Category Archives: pop/rock

Wir sind Helden

wir-sind-helden-2010-07-02Wir sind Helden (We are Heroes) is a pop/rock band from Berlin. Lead by singer Judith Holofernes, and musicians Pola Roy, Mark Tavassol, and Jean-Michel Tourette, the group was formed in 2000. The band broke out onto the German music scene with their first single, “Guten Tag”, which got significant airplay on MTV Europe. Their first album, Die Reklamation peaked #2 on the German charts. laut.de gave it five out of five points calling it “the perfect soundtrack for an urban summer”.

The band’s second album, Von Hier An Blind (2005), enjoyed the most success, peaking number 1 in Germany and Austria, and being certified platinum x2 in Germany. The album was so popular that they rerecorded several of it’s songs in English, French, and Japanese. he entire artwork (cover, booklet, etc.) for the album as well as for the singles was designed by Berlin illustrator Vanessa Karr. It was modeled after parts from the comic book Tintin in Tibet (1960) by Belgian artist Hergé who died in 1983. Notably, the video for the album’s title single “Von hier an blind” is in the same style. The album was also released in a Limited Edition, which included an additional DVD with a documentary, interviews with the band members about each of the album’s songs, and a game where one can switch the band’s instruments on a performance of “Nur ein Wort”.

Two more albums followed, Soundso (2007and Bring mich nach Hause (2010), charting at #2 and #1 respectively on German charts. The band announced in April this year that they are going on an indefinite hiatus, saying reasons were the distance between band members’ home cities, the demands of their respective family lives, “signs of wear,” and the feeling of an “ever-more-impossible-seeming undertaking”

I’ve been listening to their discography all day, and have been thoroughly enjoying it. A lot of their songs remind me of older Euro-pop, almost in the ABBA tradition, so of course I adore it. The tunes are catchy and fun. Learning of the bands hiatus makes me sad that I will not be able to enjoy new Wir sind Helden! C’est la vie!

Check out their website: Wir sind Helden

 


The Tellers

The Tellers are a Belgian rock band. The band was started in 2005 by Ben Baillieux-Beynon (lead singer, guitarist). And through the years the lineup has been pretty unsteady, from just Baillieux-Beyon, to having 2-4 members. Currently I believe the band is a 4-piece group, with Fabrice Detry on bass, Cesar Laloux on drums, and Joos Houwen on guitar. They have had two albums to date, their first being Hands Full of Ink. This is the only album I have heard. The album peaked #7 on the Belgian charts and the group has enjoyed fame in their home country. They’ve also enjoyed success in Germany, the Netherlands, and, thanks recently to a part in a Canon commercial, France. The album has an alternative/Indie folk rock style that is very European. It’s definitely a good listen. The album has a good vibe. I’ll have to see if I can get my hands on their more recent album!

You can check out their myspace (excuse me, my_____) page here: The Tellers


Alphabeat

I was sitting here looking for some music to listen to while I work, and I saw Alphabeat in my music folder. Completely forgot what they sounded like, and I’ve rediscovered some wonderful Europop! Alphabeat is a Danish pop band from Silkeborg. The band has 5 members, fronted by lead vocalists Stine Bramsen and Anders SG. The bands self-titled debut album, Alphabeat, was released in Denmark in March 2007, peaking at number two on the Danish Albums Chart and reaching platinum status in five months of release. The band’s success in their domestic market attracted the attention of several major labels from larger markets abroad and Alphabeat was eventually signed to EMI’s Charisma Records label in the United Kingdom. Their debut UK single, “Fantastic 6”, was released in November 2007, followed by the international release of Alphabeat, retitled This Is Alphabeat, the following year. It peaked at number ten on the UK Albums Chart and was certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry. In 2009 Alphabeat won an EBBA Award. (Every year the European Border Breakers Awards (EBBA) recognize the success of ten emerging artists or groups who reached audiences outside their own countries with their first internationally released album in the past year.)

The group’s second album, The Beat, (retitled The Beat Is… for international release) was released in Denmark in 2009. The band said they wanted to get away from the pop sound of their first album and move towards a sound more like popular 90s dance groups like Snap! (and how I looooove 90s dance!!!) While the album was certified platinum and peaked #5 on the Danish charts, its reviews were mixed elsewhere, some saying the loss of the bubblegum euro-pop sound that made them so popular in the first place was replaced by a sound too inconsistent and shallow, although many say the album was better than could be expected from this departure. I’m not intimately enough acquainted with both albums to say, but I enjoy it. The title track “The Spell” is definitely awesome. The rest has some great euro-dance sounds and I think they synth and vocal styles are a great example of shameless euro-dance. What more could I ask for?

Check out their website: Alphabeat


Азис

Азис (Azis) is  a Bulgarian artist, who is best known for his flamboyant personality and non-traditional gender personification. I was looking on Youtube for other songs by some of my favourite Eurovision artists from the past couple of years and I saw a video of Azis in the related sidebar, at first I thought he was a woman and when I watched the video I suddenly found myself watching more and more and more! As my friend Monique put it, “well he just thinks he’s sex on legs!”. Azis’ music is of the chalga (folk-pop) style, and while I believe he mostly sings in Bulgarian the melismas of his vocals and music style has an aesthetic much akin to many Arabic artists.

In October 2006, Azis married his husband Niki Kitaetsa, though their marriage is not legally recognized given the laws of Bulgaria. =( In August 2007, Azis became a father to a daughter conceived via artificial insemination. Her name is Raya and her mother is Azis’ life-long friend Gala. At the end of November 2007, controversy erupted when Boiko Borisov, then-mayor of Sofia, elected to take down billboards with pictures of Azis kissing his husband. Both men were shirtless in the campaign. A wave of removing the posters from other Bulgarian cities followed. Although Borisov said the reason behind his decision was that the posters were too graphic, media said that much more explicit advertising could be found all over Sofia without being taken down. The Bulgarian LGBT social movement Gemini and the director of TV2 said that the same-sex nature of the ad, as opposed to its racy content, was what led to its removal by an order of the mayor.

Despite these controversies, Azis is widely successful in Bulgaria. In the 2006 TV programme Velikite Balgari (the Bulgarian version of the 2002 Greatest Britons from BBC), Azis was elected as the 21st greatest Bulgarian of all time (and was in fact the second ranking “living person” on the list, after football player Hristo Stoichkov, who was 12th overall). He has released 10 albums since 1999, of which I have only been able to get a hold of 2006’s Дива (Diva). He has also released several DVDs. Even more impressive is his list of awards, 20 Annual Awards, including 6 years of Best Singer, 7 for Best Stage or Best Media Presence, and 3 Best Albums!

Azis has collaborated with many artists in Bulgaria and is featured in numerous videos. He just seems like fun! I wish I could get more of his music!


Eric Saade

Eric Saade is a Swedish artist who I first saw last year when he was representing Sweden in the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest. His entry, “Popular”, was one of my favourite entries. I thought for sure he was going to win, and after half of the countries had awarded their points, Saade was at the top. But finally he ended the competition in 3rd place. But after this year’s Eurovision I decided to find some music from recent contestants I’d enjoyed and I was stumbled upon some Eric Saade magic!

Saade started off in 2007 in Swedish boyband What’s Up! (who I must soon look into to fuel my guilty pleasure of boy band pop!) He left the group in 2009 to pursue his solo career. That summer, Saade hosted the Swedish music competition My Camp Rock, a camp inspirated by the Disney Channel movie Camp Rock. He also hosted the nationwide contest Julia’s Shooting Stars. In January 2010, Saade won one Scandipop Award in the category Brightest New Hope for 2010, marking his breakthrough in the Swedish pop world.

In March 2010, Saade was nominated for one Marcel Bezençon Award (Melodifestivalen) in the category Press Award for “Manboy”. He also won one in the category Artistic Award for the same song. Saade released his first solo album Masquerade on May 19th, 2011, which reached #2 in Sweden and reached Gold status there. After the album’s release, Saade went on his first tour called Masquerade Tour the summer of 2010 with 24 concerts in Sweden. In January 2011, Saade was nominated for six Scandipop Awards in the categories Best Single from a New Artist for “It’s Gonna Rain” and “Manboy”, Best Male Single for the same songs, Best Male Album for Masquerade and Best New Artist. He also won two awards in the categories Best Album from a New Artist for Masquerade and Best Male!

In May 2011, Saade was nominated for two Marcel Bezençon Awards in the categories Artistic Award and Press Award for “Popular”. Also in May 2011, it was announced that Saade would release two albums in 2011 called Saade Vol. 1 and Saade Vol. 2 in Sweden. The first one was released on June 29th, 2011 in Sweden and Norway. The album reached #1 in Sweden, sold over 50.000 copies and reached Platinum status in July 2011 there. It also reached #16 in Finland. This year Saade is nominated for six Scandipop Awards in the categories Best Male, Readers Favourite of 2011, Best Male Album for Saade Vol. 1 and Saade Vol. 2, Best Male Single for “Popular” and Best Remix for “Popular (SoundFactory Remix)”. Saade is also nominated for one Grammi in the category Best Song for “Popular”. From March-April 2012, Saade was on his third Swedish tour, called Pop Explosion Concert 2012 with 15 concerts.

I find Saade’s music absolutely fun Europop! A lot of Youtube videos have comments comparing his to Justin Bieber, and though I’m a Be-lieber myself, I hate the comparison, and I think Eric Saade is much better. You can see his influence from 90s boybands and especially Michael Jackson in his videos, particularly his dancing. His videos are definitely fun to watch. I haven’t listened to his three albums in their entirety but from what I’ve seen and watched I know Eric Saade is magic. “Popular” is definitely one of the best!

Check out his site: Eric Saade

 

 


Roman Lob

Roman Lob is a German singer/songwriter from Düsseldorf. I first saw him in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, where he represented Germany, and I knew I had to find his album. Apart from this solo career, Lob is the lead singer of the band Rooftop Kingdom, an alternative-rock band from Neuwied (which I haven’t found any info on yet!), and also a founding member of the metal-core band Days of Despite. In 2006, Lob had competed in German casting show Deutschland sucht den Superstar but had to quit due to a vocal cord infection. In 2008, he took part in the competition to represent Germany at the Eurovision Song Contest 2008 in Belgrade, as a part of the boy band G12P – Germany 12 Points, but their song “When The Boys Come” was not chosen to compete in the national final. But this year Lob represented Germany solo, and achieved 8th place in the finals with 110 points.

Changesis Lob’s debut album, released in April this year, after being selected to represent Germany for this year’s Eurovision in Baku, Azerbaijan. It peaked at number 9 in Germany, and as far as I know has only been released in German-speaking Germany, which is just a shame. I absolutely love the album myself. The lead single, “Standing Still”, from this year’s Eurovision is wonderful. As soon as I saw his performance I began a frantic search for his album! I love his voice, it’s just so mellow and beautiful. The album is a light sort of pop/rock and is really just a great listen. It has a vibe that I haven’t heard in a while. I foresee this album being played over and over in my car. I have to say that Germany has given me some great artists including Roman Lob and Lena recently, particularly from Eurovision. Good job Germany!

Check out his website: Roman Lob and more unplugged action:

 

 


Eurovision 2012 – Baku, Azerbaijan

I can’t believe it’s already that time of year, and I can’t believe it’s come and gone! – Eurovision 2012, hosted in last year’s winning country, Azerbaijan. The contest’s 2012 motto: “Light Your Fire”, adapted from the country’s nickname: Land of Fire. As usual the abundance of Europop was awesome! I was incredibly sad to see Poland not participating this year, but many that did were incredible. I thought Finland’s entry by Pernilla Karlsson, “När jag blundar”, was a great song. It was a beautiful performance, and I liked it’s quiet power.

Russia’s entry this year was very amusing. Buranovskiye Babushki, a group of eight elderly grandmothers from the village of Buranovo, Udmurtia, halfway between the Volga and the Urals in Russia. Their disco-esque song, “Party for Everybody”, was actually damn catchy, and this performance was adorable! Best part? The group had entered the contest before in 2010!

I really enjoyed Germany’s entry this year as well. Roman Lob’s “Standing Still” is mellow, catchy, and just a great song! It may be my favourite song from this year, at least I know I’m going to hunt for more music from Roman Lob in the future (it doesn’t hurt that he’s super cute!)  The song came in 8th place in the final round.

But this year’s winner was Loreen, with the song “Euphoria”. This song was incredible. A perfect example of euro-dance/club music. The slow build up, the powerful chorus – it’s just simply epic. There is no doubt this was the year’s winner. Last year Sweden placed third with the song “Popular” (one of my favourite entries from 2011). I can’t wait for more of Loreen’s music! And I can’t wait for next year’s Eurovision!

You can watch the contest online and see all the magic yourselves: Eurovision

 

 

 

 


محمد حماقي

Mohamad Hamaki is a wonderful Egyptian pop star who’s albums I was lucky enough to find the other night. I have been unable to find too much information about him or his music, but he did win the 2010 “Best Arabia Act” in the MTV Europe Music Awards for “Ahla Haga Fiki” (which I found a fun remix – by DJ.Idriss – and video for!) . Hamaki’s second album, Kheles El Kalam, went platinum as the best selling Middle Eastern album of 2006.

You know I love the fun Arabic dance sounds! Listening to his albums so far has been a blast! Definitely one of my favourtie male Arabic pop starts so far! =)  His latest album, Haga Mosh Tabeaya, is much more electronically driven than his earlier albums, but features many traditional Arabic instruments, which makes it a really fun fusion. It will be in my car soon!

This is a fun remix:


راغب صبحي علامة‎

Ragheb Alama is another great Lebanese pop star I have recently enjoyed in my listening adventures in Arabic pop music. His career began in the 1980s when he appeared on the TV talent show Studio El Fan. His first single following his success on the show, “Bukra Byebrom Dulabak” launched his career to an instant height. Alama’s single “Alby Asheq’ha” was the first Arabic song to be made into a music video!

Alama had many successful albums in the 2000s and his most recent, Seneen Rayha, was released with Starbucks, another first: the first Arabic artist to sell their CD through Starbucks! He also adopted an environmental cause with the album after being named the United Nations Ambassador of Climate Change.

One of the most popular and successful artists of the Arab music world, Alama is now to be a host on the pan-Arab series of American Idol. With 16 albums throughout his career, there is undoubtedly much to hear! But unfortunately I have only been able to get a hold of a dozen or so songs. I hope to find more soon!!

Check out his website: Ragheb Alama

Here’s a great video with another great, Elissa!


شيرين

Sherine is singer/actress from Cairo, Egypt. She has released 4 albums throughout her career thus far, from her debut: Garh Tany in 2003, which launched her to popularity and solidified her as one of the most well known Arabic artists, to her most recent being Habeat in 2009. I managed to find Habeat and is as of now the only album of hers I have had the pleasure of listening to.

Sherine has also had a small acting career in Egypt, but more so has contributed songs to many Egyptian films, including “An el-Ish’ wel-Hawa”. The movie’s theme song, “Keteer Ben’sha”, became a major hit. That same year, she released “Lebnan Fel Alb (Lebanon’s in the Heart)”, a song dedicated to Lebanon and the victims who fell in the Israeli-Lebanese conflict.

Habeat is much less dance driven than many Arabic albums I have enjoyed, having a lot more slow-tempo and energetic ballad-y songs, but still has the great percussions and fun electronic sounds I love so much in Arabic pop music. I hope to find more of her albums soon!