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Friday, July 02, 2004

Those wacky Swedes had the best score in Round 2, but the worst in Round 3. What's to happen this time? Apart from boring repeats of Britney (10), Haiducii (5), of course.

1. Nic & The Family - Hej Hej Monika. Hello to my sister, whose name is Monica and would probably get an uncontrollable urge to kill everyone involved in this song. Quite a nifty dinky keyboard repetition on top of a basic beat is fair enough but that just acts as a sample of the deeply repetitious and mind-drilling nature of this song. 2

2. Markoolio - In Med Bollen. This sounds as if Scooter were Swedish and did some kind of Euro 2004-related tune. Is that what this is? Please someone enlighten me. It's bloody terrible in any case. Comedy Euro-rap - promising - diva chorus - yes, but that beat is awful and dated. 3

3. Raymond & Maria - Ingen Vill Veta Var Du Köpt Din Tröja. I got excited because the beat made me think of Walking On Sunshine but it is not a big pop stomper, but it's a sort of quiet, fey number, with some very pretty singing and some interesting percussion in the chorus and some lovely violins and lalalas. About as unengaging as possible, but pleasant and cute. 6

5. Gyllene Tider - Tuffa Tider/en Sten Vid En Sjö I En Skog. The former part of this double-A-side makes me think Gyllene is like a Swedish vague equivalent Jason Mraz but worse. Fortunately the latter part is much more like it, a chugging pop-rock thing with some zany keyboard stylings colouring the thing quite well, and a nice singalong chorus to boot. The former: 2. The latter: 7, so going with the higher of the two numbers: 7.

7. Alcazar - This Is The World We Live In. There's something incredibly shamless about the way they invoke their own name in the chorus, isn't there - "when you're moving up with Alcazar" indeed, particularly when the chorus is lifted - brilliantly - wholesale from a Genesis song. Fortunately the breathless disco energy of their best singles is present on this, making it very good indeed, albeit not quite as world-beating as Sexual Guarantee. 8

8. Gunther & The Sunshine Girls - Teeny Weeny String Bikini. I am going to Hell, but I still like it a bit. It's daft, but the good kind of daft; up-tempo and whimsical. 7

9. Ruslana - Wild Dances/10. Lena Philipsson - Det Gör Ont. Both a bit old news, both from Eurovision, both still hanging around in the chart, but still good. In an ideal world, Lena would have come second, but you can't always get what you want. 9 and 9

That's a total of 66. Since the oldest MP3 I'm hosting is only 5 days old, I'll put something from the lower ranges of the Swedish chart up on Sunday. Total: 245. Average: 61.25
# 2:33 PM []
Those who know me would be aware that I did not care for Savage Garden, thus making me clearly unpatriotic or something. I think I've pinpointed why this was - their records were so eager and keen to please that they never got around to doing anything interesting or unexpected, and in the wild attempts to be things they weren't, something like Darren's debut Insatiable overstretched to such a degree that it was almost embarassing. Still, it played well enough with the target markets to get him to album two, so fair play.

This song, though, doesn't give two shits about being pleasing. In fact, it goes to almost Machiavellian degrees to be remembered, even settling for being annoying at times when it can't achieve brilliance. But there are more than a few stabs of that, surprisingly. There's a bit of nu-Dannii/Goldfrapp throbbing, as good a foundation for a pop song as you're likely to get, and Darren's uncharacteristically clipped delivery is actually obnoxious rather than endearing - sure, the exaggerated pause in the middle of the word "popular" in the chorus is so the first half of the word rhymes with "top", but silence and unusual pronunciations can both be strikingly effective hooks, and that's the case here. There is a definite swipe from Pop Muzik, a bizarre robot-voice interlude that gets away with being horribly meta but I don't know how.

And as for being predictable, that's right out of the question. A wonderful fake plastic guitar sludge comes in, and just as you think it's going to outstay its welcome, it's shunted immediately out of the mix in favour of some mid-90s dance remix bleeps. The supreme denouement consists of various parts of the song being placed on top of each other, hooks and anti-hooks reacting with each other and the merging makes you appreciate them more. Think of it as the male flipside to Some Girls and it makes even more sense. Haven't put an MP3 up because it's in a few other places, but if you're unable to find it, leave a comment.
# 3:57 AM []

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

BEVERLEY KNIGHT - Keep This Fire Burning
Having never been particularly enamoured by Beverley in the past, and distinctly on the fence about her current single (it's close to being great), I'm not sure what made sample her album. It's quite good, actually, much better than the Do album which I flicked idly through before junking.

This, though, is an absolute stunner. It's a Robyn cover, and that Swedish lass never could have done it this well, but she'll be quite pleased to have one-quarter of the royalties when this blows up. We have slow disco ballad strings. We have a stuttering beat that seems to trip over itself. It's comparable to Brandy's What About Us but this time it has the effect of emphasising her sweet delivery in the verses, which jars pleasantly with the jittering, almost broken beat, rather than making her sound like a blank robot. Without any warning whatsoever, we have the chorus. And it's a great chorus - don't think Crazy In Love, think warm, think soulful, think optimistic, sunny hooks that burrow into your brain.

And it never stops. It goes straight from verse to chorus back to verse again, never letting Beverley's torch-diva stylings out of earshot and by the time the middle eight arrives (which is the same as the second half of the second verse, but, deliciously, with clapping), it's all over. It sounds like Destiny's Child if they actually were The Supremes as they clearly think. It's mind-meltingly gorgeous. This is what the Javine single almost achieved but didn't because it was aiming at Beyonce level which is NOT HIGH ENOUGH, contrary to what cloth-eared fools who'll praise Crazy In Love to the rafters for no reason other than a well-placed saple. It ends but it could have gone on for another two minutes and it still would be an exhilirating rush of pop, and it manages all this without big beats, overwrought melisma, it is just a great song delivered by a likeable underdog. It should be shuffled immediately to the front of the singles pecking order. [MP3]
# 6:33 AM []

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

DOGS DIE IN HOT CARS - Celebrity Sanctum
The beginning sounds very similar to Stuck In The Middle With You. The opening words are "I love Lucy/I love Lucy Liu". Obviously it's going to be good, and I get the feeling that at least one member of the band listened to XTC's The Disappointed quite a lot of times, though they probably didn't. It's not a template that's been used that much but the way that the melody swoops up and down unexpectedly quivering on the odd giveaway vowel - is actually a bit uncanny. And the actual music is light and nimble enough to really let the vocals stand out quite distinctly. And there are glorious backing vccals in the mix too. And a striding bass line and a bridge to the final chorus that's good enough to have been a chorus itself. I love the whole album, but this is possibly the standout today.
# 2:23 PM []

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Yes, Belgium is supposed to be next but I can't find one of their songs. Will come later. In this rather confusing baffling edition, repeats are O-Zone (9) and Eamon (0).

2. K-MARO - Femme Like U. When I noticed this song a couple of weeks ago, it was a new entry at #50, but it was obvious it was going places. To recap, this is an absolutely brilliant, inspired bit of 70s cruising down the highway rock, but with a sort of parlando vocal, with the chorus sung by a woman, isolated words and phrases are in English giving you some idea of what it's about, but generally it's best to ignore what the words are and just soak the music in, because damn it is catchy. Actually, in some bits KIND OF ALMOST BUT NOT REALLY sounds like Shut Up by Blackeyed Peas, but this is as magic and wonderful as that was horrifying. This could be massive outside of Francophone countries if translated properly. 10

3. LE 6-9 - Le Poulailler. There's already been the spoiler version, and now here's the parody. Or is it? This is Dragostea Din Tei with different words. French readers - if you exist, please tell me what the hell this is about. A Babelfish translation gives the impression it's not a straight language translation, merely confirming what your ears tell you about how it sounds. It's awful anyway, as if you needed to be told, I'm guessing a bunch of smug people who hate fun and think they are clever are behind this. 1

4. LESLIE - Sobri Notre Destin. It's an accordion and we're in Stereotypical France Land. Baguettes and croissants for all! Except language aside, this could be any nu-R&B warbler, although there is actually some interest generated by the Eastern-sounding strings and the strutting bass. Melody? Don't know her. 5

6. STEEVE ESTATOF - Garde-Moi. Ooh, this must be what French nu-metal would sound like. Some rather harsh angular riffs and gravelly vocals show quite a bit of promise, good dynamics here, and I like how the second verse is abbreviated so the chorus comes completely unexpectedly, and the strings/guitar chorus in this is nice. Unofortunately, vocally this is really unappealing. 5

7. CALOGERO & PASSI - Face A La Mer. Stilted, slightly plodding rocker, made more listenable than it perhaps would otherwise be by French talking (oh sure, it's probably rapping, but no) and some quite interesting musical touches in the verses and behind the chorus, but it's not an entirely natural sounding hybrid, largely because neither half works, the chorus is unconvincing until the second half of it with the harmonies comes in, and again, sounds like TALKING. 6

8. ROYAL GIGOLOS - California Dreamin. Some lovely Satisfaction-esque squelches and belches, some tedious speaking bits and an interpolation of the Mamas & The Papas, resung obviously but with the same pattern of harmonies. Actually quite good in the squelchy bits, quite danceable, but the various pieces do not fit together at all. 5

9. MASSIMO GARGIA - Ma Ce Ki. Oh dear. I can't believe I'm typing this. THIS IS ANOTHER DRAGOSTEA DIN TEI SPOILER. Taken on its own terms, it's certainly decent, but enough is enough. The O-Zone version is utterly definitive and even a relatively upbeat, jaunty version like this can't hold a candle. Really, it's worth a five, but it's getting zero because any chart with three versions of the same song should be penalised. 0

10. JEAN ROCH - Can You Feel It. This rather enjoyable disco mover was a very minor chart entry in Sweden back last year, so it's nice to see it again, although it's on its way down. The strings are classic 70s, I Will Survive but happy and we have a bit of a diva out front giving it some stick. Good. 8

A rather mediocre 49, which is ridiculous because there are some treasures bubbling in the places below being summarily kept from greatness NOT by Dragostea Din Tei but a combination of it, its backlash and the backlash against it that's causing everyone and their musical badger to knock out a version. Perhaps foremost amongst these buried treasures is this little number from the amusingly named Wesh Momo. L'anaconda is a new entry at #49 and my instincts tell me it'll be big. It melds a delightful 80s pop-dance bassline (think Holiday, at least in the absence of being able to identify what it actually is), some shouty rapping and a simple cheesy English chorus. Well, it makes me move anyway. [MP3]
# 5:53 PM []
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