Archive for February, 2012

Charley says VIDEO! Alice Avery – Oops Baby

February 28, 2012

Alice Avery may have missed out on a spot in the Belgian X Factor 2008 live shows, but was signed to coach Maurice Engelen’s label SonicAngel regardless. In 2011 she released her first single “U Make My Heart Beat” and now, over a year later, we finally get treated to single number two.

I was hoping she’d stick to the pop/rock with overprocessed vocals style of her debut, so at first I was a bit disappointed to hear she’d hopped onto the retro sound bandwagon of Bruno Mars and Eliza Doolittle. That is until we got to the undeniably catchy chorus!

Not unsimilar to Natalia’s revenge anthem “On The Radio” (“Don’t worry about your paintings, don’t think of your tv, they’ve found a better place now, I’m thinking: charity”) Alice’s new offering has a wronged lover take matters into her own hands…

“Ooh baby, oops, I think I dropped your iPhone,
accidentally broke your XBox
and I think I lost your keys on my way home…”

 I’ve basically had this on repeat all morning.

“Oops Baby” by Alice Avery is available on iTunes and Spotify.

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Charley says ALBUM! T-ara – Breaking Heart

February 24, 2012

The guy behind Popsessed has been organising an Album Shuffle over on Popjustice! Everyone sends in an album and randomly gets assigned someone else’s to review. For round two I got Breaking Heart by Korean girl group T-ara. My review was just posted and because I loved the album so much I thought I’d put it on here as well.

Put on the album, enjoy and, perhaps, see you for the next round of Album Shuffle on Popjustice!

For ages I’ve been trying to get more into K-Pop, but the number of amazing acts  and albums is so overwhelming that I always end up just putting 2NE1’s “I Am The  Best” on repeat with their “Ugly” and Girls Generation’s “Echo” played in  between every now and again. This Album Shuffle was the perfect occasion for me  to finally have someone say “Now this is where you’ll start”.

I wasn’t  that familiar with T-ara other than their thread in the K-Pop subforum on Popjustice  having their name with a fancy symbol in the title: T♔ARA. To be perfectly  honest, at first I had them confused with Monrose covering girl group f(x)  somehow. Nothing that a quick visit to Wikipedia couldn’t fix though. When  reading up about Breaking Heart it became clear that this was a rerelease  of T-ara’s debut album, originally titled Absolute First Album.

The album  starts off with the two songs that were added for the rerelease and from the get  go it was clear that this would be an awesome ride. If you don’t want to live in  a world where there’s only one of Britney’s Womanizer (or three if you count Crazy Possessive by Kaci Battaglia and Ruff Me Up by Brooke Hogan) then rest  assured, there’s another! Opening track I Go Crazy Because Of You (Neo Ttaemune Michyeo / 너 때문에 미쳐) is essentially Womanizer’s darker counterpart. This  whirlwind of a song with its delicious “Aw! AW! Aw! AW!” chorus is without a  doubt one of my favourites on the album!

The first few seconds of  follow-up I’m Really Hurt (Naega Neomu Apa / 내가 너무 아파) remind me of Metro  Station (that’s a good thing, if you were wondering) and despite being less  memorable than the previous track it still has you singing along to the chorus  despite not being able to understand a word.

Track number three, the  album opener for the original release, makes as much an impact as I Go Crazy Because Of You does. I put a YouTube link at the bottom of this review, but you  simply have to track down a glorious HQ version if you can! One & One  has the best intros I’ve heard in ages. Seriously, it’s awesome. I suck at  recognising instruments so I’m just going to guess they’re synths? What makes  them so amazing is that they have this sharp, steely quality to them that  pierces right through your speakers and sucks you into the song even before it  properly explodes. The song’s bridge is so effective that it has you at the edge  of your seat for what’s next. This is one of those songs that if released by  Girls Aloud would have people fawning over multiple choruses or added hook-parts  and whatnot. Now, I also suck at recognising a song’s structure, but I can  confirm that this one is brilliant however you choose to identify the different  parts of it. When the sharp synths shoot back to the forefront for the final  notes it seems like the only appropriate course of action is REPEAT REPEAT  REPEAT.

Inevitably any track that would follow One & One would seem  like a slight disappointment at first, but given the time the chorus of Like  The First Time (Cheoeum Cheoreom / 처음처럼) sneaks up on you as well. It’s a  song that really uses those typical K-Pop vocals to its advantage.

Bo  Peep Bo Peep was T-ara’s big breakthrough and it’s easy to see why. After  the computerised “Don’t lose your temper so quickly” intro, it bursts straight  into its insanely catchiness. Although beware, if you’re not a fan of repetitive  choruses (something not uncommon throughout this album) this one takes it to  another level. As in other K-Pop tracks English words are scattered among the  lyrics, so being able to shout “MAN TAKE A BOOTY CALL” among the gibberish  you’re singing is an added bonus.

The album continues being great with  the likes of Tic Tic Toc (thumping distorted disco beats) and Bye  Bye (super singalongable). Apple Is A, originally from a commercial  for apples, sees T-ara at their bubblegum poppiest, while Falling U is  the obligatory girl group ballad.

Unfortunately the album falls a bit  flat after that. The songs aren’t awful, but from what I understand tracks 11 to  16 are songs from before T-ara made it big with Bo Peep Bo Peep and you can kind  of tell. Most of them sound pretty dated in a mid 00’s kind of way. Others just  don’t really fit with the rest of the album, like Good Person (Joheun  Saram / 좋은 사람) which they recorded for a soundtrack and actually reminds me of  Dana Glover’s It Is You (I Have Loved) from the Shrek OST. Fortunately Breaking  Heart ends on a high with Wanna Play? (Norabollae? / 놀아볼래?) which has a  cool “Eyo, what time is it? It’s time for T…AR…A” spoken bit at the start.  It doesn’t reach the heights of the first part of the album, but would make a  nice theme song should T-ara ever have their own tv show.

Now don’t let  this last paragraph put you off checking out Breaking Heart. Just consider the  last six songs bonus tracks to an amazing 10 track album. On it T-ara have put  together a collection of super catchy girl group tracks with some of the  slickest production many a pop act could only dream of. The album has its unique  K-Pop touches, but remains accessible enough for those of us mainly familiar  with western pop. It is awesome.

Be sure to check out I Go Crazy Because Of You, One & One and Bo Peep Bo Peep!

Breaking Heart by T-ara is available on iTunes.

Charley says ALBUM! Lady Lounge

February 21, 2012

Here’s something you’ve been missing out on! Lady Lounge has the best female voices from The Netherlands record the greatest pop songs with a lounge twist. Mark den Hartog, Dorian Broekhuyse and Frank Wijn, best known for the Supperclub Lounge Albums, have taken on production duties for our favourite chill album since “Unclubbed“.

You can check out previews from the album in the embedded YouTube video below or the player on the Lady Lounge site. You can also listen to the full songs on YouTube through the links I’ve collected in this post!

Let’s have a look, shall we?

1. Do – Move Closer
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_JtL06Dg4s
Who? One of my favourite Dutch popstars, Dominique Van Hulst, who took the world by storm with her Bryan Adams cover “Heaven”.
Originally by? Phyllis Nelson

2. Birgit Schuurman – Just Say Yes
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SX70ugmxqxs
Who? Musically the more credible alternative to her famous sister Katja Schuurman.
Originally by? Snow Patrol, although the song was at one point recorded by the amazing Nicole Scherzinger.

3. Krystl – I’m In Love
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5PFLOug9f0
Who? Singer/songwriter whose highest charting single is “Golden Days“.
Originally by? The lovely Norwegian by the name Maria Mena, one of my all time favourite singer/songwriters.

4. Sabrina Starke – Hedonism
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbBJ-JDNpmc
Who?
The woman who made you tap your foot along to the chorus of “A Woman’s Gonna Try“.
Originally by? Skunk Anansie, although I know it best as a Sinéad Quinn b-side.

5. Belle Perez – Angel Eyes
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h49TfBhph9g
Who? Belgium’s number one latina whose catchy tunes have made her a household name across the border as well.
Originally by? Wet Wet Wet

6. Pearl Jozefzoon – Crazy
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdV1a-oRHQE
Who? The Voice Of Holland sensation who’s competing to represent The Netherlands at Eurovision this year. Her Wolter Kroes duet “Breken Van De Lijn” was deservedly a Dutch top 10 hit.
Originally by? Gnarls Barkley

7. Lois Lane – It’s The First Time
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftRJ3wOMN4s
Who?
Duo Lois Lane have reworked their 1989 top 10 hit “It’s The First Time” for the occasion. Most recently the women were seen competing on “The Winner Is…”.
Originally by? Lois Lane

Do – Move Closer
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_JtL06Dg4s

8. Shary-An – Rude Boy
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJDnPyGn9pc
Who?
The Voice Of Holland discovery who, with “Six Feet Under“, has her very own top 10 hit to her name.
Originally by? Rihanna

9. Twarres – Heart Of Glass
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsdKCe-ojws
Who?
When they topped the Belgian and Dutch charts with “Wêr Bisto”, a gorgeous ballad sung in the Friesland dialect, Twarres was a boy/girl duo, now just Mirjam Timmer remains.
Originally by? Blondie

10. Carolina Dijkhuizen – I Don’t Want To Talk About It
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpmHBfM7f-8
Who?
Star of the Dutch versions of musicals like The Lion King and Aida.
Originally by? Rod Stewart

11. Leonie Meijer – Message In A Bottle
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KFK2DlztBo
Who? 
After being on The Voice Of Holland, Leonie released a duet with her coach Jeroen Van Der Boom.
Originally by? The Police

12. Jennifer Ewbank – Imagine (Undressed Version)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJv3xw06yaM
Who?
The sister of producer and songwriter John Ewbank released single “Line In A Song” from the album “London Tree” after her run on The Voice Of Holland.
Originally by? John Lennon

13. Caro Emerald – I Know That He’s Mine (Bonustrack)
Who?
Caro Emerald is included as a bonus track with a song from her internationally successful album “Deleted Scenes From The Cutting Room Floor”.
Originally by? Caro Emerald

14. Trijntje Oosterhuis – Close To You (Bonustrack)
Who?
One half of Total Touch and one of the most respected singers in The Netherlands. She’ll be joining the third season of The Voice Of Holland as one of the coaches.
Originally by? Best known as sung by The Carpenters.

Lady Lounge is now available on iTunes.

Charley says SONG! Hooverphonic – Happiness

February 17, 2012

Hooverphonic have been going from strength to strength ever since Noémie Wolfs was announced as the group’s new leading lady. The album “The Night Before” was awarded double platinum, the lead single of the same name dominated airwaves for months and the band won both a Radio 2 Zomerhit and MIA Award.

Now, after the final single from ‘The Night Before”, an amazing limited edition deluxe re-issue of debut album “A New Stereophonic Sound Spectacular”, Noémie filling in for Kimbra on some of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” performances and Hooverphonic producer and mastermind Alex Callier being a coach on The Voice Van Vlaanderen, the group is ready for their next step.

(There, completely up to date on Hooverphonic in just three run-on sentences!)

In March and April the group is set to amaze Belgium with “Hooverphonic with Orchestra” at the Koningin Elisabethzaal in Antwerp. Due to popular demand extra dates have been added, so be quick for a seat! Alex himself came up with the idea of an orchestral album to tie in with these performances. The album, due on March 9th, will contain brand new studio recordings of the best Hooverphonic tracks with an orchestral arrangement and Noémie singing! And yes, that includes the classic “Mad About You“!

Fans are also treated to “Happiness“, the new original track from “Hooverphonic with Orchestra” that was just released to iTunes and Spotify. The lovely track has a certain warmth to it that just makes me want to wrap the song around me like a warm blanket on a cold winter’s night. You know, if that were possible.

“Happiness” by Hooverphonic is now available on iTunes and Spotify.

Charley says VIDEO! Alyssa – Get On Your Feet

February 13, 2012

So remember how Friday I was raving about Axelle Aerts being the one to watch in The Voice Van Vlaanderen?

Yeah, she got voted off.

Axelle’s performance of Jessie J’s “Domino” got off to a shaky start when she came out on stage having forgotten to put in her in-ear monitors. Despite redeeming herself once she finally popped them in, the public decided not to send her straight through to next week. After the final sing-off Axelle’s coach Natalia decided she would eventually find her way to pop stardom anyhow, so put through “now or never” contestant Yass. Lame.

As mentioned before, it’s a small consolation, but a studio recording of Axelle’s song is available for download on iTunes as well as being on the first “The Voice Van Vlaanderen” compilation that’s in stores right now.

But not at all hope is lost for first week evictees! Axelle, record companies, take note!

When Idool 2011 narrowed its contestants down to 10 finalists last year, Alyssa Luypaert seemed to be the perfect pop star in waiting. Until she got booted off in week one. Boy, I sure know how to pick my early favourites…

Alyssa was picked up by SonicAngel and has just released her debut single “Get On Your Feet“, a dancepop anthem that suits her in a way her disappointing Idool performance of “Waiting For Tonight” sadly didn’t. The track was co-written by Ingrid Mank, Idool vocal coach, singer-songwriter and the woman responsible for the greatest talent show group single ever.

So, I guess what I’m saying is:

– Someone give Axelle a record deal, please
– Alyssa has released her debut single
– The chorus of said debut single reminds me of the Friends clip below. (The jury’s still out whether or not that last one’s a good thing)

Alyssa’s “Get On Your Feet” is available now on iTunes and Spotify.

See also: Charley says TV! Axelle on The Voice Van Vlaanderen
See also: Charley says VIDEO! Idool 2011 – More To Me

Charley says WHITNEY! 1986 Belgian TV Performance

February 12, 2012

Whitney performing “All At Once” in 1986 on Belgian tv show “Met Mike Aan Zee”.

Where do broken hearts go?

Charley says SONG! Elle Oui aka Elvira Michieva – Blood On My Face

February 11, 2012

Elvira Michieva is probably best known for being the German Popstars contestant that got into a fight with Senna Guemmour after the latter spoiled the launch of Bisou, Elvira’s girl trio formed of singers that didn’t make the final Monrose lineup. The Clea to Monrose’s Girls Aloud, if you will.

Bisou went on to score two minor hits with “Die Erste Träne” and “Die Sonne Geht Auf“, both from the album “Hier Und Jetzt“. After the group split up Elvira tried to represent Azerbaijan at the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest, participated in a German reality show comparable to Paris Hilton’s My New BFF and has had several songs floating about.

The definite highlight of her attempts at a pop career however remains “Blood On My Face“. Back in 2009 it was meant to be her big breakthrough under the name Elle Oui and considering how catchy it is, I wouldn’t have minded her succeeding one bit. I mean, try it. Try not to sing along to the “show you… what is… right and what’s wrong” bit!

Impossible indeed.

Charley says TV! Axelle on The Voice Van Vlaanderen

February 10, 2012

Back in 2010 I posted how Axelle Aerts just might the new best thing in Belgian pop and come 2012 it looks like the rest of the country is starting to agree!

Having taught herself to sing by recording Christina Aguilera’s “Stripped” album over and over on a tape recorder, at the age of 10 Axelle knew exactly what she wanted in life. She took her first steps towards fulfilling that dream of singing by competing in the 2006 Belgian Junior Eurovision selection as one half of girl duo Lizz@xy and winning a support slot on Flemish superstar Natalia‘s Glamorous tour a couple of years later.

In 2010 pop stardom was just around the corner when Axelle recorded “What Do You Want From Me” and teamed up with then upcoming label SonicAngel for its release. Despite having cost her dad €6000 at the time, the video for her first release under the name Axeela is no longer up online. Despite introducing the song at Eurovision star and label mate Tom Dice’s album launch, the catchy pop anthem peaked at a disappointing #48 in the charts. After follow-up “Hump Hump” was given away as a free download on www.axeela.com things sadly went quiet around the promising singer.


Axelle – It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World
(Audition at The Voice Van Vlaanderen)

http://vtm.be/the-voice-van-vlaanderen/artikel/axelle

Enter The Voice. The talent show that brought her idol Christina back to relevance, was set to do the same for Axelle. Before she’d even finished the opening line of James Brown’s “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World” all four chairs had turned and she found herself a red hot favourite in Belgium’s best watched talent show. Under guidance of coach Natalia (yes, the same Natalia she’d toured with earlier) she got rid of her annoying “diva hands” and steamrolled her way through the battle episodes with Gaga and Beyoncé’s “Telephone”.

Tonight sees Axelle taking the stage in the The Voice Van Vlaanderen live shows. Here’s to hoping her rendition of Jessie J’s “Domino” will convince Flanders to pick up their phone, as despite being up against some great voices and likeable talents Axelle is without a doubt the proper popstar of the bunch.

However, even should she get booted off by some freak televote accident, at least we’ll have a brand new shiny studio recording from the girl. As with other international adaptations of The Voice all performances are available for purchase on iTunes right after each live show.

Even better, the first tracks by all 24 finalists have been bundled on one CD that is in stores as of today! Considering her prominent place on the album cover I can’t imagine being the only one to believe in Axelle’s popstar power…

If you can’t wait for tonight’s episode -or for international readers, tomorrow’s performance clip here– check out some more songs from Axelle’s past in this old blog post while reading my 2010 interview with her!

See also: Charley says ARTIST! Axeela
See also: Charley says INTERVIEW! Axeela

Charley says POP UP BLOG!

February 8, 2012

Few things are more annoying than blogs that are left to just fizzle out. And yet even though I know that in a couple of months my life will be jampacked again, I still want to get back to posting about the best pop Belgium, Europe and the world have to offer…

The solution? A pop up blog!

Just as pop up stores come and go, Charley says POP! will be around for the next two to three months. And after that, who knows? But one thing’s for sure, until then www.charleysayspop.be is the place to be to discover pop for an international audience, from a Belgian point of view!

Now before the first posts go up, feel free to take a look at what I’ve been writing about in the past and to speak your mind in the comments!

Anything you feel Charley says POP! cannot miss out on? Don’t hesitate to contact me at charleysayspop[a]hotmail.com or to tweet and follow me at @charleysayspop!

Welcome back!
Charley