Sweden’s @theRasmusHagen has a pop winner with “Learn To Love”

RASMUS HAGEN and MAXINE, “Learn To Love”

For many people, giving love a second chance can be painful, especially when disconnecting from what happened in a previous relationship.  For others, it’s about taking that risk where you “Learn To Love” again.  Swedish singer/songwriter Rasmus Hagen has created this song in conjunction with fellow vocalist Maxine, and there is definite chemistry here that’s easily compared with a Halsey-like duet.  Rasmus is a platinum selling artist in Sweden. He has an easy-going voice that wouldn’t sound out of place next to Ed Sheeran or John Mayer, and you might have already heard him sing on dance producer John De Sohn’s “Love You Better”.  With its wistful melody that Rasmus knows how to dial up when he needs to, the song is a reminder to listeners that second chances are possible especially if both parties are vulnerable enough to surrender to the special moments that they bring. 

Published in: on September 9, 2021 at 8:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Here’s another from @CheatCodesmusic as they team up with Swedish star @ToveStyrke and @TravisBarker for “All Things $ Can Do”

CHEAT CODES, TRAVIS BARKER and TOVE STYRKE, “All Things $ Can Do”

Quickly following up their collaboration with Little Big Town and Bryn Christopher on “Never Love You Again” is another radio-friendly earworm from the trio Cheat Codes called “All Things $ Can Do”. And this song is another collaboration too, marking a return of Swedish singer Tove Styrke after three years (she has a new solo single too called “Mood Swings”), and featuring Blink 182’s Travis Barker, who also co-produced the song and has been popping up on other people’s songs while shepherding new artists such as teen sensation jxdn.  Long an alternative pop fave, Tove’s vocal would sound great next to singers like Zara Larsson, Sigrid or Astrid S. on the radio, the production is smooth and tidy, and the song certainly spells out a truth for a lot of listeners.  “All Things $ Can Do” (co-written by Canada’s bülow, too!) doesn’t get lost in the shuffle which is good news for Cheat Codes as their songs veer away from the more electronic dance pop of a few years ago.

It’s “10/10” #19: @Gina_Naomi_Baez @MikeLindup #Fubu & @DannyDeardenuk @omgRainMan & @PeteChosen @RobertBallmusic @OsvaldoSupino @TommieSunshine & @theDiscoFries (remixed) @LindaVargmusic @djKarazey & @EstyRichard @iamWiese

It’s time for “10/10” edition #19!  July has been an incredibly busy month for releases and in order not to get overwhelmed or to miss any songs that I think you need to hear, I’ve compiled 10 reviews into one neat blog post package.

For those not familiar with10/10,  I write about 10 hot and fresh songs in no particular order, for your kind consideration and attention.  I continue to write individual blog posts about certain songs.  That does not mean that songs in the 10/10 lists are any less than those featured individually, and they are not listed in any particular order.  Writing 10/10 posts means I can cover more songs in one shot.  So you get to learn about more new music that I hear but don’t always get a chance to write about.

  • GINA NAOMI BAEZ, “My Time”

There’s a good chance that you’ve seen NYC’s Gina Naomi Baez on “Orange Is The New Black” or Netflix’s “She’s Gotta Have It”, on Off-Broadway, or caught one of her viral You Tube videos that have given her a substantial social media following. However, you may not know Gina the singer/songwriter, and “My Time” is about to change all of that. It’s an immediately inspiring song that challenges you to make the most of your time and strive to new heights for yourself and no one else. Being a cancer survivor as a child, having to challenge herself regularly must be second nature to Gina, and her glorious vocal, which at times recalls the power of Sia, is certainly a knock out. “My Time” is also co-written and produced with extreme precision by Matthew Tryba (Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande).

  • MIKE LINDUP, “Time To Let Go”

If you’re a fan of 80’s pop, R&B or jazz, then you already know keyboardist Mike Lindup as one of the principals and vocalists in the amazing British group Level 42 (“Something About You”, “Lessons In Love”).  If not, then his new solo effort “Time To Let You”, is as good a song to get to know him and his fluid style as a new Level 42 song – and he and Mark King still head up the band to date, which performs live now and again, mainly in England (I saw them perform live back in the 80’s too).  “Time To Let Go” harkens back to earlier fan-favourite Level 42 records such as their self-titled album or The Pursuit of Accidents with its rhythmic jazz-R&B fusion, and will also appeal to fans of jazz masters of that era such as Pat Metheny or Jean-Luc Ponty. Mike’s recognizable tones and falsetto sound marvelous here, and I hope there is more to come!

  • FUBU and DANNY DEARDEN, “Under My Skin”

UK singer/songwriter Danny Dearden returns to “10/10” territory this time in collaboration with Scottish producer Fubu for “Under My Skin”.  You know a solid partnership has occurred when the producer and singer can elevate a song to be more than the sum of its parts.  In other words, Fubu’s no-holds-barred rhythms and Danny’s totally infectious vocal make the most of a song that in other hands could have been… ordinary. Fubu cut his teeth revitalizing songs like Lumidee’s “Never Gonna Leave You”, Blu Cantrell’s “Breathe” and “Freak Like Me” by Adina Howard, so that pedigree speaks for itself. “Under My Skin” is a fine release by a team-up worth repeating.

  • RAIN MAN & PETE CHO and REBECCA BRUNNER, “Over It”

“Over It” has designs on transporting you out of pandemic fatigue to either get prepared for or back out into the night life, depending on where you are in the world.  Chicago’s Rain Man and Pete Cho along with vocalist/co-writer Rebecca Brunner will make sure that you get there with a brisk rhythm track and zesty synths gliding underneath Rebecca’s world-weary but encouraging vocal. It’s been a while since we’ve heard from either Rain Man or Pete Cho, so “Over It” marks a welcome return for both. Rain Man of course had a huge dance radio hit a few years back with “Bring Back The Summer” (which landed on my personal chart too) and, as its third original member, was also the anchor of Krewella’s initial success with their hit “Alive”. Pete has had sporadic but consistently solid releases over the past few years after being a successful restauranteur for many years. I think club DJ’s will love “Over It” as a part of club goers’ return to nighttime living.

  • ROBERT BALL, “I Need A Man”

Toronto-born singer/songwriter Robert Ball is not a new name to performing or to Canadian music, having performed in theatrical productions at Stratford, Ontario, on Royal Caribbean cruises, and opened for or recorded with fellow Canadians such as Shawn Desman, Keshia Chanté, Maestro, and Saukrates.  And as a gay man, Robert lays his soul bare with his new single “I Need A Man”. It’s as if someone had transported early 70’s cabaret through the soft and sultry voices of Teddy Pendergrass, Luther Vandross and Jeffrey Osborne into a passionate, expressive song whose vulnerability will reach beyond LGBTQ2S+ audiences, making Robert Ball a vocalist to watch for and remember.

  • OSVALDO SUPINO, “Lights Down Low”

It’s been a few minutes since I’ve written about the songs of Italian LGBTQ2S+ singer Osvaldo Supino, who had some memorable moments in the last decade with beauties such as “I Have A Name” and “Goodbye”.  While he’s continued to record since that time (sometimes in Italian too), “Lights Down Low” came to my attention recently.  The song’s production endows it with a much-needed mystique to support Osvaldo’s soft but enticing vocal.  The video above also shows what you can create with a variety of costume changes to enhance his performance. “Lights Down Low” is another solid addition to Osvaldo’s repertoire and I think dance mixes could help send it over the edge at clubs.

  • TOMMIE SUNSHINE and THE DISCO FRIES, “Don’t Look Back” (Gerd Janson vocal remix)

When you just see the artists’ names, you know that a track like “Don’t Look Back” simply can’t miss. But what you might not know is that this is a remix of a song that Tommie Sunshine and The Disco Fries originally released in 2011, reviving Avicii-era vibes in a progressive remix by veteran German producer Gerd Janson.  Gerd melds the vocal track creatively with layers of synths for intriguing and contemporary results, making this one an easy mixing choice for club DJ’s.  Tommie and the Disco Fries guys have both made signature leaps and bounds over the years and “Don’t Look Back” is a cool choice for a revival.

  • LINDA VARG, “Standing In The Middle Of The Road”

Currently taking a path that isn’t often pursued these days, Sweden’s Linda Varg has massive music industry pedigree which includes being a finalist in Swedish Idol in 2010 and having a major label deal with the group Supernatural. “Standing In The Middle Of The Road” is a straight-forward, even retro-sounding pop-rock track with synth elements that give it a rich scope, and it will appeal to fans of Bebe Rexha and One Republic. “Standing” has a strong message and imagery – don’t wait for people to run over you and shatter your dreams, and, as Linda says “don’t live as a victim of your own bad thoughts.” Her unique persona and this energetic song (co-written by one of Sweden’s best internationally known talents, Ulf Nilsson, with whom Linda has previously recorded) should help Linda acquire worldwide attention.

  • KARAZEY and ESTY RICHARD, “Through My Mind”

“Through My Mind” is a breezy, effervescent pop/dance track brought two you by two artists from Kuala Lampur, Malaysia, producer Karazey and vocalist Esty Richard.  With its delightful, pulsating rhythm and a vocal by Esty that could remind you alternately of Halsey or Emily Warren albeit with some gentler tones. Karazey is another producer who is coming to your attention while still a teenager. He knows how to build good momentum and provide focus on the strong vocal while creating a backdrop that’s not flashy while still being memorable. “Through My Mind” is a fine introduction to both artists.

  • WIESE, “Hear Me”

The positive post-lockdown songs of the pandemic continue with “Hear Me” by Norwegian producer Wiese. He’s from Bergen – the same place from which hail Kygo and Alan Walker.  He’s definitely got a talent for creating a mix influenced by R3HAB and Imanbek in “Hear Me”, an uplifting song about all of the possibilities life still has to offer post-pandemic. Wiese’s mix of deft female vocal and pitched-down male vocal – likely by the same uncredited singer, Erin Jarvis – offers a welcome dynamic, and “Hear Me” works well for the dance floor with radio potential too.

 

 

 

 

Sweden’s @Darinofficial returns with first English-language song in several years “Can’t Stay Away”

DARIN, “Can’t Stay Away”

He focused more recently on recording songs in his native Swedish, but Darin Zanyar is now back with his first English language hit in about eight years with “Can’t Stay Away”. Checking back in my own blog pages, the last time out of several occasions where I wrote about his music was in 2014. The award-winning singer started as a teenager as the runner-up in Swedish Idol in the early 2000’s, and has had seven #1 albums in Sweden. And if this new song is any indication where he’s heading, it’s towards lighter dance pop than the darker drama of “Lovekiller” and “Breathing My Love” more than a decade ago. Musically and stylistically, “Can’t Stay Away” is full of fun Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake vibes, while lyrically it pushes the intrigue of a potential crush you don’t know if you should pursue.  It’s spry and refreshing, and I’m so very glad to be writing about Darin again!

Published in: on June 5, 2021 at 8:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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NYC’s @GATTUSO_music and Sweden’s @VioletDaysband join forces for dance radio friendly “Save Me”

GATTÜSO and VIOLET DAYS, “Save Me”

After coming off a highly successful 2020 with “Bring That Back” (with vocalist Nadia Gattas and fellow producers Asketa & Natan Chaim) and a remix of Petey Martin & Lauren Daigle’s “Come Back Home”, GATTÜSO returns with possibly his most dance radio-friendly release to date, “Save Me”, co-written with Swedish vocalist Violet Days and others.  It’s also GATTÜSO’s second release for Ultra Records.  The flow between GATTÜSO and Violet Days is pretty seamless.  His production lets you get lost in the committed lyrics, which sing about the protagonist getting too deep into a relationship that isn’t working, hoping that the other person will see the light, but then boldly having to make the decision to save herself from needless pain before it gets worse.  The heavy subject matter is offset by a brisk uptempo melody that is a partner to the protagonist’s salvation.  Violet Days is more often known as songwriter Lina Hansson, but you’ve heard her memorable voice gracing her own solo hits (“Your Girl”) as well as those of others (Shaun Frank’s “Addicted”).  “Save Me” brings us a wonderful collaboration that is worth repeating.

Published in: on May 6, 2021 at 9:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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It’s 10/10 #17: @NuelaCharles, @Kislawmusic & @wallflowerperry, #Anzano & @RobbieRosenlive, @CrashAdamsmusic, @Prizmofficial, @KenBauersweden, @Febmusic & @Lexie_official, #Dega, @TommyNewport & @EARTHGANG, and @DJChrisDamas

My 10/10 feature returns with edition #17.  I can’t believe it’s been six months since I wrote the last one.  But the time has come where very good songs for consideration for this blog are overwhelming the weaker ones, so I want to make sure the good ones get their due.  And as usual, the choices are a global cornucopia of releases.

For those not familiar with10/10,  I write about 10 hot and fresh songs in no particular order, for your kind consideration and attention.

I continue to write individual blog posts about certain songs.  That does not mean that songs in the 10/10 lists are any less than those featured individually, and they are not listed in any particular order.  

Writing 10/10 posts means I can cover more songs in one shot.  So you get to learn about more new music that I hear but don’t always get a chance to write about. 

  • NUELA CHARLES, “Space”

Singer/songwriter Nuela Charles has been prominent in her native Canada, conquering the Adult Contemporary genre with Juno Awards nominations three years in a row for that category.  “Space” is a welcome change of pace for her, showcasing her effortless classic R&B-influenced voice with a sassy and funky backdrop. While “Space” was written as a response to the pandemic, it’s clear that we all need space from each other, even those closest to it. “Space” sails away with that idea and Nuela flourishes in this setting.

  • KISLAW and VICTOR PERRY, “Slip Away”

NYC singer/songwriter Victor Perry continues to be one of the most prolific independent performers, releasing new music every week where possible and showcasing it with different collaborators.  “Slip Away” is a unique partnership with new Africa-born French producer Kislaw, who embraces a sophisticated backdrop where you’ll hear the underutilized flute among other sounds.  And a funky edge allows Victor’s brilliant vocal – which reminds me of when either Michael or Janet Jackson are at their most playful – to lilt through the story and soar in the ad libs too.  Released by Bonfire Records, this one is very deserving of a follow up soon.

  • ANZANO and ROBBIE ROSEN, “Waves”

Like Victor Perry, “American Idol” Top 16 contestant Robbie Rosen is on a mission to release music every week right now (yes, it’s no surprise with similar ideals that the two collaborate as well).  Robbie’s recent songs and performances are so consistently strong it’s hard to pick out what are the strongest ones.  “Waves” finds Robbie working with Belgian producer Anzano for a chipper-sounding song that recognizes when you’ve lost a friend or partner to a better relationship or situation (“forever you’ll be one with the waves”).  It’s a quick mix of classic pop and bright, friendly electropop that goes down easily.

  • CRASH ADAMS, “Symphony”

Your friendly neighbourhood Toronto pop/rock duo Crash Adams are back with another song to make you think while putting a smile on your face. “Symphony” is about that instant state of attraction when all of the vibes and conversation just seem oh so right.  It’s another tight production with a winning vocal, and another cool video (above) to boot.  Crash Adams continue to release quality songs, and their talent and flair for spot-on visuals will take them far.

  • THE PRIZM, “Darkness Is A Friend”

“Darkness Is A Friend” is the centerpiece song of L.A.-based producer The Prizm’s latest album New Beginnings.  In fact the album is a third chapter to a complex story, but focuses on new beginnings for anyone who’s experienced recent hard times, whether they be through relationships, the pandemic, and more.  The uplifting melody and vocal will help you realize that there is a way out of the darkness if you embrace it and move on.  The album is a significant progressive stretch when looking back on last year’s catchy electronic dance single “I Don’t Wanna Go Home” (with ARTFCAL), but The Prizm (Gabriel Garcia) is taking his time to create stories and atmosphere that will have a deeper effect on the listener.

  • KEN BAUER, “Free”

Sweden’s Ken Bauer is hardly a new name to the electronic dance music scene, releasing regular music since 2016.  Though he’s had support from big names like David Guetta, Sam Feldt, and Nicky Romero, all it takes is one song that could open more doors internationally.  “Free” has that potential, with complex synths surrounding a basic but infectious hook.  The uncredited vocal helps the song soar, and “Free” would go over very well indeed at festivals.

  • FEB & LEXIE, “Last Night A DJ Saved My Life”

Though it’s a far cry from the funky classic grooves of the 1982 Indeep classic, Italian producer Feb and British vocalist Lexie spin “Last Night A DJ Saved My Life” into a slick Eurohouse track.  Lexie’s alluring vocal makes it perfectly pronounced that she’s moved on and looking for someone else who won’t break her heart.  Feb’s production captures the essence of the song, making it a fitting surprise that works well.

  • DEGA, “Bad Burn”

Italy’s Dega brings us some dreamy, trance-soaked Europop with “Bad Burn”.  The song effectively mixes in thoughtful vocals, an underlying and very catchy melody, and a build up to a swell drop for cohesive results.  “Bad Burn” is definitely one of those songs where you might not know the artist, but the song solidly stands steadfast on its own and has festival anthem potential.

  • TOMMY NEWPORT and EARTHGANG, “Stargazer”

“Stargazer” is a cool slice of alternative rock that’s laced with hip hop that is out to challenge listeners while sublimely drawing them in with its warm hook.  At only 20 years old, Manchester-born singer/guitarist Tommy Newport has already acquired fans through not only his music, but appearances on TV and internet shows as well as movies.  His voice has a soulful undercurrent beneath a weary, journeyman kind of approach.  His collaborators on “Stargazer” are recent Grammy Awards nominees for Best R&B Song, Atlanta’s EARTHGANG, who continue to show why hip hop and soul are so welcome in an alternative rock-oriented release, and how much more pliable the genre walls need to become.  

  • CHRISTOPHER DAMAS, “Tekila”

Get that big plate of nachos ready because some “Tekila” is about to infiltrate the mix!  It’s a tidy and spicy song that should easily fit into sets next to “Despacito” and “Mi Gente”, but there is a twist.  The “k” in “Tekila” might give it away, but it’s brought to you by veteran Russian electronic dance producer Christopher Damas, which continues to prove that the boundaries within dance music itself are extremely limited.  My only gripe about “Tekila” is that it’s way too short at only 2:10, making it a bit of a novelty. It flies by so quickly that listeners will be begging to know what that “Tekila” song is!

Sweden’s @MansZelmerlow has a new pop gem with “Come Over Love”

MANS ZELMERLOW, “Come Over Love”

Sweden’s Måns Zelmerlöw came to international prominence in 2015 when his one-of-a-kind song “Heroes” won EuroVision and Melodifestivalen that year.  I was fortunate to know about this charming, hard-working singer years before when he competed on Melodifestivalen in 2009 with a performance of “Hope and Glory” (below) that just floored me, though the song itself finished fourth.  “Come Over Love” follows up Måns’ recent hosting appearance on this year’s Melodifestivalen, where he performed “Come Over Love” (above), as well as his song for the World Figure Skating Championships, “Circles And Squares”, and the 2019 album Time.   “Come Over Love” is an engaging and uplifting radio-ready midtempo pop song released independently by Swedish label ART:ERY Music Group, which features one of his best vocal performances in years.  His compelling voice is filled with the urgency that this well-written and produced song needs, and I hope that “Come Over Love” will be another international kickstart for Måns so that more music fans will hear his songs.

Published in: on April 2, 2021 at 10:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Check out Swedish singer @LillyAhlberg’s midtempo pop-house track “Young Forever”

LILLY AHLBERG, “Young Forever”

You may already know her name from her recent work with Sonny Fodera, Sondr and VIZE, but Lilly Ahlberg is carving out her own niche with her latest release, the pop-house track “Young Forever”.  Lilly has had a much travelled young life, being born in Italy, raised in Sweden, with time spent in Norway and Australia, and now dividing her time between Sweden and the UK. With specific guidance through Sonny Fodera’s slick production assist and release on his own Solotoko label, “Young Forever” bridges a big gap between pop and house styles quite admirably, and has amassed almost a half million streams in a few weeks of release. Her vocal is alternately chill and committed, a fervent mix that places her somewhere between contemporaries Robyn and Astrid S., and one to keep an ear out for more in 2021.  

Published in: on March 27, 2021 at 10:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Trust” by Sweden’s @_themakproject and vocalist Sabrina Ali is classy and melodic Europop

.mak and SABRINA ALI, “Trust”

Swedish producer .mak follows up his fine remix of “Slow” for Bankii and Billy Otto with a shimmering change of pace called “Trust”.  It’s classy, melodic Europop that features a captivating vocal by newcomer Sabrina Ali, and I think we’ll be hearing much more from her.  Along with Sabrina and “American Idol” contestant Robbie Rosen, .mak has crafted an easy-going electronic delight that succeeds on its own merits. It’s full of personality and a great antidote to bangers and heavier house tracks.

Published in: on March 27, 2021 at 10:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Radio-friendly “Never Leave You” packs a wallop of talent from team @LucasEstrada including fellow producers Matvey Emerson, @JamesCarter, and vocalist MKLA

LUCAS ESTRADA, MATVEY EMERSON, JAMES CARTER and MKLA, “Never Leave You”

Veteran Swedish producer Lucas Estrada teams up with another master, Russian producer Matvey Emerson, as well as British producer James Carter – who I wrote about at the star of his career and is now keeping very good company – and fellow Torontonian, vocalist MKLA for “Never Leave You”. This song is as slick as it gets, given the global cadre of talent behind it, though it may take a few listens to really grab you.  And that’s precisely why you can expect this song might pop up on your favourite dance music radio station sometime soon.  It’s pure dance music goodness, minus any significant (and usually annoying) effects, and giving a real showcase to MKLA, whose vocal is effortless and memorable. Buoyant rhythms meet sparkling synths which help make “Never Leave You” really shine.