Turkish Pop Heartthrob Tarkan Still Popping

March 26, 2010 at 9:40 am | Posted in Middle East, music, Turkey | Leave a comment
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by Tripatini staff


German-born Tarkan Tevetoğlu, 37, has been compared to a cross between a Turkish Elvis and Michael Jackson in terms of his impact on his country’s pop music scene, and he’s achieved a measure of fame abroad, as well, particularly in Europe. The dude garners A-list coverage from Turkey‘s media, of course, for almost everything he does, whether it’s verbal gaffes; groundbreakingly racy video scenes; temporary military draft-dodging; shilling for Pepsi-Cola; scary run-ins with the paparazzi; a tiff with PETA over fur-wearing; or is-he-or-isn’t-he-gay. Vay Anam Vay is from Tarkan’s sixth and most recent album, Metamorfoz (“Metamorphosis”), released at the end of 2007 and less than critically acclaimed but still a commercial hit. The choreography’s slightly goofy and the lyrics fairly trite love-song yadda-yadda (“If she said die, I’d die for her / the arrow went straight into my heart”), but whatever — it’s a very club-ready, infectious bit of electropop with just a touch of Eurasian musical exoticism.

Like it? Buy it here!

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We Don’t Need Another Hero — Unless of Course It’s From Japan’s Funky Monkey Babys

March 12, 2010 at 9:20 am | Posted in Asia, Japan, music | Leave a comment
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by Tripatini staff

Adopted as the theme song for the Japanese TV show Zoom In! since its late 2009 release, “Hero” (ヒーロー in Japanese, pronounced “hiiroo”) is the latest single from a trio from a Tokyo suburb called Hachioji, formed as a duo in 2004. Also known to their fans as “Fanmon,” and headed by 31-year-old lead singer Katou Shunsuke (stage name “Funky Katō” ), they’re an undeniably high-energy bunch of dudes who’ve been all over Japan’s media and have managed to corral other celebs into appearing on their albums and videos. “Hero” is an actually rather sweet parable set in the high-octane world of TV news, with an anchorman who learns to make time for wifey and their adoring but neglected-feeling young son. Perhaps the most bemusing thing about Funky Monkey Babys is that they’re considered a “hip-hop” act. By Japanese standards maybe, but these guys come across about as gangsta as Hannah Montana — in our book, file this tune, at least, under “sugar-pop.”

Portugal’s Mariza: Fado’s First 21st-Century Diva

March 5, 2010 at 8:28 am | Posted in Europe, music, Portugal | Leave a comment
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by Tripatini staff The most famous contribution of Portugal to world music — compared to Spain’s flamenco, Argentine tango, and the blues of the United States, and usually sung in a minor key — soulful, melancholic fado originated in the slums of Lisbon nearly two centuries ago and has been seeing revival and evolution in the decade since the passing of its most famous icon, Amália Rodrigues. Fado’s top diva of the 21st century so far is blonde, 39-year-old Marisa dos Reis Nunes — stage name Mariza — whose background does proud by the genre’s African and Brazilian colonial influences; she’s part black, born in what was then still in its final years as the overseas province of Mozambique, and besides mostly growing up in Lisbon also spent part of her childhood in Brazil. This lovely clip, Rosa Branca, is the featured single from Mariza’s Latin-Grammy-winning sixth and latest album Terra (Earth), released last year. It includes a beautiful old Sintra palace backdrop and traditional folk dancers, yet very much conveys that contemporary, jazzed-up sensibility, by among other things adding afro-Brazilian percussion. Here she sings, “I know you so love roses — why don’t you love me?” But wethinks the lady doth protest too much — this classy, dynamic songstress has already conquered the likes of Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, and the Royal Albert Hall, and chances are we’ll be getting plenty more bouquets from her in the decade to come.

Move Over Gouda, Tulips and Windmills — Here Comes “Nederhop”

February 19, 2010 at 11:17 am | Posted in Europe, music, Netherlands | Leave a comment
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by Tripatini staff

Though in the Netherlands we’ve noticed many music artists — rappers especially — these days seem to work in English, Osdorp Posse has been a notable exception. Five guys from the rough, outlying Osdorp section of west Amsterdam, they started out as a bit of a goof, actually, but ended up becoming serious stars on the Netherlands’ underground music scene in the 1990’s with their “Gangsterdam” sound, rapping not just in Dutch but more specifically in the Amsterdam dialect. Headed by now 31-year-old lead singer Pascal Griffoen (aka “Def-P” — think a Dutch version of Eminem), the Posse cranked out a dozen albums of material loaded with trenchant commentary on social issues, but because it’s often been a bit on the profane side, they got precious little play on commercial radio. In fact, beyond “A ten-Euro note is a joetje,” there’s little about this song, “Origineel Amsterdams,” that we can even translate for a family-friendly Web site, due to either profanity (don’t worry, though, the visuals are perfectly clean) or just plain trickiness in translating inside references. But let’s just say it’s a primer on Amsterdam slang relating to money, sex, prostitution, booze, and drugs, against a backdrop with some colorful glimpses of Holland’s best-known city. Osdorp Posse disbanded this past fall, but two key members have reportedly started another hip-hop group called Digibombers, with an album expected in 2010. Mijn gott, we can only imagine…

A Sentimental 80’s Oldie from Hawaii Revived: “Waialua Sky”

January 30, 2010 at 12:08 pm | Posted in Hawaii, Pacific Islands, United States | Leave a comment
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by Tripatini staff

Founded in 1978, the Krush started out as an act performing at weddings and such, graduated to various Waikiki venues, and became something of a Hawaiian musical phenomenon, with a sweet mellow sound typified by one of their biggest hits, Waialua Sky. Fast-forward to three years ago, when Japanese-American singer-songwriter Rob Yamanoha, from Haleiwa, on Oahu’s north shore, releases his album Better, which helped him win in the “best adult contemporary” category at the 2008 Hawaii Music Awards. One of the album’s outstanding tracks was Yamanoha’s cover of this iconic classic, in which ukulele accompaniment and beautifully bucolic video images make the most of the nostalgic feel.

Keepin’ It Musically Real in San Juan’s Barrio

January 15, 2010 at 12:35 pm | Posted in Caribbean/Bahamas/Bermuda, Puerto Rico | Leave a comment
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by Tripatini staff

This past fall, the Latin Grammys were swept by a boricua duo of stepbrothers; tattooed René Pérez (aka “Residente”) and bearded Eduardo Cabra (“Visitante”) were nominated for and walked away with five awards including best urban album and recording of the year. Their act named after their family’s street in the Hato Rey section of Puerto Rico’s capital, the pair started getting major play on island radio in 2005 with a mix of hip-hop, reggaetón, and cumbia; they’ve also become known for their lefty, pro-independence politics. La Perla, winner of best short-form video, was filmed in the eponymous slum alongside Old San Juan and features an appearance by Panamanian salsa legend Rubén Blades. In it, Residente boasts, “I’ve had attitude since I was five,” and “I’m the black sheep of the entire flock.” Yo, yo, no kidding — but clearly, these dudes’
work has struck a nerve, and it’ll be interesting to see if they cross over like other less gritty Puerto Rican acts such as Marc Antony and Ricky Martin.

For Africa’s Largest Country, “The Nation’s Mom” Is A Sassy Chanteuse

January 8, 2010 at 9:21 am | Posted in Africa, Congo, music | Leave a comment
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by Tripatini staff

The above tune, Mbombo, is a typically bouncy, colorful, shimmying piece of ear candy from a woman who’s been one of Africa’s most popular and iconic singers of the last quarter-century. Hailing from Congo, the enormous Central African country reflagged as Zaire for three decades under dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, 51-year-old Elizabeth Tshala Muana is widely known as “Mamu Nationale” (Mom of the Nation), and has even served as an adviser to the country’s current ruler, Laurent Kabila. On the music front, this grandmother of six is also dubbed the “Queen of Mutuashi” (mutuashi is Congo’s Afro-Cuban-influenced dance music), but after more than 30 years in the biz she’s toned it down considerably from the days when on stage she’d throw in generous dollops of “almost half naked” writhing, as one Ugandan newspaper put it. Sure, Mamu’s been at it a while, but she’s obviously still got it…you go, girl!

A New Year’s Eve Blast From the Past: “Another Year” from Spain’s Mecano

December 31, 2009 at 10:00 am | Posted in Europe, festivals/celebrations, music, Spain | Leave a comment
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by Tripatini staff

An oldie but goodie from one of the seminal Spanish pop groups of the 1980’s and 1990’s, newly reunited just this November. Two brothers, Nacho and José María Cano wrote and played the tunes and Ana Torroja sang ’em, and many were quirky doozies — I Can’t Get Up Today, This Isn’t a Serious Cemetery, I Crashed a Party, Stereosexual. This one, from the 1987 album Descanso dominical (Sunday Break) describes the annual New Year’s Eve revelry in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol plaza — “sailors, soldiers, singles, marrieds, lovers, strollers, even the occasional confused priest / Amid shouts and whistles, Spaniards big and small for once do something at the same time.” But the video pulls in imagery from NYE throughout the world as well as movies and TV sources as varied as The Simpsons and the original Poseidon Adventure. Because nothing says “Happy New Year!” like a sinking ship.

Roll Over, Irving Berlin — “White Christmas” Goes Italian Pop

December 23, 2009 at 12:00 pm | Posted in Italy, music | Leave a comment
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by Tripatini staff

 Just turned the big 4-0, Florentine pop singer Irene Grandi back in 1994 lost the top prize to Andrea Bocelli in her big-time solo stage debut at the San Remo Festival. Whatever — she’s gone on to have a healthy if not quite stellar music/TV career, heavy on covers, novelty songs, and a diva-flavored dose of boorish behavior (she titled her 2008 autobiography Diary of a Bad Girl). In thelatest  of her more than ten albums, though, she’s perfectly nice, not naughty — it’s a Yuletide collection called (prosaically enough) Canzoni per Natale, from which this translated update of Irving Berlin’s antediluvian chestnut is taken; no doubt as an homage, they chose to set the video in Berlin, Germany. Others of the dozen songs on the album, by the way, besides several Italian numbers, include a bunch of — well, covers, such as several of the usual international suspects like Silent Night, Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow, John Lennon’s Happy Xmas (War Is Over), and Paul McCartney’s Wonderful Christmastime. We were a bit let down, however, to not find La nonna è stata investita da una renna (Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer).

German Popster Peter Fox Goes Ape in Berlin

December 11, 2009 at 9:38 am | Posted in Europe, Germany, music | Leave a comment
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by Tripatini staff

Germany’s hottest pop star of 2009, the bearded 38-year-old Berliner (né Pierre Baigorry) is a member of the dancehall/reggae band Seeed. Last year he released his first solo album, Stadtaffe (“City Ape”), from which this hit single “Alles neu” is taken (and the simian theme is carried amply into the video, as you can see). The album’s been a Euro-blockbuster, and the song’s striking visuals are matched by provocative lyrics such as, “My head explodes, everything has to change,” and “I burn my studio, sniff the ashes like cocaine, I strike dead my goldfish, bury it in the yard.” Good times…

BTW, another popular song from the same album, “Haus am see (House on the Lake)” was a little more sedate, to say the least — just as well, ’cause after all this strenuous monkeying around, we need a breather.

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