Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Party - In My Dreams

The Party were a US group who had some success in the 90s in their homeland. Formed from The Mickey Mouse Club TV show - (the show which Britney and Christina came from) - the 5 members released 4 albums in the early 90s. Dee Dee Magno, Tiffani Hale, Chase Hampton, Albert Fields and Damon Pampolina brought their own brand of pop to kids all over the USA. They were pretty famous, and were on the cover of many a teen mag at the time. Oddly enough they only had one top 40 hit, but plenty of minor hits, including "That's Why", "I Found Love", and "Summer Vacation"

Their biggest hit "In My Dreams" was a cover version of an old rock hit by Dokken - but with lead vocals sung by Dee Dee, the track became a pop number which did fairly well over in the US. The track was even touted for release in the UK, but never materialised. The group split in 1994 and since then the members have been very quiet. Dee Dee has appeared in numerous versions of Miss Saigon, and very little has been heard of the others!

I remember hearing this track on Atlantic 252 (remember that?) many years ago and could not find the song anywhere until I stumbled across the first The Party album in a record store, and bought it on impulse. Imagine my surprise when I took it home and played "In My Dreams"!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Birgitte Einarsen - Saturday

Since it's Eurovision season again, when all the competing countries are busy choosing their song to represent them in Athens on May 18th, I thought I would get you all in the mood by choosing one my favourite songs of the season so far.

To those of you whol follow Eurovision, Birgitte Einarsen may be a name familiar to you. Born in Larvik, Norway, Birgitte starred in musicals all around Norway until she got her break in the 2003 Melodi Grand Prix, the competition for choosing Norway's entry in the Eurovision. Singing a pop-ditty "Good Evening Europe", a song about Eurovision itself, the song did well to come third overall.

Birgitte entered MGP (as it's known for short) again this year with the disco-stomper "Saturday" written by a Swedish/British team. She competed in the third semi-final and made it through to the second chance round where she duly won her place in the final proper for a second time. Alas it wasn't to be Birgitte's night, and she finished outside the Top 4 and therefore did not make the Superfinal, which was eventually won by the only Norwegian language song in the whole competition, Christine Gulbrandsen's "Alvedansen". Still "Saturday is an excellent song with that all important key change, and would have probably won some other country's national final. I hope you enjoy the track, and I plan to post more Eurovision songs as the season continues...

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Kate Ryan - The Promise You Made

To celebrate the fact that Kate Ryan is the Belgian entry for Eurovision with her fabulous slice of pop "Je T'adore" - I'm posting one of her previous hits.

Belgian born Kate (Real name Katrien Verbeeck) first appeared on the pop scene in 2002, with her dance cover of French chanteuse Mylene Farmer's hit "Désenchantée", which was a massive hit in the Belelux countrues, France and Spain. This was swiftly followed by "Mon Coeur Resiste Encore / Scream For More" and "Libertine", the latter of which was also another Farmer cover. Her debut album "Different" was released to much success and contained a mixture of French and English songs, most of them in her trademark Europop style.

In 2004, Kate was back with her second album "Stronger" and scored hits with "Only If I" and "The Promise You Made" - which was also recored in French as "La Promesse". "The Promise You Made" was a cover of an old 80s hit by German pop group Cock Robin and is my favourite Kate song (apart from Je T'adore of course!) Kate will compete in the semi-final for Belgium on May 18th, let's hope she does well!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Celine Dion - (If There Was) Any Other Way

Celine Dion is one of the worlds biggest selling female artists - and everyone knows her so I'm not going to talk about her career in detail. What a lot of people may not know about is Celine's early English language material, recorded in the early 1990s before her breakthrough hit "The Power Of Love" in 1993. "Unison" was released in 1990, and "Celine Dion" in 1991, and both were successful in her native Canada and the US, to some extent.

The decision to record music in English after many years of French language albums was definitely down to the fact that Celine won Eurovision in 1988 with "Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi" which became a hit all over Europe, including places where she'd never released music before.

Neither of her first two albums were big successes in the UK, and apart from "Beauty And The Beast", all the singles released from the albums stalled in the lower half of the Top 75 but they did help establish Celine.

"(If There Was) Any Other Way" was Celine's debut English language single, and was a minor hit in North America. "Unison" is one of my favourite Celine albums, and this track is representative of the type of pop music that was around then. Who would ever think that back then Celine would turn out to be as massive as she became?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Emilia - Playing It By Heart

Emilia Rydberg was born in Sweden on January 25 1978 and was discovered in 1996 by Lars Anderson, son of ABBA manager Stig Anderson. In 1998 she had a massive hit all ovger Europe and the Far East with her debiut single, the cute ballad "Big Big World", including the UK, where it peaked at #5 in December 1998, and reached the top spot in Sweden. Her follow up single "Good Sign" failed to capatilise on that success and failed to kake the top 40 in early 1999. Still, her debut album "Big Big World" was released, and a few other singles ("Twist Of Fate" and "Like Chocolate") were released across Europe, including her native Sweden and Spain.

In 2000, Emilia returned with her sophomore album "Emilia" and she was also back with a new sound. Gone was her cute style of pop, and in was the typical pop sound of the day - and her hits included "Sorry I'm In Love" and "Kiss By Kiss".

After the release of this album, things went quiet for Emilia until she appeared on a German reality TV show, similar to "Baby Hit Me One More Time" - she didn't win but lasted a few weeks.

"Playin' It By Heart" is taken from Emilia's second album, and I first heard this on a compilation tape in my work! Weird eh? It's a really nice summery style pop track that makes me feel good when I hear it! Hope you feel the same!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

No Angels - Forever Yours

No Angels were a product of the world famous Popstars show, which originated in New Zealand and has provided the world with such acts as Bardot, Hear'say, Bellepop and of course Girls Aloud. No Angels were the band from the first series in Germany, and the lucky 5 who made the band were Jessica Wahls (Jess), Ludmilla Diakovska (Lucy) (born in Bulgaria) , Nadja Benaissa, Sandy Mölling and Vanessa Petruo (Vany).

The band had instant success with their debut single "Daylight In Your Eyes" which reached #1 in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. This was then followed by many other hits including "Rivers Of Joy", "Something About Us", "Still In Love With You", "Someday" and "Feelgood Lies" over a three year period. Three albums were also released in various versions - "Ellements", "Now...Us!" and "Pure" - the latter of which was released after the departure of Jessica from the band who became pregnant and decided to look after her baby. Jessica wasn't replaced, and the 4 others carried on to produce their strongest album yet.

The girls decided to call it a day in 2003, and went their seperate ways on a high with the release of their Greatest Hits, containing all of their 13 hit singles in their short but impressive career.

Most of the girls' material was very strong, and it's a shame they could not make it over in the UK - "Daylight In Your Eyes" sadly failed to set the charts on fire.

Since then, all 5 girls have released solo material in Germany, and most have met with success. So now fans of No Angels have 5 acts to follow instead of 1!

"Forever Yours" is taken from the girls third and final album "Pure". It's my favourite track on thw album, and it was recently covered by Swedish Pop Idol winner Agnes Carlsson on her debut album. If you haven't listened to any of the girls' material, then give it a go, as I think you will be pleasantly surprised...

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Vanilla Ninja - Heartless

Any fan of the Eurovision Song Contest will know this band, as they represented Switzerland in the 2005 contest, coming a respectable 8th - despite hailing from Estonia!

The original line-up of the band was Maarja Kivi, Lenna Kuurmaa, Katrin Siska and Piret Järvis, and their first forage into music was when they appeared in Eurolaul 2003, the contest to choose Estonia's entry in the Eurovision. Despite gaining the most televotes for their song "Club King-Fu", the song was chosen by an international jury, and the song finished 9th out of 10 in the contest. Undeterred, the girls released their debut album "Vanilla Ninja" in Estonia with a mixture of Estonian and English language songs.

The girls' second album "Traces Of Sadness" was recorded in 2004 completely in English, and the girls began releasing music all over Europe - with particular success in the German speaking countries, where their first single "Tough Enough" became a huge hit. This was followed by "Club Kung-Fu", "Don't Go Too Fast", "Liar" and "When Indians Cry". Just before the release of the last single of their album, Maarja left the band due to falling pregnant, and she was quickly replaced by Triinu Kivilaan - who bore an uncanny resemblance to her!

The girls' third album was released in early 2005. Entitled "Blue Tattoo", the singles released included the title track, and "I Know", as well as their Eurovision song "Cool Vibes". At the Eurovision itself, the girls managed to get Switzerland's best result in the contest for 12 years!

After the contest, things went rather quiet from the band, with only a release of a Best Of at the end of the year. Around this time Triinu left the band, leaving the band as a three-piece, who have vowed to continue as a band. We'll see if 2006 can bring the band any more success, but they will forever be remembered as one of the more contemporary acts of Eurovision 2005...

"Heartless" was taken from "Traces Of Sadness" and is typical of their pop-rock style. An extended version appeared on the album as a bonus track, so maybe the track was touted as a single release at some point, but sadly, this never materialised...

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Alex Cartañá - Out Of My Shell

Brighton born Alex Cartañá was brought up on the Spanish island of Majorca and appeared on the British music scene in 2004 when she appeared on the Lee Cabrera dance hit "Shake It (Move A Little Closer) which reached #16 in September 2003. She then released her debut single "Hey Papi" - a track about her father, the following year. The song was a minor hit, reaching #34 in May 2004, but many thought that Alex was capable of more. A few months later, a second single was promoed - "Lost Ur Mind?" was more poppy than the previous release, but all was not well in the Alex camp as the single was pulled from release despite the video being aired on the usual music TV channels.

A different song was due to be released, but to this date, nothing else has been released from Alex, and it looks as if "Hey Papi" will be the only single she will get to release...

"Out Of My Shell" is a track which appeared on a 5 track promo of her album, and is a soulful ballad - I could easily see someone like Beverley Knight singing this, and shows off Alex's songwriting skills. Maybe the track will turn up on someone else's album like many forgotten classics do...

Sunday, February 26, 2006

DaYeene - And It Hurts

I don't know too much about this next act, but DaYeene are a Swedish due consisting of 2 sisters, Diane and Jeanette Söderholm. The girls, of Jamaican origin released a few albums in Sweden in the 90s, with their biggest hits being "Alright" in February 1991 and "Revelation" in November 1993.

Jeanette is also known for working with the Chieron team in the late 90s and early 00s, where she sang backing vocals on many of the production team's tracks including songs of Britney Spears and Jessica Folcker, as well as helping Ace Of Base out on most of their albums.

"And It Hurts" was released as a single in the summer of 1999, and also got a release in the UK. Whilst not being a hit, the track was a success on the dancefloor, and continues to be a classic to this date...

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Helena Paparizou - If You Believe Me

Swedish born Helena Paparizou is of Greek origin and is best known for winning the 2005 Eurovision song contest with her song "My Number One", but for some years previous to this, Helena was known as a member of the Sewedish/Greek duo "Antique" with Nikos Panagiotidis, and they had various hits in Sweden and Greece in the early part of this decade, including hits such as "Opa Opa" and "Die For You" - which was the Greek Entry in the Eurovision in 2001 wheere it came a respectable third, at the time Greece's best ever placing.

Antique split in 2003 and Helena (or Elena as she is known to the Greeks) recorded her first solo album "Protereotita", completely in Greek which became a massive success in Greece with the hits "Anapantites Klisis" and "Antithesis". In 2005, Helena was chosen as the Greek representative in Eurovision for a second time, and travelled to Kiev as the favourite with her uptempo track "My Number One". After a slow start in the voting, Helena soon pulled away from the others and went on to win the whole contest, the first time for Greece. "My Number One" then duly became a hit all over Europe, including her native Sweden where it reached the top spot. New album "My Number One" was released which featured some new English language compositions, some of her older tracks trabslated into English, and some Greek language tracks too. She continued the success with the hits "The Light In Our Soul" and "A Brighter Day", both of which became hits in Sweden. Her latest release, "Mambo" was the Christmas number 1 in Greece, and is set to be her new single in Sweden.

"If You Believe Me" originally started life as "Anamniseis" on the Greek version of her album, and the track is very typical of Helena's style. If you like this track then I'd suggest checking out some of her other material as I think you will be pleasantly surprised. I'm sure 2006 will have lots in store for Helena, but it will take a lot to beet her amazing year of 2005. Good luck to her though in trying...

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Kim Wilde - Can't Get Enough (Of Your Love)

Kim Wilde was born on 18th November 1960 in London, and she has to be regarded as one of the most successful UK female solo acts in chart history, having many hits throughout the 80s and early 90s. With her first single "Kids In America" rocketing to #1 in 1981, Kim continued to have hits throughout the decade, including "Cambodia", "You Keep Me Hanging On" (A US #1 no doubt), "You Came" and "Never Trust A Stranger". Kim's style varied from the New Wave of the early 80s, to a more SAW sound in the late 80s. Kim continued to release music until 1995, when she stopped with her 9th and final album "Now And Forever", and went off to have a family, and she now has 2 children, Harry and Rose.

These days Kim is better known for being a gardener and has appeared on various TV shows, releasing her first book "Gardening With Children" in 2005, as well as being the face of health store Holland & Barrett (they have a better than half price sale you know!) Kim has released a song or two since 1995 though, most notably "Loved" a new composition which appeared on a re-release of her Greatest Hits in 2002, and "Anyplace, Anywhere, Anytime", a duet with German singer Nena which went all the way to the top spot in Germany, and she has also toured round the UK as part of the Here And Now tour along with other 80s pop icons including Five Star and Belinda Carlisle.

Kim has recently signed a brand spanking new recording contract with EMI, so expect some new material from her this year. In order to celebrate this fantastic news, I have chosen to share with you one of my favourite Kim songs.

"Can't Get Enough (Of Your Love)" is taken from Kim's 1990 album "Love Moves", which although wasn't a commercial success, still contained a few gems. "Can't Get Enough" was released as a single in Europe, though not in the UK, and features some excellent synths as well as my favourite guitar solo in a song ever! Enjoy!...

Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Pussycat Dolls - Flirt

Nicole, Melody, Carmit, Kimberley, Jessica and Ashley make up The Pussycat Dolls - one of the biggest girl groups around at the moment with 2 UK #1's under their belt so far. Not bad for a group who were originally a burlesque act who became a bona fide music group as a second thought. Fronted by Nicole Scherzinger, formerly of the US TV Popstars band Eden's Crush, the girls have attained success not only in the UK and US but also around Europe too, with their debut album PCD attaining respectable sales, and massive hits with "Don't Cha", and "Stickwitu" - though the girls could do with an English lesson or two! Their next single "Beep" featuring of The Black Eyed Peas, is due out later this year. Time will tell if it can reach the top spot like the previous 2 singles.

The track I have chosen, "Flirt" is a bonus track on the re-release of their album, but is probably one of the best things the girls have recorded. With lead sung mostly by Melody, the black girl in the group, it makes a change from having Nicole sing all the vocals. The track is a blistering uptempo number which would be worthy of a single release, but in the day and age where R&B dominate the US airwaves, this seems rather unlikely, though would be a fantastic surprise...

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Lois - I Just Wanna Make Love 2U

This next track is a bit of a rare one. I don't know much about the band at all apart from the fact that they were 4 girls: Georgia Lewis (lead vocals) and Jan Mayo, Michelle DuVerney and JJ Kundi. "I Just Wanna Make Love 2U" was one of the 8 finalists in The Great British Song Contest in 1996, which as we all know was won by Gina G. Sadly, Lois' song failed to qualify from the semi-final, which was a shame as it's a very good dance number reminiscent of Livin' Joy and Alex Party who were very big on the dance music scene around that time. Maybe the fact that the lead singer had a scary haircut put off the televoters.

The track was co-written by Mike Connaris who went on to write Cyprus' Eurovision entry in 2004, Lisa Andreas' "Stronger Every Minute", and he has also competed a few other times in the British National Final. JJ from Lois was a dancer for Louise on her tour way back in 1997, but apart from that I don't know what else happened to the girls.

Sadly I don't have a pic of Lois, so one of the cover of the CD single will have to do!