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Wednesday, November 24, 2004

MAGAZIN - Kad u vojsku podjes

WHO THE HELL ARE MAGAZIN? One of the most long-standing Croatian pop institutions - started in the eighties by Tonci Huljic, sort of a Max Martin-type figure in this region. Since then they’ve changed a few frontwomen and got more sophisticated… sometimes with wonderful results, sometimes to their detriment. Their early stuff is bursting with care-free, unadulterated joy, and this is a prime example. Nowadays, Tonci Huljic’s protegee Maksim Mrvica - a young pop-classical pianist, kinda like a male Vanessa Mae without the violin but with raver-chic hairdos - is very popular in the far east (apparently). Huljic has also written and produced several tunes for a British girl-group called Bond, of whom I know nothing except that they’re usually referred to as "the classical Spice Girls".

"KAD U VOJSKU PODJES", THEN: singalong Mediterranean disco-not-disco that nonchalantly breezes by as much as it stomps. The pre-bridge chorus is KILLER. And the thing I love most in the chorus is those male backing vocals rushing in, like they just gatecrashed a party and immediately started singing with the people at the nearest table.

WHAT’S THIS SONG ABOUT? Our heroine’s boyfriend is going away to the army. She assures him that she’ll hold out for him. She also occasionally sings from his viewpoint, and he’s concerned by his friends telling him how his girl doesn’t love him anymore. Which, of course, is so not true!!!

ANY OTHER TUNES BY THIS BAND TO CHECK OUT? The perky-as-hell "Kokolo" for their 80s phase, the glorious "Suze biserne" for the 90s.

Magazin - Kad u vojsku podjes

As I've already told Edward, I'm a complete retard when it comes to HTML so i hope this post comes out right... if it does, and all goes well with you, my dear reader, downloading the file properly - then leave a comment please to let me know! i'd also very much like to hear what you thought of the tune. cheers, Mind Taker.

# 1:30 PM []
Belgian Chart Rewind -- Take It Back in Time, Take it Back in Time...

Greetings, pop-picking comrades!

I am Edward Substitute #2, Andries, and as La Trec once sang: I wanna go back toooooo, back to the days when I neeeedeeeed a little more fuuuuun…

For my first – and possibly last (depending how fast I, and the EBM readership, tire of it) – Belgian chart rewind I’m going back ten years, to the final week of November 1994. I was nearly eleven, had just started my first year of secondary school, and my listening diet consisted mostly of whatever was high up the charts, trashy Eurodance and the soundtrack of low-budget French sitcom Hél?ne et les garçons. Thankfully my tastes would improve with the years *hides his copies of The Best of Baccara and The Essential Sandra*

Off we go:

1 (2) KING OF YOUR HEART - Good Shape

This was a (really rather rubbish) four-piece Boy Band in the 2 Unlimited-style Eurodance mould, world-famous in Belgium for about two years. Their trademark was the fact they always wore tailor suits, even whilst performing strenuous dance routines (which more often than not made them work up a rather offputting sweat). Oh, and the lead singer had a Jimmy Somerville-esque falsetto. According to an MSN fan group I’ve found, he IS happily married with kids these days though… make of that wat you will.

Anyway, they had three consecutive chart-toppers in 1994, of which this was the final, following as it did in the wake of earlier #1s “Take My Love” and “Give Me Fire”. Unlike said two tracks, I don’t have this anywhere in my collection, and can’t really remember anything from it apart from the chorus. A perfect Boy Band single then.

Rating: about 6/10 at the time, haven’t heard it ever since so can’t revise, but I somehow doubt it would be higher…

2 (1) COTTON EYE JOE - Rednex

Letting go of the top spot after five weeks. I remember absolutely adoring it when I first heard it (somewhere in August that year), but by this point even I must have tired of it. I was even able to unmask the identikit follow-up “Old Pop in an Oak” as the cheap cash-in that it was. It must be said though, I did think the third single, the surprise ballad “Wish You Were Here” (which I haven’t heard in YONKS), was rather endearing…

Rating: 9/10 at the time, 3 today (sorry, Eurocheese nostalgists)

3 (4) ALWAYS - Bon Jovi

Of the approximately two musical styles that Bon Jovi have explored in their singles output over the past twenty years, this one was quite obviously taken from the drawer labelled “Tear-Jerking Power Ballad” (with letters written out in thick black felt pen and underlined twice for good measure). Still, in this particular case their tried-and-tested formula was actually quite effective for some reason or other. I am rather peeved however that this “Always” is still widely remembered today, while the Erasure single of the same title, released just a few months earlier in ’94, is now forgotten by all and sundry, while being considerably superior. Grmblrmgg, and so forth.

Rating: 8/10 at the time, still a neat 7 today

4 (6) DON’T STOP (WIGGLE, WIGGLE) - Outhere Brothers

Even as a ten-year-old I thought this was about as amusing as gonorrhoae. (But then it was disclosed by Edward in the Croatian chart challenge that I hate fun, so maybe it’s just me.)

Rating: 2/10 at the time, two less today

5 (5) IT’S A RAINY DAY - Ice MC

Eh-ehh! Soundalike follow-up to his summer smash “Think About the Way” (bizarrely not a hit in his native Britain until 1996 after being included on the Trainspotting soundtrack, and even then it only made low Top 40), but BETTER! Which you can’t say about too many soundalike follow-ups, you have to admit. An “It’s a Sin”-tastic organ intro too! And it has the line “Life is like a telephone call”! What’s there to dislike, other than the accent and the whole thing sounding quite horribly dated ten years down the line?

Rating: 9/10 at the time, 7 today

6 (3) NO ONE - 2 Unlimited

Now, their Real Things album was the very first album that I bought on the date of release (on tape, admittedly), and I remember having fun picking the possible singles on initial listenings. I don’t think this was on my shortlist, being more laidback than their usual hi-NRG offerings, and as such it was a surprising choice for second single. Not what you’d call BAD though (and they did have some album tracks which could pass as that). My favourite line in this one: “No-one knows, yo, will I know / Like Janet Jackson "That’s the way love goes"”.

Rating: same as above, i.e. 9 then, 7 now


Yet another new vocalist wheeled in, a faux-blonde called “Summer” if memory serves me. Twas rather good too, if memory serves me equally well. Ah-ahhhhhhh-ah-ah-ah…(Are you ready? Are you ready?)

Rating: 9/10 at the time, 8 now

8 (8) ENDLESS LOVE - Luther Vandross & Mariah Carey

Mariah released no less than three above-mediocre singles in 1994, which surely makes it the peak year from her entire career. Alas, this wasn’t one of them. The original never did it for me either though.

Rating: 1/10 at the time, about the same now

9 (11) OUT OF MY MIND - Def Dames Dope

History lesson now for all you non-Flemings: Def Dames Dope (or DDD, and actually pronounced “Dee-Dee-Dee” rather than, say, “Triple D”) were a four-piece girl group, very popular in Flanders in the years 1993-95, and (I think) masterminded by the same producers behind 2 Unlimited. They were originally centered around Antwerp-based sisters Axana and Larissa, but by this point the latter had left and been replaced, by an outspokenly equine lady. Not that this had any notable consequences on the musical direction, mind you. This had a particularly catchy “I’m going myyy way, it would be crazy to stay!” tag line.

Catchy as it may be, the pinnacle of their career will always be the seminal “Don’t Be Silly” (chorus: “Hey you, don’t be silly, put a condom on your willy, yeah yeah yeah yeah, yeah!”), which had been a Top 5 hit in the beginning of the year. They also attempted a comeback two years ago with the somewhat less inspired “Beep Beep”, which quite rightfully flopped even harder than an old man’s genitals…

Rating: 10/10 at the time, 7 now

10 (9) SURE - Take That

I don’t remember this at ALL apart from the “Sure, so sure” line. I vaguely recall it having a bit of a wannabe-American swingbeat production?

Rating: 5/10 at the time, and I see no reason to change

The new entries in the chart that week:

27 GOODNIGHT GIRL ’94 - Wet Wet Wet

No, I don’t know why it was back either. I suppose the record company wanted something to cash in with on the success of THAT single, but apparently they didn’t bother releasing it in the UK. Ah well.

29 ABOUT A GIRL - Nirvana

Taken from their posthumous Unplugged in New York album which must have postponed many a teenage suicide that Christmas. I’m sure this received healthy playage in the bedrooms of my elder siblings who had well and truly hit puberty by this time, I myself however probably just carried on listening to my 2 Brothers on the 4th Floor and Maxx…


Festive-themed Flemish schlager by the Queen of Flemish schlagers, set to the melody of something or other by Mozart*.

38 CIRCLE OF LIFE - Elton John

MOR Disney ballad from Elton’s “snooze” years. Old Reg did repair himself the following year with the top-notch “Believe” and “Made in England”.

40 TURN THE BEAT AROUND - Gloria Estefan

Gloria never quite managed to make her mark on the 90s, did she? The Vicki Sue Robinson original is surely one my faves of the entire disco era, but I can’t really recall anything about her version.

*it could also have been Bach

- Andries

# 5:32 AM []

Monday, November 22, 2004

(This is a -probably bad- translation of a post on Bizarre Love Triangle. Check the original if you're actually spanish or if you think that you can learn a fantastic new language by comparing two bits of text, like Tom Hanks in "Terminal")

The culture pages of the spanish media hardly acknowledged yesterday's great event; some can't tell the trees for the forest and highlight the 3rd International Congress on the Spanish Language instead. Others somehow turn the "return to rock & roll" from the U2 presskits into big news and put yesterday's triumph aside. Nobody nowhere is up to the task of answering what was asked in Lillehammer yesterday: why on earth Spain doesn't send songs like "Antes muerta que sencilla" to Eurovision (the senior festival)?

You can blame Remedios Amaya, whose "Quién maneja mi barca" is part of what some people consider spanish music's most embarrasing moments, and its scandalous failure reinforced the notion that Spain shouldn't revel in sending something so knowingly exotic for the rest of Europe. A tendency that climaxed during the nineties, when except for a few nice moments it seemed that the song that represented Spain was being choosen by people who actually hated Eurovision; the kind of person who celebrated Rosa's "failure" with "Europe's Living A Celebration", even if it showed that by putting the election of the track in the hands of the TV audience the worse that could be said was that Spain now wanted to get and give joy (and don't mention Beth's "Dime"; it only proves what happens when you send to the festival an artist who doesn't like Eurovision... it didn't do so bad, anyway).

We can call it poetic justice, because the songwriter behind "Quien maneja mi barca", José Manuel Évora, is the missing link between Remedios Amaya's failure and María Isabel's success. He wrote the song "Me pongo colorada" that turned Papa Levante, his daughter's band, into a sensation a few years ago, and its marrying of modern pop culture and andalusian mischief is the basis to the even superior "Antes muerta que sencilla".

But would this track have worked so good in the adult Eurovision Festival? Keeping in mind that the fact that the rest of Europe can't understand the humor in the lyrics* haven't stopped this track from being the most acclaimed of the contest, I like to think that it's attractive enough sound-wise, with an exhuberance not very far away from last years' winners. Anyway, María Isabel López's performance its vital to the track's success, naive enough not to fall into the somewhat condescendent Bebe territory, or the muddy Rakel Winchester one.

I hope "Antes muerta que sencilla" is in mind when the time comes to choose the tracks that could represent Spain in next year's Festival. Or, like someone in the Eurovision chat room in SoulSeek said yesterday, let's send Azucar Moreno once again!

María Isabel - Antes Muerta Que Sencilla.

*The songtitle is an spanish catchphrase that could be translated as "I'd rather be dead than average", and it's a cheeky ode to cheap glamour and the fun that goes with it.

- Diego.
# 9:52 AM []
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