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Friday, May 22, 2015

Jakob Karlberg - Fan va bra

I've been waiting for this song to be uploaded to some form of online media for weeks now. I've wanted to share it so badly but haven't had a chance. Despite my preoccupation with all things K-Pop, I still have a massive love for good old Swedish-language pop. This song, which has become kind of a surprise hit this spring, is such a good example of the off-kilter brand of indie-pop that Sweden produces so well. I don't know much about Jakob Karlberg, except that like so many others, he found initial fame doing covers on youtube. But as far as debut singles go, Fan va bra is a corker. It's got an instantly singable, hooky chorus, some excellent synth-sprinkled production and a genuine sense of pop fun that makes it perfect for the summer. Ignore the first couple of seconds in the video. It's some kind of brief advertisement for another song.

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


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Ola Salo - Standing On The Edge Of The World

Somehow, this week has gifted me with two of the best English-language pop albums I've heard in months (years?). First we got Brandon Flowers' surprisingly epic The Desired Effect, and now we have the first solo album from Ola Salo (formerly of the Ark). Though the Ark remains my favorite rock band ever, it's been nearly a decade since they released their last great recording. Because of this, I was convinced that Ola's solo work would end up as a parade of diminishing returns. While his commercial peak is likely past him, I am SO happy to report that the album itself is fantastic. It's everything I liked about the Ark, plus added choral and experimental elements. Lyrically, the songs are not nearly as accessible as they used to be. There are a lot of obscure, intellectual/philosophical musings throughout the record. But musically, Ola's writing is just as strong and universal as it always was. Standing On The Edge Of The World is him in total It Takes A Fool To Remain Sane-mode -- a skyscraper anthem that hits you like a sucker punch every time. I just live for this kind of bombast and melody. The track has an excellent, dramatic build to it, finally exploding as it hits that last chorus. Get your lighters ready and sing along. Ola is back and his music is everything. I can't believe I ever expected less.

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

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Shinee - Woof Woof

K-Pop royalty Shinee released a new album yesterday, and of course I was super excited for it. The band had an awe-inspiringly massive 2013 musically, but have been focused on solo endeavors since. The album is solid, if not completely the version of Shinee that I love best. Their new single, View, is an instantly catchy summer dance track. It's very good, and I like it very much, but it also feels kind of basic and... familiar? Actually, it's an example of a trend in k-pop that I'm not too thrilled about. Entertainment companies in Korea have always looked outward for songwriters, hiring many from Europe and the States. In the past, these songwriters have given k-pop artists their most experimental, genre-mashing singles. Of late, though, a lot of these imported songs are sounding like... well, imported songs. View was written by UK songwriters, and it sounds very much like a UK dance track. I like it better than those UK singles, because I like Shinee better, but what drew me to k-pop in the first place were its differences from Western pop. It has its tropes and trends, but it also takes more risks than a lot of Western mainstream music. Take Woof Woof, a track on the latter half of the new Shinee album, as an example. It's another European songwriter, but the entire sound and composition is... weirder. Somehow they take a genre I usually hate (big band/swing) and transform it into a modern dance production. The fact that I love this is a testament to just how awesomely and energetically it's been arranged. Oh yeah, and that mammoth chorus helps. It's not necessarily the specific sound I'd want from a group like Shinee, but I admire its adventurous spirit and balls-to-the-wall bombast.

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

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Monday, May 18, 2015

The Janet Jackson Megamix

Something miraculous happened over the weekend, just as my birthday was ending and Janet Jackson's was beginning. It's been over seven years, but Miss Jackson is finally coming back with new music this year! We don't know when it will be, or what it will be, but it was confirmed by Janet herself. Honestly, part of me thought it would never happen... and that would be okay. I mean, she's earned her legend status. She will likely never eclipse the music she made in her prime. That said, I am RIDICULOUSLY excited about this. Janet is my number one pop star. She's the one who ushered me into the world of pop music in the first place. She's the one I felt a connection to, and my adolescence is colored with her songs. I don't think there will ever again be an album run to rival the quadruple punch of Control, Rhythm Nation, janet., and Velvet Rope. It's actually pretty staggering how flawless those four albums are. If the new material is even a fraction of that quality, I'll be happy. Now here's a brief (but very well produced) megamix to remind us how awesome Janet is and will forever be. Enjoy!