Friday, 31 August 2012

My Musical Diary XXVII

This has been an odd week for me music-wise. My top 5 songs this week are more inspired by several particular momenta from last week in which a song played an important part...

Morten Harket - Out of My Hands



I reviewed Morten Harket's newest solo album earlier this week and since the album is very good it's only natural one of its songs finds itself here.
Out of My Hands is a gorgeous ballad on an album full of uptempo pop songs. It's probably the most "Harket" song on there, with a less current production it could have appeared on any of Morten's previous albums (or even on an a-ha album). I'm not a ballad person but if it is a truly exceptional song, a ballad can sometimes stay with you the longest.

David Bowie - Can You Hear Me



I listen to Bowie pretty much every day. A few days ago I was getting ready to go out and when this song came on my player I completely got lost in it and forgot what I wanted to do. I've been a fan of Bowie's for 10 years now. After all this time his songs can still do this to me. What an amazing musician/artist he is...
He was completely coked out when he made Young Americans. I'm not a huge fan of the album itself and it is true his delivery of this song lacks true passion a bit, Bowie pretty much only really needs to get laid - that is the message I take away from the song. On the other hand it's one of Bowie's best vocal performances ever. It's just a joy to listen to. Ooh.

Oh, do yourselves a favour and watch Bowie singing this song as a duet with Cher. Just priceless.



Sergei Rachnaminoff - Piano Concerto no. 2



I was watching Brief Encounter, an amazing British film from the 40's and at one point a familiar melody started playing. I wondered where did I know this piece of classical music from and why did it sound so pop to me? After some detective work I discovered the author and name of the piece and how Eric Carmen totally ripped off its main motif for the verses of his 1975 hit All By Myself which subsequently got covered to death.

The original music is so beautiful though, it will totally make you forget you are quite sick of that pop ballad. Plus, the piece fit the film so well, it almost felt like it was written especially for it.

Robbie Williams - Advertising Space



Michael Jackson would have turned 54 two days ago. I'm not an "MJ" fan but do recognise his talents. I was listening to the radio that day and when Robbie's song to/about Elvis Presley came on I immediately connected it with Michael and his life and death and it made me a bit teary-eyed. I cried when MJ died, not because I was sad about his death, more because I was sad about the weirdness and the loneliness of his life. And Advertising Space brought it all back.

I love this Robbie song. While I'm a fan of Rob's self-referential style as a lyricist I have to say Advertising Space stands out as exceptional from this point of view exactly because it's not straightforwardly about Robbie himself. Rob managed to take his experience as an entertainer who became very famous at a very young age and to translate it as a letter to one of his biggest idols.

There's no dignity in death
To sell the world your last breath
They're still fighting over
Everything you left


...

No one learned from your mistakes
We let our prophets go to waste
All that's left in any case
Is advertising space

Through your eyes
The world was burning
Please be gentle
I'm still learning
You seemed to say
As you kept turning up

They poisoned you with compromise
At what point did you realise
Everybody loves your life
But you?


Please be gentle I'm still learning is the key lyric for me and it makes me think about something else than just explitation. I hate seeing not only bored teenagers who don't know better but also adults moaning about and insulting very young pop stars. Okay, you think their music sucks and their fans are annoying. Does it warrant death threats, anonymous online attacks and general bitchiness? I find any form of online or media bullying a truly disgusting behaviour. These young stars might be poor musicians and might fade away soon but they are real people who are not bulletproof. Also, tastes are relative.

Lana Del Rey - Radio



Woah, it turned a bit heavy and deep this week. Radio might actually be the most upbeat sounding song on here! But sounds can be deceiving.

Baby love me cause I'm playing on the radio
(how do you like me now?)


I suppose Radio deals with the whole unhappiness with one's life and trying to cure it by becoming famous. Will I finally find love and inner peace if millions of people love me? Will this person finally approve of me because I'm famous now?

Phew!

Btw, I recommend a 1965 British film called Darling for you to watch. The film's star Julie Christie won an Oscar for her portrayal of a model/socialite Diana. Calling Diana "amoral" is simplifying the whole story, the film's got to do with a human being's uncertainness and unhappiness with one's life and it's definitely an interesting, if imperfect viewing experience. Also, it co-stars my beloved Dirk Bogarde. So...recommended! ;)

If you read this far it probably means you have a bit of time on your hands. ;) If so, I recommend you to watch these two fan videos for Lana's Radio song. You might like them. One is here and the other one is here.

Thanks so much for reading, if you have any comments or questions, please feel free to use the comment section and also feel free to share this entry on Twitter, Blogger, Facebook, or by e-mail. The sharing gadgets have been newly installed under this text.

Have a great week and happy September!

...until next time...

Peace, Love and Ringo!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Morten Harket - Out of My Hands - Short Review



I used to be a huge a-ha fan in a very intense cca 3 year period in the early noughties. And even after I discovered other music I would catch up with their work from time to time. The band is a history (but never say never...) but that doesn't mean their members decided to stop making music altogether.

I own all of the band's lead singer's solo albums. Yes, even the Norwegian ones. Morten's music used to be very introspective with strong 90's singer-songwriter pop rock vibes. Out of My Hands is quite different to his previous solo output and definitely has more in common with a-ha's final album Foot of the Mountain. At the same time it features enough familiar Morten traits, so there is in no way any danger his faithful fans could dislike it.

Out of My Hands is pretty much filled with delightful synthpop. And for me surprisingly the majority of the album's 10 songs are uptempo - like the opening track Scared of Heights or the lead single Lightning - both quite simply amazing pop songs. And even when Morten goes slow and introspective, such as on the gorgeous title track or on the Pet Shop Boys-penned ballad Listening, the results are memorable and worth coming back to.

Even though I'm a fan of a-ha's more rock early 90's leanings I've decided Morten's extraordinary voice might actually fit synths the best. He's obviously in a great singing form on Out of My Hands. It's a joy when a great singer is provided with great song material, and an adequate production. Sadly this is not a norm in the pop music world and that's why Out of My Hands should be heralded as a definite win.

Morten Harket's fifth album is not a musical revolution but it is a very fresh, modern synthpop album and a recommended listen for anyone who enjoys good pop music.

Friday, 24 August 2012

My Musical Diary XXVI

Wow, quite an eventful week in pop music since I last blogged. Muse released a new single, Pet Shop Boys' album leaked (will review as soon as I can), Cher Lloyd has been attacked with piss, Christina Aguilera's possible new single leaked. Chad and Avril got engaged. There's a new makeup wearing pretty boy on the scene, another Lana Del Rey demo has leaked. Etc etc. Not everything could fit in here but some of it I have deemed interesting enough to write about it. Here we go then!

Muse - Madness



M-m-m-m-m-use got the stutter bug. Also they can't decide if they want to be Take That (2010 version), Depeche Mode, Queen or U2 now. Madness is about as rock as The Beatles' Yesterday but why the hell not. I'd rather have them like that than releasing bloated crap like Survival. Sadly I don't think the rest of The 2nd Law will sound like Madness. After all, if features Survival too.

BLEACH - No Ambition



A new pretty boy of an artist is in town! Lloyd Dixon goes by the name BLEACH and gets mightily pimped by Boy George. BLEACH's singing even resembles Boy George's a bit (and don't get me started on the whole almost a drag queen but not quite which BG had perfected 30 years ago).
Love the song, have watched the video several times...it's fun. It's like Glam rock/pop never went away. When BLEACH releases a full album and all the songs on it are just a good and poppy, I'll definitely buy it. My cuppa.

Cher Lloyd - End Up Here



Talking about good and poppy. I listen to Cher Lloyd's mixed bag of a debut album quite often - usually whenever I have to do some housework. And it was last weekend while cleaning windows I realised I rarely listen to the album's closing song End Up Here (it wasn't on my iPod) but that the song was actually pretty good. So I began to play it over and over. Sometimes I do get obsessed with a song and then I have it playing on a loop (other instances of this happening is Cher's One by One, Bowie's Strangers When We Meet or Madonna's Take a Bow).
Here's the thing, I don't think End Up Here is the best pop song of this century but it is a very nice song and I'm sure many of those who hate Cher Lloyd but like them some pop might actually enjoy it. If you're one of those people, maybe give the song a listen...

Lana Del Rey - Afraid



A recently leaked Lana demo! And wow, it's pretty good! She gets to use her higher register here (I know some people are not exactly fond of it but I don't mind it). I love how simple this is. If it gets on an album it'll probably lose this very quality so I'm gonna enjoy it now, while I can.

Apparently there are many of these leaked Lana songs online. Serial Killer probably being the most popular one. I have yet to give them a proper listen but Afraid has won my little heart over.

Marlene Dietrich - Wenn ich mir was wünschen dürfte



After months and months of uncertainty I finally decided to watch The Night Porter (Il portiere di notte), a 1974 Liliana Cavani film starring Dirk Bogarde as an ex-Nazi officer and Charlotte Rampling, playing his lover and a concentration camp survivor. Now that's some heavy stuff, especially since the film incorporates themes of sexual submission and domination. One scene of the film features a topless Rampling singing this Friedrich Hollaender-written song to entertain the Nazi officers. I knew and loved Marlene's version of this song for many many years now but I'm pretty sure the song and The Night Porter will be connected in my mind from now on.

The film also has some wonderful Daniele Paris-written theme music. You can listen to part of it here.

Oh, and the Rampling version of Wenn ich mir was wünschen dürfte (bare chest and all) can be found here.



Thanks for reading this far and worming your way through my very eclectic taste in music. Hope you'll come back next week. Till then

Peace, Love and Ringo!

Friday, 17 August 2012

My Musical Diary XXV

Hello guys! I'm back! Even though for you I was never really gone...oh the beauty of scheduled blog posting... My trip to Vienna was nice. No musical discoveries though. Those tend to happen mostly in Prague. :)

This week's 5 songs are all a bit chanson-y, moody & mystique-y...I hope you'll enjoy them.

Amanda Palmer & the Grand Theft Orchestra - The Killing Type



Amanda released this song last Friday to her Kickstarter supporters and I managed to download it in the morning right before I left for Vienna, so I could give it a few listens on the way there. I'd heard the song before, live, but having the studio version now is great. Not much piano there, if any but it still sounds very Amanda and...it's cool. The "I'm saying it NOW. I'm saying it SO." is amazing, cathartic. Can't wait for the whole album. Dammit.

Adam Lambert - Ring of Fire



The love it or hate it version of a Johnny Cash (June Cash-written) country classic. Well, I've loved it from the first time I saw Adam perform a shorter version of this on American Idol 3 years ago. But the studio version has been in my music libraries and iPods ever since. It's the sort of thing Marc Almond would do with this song had he Adam's vocal abilities. While in general Adam's amazing vocals tend to leave me cold, I have to say this version wouldn't be the same without them.

Hercules and Love Affair - Blind



I've recently discovered a video of Antony Hegarty performing this 4 year-old song with Hercules and Love Affair live for the first time - and believe it or not - it happened only about 2 weeks ago. Wow. The live version was nice but more than anything it reminded me how much I loved the original version which I managed to dig up in my computer two days ago. Now, this is some cool disco. Look at the lyrics. Not your usual dance song.

As a child I knew
that the stars could only get brighter
then we could get closer
leaving this darkness
behind

Now that I'm older
the stars shed light upon my face
but when I found myself alone
I feel like I, I am blind


Hurts - Under the Bridge



Hurts introduced a new song to their fans on Sziget, Hungary's biggest summer festival some time last week. Yay! A new song. Moody, melancholic, strong melody and somewhat cliché lyrics. Pretty much what can one expect from Hurts. I hope their second album will feature plenty of more uptempo songs but this song is definitely strong and not something Hurts fans should be disappointed with. Hope the album won't be disappointing either. And that it will happen soon.

Peter Kingsbery - Only the Very Best



I've heard this song a couple of times on mum's radio and never had any idea who the singer was. Just like with Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights, Leonard Cohen's Suzanne and Lana Del Rey's Video Games, this song made me go "what the fuck is this? this is so weird but I like it!" whenever I caught it but until last night I never had any way of finding out the name of neither the singer nor the song. Last night I finally had my iPhone at hand and tried both Soundtracking and Shazam to identify the song but those apps had no answer. So I finally just typed the lyrics I was listening to into the Google search - and voila! Never heard of the guy. Ever. English name, English song, yet he's a French star (though an American). Interesting. I was imagining some dark rock glam/cabaret weirdo from the 70's/80's and here's a French chansonier. I love Europe.

And this week's video bonus:

MIKA - Celebrate (feat Pharrell) video



I featured the song in one of the previous Diary blogs and I wasn't very happy about it then. I have to say I've made my peace with this song since. I'll just enjoy it for what it is, a nice pop song. Still not entirely content with this new direction MIKA is taking but on the other hand it's not a radical departure from the previous album so I'll just let him show me what he's about now before I dismiss it all.

The video is actually very MIKA-esque. It's feel good and positive and he looks very cute in it. There's nothing ground-breaking about it but I also can't find anything wrong with it. :)




Hope you have enjoyed reading my newest Musical Diary. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to take advantage of the comment section below.

Have a great week and until next Friday

Peace, Love and Ringo!

Friday, 10 August 2012

My Musical Diary XXIV

This week's Diary is brief as I wrote it in about half an hour on Wednesday evening. I'm already in Vienna when you read this, enjoying a short trip from which I'll return on Monday evening. I didn't want to cancel this week's blog completely but I sadly didn't have as much time to write it as I usually do. So excuse any typos and grammar fuck-ups.

Bowie - Life On Mars?



Well, Curiosity Rover landed on Mars earlier this week, so it's no surprise I start my Diary with this song. One of the best songs ever written...anyone can connect to its lyrics. And apart from all the SF and glam connections the song's melody is just gorgeous. No wonder it's probably Bowie's most covered song.

Green Day - Oh Love



First heard this new Green Day single weeks ago but then sort of forgot about its existence until hearing it again a few days ago on the radio. Well. It's a good song but is it something surprising like American Idiot (the song) was? Definitely not. It's a nice song that will be easy to sing along to - it does have the Green Day anthemic quality. Makes me think the album(s?!) will be listenable. That's about it.

Pet Shop Boys - I Started A Joke



I'm a bit obsessed with this cover at the moment. You can find it as a b-side on PSB's newest single Winner which came out this week. I's out in digital form as well.

Phillip Phillips - Home



The first non-shitty winner song of an American Idol. In fact, Home is actually pretty good and it's doing quite well in the US charts (not only thanks to being featured on the Olympic games TV programmes there). It's a nice guitar song. The video is exactly what I'd expect from Phillip - it's feel good and thankfully not too sentimental (which we'd expect from a winner of American Idol). Well done so far. I'm not a fan of Phillip's but I do wish him this success and hope does well with his own material as well.

Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra - Do It With A Rock Star



I started this post with a bang and I'm ending it with a bang. This is a great rock song Bowie could wish he'd written. Listened to it this week always several times on repeat coz it's just so freaking cool and addictive. I can't get enough of it and since I'm one of the funders of Amanda's album art project on Kickstarter I've known it for quite a while now. It was a grower but man, has it grown since that first spring listen! :)

Thank you for reading this far. Have a great weekend and if you have any comments or questions, hit the comment section.

Till next week

Love, Peace & Ringo!

Friday, 3 August 2012

My Musical Diary XXIII

I haven't been listening to music very much this week (archery on the Olympics and Strangers from the Sky have prevented me), so this week's Diary is a bit all over the place. There's quite a few bonus videos here though. ;)

Florence + the Machine - Spectrum (Say My Name) (Calvin Harris Remix)



This song has been a UK no. 1 for a month but I still haven't heard it until today so I decided to finally check it out.

Hm. I think I'm starting to be tired by all the dancey stuff in the charts right now. Florence's voice is what makes this song stand out but the remix production just makes me yawn, at first listen at least.

Lady Gaga - Yoü and I



One of my favourite Lady Gaga songs. Loved it from the first time I heard it (still prefer the original live version to the final studio one) and whenever it comes on on the radio (just like it did a few days ago) I can't help but pretend I'm a rock star headlining a festival... Always such fun singing along to it. Great piano pounder of a song, those are always the best.

Elton John vs Pnau - Karmatron



Talking about piano pounders, heard about Elton's latest collaboration before but only a Czech music website's glowing review made me check it out. The album (Elton's existing chopped up vocals plus new music and beats by Pnau) is definitely a nice chillout background kind of music but works even if you really want to listen to the songs. I kind of wish The Sound of Arrows got to do this instead of Pnau, I think the result would be more my kind of vibe. But it's definitely a cool project and a success.

Karmatron is so far my favourite on the album. The most dramatic one on the album, the most uptempo song as well - and the shortest one. Pretty good.

Melanie Amaro - Don't Fail Me Now



Haven't watched the US X Factor last year, so this is my first time hearing Melanie, the winner, and it's not bad at all. People who have seen her on the show seem to pretty much universally hate it though, saying it doesn't sound like her. If that's true, than that's a shame but if the song gets itself to people who have no idea who Melanie is it won't matter very much.

Don't Fail Me Now is not original in any way (repetitive, all the lyrical clichés!) but it sounds like a possible radio hit to me. I'd take this over a boring ballad any time.

Amelia Lily - China In Your Hand



Amelia is going to release her debut single soon (and you can read my thoughts on its video below) but earlier this week, her live version of China, which she sang on the X Factor at one point, came on my iPod and I fell in love with it all over again. When I saw Amelia perform this I remember it as the moment when I realised she could be a proper pop star, not "just" a pop/rock hybrid between P!nk and Kelly Clarkson. Seems Xenomania had the same thought. Looking forward to the whole album now...

Bonus - videos:

More, to me interesting videos have come out recently. Here they are + a few of my thoughts on them.

Lana Del Rey - Summertime Sadness video



I tragically omitted to put this video here last week. I absolutely love it. I find summertime a pretty bi-polar time. It can be a time of a great deal of joy but when you look back on it in winter or even several years later it can definitely bring you down. Or, it can be a source of depression right from the start. I was pretty down last summer and the summer before was a summer of staggering heights and really scary lows, so I've formed a special bond with this song. It certainly doesn't cheer me up though.

Right, the video. I kind of have no idea what is going on there. Friendship? Lesbian love? Did Lana kill herself over the friend/girlfriend breaking up with her or as a reaction to her death? I don't know and I don't need to have one clear meaning spelled out to me. They call Lana's videos Instagram music videos but whatever, this is a great video and so unlike most of the stuff I've seen so far in my life. (Disclaimer I'm not a music video person, so it doesn't mean there aren't thousands of music vids identical to this one.)

Amelia Lily - You Bring Me Joy video



There's a car and there's a beach. And Amelia has some friends with her. And then there's a party with boys involved. Not a terribly original video. But it does have the summer joy/melancholy which the song invokes, so...why not. It's summer. Cars, beaches and boys should be permitted in girl singer's videos. Especially if the girls have absolutely stunning hair.

Scissor Sisters - Let's Have A Kiki instructional video



I've grown to hate this song a bit and the word "Kiki" a lot and it seems to me like the band's desperately trying to get the most out of this not-as-amusing-as-they-think song. Now there's a Kiki dance routine.

Ana is absolutely fabulous as usual and the reason I watched this video till the very end. Babydaddy dropping his drumstick at one point is just adorable, Del is werking the fuck out of his tamburin thingy and Jake's dancing is top notch though I'm judging his outfit so hard. WTF is that.

This video is fun, but I'm still SO over Kiki.

And finally...

Wishing just the very best to two amazing piano playing artists who share birthdays (30th July): Kate Bush and Othon Mataragas.




If you want to, you can check out Othon's current collaborative art project here.

Hope you have enjoyed reading my newest Music Diary. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to take advantage of the comment section below.

Have a great week and until next Friday

Peace, Love and Ringo!