Ola Svensson releases his third album in Sweden this coming Wednesday. The former Idol contestant has become one of the more successful pop artists in Sweden over the last half a decade. Most of his singles go to number 1, both in the sales charts and in radio station airplay lists. He’s a staple headliner at pop festivals where he usually doesn’t even need to sing the choruses of some of his hits like ‘Natalie’, ‘Unstoppable’, or ‘SOS’ – as most of the crowd do the job for him! He’s also an IMMENSELY popular pin up choice for teenage girls. And even young women who have progressed from their teens still class him as utterly gorge – the same girls that perhaps see Mans as too cute, Eric as too young, and Darin as too virginal!
So that’s Ola the pop idol. But what about the music? Well Ola is known for his uber catchy, and trademark shouty choruses. It’s difficult not to sing-a-long with most of his singles. But could he maintain that over a whole album? And does he even want to hold on to that sound now that he’s on his third opus and a whole lot more mature now? We were sent the album late last week, so here are our thoughts;
Well thankfully he hasn’t moved on from pop music. And whilst he has definitely matured in sound, it’s still a sound that’s been cultivated especially for (and by) him, and one that you couldn’t imagine being delivered by the aforementioned Mans, Eric or Darin. And Ola now joins Eric and Darin in the ranks of Swedish pop boys who have released a really quite fantastic album in 2010! ‘Ola’ is a thoroughly enjoyable record. Every one of the ten tracks has something quite special about it. The uptempos are punchy, the midtempos are melodic, and the closing ballad is beautiful. We have lots of favourites already. But here’s our track by track review;
All Over The World
Many of you will know this already as we’ve written about it before. Wow! Without a doubt one of the best things he’s ever done. This is Ola finally taking on dance pop, and totally owning it. It’s anthemic stuff, helped along the way by a string section that sounds like its been lifted from ‘Release Me’ by Agnes, and promptly injected with steroids before being told to do an even better job with this song! We can’t imagine any scandipop reader not adoring this. And we really really hope that Ola explores this direction even further in the future.
Unstoppable (The Return of Natalie)
Ola’s huge 2010 hit. The song that took him to the final of Melodifestivalen and gave him his most well known, and loved hit since ‘Natalie’ – funnily enough, given the title! It’s a jaunty pop number with an unrelenting beat and a magnificent final chorus.
THIS IS SCHLAGER! We’re sure that probably wasn’t the sound they were going for, but this is definitely pure camp schlager goodness. Slightly retro and motown, and with a ridiculous lyric in which he gets frustrated at the fact that it’s so hard for every ”bitch” to see that ”you’re that girl” (Y.T.G.)! The chorus is irresistable, but the verses are equally as fun. And the music….oh that wonderful schlager music!
Ola does Ke$ha! ‘Riot’ is a full on tribute to Dr Luke’s production, an autotuned vocal, and lyrics about getting rather messy on a night out. That’s not to sound cynical, it actually all works amazingly well and is another of our favourites on here. An electro pop, contained epidemic! It should definitely be a single at some stage, we’d love to see him perform it live.
His most recent single. ‘Overdrive’ screams summer jam. We weren’t sure what to think of it at first, but it didn’t take long before it was lodged unforgivingly in our heads. Yet another obscenely catchy inclusion on the album. And one of the best showcases of his voice.
Some midtempo ballad goodness from Ola. Heavy both with beats and guitars, and it’s got a beautiful lyrical sentiment. We love that it goes from being calm to anthemic, both in the music and in the vocal delivery. There’s also a heavy use of autotune, but it’s not a bad thing at all, it sounds right.
Busy Doing Nothing
Perhaps the strangest, but definitely one of the most utterly charming tracks on here. It’s like ‘Overdrive’s more hyper brother! We love the instrumentation. Although the melodies aren’t really the strongest – but then we thought the same when we first heard ‘Overdrive’, and look what happened there! And it’s got a wonderfully zany spoken word section in the middle eight.
Another of our favourites. This is a MASSIVE r&b ballad. First presented on the ‘Overdrive’ EP, this was overshadowed by ‘All Over The World’. But like that song, we also think that this is one of the best tracks that Ola’s ever recorded. It’s yet another variation of a sound that suits him so well. The beats are pleasingly intrusive, and the brilliant middle eight is repeated again as the song fades out.
Let It Hit You
Another r&b ballad from Ola, in the same vein as the previous track, and another absolute corker! It sounds like the best bits of Tinchy Stryder & Amelle’s ‘Never Leave You’ (which basically, are the Amelle bits!). We definitely want to hear more of these kind of tracks from Ola in the future. They really really suit him. This is verging on being a 10/10 moment.
And finally a traditional ballad to close the album. Mostly guitar and piano based, this song is all the more impressive as it shows the listener that he can pull off this type of singing after nine tracks of a whole other kind of vocal. It’s dreamy, it’s sad, and it’s the perfect end to a perfect pop album.
We’re loving Ola right now, and give this album a big fat 9/10!