New Norwegian pop music has been high on the radar in recent weeks, not least because of the success of the track “Spirit In The Sky” by KEiiNO which represented Norway at Eurovision. I know of another fantastic Nordic talent, who seems poised to earn quite a lot of attention. Singer-songwriter Moyka from Bergen. Her debut release “Colder” was both ambitious and breathtaking for a first offering. It drew a lot of parallels to the heavy synth style in which Röyksopp work. If you haven’t checked out “Colder” already, you really should look it up (HINT, you can do so by heading over to my review here.) For certain, I feel you will be captivated by Moyka’s pure and haunting voice as much as I was when I first heard her. Guess what… the follow-up single “Bones” is equally as epic.
It is clear Moyka wants to make us dance. Why is this? As with debut “Colder,” the new single “Bones” see’s her using EDM within her music. Like most Nordic music in general, she makes a standard synth-pop banger more appealing and interesting by taking the reigns with her cool, clear voice. The two tracks permeate a widescreen sound which is equally charged with electrifying energy and imbued with arching, heartfelt emotion. Catchy riffs are in abundance as are a pinch of pop sensibilities. To serve them some bigger justice, they are incredible pieces of electro-pop and a masterclass in songwriting.
“They say love makes people blind”, but Moyka “swears she lost her mind.” “Bones” documents her feelings about love and the fear of losing someone. Most probably through experience, through gaining an understanding of some of the complexities which define the emotional state.
We now have two tastes of her music to enjoy, and I feel it is a fair comment to make, these tracks are a love affair with your headphones waiting to happen. Yes, it’s all shaping up rather nicely for Moyka, remember her name, shes on the ascent for definite. A rapidly rising star.
It is quite unusual to see emerging pop artists from The Netherlands dominating the music press headlines. Because of Duncan Laurence’s recent success at Eurovision, I expect we might further see a few more Dutch acts attempting to breaking through to pop consumers of the UK and beyond. As a neighbouring country, Belgium could also be seen as being on par with this current trend. And actually, just days ago introduced a new Antwerp based electronic pop duo, Promis3 who are quite interesting in an intriguing, alluring kind of way.
The newly formed duo are, singer Brent Dielen and producer Andras Vleminckx (Vleminckx – previously known as LIMITS.) They have come together to stretch their creative energies as artists and musicians in ways they haven’t explored before. As Promis3, their intention is to make visual art, as well as experiment with styles of electronic music. They make a great start with “Losing Our Connection” a song which delivers on both accounts.
Promis3 - Losing Our Connection - YouTube
It hit me from the offset.The track is a rich, immersive record. Immediately arresting and sonically resonating. At its lyrical core is raw emotion and soul-searching. Elsewhere it appears as a rumbling slice of electronica. The track is brooding with emotion and Brent’s soulfully, alluring vocals soar above the beat effortlessly. Whereas, aesthetically speaking, the visual elements are arty with nods to love and romance. Are open to interpretation around themes indicating the deterioration of a relationship.
This is, in essence, contemporary dance music detailed with intelligent thought provoking lyrics. (It makes people dance and think at the same time.) Its appeal is that it is sophisticated, intense and inviting. While it is early days for Promis3, the breadth of their creative vision is gripping. The duo is definitely pushing some good ideas forward into the world. The release of their debut EP (on their own “Simulated Paradise” imprint), is just around the corner. I am of the feeling, it will be worthwhile to keep a close eye on these boys. They have something special quite about them.
We have been getting so much new music from Kim Petras these past few weeks, that she is now beginning to feel like the gift which keeps on giving. Among the distinctive pop vibes, she’s been bringing, we’ve become acutely aware of her tapping into her emotional side when it comes to the song lyrics. It appears Kim has a lot to say about how it feels to have a broken heart. That the effects of her sadness touched by more than a little vulnerability are the centre of attention on “Broken” and “All I Do is Cry” from this latest run of single releases.
When it comes to “All I Do Is Cry” she opens up, being brutally honest about her feelings. The lyrics of the track are direct and raw. They convey pain. A sense of hopelessness. Being empty and engulfed by low-spirits. Whereas stylistically, the song falls in line with a ballad and has a tender, mellow groove. Kim’s vocal performance shows no cracks, but there is deep emotion in evidence coming through via the tone of her voice and choice of words. A pain shared is a pain halved. It’s a relatable song, as haven’t we all felt the upsetting feelings of being unlucky in love at some point in our lives.
All I Do Is Cry - Kim Petras (Official Lyric Video) - YouTube
It is a poignant song, which will draw you into thinking about the similar experiences you have encountered. Noticeably a more refined effort from Kim Petras.
!DON’T MISS YOUR CHANCE TO SEE KIM PETRAS LIVE!
There has been a venue upgrade for European dates of the upcoming “Broken” tour. Now taking in a headline show at London’s “Heaven” …
Friday 23 August – Leeds Festival, Leeds, UK
Saturday 24 August – Manchester Pride, Manchester, UK
Sunday 25 August – Reading Festival, Reading, UK
Tuesday 27 August – Heaven, London, UK
Friday 30 August – La Maroquinerie – Paris, France
Sunday 1 September – Paradiso, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Tuesday 3 September – Bi Nuu, Berlin, Germany
Wednesday 4 September – Club Bahnhof Ehrenfeld, Cologne, Germany
You know what, Eurovision 2019 had all along promised to be a corker, and the Grand Final of the competition which took place on Saturday evening was more rad than any other year in recent memory. For weeks I poured over all of the forty-one entries and took particular interest in the semi-final heats process. There were certainly some big pop songs in the offing, it certainly felt very much like all four corners of Europe had collectively decided to step up their game. There were some very cool music video’s as well. So much promise on paper, studio recordings etc., but the decider of Eurovision glory is as we know, down to the live performance. Who came through when it mattered? What other highlights did the culmination of the contest bring? Let’s spill some tea.
“SCREAM” BY SERGEY LAZAREV
The music marathon got off to a slow start for me, my ears didn’t perk up until Sergey Lazarev took to the stage. I craved drama, Sergey brought it both vocally and visually. Although in respect of the latter, wasn’t on the same scale as the spectacle he gave us for “You Are The Only One” in 2016. No matter, Sergey stepped behind one digital screen and its watery vfx gave many viewers the impression that he was taking a shower on stage. Imaginations were went sent into overdrive, at this. Lots of people remembered this moment and cast votes his way. A respectable third place once again for Sergey.
Russia - LIVE - Sergey Lazarev - Scream - Grand Final - Eurovision 2019 - YouTube
“SEBI” BY ZALA KRAJL & GASPER SANTL
Although I wasn’t a huge fan of the song “Too Late For Love“, John Lundvik gave a powerful performance for Sweden. I loved the mama’s backing singers but was underwhelmed by the staging. Dressing the stage wasn’t high on the agenda for Slovenia either. Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl kept the visual elements low-key, but it was never their intentions to bring a spectacle. Cute or creepy. The performance was one or the other. Mellow, soft and dreamy. The song “Sebi” added some diversity among the evening’s mostly raucous proceedings. It seemed most of my Twitter timeline went for a toilet break when these two came on. All the more for me. I appreciated the more gentle musicality of the song. Zala managed half a smile, and she was consistent with the vocal performance throughout the competition. Happy these lovers won some creditable recognition from European viewers finishing up on the left-hand side of the scoreboard.
Slovenia - LIVE - Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl - Sebi - Grand Final - Eurovision 2019 - YouTube
“SPIRIT IN THE SKY” by KEiiNO
“Spirit In The Sky” was the great pop song Norway participants KEiiNO brought to Eurovision. As predicted it definitely lifted the mood. They crammed plenty of fun into three minutes. A new Eurovision classic… you bet it is. BOOM!
Norway - LIVE - KEiiNO - Spirit In The Sky - Grand Final - Eurovision 2019 - YouTube
“STORM” BY VICTOR CRONE
Victor Crone for Estonia was vocally on point when it really mattered, phew! (his semi-final performances were less than perfect) Or was it that I didn’t notice any wobbly vocals because I was trying to figure out what was happening to his guitar. One minute it was strapped around his shoulders, in the blink of an eye, it had disappeared. “Storm” started out quite promising but lost its authenticity. He had a very nice smile though.
Estonia - LIVE - Victor Crone - Storm - Grand Final - Eurovision 2019 - YouTube
“TRUTH” BY CHINGIZ
Holy moly Chingiz. I mean, I so approve everything which happened during this performance. The robots, the lasers, the leaping Chingiz hologram which made it look as though he was jumping out of his own skin. He held one note for what seemed like 10 seconds. What a guy. What a song. What pipes he’s got and what a fine pair of guns, *cough arms.
Azerbaijan - LIVE - Chingiz - Truth - Grand Final - Eurovision 2019 - YouTube
“ROI” BY BILAL HASSANI
I haven’t mentioned Bilal Hassani entry “Roi” for France before as the song didn’t make much of an impression on me. The same can not be said about the staging of the French performance. What Bilal’s team came up with has to be commended. There were very touching scenes, which brought to light poignant social messages about inclusivity and being open-minded. The performance is one I will remember for some time to come.
France - LIVE - Bilal Hassani - Roi - Grand Final - Eurovision 2019 - YouTube
“SOLDI” BY MAHMOOD
As much as I felt a strong connection to “Arcade” The Netherlands entry, and despite the song being the bookmakers favourite going into the final. I hoped that it would be faced with close competition from at least two or three other countries and not claim a landslide victory if predictions did come true. I felt biggest challenger for Duncan Laurence would be Mahmood with “Soldi” for Italy. Turned out the juries and televoters loved this song lots too. (For more of my thoughts about “Soldi” – jump to my review HERE)
Italy - LIVE - Mahmood - Soldi - Grand Final - Eurovision 2019 - YouTube
“SHE GOT ME” BY LUCA HANNI
Luca Hänni really was in for the win for Switzerland with “She Got Me.” I was glad, that gradually throughout the competition, the Eurovision audience woke up to this song. So happy for Luca, “She Got Me” got such a good reception on Saturday night. I’m sure its success came down to a combination of things. Being a catchy pop song. Being cute. Energy. The dancing. No need to analyse it further, it was just the whole package of great pop, wasn’t it? On that note, thanks Eurovision 2019 you showed me diversity, you introduced me to lots of good pop acts, you are back in my good favour again. Roll on 2020.
Switzerland - LIVE - Luca Hänni - She Got Me - Grand Final - Eurovision 2019 - YouTube
When morgxn released his excellent debut album “vital” last year, I found it be an emotionally expressive account of someone who was seeking to find his place. Mend himself from life’s scars. Periods of sadness, etc. While always being mindful to look to the light.”vital” was vital, a pivotal body of work from morgxn. A way of gaining closure from demons and the darkness. Pop-rock stomper “home” was the biggest success from the album, a song about belonging and being at peace. He had turned a corner. The indie-pop singer continues on in a positive direction, the latest single is “A New Way.” An anthem, charting hopeful yearning and aspirations.
The song is the perfect outing for the return of morgxn’s soulful powerhouse voice. The prominent use of a kick drum throughout the duration of the track is no match for the mightiness of these vocals. The melody may be bright and bold, but it is the vocalist who is in charge here. He has an important message to speak about. Freeing ourselves from anxiety, embracing confidence, and learning how to stand tall when the waters around us brew up a choppy storm.
You cannot fail to notice that the lyrics come from anywhere other than from the heart and soul. In sharing his experiences with others, morgxn empowers with clarity a sense of resilience, leading to a place where happiness exists. Noticeably there is a more joyful tone to this song which hasn’t been present in this way, before. The change in gear and style of the track is a timely reminder that nothing positive comes of standing still. Adopting a brave attitude, there is only one-way morgxn’s presence on the pop scene is going… forwards.
Look who is back with new music. It is the brilliant, DIY disco pop maker Ronika. The reason it has been a while since we’ve heard from her? She’s had two babies and been on mum duties. Having weaned her little ones, the attention is turning back to mum’s music making (which she began working on last summer.) I know full well from my own experience, having children gives you a new perspective on life. I suspect all mothers would tell you no different. By her own admission, Ronika remarks that “Loved Up” is her most personal and authentic record yet. Hearing this comment from the singer, first, makes me excited about the new music, while secondly, eager to share Ronika’s latest disco dazzler with you.
Pressing play on “Loved Up” we are greeted to a bonanza of retro synth sound. Less soulful than her previous efforts but nonetheless radiatingly, alluring. It is helped along with stellar production from Norwegian Grammy winner Hans-Peter Lindstrøm. I love that on this song, they have decided to merge older electronic styles yet embrace a newer groovy flair as well. The warm yet banging synthpop amazingness is such that it will enable any listener to instantly fall in love with these vibes.
“Loved Up” crackles with 80s’ pop sentiment and nu-disco electricity.The vocals are especially divine, Ronika carries the track skywards creating a continuous state of bliss. Whereas stylistically it is infectious, epic and danceable, with a sound that might make Kylie a little jealous. Best of all, Ronika says it is “The first of a series of disco noir, dream-pop inspired singles to soundtrack your best midnight self.”
The heady days back when New Kids On The Block, *NSYNC and The Backstreet Boys first captured teenage hearts are all but distant memories. But these acts have enjoyed and continue to thrive on the longevity in their pop music careers. Through the noughties emulating such career achievements as these have proved harder to sustain and accomplish. However, unlike the UK, the US boy band genre has never really pulled the plug on going through a renaissance period. The newly reunited Jonas Brothers have been more than doing their bit of late to breathe newfound hysteria into the fans who have stayed with them throughout their career. There is always room for some newcomers to show up on the music scene. If in particular stateside, male pop collectives stoke your music fires, you may well be pleased to learn the American boy band sound is alive and kicking in 2019, in pop/rock trio OBB.
OBB - Close By (Official Lyric Video) - YouTube
If you are wondering, (as I was) what their artist name OBB means. It is the nothing more complicated than an abbreviated form of Oswald Brothers Band. I guess the big hint here has let the cat out of the bag, that these guys are brothers (a common basis for American boy bands in particular through the years, examples which instantly spring to mind being, The Jackson 5, Hanson, and The Jonas Brothers.) I really thought as a British person, OBB was completely new news to me. I soon realised this was not the case at all at learning it was the bands track “Mona Lisa” which recently featured in a Google Chromebook TV advertisement. I have in fact heard this song hundreds of times. Chances are without knowing you probably have as well.
Being affiliated with this global brand is as good as time as any to set the wheels in motion where the trio can broaden their horizons bringing the music across the pond. So their team has reached out to introduce the latest single “Close By” to us. The best advice I can now give to you is to fill your boots with the dreamy harmonies of the song. Because as I have already discussed here, if you enjoy the whole American boy band thing, it will be right up your street.
It is incredible to think Kim Petras has been sitting prettily on so much new music. Since she broke out with “Heart To Break” the singer has made keeping her bunhead fan base satisfied with new pop bops her biggest priority. She has seamlessly segued from bubblegum, candy-coated pop to electronic bops, while recently introducing a poignant and vulnerable style into the mix. So much has happened during the course of a year, and without Kim even taking a break from the pop arena. It has been less than a month since the singer began introducing us to her new era with the dreamy, and softer track “Broken.” How time flies. In almost a blink of an eye, she has also given us R’n’B groover “Got My Number,” and power pop effort “Blow It All as well.” It is a brand new week and Kim wants us to start it on a bright note. The unleashing of “Sweet Spot” certainly achieves her goal.
Sweet Spot - Kim Petras (Official Lyric Video) - YouTube
If you have been missing Kim’s sweeter pop flavour, then consider “Sweet Spot” as the sugary treat your ears have been waiting for. The track is much like a pop hybrid of Stardust “Music Sounds Better with You” and “Fever” era Kylie. Sounds delicious on paper but is even more of a shimmering audio delight when gliding down the ear in high definition. As far as I’m concerned this is the direction of sonically sounding pop I’d like Kim to explore further. Somehow I think I might have to wait a while for this to evolve into fruition because it seems to me she’s enjoying being free-spirited with her music for the time being. And why not, this is good a way to build upon her artistry as a newcomer.
There was another BIG reason Kim released this song… to act as a fanfare as she announces the European dates of the upcoming “Broken” tour. Taking in a headline show at London’s Omeara …
Friday 23 August – Leeds Festival, Leeds, UK
Saturday 24 August – Manchester Pride, Manchester, UK
Sunday 25 August – Reading Festival, Reading, UK
Tuesday 27 August – Omeara, London, UK
Friday 30 August – Les Etoiles, Paris, France
Sunday 1 September – Bitterzoet, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Tuesday 3 September – Kantine Am Berghain, Berlin, Germany
Wednesday 4 September – Yuca, Cologne, Germany
While I have concluded my pre-Eurovision coverage, for the time being. This does not mean that I am not prepared to search further beyond the waters of my UK homeland, to discover yet more emerging pop talents. If anything, being swept up by Eurovision euphoria these past few weeks has made me hungrier than ever to seek out rising stars and new electronic pop acts. On our latest discovery trip, we are staying in Europe but taking a short hop over to Norway to learn about Ruben. A singer-songwriter, whose debut tracks have amassed over seventy million streams during the last twelve months.
Regretfully, there aren’t enough hours in the day to fully check out every album or EP release which are sent into me. Although, when I was advised to check out the twenty-four-year-old Norwegian’s debut EP “Melancholic” I made an exception to find time to listen through the mini album, purely on the basis that the press photos were good. You will have no doubt worked out since you are reading this blog post, this was a decision which paid off. Despite the somewhat gloomy title, the EP is a confident body of work. Surprisingly made up of, animated electronic and pop embodied tracks. These tracks tackle issues around mental health. Far from wallowing in deep themes. Ruben utilizes lyrics to unburden the effects of the stresses and strains of life. The melodic, rousing soundscapes of these tracks suggest that to a greater extent he has arrived in a place where he is now looking to the light.
Ruben - Power (Official Music Video) - YouTube
The current focus of the EP picks up with the brilliantly poignant track “Power” which just so happens to be my favourite song on the mini-player. Not only is the song powerfully emotive with thoughtful lyrics about battling the dark demons of doubt and depression. What it can feel like to be trapped by these thoughts. The music video hits right on the point of the matter, in an uninhibited way. Does an excellent job of promoting why we need to start up discussions around our mental health and wellbeing. There are definitely images in the clip which will touch and stay with you long after the music video reaches its closing moments.
The “Melancholic” EP does a fantastic job of laying down the groundwork as to why we should consider Ruben as a leading light among today’s new generation of singer-songwriters.