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Friday, March 06, 2015

Producer Spotlight: Thomas Troelsen

As a pop music aficionado, and a bit of a curator when it comes to my ipod playlists, I realize more and more that songwriting teams and producers are just as important, if not more, as the artists performing songs. Given this, I've started a feature that focuses on my absolute favorite behind-the-scenes music creators... songwriters or producers whose name alone gets me psyched for a song.

Thomas Troelsen is one of the few producers and songwriters who is notable for his contributions in both Western and Eastern music. He even enjoyed a sizable hit in America with Junior Senior's breakthrough. He's long been one of this blog's musical heroes.

Musical Hallmarks: Bright, funky synth work, strong Michael Jackson influence in beats and vocal production, generally beat-driven compositions with ample use of syncopation

Best Examples: While Junior Senior's Move Your Feet was his international breakthrough, his own band Private one-upped it in quality. His single track with Swedish band Melody Club is one of their best. As far as Kpop, Exo's History and, more recently, Taemin's Danger, are essentials.

Recommended Further Listening: 

SHINEE - Sherlock, Spoiler, Punch Drunk Love, Girls, Girls, Girls, Everybody, Like A Fire
SUPER JUNIOR - Opera, Spy, Perfection (Super Junior M)
F(X) - Nu Abo, Hot Summer, Gangsta Boy, Butterfly
TVXQ - Mirotic
SUPERHEROES - Someone Else, Ghost, Johnny And I, Cool Girl
THE FOOO CONSPIRACY - Fridays Are Forever
INFERNAL - Dead Or Alive
AQUA - How R U Doin'
PRIVATE - Entire debut album

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Thursday, March 05, 2015

Xia - Flower

Jeez, this is why I love Kpop. Xia was one of the original members of the blockbuster Korean group TVXQ, which has since dwindled to only two (still very successful) members. Since leaving the group, he's released a few albums on his own and with his other group JYJ, which is composed of himself and the two other members who'd left TVXQ. Confused? It doesn't really matter. What you need to know is that Xia is a powerhouse vocalist and dancer, and he's not afraid to go really, really weird. This is beyond Lady Gaga-level weird pop music. He also makes incredibly videos, and the just released Flower is his best yet. The song is a split between ultra-spare, barely registering balladry... and epic, turned-up-to-twenty operatic bombast. It's not even much of a pop song in the traditional sense. It's too haunting and dynamically provocative to be something that fits in well on radio. The video won't make much sense, but your jaw will drop as you watch image after strange, startling image. It's like a big-budget sci-fi epic crammed into four and a half minutes. Unfortunately, Xia has a confounding habit of releasing awesome, boundary-pushing singles as part of albums that, as a whole, feel very middle of the road and ballad heavy. His new one follows the trend. I'm finding it very difficult to get into it. But then again, with a single and video this, I'm not really complaining.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.

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Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Midnight Boy - Don't Say No

"Just reach out and feel the love"

Sometimes in the world of Melodifestivalen, I hear a song that I completely fall in love with while also knowing unequivocally that it won't do well in the contest. Such is the case with Midnight Boy's wonderfully 80's Don't Say No. Despite being an amazing song (maybe the best in this year's contest), it was always going to be too niche for the voting public. And, just as I thought, the song placed dead last on Saturday. But, in a wonderful twist, it's also found itself in the top ten songs on Swedish itunes since the competition aired. I hope this encourages Midnight Boy and the people behind him to release a full album of 80's-tastic pop. I've been a longtime cheerleader of his, and I know he's got other songs written and ready to go, but I also know how difficult it is for acts like these to get funding for an album release. For now, we've got this brilliant song to enjoy, and I intend to!

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the single here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Monday, March 02, 2015

Shinhwa - Sniper

Shinhwa are the longest running boy group in K-Pop. With the members all in their mid-thirties, they've reached the point in their career where they could be churning out irrelevant "old guy" music and banking solely on their name recognition. Instead, they've released the first great K-Pop album of 2015. I'm incredibly impressed with We, a nonstop parade of funky, beat-driven pop that takes more than a subtle inspiration from Michael Jackson. Sniper is the single, and it's a cool, slinky pop tune with an incredible whistle hook and hammering beat. The accompanying video is stylish and atmospheric, and honestly as sleek as anything younger bands like Exo and Beast are putting out. This is a group clearly at the top of their game (after 17 years in the business), and they deserve to be noticed as such.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.