31 December 2015

My top13 of 2015 countdown

I have in quite many occasions mentioned that in the end of 2015, I will be making a toplist of my favourite songs from the year. Well, the time has come to the last hours of 2015 and it is finally time to make that list (though I am not still at this point sure if I manage to write this entire post before 2016, but we will see!). First though I need to talk about few points considering this list, like how it was constructed. Then we will do the countdown.

First of all and most importantly: How was this list made? Last year I could not do a list, since I had no memory of what I had loved at the beginning of the year, or the middle on that matter. So, like I said in this post, I decided to start making a list of my favourite songs throughout the year. Which I did; I wrote down some songs I had listened to a lot in the previous month or two. Today, I had around 30 songs from which to choose from in the making of this list! That brings us to the second issue: how to choose which songs to use and how to put them in an order?

Making a list of how I currently feel about these songs would of course not reflect my thoughts over the year, since I can be at this point a bit tired of some song I listened on repeat in January, for example. So, I tried to reflect how I felt about these songs during the year when I was obsessed about them (next year, I will be writing down some notes and thoughts too to make the job easier!). Putting them in order was an interesting job, since I of course feel more strongly about songs I am currently loving the most. Though usually when I fell this madly in love with some song, I keep listening to them months afterwards. Which of course makes me feel somewhat nostalgic about this song and also raises the question of how I will be feeling about this autumn's and winter's picks in 6 months? Or in 12 months? Will my love for them fade or do they stay on my main playlist almost a year later, like the songs from early 2015? There is of course no certain way of doing this list, but I am satisfied with the result.

One question I have been wondering is that why is it always top10? What makes the 10 the magical number? What is that huge difference between place number 10 and place number 11? I have probably mentioned I will be making a top10 list, but then again why? It is of course a nice small number, but if we are talking about a whole year, it is very little of songs. 12 would seem like a natural alternative, since 12 months, but then again my list is not tied to months. So, I have decided that this is a top13 list, for two reasons: 1. 13 is my number, since M is my letter and the 13th alphabet. 2. There was 13 songs that stood out the most out of the songs I had listed.

I must also mention that these are not my ultimate favourite songs or something like that: they are merely the songs I listened the most to in 2015 (obviously I did not count, but it is enough easy to make some approximations). Most of these were not released in 2015 nor did I necessarily come across them this year; I just for whatever reasons listened to these songs a lot; there are couple of cases where I was liking the song already way before 2015, but this year it just happened to hit me differently.

But now enough of the explanations and let's get on with the list! We will be starting with number 13 and count down to the number 1. I will not write much of text today, because it will make this post HUGE and besides many of these songs have already been featured in the blog (I will provide a link) or will be in near future.


13. TWiiNS - Sagapo

I featured TWiiNS in this blog back in February: Slovakia #1: Twin Power. TWiiNS is a group made of, surprisingly, twins, Daniela and Veronika. You can read more about the group in the post I linked. Given that I dedicated that entire post to them, you can guess I am a huge fan of them. However the song Sagapo was not in that post for the simple reason that I only heard it for the first time shortly after writing that post! Had I written that post a bit later, Sagapo would be in it too.

So, to give a short impression of the song: I find it fun and positive summer song. It might not be the the most creative song, but I find the music brilliant and lots of fun. I have got this song stuck in my song too many times to count. Even though TWiiNS are Slovakian and sing in English (mostly), the title of the song is in Greek: S'Agapo is Greek for 'I Love You'. I must admit that Sagapo does sound more interesting as a title than the common I Love You, haha. (Though "I Love You, HaHa" would be a very interesting piece, I bet.) But yes, a summer song that I have been enjoying, mostly on winter though, as usual.

12. Yemi Alade feat. Phyno - Taking Over Me

Yemi Alade was featured in one of my most recent post (so, not that recent, because the hiatus), aka. this post from August: Nigeria #1: Where's Johnny?. And of course the featuring artist Phyno was featured too, since I featured the song Taking Over Me. Since it was so recently, I am not going into more details about this song; that is what for I provide to links.

11. AAA - ダイジナコト (Daiji Na Koto)

AAA is the only artist (in this case a band), that made into this list twice. It is not that surprising considering that it is my favourite group, at least of those that are currently established. The post I linked at the beginning, was the last post of 2014; as I said, I was not able to do a toplist for the year, but instead I made a top10 for my favourite band. That being AAA. AAA is a Japanese mixed pop group, that this year celebrated their 10th anniversary. I am not going to go in detail about the band itself, since there is a whole long post dedicated to them, but neither of the songs in this list was featured, so I will quickly comment on them.

Daiji Na Koto was released in 2011 and the title means "Important Things" (wow, I totally remembered that incorrectly). This was actually the very first song I heard from AAA and sadly I must admit I did not like it originally (could be the short version that was the only one available on YouTube back then. The song actually gets better as it goes on). It took me some time before I heard AAA again and then I fell in love with them, though I half-purposely avoided this song. Then, late last year, I listened to it again and this time I loved it! Better late than never, I suppose. Daiji Na Koto ended up being one of my most listened songs at the very beginning of the year and it is the first one I wrote down on my notebook for the purposes of this list.

This post is starting to look like a long one already, so let's speed up a bit.

10. Monika Kuszyńska - In The Name Of Love

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a huge fan of Eurovision Song Contest. Lots of music from tens of different countries in one go? I am in! A big part of my interest on spring goes to Eurovision, because of the national finals and so on. Usually I have a quite few of Eurovision songs on repeat around Spring. Some songs remain on my playlist far beyond Eurovision too. Of this year's songs, two made this list. Please, refer to my Eurovision posts.

Surprisingly it was not the two songs I placed on the top of my final Eurovision 2015 list; Monika's In The Name Of Love was actually number 6 on the final list. This song grew heavily on me with time and I actually ended up voting for it during the semi-final. After Eurovision, this song has remained on my playlist and I have gotten into more of Monika Kuszyńska's music too. I could talk about her here too, but like I said, I need to speed up a bit and I am thinking of featuring Monika in a Poland post sometime during 2016.

09. Jeremías - La Cita

This is one of those songs that keep coming back to me. I have been fan of it for years, but in January I wrote a Venezuelan blog post featuring Jeremías along with this song, and I once again became obsessed with it. You can read more about it in the Venezuela post from January: Venezuela #1: Songs from a telenovela and beyond. Funny enough, my friend is currently watching the show from which I got this song from and I will start watching it sometime soon.

08. Alexandra Stan - Dance

This song was featured on a post I posted just yesterday, so I find it hard to find anything proper to say so soon again about this song. So, I will just point you towards the post from yesterday: Romania #1: My summer jams.

07. Sia - Elastic Heart

Well, this one is a quite famous one. If you have managed to avoid hearing about this song, then congratulations; it is an amazing achievement. As a The Hunger Games fan I, like many, heard this song when it was originally released in 2013, but I, unlike many, did not like it then. In January 2015, Sia re-released the song as a solo version, and this time around I fell in love with it: this version is so much better than the other one (sorry for the other vocalist on that one).

Perhaps it related to the fact that I was going through a one plot from my upcoming book (coming soon, in 2027...) and it fit very well together with this song. To be honest, this certain plot has been on my mind a lot this year and certainly some other songs on this list have been used to deal with the plot. My personal life is not that interesting, but I quite often relate to songs through my characters and songs can affect me deeply that way. This is perhaps one of those cases, though I can relate somewhat on a personal level too. It is an interesting song and not the kind you usually hear on the top of charts. Nice for a change.

06. Voltaj - De La Capăt

Here is the other Eurovision song that made it into this list. Actually I could quote lots of what I said about In The Name Of Love AND Elastic Heart into this paragraph. This is actually a very rare kind of song that moves me very deeply and makes me feel emotional. And I am NOT an emotional person; I never cry because of songs (or books or movies or whatever), but this has managed to make me teary-eyed. I voted for this song in the Eurovision semi-final and it is still on my playlist after all this time. This is what I wrote along with my final Eurovision list: "Romania could be my most listened Eurovision song this year". It not only could be, but it actually most definitely is!

Here is a quick introduction for Voltaj, since they are not on my plans of what I plan to feature in the blog anytime soon. Voltaj, means Voltage in Romanian, is a Romanian pop rock band. The band was formed back in 1982 in Bucharest, and from what I gather they are rather successful in Romania. They have had quite few line-ups during the 23 year long excistence. Currently the vocalist is Călin Goia (I seriously adore his voice) and the other members of the band are Gabi Constantin, Adrian M. Cristescu, Valeriu Ionescu and Oliver Sterian.

The tension rises as we are getting close to the top highest spots (yes, this is that exciting, darn it).

05. Polina Gagarina - Нет (Njet)

Well, since I have been going on about Eurovision Song Contest a quite bit already, let's keep on going. Polina Gagarina represented Russia in this year's contest and placed second in the final. I did not like her Eurovision song that much, it was number 19 in my final list. And it was not actually through Eurovision that I came across the song Njet. I have quite many times mentioned in my Twitter and also in blog (I think) that my YouTube 'Watch Later' playlist is HUGE. The number of the songs in it usually hangs around somewhere near 1000. I actually added Polina there quite long time before she was even connected to Eurovision anyway, but it took me months and months until she was up next. I was very skeptical about her music after the Eurovision song, but I instantly fell in love with Njet.

I do not know how much I should say about Polina Gagarina or Njet here, I was actually planning on featuring both of them sometime later on along with some other Polina song(s). Polina actually almost became other artist to have two songs on this list. I think Russia post is going to come up sometime early 2016, so let's leave Polina for that. I am not sure if this song will be on it, since it is in this post already, so let's at least note here that even after about half a year, I have this song still on repeat. I obsessed over this during the summer (perhaps the song I listened most during the summer months) and I am still obsessed with it.

04. AAA -愛してるのに、愛せない (Aishiteru No Ni, Aisenai)

Like I said before, AAA is the only artist that made it into this list twice. Here is the other song. The title translates into "I Love You, But I Cannot Love You" and it is a sad love song. Not really a ballad though (I notoriously do not like much of ballads). This is actually a new song, released this year from AAA's 10th anniversary collection album, so it was not featured in the post I linked before.

As it is the case with most of AAA's songs, I immediately fall in love with them and so I did with this one too. Though more than usually; If I was to redo that top10 list, this would definitely be high up on there. It was my most played song in September/October area and it will certainly remain as one of my ultimate favourites from AAA. And that is saying a lot, considering how many songs they have and how much I love them.

And on the bronze, we have:

03. Sonata Arctica - Flag In The Ground

Sonata Arctica too received its own top10 list in this blog; it was released in May (judging by that I am starting to mix how I mention single/album release dates and my posting dates, I think I am getting exhausted from the length of this post) and can be read here: Favourite artists: Sonata Arctica, top10. Finland #2. I am sure I made it clear in it, how much I love Sonata Arctica so I will not repeat it here. Back then I place Flag In The Ground, but now seven months later, and after Summer and Autumn of listening A LOT to it, I would place this way higher up. Number three or four, perhaps. The thing I love about Sonata Arctica (and many other heavy rock bands) is that their lyrics have meanings. Like in this song, there is a meaningful story in it and not some random 'I love you' -gibberish. But I talked about that too already in that previous post, so no reason for repeating.

The silver metal goes to:

02. Carpark North - Everything Starts Again

Well, I somehow feel that I should say something more interesting here, since it is the second place after all, but I wrote about Carpark North and this song only few days ago in this post: Denmark #1: Welcome to Aarhus. So I really do not yet have anything proper to add to that.

And finally, my favourite song of 2015, perhaps the one I listened the most to in 2015:

01. Myriam Fares - إية اللى بيحصل (Eih Elly Byehsal)

Lebanese singer Myriam Fares takes the crown. In all honestly, even though I was already loving this back when I first posted about this (here is the link: Lebanon #1: It's all fun and games... ), I would have not guessed that now over 10 months later, I would be naming it as my favourite song of 2015! Funny how that ended up so! This is what I wrote back then:

"I do not think I have ever used this term before, but now I will: This song has recently been my jam. I can't even imagine how many times I have listened this song in the past few weeks. I sometimes get really, I mean REALLY, into some songs and this has been that kind of song. I can not even exaggerate how much I have been loving this song lately!"

I do not know what it is about this song, but I just seriously love it. Myriam's vocals, the music, everything. I usually can pinpoint at least some sort of reason why I love something, but this is leaving me wordless on that matter. I have had this song on repeat ever since early Spring and there is no end in sight. That is all I have to say this time.

But, wait there is more! I made a YouTube playlist to celebrate the year 2015. It features 100 carefully picked songs, that I have featured in this blog during 2015 and the end of 2014, since I started blogging late 2014 and there was no point making one for 2014. But here is the playlist:

I wish everyone Happy New Year!

30 December 2015

Romania #1: My summer jams

Ah, the end of December. Such a perfect time to write about summer songs, haha. Okay, actually I do like listening to summery music during these cold and dark winter months. Currently it is raining and winding insanely outside and I thought I just heard a thunder. Add the minus degrees and you know the weather is miserable. And it seems to be like that always here in Denmark, sigh. I hate winter. So when the weather is like this, it is nice to listen to something warm and fun, aka. summer songs. I personally do not think some songs are only for a specific time of year (give or take on holiday songs), but it is undeniable that summer songs tend to be happy and colourful, while winter songs was more of ballads and sad. To put it simple.

Obviously this post was suppose to be out at the late summer / early autumn time region, but you know the reasons. Then again, this is how I started writing the post originally: "Since it is still supposely a summer, though recently I have mentioned that here in Lapland it has not even really been a summer (now the forecasts promise actually warm weathers), it is time for a summery post. Or something like that." And also called the past summer by words "summer-suppose-to-be". So, I do not think July/August would have been more fitting time for this than this late December day, haha.

Anyways, let us get to the business:

Wikipedia: Romania

Of course I have been listening to a lot of other music too and these may not actually be what I listened the most in the summer 2015, but Romania stood out as a source of summer music. And I actually have really gotten into Romanian music lately too. Two of the songs featured in this post, I did listen A LOT this summer and I constructed this post around these two songs. But overall these songs have a happy summer atmosphere.

I also must mention, that I might have used the word "jam" to describe music, like once before, maybe not even that. Not really part of my vocabulary, but it seemed somehow fitting!

Did you know?: Latin pop is a popular music genre in Romania. I personally find this rather odd, considering that Romania is not a Latin country nor is it anywhere near one (it is around 3000 kilometres from Romania to Spain, in example). But it keeps happening that I come across Romanian Latin pop bands and Latin sound is very common in Romanian music overall. Quite often Romanian singers even sing in Spanish. This could be a phenomenon only among Romanian pop/dance music scene, but considering how much dance music comes from Romania, it seems a rather big thing over there. Apparently, there is some connection between Latin countries and Romania, of which I do not know about.

We are starting with Mandinga. Mandinga is one of those Romanian Latin pop bands mentioned. This band was formed in Bucharest (Romania's capital city) in 2002. Since from 2006, the lead vocalist has been Elena Ionescu, while the other members are called Alex, Chupi, Zach, El Niño, Omar and Tony. Gosh, even their names are latino! Mandinga's music has gained a lot of popularity in Romania and abroad, and I keep coming across their music. One of their most notable appearances is Eurovision Song Contest, which they participated in 2012 with their song Zaleilah, which was to become a big hit in Europe that summer.

Personally I am not a huge fan of Mandinga, but they have few songs that I like. My favourite song of Mandiga's is the one above: Papi Chulo. Ah, even by the name alone you can tell it is going to be very latino. Some of the song is in English, but the main parts are sung in Spanish. The lyrics are quite naughty, but the music is fun and catchy (though I am not saying that naughty cannot be fun and catchy). The summer is strong with this one. It is a colourful and warm song, that makes you think of those Latin American and Spanish beaches. Or Romanian beaches, it has few nice one (I dare to assume) by the coast of Black Sea.

Papi Chulo is from Mandinga's 2012 studio album Club De Mandinga.

Before Elena Ionescu joined Mandinga is the lead vocalist, Mandinga had another woman at this position: Elena Gheorghe. Elena was born in 1985 in Bucharest. Elena's father (named imaginatively Gheorghe Gheorghe) and many of her ancestors were priests, while Elena's mother is a folk artist. Elena started singing already as a child, participating many contests with success. In 2003 she started singing as a member on Mandinga. In 2006, Elena decided to go solo and debuted as a solo artist with a song Vocea Ta.

Elena continued in Mandinga's style of Latin pop, though her music has a lot of other influences too. Like her former band, Elena too competed in the Eurovision Song Contest: She represented Romania in 2009 with her fun song The Balkan Girls. Elena has had success around Europe and so far she has released three albums. She sings both in English and Romanian, with hinches of Spanish here and there. I would call Elena's music fun dance music.

The first of the two songs from Elena, is called De Neinlocuit, which according to Google Translator means 'Irreplaceable'. The song is sung entirely in Romanian as far as I can tell (that is not honestly not very far). Even though couple sentences ago I called Elena's music fun dance music, De Neinlocuit feels more meaningful and calmer. I do not speak Romanian and I usually like avoiding to use the translator to find out the lyrics (so many disappointments in the past!), so I can only guess, but to me it feels like there is a deeper meaning in the words. What meaning? I do not know, but overall the song feels sweet and nice, so I would assume it is something at least decently happy. This song also serves as a great example of how a song can feel summery, even without the usual colourful and poppy sound I was talking about before; This song is like a cool summer day.

This other song from Elena is other one of those two I said I was obsessing over in the summer. The song is called Mamma Mia (He's Italiano) and it features a Romanian rapper called Glance. Perhaps I should introduce Glance too? A bit, at least. Apparently Glance's real name is Islam Faris Glance Mohammed Al-Massany (please, do not ask me to try and say that out aloud). He was born in Romania, though his family moved to Yemen while I was little. Now he is back in Romania, making music since 2009. I do not know much about Glance and he does not seem very well-known, but he has worked with Elena Gheorghe prior to Mamma Mia (He's Italiano) too.

But yes, the song! I find this song very funny. Maybe some stuck-up Italians could get offended by this, but come on Italianos: it IS funny. The song's lyrics play around little with stereotypes of Italian guys. Elena seems to be in a complicated love-drama with some Italiano called Tony and she is wondering what to do about him. The song is utterly catchy, up to the point that some might find it annoying, though to me it is very fun and brilliant song. I love how they made the usual yes-no-maybe thing more interesting in a creative way.

On a side note, let me mention that I really like the video: it is creative, looks stunning and it fits the song in a funny way. And I love her dress, both the wedding dress and the blue one.

As far as I am concerned, neither De Neinlocuit or Mamma Mia (He's Italiano) has been released on an album yet, but at least the latter is available as a single.

Latinos, Italianos... I wonder what is up ahead next...

Well, it is nothing more dangerous than Alexandra Stan! To start with, I must admit that I have been listening to Alexandra's music a bit too much lately and she is one of my current favourite artists. And I am definitely not alone with this one: Alexandra Stan is noted as one of the best-selling Romanian artists and she has had hits around the world. Her genre is mostly dance-pop and electronic dance music. But before we dive into her music more, let's have a look at her background.

Alexandra Iona Stan was born in 1989, in a city called Constanța, which is located by the coast of Black Sea (I bet this is one of those Romanian cities I betted to have gorgeous beaches). The story, like usually it seems to go, that Alexandra was interested in singing and performing already at a young age. She participated some competitions and won. Her debut single Lollipop (Param Pam Pam) was released in 2009 and it was successful in Romania, although some people thought that it was overly sexual. Her second single followed in 2010 and it turned out to be a true goldmine: the single was called Mr. Saxobeat and it ended up hitting number one around European charts, making Alexandra famous.

The first song from Alexandra is called Dance and it was released in 2014. This is the other song I obsessed over in the summer. And, erhm, currently. And probably far into 2016 (that far could actually be far). I do not know why exactly I love this song so much; At first it sounds like a regular dance-pop song, with nothing really special. But this song has hooked me so badly that there has to be something in it. I love the music a lot, I love Alexandra's vocals, and even though the lyrics are not the most innovative thing in the history, I love them too. It is quite simple dance song, but maybe that is why I love it: it is catchy and sweet, without trying too hard.

The second song is called Lemonade (I noticed a food theme in her song names) and it was released as a single in 2012. This song is one of Alexandra's more popular ones. According to Wikipedia, the song is dance-pop, reggae fusion and dubstep. Really interesting mixture right there. This song fits perfectly the summer theme we are having in this post: it is fun and catchy and colourful. Besides she is singing about summer. Alexandra is sipping on a yellow lemonade and being happy. This is definitely a feel-good song and makes you feel warm. Or at least want some lemonade. In my case it is both.

Originally way back in time, this post was suppose to be the regular five-songs-per-post type of post. But about a month ago, Alexandra released a new single, that immediately joined the list of Alexandra's songs that I am currently obsessing over. And since  the blog has had some quiet time, it felt appropriate to add this brilliant song in. It is called I Did It, Mama!

It is Alexandra's usual style of dance-pop. Though this feels rather much darker than in example the fun Lemonade. It has a mysterious and a tad bit gloomy feeling to it, which the music video enhances. The lyrics are quite repetitive, but the variance in music makes up to this (I personally feel that complex music with complex lyrics, tends to make rather messy songs). It is highly catchy song and even though the lyrics are not THAT naughty, they make you feel so. And here I was thinking that she would be singing about telling her mom that she did something sweet, like the 1000-piece puzzle with a picture of puppies. Silly me.

Dance is from Alexandra's 2014 album Unlocked and Lemonade can be found on 2013 album Cliché (Hush Hush), which is a Japanese re-issue of her debut album Saxobeats. I Did It, Mama! is a brand new song, so it is not in any album yet.

28 December 2015

Denmark #1: Welcome to Aarhus

Oh well, I did say that I will soon start writing again, but that soon has yet again stretched; the school things have taken over all of my time and they, slightly unfortunately, are the number one priority. Now that the exams are closing in (yikes!), you would think I would have even less time to write, but I have realised a mastermind plan (insert a fitting laughter): I need writing practice for the written exams, so if I write my blog during my extended study breaks, I both get to do something I like and also "study" for the exams! It is a win-win situation here! I think my posts might be a bit shorter than before for the lack of time and also because I have not been all happy about the structure of my posts since summer, so I will be working on that too, trying out different things.
But yeah, now here it finally is, the first actual post for a long time. Oh my, what will become out of this...

Wikipedia: Denmark

To the main point now. This post was not up next in my schedule, but I gave it a permission to do little queue jumping. As I have told in various places, like in my other blog and social media sites, I moved to Denmark at the end of August. So now that I come back after a break (caused hugely by moving to Denmark), it feels only natural to have a post about Danish music. Besides I have been very into two of these songs this year (one is probably on my top list for 2015).

This was not done on purpose (I swear it was not!), but actually all the three artists of this post are coincidentally from the city of Aarhus, the city where I am now living in! This was honestly not done on purpose, even though it seems so; I did not even know where they were from until I had already chosen the songs for this post and found it a bit creepy coincident when I checked it out!

Here we go with the first song. I wanted the first song to be the one that is in Danish, the others in this post are then obviously in English. This is actually one of the songs I had on repeat this past summer, and actually I still listen to it a lot months later. But before we get more deep into the songs, let's have a look at the singer.

Anne Gadegaard. Anne, who also has gone by an artist name Anne G, was born in Aarhus, November 7, 1991 (making her just under two weeks younger than me). Anne started singing professionally already as a child and she represented Denmark in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in 2003, when the competition was held in Copenhagen. Her competition song was Arabiens Drøm, with which she placed 5th. The following years after that, she released multiple albums.

After the release of Anne's 2006 Christmas album (Annes Jul), she has had a bit more quiet phase. Though in 2013, she released the song Bag Skyerne (above), which apparently hit number one in the iTunes charts in Denmark and Norway, number 10 in the overall Danish charts. But more about that in the next paragraph. In 2015 she participated the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix, and this is also where I found out about her.

So, the first song is called Bag Skyerne, which means "Behind The Clouds". You might be able to guess by the title, that the song tells about death, the death of Anne's mother actually. In the song she sings how she misses her mother, but knows that she has found a peace behind the clouds. Anne promises to live her life and make her mother proud of her. I know it sounds a bit clichéy topic maybe, but the song is actually really beautiful and from what I can understand of the lyrics, I find it touching. It has that feeling that she is not just singing about something random, but something that is meaningful to her.

I personally think that Anne's voice fits this type of songs. The other song has a similar feel to it, though it is not telling a story as sad as death of a loved one. This song is called Suitcase and it was Anne's song at the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix, the competition where they select Denmark's Eurovision representative. She actually came very close to winning and I am still slightly bitter that her beautiful song did not win (from my Eurovision 2015 posts, you can get that I was not much of a fan of the song that actually won).

But yes, about the song. Suitcase tells about a girl named Sophia, who decides to go follow her dreams even when people say she will not make it. I know, I know, I very cliché topic, but this is is actually very beautiful. It has meaningful lyrics and calm, catchy music. That Sophia girl is in a bit of similar situation that I was in this Autumn, catching the rain with my suitcase. Well, my story would not turn into this pretty song, but maybe the similarity makes me feel connected to this song.

Anne Gadegaard has not released an album since the releases of these songs, but they are both available as singles.

This next artist you may be more familiar with: Medina. Medina Danielle Oona Valbak, birth name Andrea Fuantealba Valbak, (phew, I hope I got that all correct) was born in 1982, in (surprise, surprise) Aarhus. Medina has a Danish mother and a Chilean father. I could not find out why she chose Medina as her stage name, though I would of course be interested to know (ah, me and my eternal obsession with names taking over). Medina debuted as a singer in 2007, with a single Flå. She sings in both Danish and English. She seems quite famous around here in Denmark, since I have seen her face in many places, like ie. at bus stop commercials for anti-smoking campaign (you go, girl!).

Besides being highly famous in Denmark, Medina has gained international fame and is considered as one of the most famous of current Danish artists, if not the most famous one. Medina's first big hit in Denmark was the song Kun For Mig (tr: Only For Me), released in 2008. This also became Medina's first international hit, when in 2009 it was released in English, under the title You And I. It seems to have charted in a lot of countries and I remember hearing it all time in Finland too. You can listen to the Danish version here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHuWj6ycquQ

But since I am more accustomed with the English version (Danish is not bad either!), I feature that one. So, the song was released in 2009 and it is an electropop song. A type of song, you would expect me to like, maybe a hinch darker shade. I do not know why, but for whatever reason the song feels quite dark and gloomy to me. But in a good way. The lyrics are maybe not the most innovative think, but the awesome music and Medina's brilliant vocals cover up for that flaw. Then again, most electropop songs have quite simple and repetitive lyrics, which is not necessarily a bad. This song gets easily stuck in my head and I can feel it deep inside of me. I cannot believe it is already that old of a song, since it still is amazing after these years.

Medina has many other great songs too, but since I cannot simply feature all of great songs in the world (now that's the dream), we will have to settle for this one, though I recommend you to search more of her music.

You And I is from Medina's 2010 album Welcome To Medina, while the Danish version Kun For Mig, is from 2009 album Velkommen Til Medina (you do the translation).

And now to the most exciting part of the post. Even though I of course love all of the songs in this post, I have somewhat been obsessed with some of the songs from this following band. I mentioned that one of these songs in this post is going to likely (more than likely) be in my toplist for 2015, but honestly, it could be that both of these end up on it. But at least to second song. But before the songs, let us introduce the band itself.

Carpark North, ladies and gentlemen. Carpark North is a electronic rock band formed in Aarhus (wow, who saw that one coming), back in 1999. The three members of the band are singer and guitarist Lau Højen, drummer Morten Thorhauge and Søren Balsner, who plays bass and synthesisers (synthesiserist? I have no idea what I am doing right now..). Over the years, the band has released five studio albums and a collection album, which have done well in the charts. Obviously, since they are going on after all these years.

The story goes that originally they wanted to call the band Cemetery North, but due the apparent serious gap in their English skills, they though Carpark meant Cemetery. When they found out the mistake, it felt too late to change it, so they kept it. To me the story feels rather odd, considering how good English Danish people speak (even some sweet old ladies, I have talked to) and the fact that they sing in English. Anyway, I am happy that they are NOT called Cemetery North, since that would sound very generic and wannabe-badass-like. But when I read the name Carpark North, I found it very interesting and I just had to see what kind of music a band with such name makes! Cemetery North would probably not have gotten my interest and I dread to think of a scenario like that.

Now the songs! Actually I think it is best that I keep this part very short, since I could go on and on about how much I love these two songs, but that would be boring and this post has dragged into a quite long post already (whatever happened to that keeping my posts short). So, I will now say as a collection that both of these songs have touched me deeply and I can feel lots of emotions while listening to them. It is very rare that a song takes over me this badly, and even more rare that it happens with two songs from the same band. There are not too many bands out there that can affect me this deeply with their songs!

The first song is called Burn It and even though the name sounds a bit generic and dull, the song is definitely not. It is a song where the singer wonders if their loved one has been faithful and goes into a bad-ass pyromaniac rave during the chorus. Or something like that. The music is absolutely awesome and Lau has one of the most interesting voices I have heard in quite a while.

And finally, the song. THE song, that is: Everything Starts Again. I heard this in the summer and it has been on repeat every since then. The song is fastly creeping up to become one of my top favourite songs of all time, and I promise you that the competition on the top is fierce. I could go on a deep analysis as why I love this song so much, but I am not here to write a book and I promised before to keep it short. But I suppose it has by now became obvious that I seriously love this song. Lyrics, music, vocals, everything. I am sure not everyone would agree with me, but for this song is very special.

Both Burn It and Everything Starts Again are from Carpark North's collection album Best Days (Greatest & Live), released in 2010.

25 October 2015

A quick notice

Hello World. Mariya, that is me, has taken a little (or not so little, whoopsie) break from blogging due to circumstances. More about this matter on my other blog: Mariya's Road. But the point of this quick post is that I want to get back on blogging now that my life has been settling up a bit. I do not know how much I have time for writing nowdays, but since I truly enjoy writing I want to make some time for it, even if it means less time for sleeping or something unimportant like that (please, note the sarcasm and do not take me too seriously, now or never). But yes, new blog posts coming up! Stay tuned...

09 August 2015

Nigeria #1: Where's Johnny?

Nope, we are not looking for Wally nor Waldo today. Nope, we are here to look for Johnny. Who is Johnny? Johnny Depp? Johnny Cash? Johnny Winter? Johnny Knoxville? Johnny Carson? We may never know. But what we do know is that there is some good* music coming up in this post. (*This statement is highly biased and debatable.) This time we are heading to Nigeria.

Wikipedia: Nigeria

It is always a special occasion whenever there is a African post in this blog; this is the fifth post coming from the continent and this blog has been up for nine months now. I have multiple times mentioned (and obviously am going to mention yet again) that I am not very familiar with African music, but in past few months I have made a point to familiarize more with. And I aim to blog more about African music too and for this month I actually have two African blog posts scheduled, so there is that to look out for. But now to Nigeria.

Nigeria is a country in West Africa in the coast of Gulf Of Guinea. It has the population of over 177 million people, making it one of the most populated countries in the world and the most populated one in Africa. So obviously there has to be great music to be found. On a side note, Nigeria is not to be confused with its neighbour Niger, that has more land area, but only a tenth of Nigeria's population. One thing that confused me was how to people from these two countries are called: person from Nigeria is Nigerian and person from Niger is Nigerien. That is the lesson of the day, though I still think I will be having issues when I will be blogging about Nigerien music eventually. But we are good to go with this post.

Here is the first artist of this post: Iyanya. Born as Iyanya Onoyom Mbuk (I am not even attempting to pronounce that) in 1986, he comes from the city of Calabar, that is located at the southeastern parts of Nigeria and of which climate chart I am jealous of (I do not mind the rain if it is warm). Iyanya started his professional career in 2008. He graduated with a Business Management degree, after which he worked at a hotel and a bar while developing his vocals singing karaoke. In 2008 he took part in a reality show singing competition called Project Fame, which he won and that made him famous in Nigeria and abroad.

The first song from Iyanya is Away. It was released in 2014 and to my believe it was a big hit in Nigeria. Iyanya sings in two language: English and Efik. Efik is a Nigerian language spoken by about half million people as native language and it is an official language in the state Cross River State, from where Iyanya comes from. I have no knowledge on the Efik language (honestly, I only now heard about for the first time), but I assume that the none-English parts of the song are in Efik. The song itself is catchy and fun, a bit summery to fit the current season. To me it sounds quite ethnical, partly thanks to the lyrics also.

Iyanya (why is his name so hard to write, even when it looks so simple...) has said he wants to be versatile and do different styles of music. So far he has released two studio albums. His first album is R&B album, while the second album has also more afropop and afrobeat sounds to it too. Afrobeat is a music style that combines traditional music of Nigeria and Ghana with other music styles like jazz, funk and highlife. The last one of those might also be a bit less known genre for most of us, but highlife is a popular genre in West African, drawing inspiration from different African music styles. But yeah, Iyanya wishes to be versatile with his music, which is something I like, since I find it very boring when artists take the safe road of sticking to the same style and not trying out new things.

The other song from Iyanya is called Le Kwa Ukwu. The song was released in 2013 and I think it is safe to assume that the title is in Efik. To that I have guesses as what the title actually means, nor what he is singing about. The song has a sound that even if I did not know who was singing, I would immediately connect to Africa. And I really like it: It is fun and rhythmic. The beat gets stuck into your head and I can clearly imagine the bongo drum players in front of me. I have no idea if there really is bongo drums being played in this song, but that is the feeling I get. Truly enjoyable song.

Iyanya has not released an album after these single releases, so the songs are currently not available on albums.

Ah, the question of the day: Where's Johnny? Brought to you by Yemi Alade. But before we go hunting for Johnny, let's talk about Yemi. Yemi Eberechi Alade is a singer coming from Abia State, that is located in the southeastern parts of Nigeria. Main portion of the state's population is Igbo people, which is also Yemi's mother's origin, while her father is of Yoruba origin. Yemi was born in 1989 and she has an university degree in Geography. In 2005 she debuted as a singer in a girl group called Noty Spices. The group was not very successful and Yemi went on to become a solo singer, hitting famous in 2009 after winning a reality show contest Peak Talent Show. Her debut studio album was released in 2014.

But what about Johnny then? Johnny is the title of Yemi's 2013 single, lead single of her debut album. In the lyrics, Johnny seems to be a bit fly guy: one day he is in Toronto, then the other time in Tokyo. Johnny seems to be a bad guy, ie. talking about wanting to marry Yemi, but disappearing again. And Yemi is looking for him. We do not know much about Johnny and the lyrics of the song are quite messy: English, some African language and French perhaps? Well, that is not much to go on with, but if you see Johnny, let Yemi know, okay?

Johnny was a big hit in many countries right after its release and even before it was officially released. Currently the video has around 25 million views on YouTube. There is also a French version of the song, so I suppose I am not too far off with my guess of the song being partly in French. Johnny is very funny song and highly catchy. It has an ethnical sound (West African sound?) and it sound very interesting, to say the least. And if the song itself is not funny enough, the music video is funny too. Totally weird, but funny. Is this guy actual Johnny or just an actor? Did they catch him long enough to shoot this music video? We may never know.

Okay okay, let's get more serious now. Though this song either is not all that serious. This second song from Yemi is called Taking Over Me. It was released as a single in January this year. I find this song very catchy and I really love the beat. Yemi's vocals sound very interesting here and they fit the music perfectly. I know there is a word I would like to use the describe this sound, but as I can not think of it, I have to go with deep and strong. That is not all that great description, so you just have to listen to it. Taking Over Me has not reached the success of Johnny, but I love this song a lot. Actually I have been listening to this a lot lately and it is my favourite song from Nigeria.

Both Johnny and Taking Over Me are from Yemi's debut album King Of Queens, released in 2014.

Taking Over Me also features a rap part from a rapper called Phyno. Though, as per usual, the guest rap appearance is short, I was interested on looking for more music from Phyno too. Even if my love for Taking Over Me is thanks to Yemi and the producers that made the beat I love, there is a possibility for me to like this guest rapper too. Plus I never skip a change to hear different kinds of music. So did I like this dude?

Phyno is the stage name of Azubuike Chibuzo Nelson, who is a rapper and record producer coming from the Enugu State. (I just now learned that Nigeria's most recent former president's name is Goodluck Jonathan. Oh, these African names.) Phyno is known for rapping in the Igbo language. While in school, Phyno played many instruments and started rapping. In 2010, he moved to Lagos, the biggest city in Nigeria, to focus on his musical career. His music turned out to be successful and he released his debut album last year. Phyno's stage names was given to him by his high school friend and it comes from the word phenomenal.

I am not too big fan of rap music overall, and African rap music has not really belong to my favourite music styles. I still found some decent songs from Phyno, which I am sure many other people would love, but that were just not for me. That was until I came across Man Of The Year (Obago). To somewhat my surprise, I actually liked this song! It is quite catchy and fun sounding. The beat is strong and dramatic, and Phyno raps good. Parts of the lyrics are in English, though mostly the song is in Igbo, at least I assume it is Igbo. The music video for this song was banned from broadcasting, which I find rather odd since I did not catch anything weird in this video. But then again I am use to weird stuff, so. But the song is really good whatsoever.

Man Of The Year (Obago) is from Phyno's 2014 debut studio album No Guts No Glory.