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Friday, February 13, 2015

Melodifestivalen 2015: Heat Two - Preliminary Judgment

Though I can't say I was too impressed with last week's heat, the songs have already grown on me and there were a few gems. Unfortunately, judging from the short clips released by SVT, this week seems to be even more uneventful than the last one.

(Listen to clips here)

1. Linus Svenning - Forever Starts Today
While I'm happy that he's gone for a more uptempo track this year, I cannot get behind Mumford and Sons style tracks, especially when they're already out of style. This genre just annoys me so much. I hope I'm proven wrong, but right now this clip sounds like an insurance commercial. 2/5

2. Emelie Irewald - Där och då med dig (There and then with you)
This sounds very, very... slow. It's almost impossible to decipher anything else from the short clip, but I guess maybe it could have some potential for ballad lovers? But I can't say I'm that interested to hear the full thing. 2/5

3. Samir and Viktor - Groupie
I'm glad this is in Swedish, because I get the feeling that the lyrics are lame as hell. Apparently the theme of this week is "sounds and catchphrases that were popular a year ago." This sounds remarkably like Linus's track with a dance beat. It gets some points for that dance beat, I guess 2.5/5

4. Neverstore - If I Was God For One Day
MF rock songs can either be ridiculously cheesy and wonderful, or plodding, serious bores. This strangely seems to have aspects of both, which makes it sound pretty uninteresting in general. 2/5

5. Marie Bergman and Sanne Salomonsen - Nonetheless
Bathroom break. 1.5/5

6. Magnus Carlsson - Möt mig i Gamla stan (Meet me in Old Town)
Thank GOD for this. In an otherwise dull-as-hell week, this sounds like it will bring some actual pop and schlager back to the competition. This is what MF is about, and although it doesn't sound jaw-droppingly amazing, at least it's a step in the right direction. 4/5

7. Mariette - Don't Stop Believing
This kind of sounds like Laleh, but without the same level of quirkiness. This could be quite good, judging from the clip. It could also turn out to be a bit of a bore. 3.5/5

Overall, I can't say I'm impressed by these clips in the slightest. I feel like Heat Two is historically the weakest each year, and I'm hoping that's the case here as well. I won't be live-blogging this, as I'll be working on Saturday. I'll probably post some thoughts when I get the chance to watch the show, though.

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

9th Anniversary Post

As we stand on the 9th anniversary of this blog (this Saturday), I:

a) can't believe that I've been doing this for so long
b) find myself looking back and forward, as I continually redefine Alienhits' purpose in the blogging world.

When I first started this blog, I did it purely out of curiosity and the wave of excitement I was riding after discovering a wider world of pop music. Before 2004/05, I was beholden to what U.S. radio had "curated" for American listeners. For awhile, that was fine, but as mainstream American music took a plunge in quality (and diversity) after the turn of the millennium, and the internet became more and more valuable in discovering new sounds, I began to explore a whole new world of music. Living in the UK and travelling Europe only exacerbated this newfound fascination.

At this point, I briefly attempted to turn the blog into more of a side business -- adding advertisements here and there and accepting many submissions from record labels, both large and small. In some ways, these years (2006-2009), were the golden age of blogging. They were certainly the golden age of my readership! Still, even when I was thinking with a more business-oriented mindset, it was important to me to never post anything simply because I was being paid, or prodded, to do so. In the past nine years, I can count the times this has happened on one hand, and those entries are painfully obvious to me because there's just no passion or authenticity in them.

As I moved on to another form of writing in 2011, and had my first young adult novel published, I feared that the blog would fall by the wayside in favor of all of the work that book-publishing entails. In some ways, I'm sure Alienhits suffered because of this, but it's also at this time that I began to redefine what I wanted the blog to be. Alienhits has always been a musical journal for me, even when I flirted with running it more as a business. I am the only one in charge, and the only one who has ever posted. I'm also an obsessive, (maybe too) passionate pop music fan who loves lists and statistics. My end-of-the-year countdowns continue to be very important to me, and I take them very seriously. I also don't cater them to anybody but myself, which I realize probably limits my readership, But hey, at least it's 100% authentic to my music taste!

Speaking of music taste, longtime readers will undoubtedly notice the changes in music posted as the blog has aged. Just as I was riding high on the European/Scandinavian wave back in 2006 when I started, the music that's getting me jazzed these days is almost exclusively Korean. I felt guilty at first about posting so much Kpop on the blog, since I realize it can be a polarizing genre and isn't exactly what readers were "sold" when the blog started, but I feel incredibly passionate about the genre. In fact, I'd go as far as saying that it's revived my love and interest in music. Period. It reminds me of when I first started getting in to European pop. I hope some of that passion has inspired readers to check out something they wouldn't have normally given a second look. If not, then I'm okay with losing some readership. After all, my "musical journal" won't be for everyone. I'd quickly give up if I were writing to please. I've got to be true to what I like, which definitely changes with time.

So, long story short, I'm looking forward to celebrating ten years in 2016. I will still post music that I love, wherever it may come from... just expect a good portion of it to come from Korea this year! Thank you SO much to readers that have stuck with me all these years. I'd love to hear from you (if you exist! haha), and I of course welcome new readers. In the coming year, I hope to do what I've always done: post the very best musical finds that are rocking my world.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Producer Spotlight: Sweetune

As a pop music aficionado, and a bit of a curator when it comes to my ipod playlists, I realize more and more that songwriting teams and producers are just as important, if not more, as the artists performing songs. Given this, I thought I'd start a new feature that focuses on my absolute favorite behind-the-scenes music creators... songwriters or producers whose name alone gets me psyched for a song.

We'll start with production/songwriting duo Sweetune, who have been active in the Kpop scene for a number of years now. They're most famous for being regular collaborators with Infinite and Kara, and they have an instantly recognizable sound.

Musical Hallmarks: 80's-style synth, propulsive beats, layered, powerful harmonies, 80's pop/rock melodies, prominent use of strings and orchestration, and overall bright, upbeat sound

Best Examples: Any of Infinite's songs, but I'll go with The Chaser and Be Mine as prime examples... also a string of excellent singles from Kpop group Boyfriend, with Janus being the best. For a female fronted song, Kara's Pandora.

Recommended Further Listening: 

INFINITE - She's Back, Nothing's Over, BTD, Man In Love, Last Romeo, Paradise, Can U Smile, Shot, Cover Girl, Julia, 1/3, In The Summer, I Like You, As Good As It Gets, 60 Seconds, Rosinante, Reflex, Memories, Lately, Fantasy, Request 
BOYFRIEND - Love Style, I Yah, Don't Touch My Girl, Little By Little, I'll Be There, One Day, Do, My Lady, On and On
KARA - Lupin, Step, Damaged Lady, Jumping, We're With You
HEO YOUNG SAENG - The Art Of Seduction, Life, Let It Go
9MUSES - Ticket, Gun, News, Figaro, Wild, A Few Good Men
JYJ - Only One

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Monday, February 09, 2015

Behrang Miri (ft. Victor Crone) - Det rår vi inte för

Another year of Melodifestivalen kicked off this weekend with a bit of a whimper and a whole lot of controversy. As is usually true with the contest, I ended up liking pretty much every song after listening to them a few more times. Two days later, I find myself particularly enamored with Det rår vi inte för by Behrang Miri and Victor Crone. Upon a little more research, this became less surprising, and that's due to one of the co songwriters. As soon as I saw Tony Nilsson's name on the credits, I knew exactly why the melodic hook has me so excited. Nilsson is one of this blog's heroes, and has written so many amazing pop songs in his career. Add this to the list, because I'm liking it more and more with each listen.

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

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