Sunday, November 30, 2008

Lena and Agnes go boating

Lena Philipsson has been among my absolute favorite pop divas since 2004, when she represented Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest in Istanbul with "It Hurts." I actually prefer the original, "Det gör ont," which she performed during the Swedish elimination round before switching to English. I linked to both versions so you can compare. Visually she stuck to the formula that helped her win Melodifestivalen (fringes, boots and a mike stand) but somehow I like the song better in Swedish. In any case, the key change is killer in both versions.

Lena is a genuine pop queen: She doesn't need cockamamie choreography or huge video screens to hold a room in the palm of her hand—she's all about old-fashioned charisma. And she knows who her true fans are: she performed at Stockholm's Schlagerpride this summer (love the Swedes rapturously singing along to "Der gör ont"). And to think the Sheila and I missed that event by a mere week…

I just got my hands on Lena's new album, Dubbel, a schlagtastic collection of duets with longtime collaborator Orup. The first single was "Nu när du gått," which is pure retro heaven (which it kinda had to be considering it starts just like "This Old Heart of Mine," while "Hals Över Huvud" is a carbon copy of "Chain Reaction"), but the rest of the record is almost as good—and I love that Lena steadfastly sticks with Swedish.

In a different style, Agnes (Carlsson), a former winner of Swedish Idol, has also delivered a winner with Dance Love Pop. The first single, "On and On," is classic Scandi high-paced club pop: nothing revolutionary there, just sterling craftsmanship.

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