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.

#Melodifestivalen2021 has Sweden’s @EricSaademusic facing off against @AntonEwald while @AnaSoklic represents Slovenia for #Eurovision2021

ERIC SAADE, “Every Minute”

ANTON EWALD, “New Religion”

ANA SOKLIC, “Amen”

I’m looking forward to seeing what the 2021 EuroVision song contest has to offer, having only watched it on TV for the first time two years ago, the first time it was shown in my country.  I have been following Sweden’s Melodifestivalen contest for about 10 years, and this year is bringing back two of my favourites, both of whom I’ve written about many times, but both are on the comeback trail after some radio silence for a few years, and face off against each other in the upcoming finals.  And for EuroVision, I have some words about the song that is Slovenia’s entry this year.

Eric Saade was on a huge roll 10 years ago with his engaging albums Saade Vol. 1 and Saade Vol. 2.  These were led by the song “Popular”, which won Melodifestivalen, finished third at EuroVision, and was my #1 song of 2011.  And smashing songs kept on coming, particularly “Hotter Than Fire” and “Backseat” (both reached #1 on my chart), plus other gems like “Made Of Pop”, “Sting”, “Fingerprints” and the strange but cool “Killed By A Cop”.  After recording a few releases in Swedish, Eric is back with one of his most accomplished songs to date, “Every Minute”. His thoughtful and taut vocal leads a vibrant deep house track that recalls last year’s “Breaking Me” by Topic & A7S at times. The  official video for the song is below.

Anton Ewald actually danced behind singers like Danny Saucedo for several years in Melodifestivalen, and then he broke out on his own with the Swedish #2 hit “Begging”, which finished 4th in Melodifestivalen that year. Again, numerous engaging singles followed like “Can’t Hold Back”, “This Could Be Something”, and “L.I.L.Y.”, all of which reached the Top 5 on my chart. His new song “New Religion”, starts off like a sultry ballad and then busts open into a rhythmic house arrangement.  Anton’s enthusiasm for the song shines through and makes it a compelling if unconventional entry for Melodifestivalen, albeit with some slick choreography.

Both Eric and Anton have fierce competition from songs by The Mamas, Dotter, and Tusse, and while neither may win it is great to hear both gents back making fine pop songs.

Ana Soklič won the 2020 Slovenian song contest which didn’t take her to EuroVision because of the pandemic, so her win carries over to 2021 with the song “Amen”.  Like others who have won or participated in EuroVision, 2021 could be a breakout year for the singer, who has been popular in Slovenia for more than 15 years.  “Amen” is a gorgeous, hopeful ballad with a sweeping arrangement known to entice EuroVision audiences and juries.  The lyrics were written by my friend and former EuroVision winner himself, Charlie Mason, who won in 2014 with Austria’s “Rise Like A Phoenix” (and previously had songs recorded by Eric Saade too).  If it makes the finals, I will be happily rooting for “Amen” while I’m watching the event.

Meet Sweden’s @flycktmusic with the snappy inner battle of “Love Is Overrated”

flyckt, “Love Is Overrated”

Some of you may already know about Swedish singer/songwriter flyckt as a member of Urban Cone or Moodshift, but he has a winner with his snappy solo pop/dance single “Love Is Overrated”.  The song is about the ongoing inner battle about the importance of love in one’s life.  Love can be fleeting, cruel, harsh, and amazing, and it can also be all-consuming.  “Love Is Overrated” questions if you should sacrifice life for love or vice-versa, and how people will feel about this will differ.  flyckt’s voice reminds me sometimes of Justin Bieber in its semi-soulful moments, and at other times Norwegian pop singer Jesper Jenset. The video takes us for a late night brooding walk to ponder the circumstances, providing a strong showcase for flyckt.

Published in: on February 10, 2021 at 10:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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New Swedish producer @_themakproject elevates “Slow” by Australian producer Bankii and vocalist Billy Otto

BANKII and BILLY OTTO, “Slow” (mak. remix)

In its original form, “Slow” by Australian producer Bankii and fellow Aussie ‘dream pop’ vocalist Billy Otto is a beautiful and quiet electronic song with ethereal qualities.  New Swedish producer mak. elevates the song with some pitch changes, additional layers of unintrusive synths, and at times a faster tempo.  He manages to keep the dreamy, exotic elements of the original intact which makes it appealing to its fans.  mak. has already had some streaming success with his remix of Coopex’s “Don’t Look Back”, and with “Slow” he definitely continues in a positive and progressive direction.

Published in: on January 22, 2021 at 10:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Swedish production duo @NOTD return to deep house beats with “Nobody” with @officialCatello

NOTD and CATELLO, “Nobody”

After the great success of last year’s “So Close” – with over 400 million streams worldwide and being the #1 played song at Dance Radio – as well as “I Wanna Know”, Tobi and Sam, aka Sweden’s NOTD return to their dance roots with “Nobody”, and bring along mysterious newcomer Catello for the fun.  This is darker deep house than usual for the boys and it’s led by a smouldering and rich male vocal which distinguishes it from NOTD’s more recent pop flavoured releases.  Club DJ’s would be wise to add this one to any deep house playlists they are curating.  “Nobody” will resonate best in dance clubs once they resume business.  That’s not to say that Dance Radio won’t warm up to “Nobody”, which would go over best in late evening programming.

 

Published in: on November 6, 2020 at 10:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Wicked Games” is a strong, club-worthy collaboration between Swedish producer B3NTE @benteby and NYC-based singer/songwriter Victor Perry @wallflowerPerry

B3NTE & VICTOR PERRY, “Wicked Games”

Their work together on the recent faithful cover of Modern Talking’s “You’re My Heart, You’re My Soul” went so smoothly that Sweden’s B3NTE and New York-based singer/songwriter Victor Perry are back with an original follow up this time, called “Wicked Games” (not to be confused with The Weeknd track of the same name). It’s a buoyant progressive electronic dance track this time too carried by Victor’s convincingly-sung story of betrayal. Its catchy, big synth work stands out but does not overpower the prolific Victor’s effortless vocal. “Wicked Games” is another winner – keep ’em coming, guys!

It’s “10/10” #14!: @brightlightx2 & @caveboymusic @weareApolloLTD #Calvo @egzodmusic @HVNNIBVL @KidBloomusa @KiNGMALAmusic @Pawl_official & #Discrete @SteveVoidmusic #KaiStevens & @EmilyMcsings

It’s 10/10 – Edition 14!! 

This is the first 10/10 post since June.

In 10/10,  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.  Songs by Yello and Jazz Mino that were featured in edition #13 are currently moving up on my personal chart 🙂

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. 

  • BRIGHT LIGHT BRIGHT LIGHT and CAVEBOY, “It’s Alright, It’s OK”

“It’s Alright, It’s OK” is the fourth preview from Bright Light Bright Light’s upcoming fourth album called Fun City. This time collaborating with the noted all-women Canadian trio Caveboy, the song is a reassurance for anyone who is having trouble with their identity that everything will work out in the end if you just be yourself. It’s another joyous delight from NYC-based Wales-born Rod Thomas, more of a pop/house workout like the initial single “This Was My House”, full of great synth work and vocals that truly compliment each other. “It’s Alright, It’s OK” is also available on an EP chock full of remixes.

  • APOLLO LTD, “Patient”

The Nashville duo of Jordan and Adam produced one of my favourite albums of 2019 called Out Of Sight, which demonstrated a range of different styles, from ballads to anthems. Apollo LTD are back with “Patient”, more anthem-styled power pop as a plea to the singer’s partner to help him be patient to get through whatever troubles are ailing him. It’s a logical successor to songs from Out Of Sight like “On The Way Up 2.0” which dazzle your ears with seamless production and vocals. Why a major label has not yet snatched up Apollo LTD for their roster is a mystery. The duo consistently provides well-written, quality songs that deserve radio exposure. Check out the new lyric video for “Patient” above.

  • HVNNIBVL, “Worth It”

Now based out of Los Angeles, Buffalo NY singer/songwriter HVNNIBVL quickly follows up his cheery slice-of-life single “Who’s Gotcha” with “Worth It”. Like “Who’s Gotcha”, “Worth It” sends positive vibes in your direction, particularly aimed at people with depression or anxiety whose condition constantly makes them ask themselves if they are good enough. Everyone has their moments in life, so it’s time to step out and shine. “Worth It” is self-produced and showcases HVNNIBVL’s great voice to the max. Sometimes the synth effects are too razzle dazzle to me for this kind of song, and less can often be more. But “Worth It” will certainly move HVNNIBVL more steps forward and I’ll happily be listening for the next one.

  • KID BLOOM, “Blood Sugar”

The L.A.-based singer/songwriter follows up “Wounded/Surrounded” (featured in my 13th “10/10” blog post) with “Blood Sugar”, which is also the title of his recently released EP. After a long relationship, thoughts and feelings always linger, and in Kid Bloom’s take, it’s like being inside your blood. So he sings about emotional entrapment set to a bass synth rhythm which pulsates like whatever is stuck inside his head. His invested vocal and an arrangement that shakes the mix loose of its dark trappings from time to time all make “Blood Sugar” a captivating listen.

  • CALVO, “Broke In Amsterdam”

German producer/DJ Calvo’s latest single “Broke In Amsterdam” has caught my ear with its shiny production that creates a delightful pop/dance confection. Co-written with the always amazing Daniel Volpe, “Broke” is a happy slice-of-life story reminiscing about younger days where life seemed more carefree. It’s just the kind of tonic we need to help us continue to get through these strange times. Calvo has numerous listeners in Europe, who have brought his song stream tally into the 50 million range. Perhaps “Broke In Amsterdam” will expand that audience further into North America.

  • EGZOD, “Ride The Wave”

“Ride The Wave” continues the evolution of Florida-based electronic dance producer EGZOD, about whom I’ve written several times since he arrived on the scene in 2016. More than around 20 million streams later, EGZOD – otherwise known as Carlos Carvalho-Martins – can shift flawlessly between the heaviest trap/dub step and much lighter fare, the latter applying to “Ride The Wave”, which I would call ‘mid-summer beach pop’. The spry uncredited female vocal is appealing and distinct, while EGZOD weaves more harmonies into this song than usual. “Ride The Wave” has some bold singalong moments and washes down as easy as gliding into shore from one of those waves. Watch for EGZOD’s new EP The Revolution next month!

  • KAI STEVENS and EMILY McNALLY, “Hero”

As Summer-themed tunes ride out the last sunsets of the next month, the arrival of a softer song or two for Autumn is always becoming the new season. Kai Stevens is a 17 year old producer and multi-instrumentalist from NYC who has emerged over the last year with songs that keep getting better and better. While this release is nowhere in the league of big productions by Illenium or other similar artists, “Hero” strikes the emotional chords that you would find in the progressive ‘sad boi’ electronica sub-genre. It’s sung by another young New Yorker, Emily McNally, whose graceful and delicate voice is compelling and convincing amid the bigger synth breaks within. “Hero” is a promising song most deserving of electronic dance music fans’ attention.

  • FETS, FORMAL CHICKEN & STEVE VOID, “Pushing On”

Don’t let the billing fool you – I think that “Pushing On” is entirely a Steve Void production. The talented young Dutchman has produced quite a variety of house and dance/pop releases on his Strange Fruits label over the past few years, and he has even opened his own restaurant! While he’s been mainly dabbling in covers of late, “Pushing On” is a brisk, deep house update of a more obscure 2014 track by Germany’s Oliver $ & Jimi Jules. It’s slick and goes down easy, with pitched-down vocals giving it qualities you’d normally find in a soulful UK house track.

  • PAWL & DISCRETE, “Type Like That”

“Type Like That” is a snappy, tautly-produced house single in a partnership between two Swedish producers, Pawl and Discrete. In tandem with direct support from LoudKult Records owner Lucas Estrada, with whom he has also recorded, Pawl’s music has acquired over 20 million streams across platforms since he emerged five years ago. Discrete is newer to the genre, having released an EP and a few singles thus far. But the guys have released one super-catchy, sultry song in “Type Like That”, which is a good bookend with last year’s release by Revelries and Oktavian called “Don’t Think Twice”. The song-writing here is spot on, calling out a long line of so-and-so’s who all behave the same, hence “you’re just a type like that”. This one will stick with you with repeated listens, so don’t say you weren’t warned!

  • KiNG MALA, “sugarblind”

KiNG MALA is the moniker for L.A.-based singer/songwriter Areli Castro, and her music will appeal to fans of Ashe, Bishop Briggs and Maty Noyes. It’s complex alt.rock with a tough exterior (“Mala” means ‘bad bitch’ in Spanish, hence “King Bad Bitch”), underneath which you will find infectious hooks and melodies that will take older fans back to the time of heyday of Kate Bush and Siouxsie Sioux. KiNG MALA is relatively new on the scene, with “sugarblind” her third single release and most streamed one to date. Great talent takes time to develop, so she is definitely one to watch in the coming years, and alt.rock radio should welcome her unique style.