Thursday, December 30, 2010

Out with the old....

I'd like to send my best wishes to all the readers of this blog and hope that 2011 brings you all good health and happiness.

Special thanks here to Damian, Rachel and "hardcore" followers and special friends - blogland would be so much emptier without you, so keep in touch!!

Of course over the past year, this blog has had to take a back seat to my other blog, Planet Salem, which has had a incredible, successful and very busy year - just like the man himself :)) However 2011 should be very quiet "over there" so it will give me more time to concentrate on this blog "over here".

However, even bloggers need a rest, so I've decided to take some time out of blogland in January. I've got some jobs to do at home, but it's not going to be "all work and no play" - I'm going to watch some DVDs, read books, listen to music and come back here in February, just in time for Melodifestivalen - and ESC national finals season will also be in full swing by that time so there will be lots to write about!

In the meantime, have a great new year everyone....see you soon!

EDIT 04.01.2011: no I'm not back yet, but I've decided to try out this plan where I take a month off, blog for two months, take another month off etc etc. So my plan is to blog in February, March, May, June, August, September, November and December and take the other months off. Whether it works is another thing of course...!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

P3's most played songs of 2010

As revealed in Aftonbladet today, here are the most played songs of 2010 on Swedish Radio P3:
1. Oskar Linnros – Från och med du
2. Johnossi – What’s the point
3. Robyn – Dancing on my own
4. She & Him – In the sun
5. Alicia Keys – Try sleeping with a broken heart
6. Edward Maya & Vika Jigulina – Stereo love
7. Stromae – Alors on danse
8. Owl City – Fireflies
9. Train – Hey, soul sister
10. Kate Perry & Snoop Dogg – California gurls

....and these were the station's most played songs of the year by Swedish artists:

1. Oskar Linnros – Från och med du
2. Johnossi – What’s the point
3. Robyn – Dancing on my own
4. The Radio Dept. – Heaven’s on fire
5. Little Majorette – Bite the bullet
6. Tove Styrke – Million Pieces
7. Salem Al Fakir – Keep on walking
8. Le Kid – Mercy mercy
9. Daniel Adams-Ray – Dum av dig
10. Miss Li – Bourgeois Shangri-La

The EuropeCrazy Holiday Hit List: Turkey, September 2010

Yes, it's one of those unpublished posts I was talking about recently. I realised that I'd never got around to publishing the summer holiday 2010 version of my annual holiday hit list, and thanks to discovering Power Turk TV whilst on holiday I was able to put names to the tunes and check them out again on my return home. Of course there are also a couple of very familiar non-Turkish "holiday hits" in there too :)

Araf - Mor ve Ötesi

Alain Delon - Ozan Doğulu featuring Sıla

Takıntı - Aydilge

Önsöz - Gülşen

Eski - Şebnem Ferah

Daha Erken - Gökhan Özen

Mikrop - Serdar Ortaç

Rengarenk - Sertab Erener

Bodrum - Hande Yener

Gamsız - Gece

Böyle Ayrılık Olmaz - Kolpa

Herkes Haklı - Betül Demir

Çanta - Demet Akalın

We No Speak Americano - Yolanda Be Cool vs DCup

Alors On Danse - Stromae

That final Swedish Idol post...

...which I never got round to writing.

So, Swedish Idol ended with one of the most predictable outcomes ever in the history of the contest - Jay Smith won, beating Minnah Karlsson in the final on 10th December at Globen. After Linnea Henriksson was voted off Idol in the last-4 week, I felt that the heart had gone out of the competition....and when Olle Hedberg left the following week, I have to be honest and say that my interest in the competition also ended there.

However, that's not to criticise the two finalists; they and several of the other finalists were way better than anything we'd ever see on our own X Factor.

The lead-up to the final was a bit controversial to say the least: firstly Jay Smith failed a drugs test for using cannabis, which brought a lot of criticism in the Swedish media that a programme so popular with children and young people should condone drug-taking by allowing him to continue in the competition...then the day before the final, both finalists revealed that they were in a relationship, which caused a bit of concern for the programme makers. I'm not sure what's happened since, if they are still a couple, or was it all just a publicity stunt for the final?

This year's winner's song is "Dreaming People", a big anthemic rock-ballad co-written by, among others, Christian Walz. It didn't break any new ground but it suited Jay's style perfectly, however Minnah also performed a different but still impressive version. In my alternative parallel-universe of preferred finalists I'm curious to know how Olle and Linnea might have performed the song - yet again we'd get two completely different versions. Anyway, at least the winner gets an original song to sing, which is more than can be said for X Factor....although on the down side, the rush-releasing of debut albums featuring cover versions of songs which they sang in the competition does, I believe, do more harm than good to the finalists' music career prospects.

Take for example the debut album by Jay Smith, which features his acclaimed "Like A Prayer" along with "I Want It That Way" and "Bad Romance" and more Jay-style songs like "Enter Sandman" and "Black Jesus". There's a greater variety of styles on Minnah Karlsson's debut album, however both share a very bland production and little artistic value - in other words, a quick cash-in.

The other album release this year featured all season finalists - again it's pretty unremarkable, but at least it has Olle (pictured above, bottom right) reprising his original audition number "No Diggity", although that's also a bit too polished.

The real test will come with the first "real" albums by Jay and Minnah - it will be interesting to see if Minnah repeats Tove Styrke's critical acclaim and success, and whether Jay will recover his rock-star integrity or disappear without trace. I hope that Olle and Linnea get the chance to release original debut albums which could potentially establish them as the latest (non-winning) stars to emerge from Idol.

Swedish Idol will be back again in 2011 for another series. I wonder if it will be the last? After all, you know what they say - all good things must come to an end....

Live Review: Shakira, SECC Glasgow, 19th December 2010

Shakira Shakira!!

The name of the tour may have been "The Sun Comes Out" but the irony wasn't lost on all of us in Glasgow and the surrounding areas, who had spent the best part of three weeks prior to the concert battling the snow and all the disruption which accompanied it. After a couple of days' wasn't the sun, but the snow which came out, just in time for Shakira's first ever Scottish show.

Since we became Shakira fans in 2002, faithful travelling companion and myself had waited....and waited...and waited for the superstar to come to Scotland, but we had to wait until 2010 and when the show was announced back in the summer, it was too good an opportunity to miss. We managed to get seating-area tickets on the first day of sale, although by teatime many of the seating blocks were sold out. Nevertheless it was just enough to be there.

All very well so far. Being there would be great.....but we didn't realise it would be so hard getting there as the snow began to fall again, causing further transport chaos. Happily, after some anxious delays, we made it to the SECC. The 'big red shed' isn't known for its subtlety or sound quality, but on the other hand it's the only concert venue of choice for any visiting worldwide superstar. There were more empty seats and empty spaces than we'd expected, but maybe that was down to people not managing to make the concert due to the weather.

We missed the support act, a girl band called Parade, but happily we made it in plenty of time. Just before 9.00, a small figure in what looked like a demure hooded pink dress, made an unconventional entrance from the right hand side, through the crowd. But don't be fooled - she took to the stage and tore off the dress, to reveal more traditional Shakira-esque attire of glittery top and gold spray-on leggings, launching into an energetic "Why Wait".

Right from the beginning it was very clear that she was here to entertain us, and in her little introduction she said "I'm here to please you" which got all the men in the audience a bit hot under the collar :) and as for us girls, well we just want to know a) how she keeps that figure and stays looking so fabulous, and b) how she can sing and do her double-jointed back-bending thing at the same time.

Unlike many other 'pop' acts today there's a lot more depth to Shakira and her music than the lazy tabloid press coverage would suggest. And it's very clear that she is at home in a live setting where her music takes on a more 'rock'-orientated format, her strong backing band providing the musical edge and her keyboardist taking on the vocal duetting roles of Wyclef Jean and Alejandro Sanz (although I would really have loved to see the divine Mr Sanz on stage of course!!) - yes, she did sing "La Tortura" - which I thought she'd omit from her set once she hit the British Isles....

...but did she heck! You know what completely thrilled us about this concert? The uncompromising set list. Shakira: welcome to Britain, the land where people don't like anything sung in a foreign language. But of course I'm not one of those people, and neither is faithful travelling companion, we both love music that's not in the English language so we loved every minute of it. I've read some posts on various forums which have criticised the amount of Spanish language songs in the set, but hello....she's from Colombia, Spanish is her native language and if she wants to sing in that language then she has a right to do so!

Unfortunately many people in the crowd didn't share our opinion, and whenever she launched into a lesser-known Spanish album track, it was particularly noticeable that at that point you'd see many in the standing area dispersing in the direction of the bar or the loo. That was their loss I guess, as they missed out on some highlights particularly "Ciega, Sordomuda" from her earlier recorded output, and a blistering "Ojos Asi".

There was a catwalk leading off the stage out into the centre of the hall and she certainly made good use of it - especially when she and some band members headed out there to perform the 'acoustic' section of the show which included her cover version of Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters"

The big hits were also included - "Whenever Wherever" early on in the concert, mixed with a little of EMF's "Unbelievable"; "She Wolf", "Hips Don't Lie", and closing the concert, a euphoric "Waka Waka", her World Cup theme song which went down well and ended in a ticker-tape finale.

A fantastic evening, full of energy and enjoyment. Shakira is an exciting performer who is equally at home on stage as she is in a recording studio, a terrific and talented live artist who I still feel is underrated compared to many of her female counterparts out there.

It may have been a cold winter's night, but thanks to Shakira...the sun came out.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Album Review: "Svart Vitt Och Allt Däremellan" - Daniel Adams-Ray

Once upon a time there was a Swedish rap duo named Snook, who made some great music and promised much for the future. And then they disappeared, never to be heard again....but that's not the end of the story. Because, in this fairytale, you get a happy ending.

In 2010, one half of Snook, Oskar Linnros, became a very successful solo artist following the release of his debut album "Vilja Bli". As if that wasn't good enough, the other half of Snook, Daniel Adams-Ray, got around to releasing his debut album later in the year - which has also done very well. So instead of mourning the end of Snook, it's a win-win situation as we get two high-quality solo artists out of it.

"Svart" kicks off the album and is a very different sound to what you'd expect from the guy who was, after all, 'big Danne' the rapper in Snook. This is a more energetic style of track which you'd expect from, say, Håkan Hellström, whilst throwing in wordy rhymes and Beach Boys-style harmonies. Who knew that he could sing as well as rap? It's like he's channelling Moneybrother at times.

"Voyeuren" is a complete contrast - "I am in love with the picture of you/not with you". This is a much warmer track with lots of strings. Recent single "Gubben I Lådan" has also helped to build Daniel's fanbase. You could just imagine this song being a massive festival favourite with its singalong chorus. Still on the singalong front, the very catchy "Lilla Lady" is going to be the next single and again I think this will become a big favourite.

"Förlåt Att Jag Aldrig Sagt Förlåt" has also spent some time in the Sverige Topplistan singles chart even though this hasn't officially been released as a single. It's a ballad, yet it clearly displays Daniel's skill as a rapper-turned-singer, the way he weaves his words.

Daniel's first single "Dum av Dig" still sounds as fresh and appealing as ever, even in the context of this album. And yes, the chorus is, for me, still reminiscent of George Harrison's "Got My Mind Set On You" - but if you're gonna borrow, then borrow from the best. Right? It's such a feelgood, summery track that it will have you dancing round the room.

I'm maybe not so keen on "Himlen Luktar Plast" as I am on some of the other tracks, but it's not too bad either.

"Gryningspyromanen" is one of the strongest tracks on the album which sets darker lyrics against the upbeat, galloping rhythms - "yesterday I was at the top/tomorrow I am down below" and "a million in the bank/but nothing to live for".

This is immediately followed by another of the album's best tracks "Medan vi Faller" which is probably the closest musically to anything on the Oskar Linnros album. Ah yes, I've mentioned him again. Anyway there is an exquisite arrangement and production here, in a retro-soul style.

There are some notable similarities between Daniel and Oscar's albums - take the cover art for example. Oskar does body does Daniel. Then there are the musical similarities too....but when you consider the quality of the music on both albums, then that's ok. And anyway, I would probably attribute this more to both artists being in the same band for a long time and absorbing similar musical ideas. And so what if there are similarities? When they are this good, it's the listener who benefits.

The album ends with "Vitt" which sounds as if it could have been a track on Paul Simon's "Graceland" and which musically acknowledges Daniel's background of growing up in Kenya. In recent Swedish media interviews, Daniel described his experiences of being bullied for being "different" with his cosmopolitan background - well who's got the last laugh now? Daniel Adams-Ray has made an excellent debut album, blending a number of musical influences and succeeding throughout. Well done!

The Square-Eyed Couch Potato: November-December 2010

The closing months of the year traditionally means only three things: Strictly Come Dancing, X Factor, and I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here. Those three programmes alone are enough to keep every tabloid journalist in a job for a few months, and inevitably they provided lots of "stories" of course those quotation marks are there for a reason!!

Let's start with good old Strictly Come Dancing, which remains one of my favourite celeb-reality programmes although I prefer to watch the good dancers rather than the ones with the dreaded "journey" which probably makes me a killjoy I guess. This explains why my favourite dancers this year were Matt, Kara and Scott, and I said I'd be happy if any of them won. So when Kara Tointon won, I was happy. Of course her own "journey" was considerably assisted by her romance with professional partner Artem Chigvintsev. I'm always a bit cynical about this kind of thing. Romance or faux-mance? Only time will tell I guess. I thought Matt Baker was very likeable from the beginning and I think he'll get a good TV career out of this, while Scottttttttt! Maslen was always going to be one of our faves at EuropeCrazy HQ, even before he stepped onto the dancefloor :) however he couldn't recapture the magic of his brilliant jive. Perhaps Scott would have done better with a different partner, rather than Natalie 'me-me-me' Lowe.

Of course the usual judges' favouritism came into play, and this year their chosen one was Pamela Stephenson, whose ingratiating responses to the judges' comments had us reaching for the sick bag. And I can't write about SCD without mentioning Widdy.....

...who almost came close to stealing my 'Best bad celebrity dancer ever' award from my all-time faves from "Let's Dance" in Sweden - the legendary Lasse Brandeby and Willy Bjorkman! (Talking of which, the new series of that show starts in Sweden on 7th January and we'll be watching out for Alexander Rybak and Jessica Andersson).

Yes the real highlight of 2010's Strictly was Ann Widdecombe, who, refreshingly, didn't have that "journey" - she started the show with two left feet, and ended several weeks later with no progress made whatsoever :)

I didn't watch X Factor, but always made a point of catching the weekly performances by Wagner on YouTube. His "Viva Las Vegas" will live on in my memory long after winner Matt Cardle's safe, sanitised cover of Biffy Clyro's "Many Of Horror" (retitled "When We Collide", with all the guts and passion of the original ripped out) has faded from my memory. Oh wait, it already has.

I really enjoyed this year's I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! although at one point it was threatening to become a one-woman-show as the hideous "Dr" Gillian McKeith screamed, squirmed and fainted her way out of one bushtucker trial after another. Happily there were some likeable characters around this year: it was great to see Dom Joly back on telly as he has such a wicked sense of humour, (which not everyone gets, but we did) and Shaun Ryder and Jenny Eclair were also good campmates. Not being an X Factor fan, I didn't really know anything about Stacey Solomon until she appeared on this show, but she impressed the nation with her goofy likeability and was a deserved Queen of the Jungle.

Never thought it would come to this, but....I think Harry Hill's TV Burp has finally come to the end of the road. The glory days of the show are long gone and the recently ended series was probably the unfunniest ever. It probably will come back though: ITV has such an impressive record in flogging dead horses.

One still very much alive TV format is Coach Trip, where tour guide Brendan leads a bunch of unimpressed/unpleasant tourists all over Europe. Brendan is that rarity these days: a genuine new TV personality, therefore he totally deserves a place in the schedules. It was all going quite well and then they decided to inject this show with the dreaded Z-list celebrity disease. But wait! It wasn't all bad, as the Chuckle Brothers were on it. It wasn't so much 'to me, to you' as 'to me, to Europe' (groan) as they won Celebrity Coach Trip, beating off all the opposition - including the likes of the Cheeky Girls (!) and posh-Raef from the Apprentice, who's made a reality TV career out of being, well, posh-Raef I guess. That scene with Barry Chuckle, Brendan and Ingrid Tarrant in the bath even got a tribute from Harry Hill in one of his (few) funnier moments on TV Burp :)

A variation on the celebs-on-tour format came on "Monte Carlo Or Bust" on ITV, where three celeb-pairings in various cars - Jack Dee and Ade Edmondson/Jodie Kidd and Julian Clary/Penny Smith and Rory McGrath - went in search of items representing France, ending in Monte Carlo. It was all a bit strange. It was all a bit pointless, it wasn't funny, and sometimes relied a little too much on stereotypes. It might have been better without the celebrity-angle, but then that would be asking too much of ITV these days to make a show without so-called 'celebrities'.

Unfortunately Living TV, which was once quite watchable, is becoming another ITV2, going down the Z-list celebrity route and seems to be showing less of the US drama series it built its reputation on. In between the Alex Reid/Outer Mongolia's Next Top Model rubbish, Private Practice continued to wring every possible combination out of the relationship merry-go-round before the season 3 finale, along with the usual hankies-required moments. Which I won't spoil for you in case you haven't seen the show yet. I rather enjoyed this series, more than the last one, although I'm wondering just how far it can go. Maybe another series, and then it should sign off.

I don't watch as many films as I used to, so it was nice to catch up with a couple recently. I'd heard a lot of good things about The Hangover but was very sceptical due to the recent post-Apatow trend of vulgar humour, however this was a genuinely funny film with lots of laugh-out-loud moments. Even better was that it didn't have to rely on 'bankable' leads, going for some relative unknowns instead. Who won't be unknown for long of course, thanks to this film!

The trend for remaking perfectly good films shows no sign of going away. Why even bother to remake a classic like Fame? But someone thought that in this age of High School Musical and Glee, that it might be a good idea. No it's not, actually. But I gave it a chance and watched it anyway. The verdict: it is to the original, what the Cowellised version of "Many Of Horror" is to the Biffy version. You get the idea. Shallow and stereotypical, and not worthy of sharing the same title of the gritty original - which of course was already watered down for the TV show back in 1982, the "Glee" of its day you might say. True what they say, everything goes round in cycles.

Finally, we headed to the boardroom one more time for another series of one of the few 'reality' shows I still watch - The Apprentice. This series was littered with moments of TV gold, mainly thanks to Stuart Baggs - THE BRAND! - he's not a one trick pony, he's a field of ponies y'know. The funniest moment was when he finally got his comeuppance in the interview episode - 'you're not a big fish, you're not even a fish!'. Amid all this, Stella and Chris managed to make it to the final two, with Stella winning. I read somewhere that this is the last year of this format, as from next year there won't be a job on offer, but Lord Sugar will invest, Dragons Dens-style, in the winner's company. Don't know if I like that idea, but I'll reserve my judgement till I see it.

One more thing before I go - my favourite Christmas TV advert of recent years which has been back on our screens once again over the festive season...

Merry Christmas!

Clouseau: end of the road?

Described as "the last round", Clouseau have decided to being their annual Antwerp Sportpaleis December concert series to an end. Over the last 10 years this has become a very popular tradition for Belgium’s top band, as hundreds of thousands of fans flocked to see the Wauters brothers do their thing, however there has been less demand for the shows over the last couple of years. When the band suggested they may do another couple of concerts in February 2011, these were subsequently cancelled due to organisational difficulties and limited interest by the public.

In the meantime, the band were accompanied by some big-name special guests this season: Marco Borsato, Natalia, Bart Peeters and Jan Leyers all took to the stage to do a few numbers with the band.

Check out the very impressive set list with all the hits and more!
Part 1:
Hier bij jou
Gek op jou
Dat ze de mooiste is
Meezingmedley:Altijd heb ik je lief / Laat me nu toch niet alleen / Zie me graag /Ik wil vannacht bij je slapen / Passie
Afscheid van een vriend
Ze zit (a capella)
Binnen (with Marco Borsato)
Je hoeft niet naar huis vannacht (Marco Borsato, Koen Wauters backing vocal
En dans
Part 2:
Daar gaat ze
Ik denk aan jou
De perfectie
Leve België
Zij aan zij
Vonken en vuur
De tegenpartij
Intro blazers (with The Heavy Horns)
Ik, jij, hij of zij (with Bart Peeters & Jan Leyers)
Crazy in love (with Natalia, Bart Peeters& Jan Leyers)
Into folk (with Natalia, Bart Peeters & Jan Leyers
Like a mountain (with Natalia, Bart Peeters & Jan Leyers)
Geef het op (with Natalia, Bart Peeters & Jan Leyers

The band feel that it’s now time to ‘take the foot off the pedal’ and have a break for three or four years: more immediately, Koen will again be competing in the Dakar Rally in 2011. The break should give the band some much-needed rest, as they’ve released a series of albums and toured constantly over recent years. And of course they’re not getting any younger, but hey, neither are any of us :)))

2010: the hate chart

A couple of weeks ago I finished counting down my most-loved tracks of 2010. But of course where there is love, there is also it’s my great pleasure to present to you the EuropeCrazy Hate Chart of 2010. The only criteria for this chart is that every time one of these songs comes on the radio or on a TV music channel, it’s switch-off time.

Given the amount of rubbish around this year, I could have done a top 100, but I've managed to cut it down to a top 20 :)

1. Whip My Hair - Willow Smith: a very late addition to my chart, but as soon as I heard this I knew it would be a hate chart-topper. As the old saying goes, children should be seen and not heard.
2. Replay - Iyaz: worst example of autotuned chipmunk rubbish. And Sean Kingston had something to do with’s like a guarantee of quality in reverse.
3. Like A G6 - Far East Movement: I like dance music, and I’d like more of it in the charts please. As long as it doesn’t sound like this.
4. The Club is Alive - JLS: I had high hopes for them after X Factor, however this might well be their career low point, boasting some of the worst lyrics of the year. And that’s saying something!
5. Ridin’ Solo - Jason Derulo: OK I’ll admit that "What If" was a nice record, but apart from that he was one of the year’s major irritants. And this was one of the most irritating of all.
6. Famous - Scouting for Girls: They probably thought it was clever, but this contains some of the worst lyrics of the year. In a year when bands were practically non-existent, it continues to be a great mystery why this so-called ‘band’ are so popular.
7. Anything by N-Dubz: "I Need You" excepted, this act has no redeeming features whatsoever. If this is the sound of young Britain, then I’m glad I’m old.
8. Anything by the Glee cast: Don’t get me wrong, I like the programme. It’s original, smart and funny, and I enjoy it a lot...until they start singing their autotuned, sanitised cover versions. Which will no doubt overrun the chart again when season 2 starts.
9. Baby - Justin Bieber: see no.1 for explanation. I can’t understand his popularity at all, but then I’m probably not 9 years old. He’s like the new Jimmy Osmond - who was in my hate chart when I was 9 years old!!
10. You’ve Got The Love - Florence and the Machine: Sometimes I feel like throwing my hands up in the air and throwing the radio out of the window whenever any of her 17 versions of this comes on. But that would be a waste of a good radio :)
11. Promise This - Cheryl Cole: In these bland times, Ms Cole proves that you can go a long long way with no talent whatsoever. She can take her alouette-ette-ette and shove it where the sun don’t shine.
12. Heroes - X Factor Finalists: OK it’s for charity n’all, but even that doesn’t excuse the latest in a long line of Cowellised cover versions with all the life sucked out of them.
13. Pass Out - Tinie Tempah: rubbishy overrated electro-rap. See no.7 for further explanation. Please go away, and take Tinchy Stryder, Devlin, Chipmunk, Skepta and Roll Deep with you.
14. Anything ‘featuring’ or ‘featuring Pitbull’ or ‘featuring Flo Rida’: avoid. That accounts for about 75% of the ‘songs’ released in 2010 then.
15. Shout - Dizzee Rascal & James Corden: now I know Dizzee’s done some good stuff, but this was career suicide, teaming up with Britain’s unfunniest man. No wonder England didn’t do well at the World Cup...."World In Motion" it definitely ain’t.
16. The Time (Dirty Bit) - Black Eyed Peas: to think there once was a time when the BEP were good, and they didn’t have to resort to rubbishy Dirty Dancing cover versions like this.
17. Natteravn - Rasmus Seebach: I can’t understand the popularity of this big summer hit, which I found very irritating.
18. Empire State of Mind - Alicia Keys: both versions dominated every radio playlist for the first six months of this year so I never want to hear it again.
19. Rude Boy - Rihanna: the inclusion of this in my chart was probably grounds for divorce, as she is one of faithful travelling companion’s faves, however a break-up was averted thanks to the inclusion of....
20. Billionaire - Travie McCoy feat Bruno Mars: all together now, sing along...."I wanna be a billionaire, so frickin’ bad!"

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas everyone!!

Sorry for the cheesy Shakin' Stevens post title :)))

Anyway I just popped in to wish all the readers of this blog a very merry Christmas, happy holidays, seasons greetings etc etc!! Whether you're celebrating Christmas or not, I hope all you girls and boys out there in blogland have a great time over the festive season and that Santa Claus is good to you all :))

This blog will return on Monday 27th December with a catch-up of all my overdue posts. In the meantime....have fun :))

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Time for some time out!

You've probably noticed that Christmas is coming :) So I'm trying to get organised now....but even stay-at-home bloggers need to get out once in a while and this weekend it's time to party!! I've got a couple of very exciting nights out happening this weekend. So I'm taking a few days out of blogland :)

EuropeCrazy will return next Wednesday, 22nd December. I have a number of unwritten or unfinished blog posts which I really want to get out of the way before the end of the these will all be published from next Wednesday onwards.

EDIT 22.12.2010: unfortunately I've had no time to get all these posts together so it will probably be at least 26th December before they'll be published. Even when I'm on holiday there aren't enough hours in the day :)

The 2010-50 in full

Here is the full list of my top 50 favourite songs of 2010.

1. Keep On Walking - Salem Al Fakir
2. Brooklyn Sun - Salem Al Fakir
3. Ambitions - Donkeyboy
4. All Day Love - Salem Al Fakir
5. Araf - Mor ve Ötesi
6. Backseat - Staygold, Spank Rock, Damien Adore and Lady Tigra
7. 4 O'Clock - Salem Al Fakir
8. For Your Entertainment - Adam Lambert
9. Unstoppable (The Return of Natalie) - Ola Svensson
10. 2012 - Mor ve Ötesi
11. Stay Too Long - Plan B
12. Virgin Mary - Salem Al Fakir
13. Från och med du - Oskar Linnros
14. Bloody Breakfast - Salem Al Fakir
15. Music Again - Adam Lambert
16. I'm Not Mad - Alex Gardner
17. Wonderful Life - Hurts
18. Love Will Always Find A Way (Damien Adore remake) - Fibes, Oh Fibes!
19. Hurricane - Rebound
20. Bang Bang Bang - Mark Ronson & The Business Intl
21. Whataya Want From Me - Adam Lambert
22. Genom Eld - Oskar Linnros
23. Playing With Fire - Paula Seling & Ovi
24. Yes Man - Bjørn Johan Muri
25. Dancing On My Own - Robyn
26. All Time Low - The Wanted
27. All The Right Moves - OneRepublic
28. Kom - Timoteij
29. You're Out Of My Life - Darin
30. Baby Hurricane - Vincent
31. Satellite - Lena Meyer-Landrut
32. Alors on Danse - Stromae
33. Heartkiller - HIM
34. Alistim Susmaya - Emre Aydin
35. F*** You - Cee-Lo Green
36. Je Danse - Jenifer
37. Mikrofonkåt - September
38. Skisser för Sommaren - Kent
39. Million Pieces - Tove Styrke
40. It's Gonna Rain - Eric Saade
41. On A Mission - Gabriella Cilmi
42. Fireflies - Owl City
43. Take It Off - Ke$ha
44. Don't Wanna Lose You Again - A1
45. Ack, Sundbyberg - Oskar Linnros
46. Sucker For Love - Pauline
47. Hey, Soul Sister - Train
48. Human Frontier - Neo
49. Give It To Me - Alexander Stenerud
50. Starry Eyed - Ellie Goulding

So there it is. Hope you enjoyed following the chart as it unfolded over the last few weeks. Check back approximately 365 days from now for the 2011-50...hoping for some good new music in the year ahead!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The 2010-50 - No.1: Just let the light guide me through

"Keep On Walking" - Salem Al Fakir.

And so, finally, to the no.1 in my annual countdown of my favourite songs of the year. Not only was this my favourite song of 2010, but it has been perhaps the most significant song in Salem Al Fakir's career to date.

With just one Swedish television appearance - admittedly on the biggest television show of the year - Salem went from a reasonably well-known artist on the fringes of the mainstream, to a household name overnight. Salem participated in Melodifestivalen as an experiment, to get his music out to as wide an audience as possible, rather than with any end goal of winning. So it was all the more remarkable that he came so close to becoming Sweden's representative at this year's Eurovision Song Contest.

Salem was glad that he didn't win, as it gave him the opportunity to fully focus on the promotion of his third album "Ignore This", and then he embarked on a lengthy tour which lasted for the bulk of 2010. And I was lucky enough to see him perform live again, in Gothenburg in March, which became a new contender for "best night of my life".

"Keep On Walking" is a life-affirming anthem about picking yourself back up again when you've been down - a universal sentiment which touched so many people in Sweden and internationally. It's a timeless song which I played more than any other this year, and would probably be my favourite song of any year, and completely deserves its no.1 position in my chart.

Official video:

Melodifestivalen heat 1:

Melodifestivalen final:

The 2010-50 - No.2: I would trade away the stars and moon

"Brooklyn Sun" - Salem Al Fakir.

This song first made an appearance at the beginning of 2009, but didn't make the 2009-50 as it wasn't commercially released until this year. The standout track on "Ignore This" (apart from one certain other song...), "Brooklyn Sun" is a very simple and straightforward song played on guitar with minimal musical backing, although in my opinion the song is completely at its best when played on piano and backed by an orchestra. It is one of Salem's most emotional songs, filled with so much longing, and it's just heartbreakingly beautiful.

The song was co-written by Salem and (appropriately) Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Nate Campany. (By the way, did you know that Nate also co-wrote the brilliant "Colliding" sung by Nicholas Carlie, which was one of my favourite songs in the Norwegian MGP 2008).

Anyway, how can I sum up "Brooklyn Sun"? Well, I'll refer to what I said in a previous blog post at Planet Salem: "...everytime I hear him sing this song live, it completely rips my heart to shreds". If you want to know why I reached that conclusion, listen to his solo live version on this clip from "Good Morning Norge" when he was over in Norway, back in May 2010:

The 2010-50 - No.3: And I keep telling my reflection, ambitions are already starting to fade

"Ambitions" - Donkeyboy.

Winner in this year's "best song not by Salem Al Fakir" category (previous winners 2007-2009 being "Inga Problem" by Snook; "Black and Gold" - Sam Sparro; "We Are The People" - Empire of the Sun).

A timeless and appealing pop song which got an incredibly large amount of airplay on Swedish radio yet I never grew sick and tired of it. During my Swedish trip back in March, I would also play it on my phone all the time, in-between radio airplay, along with "Bad Romance" and my infinite Salem playlist.
So you've guessed how much I love "Ambitions". Unfortunately, I live in a country which did not, and the original version received no airplay and failed to make any impact on the UK top 40. Fast forward a few months later, to find that last year's X Factor winner Joe McElderry had covered the song and released it as the first single from his debut album. (In typical Simon Cowell style, the title was even going to be changed to "Somebody" before they decided to keep it as "Ambitions"). However despite being a decent enough version of a brilliant song, even that wasn't enough to get it to no.1. Which probably sums up the taste of the British music-buying public in 2010....:(

Official video (if you're old enough to remember when they used to broadcast the disco-dancing championships on telly, then this will strike a chord):

The 2010-50 - No.4: But I know I met someone truly special in this world

"All Day Love" - Salem Al Fakir.

Written specially for the wedding of Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling, Salem gave his first public performance of the song at a gala concert in Stockholm on the evening prior to the wedding.

The idea of a song being written for a royal wedding would probably, in the wrong hands, have you reaching for the sick bag. But this is Salem Al Fakir, who has the ability to melt the hardest hearts with his music...and what a wedding gift, having Salem perform a song as warm, sweet and joyous as this one! It's a mix of simplicity and complexity, with Linn Segolson's warm and heartfelt lyrics set against the ambitious arrangement of the music written and performed by Salem.

No official video, but here's the brilliant clip of him performing the song at the royal gala concert:

The 2010-50 - No.5: Adalet yok ya, canımı yakar bu sessizlik

"Araf" - Mor ve Ötesi.

When you think of 'holiday songs' then the usual dance hits come to mind....but when I think back to my recent holiday in Turkey, it's not "We No Speak Americano" which comes to mind (although you couldn't escape it anywhere) but something darker and more intense = in other words, "Araf" (Purgatory), which got lots of airplay on Power Turk TV.

When choosing songs for my annual chart, some were very obvious top ten choices. This was absolutely one of them. I must have played this song more times than I can remember in the last 3 months, but I never tire of it. Brilliant vocals by Harun Tekin - what a great singer, just love him! - and the band's mix of accessible guitar music and superb vocal harmonies make this Turkish band one of the best in Europe right now.

By the way, they've also recorded a couple of songs in English - "Loveliest Mistake" ( and "Dependence Day" - would this suggest an English-language album might be on the way? If anyone knows any more about this, please let me know!

Swedish Grammis 2011 nominations announced today

The Swedish music industry's annual prizegiving ceremony takes place on 17th January at the Royal Opera House in Stockholm. Today, the remaining nominations were announced following yesterday's announcement of the best single nominees. Here is the full list of categories and nominations (courtesy of

Årets album (Album of the year)

Årets artist (Artist of the year)

Årets barnalbum (Children's album of the year)

Årets dansband (Dansband of the year)

Årets folkmusik/visa (Folk music)

Årets grupp (Group/band of the year)

Årets hårdrock (Hard rock)

Årets jazz

Årets klassiska (Classical)

Årets kompositör (Composer of the year)

Årets kvinnliga artist (Female artist of the year)

Årets låt (Song of the year)*
* Vote at

Årets manliga artist (Male artist of the year)

Årets nykomling (New artist of the year)

Årets producent (Producer of the year)

Årets specialutgåva (Special award)

Årets svenska internationella framgång (Swedish international success)

Årets textförfattare (Lyricist of the year)

Årets urban/dance

Årets innovatör

So...the river of creative musical talent continues to flow in Sweden, and the competition is tighter than ever as all the "big guns" released albums over the past year, whilst some new names arrived on the scene. One of those new names - 'new' as in 'new solo artist' anyway - Oskar Linnros, has seven nominations, as does Robyn, whilst Håkan Hellström has six nominations.

It's (almost) all good. There's just one thing wrong, and if you're a regular reader of this blog then it won't take long for you to guess what that is.

Only two nominations for Salem Al Fakir. Whilst I'm delighted that he was nominated at all, I am still very disappointed that he only received two nominations when he deserved so many more this year, after producing a stunning album, "Ignore This". I guess the jury just took the album title a bit too literally....or could it be that after his appearance in Melodifestivalen and reaching a whole new audience, maybe he's just not "cool" enough anymore to be nominated? Yet there are some very commercially successful acts in the list....oh well, let's just say I'm not happy, and I don't understand why he's been overlooked in the artist/album/lyricist/composer/producer categories.

At this point you're all probably saying "get over it!" but you know what I'm like by now.....and I just want to clarify that I'm very happy with most of the nominees - especially Oskar, Daniel, Robyn and Kent. One thing is for sure - Sweden can be very proud of its musical talent.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

You'll have to wait a little longer....

....for the "final countdown" in my 2010-50. The chart usually finishes on the second Sunday in December, but I'm very very busy today/tonight/tomorrow night. Check back here late Tuesday night (14th December) when the top 5 will be revealed!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The 2010-50 - No.6: Get a job done in the parking lot

"Backseat" - Staygold featuring DJ Spank Rock, Damien Adore & Lady Tigra.

Back in January 2010, we were treated to an unexpected but pleasant surprise at the P3 Guld awards, as a new song was premiered by Swedish electro-pop act Staygold. No offence to Staygold, but my attention was focused on Damien Adore, the guy in the tin-soldier outfit, heavily disguised and singing falsetto vocals which reminded me of Prince. Yes, that good. It emerged that Damien Adore was none other than the alter-ego of Salem Al Fakir. An irresistibly down-and-dirtier alter ego too.... ;)))

And just when it couldn't get any better, along came Robyn (singing the Lady Tigra part of the song).

DJ Spank Rock returned later in the year, featuring on Mark Ronson's excellent "The Bike Song" which narrowly missed out in a place in my top 50.

Live clip from the P3 Guldgalan:

The 2010-50 - No.7: Get on up on your feet to the love store, hey bubbles, wanna smell the candy?

"4 O'Clock" - Salem Al Fakir.

Second single released from "Ignore This", which became a live favourite thanks to its singalong hands-in-the-air chorus and playful lyrics.

If Salem is heading in a more electronic/dance music direction then this song was a perfect indication of that - a mixes EP was released, featuring a particularly outstanding mix of the song by Adrian Lux, which was championed by top DJ Tiësto during his summer shows. The EP also featured a mix of the song by Salem's alter ego Damien Adore. Talking of whom...he'll be making an appearance in my chart very soon!

Studio version of the Adrian Lux remix:

Studio version of the Damien Adore remix:

The 2010-50 - No.8: 'Cause it's about to get rough for you

"For Your Entertainment" - Adam Lambert.

One of those "grey-area" entries which initially emerged in 2009, but didn't really find its way to my ears until 2010 so that's why it's in this year's chart.

The first single and title track of Mr Lambert's debut album, this clearly proved that he is one of the best ever artists to emerge from an Idol show. Of course he didn't win - but did it really matter?

This song has spawned one shameless imitator; needless to say I was more than annoyed that Mike Posner's (inferior) "Cooler Than Me" has had such a long chart run over here when it's clearly an inferior rip-off of "FYE".

The 2010-50 - No.9: Natalie keeps coming back for more and she’s out of control

"Unstoppable (the return of Natalie)" - Ola.

The general opinion seemed to be that this year's Melodifestivalen fell short of many people's expectations. The final result in Globen certainly did, but let's not go into that shall we????

Anyway I'd like to focus on an unforgettable opening night of the MF festivities in Örnsköldsvik, and the other qualifier that evening - a catchy, piano-driven pop song which marked the return of Ola Svensson to the competition a couple of years after "Love In Stereo", which I was also liked a lot. "Unstoppable" might have cashed in on the reference to his previous hit "Natalie", but who cares? He's a very good pop star, and it worked.

Video clip from this year's Melodifestivalen:

The 2010-50 - No.10: Masumiyetin ziyan olmaz

"2012" - Mor ve Ötesi.

Chiming guitars, passionate vocals, outstanding harmonies = top quality Turkish rock music. After a couple of hearings I had no doubt that this was a prime candidate for my annual countdown.

Although they came to my attention in Eurovision 2008, I then lost Mor ve Ötesi and didn't find them again until a few weeks ago, whilst on holiday in Turkey. Their song "Araf" was a regular fixture on the Power Turk TV music channel, and I loved it enough to go out and buy the band's latest album. I guess you could say that "2012" was (almost) the title track of that album, Masumiyetin Ziyan Olmaz; it's a terrific rock album by a great rock band. I'm glad I found them again.

No official video: studio version is at

Friday, December 10, 2010

Turn it on, turn it on

"Me and My Microphone" - September.

Yes, an English language version of "Mikrofonkåt". This week just got better....

(thanks to the always wonderful Scandipop for the tip!) Apparently Scott Mills will play it on Radio 1 tonight :)

Thursday, December 09, 2010

The 2010-50 - back soon....

In my part of the world, everything at the moment is "cancelled due to severe weather", well I guess you could say the same about my bathroom has been flooded due to frozen pipes and I've had a terrible day as a result. Still waiting for a repair and will need to wait through the night too :( In the meantime I'm going to get some sleep!

The 2010-50 will be back soon...

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The 2010-50 - No.11: On the run from the law, I'm looking worse for wear

"Stay Too Long" - Plan B.

Over the past 12 months I've ranted many, many times on this blog about the dire state of the UK top 40 - was it my imagination or was 2010 the worst year for chart music ever? - and the lack of decent new acts coming through. Happily we got one, though - Plan B.

I'll never forget the first time I heard "Stay Too Long" and I couldn't decide if I loved or hated it; because I loved the pulsating urgency of it, and the whole Northern Soul/mod vibe, but the rap irritated me. Along with everyone else I was about to discover the versatility of Ben Drew, the rapper-turned-soul singer. I liked "She Said" but it was played to death; I preferred this because it totally packed a punch and brought a much-needed breath of fresh air to the UK top 40.

Official video (parental guidance etc...lots of sweary words n' stuff):

Tomorrow night I'll start my top 10 countdown....

The 2010-50 - No.12: We fell in love but love is blind, and lovers take what lovers find

"Virgin Mary" - Salem Al Fakir.

One of the strongest, and most popular, songs on "Ignore This" - many thought it should have been a single.

A high-energy, pulsating song driven by a strong, 80s-style keyboard riff, sounding like a speeded-up "This Is Who I Am", with Salem's very distinctive voice delivering some very personal lyrics.

Live-version from Love Stockholm, June 2010: - with Salem in typically energetic form! This song was a particular live favourite during Salem's long summer tour of Sweden.

The 2010-50 - No.13: Det här är slutet på vår film

"Från Och Med Du" - Oskar Linnros.

For me (and many others) the most significant breakthrough of a solo artist in Sweden this year was that of Oskar Linnros - closely followed by his ex-Snook colleague Daniel Adams-Ray. It was that very rare occasion, post-band-break-up, when the solo careers actually meant something.

This song, co-written by Linnros and Fibes, Oh Fibes! frontman Christian Olsson, combines retro-soul and modern pop/rock influences, and is one of the year's freshest and most enduring hits.

Over the summer it turned Oskar Linnros into a superstar in his native country; it's already won him awards at this year's Rockbjörnen, and don't be surprised if he takes many more awards home before the awards season is over. As long as he leaves some for my beloved Salem to win, of course :)

No official video available, but studio version is at
Live Sommarkrysset 2010-version at

P3 Guld 2011: nominations announced

Årets artist
Daniel Adams-Ray – Svart vitt och allt däremellan
Håkan Hellström – 2 steg från paradise
Oskar Linnros – Vilja bli
Robyn – Body talk pt. 1
Säkert! ­– Facit

Årets grupp
Hästpojken – Från där jag ropar
Johnossi – Mavericks
Kent – En plats i solen
Swedish House Mafia – Until one
The Radio Dept. – Clinging to a scheme

Årets nykomling
Anna von Hausswolff
First Aid Kit
Jasmine Kara
Royal Republic
Tove Styrke

Årets låt
Daniel Adams-Ray – Gubben i lådan
Johnossi – What's the point
Oskar Linnros – Från och med du
Robyn – Dancing on my own
Salem Al Fakir – Keep on walking
Swedish House Mafia feat. Pharrell – One (Your name)

Guldmicken (tilldelas årets bästa liveakt)
Håkan Hellström
Melissa Horn

Årets dans
Alexi Delano – Samlad produktion
Avicii/Tim Berg – Samlad produktion
Harald Björk – Bigfield
Skudge – Samlad produktion
Swedish House Mafia – Samlad produktion

Årets hiphop/soul
Carlito – Guldburen
Jasmine Kara – Blues ain't nothing but a good woman gone bad
PH3 – PH3 löser ett fall
Supersci – Timelines
Trainspotters – Dirty north

Årets pop
Anna von Hausswolff – Singing from the grave
Robyn – Samlad produktion
The Radio Dept. – Clinging to a scheme
The Tallest Man on Earth – The wild hunt
This is Head – 0001

Årets rock/metal
Ghost – Opus eponymous
Khoma – A final storm
Pascal – Orkanen närmar sig
The Baboon Show – Punk rock harbour
Watain – Lawless darkness

Monday, December 06, 2010

The 2010-50 - No.14: Make your own path or keep on living two steps behind

"Bloody Breakfast" - Salem Al Fakir.

I could have made this chart a whole lot easier by just filling it with Salem's songs, but in the interests of fairness I decided to limit them to a certain amount this year - which was a very, very difficult thing to do :)) ....anyway here is the first of them.

This man's music is so diverse, so it should not have been too surprising that he would once again take his music off in a whole new direction on his third and most musically experimental album, "Ignore This" - which ironically has been his most successful.

"Bloody Breakfast" musically and lyrically shows off a 'harder' side to Salem than what we've been used to, and as with all his music, the deceptive simplicity reveals considerable hidden depth and of course those distinctive little Salem-moments which just make it extra special. He really has developed significantly as a lyricist, and this song has some of the best lyrics on the album.

The 2010-50 - No.15: I'm so sick of living for other people

"Music Again" - Adam Lambert.

Why, if it isn't young Mr Lambert again, making another appearance in my chart, this time with a song written by one of the most derided singers of the last few years - Justin Hawkins of the Darkness. Well as the old song goes, ho ho ho, who's got the last laugh now?

This is a cracking tune which puts the "glam" into "Glambert" and shows off his significant vocal range. It's big, it's theatrical and it rocks!

Studio version:

Live US TV performance at

The 2010-50 - No.16: Oh it's time you realised the truth

"I'm Not Mad" - Alex Gardner.

This had mega-hit-single written all over it: a new young singer with a great voice beyond his years, musical talent, and the look of a young Robert Pattinson (if you like that kind of thing), and support from the Xenomania stable - what could go wrong?

You know the rest....and when his follow-up single, the autotuned-to-death but eventually likeable "Feeling Fine" also failed to chart, I became a bit concerned about the future of his music career. Apparently he also had to pull out of the support slot on Pixie Lott's tour, thus denying him more exposure. Hopefully he'll release more material in the meantime check out the "I'm Not Mad" official video at

The 2010-50 - No.18: Never give up, it's such a wonderful life

"Wonderful Life" - Hurts.

Acclaimed in blogland long before it was commercially released - not once but twice - "Wonderful Life" actually managed to live up to the hype. Hurts provided a very accurate depiction of a sound which not only was 'acceptable in the 80s' but managed to make it totally fresh and relevant to 2010. Typically, their ice-cool approach seemed to gain more appreciation from critics and fans in continental Europe; maybe their image and music is just a little too intense and intelligent for a British audience?

Official video:

Sunday, December 05, 2010

The 2010-50 - No.18: God knows we'll always find a way

"Love Will Always Find A Way (Damien Adore remake)" - Fibes, Oh Fibes!

And what a pretty spectacular remake it is! The first appearance of Salem Al Fakir in my 2010-50, or at least his alter ego Damien Adore, who turned a good track by one of my favourite Swedish bands, into a great one.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

The 2010-50 - No.19: Hurry up, the club is closing at five

"Hurricane" - Rebound.

This is usually the kind of thing I hate - autotuned/electro-urban conveyor belt pop - but I made an exception for anything featuring the most beautiful man ever to grace Swedish Idol: Eddie Razaz. Eddie and fellow Idol 2009 contestant Rabih Jaber formed a duo and this was their debut single. They've been less successful since then and I'd really hoped they'd be in Melodifestivalen 2011 for career-boosting purposes. But they're not, and I'm wondering just where their music career will go from here.

No official video, but studio version at

The 2010-50 - No.20: Un, deux, trois, no-one ever does it like that anymore

"Bang Bang Bang" - Mark Ronson and The Business Intl.

I don't know, you wait years for an 'alouette' and then two come along at once. Happily, only one of them has made it to my chart - and no, it's not Cheryl Cole (never did anyone with so little talent go so far). Anyway I digress....Mark Ronson made a very welcome comeback this year, firstly with this song featuring MNDR and Q-Tip, then followed it with the fabulously catchy "The Bike Song" which featured Kyle Falconer and DJ Spank Rock - the latter will be back again later in my chart....

"Bang Bang Bang" was pretty bonkers and probably made as much sense as Amanda Warner's Deirdre Barlow-style glasses, but it was such a breath of fresh air and still sounds so original even now.

The 2010-50: No.21: It messed me up, need a second to breathe

"Whataya Want From Me" - Adam Lambert.

After some consideration I've decided that this song is the winner of my annual "Great lost European hit of the year" award - it did well in Europe but virtually sunk without trace here despite its impressive pedigree (written by Pink/Max Martin/Shellback).

Although on the first few listens I thought it was a bit 'by-the-numbers' it quickly grew on me and, like some of the other songs in my chart, I'll always associate it with my Swedish trip and over the following months thanks to its airplay on Swedish radio.

I always thought he could be the "male Lady Gaga", a world superstar in the making. Maybe in 2011 the focus will shift away from female artists/rubbish urban music, and he'll finally get the recognition he deserves in this country?

The 2010-50 - No.22: Om du aldrig provat hur kan du då vara säker

"Genom Eld" - Oskar Linnros.

A pretty spectacular opening to without doubt one of the year's best albums, "Genom Eld" is a very catchy and upbeat song which always sounds (to me) as if it's acknowledging some kind of Swedish folk heritage whilst blending it with something completely contemporary. Follow-up to the hugely successful "Från Och Med Du", and currently sitting at no.2 in SR P3's 'Tracks' chart.

No official video yet, but studio version at

...whilst in a live setting it's an anthemic crowd-pleaser:

...and lovers of the mash-up mix should enjoy "Rhythm of the Eld" which is a P3 mix of "Genom Eld" and Corona's "Rhythm of the Night":

The 2010-50 - No.23: If we get together now we'll burn this place down

"Playing With Fire" - Ovi and Paula Seling.

In retrospect, my favourite Eurovision Song Contest entry from 2010. Perspex pianos at the ready for a high-energy duet with little shades of drama and "Poker Face", and I thought Ovi and Paula made a very appealing duo.

Official video:

Off-topic, followers of Norway's MGP will be familiar with Ovi thanks to the very nice "Seven Seconds" from the 2009 contest. You know how much I love piano-pop so this one really appealed to me: and I think he's very good indeed - hope to see him representing either Romania (again) or Norway at ESC someday.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

2010-50: back this weekend

Bit busy at the moment so haven't got much time to blog tonight and tomorrow! The 2010-50 will be back this weekend.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The 2010-50 - No.24: I can't fly at the speed of light, I can't be your yes man

"Yes Man" - Bjørn Johan Muri.

Sometimes you come across songs in Eurovision national finals which are maybe not right for Eurovision, but they just make a perfect hit song.

Bjørn Johan Muri may not have won the MGP battle, and I wasn't really impressed by him or this song at the time of the contest, but he ended up winning the chart hit war and in the long run "Yes Man" became my favourite MGP song this year. It's lightweight and floaty with a very summery feel, and just a very nice pop song.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The 2010-50 - No.25: I'm givin' it my all, but I'm not the girl you're takin' home

"Dancing On My Own" - Robyn.

Halfway through my countdown already - time is flying by so fast!

The first fruit of the year's most ambitious musical experiment - the three-album "Body Talk" series - was just classic Robyn, blending ice-cold pounding electronic rhythms with an emotional and poignant heartbeat, and lyrics which anyone could identify with. Simple as that.

Some parts of the "Body Talk" trilogy might have been filler, but on the whole it was one of the more welcome musical events of this past year and deservedly acclaimed.

The 2010-50 - No.26: I'm in pieces, seems like peace is the only thing I'll ever know

"All Time Low" - The Wanted.

2010's hottest new boyband made a credible and spectacular debut with "All Time Low" which was one of the best British pop singles of the year.

These days of course, in the pop business, marketing and promotion is equally as important as the finished product - and a lot of that hard work was undertaken by a fellow blogger: Jessica from This Must Be Pop, who excitingly documented the band's rise and rise on TMBP and on Twitter. Good work Jessica!!

Monday, November 29, 2010

The 2010-50 - No.27: Everybody knows, everybody knows where we're going

"All The Right Moves" - OneRepublic.

It was inevitable that a band like OneRepublic would find it hard to emulate the success of their two worldwide hits "Apologize" and "Stop and Stare" - it's that novelty wearing off/second album syndrome yet again. Despite the equally inevitable criticism of their second album, I'm not ashamed to say that I like "All The Right Moves" even though it took a long time and a prolonged
spell of airplay on Rix FM to convert me.

It was good to hear Ryan Tedder in more lightweight mode, away from his big-ballad-hit songs which he continues to write for other artists, and which he may focus on as I can't really see his band having a long career now.


The 2010-50 - No.28: Kom kom kom medan som-som-sommaren ännu hänger sig kvar

"Kom" - Timoteij.

The regulation folk-number at Melodifestivalen can sometimes leave me cold (Sarek), lukewarm (Kalle Moraeus) or mildly enthusiastic (Nordman's witch-burning anthem) but this year it was very agreeable and catchy. Maybe in another time this might even have gone on to win MF and got a decent result at Eurovision, but whatever the case it was so much better than this year's winner.

"Kom" became a firm favourite at EuropeCrazy HQ. Tonight I had to break the news very gently to faithful travelling companion that Timoteij weren't going to be in Melodifestivalen 2011. He didn't take it too well ....!

But I'm sure he will be cheered up by this video clip of the girls performing the song on this year's "Sommarkrysset" at Gröna Lund:

Melodifestivalen 2011: remaining songs and acts announced

Thanks to Aftonbladet for the info:

”Enemy” – Sara Lumholdt
”I thought it was forever” – Shirley's Angels (a new 'supertrio' featuring Shirley Clamp)
”Lucky you” – Linda Sundblad
”No one else could” – Sebastian
”Spring för livet” – Sara Varga
”Popular” – Eric Saade
”The king” – Playtones
”Tid att andas” – Simon Forsberg

The obvious favourite here is the returning Eric Saade, with a Fredrik Kempe song and a big stage show. Of course I'm delighted that Sebastian is back! Good to see Linda Sundblad there too.

”Alive” – Linda Pritchard
”Better or worse” – Julia Alvgard
”Don´t stop” – Anders Fernette
”E det fel på mig” – Linda Bengtzing
”I surrender” – Lasse Stefanz
”Leaving home” – Nicke Borg
”The Hunter” – Melody Club
Title to be confirmed - Love Generation

Melodifestivalen 2011:
Deltävling 1: Saturday 5 February 2011 - Coop Arena, Luleå
Deltävling 2: Saturday 12 February 2011 - Scandinavium, Göteborg
Deltävling 3: Saturday 19 February 2011 - Cloetta Center, Linköping
Deltävling 4: Saturday 26 February 2011 - Malmö Arena, Malmö
Andra chansen: Saturday 5 March 2011 - Nordichallen, Sundsvall
Final: Saturday 12 March 2011 - Ericsson Globe, Stockholm

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The 2010-50 - No.29: I’m wounded and it hurts, it hurts, it hurts

"You're Out Of My Life" - Darin.

Normally I'd avoid this Westlife-on-stools ballad like the plague, but the combination of Darin, Melodifestivalen and a trip to Sweden all managed to push the right emotional buttons at the right time.

He got 4th place at MF and a great big radio hit in Sweden with this song, but I felt that his chances would have been improved with a more uptempo number, especially with Tony Nilsson involved as a songwriter.

Darin says he won't be returning to Melodifestivalen, which is a bit of a shame. But then again, there's such a thing as 'never say never...!'

Here's Darin singing the song in his Melodifestivalen heat earlier this year:

The 2010-50 - No.30: Evergreen, you and me, we got everything here

"Baby Hurricane" - Vincent.

If all my favourite Swedish artists released albums over the past year to 18 months, there was one missing piece of the jigsaw: the brilliant Vincent Pontare.

We've all been eagerly waiting for him to make a comeback after that great debut album, so the good news is that the follow-up "Godspeed" is finally on the way. In the meantime, the first single from it is here to enjoy. It took me a little while to get into this song, which is more lightweight than what I'd expected, with its Beach Boys-feel; however it's now a firm favourite.

In this post, Damian from the always-wonderful Swedish Stereo makes some very good points and makes an interesting comparison with Salem Al there's someone who might make an appearance in my chart at some point.

Video: - watch out for the twist involving none other than Vincent's dad, Mr "när vindarna viskar mitt namn" himself - Roger Pontare!

The 2010-50 - No.31: I even painted my toe nails for you, I did it just the other day

"Satellite" - Lena Meyer-Landrut.

I did drop a hint to faithful travelling companion last night that this would be making an appearance in the chart very here it is.

Even before its victory in a certain song contest this year, this one had become our 'holiday song' in Bratislava - that's what non-stop exposure to MTV Germany does!

A song written by an American and a Dane, sung in English by a German who sounds as if she learned her English from Kate Nash records. A truly international hit (although it only got to no.30 in the UK chart).

Contemporary isn't usually a word used to describe the Eurovision Song Contest, so it was a pleasant surprise that this song went on to win. Even if her voice quickly grates on you and the novelty wears off quickly - I really think the idea of her defending her title next year is a no-no - everything about this just seemed to fall into place. Even now, it's still a catchy and fun song.


The 2010-50 - No.32: Alors on sort pour oublier tous les problèmes

"Alors on Danse" - Stromae.

Who'd have guessed that this existential angsty rap, delivered in a suitably depressed manner by the Belgian rapper, and set to a catchy saxophone hook and trancey beat, would become one of the biggest continental hits of 2010? It might have ran off with my annual "Great Lost European Hit of the Year" award were it not for the song even making a brief appearance in the lower reaches of the UK top 30 a couple of months ago - such a rarity for a song not in the English language to even get a sniff of the top 75, far less the top 30.

This one spanned both our spring and summer holidays this year. There was even a version with Erik Hassle singing on it, but much as I'm an Erik fan, I preferred the original. Basically it says, life can be s**t, so just dance. And why not. Never was melancholy such foot-tapping fun.


I certainly didn't expect to see that

I thought this deserved a separate post from this month's "Square Eyed".

The latest (and disappointingly sub-standard) series of "Harry Hill's TV Burp" finished last night. To commemorate this, here's one of my favourite moments from the series, from the recent Celebrity Coach Trip - Barry Chuckle, Ingrid Tarrant and Brendan in the bath (warning, this sight may put you off your dinner!!) - everybody sing along!