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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Melodifestivalen: Andra Chansen - Predictions & Results

Tomorrow is the Andra Chansen round of Melodifestivalen, where eight acts will get a second chance to make it to the final. Out of the eight, only two will progress, and there's some stiff competition.

The way it's organized will make it tough for some acts, since they'll be competing head-to-head, tournament style. Here's what I think might happen based on what we've already seen:

Match 1 - Pain Of Salvation vs Pernilla
Now personally I'm supporting Pain Of Salvation here, but I think Pernilla has the edge. She's better known and she's got an uptempo. Over half of the songs in the final already are ballads. Voters may want to break that, which will give Pernilla the calls she needs.

Match 2 - Pauline vs Crucified Barbara
Though Pauline's riding high on the itunes singles chart, Crucified Barbara has that firey stage show that begs for votes. I think that will end up putting them over the edge, though this one will be close.

If I'm Right: Pernilla vs Crucified Barbara
And I think Pernilla will take it.

Match 3 - Kalle Moraeus vs Neo
This is an easy one for me to call personally, and (I hope) an easy one to predict. Neo has one of the best pop songs in the competition, and he should win here. The older, traditional stuff hasn't been playing that well this year.

Match 4 - Alcazar vs Jessica Andersson
Another seemingly easy one to call. Again, poor Jessica got saddled with another ballad and there are much stronger ballads in the competition. Alcazar have the name recognition and the right song. They'll sail through.

If I'm Right: Neo vs Alcazar
Alcazar has the edge, though I wish both would go straight through.

First off, Måns covering Duran Duran was completely awesome. About time he got to do some singing.

First duel - Pain of Salvation vs. Pernilla
Pernilla goes through, as I predicted :)

Second duel - Pauline vs. Crucified Barbara
Crucified Barbara wins. I'm two for two!

Third duel - Kalle vs. Neo
Kalle takes it and I've gotta say that's pretty much the worst decision Sweden's made this year.

Fourth duel - Alcazar vs. Jessica
Whoa. Jessica. This thing's pretty much become ridiculous. Alcazar and Neo both eliminated? What's Sweden suddenly got against uptempo music? The last thing we needed in the final was another weepy ballad.

And at this point, I really don't care who goes onto the final. All my favorites have already been eliminated. What's up with Sweden's taste this year? Makes me a little nervous for my favorite musical country.

And the winners are: Pernilla and Jessica, neither of which add much to the final. Groan. What a disappointment. Stay tuned for my predictions on the final next week!

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Thursday, March 04, 2010

Pop Blitz 3/4/10

Taio Cruz (ft. Ludacris) - Break Your Heart
What a pleasant surprise to see this sitting atop American itunes. This is the best r&b/dance/pop single of this style that we'll probably hear this year. The beat, the melody... everything. The prospect of this being a hit over here is exhilarating, even with Ludacris tacked on (and btw, he nearly ruins it). Get the original version. A

Daisy Dares You (ft. Chipmunk) - Number One Enemy
While I like the electro blips thrown together with the rockier sound of the track, I wish that this was a stronger single. It's certainly not bad, but nothing terribly original, either. Daisy's voice has the potential to grate and the Chipmunk part is just weird. B-

Kevin Rudolf (ft. a bunch of douches) - I Made It
Rudolf's debut was a pleasant surprise, but this feels like a step backward. The guest artists drag him down and the melody plods. I hope the next single's better. C-

Jay Sean, Sean Paul & Lil' Jon - Do You Remember
The "chorus" sounds like a child's hissy fit. If this was just Jay Sean, it might be alright. But why all of the angry screaming in the background? It sounds more like a parody than a serious track. C

Ellie Goulding - Starry Eyed
Much has been made of Goulding (what's with all these female singers from the UK with strange voices?) and this is a big single right now. It's alright. Nothing that I'm going crazy over, but it's a nice little catchy track. B

The Script - Breakeven
Though I'm not a huge fan of this group, I've been happily watching this song's slow and steady climb on the charts. The melody in the chorus is addictive. B+

Gramophonedzie - Why Don't You
The latest dance track to come out of Europe, it's built around a not particularly interesting big band/loungey sample that doesn't mix well at all with the dance beats. Very strange, and completely unnecessary. D+

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The Ark - Have You Ever Heard A Song

The Ark premiered a new song from their upcoming album today on Swedish program Dom Kallar Oss Artister (They Call Us Artists - I translated that myself, aren't you proud?), a gorgeous ballad called Have You Ever Heard A Song. What a stirring album closer this would be! It reminds me of some of the great ballads on their first two albums.

And, on a related note, I'm not sure if Ola's ever looked or sounded better.

Also, if you want to hear short clips of two other unfinished songs, the documentary streams here. I recommend the part where Ola conducts the symphony with a french fry. His face cracks me up.


Hoffmaestro & Chraa - Ibracadabra

"Everybody gather 'round"

This is not the type of music I normally post, but I've grown to really love this song. I listen to a lot of Swedish radio (big surprise, I'm sure), and this has been a staple on the airwaves for many months now. I wasn't an initial fan, but the uniqueness of it has grown on me quite a bit. I think that this is what all of the "hip-hop" entries in MF this year have been attempting to duplicate. The sound is HUGE. It begins with some crowd noises and horns (but of course!) and then jumps into a gigantic, festive hook with some great Eastern European and Mexican influences. It's a party song, for sure, with all of the banal "party" lyrics. But it more than succeeds in boosting the energy. In fact, I bet this sounds awesome in a club, really loud. It's not the straight-up pop/rock I usually go for, but every once and awhile it's nice to listen to something a little different.

Hoffmaestro (ft. Chraa) - Ibracadabra  by  alienhits

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Buy the single here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.

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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Track-by-Track: Jason Derulo

As soon as Chris Brown's Forever hit it big, I knew that the same swooshy, synthy r&b sound would be ubiquitous in years to come. Now Jason Derulo's made an entire album of the stuff, and despite being pretty concise compared to other albums of this genre, it's certainly a mixed bag.

1. Whatcha Say - It's hard to accurately review this, since so much (aka: the best part) is borrowed from the Imogen Heap song. Without the lengthy sample, this would be pretty boring. Luckily, the hook transforms this into something better. Annoyingly, this begins the trend of Jason singing his name over the beginning of almost every track. 8/10

2. Ridin' Solo - Autotune to the max! Beyond that, though, the uptempo hook is ridiculously catchy. The verses less so. His voice sounds so strange here, but it gets high marks for that chorus. 7/10

3. In My Head - The second single, and one of the strongest tracks on the album. It's derivative in so many ways and sounds like so much already out there, but the melody is dangerously catchy. 8/10

4. The Sky's The Limit - This adheres to that Forever sound I mentioned earlier. Swooping atmospheric synths build up to a chorus that should be stronger than it is. Still, I'm happy to see another reasonably strong uptempo. 7/10

5. What If - Beginning with a ridiculously dramatic spoken intro, this is where the album takes a potentially dangerous turn into the banal. It's an average r&b ballad with one catchy bit in the chorus. Otherwise, completely forgettable and too overproduced for its own good. 5/10

6. Love Hangover - Thankfully, we're back to uptempo territory here. This is really pretty fantastic... probably my favorite track on the album. Everything works here. It's a great combo of dance/synth elements and straightforward r&b. 9/10

7. Encore - The last strong(ish) track of the album (though it begins with him singing is name again). His vocals are pretty strong here and I love the drums in the verses. The chorus is less than spectacular, though, which stops this from being a standout. 6/10

8. Fallen - Boring stuff. The lyrics are stupid and the melody goes nowhere. It's instantly forgettable. 4/10

9. Blind - A big ballad to end the (short) album, and it's nothing to write home about. The chorus is a letdown, yet again. It just stops the song from going anywhere. 4/10

Album Grade: 6.4/10

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Monday, March 01, 2010

Neo - Higher

"I know it's just a matter of time"

All this Melodifestivalen excitement has reignited my interest in Swedish popster Neo. I rightly deemed his debut album one of the best of 2008, and now it's being reissued with his new track Human Frontier and looks to be on the verge of finally finding the success it deserves. Neo is essentially Sweden's answer to Mika (they could be twins), though I actually find his music more enjoyable. He's every bit as campy and over-the-top, but his songs have a greater electro and club edge to them. Better yet, the melodies are some of the biggest, and most addictive, in pop music today. Leave it to Sweden. Higher opens the album in a typically rousing fashion, sounding like the lovechild of Bodies Without Organs and the Ark. I can't think of higher praise than that for those of us that are Swede-obsessed. The song's an anthem, for sure, and kicks off a string of remarkably consistent, modern pop. Yeah, it's cheesy, but in my world there's no such thing as a guilty pleasure.

Neo - Higher by alienhits

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Buy the first version of the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.