Red Velvet’s “Ice Cream Cake” Isn’t So Bad

Red Velvet debuted last year with the cheap Pitbull Feat. Shakira World Cup reject “Happiness” and although many K-pop fans pretended it was decent, it really wasn’t. They came back with that really unnecessary SES “Be Natural” cover, which also didn’t do much for me. When I discovered they were making a more legit comeback with a mini album I didn’t really bat an eyelash because I expected some more typical SM Entertainment crappiness, but “Ice Cream Cake” is actually pretty decent.

The song is a typical SM mashup electro-pop influenced song and could have easily been given to either SNSD or F(x), but it’s somehow stronger than the crap both groups were given in 2014 – SNSD’s “Mr.Mr.” and F(x)’s “Red Light” both remain huge mistakes. This is fun and catchy, though it’s not song of the year material in any way.

The video shows all the girls rocking some cute fashion and decent dance moves in California. All 5 members rock blue contact lenses and blond hair, which doesn’t really look all that bad. The girls really need to find their own identity to separate them from SNSD and F(x) as “Ice Cream Cake” does them no favors in that department, but as a catchy pop track it gets the job done. Well done girls.

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Eurovision 2015: Israel’s Nadav Guedj Saves Eurovision With “Golden Boy”

I haven’t been writing a lot about Eurovision this year so far – aside from Sweden of course – because it’s mostly been trash. So far there has been a plethora of dreary ballads and uninspiring mid-tempos and I don’t have the energy to get around to writing about it all just yet. Perhaps a few will grow on me when I get around to giving them all a few more listens, but all in all I am unimpressed.

This morning when I woke up I noticed there were 3 new Eurovision entries online. The long awaited and [over]hyped Armenian entry – spoiler alert: its GARBAGE! The Russian entry which was underwhelming, and the Israeli entry titled “Golden Boy” by a singer named Nadav Guedj. I was running late for work and almost skipped it after hearing the other two flops, but decided to give it a go anyway, and thank goodness I did because it’s a flawless ESC classic upon first listen.

The song starts out with some pretty soulful acapella vocals from Nadav where he sings about getting dumped. 10 seconds later it turns into a late 90’s/early 2000 R&B influenced pop smash, only to then transform into an ethnocentric europop confection by the time the chorus kicks in. It’s pure unfiltered fun, the type that is severely absent from this years contest. This is pure Eurovision magic. The lyrics find Nadav singing about getting over an ex by dancing it off on the dance floor. He even name drops Tel Aviv at one point. The song is really meta in how carefree it is. At the end of the song he even blurts out that the track is officially over because the Eurovision rules state it has to be 3:00 in length. This is a totally self aware pop jam that has it’s tongue firmly planted in it’s cheek.

If Israel misses the final again this year I will have a total meltdown. There are NO other songs at Eurovision this year that are as uptempo and fun as “Golden Boy,” so it’s pretty unique in that sense. After how awful this years ESC is shaping out to be, this is one of my last great hopes for the contest. VOTE FOR THIS EUROPE!

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Melodifestivalen 2015: Heat 4 – Örebro

1. Midnight Boy – “Don’t Say No” ~Rating: 7/10~
I was really prepared to hate this because I am not a huge fan of the straight forward 80’s thing. This ended up being a huge surprise though as I got it instantly stuck in my head. Poor guy is in an extremely strong heat, so this was totally over looked, but the song is really catchy and the performance is fierce.

2. Caroline Wennergren – “Black Swan” ~Rating: 5/10~
This chick has a really unique voice, but the song is not very exciting. It comes across like a musical theater rendition of a Motown-y song and her extremely raspy vocals clash with the sound. Her voice is made for a country sound or even rock, but with this soul sound it kind of comes across as too much.

3. JTR – “Building It Up” ~Rating: 6/10~
I gave these boys debut album a go a few months back and it was a very pleasant experience. The entire thing was sweet and catchy, though it did sort of being a monotonous listen after a while. This track is cut from the same chord as it’s sweet and very listenable, but perhaps not anything groundbreaking. I sort of wish they had gone with a more 2015 boyband sound because “Building It Up” sounds like how boybands sounded in 2012, which in pop years was a lifetime ago.

4. Hasse Andersson – “Guld och gröna skogar” ~Rating: 3/10~
This is plain and simply a mess. It’s a country schlager song that sounds pretty awful live. No thanks!

5. Dinah Nah – “Make Me (La La La) ~Rating: 10/10~
This made my gay heart come alive! Before hearing this I wasn’t sure what I wanted from Dinah Nah. On one hand, I wanted her to do a sexy and fierce club jam that I could get my life to. On the other hand I wanted her to release something really Eurodance-y like her Caramell era music. This song is sort of a mixture of both, with it’s thumping EDM baseline and silly Eurotrash lyrics – sample: “like a plane in the sky you make me so high.” I’m pretty much obsessed with every second of this 3:00 song, and that BEAT DROP is EVERYTHING!!

6. Annika Herlitz – “Ett andetag” ~Rating: 7/10~
From the woman who sang the Swedish version of “Let It Go” in Disney’s Frozen we get another Disney style ballad. This song is not groundbreaking in any way, but it’s totally enjoyable. In what has been a very weak year for ballads, this is arguably the catchiest ballad in the contest this year. It’s really generic, but I still kind of dig it.

7. Måns Zelmerlöw – “Heroes” ~Rating: 10/10~
Serving Avicii’s EDM/folk hybrid sound for his long (longgggggg) awaited Melfest comeback is fitting since he abandoned schlager years ago in favor of an (excellent) indie sound. This merges those two sounds together nicely, and the staging is pretty awesome I must say. The staging is easily the years best and his vocals were amazing, but I can’t help but wonder if the song is a bit too good for Eurovision. Only time shall tell.

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Eurovision 2015: Greek Entries

1. Barrice – “Ela” ~Rating 10/10~
I officially LOVE this song. I loved it just from hearing the chorus and first verse, but once that instantly iconic breakdown instrumental kicks in at the end, it’s full blown amazingness. I had a moment while listening to this in full for the first time.

2. C:Real – “Crash & Burn” ~Rating 6/10~
Not my favorite, but once the electronic parts of the song hit it gets a lot more enjoyable. This isn’t fantastic but it’s not terrible either.

3. Maria Elena Kiriakou – “One Last Breath” ~Rating: 9/10~
Another song I love. This is a great soaring ballad that is delivered with vocal excellence. It’s not too dreary as many other of Eurovision ballads have been this year. It’s catchy.

4. Shaya – “Sunshine” ~Rating: 9/10~
Another excellent song. It sounds a bit more like a good Azerbaijan entry than a good Greek entry, but it’s good nonetheless. It would send a jolt of much needed energy into Eurovision if it won.

5. Thomai Apergi & Legend – “Jazz & Sirtaki” ~Rating: 2/10~
This is by far the worst song in this bunch. It’s for older fans only. A boring Jazz song I couldn’t even make it through once.

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Finland’s Antti Tuisku Steals UMK15 With “Peto On Irti”

So I was casually watching semi-final 3 of Finland’s Eurovision 2015 selection show UMK tonight, and it was pretty lame. The song selection was mixed and I glazed over for nearly the entire show. During the vote counting we got an interval act as always, but this interval act was shockingly spectacular.

Antti Tuisku is a Finnish pop star who has had a pretty damn impressive career spanning over a decade in Finland. I had only heard one song of his prior to this, the dance track “Jää Tai Mee,” so he’s pretty new to me. Watching the iconic life changing performance (CLICK HERE TO WITNESS IT FOR YOURSELVES) I was blown away by how amazing both his dancing and singing were. The staging was extremely energetic and totally fabulous, and the song itself was a banger.

I decided to look into this song titled “Peto On Irti” a little closer. So the music video is kind of a Eurotrashy mess in a great(?) way. At one point he watches two lesbians make out as he deep throats a banana, at another point in the video he’s watching a male stripper with some fag hags while eating cupcakes. I don’t speak Finnish and cannot tell if this song is supposed to be a funny novelty song, or if it’s a seriously club banger. I am going to go with serious club banger though because his body of work is anything but a novelty.

The song has a truly INSANE production; it’s a bit country at times, it’s a bit of an Eastern European funk/house track at other times, it features multiple spoken-word interludes, and there is a section where he flat out yells at the listener before breaking into a rap verse. There is an epic jazzy saxophone breakdown that literally transitions into banjo breakdown at one point. It doesn’t really follow any sort of pop structure or mainstream radio logical patterns either. It’s kind of a mixture of multiple songs and styles blended together into one crazy masterpiece that honestly only some mad genius Nordic artist could come up with.

I really want to check out his other albums – he has a ton of them – but for now this song will be on repeat. Considering there are 10 songs within this one track, do I really need a full album?

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Conchita Wurst Saves European Pop With “You Are Unstoppable”

Boundary breaking Austrian chanteuse Conchita Wurst has released a fabulous new single just in time for Eurovision 2015 in Vienna. Hot off the heels of her breathtaking victory with “Rise Like The Phoenix,” Conchita is back with another great pop ballad with a positive message.

“You Are Unstoppable” soars like a phoenix from the first chorus, and from the lackluster Eurovision selections so far this year, this will easily be the best song in the contest. Thankfully it isn’t competing because no country would be safe. Conchita is out here healing the sick and saving lost souls like a musical prophet. I cannot wait to see the elegance and refinement Conchita exudes in the music video for this song.

The best news though is that Conchita is done with her debut album and it will be out in May a little after Eurovision ends. Expect the “21” of 2015 to break every record ever made!

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Melodifestivalen 2015: Heat 3 – Östersund

1. Ellen Benediktson – “Insomnia” ~Rating: 7/10~
I quite like this. I was afraid this would he a total mess after Ellen’s truly bizarre behavior at the press conference, but it’s a solid pop number. She seems comfortable up there and if I had never heard “Songbird” I wouldn’t have guessed that this new style wasn’t her typical thing. I would’ve liked the song to be a bit more dance oriented and uptempo, but I enjoyed this nonetheless.

2. Kalle Johansson – “För din skull” ~Rating: 4/10~
Wildcard winners rarely make an impact at Melfest and this is no exception. It’s sweet but kind of flat. Not terrible, but definitely unpolished. That said, it’s one of the better wildcard acts in recent history.

3. Andreas Weise – “Bring Out the Fire” ~Rating: 7/10~
When I watched the clip for this I didn’t care for it. It came across as a Bruno Mars reject, but in full it was much stronger. It is very Bruno Mars, but it still retains a strong Swedish sound, and paired with great visuals and strong vocals I was won over by it. It really was “I’ll Be Fine” except sung by a man. That said, the entire thing does feel a bit middle aged. It lacks a youthful spark that would be needed if sent to Eurovision.

4. Andreas Johnson – “Living To Die” ~Rating: 2/10~
I half thought I may enjoy this based on the preview, but in full I didn’t enjoy this at all. It was a weak U2 wannabe performance that deserved to get last.

5. Isa – “Don’t Stop” ~Rating: 5/10~
Isa claimed this performance would be on par with a Super Bowl half time show, which is possibly the most hilariously delusional statement a Melfest artist could make. She’s a pretty girl with surprisingly strong vocals, and the song is okay, but it does feel a bit derivative of Meghan Trainor and Katy Perry’s bubble gum shtick.  Actually, “Don’t Stop” sounds like a direct copy of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” and I hated that song so why would I like it’s cheap Swedish knock-off? The entire thing came across as a copy of Ace Wilder, except not really as cool or edgy. She’s a decade younger than Ace, so I get she would be trying to be a little more frothy and less edgy, but over it feels really Junior Eurovision. Considering how weak this years Melfest has been, she really shines, but any other year this would get last place in its heat and be totally forgotten.

6. Kristin Amparo – “I See You” ~Rating: 5/10~
I didn’t enjoy this song at all. It was long and dreary and whiny. Her voice is a bit Adele-esque, but the song itself is not very good. After listening to the studio version I enjoyed it a bit more, but it never really comes across as an arena filling, highly competitive song. At Eurovision this would easily get lost in a sea of dreary female ballads as so many countries have been sending those this year.

7. Jon Henrik Fjällgren – “Jag är fri (Manne Liem Frije)” ~Rating: 5/10~
Upon my last trip to Sweden I visited a Sami cultural and historical center where I learned about their customs, music, history and found it to be really fascinating stuff, and it’s great it’s finally being represented in Melfest. That said, this song sounds exactly as I expected it to sound, and while I do agree that it’s an important song, it’s not particularly catchy. I appreciate it, but I’m never going to listen to this again after the contest ends.

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