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Saturday, November 06, 2004

SWISS IS THE WORLD WE LIVE IN (Chart Challenge Remix - Switzerland).
First of all, thankyou to Andries for the pun. Simply delightful, isn't it? On to the chart that must be the worst ever for the way it oscillates so rapidly between the slow turnover of the US chart, the tendency for listening to complete shit of Germany and an inexplicable fondness for dull crap that seems quite unique. Again, this is really last week's chart. Eh. Who cares, really.

Repeats are Aventura (6), O-Zone (10) and Anastacia (5)

1. K-MARO - Femme Like U
EO: 10. AP: 6, PT: 2, SN: 2, SS: 3, KG: 7, DV: 7, JP: 8. Adjusted score: 6

: I was looking forward to hearing this on Mr O's recommendation and it is definitely the better side of rap music. Why are Jay-Z, Ja Rule etc. big in the UK and K-Maro not? The French bit could be seen as his unique selling point (not that any big rap artists have them).
DV: Aurally it's a Black Eyed Peas' "Shut Up" without the pretence.
KG: K-Maro has the same guttural vocal tones as that growly one out of French rappers Supreme NTM, which adds a bit of sauciness to his otherwise average chanson. There are so many people singing on this track that you might think he was a boy band. Or a girl-boy band. K Club 9, maybe. I quite like this for its stick-in-the-head qualities, and it gets extra points for excellent use of Franglais.
EO: I don't care if K-Maro is exceptionally ugly, I still think this is a damn good song. Even if the video SHOULD have featured cruising down the highway having sexy adventures while trying to get away from someone pursuing them. However, nobody agrees with me on this, at least, apart from the crazy Swiss.
SS: The biggest French hit in the Swiss charts since Vicky Leondras' 1973 Eurovision-winning song Apres Toi, quite undeserving if you ask me.
AP: I know I’m far from the first to point out the blatant similarities with “Shuddupjustshuddupshuddup”, but that just happens to be the most striking thing about this song.
SS: I didn't really like Shut Up, so I see no reason really for this cheap cash-in, that somehow even managed to cross over outside French speaking terrtories for some reason
PT: Just by listening to his voice I have a picture forming in my head. A big meathead guy, bald, probably got a few tattoos with perhaps a snake wrapped around one arm and "mum" written on the other. That's to say his singing voice has no appeal. It lacks any elegance that most rappers have and sounds quite nasal. It least the song has some balance with the presence of a female singer. Can't complain really - thankfully not another ballad at the top of the charts.
DV: I really can't stand the Santana-like guitar, with threatens to ruin the charming straightforwardness of the song. Nice.
SN: Oh, shit. Spanish guitar flourishes. Name ONE song that rises above generic and uninspired by having Spanish guitar flourishes in it. You can't think of any, can you? No. And neither can I. Wait...yes I can. Viva Forever. But this isn't it.
AP: Bilingual tracks tend to be trite from the word go, too -- it takes the likes of Myl?ne Farmer & Seal to form the exception to the rule, so no hope whatsoever for our CYRIL (cause that’s his real name). Still, not awful, I suppose.

3. BASCHI - Gib Mer A Chance
EO: 5, AP: 4, PT: 3, SN: 4, SS: 6, KG: 3, DV: 1, JP: 6. Adjusted score: 4

SN: Baschi! Shame on you! I was expecting a glorious Emma Bunton-esque 60s pastiche from those opening bars, and as soon as the wonderful swooping strings die away I get this soulless dirge? Well, the title amuses me anyway ("Hee! This song has a name like I type when I'm drunk!"), so a point or two for that.
KG: There were so many opportunities for a rip-snorter of a key change in this song, not least of which was that glorious pause at 3.27, but Baschi left me cold by eschewing the whole idea altogether. Simmers along nicely, but never gets to boiling point.
JP: What is 'Mer'? 'Me' in Swiss? Actually, there isn't a Swiss language us there? It must be in some made up language. Anyway, the song is OK but nothing special.
PT: Flexes language hat, the title means "Give Me A Chance". Impressed?
AP: Whatever language this is, surely the finished product sounds even less convincing than if they’d have sung it in a bad English accent. The verses seem suspiciously disjointed from the chorus too, a bit like they don’t want to decide whether they want to be A Eurovision Entrant or A Music Band.
EO: Ironically, it's the Proper Music Band bits that are the good bits and the Eurovision balladeering bits that are pretty awful. Would you not expect the opposite?
PT: The predictable rising strings at the end are what swung me to give this some points.
SS: It's really easy to hear from the beginning of this song that it comes from reality TV ala Pop Idol (or in Switzerland 'MusicStar') with that Westlife sounding intro and the typical idol ballad sound that comes along next, and as a devoted reader of the weekly commentry on the Swiss chart site, I seem to be remember this actually being correct. But as the song goes on it starts to build up pretty nicely and his vocals are ok too at some parts (despite sounding a bit like the horrible Belgian Idol Peter in some places) , and i'm not really surprised that is the second most succesful song to come out from that show, only being less succesfull then the winner, Carmen Fenk.

EO: 9, AP: 5, PT: 6, SN: 7, SS: 7, KG: 3, DV: 5. Adjusted score: 7

I was really looking forward to hearing this one especially after her previous hit single Hie u jetzt (Right Here, Right Now) was quite a fantastic pop single! So what do we have here, you guessed it correctly! a slightly less good copy of her previous hit single ... but really not as bad it could have been, the melody is still ok, but the verses are bit crap really (hey hey , o oh oh ) chours makes up for it a bit I guess.
DV: The beginning is quite promising, with chords, I'm guessing, stolen from The Pixies. The syncopated vocal bit is as charming, but by the beginning of the second verse you're already tired of it.
AP: Now, I like the “Weh-eh”s and “Oh-oh”s and the tinkly bit in the middle eight. If this were the theme from a Swiss toddlers’ programme, I might just give it a ten. The guitars and faux-R&B backing track make me presume it isn’t, so she receives slightly less. But, but, a popstar called MIA! Where I come from, that’s the kind of name for a middle-aged Christian trade union chairwoman.
EO: What about Mya? And Maya, she of The Tamperer fame? And the groups MIA and M.I.A., you know the ones that did Galang, and those other people?
SS: I actually find the Swiss dialect of the German language a bit more easy to the ear then the usual form of it, so it's a bit easier for me to enjoy Mia's songs I guess, not bad at all for a Soap star (GSGZ I think) turned singer who flopped in Germany, at least her home land is still loyal!
EO: Nobody has pointed out that this sounds a bit like Amy Studt's Misfit. Despite, or perhaps because of this, it's good. I am also in favour of dialects.
SN: Now, if you were paying attention last CECCOD (and if you weren't, then tsk), you'll know that I love music boxes. This song has a music box! Oh, and I really do like the interrupted cadence in the chorus. Lovely, really. Don't get me wrong, this song is completely inane and predictable, but in that good midtempo Europop way. I can forgive that.
PT: Compared to most of the other songs here it sounds beautiful. It's probably awful but at least it has hooks, and stuff. Sounds like a toned-down more-acceptable Avril mixed with the likes of Sheryl Crow... yep, like Ashlee Simpson.
KG: He-ey, o-oh, let’s fa-ace it; this so-ong is not going to go-o down in history. Nice try with the Britney-esque music box, but this is annoyingly average.

6. DANZEL - Pump It Up
EO: 9, AP: 2, PT: 0, SN: 1, SS: 6. KG: 1, DV: 9, JP: 8. Adjusted score: 5

Belgian Idol-reject Danzel manged to score a huge hit this year with living up a little this old Black & White Brothers song who was a hit in Belgium about 5 years ago.
EO: I loved this back in February. Really.
JP: This is really catchy and typically Euro dance-pop, so it's good to see it doing well - might inspire a few more Euro hits being released in the UK. It's also quite exciting to have a Belgium Idol contestant in the (UK) top 20.
DV: It could do without the background crowd noises; it's going to generate that kind of response in unpretentious clubs everywhere - as guaranteed by the latin percussion fill. Oh my, now that I've downloaded it I realise I like this one a lot; I reckon it works as a funny dance anthem and as a pop song.
SS: I don't think there is a person in Europe that managed to escape this song, wether he liked it or not.
PT: Hmmm, I've heard this around a fair bit recently. The chorus is pretty derivative and actually drives me up the wall, and the verses are barely there. Oh, and it looks like he's gone to the Robbie Williams school of gurning.
SN: Wow. I'm tripping back to the early 90s here! Male rapper/singer singing about letting yourself go to the music, stabbing cheesy synths...just because something's old doesn't mean that it's worthy of revival, okay? What next? La Bouche on backing vocals? The extended Mr Vain remix? I sincerely hope not.
AP: OK, so this mantra for provincial dancefloors the world over may be as mind-numbing as watching a marathon of Bold and the Beautiful episodes on an overdose of Dafalgan with “Ronan Keating - 10 Years of Hits” playing gently on the background, but when you have a track record of international hits like Belgium, you take anything you can get really. “Blue spikey hair” automatically equals “twat” though, never mind his coloured specs and hyperkinetic body language which only serve to confirm it. - 2/10 (0/10 if he were from any other country *cheeky cheeky*)
SS: At first I really disliked this, sounded a bit cheap and not a very good song to cover in the first place, but after overplay of the radio stations here and everywhere and especially the big club play it got here I got a bit fond of this, really it's great dancing to it in the clubs, but that was about 6 months ago, and now that it's hitting the rest of the mainland I just can't listen to it anymore, overplay strikes again ... still it gets points for the novelty and memories I have from it.
KG: Ugh. This track has almost nothing to offer. Totally deflating, really. 1

7. STAR ACADEMY 4- Laissez-Moi Danser
EO: 0, AP: 1, PT: 0, SN: 8, SS: 1, KG: 9, DV: 6, JP: 7. Adjusted score: 4

I'm guessing this is a reality TV tie-in. It sounds well out of tune. Pretty horrendous isn't it?
SN: Hating this song would be like kicking a particularly cute (albeit stupid) puppy: I could probably do it (accidentally, of course), but I'd feel pretty bad afterwards. I assume the studio version is sung slightly less excruciating than the version I'm listening to now, so there are a couple of goodwill points right there.
EO: Every "Star Academy" song I have had the misfortune to hear has been rubbish. This is also rubbish.
SS: It's a total mess and the 80s are long over, someone should tell them that, but seeing as they are very fond of those type of songs on entertainment shows I doubt the novelty of Star Academy is going to die soon.
DV: Nice timeless europop song... almost ruined by "funny" disco sound-effects and bad singers.
KG: A conundrum: do we compare this with the Dalida version? Because if I had never heard the latter, the Star Academy 4 version would get a big 9 from me (with only one point deducted for questionable vocal abilities). The original does have so much more sparkle, but this is still a good song. Ah, fuck it. It gets 9 anyway.
AP: Maybe it’s just me (or maybe not), but is this “collective singalong to Casio backing track” style of reality TV spinoff single not all very 2000/2001? I wouldn’t have thought it still appeals to the singles-buyer in this day and age of individual Pop Idols, but obviously I’m proved wrong. At any rate, in the age-old “miming vs. singing live” debate the live MP3 of this is a heart-felt plea in favour of the former.
JP: This mp3 must be actually recorded off Star Academy and I'd like to hear a studio version cos it sounds like it could be quite good for a reality TV 'all-star' single. But it is still just as cheesy as that suggests.

9. NELLY - My Place
EO: 0, AP: 3, PT: 2, SN: 0, SS: 2, KG: 6, DV: 8, JP: 2. Adjusted score: 2

The Swiss don't seem to be getting Flap Your Wings, so I now hate them for being so lucky. Grr!
DV: 8 minus 1 for being a liiittle too long, but what the hell.
SN: When will his evil reign end? Not even Christina Aguilera will help you now!
AP: Edward took it for granted that we all know this back to front by now, but actually I couldn’t reproduce as much as one line from it. From those precious few times that I’ve sat through it in full, I seem to remember it sounded a hell of a lot like “Dilemma”. And there could be far worse things from his back catalogue that it could sound like, I guess. - 3/10
EO: Great, now I'm going to have to edit out all the other comments from people who said it sounded like Dilemma. And with THAT said, what else is there to say about it?
KG: What can you say about a guy like Nelly? No, really. What can you say? I have no problem with this song. It washes over me in a fashion akin to bubble bath.
PT: Y'know Jaheim is really quite good (much better than this suggests) but everytime I see the video I get the feeling he's secretly laughing at the absurdity of this song. This song is worth 10 million hilarity points/10, which is actually about 2.
SS: I used to like some of Nelly's song , esepeiclly the more upbeat ones, they were fun, and Dilemma was obviously rather good too, but honestly Nelly is just taking the piss now and going in the max commercialism way he can. It worked once with 'Dilemma', but it doesn't second time, this song is so boring it just doesn't go anywhere, i'd compare it to listening to water run, really. Besides the whole output from Nelly's double album trick so far is far from impressive.

10. K-MARO - Crazy
EO: 6, AP: 4, PT: 9, SN: 3. SS: 1, KG: 2, DV: 5, JP: 8. Adjusted score: 5

Another swaggering bubblegum r&b track by K-Maro wich I find charming, only not as much as "Femme Like U". And *that* guitar again...
EO: Oh, great piano to open. Unfortunately, the fact that he sounds like a muppet isn't a plus this time. Also, the inanity is pronounced now it's in a language I understand.
AP: Unremarkable follow-up alert. If Belgian R&B songbird Leki hadn’t brought out a superior song of the exact same title just a few months ago, I might be more enthusiastic. Lesson learnt: choose more original titles henceforth, Cyril.
EO: It's no Patsy Cline, Mark Morrison or Britney Spears either, is it?
KG: Like all good commercial R’n’B stars, K Maro, or Cyril as his mum calls him, has created his own ligne de v?tements, and I just can’t wait for the knock-offs to hit the local market at the greyhound track near me. This song is promising until about 0.17, with Cyril muttering sweet multilingual nothings with minimalist piano/strings accompaniment, but then those annoying fembots kick in with a chorus that is utterly devoid of anythink at all, confirming my old suspicion that songs about being crazy are always too sane, unless sung by Seal. (N.B. Britney is no exception)
SS: Oh it's another song that sounds the same like his previous one, what a shocker, is it not?
PT: Same points apply from the other K-Maro song, but here the beat is bright & breezy which ultimately makes this a more palatable experience. Up-tempo throughout and, praise the lord, the female singer is left all alone to deliver the chorus. Just a stronger song all round really.
JP: More K-Maro! This one I can imagine being a hit in the UK. It's pretty catchy considering it's 'urban'-ness.
SN: Oh you crazy Swiss. What is it with you and this guy, anyway?
EO: I think it's because he does some songs in French but is not actually French. AND HIS NAME IS CYRIL! CYRIL! Can you believe it? Cyril!
SN: This is slightly more tolerable than his other hit, if only because it sounds somewhat like one of those American R'n'B-by-numbers pieces (faceless male in the verses, faceless females in the chorus) that troubles our charts now and then.
SS: This one has even a bit less tune than the previous one. Ugh, as if one of his songs wasn't enough.

That's 54, quite a good score for Switzerland, and gasp, one of their own has broken the magic barrier of a 7, so here it is.


Next up will be Croatia. I love Croatia.
# 2:13 AM []

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Depleted by the fact that the world seems to be a bit shit lately, and not very buoyed by pop because people are generally disappointing, this is what I have been trying to listen to:

GWEN STEFANI - Harajuku Girls

In which Gwen has conveniently unlearned the most important lesson of making fabulous, bizarre pop records, i.e. SURRENDER TO EUROPOP. Admittedly this is a live version, but dear me, if Gwen doesn't sound like she's being strangled then she sure sounds like it. Her half-spoken chorus should, if there's any justice, be targeted viciously by the people who rubbished Madonna's rapping. It's actually a shame because sonically, this is pretty great - an ode to the Japanese mix-and-match fashion with wobbly bleeps, some nicely patched synth strings and a great strutting beat. But Gwen, she is the weakest link on this. Slightly less excited about her album now but maybe the album version will have a tighter, more reined-in vocal.

EMINEM - Like Toy Soldiers

Wasn't this a good idea? Eminem does song sampling Martika's grand legacy to the world? It is a great idea, but it doesn't work in practice. It sounds promising because there's a proper marching beat over the start which makes you think - ooh, more fun anti-war propaganda disco-groovey stuff. But no, it slows down, there are pensive piano chords and Eminem is firmly in NO FUN SERIOUS MOOD. Which, when you consider that Martika is now firmly a retro-funny reference, doesn't make any sense. Oh, and the lyrics! Self-important nonsense - despite a light-hearted censoring the word "hood" because Em wants you to know that he never mentioned the "hood" in his entire career. It's like the whole song takes off when the sample comes in, and you notice this because it's like all the momentum ceases when it finishes. Encore is a depressingly lazy album - a half-thought out response to a crowd that was begging for more that probably should have been left a little longer.

VANESSA CARLTON - Where The Streets Have No Name

Because this song was proved by SCIENCE to be a disco song in 1991, what's the point of trying to make it pretty? Disco isn't supposed to be pretty. But why would someone who knowingly uses Stephen Jenkins both for sex AND as some kind of musical muse ever bother trying to work that one out. God, this is truly awful. The original soars, in a clumsy rock way. The Pet Shop Boys soars too. This sounds absolutely bored in its verses before overcompensating in the "And when I go there..." section, at which someone presumably told Vanessa she actually needs to sell it or the rockists will eat her alive. As far as ill-advised rock cover versions by girls go, I'll take Lucie Silvas' take on Nothing Else Matters.


Most pleased to see this getting a release outside mainland Europe, because it sounds a bit like Gina G's Ooh Aah... Just A Little Bit, or at least I thought it did but now I can't seem to find a trace of that. Special D are the residual pop snob's defense against people who accuse them for hating fun for not being convinced by Scooter, and as such they should be treasured. Which reminds me that Come With Me was my 101st favourite single of 2003, and that that was severely unfair on it. Basically, if you hate extremely fast pop, you hate this. You know what it sounds like, but I think it's the best use of the formula since CWM. Also, I like the fact that it's simply called You - Shaznay Lewis didn't have much luck with it, so good luck Special D! (NB: According to top40-charts.com, this doesn't seem to have charted anywhere yet. Igad. It's a curse)



No, really. This is exactly what you think it is, if you haven't already been stunned by hearing it out at some club in Europe. Think of this post as an advance warning to countries that it hasn't been released in yet - do not go out to a club until mid-2005 and you'll be safe.

Swiss chart round-up tomorrow hopefully!
# 1:06 PM []
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