I did another Stylus column this week because I thought it was due, but it seems that it wasn't. Oh, my organisation, etc. But I cannot wait for it to actually be published to begin frothing at the mouth about one of my selections, so I shall pre-supplement.
Stand My Ground
by Within Temptation is awesome. Apart from sounding like Delta Goodrem gone properly goth-metal, the explosive first note of the chorus reminds me of A-Ha's forgotten classic Summer Moved On
and, in BEING a cross between a pretty piano ballad and a big, chintzy, power ballad, this is what I imagine that Vanessa Carlton would be doing after her talk about going all dark, moody and gothic. More people really should be doing this sort of stuff, or at least buying it in sufficient quantities to ensure that it's thought of as a good enough idea to make it constantly to feed my gigantic appetite for this sort of horribly unsubtle monstrosity. I love it, really.
(NB: The "E" word deliberately not used. It's boring.)
Within Temptation - Stand My Ground
Is Girls Aloud's version of "Here We Go" better than Lene Nystrom's?
Well, no, it isn't. The first thing to note is that the production is closer to the Moonbaby original, which was lovably surf-guitar heavy and quite cute with it. Lene's version brought out the killer rock song within, much the same way as its twin No Good Advice
was all snarly punk sneer beneath its crunchy pop coating. The synth hook line that comes after the second chorus is a fantastic thrilling pop moment, but it's just not the same with the disappointingly judicious drum programming on this verison. There's something a little tame about the vocals too - splitting it between the girls means that it loses the singularity of the song's message - the narrator is an "I". In No Good Advice
, it was them against you, against the world, and they delivered their girl-gang statement of intent with aplomb. Here, it's just needless division, and the group singing in the chorus doesn't seem exactly dead on the mark. Makes it a bit flat. Nicola's "take it away, boys" doesn't live up to my expectations, and the long vowels are all strangely affected and clipped: "here we gaww, here we gaww, get on with the shaww" it sounds like, really.
A great song in any version, but better than Lene's wild, relentless hook ride? It's really not. But you want it anyway, don't you? All of this is just me cursing gold for not being platinum.
Girls Aloud - Here We Go
As was pointed out to me, it's been a very good year for Norwegian pop. Last time I was checking my mentalistic singles-of-the-year tally, I think there were about 6 Norwegian singles in my top 30. That's pretty good. I was also advised that Bertine's new album Rollerskating would blow Anniemal out of the water.
It doesn't, as far as I can hear, but it's still very good. I love the single Fake Your Beauty
(more on it later), which taps the same Human League nostalgia that Richard X has (X even worked with Bertine on her previous album) but Bertine's voice is a completely different thing - soft, but quite authoritive.
The opener, Ah-Ah
is totally Bertine's Buffalo Stance
moment - the swaggering, loping beat and the half-spoken verses although it doesn't have a fully-fleshed out chorus, but it makes up for this with the plunking bass/guitar combination between the verses.
There's even a uniquely Bertine take on R&B - the excellent Kiss Me Harder
which for some reason in spirit if not result reminds me of Oops (Oh My)
but the production, if more terrestrial and (bizarrely) not quite as frozen over, actually seems odder than that. The surprising counter-melody of the backing vocals towards the end are magnificent as well.
, If You Were Mine
(almost country-influenced with the strings) and Wicked Wonderboys
are the sort of haunting almost-ballads that I've wanted ever Stina Nordenstam album to sound like (not that I'm not quite enamoured with her new one, mind), all mournful wintry Orbit-esque bleeping, and well-placed, broken up by more well-executed 80s electro like the oddly summery click-fest of Back Where I Belong
, surely only a slight rearrangement away from being a Caribbean singalong with its lines that sound like they've always got one too many syllables.
Perhaps my favourite track is Want You
, which hides its secret weapon deep in the mix, a lonesome plaintive organ beneath Bertine's cry: "I'll be calling you up/Moaning your name/So you can tell I much I want to" in the chorus. The verses are great, though, with Bertine fluttering ever higher with each line in the verse before a coldly doomed bridge. And the spoken-word break before the last round of choruses seems to make no sense at all and only serves to put a break just so there can be three more repetitions of the chorus without it getting boring, as if it could!
Bertine Zetlitz - Want You