Did you watch the Eurovision special ‘Shine A Light’ yesterday evening? It was a broadcast that went all across Europe as a replacement to this year’s cancelled Eurovision Song Contest. It was a sombre reminder of the state of affairs that we are all going through now. But it also showed the hope and resilience humanity has, and still found a way to celebrate music. This performance from last year’s winner was quite gorgeous, so I’m sharing it with you all. I hope you enjoy.
If you are familiar with your Swedish pop you may recognise that one half of ohFrank is Robin Stjernberg, singer and songwriter extraordinaire. This sound marks a slight shift from Robin’s sound, with a playful and lighthearted take on indie pop that is perfect for the summer months ahead.
“We want to give an honest reflection of the world we live in. To inspire culture shifts, invite or force change, to make people think. Music used to stand for something and be the great observer of society – we want to try and bring that back.”
In addition to being a mega-talented songwriter (having worked on the likes of Jasmine Sokko, The Mamas (Eurovision 2020), Leonora (Eurovision 2019) plus two winner songs for Swedish Idol (being ‘Rain’ by Tusse and ‘Treading Water’ by Chris Kläfford), Melanie Wehbe is a talented singer in her own right.
We could be seeing one of the brightest Swedish exports to emerge for some time, with a subtle pop sound that’s easy to connect with, no matter who you are or what you enjoy listening to.
“I think most of us are familiar with the feelings of uncertainty and powerlessness. The frustration that appears when we realise that we can’t change a situation or a relationship. At the end of the day we know nothing at all.”
Admittedly this isn’t something I usually feature on the site but it’s such a pop banger that I had to share it with you. Specially in these grim times, a bop like this could lift the spirits a little.
The song features KEiiNO – who placed first with the public vote at Eurovision 2019 with ‘Spirit In The Sky’ while Electric Fields are an ARIA-nominated outfit who merge Aboriginal culture with electro sounds.
“I instantly remembered the half-written song I never finished, and suddenly it all made sense. Part two. ‘Raw Stuff’ instantly falls into two parts. The first half is my side of miscommunication, and the second my reaction to hearing they felt the same.”
You may have heard of Eurovision? If you haven’t then check the link and read more about it. Anyway, Albania has competed a few times (with varying degrees of success), and this week saw the start of their competition to select the song that will go on to represent the country for Eurovision in May 2020.
Tonight saw Elvana Gjata perform her entry, and as you can see – it’s not in the budget or scale of a Dua Lipa production but there’s no denying this kid has something special.
We’ll find out on Sunday night if she was successful in having her performance represent Albania at Eurovision.
It’s the start of Eurovision week (i.e. the world’s biggest music show), and for someone who follows the show for the fun rather than the music, this year I’ve been surprised by the number of countries submitting songs that could easily be on radio playlists.
Here’s some which have stood out to me – and as it happens, these are the main favourites to win…. Maybe Eurovision is starting to push for more current sounds again?
Duncan Lawrence – Netherlands (intense, minimal ballad with haunting elements).
Mahmood – Italy (my personal favourite this year from a talent who was featured in the past, this is punchy pop with angst).
Katerine Duska – Greece (the most beautifully melodic indie pop, along the lines of Florence & The Machine with a distinctive vocal).
Conan Osiris – Portugal (the most conceptual and idiosyncratic song this year, this feels better suited to an art installation at Tate Modern than Eurovision).
Michela – Malta (if Dua Lipa had a go at Eurovision, this would absolutely be it).
Hatari – Iceland (this has caused the biggest reaction this year- nothing is off limits with this group… It’s a bold electro/ goth/ synth sound that makes an impact from the start)
John Lundvik – Sweden (gospel pop with a mildly euphoric edge).
Luca Hänni – Switzerland (this is your standard bubblegum pop with big beats and catchy hooks).
And to be honest there’s a few more, but head on over to Eurovision’s website to check them out.
The Semi Final’s are on Tuesday 14th and Thursday 16th May, with the Grand Final on Saturday 18th May. It’s broadcast across most countries globally, so check it out!
She ended up winning the entire heat with a simple and heartbreaking song that clearly meant a lot to the singer. Meaningful and beautiful pop doesn’t happen this often anymore.
The final is next Saturday evening and it’s well worth a watch.
Track of the week. Blanche gained fame last year after representing Belgium at Eurovision.
While she didn’t win (the song she performed was considered ahead of it’s time for a music contest that has a notorious reputation for showing off the Continent’s cheesier side), she has continued to develop her uniquely dark pop sound…
Let’s get this straight first – Eurovision (to those who aren’t familiar, this is a huge annual TV contest that Europe takes part in every May where one European country – or Australia – tries to win with a song) is notorious for showing off more cheese than edgy music. This year though, truth be told, there is a decent selection of some fun pop tracks…
Sweden – Dance You Off
- Good – This is probably as edgy as Eurovision gets this year. Also, it’s from the team at the hugely successful TEN music production company.
- Bad – Sweden do so well in this contest that the expectations are always so high for them.
Cyprus – Fuego
- Good – Catchy, sassy sound.
- Bad – Probably won’t translate well on a large arena stage.
Israel – TOY
- Good – Easy, fun pop.
- Bad – Chicken sounds?
Belgium – A Matter Of Time
- Good – Belgium is forging a reputation for performing well-produced, minimal pop to this contest.
- Bad – It’s probably too understated for a show that relies on big performances.
The show goes live on the 12th May from Lisbon. Here’s more.
Track of the week. This song was entered into Sweden’s Melodifestivalen this week and didn’t quite manage to get to the final (the winner represents the country at Eurovision). This was the performance…
I am stunned – this is by far superior to anything I’ve heard from Sweden in the way of ballads for quite some time.
There’s still a very slim chance of it winning, but in any case, it’s won me.
Now in it’s sixth edition (yep… I’ve been around that long), my Random List seems to be the most visited post on this blog every ear.
Due to life being hectic I haven’t had much time to reflect on the last twelve months much, but I feel that while people are claiming new music is losing it’s direction – well, it’s good to shake things up every so often.
I’ve found myself mostly being drawn to pop in 2017, although there was a lack of those ‘massive’ hit singles that we usually see in previous years. Nonetheless, credit given where it’s deserved…
Banger Of The Year
The older I get, the more I start to dig Justin Bieber. I don’t know why. It is what it is. I think this is one of the best radio hits of the year.
Trend Of The Year
Hot British guys who manage to blend RnB with soul and funk, each of them in a very unique and painfully cool way. You’ve got Zak Abel, SG Lewis, Tom Misch, Toulouse, Louis Mattrs, Jarreau Vandal… The list goes on. And actually, I am near obsessed with each of these guys.
Scandi Country To Have Perfected Pop
Norway (they managed this accolade back in 2015 as well). I mean it couldn’t be anywhere else this year. In the last year we’ve seen some excellent music from Astrid S, Sigrid, Dagny, dePresno, Smerz… The country even has it’s own museum dedicated to pop (it’s the cool building you see up there). That’s saying something. Check out my full list of Norwegian talent here.
Most Tear-Jerking Music Moment
Portugal’s Salvador Sobral winning Eurovision this year. Whatever you think of this TV show, the kid (who was struggling with heart problems) single handedly commanded a huge arena and a whole world to listen to this blissful and simple melody.
Best Track Not Sung In English
Cezinando’s ‘Håper du har plass’ is undoubtedly my most loved song of the year. Entirely in Norwegian (see, Norway getting another mention on the same List), this mellow hip hop sound mixed with some strings had me emotional all the way through. I still feel warm when I listen to it now. And it took his home country by storm too. Just look at the love from the crowd on this…
Jessie Reyez put on a very short set at London’s tiny Miranda venue back in May this year, and the buzz in the room was inspiring. Powerful vocals, intensely sharp lyrics and beautiful melodies.
Yep – Swedish music had to make an entry on this list somewhere. I honestly don’t know what the deal is with We The Kids aside from the fast that they released this great piece of Scandi pop earlier in the year, and that they came from the Tenacity label which is run by mega-important Swedish production company Ten. Believe it or not, this clocked up 170 plays on my iTunes since July so I really hope more comes in 2018!
Likely To Be Huge In 2018
This is a tricky one because there’s a few on my radar. I think a safe bet will be the UK’s Tom Walker. I’ve seen him live a few times this year and I honestly think he has great mainstream appeal.
But I also want to mention a Danish talent called Maximillian, who’s been on my radar for some time and I can’t fault any of his releases to date…
And there we have it! I hope you’re all as excited as I am about the next twelve months, and thank you for logging on and enjoying the music that I post – it gives me so much life!
For previous editions of The Random List, head here.