30 December 2015

Romania #1: My summer jams

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

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

Anyways, let us get to the business:

Wikipedia: Romania

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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