Today I will introduce you to the wonders of German music. And German music videos. Which is just a way too blown up way of starting to talk about the German band Paula (that exists since 1997) and their 2001 single Von Guten Eltern (To Come of Good Stock, basically) which is a nice little tune (sorriez for not being able to dig up an English translation of the lyrics for you guys) with a fantastic music video. Which is really all it needs to get me blogging, so let’s get right to it.
#1 Pastel Colors
You have obviously not been closely following this blog (as if there were anything better to do…) if you do not know that I have UNDYING ETERNAL OVER THE MOON L.O.V.E. for pastel colors. And yes, my love comes in caps. Aren’t those pastel tones just too pretty? The whole thing lulls you in. How much fun it must have been to choose furniture, fashion and make up and blend it all into this pastel-colored domesticity-leaking nightmare dream? And have some blurry filter over it? Welcome to my life in ten years, ya’ll. Better learn to play an instrument.
#2 Polishing fruit
She is polishing the apple in her neatly arranged fruit basket. While this might be enough said already, I want to point out how very alien the notion of doing such a thing seems to me who is fundamentally incapable of keeping space he occupies tidy. Yet at the same time I am all like “right on!” and want to run and polish all bananas, pineapples and coconuts I can find.
#3 Those twins
They are like Alice (the wonderland type) and Tweedledum and Tweedledee (wonderland inhabitants) mixed into one, yes, actually, two. Parted hair, blue pastel outfits and creepy stares (and a bunny! Do not forget the bunny!) make for effective, ermh, screen-time. But seriously (haha, kidding) how much fun are they? And do you also wonder if they are identical or fraternal twins? Or maybe not even twins at all? I bet five Tatooine Shillings on fraternal twins. Anyone take me on?
#4 Eating chocolates
Eating chocolates is in itself one of the most awesome concepts in the whole wide universe, of course. Eating them on your bed because you’re pastel-colored world is just a tad too much to bear and stuffing way to many at the same time into your singing mouth – BEAUTIFUL! People everywhere should just lock themselves into their bedrooms and stuff themselves with way too many chocolates from time to time. The world would be a better place. And yeah, it totally has to do with all the guilt and shame that follows.
#5 Ending with the smiling girl
Okay, technically it ends on a metronome, but you get my point, right before that. Now if you had a withered stone-cold little heart – like me – you could come to think that the blissful picture painted in this video is full of irony and critical commentary. Yeah, I know, GASP!! How could you even, what the, I can’t, even. So while this is thus firmly established as fact, what better way to melt our hearts into pools of joy and happiness by ending on a cute young girl smiling full on and close up in the camera? No better way says I, and feel like the world is such a wonderful place.
Wenn man sich gut benimmt, hat man sich wieder lieb.
You may remember my first Florence + the Machine review where I talked about their_her first album Lungs (here) and was raving, cause I enjoyed it from beginning to end. This last October she released her sophomore album Ceremonials and naturally expectations run high, so let’s have a look at how it fares as an album.
I could try to fool you and act like I do not love it from beginning to end, but instead of just giggling and saying awesome a lot I will try to be articulate and state: this album has both met and far exceeded my expectations. I started with fear, cause if you like an album that much (me and Lungs) you may expect too much from the second album and not give it its individual chance. Especially if the album heavily involves Paul Epworth who produced her Lungs single Cosmic Love which is, ermh excuse me, one of the greatest songs of all time. I am relieved to report – and also a little amazed by the fact – that I love Ceremonials just as much as a I love Lungs, which I consider to be quite the accomplishment. It totally works as an album and I can’t wait to finally possess the vinyl and have this ultimate one-album-feeling about it, even though it means I miss out on the special edition bonus tracks.
But since we’re all so fond of statistics and charts and all let us break the album down song by song, starting with the one I like the least up to the one I love the most. As a twist each title gets as much sentences as there are ranks in reverse order. Makes total sense, right?
But let me first make the honorable mention shout-outs to the three acoustic versions plus one demo on the second disc of the special edition, cause not only are they all about my favorite tracks, they are also just really really nice and it’s good to have them.
All this and heaven too
In one sentence I can only say that this doesn’t really suck, but the lyrics kinda do cause they are very reminiscent of (does anyone even remember) Natasha Bedingfield.
Never let me go
Another song that isn’t horrible, but the chorus doesn’t really do it for me and feels like a let down. Too cheesy and safe and un-Florence on an album so full of greatness.
Leave my body
While You’ve got the love was an amazing album closer on Lungs, this one is kind of a disappointment. My feeling is that the song intends to be darker than it actually is and thus doesn’t really work nor bear the significance it tries to bear. Which is sad, cause it does have some potential.
No light, no light
Florence Welch said in an interview that this song represents the album in its entirety, but I am really glad that it does not really, cause it is not my favorite. She clearly likes it, since it’s set to become the second single. However, it feels a tad too safe for me, like something that someone else could easily have come up with really – and I don’t like the chorus. Its saving grace is clearly Florence’s voice and style, but that alone does not make it a stand-out track.
For those who can see it (it does not work in Germany e.g.): I am most definitely going to talk about the racist implications of the imagery used in this video, probably tomorrow.
I’m not here looking for absolution? This is kind of a reverse case to other songs on the album in that the chorus totally convinces me, but everything else, except for the last part, doesn’t. Though, and I will confess it here first (can you see them headlines coming?), my feeling is that this is actually a grower and half a year from now this could easily be one of my favorites. It is not now, so let’s wait and see. And the ending with its jammy feeling is really great…
Strangeness and charm
Of the songs I like less, this is one of the more awesome ones. I love its upbeat nature. I love the verses. I love the bridge. But as with some others it is the chorus that doesn’t really work for me and thus diminishes the impact a little. In this case really a shame, cause with a killer chorus this would be a killer track.
This is a peculiar case for me. I really love the beginning and the chorus and overall I think this is actually a pretty wicked song. However, somehow it ends up in the middle of the field and I often find myself skipping it. Probably because the bridges and verses don’t entirely convince me. Having said all that, I tend to think that over time this one will actually climb on my list. Of course I need to listen to it more often to get there. If this is one of your favorites I would actually really like to know why, so please comment!
Only if for a night
We are actually breaking an invisible wall here, cause from here on I will talk about all the songs that I always listen to, while I often tend to skip the other ones mentioned before. Only if for a night is in the middle field, because there are some aspects to it that don’t convince me a hundred percent, like e.g. the beginning. However, since I’ve heard Florence recount the story of how she dreamt of her just shortly before passed grandmother on tour and how this became the inspiration for this song, well it makes it oddly personal to me, all of a sudden. And I agree, how weirdly practical is the advice of a ghost to concentrate? I love how this track works as the perfect introduction to Ceremonials. It gives us massive drums and tops it off with the mandatory choir, all contrasted to Florence Welch’s amazing vocal range. And it gives us the first hint of what awaits us in terms of bass on this album. Which is an awful lot and probably the major departure from the previous album – but for all the right reasons.
Breaking Down feels a lot like Pretty in Pink. There, I said it. It is most definitely not pink, but it does definitely reference the 80s. In a good way, of course. It sounds like one of those feelgood teenager movies where everyone has ridiculous hair and wears oversized color-blocking sweaters that are pretty rad, but also hurt the eye. So while the whole thing evokes positive 80s nostalgia the lyrics are actually a lot darker than I would have expected. But also in a good way. It is an odd combination here, but the whole anxiety theme works remarkably well with the kids’-song-80s-feel of it. Thus, my initial reaction upon first listen of “I don’t like that one” quickly turned into adoration (with a neon-bandana and turquoise leggings y’all).
Lover to lover
Strangely, this one was a grower for me, while to many other people it was an instant hit. Now I totally get the appeal. In an interview on youtube (to youtube actually) Florence said she tried to write this song from the perspective of a man on tour. Gurrl, take your inspiration where you can get it, cause it doesn’t really feel like that to me, but it does sound fucking amazing. I love the Sixtie-ness of it (though you could argue for the 70s as well I guess). It has a damn catchy chorus, an awesome ending, nice choirs, good bridges. There are all the right pieces and I love it don’t get me wrong, nevertheless I feel like there should have been an extra punch. I don’t even know where or how, but something to make it stand out even more. Having said all that I will so totally dance to it when I’ll encounter it on a dancefloor. Cause song was made for jumping to it.
Dude_ttes, this one! Effin’ this one. This bassline drives my neighbors insane but sums up oh so very nicely what Ceremonials is all about (and what differentiates it from its predecessor). Oddly, I somehow think or rather feel like this one is a cover of another song, but my short and unrepresentative google search does not confirm my suspicion. Does anyone know? I am even more impressed if this is all Florence’s doing. Cause not only is the music A+, the lyrics of this one are just brilliant. You can call me anything you want. I am a little sad that it is not going to be a single or won’t even get a lot of exposure since it is one of the bonus tracks of the special ed. IMHO it totally deserves to be on the actual album, though it admittedly doesn’t really fit that well with the rest. But then again, did Kiss with a fist?
What the water gave me
This was my first impression of the new album, and what an impression it was. It totally reassured me that things will be fine, that there is another masterpiece on the way. And how true that turned out to be! By now I find myself liking other songs on the album even more than this one, but every now and than it just blows me off my feet. It is such a powerful song, with this immense build-up and this amazing choir. I am deeply in love with how deceivingly quiet it seems for the most of it just to build up to this point of breaking loose and letting it all out. And I really like how Florence + the Machine stick to their themes. There is a lot of water being mentioned on Ceremonials, and has actually also been referenced quite a lot on Lungs (where it was all about breathing, obviously). And this song not only mentions water prominently it also feels like a massive wave of sound that crushes you, takes you down and drowns you in its awesomeness. Its heartbreaking choirs will fill your lungs and choke you to tears. And if you think I’m exaggerating: I am most certainly not.
Shake it out
This is another case of “didn’t like it that much at first but love it now.” Which seems weird to me now that I know how wonderful that song is and what I love about it. And what I love about it is that the chorus is gorgeous, but the verses are even more so. It creates nice imagery with language and the music takes you there to make you shake it out with your very limbs. It is an obvious single choice, but that didn’t occur to me at first. Now I keep dancing away at the very hint of this song. Cause I like to keep my issues strong.
Once again the interesting aspect of this song is its lyrical darkness contrasted with very upbeat and dare I say positive rhythms and melodies. I am also very fond of my pretend command of language to more or less (read: less to zero) accurately describe the musical phenomena I observe. Cause really, I have not clue. Don’t get me wrong, most of the time I can identify the chorus, but that is about where my deeper knowledge ends. I’m just putting words on it and pray to ancient greek goddesses that you’ll bear with me and my nonsense. Thanks.
This is kinda my Ceremonials’ Cosmic love. Which might not make much sense to you, but it totally does in my head. I promise. What I mean is that this song feels much like Cosmic Love on Lungs. It is an absolute and definitive favorite and evokes feelings that make my universe feel bigger and brighter and somehow more worth living in. And if a song does that to you, grab it and hold on to it, sez I. It is in many ways also very similar structurally to Cosmic love, with the verses, the build-up, and the quieter bridge towards the end – and of course a very powerful chorus. Plus choirs, drums and harps, which was the excellent model recipe for Lungs. Fun fact: I can’t help but think of Destiny Child. Say my name, y’all. Maybe Beyonce will sue. Cause there is also Florence’s Halo cover floating around the interwebz. It might be floating around HERE. But it also might not.
Heartlines is damn near perfect. Damn near, cause obviously there is another song that beat it to the top spot. But admittedly, technically we might just call it perfect. I am deeply in love with the beginning. But I am also deeply in love with the verses. With the bridge. With the fuckingly amazing chorus. With the message. I mean, come on, keep following the heartlines on your hand? You have to come up with that shit. I love the tribal drums and deep bass and how it totally complements Florence’s voice that brings full range in this one, from whispering to shouting, trembling and breaking it down crisp and clear. I am sincerely hoping for this one to be a single, because it totally deserves to become a universal hymn. My absolutely favorite line in this one is “I’m there with you up against the wall on a Wednesday afternoon.” Because let’s face it: how many times do Wednesday afternoons get screen time in pop songs? Exactly, basically never.
Yup, I guess you didn’t expect this one on top of the list. Or did you? One of my absolute favorite songs on Lungs was Swimming which also wasn’t on the regular album, but only available on the special edition. The same with Landscape, which is squeezed in between the demo and the acoustic versions. But damn, what a gem it is! At first it took me a few days til I realized that this and Heartlines isn’t the same song, and once I figured that out all hell broke loose. All positive I-can-finally-listen-to-this-on-its-own hell. It feels more like a Lungs leftover than any other song on the album, probably because it reminds me a lot of Kiss with a fist, even though the song’s atmosphere is a completely different one. But seriously, I love every single thing about it from beginning to end. Those drums are the shit. And I keep humming this tune to myself ever single day, barely able not to burst out singing on the train, cause it is so infectious.
This is probably the place where I should wonder what it is with those amazing extra tracks Florence keeps hiding away from bigger audiences (plus, I got 5 sentences left). I’ve already mentioned Swimming, and her cover of Addicted to love was musical geniousness. Now here is Landscape being my fav of the album and Remain nameless scoring incredibly high. I suspect girl has a vault of treasures hidden away, she’ll not be able to fit them on all the B-Sides she’ll be pushing. Which makes me teary eyed.
All in all, this album is stellar, and I cannot wait to see them perform the songs live (which I hopefully will next spring in Berlin). And it makes me excited for Florence +the Machine albums to come, of course. Cause if she can keep the standard or even manages to improve it there is a hell of a lot goodness in store for us.
Björk is of course known as a pioneer when it comes to music videos. There is a huge variety to pick from, but of all her videos there is one that stands out and has probably single-handedly cemented her status as music video avant-garde, and that is of course All is full of love. Accompanying one of her Homogenic singles it was directed by none other than Chris Cunningham who thereby cemented his status as an avant-garde music video director.
My top 5 why this video rules after the clip.
#1 The Björk-Robots.
I mean, just look at them. This was when? 1999? And although theoretically I know that even earlier than that awesome CGI was possible, it is still stunning to see how well done the two Robots with their Björk faces are.
#2 Robot Love.
More fascinating than the Robots looking like Björk is of course the fact that these two robots make love. The brilliance of the concept of the video is that it takes the whole issue of love as a human emotion and applies it to machines, which (who) are usually not supposed to feel that way. And not only that, they are actually casually questioning all our human assumptions about what it takes to be in love and make love by presenting two robots that look alike, have no real distinguishable gender and are not supposed to have a procreative instinct. So, basically, the video slaps conservative assumptions about gender roles and why people should have sex in the face and says: haha, suckers, all is full of love. Deal with it. Other than that, it is also kinda funny to think of robots making love and then the whole thing looking like two humans doing it. Cause: why?
#3 The Hand.
Speaking of the sexy time in this video, just how cute is the hand of one robot going down to supposedly genital regions and adjusting things? Very.
Also: the porn-sequence preceding it. Would totally be x-rated if these were actual human beings.
And bodily fluids are exchanged, without these bodies actually producing fluids, of course.
Awww, the absurdity of it!
#4 The Outro.
I used to dislike the outro when I was younger, cause I wanted to see more robots, but I appreciate it now. Slowly moving away from “the action” all the while giving us Alienesque visuals that suggest that supposedly inorganic machines are actually very organically intertwined.
#5 Makes me love the song.
Music videos are really doing their job if they make you like the song they’re featuring. And granted, in itself, All is full of love is not that fascinating or mind blowing. It really is the video, that takes my appreciation of the song to a whole new level. Well done, video!
(admittedly, the video version is slightly different from the album version…)
Remember the days when the media liked to predict that Gwen Stefani would be the next Madonna? Well, they were wrong, someone else took that spot. But actually, Mrs. Stefani seemed to be embarking on an extraordinary solo-career. Now, we are all just waiting for her to finally release the next No Doubt album that we’ve been promised. But let’s not be too dismissive and take a look at what “started” her solo-career: The brilliant video for What You Waiting For?, the lead-single of her “Love.Angel.Music.Baby” (yes, barf) album. My top 5 resons for loving this video after the clip.
#1 The Song.
Obviously. Or not so much? Gwen Stefani is a peculiar case, especially considering her solo career. Peculiar, because I really want to like what she does, but with her two solo-albums only the lead-singles blew me away. What you Waiting for? is an amazing unapologetic pop-gem, but the rest of the singles and the album were kinda blah IMHO. And the same goes for her sophomore album. Wind it up was an awesome lead-single, but everything afterwards just disappointed me. Well, at least there are the lead-singles, right?
Oh, and referring to yourself as a stupid ho is always a plus in my book, even if you, dear reader, cannot hear it, cause I could only find a clean version of the vid. Sorriez.
#2 The Extended Version.
Oh, isn’t it just nice to see artists caring about their music videos? And then actually making a short movie out of it? I love the narrative spin on the video with the extended version, where she not only comments on the theme of the song herself (getting her career started….or is it really about having children? Ha!), but where she sets up the whole fantasy-journey that happens in the “actual” music video. And I just love how “let’s get straight to business” the two women working in the writer’s block clinic or whatever are. Major props also to how many of the situations feel slightly awkward and uncomfortable and how Gwen Stefani totally looks like Courtney Love when she’s in the water.
Please pay particular attention to the questionnaire!
#3 Alice in Wonderland.
Do you remember the Alice in Wonderland version by Tim Burton? Well, when I first heard about him doing the movie I was hoping for visuals like that. Needless to say, I was disappointed. I thought the visuals were horrible, too dark (as in: not visible) most of the time, and really overall just uninspired. This video on the other hand: crisp clear, stunning and still trippy enough to make you follow the rabbit. Even if he’s real tiny and pink. Couldn’t the Tim Burton thing be a little more like Gwen’s video? Time travellers: pretty please?
#4 The Costumes.
Part of why the visuals are so amazing is because the outfits in What You Waiting For? are. Gwen Stefani has been labelled style-icon so many times it makes me wanna puke, and really, most of the time she doesn’t strike me as particularly cutting edge, but in this very video her passion for fashion and the Alice in Wonderland narrative blend together extremely well. John Galliano, though. Ugh, I know.
And then some extra special points for her studio outfit with that yellow top, cause that is really beautiful, though non-Alice related.
(And yes: major props to the make-up department as well!)
#5 The Randomness.
The sheer randomness of the concept of Alice in Wonderland. How exactly does it relate to the song? Apparently not at all. Of course we could go into a whole discussion of how the Alice theme of growing up and leaving childhood fantasies behind relates to Gwen “graduating” to a solo-artist with a respectable career, but I leave it to you to write the essay on that.
And because we like it so much, here is some further insight into the making of this video:
Time for another instalment in my self-indulgent series of talking about what music videos I love love love for no other reason than me being able to because I say so. Ha! Haters to the left….
Whatevs…. y’all might be sayin’, just give us the damn thing and your Top 5 reasons why you love love love it. What you waiting for?
#1 Whoops now
Always a good reason to like a music video is because you like the song. In this particular case the song is really the main reason why this video makes it into the series. By Janet Jackson standards it’s certainly not the most ambitious nor necessarily the best music video she’s done, but the song is one of her best IMHO, so you gotta deal with that. I love the “Jenny from the Block”-ness of it, as in: hell yeah, I’m an international superstar in the early 90s, but folks, I know what it’s like to have to go to work at the office instead of spending quality time with my friends on the weekend. As if…. And then being on Jet-Skis and all that rich-kids-shit. But still, Janet convinces me more of keeping it real than Jenny, probably because Janet never really had it really real, so her version of real is always a sugar-coated nipple-free fun world. Or whatever.
Lil’ fun fact: The first single from the very same album “That’s the way love goes” features Jennifer Lopez as a dancer in the music video.
Another lil’ fun fact: The song itself isn’t credited on the album art, since it’s a hidden track. But being one of the best on the album they made it a single nevertheless. I’m glad bout that.
#2 This shirt
Ok, no.1 was wordy. So let’s shorten this point a little. Just look at this shirt. It’s a pink polo-shirt with turquoise trimming. Heehee, what? Obviously no stylist whatsoever was working on that project and thanks to that we have that atrocity of 90s fashion to remind us how very human even Ms. Jackson can be. The next point will prove it.
#3 The hair
Oh ma gaaaawd, that hair. If you ever wondered what decade that thing was filmed in and the shirt didn’t give it away, look no further. In German we call it Bumspalme, which can’t be translated nearly as eloquently but actually suggests that it’s a hairdo meant for sex. In a non-erotic, look-down-upon-it kinda way. But, as terrible as it is, how cute is it at the same time? With that shirt? Oh, those 90s. They sure knew how to fuck up style back then.
#4 Ms. Jackson
Simply a beautiful black woman, out with her friends, having fun in the sun. I’m not gonna lie, I’m a little creeped out by how she looks like that nowadays, which indicates that nothing about her face has aged naturally. That’s kinda sad, we can discuss this another day. That’s not to say she hasn’t had any work done by the time of the video, but since we don’t even remember her face before any nose-job, cheek-job or xx-job we take it as basically au natural, ok? And as such, here she is: A beautiful black woman, distinctively less whitewashed than in other videos or photo-spreads. A sharp reminder of what pop-culture does to color without us even noticing most of the time.
#5 private footage/music video
Now, I don’t believe for a second that any shot in that video wasn’t explicitly set up for the music vid, but since it’s done well, it doesn’t feel like it, it looks really like Ms. Jackson would be taking her vacation with a bunch of friends. What I particularly like about the direction and editing is how the parts where she’s actually singing the lyrics blend in seamlessly, even though they clearly indicate that this is no ex-boyfriend-held-the-camera-for-private-fun shoot, but a professional music video. But the effect of the casualness is very well done, and I appreciate that.
Boy oh boy, it’s been what? 12 days since I last posted? I feel terribly sorry. Alien month was fun and really had me posting on a regular basis, once that pressure was gone…. well and life and all, plus now I’ve got a cold, whiny whine…who even cares?
So, let’s get back to some more regularity and start with some good old reviewing of music. And today we go Madonna! Whoa, kids, calm down. It is only my humble review of a tribute album with the wonderful title “Through the Wilderness – A Tribute to Madonna” which I can only recommend, cause it is really good. Believe me, I could go so much harder on your asses in terms of Madonna, you’d be thankful if you knew…
The album was released in 2007 by Manimal Vinyl Records (though it unfortunately was never released as a vinyl, though promised), and 25% of all earnings are donated to Raising Malawi the foundation that Madonna herself set up in order to help people in need in Malawi.
I’m gonna talk a little about the cover-versions I really liked on the album and group together all those I rather didn’t, to save up space and nerves.
Jonathan Wilson – La Isla Bonita
Listening to this version of La Isla Bonita I always end up thinking: “this is where I long to be.” Haha, no, what I really think is that this is actually what the song probably always was meant to be, this sort of melancholic, road-movie-esque piece. It’s sad and it’s sweet and it still is La Isla Bonita, surprisingly.
Golden Animals – Beautiful Stranger Blues
One of the biggest surprises on the whole album for me. Now, covering a “recent” Madonna song (meaning non-80s) is a big plus for me, and on top of that Beautiful Stranger is kind of a really cool Madonna song. Now this version is super-different, but keeps the level of overall awesomeness. It’s fun and it doesn’t stick 100 percent to what the original does and says, but in all the good ways and what we get is a song that could also not be a Madonna-cover, but somehow is, and it’s all the more awesome.
Giant Drag – Oh Father
Gem-time! Oh Father in the original is a beautiful song, but Giant Drag is taking it, making it her own and taking it to new heights. Love the fragility of her voice, love the drama, love how much more grounded in reality it all of a sudden sounds. Like a huge art-film-drama taking place inside a motel room, strictly dealing with overcoming the shattered relationship with her dad. Precious!
The Tyde – Hung Up
Hung Up is one of only two non-80s songs on the album and just as the other one, this cover rocks! Hung Up is a very recent Madonna single, but also one that has become very iconic for her very quickly and it is nice to hear that other folksy take on it. It works surprisingly well as an acoustic piece and while Madonna has tried to make it more of a rock song on her recent tours, she kinda failed, while this version most certainly does not. Thumbs up! Makes me wish the artists featured would have been a little more courageous and covered other more recent material rather than the 80s classics.
Alexandra Hope – Lucky Star
Let’s face it: Lucky Star is one helluva song. And this version does not diminish that fact. It’s stripped down, playing more with the naiveté of the lyrics, but it works so well. It is very beautiful, and while I don’t think it outshines (haha) the original version, it is a very nice take on it.
The Chapin Sisters – Borderline
While the original Borderline is an ok song for me, this version blows it out of the water. Seriously, three sisters going all choir on it is about the best thing that could have ever happened to that song. Plus, the Chapin Sisters are super-worth checking out, their cover-version of Britney’s Toxic is equally fantastic. I sorta wish they would have done a whole Madonna cover album by themselves.
Apollo Heights – Dress You Up
Dress You Up is a terrific song, and this trippy version of it is absolutely amazing. I love how it takes me into that kind of drunken-stupor melancholy and leaves me at an emotional place that makes me feel like I am so much more in touch with the rest of humanity while I am at the same time feeling even more secluded. Does that even make sense? I think it is a wonderful cover, doing what any good cover should do.
The Prayers – Cherish
Love the Beach Boys take on this iconic Madonna song. It’s fresh and yet strangely old-school, adding another layer of Bripop-esque don’t-give-a-fuck-tude on a song that is all light-hearted joy and surfer-dudes dancing around a bonfire.
Lavender Diamond – Like a Prayer
The problem with this song is that it is a cover, but not a really awesome one. It’s nicely done, and sounds good, but is way too close to the original version. And that means that I will compare it to the original version and sorry dear Lavender Diamond, but Madonna’s Like a Prayer is so much better in its pop-perfection that yours is but a mere cover. And since we’ve witnessed stellar ones on the album it is kind of sad to see what happens when artists are too literal with the original versions.
And now for those that get no major love from me:
Jeremy Jay – Into the Groove
Tough ground, I’m not a fan of the original Into the Groove, and unfortunately, this version does not convert me to one. Winter Flowers – Live to Tell
The original Live to Tell is a beautiful song, but much of its impact stems from the fact that it’s the hurt female singing solo about it. The group-choir-y folksy version of that just doesn’t pack the same emotional punch.
Mountain Party – Material Girl
It is the effin’ Material Girl, so if you cover it, there needs to be some ironic distance, right? And I see, dear Mountain Party, you’re trying, but just not hard enough for my taste. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffitti – Everybody
I know a few people who love Ariel Pink, but sorriez, this does not convert me. Too close to the original, which is not that mind-blowing after all either.
Lion of Panjshir – Crazy for You
Kinda blah, kinda ok. Doesn’t really convince me of the need to cover songs. Too much pseudo-drama I guess.
Bubonic Plague – Who’s that Girl?
This does absolutely nothing for me. Sorry, but it sounds like the worst attempt at a remix/youtube-cover ever, and I wonder: they could not find anything better?
Geez, Alex, you say, why do you even review it if you dislike so much on it? Well, I love at least 8 songs on it, so hey! Plus not only good stuff is review-worthy, so there. All in all, I totally recommend checking the album out. I guess you kinda have to have a thing for Madonna to really get into it, but let’s just admit it to ourselves, some of her songs are just very well written, so it is very interesting to see what other people do with the basic premises and create out of them.
Although it is officially Alien month on this blog, methinks, there needs to be a little diversity. Like, my gazillion of readers are craving something other than good old Alien posts once in a while. Do not worry, children, I’ve got something in store for you.
I decided to re-visit a category that I created with talking about Adele’s Rolling in the Deep music video. Today it is going to be about Lily Allen’s The Fear though, and despite it not being a current release, it very much deserves to be blogged about. The video first:
And now for the 5 reasons why this video is awesome:
#1 – the song
Like, okay, music videos can be great even if the songs kinda stink, but often that works not to their advantage. In this case there is nothing to fear (haha, pun), cause this song is fucking genius. Musically and specially lyrically, this one just gets me. “Life’s about filmstars and less about mothers, it’s more about fast cars and cussin’ each other” – come the fuck on. If this is not angels singing in your ear, then what is effin’ wrong with you? I might be biased, ok.
#2 – the beginning
The beginning of the video is so good because it is so random, the way the camera finds her, how she delivers these wonderful lyrics (“I wanna be rich and I want lots of money, I don’t care about clever, I don’t care about funny”), how the trailer is just this hilarious little trailer, how she hops out and runs back in and all about it is forgotten, cause the rest of the video takes place in that castle. Love it!
#3 – the color palette
Pastels galore. I mean, all these colors come in shades that are so far from aggression and anything loud that it soothes me into believing that Lily Allen could be anything else than a famewhorish alcoholic. To be fair, she is certainly more than that, but at some point in her life, those two aspects seemed pretty characteristic. But I digress. Throwing subdued pinks and blues and yellows in my face is one big plus in Alex’s book of things he loves.
#4 – the dress
Ha! That dress. Beautiful.
#5 – Miri-Piri
That is really a very obscure reference and uninteresting to probably all of humankind now and then, but the whole look and song and all totally remind me of a friend of mine, that whenever I see the vid I kind of have to think of her and how she’d like it and kinda is like that.
There you are, praise it!
cause it's so cute: the dress, by PPQ spring/summer09, via lilyfan.net
Many of my teenage years were spent longing for the chance to watch the German music TV channel VIVA (let alone VIVA2), and compensating by watching MTV or VH1, all the while taping those Music Videos on VHS tapes. Yeah, before all that internet stuff and DVD junk. These were the days…
Well, glad that they are over, people still make good music and good music videos (yeah, IMHO).
One fine example is the latest single of Adele called “Rolling in the Deep”. Comparisons are shitty, but I’ll still gor for it, she somehow strikes me as a mixture of Beth Ditto and Amy Winehouse. So, there. Her first album got her one or multiple Grammys (I’m just too lazy to look it up) and was entitled 19 cause she was 19 when she released it. Her new album, of which “Rolling in the Deep” is the first single is named 21 because …. yeah, guess.
Two movies come to mind: Jurassic Park because of those water-filled glasses (T-Rex coming up the stairs in all probability), and Harry Potter, cause drummer-boy lives plays under the stairs.
Having a Samurai dance through white powder makes for good imagery, I note in the back of my head, and I grin like a moron at the wonderfulness that is the total waste of tableware, by throwing it against a screen and have it form a mountain of destruction. And just think about being the intern who had to build the paper-city, just to see it burned down. He probably cried for days in a row, that must have hurt.
I’m also fascinated by Adele’s hair, which is awesome, and her make-up, which kind of freaks me out, cause it looks so plastered on. I swear, in some shots her chin looks unreal to me, which is lightning and foundation playing tricks on my eye.
Maybe I forgot to mention: but I love love love this song. Playing it on repeat. Even in my head, hum it to myself in the subways. Cause we could have had it all. Rolling in the deep.
Apologeez. Time flies, and thus a week passes without me posting anything. Any. Thing. Oh well, here we go:
Re-listening to Roxette’s album Crash! Boom! Bang! I realized how familiar all of it is to me. I used to be the biggest Roxette fan (yeah, I challenge you on that) in the period from 1995-1997. Which was the time they took a break that actually lasted longer than my obsession. But during these two years I got all the albums and knew all the songs by heart. It hit off with me buying their Greatest Hits album (because I thought I liked one song in particular, without realizing that the song I thought of wasn’t by Roxette really), which started a loving relationship that I hadn’t anticipated.
What makes it even more familiar, is that this was the time when I started to learn English as my second language and so much of the vocabulary in English I was introduced to through Roxette. So any word that pops up in Roxette songs is firmly placed into my synapses, any other word, heck, I don’t know. But funny to realize that. I only knew that china can refer to objects on top of referring to the country (or countries) because of Vulnerable early on. Which is another word, I’ll never ever forget.
Crash! Boom! Bang! was released in 1994 and is Roxette’s fifth studio album. It was less successful than anticipated and the albums preceding it, but what do we care about numbers when we can just love it? So, let’s get to that, a chronological song-by-song-run-down, eager to meet your eye….
Harleys & Indians (Riders in the Sky)
Obviously Per Gessle’s little pet project on this album. He is singing, it’s more the sort of “Rock-Song” that he usually aims for, and it is about meeting Elvis Presley (who obviously is a personal hero of his) when dead. Somehow it is the perfect entry for the album, because neither is it a stellar track, so it doesn’t really matter that I forget about it later on, neither is it horrible by any means, but is actually kinda fun in a slightly more unusual way for Roxette.
Crash! Boom! Bang!
It’s both a curious album and song title, and even more so, because it reads like Sleeping in my Car sounds, while in reality it doesn’t sound anything like it. Does that even make sense to anyone? To me the title always suggests this power-rock extravaganza Roxette-style, especially after Harleys and Indians kicks off the album in such a rock oriented way, but then it hits you: One of Roxette’s finest ballads.
Now if anyone ever wondered why Roxette became famous in the first place, here is one prime example: Power ballad with lots of strings and lots of guitar, haunting lyrics that are so general that basically everyone on this planet can identify with them and Marie Fredriksson with her amazingly awesome voice. If you still don’t get why Roxette became famous, it is entirely your fault.
My Mama told me not to mess with sorrow, but I always did, and Lord, I still do
The first six songs on the album follow a very clear rock/pop followed by ballad rhythm, so naturally this one is the pseudo-rock-y-pop-track of the album. What always strikes me about these first six songs is how obviously each of them has huge single potential, and except for Harleys and Indians, they all have actually been singles.
Fireworks is very reminiscent of Joyride and How do you do?, with Per singing the verses and Marie taking over in the chorus which works fantastically. Here again it becomes obvious that with many of the songs they got very guitar heavy and my guess is that they aimed at a more US-American sounding/Country-associations-evoking album sound (and yeah, before you shoot me, I know that there is variety and this is one broad broad generalization). In this case I don’t mind.
Run to You
The Rhythm demands it: Another ballad. Slightly faster and more pop with its very catchy chorus. Funny, but I’m always kinda undecided about Run to You. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s an awesome song, but something about it tires me, and honestly, I suspect that I’m way more interested in the verses (and their lyrics actually) than in the chorus, which is somewhat of a let down. It’s good, but I kinda feel I was promised more. Like in a not so generic kind of chorus-way, which is really just being bitchy about something that actually is really good.
Sleeping in my Car
Yeah, those guitars and drums just punch you in the guts, grab your hand and take you on a ride. This is another reason why Roxette has a claim to fame: Besides power-ballads they get rocky pop-gems right a lot of times. I might be biased, well actually I am, cause I have no idea of how other societies around the globe received this song, but I feel sort of stupid writing anything about it, cause I feel that basically anyone here in Germany just has to hear the first few notes and can sing along right through this thing. Yes, I think it is that iconic, is what I wanna say.
Fun question you can ask yourself: How much do you believe that Marie Fredriksson is capable of seducing (as in not let her morals get in the way) random handsome strangers in her car?
My heart is going boom, there’s a strange taste in my mouth
Ballad time, but, oh boy, with Per! Now this song reminds everyone right from the start, that he will never be considered to be the greatest singer in the world, but to be fair, on his solo album and on other songs his raspy voice manages to carry the tune quite well. I might just be being catty, because I just don’t like this song, although I have to acknowledge its hit potential, especially now after it became a big hit in various countries and introduced the non-English speaking world to the most difficult word there is in the English language, pronunciation wise (admitted, you might succeed in proving me wrong on that theory).
The First Girl on the Moon
Ermh, can we say hidden gem time? I love love love this song. Probably because it is very Eurythmics kind of Savage era reminiscent (and yeah, 7 songs in and this is the first time I make the Eurythmics – Roxette comparison? Shame on me!), only not so Eurythmics-y and more Roxette-y. Love the simplicity of it, love the lyrics. Yeah, actually in my heart I believe that this song and Euryhtmics’ Savage are twin-songs and share one consciousness. Or something.
I told her I could come. That I could come along. But she didn’t let me come along.
Place your Love
This one follows a familiar Roxette pattern, Per in the verses, Marie supports on the chorus, but to me it kinda falls flat. It’s not bad by any means, but with all the other awesomeness on the album it just can’t compete. It’s nice and quite and yet touches, and it’s lucky that it picks up a little towards the end, but as I said: It ain’t no Sleeping my car or anything. Just realized how much the chorus foreshadows the style of Love is All, later on the album.
hardcore hair, via quieroletras.com
I Love the Sound of Crashing Guitars
Could easily been the title to Harleys and Indians. They probably did the latter first and then thought, wow, I love the sound of the crashing guitars on that one, and then someone: hey awesome song title, let’s make one! And so they did. It’s really more of a filler to me, I don’t mind it, but I usually skip it. And it just made me realize how present Per is on this album. Seems like I always only remember Marie’s singing….Mmmmh.
What’s She Like?
I love the intimate, somewhat loungey feel of this one. Like she just meets you over your fifth Whisky Sour in the darker corner of the hotel bar and asks you about your new girlfriend. I never consciously made the connection before, but actually we could consider this one to be the non-explicit equivalent to Alanis Morisette’s “You oughta know”. And yeah, less angry. Superb example of how Marie is able to convey desperation with her voice. Which she actually does a lot in Roxette song. Oh my.
Do You Wanna Go the Whole Way?
Hehe, yeah, I asked you before on Sleeping in my Car, but this one, heehee. Roxette and sexuality are two areas that somehow never mingle in my head, yet I know intellectually that this is of course nonsense. Why shouldn’t they? Probably because of the family-friendly image.
Anyhoo, believe it or not: For many years this was my favorite Roxette song. Yeah, gasp. It still ranks among my ultimate Roxette favourites. This whole mix of dark and desperate, drums and guitar, Marie and background vocals, strings and whatnot just gets me any effin’ time. Now, I could do without the interlude, but even as I write: If I could do without it, how could it be my favorite? Right. Perfect song, love it.
Before all secrets are revealed, old scars must heal – or wither
Kind of filler-y in the verses, this song makes up for it in the bridge. No fan of the chorus here, but the bridge sung by Marie is really kind of super-awesome. If only the rest of the song could live up to it.
Love the sound, love the lyrics. Again, as with What’s She Like? this one has this brooding, hotel-lounge, 70s kind of thing going on, and yeah, that is all entirely in my head. A solid album track, IMO.
Love Is All (Shine Your Light on Me)
Yeah, this one. Roxette going experimental on our asses. In a good way. Comes as kind of surprise, but feels like Roxette throughout. Okay, love is all is a phrase that has bee beaten to death and beyond, but then again, love is really all we need, so why not sing about it, right? Love the build up and the trick with the pseudo song-stop, just to have it kick back in. One of those songs I wish I could forget, just like Don’t tell me by Madonna, just to be surprised like hearing it for the first time, when you’re really fooled by the effect. Can’t always be like that, I guess.
Love is there in your laughter
Got to Sleep
Ahem, ‘scuse me, was there ever, in the history of humankind a more perfect album closer than this one? You’re right, no, there wasn’t. Confession time: I love this song to death, also, even though being “only an album track” (yeah, why do I even write that?) it ranks at the top with all other Roxette awesomeness. Although the preceding song was entitled Love is All, I really feel like this is really the song that gets the message across. Listening to it I’m left with a feeling that there can’t really anything go wrong. That people are good, and love will save us and beauty is to be found everywhere. Unfortunately, that is kind of not really the case, but it feels sooooo good to feel like that every once in a while, right?
You have no clue what I was talking about (even though you made it to this line), cause you haven’t heard it? Go and do so ASAP!
Living in Berlin you have probably heard of Stereo Total before (if not: shame on you). If you’re living in Paris, maybe not so much, but then again, I don’t really know. Welcome to the review of their next-to-newest album Paris <> Berlin.
Stereo Total is a band that consists first and foremost of Françoise Cactus and Brezel Göring (in the past there were other band members). Françoise is from France and therefore lends some French credibility to the music by applying her signature thick accent (although I’ve read somewhere that her German is actually practically accent free) and has co-written almost all of the songs on the album, together with a Mr. V. Finsterwalde, who is really just also Brezel Göring under another alias.
Paris<>Berlin was released in 2007 and as Stereo Total releases usually go, created a little buzz in alternative and indie media, while that didn’t really translate into mainstream coverage (although they enjoy some visibility within the German media thanks to hits like Liebe zu dritt, Wir tanzen im 4-eck and Ich bin nackt). Also as usual the album features a mix of languages, primarily German and French, but also some English (though no Spanish or Japanese this time around).
Logistically I will go through the tracklist, try to limit my words so as not to bore you to death, provide some background info where necessary and give a X out of 10 rating to each of the songs. Yay, let’s go!
1. Miss Rébellion des hormones
Sweet, melancholic intro to the song and thus to the album. And a song about a girl in need of love attending a boarding school. “Elle a besoin d’amour, plus que de nourriture” (she is in need of love, more so than of nutrition). Haven’t we all felt like that at some point? 8/10.
2. Ich bin der Stricherjunge
One of the rarer songs on which Brezel is singing. About a gay hustler who is smoking way too much. It’s fun and it’s nice, but the major highlight is probably Françoise exhibiting her newfound trumpet-skills, that are rudimentary but totally suffice to make this song a little gem. 9/10
A very typical Stereo Total song IMO, since there are several songs that sound very alike. It’s not bad, but nowhere near the genius that some of their other songs are. “I wanna be plastic too, less like me, and more like you” is a cute line though. I’ll grant it 7/10, knowing that Stereo Total average-ness is still above most of the rest.
4. Komplex mit dem Sex
A lot like Baby Revolution, this song is quite and cute, but centers around the issue of sex. While a song about sexual confusion (man? woman? nympho? masturbation? her libido is a fiasco) sounds like a horrible idea for most musical acts (because really, we don’t want to hear about it from the likes of Britney, Mando Diao, Bruce Springsteen or many others), it is a wonderful starting point for Stereo Total to be creative with the material. 9,5/10.
5. Lolita Fantôme
Much like Plastic in French, this is a song I’d consider to be average Stereo Total material. Neither mindblowing nor bad or boring, a good 7/10.
6. Küsse aus der Hölle der Musik
10/10, because this song is fucking fantastic and my favorite on the album. Name-checking the history of rock (and roll) this songs sends you a hundred thousand kisses from the hell of music (and when you receive them, you cannot survive). “Ich bin die neue Selbstmordwelle der Nineteen-Eighties” (I’m the new suicide wave of the 1980s) is a line that should be my new daily mantra. Never has killing canonical rock/punk/pop-history sounded so charming, complete with electric bleeps and stuff. Stereo Total bringing their A-game.
7. Plus minus Null
And the A-game song on the Album is followed by another A-game tune! Yay! Plus minus Null reminds me a lot of “Exakt Neutral” on the previous album “Do the Bambi.” Awesome contrast between the music accompanying verses and chorus. “So viel reden für so wenig Sex” (so much talking for so little sex) gives you and idea why she never arrives at the equilibrium of more or less zero. Deserves a 9,9 out of ten, just to make Küsse aus der Hölle der Musik a little more special.
8. Mehr Licht
It’s not bad and it’s diverse, but somehow it doesn’t get to me, so I’ll label it “skip-able” and give it a meagre 5/10.
9. Ta voix au telephone
Brezel singing (in French) and Françoise groaning to a tune that could well have been born in the 60s. Before re-listening to it I couldn’t remember how cool that song is, would totally make for an awesome driving-my-car (not that I have one) song. Âllo, âllo, tu m’entends? 8/10
10. Patty Hearst
Who is Patty Hearst? “Princess and terrorist,” according to Stereo Total (who ask to be saved by her). I like the song and give it 8 out of 10 (stars, points, whatever), definitely one of the poppier on the album. But what I really had to do for this review is finally informing myself about who Patty Hearst actually was and what she did. I’ve seen her image and heard her name countless times, but somehow I never got to the point that I had actual knowledge about this (leftist? alternative?) icon. So, here we go: Patty Hearst was born 1954 to a wealthy family and was kidnapped while attending the University of Berkeley in 1974 by the Symbionese Liberation Army, a left-wing urban guerrilla group, that tried to swap Hearst for imprisoned members of their group. This plan failed and they then demanded the handing out of food worth 70 Dollars to each person in need in California (which would have amounted to about 400 Million US-Dollars), a demand that was met only in part by Hearst’s father who donated 6 Million for food being distributed in the Bay Area. Ultimately, this didn’t change the SLA-members minds, but what happened and cemented Patty Hearst’s fame (or notoriety) was her switching sides, when she became an active member of the SLA, participating in a bank robbery that she was later convicted for. She refused to testify against other SLA members and held on to her commitment to the group, but her defense argued that this was caused by the trauma she had experienced through the kidnapping. After having been convicted to 35 years in prison, she actually only spent two in jail and was pardoned by US President Bill Clinton in 2001. She has worked as an actress and produced documentaries ever since.
Turns out that I actually have heard about her, but never connected her name to the story. Inneresting, ain’t it?
11. Baby Revolution
This one is co-written by iconic gay filmmaker Bruce LaBruce in that its lyrics are picked up from his feature film/porn-movie “Raspberry Reich” with its very own take on Gudrun Ensslin, revolutionary forces on the radical left and explicit sex scenes in shades of straight, gay and bisexual. Having said all that, the song has a lullaby-like quality to it, the lyrics being recited calmly and smoothly, with the music twinkling along. One of my favorites on the album, therefore a solid 8/10.
12. Relax Baby be cool
A cover of a Serge Gainsbourg song that is nice, but then again nice is kinda boring, so yeah, I don’t mind it, but it leaves me cold. I feel like it should have taken off somewhere, but doesn’t. Still, 6/10.
A cute tune with cute lyrics, once again a good illustration of what Stereo Total achieve on average, if not slightly above. 7,5/10
14. Moderne Musik
Somehow in my mind Moderne Musik is closely connected to Küsse aus der Hölle der Musik, even though the two have little in common (well, yeah, except for both being from Stereo Total, being on the same album and scream-singing of certain lyrics….Shut up!). I feel that this one is slightly less stellar than the awesomeness that is Küsse, but it is still a cool track and works perfectly as an album closer, so 8/10.
I hope my review/Patty Hearst teaching lesson provided a little fun time for you, and if it made you interested in the album and if you haven’t already listened to it, go and do so, you’ll not regret it.