29 April 2015

History Of Music: Ludwig van Beethoven

This is the 50th post in this blog. What would be more perfect subject for this post than one of the greatest names in the history of music? This is the first part of my History Of Music series, which I introduced in my previous post. And since I am excited about this brand new series, I needed a great start for it. I considered between two options for this post, but decided to go with Beethoven.

Because this is the first post of this series, it may not come out as good as I would hope, but I shall try my best. Like I said in the introduction post, I will keep these posts short in order to avoid boredom and dryness. Any input on this post is welcome! But now, let's start...

Wikipedia: Ludwig van Beethoven

Für Elise. Beethoven's Bagatelle no. 25 is one of his most famous compositions.

Ludwig van Beethoven was born late 1770 in the city of Bonn, which currently is part of Germany, near the Benelux borders. His parents were Johann van Beethoven and Maria Magdalena Keverich. His father and his paternal grandfather, Lodewijk van Beethoven, were both musicians too. Beethoven's birthplace at Bonngasse 20 has been turned into a museum / memorial site, which I would love to visit one day.

Beethoven's childhood was not a happy one. Another one of the world's most famous composers, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, was Beethoven's contemporary. Mozart was a child prodigy and composing from a very young age. Johann van Beethoven was aware of Mozart's fame and he wanted to make his son, Ludwig, a child prodigy too.

Young Ludwig was very talented musically, so Johann's hopes were not build on a nothing. Johann made his son practice hours and hours per day. It has been said that young Beethoven was often seen by the keyboard in tears, since he was so tired from all the practicing, though it is also said that there is no actual evidence on this and it is just rumors. However it was, Beethoven practiced a lot and made his first public appearance at the age of seven.

Johann van Beethoven's ambition to make his son a child prodigy came out also in other a bit questionable ways. He in example lied about Beethoven's age so that it would look more amazing that such a young child could make such compositions. In my opinion it is already enough impressing that a child can compose so well, give or take couple years on his age.

Piano Sonata no. 14 is also known as Moonlight Sonata.

Beethoven went on to become a composer and eventually one of the greatest composers of all time. Though like with so many other artists, most of the appreciation for Beethoven came after his death. In his career Beethoven composed nine symphonies, five piano concertos, 1 violin concerto, 32 piano sonatas, 16 string quarters and many other works. He is best known for his symphonies, including the most famous one, Symphony no. 5, whose beginning I bet everyone knows (it is the last song in this post). I tried to feature his most famous works in this post.

Beethoven lived in the eras of Classical and Romantic styles in music. His style was still different from the usual norms of Classical music. He made a lot changes and tried out different things. Many of his compositions have a structure that is harder to listen to. A lot of the changes he made are still in use nowdays, so his affect in the music history can be still heard in modern compositions.

Before Beethoven's time, the only way a composer could make a living was to fulfill orders from the rich. In the 1700s, with the rise of the bourgeoisie class, it started to become possible for a composer to work as he liked as a free composer, since music got more listeners and so more buyers. This allowed Beethoven's more uncommon style. He was actually the very first composer, who worked his entire career as a free composer.

One of the most notable works from Beethoven: Missa Solemnis. Note that it is over an hour long.

It seems that behind every great man or woman, there is a tragic story. Besides Beethoven's miserable childhood, he had many struggles throughout his life. Most notably he lost his hearing almost completely. This made him eventually stop performing and conducting, but he kept on composing. You seriously have to give credit to a composer who can make worldwide famous compositions even when he is practically deaf.

Ludwig van Beethoven is considered as the bridge between the styles of Classical and Romantic eras. His works are played all around the world even now almost 200 years after his death. Many of his compositions are famous even amongst those who do not care for classical music. Beethoven affected the Western music maybe more than any other composers ever and his incredible talent is undeniable.

Last but not least, here is the Symphony no. 5:

Composed between 1804 and 1808, Symphony no. 5 is likely Beethoven's best known composition.

28 April 2015

History Of Music series introduction

In my Blog plans 2015 post I mentioned I had an idea for a new interesting post series, which I would be starting sometime during March or April. Well, since it is now late April already, the time has come to start up this new series of post. And as you can tell from the title, it is going to be about the history of music.

I have always loved history and music is my biggest passion. So, of course I absolutely love when these two come together. I am always fascinated by all things related to the history of music. When I found out that there was a music history course in my high school, I obviously decided to take that course. From that I got the idea to feature music history in my blog, since I have been passionate about the subject since I can remember.

Photo source

In this series I want to write about interesting and meaningful things considering music history, around the world of course. This could mean posts about composers, music genres, bands, instruments, styles from different centuries, national music and habits of different cultures, et cetera, et cetera... I am also interested on connections, like how to music of the past, affects to current music. Since my blog is not just about the modern music, though that plays the biggest part, I think this theme will fit perfectly into this blog.

In a recent blog post I mentioned I wanted to feature geography somehow in my blog. I have not certainly figured out how I want to do that, but history is along the same line: I want my blog consists of some knowledge too, rather than just commenting on random songs. I am not an expert in music history and most of the stuff will come out of internet sources. My goal is to pack a nice batch of interesting information on a short, compact package.

I do not want these blog posts to be long (since that would also load me with lots of work) as that would most likely make things boring. I try to keep dryness out of my posts and keep things fun and interesting. I do not know how that will go, but I am going to try.

Though mostly, I think but who knows how it will turn out, this series will be about history than featuring music. This is mainly because it is fairly hard to find music to represent all the posts. Like, since there is no actual recordings of ie. renaissance composers' music, I would have to make hard decisions of what kind of performances of the compositions I would feature. I will of course feature music in each post (I plan to at least), but maybe not that many. This will also help on keeping the posts short enough.

Of course one major question is that what I consider as history? How old a song / performer / theme must be in order to be considered fitting for this series? I already have my 1980s music series, and also some 1990s and 1970s posts planned. My normal blog posts usually feature music from 2000s and 2010s, with few late-90s songs. I think around the 1960s could be some sort of a line, but I think I prefer older than that. I am not going to set myself any formal limitations and rather go with the flow, but I could call the 1960s a guideline.

As it is with my other series posts, I am not going to blog about the history of music too often. I want to keep thing varying and not focus on the same subject too much. I have two posts coming up soon, but after that I will go to less often posting speed. Maybe at as less as with my other series, but maybe once in a month or two, could be good.

I am taking in all suggestions, wishes and comments about this series.

26 April 2015

Japan #4: Two less known favourites

Today's post's music comes from my favourite country: Japan. I am already on the number three (after this post on number four) on feature posts about Japanese music, but all the previous posts have been Favourite Artists posts. So, I also wanted to make a regular type of post for Japan too. Now is the time for that.

Wikipedia: Japan
Like I said, Japan is my favourite country in music. In this post from last autumn, I talk about my for Japanese pop music, aka. J-pop. I have been a huge fan of Japanese music for over ten years now and it has inspired me to study Japanese, and I hope to move to Japan one day. Most of the music I listen to is Japanese, so I have lots and lots of songs I would like to feature in my blog. It was very hard to pick the five songs for this post.

I ended up choosing one singer and one duo. I really love both of these, obviously. Besides all three of these singers being models, they have only released one album each and are not that well known, as the title of this post reflects. Nowdays unfortunately it all seems to come down to promotion and if an artist does not get enough funds from their label, they hardly have success. There are so many great singers around the world, that are left unnoticed thanks to lack of promotion. That is why I personally love to look past the charts and sales.

Here we go now...

The duo is called Marin & Riena. The group was formed in 2009 and consists of two models, whose names make up the group's name. Riena is the vocalist. She has lots of experience in modelling and also from miss competition. Marin is the rapper of the duo. She has experience in hip hop dancing and lyric-writing. Marin actually writes the lyrics for the group's songs. Both girls have been interested on working with music since they were children. They are, or at least were previously, signed to Japan's biggest record label, Avex Trax.

The song above is called Love Train. It was Marin & Riena's second single back in 2010. It is a pop music song formed by Riena's singing parts and Marin's rap parts. In my opinion the song is not a typical J-pop song. The volume of the rap parts has its affect in this (usually Japanese girl groups do not have or have only one rapping part in their songs), but I think sound-wise too it is not that typical.

I find this song fairly simple, though the alteration between singing and rapping adds a nice dimension to the song. I think both of the girl's vocals come out very nicely and they are the main hook in this song. The music is good too though. It is highly catchy, the chorus especially but other parts too, and feels fresh yet familiar. This is my favourite song from Marin & Riena, and also one of the first songs I fell in love with when I seriously got into J-pop. So this song feels a bit nostalgic for me.

This other song from the duo is called 夏の香り / Natsu No Kaori, which in English means The Scent of Summer. Summer is a perfect word to describe this song. It is very summery and fun song. The beautiful music video with tropical flowers and beach, just adds to this feeling. This was Marin & Riena's debut single in the summer of 2010.

I myself love to listen summery songs this time of the year (or actually anytime of the year, but particularly now), when there is snow and slush when the summer is suppose to be near. This song brings the upcoming summer straight away to my mind and makes me feel warm. The song is very cheerful and bright. I really love the vocals from both of them and the music is just lovely. Most of summer songs nowdays have a strong dance beat in them; This does not, which in my opinion makes it a great, softer alternative for the common type summer songs.

Unfortunately, as I stated before, the duo has not released lots of music. All their songs are from 2010. Since they have not received much of attention, it is hard to find information on them. The introduction of the group was based on the introduction from their label's website. It would be nice to know what they are up to nowdays. I personally hope to hear more music from them, since I really like their voices.

This other artist is one of my favourite singers: mini. Even though she has only released one album, she has already got a place in my heart. I absolutely love all the songs I have heard from her and her music is just the type I love the most: a mixture of J-pop and electropop with a strong beat. I also highly love her voice. I seriously hope she will release more music in the future. It was a serious struggle for me to choose three songs for this post, even though she has just so little of music out.

The first song (above) is called Are U Ready?. It was mini's solo debut single, released in 2010. The song has a very strong electropop sound. It is dark shaded and quite bit dramatic. The heavy electric sound of the song just demands attention and I find this as a very strong debut single.

I actually listened to this a lot last year. I believe it was one of the most played songs in my iPod last year. When I first heard this song, I did not like it that much. I did like it, but not very much. My music taste back then was more towards bright pop music, rather than dark electropop. But now that my music taste has changed a bit, this song has become one of my current top favourite songs. The beat always makes impression on me.

mini, whose real name I do not know (though I once read somebody saying it was Michiko, but do not quote me on that) was born in 1985. She has a long career in modeling and her legs have an insurance. In 2010 she was signed to Avex Trax, which, like mentioned earlier in this post, is the leading record label in Japan. Her producer is called Jin, who is known as the producer of a famous Japanese group GReeeeN. mini's debut album was released in May 2012 and it is called エレクトハーコーバンバンピカソ / Electro Hardcore Bam Bam Picasso. I seriously love that name.

Though mini's music is mostly relaying on heavy beats and an electric sound, she is also capable of singing different kinds of songs. Two of Us is a prove of this. This song is a ballad. It does have a electropop sound to it, but it still a very beautiful song. The lyrics are quite sad with a story of the singer being in love with somebody, but they are just friends. This obviously hurts her.

I find this song very emotional (which is rare for me) and touching. I absolutely love mini's vocals and she puts a lot of feeling to them. Even without understanding much of the lyrics, I found the song touching. I love how it is a ballad, but still manages to bring in the electropop sound, all beautifully blended together; Usually, in my experiences, these two factors do not work together so well. This is just my kind of ballad.

As the title of her album could hint: mini is a bit crazy with her music. But in a good kind of crazy: she stays interesting and fun, without going overboard. The song above is the weirdest of mini's songs, and I say that as a compliment since I love this song. It is called ハーコーぷにんそす / Haakoo Puninsosu, which means Hardcore Princess, even though mini (or whoever wrote this song) wrote the title in incorrect way to make it sound cuter. The song is pretty messed up by itself, but the music video just brings the craziness up to a whole another level.

I love the song both music- and vocal-wise. It sounds very interesting and fun. I feel artists often go overboard with this kind of songs, but in my opinion this song just works perfectly. This gets stuck in my head immediately when I listen to it. It is totally crazy, but if you look beyond that, you can notice it is actually a very good song. I sometimes can not stop listening to this, since it is so hooking. And I love the music video too. This is just my kind of craziness. I think in some level mini represents the type of music I would release if I were a singer, so maybe that is why I love her so much.

mini has not released music since the release of her album, but she is active on Twitter. I believe she currently works within fashion field, but I think I remember seeing her posting some photos of music activities. I am hoping I recall correctly and that it is a good sign. She does seems to still be signed to her record label, which is promising towards the hope that she will eventually release new music. I will hang on and wait optimistically.

23 April 2015

Egypt #1: Africa finally

Now it is time for the first post about African music! All the other continents had their first posts very early on in this blog, but only now 46 posts later it is the time for Africa. It took quite long, since I had previously none knowledge on African music. Since from starting this blog I meant to get familiar with some African music, but I never got to it. I had already scheduled myself some time to listen to music from Africa, when I suddenly couple months ago by accident ended up listening to Egyptian music without knowing it was Egyptian.

Wikipedia: Egypt
I was originally listening to Lebanese music when I accidentally ended up to Egypt via YouTube recommendations. Actually the song that probably was the first ever African song I ever heard is featured in this post. I probably would have not chosen Egypt as the first African country I introduce myself to music-wise, but this was a very good coincidence: I right away found without even trying enough Egyptian music for two posts. So, thanks YouTube!

Like in my previous post I mentioned, in this post I will feature more male singers than usually; Actually all the songs in this post are by male singers. Both of these two singers, I immediately liked. One is very experienced and world-widely noted singer, while the other one is probably a bit newer name in the Arabic music scene.

Please note that Arabic words can be transliterated into English letters in different ways, so the names and titles mentioned in this post can also be written in some different way. I use the way used in Wikipedia and/or YouTube, though I also try to mention other ways to write them.

Let's start with Amr Diab. He was born in 1961 and started his professional musical career in the early 80s, though he has performed already from early age. In his career Amr has released lots and lots of music, including tens of studio albums. He has won many awards during his career, in example seven World Music Awards. He has also received multiple lifetime achievement and icon reorganizations. Amr is considered one of the best known names in the Arabic music scene.

Amr sings and composes Arabic pop music with elements of other genres like dance and folk music. His song Amarain / قمرين (above) is, in my opinion of course, a very good example of Arabic, or even more specifically of Egyptian, pop music. You can hear many elements in this song, that can also be found in so many other Egyptian songs. Amarain, also can be written as Amarein and Amareen, was released already back in 1999. I do not know how well it did back in the day, but it has a quite respectful amount of views in YouTube for such an old release.

This was within the very first of Egyptian songs that I heard and it was definitely love at first hearing. I absolutely love the music; It is so catchy and fun. For me it sounds highly exotic. It is somehow light, even though it has a very strong sound. Amr's vocals are the cherry on top. He sounds very soft here and it really raises this song on a whole another level. To put it short: I love this. By the way, the name Amarain means Two Moons.

The other song from Amr is called Tamally Maak, which is تملي معاك in Arabic. The title can also be written as Tamally Ma'ak and it means Always With You. It was released a year later than Amarain, in 2000. It is also Arabic pop song. The song seems to be utterly popular and it has been covered into tens of different language, including Hebrew, Greek and Tamil. One English cover has been done by a Danish hip-hop group Outlandish, but there is also other English versions. According to Wikipedia the music video is also highly popular and it was shot in Czech Republic.

I find this song to have some similarities with Amarain, I believe that is the common Egyptian sound since so many other songs have it too. But overall it is a completely different kind of song. I do not know what the lyrics mean, but for me this sounds kind of romantic and kind of sad. Like there is longing in the air. The song feel very emotional to me and loves me a bit wistful. It is a very beautiful song.

I would have many other songs from Amr Diab that I would like to feature, I was actually considering making a specific post for him. But since I know, that I will keep finding great songs from him and want to blog about him later on again, I think I will now switch to the other artist. Let's just say that Amr has now claimed the spot of my favourite African singer and it will be hard to overpass him.

Both Amarain and Tamally Maak were also the names of the albums on which the songs were released on.

The other singer of this post is called Haytham Saeid. I find other ways to write his name too, like Haitham Sa'eid, but this is the way it is written on what seems to be his official Twitter account. So I think this is the spelling to go with. Haytham is a younger and newer (though not that new) singer. He was a contestant on the first season of SuperStar, which was the Arabic version of Pop Idol (the American version is called American Idol), in which he placed within top12, though was then the other of two of the first ones to be eliminated.

I can not find a Wikipedia page for him, so I assume he is not that famous. Assuming more, I think he is still popular, since one of his music videos (which will be featured in this post next) has over 11 millions of views on YouTube. Since I do not have any source about him (probably there is many in Arabic, but I do not speak it), it is pretty much impossible for me to write more details about him. So let us just enjoy the music.

This first song is called Min Youm, also Men Youm and in Arabic من يوم. I do not get a sensible translation with Google Translate. This I believe to be the very first Egyptian and possibly the very first African song that I heard. With this song too it was love at first hearing. The elements in the music are great and for a foreign ear very interesting. It is a very catchy and fun sounding song. I immediately got it stuck in my head. For me it sounds very Arabic. A very brilliant first step into the world of African music.

Here are the other two songs from Haytham Saeid. The first one is called Homma Malhom, هما مالهم بينا يا ليل in Arabic. The second one is Tany / تاني. Again Google Translate does not serve any help, with the first title it suggest something about money. I can not find certain release dates for these, but I would guess that the first one was released in 2005 and the second in 2011. I could obviously be wrong, so do not quote me on that.

Homma Malhom is the song I mentioned before. It has a large amount of views on YouTube and I can not find any other Haytham song that has nearly this many of views. So I will assume this is his biggest hit. From the music video I get that it is probably a love song. It does sound like that too; There is something romantic in this song. I think Haytham sounds nice and the music is great. It is a bit simpler than the other songs in this post, but if this was too much complicated, it could ruining a song like this. It is a lovely, simple song with strong Arabic vibe.

And then Tany. This song is maybe the most "danciest" song I have heard by an Egyptian artist; It has a strong dance song sound in it and maybe even an electronic sound. It still remains very Arabic pop. I absolutely love this music, since for me it sounds like it puts together my favourite Egyptian music elements and my favourite music genre, dance music. Since I suck at recognizing genres, I could be wrong about that, but I still absolutely love the music. And Haytham sings very lovely.

Min Youm can be found from Haytham's album 2006 Mosh Bas Kalam. As I can not find information about Haytham in English, I can not tell on which album the other two songs can be found on.

21 April 2015

The lack of male artists in this blog

Today's post is a collection of my thoughts and some random ranting about a subject. I have been denoting this matter for years, long before my blog, but the subject really stands out when looking at my blog posts. Like to title says, there is sort of a lack of male artists in my blog. I try to keep this post short so that it is readable and it shall serve as a reference post if anybody ever asks about this.

Photo source

I do not know how noticeable this matter actually is; Maybe even not so much unless somebody reads all my posts. I myself have noticed this and it sort of bothers me. On statistics, I actually started to keep a track of the genders of the artists I feature in this blog, but honestly I completely forgot about it soon after. In my early posts there was twice as many female singers than male singers, plus some mixed groups and such. Now looking at the list of the songs I have featured in this blog, it is heavily female-dominated.

I am not exactly sure why this bothers me so much. Probably because I want to have variety in my blog posts and share all kinds of artists. I sort of feel that I need to have more male singers featured. Then again this is my blog and I am allowed to write about exactly of those artists that I want. So I should not take any stress about this; It is just my preference that I would have as much variety as possibly, since this blog is not dedicated to certain type of music (quite the opposite actually).

Then why do I not have more male singers featured in my blog? Well, that is kind of a silly question since the answer is fairly simple and obvious: I do not like so many male singers. But why this is, is a more interesting question. This obviously comes down to personal preference again, but is still got me pondering...

I have always been listening to more female singers and girl groups (I have made already quite few mentions in this blog that I am a girl group fanatic), even as a child. If I start to name singers and groups I listened as a child, the female list would be seemingly endless and I would have hard time naming few male ones. Maybe it is that for a child it is easier to listen to the same gender as the opposite seems cross. Though honestly I do not remember ever having that common "ew, boys are cross" attitude as a child. And I know that many little girls are obsessed with boy groups, so this theory is not that good.

Photo source

If thinking it gender-wise then maybe I just find it easier to identify with songs sung by females (as a female myself)? I have also noticed that I find male vocals less likable. I do not know if this is a gender thing or is it just that female vocals sound better to my ear. I could listen to a same song sung by female singer and a male singer, and I bet I would like the version by the woman more. I find it harder to listen to a male voice. I do not know if this comes down to empathize matter or maybe some brain function. I wonder, is there a some brain function that makes different kind of voices more pleasuring to a person than other? I would go guessing that the answer is yes.

Let's still make one thing clear: I am not anyhow bashing male singers, this is just my opinion and bonderings. I do like many male singers and I have some favourite male artists (even though most of my ultimate favourites are females). I have often wondered why I like some male singers when some others with similar voices sound bad to me. Maybe it is in the singing styles, though I have not noticed this. I notice more similarities in my favourite female singers, though they range very wide and it is hard to make actual generalizations.

Well, I think that is about it. This kind of thinking is kind of purposeless, but I always find stuff like this interesting. I am seriously starting to think this all comes down to some brain functions that are too complicated for a layman to understand. It would still be interesting to know more about how this kind of preferences are affected by our brains.

I am most likely just making this into a bigger issue than it is. I still am going to try and feature more male acts on this blog. I already have found some new male singers / groups I like (though I find like ten new female artists for every male artist). In my next post I will try to even out the situation even if just a bit. I hope this post made even a little sense.

If anybody reading this has some thoughts on this matter I would happily hear about them.

18 April 2015

Germany #1: Variety of styles

In today's post I am featuring some of my favourite German artists. Especially the two soloists have been my favourites for a long time; nearly a decade if I recall correctly. I tried to pick different kind of songs from different years for a variety. All the same, I love all of these songs.

Wikipedia: Germany

Germany is one of my favourite countries when it comes to music. I think I would place the country in a top3 for European countries. There is much good music coming from there. This of course can partly relate to the fact that it is one of the most populated countries in Europe. And being surrounded by so many other countries, there must be all kinds of influences flowing to the country. I already have two more German music posts planned for the future, but let's start with this one now.

First up is Sarah Connor. The name you might be familiar with from the Terminator franchise, where there is a character of this name (who also had her own TV-series). The singer Sarah Connor does not have anything to do with the franchise, though maybe she possibly has taken her stage name from it? Sarah has been singing most of her life and she started releasing music in 2001. She is currently set to release her eight studio album, first in German. Besides from her musical career, she can be known from a reality show following her and her now ex-husband's wedding and she was a judge in the first three seasons of German version of the X-Factor.

The song above is called From Sarah With Love. This was one of Sarah's very first singles. It is a ballad telling a story of lost love and how Sarah is now after the years going to write him a letter confessing her feelings. It is the most successful of all Sarah's songs and it charted high all over Europe, including four number one spots. And I can tell that here in Finland it was all over the place back in 2001/2002, and it only charted third here. You can still occasionally hear on the radio, so it has reached a position of a classic song.

I was a huge fan of this when it was released back in 2001, even though I was just 10 or 11 years old when I first heard it! My love for this song has carried through these years, so I dare to say this song can have an affect on multiple generations. It is very touching and beautiful, both music- and lyrics-wise. And I really love Sarah's vocals here, especially towards the end. If one can find a song touching still after more than 13 years of first hearing it, there must be something truly special in it.

In my opinion Sarah's voice fits all kinds of different songs. She has ie. gorgeous ballads and catchy dance songs. At one point I use to listen to her debut album, Green Eyed Soul, all time and I named it as one of my all time favourite albums. I still love that album, but she has carried on making great music after it too. Her debut was more of soul (as the album name can tell) and R&B, and her most recent albums have been more of dance-pop. I always (or at least most of time) like it when an artist can evolve with time.

The song above, Cold As Ice, is from her most recent album Real Love. It shows a whole different side from Sarah than From Sarah With Love. It is a dance-pop song with a strong beat. Lyrics tell a story of the singer being in love with somebody and if she can not have him she will turn cold as ice and eventually will freeze. This is, according to Wikipedia, one of Sarah's lowest charting singles, though in my opinion 16 is a very good position, but obviously comparing to Sarah's other singles it is low, since most of her singles have charted in top5 with multiple in the number one spot. Though personally I do not give much value to charts anyway.

I really like the music; It is very dancy and strong with something dark in it. The lyrics are somewhat like in regular club song, but there is still something special in them. Sarah's voice sounds interesting and it matches the music great. This must be my favourite of Sarah's uptempo songs.

From Sarah With Love was a single in 2001 and part of her Green Eyed Soul album released in the same year. Cold As Ice was released as a single and on an album Real Love in 2010.

Next up is a German girl group called Queensberry. The band was formed in the seventh German season of the Popstars reality show contest; A show which has produced multiple highly successful bands (and soloists) worldwide. Queensberry had good success with their first two albums, but their third one lacked success. The band broke up in 2013. Throughout the band's time there have been many nasty things said about the girls (true or not, I do not know nor care since this is a music blog) and some have said they have a questionable reputation. Is it just me or do the reality show contestants always get the meanest haters? For me it is the music that counts.

Too Young (above) is the lead single from Queensberry's second album and their second best charting single. The song tells a story of a lost love and of being care-free as young. It is a dance-pop song with kind of summery feel to it.

I myself have not been very rebellious and careless as a youngster, so the lyrics do not hit me emotionally, though I still can feel a emotional charge in them. The music on the other I love a lot. It feels light yet catchy and dancy. There is almost something magical in it. The girls' voices give a nice additional tone to it. The music can be found a bit sad, but it is the vocal, especially in the chorus, that create the shade of the lost love to the song. Overall I find this song fairly refreshing.

Too Young can be found on Queensberry's album 2009 On My Own and on the deluxe edition of their 2008 debut album Volume I.

And last up is a singer called LaFee. Born as Christina Klein in 1990, LaFee is still very young, but already highly experienced singer. Her first album was released in 2006 when she was only 15 years old. She has released in total five studio album, one of them consisting of English versions of her previous songs and a best of album. Mostly she sings in German. Her early material belongs in the genre of alternative rock, but later on she switched to pop music.

The song above is called Heul Doch. It is an alternative rock song. The English version is called Shut Up and you can listen to it here, though I must warn you it is full of swearwords (so NSFW). I do not know what the lyrics mean, but based on the overall sound, the music video and the lyrics of the English version, I doubt it is anything nice. Heul Doch means Go Ahead And Cry. It is LaFee's best selling single to the date.

I really love this song. It is dramatic and dark, and the music is very strong. Even though it is a rock song, it still manages to be highly catchy, thanks to those "heul doch" -parts. Based on the English lyrics I think it is better not to understand the lyrics, maybe. I really love LaFee's vocals. The song is complex without being too complicated, so it is quite interesting. The changes in the music and vocals keep me interested all the way through the song. I first heard this years and years ago and I still love this. I believe this was the first song I heard from her and it got me into her music.

After releasing her greatest hits album in 2009, she made a major change in her image and in her music. Her music until that time was rock music with strong worded lyrics. At least her English songs were filled with swearwords and I believe so were the German ones. To be honest at some parts at sounded already kind of ridiculous, like they tried to fit in as many swear words and insults as possible. Now do not get me wrong: I really love her music, even the English songs, but this kind of image and language fits only to rebellious teenagers, if even them. After hitting the twenties it only comes of as childish and silly. So I am really happy she changed her style in time.

Her more recent material feels more mature and more real. She released one album in 2011 with her changed image and since then she has been in a hiatus preparing new material for her comeback. She just recently released a new single, which has made me curiously wait for her new songs. Back in 2011, she released the song above, which is called Ich Bin. The title means I Am and the song is quite dramatic change from the previous material (likes of Heul Doch). It is a pop ballad with meaningful lyrics.

I have read the lyrics now, but even before that I found this song very emotional. I do not know what exactly makes the affect, but the song comes off as loaded with lots of emotions. The music is very beautiful and LaFee's vocals brilliant. I am not very easily emotionally affected by songs, but this really hit me deep.

Heul Doch was released as a single and on a album Jetzt Erst Recht in 2007, Ich Bin in 2011 as a single and on a album called Frei.

16 April 2015

1980s theme: European hits

Photo source
This is the second part on my 1980s music theme posts series. I really love the music from the 1980s. If picking from the decades before my birth (in order to remove avoid any nostalgia value), I would pick the 1980s as my favourite decade in music. For me the 1980s represent colourful and happy music. And also awesome rock music, like I said in my previous post. I have so many favourites from the 1980s that this 1980s theme series could go on and on.

Because of the seemingly unlimited list of my 80s favourites, I have had hard time picking just few songs to feature. In the first part, the music was more focused on rock music. Now in this post there is a theme of European music. I have picked 80s songs from three European countries: France, Italy and Finland. They vary in genre and in the overall feeling, but they all have had fame in their time and beyond.

So, let's get going on with the songs:

First up is a French singer called Corynne Charby. She was active in music and acting scene in the 80s before deciding to devote herself to her family leaving the limelight. Her biggest success was around the years 1986 and 1987. She was not that well-known abroad, but few of her singles became hits in France. This includes the song above, Boule De Flipper.

Boule De Flipper was released in 1986. The song remained in the French charts for 16 weeks and sold quite respectfully. I am not exactly sure how the properly translate the name of the song, but a flipper ball / pinball, would probably do? A ball in the pinball game? Anyways, the song is a electronic pop song and at least according to translations the lyrics seem quite depressing. This is likely the best known song from Corynne.

This is one of my ultimate top favourites from the 1980s. Especially the music; I simply love the sound, there is something bright in it, but overall it is highly dark. I feel the music deep in my spine. And Corynne's interesting voice just adds up to this feeling. The feeling I get is mostly apathy. The music video is very 80s style and probably done with minimal budget, but I actually like it a lot. In all its simplicity it fits the song great.

Another song from France. This one is by Veronique Jannot and it is called Aviateur. Veronique's musical career places in the eighties; She released music throughout the 80s, but only one song before and none after (according to Wikipedia). Besides singing she is an actress and started acting already in 1973 when she was a teen. She is still active in acting.

Aviateur was released in 1988. The name translates into Aviator. Since the song is sung in French (which I do not speak) and I have not found a translation of the lyrics (I prefer not to translate with Google Translate beyond few words), I do not know what the lyrics say. I do not find it necessarily though and with the title you can great very interesting stories about what you think the lyrics mean. The genre I suppose to be pop and easy listening.

I really love the sound of this song. It is so smooth and light. The music and Veronique's voice just make a perfect, harmonic combination. There is something very nostalgic in the song: Maybe partly thanks to the title, it somehow gives me the vibes of childhood memories. The music video I find to be very fitting to the song. I love whenever there is a storyline in the video and the colour scheme just fits perfectly to the song.

Next up is a song that might be the best known out of all these song in this post: Boys (Summertime Love) by Sabrina. Sabrina, also known as Sabrina Salerno, is an Italian singer (plus actress, model, host, etc. as per usual). She released her first single in 1986 and is still an active singer, ie. releasing a cover of Blondie's 80s hit Call Me together with another famous 80s singer Samantha Fox, who was back in the 80s considered as Sabrina's rival thanks to their similar styles.

Undoubtedly Sabrina's fame is highly thanks to her naughty style rather than her singing capabilities (without insulting those since I actually like her singing). The song Boys (Summertime Love), which is also known as Boys Boys Boys, is known for the song itself, but also for the very famous music video. In the video Sabrina is hanging out by and in the pool and is famously wearing a bikini top that shows her nipples throughout the video. The popularity of the song can not be all thanks to the video, since it charted all around Europe, including hitting number one in France and Switzerland. The song has been covered numerous times through the years.

I myself do not care for nipples in music videos (it seems to be impossible to talk about this song without multiple mentions of Sabrina's bodice area...), but this song I find great. It is very summery and fun. And highly catchy. I really like the shade that Sabrina's voice has. Without being interested in catching a glimpse of Sabrina's nipples, the music video does not really offer anything interesting. But I suppose it fits the song and at least at has helped in its part in the making of this song famous.

Moving on to a totally different kind of song. Also from Italy, comes Toto Cutugno. He became active in singing in the start of the 1970s and is still a singer; His most recent album was released in 2010. In the 70s he was part of a group called Albatros. For international audience he is known for winning the 1990 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest. Also, his song L'Italiano (above) gained success worldwide.

L'Italiano, also known as L'Italiano (Lasciatemi Cantare), was released in 1983. The title means The Italian. The song was very famous in the 80s, but also gained fame in 2006 when Toto performed it in a concert celebrating Italy's win at FIFA World Cup. The song has also lived in multiple covers, including one by Finnish singer Kari Tapio called Olen Suomalainen, which is über-famous in Finland. The song has also been covered including in Indian and Arabic, which tells about how wide the song did spread.

I find Toto's voice very interesting. The music is dramatic and deep, and with Toto's voice it makes a strong impression. There is something actually creepy in the overall sound. It is fairly easy-going, even though it is so heavy and kinda dark. I really like this song overall, but the music especially much.

Time for the last song. This one comes from Finland as promised: Autiotalo by Dingo. Dingo is a rock band, that is one of the most popular ones in Finland. They have had multiple successful songs in Finland and the band's most successful years place in the mid-80's. Besides the huge success of the band, the singer Neumann has become one of the biggest names in Finland's music industry history.

Dingo's best known and most successful hit is Autiotalo. The song was released in 1984 and two years later there was also an English version of this song called The House Without A Name. Autiotalo means Deserted House. The song is a rock song and tells a love story, which can be a bit surprising considering the name. The beginning of the chorus says: "And hand in hand we walk to deserted house", which kinda tells the main point of the lyrics.

The lyrics are surprisingly romantic, though there is preferences that make the lyrics fit better into a rock music. And in the end of course it is revealed that the couple has broken up, so that it is not completely sentimentality. Music-wise it has a very common Finnish rock music sound, though in my opinion a lot better than average. It is actually very easy to understand why this song became so popular and has remained so popular to the day. It is one of the classics of Finnish music, deservedly.

12 April 2015

United States #1: Some country music

Today is the turn for the first feature post dedicated to the music from the United States of America. I kind of have felt like that the American music is so well-known that it does not really serve anyone if I blog about it, but this is not a very good way of thinking and does not represent the ideology of my blog. And I want to feature all countries in my blog, so obviously I need to blog about US music too. So I decided I want to blog about country music from the States.

Wikipedia: United States

Country music is one of the first things that comes to my mind when I think of music from the United States. In my opinion country is very American, even though there are obviously country music from elsewhere too. The genre obviously originates from the southern parts of the United States and by far most of country music comes from the US. If I were to choose one genre of music to represent each country, I would pick country for the United States. I believe a lot of people would agree.

I have to mention I am not expert on country music and I actually do no listen to a lot of it. But there are some country artists I like a lot. And now let's get to the music:

First up is a band called Sugarland. Sugarland is a duo with Jennifer Nettles singing and Kristian Bush singing and playing instruments including guitar. The group was formed in 2003 and is currently on a hiatus since 2012. They have had multiple number one singles on the US country singles chart, including the song above, Want To.

This band is one of the first acts I listened to in the country genre, and I believe the first one I loved. I first heard Want To or its following single Settlin' around their release in 2006/2007. Especially with Want To it was love with first sight. Lyric-wise the song tells a story of uncertainty and breathes a feeling that reminds me of summer and somehow of childhood. The music is fairly light-spirited, but very country.

Like I said I loved this with the first listen, but over the time the feeling I get from this song has gotten stronger. Obviously with more age you can get better into the lyrics (I was probably just fourteen when I first heard it). This song keeps coming back to me even if I forget it for months or years and still after all this time I find it very touching. Definitely a timeless song.

The other song from Sugarland is called Stuck Like Glue. This song is a bit more recent being released in 2010. I myself heard this only couple months ago, when I once again got into the song Want To and decided to listen to some of their newer songs that I had not yet heard. This one grabbed my attention straight away.

Me being no expert on country music, this of course could just be my opinion, but music-wise I feel this song has a strong country-sound, but also a style that is not common is country music. Or it could be, but I am just not use to this kind of country music. I am not certain what makes me feel this way, maybe it is catchier than the most of country songs that I have heard?

Anyways, I find this song awfully catchy; Even with the first listen I could sing along the chorus at the end. Very catchy beat with simple, yet fun lyrics. Overall Stuck Like Glue is a very fun and catchy song. And being a creep, I obviously also like the story in the music video.

Want To was released as a single in 2006 and along with the mentioned Settlin' it is part of Sugarland's 2006 album Enjoy The Ride. Stuck Like Glue was released in 2010 as a single and on the album The Incredible Machine.

The other half of this post is dedicated to Kellie Pickler. She hit famous in 2005 competing on the fifth season of the American Idol and placing sixth. Even though she did not win the contest, she is one of the best selling singers from the entire franchise. Which is saying a lot considering how big thing this show is in the US and worldwide.

I have not watched American Idol besides one season and few random episodes, and I came across Kellie otherwise. I can not remember how, but I found her music around when she had released her first studio album. I immediately liked her music and her voice. I believe she has that kind of voice that you either like it straight away and dislike it likewise. Her music is country with slower and deeper songs and also more catchier and upbeat songs.

The song above is called Tough. I find this song's lyrics personally touching (even though there is a religious reference and I am atheist). From most of parts I find them fitting to me, so this song feels special to me. Besides the lyrics, I love the music and Kellie of course sounds great. The overall sound and Kellie's singing style fit very well together with the song's name.

The next song from Kellie is called Someone Somewhere Tonight. This song represents the beautiful portion of Kellie's songs (even though I find Tough beautiful too, but I think a lot of people would not agree with me). I was actually surprised how strongly the country sound can be present in ballads. I suppose I am just not use to country ballads.

This song is very simple, yet very beautiful. There is something magical in all this simpleness. The lyrics are very nice and I like them particularly much. The music video is also very simple, yet beautiful. As a fun fact, let's mention that Kellie participated in the show Dancing With The Stars in 2013 (and won) and in this music video she dances with her dancing partner from the show, Derek Hough.

I was actually going to only feature these two songs from Kellie, but now that we are at, I shall include this one too since I like this one too so much. It is called Red High Heels. It was Kellie's debut single released in 2006 and it sold Gold in the US.

Tough was darker and rougher song and Someone Somewhere Tonight a simple ballad. And then Red High Heels is a totally different song: It is a fun and catchy song. I really like when a singer can sing so different kind of songs without sounding forced. I think Kellie sounds very good in all kinds of songs, which makes her music interesting since she has all kinds of different songs.

Red High Heels is a break-up song and even though the lyrics are not that special it is a very good song. The music is catchy and I like how Kellie's vocals change throughout the song. This gets stuck in the mind very easily. Since this was the first song I heard from Kellie, it is the one song out of all of Kellie's music that has the strongest imprint in my brain. Along with the song I Wonder, it got me into Kellie's music.

Tough was released as a single in 2011 and on Kellie's 2012 album 100 Proof. Someone Somewhere Tonight was released in 2013 as a single and on the album The Woman I Am. Kellie's 2006 debut single Red High Heels can be found on the 2006 album Small Town Girl along with the mentioned song I Wonder.

10 April 2015

What is going on with this blog

My blog has been more quiet recently and totally silent for the past three weeks. During the early March I had to read hard for my finals so my most recent post are mostly Eurovision posts and others that were mostly time-bound and I wanted to post them specifically then. I mostly wrote on parts so they really did not bother my reading, as I also find writing a good way of relaxing. But other than that I have been too busy and too unwell to blog.

During the finals reading spree this blog got quieter and after it I have not been able to blog. Thanks to the finals, I had fallen behind a lot on my other school work, so the other half of March I spend catching up, which was very time- and energy-consuming. To the top of that, I was also to move to the other side of the country at the end of March (I actually did the last exam on the moving day), so I had to also pack up my things. Besides being very busy, I have also been very sick since from last autumn, but more worse lately. I am not going to bore anyone here with more details, but in my other blog I will talk more about this matter too.

Considering all the things I mentioned, I have just been too tired to blog, so I have not forced it. And I decided to take a short break from this blog. I have now moved and basically done with the school. The moving also really consumed my energy (thanks to being sick), so I have been mostly resting the past days. But now I want to get back on track with my blogs.


Now that I do not have so much school stuff going on (just one extra high school course and preparation for the university entrance examination), I have more time for my blog than I had before. I am going to be doing the things I mentioned in my Blog plans 2015 post, like actually start promoting this blog. Also, I really want that new look.

A new idea that I have been recently thinking, is that I would like to involve geography in my blog. After all, the name features Around The World, so I feel that more culture and other things should be feature. Or at least I would like the feature those, since geography is one of my biggest passions. I just do not know exactly how to involve geography in my posts, especially so that it does not load me with a lot of work. I still need to think of this and all ideas are always welcome.

Well, I think that is all that I wanted to write. This is just a short post to explain why the blog has been quiet for three weeks, and what I have planned. Tomorrow I will start to seriously work on my blogs and hopefully have regular posts up soon.