Mr. Lava's Trash Music Compendium|
Another round-up of the best, the worst, and the most intriguing trash of the past and present.
This month I feature several Eurovision-related songs, since that competition will be held in May. Thanks to Dimi for permitting me to use and modify the photographs above.
Malena Ernman - La Voix
Sweden's Eurovision entry is a rip-off of Puccini's "Nessun Dorma," not-so-coincidentally penned by Fredrik Kempe, who released a trashed-up cover of that same song in 2002 called "Vincero." But let's not fret. This is cheez-tastic stuff, and the schmaltziness of the song is precisely what Eurovision needs in order to preserve its Eurovisionness.
Elena Gheorge - The Balkan Girls
Elena had a big hit in Romania with her "Te Ador" and now has the pleasure of representing her country at Eurovision. I think this could be Romania's year to win. In addition to the song being quite catchy, the broader "Balkan" theme is sure to please some of Romania's southern neighbors. Plus, Romania already has strong ties with Spain (Spain gave the maximum number of points to Romania last year), and Moldova will likely cast its full support behind its neighbor. We shall see!
Stephane & 3G - We Don't Wanna Put In
The most interesting Eurovision story of 2009 comes out of Georgia. You might recall that Georgia fought a war with Russia last summer and that things didn't work out too well for the tiny country. So what do you do when you are slated to perform a year later at a competition held in, of all places, Moscow? The odd English-language title (" 'Put In' ?") invites closer scrutiny, and closer scrutiny reveals that this is clearly a pun on Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin's name. Turns out Eurovision has rules stating that songs cannot be political or even vaguely controversial (which explains why most Eurovision tunes are unmemorable and awful). Stephane and 3G refused to change their lyrics, Georgia refused to submit a substitute song, and so Georgia is out of the competition this year, only three years after making its Eurovision debut. The shame here is that this is by far the catchiest of the three songs Georgia has submitted, and the video, set in some sort of diner, is also a delight (a sort of goofier version of Kelis's "Milkshake," perhaps). They look like a fun group, and hopefully the song will find an audience on its own.
Alcazar - Stay the Night
Scoring high at Sweden's "Melodifestivalen" song competition, but not high enough to overtake Malena Ernman's "La Voix" for a chance to represent the country at Eurovision in May, comes this catchy song from Eurotrash legends Alcazar. Check out the clever key change into the chorus. Clearly, Alcazar don't always need to snag samples from other songs to produce trashtastic material.
Royksopp feat. Robyn - The Girl and the Robot
I've felt a bit overexposed to Robyn's voice, who in addition to releasing solo material has also become the go-to girl for several electronic groups (Robyn has also become somewhat typecast as the edgy/fussy girl). In Royksopp she has found producers who make music that is an equal to her distinctive vocals. The hauntingly plaintive lyrics ("Fell asleep again in front of MTV / God I'm down at the bottom / No one's singing songs for me") work especially well. Beautiful, erie, and effective on a dancefloor.
Ocean Drive feat. DJ Oriska - Some People (Ton desir)
As late as 1992 I remember reading in a British music magazine about the miserable French music scene. But things changed quickly afterward with a mid-90s explosion of French electronic music that gave us the likes of Etienne de Crecy, Air, Alex Gopher, and the mighty Daft Punk. Over a decade later the French seem able to write catchy songs like this one in their sleep. This David Guetta-ish thing will rock dancefloors from Paris to Prague.
Mihran - Armenia
Usually the trouble with songs that celebrate a geographical region is that they exclude the average listener, who likely does not share a similar enthusiasm for the place. The only solution to this is to write a song so utterly kick-ass that everyone will want to join in on the fun. This song is a terrific example, with its bizarre combination of hip-hop, electro, and pounding samples of Armenian instruments. Even Turks and Azeris might tap their feet to this.
Nil Karaibrahimgil - Seviyorum Sevmyorum
The Turkish response comes in the form of this song from the popular artist, who is sometimes more conveniently known to non-Turks like myself by her first name only. Sounds like sonic kin to Goldfrapp's "Strict Machine" (or, for that matter, Rachel Stevens's "Some Girls"). A Turkish friend informs me that Nil has apparently traded a "good girl" image for something a bit more raunchy with the release of this song and accompanying video.
Avalon - Trust in Me (La Ville Radio Edit)
Sweden held a "junior" version of their Melodifestivalen ("Lilla Melodifestivalen") in October, and teen girl duo Avalon didn't win it. However, they did put out an EP in December, and "Trust in Me" is the best tune on there. The vocals are admittedly thin, but the music is very catchy and hearkens back to Y2K-era Eurodance in all the best possible ways.
Wrecker (or possibly "Wreaker") - Tear the Roof Off (Original Mix)
Here is the best of the more "serious" tracks on this compendium (which is to say only DJs seem to be buying this right now). It's a delicious, surreal disco dancing tune rich with catchy melodic elements and garnished with swaths of ethereal female "oooos". If that makes no sense, just listen to the sample to hear what I'm talking about. (Confusion over the name stems from mp3 sales websites calling the project "Wrecker," but with accompanying graphics that clearly read "Wreaker.")
Zseda - Es magindul a fold
Currently charting in Hungary is this shimmery electro pop tune from the fetching Zseda. Timbaland might ask her to return those "SexyBack" "Yeahs", though.
Ultra DJ's - Dancin'
Lots of cut-up vocals are always a good thing, and this song's electro elements lean pleasingly in a 1980s direction.
Sirusho feat. Sofi Mkheyan - Arzhani e
Sirusho sang last year's Armenian Eurovision entry, "Qele Qele," which finished a respectable fourth in the competition. A year earlier saw the release of her album Hima, which includes a song I like even more, called "Arzhani e".
Waldo's People - Lose Control (Radio Edit)
Waldo's People have impressive tru-trash credentials (check out their excellent "U Drive Me Crazy" from 1998 to see what I mean). They have now been entrusted to represent Finland at Eurovision 2009. "Lose Control" resurrects the spirit of classic Eurodance. Had Alcazar won the Swedish Eurovision song-selection competition it would have been fun to see these two trash titans go head to head, but alas Sweden denied the world this opportunity.
David Tavare feat. Ruth - Call Me Baby (If You Don't Know My Name)
A delightfully dopey song with a mean little hook for a chorus.
Candice feat. Nicole Tyler - Shy Guy (Dan Raccoon Radio Edit)
A solid, pounding, ragga-fied cover of a song originally performed by Diana King on the Bad Boys II soundtrack.
RAEN - Drama Fanatic (7th Heaven Remix)
This girl group sounds Eurotrash, but they hail from Australia. "Drama Fanatic" is both catchier and dancier than, say, anything Girls Aloud has put out over the last year. In fact, this is the catchiest song from a girl group I have heard in years. Like Royksopp's "Girl and the Robot," the song also refers to MTV, here in a metaphorically negative way. The video version mysteriously deletes the MTV references, perhaps out of fear that inclusion would have prevented the song from appearing on the music channel.
P-Bros feat. DJ Trexx and Olga Pratilova - Tingaliin (Tingeling Russian Base Lovers Mix)
Many Swedes feel this is the song that should have been sent to Moscow to represent their country in Eurovision 2009. The song was introduced during "Melodifestivalen," the Swedish song competition wherein the Eurovision representative is selected, and was offered by a comedy duo as comic relief during the show (in other words, it was not submitted for competition). Moscow was reportedly not amused (the song is a whirlwind tour through various Russian cultural cliches), but for several weeks Swedes have beenit has just finished a four-week run at number one on the Swedish pop charts, easily besting the success of their real nominee, "La Voix."
Emir Dulovic - Sto Me Ne Volis (Emir Ðulović - Što me ne voliš)
Catchy song from a Bosnian singer that strikes a nice balance between traditional Balkan sounds and a Western rock and roll attitude.
Dazzle Dreams - Dana She Dana
Dazzle Dreams are one of the most interesting groups in Ukraine today, and with a little luck their electro-infused rock could even find acceptance wherever Kissy Sell Out and Filthy Dukes fans congregate.
Camilla Brinck (feat Mange Schmidt) - KK (Alex Sayz Extended Remix)
The original version of Swedish singer Camilla Brinck's "KK" is a slow R&B number. The remixes lead it out onto the dancefloor. Alex Sayz's version is a silky-smooth take that manages to rock the floor very, very gently (appropriate for a song where the singer "coos" rather than sings). Mange Schmidt, who doesn't spoil things with his rap intrusion, has his own single on the Swedish charts right now called "Vet att du förstår".
Ferry Corsten - We Belong (Album Version)
Ferry Corsten has been hit and miss for me over the last few years (I had a bit of an existential crisis last night at 3 AM when I realized it's been six years since I played air guitar to "Rock Your Body Rock"). Well, "We Belong" is as good as anything he's ever done. Like many of his tunes this manages to defy categorization (hard to believe this guy was once associated primarily with trance). There's a trace of trance in it, but it also clobbers the ears with electro garnishes, some rock attitude, a nice processed female vocal, cool lyrics ("quiet witness to forever"), and interesting musical ideas throughout.
Darius and Finlay - Destination (Original Extended Mix)
Time to slow things down with this sunsplashed reggae-esque trash tune. Song starts off with a discouraging bag of cliches, but then the chorus enters and it is pure magic. Best idea here is Darius and Finlay's shrewd decision to tease the listener with that chorus throughout the first three minutes of the tune before finally unleashing it in full force for a minute and a half towards the song's end. Irresistable.
P Six vs. Guru Josh - Let Me Know (Infinity 2008)
Guru Josh's electro-fied remix of his classic "Infinity" was one of the biggest smashes of the last six months. So it was inevitable that somebody would throw a dum-dum rap on top of it. I prefer this version, but you would expect that from me by now, wouldn't you?
Chicane feat Natasha Bedingfield - Bruised Water
Also enjoying a remix/revival is arguably Clannad's, I mean Chicane's finest moment, "Saltwater." The odd title "Bruised Water" is the result of combining the title of Natasha Bedingfield's "I Bruise Easily" with "Saltwater"in other words, yep, this is a mash-up. It works, as its chart success testifies.
Violina - Sellel ool (Sellel ööl)
If you're missing girl violin group Bond terribly, well, you're a bit strange. But so am I (on both counts), so perhaps we ought to pack our bags and head to Estonia, where a new girl group of fiddlers is making waves with this single. I love the swinging house production; a bit reminiscent of Moony's classic "Dove." Hmm, Estonia sent a violinist to Eurovision this year alsodoes everybody in Estonia play the violin?
Cherona - Ching Chang Chong
...and if you're missing ATC, here's the most blatant clone of that group you will ever hear.
[NRJ] Aamupojat - Beibi, ala Vonkaa (Beibi älä vonkaa)
Cannot find consensus on whether or not to include or ditch the "NRJ" part of the name. Tune sounds just like E-type's "Life," but with arguably a more lilting chorus, Aamupojat is currently charting in their (and E-type's) native Sweden with a cover of "I Like to Move It" called "Muuvit."
Kejsi Tola - Carry Me in Your Dreams
Albania has no friends at Eurovision (actually, I wonder what Eurovision will do when Kosovo wants to join the competition, since there is still controversy about Kosovo's country status). Between that sad fact and commentators sniping about the 17 year-old singer's leggy wardrobe, "Carry Me in Your Dreams" sank out of sight in this year's Eurovision finals. I feel it's my job to offer second chances to deserving tunes, so I invite all to listen to it again. The song is kicking, I love the instrumental bridge (I think that crazy instrument is called a gaida, or gajda), and Kejsi's voice is huge.
Dio feat. Sef - Aye
Funky, high energy Dutch rap tune with excellent musical flourishes throughout (love that bassline). Extra points for the video opening and closing with a snippet of the Color Climax classic porno short "Frisbee Fuckers" (the whole video is cleverly designed to look like a beat-up old videotape that's been used and reused). Actually, this must be a very fly tunethe video suggests that somebody has taped the Dio and Sef video OVER "Frisbee Fuckers"!!!!
David May - Superstar (Radio Edit)
You cannot go wrong sampling those distinctive strings from the Verve's "Bitter Sweet Symphony." Hell, the Verve did it themselves when they lifted them from the Rolling Stones (so all complaints about this tune being derivative should be shelved). Great divo vocal, banging beats, and of course "Bitter Sweet Symphony"this is eau de trash.
Karen - Saekken I Katten
Curvy Karen offers this Danish R&B number, which boasts nice synth stabs; a tough, martial delivery; and a mean little hook in the chorus.
Porn Kings vs. Dj Supreme - Up To Tha Wildstyle (Spencer & Hill Remix)
The original hails from the "big beat" days when the likes of Fatboy Slim and Propellerheads ruled the dancefloor. Well, it's time to trash it up. This treatment has been married to acid lines that sound an awful lot like those of Voodoo and Serano's classic "Blood is Pumpin'" (basically, if you took "Blood is Pumpin'" and blended it with Wildchild's "Renegade Master [Fatboy Slim Old Skool Mix]" it would come out sounding exactly like this). So it's derivative in every sense, but it's also a guaranteed sweat machine.
The Prodigy - Warrior's Dance
I read that Main Prodigy Liam Howlett intended this as a sort of homage to the old days of hardcore techno. Please let this not be a one-time thing! All too often live vocals (which the Prodigy used too many of starting around Fat of the Land) spoil dance songsthey destroy the surrealism one enjoys in hearing voices distorted, bent, crumpled up, and bounced off the wall. So here we are, back to the original fail-proof formula: take a couple of catchy vocal samples (including one from Jentina's limited-release single "Mysterious," championed years ago on these pages), spin them around, add massive beats, destroy dancefloor.
The Qemists - On the Run
French DJ Laurent Garnier described one of the Qemists' remixes as "a phat monster motherfucker," a compliment too good to pass up as a title for my latest DJ set. This drum & bass tune is every bit a phat monster motherfucker itself. The singer's roar of "I'm on the run!" is a lit fuse rushing toward a kiloton of TNT.
The Dalton Sisters - Chihuahua
Just who are these Dalton Sisters? Where do they come from? Where are they going? It appears they are some tweens singing a Dutch-language interpretation of the classic "Chihuahua" as a tie-in to the movie Beverly Hills Chihuahua.
2002 12/2003 01