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Who needs guitars anyway?

Best Bits
Saturday, January 26, 2008

DP Review: Alphabeat & Palladium Live

At last the moment arrived which I'd been waiting for for 13 months: I got to see Alphabeat perform live! They are at that crucial time in their career when they are about to become either huge stars or has-beens, so it's an exciting time to see them. To be honest I didn't get the feeling that this band are about to rocket into superstardom, but they definitely won over a room full of Brightonians last night, and every new obsessive counts.

As the 6-piece took to the stage, I was overwhelmed instantly by the joy that emanated from them. They began with their first UK single (3rd Danish single) Fantastic 6, and the crowd, who began hesitant, gradually moved forward and seemed intrigued by these miraculously jolly and colourful Scandinavians. Their cuteness is just amazing - the lead male singer Anders SG was very attractive in the flesh (as well as groovily dressed) but still my favourite is adorable little Anders B. Can he please be my popstar boyfriend?

They played their 2nd Danish single (one of my top faves of 2007) 10,000 Nights of Thunder, album tracks What Is Happening and Boyfriend, and two new songs which I guess are called Stand Up and Touch Me Touching You, the latter being an absolute sensation - I'd never heard it before but there's little I wouldn't do right now to get an MP3 of it, and this was the track that got much of the crowd dancing and clearly having the times of their lives. This party atmosphere continued for their final track, new UK single Fascination, which some of the crowd knew the words to and even those who didn't seemed quite enthusiastic.

Before I saw Alphabeat live I'd heard that you needed to do so to truly appreciate how great they are, and I found this hard to believe because I already loved them so much, but actually they are even better live than they are on record! It's just that everything comes together, the look and the sound and their great charismatic performance. Their bright shiny energy reminded me of another band I will never tire of seeing live, I'm From Barcelona. Alphabeat are a little more simplistic (well, less balloons, but they were just the support act this time) than IFB but really these guys could just stand on a stage and do nothing and I'd be in love with them. I do hope they will succeed in becoming a success in the UK, if only so I can see a full concert, but even if they don't I'm very glad I got to see them at all and they have definitely found their place in my heart as one of the best pop groups in recent times.

Now to a subject I'm rather less enthusiastic about... Palladium. I don't want to be too harsh on them because to be fair there are so many bands much worse than them, but the fact that they're almost very good makes their actual not-that-goodness all the more disappointing. I'm a big fan of The Feeling so in theory I should enjoy this band, but there is something wrong with them. They are uncool, yet not in a jolly 'who cares' kind of way, but actually a bit embarrassing. There are a few good points though, and I suppose I should point them out. Hi-5 and Happy Hour are quite good songs and they have one really good one called Get It Right. The lead singer is quite likeable and sings a bit like the lovely guy from Passenger, although he gurns far too much, but on the negative side again the keyboardist is insufferably annoying.
Monday, January 14, 2008

Thank you Popjustice

For reminding me that I must inform you of the greatest r'n'b single of 2008 so far. OK it's only been two weeks but this song is surely going to be a huge hit. You might remember a guy called Taio Cruz who had 2 great electro-r'n'b singles out last year, Movin' On and I Just Wanna Know. Now he's got a new one and it's as good as them put together and times 10. It's the same sound but has a guy who sounds like Timbaland (but probably isn't) and a girl who probably is Luciana on it. First it was called Take You Away, but now it is Come On Girl, perhaps due to the addition of probably-not-Timbaland who says "come on girl" often in the song. That might have always been there, but I haven't heard the original version so I can't be sure. Then again, I had heard Boten Anna and didn't pick up that Now You're Gone is the same song with English words, so my musical memory is really not to be trusted.
Wednesday, January 09, 2008

It's just a twist of fate

In 2006 the Swedish DJ Basshunter had a huge hit around Europe with a song called Boten Anna, but it had absolutely no impact in the UK. Thank goodness, it was awful! But now it is he who will knock off Leon from no.1 this week, rather surprising considering his previous lack of success and continuing lack of fame. Still, it's a catchy tune, a bit like Cascada, and certainly better than anything Leon is capable of. Also I am favoured towards it as this year we were deprived of our Swedish-written Christmas no.1, since Simon picked a song written by an American as opposed to asking Jorgen Elofsson or similar if they had anything lying around, as he usually does. This one has a Swedish singer too, so I'm content, although I can't say it'll be in my top 100 of 2008 unless this year is exceptionally awful.
Sunday, January 06, 2008

Who would have thought?

That this young lady

would nine years later inspire a front page headline: Britney Will Kill Kids. It is indeed a very very mad world.
Friday, January 04, 2008

DP Review: Private - My Secret Lover

I'm going to do a bumper review of the very many CDs I received between my birthday (22 Dec - remember it cos next year I'll be 21!) and Christmas once I've listened to them all enough to give accurate opinions, but the process has been slowed down somewhat by my current obsession with this album by Danish band Private. I can't stop listening to it, and I know that a paragraph review would no be sufficient to express my absolute adoration.

We Got Some Breaking Up To Do
My style plan for 2008 is to dress like this song. It's the perfect retro-pop song, perhaps the best one I've ever heard, and I do love retro-pop a lot. The bit where the music comes in after 3 seconds of tinny electro drum beat is utterly euphoric.

One In A Million
This sounds like The Attic at their best, so more of a modern dance-pop sound. I love how the male and female vocals fit together here, the girl reminding me of Annie or Kate Havnevik. Very pretty and great to dance to at the same time.

My Secret Lover
The single which you'll know by now unless you're an idiot. The line "man, I'm a man machine" makes me wish for a sex change just so I can sing it more convincingly. This is the song that makes most obvious the band's link to Junior Senior, but Private are much purer pop than their indier pals.

Crucify My Heart
The next single, and excellent choice. As Mr PJ said it's a modern Like A Prayer, also reminding me of When Doves Cry and Army Of Lovers (the band, not the Lee Ryan song). Isn't religion-bating disco a brilliant genre?

That Boy Is Hurting You
I keep waking up in the night with this in my head. It might not be the most obviously catchy song but it really gets to me. The lines about alcohol remind me of PSBs' You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk, and the song overall has a similar effect.

Let's Make Love (Underneath The Apple Tree)
Silly voices and perverse lyrics - I've a few friends I can't wait to recommend this to, so we can join in Private appreciation mania. Got me thinking about how pop music is both the rudest and cleanest genre in the charts.

Killer On The Dancefloor
This sounds like BWO, in fact better than a lot of their last album. It's just brilliant pop, also harking back to Thriller, although that might be cos Killer and Thriller rhyme and there's a general spooky vibe. Brilliant ooh-whoahohs, too.

Waiting For Tonight
One of the less distinctive tracks for me but it's still utterly brilliant disco-pop. More 70s, while other tracks are more 80s. The "if you were my lover" line is quite an earworm, but the chorus could do with some lexical variety.

I Can't Wait
I can't really think of anything to say about this, but unsurprisingly it's good.

Strangers In The Night
The obligatory ballad, or as close to one as you get from Private anyway, a spooky electro love song. Nice water effects at the end.

New Pop On The Block

Hot Chip - Ready For The Floor
Apart from the obviously great Over and Over, I've never quite 'got' Hot Chip, but at last they release a song as good as people said their previous ones were. It was apparently written for Kylie (explaining the "you're my no.1 guy" lyrics perhaps), so its quality is no surprise. If every mediocre band wrote their music with Kylie in mind, then the world would be a much better place. This song came on when I was shopping with my mum yesterday, and I had to pretend to like a really horrible top so that I could stay and listen to the rest. Now that's dedication!
87% Poptastic!

Goldfrapp - A&E
It shows how out of touch I am that I first heard this on local radio! I liked it but hadn't a clue it was Goldfrapp (although I was vaguely aware of their new direction), and if you've heard it you'll know why I was shocked by my eventual discovery. While I'm a big electropop fan and usual critic of mumsy folk-pop, I must say I prefer this to most Goldfrapp singles, except for the obvious great ones. In fact my opinion of Goldfrapp was quite like that of Hot Chip, so it's nice to see both bands finally catching up to how good they are supposed to be.
80% Poptastic!

Tom Baxter - Better
I've known of this guy for about 4 years, and he seems to have had the most gradual rise to prominence ever. Now he has finally got a single being played on The Box and Radio 2, and I must admit that although I was quite ambivalent towards him before, I do think this is absolutely lovely. Even more so I love the video. Maybe I'm being a soppy girl here, but I think this song will touch a lot of people's hearts and has the potential to be a very big hit. Perhaps at last Tom Baxter will be more than just that guy whose name you sort of recognise but it might just be cos you went to school with a Tom Baxter.
83% Poptastic!

D-D-Don't Stop The Alphabeat

My 2008 has so far had one musical theme: Denmark. Last year's favourite Danes, Alphabeat, are featuring in most of the 2008 prediction lists, which is obviously fantastic news for the fantastic 6. And I personally have spent most of the first four days of this year dancing about my room to my recently acquired new favourite album, the debut by Private, which I plan to give a full review of soon.

I recently read that Denmark (closely followed by the rest of Scandinavia) is the happiest country in Europe, and it certainly seems to be showing in their musical output, especially Alphabeat and widely forgotten pop dynamos Junior Senior. With these three bands the Danes have created a special place for themselves in the pop world, producing the musical equivalent of absolute joy. I can't wait to see who else will emerge from this country whose best-known export is Aqua. Maybe it's not quite ABBA (only by two letters!) but I wouldn't be ashamed of it. If Denmark really is the home of happy pop and happy people, I think I'll go there for my next holiday.
Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Obviously the Queen hasn't got her finger on the pulse

Since it seems she has the misguided notion that David Jordan is likely to be successful any time soon. However, I'm not displeased by the apparent aim to turn the Royal Variety Performance into Eurovision. Embarrassingly, I don't think this would even get to the second round.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

My top 100 of 2007 in full

Rihanna ft. Jay-Z - Umbrella
Kleerup ft. Robyn - With Every Heartbeat
Alphabeat - 10,000 Nights of Thunder
E-Type - True Believer
Margaret Berger - Will You Remember Me Tomorrow
Måns Zelmerlöw - Cara Mia
BWO - Chariots Of Fire
Miley Cyrus - See You Again
BWO - Save My Pride
Patrick Wolf - The Magic Position
Marion Raven - Break You
Young Love - Discotech
Robyn - Handle Me
BWO - Give Me The Night
Rufus Wainwright - Going To A Town
Avril Lavigne - Girlfriend
Mika - Grace Kelly
Danny - Play It For The Girls
Leona Lewis - Bleeding Love
Ola - Natalie
Darren Hayes - On The Verge of Something Wonderful
September - Can't Get Over
Amy Diamond - Stay My Baby
Magnus Carlsson - Live Forever
Melody Club - Fever Fever
Feist - 1234
Ross Copperman - Found You
Da Buzz - Baby Listen To Me
Rihanna - Don't Stop The Music
Ola - S.O.S
Danny ft. Therese - If Only You
The Sounds - Painted By Numbers
Timbaland ft. Keri Hilson - The Way I Are
Delays - Love Made Visible
Those Dancing Days - Hitten
Robyn - Konichiwa Bitches
Helena Paparizou - The Game Of Love
Sugababes - About You Now
Junior Senior - Can I Get Get Get
Danny - Tokyo
Les Fatals Picards - L'amour à la française
Marit Bergan - Mama, I Remember You Now
Cosmo4 - What's Your Name?
Camera Obscura - If Looks Could Kill
The Ark - Absolutely No Decorum
Amerie - Gotta Work
Peter, Bjorn and John ft. Victoria Bergsman - Young Folks
Backstreet Boys - Helpless When She Smiles
Alphabeat - Fantastic 6
Groove Armada ft. Mutya - Song 4 Mutya
Da Buzz - Take All My Love
Venke Knutson - Holiday
Darin - Insanity
Avril Lavigne - Hot
Fountains of Wayne - Someone To Love
Magnus Carlsson - Another Rainbow
BWO - Destiny Of Love (remix)
Magnus Carlsson - Waves Of Love
BWO - Let It Rain
Ali Love - Late Night Session
Passenger - Do What You Like
Private - My Secret Lover
Backstreet Boys - Inconsolable
CSS - Let's Make Love and Listen to Death From Above
Howling Bells - Low Happening
Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Me And My Imagination
Vincent - Miss Blue
Girls Aloud - Call The Shots
The Ark - The Worrying Kind
Cascada - Miracle
Maximo Park - Our Velocity
Maia Hirasawa - And I Found This Boy
Sophie Ellis Bextor – Catch You
Jupiter Rising - Electropop
Mark Ronson featuring Amy Winehouse - Valerie
Måns Zelmerlöw - Brother Oh Brother
Anouk - Good God
Bat For Lashes - Prescilla
Lykke Li - Little Bit
Aly & AJ - Potential Break-Up Song
Passenger - Walk You Home
BWO - Rhythm Drives Me Crazy
Mika - Happy Ending
Laakso with Peter Jöback - Italy vs. Helsinki
Sahara Hotnights - Cheek to Cheek
Monrose - Hot Summer
Velvet - Fix Me
September - Until I Die
Pat Monahan - Her Eyes
Cascada - What Hurts The Most
Bruce Springsteen - Radio Nowhere
Mika - Love Today
E-Type - Eurofighter
Ghosts – The World Is Outside
The Sounds - Tony The Beat
Ghosts - Stay The Night
Under The Influence of Giants - In The Clouds
Verka Seduchka - Dancing Lasha Tumbai
Andrea Corr - Shame On You
Brick & Lace - Your Love Is Wicked

2008: The Year Of...?

Last year I did pretty well with my predictions of success, listing Mika, Just Jack and the Klaxons as tips for the top. Others such as New Young Pony Club and Jack Savoretti did reasonably well, while Alphabeat have moved from an extremely outside chance in 2007 (my interview with them in January revealed no plans to conquer the UK whatsoever) to an almost sure thing in 2008. I was less accurate with my predictions of Switches and the NOISEttes, but since I only gave them 70% chance of stardom, I'm not too embarrassed. So, let's see what's on the cards for 2008...

Colbie Caillat
Already a top 5 hit in the USA and whizzing up the charts all over Europe, I'm pretty confident that Colbie's single Bubbly will also bring the Californian 22-year-old huge success in the UK. It's a cute song, catchy but nothing overly exciting, which is probably the key to its popularity. Underwhelming always does seem to sell well. Still I can't say I dislike it, although I might feel different after the zillionth time I hear it, which probably isn't too far away.
Potential hit: Bubbly
Chance: 85%
Quality: 70%

Yet again I feel quite underwhelmed by this artist, yet extremely confident of her success. In fact I expect Adele will be the top of every 'ones to watch' list this month, since she's already gaining popularity and critical acclaim, and she follows in the footsteps of Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse and Kate Nash, being a young London girl singing about real life issues. I've been following Adele since early 2007, so it's nice to see her doing well, but I don't think I'll be bothering with her album. I'll probably be one of very few who doesn't own it by the end of 2008, though.
Potential hit: Chasing Pavements
Chance: 90%
Quality: 65%

Lykke Li
We've been waiting so long for a new album from Robyn, and I fear it'll still be a while yet, so here is Lykke Li with some ace new Swedish urban-indie-electro-pop to keep us going. Like Adele she has been getting a lot of buzz recently, both in Sweden and outside, and it seems like she will soon breakthrough worldwide (even in just an indie way rather than getting no.1 hits quite yet) even though she hasn't even released her first album in Sweden. I'm not sure when that will be as I don't think it's quite ready yet but I'm very excited for hearing it. Her first hit, Little Bit, was fantastic, but I also thorougly recommended her gorgeous love song Tonight.
Potential hit: Little Bit
Chance: 70%
Quality: 95%

The Ting Tings
Some of you might remember a band called Dear Eskiimo, who were around 2 or 3 years ago, made some great, unusual pop songs but never got any further than an appearance on MTV's Brand Spanking New live show. They disbanded, and the cute and charismatic singer Katie and the drummer Jules created a new group called The Ting Tings, which is really hard to type without writing Thing. They're similar to Dear Eskiimo but so far I'm not as impressed with the music, although NME has had the opposite reaction and put That's Not My Name quite high up in their chart of 2007. Personally I prefer Fruit Machine. Ka-ching ka-ching!
Potential hit: Fruit Machine
Chance: 55%
Quality: 70%

Those Dancing Days
I posted their fantastic single Hitten (which means "the hit" in Swedish) on Into The Groove in February, and since then it has become a pretty big indie hit in Sweden. The group are now gaining popularity in the UK, having played a few gigs and been championed by the NME, who I'm beginning to think are reading my blogs to find people to predict as the next big thing (apparently they've also been supporting Alphabeat recently). I don't know if TDD have much chance of success, since even The Pipettes (who are similar but a bit more mainstream) never got much further than cult popularity, but I think cult popularity would be considered a pretty good thing for these lovely Swedes.
Potential hit: Hitten
Chance: 40%
Quality: 95%

So, it looks like it's going to be the year of the girls. I do hope so!

Edit: Apparently Colbie Caillat has already tried and failed in the UK, so perhaps you should disregard everything I've said. Well, I did only have a TV for 3 months of this year, and spent another 4 in another country, I can't be blamed for being a bit out of touch...

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