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2013’s Random List

It’s that time of year again when I get to look back over the last twelve months and put up the obligatory ‘best of’ post that music blogs love to feature so much.

As usual I’ll aim to pick out tracks and artists that many other websites may have looked over, as well as some of the more obvious milestones. Let me know what you think of my choices. After all, it’s you guys who keep me so motivated to keep hunting for new music all the time. Before I start, check out previous random lists here!

Most definitive song of the year

lorde royals single cover

Lorde – ‘Royals’. There’s something mildly terrifying about this teen talent, and her ability to sum up her youth in a standard pop track. This will be a classic for decades to come, it’s just so different to any of the big hits that have come out so far in the last few years.

Too cool for school

MDNGHT

MDNGHT – Not many have heard of this Mancunian collective but if anything, I am confident they will pick up buzz over the next year.

Biggest Scandinavian talent

Kim Cesarion

Kim Cesarion – This Swedish talent has already taken Scandinavia by storm. I saw him play a showcase in London over the summer and it was as close to pop perfection as you could get. You could be surprised for seeing me not put Icona Pop under this category; but you know, they’ve been around for a good while longer.

Cutest act

broods

Broods – This duo set the blog world on fire after releasing just one track blending indie and electro seamlessly. And on a completely shallow note, how cute!

Catchiest track

nonono

NONONO – ‘Pumping Blood’. NONONO have had as epic a year as they could get. This Scandinavian trio have made one of the biggest impacts in terms of exports from the region, thanks in large to this track.

Biggest #fail that should have been a #win

Mutya Keisha Siobhan

MKS (a.k.a Mutya Keisha Siobhan, a.k.a The Origibabes) – This should have been their big comeback. And on paper, there’s no reason why it tanked so hard. They picked a shit-hot producer while managing to prove that they could still hold harmonies like no other girl group. But I guess the song was probably too ‘out-there’ to have made a loud enough impact. Still, there is a silver lining for these guys later on in this post…

2014’s new ‘Lana’

fe singer

Fe – She could be as popular as original Lana Del Rey. I predict Fe to catch some more buzz in 2014. She has a genuine, beautiful talent which is well worth a listen.

Wildest cat in town

lion babe

Lion Babe – Literally, this lady goes for the ‘wild’ theme. Which is OK, since she does a great job of it. On a serious note though, what a sound!

Most trademark hipster Scandi sound

POSTILJONEN

Postiljonen – Make no mistake, being introduced to his band has been one of my highlights this year. Their sound is pure perfection in my view and when I caught them live at the Ja Ja Ja Festival in London earlier this year it was probably a highlight for me gig-wise. This re-working of a Whitney Houston classic is amazing.

Biggest bang(erz)

miley cyrus stop

Miley Cyrus – Love or hate her, you just can’t deny that this little lady has been all over the place. She knows she’s not changing the world with her songs. So what else can she do? She’ll just have fun with it. And there’s a charming likeability in that. I mean, look at this post – she’s sandwiched between one of the edgiest acts of the year (Postiljonen, above), and one of the best songs of the year (Sailor & I, below). Two categories she’ll probably never be in, ever, but she’s still spreading herself on here. And that’s ok…

Most epic track

sailor & i

Sailor & I – ‘Tough Love’. A real heart-stopper of a track that’s nothing short of stunning.

Most feel-good

join the riot

Join The Riot – Again, another Scandi act makes it on this list. Nothing but good cheeky pop from this group.

Quirkiest act 

manou

Manou – This lady is one of my big ‘ones to watch’. I can’t describe her sound. Quirky, I guess. So good though.

Best slice of Norwegian rap

Lars Vaular

Lars Vaular – ‘Legender’. It’s one of those songs that sounds pretty dark, but still manages to sound easy enough to enjoy. Even if you’re not Norwegian.

Best trooper

aiden

Aiden Grimshaw – Following on from making one of the best and least brought pop records from a major label in 2012, this year saw the guy ditch his surname and now go under the moniker AIDEN.

Most unexpected throwback to Motown

MØ

– ‘Never Wanna Know’. One of Denmark’s hippest newcomers came up with this track back in Autumn and it was adorable.

Best gig

Mutya Keisha Siobhan London Live Scala August 2013 a

MKS (a.k.a Mutya Keisha Siobhan, a.k.a The Origibabes) – They might not have had the comeback record of the year, but the ladies definitely pulled off THE comeback gig of the year at London’s Scala. No video on YouTube could relay the experience properly though.

Most listened to song on my iTunes

The Amplifetes

The Amplifetes – ‘You Want It’. You might not like this song, but it’s the most listened to track of the year on my iTunes. Something about it speaks to me.

One to watch

mnek

MNEK – It seems like a lifetime ago since I featured MNEK but he now finally seems to be on the edge of breaking through. Already long-listed on the BBC Sound of 2014, whatever happens over the next months will be pretty special for this kid.

Live: Ja Ja Ja Festival at Roundhouse

ja ja ja festival 2013

Scandi music authority Ja Ja Ja hosted it’s first ever festival at London’s Roundhouse this weekend. A stellar roster of up and coming Scandinavian buzzbands filled up this ultra cool venue.

For someone like me, I was a little bit of a kid in a candy shop. Highlights were:

Postiljonen (Sweden)

postiljonen live ja ja ja festival roundhouse london 2013

Sin Fang (Iceland)

sin fang live ja ja ja festival roundhouse london 2013

Truls (Norway)

truls live ja ja ja festival roundhouse london 2013

NONONO (Sweden)

nonono live ja ja ja festival roundhouse london 2013

Interview: Quickfire with Vanbot

vanbot

One of my favourite newbie electropop princesses to emerge from Sweden, Vanbot has certainly been carving a name out for herself. You’ll be hard pressed to not find a music blog that claims to have some knowledge of Scandi music without featuring Vanbot’s tracks. Here’s a few short and sweet questions I threw to the lady herself. Check it out!

For those readers who may not know who Vanbot is, how would you describe your sound?

I try to create tension between the beautiful and the skewed electronic sound. I’m hooked on the idea to find a balance between catchy melodies and twisted synthesizers.

What inspires you to write?

I’m inspired by the things in life that communicate something hidden, an honest message. That’s what I call the nerve and that is something I always try to reflect in my songs.

Who are your musical idols?

I listen a to a lot of different music such as Apparat, Crystal Castles, Niki & The Dove, El Perro Del Mar.

Who’s your favourite up and coming singer?

I like the sound of NONONO (video below) and Sad, Vibrant and The Power!

Is it easier to write songs that are happy, or sad?

I feel the need to express my feelings and thoughts much more in hard times than in the good times. I think the hard times makes us come closer to life and to each other, and life becomes more real. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s sad.

Why do you think so much good music comes out of Sweden?

I’m really proud of my fellow Swedes. In Sweden we have a tradition of music schools from early ages and also a lot of opportunities to study music for free after high school. That gave me the opportunity to dare to try!

Who would you love to collaborate with?

I would love to collaborate with Apparat. I love their sound! It’s repetitive like Steve Reich, emotional like Bon Iver, and atmospheric like Loney, Dear.

What’s planned in the future for you?

My focus is primarily on the album that will be released this fall, I’m really excited about that! But we will also try to squeeze in some shows when we’re not in the studio.

Follow the lovely Vanbot on Facebook here!

First Listen: NONONO ‘Pumpin Blood’

nonono

One of my favourite tunes of the week. Swedish electro pop that has lots of whistling in it and so is just basically brilliant.