Friday, December 07, 2007

With Every Heartbeat

Song: With Every Heartbeat
Artist: Robyn
Album: Robyn

Keeping up with European dance-pop, on top of everything else, is somewhat a difficult task. There’s just a ton of it, and many one-hit wonders that you couldn’t necessarily call “artists.” (Europe is, after all, a continent that let a cartoon frog have a huge pop hit.) While I had heard of Robyn, the Swedish pop star that got her start in the early 90’s, I had lumped her in with Debra Cox and other big vocal dance artists who’s music seems exclusively designed for gay men and whatever party they might be attending at the time. My friend Chris, whom I met in Barcelona, recently brought Robyn up, and recommended her recent self-titled album. So I picked it up and must say it’s not what I expected… mainly because it sounds nothing like Debra Cox. (A lesson to actually listen to music before you write it off.)

“Robyn” the album has an interesting history… it was originally released in Sweden in 2005 and garnered many hit singles, but was recently re-released in the U.K. with a slightly different track list, most notably the addition of “With Every Heartbeat.” With the re-release to “re-introduce” Robyn to the U.K., she chose “Konichiwa Bitches” as the first single. The song was on the original version of ‘Robyn” but was never a single in Sweden. It’s an odd song, a mix of electro-pop, hip-hop, and a vaguely Asian vibe… but it has grown on me. It did not fare so well in the U.K. though, failing to get much air or video play.

Despite the tepid reaction to “Bitches,” Robyn’s second single in the U.K., “With Every Heartbeat” has become an international hit and her best charting single to date. (and thus helping “Bitches” chart status.) The song has even begun to penetrate the U.S. dance charts. It’s quite a lush, beautiful dance song that recalls some of Kylie’s mid-tempo dance-ballads, as well as Kate Bush… whom Robyn sounds JUST like vocally on this song. The heavy strings mid-song are an interesting choice, but I find fit just perfectly as an emotional grounding before the song amps up once again with an insistent beat and Robyn’s continued mantra; “it hurts with every heartbeat.”

Dance-pop gold!


Konichiwa Bitches

With Every Heartbeat

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Way I Am

Song: The Way I Am
Artist: Ingrid
Album: Girls & Boys

A recent random discovery uncovered New York City-based singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson and her song “The Way I Am.” It was a random blog that I found her on but “Grey’s Anatomy” fans may recognize her music as it’s been used (like many before her) within emotional scenes for the show. (Which I have still not watched, oy.) I have been really digging the song, and happened to catch the video on Logo’s “NewNowNext” the other night. For a moment, I thought it was old MTV VJ Kennedy… but I suppose she wouldn’t have waited until NOW to start a singing career. Ingrid is also NOT Lisa Lobe…

But enough poking fun at her image… “The Way I Am” is a super pretty acoustic-based ballad that perfectly balances witty lyrics, and emotional honesty. I am not sure it has “hit” written all over it, possibly on Adult Contemporary radio… not sure.

I haven’t had a chance to listen to Michaelson’s full sophomore album “Girls & Boys” yet, though have heard good things about it. Will keep an eye out for it and let you know… in the meantime, enjoy “The Way I Am” and learn more about Ingrid via her MySpace page.

Video for “The Way I Am”

Here one of the “Grey’s Anatomy” doctors goes through a lot of problems, while scored by Ms. Michaelson!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Blinded by the Light

Song: Blinded by the Light
Artist: Bruce Springsteen
Album: Greetings, From Asbury Park NJ

My good friend Mike and I were talking and he mentioned Bruce Springsteen’s “Blinded By the Light,” which I didn’t realize he performed. Actually, if I had guessed I would have thought that Manfred Mann, of the Manfred Mann Earth Band, would have been the songwriter of the tune but a Wikipedia search verified… I was way wrong. My thought was since Manfred’s Mann band; Manfred Mann was responsible for the mid-sixties track “Do Wah Ditty,” that he MUST be the writer just chronologically. But wrong I was… Bruce wrote the song back in 1973 for his album “Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ” and Manfred Mann’s Earth Band recorded the song in 1977, hitting the Billboard Hot 100.

In a VH1 Storytellers appearance, Springsteen mentions that their version most likely was helped to #1 by their changing of a lyric that has often been debated. In Bruce’s original, he sings “cut loose like a deuce” (as in a ’32 Ford Deuce Coupe) versus “revved up like a deuce” as Mann changed it. (And is often misheard as “revved up like a douche”) Frankly… the incorrect lyric, which EVERYONE seems to know, or actually think is the correct phrasing, doesn’t really make sense. So… of course it’s not. But I suppose that only adds to the mystery.

Regardless, Bruce’s version is stellar and I am now glad I know it exists. Something that totally tickled me when researching Wikipedia was the headline on the article for Manfred Mann the band…

“This article is about Manfred Mann the band. For Manfred Mann the man, see Manfred Mann (musician).”

I think it belongs on a t-shirt but also think whomever wrote it was having a little fun.


Manfred Mann's Earth Band... on Solid Gold!

The Boss Live