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.

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