28 February 2015

Eurovision Song Contest 2015: First impressions 2/4

The second part of my first impression reviews of the Eurovision Song Contest 2015 songs. You can read the first part here. In these four posts I am rating the songs and telling me opinions. It is highly possible that my opinions change before the actual contest, especially if some of the songs get updated. I will make my top-list after all the songs have been chosen and right before the contest, for comparison.

Wikipedia: Eurovision Song Contest 2015

Here are the next ten songs, in the release order:

ICELAND
María Ólafsdóttir - Unbroken: Okay, this song is quite generic and not very original, but for some reason I like it. It is sweet. The music is fairly catchy and she sings nicely. I do not usually like so simple songs, but this works for me. A cute little song that gets 8/10.

ITALY
Il Volo - Grande Amore: I definitely can see why people seem to like this one. It just does not hit me. I usually tend to like this kind of songs, but not this that much. I like the music, so I think it is the vocals that I do not like so much. It is not bad, but just not for me. I am still giving it 6/10 since there is still an actual chance that this song grows on me.

SERBIA
Bojana Stamenov - Ceo Svet Je Moj: My first thought when I heard this song was that this is my favourite selected song so far. This is the first song selected that I really like. My only worry is that it is that kind of song which gets boring after few listens. Honestly, the second time I listened this, I did not love it as much as the first time. But I still love it, so I am hoping it will last. 9/10.

LITHUANIA
Monika Linkyte & Vaidas Baumila - This Time: This is okay, but I do not find it very special. They sing well, the music is nice and it is a catchy song, but it is still missing something. I do like the country sound it has even though I am usually not a very big country music fan. It is decent song, so I will give it 6/10. This might be a grower though.

ESTONIA
Elina Born & Stig Rästa - Goodbye To Yesterday: I recently blogged about Elina Born, so I was really happy to find out she was participating the national selection and even more happier when I heard the song. I really like this one. I usually do not care for ballads, but there is something very special in this one. I love when songs have a story like this. I am considering between 9 and 10, but I think I will actually give this 10/10.

LATVIA
Aminata - Love Injected: I really loved Aminata's song in Latvia's last year's selection (she unfortunately was not chosen), so I was happy to read she was participating again this year. I really like her singing. And I really like this song. I like the exotic sound it has, it is catchy and the music overall is great. She just screams a bit too much for my liking, which is the only fault in this song. That's why I will give it 9/10.

IRELAND
Molly Sterling - Playing With Numbers: I do not like this. I can not exactly tell what is wrong with this one, but I just simply do not like it. There is nothing special in it, but then again nothing incredibly bad either. 5/10.

SLOVENIA
Maraaya - Here For You: I find her voice kinda annoying. The song itself is not that bad. I sort of like it and sort of don't. But I think I overall fall more towards of liking it. But on a long run I am probably starting to get annoyed by this. So far I am giving it 6/10.

FINLAND
Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät - Aina Mun Pitää: And once again I am ashamed of being from Finland (I have gotten use to this feeling by this time). This song is nothing but a total mess and unbearable to listen. I feel it is kinda disrespectful for other artists that the song is only half the length of a normal Eurovision song; like they are not even putting their all into it. But then again, why would someone want to listen three minutes of this... 0/10.

MOLDOVA
Eduard Romanyuta - I Want Your Love: More random noise to this year's contest... The music I really like, but honestly I find the singer horrible. I really do not feel like listening to him sing. 3/10 for the music.

My top10 so far:
1. Estonia
2. Latvia
3. Serbia
4. Georgia
5. Iceland
6. Switzerland
7. Lithuania
8. Italy
9. Slovenia
10. Cyprus

Overall impression so far:
These ten new songs are definitely a lot better than most of the previously chosen one. The quality of this year's contest has risen a lot, but I still feel it is lower than usually. There is still not a one song that really blow my mind and usually in the contests there is at least two of those. But there is still the other half left, so I am hopeful.

The Eurovision Song Contest 2015 semi-finals take place in 19 May and 21 May, and the final in 23 May.

[I usually do not want to write negative things about songs, but reviewing Eurovision songs sorta requires that. I still try to keep my comments fairly nice. These are just my opinions and I am not a professional: I am just a major consumer of music and a long term fan of Eurovision Song Contest.]

25 February 2015

China #1: Something dark

I have multiple times mentioned in my blog and elsewhere that I love East Asian music. This of course includes also Chinese music. There is Chinese music published in other countries too, but the language's mother country has some brilliant tunes too.

Wikipedia: China

I got into Chinese music, mainly Mandopop (Mandarin Pop), when Japanese and South Korean music were just not enough. I actually really like the Chinese language and hopefully one day I will have the time to study it. The language does sound quite interesting in songs.



The first song is by Faye Wong. She was born in Beijing in 1969 and started her career when she was 19 years old. So she has a long career behind her and it has been very successful one. She is one of the highest selling artists in China and she is also highly popular in other Chinese speaking countries and beyond. She sings both in Mandarin and Cantonese, though mostly so that her older material is in Cantonese. From 2005 on she has mostly been on a hiatus and has only done some concerts since then.

Her last studio album, which was released in 2003, is called 將愛 /Jiang Ai, which means To Love. The song above is the title song from this album. Wikipedia states that Taipei Times described the album as "saccharine pop and daring avant-garde", which really does sound my kind of music. The title track definitely fits the daring avant-garde department. I find it quite different from other Faye Wong's songs that I have heard.

Jiang Ai (the song) is quite dark, or actually more than quite. It does even sound a bit scary, like a background music from some horror movie. The music is very strong and dominant. Faye's vocals sound interesting, but actually fairly creepy. The song overall has a very dark feel to it; rarely a pop song manages to be this dark.



The second artist is Han Geng. Besides being a singer he is, like so many other artists, also actor, model and dancer. What I find interesting is that he is said to be "skilled in all of China's 56 ethnic traditional dances". Now I am interested on those dances...  In 2001 Han Geng was chosen to be a member of the now highly famous South Korean boy band Super Junior. He has since left the group (with suing the record label) and started his solo career in China.

In 2012 he won the Best Worldwide Act award at the MTV Europe Music Awards show. My friend watched the show (I am not fancy of award shows) and mentioned hearing this really good song at it. She eventually found it from YouTube and send it to me too. And I immediately loved the song. (Maybe I should start watching award shows...?)

The song is called 狂草 /Kuang Cao, which translates into Wild Cursive. Following the dark theme set by Jiang Ai, this song too is fairly dark sounding, though not as creepy. The music  is strong and I find there is something ethnical (Chinese) in it. This might also be partly due to the music video, which I also find interesting. Han Geng's vocals sound very good here and I think his voice sits well with this kind of songs.



The second song from Han Geng and this one is called 女皇 /Nu Huang, which means Queen, though it also can be translated as Empress. But Queen is how they call it in the official music video.

I find this song too a bit dark, but not the same way as the previous ones. This song is a bit more lighter and dancy. The chorus is very catchy, as is the music overall. I have had the song stuck in my head quite few times. I really like the music and the beat of this song is great. Han Geng's vocals are great too, but in this song the strong music is the main focus.



One more song from Han Geng. This one is called 小丑面具 /Xian Chou Mian Ju, which means Clown Mask. I must admit that I was attracted to this song by the title, since it created an image of a creepy song and, as you might be able to tell by now, I love creepy songs. I was not disappointed.

Even though this song is overall lighter than the previous Han Geng songs, this one is the most creepy. The music is very catchy and great, but it is other factors that make this song amazing (read amazing = creepy). Han Geng's vocals are very interesting here and the way he sings is somehow scary. Especially during the verses and the start of the chorus. The background vocals are probably the biggest factor of creepiness here, especially the higher notes. Overall I really like this song and it seems to be one of those songs that get better with every listening.

Oh, and Han Geng does have lighter songs too, but I personally really love his voice in this kind of darker songs. I find there is certain shade in his voice that just makes a perfect fit for these songs.

Wild Cursive* and Clown Mask and are from Han Geng's album 寒更, which was released in 2012. Queen is from his debut solo album 庚心, which was released in 2010. Other one of these albums is called Hope In The Darkness (Google Translate and Wikipedia disagree which one), which fits quite nicely to the theme of this post.

(*I prefer to use to English names since Chinese can be transliterated different ways and since I don't speak the language I am not so comfortable using uncertain transliterations. Sorry for possible mistakes in this post!)



Since the songs in this post have been so dark so far, the last song is going to be quite lot lighter. This boy band is called Top Combine. The group was formed in 2007 and debuted in 2008. Currently there is four members and one of them is actually South Korean (<-- one example of why it is so easy to go from Korean music to Chinese). They sing in Mandarin. I have only recently discovered this band so I do not know them very well. Yet!

The song is called Cotton Candy (棉花糖 in Chinese). And like I said it is a lot lighter than the other songs in this post. This song is very sweet and cute. It is fairly simple, but there is something very special in it. Maybe thanks the boys' vocals; They sing very softly and kinda magically. The song gives out a highly positive atmosphere without being overly happy. And it is very sweet without feeling overly sugary, unlike actual cotton candies! Sometimes a simple, sweet song is just in order.

Cotton Candy was released as a second single from Top Combine's debut EP Arrival, which was out in 2008.

21 February 2015

Slovakia #1: Twin power

Since I like to have different formats in my blog posts, today I will feature my favourite band from the country of Slovakia.

Wikipedia: Slovakia

I have actually been really into their music lately, so this is a good time to blog about them. So, without any unnecessary waffling, let's get to the business.



The group is called TWiiNS. And as you can probably tell by the name, it is consisted of twin sisters. The sisters are called Daniela and Veronika, and they released their first album, Tweens, already back in 2000 when they are just 14 years old. So, they have a long career behind them already. Their albums have had good success in Slovakia. Their early songs are in Slovak, but later on they have started to sing in English.

The song above in called Compromise. This is my personal favourite song from TWiiNS. I am usually not a big fan of ballads, but I really love this one. I find this song very touching; Maybe that's because I can somewhat relate to the lyrics, so this song has a personal feeling to me. The lyrics are definitely my favourite thing about this song. But I also love the music and the vocals. They all sound emotional and make this song very beautiful.



For many Europeans TWiiNS are known as the representatives of Slovakia in the Eurovision Song Contest 2011. Their song was called I'm Still Alive (found above). That is how I too came across to them originally (has it really been so long already!). Unfortunately TWiiNS did not make it in to the final. They were still one of my ultimate favourites that year and I still love their Eurovision song. You can watch the performance here. I, by the way, seriously love their outfits, both in the performance and the music video.

As I said before, I do not usually like ballads, but I love I'm Still Alive too. Again the lyrics are my favourite thing about this song and I can personally connect to them so well. And they have a good message too. I also love TWiiNS' vocals and the music is very good. It is a quite simple song, but still beautiful. Actually, this kind of songs tend to work better if they are simple enough, but not too much to become boring. And this song works perfectly.

"Now nothing can touch me 
I've seen what I can be
Lonely I've walked through the fire
But I’m still alive"



Recently TWiiNS have been more quiet on the release front, but from their Facebook page I get that they are having performances and television appearances around Europe. Before they were working in the United States with some famous producers. In late 2013 they released their single One Night Stand (above), which featured the highly famous American rapper Flo Rida.

I am not a big fan of lyrics of this kind, but these are not all bad. Still I don't like the lyrics that much, but the rest of this song I really like. I find this very catchy and it has been stuck in my head quite few times. I like the overall sound of this song: It is somehow rougher than the songs of this kind usually are. It is probably thanks to the sisters' vocals, which I really love here. They might be highly auto-tuned or whatever, but I don't mind; They sound very good.



Continuing on the party mood: This song is called Slip Of The Tongue. The lyrics tell a story about meeting someone at a party, then leaving outside for a little while and when coming back that person is already kissing another one. I always love when the lyrics have a bit of unusual story; I don't remember hearing other songs exactly like this.

The music is definitely my kind of music: It is catchy, dancy and strong. I really like some of the sounds, like the ones after the chorus. The beats are very strong and the song becomes quite dark actually. The vocals are also great and they add a nice edge to the song.



Last up is a song called I Don't Know. The first four songs were not so happy, give or take on One Night Stand, but this song I find happy. The lyrics tell about falling in love, though not knowing why. So a bit bittersweet feeling? But the music is very positive sounding and uplifting. And the vocals add to that brilliantly (I really like how TWiiNS' voices nicely alter to fit all kinds of different songs). It is a fun and catchy dance song, that manages to make at least me smile.

I believe that Compromise, Slip Of The Tongue and I Don't Know are from TWiiNS' 2009 album Compromise. I'm Still Alive is not part of any TWiiNS album, but besides being a single it has been released at least on the Eurovision Song Contest 2011 album. One Night Stand has been released just as a single.

17 February 2015

Solomon Islands #1: Lovely island sounds

I always find it interesting to look into the music of a country I know pretty much nothing about. Music and music videos can teach you a lot about that country's culture. Today's featured country is one of those kind of countries: Solomon Islands.

Wikipedia: Solomon Islands
I wanted to look into some Oceanic country's music since I only knew about Australia and Vanuatu (possibly New Zealand too, though I can't think of any artist right now). I used a random country generator and the first Oceanic country that came up was Solomon Islands.

And so off I went...



Sharzy. The problem when you want to blog about such a small country's musicians is that it is nearly impossible to find ANY actual information on them. For my knowledge it seems that Sharzy is the only artist from Solomon Islands that has a Wikipedia page. I haven't even been able to find a webpage to any artist, though few have had Facebook pages (which haven't been much useful either). This problem is going to came up better later in this post, so let's get to Sharzy first...

Sharzy has had musical career since 1995 and he sings in multiple languages. He has released many albums (though I can't find more info on them) and on his Wikipedia page it is said that: "He has been described by The Guardian [the British newspaper] as one of the Solomon Islands' "living national icons"." With this and the fact that he has a Wikipedia page, I go assuming he is possibly the most famous singer from Solomon Islands.

The first song from Sharzy is called Wanting You More. It is sing in English and it is a love song. Though some terms used in the song are not so romantic, at least in my opinion. I really like how Sharzy's voice sounds like in this. There seems to be some other dude too singing in this song, but I don't find his name from anywhere. The song sounds very soft, but also uplifting and exoctic. I really love the overall sound of this.



The other song from Sharzy is called Solwara Meri (I have no idea what this means). The song features Taina Gee, who is also an artist from Solomon Islands. I actually found a Wikipedia page for him, but it is just a user page. But it gives out some information. Like that Taina has toured in multiple Oceanic countries since 1992, when he joined a pan pipe group.

Solwara Meri sounds very exotic to me. Like Wanting You More, this song too is soft, but uplifting. It is actually a fairly soothing sound. I have no idea, what language they are singing in; Partly it sounds like English, but partly not. Could it be a mixture of different languages or an interesting dialect? Or maybe I just imagine the English parts. Anyways, it sounds very interesting.



Other singer from Solomon Islands that I like a lot is called Cerlyn or Celyn. I have found two songs where she sings, but they have her name written differently (I am certain it is the same person). So I do not know exactly what her name is. I'd call this the ultimate problem when it comes to the artists from small countries / small music industries. Obviously, I have not been able to find any information on her, so let's just focus on the music.

The song above is called Kam Baek. It seems that this is how to actually write it. It obviously mean Come Back. I think. Maybe this is some cultural thing from Solomon Islands or Oceania? This song too sounds like partly English, partly something else. Do they have a different way of writing and/or pronouncing English there? It would be interesting to know and by a quick googling I was not able to find information on this matter. But whatever language she is singing, it does sound interesting.

I really love this song. So far, this is my favourite song from Solomon Islands. The music sounds soft like in the previous songs of this post. I believe, this is the sound very common to the island nations of Oceania. Cerlyn's / Celyn's voice adds a nice contrast to the music. The song makes me feel wistful and dreamy. There is definitely a strong longing feeling in this song.



This song might be called Heart Soa. Again, the problems arise and I am not even able to get the name of the song right. But I believe it is that. It is sung by T-Cage, Cerlyn / Celyn and Luk-C. I do not have more knowledge on these two new artists either, so let's skip ahead again.

Although T-Cage is named as the main artist, Cerlyn / Celyn has more vocals here. Which is fine by me, since I really like her voice. T-Cage sings well too, but there's something in Cerlyn's / Celyn's voice that really attracts me. I do not know if her voice really sounds like this or if it has been altered, but frankly I do not really even care. But yes, the vocals are great overall.

The music is again that soft kind with an exotic flavour. This is maybe the most exotic (again, exotic in this case means exotic from my point of view, since I am the one writing) one of all these songs in this post. It makes me think about palm trees and beaches, even though there is not anything particularly referring to those.

As a combined review of the music videos, I'd say that it is nice to see what is looks like in Solomon Islands. Pretty much all of the music videos I have seen from Solomon Islands, have been shot at a beach. As it is an island nation, beaches are of course important to them and a big part of their culture. And I have to say that they do look stunning. The music videos are very simple and cheap, but that is reasonable considering how small the music industry must be there. So let's just enjoy the scenery and the music.

14 February 2015

Original & Covers 2x2: A different kind of Valentine's Day post


I was thinking about writing a Valentine's Day post, but I am not a romantic person. So, this is my take on Valentine's Day: These songs are about love, but from a different angle. This is also a post on the Original & Covers series with a twist.

All my Original & Covers posts so far have been in the format of three songs, but this time there is four songs: two original songs and one cover for each. What connects these songs is that the covers are by the same artist.

One song is about a broken heart and one other is also about breaking up, but not as much painfully. One of the covers is about love, while other is one is not about love. So a nice variation for Valentine's Day.


THE ORIGINAL #1


VIA Gra, also known as Nu Virgos with their song Стоп! Стоп! Стоп! /Stop! Stop! Stop!. VIA Gra is an Ukrainian girl group, which has had success in Ukraine and neighbouring countries, but also beyond the Russian speaking countries. I have already featured the group in a previous post: Ukraine #1.

Stop! Stop! Stop! is a song from VIA Gra's second album Stop! Snyato!, which was released in 2003. There is also a English version made of this song, also called Stop! Stop! Stop! (you can listen to it here) and it made VIA Gra famous more internationally. The original version is in Russian.

The lyrics (according to a translation) deal with sad and uncertain feelings. From what I get the relationship moved on faster than she was expecting and now they are breaking up: "I will give myself to him, like a souvenir." I like the style of the music a lot. I can not think of a word for it, but there is something deep and mystical in it. The male parts sound somehow very Russian for me. Overall I like this style a lot; It is dark and deep in an interesting way.

THE COVER #1


Love Love Love is a cover of VIA Gra's Stop! Stop! Stop! by a Taiwanese singer Jolin Tsai. Jolin's version is in Mandarin Chinese and it was released in 2004 on Jolin's album Castle.

Jolin's version is a love song. She has fallen in love and is wondering if this person is the one and only for her. There is some uncertainty in the air still, but her feelings seem to be strong. Lyrically these two versions are very different: VIA Gra's is sad, Jolin's happy. Though both of them have some uncertainty.

Music-wise these versions are very similar. Jolin's version has a bit more positive sound, though the music makes the entire song sound less happier than the lyrics; It brings out the uncertainty of Jolin's feelings. The Russian sound has been removed, but the mythical sound remains. There where VIA Gra's version has a dusky/dusty mythical sound, Jolin's version has more of a magical sound. Interesting that with so little changes, a song can be made to give an entirely different feeling.

THE ORIGINAL #2


The second original song is Det Gör Ont by a Swedish singer Lena Philipsson. Lena is quite well known in Sweden and has had a long career in music. In 2004 Lena participated in the Eurovision Song Contest with this song's English version It Hurts (you can see it here). She finished fifth in the final. It Hurts is my personal favourite from that year's competition.

I have been listening to this a lot lately. I usually tend to listen for Swedish songs before my Swedish exams and I always end up listening to this. I really love this song a lot, both in Swedish and English. It is quite regular pop song, but there is something special in it too. I also love the way she sings it.

The lyrics tell about the singer having gone break up and being really hurt. She sings that it hurts during the night, but not at the daytime (This song was released on a album called Det Gör Ont En Stund På Natten Men Inget På Dan, which is this line from the song). She is very heartbroken, but nobody notices anything. But there is also a piece of hope: in the chorus she sings that she has already made it quite far and starts to get used to the pain. In my opinion, this is a sign of a recovery. The music actually is a lot happier than the lyrics.

THE COVER #2


Jolin Tsai covered Det Gör Ont five years later in 2009 for her album Butterfly. Jolin's version is called 愈慢愈美麗 /Yu Man Yu Mei Li, which means Slow Life. Her version is again in Mandarin Chinese.

I am now relying on Google Translate with this, but the lyrics seem to be telling about Jolin wanting to take things slower. It is not a love song, but instead talking about life overall: how things are always busy and stressful and she just wants to take a deep breath and worry less. The lyrics have a nice message, in my opinion.

Comparing to Lena's version, this is very different. At first, the lyrics are completely different: Lena sings about a broken heart, Jolin has a positive message about life. Jolin's version also sounds otherwise more happier too. The word that comes to my mind is bubbly. Lena's version has a strong pop beat, while Jolin's is more sweet and cute. I really love both of these in a different ways.

You can still hear it is the same song, but it sounds so different and the overall feelings of these songs are quite the opposites. Once again it is quite amusing to hear how a song can be made into something totally different.

11 February 2015

Lebanon #1: It's all fun and games...

Today this blog is heading to Middle East for some music from Lebanon.

Wikipedia: Lebanon

I don't know why, but somehow it feels like it has taken forever for this post's turn to come up. I have had this post planned for a while now, but I don't think it has been much longer than my posts usual. Maybe I am just more excited than usual to write about these songs?






Let's start with Nancy Ajram. When I first started to look into Lebanese music, Nancy Ajram was the name that first came up. She was described as one of the most famous artists in Lebanon and a superstar beyond her homeland. I of course wanted to check her out and sure enough fell in love with her music right away.

Nancy released her first album, Mihtagalak, already in 1998. Since then she has become one of the most successful artists in the entire Arab world. Her eight studio album was released last year and she has also released two albums for children, within whom also she has a large fan base. She is also a face of Coca-Cola, a position which usually goes to only super-famous celebrities.

The song above is called ما تيجي هنا /Ma Tegi Hena, which according to a one lyrics translation (I make no promises about the rightfulness since I don't speak a single word of Arabic) means Why Don't You Come Here. Google Translate translates it into The Crow Flies Here, but for me to first translation seems more realistic...

Anyways, about the song itself. I find this song very catchy and very funny. In my opinion there is a strong Arabic sound, which I really like. It sounds very exotic to me. This song makes me want to dance and I don't usually like dancing. I also love the music video. It is very funny and I really like when the storyline of the video is uncommon. With the song, the video makes really nice impression. Though I don't support messing with the law. ;)



One of the other Nancy's songs that I love is called ماشى حدى /Mashy Haddy (also can be written Mashi Haddi). Some lyrics translations translate this as Walking Next To Me. The lyrics tell about the singer's boyfriend flirting with every girl walking by, but getting jealous when the singer talks the men. I find this song too very funny sounding. It sounds very positive even though the lyrics are not all that happy.

The sound of the song is cute, but somewhat exotic too (for a non-Arabic listener at least). I find it soft, but also catchy. And Nancy's voice sounds very sweet here. The music video is also nice. It is funny and I really love the colour scheme. What I like the most is that it seems the be telling the story of the song (not a certainty). So, even though I don't understand the lyrics, I can understand the story of the song by watching the music video. Very nice.

Nancy Ajram has been rising towards my top favourite artists. I love her music and singing. And I also love her music videos, which usually seem to have a nice storyline and an interesting scenery.

Ma Tegi Hena was the lead single from Nancy album Nancy 8, which was released last year. Mashy Haddy was released in 2009 as a final single from Nancy's 2008 album Betfakar Fi Eih.



Next up is a singer called Haifa Wehbe. She is described as being known for her sexy and provocative image, which is considered even scandalous in some parts of the Arab world. Haifa's first studio album was released in 2002 and she has highly successful. She is one of the most successful singers in Lebanon.

The song above is called بوس الواوا /Boos El Wawa, which seems to mean Kiss The Owie. When I first heard this song I couldn't help but think that she was singing about babies. Wawa sounds like the Finnish word for a baby (vauva) and seeing the music video didn't help this image. I have not read the lyrics, but the title fits my mental image too, so I think I will go ahead thinking she is singing about babies. The song does seem to be a bit child-like anyway.

For me this song sounds very funny and positive. It is kinda sweet and cute, but it also has that Arabic sound in it. The chorus very easily sticks to my head and the rest of the song is also catchy. I find this song a lot of fun.



This other song from Haifa is called ازاي انساك /Ezzay Ansak, which according to Google Translate means How Can I Forget You?. This song is quite different from the previous one.

Firstly I really love the beat and music of this song. It is very similar to western electronic music, but at least in my opinion it has something Arabic in it. Besides loving the music, I really love Haifa's singing here. For me the song, especially the chorus, sounds very touching, thanks to Haifa's way of singing it. Overall I get a bit dark and sad feeling of this song.

I also like the music video (though, once again, I do not support messing with the law). I am not sure if it fits this song very well, since I'd expect something more touching. But a nice video anyhow.

Boos El Wawa was released as a a single in 2006 and was used in a Pepsi commercial, but I can not find clear info on what album it has been released on (if any). Ezzay Ansak is more recent single from Waifa's 2012 album Malikat Jamal Al Kawn.



Last, but definitely not least: Myriam Fares. She seems to be quite famous too in the Arabic world. She has been active in music industry since 2003. The song above is called إية اللى بيحصل /Eih Elly Byehsal. According to a one translation, the title means What's Going On.

I do not think I have ever used this term before, but now I will: This song has recently been my jam. I can't even imagine how many times I have listened this song in the past few weeks. I sometimes get really, I mean REALLY, into some songs and this has been that kind of song. I can not even exaggerate how much I have been loving this song lately!

The lyrics seem to be telling about the singer falling in love and being a bit confused. I really love Myriam's voice and how she sings here. The music is also totally amazing. I really love this kind of music and with Myriam's vocals it just becomes simply amazing. The music is very dancy and incredibly catchy. Something about this song, particularly about the chorus, hits me very deeply. The combination of different factors in this song is simply awesome.

Eih Elly Byehsal is definitely my favourite song of the beginning of 2015. The song was released as a single from Myriam's 2008 album Bet'oul Eih.

[ps. Arabic can be transliterated in different ways, so some of these song names can be written differently in different places. I checked the transliterations for the names of the artist from their official sites.]

08 February 2015

Eurovision Song Contest 2015: First impressions 1/4

The first part of my first impression reviews of the Eurovision Song Contest 2015 songs. In these four posts I rate the songs and tell me opinions. It is highly possible that my opinions change before the actual contest (especially if some songs get updated). I will make my top-list after all the songs have been chosen and right before the contest, for comparison.

As I background info I need to say that I am pretty obsessed with Eurovision. I usually watch most of the national finals (where they choose the song and/or artist to represent the country). The first full contest I watched live was the 2005 one, so I have been a fan of Eurovision Song Contest for 10 years now.

Wikipedia: Eurovision Song Contest 2015

Here are the first ten songs, in the release order:

F.Y.R. MACEDONIA
Daniel Kajmakoski - Lisja Esenski: Unmemorable. There is nothing in this song to remember it by. It is not catchy and honestly quite boring. It is not actually bad, but I simply forget this immediately after hearing it (and even while hearing it). In a contest you need to stand out and this doesn't do it. 5/10 just for not sucking.

MALTA
Amber - Warrior: In the recorded version it is not that bad, but during the national final live performances her screaming was so unstandable that I had to turn off the sound from my headphones. It is this highly annoying. And I personally do not like her voice. Without the screaming it is okay, but nothing special. 3/10 for the studio version, 0/10 for the live performances.

THE NETHERLANDS
Trijntje Oosterhuis - Walk Along: This has been heard so many times before. I could name so many songs exactly like this, and it makes this song boring. It first I kinda wanted to like it, but then the chorus came. The chorus is just horrible: repeating a syllable is SO unimaginative and here it is just annoying. After hearing this for the first time I immediately forgot it, except the chorus for its annoyance. 2/10 for the music.

BELARUS
Uzari & Maimuna - Time: For me it sounds like he is just repeating the same things... Can't be sure since it doesn't manage to hold my attention. The music is actually very mind numbing; They could use this music to brainwash me, since I'd gone numb after few listens. Definitely not a good thing! I don't remember if the live performance was this horrible, I just remember I did not like it. 1/10. I am not sure what that one is for...

ALBANIA
Elhaida Dani - Diell: A total mess. The music is all over the place and she does not sing well. I do not even know what to comment on as it is so messy... 0/10.

GEORGIA
Nina Sublatti - Warrior: This actually is pretty good. I believe that with a good staging this can do well in May. I like the dramatic sound and it is catchy enough to be remembered. Unfortunately, the chorus is a bit too repetitive and can get boring after a while. Out of these ten first songs, this is my favourite. 8/10.

FRANCE
Lisa Angell - N'oubliez Pas: Honestly I would like to like this and I have tried, but it simply is just too boring. There is nothing that caughts my attention or nothing I remember this song by. She does sing well, but I am personally not too big of a fan of her voice. 4/10.

SWITZERLAND
Mélanie René - Time To Shine: I have nothing bad to say about this song, but I also struggle to find anything good to say. There is nothing special in it, nothing that really grabs my attention. The song is kinda similar to Malta's song, but far less annoying. I don't find it interesting, but not specifically bad either, so 6/10.

CYPRUS
Giannis Karagiannis - One Thing I Should Have Done: This is quite snoozy too. But it is not too bad for such a boring song. There is something sweet in it. Still, it make me want to sleep, which is not a good thing. Not all bad so 5/10.

DENMARK
Anti Social Media - The Way You Are: A very unoriginal and very annoying song. I heard this song multiple times yesterday, but I didn't remember it all today. The word cheap comes to my mind, even though I can't explain why. 1/10 because it is a bit more bearable than the songs I am giving 0 to. But just a bit.

And as a list (aka my top10 so far):
1. Georgia
2. Switzerland
3. Cyprus
4. F.Y.R. Macedonia
5. France
6. The Netherlands
7. Malta
8. Belarus
9. Denmark
10. Albania

Overall impression so far:
I am highly disappointed so far and honestly not very interested on the actual Eurovision. There have been many good songs in the national finals, but horrible ones get picked... In past years at this point I have had already songs I really like, even my ultimate favourites that year. I seriously hope there is better songs to come. None of these songs is that kind that I would be listening it just to listen to it. I doubt I will be listening any of these after the contest (give or take on Georgia).

The Eurovision Song Contest 2015 semi-finals take place on 19 May and 21 May, and the final on 23 May.

[I usually do not want to write negative things about songs, but reviewing Eurovision songs sorta requires that. I still try to keep my comments fairly nice. These are just my opinions and I am not a professional: I am just a major consumer of music and a long-term fan of Eurovision Song Contest.]

07 February 2015

K-pop boy bands part 2: 100%. South Korea #2

In December I wrote a blog post featuring some songs I like from a few K-pop (South Korean pop music) boy bands. And I mentioned I am probably writing a sequel / sequels. This is the first sequel to that post and also a one kind of favourite artists post.

Photo source

The K-pop boy band featured in this post is called 100% (백퍼센트 in Korean). I was originally going to feature this group in my previous post, but I simply couldn't choose just one song from them. They are definitely my favourite K-pop boy band. Hence I am making this separate post dedicated to this group.



100% debuted fairly recently, just under two and half years ago. The group is signed under the label TOP media and is also known as sort of a little brother group to their label mates Teen Top. 100% has had good success in the South Korean charts with their releases all besides one charting within top6.

I first heard of this group soon after they had debuted and totally fell in love with their debut single right away. They debuted with a song called Bad Boy (나쁜놈 in Korean), which is the song above. It is a break-up song and overall has a bit darker shade to it. I also find it nicely dramatic and catchy. I especially like Rocky's part at the start of the chorus (Uriga wae...); It immediately grabbed my attention. Even after couple of years I still listen to this all the time and it still hooks my every time.



My absolute favourite song from 100%: Beat (심장이 뛴다 in Korean, which means heartbeat). Beat was released last year as part of their mini album BANG the BUSH. I believe this is their most successful song so far, at least if looking at the sales.

This is currently the most played song in my iTunes. I actually find this song very touching. I don't know what makes it: it probably is the combination of the music and the vocals. It is dramatic, but there is something very deep to it. The lyrics are very beautiful and touching too: "The heart is beating, It’s beating toward where you’re standing. I’m going backwards in time to the moment we met. If I keep going, will we meet?". (You can read the entire translation here: http://www.kpoplyrics.net/100-beat-lyrics-english-romanized.html)

It is by default very hard for a song to touch me very deeply since I am not a very sensitive person. But this song manages to do that every single time.

By the way, as you can see there is only five members here. They are still officially a seven-piece group, but one of the members is in army and one is taking a break. For me it doesn't matter how many of them there is: they are as great with any number of members.



Want U Back. The song was released in 2013 as a part of a mini album Real 100%, which is their highest charting release along with their newest one (SUNKISS).

I find this song very catchy. It is somewhat dark and has a kind of sad feeling to it. But the beat and the lyrics make it also highly catchy. I don't believe I have ever read the lyrics, but from the singing I get a feeling of a broken heart with deep anger to it. It is actually surprisingly touching for a such strong beated song.



This song is called Guy Like Me (나 같은 놈 in Korean). Comparing to the previous three songs, this is highly different. This one is almost acoustic ballad. The previous songs had a strong and dark feel to them, but this one is very light and easy-going. There is still a lot of emotion to it.

The music is beautiful and sweet, but I get a sad feeling from some parts. Especially the end of the chorus. So for me this song feels bittersweet. Their voices sound very nice in a ballad too and I am always impressed when artists (/producers) manage to make a good rap part into a ballad. Ballads and rap parts are in my opinion a combination that rarely work very well, but in this song the rap part too is actually touching.



Last up is a song that is also quite different from the previous ones. This one is called U beauty (니가 예쁘다) and it is their most recent single, released last summer. I was actually quite surprised that they released this kind of song (and video). I am use to K-pop girl groups releasing this type of material, but on a boy band front not so much. Especially since other singles from 100% have been pretty much sad and darker songs.

But it was a pleasant surprise whatsoever. I find this song very catchy and cheerful. This immediately got stuck into my head. Especially catchy is the part where Hyukjin (at least I hear only his voice in this part) sings "niga yeppeuda". This song puts me into a happy mood each time I listen to it. It is lots of fun.

And here is where you can find all these songs from:
Bad Boy on We, 100% single album, released 2012
Beat on BANG the BUSH EP, released 2014
Want U Back on Real 100% mini album, released 2013
Guy Like Me is not part of any release, but was released as a digital single in 2012
U beauty on SUNKISS single album, released 2014