Poptastic Confessions

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Friday, November 29, 2019

Diamond by Francine Belle + Interview

Dear Poptastic Readers,

Paris-born British Nigerian singer, songwriter, and producer Francine Belle is back with her second solo single called "Diamond." It is a rather lush affair with soaring strings, afrobeats, and a beautiful melody. Francine delivers an emotional vocal performance. 
We had some questions for Francine Belle, and she kindly agreed to answer them ...



Hello Francine! Is Belle your middle name? If not, how did you decide that to be your stage name?

It's the first half of my mother's maiden name. I added an 'e' to turn it into the French word for 'beautiful.. It's a little homage to mum, my birthplace Paris, and the family I have in France. 


Your debut solo single "Beautiful Heights" was like something we had never heard before. We must have listened to it for a week before realizing it was acapella with afrobeats. Did you always know it would be an acapella song? 

I love that! I wanted the feeling to be the main draw of the song. Most fans are moved first before delving into the construction of the song, and the more they listen, the more they understand its production. At least that's my experience anyway (I have producer friends who literally do the opposite, but I think they're wired that way). I'm glad that there was that natural moment of discovery for you. 

Euphoria was what I felt when the song came to me in a dream, and I wanted to capture that somehow. I knew there would be a lot of voices. In my dream, the song was orchestral, with ethereal sounds and a choir I believe. I actually planned to get it produced. Vocal layering is how I produce a lot of my early demos. I mess around on guitar, but I can't play an instrument with enough technical skill for a recording, so I use my voice to emulate instruments. There are some demos of me making trumpet sounds or using my low register for the bassline for example. Hilarious — the lengths I'll go to to build a song. 

Beautiful Heights was one of those rare instances where the accapella demo actually stood up on its own though. The drums started out as handclaps. When I got those replaced, and it immediately felt bigger, I was like, hold on, this could be a vocal-based track. But I felt it needed more robustness. That's when I reached out to Ben Bram who added his arrangements and bass vocals and, let's just say, he knows what he's doing when it comes to accapella! It gradually became a fully realised piece and suddenly held its own beside all my other songs that had full instrumentation. I knew it would be a great one to release as an introduction to me, since it's so unique in that way. 


Photo by Fraser Taylor

Is it a normal songwriting process for you to get songs from dreams?

It's definitely the source of plenty of ideas. Some of them develop into full songs and others make their way into existing ideas. Some of my 'dream demos' have the most nonsensical lyrics when I listen back to them fully lucid. Like there was one about denim, which I haven't expanded upon yet! Maybe one day. 


Amazing! I have always appreciated you guys' support, which has been consistent through my entire musical journey, all the way up to this current release. Spaces like yours are so important when it comes to encouraging and inspiring independent artists. We appreciate you and your work very much! 

(Editor's note: Francine has been featured in other songs in Poptastic Confessions: "Love Stuck" in 2012 and "Crying On The Dancefloor" in 2014.)

Photo by Fraser Taylor

We are loving your new song "Diamond" and we think it is just absolutely beautiful. How would you describe it?

Thank you so much. I like to think of it as the two different sides to me. I thought about the duality of a diamond, how it's delicate and sparkling, but strong and forged in fire. I thought about the duality of love and how it should feel like that — fireworks with fortitude. 

And I thought of me, born and raised in Europe with African heritage and culture. The strings and the African percussion are like the two sides of me. And I like the way the blend together to make something wonderful. 
Both music videos of your solo songs have amazing visuals with lots of high fashion and costume changes. We watch your social media accounts so we know that you are very much behind the visuals. Can you share with us your inspirations there?

Ha! What gave me away?!! As an independent artist, you have to play to your strengths whenever you can. My influence is genuinely my own style. One day I plan to work with the top industry stylists, but right now, I do enjoy full stylistic control. I have a lot of fun with it. Honestly, it's something very intuitive for me. I love fashion and a lot of the time I will own an outfit for years, then when a song is done and I am thinking of the video, this garment that I've been subconsciously 'saving' will immediately spring to mind. 

Diamond was really great because I got to wear two of my brother's designs. Amechi Ihenacho is an amazing womenswear designer and couturier (I can confidently say that, even with my biases!). He designed and handmade both coats I wear in the video, and the inclusion of one-off pieces like that just elevated everything and helped me evolve the styling for myself and the other talent at the shoot. 

With both videos, I had the outfits figured out ahead of the full concept. It's a crucial part of the overall aesthetic for me.




What is in store for Francine Belle in 2020?

I'll perform a headline show in London, early in the year. Then release another single. Hopefully my album thereafter then an accompanying tour. Very excited about developing my live show. 

Photo by Fraser Taylor

Speaking of live shows, we saw that you performed with Bright Light Bright Light and Elton John. What were those like?

It was fantastic. Elton was very nice to everyone at the show — took the time to greet all of the musicians and shake our hands warmly. I remember he was wearing the most amazing diamond rings of many colours. Probably worth the cost of a house! 

Generally I really enjoy performing with Rod (Bright Light Bright Light). I did BVs on a few of his tours and his music is so fun and melodic. Unabashed pop is always great to sing. 

We really wish and hope the best for your music career. We are watching, and we are rooting for you and cheering you on! 

Thank you so much! It means a lot. 

"Diamond" was produced by Legend Otwenty and co-produced by Francine. The music video was directed by Qasim Alam and Francine. It is available on digital outlets everywhere. Buy your copy today to help support the artist. We've also added it to our 2019 Poptastic Confessions Playlist on Spotify. Enjoy!~



Cheers then,

—Davearama

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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

True Colors by Da Buzz

Dear Poptastic Readers,

We recently featured the new song "Deep In Your Heart" by SoundFactory, and they told us that they had remixed the new single "True Colors" by Da Buzz. We checked it out and liked it. We think you will, too.



Da Buzz is a Swedish eurodance pop group. "True Colors" is a great dance song. Strong vocals and soaring keyboards. The beats will have you dancing in no time. And the SoundFactory Radio Mix brings it to another level. Check it out ...




"True Colors" is available on digital outlets everywhere. There is also a great Johan K mix. Buy your copy today to help support the artist. We've added it to our 2019 Poptastic Confessions Playlist on Spotify. Enjoy!~



Cheers then,
—Davearama

P.S. Please follow Da Buzz, SoundFactory, and Poptastic Confessions on social media ...

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Monday, November 25, 2019

Moves Like A Shadow, Wicked, and Game Over by Em Appelgren

Dear Poptastic Readers,

Last week when we featured the re-release of "Spellbound" by Belle, we were having a chat with the writer Linda Sonnvik and she also told us that she had written a few of songs for Em Appelgren, and we didn't know who she was. Well, we checked them out and we quite like them! "Moves Like A Shadow" is from this year, and "Wicked" and "Game Over" are from last year.


Em Appelgren is a Swedish artist with a lovely voice. Let's discuss "Moves Like A Shadow" first. It is a fantastic mid-tempo dance pop song. Em gives a great vocal performance. It was written by Linda Sonnvik and Martin Jönebäck. It was produced by Daniele Musto, Christian Oscarsson, and Martin Jönebäck, and co-produced by Em Appelgren and Linda Sonnvik. Check out the official music video ...




"Wicked" is a fun song that reminds you of summer. It is actually a collaboration with Australian producer Valence. "Wicked" was written by Linda Sonnvik and Peo Dahl, with additional production by Valence. Here's the music video ...



"Game Over" is more like a Robyn-esque epic power ballad. It has a huge chorus that you are going to love. "Game Over" was written by Linda Sonnvik and Peo Dahl. See the music video here ...



"Moves Like A Shadow", "Wicked", and "Game Over" are all available on digital outlets everywhere. Buy your copies today. We've added all 3 of them to our 2019 Poptastic Confessions Playlist on Spotify. Enjoy!~


Cheers then,
—Davearama

P.S. Please follow Em Appelgren and Poptastic Confessions on social media ...


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Friday, November 22, 2019

Sayonara by Dolly Style

Dear Poptastic Readers,

Dolly Style have released their new single "Sayonara" and it is the first single to feature the new Molly member. She is Molly 3 if you are keeping track. If you are new to Dolly Style, they are composed of 3 characters Molly, Polly, and Holly, and they have different color wigs to represent their characters.




"Sayonara" is a very different direction for the group. It is urban and edgier than their previous singles. The music is dark, epic, and definitely not the bubblegum pop that the group is known for. The vocals are quite powerful, too. The lyrics are full of girl power. 

November 29, 2019 UPDATE: See the music video here ...


That wasn't what you were expecting from Dolly Style, was it? Keep listening and you'll be singing along in no time! "Sayonara" was written by Palle Hammarlund, Emma Nors, 
HollyPolly, and Molly. The song isn't available for download in all territories as of now. It is available on streaming services, though. We've added it to our 2019 Poptastic Confessions Playlist on Spotify. You'll also hear their previous singles "Habibi""Sunrise", and "How Far I'll Go" there, too. Enjoy!~



Cheers then,

—Davearama

P.S. Please follow Dolly Style and Poptastic Confessions on social media!


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Thursday, November 21, 2019

A Night That's Never-Ending by Sonia

Dear Poptastic Readers,

Back in 1989, English singer Sonia took her debut single "You'll Never Stop Me Loving You" to the #1 spot on the UK charts, and Ireland, too. Sonia continued to have hits throughout Europe through the mid-90s. Over the past few years she has released various singles, too. Now she's out with a new song called "A Night That's Never-Ending."



The new song is a fun song, and we quite adore the Matt Pop Radio Mix. The original version starts off a bit like a ballad. However, the Matt Pop version sounds like a glorious Steps song. We'll even say it is ABBA-esque. Sonia gives a great vocal performance and the BIG chorus carries the great melody. Have a listen ...



Wasn't that fun? Yes, it was. "A Night That's Never-Ending" was written by Gordon Pogoda and Joe Faraci. It is available on digital outlets everywhere thanks to Energise Records. Buy your copy today. We've added it to our 2019 Poptastic Confessions Playlist on Spotify. Woo!



Love, Truth & Honesty,
—Sausi O'Sullivan

P.S. Please follow Sonia, Matt Pop, and Poptastic Confessions on social media ...


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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Spellbound by Belle

Dear Poptastic Readers,

Once upon a time, there was a Swedish dance recording artist named Belle and between 2007 and 2014 she had several singles like "Sound Of Summer", "Mister Mister", "Spellbound", "Sisters Anthem", and "Attraction." Check them out for some fun songs. Fast forward to 2019 and a record label has re-released "Spellbound" with an updated mix.




So what is "Spellbound" like? It is an absolute fun dance pop song with lots of sass. We are happy that it has been re-released because we missed it the first time around. Perhaps you did, too. Have a listen ...


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zK7sbKSzQWM


Wasn't that fun? "Spellbound" was written by Linda Sonnvik (sassy lyrics), Niklas Pettersson and Jonas Liberg. "Spellbound" is available on digital outlets everywhere. Buy your copy today. We've added it to our 2019 Poptastic Confessions Playlist on Spotify. Enjoy!~



Cheers then,
—Davearama

P.S. For more information on Belle, you can check out her old Facebook page below. It isn't current, though. Please follow Poptastic Confessions on social media ...


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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Change Of Heart by Peter Wilson

Dear Poptastic Readers,

Australian artist Peter Wilson has a new single out called "Change Of Heart." It is also the title of his new album Change Of Heart.



"Change Of Heart" is a nice mid-tempo synth pop song. It has a lovely melody and Peter gives a great vocal performance. Have a listen ...



Wasn't that nice? "Change Of Heart" is available on digital outlets everywhere. Buy your copy today. We've added it to our 2019 Poptastic Confessions Playlist on Spotify. You'll also hear Peter's previous single "Don't Break My Heart Again" there. Enjoy!~



Fun fact: We have featured 2 other songs this year called "Change Of Heart" and we think they are a bit connected. Here's how: Parralox's single "Change Of Heart" has Peter Wilson on backing vocals. Isle Of You's "Change Of Heart" has a synth melody at the end that reminds us of Parralox's song "Last Man Standing" — which features Peter on lead vocals.

Cheers then,
—Davearama

P.S. Please follow Peter and Poptastic Confessions on social media ...


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Monday, November 18, 2019

Dirty Mirrors by Sean Smith & Ben Davidson

Dear Poptastic Readers,

UK singers Sean Smith and Ben Davidson have gone a duet called "Dirty Mirrors" and we think you are going to like it.


Both Sean and Ben do a great job with the vocals, and with Matt Pop on the mix, you you know you are in for a good time. Have a listen ...


You can also see Sean and Ben perform it live here ...


"Dirty Mirrors is available on digital outlets everywhere. Buy your copy today! We've added it to our 2019 Poptastic Confessions Playlist on Spotify. You'll even hear Sean's previous singles "Do Or Die"  and "Show Me Love" there, as well as Ben's single "Anything." Enjoy!~



Cheers then,

—Davearama

P.S. Please follow Sean Smith, Ben Davidson, and Poptastic Confessions on social media ...


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Thursday, November 14, 2019

Deep In Your Heart by SoundFactory

Dear Poptastic Readers,

Get your dancing shoes on because SoundFactory has just dropped a new single called "Deep In Your Heart" and it will have you wanting to wave your hands in the air!


You may remember SoundFactory (aka Emil Hellman) for their amazing remix of Annikafiore's "Don't Wanna C U 2nite" (It was our #1 song of 2011). SoundFactory is very well know for their remixes, but they also put out songs from time to time. "Deep In Your Heart" is club stomper with limited, yet powerful gospel vocals. Have a listen ...



"Deep In Your Heart" is available on digital outlets everywhere. Buy your copy today. There is a Deep Club Mix and a Deeper Dub Mix. We've added the regular version to our 2019 Poptastic Confessions Playlist on Spotify. Enjoy!~


Cheers then,
—Davearama

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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Genesis by Parralox

Dear Poptastic Readers,

Parralox have released their 12th studio album called Genesis. We've been listening to it for a couple of weeks so we could give you a proper review. Like their 2018 album Subculture, Parralox released the album first ahead of a lead single. We asked John von Ahlen from Parralox which song would be the lead single and he replied that he wasn't sure. So we'll let you know what we think at the end of our review.



Below is a track-by-track review of the album. We've also color coded the songs to be blue or red. Blue means the song is more pop, and red means the song is more dance pop. The asterisk means these are tracks only available on the CD release. Also, we'll give you links to lyrics on Parralox's official website, where you can find more information about each song. Let's go ....



1. "Tears Of Faith" featuring Jane Badler
The intro of this song reminds us of the song "Pure Imagination" by Gene Wilder featured in the classic movie Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Once the song gets going, it doesn't sound anything like that. We find the song very similar to Parralox's song "Paradise" (our #13 song of 2018). Perhaps because "Paradise" and "Tears Of Faith" were both written by John and Lillia Auzou while they were in their 90s dance group Nova. Lillia has recently passed away, and we send our condolences to her loved ones. 

Singer Jane Badler is best known for per portrayal of the character Diana on the 80s TV show V. We also featured her song "I Own The Sky" last year in Poptastic ConfessionsJane gives a very nice vocal delivery on "Tears Of Faith." It has an amazing chorus that sticks in your head. Very well done. See the lyrics page here. Have a listen ...





2. "Goodbye Berlin" 
This mid-tempo number is sung by Johanna Gervin, who also provided the lead vocals on their hit "Electric Nights" (our #1 song of 2017). It has a great melancholy melody. If this reminds of any Parralox song, we would have to choose "Aeronaut" (our #9 song of 2015). Well, maybe it isn't similar at all. Perhaps you should just check it out if you missed it. See the lyrics page here. Hear the song here ...





3. "System Of Pleasure"
John takes lead vocals on this one. It will have you singing "oh-way-oh" in no time. The europhoric chorus will have you singing along in no time. It really is quite good. See the lyrics page here. 



4. "Robots Of The World Unite"
Until we had to write the title out, we've been referring to this song by the title "Robot Lover." This is the first track that picks up the beat and we would categorize it as dance pop. The magic really kicks in the bridge/pre-chrous leading to the fun chorus. We love this song and it is one our favourites. Still surprised it isn't called "Robot Lover." No matter, it is fantastic! See the lyrics page here.



5. "Revelation"
This keeps up the momentum with another fun dance-pop song with an amazing bassline. The vocals are shared between Johanna and John with Louise Love on backing vocals. This is another strangely titled song as "Love Me Now" is really what the chorus is about. We absolutely love it. See the lyrics page here.



6. "Sueño Latino"*
This brings the pace back down a bit. Yes, it is sung in Spanish by John, although Louise wrote the verses in Spanish. Loosely translated, it is "Latin Dream." It is great song and now Parralox fans in Spanish-speaking territories will love this gem. But hold that thought. More Spanish is coming. See the lyrics page here.



7. "Nemesis"
The beat picks up for this song, which if you aren't paying close attention, it largely feels like an instrumental for the first part of the song until John's vocals come in for the chorus. However, if you are listening closely then you hear the verses are sung in a vocoder ... or by a computer, so it isn't an instrumental at all. See the lyrics page here. Listen here ...





8. "Cadenas de Oro" featuring Ian Burden
Who is Ian Burden? Well, he used to be in the Human League, but he left in the 80s. He has been featured on a few Parralox songs in the past. He is playing bass on this song. The vocals are provided by Louise, and yes, they are also sung in Spanish. It translates to "Gold Chains." It is quite nice. See the lyrics page here.



9. "Under The Skin"
This is a really fun song filled with wacky nonsensical lyrics. Louise has the coolest vocals. She really owns this one. So good. Again, "Under The Skin" isn't mentioned in the song lyrics, but no matter. We love it. John told us, “The song title came first. Then I looked up the movie [Under The Skin] script and wanted to get inspiration. I remember reading it and thinking it was very different to the movie and got confused. Then I realized it was a parody script. But the opening lines gave me inspiration and it turned into a stream of consciousness thing.” See the lyrics page here.



10. "Reckless"
Oooh! Aaah! (Just a little bit.) This one was co-written with Gina G! Remember her? It figures that is has that gallop beat that many of her songs had. This is a fun dance track. It features Louise on lead vocals with John on backing vocals. It is piano-house pop! See the lyrics page here.



11. "Über Ding"*
This is sung in German! How fun. John takes the lead. Louise in the backing vocals. It is fun song to dance around to. We are sure Parralox's German fans will be happy to hear this one. See the lyrics page here.



12. "The Future"
This mid-tempo song has a lovely melody. Perhaps it take a bit of a darker turn, as John takes the lead on this one. The chorus is quite good with Louise joining in and doing a call and return. There are some really nice vocal parts toward the end, so no skipping allowed! See the lyrics page here.



13. "Resurrection"
Two words: AMAZING. You can almost hear John channeling Giorgio Moroder on this relentless dance song. We are getting serious Donna Summer "I Feel Love" vibes here. Louise takes the lead, and again, she makes everything she sings sound so very cool. This is definitely one of our favourites. See the lyrics page here. Listen here ...





14. "Hurricane"
This is a lovely song with John on lead and Louise on backing vocals. The melody is just ace. It just has all the right elements for a great pop song. Very good. See the lyrics page here.



15. "New Light" (Rotersand vs Timo van Laak Rework Edit)
The original version of the song "New Light" is from the group's 2011 album Metropolis. The album version is a space age ballad sung by John. This remix takes it straight to the dance floor. Apparently this remix first appeared on the group's 2011 remix album Metropolism. We never got that remix album (D'oh! Bad fans!), so this version is brand new to us, and we are LOVING it! See the lyrics page here.

There you have it. Genesis is wonderful pop album filled gorgeous melodies, magical moments, and dance beats galore. Hear the album preview here ...



Or better yet, stream it on Spotify here (but remember that 2 of the songs aren't on streaming services) ...



Which singles would we choose? Well, for the pop side of things ...


1. Tears Of Faith
2. Goodbye Berlin
3. System Of Pleasure
4. Hurricane 

For the dance pop songs, we would choose ...


1. Resurrection
2. Revelation
3. Robots Of The World Unite
4. Under The Skin

Genesis is available on digital outlets everywhere. Buy your copy today. Head over to Conzoom Records to buy the actual CD, which will be released at the end of the month.



Don't forget that Parralox released their last single (from the Subculture album) in August called "Change Of Heart."

Cheers then,
—Davearama


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Poptastic Confessions Interview with John von Ahlen of Parralox in 2015

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