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Friday, July 20, 2007

Update: all new links for every song. Evil Share blows.

Hey hey you you!

I was in Punta Cana for the last week. It was beautiful and fun. I also listened to my iPod a lot, so I rediscovered some songs I had overlooked slightly. Without the distraction of internet that was hugely overpriced, I concentrated on it somewhat. This is pretty sad, but I got the inspiration and outlined this next post in a notebook.

Cascada are well known for being responsible for last year's totally catchy pop-dance single "Everytime We Touch". I loved that song and its follow-up "Miracle", but pretty much put the album aside. Having been in an environment where this was one of the genres played constantly, i've come to the conclusion that Cascada are the equivalent of reggaeton music. Both utilize virtually the same beat on almost every song, and they are best in small doses. However, for some reason I still had the album, and on a 3-hour bus trip each way to visit the city of Santo Domingo I listed to it for the first time since it came out. The point still holds true that it becomes incredibly repetitive, but there are some highlights I skipped before.

"Another You"
is a sweet pop ballad, that does not feature that infamous beat. This is the best of the handful of ballads on the album. Natalie (the actual singer part of Cascada) sounds very pretty, but at some point she goes for some Mariah-esque whistle notes and comes pretty close to pulling them off.

"Can't Stop the Rain" does feature that beat, but it has a very nice melody and is definitely a highlight off the album. It has the potential to be a classic pop song if it was recycled and tweaked a bit. A key change would be perfect.

"Truly Madly Deeply" - Unlike in the U.S., Cascada actually managed a follow-up hit single in the U.K. with their Savage Garden cover. This is not the version that hit over there. The original album version is a ballad that is pretty similar to the original but works; but as opposed to attempting to show any diversity in sound, it was remixed to sound like the stereotypical Cascada track for single release.

Everytime We Touch (Remix featuring The Dons) - I randomly found this on FrostWire. It's some kind of hip-hop remix, basically the ballad version with a bit of a beat behind it and a rapper. It's obviously not real hip-hop by any stretch of the imagination, but still works, which is a nice segue into the next act i'm talking about in this post.

Blue, ah, many people know about them and remember them fondly or not. I liked them at the time, but in retrospect I think they were awesome. I'd put them far higher on my list on all-time favorite boy bands than I would have six months ago. For one thing, from a shallow perspective, Derek Zoolander would have loved them. Most of the groups had one or two hot members and others that weren't ('N Sync, anyone?). Blue's batting average was about even with 98 Degrees, although they didn't look like they spent as much time at the gym. Nick Lachey and co. were basically the same flavor of eye candy, a pretty good flavor, but it can get a bit boring. Blue took the path of the Spice Girls in offering some variety looks-wise. Even the token "ugly one" wasn't all that unattractive, just not as ridiculously good looking as the other members. I think I may have been getting a bit of a sun stroke that caused me to ponder "Too Close" being more than a crappy cover version, but an example of the pathos of teenage sexuality with a 17-year-old Lee Ryan singing about having a hard-on.

Still, I had tons of time to kill on the beach and elsewhere so I listened to their full albums, which I hadn't done in years except for their so-called greatest hits. Turns out they had some pretty good album tracks. The Guilty album in particular is underrated to me, and I didn't really pay attention to it at the time because I was otherwise occupied musically. On it, they dropped many of their hip-hop pretenses, which were sometimes hilariously awful. Then again, this album does include "Bubblin'", which is probably one of the worst songs in their discography (and made even worse by doing a version with French boy band Link'Up), but even the best pop albums often include a dud or two. Here is a pair of tracks from their last two albums that might not be what some would think Blue would sound like.

"Right Here Waiting" is a track from the One Love album, and is pretty much an anomaly for them, but it's a welcome one. It's more dance-y and could even be called cheesy, but I like it. It has some garage-sounding influences. It was co-written by Rob Davis, who co-wrote "Can't Get You Out of My Head", so even if you absolutely despised Blue I think it's worth one listen.

"When Summer's Gone" is from Guilty and is a Stargate track that's been hidden but I feel is one of the best of both the group and the producers. All of the members also have writing credits on this one, and i'm usually very skeptical of that being a case of pure vanity credits (Like every single member of S Club 7 actually had meaningful effort in writing "Don't Stop Movin'". Yeah, right.) Either way, it's very good, though some of the lyrics are iffy ("she had a love for art/painted pictures in the dark") and make me believe the band actually did help write it. I'd describe it as a ballad with a beat, basically. For me, it sounds a bit like a bridge from the pure pop Stargate did for them, Atomic Kitten, et. al. to the more somewhat chilled r&b-pop they've recently done for Ne-Yo, Beyonce, and Elliott Yamin. If they added that acoustic guitar they're so fond of these days, it might work now.

Speaking of Blue, this is a random hilarious performance of theirs I found. It starts with a Rocky intro that is actually a bit expensive looking, but then goes into a lipsynched performance of "All Rise", which isn't all that strange, although they're singing into in-ring announcer mics. When the breakdown comes is when it gets weird. The choreography seems to have been done by George Foreman, because it consists as boxing, but then goes into faux jumping rope and crunches. I'm friggin' serious, they do several situps on stage, nicely predicting my post about pop star exercise videos several years in advance. After that, "Curtain Falls" starts very awkwardly out of the blue (no pun intended), which is also nondescript until Simon's rap part comes up and the track doesn't play it (though you can hear him yelling it in the background), although the adlibs on the top of the rap are heard. It finishes off with the classic boy band move of singing the last few lines acapella, to prove that "we can really SING, damn it!" It tickles me that the Smash Hits Awards were deemed worthy of a production of that size no matter how it actually turned out, and makes me mourn those shows.

Another album I listened to was Lillix's Inside the Hollow. In 2003 they released their debut album Falling Uphill, which was your typical Matrix-and-Linda-Perry post-Avril pop/rock with some highlights but mainly boringness. After replacing a drummer, they put out the new CD last year in Japan and their native Canada only. For awhile I was obsessed with the single, "Sweet Temptation (Hollow)", but now i've dug into the album more. There's basically two categories to the songs: electro pop-rock like the Killers before they sucked and similar to "Sweet Temptation", and acoustic indie-pop a la the new Mandy Moore album.

In the first category:

"Got Off Easy" is catchy as hell. Rachel Stevens with more attitude.

"Poor Little Girl"
is clearly about other pop stars lyrically, and is also great.

The second category features:

"Little Things", which has multiple hooks.

is almost folk-y, with interesting lyrics, and still has a good melody.

Unfortunately, the album won't be having any single releases, since their drummer and bassist left and have been replaced again, modifying their previous all-girl band status.

Bad news: I'm going on vacation again, this time to Orlando. It'll only be for the weekend though. I'll be back soon!

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Last Updated @ 3:00 AM

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Hi everyone! I apologize for not posting for awhile. I've been taking a bit of a sabbatical from this blog to get my own life in order and come up with a schedule that allows me to take care of both my online life and my real one. However, there is tons of new music that has been coming out that is awesome, plus older stuff i've been getting into.

Jessica Folcker is a Swedish singer, who has been around since 1998. After doing a bunch of backup singing, her early work was done with Max Martin and Denniz Pop. Until now, her piece de resistance has been "To Be Able To Love", off her second album Dino. In an attempt to break the American market, she changed her last name to "Folker" and released this song as a single. Unfortunately, despite being featured in the classic Lance Bass movie vehicle On the Line, it found little success. However, it became a dance club smash in the form of a remix by Jonathan Peters.

To Be Able to Love (Jonathan Peters Club Mix) - Catchy and uplifting. If she wanted to, her voice would allow her to be a dance diva.

A few years later, she featured on a collaboration with the Bomfunk MC's, a cover of the Frida (former member of ABBA) song "I Know There's Something Going On"

Something Going On - Jessica does the chorus bits only, with the Bomfunk MC's rapping the verses. It's a nice rock/dance/rap hybrid update.

This year, Jessica's third English-language album (fourth total, including a CD in Swedish), Skin Close, was released on an indie label. She jumps on the electro-pop train for most of this one, although there's also a duet with world music legend Youssou N'dour. A lot of the album was done with Kleerup, currently known for his kick-ass collaboration with Robyn, "With Every Heartbeat".

Hot Night - This is my favorite song off the set. The verse melody at the beginning reminds me of the chorus of S Club 8's "Sundown". This song sounds like it could actually belong in the '80s. The guitar and piano effects sound a bit retro-esque.

Snowflakes - This is the first single off the album. It's in a similar vein. This is so catchy. I love September's album In Orbit, and this reminds me of that album a bit. There's an acoustic/jazzy ending that I think could make a great alternate version of this song if extended.

Always Something - I could swear this is a lost track from Rachel Stevens' Come and Get It. It sounds a bit more modern than the '80s electro influences in other places. It's a bit more laid back.

Spell I'm Under (Part II) - This has some sweet strings in it. It's more retro and disco-esque than the more guitar-influenced version of "Spell I'm Under" also on the album.

Random Jessica trivia: she has entered Melodifestivalen (which selects the Swedish entry for the Eurovision Song Contest) twice in 2005 and 2006, but did not win either time.

Keep staying tuned for more posts and some giveaways, I promise!

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Last Updated @ 2:45 PM