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.

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrOeGCJdZe4

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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7PoWTyyc74

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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QxTCVPSlrI

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 http://swedishstereo.blogspot.com/2010/10/vincent-baby-hurricane.html makes some very good points and makes an interesting comparison with Salem Al Fakir...now there's someone who might make an appearance in my chart at some point.

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WB5onaN6nJk - 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 soon....so 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.

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QSgNM9yNjo

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.

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHoT4N43jK8

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!

Friday, November 26, 2010

The 2010-50 - No.33: I'll be a flatliner for a heartkiller

"Heartkiller" - HIM.

The fabulous Finns, fronted by a make-up-free Ville Valo, came back this year with a more accessible album ('Screamworks: Love In Theory And Practice') which took the band back to its love metal roots after briefly going with a darker sound. The first single release from the album, "Heartkiller" was an energetic and appealing return to form.

Ville remains a very charismatic frontman, and HIM remain one of the world's most underrated rock bands. In an era where rock music is more frowned upon than ever, we should treasure them.

The 2010-50 - No. 34: Çok zor bazen avaz avaz susmak

"Alıştım Susmaya" - Emre Aydin.

Although he managed to win the title of "Europe's Favourite Act" at the 2008 MTV Europe Music Awards, and a number of awards in his own country, Emre Aydin managed to pass me by. Until my recent holiday in Turkey of course - thanks to Power Turk TV, this song was a regular fixture on the channel's pop videos playlist.

An anthemic, commercial pop-rock song, it was enough to convince me to buy Aydin's second album, which I'll eventually get around to reviewing on here :)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The 2010-50 - No.35: I guess he's an Xbox and I'm more an Atari

"F*** You!" - Cee-Lo Green.

All together now, "I pity the foooooool....."

Better known to radio listeners as "Forget You" of course, the debut solo single by the voice of Gnarls Barkley was one of the year's more welcome no.1 hit singles. And let's face it, you couldn't say that for most of 2010's chart-toppers.

A delightful Motown-style ode to a gold-digging ex, this was full of fun. Now children, we know that bad language is not big, and not clever - unless you're Eminem in which case it's both - but this is the most entertaining use of the F word in a song in a long long time. A novelty song maybe, but a rather good record too.

"F*** You" video - this is NOT the "Forget You" one so parental guidance is advised etc etc - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pc0mxOXbWIU&playnext=1&list=PLE2425CE30866D0E8&index=14

The 2010-50: No.36: Je danse jusqu'à rire

"Je Danse" - Jenifer.

She's back! Over the last decade, the original French talent show winner who put the "Star" into "Star Academy" has definitely has proved that she was no flash in the pan, becoming one of France's best loved new artists. The great thing about Jenifer is that she has taken risks in her career and changed her sound - and if "Je Danse" is any indication, then her latest album "Appelle- Moi Jen", out next week, should be well worth a listen.

"Je Danse" is an extremely catchy, modern pop song with Jen "rapping" the verses and looking and sounding as if she's having the time of her life.

Official video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CiomvJVFlvU

The 2010-50 - No.37: Det är titeln jag vill åt, jag är mikrofonkåt

"Mikrofonkåt" - September.

Probably the most recent addition to my chart. Ever since Petra Marklund's performance of this on that genuinely original Swedish TV format "Så mycket bättre" (series 1 line-up pictures above with September in the middle), I've loved her irresistibly catchy dance-pop version of this Petter song. And so does everyone else in Sweden - once it was commercially released, it shot up to the top of the iTunes chart and is still at no.1 as I write this.

This song (and TV show) have really boosted her profile again in her home country, just in time for her comeback single "Resuscitate Me" and forthcoming album "Love CPR". Maybe she'll be back in the 2011-50, one year from now!
That legendary TV appearance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4c2xI4WGVE

The 2010-50: No.38: Och hundratusen ögon stirrar på oss, ingen ser

"Skisser för Sommaren" - Kent.
One of the year's most pleasant musical surprises was the arrival of a new Kent album, so soon after the last one...and an even more pleasant surprise was that "En Plats i Solen" was their most accessible and commercial album in years, and this track even got them back on Swedish commercial radio playlists. A singalong hookline and an almost funky backing track made this a big summer favourite on my iPod.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

2010-50: back tomorrow

For no reason other than running out of time tonight (!) the 2010-50 won't be back till tomorrow night when I'll reveal another 4 songs in the countdown.

This week's Idol songs

Here they are (thanks to Aftonbladet as usual) - http://www.aftonbladet.se/nojesbladet/tv/idol2010/article8172890.ab

Jay Smith
* ”Bad romance” (Lady Gaga).
* ”Against all odds” (Phil Collins).
Linnea Henriksson
* ”Don't you forget about me” (Simple Minds).
* ”Crazy in love” (Beyoncé).
Olle Hedberg
* ”Fix you” (Coldplay).
* ”Beautiful day” (U2).
Minnah Karlsson
* ”Just the way you are” (Bruno Mars).
* ”Alone” (Heart).

I'm not too inspired by this week's songs....but I think it could finally be Olle's big week.

Meanwhile Minnah has lost her voice, which could be a big problem if she's doing that Heart song.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The 2010-50: No.39: Last night I said I was fine but I lied

"Million Pieces" - Tove Styrke.

In the great tradition of Swedish Idol, we have someone who didn't win, being spared having to record and rush-release a covers-album = goes on to make some decent music.

So step forward Tove Styrke, the latest in that long line. This was a very charming debut single, which was followed by a very well-received debut album which I haven't had the chance to check out yet, but that is definitely on my things to do list.

Interestingly, "Million Pieces" was co-written by Lykke Li, another critically acclaimed Swedish artist, and I'd describe Tove as a more 'accessible' version of Lykke, whilst having her own distinctive style, and I'm looking forward to hearing more from her. I read somewhere that the album will also be released in the UK in December (not sure if this is true and I can't remember the source) so she might become a big star here too!

Here's Tove performing the song live at Skansen this summer:

The 2010-50: No.40: I can't wait until the storm is over

"It's Gonna Rain" - Eric Saade.

By the way, this chart is being rewritten almost on a daily basis, so even I don't know what's coming next!

Anyway, into the top 40 now...Funny how you can change your mind about things. Initially I thought "Manboy" was trashy and tacky, but after a weekend of non-stop-radio-saturation airplay in Gothenburg, resistence was futile and I finally jumped on the Eric Saade bandwagon. What followed was actually a rather good debut pop album - "It's Gonna Rain" was my favourite track, and is a typical uptempo Swedish pure pop song. Which can only be a good thing.

Listen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHe-K4gwaHw

I don't know where his career will go from here on, but don't bet against him appearing again at MF in the next year or two...!

Monday, November 22, 2010

The 2010-50 - No.41: Whatever it takes, I will do what I gotta do

"On A Mission" - Gabriella Cilmi.

I thought she was one of the best new artists of 2008, so I eagerly awaited her new material. "On A Mission", with its backing track which owed more than a little to Joe Jackson's "Steppin' Out", was a promising comeback.

So far so good, then, but her rebranding as sexy glamour girl, rather than girl next door, was to be her musical downfall, as this just turned her into yet another singer in an already saturated musical market. Gabriella is also a very pretty girl, but she is so much more than a pretty face - she has a great, distinctive voice and deserves better material than what ended up on her 2nd (and ultimately disappointing) album "Ten", which was nowhere near as successful as her debut.

Where this leaves her future musical career is unknown: but a little less emphasis on image and more emphasis on the music would be a good idea.

The 2010-50 - No.42: It's hard to say that I'd rather stay awake when I'm asleep

"Fireflies" - Owl City.

It may have been one of this year's most significant one-hit-wonders, but it was also one of the most welcome. A one-man band, Adam Young briefly achieved his moment of world domination with this simple, dreamy little song, which didn't need talent shows or media hype to boost its popularity, and which seemed to effortlessly touch a worldwide audience.

On a more personal level, this song is a little bit special to me because it will always remind me of my Gothenburg trip in March 2010, as it was one of the most played songs on the radio when I was there :)

On the down side I could have done without the irritating vocal effects though.

Melodifestivalen 2011: half the songs and artists revealed today

And believe it or not, I'm rather excited and I didn't think I would be :)

Today, the line-up for the first two heats of Melodifestivalen 2011 was announced. We already knew about some of them of course, but I was pleasantly surprised by a couple of other names announced....namely Brolle and Christian Walz, two of my favourite Swedish singers of recent years.

There's lots of new names and MF-first-timers this year, which may not please the traditionalists, but the fact remains that Melodifestivalen needs new blood to keep it alive - after all, some of the most famous MF names were newcomers once upon a time.

So, who's in?
Heat 1 takes place in Luleå on 5th February:
Pernilla Andersson: "Desperados"
Danny: "In The Club"
Swingfly: "Me and My Drum"
Le Kid: "Oh My God"
Jonas Matsson: "On My Own"
Rasmus Viberg: "Social Butterfly"
Jenny Silver: "Something In Your Eyes"
Dilba: "Try Again"

Danny (Saucedo) should be the obvious favourite here - I just hope he's got the song to match, although with a very exciting songwriting team behind it (Figge Boström/Peter Boström/Danny Saucedo), we can expect a modern uptempo pop-dance number.

Jenny Silver is back again, this time with a "Tusen och en Natt"-type schlager which (according to this Aftonbladet article) SVT chose Jenny rather than Charlotte Perrelli to sing. http://www.aftonbladet.se/nojesbladet/melodifestivalen2011/article8160036.ab

Also new to MF are Le Kid, who have been very popular among the pop-blogging community over the past year.
The contest then moves on to Gothenburg for Heat 2 on 12th February:
Anniela: "Elektrisk"
Babsan: "Ge Mig en Spanjor"
Sanna Nielsen: "I'm in Love"
Christian Walz: "Like Suicide"
Loreen: "My heart is Refusing Me"
The Moniker: "Oh My God!"
Brolle: "Seven Days and Seven Nights"
Elisabeth Andreassen: "Vaken i en Dröm"

For me, this is potentially the toughest and most exciting heat - Melodifestivalen welcomes Brolle (at last), and he looks like a definite qualifier, as does the returning Sanna Nielsen.

I'm delighted to see Christian Walz in the contest - although that song title is a little subversive for MF, isn't it! Maybe it's actually a happy little singalong...? It should be a top quality entry, especially as Tony Nilsson is one of the co-writers with Christian.

I'm less excited about Elisabeth Andreassen's participation, but I guess a lot of people will be happy to see her back in MF after all these years.

One more thing - you wait years for an "Oh My God" and then two come along at once - the second, with an added exclamation mark, is by The Moniker - better known as former Idol finalist Daniel Karlsson, confirming press speculation from yesterday.

Finally, Sebastian Karlsson is rumoured to be back this year....now that's someone I'd really like to see again at MF! Answers next Monday :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The 2010-50: No.43: It's a dirty free-for-all

"Take It Off" - Ke$ha.

There are so many reasons not to like Ke$ha, the Poundland version of Lady Gaga: her trailer-trash image, that silly way she spells her name with the dollar sign, the stupid autotune effects on her songs, and how she looks as if she hasn't had a bath for days.

Yet, somewhere along the way, she managed to achieve cult status at EuropeCrazy HQ, which gave me an excuse to do my Ke$ha vocal impersonations every week :) Although faithful travelling companion and I continue to have a love-hate relationship with "Tik Tok" - he hates it and although I wouldn't go so far to say I love it, let's just say we have differing opinions!

We do agree on "Take It Off" though - it's just a very catchy pop song which despite the hated autotune-effect has still eaten its way into my brain. She's a trashy, tacky guilty pleasure - you know you really shouldn't like her music, but sometimes you can't help it.

The 2010-50 - No.44: In the end it's all or nothing

"Don't Wanna Lose You Again" - A1.

I was very excited to see A1 in this year's MGP. Whilst I didn't like this song as much as "Take You Home", it's still a very catchy and anthemic song which we would have gone to any lengths for in our pathetic national selection (but let's not go there eh!!). A1 have made a very nice transition to boyband to manband and I'll have to check out more of their recent material. In the meantime
here's a clip of the Anglo-Norwegian band's appearance in this year's MGP:

Melodifestivalen 2011: speculation and facts

Tomorrow, half of the acts and songs at this year's Melodifestivalen, with the other half being announced next week. In the meantime, speculation continues about more acts possibly taking place. Expressen said today that Jenny Silver will return (hopefully without that silly yellow hand!) and former Idol finalist Daniel Karlsson will make his MF debut.

I'm quite excited about Daniel if this is true, as I absolutely loved (and still love) his song "Would You Believe": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtB5K6yl0lc

The Swedish media continues to write about how artists are turning their back on taking part in Melodifestivalen, like this for example: http://www.aftonbladet.se/nojesbladet/melodifestivalen2011/article8148616.ab
I would love to see September take part someday with an uptempo song :) I'm also hoping that Rebound will be among the list of acts announced for next year's contest.

No speculation about the hosts - it was announced earlier this week that Marie Serneholt and Rickard Olsson (pictured below) will present MF 2011. Marie can always get some tips from this year's host, the one and only Måns Zelmerlow of course!

(picture courtesy of Sven Lindwall/Expressen)

Idol 2010 - Friday Finals - Week 7, 19.11.10

Or, as Mr Mackey used to say in South Park: "Drugs are bad, mmm-kay?"

This week, everything was overshadowed by drugs. Or to be specific, series favourite Jay Smith testing positive for drugs, and not being thrown out of the competition.

So Jay soldiered on, with a memorable rock-rendition of "Like A Prayer" which has probably delivered him directly to the final, and there was also the bizarre spectacle of Jay singing "Fly Me To The Moon".

Andreas left the competition (as expected) - but the major shock was that Olle was in the bottom two with him. I read some criticism of Olle's performance, but I thought his "Let's Dance" was ok - although I could have done without the dancing girls - whilst I really enjoyed his 'Ollefied' version of "Your Song".

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The 2010-50 - No.45: Vi blir aldrig som dom från stan

"Ack, Sundbyberg" - Oskar Linnros.

We stay in Sweden for the debut solo single by Oskar Linnros. Oskar has had a meteoric rise to solo success in his home country over the past few months, and we can expect him to win lots of awards soon....anyway this anthem about the northern suburb of Stockholm had instant appeal and it wasn't long before the not-entirely-unattractive Oskar became the latest teen idol.

When this year started, the last thing I expected was both members of the now-defunct rap duo Snook who were one of my big faves back in 2007 (http://europecrazy.blogspot.com/2007/08/album-review-ar-snook.html) ending up as Swedish chart megastars, but that's what's happened, and that's been one of the nicer things about this musical year.

There's no official video for this song, but you can listen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGE5SfdSvXo

The 2010-50 - No.46: No, I’m no super lady and I don’t have no game whatsoever

"Sucker For Love" - Pauline.

The only one of the 2010 Melodifestivalen 'jokers' not to make it to the final....why? Pauline Kamusewu sang well and had a very distinctive look (with what I called her Minnie Mouse bow-hairdo!). The retro-style song maybe didn't reach the final, but it went on to have a longer post-contest life on my iPod, which couldn't be said for most of this year's entries.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The 2010-50 - No.47: Ain't that Mr. Mister on the radio

"Hey Soul Sister" - Train.

Despite possessing some of the worst lyrics to grace any pop song in recent years, it's remarkable that the comeback hit by Train managed to make it into any chart, never mind this one. However, tapping into the same appeal as Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours", the song became a massive worldwide hit and, as usual, broke through in the European charts long before it hit the UK...but it eventually charted here and got lots of airplay, thus disqualifying it from my 'great lost European hit of the year' category.

And there's a big European connection here: the song was co-written by none other than Norwegian pop legend, Espen Lind who has now established himself as a big international songwriter of note.

I still like this song, but those lyrics are still rubbish though.

The 2010-50 - No.48: Tonight I’ll be like Armstrong and I’m doing what seems impossible

"Human Frontier" - NEO.

A relatively new name at this year's Melodifestivalen (although previously mentioned in dispatches from other pop bloggers), he was more than a little reminiscent of Mika, both visually and vocally.

Yes it's cheesy, with equally cheesy space-referencing lyrics, but it's the kind of effortless uptempo pop which Swedish people can do in their sleep, and which was very welcome in a Melodifestivalen which (with obvious exceptions) fell short of everyone's expectations.

A place in the final was not to be, though, as NEO fell at the Andra Chansen hurdle to folkie fave Kalle Moraeus, before he himself lost out in the next duel (and a final place) to Jessica Andersson.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

2010-50 - No.49: Now I owe you for the rest of my life

"Give It To Me" - Alexander Stenerud.

Norway's Melodi Grand Prix is getting more and more like Melodifestivalen every year, as they choose what they think would be a good ESC entry, rather than the best song....no offence to Didrik Tangent-Thingy (as he is affectionately known at EuropeCrazy HQ) but this would have been a better representative this year. Although being the contrary person I am, it's not my highest-rated MGP entry in this year's chart!

Alexander delivers the song with power, drama and professionalism, and don't you think that at times he has that same goosebumps-quality to his voice as Morten Harket? Must be a Norwegian thing!!

I'd love to see him back at MGP again someday. Although after 3 attempts ("Always Always" and "Find My Girl" being his other highly underrated entries) he's probably thinking "turn around, walk away...it's over, it's over" :( So in the meantime enjoy his MGP performance of the song at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FaL1Ynad2P4

2010-50 - No.50: You look at me it's like you hit me with lightning

"Starry Eyed" - Ellie Goulding.

One other annoying trend for me over the past couple of years has been the saturation of the market by one overrated female solo singer after another. For that reason I had the knives out before I even heard anything by Ellie Goulding, that was until I heard "Starry Eyed".

I can't describe the reason why I like this song, but I just like it. The follow-up "Guns and Horses" was ok too, but I can't really get into her other stuff. So I'll just stick with her debut hit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PULdPep_xfs

The 2010-50: introduction and criteria

Welcome to the 4th annual EuropeCrazy countdown of my favourite songs of the year. Regular readers will know by now how it works - between now and Sunday 12th December I'll be counting down my 50 favourite tracks of 2010, 2 songs per day.

No changes to the selection criteria goes: all songs must have been commercially released either on physical or digital formats over the past year, so I sadly had to omit Måns Zelmerlöw's great version of "A View To A Kill" from this year's MF - Andra Chansen :( I'd love him to release that song sometime in the future!

As in previous years there may be that little grey area where one or two songs might have been released at the end of 2009 but only came to my attention this year, so they are in the 2010 chart.

There is of course one artist who has completely dominated my music world this year. But even I have to be ruthless when compiling this countdown, so it was with a heavy heart that I have to limit the number of his songs....let me tell you, that wasn't easy! And one more thing - as most of my music and radio listening over the past year has revolved around Sweden, then the chart also reflects that.

Over the past year or so, the music world has changed, and not for the better either. The British singles chart is now a pathetic joke, filled with autotuned "urban" rubbish, "grime" and talent show contestants. If this is how pop is now defined - not in my name it isn't! Happily there are still some much more agreeable definitions of pop music around, and I've tried to reflect this in my chart. Enjoy!

The 2010-50 starts...now!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

This week's Idol songs

Via Aftonbladet as usual, here's this week's song list:

Andreas Weise:
1. ”Celebration” (Kool & The Gang).
2. ”She's a lady” (Tom Jones).

Jay Smith:
1. ”Fly me to the moon” (Frank Sinatra).
2. ”Like a prayer” (Madonna).

Linnea Henriksson:
1. ”I can't help myself” (The Four Tops).
2. ”The winner takes it all” (ABBA).

Olle Hedberg:
1. ”Let's dance” (David Bowie).
2. ”Your song” (Elton John).

Minnah Karlsson:
1. "Always on my mind” (Elvis Presley).
2. ”I'm so excited” (Pointer Sisters).

I'm not too inspired by those song choices :( anyway I still think Andreas is away this week! Jay singing Frank Sinatra !?!?!?!?!?!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Swedish Music Publishers Association awards...

....took place on Friday 12th November at Berns in Stockholm. The big winner was Nadir Khayat - better known as RedOne, who won the awards for Best Composer, Most Played Song and Song of the Year for Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance". The annual 'Hederspris' went to Per Gessle in recognition of his career achievements.

Best Lyricist award was shared between Oskar Linnros and Markus Krunegård, whilst the Best Newcomer award went to Anna von Hausswolff - she also takes home a 25000 kronor award for this category.

The Best International Success award went to writers/producers Martin Sandberg and Johan Shuster - better known to international pop music fans as Max Martin and Shellback.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Idol 2010 - Friday Finals - Week 6, 12.11.2010

Rock week....and some did it better than others. Olle Hedberg was not one of them: an extremely disappointing version of The Rasmus' "In the Shadows", which didn't really suit his voice. Surely he'll get to sing Kings of Leon at some point....or even his cover of Ne-Yo's "Closer"? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvc8czTYJEg

However he needs to raise his game as this contest is getting tougher by the week, otherwise his top 3 (or top 4) place may not be guaranteed after all?

Elin Blom was in danger from the minute she stepped out onto the stage. "I Surrender" by Rainbow is one of my favourite early-80s rock songs. Jay might have done it justice, but Elin's version of the song was just far too lightweight.

Jay Smith meanwhile didn't have to try too hard, as he blew away the opposition with his crowd-pleasing version of "Rocks". He now knows how to work the audience and that clearly came across in this performance. Absolutely no doubt now that he'll make the final, but I still have my doubts about whether he will have much of a career beyond this contest. Unless like Erik, he uses it as a stepping stone to become a lead singer in a band?

For me, there were no doubts about Linnea Henriksson this week - she literally threw herself into her version of Mando Diao's brilliant "Dance with Somebody", interpreted in her own Linnea-style of course, and as great as you'd expect.

So why was she in the bottom two?

(And one more question...who's voting for Andreas Weise???)

Minnah Karlsson may not strike you as an obvious "rock chick" but she has adapted to all the musical styles thrown at her, week by week. I thought she might have struggled with "Jump" but she did enough this week and was never in any danger.

I thought Andreas Weise would have been next for the exit door. He doesn't impress as a 'rocker' and his "Start Me Up" was as usual sung well but left me cold. He would have been gone if Elin had been better...

Duets! Ooh I love it when they get to the duets in Idol :)

Jay Smith & Linnea Henriksson – Sunday Bloody Sunday: I expected not to like this as it's not one of my favourite U2 songs but Jay & Linnea managed to turn it into something rather great.

Elin Blom & Minnah Karlsson – Calleth you, Cometh I: it turned into a bit of a shout-fest. No one but Ola Salo should be allowed to sing this.

Andreas Weise & Olle Hedberg – Gimme Some Lovin´: Idol's answer to the Blues Brothers also had their own little shout-fest going on, they ran around a lot, and tried to make us forget that this wasn't really that great after all. Or maybe I'm just not in a very good mood???? Anyway I'm hoping for better things from Olle next week, because he disappointed me this week.
Next week's theme is "Classics" - I hope we have some classic performances from Idol's top 5 too! They're all doing two songs each so that should be interesting...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Album Review: "Masumiyetin Ziyan Olmaz" - Mor ve Ötesi

Back in 2008, the Turkish rock band Mor ve Ötesi represented their country at the Eurovision Song Contest in Belgrade with the song "Deli". My first reaction was surprise: I didn't expect to hear Turkish rock music at Eurovision, but what a pleasant surprise it was.

Fast-forwarding two years: Turkey sent another rock band, maNga, to ESC. But what had become of Mor ve Ötesi?

Whilst on holiday in a boiling Bodrum in Turkey, watching Power Turk TV, Mor ve Ötesi grabbed my attention once more, with the dark video for "Araf", which received regular rotation on the channel, and reawakened my interest in this band. Several plays later, I was completely hooked and headed off to one of the local record shops to buy the band's latest album, "Masumiyetin Ziyan Olmaz" (Your innocence won't go to waste) and I wasn't disappointed.

The band has been around for quite a few years but there is a freshness and urgency pulsating through this album from beginning to end. "Korkma" kicks it all off, and from there on it's just one great track after another.

"Yorma Kendini" was the first single from the album, and is probably the most commercial and upbeat track with an almost funk-rock feel. I'm not so keen on the video though....did they really need all that gratuitous 'eye candy' when the music can speak for itself?

Talking of eye candy....the band's lead singer and guitarist Harun Tekin is charismatic and not entirely unattractive (!) but apart from that, he has a great voice too, and I could listen to him singing all day. There are also some very good vocal harmonies on the album. If you're unfamiliar with Turkish language rock music (as I was) you wouldn't know what to expect, but this is an extremely accessible album of what could be best described as Turkish indie/alternative rock.

I've also been checking out some lyrics translations on the internet and their lyrics can be pretty dark and hard-hitting: particularly "Festus" about a man who died in police custody in Turkey.

"Araf" is for me the album's best track, and indeed one of 2010's best tracks (expect to see a very high placing in my 2010-50 chart for this one!) - it's a slower song but it's compelling, and it completely draws you in and doesn't let go. Harun's vocals are superb on this song.

The other track I want to single out is "2012" which I suppose is the album's title track, given the repetition of "Masumiyetin ziyan olmaz" throughout the song. It may be a little jarring at first, the way he seems to be singing behind the beat, but eventually you realise that's what makes it special. The song builds and builds into a fabulous and anthemic 4½ minutes of chiming guitars and soaring harmonies. Of course, another contender in my year-end chart!
I've never stopped playing this CD since I returned from my Turkish holiday in September, and I'm still not tired of it either. In fact I would go so far as to say that it's my second favourite album of 2010.

Retro Saturday: The Lotus Eaters

After a brief stop-off at 1993 we return to 1983 for a rare, forgotten treat.

My first encounter with Liverpool band The Lotus Eaters was, to say the least, unremarkable. I was unimpressed with their debut hit, "The First Picture of You" which was rather wet and wimpy, to these ears anyway. But the follow-up, "You Don't Need Someone New" completely changed my mind: bright and breezy acoustic pop, with an edge which was missing from their debut. It wasn't a hit single, but back then, that didn't matter as long as it was played on night-time Radio 1...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKwuo19Tk6w

Retro Saturday: Marxman

We fast-forward 10 years to 1993 - a rather special year for me for a number of reasons...anyway here is a cracking rap song by Bristol/Irish rap collective Marxman, who as the name suggests were a very political musical project.

Behind the very catchy groove of "All About Eve" were some very direct lyrics about domestic abuse. The song made it to no.28 in the UK singles chart: back in the day when music with a meaning could actually make it into the charts....http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p86eXIHymHg

Retro Saturday: Tullio de Piscopo

Yes, it's back...!

I decided to rest Retro Saturday for a while but recently realised that there's some life left in it yet :))

So let's kick off with some classic 1983 Italo-Disco from top Italian funky drummer Tullio de Piscopo....believe it or not, this actually got some airplay on British radio back in those days before anything in a foreign language was a no-no.

Still fresh and rather wonderful. With lots of big hair.

Pure madness

If you live in the UK, you might have noticed that there's something missing from the CD racks in your local record shop. Or indeed, on this country's legal download sites.

I refer of course to the new Shakira CD, "Sale el Sol" which has been released worldwide and is doing very well, which is no surprise considering she's been one of the world's biggest superstars over the last 8 years or so.

Switch on a music channel here and you might just have spotted the video for her latest single "Loca" (which bizarrely features Dizzee Rascal??!!). So you want to get her new, predominantly Spanish-language album then, perhaps? So that you can get to know the songs before her upcoming UK tour? Well....no, you can't. Despite appearing in new release schedules for 8th November, "Sale el Sol" is nowhere to be found.

It would appear that the release of the album has either been delayed, or maybe it won't be released at all. Could it be because it's in Spanish, perhaps?

Why is this country's media and music industry so averse to anything in a foreign language?

What a missed opportunity, considering that she is finally coming over here to tour...

The return of EuropeCrazy!

Normal service (whatever that is) is returning to this blog. Over the last few months I haven't been able to post as much as I wanted to; that was mainly to do with Planet Salem taking up most of my blogging time for the best part of January-September, then I went on holiday, and then there were lots of things to do, and then I got sick....

There are still lots of things to do, (and Christmas is coming so there is even more to do) but I thought it was about time to bring this blog back again!

Over the next few days I'll be posting some long-overdue album reviews and a couple of other things...and then on Thursday 18th November it will be time for the launch of my annual chart countdown - the 2010-50. I'll tell you more about that on Wednesday.

In the meantime, a quick plug for my other blog, Planet Salem - the international Salem Al Fakir fansite. It's now back in action after a couple of months' break, as Salem's autumn tour has now started. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

This week's "Idol" songs

Via Aftonbladet http://www.aftonbladet.se/nojesbladet/tv/idol2010/article8101367.ab here's the list of who's singing what on "Rock Week".

Olle Hedberg - ”In the shadows” (The Rasmus).
Elin Blom - ”I surrender” (Rainbow).
Jay Smith - ”Rocks” (Primal Scream).
Linnea Henriksson - ”Dance with somebody” (Mando Diao).
Minnah Karlsson - ”Jump” (Van Halen)
Andreas Weise - ”Start me up” (Rolling Stones).

I thought they might give Olle a Kings of Leon song this week, but maybe they're keeping that for later? I wonder if he'll do "In The Shadows" in a gritty acoustic kind of way, or will it get the full rock treatment?

Jay, after two weeks of displaying some sensitivity (!) will be back in his comfort zone, Linnea will just be, well, Linnea and I can't wait to see how she takes on that brilliant Mando Diao song.

Thank goodness there's no "Heaven's On Fire" on Rock Week this year...it feels as if they sing it every year on Idol!

I think the bottom two will be between Andreas and Elin, with Andreas going out this week.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Idol 2010 - Friday Finals - Week 5, 05.11.10

Love week on Idol - however a nice twist as each of the contestants dedicated a song to a loved one.

Andreas Weise took another step down the cabaret route with his (soul-less) version of the old Jackie Wilson soul classic 'Higher and Higher'. Again, as in previous weeks, he sang well but that was about all. As the competition gets harder, it was inevitable that he took his rightful place in the bottom two.

Geir Rönning was next with "I Heard It Through The Grapevine". At least he gave a gutsy, decent version of the song. But then he should, being the experienced performer that he is. The Norwegian forty-something finally had to face the fact that Idol is a young person's game, and that the novelty would wear off as the competition went on. So Geir became the latest person to leave this year's "Idol".

In many of these TV contests, there are contestants who maybe don't start off as favourites but you can see them developing into star performers as the weeks go on. The famous "journey" in other words. Minnah Karlsson is one of those contestants - she's had an amazing comeback which continued with her version of "Whataya Want From Me". I'm beginning to rethink my prediction here - that it may be her, and not Linnea, who will be in the final two?

Of course Jay Smith remains a certainty for that final spot, and his version of "Here Without You" didn't change that. He dedicated the song to his wife, who has supported him throughout his recovery from drug addiction.

Linnea Henriksson dedicated "My Baby Just Cares For Me" to her big-haired boyfriend (nice!) and as usual she didn't disappoint.

I think they're trying to "soften up" Elin Blom, as she took another step away from her original rock-chick persona this week. Sat at the piano, she performed a very nice version of "Forever Young" and I think she's safe for at least another week.

Finally...Olle Hedberg. Leaving the best till last! Olle did a great version of "Free Fallin'" which was closer to the John Mayer version of the song than Tom Petty's original. Olle has the same warm vocal style and this song suited him perfectly. His popularity is growing by the week, so fingers crossed that he goes all the way to the final. Although he probably won't.

This week's show also saw the launch of the Idol finalists' charity single "All I Need Is You" written by Andreas Carlsson who also joined the boys and girls on stage and got his own moment in the spotlight!

In Melodifestivalen-style, Idol will now go on a 'tour' and the Friday finals will now take place in a different city every week. First stop: Luleå. We don't need any excuse to post a nice picture of Olle of course, but here is one of him in Luleå, today, in the snow :)

All of the above pictures are courtesy of www.tv4.se/idol

Thursday, November 04, 2010

This week's Idol songs

As usual thanks to Aftonbladet http://www.aftonbladet.se/nojesbladet/tv/idol2010/article8068257.ab

It's love songs this week, which really doesn't fill me with any excitement at all. All this week's songs are dedicated to a special person in the contestant's life - parents, partners, siblings etc.

Anyway here's the song list. The competition's getting tougher....and I'll foolishly predict that either Andreas or Geir will go this week.

Andreas Weise - ”(Your love keeps liftin' me) Higher & higher” (Jackie Wilson)
Geir Rönning - ”I heard it through the grapevine” (Marvin Gaye).
Minnah Karlsson - ”Whataya want from me” (Adam Lambert).
Jay Smith - ”Here without you” (3 Doors Down).
Linnea Henriksson - ”My baby just cares for me” (Nina Simone).
Elin Blom - ”Forever young” (Alphaville).
Olle Hedberg - ”Free fallin'” (Tom Petty).

Go Olle!