European invasion

August 21, 2012 at 6:13 PM | Posted in !Features! | Leave a comment

As promised, here is my special feature review, and it’s all about European music! I came up with this idea when my dear visitor ‘ayusecrets’ sent me the link to Ukrainian singer Tina Karol’s album 9 Lives (also featured in this review btw). Instead of dedicating one post to one album (since that would’ve created an unnecessary new category in the menu, but I’m such a goof about that) I decided to make a special post since I only make them once a year, in December.

So here I have some European artists, it took me quite some time to make this since I had to listen carefully to everything, but I really enjoyed making this post and I hope you guys like reading it!

FRANCE
Alizée – Psychédélices
Number of tracks: 11
Recommended tracks: Mademoiselle Juliette | Fifty-Sixty | Jamais Plus | Psychédélices | Décollage | Idéaliser
Rating:

For her third studio album, Alizée turned electropop, with Mademoiselle Juliette (the first track) as the best example. That’s a really catchy track that not only sets the tone for the entire album, it is also a tune that stays in your head for the rest of the day. Alizée incorporated quite some infectious tunes on her album, I didn’t really expect that. Fifty-Sixty is more pop/rock with nice guitar melodies, Jamais plus is synth heavy with catchy beats and Décollage is a hiphop inspired song with blazing synth riffs and semi raps by Alizée (and she actually nailed it). Lilly Town is a funky fast paced song, and Alizées vocals are a little deeper and lower pitched this time, while Lonely List features a lot of synths, strings and bells in the style of Jamais plus.
Slower songs include the simple guitar and pitched synths song Mon taxi driver, the mysterious title track Psychédélices (with a quite haunting strings arrangement) and the piano influenced track Idéaliser, which features some really good vocals by Alizée. Par les paupières isn’t exactly a ballad but it’s one of the more laid back songs in a somewhat Nelly Furtado-like style. The album closes with the cute track L’effet, which reminds me a little of a music box with a simple arrangement and modest vocals.

I didn’t expect I would like this album, because I only knew Alizée from her big 2000 hit ‘Moi… lolita’, but I can actually recommend this album to anyone who likes pop and who is into French music!

ITALY
Eros Ramazzotti – Ali e radici
Number of tracks: 11
Recommended tracks: Appunti e note | Il camino | Affeti personali | Controvento | Ali e radici | Bucaneve | Non possiamo chiudere gli occhi | Come gioielli
Rating: 

Eros Ramazzotti was one of my favorite singers before I became familiar with Asian music (and that pretty much took over my entire life), and today I still like him and his quite unusual (but beautiful) vocals. His latest album Ali e radici is again filled with the pop/rock tracks this man has been known for since the 80s, like the uptempo opening track with slight orchestral influences, Appunti e note. Parla con me features an interesting arrangement, and the harmonized vocals by Eros are amazing. Affeti personali is a fun track with a little bounce to it thanks to the catchy piano tune, while Bucaneve is like Appunti e note when it comes to the orchestral influences, but then just a tad slower. It does feature one of the heavier electric guitar arrangements. Both of them are among my favorites. Nessuno escluso is a midtempo song, not really what I’d call a ballad, but I like the electric guitar and slightly heavier percussion in the song. This song features some amazing harmonizations as well. Non possiamo chiudere gli occhi is the most energetic track on the album, and the only one with a beat machine instead of organic percussion. It uses both electric guitar riffs and acoustic guitar tunes, along with some nice strings elements.
Ofcourse an Eros album has its fair share of ballads, and some of his best yet are featured on this album. The acoustic triple time track Il camino for example, the simple but beautiful piano and strings ballad L’orizzonte and my all time favorite on this album: Controvento, it holds so many dear memories and it’s a beautiful slow pop song with an acoustic guitar, piano and soft beat in the arrangement. The title track Ali e radici is a ballad too, a little less modest than the rest but it alternates between acoustic elements and electric guitars and beats very well. The album closes with another one of my favorites, Come gioielli, which has some of the best singing melodies and arrangements ever in my opinion. A beautiful track with a great acoustic feel, I adore this track.

If you like Italian music, or if you like listening to some good pop/rock and acoustic ballads, this is your album for sure!

SPAIN
Enrique Iglesias – Euphoria
Number of tracks: 14
Recommended tracks: I Like It (feat. Pitbull) | One Day At A Time (feat. Akon) | Why Not Me? | Ayer | Cuando Me Enamoro (feat. Juan Luis Guerra) | Tú y Yo
Rating:

Yes, I know, this is a bilingual album (tracks in both English and Spanish), but Enrique is of Spanish origin, right? Well, that settles it.
With Euphoria, Enrique exploited the non pop genres even a little more than he did with his 2007 album Insomniatic, and that’s obviously made clear with tracks like I Like It (feat. Pitbull), a blazing dance track with a lot of dominant synths and good raps by the amazing Pitbull, and Dirty Dancer (feat. Usher) which has a comparable agressive sound. Heartbeat (feat. Nicole Scherzinger) is a dance track too, but more in a strange kind of ballad form with futuristic sounding piano notes, and I’m not really sure where I stand with that one, a little boring once in a while.
I always like it when Enrique sings more sensual or slow tracks, and One Day At A Time (feat. Akon) is perfect when it comes to that. It had a pleasant kind of island vibe and it’s obvious the track is produced by RedOne. Why Not Me? might be a simple R&B ballad, but I totally love it for its great melodies.
When it comes to the Spanish tracks, it’s either a hit or miss with Enrique, and although No Me Digas Que No (feat. Wisin y Yandel) isn’t exactly a hit, Ayer is. That song brings back the times when he sang tracks like ‘Hero’, he puts so much emotion into his vocals it’s heartbreaking. Cuando Me Enamoro (feat. Juan Luis Guerra) is a sensual Bachata song and both of the guys sound awesome singing to the incredible Latin vibe. Tú y Yo makes me kinda feel the same way because it has a typical enjoyable Latin pop sound to it thanks to the acoustic guitars. Dile Que on the other hand is just a plain midtempo pop song so it doesn’t really appeal to me that much, still decent but it could’ve been better.
The album closes with three English songs again: Heartbreaker, the R&B ballad with a hint of tribal percussion, piano ballad Coming Home and the uptempo pop song Everything’s Gonna Be Alright, with quite catchy hooks and beats.

Not his best album, but it does have some really good songs on it! Basically, the old Enrique from the ‘Hero’ era meets the new ‘Tonight I’m f***ing you‘ Enrique xD

UKRAINE
Tina Karol – 9 жизней (9 Lives)
Number of tracks: 13
Recommended tracks: Зачем я знаю | 9 жизней | ЛюбольЯ скажу Да | Шукай мене | Ніжно
Rating: 

Tina Karol was born in Russia, but she has lived in Ukraine for most of her life and she sings in Ukrainian as well, so… That’s why she’s joining us here.
It surprised me that one of her genres is Hiphop, and that her vocals are also very good. The opening track Зачем я знаю (Zachem ja znaju) is pretty mysterious with the heavy beats and haunting strings, while Никогда (Nykohda) and 9 жизней (9 zhyzney) are pretty uptempo and feature a heavy synth sound, although the latter has a lot more attitude.
Speaking of the uptempo synth influenced tracks, there are a lot of them here. Я не беру трубку (Ja ne beru trubku) may sound a little more futuristic but the vocals and lyrics are pretty plain this time, which is a shame, and I’m kinda sad to say Не бойся, мальчик (Ne boysja, mal’chyk) has the same repetition issues when it comes to the title words in the chorus. Still decent songs, but they have their difficulties.
Переживем измены (Perezhyvem yzmeny) actually takes a little too long to get started so it tends to get boring, but every now and then the piano arrangement draws my attention between all the synths. Радио Baby (RadyoBaby) does little for me as well, probably because of the weird vocals, but thank God Люболь (Ljubol’) finally leaves the synthpop genre and goes into a more funky sound which I like so much more.
The second half of the album makes up for the first. Шиншилла (Shynshylla) takes the uptempo tracks to a whole new level with more guitar riffs and strings, Я скажу Да (Ja skazhu “Da) is the first track that’s close to being a nice R&B ballad with good beats and even some bells, and Шукай мене (Shukay mene) is the first acoustic influenced track with smooth guitar riffs and pretty vocals. Не дощ (Ne doshch) and the closing track Ніжно (Nizhno) are ballads as well (what the…), but here I’d go with the last one because it’s even more simplistic than the other one, with just Tina’s voice and a lone acoustic guitar. A short and sweet track.

I’m not a big fan of this album and it had some issueswith balance, but Tina has talent an her songs are surprisingly enjoyable when she’s not constantly repeating the title words xD

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