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Friday, February 06, 2009

Alienhits loves... Thomas Troelsen!

Singer/producer/writer/god Thomas Troelsen is known these days as the front man for Danish pop group Private. Before that he fronted the slightly rockier Superheroes and, though not part of the band, worked extensively with Junior Senior (remember that brilliant chorus of Move Your Body? That was Troelsen). His dramatic, sometimes androgynous vocals recall Michael Jackson at his peak, with none of the creep factor (unless of course the song demands it).
But what’s truly amazing about Troelsen, and what makes him so important to modern day pop music, is that in addition to his band work, he’s a prolific songwriter and producer for European artists. A Troelsen track is identifiable by its bright, retro synth work and the immediacy and timelessness of its melody. While many artists around the region carry similar influences, somehow you can just tell when you’re listening to a song written by Thomas Troelsen. He’s written and produced for Melody Club, X-Factor winner Martin, German girl-group Monrose, Aqua, Whyte Seeds and of course many more to come.
Smartly, though, he saves the best for himself. The debut album by his group Private is nothing short of flawless. It’s gripping pop music, still being discovered a year and a half after its release and still spawning singles. It’s the type of record that never grows old…in fact, it actually improves with age. Troelsen has become such a star himself that he practically overshadows any artist that he works with. Case in point: try watching Jeppe’s performance of Lucky Boy at last weekend’s Melodi Grand Prix without looking at Thomas Troelsen (aka: the manic keyboarder). Guy’s a genius.

Check out Private’s fantastic videos here.

Melodifestivalen 2009: My Thoughts on Round One

One minute clips of the first batch of Melodifestivalen songs are online! Here are my thoughts, with one to four star ratings, that are very subject to change as I hear more.

Nina Söderquist - Tick Tock: I like this. Nina’s got a strong voice (reminds me a bit of Nanne’s) and the beat to this song is also very strong. I’d like to hear the whole thing before making up my mind, but this is definitely a contender, though I doubt it’ll sail through to the final. ***

Jonathan Fagerlund - Welcome To My Life: Wow, this is a strong final. I like this one too. It’s a little boy band at times, but I like the beat and the melody is super catchy. It’s a very summery sounding song. I wonder if it’ll be more “rock” in the performance. I bet the full song is even better than the clip. ****

Shirley Clamp - Med hjärtat fyllt av ljus: I like the music here, but I’m not noticing a lot of melody to grasp on to. It could just be the short sample, though. Maybe when I hear the whole thing it’ll come together for me. As of now, it’s kind of a forgettable ballad. **

Scotts - Jag tror på oss: I really like the melody to this. It’s extremely poppy, though I’m not sure if it’s memorable enough to make it through, given the tough competition of this round. Like some of the others, it’s really hard to tell with just this one sample. ***

Emilia - You’re My World: Nothing really stood out here for me. It sounds like a bland pop song, which makes me think that it’ll struggle to get past round one. It’s definitely not bad, but just not interesting enough to be memorable. *

Alcazar - Stay The Night: I love the short clip of this! The beat, the chorus… it’s all great. And I’m not even much of an Alcazar fan. I can imagine a very good performance going along with this and, if they pull it off, I see no problem getting through the final. This reminds me of a BWO song. *****

Caroline af Ugglas - Snälla snälla: Definitely not as good as her last entry, and quite boring, but one song like this always seems to get through at Melodifestivalen every year. Hopefully it won’t be this one. *

Marie Serneholt - Disconnect Me: It’s difficult to tell from this clip, but this could very easily be the best of this bunch (as predicted). The beat is very Austin Powers in a way, building up to a really great chorus. Marie as an artist is very hit and miss with me, but this is definitely a hit, and not really the typical Bassflow sound I was expecting. *****

Thursday, February 05, 2009

"Remember you and me"

To round out my Eurovision week, I've got something very different. Love Symphony is the only song I've featured this week that will actually be going on to Eurovision. Not only that, but it's about 90% instrumental. An odd choice for Slovenia, for sure, but I quite like it. It's a lot more interesting than most of the stuff the Eastern Block puts forth, and I'm a huge fan of bombastic pop/orchestral music so it's right up my alley. The group is called Quartissimo and I really can't find a lot of information about them, but the only vocals in the song (and they're pretty minimal) come from Martina Majerle. Onstage, it's pretty much her and a four-man string quartet (the electric guitars apparently come from the heavens above, as well as the drums). Regardless, it's a fun song and refreshingly different for this contest.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists.)

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

"I just wanna stay here and talk to you"

Another Danish song today, and one that popjustice rightly stated should have gone on to Eurovision to represent Denmark. Jeppe was one half of the brilliant Junior Senior and has been working on his solo album since they broke up. Personally, Jeppe was not my favorite half of the band, but his solo stuff so far has been excellent so I just might have to change my opinion about that. Lucky Boy has mega-producer Thomas Troelsen's influence all over it, from the instant (and insanely catchy) melody and eighties beat. Plus, there are cowbells!! All of this pales in comparison, though, to the mammoth hook, delivered onstage by three female background singers. You'll be singing it for days, I promise. I can't wait for Jeppe's solo album, especially if it sounds anything like this.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Listen to more here.)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

This song has been grafted to my brain for the past few days. Sukkerchok (translates to "SugarShock") participated in the Danish preselection this past weekend and actually got pretty close to winning, though the Danes went with a boring ballad instead. Sukkerchok is a girl group that, as their name suggests, makes very sugary pop/dance music. It's not always my thing, but I couldn't resist Det' Det. The first thing that drew me in were the Alienhits-approved synths in the verses (similar to ones in Van Halen's Jump, Galvatrons' When We Were Kids, The Crash's Still Alive...etc.). It's just a sound that I adore. A lot of people have been comparing this track to Katy Perry's Hot 'n Cold, a song I'm not terribly fond of. The fact is, Det' Det's chorus craps all over Perry's and the song as a whole is about a million times more epic. I wish these girls would record an English album of tracks just like this.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Listen to more here.)

Monday, February 02, 2009

"When you're not home we get along so good"

In honor of Sweden's Melodifestivalen starting on Saturday (I get more excited every year, though nothing will ever compare to the Ark for me), I'm going to post some of my favorite songs from Eurovision preselection rounds so far this year--Monday through Thursday.
Kicking it off is a song from Finland's contest. I'm very happy with their selection (the super poppy Waldo's People), mostly because it's not the tired metal type of song they usually pick. However, it wasn't my favorite song in the mix. That honor belongs to the curiously named rock band Vink. On the surface, they don't look like the kind of band I would like, but the song is stupendous. It's power-pop with a capital "P," and brings me back to bands like Cheap Trick and the Cars. Better yet, lead singer Masa's deliver is at times a dead-ringer for Ola Salo. I could imagine the Ark glamming this song up as part of their repertoire (right between Echo Chamber and Joy Surrender), and that's pretty much the biggest compliment I can give. The other songs on the band's myspace don't really grab me like this one does, but I'm hoping for an album full of this kind of bombastic, slightly electronic anthem later in the year. I've been obsessed with this song ever since I heard the first chorus.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Listen to more here.)