Sunday, August 14, 2005

Charlotte Perrelli - All By Myself

Charlotte Perrelli (née Nilsson) is best known for winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1999 for Sweden with the Abba-tastic "Take Me To Your Heaven", but since then, she has forged herself a musical career and continues to release music to the day in her homeland...

Charlotte was born in Stockholm on October 7th, 1974, and began her career singing with various Swedish "dansband" acts, before finding the biggest success with Wizex in 1998 and 1999. She then decided to go solo, and after winning Melodifestivalen in 1999 with "Tusen Och En Natt" (A Thousand And One Nights) with her band Wizex, she then appeared at the Eurovision Song Contest as a solo act with the song now in English, called "Take Me To Your Heaven" which she went on to win, beating off Icelandic singer Selma into second place.

After this, Charlotte released her debut solo album "Charlotte" in Sweden which was followed by "Miss Jealousy" in 2001. After this, Charlotte took a break to get married and have a baby, and she bounced back with her new name and new album "Gone Too Long" in June 2004, which featured the hits "Broken Heart"(#7) and "Million Miles Away" (#11). The album also featured a few covers including "What A Feeling" from the movie Flashdance, and "Gone Too Long" which was originally by Gloria Gaynor. The album peaked at #11 in the Swedish charts, and is her most successful selling album so far.

"All By Myself" is featured on Charlotte's latest album "Gone Too Long", and is pretty typical of her style - breezy pop with dramatic key changes. I'm not exactly sure what Charlotte is up to right now, but hopefully she'll be back with another album soon...

Friday, August 12, 2005

Sam Obernik - Mr Butterfly

Despite the foreign sounding surname, Sam Obernik is Irish, and she is perhaps best known for providing the vocals for the dance hit "It Just Won't Do" by Tim Deluxe, which got to #14 in July 2002 but Sam also recorded her own solo album, which sadly was never released.

"Stellify" was due to come out in 2003, but after her debut solo single "Mr Butterfly" could only reach #83 in May 2003, the project was canned, and all that remains of the album are promo copies which are floating around, one of which I was lucky to get my hands on in a second-hand store last month. The album itself is an eclectic mix of pop sprinkled with various other genres, including country, and features the aforementioned single "Mr Butterfly", as well as a new version of "It Just Won't Do" which has been turned into a lounge-style song! If you like your female singers who are just that little bit different, have a search for her album, and I think you will be pleasantly surprised, she reminds me a little of Nelly Furtado in a way.

Since the aborted solo-project, Sam provided vocals for another dancefloor smash, featuring on Linus Loves' "Stand Back" which got to #31 in November 2003. It's gone a bit quiet for Sam since then, but you never know where she might pop up next...

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Lisa Lougheed - Run With Us

Most of you will not be familiar with the name of the singer, but you will most definitely be familiar with the song.

Lisa Lougheed was born in Canada in 1969 and enjoyed a mildly successful career in her homeland, releasing three albums in total: "Evergreen Nights" in 1988, "World Love" in 1992 (featuring the hits "Running Out Of Love", "Love Vibe", "World Love" and "Love You By Heart") and "Peace And Harmony" in 1993 (featuring the hit "Won't Give Up My Music") on which she worked with legendary producer Jellybean Benetiz.

"Run With Us" was a minor hit in Canada in 1988, and it gained her a 1988 Juno nomination as Most Promising Female Vocalist. It is a classic 80s pop track, with synths and a guitar solo, and an infectious chorus. It became known in the Uk as the theme tune to Canadian cartoon show "The Raccoons", which during the late 80s was a massive hit on Saturday morning kids TV. The song was so popular that people wrote in to ask the announcers not to talk over the end credits, so they could hear the song in full! Lisa also sang most of the other songs featured on the cartoon series

"Run With Us" has since been covered into a dance version by Spray, but the original version still conjures up images of my childhood. It's crying out for one of today's popstars to cover it and release the track...

Monday, August 08, 2005

Kaci - I Will Learn To Love Again

Kaci comes from the USA, and started her career in the UK when "Paradise" reached #11 in March 2001 when she was just 13 years old. Subsequent hits included "Tu Amor" (#24 in July 2001), and a cover of The Partridge Family's "I Think I Love You" which reached #10 in February 2002, and her album "Paradise" reached #47 a fortnight later. A song from her album "I'm Not Anybody's Girl", was featured on the soundtrack to the Gwyneth Paltrow movie "A View From The Top" - and reached #55 in August 2003.

After this, Kaci took a break, and she turned her hand to songwriting - she co-wrote "Wrong", sung by Kimberley Locke, a contestant on American Idol 2. She also sang a track which won BBC Radio 2's "Sold On Song" songwriting competition in 2004, "Txt Me" is about the joys of texting (!), and interestingly has recently re-appeared on Radio 2's playlist!

Now 17 years old, Kaci is releasing her first new material for 3 years, and has recently resurfaced with "I Will Learn To Love Again" - a fantastic dance/pop anthem written by Diane Warren from the soundtrack to "The Perfect Man", starring Hilary Duff and Heather "Amanda Woodward" Locklear. Sounding unlike anything in the US charts at the moment, it's a refreshing change to the mundane R'n'B which rules the US charts, and has slowly but surely been taking over the UK charts too. The video has been playing on satellite music station B4, but it's yet to be seen whether the track gets a release over here. We need more music like this in the UK charts to keep the spirit of pop alive...

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Crush - Penthouse Girl, Basement Boy

Donna Air is perhaps known more for her TV presenting and drunken antics back in the day, but not many people know that she once had a stab at pop stardom. Back in 1994, Donna released a single with 2 of her fellow Byker Grove actresses. Called Byker Grooove!, their single "Love Your Sexy...!" reached #48 in December 1994. Donna and Jayni then went on their own and formed a duo called Crush, and released 2 singles in the UK, "Jellyhead" (with it's fabulous Motiv8 Remix!) in Feb 1996, and "Luv'd Up" in August of the same year.

Jayni was then replaced by Luciana Caporaso, who herself had released some material in 1994 (and has since gone on to front Portobella), ahd the band released their debut album "Crush" in 1997 - which was made up of songs that Donna and Jayni had recorded (an album was released in Japan), and some new songs that Donna and Luciana had recorded. Sadly, the album did not fare too well and it was not released in the UK, and Donna moved on to TV presenting.

"Penthouse Girl, Basement Boy" was one of the tracks that Donna recorded with Jayni. Co-written by Sarah Cracknell of St Etienne, it's one of the strongest tracks on the album, and reminds me a bit of Bananarama with both girls singing in unison...

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Kathrine Strugstad - Velvet Blue

Kathrine is an up and coming singer from Oslo, Norway and has appeared in a number of stage shows in Norway, including "Evita" and "Grease". She is currently recording her debut album, and was a participant in this years Norsk Melodi Grand Prix - Norway's version of Making Your Mind Up. Her entry, "Velvet Blue", sung in English, made the final 8, but did not make it through to the final 4.

"Velvet Blue" is a haunting dance/pop track, and was co-written by a Norwegian with the lyrics by Gerald James Borg, a Maltese guy who has written a few of Malta's Eurovision entries in the past. It would have been interesting to if Kathrine would have fared any better in Kiev if the Norwegian public had chosen Kathrine over the eventual winners, glam-rock band Wig Wam.

I haven't heard anything else of Kathrine's material yet, but if it's as good as "Velvet Blue", I'll soon let you know...

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Jessica Garlick - Whatever

Born in 1981 in Wales, Jessica Garlick was one of the final 10 in the first series of Pop Idol, where she was voted off on the second show just before Christmas in 2001. She had previously featured on "Star For A Night" and "My Kind Of People", and she caught the eye of a Martyn Bayley, a songwriter who had written a track for the UK Eurovision heats, and he asked her to sing on his track. Jessica then found herself in the readio heat of the Song For Europe competition just a week later with the ballad "Come Back", and made it through to the final, where she beat off stiff competition from Heartbeat's Tricia Penrose, singing a euro-pop ditty, and Alistair Griffin who would go on to compete in Fame Academy a few years later.

This meant that Jessica went on to fly the flag for Britain at the Eurovision Song Contest in Tallin in May 2002, but she was drawn the "position of death" - 2nd, a position that Gina G, and most recently Javine have unluckily sang from. No song has ever won from that position, and the odds were stacked against Jessica, but she went on to come a respectable joint third with host nation Estonia after a great performance, with only Malta in 2nd and Latvia in 1st ahead of her. Jessica is the only top 10 appearance for the UK since 1998!

Since Eurovision, things have been quiet for Jessica, at least on the music side. She has appeared on various Eurovision TV shows including "The Weakest Link Eurovision Special", and has been one of the voting announcers in A Song For Europe. She has been recording material for the past few years, and time will tell if we get to hear any of it.

"Whatever" was featured on the "Come Back" single, which reached #13 in May 2002, which to date is her only chart appearance...