Miss Li - Dancing the Whole Way Home - 1st April
Bat For Lashes - Two Suns - 6th April
Melody Club - Goodbye to Romance - 22nd April
BWO - Big Science - April
The Sounds - Crossing the Rubicon - May
Florence and the Machine - July
Leona Lewis - October
Alexandra Burke - November
Alcazar - 2009
The Ark - 2009
Patrick Wolf - 2009
Robyn - 2009
1. Marit Bergman feat. Titiyo - 300 Slow Days in a Row 2. Miss Li - Ba Ba Ba 3. Kleerup ft. Marit Bergman - 3AM 4. Girls Aloud - The Promise 5. They Live By Night - Catching Up 6. Hello Saferide - Anna 7. The Saturdays - Up 8. The Killers - Human 9. Keane - The Lovers Are Losing 10. Those Dancing Days - Home Sweet Home 11. Britney Spears - Womanizer 12. Christina Aguilera - Keeps Getting Better 13. Lisa Miskovsky - Another Shape of my Heart 14. Lena Philipsson & Orup - Nu När Du Gått 15. Swingfly - Singing That Melody 16. Little Jackie - The Stoop 17. The Ting Tings - Be The One 18. Monrose - Hit 'n' Run 19. Velvet - Take My Body Close 20. Jimmy Wayne - Do You Believe Me Now 21. CSS - Move 22. Veronica Maggio - Stopp 23. Amanda Jenssen - For The Sun 24. Tommy Sparks - I'm A Rope 25. Johnossi - 18 Karat Gold 26. The Outsiders feat. Amanda Wilson - Keep This Fire Burning 27. The Virgins - One Week of Danger 28. Boyzone – Love You Anyway 29. Black Kids - Look at Me (When I Rock Wichoo) 30. Jenny Lewis - Carpetbaggers
Those Dancing Days - Home Sweet Home (Watch) Here's the next UK single from the world's coolest girlband. I don't know if they'll ever make anything quite as amazing as Hitten again, but this is really cute and jolly song which improves as it goes along. The video is my favourite of theirs so far, and one of the best I've seen this year actually. It's 19 months since I first posted Hitten on Into The Groove, and at the time they weren't even signed. Now they're releasing an album in the UK! I'm so pleased that things have gone well for them, but I want them to re-release Hitten so that they can engage some more fans and sell lots of albums. 87% Poptastic!
CSS - Move (Watch) Another band who are spectacularly ace and cool are CSS, but I have to be honest and admit that I don't like their new album as much as their previous one. When they burst onto the UK music scene in 2006, they seemed so different and exciting, and their album had loads of fun and interesting songs, any of which could have been hit singles. The new album is not bad at all, but there aren't any really memorable stand-out tracks. If they'd come back with something like Beat Control by Tilly & the Wall (who supported CSS when I saw them in London last year), I'd be much more enthusiastic. Still, they are a great band and they seem entirely adorable in this video. 79% Poptastic!
The Virgins - One Week of Danger (Listen) If you like fun American catchy-rock bands like Fountains of Wayne, The Click Five and Under the Influence of Giants, then you have to check our The Virgins. Knowing they were from New York, and having overheard a very chic new student at my uni mention them, I expected them to be a bit obtuse and posey, but they're not at all. They're fun! One Week isn't quite Somebody To Love or Pop Princess, but it's got a great vibe about it and definitely superior to most American rock bands. The other songs on their MySpace are jolly and catchy too. I don't know if it's a recipe for success, but I'm sure that getting my approval is much more important to them! 77% Poptastic!
If you'd asked me to name the artist least likely to sample Dragostea Din Tei by O-Zone, I may well have said Rihanna... but I would have been highly mistaken! The rapper T.I. has a new single out, which features Rihanna, and you can imagine my confusion when the YouTube video of it I clicked on started playing O-Zone. I thought it was a joke someone had made to point out the similarity between Rihanna's new song and Dragostea Din Tei, but I tried a few more clips of the song, and realised that it actually does sample O-Zone! I have to say the sample sticks out like a sore thumb (unsurprisingly!), but I still thinks it's quite ace that they used it, and I hope the song is successful because it's always nice to have Europop in the charts, even in odd ways like this.
As promised, here are my favourite Idol contestants of 2008! They've only got through the first round so far, so expect plenty of these to make it no further than boot camp. However, I'd put a bet on the future Idol-vinnare being in this playlist...
Alice Svensson - once sang a Greek Eurovision song at Skansen, pretty sure to be a future MF entrant
Lars Eriksson - far too cool for X Factor, but on Idol he fits right in, although could just be a less aww-inspiring Jason Castro
Kevin Borg - he was a Malteser, so I knew he would have been involved in Eurovision, and yep... he entered Malta's Song For Europe in 2007
Johan Sommevåg - very pretty boy with a good voice, but he wrote this rubbish song, so it's not a good sign for future poptasticness
Dolores Huremovic - the new Amy Winehouse or a wannabe Amanda Jenssen? Only time will tell!
Nils Fredriksson - entertaining, as long as he's singing The Ark, but will he still be on a less acetastic song?
Robin Bengtsson - so they do have chavs in Sweden! This one looks like my cousin, and sings quite well, though
Almira Drmaku Kissnödig - adorably jolly young girl, I think she may be my favourite at the moment
Kenny Lundström - Brolle must have been making way for this guy when he removed the Jr from the end of his name - now it all makes sense!
Hanna Antonsson - another young one, but potential here for a new cute indie-pop girl to keep Marit, Annika etc. on their toes
Erik Ljung - ooh, it's Kappie from Greek! With that and singing Jason Mraz, I already mega-love Erik Ljung
Anna Bergendahl - the hot favourite, a folky singer with a surprising voice, her happiness to get through adding extra endearing points
Soledad Alarcon - strong voice and great song choice, if only she didn't share her name with a Westlife song, I'd be a fan
Andreas Larsson - nervous boy but seems very sweet and quite talented, I just hope it doesn't all prove too much for him
Marcus Karlsson - his video fell off the Internet but he's on my list of possibilities, whoever he was...
And along the way you can spot a few funny ones, cos the auditions wouldn't be complete without them after all!
1. When someone gets through, it means they're good, and not just that there is a slightly higher chance of them being good than with the ones who didn't get through.
2. The judges are the writers of some of the world's most brilliant pop songs, with artists ranging from the BSBs to Rachel Stevens. Two of them used to be married, yet there is still far less pointless, egotistical judge drama than on The X Factor.
3. Almost all of the boys are cute, and not just in an attractive popstar way, but in a way that they seem like people you could really meet and get on with too. I seem to fall in love with every other male contestant, even one with a moustache in episode 6, which is certainly a first for me!
4. Idol has given us Darin, Måns, Agnes, Ola, Amanda and Danny (among others), who between them have made about 60 good songs. X Factor so far has produced 4, 2 each from Leona and Shayne. This means there's a good chance this year's series will produce at least one poptastic artist.
5. When people don't get through, they are usually very graceful about it. They say thank you, and walk away with their head held high. They don't cry or plead, and they certainly don't shout insults at the judges. It makes the worst part of these series (the first round - contrary to most British people's opinions, it is not funny but sad and exploitative) far less tedious.
6. They play brilliant music in the background. This year it's mainly been Robyn, Kleerup or Robyn & Kleerup, but Lykke Li and Da Buzz have also been in use. The only problem with this is that I start bopping along and forget to pay attention to the Swedish, losing all clue of what's going on.
7. Christoffer Hiding! He was pretty.
8. It's a way of learning Swedish, and once you've accomplished that, you're all set to emigrate to the world's most poptastic country. Even if you're not a languages person, you can still follow things very easily without a high level of Swedish. After all, I managed to understand Melodifestivalen for years knowing no more than "lyssna" and how to pronounce "p3" (pear trair).
9. The Swedes have much less boring taste in music than the Brits and Americans, because sometimes people even sing songs from this century! Occasionally they even cover current Swedish pop hits, such as Amanda doing Don't Hate On Me by Vincent last year. She then went on to release a single written by him, which is one of the best Swedish songs of 2008 so far.
10. You can watch the whole thing online at the TV4 website, whether you're Swedish or not, and the website actually functions, unlike that of a certain completely useless UK channel which has a nervy b every time I try to watch anything on it.
Coming soon: my verdict on this year's Idol talent!
David Archuleta is not going to be the new Leona. He already has 3 good songs to his name, 1 more than Leona has so far accumulated. You may wonder how I can be so sure of this. Well, a little investigation on the ever-useful ASCAP website shows that 2 new songs have been registered under David's name. One, My Hands, is written by Emanuel Kiriakou, who wrote Crush, as well as all of Nick Lachey's acest songs, and James Fauntleroy, one of the writers of the magnificent No Air. So that can't be bad. The other is a cover of a song I already know is great, You Ruined Me by JC Chasez. I think it's perfect for David, and now I'm even more excited than before to hear more from his album. I might even buy it - a first for an AI contestant, despite my devotion to the show.
If you're British, unless you've been reading this blog for several years, you probably won't know who The Servant are, even though they're quite a successful British band. They did release at least one song in the UK called Liquefy, but it got nowhere except for the occasional play on long lost indie music channel The Amp. It caught my attention, and I got myself a copy of their self-titled third album, which turned out to be quite brilliant, and I recommended it highly on my blogs, even if no-one but me seemed to care very much at the time. However, The Servant somehow acquired a strong following in France and Italy. Unfortunately, I didn't think so much to what I heard of their 2006 follow-up album, and I suppose the fans didn't either as the band split up in 2007.
Today I was listening to a new singer called Dan Black who was being touted as 'one to watch' on the Wonky Pop website, and I instantly recognised the singing voice. I worked out that it was the singer from The Servant, and some research told me that his new song (Hypnotize by Notorious BIG sung over the Umbrella backing track) is attracting a lot of interest. Dan has a MySpace with two other new songs on it, and they're probably his best work yet - he's only gone electro-r'n'b-pop! I really hope he finally gets the success he deserves, and I look forward to hearing what he comes up with now that the world is watching. There's nothing like the promise of international success to urge an act in the direction of poptasticness.
What? Italo Disco is the predecessor of 90's Eurodance, originating in Italy in the 70's and 80's. American disco music was already popular worldwide, and Italo Disco was its European cousin, gaining strength even when evil rock fans in America and the UK tried to stamp out disco in the late 70s. Not many of the acts are remembered today (Giorgio Moroder and Baltimora were the only names I recognised in my research), but its influence on European music ever since is very clear, not just in continental Europe but also on major electro-pop acts such as the Pet Shop Boys, New Order and Erasure. Italo Disco songs are fairly simple and cheaply made, with a traditional pop song structure, and often have a sweet sadness counteracting the electronic sounds traditionally associated with parties and dancing and having a good time.
Where? The Italo Disco revival which is currently brewing is ironically not involving Italy very much at all. There are London club nights, a strong following in Sweden (always ahead of the trends), and my personal favourite act, Doe Deere, is from New York.
Who? Sally Shapiro - The first of the new Italo Disco acts I heard about, a few years ago now. Her songs are beautifully atmospheric, reminiscent of St Etienne, or Annie in a moment of serenity. She is Swedish, and popular in the American indie blogging scene, but mainstream fame seems unlikely since she is too shy to perform live. Recommended: I'll Be By Your Side.
Doe Deere - A New York (via Russia) disco-popper who writes a popular blog, and recently released a brilliant EP. She's certainly the most poptastic of the new Italo Disco acts, and shows her fandom of Britney, Madonna and even her British sound-alike Sophie Ellis-Bextor on her MySpace page. Recommended: One Touch
Heartbreak - The most successful act so far to come out of the London Italo Disco scene. Heartbreak are a male duo, touring the USA and UK, and releasing their debut album Lies this month, after recognition from The Guardian, Popjustice and many trendier places. The music's heavier than Sally or Doe, but good for dancing to. Recommended: Regret
Cloetta Paris - Another Swedish act, this time a male-female duo. I wonder if they're named after Cloetta chocolate? They cite Sally Shapiro as an influence... as well as Da Buzz and Amy Diamond! Secret Eyes, the single, is quite typical electro-pop but other tracks are really fun and different. Recommended: Broken Heart Tango
Sophie Ellis-Bextor - What drew me to Doe Deere in the first place was her similarity to my beloved Sophie, and since she's working on a new album at the moment, it'll be interesting to see if there's a stronger Italo Disco influence than before. Could Sophie finally be cool again? Recommended: The Distance Between Us
When? Secret Eyes, the album by Cloetta Paris, is out now Heartbreak's album, Lies, is released on 22nd September Sophie's fourth album is expected in January 2009 Doe Deere's EP is available now on iTunes Disco Romance by Sally Shapiro is on CD Wow for £8.99
Hello Saferide - Anna (Watch) I'm so pleased to see the beautiful, wonderful and fantastic Annika Norlin is back with her band Hello Saferide (which is NOT pronounced "safaridi"!), singing in English again and releasing poptastic hits in her native Sweden. This song is quite sad with its tale of the daughter that never was because her boyfriend left her, but it's practically Alphabeat-esque compared to Säkert!'s song about a girl being raped in a park. Hello Saferide are one of my absolute favourite Swedish acts, and one of many reasons that it's OK to like indie music, as long as it's made in Sweden. The new album will be out on the 24th of this month, and I can't wait to hear it! 83% Poptastic!
Dressy Bessy - Holler and Stomp (album) (Listen) When I discovered Dressy Bessy around 2003, along with other cute American girl-groups like All Girl Summer Fun Band, Tiger Trap and The Softies, there was no such thing as MySpace, and indie music was barely represented at all in the UK charts. Now it's ubiquitous, and the definition of indie has become very fuzzy, but if indie music had retained the definition which these bands fit into, then I'd be quite a fan of the genre. I'm happy to find that Dressy Bessy haven't changed their style too much, and they have some fun and catchy tunes on their MySpace, such as Electrified and Simple Girlz. Nothing's quite up to the poptasticness of their all-time highest point, If You Should Try To Kiss Her, but they're a rare band who manage to be cool and good at the same time, which is definitely a useful talent. 75% Poptastic!
I had no idea she was still trying to be famous, let alone actually making music and releasing a single. I have to say it's quite rubbish compared to the fantastic Automatic and even the vaguely enjoyable When I Lost You. If this is the best of her new material, we haven't got much of interest in store. The video also gets the award for most disturbing of the year too, with its sunflowers singing "won't you smile for me, Sarah" (a Hall & Oates sample). The mindless dance remix is slightly superior, but really this has not been worth the 5 years' wait.
Beat Control is being played on Radio 1! Tilly & the Wall also performed on the first episode of 90210 the other day, in which they were fantastic. I'm so glad this song is getting picked up because it's soooo good!
Also, Sweden's Idol show is back, and I'm just watching the first episode. This year there are 3 new judges to replace the old ones, and you might recognise their names: super-songwriter Anders Bagge, his wife Laila, and writing partner Andreas Carlsson (not the singer)! It's exciting to see what they're like after reading their names for so many years on CD sleeves, but I wish it had been Max Martin and Dr Luke instead.
1. BWO - Will My Arms Be Strong Enough (UK release) 2. David Archuleta - Crush 3. Keane - Spiralling 4. BWO - The Bells of Freedom 5. Agnes - On and On 6. Will Young - Changes 7. Marit Larsen - If A Song Could Get Me You 8. Montt Mardié - Names Not Forgotten 9. Brandy - Right Here (Departed) 10. Dragonette - Competition 11. Roisin Murphy - Movie Star 12. Polly Scattergood - I Hate The Way 13. Sugababes - Girls 14. The Feeling – Join With Us 15. I'm From Barcelona - Paper Planes 16. Kat DeLuna - Calling You 17. Vanessa Hudgens - Identified 18. Infernal - Whenever You Need Me 19. Emilia de Poret - Pick Me Up 20. Tami Chynn - Frozen 21. Solange Knowles - Sandcastle Disco 22. Ladyhawke – Dusk 'Til Dawn 23. Cut Copy - Hearts On Fire 24. City Girls - OMG 25. Espen Lind - Scared of Heights 26. Kidtonik - Aller plus loin 27. Chromeo - Momma's Boy 28. The Asteroids Galaxy Tour - The Sun Ain't Shining No More 29. Shontelle - T-Shirt 30. Jessie Malakouti - Trash Me