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Saturday, July 24, 2004

This is what I wrote on Stylus about Antti Tuisku's Yrita Ymmartaa: [MP3]

An impeccably produced single for a Suomen (Finnish) Idol contestant, built around a divine string sample I can’t identify. Said sample is augmented by a well-placed acoustic guitar and a simple but effective beat. The song placed on top of it is quite nice mid-tempo R&B with a gorgeous, lilting chorus that ducks and swoops around the strings artfully. The combination is effortless and quite affecting, particularly when the song ends abruptly leaving just a brief string fade-out, perfect as both a conclusion and as a segue back to the beginning when put on repeat. If this sample and beat haven’t been used before, then someone in the UK or US should snap it up and do something massive with it post haste.

I would expand on this by saying that there's just something in the cadence of the voice that gets to me, and it's probably particular to this song, because his previous chart hit was a bit rubbish. Anyway, Finnish readers, if there is such a bird, are probably sick of this song by now, but I still think it's unique while still making sense within what for want of a better term I'll call the grammar of R&B songs. The strings, the beat, the curling melody of the chorus and the lovely acoustic guitar - certainly not new building blocks and I've heard plenty of Finnish language tracks in the last few months, but there's something about this that is really special.

I was conversing with a delightful Croatian chap last night (hi riv@nx!) and mentioned that with all the songs whose meanings I wish I could understand, I'd be learning languages forever (though I do now know that Ti Si Kriv means, brilliantly, "You Are Guilty"), but I think this is once case where I am glad I don't speak a word of it. I'm glad that with the meaning obscured I can concentrate on other things, because if the lyrics weren't exquisitely beautiful and I could see that, it'd wreck the illusion a bit.

And it is beautiful, and there are too many bits that on their own are lovely and deserve paragraphs but I can't. Dissecting gossamer, you know. So it's up for download for the next few days and for god's sake SOMEBODY IDENTIFY THE BLOODY SAMPLE BEFORE I LOSE MY NUT? Thanks.
# 12:05 PM []
Repeats: O-Zone and Haiducii (9+5), Maroon 5 (8), Soul Control (0), Nelly Furtado (4)

2. Böhse Onkelz - Onkelz vs Jesus. Hmm. Who would win between Onkelz and Jesus? Jesus gave good quote and Onkelz has put out a shitty, unengaging rock song with absolutely nothing to say about it other than "Hmm. He's a bit gruff and requires hooks stat". Even for an atheist this is an easy call. Go Jesus! Song funnier if you remember that "jesus" is also a size of paper in France. 2

3. Hot Banditoz - Veo Veo. Festive sounding. Laughs. I like those things. I even like daft choruses sometimes, but when I listen to this, I think of one thing. Agadoo. That is a step too far into inanity for my tastes. 0

5. De Randfichten - Lebt denn dr alte Holzmichl noch...? Initially very promising accordion with marching beat is ruined a bit by sounding like the sort of rubbish poem English-speaking students get drilled into them when learning German as a second language. Actually, it's interesting how the beat changes, but it's actually better described as annoying. As I used to say, "This is rubbish. Put Das Funky Rap on again!". 3

8. Stefan Raab Feat. Spucky, Kork & Schrotty - Space-Taxi. Oh now this is surprisingly great! It's like a Europop version of something George Clinton might have knocked up - actually not too different from Bootsy Collins' Play With Bootsy single. Except re-imagined by nerds. Or possibly Wham! Obviously a bit cheaper and tackier, but this sort of squelchy funk goes down very well. As stupid as things get, but a fantastic - and relievingly so - groove behind this little beauty. 9 [MP3]

10. Overground - Aus & Vorbei. Oh not you again. This lot seem to be the worst type of boyband in that they encompass the worst features of all of them. A soppy ballad. Sounding like wimps. You know what it sounds like, don't you. May be a rubbish cover of a classic song with all the fun drained out of it, cf Schick Mir 'Nen Engel, but finding out would be going well beyond duty. 0

Germany continually proves to have awful taste. Don't know why, really. But 38 this round takes them to 163. An average of 40.75 and I was in a good mood this morning.
# 9:35 AM []

Thursday, July 22, 2004

This seems to be taking an eternity, doesn't it? I am in no way just going really slowly because I'm having trouble getting the ones from Hungary, certainly not. Repeats: O-Zone (9), Maroon 5 (8), Haiducii (5) and Kelis (10)

2. Counting Crows & Blof - Holiday In Spain. They've been around for so long. They're one of the only bands that were around when I liked pop AND when I liked indie AND when I reconverted to pop. Strangely, each transition has made me hate Counting Crows more and more. Or perhaps it's because they get, with the odd exception here and there, more and more awful to my tastes. Is there a worse idea than Adam Duritz with only a piano to drown him out? No. Gains a bonus point for the "aah-ah" backing vocals. 1

4. K3 - Liefdeskapitein. It's no secret that I'm awfully tolerant of this kind of cheesy Eurodance, but even with some delightfully stupid horns between the verses, this just isn't particularly catchy. It's just... wet. Nice bit in the verses where the beat changes briefly, though. 3

5. Nina Sky - Move Your Body. If I ever turn into the sort of person that talks excitedly about "riddim" while drooling, I wish to be killed. That said, as far as minimalistic but stealthily melodic noodlings over a "riddim", this is rather cute. I would dance to it. 7

6. Anastacia - Sick And Tired. At least musically, this is a step down in the level of absolute bonkers-ness for Anastacia, but with the backing vocals, it more than makes up for it. Maybe the threat of massive guitar crunch before that chorus could have been followed up, but still, good. 8

7. Lange Frans & Bass B feat Brace - Moppie. Euro-hip-hop but with no zing or panache, and certainly nothing I can connect with. Bah. Boring. 2

10. Nelly Furtado - Forca. I'm quite sure she deserves applause for doing something that so determinedly goes its own way, but in the absence of a good tune like Powerless, this sort of thing is just not my bag. I like the clapping noises in the chorus, and the banjos, but nothing else. 4

57 points, meaning that Sweden is now the leader with 245 in 4 rounds, as the Dutch run at the top ends here, they being 7 points behind on 238.
# 11:48 PM []

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Around The World in 80kbps Volume 5 is go. Again, props to Todd, editor extraordinaire (and not a bad writer) who got this up despite my intermittent computer problems causing it to be a late. When next I update MP3s - because the ones up have hardly been up, you see, I will post Bombay Vikings and Antti Tuisku, I think, because you do need to hear them. The latter so you can help me identify the sample, obviously.
# 10:44 PM []

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Regular readers would know that I wuv the Croatian rundown to death because it guarantees 10 songs not on any other chart. And because Croatian dance pop is generally really good, they still make it the way I like it.

1. Vesna Pisarovic - Ti Si Kriv. A fabulous dance record, imagine a Slavic Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Vesna really does sound very similar in the bit after the choruses. There are some playful "ooh! a-ha!" vocal bits going on too. Makes good use of the assonance in its chorus. Would it be so wrong to say it reminds me slightly in the verses of t.A.T.u.'s Malchik Gej? Fun trivia fact: Vesna co-wrote Deen's In The Disco. 10 [MP3]

2. Nera - Mi Smo Centar Svita. An intricate, traditional sounding song with a strong chorus but slightly indifferent verses. Brass touches and faint electric guitar give some polish. 8

3. Parni Valjak - Suncanom Stranom. I would be lying very badly if I claimed to be the best person to judge these sorts of slow guitar songs done by Europeans. I find them boring, though I get the impression there is some kind of artistry that is going over my head. Not in this case, actually, but often enough. Competent enough, but I hate the voice. 4

4. Sasa, Tin & Kedzo - Nista ili Sve. Hardly the equal of 365, but has a great sing-along bum-ba-ba-ba-ba bit right at the start to lure you in and an engaging enough melody. Production wise, this is pretty slick but could have done with being punchier with bigger beats. 8

5. Yammat - Tvoje Lice Se Promijenilo. Quite a pleasing bit of fast dance-pop, not a huge fan of the female singer's voice, but I like the little pizzicato string bits under the verses, the 70s MOR-pop organ and the nimble guitar, reminds me possibly of the music to an old video game. 7

6. Songkillers - Sreca. See #3, though this doesn't annoy as much with its vocals and it has a cruisy quality to it, even if repeated listens have failed to uncover any hooks. 4

7. Ivana Banfic - Otisak Prsta. A classy bit of Cro-disco, melody is perhaps a bit too subtle to make it an all-out stormer, though the sliding synths under the chorus are rather excellent. 9

8. Baruni - Nekako Cu Te Preboljeti. Oh no, make it stop, as for #3 but with awful 80s ballad touches. Not my kind of thing at all. 1

9. Flyer - Stanica Prema Suncu. Nicely-placed, bright stabs of brass elevate this one somewhat, again with a wordless catchy bit (bum bum bum bum), but while it's quite nice, it's hardly engaging. Really could have done with a more playful beat to go with the rollicking bass. 6

10. Boris & Dino - Malo Nas Je Al' Nas Ima. Rousing whoas! This is going to be great, I thought, , as long as it's not a football anthem, especially when a skittering guitar and percussion combo launched. Then it reveals itself to be a cover version of We Didn't Start The Fire, doesn't it? And yes, it is to do with Euro 04, but certainly not the awful disaster you'd imagne. I've always had a soft spot for WDSTF anyway. Fine for the terraces, anyway, but I've still judged it as I would any awful football song and given it a 3.

A respectable 60 points, making the total 168 for an average of 56.
# 4:22 PM []

Monday, July 19, 2004

These were the songs on my discman while I was away...
Some of them I won't mention again, one or two will show up in my next Around The World in 80kbps.

1. Novaspace - So Lonely. Despite hating their last single, I find this to be a relentlessly burbling bit of downbeat dance with a great big chorus. Anthemic, perhaps.

2. Edguy - Lavatory Love Machine. Or, Love In An Airplane Bathroom, which would be a far better title. Great riff, great 80s rock screaming chorus, love it. Also contains a crap spoken bit. [MP3]

3. Outlandish - Man Binder Os Pa Mund Og Hand. Euro-hip-hop with just an extra dash of hurt and melancholy. Speaks deeply to me despite not being even remotely intelligble.

4. Antti Tuisku - Yrita Ymmartaa. Because the sample and the melody are both absolutely divine. More will be written about this, I promise.

5. Speedy - Sientelo. Lumidee is on it - there's your excuse to check it out, but it's also a nimble, exciting piece of dance music.

6. Melendiz - Fuck You All. Slightly embarassing, but passionate bit of purpotedly humorous Euro-mock rap by someone who thinks that there as funny as Eminem. Qualitatively this is rubbish (as far as Europeans who can be compared to Eminem, the list starts and ends with Caparezza, anyway) but for some reason I find it endearing, if awkward.

7. Mull Historical Society - How 'Bout I Love You More? Have said it before, but it reminds me of Hi And Goodbye by the A*Teens, which is great, just in the opening guitar bit, mind, but the stately strings at the end seal the deal for me.

8. Xandee - Ay Que Calor. Belgian Eurovisian lassy with long face goes Latin. Cheaply. And wonderfully. The chorus is immediate, and obviously it's utterly inauthentic but that sort of stuff has never mattered to me. Basically, a gigantic ear worm. [MP3]

9. Mylo - In My Arms. Being as it is ethereal and gorgeous and samples Kim Carnes, I was resistless.

10. Vanilla Ninja - Heartless. I have to keep listening to it just to make sure it isn't the same song as Breathless by The Corrs. Which I also loved, thankyou very much, even if everything they did after it was rubbish. This nicely carries along the same line, with a massive singalong chorus that Mutt Lange would be proud to call his own.

11. Seafood - Willow's Song. For no other reason than that I am amazed that anyone would want to end their record with a traditional folk song after having been beaten to the punch to the tune of seven years by the Sneaker Pimps.

12. Kelli Ali - Home Honey, I'm High. Speaking of which, it seems fitting that the song on Kelli's disappointing second album (I loved her first) would be attached to its most instant treasure, and the one that's least damaged by her scattershot and occasionally very bad lyrics.

13. V - You Stood Up. Possibly the best boyband ballad I've heard in quite a long time, although I have doubts about three of the chorus's eight lines being basically the same thing - I would have rewritten the line "you stood up and stole it from me" as it sounds clumsy coming directly before "Why stand up and steal it?". Quite restrained too, despite the occasional bit of the expected histrionic emoting.
# 7:45 PM []
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