Oh we’re nearly there aren’t we? I hope people are still interested anyway. I mean it’s just my opinion, no reason why you should be interested, but it keeps my hands busy over the holidays so I’m sure it’s for the greater good.
We hit the first barrage of Eurovision entries yesterday, who knows how many are left to find? Well I do, of course, but I’m not telling.
20. Perfume – Magic of love
I already touched yesterday on 2013 being my year of Perfume, a super time for the girls to release a new album, and after several singles we finally got our hands on “LEVEL3” towards the end of the year. It wasn’t my favourite of their releases, but it was reliably good and had some cracking singles on it.
“Magic of love” was one of the later ones, and is a bright and energetic summer dance song. The psychedelic music video was a cutesy and stylish sea of colour, and gave the girls a chance to have a bit of fun. Top stuff.
19. Britney Spears – Passenger
From Britney Jean
While I enjoyed “Work Bitch” in yesterday’s set of tracks, this album track was my favourite moment of “Britney Jean“, calling on co-writes from Britney, Sia and Katy Perry amongst others. The album relied a little heavily on “Scream and Shout” derivatives when will.i.am was in charge, but this is in a different league.
Her voice might struggle to cope at times (or maybe she just had a headcold) it had more life in it than the other album tracks. I hope this comes out as a single, and more importantly I hope people are still paying attention. But he’s in Vegas now with her new residency so who knows what we’ll end up with.
18. M83 – Oblivion (ft Susanne Sundfør)
From Oblivion OST
Recent Tom Cruise movie “Oblivion” wasn’t a bad effort, all said and done. It might have not been my favourite sci-fi release of the year but it had something about it. Perhaps it was the score that helped, put together by French act M83. That sort of ambient electronic does tickle my sweet spot sometimes, and this certainly did.
Though somehow I managed to totally miss the title track collaboration by Susanne Sundfør in the credits. Yes, it’s her again, my new favourite Norwegian. She lends her spinechilling vocals to this sprawling score, complete with a synth-backed orchestra, making it one of the more indulgent bits of music I’ve had the pleasure to listen to this year.
17. Janet Leon – Heartstrings
Sweden loves Eurovision. It has one of the biggest selection events of any of the participating nations, selling out arenas as the best and brightest in Sweden music fight for that ticket to fly the flag in the big contest. It’s called Melodifestivalen, and it’s its own little world with recurring artists all desperate to make their big breakthrough.
This year Janet Leon stepped into the circus for the first time, with a power-pop dance track that presumably would have been sung by Agnes otherwise. It didn’t go to plan, with poor Janet getting that deadly 5th place in her heat that meant her journey was at a premature end. It’s full-on Swedish pop, I love it, and I hope she has more luck in 2014 when she’s back at Melodifestivalen.
16. Aliona Moon – O Mie
Yeah yeah, here we are again, back in Malmö, this time courtesy of Moldova. This small Eastern-European republic holds its own in Eurovision, often marching to the beat of its own drum with its entries. This year they went a little more mainstream than usual, with a drama-ballad on a grand scale.
Aliona’s vocals are wonderful, particularly that killer middle-eight, but nothing prepared us for that towering inferno of a dress she wore. With a hidden platform underneath, at the climactic moment she ascended, while her dress simply grew and grew. Projected on it were stars, fire, lightning and ice. Eye-popping stuff, she dressed to impress and it paid off.
15. The Wanted – Walks Like Rihanna
From Word of Mouth
Oh I know it’s a bit(!) naff, but I love The Wanted. They haven’t had the easiest year, with the long-delayed third album eventually hitting the racks late in the year, and it looks to be hitting to the bargain bins any moment now. On paper their singles have been doing well in terms of chart positions, but they are still looking for that longevity in a single they haven’t had for over 2 years now.
This was an attention-seeking but utterly light-hearted pop song straight out of the Smash Hits era. I’m not sure if Rihanna has a particular walk, but it seems to be enough for the boys to sing about it, as they re-enact scenes from classic 90s boyband videos. As throwaway as it gets, but I still love it.
14. Röyksopp – Running to the Sea (ft Susanne Sundfør)
Yes, it’s Susanne again, this time teaming up with fellow Norwegian electronica experts Röyksopp on a new track that’s so far yet to appear on either acts’ albums. It’s a marriage made in heaven, in the proud tradition of Röyksopp’s shrewd choices of vocalists to bring their work alive.
It’s gloomy stuff, there seems to be a car crash that Susanne recounts in dramatic terms against a cold and ghostly soundscape. You know me with Nordic gloom, I can’t get enough of it, if there plenty of synths. It’s constantly morphing with new beats and rhythms, I just love it. I hope for comebacks from both acts in 2014.
13. Valentina Monetta – Crisalide (Vola)
More Malmö drama, and not one with such a happy ending, sadly. To Baku 2012, San Marino sent flame-haired jazz singer Valentina Monetta to perform the completely insane and hastily re-written “Social Network Song“, and failed to qualify. In a wonderful twist Valentina resolved to perform again in Malmö, this time with a titanically brilliant piece of Italian Schlager.
A fan favourite, it was hoped to give San Marino their first appearance in a Eurovision final, but tragically Valentina was stuck in 11th place. A real shame, as it was definitely one of my favourites. A lovely sweeping ballad to start, it unexpectedly morphs into a club banger with two key changes, all in the last minute. Amazing. Valentina’s hope it’ll be third time lucky in Copenhagen, and I’m sure plenty of others will too.
12. Ke$ha – C’mon
You might turn your nose up at Ke$ha, but without anyone really noticing, she’s been popping out some pretty decent dance-pop music, courtesy of Dr Luke. Sadly it feels like her second album “Warrior” went under the radar a bit, though it was one of the surprise treats of the year.
I enjoyed first single “Die Young” in 2012, but the followup was even better. Rich, warm and fun, it’s the sort of song only Ke$ha could really pull off, that feeling of just wanting to have fun with scant regard for the rules isn’t a new thing of course, but Ke$ha strikes me as the sort of woman who really DOES just want that at the moment, rather than being handed the song to fit a demographic. She’s gradually making the music she wants to make, and it shows.
11. Martin Rolinski – In And Out of Love
Another near miss at Melodifestivalen this year was the comeback of former BwO vocalist Martin Rolinski. His comeback song could easily have been a BwO song really, plenty of clunky rhymes and rampant falsetto. It’s over the top but deceptively simple. The paint-throwing staging and a strong performance got him through to second-chance round Andra Chansen, but he narrowly missed out on a spot in the final by the end.
Sure, it’s not reinventing the wheel for him musically, but sometimes you don’t need to. I might even prefer it to the BwO songs if I’m honest. Solo album please!