It must have been five years ago when I started losing interest in chart music. Everything sounded the same to me. I was craving for more.
So what’s a desperate millenial that I am to do? Doing research on Youtube. What else.
I went beyond borders, travelled through time with my DeLorean and unlike Bono found what I was looking for. Music that appealed to me.
And unlike Helga Vlahović (God bless her) I’ve got the results to share with you. Enjoy!
Madou – Niets is voor altijd (1982)
A piece of Flemish kleinkunst (not to be confused with the German word for ”cabaret”). The genre of kleinkunst was originated in Flanders during the 1970s. Characteristic features were the minimalist instrumentation and lyrics that reflected the brutal reality often combined with social criticism. The jolly piano in “Niets is voor altijd” proves fallacious. It deals with a taboo subject. Vera Coomans sings about a girl who took revenge on her rapist and now wants to forget about everything.
The Bastardz – Tvoja ljubav (1995)
Funky Croatia! This is an uplifting track with a catchy chorus sung by Helena Bastić . ”Tvoja ljubav” was one of the very first releases under the Aquarius Records label which is now home to artists like Nina Badrić or Detour. The song became a huge success despite the prominent display of Bastić’s dental braces – even on the ”Your Love”-EP cover!
Danser med Drenge – Hvoerlænge vil du ydmyge dig? (1993)
Written already in 1991, the song initially was rejected by all Danish record labels. It wasn’t until the summer of 1992 that the band’s luck had turned. After signing a deal the debut album was released in 1993 becoming one of the bestsellers that year. There was a sudden change in fortune when lead vocalist Philippa Bulgin was diagnosed with uterine cancer right before their first tour. She died in March 1994 aged 26. However Bulgin immortalised herself with her voice and charisma. The song ”Hvoerlænge vil du ydmyge dig?” is a touching plea to never allow yourself to be mistreated. To carry on living with ”pride and willpower.”
Niagara – Flammes de l’enfer (1988)
I’ve got a soft spot for late 1980’s aesthetics. The first time I saw Niagara’s video for ”Soleil d’hiver” I knew this was something I’d like. Niagara only released four studio albums and I’d say they peaked during their ”Quel enfer!” era (1988/89). The duo reinvented themselves by adapting a more art rock-oriented style. Lead singer Muriel Moreno coloured her hair as red as hellfire. Which brings me to my favourite “Flammes de l’enfer”. A quirky pop song that gets elevated by Moreno’s squeaky vocals, the horn sequence and the circus-inspired video.
Omega – Gyöngyhajú lány (1969)
A classic tune. Often copied, but the original will always be the real deal. It was actually a cover version – this time by Berlin based singer Lary – that led me to Omega. My dad heard me listening to Lary’s ”Sand” and immediately recognized the melody: ”Oh! That’s an old hit. You should check out the original. You’ll love it.” Daddy knows me too well… 🙂
Todmobile – Sameiginlegt (1989)
Iceland is well-known for its creative music scene. Todmobile, a group formed by Þorvaldur Bjarni Þorvaldsson (co-writer of Selma’s 1999 Eurovision entry), was a highly successful pop band. “Sameiginlegt” is taken from their debut and out of all songs from their back catalogue this fragile ballad was a standout. Another Eurovision star, namely Eyþór Ingi, joined Todmobile in 2010 as lead singer.
Eifo HaYeled – Nafalta chazak (1993)
I know that Israel’s geographically not part of Europe, but in Eurovision fandom it is. Eat it! During my vacation in the land of milk and honey I was introduced to the local alternative scene. It was especially the sound of the early 1990’s that got my attention: Aviv Geffen, Nikmat HaTraktor and most of all Eifo HaYeled. Their album ”Zman sukar” is a masterpiece. I’ve listened to ”Nafalta chazak” hundreds of times and never got bored of it – praise the Lord. The strings are pure perfection.
O.N.A – Kiedy powiem sobie dość (1996)
O.N.A. were Poland’s answer to Skunk Anansie or Garbage. Their lyrics featured themes such as rape or suicide. In ”Kiedy powiem sobie dość” the narrator’s begging the recipient for permission to leave in silence. A young fan took these words too serious and hanged himself after his girlfriend broke up with him. In her desperation his mother wrote a letter to songwriter Agnieszka Chylińska saying that if the song had never existed her son might be still alive. Since I heard of this story I see the song in a different light. Not that I would blame Chylińska for the tragic death of that man. Music or art in general evokes emotions. Raw and merciless. And this song expresses these feelings in a beautiful and subtle way.
Mecano – Mujer contra mujer (1988)
I already mentioned Mecano in my previous post. In my opinion you can’t mention them enough. They were Spain’s musical poster children – groundbreaking in visuals, themes and composition. Their 1988 album ”Descanso Dominical” features my favourites. One of them is ”Mujer contra mujer” that tells the story of a lesbian couple arguing whether to show their affection for each other in public or not.
Eva Dahlgren – Vem tänder stjärnorna (1991)
Speaking of lesbians. Hello, Eva! Swedish has never sounded sexier. Eva’s giving a lecture in teleology by asking the listener ”who makes me go where I’ve never gone before.” If I were in a music video with Stellan Skarsgård I’d know places to go – no need for questions. If Melodifestivalen only had songs like these in their line-up.
That’s all for now. Bedankt! Hvala! Tak! Merci! Köszönöm! Takk! Toda! Dziękuję! Gracias! Tack!