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Friday, May 15, 2009

Alienhits loves... American Idol!

My favorite season of American Idol comes to an end next week with a dream finale (well, #1 Dream Finale would have been Adam/Allison, but a #2 Dream is acceptable). The pompous, irritating Danny Gokey is finally gone and now it's down to Adam and Kris. My pick is very clear, and I am very worried. This is why...
Although the press and the judges would like to think so, Adam is not the frontrunner in this race. He has a number of factors against him at this point. First of all, Kris is one of the most likable underdogs the competition has ever seen. Everyone likes to vote for the underdog. In this season's storyline, Kris is the humble everyman. What makes him so dangerous is that he's actually really talented. He's played the "fly under the radar" strategy to perfection, along with the judges' help. They've never overly praised him, never "pimped" him... which makes him extremely relatable to the viewer. His instincts are on point. The only thing I could picture holding against him is originality. Sure, he changes up plenty of songs ("acoustifies" them, if you will), but vocally his sound is pretty familiar to anyone who listens to U.S. radio.
Adam, on the other hand, is unlike anything the show has ever seen. I cannot think of any American artist in the past couple of decades that sounds anything like him. Because of this, I'm baffled that the show has gone to such great lengths to coronate him... and disgusted that he might lose for that very reason. Of course, it's not Adam's fault that the producers have often given him the plum spot (it's all business--i.e. ratings--after all). Nor is it his fault that the American press has fallen for him, putting him on covers and crafting articles that might as well just declare him the winner. It's not his fault that Katy Perry performed last week with a sparkly "Adam Lambert" on the back of her cape. Yes, the producers have built him up--maybe even overly praised him--but that shouldn't cost him the competition. It is a talent show, after all... and his unique talent and charisma is undeniable. And that's taking nothing away from Kris.
My fear for the finale is that people vote against, rather than for. It's the only time in the competition where that fear is relevant, and I've seen it happen before. Remember X-Factor a couple years ago, where the uber-talented Rhydian lost to the likable (but honestly pretty marginal) Leon? It didn't really matter then, because they both failed on the charts... but in that case the runner up barely even got a chance at post-show success. He was a fan-favorite, attention-stealing competitor, just like Adam. I'm fearing a rerun.
One thing's for sure... I will be glued to the television, voting my fingers off. It's gonna be one hell of a finale, with two deserving, talented competitors. I can't remember the last time that I liked both of the top two. Every year I think that Idol's going to lose its hold over me, but every year I become totally obsessed. I can't wait to have my life back next week!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

"He's a copycat trying to steal my soul"

Sadly, today's selection has already been knocked out of the competition in the semi-finals. Poor Belgium. It's a shame, too, because Copycat has a goofy Elvis-meets-Adam Ant charm to it that endeared me instantly. I was really looking forward to seeing it performed on Saturday. I guess the whole Elvis angle (played to the hilt in the video, which also features some horrific 80's-esque animation) just didn't seem original enough. To be honest, it's not, but that doesn't mean the song isn't great. It's got that hokey novelty aspect to it, which means I'll probably detest it in a couple of months, but right now I'm enamored by the catchy chorus and addictive energy. I can completely do without the lame spoken interlude, although that kind of stuff is sorta expected in Eurovision.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"Can you feel the rhythm in my heart?"

I'm usually not the biggest fan of the Shakira-meets-Beyonce sound of this song, but there's something completely addictive about it (hint: it's the chorus). As far as "Eastern Block" songs go, I can't think of a better representation than this. For a song named after a beat, the beat better be pretty damn good. Luckily, it is. A hypnotic, downright tribal stomp--its middle eastern influences are quite obvious, though it really sounds like it could be a hit right here in America. I haven't been quite as impressed by Hadise's stage performance, which seems to be the weak link here and the reason why I think it might struggle a bit in the contest. Still, a lot of people are feeling this song and I can see why. There's another strong Eastern track in the competition this year (the Balkan Girls song), but to me this is easily the best of its ilk. I love the original (?) Bollywood-esque video, too. The new one's a bit too slick for my liking.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Awesomeness Speaks For Itself
(Though change the 2010 to 2009 and it would be perfect)

"We are happy to inform all of you that we are working on new material right now. This upcoming fall, we will begin to record our fifth album, an album that will be released in the spring of 2010.

This summer we will be taking some time off, not performing any concerts. Instead we will work with our new music and prepare for an extensive tour season in 2010.

We are all very excited and looking forward to start working together again, and above all, to soon meet all of you again, our beloved audience!"

- The Ark


"Can you keep a secret? I'm in love with you"

As I mentioned yesterday, Sweden's entry for 2009 is another favorite of mine. In fact, both La Voix and Fairytale are so close that it's practically a tie for my overall pick. Sure, this kind of pop/opera has been done before, but never has there been a stronger example than La Voix (The Voice, in French). The chorus alone is hooky enough to stay in your head for weeks. I love how the more traditional dance verses collide with the classical influences, and the performance at Melodifestivalen was stunning, to say the least. I hear Malena's changing it up quite a bit for Moscow, even tinkering with the track a bit. Even more exciting than her performance this weekend, though, is the prospect of an album coming out this summer. It's going to be a double disc, one of classical/opera stuff and one of songs in the La Voix tradition. If they can just manage to craft a dozen songs that sound like this one, we'll have one stunner of an album. With Fredrik Kempe and Anders Hansson in charge, my hopes are very, very high.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Two Awesome Things Today:

1. You can now stream Superfamily's new single Let's Go Dancing on their myspace. Their album was my second favorite of 2007. Their new one is bound to be a highlight of 2009. The single is certainly promising.

2. You can listen to samples from Johan Palm's upcoming debut album, My Antidote, here. It sounds pretty much just like I expected it would. Teenage Battlefield and Danger Danger sound especially epic.

"I'm in love with a fairytale even though it hurts"

It's Eurovision week! I'm going to attempt to compile my favorite tracks of the competition this week, though there are actually a bunch of standouts this year. Remarkably, today on Oprah they actually talked about Eurovision and featured a performance of Germany's entry (not one of my favorites, but fun/lame nonetheless). Eurovision on Oprah?? It was beyond weird, and only confirms my thought that we need a EV-type competition in America. It would totally fly with the right people.
Anyways, onto my first favorite of 2009, and my pick to win the whole contest. If you haven't heard (or seen) Norway's entry this year, you've gotta watch the performance. Alexander Rybak is a well known young singer/actor in the country (though he's never put out an album), and Fairytale is the song that is going to break him internationally. It's already flying up the charts in neighboring Sweden, and come Saturday, the entire continent's going to fall in love. As much as I adore Sweden's entry, there's just something about Rybak's charisma coupled with his talent that propels this song into a different league. It's got a unique, folk-driven charm to it and the melody is strong and aggressive. Many have positioned it as the frontrunner going into Moscow, and it's easy to see why. I'm usually not a frontrunner type of guy (except for Adam in American Idol), but this song deserves every bit of praise it's getting.