Thursday, April 30, 2009

That inevitable 'No time to blog' post

Blog wisdom and etiquette indicates that you shouldn't post about not posting, but it's really just to keep myself right and everyone else in the loop. So.....

Two foreign trips within two weeks are taking their (expected) toll on my spare time - did I tell you I was going to Dusseldorf next Monday ??? - anyway it just means that I really haven't had the time to update this ol' blog, not to mention that Planet Salem and all its related activities are still the main focus of my attention.

Basically what this all means is that there is very likely to be no activity on this blog for the next few days; I'll be along on Sunday to say my pre-trip hasta-la-vistas as usual, but I'm not really promising anything else - this could of course all change, time permitting. :)

Monday, April 27, 2009

The EuropeCrazy Holiday Hit List: Gothenburg 2009

As is now traditional on this blog, here is my little playlist of songs which were never off the radio and will always remind me of my recent trip to Gothenburg!

My radio listening was split between Rix FM, Mix Megapol and P3. Just as at home, Pink, Rihanna, Beyonce and Kelly Clarkson are ridiculously overplayed, but at least there’s many more pop gems on the radio than at home.

Baby Goodbye - E.M.D.: arguably the most-played song of the weekend! But who’s complaining? I still love it.

Stay The Night - Alcazar: or, arguably, the other most-played song of the weekend. And again, I wasn’t complaining.

Higher - Star Pilots: yet another of my MF favourites from this year.

Love Child - Fibes, Oh Fibes!: a fabulous comeback from them, which got quite a bit of airplay on P3.

Dance With Somebody - Mando Diao: another P3 regular. I need to check out their new album.

The Queen - Velvet: maybe not played as much as some of the other MF songs, but heard it once or twice and it sounds very good on the radio.

Love Love Love - Agnes: I didn’t really appreciate this at MF but it seems to make more sense as a radio hit.

Hope and Glory - Måns Zelmerlöw: need I say more?

1000 Miles - H.E.A.T.: they’re probably the big breakthrough act from this year’s MF. This was everywhere, and I even heard it booming out of the Hard Rock Cafe on Avenyn on Friday night!

Lee Mead and Denise Van Outen have got married!

I didn't think they would, but they just have....on a beach in the Seychelles, and kept it a secret, no magazine deals etc, that's a nice change these days isn't it.

Wow this must be serious then I guess. As regular readers know, Lee was one of my obsessions in the early days of Europe Crazy 2 years ago, and he remains one of my two favourite gorgeous curly haired men. All I can say is Denise is one very lucky lady!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Gothenburg Diaries: Day 2, Saturday 18th April 2009

Salem Day.

Gothenburg was bathed in sunshine and blue skies this morning and there was a feeling of magic in the air for me, coupled with nervous anxiety and uncontrollable excitement about tonight.

Taking the Salem-theme to ridiculous lengths this morning, it was an almost "cold shower" which let me tell you was not a blessing :(

Before breakfast I was listening to P3 and they played "Astronaut" so needless to say I was rather excited :) there's just something great about hearing Salem being played on the radio.

Off to breakfast, and a very good selection in the Scandic Crown breakfast room - yum, lots of lovely fruit and crispbread which did the job. There was a shop in the hotel reception selling various items including this month's issue of Damernas Varld magazine. Which had an interview and rather gorgeous picture of Salem on page 38 :) anyway as I reported at Planet Salem, I couldn't buy it as there was no room in my hand luggage to bring the magazine home :(

The main objective on Saturday morning was to get on a tram and make our way to the ticket office over in the other side of the city, to exchange my confirmation email for....

...two tickets to Salem Al Fakir.

Job done.

Walked back to the city centre but not before stopping off at a lovely little part of the city called Haga. This is very reminiscent of Gamla Stan in Stockholm with its lovely old buildings.

There is also a lovely city park behind Storan, with a little canal running through it. I thought this was a perfect photo opportunity.

And so to lunch. I'd forgotten how difficult it was eating out in Sweden: I don't eat red meat, pork, lamb or fish/seafood, but "when in Sweden" I had to break the beef ban to do the ultimate Swedish food experience - köttbullar!!

Cue my latest food-photography attempt to get into Blogs of Note.

After lunch it was off in search of a record shop, and as usual I wasn't able to find one at that time (we were nowhere near Bengans so an alternative was needed) - and just like our 1996 trip to Gothenburg we ended up at Ahlens City, in the Nordstan shopping centre. Again I had to limit my purchases to this year's Melodifestivalen 2009 DVD and Måns Zelmerlöw's new CD. The shelves were full of Melodifestivalen artists' CDs, and of course I saw Salem's "Astronaut" proudly displayed too!

Was Nordstan always this big or did my memory play tricks on me? Whilst we were in the shopping centre, we heard the Gothenburg Gospel Choir who were singing on the Nordstan stage.

After shopping we had time for a quick coffee and then it was back to the hotel to get ready for the big event.

I should have been wired up to a blood pressure monitor between 4pm and 6pm: it would probably have exploded with my high-as-a-kite ramblings of a mad woman, repeating the setlist over and over again, pacing up and down the hotel room, re-doing my make-up, random singing of Salem songs over and over again, and failed attempts at trying to stay calm.

On my way through reception I so wanted to yell "I'm going to see Salem Al Fakir !!!" but I managed to restrain myself.

Dinner at a Greek/Turkish restaurant beforehand which was rather nice, although my nerves were at complete breaking point and my hands were shaking non-stop.

Yet somewhere on the road to Trädgår'n, I found the calmness and composure that I needed.

Meeting Salem was like all of my dreams coming true...and I will remember it forever.

Before the concert we took our places near the front of the stage, and for once I didn't have an eight-feet giant standing in front of me, blocking my view :) Just prior to Salem and his band going on stage, they were playing some music and the last song was "Wonderchild" by Christian Walz, which I thought was totally ironic as these two artists are always compared with each other!

The concert was brilliant. Salem was a fantastic live performer and I feel privileged to have had this experience: I hope it won't be the last time I see him play live.

(You can read my posts about meeting Salem or my full review of the concert at my other blog Planet Salem of course)

I also met the Norwegian girls after the show, purely by accident - an unexpected and happy pleasure!

On the way back to the hotel, I was in another world. I sang, I screamed, I was on such a natural high that I was flying, not walking!! And once back in the hotel I phoned mum, probably the most hysterical phone call that she has ever received in her whole life!!

And I only got 30 minutes sleep that whole night.

The best night of my life.

Unfortunately it all had to end on Sunday, but not before two final Salem-related moments:

1) The Axwell/Ingrosso dance mix of "It's True" got played on P3 on Sunday before breakfast. Scream-time again.

2) Had SVT on briefly and a trailer came on for "Vi i Femman" which is presented by Nassim Al Fakir - Salem's brother!!

After breakfast we headed for the bus station and got the bus back to the airport. Even our flight home was on time - and that never happens.

All in all, the best weekend ever!

Retro Saturday: Orange Juice

This one came into my mind just about 3 hours ago ....perhaps Orange Juice are best known for the likes of "Rip It Up" and "Falling And Laughing" and "Poor Old Soul" but I have most fond memories of "Bridge" with one of my favourite lyrics "Brunel's phoned my lawyer/he's threatening to sue":

Retro Saturday: Gino Vannelli

We crash-land into 1985 now with "Black Cars" by the Canadian singer Gino Vannelli who declares: "Black Cars....look better in the shade!"

Everything about this video screams 1980s, but the song has remained a favourite for me and still proudly occupies a place on my iPod even today.

Wallow in nostalgia at

Retro Saturday: Peter Brown

Back in the disco tonight for an absolutely wonderful tune from 1978 by Peter Brown. "Dance With Me" is one of my all-time disco faves and I can't believe I haven't posted it before now. Enjoy it in all its extended-version glory at

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Gothenburg Diaries: Day 1, Friday 17 April 2009

This was no ordinary holiday of course: last weekend was all about my trip to Gothenburg to see Salem Al Fakir in concert.

Our destination was Gothenburg City Airport, described as "Sweden's fastest growing airport" although "Sweden's fastest growing portacabin" would probably be more appropriate. Nevertheless no complaints as our flight (from a well-known low fares airline) arrived on time and it was straight onto the Flygbussarna (Tip: book your ticket in advance on the internet and just show your email to the driver, otherwise it's credit-card only on the bus) and a pleasant 25 minute journey into Gothenburg. A big relief for me was that we didn't have to go over that big suspension bridge to get into the city, but rather a more agreeable bridge adjacent to the "Lipstick Tower" that distinctive red and white building which towers over the city. The bus takes you to the Nils Ericson Terminalen (bus station). On arrival the weather was absolutely beautiful, with most of the local residents in designer shades...I began to wonder if my black coat was such a good idea, although it did get a bit colder as the evenings progressed, giving some justification to my coat-wearing after all :)

Due to the theme of our holiday you can imagine that I just let out a great big scream when I saw posters for Salem's concert, amongst some others posted on a window outside Central Station:

...and from there it wasn't too far to go till our base for the weekend, the Scandic Crown Hotel (pictured below), specifically chosen because (a) we'd previously been there in 1996, and (b) its close proximity to Trädgår'n, the venue for Salem's concert on Saturday.

We headed to our room after check-in and immediately I switched the radio on of course - lots of pop gems which you can find in my soon to be published Holiday Hit List. I was in Swedish pop heaven and back to one of my spiritual homes.

(I probably had a more positive experience of the Scandic Crown this time than in 1996: back then, in the height of a (very hot) Swedish summer, we had to share the hotel with a load of businessy-types who distinctly frowned upon anyone wearing shorts (!) of course I've moved on and discovered the joys of cropped jeans/trousers, anyway I digress).

Decided to check out the whereabouts of Trädgår'n (pictured below) on our way into the city centre tonight - it was only about 10 minutes slow walk from our hotel, past the Gamla Ullevi stadium. During our trip I saw posters about the reopening of this stadium as a dedicated venue for women's football (a sport which the Swedes take very seriously) and there was a special concert being staged to celebrate this event, with acts including Alcazar and Amy Diamond.

It's not too far from the Kungsportsavenyn, aka Avenyn (The Avenue). You exit Nya Allen at Storan (where Salem played a concert on 26.11.07) then we headed up Avenyn and after checking out a few options for dinner we settled on Lilla London ( one of the most famous venues on Avenyn. We'd been to the bar there back in 1996 so it was most appropriate to return there! Nice dinner, presentation was a bit "nouvelle cuisine" I guess but we liked the surroundings, sat outside under the glass canopy, people-watching, and feeling considerably richer than we actually are. But last weekend was about living the dream, so it was more than appropriate I guess.

Back down past the Hard Rock Cafe (where I helpfully pointed out that Salem had played there once upon a time) and took a walk around the Östra Larmgatan area - which I can't really remember from my first trip - but we ended the night there with drinks at Sense bar/restaurant. Back to the hotel for an early-ish night. Had to be sensible and get some sleep!!

Friday, April 24, 2009

The things you discover on a Friday night whilst looking for French music....!

As if a good new Calogero album isn't enough, I've just found out that Emmanuel Moire has a new album out too, "L'équilibre" is its name, it was released last week.

Emmanuel has had a drastic image change since his last album, he's shaved off all his hair :( you know I don't go for that look, but strangely enough he seems to carry it off....!

Anyway let's focus on the music (based on the short clips available at

There's a more contemporary electro-pop production this time which may win him some new fans. It may be a little overproduced at times, verging on my pet-hate-of-the-moment (the dreaded autotune) however it's really good to hear him trying a more updated style. He is a very good and talented singer and deserves success with his second album.

(Yet again) more to follow...

Calogero: fifth album, first listen

2009 is already a year which I will probably remember for almost all my favourite European acts releasing new albums....we're not even halfway through the year and it's already a vintage one for new releases.

Calogero is one of my favourite French singers of this decade, and this week he released his 5th album "L'Embellie". I've been over to tonight for a preview and it sounds like a return to form.

Calogero's last studio album "Pomme C" was one of the first things I wrote about on this blog, but to be honest it was a pretty disappointing album compared to its predecessors. Therefore I was a little bit nervous about hearing "L'Embellie" however I need not have worried as, based on the short clips I've heard, it's a return to form. His style has never really changed: distinctive vocals, and a soaring dramatic pop-rock style which should particularly appeal to fans of Keane - I always hoped that they would collaborate some day as their music is remarkably similar.

One of the tracks "Il Conte" is sung in Italian (a nod to his Italian heritage I guess) and I really want to hear this song in full.

On first listen it might not reach the dizzy heights of "3" but I'm impressed with what I've heard so far.

More to follow.

This weekend...

Hopefully back in business, as it's been such a busy week since I got back from Sweden.

I'm full of good intentions as usual so you can expect some or even all of the following:
  • The Gothenburg Diaries! in which I once again attempt to get onto Blogs of Note with my exquisite food photography;
  • The EuropeCrazy Holiday Hit List of all my favourite songs on the radio from Gothenburg;
  • The return of Retro Saturday;
  • That "MZW" album review;
  • Maybe even a Swedish charts update, who knows?

I'm still on cloud nine after last weekend and I don't think I'm going to come down from that cloud for a long long time!!

It's just non-stop at the moment as I'm off again in 10 days to Dusseldorf, and on my return I finally hope to resurrect this blog to its former glories :)

EDIT 26.04.09: OK so much for the good intentions - Holiday Hit List should be on here on Monday night and I'm hoping to slot in the "MZW" review at some time this week.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Back again!

I got back last night but was extremely tired after the most exciting Saturday night of my life (and I was so excited after the show I didn't sleep at all) - not only did I get to see Salem Al Fakir in concert in Gothenburg....but my dream came true and I finally got to meet him too!!! Find the story so far at Planet Salem. I took a photo of him before the show and have also published it there. I'll continue to update that site tonight with my concert review, meanwhile I'm hoping to post the Gothenburg diary on here, along with my holiday playlist of songs I heard on the radio, over the next few days.

Time permitting I'll publish my "MZW" review pretty soon too - yes I bought this in Gothenburg along with my Melodifestivalen 2009 DVD. Sadly there was no more room in my overpacked hand luggage for any more goodies :( anyway it's been a bumper time for Swedish CD purchases in recent weeks so I guess it's about time I gave it a rest, ha ha.

It was the most perfect weekend ever: everything went to plan from start to finish, all the arrangements were perfect and the sun shone from beginning to end. I'll write more on here about it soon.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Back soon...

...OK so this really is my 'bye for now' post as my surfing time will be pretty limited tonight and I can't depend on my connection at home anymore :( anyway I am off to Sweden tomorrow and should be back on here late Sunday night (connection permitting) hopefully with lots of exciting tales to tell!!

Current mood: euphoric and excited.

See you on Sunday!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Maybe hasta-la-vista, maybe not?

I have a totally rubbish and unreliable internet connection at home just now which is hanging by a thread, so I came to the conclusion that in the event that it doesn't make it till Thursday night I might just say my temporary farewells just now?

So in case it breaks down....

For the three people in the world who don't know the story (!), I am flying out to Gothenburg, Sweden on Friday with faithful travelling companion in tow, and on Saturday night we are going to see my favourite singer (and the reason for my other blog Planet Salem) - Salem Al Fakir, live in concert. Just call it living the dream. For the last 12 weeks, I've been on an absolute high, in a constant state of euphoria and I can't believe it's almost here now.

All things being well I should be back here on Sunday night (flights home and internet connection permitting) hopefully with lots to tell. When I'm over there I'm also going to buy my Melodifestivalen DVD and Måns Zelmerlöw's new CD too, there's so much I want to bring home but probably wouldn't be able to fit it in my already-overpacked hand luggage! Oh and I probably won't be able to resist adding to my toy moose collection (!) Yeah, I know.

(Having said all that, I may throw in a couple of posts before I go, either from work or if my connection holds up. So it may or may not be hasta-la-vista!!)

Monday, April 13, 2009

This week's playlist: I feel a hunger burning inside

Belated happy Easter greetings everyone!

This will be my last playlist for a couple of weeks. I decided to make it a Salem-free zone for a change, although I'm still playing his music relentlessly I'm also listening to some other stuff too. My playlist this week is a little influenced by the fact we've now got Galaxy Radio on at work!

In The Heat of the Night - Star Pilots: this came on the radio, I leapt out of my chair and yelled "Star Pilots!!" to the usual bemusement of my colleagues. Could this be the next big Swedish dance hit to break into the top 40? Hope so.

She's Got Me Dancing - Tommy Sparks: another one on Galaxy: think Ali Love's "Late Night Session" meets Franz Ferdinand meets Junior Senior and you get the idea. Didn't realise till today that he was Swedish. But then, that shouldn't surprise me: this is pop perfection.

Tingaliin - DJ Trexx & P-Bros: this is now a firm Friday night favourite at EuropeCrazy HQ. I showed their MF interval act video to faithful travelling companion - who is not a Melodifestivalen fan BTW - and he loved it. Yes this is wrong, but I love it. One more time for the motherland!!!!

Shake It - Metro Station: indeed I still like this too. Catchy pop, that's all.

Right Here Right Now - BWO: this will be the follow-up single to "You're Not Alone" and rather fab it is too. I will get round to reviewing the album at some point: this is one of the best tracks on it.

Poker Face - Lady GaGa: totally loving this now and I never get sick of hearing it. Which is just as well as it's never off the radio!! Of course Sweden is now on to her next single "Eh Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say) which is ok although lacks the uniqueness of Just Dance/Poker Face. But I'll probably end up loving that too...

Dead and Gone - T.I. featuring Justin Timberlake: another one of our Friday night favourites. About time Mr Timberlake stopped 'featuring' and started making his own music again though...

Love Lockdown - Kanye West: I didn't like this initially but hearing Veronica Maggio's great cover version on "Popcirkus" made me want to rediscover the song again. And now I like it, although I still hate that vocoder-style because it reminds me of Akon, and I'm really, really, fed up with him.

Take Me Back - Tinchy Stryder/Taio Cruz: another one I've come late to. This took a long, long, long time to grow on me but it finally has. Even with that vocoder-autotune thing. "Cause I can't live without you, oh-oh-oh..."

If You See(k) Amy - Britney Spears: Don't know about Amy, but I'm beginning to think about seeking some medical help as that's two Britney Spears songs which I have liked now (the other being "Womanizer", and I've never been a fan of hers. This isn't big, or clever, but it's too catchy for words.

Hurtful - Erik Hassle: major buzz for this Swedish artist in blog-land at the minute, and I totally understand why. I'm really looking forward to his album. I'm sure this single will do better internationally than in his native Sweden, where for some unfathomable reason it's only hovering around the lower end of the singles chart (along with Salem, equally unfathomable).

I'm Not Alone - Calvin Harris: Hooray! This is no.1 in the UK top 40, well deserved. One of my favourite singles of the year. He's bringing much-needed creativity to dance music.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


...for the lack of posts today. Mainly due to internet connection which has been down since this morning and has only just been revived: however I'm now too sleepy to post anything as I'm just back from dinner at my favourite local Indian restaurant so I don't have the energy!!

If my internet decides to work tomorrow, I will post something. Fingers crossed :)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Retro Saturday: Silver Convention

Still on the German theme, I was inspired to feature this one thanks to Mick at the always wonderful Tracklister - one of the finest music-nostalgia blogs around: if you haven't visited it then you are missing out.

Anyway I digress. This disco act made a little go a long long way: they just had to repeat the title over and over again, but the end result was a very appealing mid-70s disco concoction:

They came to my attention again in 1977 when they represented Germany at the Eurovision Song Contest with "Telegram". Incidentally, 1977 is one of my favourite Eurovision years ever, and this was one of my favourites from it:

Still fabulous.

Retro Saturday: Nick Straker Band

It's all gone a bit "six degrees" tonight at Retro Saturday. New Musik frontman Tony Mansfield was also part of the Nick Straker Band, which is best remembered for "A Walk In The Park" which was a big hit in the UK in 1980. This became one of those songs which was "big in Germany" and on my previous couple of holidays there I've always heard it on the radio at some point.

Retro Saturday: New Musik

When I think of the Buggles I always think of New Musik for some reason. Best remembered for "Living By Numbers" but my favourite song of theirs was "Sanctuary":

Late 70s/early 80s pure pop at its very best.

Retro Saturday: The Buggles

Not just a random choice, but rather deliberate tonight for two reasons: 1) Buggles main man Trevor Horn - possibly the greatest producer ever in my book - produced one of my fave albums ever, ABC's "The Lexicon Of Love". Anyway whilst reading Radio Times it caught my eye that ABC and the BBC Concert Orchestra were performing the album in its entirety and this was being broadcast on BBC Radio 2 tonight. And I missed it (of course) anyway fingers crossed it'll be on iPlayer....

2) Apparently he's producing Robbie Williams' comeback album.

So, two good reasons to feature the Buggles - best known for "Video Killed The Radio Star" so as usual I thought I'd be different and go for "Plastic Age" which I always liked. Find it at and try to ignore the video/sound synchronisation, just enjoy the song.

Friday, April 10, 2009

This weekend....'s Easter, and I've got a long weekend off work, so I might even do some updates on what is becoming a sadly neglected blog of late :(

Anyway it's the last weekend before I head off to Gothenburg next Friday for my long-awaited trip-of-a-lifetime, so I'll try and make a bit of an effort from tomorrow till Monday.

In the meantime, a couple of things which caught my eyes/ears this week:

1) Saw Kate Ryan's "Ella Elle L'a" video on The Box (music channel). So this has now been mostly translated into English, I guess it's for the benefit of the lingua-phobic great British public who don't seem to appreciate anything in a foreign language. Being the purist I am, I think it's ruined the song IMHO. I absolutely love the France Gall original, and as I appreciate Kate's efforts to resurrect classic French-pop in a dancey-stylee for the kids of today, then I was OK with her version too. But English lyrics? As the great philosophers Vanilla (!) once said, "no way, no way".

2) At work we've changed the radio station to Galaxy, which is a station playing mainly dance/r'n'b/rap/dancey-pop stuff. I'd appreciate a bit less of that autotune-r'n'b though: at one point I thought they had Akon on repeat, and I'd also ban all those Rihanna soundalikes. That "T-Shirt" song by Shontelle being the worst offender. I wish they'd play more 90s dance though. Still I am enjoying it and have developed an unfathomable liking for the new Britney Spears song (!) and even though it's been around for ever, "Take Me Back" by Tinchy Stryder/Taio Cruz is finally floating my boat. Oh and I am now totally loving "Infinity 2008" by Guru Josh Project...even though it's been around for ever and ever :)))

3) Had a totally bizarre dream this week, where a couple of my neighbours were fighting over a broken lawnmower - and then from out of nowhere, in walks Lady GaGa, singing "Poker Face". Hmmm.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Paul Haig Day

Just thought I'd mention this wonderful idea. One of the many great music-bloggers out there, The Vinyl Villain, has declared today, 6th April, Paul Haig Day. This is in honour of that very underrated and inventive artist who many of us remember from his ahead-of-its-time music in the 1980s. Basically, the story goes that TVV had posted a Paul Haig track and had been ordered by those faceless DMCA people to remove it.....only for Paul himself and his management to fully support what TVV had been doing. If you go to TVV's website you'll find lots of links to other bloggers, many of whom are posting Paul Haig songs today on their blogs.

In support of this, here are a couple of YouTube links to a couple of my favourite Haig classics so you can discover the man's musical greatness. Enjoy!!

"Big Blue World" :

"The Only Truth" :

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Popcirkus: why all the hatred?

OK so I don't live in Sweden so I'm not really qualified to comment, but I can't really understand the negative comments directed at SVT's weekly live music series "Popcirkus", 90 minutes of music and interviews (bravely) screened at peak time on SVT2. This series featured a fine selection of the great and good in the current Swedish alternative/left-field music scene....which of course included a certain favourite Swedish singer of mine :)))

The series has now ended, but the criticism hasn't. The final straw was when I read Alex Schulman's article on, which (IMHO) was full of venom. I get the feeling he's not a fan of Kristian Luuk or Per Sinding-Larsen....
Mr Schulman, and all the other people who have criticised this series, should be thankful they don't live in the UK, where music on prime-time television is virtually non-existent.

The good news is that Popcirkus will be back later in the year: I'll be watching it anyway.