Class of 2015: New music from Amber, Polina Gagarina, Debrah Scarlett, Maria Olafs, Maraaya and Nadav Guedj
As the stars of Stockholm adjust to a life sans-Eurovision, we take a look at what the class of 2015 have been getting up to. We’ve got new music from Maria Olafs, Nadav Guedj, Amber, Maraaya and Debrah Scarlett. But first let’s begin with last year’s runner-up, Polina Gagarina.
Polina Gagarina “Day” and “Golos”
Russia’s Polina Gagarina won’t be boxed. She belted out a ballad of peace at Eurovision 2015, she camped it up on the Hotel Transylvania 2 soundtrack, and “I Will Not” saw her play the role of a woman scorned. Her latest single “Day” sees her venture down yet another path. The production is extremely minimalist with sparse use of instrumentation throughout. There’s no discernible hook, while Polina’s vocals maintain a breathy almost dreamlike quality. The track itself has been knocking around the internet since late 2014, but the official video only landed in April. It too is very simplistic, set entirely in a plain white studio. As always, the “A Million Voices” singer looks stunning as she lounges in a high chair, mournfully singing of a love that’s slipped away. It’s not one for the masses, but it makes for a diverting few minutes of experimental pop.
Lady Gagarina also does R&B. She even tries her hand at rapping on “Golos” or “The Voice”, her new collaboration with rapper Basta. The track is broadly in keeping with the sparse feel of “Day” — basically her fine set of lungs don’t have much work to do. The video sees Polina visit Basta in prison. As they sing and rap we witness the passage of time — they argue, they make-up and grow old. It’s nice that Polina’s branching out, but it would be a lie to say that we’re not yearning for her next pop banger.
Debrah Scarlett “To Figure”
We’ve already reviewed Mørland’s recent releases, but his partner in crime Debrah Scarlett has been frequenting the recording studio too. Back in February she dropped “To Figure”, a wonderfully soulful number that’s a world away from the melodrama of “A Monster Like Me”. The track is essentially a coming of age tale, narrated by Debrah’s intoxicatingly rich vocals. It’s decision time and the red-haired beauty needs space to think, to figure what’s right and what’s wrong. We don’t know about her other choices in life, but she’s definitely on the right track musically.
Amber “What They Say” and “Messed Up Love”
Different style, different genre, same theme. “What They Say” sees Malta’s Amber do her best to shake off the frumpy warrior maiden image from Vienna. And for the most part she succeeds. She’s still singing of empowerment but now she looks cool doing it. But just like “Warrior”, the song lacks conviction. Amber sings about being an independent woman, yet she sounds like she’s simply going through the motions. There’s no bite to her bark. The track itself sounds like a relic from the last decade.
For her latest single, Amber takes another route. “Messed Up Love” is a dark mish-mash of genres. One moment Amber’s serving up sultry breathy vocals, the next she’s belting it out. More intense than her previous efforts, it still leaves us wanting. There are elements that really work, but the whole package is rather lacklustre.
Maraaya “Nothing Left For Me”
Breakups rarely sound this fierce. The thrilling cello opening is the perfect match for Marjetka’s raspy vocals, and sets the mood for Maraaya’s latest offering “Nothing Left For Me”. Unlike so many other songs stemming from splits, she’s not pining after the man. Marjetka’s the one in control. Dripping with attitude, she purrs “there’s nothing left for me… I want to feel alive”. Of course, the “Hear For You” singer isn’t completely heartless. She has regrets — “dreaming only dreaming. Always, always, it’s misconceiving”. Let’s just hope the single’s not autobiographical. The last thing we want is Marjetka and Raay going their separate musical ways!
Nadav Guedj “Make You Mine”, “Hold The City” and “Elle M’rend Fou”
Israel’s Nadav Guedj has been a busy boy since Vienna. His self-titled debut album dropped a few weeks ago, and with it came a slew of new music. In March we got “Make You Mine”, a mellow departure from his usual upbeat fare. It’s a slow, soulful piano ballad which sees Nadav veer extremely close to stalker territory. He’s met a girl but he doesn’t even know her name — “I want to call you but I still don’t know your name”. And by the second verse he’s completely infatuated — “I want you so bad and ain’t nobody else… I need you to save me”. Perhaps it’s time he saved himself and slowed down. No one wants a restraining order!
“Hold The City” landed in May. And after a brooding opening it develops into another slow number. This time Nadav isn’t trying to catch a girl, but rather explain why he has to leave her — “I wanna stay but I gotta be gone”. There’s pain — “like a needle sticking in her heart” — and tears. These mixed message would leave anyone’s head spinning.
Fear not, the Nadav of old hasn’t disappeared completely. His most recent track is the French language “Ell M’rend Fou” or “She Makes Me Crazy”. While not quite the certified club banger we’ve come to expect from the “Jump” hitmaker, it ups the tempo considerably. The infectious beats certainly help get the party started.
Maria Olafs “Baby Take The Wheel”
After the more downbeat “Someday”, Iceland’s Maria Olaf returns to the heady optimism of “Unbroken” for her latest single “Baby Take The Wheel”. This time, instead of overcoming adversity, she’s encouraging her “baby” to “pull the safety pin” and be with her. It’s a fun, throwaway number, but Maria needs to heed her own advice and be a bit more adventurous herself.
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