Thursday, 15 November 2012

Why 'Så Mycket Bättre' should come to the UK

Så Mycket Bättre is one of Sweden's most popular TV shows, with a premise so simple and obvious that not only is it astonishing that nobody thought of it before, but it's incredible that the format hasn't found its way across the world yet, and I wonder if it ever will. Translating as 'so much better', the show basically features seven popular Swedish artists each series, who in turn cover songs by each other, in their own unique style. The most popular breakthrough acts from the previous series' were September, already an international star with a UK top five hit, Cry For You, and quirky indie-pop singer/songwriter Laleh. September was undoubtedly so popular because whilst being known and pigeonholed as a dance act, the show gave her a platform to show off her live vocals and adaptability by performing in a different style each week. Her take on rapper Petter's Mikrofonkåt became the biggest hit of her career and she has since dropped the September moniker, releasing a recent Swedish #1 album under her birthname Petra Marklund, with a more radio pop/MOR sound than her September material. With near two million viewers a week, almost a quarter of Sweden's population, it's clear that the idea is a popular one and it's a wonder that it hasn't been picked up in the UK yet. 

Prime time music shows are few and far between these days, with only The X Factor particularly thriving, but Så Mycket Bättre is a novel idea that I really think that the UK might take to. The only problem would be persuading big names to sign up to it. Whilst Sweden enjoy some of their biggest stars performing each others hits - Darin, Miss Li, September and Lena Philipsson to name but a few - would anybody want to see Dane Bowers take on Lisa Scott-Lee's Electric or Kavana having a go at Javine's Real Things. But with the right names it could be a perfect launchpad for newly solo artists (Shane Filan?), a way to relaunch a career by being back in the public eye every week and showing everybody why we loved them in the first place (Leona Lewis?) or even a way for an already successful artist to show how grounded they are by leaving egos at the door to cover hits by other artists and reaping the rewards with critical praise and hit singles. 

Every performance on Så Mycket Bättre goes straight onto iTunes and many of the good ones go on to dominate the charts and radio playlists for months to come. What better a way for an artist to get back into the public eye than potentially scoring seven consecutive top five singles, and then putting an album out with public interest at a high. Imagine a potential line-up of Leona Lewis, Gary Barlow, Tinie Tempah, Shane Filan, Jamelia, Dido and Daniel Bedingfield, some may be long washed up but the novelty of seeing Tinie Tempah doing a rap version of Flying Without Wings or Dido taking on Pass Out would surely entice viewers. And who knows where the odd gem or surprise might surface from? Imagine Daniel Bedingfield wowing everybody with a raw stripped back take on Bleeding Love and having an instant but unlikely career revival!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Calling all female singers aged 16-20!

A&R company Coopercasting and Sony Music are auditioning for new musical talent. They are looking for female singers aged 16-20 and auditions will be held in London throughout November.
To be considered you can e-mail a photo with a vocal sample or video and your contact details to

For further info, see here; /

Friday, 2 November 2012

Eight letters, three words, one Robbie

When Take That's Progress was released this time two years ago, everybody was raving over the bold new electro route that the group had gone down. It was felt to be the influence of the returning Robbie Williams. Robbie famously quit the band in 1995 and rejoined them four years after Gary, Mark, Howard and Jason had carved out a niche as Britian's biggest pop manband, releasing modern classics such as Patience, Shine and Rule The World. Quite unrecognisable from the cheesy boyband that they used to be, but no less successful. Robbie rejoined them, presumably because he had some unfinished business, and perhaps because his own career had been slowly dwindling since his solo heydey and utter chart domination of the late 90s/early 00s. He was slowly reintroduced to the fold via his Gary Barlow duet Shame, the lead single from his hits album In And Out Of Consciousness. That was a #2 hit and was duly followed a few weeks later by another #2 smash, Take That's The Flood. The Flood was quite unlike the rest of Progress, very anthemic and radio ready and sounding much like the output that the second incarnation of Take That had been putting out for the preceding few years. 

The only other song on Progress that sounded even vaguely like the Take That responsible for Beautiful World and The Circus was the gorgeous album closer Eight Letters, which later went on to close the Progress Live tour. Robbie was apparently the driving force behind the album version of Eight Letters, even though writing credits show all five band members names. Gary sings the album version with the rest of the band on harmonies but Robbie has taken the song back for himself as his solo version of the track features on the deluxe edition of his new album Take The Crown. He sounds just as good on the track as Gary did and for my money it's a timeless song which deserves to be a modern classic in the vein of the aformentioned Take That singles. 

As for the Barlow/Williams partnership, it looks set to be almost as fruitful as the famous songwriting partnership that Robbie used to have with Guy Chambers. The album's lead single, the catchy and cheeky Candy, is set to give the star his first UK #1 single since 2004's Radio. With a projected sale of around 120k, this to go along with his 80k+ opening for 2009 single Bodies and 230k opening for his last studio album, Reality Killed The Video Star, it seems that even a Robbie Williams 'flop' is more successful than any output from 95% of other artists!