Saturday, July 10, 2010

Selena Gomez

Another item to add onto the long list of things Selena Gomez and I have in common: we've both been to Budapest.

Mark Ronson & The Business Intl feat. Q-Tip - Bang Bang Bang

This is the second Mark Ronson song I've heard in the last few weeks that I like, and it's my favorite of the two. Plus, a terrific video to go with.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Set 32: From Midnight to 3:30 AM

At long last, my latest DJ set featuring songs representing many different voices in Europe (and some other places) is finished. You can download it from here.

I began to write an essay about what goes into making such a set, but several paragraphs later I abandoned the effort, largely because the more I went on about my "philosophy of dj'ing" the more I sounded like a total twat.

Bottom line: 66 songs in 3 hours 40 minutes, enough to keep a party moving from, as the title says, midnight to 3:30 am--and then a little bit more, because I always love to give just a little bit more.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Edward Maya's "Stereo Love" Gets a Second (At Least) Cover Treatment

Edward Maya's "Stereo Love" (feat. Vika Jigulina) appeared on the Romanian charts in May 2009. When I visited Kiev, Ukraine in January 2010 the song was blasted everywhere. The tune steadily conquered dance charts throughout Western Europe (for more on the Romanian roll-out strategy, check out this interesting recent Reuters article). Now it's being covered for at least the second time.

Here is the original version:

Dancelovers (feat. Dominika) released a version which I first heard in April 2010. It is a nearly note-for-note clone of the original, but performed in the Hungarian language. It sort of makes sense to redo it in another language if one imagines that there is an audience that would appreciate that.

But this week, on the Radio One charts, I find this useless remake charting. It's done in the same style as the original, and in the English language, also like the original. The English is stronger and more front-and-center, and I will always have a spot in my heart for Velvet ever since hearing her trashtastic take on "Rock Down To (Electric Avenue)," but this is just not worth the effort, in my opinion.

If you know of more covers of "Stereo Love," please post links in the comments area.

Thursday, July 1, 2010 is Closed

25 July 2010 -- The website, which seems to have nine lives, has been restored.

As I was preparing to add (another) link to the website from my own, I discovered that had closed in June. I don't know the details; the most I have read about the subject came from this bulletin board. The poster, who had worked extensively on the site, advances the idea that the site's webmaster, Kris, was exhausted and disheartened after battling a barrage of homophobic comments posted to the discussion forums (a lot of HiNRG compilations were promoted on the site, including the unabashedly gay-marketed Let's Hear it for the Boy comps).

On other forums, some suggested that the site had simply withered away, rendered increasingly irrelevant as sites such as MySpace and YouTube emerged. Kris's message reads "It is time to move forward," perhaps an acknowledgement that the web site had become mired in the past. I can only speculate.

What I do know is that it was a great website. I discovered for myself back in 2001, shortly after I had become addicted to streaming Romanian top 40 radio on the internet (which had been the gateway into my whole Euro music fixation). I was delighted by the massive body of reviews and music samples the site provided for a sound that was, at the time, brand new and extremely exciting to me.

After finding the site, I spent a giddy and extraordinarily happy couple of weeks digging through its archives. It was then that I was introduced to some of my all-time favorite songs, such as Mauro Picotto's "Like This Like That" and Angelic's "It's My Turn." It was where I first heard Scooter, those gleefully unapologetic village-idiots of hardcore dance whose music continues to damage my eardrums today. It also gave me my first taste of Infernal (the song was "Sunrise," a big trance tune quite unlike the more Eurodancy stuff that would follow from them). The site also taught me about pop obscurities of dubious talent such as fem@le, whose cover of J. Geils Band's "Centerfold" is...something else. The music video archives gave one a then-rare opportunity to see how European dance music was being marketed to its overseas audience. I still have several of those Real Media files burned to DVD.

I don't know him, but Kris was clearly a very accommodating person. When in 2003 I wrote in to inform him (just because I thought, hey, he might be interested) that one Scooter song on a recently-reviewed album was a reworking of Liquid's "Liquid is Liquid," he swiftly inserted my comment into the review and thanked me by name.

My favorite aspect of the site was its reviews of singles, but as time went on fewer and fewer of these were posted, until eventually, sometime in the mid-2000s I believe, the singles section ceased to be updated. This struck me as odd because dance music is a singles-driven market. That was the first time I worried about the site's future and wondered what was going on behind the scenes.

Review focus by 2006 had shifted towards compilations, and generally things there were limited to a few series: the aforementioned Let's Hear it for the Boy HiNRG series, which, to be honest, was often a little too, well, gay for my tastes, but clearly served its audience well, as shown by the series' many, many volumes. And then there were reviews of some epic Euro-trance comps. These appealed to me more. It was here, for example, that I was exposed to such awesome tracks as Dynni's "City Of Moving Waters (Robert Gitelman Remix)."

For many, the discussion forums were the site's biggest draw, but for me, after the singles reviews ceased, my favorite reason for visiting became the Euro mini mixes, which I greatly looked forward to each month. Sometimes the mixes featured classics, and other times they featured a ton of new acts I had never heard of before. The obscurity of some acts could be frustrating for a music fan; it was extremely difficult to find some of these tunes. On the other hand, successfully tracking down a Human Athletic Dance CD single after having heard it on was, as they say, priceless.

The mixes were frantic, with songs blazing past after a couple of minutes apiece, often laced with a barrage of original samples (usually of the motivational shouted variety). This was the sort of place where (and I can't remember if it was actually featured, but it may as well have been) one would hear Dancing DJs' fantastic reworking of Roxette's "Like a Flower." That is to say (if you're not already looking for that song on YouTube), each mix was a sugar rush of pure pounding joy.

Admittedly, I found myself visiting less and less. I spent more time listening to streaming internet radio and checking the pop charts against YouTube video postings. The emergence of Web 2.0 took a toll on the site. Consider's once-mesmerizing video archives of pixely Real Media files. These were abruptly marginalized by the rise of YouTube--a whole section of the site rendered obsolete in a single blow! As television and movie production houses are discovering, the world's attention is becoming increasingly divided. But every few months, right up until today when I found the site closed, I continued to check in on what was going on there, because the site was that important.

It's a huge loss.

I am hoping that Mr. Davis, the poster I linked to above, is not correct, that an entire website of such great musicological value (and dumb fun, which is a compliment) would be shuttered because of a single homophobe's comments.

So I would like to say, Kris, your work as both music archivist and promoter seems too important to be derailed by one hater's (or even a few haters') stupidity.

But if you have moved on because it just wasn't fun anymore, I hear you and I support that. Maybe that's our loss, but you have to live your own life for yourself. And hopefully your gain will become ours as well, if music continues to lead your heart to an even bigger and bolder venture.

In any case, huge, huge thanks for what you gave the world. The passing of is something I will mourn like the passing of a friend. Haha, my friends will probably shudder at that! But no kidding. The site is irreplaceable.

Thanks to everyone who worked on for a great ride.


An interesting addendum, worth pondering if the site really is finished: values at $20,896.98. So, for any doubters out there, the site possesses more than mere sentimental value!