Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The delayed Chart Challenge of Death! NORWAY

I was going to apologise for the tardiness, then I realised I owe you all nothing. Hah! Or something. Here we go again, to the country that people are saying is the new Sweden, in that lots of great pop music is coming from there. Bertine Zetlitz, Annie, Anneli Drecker - hmm, something to that. But you'd be hard pressed to guess from their top 10:

1. JORUN STIANSEN - This Is The Night
EO: 5, AG: 7, SN: 4, SS: 3, IM: 1, GD: 6, JP: 7. ADJUSTED SCORE: 5

EO: Jorun was a Norwegian Idol contestant, and to get to where she is, one of the songs she sang was "Scared" by Venke Knutson, the 22nd Best Pop Single of 2004. I love Venke Knutson. When is her new single coming out? It'll be better than this.
JP: Any friend of Venke's is a friend of mine! Sadly this sounds more like a typical Idol debut single (particularly Michelle McManus - ew!) combined with LeAnn Rimes, but she could be one to watch with future material.
SS: What is it with Pop Idol winning songs having to feature the word "night"? The most typical ballad bullshit in Pop
Idol history!
GD: Like most of those songs, it ticks many of the right boxes - nice tune, lovely voice, pretty singalong chorus;
but also, like most, it just seems to lack a little soul, and because of that, I struggle to find much to say about it.
AG: Have you noticed all Idol songs are about the magic of the moment, the spirit of the journey, seizing the moment, and in the video clip you can imagine the singer on a stage, spinning, as they start before an empty stage, and then a crowd fills in at some point? Nothing wrong with that, carpe diem and all that, and this is cool enough for brownie points, I'd just like someone to have a song along the lines of "I'd seize the day, but I really can't be bothered, I'd rather sit and watch TV tonight"
SN: I don't know why I continue to get so excited about the Idol franchise and all of its offspring when all I get in return is drudgery like this. Go and listen to some Kelly Clarkson, then we'll talk.
SS: Oh and what is it about the Norwegian Idols all being damn ugly? Is that like a must thing you need in order to win? Did Kurt Nilsson start a new trend of sympathy votes? Even Kjartan was better.
IM: It’s strangely comforting to know that foreign charts, just like our Canadian one, often has the best songs lower on the charts and a piece of crap at #1. Like this generically sweeping, “emotional” ballad in English, that I’m willing to bet plenty of Norwegian teenagers hate just as much as I do.

2. SCHNAPPI - Schnappi
EO: 5, AG: 5, SN: 9, SS: 10, IM: 9, GD: 9, JP: 1. ADJUSTED SCORE: 7

SS: This is how novelty should be done. I'll start with the history of Schnappi, aka Joy Gruttmann who wrote it all herself 4 years ago when she was an ickle 4 years old, her aunt Iris put on some children's compilation , last summer a couple of German radio DJs played it as some kind of a joke, the demand got high and the rest is history!
IM: I don’t think I can grade it on the same scale as the rest of these songs. I mean, it’s a little girl singing (adorably) about a crocodile! The backing sounds like it cost $3.99, which is perfect, and the song is short enough. I really don’t know. Somebody fetch me a ten-sided die!
GD: To mark it according to its musical qualities would mean being guilty of taking it more seriously than it takes itself.
EO: What was funny when it was a little girl and her silly novelty song in Germany six months ago is decidedly not funny anymore. It's still kind of adorable though.
SN: I'm finding it cute and delightful at the moment, but expect me to be calling for Schnappi the crocodile's skinning and conversion into a charming handbag/purse ensemble in a matter of months.
GD: I'm very much of the opinion that novelty records are a good thing, for two main reasons: Firstly, they annoy the fuck out of music snobs: oh how we all laughed when the Crazy Frog kept Coldplay, the world's most earnest band, off number one in the UK. And witness dull Ultravox fans still moaning about Joe Dolce's Shaddup You Face keeping "Vienna" off number one, even though that was OVER 20 YEARS AGO. Secondly, as a chart obsessive, novelty records keep the charts in the news. With singles charts under threat from falling sales, anything that keeps that charts in the news and gets people buying singles has got to be a good thing. So I heartily approve of this record. And in fact, it's actually quite a classic of the genre: you'd have to be a real miserable old fart not to find little Joy Gruttman sweet, although I could imagine it gets horribly irritating after a few listens.
JP: This song is sweeping Europe and I recently heard it on a UK radio show, which was extremely frightening I must say. Luckily it doesn't seem to have caught on quite yet, but I will be planning my holiday to avoid it and hopefully wherever I go will already be over this bizarre craze. Even better would be if it does a DJ Bobo and completely passes the UK by. I shall be praying to the Gods of pop (the Backstreet Boys will do, since they have got quite beardy of late) every night from now on.

3. SANDRA - I Morgen
EO: 4, AG: 6, SN: 2, SS: 8, IM: 8, GD: 2, JP: 3. ADJUSTED SCORE: 5

JP: Well I never thought I'd be hearing "Tomorrow" in Norwegian in the style of J-Lo - that is just one of the many perks of being a Euro-pop fan!
GD: I must admit I find it hard to listen to this without thinking of the scene from Serial Mom where the annoying old lady gets bludgeoned to death with a leg of lamb by Kathleen Turner to a soundtrack of "Tomorrow".
SS: Anyway Sandra Lynh Haugen has the best Norwigian Idol song since Kurt Nilsen's 'My Street'. What an achivement! Would have been a 9 if she'd lost the rappers.
SN: I was the rehearsal pianist for my high school's production of Annie. Even the girl we put in a red clown wig did a more convincing job of this song than Sandra, and she did it without the help of some unconvincing Norwegian rent-a-rapper. Hopefully by "Tomorrow" (ha! See what I did?) this song will have ejected itself from my life as quickly as it entered.
AG: For whatever reason, this reminded me of the collaboration between Shaggy and Merryl Bainbridge, where the good female part that's nice and jaunty and sample based is ruined by a tedious male part. Sadly, songs from Annie always remind of a disastrous attempt to put on a play in Grade 5, and I don't want to be reminded of THAT at this stage of life...
GD: Sandra's singing is so sickly sweet it sound slike she's been gargling golden syrup.
EO: A little too cute for these ears. Also, Annie is shit, tell a friend.
IM: I quite like Sandra’s singing and the backing is great, especially the piano. Rapping dude doesn’t do much for me, but he’s not really the focal point and thus is bearable. Sandra probably wouldn’t have been any more exciting on the verses, and at least she gets the chorus. And the Norwegian guy does suddenly say the phrase “rap game” during one verse, which unaccountably cracks my shit up.

4. RAVI & DJ LOV - E-ore
EO: 4, AG: 3, SN: 5, SS: 5, IM: 3, GD: 9, JP: 1. ADJUSTED SCORE: 5

EO: Opens with the sound of a cow being molested, possibly, and some dead classy piano, at wihch point some whistling comes in and actually doesn't improve things, but acts as a harbinger of doom as the rap comes in and makes it incredibly boring.
SN: Actually, it all goes base over apex with its run-of-the-millness pretty quickly, doesn't it. Could have done with more cow.
JP: European rap songs can be brilliant and hilarious, but they can also be completely dull and pointless. Sadly, this song fits the latter category quite perfectly.
IM: I had such hopes this would be cool, since it’s named after Eeyore from the Winnie the Pooh stories (isn’t it?), and a Norwegian rap song about a suicidally depressed stuffed donkey had to be awesome, right? Sadly, it’s just kind of limp. I can’t remember what the chorus sounds like, and that’s only the most obvious sign of trouble here.
GD: Ravi drawls in a part-sung, part-rapped, and part-spoken manner over a lovely, stuttering classical piano backing, and shows quite how different a language can sound between different people - while Sandra's Norwegian was somooth, this is much rougher round the edges, and all the better for it. The personalities of the performers really come through on this, and the piano has a real uplifting quality. Lovely.
SS: Now the melody to this starts rather nicely, but then he starts rapping and doesn't change the tune through the whole song! Now I might be missing something out here, but this surely MUST be novelty, right? I don't think anyone in their right minds would release such a thing seriously? At least the chorus had some tune, and I love that 'b-b-b-baby baby' part, hilarious! Their previous song (whatever it was called and that had almost the same melody) was better actually.

5. BLACK EYED PEAS - Don't Phunk With My Heart
EO: 0, AG: 0, SN: 2, SS: 6, IM: 1, GD: 7, JP: 7. ADJUSTED SCORE: 3

AG: Na na na na, don't phunk with my chart...damn, too late...
IM: Just as shit as every other Black Eyed Peas song.

6. GAVIN DEGRAW - I Don't Wanna Be
EO: 3, AG: 1, SN: 8, SS: 4, IM: 3, GD: 4, JP: 10. ADJUSTED SCORE: 5

EO: Male singer-songwriters, please no. May this song's tapering around the world's chart cease here.
SS: Maroon 5 has created a big new wave of bland middle of the road pop songs.
IM: Isn’t this the “Chariot” guy? “Chariot” sucked.
AG: Oh so frustratingly vague Mr Quick on Degraw? What do you not want to be? A lampshade? A small kitten? There's a lot of things I don't wanna be, I just choose not to inflict my list on you!
SN: Much like Daniel Powter, Gavin Degraw does a nice line in pretty boy soft rock, complete with "I/you/they don't understand" lyrics and looking good in a beanie. Too edgy for those who love Michael Buble perhaps, but the world needs its rebels.
JP: I can't say enough nice things about Gavin, because I am a massive fan. he is great and if you don't like him, frankly, you are a loser! (She doesn't really mean that, pop fans - EO)

7. WIGWAM - In My Dreams
EO: 8, AG: 4, SN: 9, SS: 8, IM: 4, GD: 9, JP: 5. ADJUSTED SCORE: 7

EO: The most immediate song from this year's contest, but not the best, which is probably why it only came 9th. A lovable, loving homage to music fortunately no longer being made.
JP: Wigwam were fun for a few minutes. Sadly those minutes passed by several weeks ago and they are now quite rubbish, but they do get extra points for letting me reminisce about Eurovision. Only 11 months til the next one!
SN: This song always makes me think of Ultimate Comedy Band and perennial "Worst Songs Ever" list favourites Europe and The Final Countdown. And I loved that song. So I suppose I can say, by induction, that I love this song too. I played this on the sound system at home and, after initially mistaking it for a lost Bon Jovi classic, my flatmate loves it too.
SS: Well it's a good pop song really, their performance at the Eurovision Semi really disapointed me, but they improved on the final night and got Norway in the top 10 again.
GD: How can any pop fan not fail to love a chorus that big? With lyrics that are just crying out to be sung along to. This is just pure, unadulterated fun, and there's not enough of that in the charts.
IM: I’m sorry, this is a very competent execution of the form, but some childhood incidents have left me with a powerful allergy to this kind of hair metal. It’s not you, Wigwam, it’s me.

8. BACKSTREET BOYS - Incomplete
EO: 7, AG: 7, SN: 5, SS: 3, IM: 6, GD: 8, JP: 10. ADJUSTED SCORE: 7

AG: Am I the only person who liked them better when they were dressed in Halloween costumes? And is "empty spaces fill me up with holes" the worst non Coldplay lyric of the year?
IM: I must be getting tolerant in my old age – I can’t really bring myself to hate this lackluster power ballad.
EO: Lush and overblown and ridiculous. Poor Nick Carter's looking awfully rough these days. I thought it was AJ that had the substance dependency problem, but look at Nick! Sounds a bit like Bryan Adams if you listen not very carefully, but still rather good. "Climbing The Walls" would get a 10 obviously, so let's hope they release that next.
GD: For someone who loves his pop, boy bands have strangely never really done it for me. Except for one: the Backstreet Boys. And this single has reminded me how much the charts have missed their presence. This is marvellous.
SN: Geez guys, what's with the sunglasses? Blinded by your own seriousness and musical worth?
SS: A bland ballad that doesn't go anywhere, hell it even sounds like Brian McFadden, and that certinaly is NOT a good thing.

9. GWEN STEFANI - Hollaback Girl
EO: 9, AG: 9, SN: 10, SS: 7, IM: 4, GD: 3, JP: 10. ADJUSTED SCORE: 8

AG: Her shit is bananas, and her bananas are shit, which is why she's a singer, not a greengrocer...
GD: Just imagine how much better a place the world would be with "Bubble Pop Electric" frothing gaily out of radios across the land instead of this mediocre tripe.

10. AKON - Lonely
EO: 7, AG: 2, SN: 4, SS: 7, IM: 7, GD: 0, JP: 0. ADJUSTED SCORE: 4

SS: Is Bobby Vinton still alive? If not he's probably turning in his grave. I'm not that fussed on Akon, but a song this isn't really all that bad I must admit, well maybe liking Scooter I'm used to the chipmunk voice, which is most definitley the essential part of the song.
SN: I enjoy the sample from this song immensely. Much like the work of Moby. What Akon has done with it, however, leaves a lot to be desired and I end up frustrated and bored. Much like the work of Moby.
EO: I can't do it, I cannot hate this song. The bit at the end is properly fantastic, and even if Akon really ruins what is otherwise quite a good use of a fantastic sample, I find it vaguely touching, especially the "come on home" bit - real emotion, kind of, not really, actually. I still don't really like it, but it's certainly nowhere near as horrifying as overreacting people would have you believe. Get one sense of poptimism, peeps.
IM: I still love the odd droning, drained-of-affect quality of Akon’s voice, especially on the chorus.
JP: If it wasn't for the Crazy Frog, this would be the most hateful song of the year so far. I think Akon owes that frog quite a lot, really.
GD: Repeated exposure to this record has made me understand how people can become serial killers. Am I allowed to give a negative score?

Hmf. Well, the highest scoring song is Wigwam, and everyone already has that, surely. I'll find something else Norwegian and post it a bit later... how's that sound? 56 points for Norway, for once, less than they scored at Eurovision.


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