: appreciation time

One major omission from my recent monthly telly review was the rather wonderful "The Next Best Thing", an American TV lookalike contest which has recently been running over here on Living TV and reached its conclusion last week.

Thought the calibre of contestants on this was far superior to the recent (and rather rubbish) BBC effort "The One and Only". After a series of brilliantly entertaining auditions and a couple of semi-finals, the final line-up was revealed. The finalists included a brilliant Frank Sinatra, Robin Williams, Little Richard, Barbra Streisand, Tina Turner, two Elvises (Elvii?) and some non-singing comedy acts - Lucille Ball, George Bush and Paris Hilton.

Many of these acts are already appearing on the professional tribute circuit and that's no surprise as they were mostly excellent.

In the end the viewers decided that their favourite impersonator was "Heartbreak" Elvis (as opposed to "Blue Suede" Elvis) however we thought that Ol' Blue Eyes was robbed.

Credit also to the hilarious judging panel whose comments during the auditions had us in stitches - certainly a big change from the usual Idol/X Factor bores with all their usual cliched, scripted remarks.

I really hope that there will be another series of this show as it was very entertaining - you can't really say that about many of the tired reality talent shows on TV at the moment.

Julian Perretta

I've mentioned Jack McManus a few times on here over the last couple of weeks. Now I've discovered the existence of yet another curly-haired, piano-playing, singer-songwriter by the name of Julian Perretta, who has in the past week signed a 5 album deal with Sony BMG/Columbia Records. Well done to him, there is a very catchy song called "Wonder Why" on his MySpace ( it sounds a little bit Hoosiers-ish but don't be put off by that. At least he doesn't sound like Scouting For Girls, who are possibly (IMHO) the worst band of this decade. "Like I Do" is very good too, by the way.

"Let It Shine" - Tingsek

Oh, those Swedes. Do they never stop making great music?

I haven't really checked out Magnus Tingsek in the past, although I believe he's already made a couple of albums. "Let It Shine" is his new single, and it's a kind of jazzy, funky guitar track which builds very nicely indeed to a smooth and soulful conclusion. In an interview last year, Salem Al Fakir mentioned that he liked Tingsek and I can understand why, as they both seem to be very creative musicians.

So I've now had a listen to another of Tingsek's songs, "World Of Its Own" which is another very good, soulful, almost reggae-ish track. Some of Vincent Pontare's stuff reminds me of this.

Looking forward to hearing more from Mr Tingsek, who will join our already long list of Swedish musical greats!

Mylene Farmer - she's back!!

Well, not just yet, but she will be soon - with a new album "Onirique" to be released in October, according to French music news sources on the web. Tracks on the album include "Onirisme", "Faire... Et Défaire", "Dans Ton Antre", "Ma Nature Est...", "Excaliburia", "Who's Mylène ?", "Aux Points Cardinaux", "Je M'Expose Et M'Impose", "Poésie Visuelle", "The Witch Of Dreams", "Voyage Au Bout De Tes Sens" and an acoustic version of "Rever".

As usual, Mylene is being her notoriously reclusive self so there is little other information available, but what we do know is that she will perform live on 12.09.09 at the Stade de France in Paris.

I am so excited about the prospect of a new album from her, mainly because I was so disappointed with "Avant Que L'Ombre". Not because it was a bad album (because it wasn't) but because she has set herself such an impossibly high standard, that such classics as "Anamorphosée" and "Innamoramento" would always be hard acts to follow.

Also, I didn't think she'd make any more albums after the last one, so this is really, really exciting news!! Can't you tell....I'm excited!!!!

Retro Saturday: A-ha

A few months ago I had started a "Hall of Fame" thing on here, which I scrapped after a couple of months only because I couldn't be bothered, no other reason....anyway A-ha was one of the acts I was planning to feature so again a mention on here is well overdue. Tonight I'm not focusing on the obvious ones, so no "Take On Me" or "The Sun Always Shines On TV", wonderful though they may be.

No, I was walking along the road today and suddenly "I've Been Losing You" came into my mind, so I thought I'd feature it tonight. All these years later, I still don't think this talented Norwegian trio ever get the credit they deserve for their mature, well-crafted 80s pop, so its about time I gave them a mention on here! Find this great song at

Right that's all for tonight, I'm off now because the clocks go forward tonight to signal the opening of British Summer Time (which is a bit of a joke as there's no such thing) and I really don't want to lose much more sleep as we're already losing an hour tonight :0

Back tomorrow with....something or other.

Retro Saturday: The Beat

Some ska is overdue on here, methinks. Back in 1979/1980 this was the hottest musical revival thanks to the likes of The Specials, Madness, The Selecter, Bad Manners....and the band I'm featuring tonight, The Beat, whom I particularly loved. I still have "I Just Can't Stop It" on vinyl, my copy of which always jumped when my favourite track "Mirror In The Bathroom" came on - probably from over-playing it! Find this brilliant, catchy hit song from 1980 at

I remember they went over to break America and had to change their name to "The English Beat" which was quite funny. They didn't really have too many hits afterwards - although "Too Nice To Talk To" is still worth a mention and can be found at

A couple of members of the band subsequently went on to form the Fine Young Cannibals, who had a few hits towards the end of the 80s and were also rather good too.

Retro Saturday: The Brothers Johnson

The Brothers Johnson are probably best known for "Stomp" which is a fabulous disco track from 1980, but tonight I'm gong back to 1977 for one of my favourite songs of all time, the chilled-out, soulful "Strawberry Letter 23" which again was a big hit in the USA but is relatively unknown over here.

No video for this one (sorry again) but someone's posted the song at and I urge you to check it out as it is, and always will be, rather fab.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Retro Saturday: Rupert Holmes

We're on a soft rock vibe tonight eh!!!

OK so everyone of a certain age may (or may not) admit to remembering "Escape (The Pina Colada Song", the one about liking pina coladas and getting caught in the rain. I tried a pina colada once, wasn't impressed...anyway I digress, my favourite Rupert Holmes song was "Him" which is a kind of revenge song about a guy discovering that his girl has been cheating on him. This is from about 1980, if I remember correctly, the big shades and facial hair give it away. Find "Him" at

I remember that I borrowed his "Partners In Crime" album from the local library, I liked the title track but no-one seems to have that one :(

Retro Saturday: Pablo Cruise

Back to 1978 for some smooth, American, sunny, soulful pop. I don't know anything about them except that "Love Will Find A Way" was a big hit in the USA for this band, and I've been meaning to feature this on here for a while but never got round to it. If you've never heard this it might just appeal to you if you're into stuff like Daryl Hall and John Oates. Find it at YouTube as usual:

In the absence of a video someone has posted a photo of the band, and being the 70s it's all big hair, big grins and even a big moustache....!

I'm back. With a DVD recorder.

In the words of the great philosopher Neil Diamond...."hello again, hello!!"

Sorry I haven't been around here much over the past week, apart from posting the playlist the other night. This is mainly due to the fact that I've had a horrible heavy cold yet again, the same one I had just two months ago...just wish that people would stop being so generous with their germs! Anyway I'm on the mend now, although I still feel there's a Globen-sized gap in my Saturday nights since the end of Melodifestivalen :(

This week also saw the arrival at EuropeCrazy HQ of my latest gadget - a DVD recorder. My grand plan is to convert almost 200 video tapes to DVD, mainly consisting of stuff which I've taped off the telly over the last 20 years, purely for space-saving purposes. It's going to be a very time-consuming exercise as I need to go through a pile of video tapes - the ones I haven't already obsessively catalogued. This is going to have a major impact on my time over the coming months, so if I'm not around here as much then that will probably explain why. Otherwise, I will attempt to resume normal service!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

This week's playlist: it takes just a minute to like it

"Just A Minute" - Rongedal: and it takes just a minute to enjoy the sheer catchiness of this song!!
"Love In Stereo" - Ola: better than Sibel. Don't you agree?
"Lay Your Love On Me" - BWO: come on, let's start a campaign to get this released over here!!
"Bang On The Piano" - Jack McManus: catchy, radio-friendly tune by yet another talented curly-haired singer-songwriter...
"Black and Gold" - Sam Sparro: my 'single of the year' so far, and good news this week as it's gone into the UK chart at no. 23. Can't wait for his album.
"I'm Good I'm Gone" - Lykke Li: will review her album on this here blog very soon. 'New Robyn' tag may be justified if this is anything to go by.
"Homecoming" - Kanye West featuring Chris Martin: got the iPod on shuffle again this week, and it likes this a lot. And so, still, do I.
"If Only" - KT Tunstall: I'm still not a fan, but I liked this song for a while and didn't know who it was. That's two of her songs I've liked now.
"Fascination" - Alphabeat: still enjoying this, although now completely overlooked by my local radio stations.
"Come On Girl" - Taio Cruz: and this one too, no-one's playing it but I'm making up for it with repeated plays on the iPod.
"Beli Jablan" - Aleksa Jelic & Ana Stajdohar: sometimes you just need a cheesy Serbian disco-pop tune to dance around to. This is it.

Monday, March 24, 2008

What's Vincent Pontare up to?

Well, for a start he appears on Swedish rapper Form One's new song "Money" which you can hear at and like everything else Vincent's involved in, it's got a very catchy chorus with that "money money money money money" hookline. I'm not sure how well this will do - it's possibly the worst time of year to release a single in Sweden as the Sverige Topplistan is swamped by everything Melodifestivalen - but it's well worth a listen.

Vincent's official website also reports that "Miss Blue" is being released in Germany and has been added to NRJ radio's playlist. He will also be doing promotional stuff over there in April/May. It's all going very well for him just now - he deserves international success!

Do I really need to tell the world how much I love BWO???

Oh, go on then, I hear you say.
BWO's greatest hits album "Pandemonium" is out very soon in Sweden, and here is a picture of the cover, with Martin, Alexander and Marina in their "Lay Your Love On Me" outfits. Is there any chance of "Lay Your Love On Me" getting a single release in the UK? Whilst I like "Sunshine In The Rain", I thought it was a strange choice for a single - why not "Temple of Love" instead?
All together now - "Want! Love! Whoooooo.....!".....sorry. I really will need to calm down. :P

Sunday, March 23, 2008

You're just a habit that I can't break

Can I add Jack McManus to the list of people I want to rave about?

"Bang On The Piano" is rather fab, isn't it!! The video has now been added to The Box playlist and if you haven't seen/heard this then head over to for a fine old slice of radio-friendly pop which is out on 21st April and which (I will foolishly predict!) will do major damage in the top 40 in the next few weeks. Jack is yet another one of these solo singer-songwriters (many of whom are also called Jack!!) but I am really impressed with what I've heard so far. Check out his MySpace ( for some more of his fine tunes including "Not The Hardest Part" and "You Think I Don't Care" and "Either Side of Midnight".

Comedy Saturday!

No Retro Saturday this will be back next week though.

Because it's Easter weekend, (and I'm on holiday till Tuesday) I thought I'd share a few things that make me laugh.

First one tonight is the mighty Dr Evil with some good advice....Zip It!

Next..."how did those pig tracks get on the ceiling?"

Who needs John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John when you've got Arthur Mullard & Hylda Baker? Sadly this is not the full song but it's better than nothing!!

Next, "Wonderwall" revisited easy-listening-style by the Mike Flowers Pops:

A bit of "Little Britain" now. I thought I'd go for a 'Mr Mann' sketch rather than the more obvious ones :) MARGARET!!!

The Square-Eyed Couch Potato: what I've been watching on TV in March 2008

"Coronation Street" is now a long long way from its former glories. This year the soap has controversially been overlooked for a BAFTA award nomination. What’s wrong with it? Well...ridiculous storylines (Michelle’s ‘two sons’ - aaaarrgggghhh!!!) and a lack of humour, that’s what’s wrong with it. Too much emphasis on the boring Platts, the latest instalment being demon-David pushing his tedious mother Gail down the stairs. Yawn, and, er, yawn again.

I began watching "Hollyoaks" last summer, mainly because my (much younger/target audience) work colleagues kept raving on about how good it was. Well I’m still watching, and still enjoying, this very underrated saga of the beautiful, bed-hopping young folks of Chester. It manages to combine the dramatic, the humorous and the trivial. Most recently, the whole Jake/Nancy/Charlie storyline has been gripping. Corrie, watch and learn.

"Harry Hill’s TV Burp" is still the funniest thing anywhere on British TV at the moment, but he seems to polarise opinion - you either love or hate him. Well, his show is certainly my "TV Highlight of the Week"!

I’ve been catching up on "Coach Trip" on Sky Real Lives, which is a kind of Big-Brother-By-Bus, as a group of intrepid travellers visit various European countries by bus and at the end of each show there’s an eviction vote!

"I’d Do Anything" started last week - it’s the latest Andrew Lloyd Webber casting show (following the very good "How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria" and the fabulous "Any Dream Will Do") this time they’re searching for a Nancy and an Oliver to fill the roles in a new production of "Oliver!" I don’t expect this series to have the magic of the previous two, mainly because I don’t really like child performers. As for the adults....well the blubbing and sobbing tonight was too over the top for me. Get a grip, dry your eyes and toughen up, people!
Anyway who’s our favourite Nancy so far? Well, you know that EuropeCrazy is the home of appreciation for curly haired men, so let’s hear it for a curly haired girl too - GO JESSIE!!!

Thank goodness "Dancing on Ice" is over. It’s one of those shows which I don’t like, but I still watch it. (A bit like X Factor!) Not happy, not happy, really not happy with the result this year. Chris Fountain should have won and not Suzanne Shaw. Boooo.

"Boston Legal" remains my favourite TV show from the USA, and season 4 is currently running on Living TV. You’d think it would have gone stale by now, but the formula is so slick and funny and sharp that it could run and run. Well scripted, well acted, with such a mischievous sense of fun - if you haven’t seen it you are missing out.

Living TV is also currently showing an underrated little series called "Army Wives" which I rather enjoy. It took me a while to get to know the characters but now I’m enjoying this undemanding soapy drama about, well, army wives. Good show with lots of potential.

Many people say that "ER" jumped the shark a long time ago, and admittedly its best days are behind it, but I still enjoy watching this American hospital drama. The ‘Abby’s return to alcoholism’ storyline is getting a little drawn out now and it’s got a lot more soapy in recent series (to compete with the now more successful "Grey’s Anatomy" perhaps?) Yet there is something about "ER" that keeps me watching series after series.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

This week's playlist: the word is on your lips

"Fascination" - Alphabeat: Yes I know it's old news, but I came late to the party and it took me a while to appreciate this, but now I absolutely love it. At last a great pop song in the top 10!
"Lay Your Love On Me" - BWO: unquestionably my fave MF song of this year and expect it to be in this playlist for a long time to come.
"Love In Stereo" - Ola: And likewise this too. It shouldn't really work but it does, and is yet another one which will have a long life after MF.
"Line Of Fire" - E-Type & The Poodles: yes I expect ridicule for including this one but I think the studio version works better than the live one.
"Just A Minute" - Rongedal: extremely catchy song. Yes it's reminiscent of M**a and also the S*****r S*****s but what's really wrong with that?
"Black and Gold" - Sam Sparro: this is a truly fantastic record which I'm nowhere near getting tired of.
"Beli Jablan" - Aleksa Jelic & Ana Stajdohar: been watching this lots and lots of times this week on YouTube. I decided to check out some of Aleksa's other stuff and I've decided he's now my favourite Serbian popstar!
"This Corrosion" - Sisters of Mercy: got my iPod on shuffle play and this week it seems to like this a lot. From the days when 'goth' music was good, and not the corporate pop-with-eyeliner it is today. Yes I'm getting old.
"Point of View" - DB Boulevard: another oldie, this time from 2002, which still sounds rather good. Whatever happened to their singer Moony? I liked that "Dove (I'll Be Loving You)" song she had out as well.
"Come On Girl" - Taio Cruz: although this is still in the top 10 I'm extremely annoyed that my local radio station's still not playing this, yet we still get Duffy, Adele, Rihanna etc about 20 times a day.

Apologies for the lack of new music in the playlist: I'm still gripped by Melodifestivalen fever and probably will be for some time yet. :)

And now it's Måns and Marie!

Yes it's "Loved-Up Swedes Week" here at EuropeCrazy and I can only echo what Poster Girl has said about Sweden's latest showbiz couple - none other than Måns Zelmerlow and Marie Serneholt...


Yes, Aftonbladet reported today that these two rather fab Swedish pop stars are now a couple. Congratulations - and we hope that they'll be very happy together.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Amanda and Daniel are dating!

Aftonbladet reports that Swedish Idol runner-up Amanda Jenssen and fellow finalist Daniel Karlsson are officially a "couple". Now it wouldn't be the first time that a couple of talent-show contestants have got together but at least these two waited till the contest was over. They both attended the Melodifestivalen after-party at which they confirmed that they are dating. Aww.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Melodifestivalen Final - Globen, Stockholm 15.03.08.

Everything has a beginning....everything comes to an end. Appropriate really that 2008's Eurovision national finals season ended tonight in Stockholm, with the final of what (to me) is the best national song contest anywhere - Melodifestivalen. (17.03.08 - I've updated this post with some photos now).

A fabulous webstream (I did have some technical, computer-related problems tonight - all unrelated to MF) which meant I missed the first 10 minutes, but these now resolved and once more well done to SVT for producing a weekly must-see spectacular. Counting the days till the DVD drops through my letterbox.

Today Aftonbladet published results of a poll which said that a vast majority of the Swedish public want to see Kristian Luuk presenting MF in 2009. And why not? He's great.

Charlotte Perrelli and her bling-bling microphone (!) kicked off tonight's proceedings. I thought she was a bit nervous in places but she recovered very quickly to deliver a winning performance of "Hero".

Nerves also might have got to Sibel, whose "That Is Where I'll Go" managed to hit highs and lows in its three minutes. OK though, I suppose, but in the draw-from-hell spot, Sibel was up against it tonight.

Rongedal on the other hand managed to deliver a very professional rendition of the very catchy "Just A Minute" which has been one of my favourites of this national finals season. I thought after tonight, this could possibly provide a shock result.

Prior to this year's MF season, the appeal of Linda Bengtzing had escaped me - but no more. Who could not love her performance of "Hur Svårt Kan Det Va", an anthemic showstopper? Whilst I understood why Charlotte's win was inevitable, I still feel that she has a 'coldness' about her, which could not be said about Linda whose performance yelled warmth, humanity and fun.

All I would say about Christer Sjögren and "I Love Europe" was that it gave me the opportunity to go off and open a bottle of red wine, and the bit I did have the misfortune to see was just scary, scary, scary.

Little Amy Diamond gave it her all on "Thank You" and being in a charitable mood tonight I'd say that it was ok to begin with, but it all ended up a bit "naaaaahhh" and I can understand why the viewers/voters would lose interest as it outstayed its welcome.

So to Sanna Nielsen, the first of the serious challengers to Charlotte, thanks to the staging of "Empty Room" which had the audience waving little lights in the air Olsen Brothers-style and it was very well received, however I questioned just how sincere her 'emotional' reaction was.

Then it was time for Nordman who weren't as good as last week - voice was a bit croaky I thought - but the witch-burning and the stage act remained one of the more powerful images of this year's MF. I still rather like "I Lågornas Sken" though.

Frida Muranius featuring Headline probably realised they were among tonight's also rans but they gave an energetic, refreshing and fun performance of "Upp O Hoppa" although the end result was still a bit of a fashion disaster. There's something appealingly ordinary about Frida though.

And now to BWO with "Lay Your Love On Me" which as you probably know was my favourite this year, and just like Sebastian Karlsson in 2007, my rational judgement went out the window the minute that Martin Rolinski walked onstage. Plagiarism allegations (Lili & Sussie/Madonna) have hung over this song, but it is such a great pop song which they did very well again tonight and they should be proud of their performance, although this will probably be their last effort at MF.

"There's a new Sheriffovic in town!" declared Kristian Luuk as he headed for Belgrade in a funny interval-segment.
Bjorn Gustafsson meanwhile hit us with some beatboxing, although I didn't think this was one of his best weeks but he has been the real star of MF this year, bring him back SVT!

Just when you thought there would be no more surprises, along came Maia Hirasawa with her own individual take on last year's winner, "The Worrying Kind" by The Ark!

Talking of whom, there was an appearance by a disturbingly facial-haired Ola Salo (OK I know he's doing Jesus Christ Superstar but please shave soon, Ola darling !) anyway then it was time for the jury vote, one after the other giving Charlotte 12 points, although three cheers to Norrkoping for giving BWO their 12 points :)

Result after jury vote:

1. Charlotte
2. Rongedal
3. Sanna
4. BWO
5. Linda
6. Sibel
7. Amy
8. Frida & Headline
9. Nordman
10. Christer

Then came the viewers' votes, translated into points and added to the jury votes. Not even Sanna winning the viewers' vote was enough to shift Charlotte from the top.

Final result:

1. Charlotte
2. Sanna
3. BWO
4. Rongedal
5. Linda
6. Nordman
7. Sibel
8. Amy
9. Christer
10. Frida & Headline

Charlotte wins, no surprise, well done, now go and win it for Sweden in Belgrade!

Oh, and Poster Girl - have you recovered yet??????

Melodifestivalen: my predictions for tonight.

Only an hour to go and I'm getting so excited!!

I'm quite happy with the final line-up (apart from the dire Christer joke-song), although I'd have been happier if Ola had made the final, but at least the final is Carola-free and that can only be a good thing.

I know lots of other people out there are doing predictions for tonight, so here are mine.

10th place - "I Love Europe" - Christer Sjogren.
Too many joke entries at ESC this year already, and I can confidently predict (ha ha ha) that this will be at the bottom of the scoreboard tonight.

9th place - "Upp O Hoppa" - Frida & Headline.
I quite liked this when it qualified however I think they will lack the sufficient fanbase to get a result tonight and the occasion might just be too big for them.

8th place - "Thank You" - Amy Diamond.
Another early qualifier whose novelty has now worn off although she will still have a few fans out there, but not enough to get her above 8th place.

7th place - "I Lågornas Sken" - Nordman.
Now I like this but again there are too many stronger entries tonight and this will probably be too, um, "Swedish" to do better, I can't see it pulling off a Roger Pontare-style shock win.

6th place - "Just A Minute" - Rongedal.
My second favourite song of the contest (behind BWO of course) and will pick up a few votes thanks to the boys' enthusiasm and professionalism, but still visually offputting.

5th place - "Hur Svårt Kan Det Va" - Linda Bengtzing.
This song probably turned me into a Linda fan. Again her enthusiasm will translate into votes, however there are too many other schlager-divas tonight who will steal votes from her.

4th place - "That Is Where I'll Go" - Sibel.
Not a favourite of mine I admit (and she kept Ola out of the final, boooo) but she does have a good voice. Poor draw position though - and performing after Charlotte may either inspire or destroy her.

3rd place - "Lay Your Love On Me" - BWO.
Just like Alcazar, it seems that BWO are destined never to win Melodifestivalen. If it was up to me....oh well it's not, and I'll just have to live with that fact. This is utterly poptastic but I can't really see it getting a better result tonight. Good draw position though!

2nd place - "Empty Room" - Sanna Nielsen.
Schlager-diva who always gives it her all, this will get the 'Sarah Dawn Finer result' this year, i.e. a ballad among the uptempo numbers. This is a real challenger, although I've never really been a fan of hers but credit where it's due, she does this rather well.

And the winner will be....

"Hero" - Charlotte Perrelli. Well what else can I say, this screamed 'WINNER' from the first time I heard it and it still does. She is a very strong, professional performer and this has all the ingredients for a Melodifestivalen winner. And it will win tonight. Absolutely.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Swedish Charts Update: Melodifestivalen Fever!!

After a few quite stagnant weeks in the Sverige Topplistan singles chart, Amanda Jenssen’s "Do You Love Me" has finally been knocked off the top spot. Guess what’s no.1? None other than "Hero" by Charlotte Perrelli, with Sanna Nielsen’s "Empty Room" at no. 2. Is this an omen for Saturday night perhaps?

Yes, Melodifestivalen fever has hit the Topplistan now that the songs are available to buy. Other MF acts in the top 40 chart this week: E-Type and The Poodles (no.3), Velvet (no.9), Linda Bengtzing (no.10), Fronda (no.11), Sibel (no.12), Nordman (no.13), BWO (what, only no.16?), Andra Generationen (no.18), Johnson & Häggkvist (no.25), Patrik Isaksson & Bandet (no.29), Suzzie Tapper (no.33), Calaisa (no.35), Frida & Headline (no.39). Not much room for anything else eh!!

Next week I’ll probably write about some of the non-MF stuff in the chart, there are a few new songs around and I need to check them out.

French Charts Update

Haven’t had one of these for a while and surprisingly there have been a few new entries since the last time in the otherwise normally stagnant French singles chart.

Popstars winner Sheryfa Luna’s second single "Il Avait Les Mots" is no.1 this week. Nice, mid-paced r’n’b type tune which Amel Bent used to be quite good at. I think her voice also sounds a little like Jenifer in places on this one.

"Le Manege" by Stanislas has an almost Christmassy, fairytale feel to it, and it’s an almost classical chanson which could only be a hit in France. It doesn’t quite float my boat though.

"Je Realise" by Sinik begins as a fairly good piano-driven rap song but then turns into a nightmare. The reason? Do the words "Featuring James Blunt" strike fear into your heart?

Marc Antoine is yet another in a long line of home-grown French r’n’b singers and his "Tant Besoin de Toi" is solid rather than spectacular.

Not only is there a growing number of male r’n’b stars but in a country which has always arguably preferred female singers, there has been an explosion of young female r’n’b singers over the last two to three years. The latest is Melissa M, who is doing very well with "Cette Fois" which again has that Amel Bent-style vibe to it. Catchy, commercial and sounds good on the radio.

Finally, another rap number from Soprano - "Ferme Les Yeux et Imagine Toi". French-language rap has also been a very successful genre in recent years and this trend is set to continue.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


My blog is one year old and so I thought I’d celebrate. I promise the big speech won’t go on tooooo long....!

This blog began on 11th March 2007 with a short review of the 2007 Melodifestivalen final. I had no idea that one year and nearly 800 posts later I’d still be posting my "random ramblings" and loving every minute of it.

To all of you who have ever taken time to visit, a million thanks, and I particularly appreciate it if you’ve ever left a comment, it gives me such a big thrill to know that what I’ve written has inspired you to do so.

Special thanks to my blogging buddies out there who are all trying to promote European music, and who have made me feel like part of a big happy blogging family - particularly Poster Girl, Acer Ben (Pop Unlimited), Rachel (Work Your Magic) and Lemur (The Lemur Blog), your friendship and support over the past year has totally inspired me to keep it going, and your blogs have introduced me to so much great new music on my blogging journey over the past year.

Recently I have also discovered a different type of blog, where record collections are shared and discussed and you realise that you weren’t the only person in the world who loved "that song", so I must give a special mention to Tracklister and Raiding The Vinyl Archive for bringing back those musical memories.

OK I’ll shut up now and in the words of those great philosophers Girls Aloud, I’ll let the funky music do the talking. Yes I’m having a virtual blog-birthday party, and have (virtually!) invited eight acts to perform. For various reasons, all eight would appear to sum up the past year on this blog for me.

Our opening act tonight is Måns Zelmerlöw, the ex-Swedish Idol contestant who is now enjoying a very successful pop career. Here’s "Cara Mia" from Melodifestivalen 2007, and it was also the song of my trip to Stockholm last May:

Next up is Lee Mead, the first of two British acts performing tonight. Lee of course won the talent search show "Any Dream Will Do", and is still performing in the leading role in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat" in London. He also released his debut album. Here’s a clip of his recent appearance on a British daytime TV chat show singing "Make It With You" and looking, well, utterly gorgeous. Of course.

Our third act tonight is arguably the biggest pan-European musical phenomenon of the last year, Tokio Hotel, who are now trying to break the USA! Here is the song which they tried (but sadly failed) to make the UK chart with - "Ready Set Go!"

I discovered Swedish rap duo Snook last summer thanks to their connection with Salem Al Fakir (more of him later) and completely loved this song from the first time I heard’s the mighty "Inga Problem"!

Good British musical talent was thin on the ground during the past year - but here is a notable exception and if there’s any justice he’ll become a superstar in the next 12 months - Paul Steel with "Your Loss":

I had a lot of fun following various European reality-talent shows over the past year and was delighted when, finally, the right person won France’s "Star Academy". Here’s Quentin Mosimann with Peter Cincotti and David Guetta with an amazing version of Guetta’s hit "Love Is Gone".

Penultimate act of the evening - please welcome BWO with "Lay Your Love On Me". Absolute wonderful Swedish poptastic-ness in all its glory. It won’t win Melodifestivalen of course, but it’s still a winner to me!!

And finally, to the top of the bill, and the person I wrote about more on this blog than any other - so much that he ended up getting his own spin-off blog!! Here is Salem Al Fakir, my favourite singer/songwriter/musician/everything!! What else can I end with but "Good Song" which is now possibly my favourite song ever!

OK I’m all virtual-partied out now and off to get some sleep. Night night :-)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Oro - no, no, no!

So Serbia has chosen its Eurovision entry "Oro" which is written by that Zeljko chap and inevitably like most other countries this year totally got it wrong. They should have chosen the wonderfully catchy disco-tastic "Beli Jablan" which I still absolutely love!! Haven't seen their final performance of this, but here's the preview-show video-thing:

Sunday, March 09, 2008

We are (not) the Chiki girls

Haven't watched the Spanish Eurovision final - but...what's with that "Baila El Chiki Chiki" thing? Are they going for the world record this year on joke songs at ESC or what?

The mighty Verka was one thing, but this year's bunch is another.

Although... I have now heard this year's French entry, "Divine" by Sebastien Tellier, which is the most unlikely Eurovision entry ever, think Beach Boys-meets-Etienne Daho. I've got a feeling I'll be listening to this for a while yet. And that's no joke.

Nothing to be guilty of....

Tonight ITV1 broadcast a show based on the "Guilty Pleasures" phenomenon which has grown over recent years. Basically it's about songs you love, but you're ashamed to tell the world you love them.

Why? Why should you feel guilty? Good music that you love is good music that you love. I should know. I love everything from the tackiest, cheesiest pop to the trendiest guitar music and everything in-between. But the 'post-ironic' climate today seems to dictate that you should like things in that 'post-ironic' way. Hell, no. Let's just celebrate music, in all its wonderful forms, and that's nothing to be guilty of.

Retro Saturday: Steely Dan

I am surprised that I've taken so long to feature them here, as they are clearly in a class of their own :-)

I always loved Steely Dan, from childhood through teenage years and beyond. Here is a live performance from 1996 of the reflective "Hey Nineteen", the best song ever written about an older man dating a younger woman. Cool. No, make that beyond cool.

Retro Saturday: Love and Money

Slick, smooth pop from the late 80s, although with quite a darker, subversive edge like much of the other music of its time. Here is "Hallelujah Man" although I would recommend that you check out "Strange Kind of Love" also, both of which are available on the "Cheap Pearls and Whisky Dreams" compilation CD:

Retro Saturday: Soft Cell

Forget "Tainted Love" - that's an easy option.

"Torch" was always wonderful, but be honest, how many years have passed since you heard that on the radio? Check out their 1982 Top of the Pops Christmas show performance at

Retro Saturday: Weekend

After the demise of Young Marble Giants, singer Alison Statton formed Weekend, which produced some cool, smooth early 80s jazz. There is very little footage available but good old YouTube delivered a French TV clip as follows:

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Melodifestivalen - Andra Chansen, Kiruna 08.03.08. Ding dong, the witch is dead - good riddance!

Well well well. I'm getting better at this predictions game. As Meat Loaf might have sang, "Three out of four ain't bad".

Andra Chansen, which used to be buried in some SVT Sunday afternoon slot, now has its own big show and it took place tonight in Kiruna, which is a very cold and snowy place. (Weren't those opening titles very reminiscent of MGP?) Strange one this week though - no Bjorn "hottest/funniest man in Sweden" Gustafsson, but host Kristian Luuk was on good form as ever.

Heat 1: "Line of Fire" - E-Type & The Poodles: I felt this was a better performance than their original one in the first week, but it was up against the Celine Dion-type power ballad of this year's MF.

"That Is Where I'll Go" - Sibel: I know my view is at odds with many others but I found this a bit whiny and as Louis Walsh might say, 'the song was too big for her', however I understood its appeal and wasn't too surprised when it progressed to tonight's semi-final.

Result: Sibel to the semi-final.

Heat 2: "Love In Stereo" - Ola. Rational reasoning now goes out of the window. Ola! Ola! Ola! This was great and again he was much better tonight than in his original performance. Good styling, good singing and a very very good retro-popsong which I just know will be a big big hit, and will figure in my playlist for a while too.

"Smiling in Love" - Caracola: I may just have been feeling more charitable tonight, but even this didn't annoy me.

Result: almost jumped off my seat when Mr Luuk announced Ola was going to the semi-final, although I realised that my celebrations would be short-lived as the ticket to Globen had Sibel's name on it...!

Heat 3: "One Love" - Johnson and Haggkvist: from the beginning I questioned the logic of this duo. I like Andreas and on reflection, he should have gone solo once again. This was all wrong tonight. She was far too old for that dress, and before you say anything, I'm two years older than her and I know what I'm talking about :-)

"I Lagornas Sken" - Nordman. Bald power! Nord-man! Clap clap clap! Nord-man! Clap clap clap! I'm not Swedish, but maybe I should apply now for Swedish nationality because I reckon that it would be enough to say I liked this :-)

Result: Nordman to the semi-final.

Heat 4: "When You Need Me" - Therese Andersson: She gave it her all, but the problem with this song was that the verses were very good but the operatic chorus actually let the song down. Nevertheless, she was a revelation in this contest and this will open doors for her.

"Visst Finns Mirakel" - Suzzie Tapper: A simple song with no gimmicks (except a big group backing singer finish) by a once-famous singer will always do well (like Tommy Nilsson from last year) but don't expect a high placing in the final though.

Result: Suzzie Tapper to the semi-final.

Interval act: in the absence of Bjorn, a rather fab James Bond-type sequence in which Kristian Luuk battled the triple schlager-threat of Arja Sajonmaa, Lasse Berghagen and Anna Book. Please, please, please put this on the DVD, it was so funny. "Goodbye Mr Luuk"!:-) Oh and by the way, Kristian was singing again ("Jag Saknar Dig Ibland"), maybe he should represent Sverige one of these years?


Sibel versus Ola: well the result was always a bit obvious. Despite Ola's best efforts, Sibel gave a faultless performance, enough to send her and her wind machine and floaty frock all the way to Globen next week.

Nordman versus Suzzie: Despite the simplicity of Suzzie's Eva Dahlgren-style song, it wasn't enough to keep the witch-burners at bay - Nordman are on their way to Globen!

Next week's finalists:

"Lay Your Love On Me" - BWO
"Thank You" - Amy Diamond
"That Is Where I'll Go" - Sibel
"Upp o Hoppa" - Frida featuring Headline
"I Love Europe" - Christer Sjogren
"Just A Minute" - Rongedal
"Hur Svart Kan Det Va" - Linda Bengtzing
"I Lagornas Sken" - Nordman
"Empty Room" - Sanna Nielsen
"Hero" - Charlotte Perrelli

And the winner is.... I am so convinced that Charlotte Perrelli will represent Sweden at this year's Eurovision Song Contest with "Hero". Will I be right? Answers one week tonight!!

Andra Chansen: my foolish predictions

I spent about 3 hours trying to figure out how "Andra Chansen" actually worked and had to end up going over to the dark side, ie a Carola fansite, to finally get the answer. Oh, the depths which I'll sink to, just to post my foolish predictions for tonight's Melodifestivalen heat....!

Anyway, heat one sees E-Type & The Poodles versus Sibel.
Prediction: Sibel will sail through to the next round.

Heat two: Ola versus Caracola.
Prediction: My heart says Ola (of course) but my head says Caracola. Hope I'm wrong.

Heat three: Nordman versus Androla a.k.a. Johnson & Haggkvist.
Prediction: Like a mini-"group of death" this one isn't it! I might be wrong, but Nordman are gonna burn the witch!

Heat four: Therese Andersson versus Suzzie Tapper.
Prediction: I'm not really interested enough that either of them progress, and it will depend 'on tonight's performance' as they say on all the reality shows....ok I guess it will be Suzzie.

Next round:

Sibel versus Caracola.
Nordman versus Suzzie Tapper.

To the final:
Sibel and Nordman.

Will I be right? All will be revealed in just over four hours time.

The Spanish final, "Salvemos Eurovision" will be broadcast tonight on TVE Internacional (via Sky TV in the UK) at 9.30 pm British time. Good old Spanish TV likes nothing better than a three and a half hour extravaganza (as I fondly remember the good old days of Operacion Triunfo when it was on TVE) so I'll set the video for this one and will watch it at a later date. May the best song win (although I probably won't love it as much as "I Love You Mi Vida").

This week's playlist: Tell me what I gotta say

Come On Girl - Taio Cruz: infectious, addictive mix of electro & r'n'b which has now eaten its way into my brain.
Black and Gold - Sam Sparro: my most favourite favourite favourite song of the moment. The kind of song that Gnarls Barkley should have come back with.
Sun Goes Down - David Jordan: it's become a bit of a love or hate song now. Guess what? I love it.
Solo i Stockholm - Brolle (Jr): What's better than Brolle in English? Brolle in Swedish. The kind of big dramatic pop that he does so well. Great to see him back.
Tiny Dancer - Marco Demark: cheesy dance cover version of the moment, as Elton John gets remade for the dancefloor and daytime radio.
Forever or Never - Cinema Bizarre: Ok so Germany didn't like this enough to send it to Eurovision, but I still do.
La Histeria - Marquess: ditto.
Manic - Colourbox: fabulous 80s electro which still sounds amazing today (and I promise a post about them soon too).
Bury My Heart - White and Torch: another obscure 80s number with a 60s influence, which I've rediscovered lately and am enjoying again.
Love Is Gone - David Guetta, Peter Cincotti & Quentin Mosimann: utterly brilliant jazz-dance version of the Guetta song from the Star Academy final. Still loving this big time.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Germany's 'Disappear'-ing act

I can't really comment as I haven't seen the clips from the German national final (apart from the winner), but at the moment I'm rather annoyed that Marquess or Cinema Bizarre didn't win. "Disappear" by No Angels is admittedly one of the more contemporary efforts to enter this year's Eurovision Song Contest, with its Sugababes-type vibe going on, but it isn't one of the most memorable songs I've ever heard and their vocals may not be strong enough to deliver an amazing performance.

Not too much more to say really, I'm feeling quite sleepy and it looks as if an early night may be a good idea.

Will post this week's playlist on Saturday, and needless to say I might even mention Melodifestivalen. :-)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

More German stuff.

Germany chooses its 2008 Eurovision entry this Thursday in what looks like one of the better national finals of this season.

My two favourite songs in it are "La Histeria" by Marquess, which has been in my weekly playlist for the past couple of weeks. Would German voters send a song in Spanish to Eurovision though? That's the only problem I can see. "Forever Or Never" by Cinema Bizarre, whose visual image is somewhere between Tokio Hotel and 80s new romantics, with an electro-pop song that is very reminiscent of "All The Things She Said". This song is now stuck in my brain and will probably be in this week's playlist as well.

"Disappear" by comeback Popstars-band No Angels is also ok I guess, they have been very popular so are in with a big chance. A kind of Sugababes sound going on there too. "Just One Woman" by Tommy Reeve is, well, a bit dull and seems to be there to make up the numbers. "Hinterm Ozean" by Carolin Fortenbacher is a Euro ballad by numbers, she has a nice enough voice but again I'm not a ballad fan and wouldn't really want this one to qualify.

Unlike my weekly attempts at predicting Melodifestivalen, I'm not gonna predict this one! All I'll say is - Germans, please pick Marquess or Cinema Bizarre!

A brief diversion to something Serbian: I like the uptempo disco-tastic "Beli Jablan" by Aleksa Jelic and Ana Stajdohar, which is in their national final, but will probably lose out to the usual meaningful Balkan ballad. Groove along to Aleksa and Ana in the meantime at

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Those Echo awards results at last.

Germany's national music awards were announced a couple of weeks ago but I'm only getting round to putting the results on here. The Echo Awards are based on the year's best selling recording artists rather than the usual juries or phone votes. So here are the results:

Male Artist - Herbert Gronemeyer
Female Artist - LaFee
International Male - James Blunt
International Female - Nelly Furtado
Group - Die Fantastischen Vier
Group - Linkin Park
Hip Hop - Bushido
International Hip Hop - 50 Cent
Rock Act - Die Arzte
International Rock Act - Nightwish
Album - "12" - Herbert Gronemeyer
Newcomer - Mark Medlock
International Newcomer - Mika
Single - "Ein Stern" - DJ Otzi & Nik P
Live Act - Bushido
Video - "Spring Nicht" - Tokio Hotel

...not too many surprises in there, but only one award for Tokio Hotel. Still it's another one to add to their growing collection. Last week's Pop Xport on DW-TV reported that the boys are now trying to break North America and already have a growing band of obsessive fans over there. World domination awaits!!

You want a piece of meat.

I am fascinated by misheard lyrics - you know, the ones where you think they're singing one thing and they are actually singing something else. My favourite one at the moment is from that Britney Spears song, in which I think she sings "you want a piece of meat" instead of "piece of me".

"What A Fool Believes" by the Doobie Brothers is one of my mum's all-time favourite songs and she always thought they were singing "the white man has a brother" when in fact it's "the wise man has the power".

There are even websites devoted to the misheard lyrics phenomenon, the most famous of these is at named after the misheard Jimi Hendrix lyric "scuse me while I kiss this guy"!

People of a certain age may remember the advert for Fudge bars with the "finger of fudge" song. I always thought they were singing "it's full of Cadbury goodness but very small indeed" which wasn't much of a recommendation for an advertising slogan :-)

It's Andy for the UK in May.

Former X-Factor finalist Andy Abraham will represent the United Kingdom at this year's Eurovision Song Contest with "Even If". Bit of a shock result if you ask me. Although he was clearly the best singer in the contest, the song was a bit forgettable, but at least it wasn't the frantic "Hey Ya!" ripoff handed to runner-up Michelle Gayle. OK I did enjoy LoveShy's "Mr Gorgeous" (but enough about that curly-haired backing dancer - you know what I feel about men with curly hair and I'd have voted this one all the way to Belgrade to see him again - major swooooooon). I also liked the quirkiness of ex-"Maria" finalist Simona Armstrong's "Changes" although her vocals were ropey in places. Ex-"Any Dream Will Do" finalist Rob McVeigh deserved a better song than "I Owe It All To You" whilst The Revelations were just too retro-Motown and tried far too hard.

All in all it was another lazy effort from Terry Wogan and the BBC, who would appear to have lost interest. Someone should point them in the direction of Sveriges Television, who could show them how a song contest should be done.

Retro Saturday: Brainstorm

Because I'm going to Latvia in May, what better reason to go back 8 years to "My Star" by Brainstorm, with a deranged Renars Kaupers and his white flared trousers :-))). Find them rocking Globen at

I think I'll do some more Brainstorm stuff on this blog soon, purely because I don't know any more Latvian music - will need to remedy that situation because I'm going away and need to buy some CDs!!

Retro Saturday: The Fixx

Not Phixx but The Fixx, an early 80s band which I liked. Anti-nuclear war anthem of its time (1982) which I used to play a lot at the time. Good old YouTube comes up trumps again!!

Retro Saturday: The Associates

The Associates' music meant a lot to me in the early 80s. Different from anything and everything at that time, and still sounding unique and fantastic today. "Party Fears Two" was their best known hit, but here is "Skipping" which I really loved, with Billy in that airline pilot's uniform. Enjoy!

Retro Saturday: The Redskins

John Peel favourites who were also very reflective of my political stance in the 80s, The Redskins were probably best known for "Keep On Keeping On" which was my favourite song of theirs. They inevitably appeared on "The Tube" - well everyone who was everyone in the 80s did - and you can find their appearance at

Retro Saturday: Secret Affair

Going back to the late 70s/early 80s mod revival to start with tonight :-)
Although for some strange reason the lead singer annoyed me, I did like a couple of songs by this band. My favourite songs of theirs were "My World" and "Time For Action". Find a Top of the Pops 2 clip of the latter at

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Melodifestivalen Deltävling 4: Karlskrona 01.03.08

The last of the 4 heats to determine the remaining finalists....and arguably the strongest heat so far, as every song had some redeeming feature or another.

As ever, an amazing show this week in Karlskrona, contrasted with the apology for a national final which I was watching on BBC1 at the same time....

Niklas Strömstedt kicked off the proceedings tonight with an easy going old fashioned number which was OK but despite his wildcard status was never a contender tonight.

Calaisa just sounded like every other female close-harmony combo of the last 10 years, from The Corrs to the Dixie Chicks. Nevertheless, it worked, unlike Ainbusk from last week. Enough voters must have agreed as they made it to this week's top 5, and came fifth.

"Pame" was always going to be a favourite for this blogger, based on three things:

1) Men named Daniel !
2) Big hair!!
3) Songs that sound like "Cara Mia" will always be a big hit at EuropeCrazy HQ!

Much messageboard criticism was aimed in Daniel Mitsogiannis' direction, but I liked it anyway, even if I was in a minority.

Linda Bengtzing has never been one of my MF faves in the past, but she won me over tonight with her 'Grace Kelly'-type song (although what was with the tartan styling?) She has really made so much progress since her last MF outing and is such an enthusiastic performer. Wasn't her new look very reminiscent of Rihanna?

Nordman always seem to tap into that Swedish national vibe which worked for Roger Pontare all those years ago, and I was surprisingly impressed by the show that they put on tonight.

I'm no fan of big power ballads and the one by Sibel Redzep was no exception. The poor girl also looked quite sickly in her outfit and did she really need a wind machine? Vocally outstanding though, but not really my bag, baby.

I found Sebastian Fronda quite appealing and charming, although I knew that his song didn't really have any chance.

Everything comes to an end......finally, the return of Charlotte Perrelli to MF. She performed the Kempe/Ljunggren song "Hero" perfectly and I was very impressed. Prior to hearing this song I'd never really been a fan of hers but she has the professionalism and the pedigree to go all the way to win MF this year and do some serious damage at Eurovision.

Was it just me, but I didn't like the water-themed interval dance act, although a 'drunk' and trouserless (!) Bjorn Gustafsson managed to steal the show yet again.

To Globen: Linda and Charlotte.

To Andra Chansen: Nordman and Sibel.

So that's it for the MF heats. Next week sees Andra Chansen, where two songs will be chosen to join the finalists at Globen, two weeks tonight. Predictions to follow next week - it's going to be a tough one to call!!

Charlotte and Linda to Globen!

Poster Girl's gonna go into meltdown!!!

Congratulations to Charlotte Perrelli and Linda Bengtzing. At least I got that one right! Two very assured performances tonight which we in the UK can only dream of....

Nordman and Sibel to Andra Chansen, setting up the following head-to-heads next week in Kiruna:

E-Type & The Poodles vs Sibel; Carola & Andreas vs Nordman; Ola vs Caracola; Therese Andersson vs Suzzie Tapper.

Full review of tonight's show to follow.

Royaume-Uni chooses its Eurovision entry tonight....

..yes it's embarrassment time again. This year it won't be called "MYMU" but it will be called "Eurovision - Your Decision" but let's not bother because whatever the Beeb calls it, the fact remains that they're embarrassed to be part of Eurovision at all. (Contrast this with Sweden's Melodifestivalen and Norway's Melodi Grand Prix, two brilliantly produced and staged weekly extravaganzas). Tonight my head will be bouncing from left to right as if I was at Wimbledon watching a tennis match (!!) because I'll be watching our selection on TV and watching Melodifestivalen on the computer at the same time.

By the way, I've deliberately avoided listening to any clips of the six British finalists so tonight's show will be the first time that I hear them. May the best song and performer win, although the great British public having their particular idea of what a British Eurovision entry sounds like, I very much doubt it and I'd love to be proved wrong.