30 May 2015

Musicals series: The Sound Of Music

Well, I said in the introduction post that I shall write the first Musicals series post soonish, by which I meant in about three weeks when I have an empty spot in my post schedule. But as you can see, I changed my mind and decided to write this post already straight away after the introduction post. Call me fickle minded. Anyways, it is my blog and I write what feels best at the time and reschedule my posts as I like.

So, here we go now with the first post in the Musicals series:

Wikipedia: The Sound Of Music musical
THE SOUND OF MUSIC, ladies and gentlemen.

This is based on the movie version, since I have never seen the musical live. I try to avoid spoilers, even though it is 50 years old movie.

Like I said in the introduction post, this first musical featured will be my favourite musical of all time and also one of my favourite movies of all time. I first watched the movie in primary school, but back then I was too young to understand the story and honestly I was still more into children's movies than complicated adult stuff (do not get me wrong: The Sound Of Music is a family movie, but the storyline may be a bit confusing and disinteresting for children). At more mature age (okay, I was a teenager, but still) I started to really appreciate the movie. I do not really have a favourite movie, but if asked The Sound Of Music is my most likely answer.

Of course we shall start with the iconic movie opening: the title song The Sound Of Music.

The story of The Sound Of Music is based on a true story of an Austrian family of von Trapps. The main character Maria (played by the wonderful Julie Andrews in the movie) is a young novice at a Salzburgian nunnery. She is not seen as fitting into the life of a nun and the mother abbess sends her to became a governess to Captain von Trapps seven children. After the Captain's wife died, he has hold a strict order in the household, which does not suit young Maria's set of mind. The children do not get along with Maria at first, but soon they warm up to her and they are discovered to be talented singers. And of course there is few romances to mix up the pack.

There was actually a singing family von Trapp in Salzburg and many of the things that happen in the musical are based on the memoir of real Maria von Trapp. Obviously it is not entire accurate for drama reasons, but overall it is fairly realistic. After what happened in the end of the musical, the family moved to the United States and kept on performing there. The real von Trapp children seem to have a gene for singing since some of their descendants have become singers too.

My Favorite Things. Hmm.. what would be MY favourite things to sing about...

Even though the characters are based on real people, I doubt they are very realistic impressions. I have at least read that the real Captain von Trapp was not so strict and gloomy person. But it does make into a more interesting character. The children do not show that much of a personality, besides the eldest one Liesl, and rather blend into a one mess. Character-wise the movie (and musical I believe) focuses on Maria, Captain von Trapp and Liesl. Rest of characters do not have much of character development, which on the other hand is good since that would make the story too complicated.

Since the story is based on true events, it also offers interesting view of the time. The story happen in the late-1930s, when the World War II was already going on. Obviously as an Austrian naval captain, Captain von Trapp is drawn into all this and the WWII plays an important part in the storyline. The Austrian culture and Catholicism add interesting elements to the movie.

Sixteen Going On Seventeen: a teenage romance with a very classic song and a very classic dance scene. 

Even though the story is highly interesting, the best part of the musical is definitely the music. I absolutely love pretty much every single song in the movie (I believe there are couple more in the actual musical) and they are one of the only few ones that I listen to frequently outside watching the movie. I actually have couple of the songs on my iPod. Lyrically and musically the songs are brilliant and the actors did great job singing them. I think the biggest catch of The Sound Of Music is the music; the lyrics are catchy and fun, composition too.

The composer of the music was Richard Rodgers and the lyrics were written by Oscar Hammerstein II, whom both were big names in the musical scene. Many of the songs from the musical have become classics and you can often hear people prefer to them in a regular conversation; In particular the song My Favorite Things has a status of a legendary song. The beginning of the title song The Sound Of Music with the opening of the movie are very well-known and often joked about. The song Edelweiss is sometimes thought to be Austria's national anthem (it is not), because of the power it possesses in the musical.

Wise words from the Mother Abbess: Climb Ev'ry Mountain. This is my favourite song from the musical.

The success of The Sound Of Music has been huge; The musical has had productions all around the world (perhaps not in Africa, but other continents at least) and it has won multiple awards, including a Tony for Best Musical. The movie too has had huge success: When it was released it became the highest-grossing film ever. They even hold major viewings of the movie and people take the movie very enthusiastically.

Why do I like it so much? Well, if I did not praise the music already enough here I go again: I absolutely adore the music. Besides the amazing music, I seriously like the story and would love the movie even if it was not a musical. I love history and I find that the movie has been produced well to describe the time. Obviously I have no idea how all the elements play out on stage, but with such an interesting story and magnificent music it must be great. Did I already mention that I love the music?

An obvious choice for the last song: So Long, Farewell.

It seems that this post expanded way beyond what I meant to, and I still would have lots and lots to say. I just love the movie/musical so much and find all things related to it highly fascinating. I do not go crazy overboard with being a fan of a movie, but with The Sound Of Music there is a major chance of that. I do not know how many times I have watched the movie, but I never get bored of it and if I could ever see only one musical live my selection would be obvious (The Lion King would be a close second, since I am highly intrigued on how that works as a musical).

28 May 2015

Musicals series introduction

It is the time to start off a brand new series in my blog and it is about one of my favourite subjects: musicals! Actually this was one of the very first ideas I wrote down into my blog plans notebook. I think I originally meant that I would write just one post or perhaps two parted post about musicals, but this subject is just way too wide to fit into one or two parts.

Instead of just writing short paragraphs about each musical, it feels better idea to really focus into one musical at once and give it its own blog post. You can not really put all the things that there are to say about a musical into few sentences. Or at least that is how it feels like to a musical fan like me. And it would be awfully hard to choose just one song to represent the entire musical.

Photo source
One of these will be the first musical featured in this series. Can you guess which one?

I have not seen many musicals live; actually all I can remember is that I saw Mamma Mia! live about six to seven years ago. I do not think I have seen others live. That is very unfortunate, but the prices of tickets here in Finland are very expensive and they do no fit into a student budget. Plus they do not perform much musicals here anyway and when they do they translate the lyrics into Finnish, which I absolutely hate. Translating lyrics directly into another language is always a bad idea, with musical it is an especially bad idea since the lyrics give so much to the story and usually contain jokes/puns that can not be translated (I absolutely hate The Sound Of Music songs' Finnish translations, yuck! Luckily the Mamma Mia! show I saw was by a foreign touring group that performed in English).

Hopefully I will eventually get to see more musicals live, but so far my knowledge on and being a fan of musicals is based on movies. To be honest I am not that much of a movie fan (I prefer TV series), but musicals I love. I suppose my love for musicals started from all the Disney movies I watched as a child (there is yet another great blog post idea). I know that you can not really put the proper feel of a musical into a movie, but they can still be very good movies.

Photo source
I would love to see a musical at Broadway or West End!

I am still not entirely sure how this series will turn out to be (these things tend to evolve along with the time), but I plan to talk about why I like the musical, what is the storyline (trying to avoid too many spoilers is the way to go, I suppose) and of course the music. I think this series will turn out a bit similar to my History Of Music series: In the text I talk about the subject and within the post I will feature my favourite songs from it. But we will see!

I was actually not planning on writing an introduction post for this series and rather just start with the first musical (which is obviously going to be my favourite musical, and one of my favourite movies, of all time), but I seem to have had a lot to say about the series itself. Better just leave this post as an introduction and not continue with the first musical since this post would get way too long. (Plus I am a bit sick now and do not feel I could write a post that would make proper honour to the musical in question.) I have a spot scheduled for the first actual musical post soonish!

All recommendations about musicals to watch are highly appreciated!

24 May 2015

Sweden #1: Pop voices

The Eurovision Song Contest 2015 final has been held and the Eurovision week is coming to an end. First, I would like to congratulate Sweden for its victory, even though it was not my personal favourite and so worth. Perhaps I will be able to attend next year since it will be held in the neighbour (no matter whether I am living in Finland or Denmark then)! And since the Eurovision 2015 has now finished, it is time for the last blog post of this year's Eurovision week.

Wikipedia: Sweden

Of course since Sweden won, it is rightful that I blog about Swedish music today. I have planned ahead posts for multiple top favourite countries, so that once the Eurovision winner is selected I can just write the post. The other countries shall have their posts later on too, since I have already planned those. This post, or the others planned, are not otherwise Eurovision related. In fact, I wanted to avoid featuring former Eurovision representatives.

In this Swedish music post I ended up choosing three very famous Swedish singers, who all have done well in the charts, both Sweden and abroad. And they all are known mononymously (I only noticed this after choosing the songs to be featured). One song is in Swedish and the other four in English.

First up is Robyn, whose real name is Robin Miriam Carlsson. She was born 1979 in the Swedish capital city Stockholm. Robyn started her professional career when she was just ten years old back in 1989 and her first album was released in 1995. She hit famous already back in the nineties and has had multiple hit singles since then. She has had very good success in Sweden, Denmark and the United Kingdom. In 2005 she started her own record label Konichiwa Records (it always bothers me that konnichiwa is incorrectly spelled...) to give herself artistic freedom.

One of Robyn's biggest hits, possibly internationally the biggest hit, is With Every Heartbeat. The single charted number one in the UK, and even though Robyn has had high success in Sweden I do not think she has actually had a number one hit there. I remember this song being a big hit back in 2007, when it was released. The song features a Swedish producer Kleerup.

With Every Heartbeat is a bit less traditional pop song, mostly thanks to its structure, but also sound-wise it sounds interesting. The music is my favourite thing about this song; I find it somehow beautiful and sad even when it uses common dance and pop music elements. The lyrics are very sad and Robyn delivers when brilliantly. Overall, this song feels very touching and it sounds interesting. I can definitely see why it became a hit.

I came across Robyn when she released her single Be Mine!. It was released in Scandinavia in 2005, when it also became a huge hit here in Finland, and internationally it was released in 2008, perhaps after the huge success of With Every Heartbeat. Be Mine! is an electropop song describing Robyn's (or the character's, who she portrays) feelings after a break-up. I use to listen to this all the time (which would have been hard not to, since it played everywhere in Finland) and it feels the most special to me out of all Robyn's songs.

This song too is a very sad one. But not quite as sad as With Every Heartbeat though. I think the music is more brighter, even though overall it sounds fairly gloomy. I do not know where the gloominess actually comes from since I can not state any particular reason causing that, but it is the emotion I get. Robyn's singing is of course sounding sad and the lyrics are sad too. In my opinion Robyn's voice suits best on sad songs and on those she sounds absolutely brilliant. For me her happier songs do not sound as real as these sad songs.

With Every Heartbeat is from the international version of Robyn's self-titled album Robyn, which was released in 2007. Be Mine! is also featured in this album and also in its original version, which was out in 2005.

Next up is this one song from a singer called Agnes. Agnes, full name Agnes Emilia Carlsson (I always get excited when I share a middle name with a celebrity, since that happens never, except now, haha) was born 27 years ago in Vänersborg, which is located by the lake Vänern, which is the largest lake in the European Union. Agnes hit famous in 2005 when participating in the Swedish version of Idol and winning. Agnes sings pop, dance and R&B. Agnes has had very good success in Sweden and has been recognized in multiple occasions, in example she was honoured to sing the official song for the wedding of Sweden's crown princess in 2010.

Besides having fame in Sweden, Agnes has charted elsewhere in Europe too. Particularly the two singles released in 2008, gained worldwide popularity. Other one of these is called Release Me and it is Agnes' biggest hit. Release Me is a dance-pop, disco song and it has fairly sad lyrics.

I really love this song. It is an excellent piece of dance-pop. Agnes sings very well and I like her voice a lot here. The lyrics feel meaningful, but again my favourite part is the music; It is very catchy and strong. When putting together all the elements of this song, it becomes sad and strong, yet not overwhelmingly much. It is both lyrically and musically kind of a bittersweet song actually.

Release Me is from Agnes' 2008 studio album Dance Love Pop.

And the third singer is Darin. Darin, whose full name is Darin Zanyar, was born in Stockholm in 1987. His parents are Kurdish. Darin too hit famous through the Swedish version of Idol: he participated the first series in 2004 and placed second in the final. Since then Darin is become highly famous and is stated as one of the best-selling Swedish artists. Besides his home country, he is popular elsewhere Europe too, particularly in Finland and he has worked together with internationally famous singers and producers. His main genre is pop and he will release his seventh studio album, first in Swedish, later this year.

Darin debuted in 2005 with a song called Money For Nothing (which I love too and almost chose over the songs featured in this post), which hit number one in Swedish charts. Later the same year he released the song above: Step Up. This song too hit number one and also within top10 in Finland. As you can hear from the beginning, the song is produced by RedOne and it is a dance-pop and R&B song.

I came across Darin when Step Up was huge here in Finland and I like the song a lot. I admit to have a tendency to favour dance-pop songs that have a strong beat and fast tempo. This is definitely that kind of song. For me it feels kind of dark music-wise. I love the beat and music overall. The lyrics are common club song lyrics ("everybody to the floor and dance"), so they are not very special, but Darin sings well. I find Step Up very catchy and fun song.

Darin's image has been very "teenage girl crush" since from the beginning, which is I suppose reasonable since he was a teenager back when he started. I myself have never fallen for the image in question with any artist, and the reason I like Darin has always been his music. I doubt his fame came all from teenage girls anyway, since his music is very good. Now Darin seems to have taken a change of direction and he makes more serious and mature music, in Swedish. Quite a change from his previous music.

Ta Mig Tillbaka is Darin's first single in Swedish. In was released just two months ago and the title means 'take me back'. It is a pop song and Darin himself is one of the writers. The previous music from Darin has been strong dance music, but this is very different. It is very natural and calm. It has almost an acoustic sound. It is very interesting here this kind of music from him, but Darin definitely delivers it very well. The song feels very harmonic and beautiful.

Step Up is from Darin's self-titled 2005 album Darin. Ta Mig Tillbaka will be on his upcoming Swedish language studio album Fjärilar I Magen (butterflies in stomach), which seems to have a release date in September.

And since this was the last post of this Eurovision week, let's end it with an Eurovision fact related to the artists in this post: Agnes and Darin performed as interval acts in the semi-final 2 in 2013 edition of Eurovision Song Contest, when it was held in Malmö, Sweden. Their act was called Swedish Pop Voices.

21 May 2015

Austria #1: Let's rock on!

In the celebration of the Eurovision Song Contest 2015, I want to write a blog post about Austrian music. Eurovision Song Contest is this year being held in Austria's capital city Vienna, thanks to Conchita Wurst's victory in the last year's contest. Since I want to keep my blog in the Eurovision theme this week when the semi-finals and the final are being held, writing about the music of the host country felt fitting. Today is the day of the second semi-final.

Wikipedia: Austria

I am not very familiar with Austrian music, besides from one artist of whom I will talk about next and obviously the past Eurovision representatives (from the years I have watched). To be completely honest, I did not find too many singers or bands that I liked, when I was searching into Austrian music. With such a big role in the history of music, I kind of expected Austria's music scene to be bigger too. Maybe I just need to keep digging more deeper... But I did find couple new acts I like and more songs from old favourites. In this post I will some of them with a rockish theme.

My favourite Austrian singer is Christina Stürmer. Christina was born in the Austrian state called Altenberg bei Linz, which is located in the upper parts of the country. She started her professional career in music when she was 20 years old back in 2003. Back then she took part in a singing competition called Starmania and placed second. Just as an interesting fact because of the Eurovision week I need mention that many Eurovision competitors have took part in this show too: Austrians former representatives Nadine Beiler, Eric Papilaya (who will also be featured in this post) and the last year's winner Conchita Wurst as Tom Neuwirth, and also Macedonia's this year representative Daniel Kajmakoski.

But back to Christina Stürmer. I got to know her already years and years ago, perhaps in 2004 or in 2005 at max. I came across her song Ich Liebe somewhere online. Ich Liebe, which means I'm Alive, was Christina's debut single in 2003 and perhaps her most successful one. It charted number one in Austria and remained in the spot for eight weeks. The song was successful also in Germany and Switzerland.

Ich Liebe is a pop rock song. This was a bit different kind of song that I was use to listening to back when I first heard it. But I still immediately liked it. I forgot about this song for a while and when I listened to it again it was still as good as before. I find the song very catchy and a bit of drama. I have no idea what she sings about, but it feels meaningful. The mood feels strong, a bit sad yet determined.

After the success of Ich Liebe, Christina released other highly successful singles too. According to Wikipedia, she has sold more than 1.5 million CDs around the Europe and is a very famous name in the German-speaking Europe. She has received many awards and so far has released total nine albums, of which most charted number one in Austria. 2006 was her most successful year.

The next year of that, Christina released her single Scherbenmeer. According to Google Translate the title means Shards Sea, and with what little of German I understand, plus the single cover art, this translation could be correct (but as usual, do not quote me on that). This song is darker than Ich Liebe, which was pop rock when Scherbenmeer is rock. The single charted nicely, including number six at Austrian charts.

This one is one of my favourites from Christina. I love the dark atmosphere of the song. Yet again I do not know what she sings about, but the emotion I get is desperation. It feels like there is lots of feelings put into this song. And it makes me feel emotional too, which is fairly rare and I take it as a sign of a great song.

This last song from Christina Stürmer is called Fieber and it was released in 2008. When I first heard this song I felt like this should be a theme song for some sport event and watching the music video made me realize it actually probably was. Wikipedia confirms me this: Fieber "is the title of the "Austrian Song for the UEFA EURO 2008"". So football, it seems. I myself dislike sport games highly, but usually the songs related to them are good. They tend to have a high and happy atmosphere, that can make anyone feel enthusiastic.

Fieber is a song just like that. Fieber obviously means Fever, and I go assuming she might sing about a football fever or something. The songs is very upbeat and in a happy mood. Christina's vocals and the rock style give it interesting shade, when comparing the usual sports theme songs, which tend to be bright pop songs. So overall this song has that enthusiastic sports theme song feel combined with Christina's rock style. A very working combination, in my opinion.

Ich Liebe can be found from Christina's 2003 debut album Freier Fall. Scherbenmeer is from her 2006 album Lebe Iauter and Fieber from 2008 album Iaut-Los.

Well, that was quite a lot about Christina, but she is my favourite Austrian singer and also the first Austrian singer I heard, so she deserved a special spot in this blog post. Moving onto other artists...

and Eric Papilaya is up next. Eric comes from Laakirchen in Upper Austria and was born about 37 years ago. He is of Austrian and Indonesian origin. Like I mentioned before, Eric participated the Starmania contest, its third season to be more exact, and he finished fifth. For more wider audience Eric is known for representing Austria in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2007 with his song Get A Life - Get Alive. I really like this song and hoped to see him perform live in the final, but unfortunately he was eliminated in the semi-final. Eric is signed to Universal Music.

Continuing on the theme started by Christina Stürmer's Fieber; Eric's song Ready To Move was also a theme song for a football event. I believe the event in question was Austria's national football league, but since I know nothing about football nor speak German, I can not be sure. Something about football anyway.

I always plan my blog posts a week or more in prior to writing / publishing them. Whenever I looked at my notes or thought about this Austrian music post, this song popped in my head immediately. It is just so catchy. Ready To Move also has that common sports theme song feel to it; it feels enthusiastic and happy. It is very fast paced and powerful. It makes me feel jumpy for that reason possibly. Well, since Eric tells us to get ready to move, the song of course must make us feel like moving. Which it certainly does.

I do not believe Ready To Move is part of any album, but please correct me if I am wrong.

Last up is a band called SheSays. It is a rock band formed in Vienna in 2004. The current members are the singer Gudrun Liemberger and the guitarist Andy Liu. I am not actually entirely sure if this band is still together or not, since the English information I find on them is very lacking, but from their German Wikipedia page I get that they possibly have broken up in 2009. At least they have not released music since 2008, as far as I know. Well, however it is, nothing stops us enjoying the music from a disbanded group either.

In 2006 SheSays had very good success with their debut album SheSays and their debut single Rosegardens. The first charted number one and the latter number two in the Austrian charts. They could be considered as a one-hit-wonder, I suppose since their other singles did not do all that well. I am quite surprised that their 2007 single Save Me charted 37 in Austria and 11 here in Finland. Since their other songs prior to that had not charted anywhere besides Austria, the sudden charting in Finland is interesting.

I definitely can see, or more of hear, why Rosegardens did so well. I really fancy this song. It is dark and dramatic. The song feels emotional and sad. I have been into this kind of music lately and I really like this one. The music, singing, everything works nicely together. And I also like the music video a lot. The end kind of creeps me out, but it is very interesting and also fits the song very well.

Rosegardens is from the album SheSays.

19 May 2015

Eurovision Song Contest 2015: My final top40

The first semifinal of the Eurovision Song Contest 2015 is about to start, so my blog is starting its Eurovision week celebration. This week's posts will be somehow related to Eurovision, though not particularly about the Eurovision itself besides from this current post.

This post is the final part of my this year's Eurovision ranking posts. Here are the previous parts aka. the first impressions posts: 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. In those posts I comment on each participant separately. Also in those posts I said I would do my final top list just before the contest to see how my rankings have changed in this time between. This is now it.

I have not looked at my previous rankings since I posted them two months ago, so I do not remember how exactly I rated each song. I will do this new list without any influence from the previous one, to get a honest list. I know there are few changes to come since I have since then really fell in love with some songs that I just thought were good back then and the opposite too. So let's see how it goes:


01. Estonia  (-)
02. Georgia  (-)
03. Romania  (+3)
04. Spain  (-)
05. Latvia  (-)
06. Poland  (+7)
07. F.Y.R. Macedonia  (+7)
08. Germany  (+9)
09. United Kingdom  (-6)
10. Moldova  (+1)
11. Australia  (+1)
12. San Marino  (+3)
13. Israel  (-6)
14. Iceland  (-6)
15. Belarus  (+8)
16. Serbia  (-6)
17. Switzerland  (-1)
18. Lithuania  (+4)
19. Russia  (-1)
20. Azerbaijan  (-11)
21. Belgium  (+3)
22. Sweden  (-2)
23. Albania  (+3)
24. Italy  (-3)
25. Slovenia  (-6)
26. Portugal  (+1)
27. Cyprus  (+1)
28. Malta  (+4)
29. Ireland  (-)
30. Hungary  (-)
31. Montenegro  (-6)
32. The Netherlands  (+2)
33. Armenia  (-)
34. Denmark  (+4)
35. Norway  (-)
36. Czech Republic  (+1)
37. France  (-6)
38. Greece  (-2)
39. Austria  (-)
40. Finland  (-)

In the brackets I marked how much their positions have changed from my list two months ago.

There were few surprises here. Most I am surprised about that the biggest changes happened at the top; I was expecting more changes at the bottom since that is how it usually goes. Azerbaijan made the biggest drop, dropping from place 9 all the way to 20. Germany made the opposite, jumping from place 17 to 8. For Germany I expected this since I have recently become very fond of this song.

Same goes for Romania and Poland, with whom I have really fallen in love with and listen to A LOT. Romania could be my most listened Eurovision song this year. Macedonia's case is pretty much the same. I am a bit surprised with United Kingdom's drop on the list, since I am still in love with it (pun perhaps intended). Overall I think I have started to like more of most of the songs competing.

Winner predictions? I think my predictions have remained the same. This is what I wrote two months ago: "From what I have read on Eurovision fan forums, looking at the bets and years of experience, I would say the winner is either Estonia, Sweden or Italy." Though I am well prepared to be surprised, since this year there is not such a clear winner candidate as usually. Slovenia, Australia, Norway, Belgium... There are many countries that could be the surprise winner. I of course hope for Estonia since it is my favourite, but I would also be extremely happy if any country from my top10 would win.

And to the end, here is my favourite: Elina Born and Stig Rästa representing Estonia with Goodbye To Yesterday.

The Eurovision Song Contest 2015 semi-finals will take place in 19 May and 21 May, and the final in 23 May. They all can be viewed free online at the official Eurovision site eurovision.tv.

17 May 2015

Brazil #1: Lots of different styles

It is the time for this blog to head back to the continent of South America. I myself am very interested in the culture of South America, mainly thanks to the telenovelas I have watched, and after the Far East it is probably the area I am most interested in. For a Northern European like me, South America seems very exotic and culturally very different from what I am use. Obviously my interest on the South American culture includes music of the continent.

Wikipedia: Brazil
Today's country is Brazil. For me, and I bet many others too, Brazil has an image of a fun and colourful country, thanks to the fabulous carnivals and such. So I was quite surprised when I started to look into Brazilian music: I kept coming across ballads! Like I have mentioned previously, I am not a huge fan of ballads though I found some very nice ones too. It was just that I was expecting something kind of different than what I found and it kind of changed my image of the country. But not for worse, just into something different.

Let's start with Paula Fernandes. She is 30 years old singer and songwriter from a Brazilian city called Sete Lagoas. Paula started her career already back in 1993 when she was just eight years old. She has been very successful, in example her most successful album, a live album by a name of Paula Fernandes: Ao Vivo has sold over 4,000,000 copies in Brazil. She has worked together with many worldwide famous artists, like Juanes, Shania Twain and Taylor Swift. Paula is currently signed to Universal Music Brasil.

The song above is called Eu Sem Você, which means Me Without You in English. Eu Sem Você is one of Paula's best charted singles, charting number two in Brazil and number five in Portugal. It was released as a single in 2012 and it is pop and sertanejo song.

I find this song very relaxed. Probably partly thanks to the music video, it gives me a feeling of nature and freshness. I do not know what she sings about, but I get a warm feeling from the singing, yet there is something deeper and sadder in her voice too. Overall this song is very easy to listen to and beautiful. It was one of the very first Brazilian songs that I heard and maybe the first I really loved.

Paula sings music that is a mix of pop, country and sertanejo. I must say this was the first time that I heard about the genre sertanejo. According to Wikipedia it is a music style that originated from Brazil in the 1920s, more specifically from the countryside of Brazil, and it is the most popular genre in Brazil. Perhaps this is why Paula's music reminds me of nature and countryside, since both Paula and the type of music she sings come from the countryside?

This other songs reminds me of the nature and countryside too: Chuva Chover. I do not know for certain, but I assume this song is sertanejo and country? At least to me it sounds very country. Paula recorded this song for a collection album of various artists, which was released in 2009. In this album's name there is the word sertanejo, so this is probably a good example of the genre.

I find this song very fun and positive sounding. The title Chuva Chover means Rain Showers (and as usual, the translations are by Google Translate), so I would kind of expect more of a sad song, but this does not sound sad at all. I like the country feel in it and the music is very nice. And I like Paula's voice a lot; not just in this song, but overall too.

Eu Sem Você is from Paula's most recent studio album Meus Encantos, which was released in 2012. Chuca Chover can be found from a album called O Melhor do Sertanejo Universitário 2.

This second artist is called Preta Gil. She is 40 year old singer and actress, born in Rio De Janeiro. She has released three studio and two live albums, and has had fairly successful career in Brazil. Preta's father, who also is a famous musician, is Gilberto Gil, who was previously a minister of culture in Brazil. Paula sings pop, R&B and MPB, which means Brazilian pop music.

The song Sou Como Sou was released in 2012. Google Translate is not cooperating once again, but I go heavily assuming that the title means I Am What I Am, since the Spanish words Soy Como Soy translates into that. I have never studied Spanish nor Portuguese, but with the little Spanish knowledge I find it interesting how many similarities I can hear in these two languages.

I do not know into what genre Sou Como Sou belongs to, but I guess it is pop or MPB. It definitely could have MPB in it, since Wikipedia tells that this genre mixes different genres, including traditional Brazilian styles, like samba in example. For me the song sounds very pop, but there is also hints of something more traditional dance song, like samba. I find the song very catchy and somehow the word colourful comes to my mind. I like it a lot.

Sou Como Sou was released on a album of the same name, Sou Como Sou, which was out in 2012.

The last artist is called Wanessa. Her full name is Wanessa Godói Camargo Buaiz, but she uses only her first name as her stage name. She comes from Goiânia, which is one of the largest cities in Brazil. Wanessa became active in music in 2000, when she was just 17 years old. She is daughter of Zezé Di Camargo, who is part of Brazilian sertanejo duo Zezé Di Camargo & Luciano. Once again the talent seems to run in the family. Wanessa's main genres are dance-pop and latin pop. She is signed to Sony Music.

The song above is Não Me Leve A Mal (Let Me Live). The Portuguese part in the title means Do Not Get Me Wrong. Just like the title, the lyrics of the song mix English and Portuguese. It is a hip-hop and R&B song released in 2009.

I find this song quite interesting sounding. The chorus is fairly catchy and I like the rhythm. There is some interesting elements in the music, but I do not know what they exactly are. I find this song quite strong, and from the feeling I get and the title I guess the lyrics have a strong message, possibly a break-up song. I like the sound a lot and it is catchy without being overwhelmingly repetitive (well, at least not until the end maybe).

The other song from Wanessa is called Sticky Dough. It features American BamBam, but mostly it is Wanessa singing. The music is very interesting mix of pop, dupstep, house and funk carioca. I do not know if Wanessa is trying to break into US music market, but for me some of her songs, this one especially, sound very "American". I do not say that as a bad thing, just as an observation. What I find interesting is that in Wikipedia it says that this song was released in Brazil and the Netherlands. The Netherlands came a bit out of bushes for me, since I have not yet heard that Brazilian music would be popular there?

I find this song utterly catchy and very fun. The music is definitely my kind of music; It is strong beated and has an interesting sound to it. I also really like how Wanessa sings. The lyrics are quite interesting with some kind of weird parts, but I think this song is meant to be fun and not all that serious. At least the music supports this theory. And if so, it manages to do exactly that; It is lots of fun and makes even me feel like dancing.

Não Me Leve A Mal (Let Me Live) was released on Wanessa's 2009 album Meu Momento.  Sticky Dough is from Wanessa's most recent studio album DNA, which was released in 2011.

14 May 2015

History Of Music: The Beatles

This is the second part in my History Of Music series. Like I said in the introduction post, I will try to keep these posts short, so that they do not get boring or anything. This is a borderline post considering the time limits I set for what I consider fitting for a history series, but those were only guidelines. And since these band affected the music scene so much, it seems only fitting that they shall be featured in this series.

And like the title says, today's post is about The Beatles. I will write a small package of information on them and their affect on the music. The songs I picked for this post are my personal favourites from The Beatles and/or their biggest hits.

Photo source

The Beatles was an English band, formed in Liverpool back in 1960. The band played rock and pop music and they were the biggest European name in the rock 'n' roll scene. Even though the band lasted for just ten years, they became one of the biggest names in the history of music and their music is listened all around the world still today.

Hello, Goodbye was released in 1967 and it is one of their biggest hits.

If you do not count temporary members and such, The Beatles consisted of the four iconic members: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. The band did not come to be just like that; At first there was a band called The Quarrymen, of which John Lennon was part of. The Quarrymen was formed in 1957. Later on other beatle, Paul McCartney, joined this group and later he got his friend George Harrison to join the band too. Eventually they were to become The Beatles. Ringo Starr joined them in 1962, when The Beatles officially debuted.

All the members of The Beatles (and with this I mean the four main ones) sang, but it was John Lennon and Paul McCartney who were the lead vocals. All of them played instruments: Lennon guitar and keyboards, McCartney bass, guitar, keyboard and drums, Harrison guitar, and Starr drums and percussion.

Yellow Submarine from 1966. I have always been oddly fond of this song...

The Beatles' debut single Love Me Do was released in 1962. Love Me Do is considered one of their best known songs. Their first UK number one hit came the next year. All throughout The Beatles' lifetime, they had massive hits and most of their singles hit number somewhere around the world. Time from 1966 to 1969 was the peak of their career, though it is untrue to say that they were not highly popular all the way from the start.

It is impossible to list The Beatles' greatest hits, since they had so many, but to name few of them: Please Please Me, She Loves You, I Want To Hold Your Hand, A Hard Day's Night, Ticket To Ride, Help!, Yesterday, Paperback Writer, Penny Lane, Yellow Submarine, Hello Goodbye, Lady Madonna, Hey Jude, Get Back, Come Together, Let It Be.... The list could go on and on!

Come Together was released in 1969 and it was one of the band's last singles.

In the 1960's The Beatles was enormously famous and popular. Back in the day, rock 'n' roll was considered rebellious music and was very popular among the youth for that matter. Most parents hated the style since it originated from black music and many rock 'n' roll artists had naughty images, which obviously were for youth's liking. The Beatles on the other hand was quite popular amongst the parents too, since the band had more cleaner image and they were considered more of nice than rebellious.

The popularity of The Beatles can not easily be exaggerated. The level of intense that the frenzy around them got is very well represented in how it got its own name: Beatlemania. Even though nowdays every other singer and band has its own fandom name, back in the 1960's this was still very rare. The term was already coined in 1963, a year after their debut, which shows their immediate popularity, which just kept growing all throughout the band's lifetime.

Probably the most famous The Beatles song: Hey Jude. 1968.

But all the things come to an end. For The Beatles to end came in 1970. The fatigue from the constant touring and issues behind the scenes (and in front too) caused the end of The Beatles be fairly messy time. John Lennon announced his departure in 1969 to the band, but this information was kept from the public until the promotions of their soon-to-be-released album (which ended up to be their last) were done. In 1970 the entire band fell apart and their last single was called The Long And Winding Road.

The Beatles' members all made successful solo careers after the band, particularly McCartney and Lennon. There still has been many collaborations between the members after their break-up. John Lennon was notable murdered in 1980 and George Harrison died of cancer in 2001. Even though the members made successful solo careers too, they could never compare to the popularity of The Beatles. That is truly a feat that is hard to beat and only rare few could be considered as famous as The Beatles.

And to the end my personal favourite from The Beatles:

Let It Be was released in 1970, just before the end of The Beatles.

12 May 2015

Thailand #1: Positive dance songs

Thailand is one of top favourite countries when it comes to music. Third most of music I listen to comes from Thailand. I have so many favourites from there, that it was very hard to choose what to blog about; I have plenty of songs for many, many more posts already and more comes all the time. One thing that I have mentioned many times in this blog is that I am obsessed with girl groups and it is actually the girl groups that I love most about Thai music. But there is also many soloists I like. In this post I will feature one girl group and two soloists.

Wikipedia: Thailand

I must admit that at first I found the Thai language weird and hard to listen to. Though the language is not very flowing, nowdays I find it very interesting and it gives an interesting sound to songs. Obviously languages that do not sound similar to any language you are use to, will sound weird at first, but I do not remember having with any other language as strong reaction as I had with Thai. But now I really love the language and how it sounds like.

Let's get on with the music; Here is the girl group:

Neko Jump. This girl band is a duo formed by twin sisters, who go by stage names Neoy and Jam (real names Warattha and Charattha Imraporn). The sisters were born in 1989 and in their childhood they took singing and dancing lessons and participated in many contests. In 2006 they were signed to Kamikaze, which is a Thai record label, as Neko Jump. They also are signed to a Japanese record label and even though I do not know for sure I am assuming that the group's name got its inspiration from Japan (neko is Japanese for cat).

The song above is called ไม่ถอดใจ (Girls On Top). The Thai part of the title transliterates into Mai Tod Chi and according to Google Translate it means Not Dishearted. The song was released in 2012. For me this was the first Neko Jump song and also one of the first Thai songs that I ever heard, and so forth one of the reasons I got into Thai music.

I really love the song, especially the music. It is very catchy and somehow mysterious. There is some sort of drama and a bit of sweetness, all nicely blend together. And I really like the girls' vocals; I think the softness in this song comes from their voices and the darkness from the music. Very nice combination however it was. I think this is one of my ultimate favourite Thai songs, which is saying a lot since I listen to Thai music so much.

Neko Jump has participated in many projects throughout their careers. Since I do not speak the language, I do not know exactly how popular they are in Thailand, but considering how they have been signed to same label for nearly ten years and how many YouTube views they have, I believe they are fairly successful. Unfortunately it has been hard to find information on them in English, so I can not tell much about them. So let's just enjoy the music.

This other song is called Look สิ!, which means (at least according to Google Translate) Look Yes!, though just สิ seems to mean music. Is this one of those cases when adding a exclamation mark changes the entire meaning of the word or is Google Translate just messed up? Anyways, the song was released in 2013 and it is a catchy dance-pop song.

A big part of Neko Jump's music is ballads, or at least in my mind the group has gotten an image of a ballad group. Even though they have good ballads too, I tend to like more about their uptempo songs. I could be wrong, but I think their older songs are more of ballads and newer ones tend to be uptempo ones. But about the song; Look สิ! is my second favourite Neko Jump song and I find it lots of fun and very catchy. I am not sure if it should be called a summer song, but I find it somehow summery.

ไม่ถอดใจ (Girls On Top) can be found on Neko Jump's mini album Ahhh! and Look สิ! from another mini album called Wake Up Please!

Moving onto a duet by two Thai singers: Ice and Namcha. I am now doing so that I first feature this duet song and then one own song from each of them. I will introduce them in their separate sections, so I will now focus on the song. It is called Double Love and it was released in 2012.

I find this song incredibly happy and it always makes me smile. It is a very cheerful and bright song. I think it is a highly safe guess to say that the lyrics are about love. For me this song sounds a bit summery, but maybe more spring-like. This feeling is carried on by the colourful music video, which brings spring to my mind with the flowers blooming. I really like the music video too since it continues the happy feeling the song itself already gives. I think there is something in both Ice and Namcha that can make you feel cheerful.

Double Love was released on Ice's album รักกันนะ which was released in 2012.

And now the two artists separately:

Ice is the stage name of Saranyu Winaipanit. He is 30 years old singer born in Bangkok. Ice is also known as Ice Saranuy and is nicknamed by his fans as Prince of smile (a title that I could agree on). Ice released his first album in 2006 and he is signed to a label GMM Grammy. So far he has released in total 5 studio albums and has worked together with many famous Thai musicians. I believe he has been quite successful in his career.

The song above is called Miss You. I have not heard all of Ice's music, but I think this song represents his style very well. It is soft and sweet. I am not sure about what I sings of, but his voice floats very nicely (which, like I said in the start, I do not usually find common with Thai songs). The songs is kind of relaxed and easy to listen to, yet it still has lots of emotion to it. Overall it is a very lovely song that gives you (well, at least me) a warm feeling even with such a name. That could be thanks to Ice's lovely voice.

Miss You was released as a single last year (2014) and it will be part of Ice's upcoming sixth studio album.

And now Namcha. There is barely none information on her in English, which is very unfortunate since I like her music a lot. Namcha's real name is Sheranut Yusanonda and she was born in 1988. She is also signed to GMM Grammy and has released two studio albums and participated in some music projects. Besides being a singer, Namcha is also an actress and it looks like her filmography is much larger than her discography.

Namcha's song Fine Fine Fine was released in 2012. It features South Side, which is a Thai hip-hop duo. I do not know much of this featuring duo and since their part in this song is so minor I will just call this Namcha's song. Fine Fine Fine is a dance-pop song (I think) with a strong club feeling.

When I first heard this song I was already a fan of Double Love. I did not actually know it was Namcha since the YouTube video does only show her name in Thai, but my first thoughts were "is this the singer from Double Love?". Watching the video confirmed that it in fact was. Because of this I find that Namcha's singing style and also her looks are quite recognizable. Anyways, I immediately loved this song and I keep listening to it still even though it has been couple of years since I first heard. It is always as catchy and as fun.

Fine Fine Fine was released as a single, but as far as I know it is not part of any album.

08 May 2015

Favourite artists: Sonata Arctica, top10. Finland #2

This is the other part for this week's theme: heavy metal music from Finland. In the other part I featured four different Finnish heavy metal bands, in this post I am featuring only one. I did not want to feature this on the previous post, since it is one of my favourite bands all time and it deserved its own Favourite Artists -post. So, here it is, one of my ultimate favourites: Sonata Arctica.

Besides being one of my ultimate favourites, it is my top favourite music act from Finland and by far my favourite metal group. I had so hard time choosing only five songs (the usual amount of songs in my posts), that I decided to make a top10 post. Now I do not have to leave so many songs that I love out of it. Since these top10 posts tend to prolong quite long, I will try to keep the amount of text minimal and introduce the band in between the songs. On that note it is better to start right away.

(currently. This list may not be accurate as the time goes by)

1. Shamandalie, 2004

Sonata Arctica is a band from Kemi, Finland. The band was formed in 1995 (back then it was known as Tricky Beans and later Tricky Means, and it played more of hard rock than metal) and it plays power metal, symphonic metal and progressive metal. Even though they have many different kinds of songs, I find there is a certain sound that I always connect with the band.

My ultimate favourite song from Sonata Arctica is Shamandalie. It was released in 2004, as a single from their fourth studio album. I do not remember exactly when I became a fan of the band (I still do remember exactly how it happened), but I think it was 2004 or 2005. Shamandalie was the very first, or the second at most, I heard from them and I immediately loved it. I find this song is not that heavy as most metal songs, so it is easier for non-metal-fans to like it too.

I must say, before that I was not much of a fan of metal music, but Sonata Arctica got me into it too. This song is very full of memories for me and I absolutely love the lyrics. It always makes me very emotional and I feel some parts very deep in my spine. Since the song is so special to me, I do not think any other song can pass by it. I do not have a favourite song, but Shamandalie could easily run for the spot.

2. Paid In Full, 2007

Most of Sonata Arctica's music is power metal. You can find many symphonic metal elements in their songs and from their more recent songs also progressive metal. Especially their ballads are that kind that even a non-metal-fan could like them. I myself really love their lyrics; they have very interesting stories and as a history nerd I like they take ideas from history and fairy tales. Many metal bands have interesting story-like lyrics, but Sonata Arctica's writing style is my favourite and a big part of my love for the band.

Paid In Full was released in 2007 from an album called Unia (which is Finnish for Dreams). I remember waiting excitedly for it, since it was the band's first studio album released after I became a fan. Before this I had been more of a fan of their ballads and slower songs, but Paid In Full made me love their heavier songs too.

I find these lyrics very special and emotional to me, and like Shamandalie's these too make a feel shivers deep down in my spine. This is currently the most listened song in my iPod (I know I recently said it was another song, but these two have been fighting for that spot going back and forth. Now Paid In Full has taken the lead.), which tells how much I listen to this. Along with Shamandalie, this song reminds me of the book I have been writing, so it has another special meaning to me. It is a very special song to me.

3. Tallulah, 2001

Tallulah could have been the first song that I heard from Sonata Arctica, but I am kind of certain it was Shamandalie. So, Tallulah was the second. These two songs were the ones that made me love Sonata Arctica and got me into their music. Even though Paid In Full managed to pass by Tallulah, this song holds a very special, unaffectable spot in my heart and will remain as one of my ultimate favourite songs.

Tallulah is a ballad and some would probably not even realize to it is in fact a metal song. It is absolutely beautiful and touching. The lyrics especially are very beautiful. I think this is that kind of song that even those who do not like metal could easily like.

4. Don't Say A Word, 2004

If not all, then at least almost all of Sonata Arctica's songs are written and composed by the band's lead singer Tony Kakko. I always respect when a musician makes their own lyrics and I feel that when a singer sings their own words, they sound more meaningful and emotional. In its lifetime, Sonata Arctica has had multiple member changes, which is obviously expectable for a band that has been going on for so long time. From the original members, only Tony Kakko and drummer Tommy Portimo are left. The other members are keyboardist Henrik Klingenberg (2002), guitarist Elias Viljanen (2007) and bassist Pasi Kauppinen (2013).

From Tallulah, Don't Say A Word is quite a change. This song is very dark and very, well heavy metal. I would advise this song is NSFW (not safe for work), since it contains swear words and language is fairly rough otherwise too. Actually, not that many of Sonata Arctica's songs contains swearing. Even though the lyrics are very dark, I really like them. And I absolutely love the music, even though when I first heard this song, it was a bit too overwhelming for me. Since then I have really grown to love this song.

5. Black Sheep, 2001

Back in the day, Sonata Arctica has done very well in the Finnish charts with multiple number ones and gold certifications. They have also had very good success abroad; The band has toured around Europe, South America and Japan. I do not know why, but it always surprises me when I read that a Finnish heavy metal band is touring in Japan or Brazil in example. But of course it makes me extremely happy that a band I love is touring all around the world.

Black Sheep was released in 2001 on an album called Silence. I do not know which I love the most in this song: the lyrics or the music. I love them both so much and I think they make a perfect combination. The song is very interesting and very fast-paced, which can be kind of surprising.

6. Alone In Heaven, 2013

Alone In Heaven is the most recent song that is featured in this list. Even though I like their most recent album, Pariah's Child, for some reason none of its songs made this list. Perhaps this is because it is newer and the older songs have had more time to make me love them, and for this they obviously feel more special to me. That is probably why many of this list's songs are from years back. Alone In Heaven is far newer than the other songs in this list, which tells how good it is, since it managed to make me love it this much in lesser time.

And as a site note: even though the most recent songs did not make the list, I still feel the songs on this list are very well spread out throughout the band's career. There are only two studio albums that did not get any of their songs on the list (Sonata Arctica has released eight studio albums) and the songs range from 1999 to 2013. To me it proves that Sonata Arctica has made great music all through its lifetime.

Alone In Heaven is more of a ballad. It is absolutely beautiful song. The lyrics are very moving and they make you think. The story of the lyrics tells about a person who has died and gone to heaven while all of his loved ones are in hell. This is very interesting subject, and even though as an atheist I do not really believe in this kind of stuff, it is a subject that I have sometimes thought about; Would a heaven really be a heaven if you were there by yourself?

7. Flag In The Ground, 2009

Along with Alone In Heaven, Flag In The Ground is a song that I have played the most recently. It will eventually end up in my 2015 most played list, if I remember to do it. I really have gotten into these two songs lately, though maybe I have listened to this one more. I actually considered changing their placings around (I originally made this list couple weeks ago), but I decided to keep them this way. But I must say, it is pretty much a tie between Alone In Heaven and Flag In The Ground.

Flag In The Ground is yet another example of why I love Sonata Arctica's lyrics. The lyrics tell a historical story of a man who leaves his loved one and unborn child home to move into America to try to make fortune enough to bring his family there too. These kind of stories always move me and it gives me the creeps, when I think that there were so many people back in the day to whom this was reality. And even though it is the story that makes me love this song so much, I really love the music too.

8. Wolf & Raven, 2001

Wolf & Raven was Sonata Arctica's second ever single, released back in 2001. It is very dark and mysterious song. The music is fast-paced and interesting to listen to. The lyrics have an interesting story, though it is very dark too. This too is that kind of song that could be hard to like for someone who is not a metal fan. But I absolutely love it, but music- and lyrics-wise, though once again I think I am leaning more towards of favouring the lyrics. It just that these kind of lyrics affect me deeply and I find them fascinating.

I just realised that I have completely forgotten to praise Tony Kakko's vocals and I must do that before this post comes to an end soon. The vocals are of course a major part of any band and the singer makes a great deal in whether somebody likes the band or not. I absolutely love Tony's voice and I find it interesting; I can not name any other singer with similar voice. And he obviously sings very good. His voice is recognizable and a big part of Sonata Arctica's appeal.

9. Replica, 1999

Like mentioned, Sonata Arctica started already back in 1995. Their first single and album were released in 1999 and last year they released a 15th anniversary edition of their debut album, Ecliptica. In this album they re-recorded all of the songs from the original Ecliptica. I really like this idea and find it as a special way to celebrate such a milestone. Sonata Arctica's first single, and only one from Ecliptica, was called UnOpened. Though I think another song from the album has risen into one of Sonata Arctica's trademark songs: Replica.

Besides from being re-done for the 15th annivery version Ecliptica, Replica was re-recorded also for Sonata Arctica's collection album (The Collection) in 2006. I am nowdays actually more use to this version, so the song above is the 2006 version. No matter which version of this song, it is brilliant. I really love the song overall; The lyrics are emotional and the music great. This was amongst the first Sonata Arctica's songs that I heard, so it has that special value to me.

10. FullMoon, 1999

FullMoon is also from Sonata Arctica's debut album. The song's lyrics have yet another interesting story: as you might be able to guess from the title, it tells about a werewolf. The lyrics are a bit creepy, though brilliant. The music fits the theme perfectly and changes fittingly through the song (like when they sing about running the music is very fast). I have loved this song for years and years, and I still manage to find new sides from it. A brilliant end to this list. FullMoon also marks the 200th song featured in this blog!

And as usual, I ended up blabbering and the post got very long. But I just had so much to say since I love this band so much! I only featured ten songs in this post, but there are many, many other amazing songs in Sonata Arctica's albums. Sonata Arctica is one of my ultimate favourites and I never get tired of listening to me. Especially since they keep making great music.

06 May 2015

Finland #1: Heavy metal music (a theme post)

This week there is a common theme in my blog posts. First I have this regular post today and in couple of days I will be publishing a Favourite Artists post related to this current blog post. And as the title tells, the theme of these posts is heavy metal music from Finland.

Wikipedia: Finland
Finland is kind of known for its heavy metal music. In the country itself schlagers and pop music are more popular, but heavy metal is the biggest export of Finnish music; Abroad it is the heavy metal bands that are the most famous out of Finland's music industry. I know many bands that tour all around the world, particularly in Europe, South America and Japan. So I think heavy metal music is the best fitting theme for the first feature posts about Finnish music.

First up is two songs from a group called Nightwish. If one had to be chose, I would say Nightwish is the most famous out of all of Finland's heavy metal bands, both in Finland and abroad. Nightwish is the third best selling band in the Finnish music (according to Wikipedia, and I have no idea who are the more selling ones) The group was formed already back in 1996. It makes symphonic metal music, which means that it combines heavy metal music with elements of classical music.

Nightwish's song Nemo could be their most famous song. The song was released in 2004 (I thought it was older since it feels like I have always known this song). Nemo charted number one in Finland, Hungary and Brazil, and it charted in top10 in many more countries. Like most of Nightwish's songs, Nemo was written by the band's keyboardist and  founder Tuomas Holopainen. It features as a singer the former member Tarja Turunen, who has made fame with her solo music too.

Nemo is my personal favourite from Nightwish. Like I said, I thought it was an older song, since I know it so well and have many memories related to it. I can not find a single thing from it, that I do not like. The music is brilliant: It is dramatic, mysterious and touching. Tarja's vocals are absolutely amazing. It is a very beautiful and touching song, that is very hard to compete with.

This other song from Nightwish is called Amaranth. There has been some drama happening within the band and in 2005 the original singer Tarja Turunen left Nightwish. She was then replaced by Anette Olzon, who sings in Amaranth. Anette has since then left the group and was replaced in 2013 by the new singer Floor Jansen. I am not familiar with the new material that Nightwish has done with this new singer, but I suppose I should listen to it since I like Nightwish's older music a lot.

Amaranth was released in 2007 and it was the second single to feature Anette Olzon (the first that I heard). The song was quite successful and I remember seeing it on Finnish MTV all the time. It charted well in Europe, including few number one spots. As an interesting fact, the music video was based on a painting called The Wounded Angel (1903) by a Finnish painter Hugo Simberg.

The song is amongst my top favourites from Nightwish. I can not describe exactly what, but something in the sound makes it interesting. The music is definitely my favourite part of this song, though I do like the vocals too. It is fairly dark song (heavy metal song is dark, surprise surprise), but somehow the music in parts sound a bit cheerful to me. I think it is this contrariety that makes me like this as much as I do.

Nemo is from Nightwish's 2004 album Once and Amaranth is from their 2007 album Dark Passion Play.

Moving onto a quite recognizable band: Lordi. I am not sure how many bands have as original looks as Lordi, but can not be that many. Lordi was formed in 1992, but rose to the success only ten years later with their debut single Would You Love A Monsterman?. Besides the great music they make, a big part of Lordi's fame is their outlook; The band members were monster outfits (that take one hour to put on, two to three hours for the lead singer Mr. Lordi) and they do not reveal their identities (though some papers have released some photos of them unmasked). Lordi is one of the best selling Finnish heavy metal bands and is also known as the first and so far only Finnish Eurovision Song Contest winners, which they won in 2006 with their song Hard Rock Hallelujah.

Would You Love A Monsterman? was released in 2002. And even though this song is actually hard rock, I wanted to feature this song. Lordi's music overall is still a combination of hard rock and heavy metal. The version above is the re-issue from 2006, though there really is not much of a difference between the versions.

The song was the first I heard from Lordi. Well, it would have been hard to avoid hearing it back in the day when it was released, since it made a quite big ruckus in Finland. Even though since then there has been many other Lordi songs that I love, none has been able to pass by Would You Love A Monterman? since it contains so much memories. I really love the song and it is very well done piece of hard rock. I also love how they bring their monster theme to the music too.

Oh, and as an interesting (or not so much interesting honestly) fact I need to mention that the groups origins are in the city where I was born and grew up (and now temporarily live again). There is actually a square named after the group, in the honor of their Eurovision victory, in the city center and it features the group's hand prints pressed in a cement.

Would You Love A Monsterman? can be found on Lordi's 2002 album Get Heavy.

Next up is Amorphis. For me this is a newer finding: even though I was familiar with the name, I only heard their music just recently. The band was formed in 1990 and in its lifetime it has made music in many metal genres, like progressive metal, gothic metal and folk metal. Many of the lyrics of their songs have got an inspiration from Kalevala, which is one of the main works of Finnish literature and a big part of Finland's national identity. Many heavy metal bands tend to have interesting, story-like lyrics, but having this kind of repeating theme is always interesting (to me, at least).

The song above is called Silent Waters. I do not know its exact genre, but its album featured melodic death metal, progressive metal and folk metal, according to Wikipedia that is. The song was released in 2007 as a single from an album of the same name. The album actually was based on a story from Kalevala (which I have not read, so unfortunately I can not go more deeper into this subject), so the lyrics of the song are part of that.

I find this song very mysterious and somehow deeply sad. The music is very touching and kind of magical. The singer's vocals add to this very brilliantly. Overall I find this song very touching and interesting. It sort of makes me sad, but in my opinion this is a good thing since it is a sign of a moving song.

The album Silent Waters was released in 2007.

And last up we have one more metal band: Teräsbetoni. The group has actually broken up already in 2011, but that should not stop anyone from enjoying their music. Teräsbetoni was formed in 2002 and Wikipedia describes their music as heavy metal, power metal and cock rock. For bigger audience the band is known from representing Finland in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2008. They did not do well in the contest, but the song Missä Miehet Ratsastaa was highly popular in Finland. Teräsbetoni makes music in Finnish.

I am not very familiar with the band's music and I personally did not like their Eurovision song, but I really like their debut single Taivas Lyö Tulta. This song was released in 2005 and it hit number one in Finnish charts. I remember the song being a big hit back in the day. It is a power metal song. The title means The Sky Strikes Down Fire and the lyrics are actually kind of majestic.

I find this song very dramatic. The singer's singing style is quite interesting, but it most certainly fits this kind of song. I love the drama of this song and find it overall quite interesting. Obviously understanding the lyrics is quite major part of me liking this song, but I find this an interesting song for those too, who do not understand Finnish language. It is music-wise too an interesting song, for metal fans at least.

Taivas Lyö Tulta was a single from Teräsbetoni's 2005 album Metalliteollisuus.

02 May 2015

Jamaica #2: Burning hot music

Today Jamaica gets its second feature post. Not many countries have multiple feature posts in my blog (I think only just two before this), so at this point it feels a bit special to me whenever some country has its second post. Here is the first post about Jamaican music.

Wikipedia: Jamaica

I tend to get a bit carried away while looking for music from certain countries. Like ie. while I was planning for the first Jamaican post, I found also some music I wanted to feature in the second post. Now that I was finishing up planning for this post, I came up with even more Jamaican songs that I want to blog about, enough for two more blog posts already. This keeps happening with other countries too, which proves that there is lots of great music all around the world; You just need to find.

But Jamaica now...

In my previous I featured the Jamaican sister duo Brick & Lace and solo music from one of the two members, Nyanda. The song above is from the other one of the sisters, Nyla. Nyla, whose real name is Nailah Thorbourne, is the vocalist of Brick & Lace. I already introduced the band and the members in my previous post, so I am not gonna repeat things now. Plus, since Nyla does not have a website or a Wikipedia page, I do not have all that much interesting solo information on her.

Nyla's single Stand Up was released 2013. I have to admit that I originally did not get into Nyla's music at all, not even this song. But then the day after posting my previous Jamaican post, this song suddenly got stuck into my head and I listened to it again and that time I liked it a lot. I suppose it is that kind of song that need some time. I really wanted to feature it in my blog now that I liked it, but since I already had posted the Brick & Lace post, I had to leave it until later (meaning today).

I am bad with genres, but I would assume it is R&B and reggae like Brick & Lace's music. The song is super-catchy with its repetitive chorus and catchy beat. The lyrics are a bit common, but the music has some very interesting elements. Overall I find this very fun to listen to.

I do not know on which album this was released on, so I can not tell that. So, let's move on now, before all my Jamaica post will be about Brick & Lace.

Sean Kingston. His name is quite famous around the world and I believe he is one of the most successful current Jamaican artists. He became active in music already in 2004 when he was just 14 years old. His debut single, Beautiful Girls, in 2007 hit number one in multiple countries, including the United States, United Kingdom and Australia, meaning the song was number one on three different continents. He has had success after his debut too and he has worked with some of the biggest names in American music industry right now.

Sean's single Fire Burning was released in 2009 and it is within the top most successful of his songs. As you can tell from the beginning, it was produced by one of the most successful producers of the day: RedOne. Fire Burning is a electropop dance song. Many of Sean's songs are reggae fusion (it is hard to find a Jamaican artist who does not do reggae music), so this one is a bit different.

I am not very into his music, to be honest. When his name came up (almost immediately) while I was looking for Jamaican music late last year, I decided to give it a go. I honestly did not like much of the first songs I listened to; though they were definitely not bad, just not for me. Then I listened to Fire Burning and really loved it. It is so catchy and fun. It makes me want to dance and I hate dancing. It is quite powerful music-wise and even though I have listened to it many many times, I have not got bored, quite the opposite actually. It is a very good piece of electropop.

Fire Burning was released on Sean Kingston's 2009 album Tomorrow.

Last up is two songs from a singer called CéCile (I have also seen her name written as Ce'Cile and CeCile). According to Wikipedia, CéCile is one of the best known current dancehall artists. If reggae is the number one genre in Jamaica, then dancehall is the second (the roots of this music style are in Jamaica, but is has spreads beyond its homeland). CéCile has already a long career behind her, with her first album released in 2008. She has worked together with many famous Jamaican singers, including Sean Paul and Carl Henry.

CéCile's single Hot Like We was released on 2004. I always say that I am not embarrassed to admit I like something, but honestly this song almost got me: It is that kind of song that I would like to hate, but for some mysterious reasons it manages to make me like it. And it is hard not to listen to this.

The song is über-catchy and dancy. The lyrics are quite silly, but I suppose that is part of the fun of the song. Because that is what this song is: fun. I do not think that this song is meant to be taken seriously, but instead it is a very funny song and makes you smile. And dance. A lit bit of silliness of always welcome.

The other song from CéCile is called When You're Gone. [In the video towards the end the song switches into another song called Missing You, which is nice too.] The song was released in 2011. The other songs from this post are quite strong dance songs, so this is a nice switch to lighter songs. I am not sure if this is exactly a ballad, but a slower song at least.

When You're Gone has some interesting lyrics. The singer's boyfriend has other woman, but the singer wants to keep him even if it means sharing him. It hurts her, but being with him is too good. I myself would not agree with the lyrics, but it is an interesting story. You do not usually find this kind of theme from songs and I always respect originality of the lyrics.

The music is nice and even though it is slower, it is catchy. CéCile has an interesting voice, which sounds great in this kind of song. It sounds beautiful music- and vocals-wise, and the lyrics give it an interesting twist. It is a really great and surprising song.

Hot Like We is from CéCile's 2004 album Bad Gyal and When You're Gone from her 2011 album Jamaicanization.