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Friday, March 15, 2013

Kongos - I'm Only Joking

"I don't believe a thing I said"

This song is over a year old, but I'm going to feature it today anyway. I really try to discover what's going on with music around the entire world, but there are some regions (Europe, Korea, Australia) that I naturally gravitate towards more strongly. I am, however, always on the lookout for good, new African music. I love the natural rhythms and textures found in a lot of the music in Africa, but I struggle to find songs that I like enough to feature on the blog. So, I get really excited when something like this comes along. South Africa seems to have a thriving, if somewhat little known, music scene. Among its many bands is Kongos, who released this amazingly catchy track at the end of 2011. The song's hypnotic drums were the first thing to strike me, but then I was lured into the quirky, playful chorus. It's like a mysterious circus sideshow wrapped into a song.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Buy the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Standing Ovation For Scandinavia

After a year or so on the sidelines, Scandinavia and Northern Europe is back when it comes to fantastic pop music. Honestly, in the past few months, I've seen more great music come out of the region than in all of last year. It's really an amazing resurgence, and kind of reminds me of when I first got into Scandinavian music a decade ago.

I just wanted to give some of these fantastic songs another look today, because each and every one of them is totally special. Not only that, but most are from artists I'd never featured on the blog before, giving me a lot of hope for the future of European pop music. And the best part is, it's only March! I can't wait to see what's still waiting for us.

Nicole Sabouné - Conquer Or Suffer (Sweden)
Isac Elliot - New Way Home (Finland)
Ace Wilder - Do It (Sweden)
Ulrik Munther - Tell The World I'm Here (Sweden)
Darin - En Apa Som Liknar Dig (Sweden)
Blitzkids Mvt. - Heart On The Line (Germany)
Le Kid - We Are Young (Sweden)
Anton Ewald - Begging (Sweden)
The Royal Concept - World On Fire (Sweden)
Ben Ivory - The Righteous Ones (Germany)
Margaret Berger - I Feed You My Love (Norway)
Studio Killers - All Men Are Pigs (Denmark)
Krista Siegfrids - Marry Me (Finland)
Martin Rolinski - In And Out Of Love (Sweden)

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Carola - Främling (30 År)

As part of last weekend's fantastic Melodifestivalen, thrice-winner (!) and general Swedish legend Carola was invited back to sing a remixed version of her song Främling ("Stranger"), which won the contest in 1983 (also the year of my birth). The updated version turns the midtempo 80's pop track into a full on electro club anthem. On first listen, I honestly thought it was a bit of a mess, but I couldn't have been more wrong. The melody remains simple and brilliant, and shines through all the production in sterling, anthemic fashion. I've always thought more artists should release remixed/reimagined versions of hits from years ago. Can you imagine a rerecorded, remixed album by Madonna or Janet Jackson or Prince?
* This post is written about the studio version, but there are no streaming links of that anywhere online, so below is the live version. Beware the hot pants.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Buy the single here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Kite - The Rhythm

"Push me through the people"

Kite are back! I have an interesting relationship with this band. Whenever I listen to them, a part of me aches, just wishing that singer Nicklas Stenemo was still with the Mo, performing the kind of pop rock that he did so well. But another part of me can really appreciate this kind of experimental electronic sound as well. To my ears, the duo has never eclipsed their debut single, Ways To Dance, but this new song is a step in the right direction. The vocals are clean, the guitar riffs give it a more organic feel, and the beat is simple, yet propulsive. Melodically, it's kind of similar to With Every Heartbeat, yet it sounds nothing like that. It's got that same kind of building, repetitive tune, though, that becomes more cathartic as the song goes on. It's great stuff. A new EP should be out in May and this song is available for free download via the soundcloud link below.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Preorder the EP here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Melodifestivalen 2013: Post Final Wrap-Up

Melodifestivalen is over for another year, which always makes me a little sad because I definitely look forward to it more than Eurovision. But, I am happy that we're now at the point that we should be: enjoying the songs for what they are, rather than pitting them against each other.

I started this year's MF coverage thoroughly underwhelmed, but something happened as the week's went on that somehow gave us a Final that was quite strong. Although there obviously wasn't anything as good as last year's Euphoria, I'd argue that, song for song, this year's Final was stronger than last year's. And even though I can't say that my favorite won, in the seven years I've been following and covering the competition, I've never seen such exciting, nail-biting voting results.

Here were the final stats:
(Jury + Public = Total)

1. Robin Stjernberg (91 + 75 = 166)
2. Yohio (30 + 103 = 133)
3. Ulrik Munther (82 + 44 = 126)
4. Anton Ewald (49 + 59 = 108)
5. Louise Hoffsten (36 + 49 = 85)
6. Sean Banan (37 + 41 = 78)
7. Ralf Gyllenhammer (33 + 40 = 73)
8. David Lindgren (57 + 12 = 69)
9. State Of Drama (50 + 18 = 68)
10. Ravaillacz (8 + 32 = 40)

The most interesting info to pull from this:

* In my opinion, the voters got the top four right... just not in the right order.
* I'm shocked at Ralf's low placing, particularly with the Swedish voters. How does a presumed favorite fall this far without any similar act competing against him?
* I was much better at predicting the bottom three than the top three this year.
* David Lindgren's shocking 12 points from the voting public show that he was indeed the victim of vote-splitting, as I predicted. Also, apparently I'm not the only one who finds him unlikable.
* The big controversy will be, of course, the disconnect between the Int. Juries and the public. The juries really didn't like Yohio, and the Swedes really did. I hope they don't cave in and get rid of the juries. I think the contest needs an outside perspective.
* Poor Ulrik landed right where I predicted he would, and right where he did last year (even though the song was vastly superior this time). He did increase one place with the public vote this year (he came sixth last year, and was fifth this time -- against much tougher competition)
* I am baffled by the points that the juries gave to Sean. Hopefully his placing in the bottom half yesterday will be the nail in the coffin of his MF career.
* The two biggest losers of the night? David and State of Drama, who both flashed rude expressions when their meager votes were announced.

And now, a look at the winner.
I feel largely ambivalent about Robin, actually. It was exciting to see a dark horse triumph unexpectedly, but his song was only my 4th or 5th favorite in the competition. Plus, the bitter side of me thinks that if Robin hadn't been in the final, his votes may have gone to Ulrik, paving the way for him to win. Of course, we'll never know, but I can speculate :)
The song is good, the performance is good. He seems nice, if a little needy. There's just something about the whole package that hasn't connected with me, no matter how hard I try. I predict it going top ten in Eurovision, but not winning (which, honestly, is probably what Sweden wants anyway). In the grand scheme of MF winners, it's no atrocity like This Is My Life, but it's certainly no Euphoria either. I can be happy with it, if not excited.

I do, however, quite like this remixed version. The added hook takes it past its adult-contemporary leanings and gives it more oomph.

And finally, my top ten songs of MF 2013 (likely to change):

1. Ulrik Munther - Tell The World I'm Here
2. Anton Ewald - Begging
3. Martin Rolinski - In And Out Of Love
4. Behrang Miri - Jalla Dansa Sawa
5. Yohio - Heartbreak Hotel
6. Army Of Lovers - Rockin' The Ride
7. Robin Stjernberg - You
8. Ralf Gyllenhammar - Bed On Fire
9. Eric Gadd - Vi Kommer Aldrig Att Förlora
10. Caisa & Michael Feiner - We're Still Kids