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Saturday, January 31, 2004

Time for some new MP3s then. I was going to post the Janet Jackson song, but it's now online at mp3sfinder so just go there. Instead, get Erik Faber's fabulous, searching guitar pop rock monster, Century, and Croatian rap stormer Edo Maajka's Prikaze.

And just in case you forgot that the mighty Eurovision is coming, enjoy Fly Away With You by Aija Vitolina, a contender to represent Latvia, but sounding rather like that big Santana single (but not crap) - and is better than the similarly flavoured Spanish entry and considering Latvia took the prize in 2002 with the Latin-flavoured stomper I Wanna this could do well. Also, fusing cheesy Europop with warm French house overlays is Tell Me Why by Mandy, a song submitted to represent The Netherlands, but bizarrely didn't win its heat to make the national finals. But it's really nice - and if you listen carefully, you can hear a bit that sounds like that swooshing noise from the beginning of the AVH remix of Tori Amos's Professional Widow. If you're interested, aside from the so-so Spanish song, the final songs to represent Poland and Turkey are dire.
# 6:54 PM []
Argh. Accidentally posted the draft of this a few days ago. Feh. The Rasmus (at #1, 8), Dido (5) and No Doubt (9) and a whole slew of songs that would be familiar if you read Hungary last round, but not otherwise. So here they are again, with the token three other songs.

2. Groovehouse - Ha újra látom. I thought I couldn't find this, but it turns out I could, because the song with weird characters sounded exactly like the midi-ish ringtone of it I found here (go there now, you can hear a delicious rendition of Szeress Most, hooray). Anyway, this is OK - a nice guitar and ballad piano and decent vocals open it, although later on they don't recur. It just isn't very, um, groovy. And the other song by them I got was fantastic, so this is a letdown. It does have a nice overdone 80s movie theme feel to it, though, and when the chorus does kick in (kicking the slowness out), it gets loads better - i.e. there's a dance beat and hooky bits. Still underwhelmed. Maybe there's a remix of it or something. If there is, I'll change this score in a fit of revisionism. As it stands, 6

3. TNT - Egyetlen Szó. Did I compare this song, musically, to that remix of Talkin' All The Jazz from a few years back last time? No, I didn't, and I really should have because it sounds a bit like that. Which, of course, is a good thing. 8

5. DESPERADO - Rajtad Múlik. This one has grown on me a little bit. I have to say that the meshing vocals have an interesting and unusual effect, especially on the long notes in the chorus, of which there are many. The end which strips it down to just a guitar, is also rather effective too. 7

6. EROS RAMAZZOTTI - Un' Emozione Per Sempre. This was #1 two weeks ago, crashed to #23, but is back up. Which makes it the Hey Ya of this chart. It's been in a few other charts, so I'm not entirely sure where it comes from originally - Spain? - and its appeal here seems a little hard to discern. 4

7. UNIQUE - Mozaik. The raspberry noise is still killer. Still a little less than the sum of its parts, largely because it doesn't have the vocal urgency that should go along with the quick pace of the music and the clever sounds. 6

8. Robbie Williams - Something Beautiful. See, what gets me about Robbie is that he's always so down on himself, but when he sings, he's smug, as if he's singing and writing the best songs in the world and as such is some kind of master entertainer. He isn't, isn't and isn't. Oh, and because most of his songs have a guitar somewhere, they're real songs, unlike all the fake songs by everyone else. Real songs. Real emotion. A real performer. A real cunt, that's what. Who writes some of the worst lyrics in pop today, all the while smirking about how fucking clever he is. Yes, I know this is not an original viewpoint, but it doesn't get said enough. This meme has stalled, so I'm jump-starting it. 0

10. Atomic Kitten - If You Come To Me. They're breaking up, I adored them. Now I just think they're OK, this is a terrific single, but they've done too many of those mid-tempo dull ones. People say they've relied too heavily on covers, which is bollocks, as they've released three as singles, which isn't that many. These same people often (not always) say Sugababes are better, conveniently forgetting that Sugababes have put out two covers (Freak Like Me and Too Lost In You - and yes, Sugababes are better, but it's not because of the quality or quantity of covers). Anyway, I still like this a lot. Great middle eight, affecting chorus, nice harmonies. They still should put Believer out as a single. 9

Right, that's the end of Round 2, with a smashing 62 for Hungary. They are 115. Not too bad, really.
# 1:21 PM []

Friday, January 30, 2004

JANET JACKSON - Love Me For A Little While
No way, this can't be the new single from JJ - it's got a chunky, chugging guitar all over it and it's actually not rubbish. Yeah, her first good one since Doesn't Really Matter, but while that song worked on her thin, floating voice, this is upbeat and confident, with a strong hook, a confident strut, impeccable structure, lovely backing vocals (especially the ascending ooh-ooh-oohs) and a middle eight that sounds rather like a (maybe) indie single whose name is not readily coming to mind. But only briefly, because the chorus comes back and you get a lovely cheesy guitar bit right at the end of the song. Most importantly, she's not rummaging through her gigantic wardrobe trying on shoes that don't fit (her last album, she was alternately vengeful, naif and breathy, never once sounding convincing), and has played to her strengths for once. Good to have her back.
# 7:19 PM []

Thursday, January 29, 2004

And, making Norway look interesting by comparison... Kevin Lyttle (9, deservingly at #1), One-T (8), Limp Bizkit (0), Black Eyed Peas (1) and Christina Aguilera (4). Again, due to chart bizarreness, the Eminem singles box set is at #6 despite not being a single. So down to 11 we go.

2. Maria Lucia - Taking Back My Heart. I think I've worked out why this annoys me - it's because the lush ballad sounds with the clicking make me think of Paula Abdul's Rush Rush, one of the greatest soppy songs ever, against which everything comes up second best. 5

3. Metallica - The Unnamed Feeling EP. Oh good. This just fell from 10 to 11 in Norway, so I thought I wasn't going to get a good excuse to slag this off. Now I do, I can't think of a funny way of doing it. It's terrible. This is the sound of a band running away from their past selves (i.e. the glossy, alterna radio favourites ca. 1992-1997) in search of being what they once were. The problem being that they're running in the wrong direction and removing the gloss reveals their new work to be fundamentally lacking on every level - no songwriting and no gloss to cover it. Appalling. 0

7. Westlife - Mandy. Maybe I've mentioned it already this round. Whatever, no amount of verbiage on the shitness of this will ever prove sufficient. 0

9. Blue - Signed Sealed Delivered etc etc. - As above. 0

11. The Raveonettes - Heartbreak Stroll. I downloaded this a while back, but then I bought the CD and deleted the MP3s, and since my CD of this is 1000km away, I can't hear it right now. So instead I'm singing it to myself. It's still very good. Perhaps not quite as good as Remember or That Great Love Sound but yes, this is chewy pop candy goodness of the highest order. 9

Upset of the round? Sort of. 37 and that's all. They were above average. Now they're below. Proving that buying Blue CDs long after you've had MONTHS to download them instead isn't cool. 94 so far.
# 5:12 PM []
Repeats zzzz. I'm sorry, really. Work is annoying right about now and this isn't making anyone feel better, is it? Knowing that the following are still around: Black Eyed Peas (1, at #1 no less. Why? Still waiting for an email explaining the appeal of this lot), Kevin Lyttle (9), Limp Bizkit (0), Stacie Orrico (4), Outkast (10), No Doubt (9), Sugababes (8). Besides which there are no dull charts, just dull writers.

6. Black Diamond - Black Diamond. It has a riff. But it's not a motherfucking riff. A bit dull really, there's a shouty bloke. And it's not much fun. If you're over the age of 17, life is probably too short to spend on this. Maybe it's not just the chart that's crap today... as far as song/artist names that are the same, this isn't a patch on Doop. Or Deep Forest for that matter. 3

7. Tine - Vil Ha Deg. It's not so much that this sort of Euro-trance-dance is unlistenable, far from it, it's just that that Dannii Minogue album simultaneously renders them all completely redundant. Sorry Tine, you're about 12 months too late. 4

9. Erik Faber - Century. I'll say it again. When this sort of thing gets done by US or UK outfits, it always sounds overblown, or worse - if too far in the other direction, timid. Feeder or Coldplay, you know. But god, this sounds just great, and is as good a slice of melodic Scandi-indie-rock as you're likely to hear. "Everybody's got needs/But what about mine?" and the like might look corny but if they aren't delivered with passion and belief far beyond their worth then clearly this song is secreting something else that makes me love it. Bittersweet with lament, but just plain sweet in sound with a big crashing, sweeping chorus, epic while at the same time only 241 seconds long. Not perfect, except when it's actually playing. At the risk of being terribly uncool, 10

Okay maybe there are dull charts. Of course, things would be a lot better if the Norwegians stopped buying Limp Bizkit and instead bought Saturday Night by the mighty Surferosa, currently at Number 16. Then they'd have more than 58 points, taking them to 125.
# 4:54 PM []

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Well fuck me. This is the first decent George Michael single since Too Funky, and who'd have put odds on ever being able to say that after his partially defrosted Love Action reworking was enjoyed by exactly nobody? The da-da-da intro is half Sweet Like Chocolate and half Nodesha's bits in Abs' Miss Perfect, George is doing his best pop soul disco stylings over a throbbing bass and a trebly acoustic guitar and the lyrics are surprisingly acceptable. The chorus is disarmingly sweet (I never thought my saviour would come/I think it's amazing") and given just enough effort, the melodic pop smarts of the 80s are there although the richer backing vocals of the 90s hits (like Fastlove or the underrated, but not that much Spinning The Wheel) are there to add extra weight. A remarkable return to form, if perhaps not for the quality of it, but for the nadirs it very nearly threatens to consign to the recesses of the collective memory of pop fans.

UPDATE: Link via Oh Manchester, So Much To Answer For: You can (for now) get this song here.
# 7:38 PM []

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Oh, I wanted to like this, really, but where's the high-sheen gloss that made their previous opuses of ridiculous rock-cum-ridiculous-pop-overload like Megasonic Teenage Warhead or Space Lord so cheesetastic and enjoyable? The guitars are raw and dirty but without any balls or bombast, there's no catchy chorus, just a repetition of the delicious title pun and something unintelligible. Surely rock is not so boring nowadays that even a gleeful pastiche doesn't even raise the heart rate at all? Oh, right. With such dry hookless crap, maybe they're doing a gleeful pastiche of that Metallica album.
# 9:01 PM []
LALI PUNA - Micronomic
I'd always meant to investigate this lot, but I thought they were far too perfect a fit for my tastes - the only song of theirs I'm familiar with being "Fast Forward" which is fantastic admittedly, and now it looks like it's urgent and key. This has deadpanned, aloof vocals over an intriguing choppy backing, with cut up noises, an insistent rhythm and some warm organ-like noises. The whole thing is actually quite pretty, yet a bit unsettling. It doesn't have any obvious hooks in it in reality, but the burbling bass in the verses and the dissolute mumbling of the words - it's almost as if you're listening to a tape that's been water damaged or something, bits jar out at each other while meshing nicely with other bits, and the overall effect is really eerily pleasant.
# 8:57 PM []
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