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Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Some photos from Gothenburg...

Here are some photographs which I took at the concert last Friday night in Gothenburg.

Monday, 29 March 2010

My review: Salem Al Fakir / Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Konserthuset, Gothenburg - Friday 26th March 2010

This is probably one of the longest posts I've ever done for Planet Salem! Apologies in advance for the length of this review but there was so much I wanted to say :) anyway I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it over the course of this evening. (Photographs are still being edited at the moment so these will follow later in the week)

The idea....
The collision of the popular and classical music worlds can often result in musical magic. That is the idea behind the "Popical" series at the Gothenburg Konserthuset, where various musicians collaborate with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra. An excellent idea, you will agree.

But when you add Salem Al Fakir to the equation, it becomes a phenomenal prospect. When you consider Salem’s own classically trained musical background, it all makes perfect sense, but his own music, although unclassifiable, could be termed "pop" in the purest sense of the word = "pop" as in "popular" with the widest possible appeal to everyone from 7 to 70 years old. So it was appropriate that Salem’s own diverse musical approach would be taken to the highest level in the "Popical" context.

It’s not the first time of course that Salem has collaborated with an orchestra in a live setting. In November 2008 and December 2009, he played a series of live shows at Berwaldhallen in Stockholm with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, highlights of which were broadcast on Swedish Radio, and it became very clear that this was an extra special experience for everyone lucky enough to have witnessed this collaboration. Salem also performed with the Malmö Symphony Orchestra in an outdoor show in that city last summer.

The dream.....
From the moment that the one-off Gothenburg show was announced, there was only one thing I knew. I had to be there, and would go to any length to make it. Regular readers will know that I went over to see Salem play at Trädgår’n in Gothenburg 11 months ago. At that time Salem was on tour with his band, promoting "Astronaut" which had just been released. It had been a terrific concert, but his orchestra-show was the one I really wanted to see, as it is very obvious that Salem’s music is just made for this orchestral setting.

After overcoming a couple of minor difficulties, I finally booked my tickets in January and was lucky enough to get seats in the fifth row from the front. At that time there were many tickets still available, but the 1200-capacity Stora Salen sold out very quickly indeed, particularly after his appearance in Melodifestivalen.

The success....
Since that first appearance in Örnsköldsvik on 6th February 2010, everything has changed. Before Melodifestivalen, it appeared that Salem, although reasonably well known with a loyal fanbase, was still a long way outwith the "mainstream": and a lot of people in Sweden were still unfamiliar with his music, which was ignored by the main commercial radio stations. It felt at times that Salem was more popular with the music critics in the media, than with the public.

It was therefore a very wise move on Salem’s part to accept that invitation from Christer Björkman to participate in this phenomenally successful annual TV event, as a way to get his music over to a wider audience, without any compromise whatsoever and emerging with his credibility intact.

Fast forward to the end of March 2010: "Ignore This" stays at no.1 in the Sverige Topplistan album chart in its first two weeks of release, and tops the iTunes album chart, with the only competition coming from, of course, the Melodifestivalen compilation CD. "Keep On Walking" tops the influential Tracks and Digilistan singles charts, as well as the iTunes singles chart. The song is A-listed on radio, not just on P3 which has continually supported Salem, but also on the hugely popular commercial stations Rix FM and Mix Megapol. Today there are almost 26,500 fans on Salem’s Facebook page; and since Melodifestivalen, Planet Salem has received a record number of visitors! (Thanks to each and every one of you!)

The audience....
It was a mixture of ‘old’ and ‘new’ fans who welcomed Salem to the Konserthuset last Friday - but it was very reassuring to note that he still attracts the widest possible age group to his shows, and I can’t think of any other performer right now who appeals to such a wide range of musical tastes. I was delighted by the audience’s enthusiastic reaction throughout the show from beginning to end, so if you were there, give yourselves a round of applause! :)

The conductor...
During the Berwaldhallen concert series, Salem’s music was arranged for orchestra by the brilliant conductor/arranger Hans Ek, with whom Salem seems to have developed an almost telepathic understanding of his musical requirements. Of course Salem’s own talent as an arranger, and his understanding of the classical music environment obviously helps too!

The good news for those of us lucky enough to have been in Gothenburg on Friday, was that Salem was reunited with this excellent and charismatic conductor, who ensured that the orchestra delivered a perfect musical accompaniment: Hans Ek also proved to have a very good sense of fun in his between-song chats and anecdotes with Salem.

The orchestra....
It was a "home game" for the GSO as the Konserthuset is their base, and what a stunning hall. The acoustics were as good as previously described, and although there may have been a slight echo at times (maybe just because where I was sitting?) Salem was never drowned out by the orchestra, which some reviewers had highlighted previously at the time of the Berwaldhallen shows.

That may have also had something to do with the large number of musicians on the Berwaldhallen stage, whereas it was a reduced version of the GSO which appeared on the Konserthuset stage with Salem on Friday. I felt that there was just the right amount of musicians present, enough to provide a perfect orchestral backing whilst at times maintaining an almost intimate atmosphere.

The style....
Of course I can’t write my review without mentioning what Salem was wearing! He was dressed for the occasion in a silver grey jacket, white shirt and dark grey tie, Salem has such a fantastic sense of style, and Friday night was no different. And he looked so handsome as always!

The band...
Of course a special mention must go to Salem’s band, who put in a great performance as always: Jakob Birgersson (bass), Nisse Wallfält (drums), and Adam Hagstrand (guitar).

Unfortunately from where I was sitting, I couldn’t see them as they were hidden behind Salem and his piano - but their musical contribution was extremely important, and they also provided some very good backing vocals too. And on another fashion note: they were also very well-dressed for the occasion!

Salem....
The orchestra initially took to the stage, followed by Salem’s band members, Hans Ek, and finally Salem himself. He sat down at his grand piano, where he would remain for the rest of the evening.

If I was trying to describe what made Salem so special as a live performer, (apart from his outstanding musicality, talent and ability to craft melodic and emotionally compelling songs), I would highlight his hugely charismatic personality and his ability to connect with an audience.

But there were two other significant things I noticed on Friday night too - his constant respect and appreciation of Hans Ek and the GSO musicians from beginning to end, and his absolute enjoyment of the evening from the moment that he came on the stage until his final bow. On Friday night on that Gothenburg Konserthuset stage, Salem Al Fakir was the true definition of happiness.

The song choices...
Despite the recent release of the new album, only three songs from it were included. (I think this had more to do with the practicalities of arranging the material for the orchestra).

My own view is that although I love the new album, there were certain older songs that I wanted to hear with the orchestra and I wouldn’t have been too happy if these had been dropped to make way for some new songs! Regular readers will know that my two favourite Salem songs are "Good Song" and "One Of The Others", both of which are taken to a whole new level with the orchestral accompaniment, so I was particularly happy that these were included, likewise "This Is Who I Am", "Twelve Fingers" and "Cold Shower". It was truly a "greatest hits" set!

The set list: Act I
The show began in subtle style with "Astronaut" which was an immediate sign that Salem would be acknowledging every stage of his musical career to date. When the strings came in later, it was to be the first of many magical musical moments of the evening.

And they followed one by one: "It’s Only You (Part II)".... "This Is Who I Am"...."Twelve Fingers"; and then to the spellbinding "Brooklyn Sun" in what is, for me, the definitive (orchestral) version of this song. Utterly beautiful. The pace picked up again with "Cold Shower" - Salem was very active, jumping around during this one!

Hans Ek then introduced the band and the orchestra. Then it was "4 O’Clock" - which means....handclaps time!!!! This was great fun, as the orchestra took a break from playing and Hans Ek conducted them - and us - in synchronised handclapping after every line of the verses. It was good to hear "4 O’Clock" in a non-electronic style - its arrangement for band and piano was just lovely.

The first half of the set was closed with "Roxy" which is a pretty surreal experience, hearing such a cheeky song played in a classy-orchestral style.....!

A brief interval followed, which allowed us to take stock of what had gone before, and look forward to what was to come. During the interval I speculated on some of the songs which may be played....and was pleased to say I got most of them right :)

The set list: Act II
If act one had been one treat after another, then even better was to come. The second half of the concert kicked off with my personal favourite of Salem’s whole repertoire - the simple but timeless "Good Song" which of course erupted into a giant audience singalong.

I had hoped for a surprise during the show and it came at this point. Hans Ek began telling a story about the Polar-priset and Peter Gabriel, which could only mean one thing - the return of "Solsbury Hill". I almost jumped out of my seat when it began....and the sight of Salem punching the air at the ‘my heart going boom boom boom’ part just completely knocked me out. However if you are a Salem-obsessive like me, then you will be well aware of, let’s just say, the second-verse ‘situation’ and it occurred yet again on Friday - which was followed by a missing chorus too :) I think/hope Salem saw the funny side :)))

And then, to my other most-favourite Salem song: "One Of The Others".....At this point I was completely overtaken by my emotions. Of all the songs that Salem plays with the orchestra, this one transports me out of this world. The new orchestral arrangement was elaborate and complex, whilst words cannot describe the middle/symphonic section of the song before that stop/start moment which was yet another signal for the crowd to begin clapping along.

"Dream Girl" - always a classic, but particularly breathtaking this time. Although Salem has always had a distinctive singing voice, I feel that there has been an extraordinary development in his vocal talent over the last year or two and he particularly excelled in this song tonight. This was one of the best orchestral-accompaniments of the night, building up and taking us beyond our wildest expectations, and (particularly in the last minute) transporting us out of this world.

With the arrival of "It’s True" - the original crowd-pleasing favourite - we knew that the end of the show was approaching. The song hasn’t changed too much in style, but its simplicity is its strong point.

And so to the most popular song of the evening - "Keep On Walking". The audience was on their feet immediately, clapping, singing, screaming....it became an anthem of triumphant celebration. Where the recorded version ends somewhat abruptly, Friday night’s version built up towards a simply breathtaking orchestral finale.

(Not for the first time that night I felt my eyes filling up with tears of pure emotion, and by the end of the concert I had almost lost my voice and couldn’t speak, not just because I had been singing and screaming at the top of my voice, but because I was completely overcome with emotion. Yes I know it’s a cliche, but in this case it was a highly appropriate way to describe how I felt)

Finally....Salem returned and ended the evening with the traditional set-closer "Thank You" which again was a beautiful collaboration with the orchestra and the perfect way to end the night. Everyone took their bows, Salem received a bouquet of flowers which he then tossed out into the audience to one lucky female fan a few rows behind where I was sitting :)

We all shouted and stamped our feet....we didn’t want Salem to go! He came back out on stage and typical of his sense of humour, waved us all to go home and took his final bow.

I feel honoured and privileged to have witnessed this fantastic concert, by an extraordinarily talented young man who is at his creative peak. Can it get any better? I would be tempted to answer ‘no’ - how can you improve on perfection? But this is Salem Al Fakir we are talking about. A world star in the making, if he is given the chance to be heard outside Sweden. He is capable of anything. He is aiming for the sky....and there is no limit to what he can achieve.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Hello again!!

Yes I'm back from Gothenburg - what a wonderful weekend that was! My review of the concert will follow at some point tomorrow as I need to put my thoughts and feelings together so that it all makes sense :))

In the meantime, thanks for all your kind comments - much appreciated.

And in case you wondered, yes I am listening to my whole Salem music collection at the moment :)

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Final update from Gothenburg

Well I suppose that I should say goodbye now, even though I've still got one more day here there is lots to do and time is moving on....

Anyway Planet Salem will return on Sunday night and I'll post my full concert review then. It really has been the experience of a lifetime for me and I'm still on a euphoric high today, although I'm also very sad too that the concert is over as I wish I could do it all again tonight.

Remember if you are in or around the Umeå area that Salem will be doing a signing this afternoon at Media Markt and then playing the Umeå Open tonight - if you are going, enjoy!

Thanks to everyone who made this fabulous weekend possible for me (you know who you are) and I hope you will continue to follow this blog as it "keeps on walking" into the next great chapter of Salem's musical journey.

Hej då!

/Laura.

There are no words to describe....

....how wonderful the concert was last night.

God morgon everyone, it´s late morning in a very rainy Gothenburg but the sun is still shining in my little world as I think back to last night´s show. It was even better than I thought or hoped it would be: a perfect night. Terrific singing and playing by Salem and his always excellent band, and an outstanding accompaniment by the musicians of the GSO, under the direction of the fabulous Hans Ek, who of course worked with Salem on his Berwaldhallen shows.

I will post a full review when I get back home, but in the meantime here is the set list, which I scribbled down as the show went on...

Astronaut
It's Only You Part II
This Is Who I Am
Twelve Fingers
Brooklyn Sun
Cold Shower
4O'Clock
Roxy

Interval

Good Song
Solsbury Hill
One Of The Others
Dream Girl
It's True
Keep On Walking
Thank You

And yes, it really was like a "greatest hits" set which I particularly appreciated as a lot of my old favourites were in there - you know what they are by now :)

Anyway there is one more thing I need to tell you - yes, I got the opportunity to meet Salem again at the show - he was as lovely as ever and I´ll tell you more about it when I get back home!

If you were at the show last night I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. It was a really appreciative audience in the Konserthuset and I thought the roof was going to come off when they played "Keep On Walking" - this may now have taken over from "It's True" as the crowd-pleaser!

Finally, if you were at the show, please leave your comments and let me know what you thought about last night. It was a fantastic experience and the best concert I've ever seen - even better than the last time I saw him live, 11 months ago.

Tack så mycket Salem and the GSO for a marvellous evening!!

Friday, 26 March 2010

Sverige Topplistan = "Ignore This" is still at no.1!

Fantastic news isn´t it!!

Hello from Gothenburg!!

Yes we made it!

Arrived in Gothenburg yesterday evening - pleasantly surprised that the weather is milder and not as cold as I expected it to be.

It feels like I'm 'home' again, at least in my spiritual musical home once again ;) "A year goes by, nothing has changed and you wonder why"... back seeing all the old haunts, restaurants and bars, the beautiful scenery and the beautiful people of course!

This morning I was listening to all the Swedish radio stations and finally heard "Keep On Walking" on Mix Megapol, where there was also an interview with Salem so I got even more excited ;)

Right now I'm in a little internet cafe called Sidewalk Express, checking my emails and, well, blogging!!

If you are all going to the show tonight then I just know that you will be in for an absolute treat.
There are some other things I need to do so I´ll keep this post brief - but it's just great to be able to sit on a Friday morning in March in Gbg..... and look forward to yet another of the best nights of my life.

Tonight at 9.00 in the Konserthuset!!!!!

Further updates to follow....

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Final update before Gothenburg....but more updates when I get there!

Salem appeared at Bengans in Gothenburg today for a signing session - I see there are some nice photos appearing on Facebook tonight :) If you went along and got to meet Salem then I'm very happy for you all!

I wish I'd been there....sadly it looks as if I'm not going to get the chance to meet Salem this time when I come over to Gothenburg. Of course I would love to have met him again, but he's so busy now....

Anyway there is the concert on Friday to look forward to: it will be another dream come true for me to see Salem live, especially with the orchestra. I can't describe how excited I am about my trip!

And Salem....if you are reading this, I just want to wish you all the best for the show, I'm sure you and the band will be wonderful as always!

Planet Salem "on location"!
Anyway, I'm going to try something different over the next few days: I don't usually blog when I go on holiday but I thought it might be a good idea to go into an internet cafe and try out some on-location blogging from Gothenburg and also check my emails at the same time.

This will be my last update before going to Gothenburg: I won't be available tomorrow as I'll be leaving early and travelling for most of the day. However I will try and check emails and update the blog on Friday afternoon and then again during the day on Saturday. Fingers crossed!

If you are going to the show on Friday night, then I hope you all have a fabulous time. I know I will.

Talk to you all soon!

/Laura

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Today's update - 23.03.2010

Just to let you know that I'll post my final update tomorrow evening, then Planet Salem will be closing for a few days whilst I'm over in Gothenburg for Salem's concert - I'll answer any comments/emails tomorrow night and then I won't be available again till late Sunday night when I'm back home.

But let's take a look back at what happened today...

Salem was in Norway today, and he posted a nice picture of his crew on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=3910645&id=50286022803

Hej Mankan! Are you still reading my blog? Hope things are going very well for you, and it's good to know that you are still working with Salem :)

The next big event of course will be Salem's signing at Bengans in Gothenburg tomorrow at 16:00 - remember to get along there and show Salem your love and support!

Salem will be doing a signing in Umeå this Saturday at 14:00 in Media Markt. Of course Salem will also be playing the Umeå Open festival this Saturday and will be on stage at 22:45. Find the full schedule of acts appearing at http://www.umeaopen.se/umeaopen/schema/. I also notice that one of my favourite Swedish bands, Fibes, Oh Fibes! will be playing this festival and will be on stage at 21:00 on Friday night. At the very same moment that Salem will be taking to the stage in Gothenburg!

Salem now has over 25,200 fans on Facebook, which is fabulous news. You are all doing a great job over there :)

"Keep On Walking" was no.1 again in today's Rix FM Topp 6 Klockan 6 chart - keep on voting!

Finally, Salem posted on Facebook that his appearance on the Petra Mede Show on TV3 will be screened on Monday 5th April at 22:00.

Monday, 22 March 2010

My Gothenburg countdown: the waiting is almost over!

On Thursday afternoon I will finally be flying over to Gothenburg, and on Friday night I’ll be at the Konserthuset to see Salem’s concert with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.

11 months ago, in April 2009, I went over to Gothenburg for Salem’s concert at Trädgårn. What a fantastic experience it was, truly the best night of my life. Regular readers will know that I got to meet Salem before the show - a dream come true! - and the concert itself was unforgettable.

Needless to say, all my friends have asked if I would be able to meet Salem again? Of course I would love to meet up with Salem again....however I am realistic enough to know that Salem is extremely busy now, after Melodifestivalen, the release of the album, and rehearsing with his band, so I will understand if he doesn’t have the time, but it would be very very nice if he did have the time for a quick chat, especially as I can’t make it to the Bengans signing. I will keep my fingers crossed anyway ;)

Of course I’m massively excited about my trip to Gothenburg....I’ve always wanted to see Salem perform with an orchestra and this should be a fabulous live experience. I wonder if there will be any surprises in the show, and how many of the new songs he will play? (I would guess he’ll play "Virgin Mary", "4 O’Clock", "I’m So Happy", and of course "Brooklyn Sun" and "Keep On Walking" - as well as all the old favourites?)

It will be an amazing show, so congratulations to everyone who has managed to get a ticket....it’s going to be a fantastic Friday night!!

By the way, I’ll continue to update Planet Salem and respond to emails between now and Wednesday night, in between all my pre-holiday preparations!

/Laura.

"Ignore This" : my review

Sorry for the delay, but here is my review at last - hope you like it ;)

Almost a year to the day since Salem Al Fakir released his second album, the criminally underrated "Astronaut", here comes album no. 3, delivered in remarkably quick time - but given Salem’s continually prolific and creative musical nature then this isn’t such a surprise after all.

When you make the commitment to becoming a Salem Al Fakir fan, you sign up for a journey which is full of surprises at every twist and turn, and you leave any preconceptions behind. So we arrive at the latest stop on the journey, "Ignore This" Of course Salem’s music is completely unclassifiable but if you were to compare his three albums so far, you might say that "This Is Who I Am" was the soulful, 70s-influenced one, "Astronaut" was the rockier, 80s one, and "Ignore This"? The electronic one, and despite the fact that he doesn’t listen to current/recent music, it’s possibly his most contemporary collection yet.

But that’s only scratching the surface - the thirteen tracks on this CD are as diverse as ever in their musical arrangements. I’d say it was an album with one foot in the past and one foot in the future, as I feel that one of Salem’s many strengths is the way that he uses influences from the past to craft his music into something genuinely original, that you haven’t heard before.

In its musical layout "Ignore This" takes us back to "This Is Who I Am": it begins with a short instrumental track, and there are two other instrumental interludes along the way.

Here is my track-by-track review.

Track 1: "The Song I Never Wrote"
An electronic, chilled-out, spacey introduction to the album, and in a similar style to "Begin" which heralded the arrival of "This Is Who I Am", three years ago. There’s not really much else I can say about this, it’s short and sweet!

Track 2: "4 O’Clock"
"Get on up on your feet to the love store/Hey bubbles, wanna smell the candy?"

Salem is particularly gifted when it comes to producing strong melodic songs and this is one of the best on the album. It’s commercial and radio-friendly, with an anthemic ‘here we go again’ chorus, an irresistible, almost calypso-styled rhythm. The feel of the song reminded me a little of "New Song" by Howard Jones (if you are old enough to remember that!).

If you thought the lyrics on "Astronaut" were a significant improvement on his debut, then one of the most significant aspects of "Ignore This" is Salem’s significant development as a lyricist, and his ability to tell a story through his songs. "4 O’Clock" clearly demonstrates the more playful side of Salem, and it’s a very good way to kick off the album.

Track 3: "Virgin Mary"
"Didn’t wanna be around when it all fell down/So lucky I got out in time"

Already a firm favourite with fans and bloggers, this is perhaps one of Salem’s most accessible songs in a long time. Very personal lyrics about love-gone-wrong set to catchy, insistent keyboard beats. The first time I heard this, the keyboard-riff sounded very familiar and then it struck me - it’s like a speeded up "This Is Who I Am" (and thanks also to my friend Fredrik for also pointing this out). Extremely catchy, high energy song, and one of the best on the album. Possible future single?

Track 4: "Red Rock"
"Heroes, low life grinders/Everyone’s invited"

This is the song where Salem has gone all Kanye West on us (!) with vocoded vocals throughout (so I’m glad when I got the lyrics so I could see what he was singing). This wasn’t originally one of my favourite songs when I heard the album at first, but it has really grown on me and I think it’s one of the most musically ambitious songs - and when the pulsating beats erupt into that big symphonic chorus (courtesy of Salem’s big brother Ayman, guesting on French horn) it becomes pretty fabulous. But then I also love that moment at about 2:45 into the song when it all subsides and begins to wind down too!

Track 5: "Keep On Walking"
"I was aiming for the sky/Ended up flat on the ground/But once again the sun is rising..."

The first song that Salem wrote for the album, and which came out of a very dark time for him. But it is also extremely hopeful and uplifting too, in a way that seems to come naturally to him. It’s full of heart and soul, and everything about this song just completely grabs your emotions and doesn’t let go. And that, for me is probably what Salem Al Fakir is all about: his natural ability to reach out and connect with people.

Musically, it is Salem at his absolute best: piano, strings, synths and just overflowing with emotion. And what a fabulous singer he is, he can convey so many different emotions within his songs. No wonder everyone loves him now - it’s no surprise ;))

Of course, in an ideal world, he would have won Melodifestivalen, but for me he will always be 2010’s true winner, as he has emerged from the contest with his credibility intact and a whole new audience who completely love his music. Job done.

Track 6: "This Is For"
"I wanna ask questions till your ear falls off"

Perhaps musically and lyrically the toughest song on the album: words that taunt and torture from beginning to end. Initially I was shocked and surprised by the vengeful tone of the lyrics, but they seem to fit with the urgency of the music and the vocoded chorus which gives way to an instrumental fadeout. It may be uncharacteristic for Salem, but it works. The result is insistent and irresistible, (if initially slightly disturbing!) Someone must have really annoyed him....!.

Track 7: "Part Of It"
"Skewed faces and scary eyes/I dare you to take a step outside"

This is a song full of contrasts. Dark lyrical themes mixed with an almost hymn-like chorus, with backing vocals provided by Sami Al Fakir and Linn Segolson. This is maybe not as instant as some of the other songs on the album, but it is proof of Salem’s effortless ability to produce any musical style - in this case a magnificent choral piece.

Track 8: "Brooklyn Sun"
"I would trade away the stars and moon/if you came, came, came back soon, my darker days would all be done"

For me, this is the best track on the album (apart from the now-classic "Keep On Walking" of course) and possibly one of the loveliest songs that I’ve ever had the good fortune to hear. "Brooklyn Sun" is a moving and beautiful song, with simple instrumentation, which still manages after all this time to send a shiver up my spine and puts a lump in my throat. Heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time, with a sense of longing that most songwriters would do anything for....

One significant change I’ve noted on "Ignore This" is that it’s also the first time that Salem has shared any songwriting credits - in the case of "Brooklyn Sun" it’s the appropriately Brooklyn-based American singer/songwriter Nate Campany (check him out at www.myspace.com/natecampany)
 
Track 9: "Don’t Wanna Talk About It"
Another musical interlude, this time in bonkers-techno mode. It stops and starts and then goes into hyperspace (!) I remember someone on Twitter comparing this to Mr Oizo: I understand where they’re coming from!

Track 10: "Bloody Breakfast"
"Make your own path or keep on living two steps behind"

Some telling lyrics which I would interpret as Salem’s take on the nature of fame, however this musically experimental song could probably be interpreted in many ways? This may be one of the most underrated tracks on the album, but became a firm favourite for me very quickly. The "ooooooooo" chorus is original and different, the musical arrangement won’t let you go, and it has some reassuringly warm moments though - "are you a saint or a sinner? Mm-hmm" is just soooooo Salem :))))

Track 11: "Split My Personality"
"I’m disgusted with myself/can’t be trusted"

Another co-written song, this time with the very talented Linn Segolson, whom I previously wrote about on Planet Salem two years ago - http://planetsalem.blogspot.com/2008/02/new-linn-segolson-video-footage-on.html

Musically I’d describe this as probably the most contemporary/recent sounding track - you could imagine the backing track on a Coldplay or Killers album, but what as ever sets it apart is Salem’s unique, distinctive, touching voice, singing some regretful lyrics agains the muscular musical background. I think this will work very well in a live context.

Track 12: "Cowboys and Dinosaurs"
Final instrumental interlude, with a sweet, lullaby quality. Premiered at Salem's Berwaldhallen shows at the end of 2009.

Track 13: "I’m So Happy"
"I'm so happy cause you are gone"

We’ve known long enough about Salem’s natural melodic ability, but this time he’s thrown in a distinctive lyrical twist which initially shocked and surprised me. However, the result is one of the strongest tracks on the album, which turns into a massive singalong, and which will, for sure, be one of the biggest songs in Salem’s live concerts this year. I can’t get this song out of my head...!

So, does "Ignore This" live up to expectations? Yes - of course it does! It’s the album that Salem wanted and needed to make, on the next step of his musical journey. It’s adventurous, daring, different, and special....in other words, Salem Al Fakir.

"Ignore This"? Impossible to do so.

Today's update - 22.03.2010

It's all good news, all the time these days :)

Almost 24,800 fans now on Facebook!!

"Keep On Walking" is no.1 tonight on the Rix FM Topp 6 Klockan 6 chart - remember to "keep on voting" and keep it at no. 1!! Vote at http://www.rixfm.com/program/kvallar-med-christian-hedlund/rix-topp-6-klockan-6

Meanwhile on the Swedish iTunes download chart, "Keep On Walking" remains at no.2 whilst "Ignore This" is also at no. 2. "This Is Who I Am" is no. 100 and "Astronaut" is no. 113.

In the Norwegian iTunes chart, "Ignore This" is no. 43. Whilst in the Finnish iTunes chart, "Ignore This" is at no. 193 - but he's still selling more copies than The Killers and Madonna :)

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Translation of Salem's recent P3 Populär interview

My thanks once again to Eva Jonson, who has provided this translation of Salem's recent interview on Swedish radio. Eva - I don't know how you have the time to put all the work into Salem's Facebook page and do all these translations, but I really appreciate it :)).

Interviewer (Hanna Fahl): So did you want to win Melodifestivalen?

Salem: You know ... I wouldn’t say ’no thanks’, it would have been fantastic and a lot of fun to go on that trip. It would have been great fun to check it out. As previously mentioned, I got the highest jury ... the jury liked me the most, if you sum up the foreign votes and all, so actually I think it could have worked quite well over there. That’s also what is so fun about all this; people here in Sweden choose the song they prefer to hear on the radio, but all and all it’s basically a contest where things will have to get across in Europe, and ... it doesn’t always work, so it can be very difficult ... difficult how to sort of ... and that’s why I liked that they had a foreign jury, to see how it came across. But the Swedish people are the ones who decide what they want to hear, in the end. And then you’ll just have to see how it goes.

H: But now I feel you are fribbling away the question. Did you want to win?

S: I have become so good at that, haven’t I! After this journey ...

H: Doesn’t work with me! Did you want to win, Salem Al Fakir? Or is there a a small sense of relief somewhere inside of you?

[long pause]S: If I would say ... yes, in a way. Because I released a new record at the same time. I have so little time to spare for everything, so then I wouldn’t have ... I would have needed a 36-hour-day to make it. So in a way I’m a bit relieved, because I wouldn’t have had the time to finish everything I had started here. Some might say that’s due to poor planning – others would say very well planned – I don’t know, but yeah, a bit of relief I would say, because I’m so tremendously proud of this record that I have released now, so I want to do everything to make it come through, so then maybe it would have ended up very much in the dark. – Sorry Christer for saying this! [my comment: Salem talks about Christer Björkman, supervisor of Melodifestivalen i Sweden].

H: Yeah, cause that’s like ... I’m thinking it’s a very ’double’ thing. In one way, you get a lot of exposure and a pace-setter by being part of like the biggest TV event of the year, but in fact, your record HAS ended up a bit in the dark? Or ...?

S: No, it hasn’t, not at all! That’s what’s so cool; you are ... they are fantastic out there! It hasn’t ended up in the dark, not one bit.

H: Who are fantastic?
S: The ones who ...the people, who listen. I’m so happy I got to be part of that contest. Some people ask: ’Why are you in that thing?’ bla bla ... I think it was so cool that I got to participate just as I am, and had the permission to be there, and that everyone took me as I am! Even the media – you know, this circus, in the end it’s actually a contest where the biggest artists are they ones with pen and paper, and who ask questions, questions, questions. They are the ones steering the whole thing. And I thought it was so cool to be a part of all that, and still be able to be myself. They took me for who I am – was, and am – and people around the country who called and voted and kind of ... The ones that were interested, also accepted me in that way. I’m just completely ... what’s it called?

H: Amazed ...?

S: Yes, I think it’s fantastic, that I could still be who I was, without changing anything. And that has done ... there seems to be a big interest for the record, lots of people who are interested.

H: Great!

S: Yeah, I’m very happy.

H: And you’ve also got ... for example, my mum is new fan of yours. She was one of them who called in and voted.

S: Yeah, I’ve also noticed ... I started out in ... when did ..? My first EP came out in 2006,

H: You’re asking me, now?

S: Yeah well, you keep track of so many things! ... and ... I still get the same questions now as I did then, so that has to imply that lots of new people have seen me. I think all this is so much fun and such a thrill.

H: Salem Al Fakir – you get to hang around in the studio for a while more. Here is your song, it’s actually number one on Tracks [Swedish radio toplist, my comment] now, congrats, even if you got silver in ... What? You didn’t know that? – Ah, it was just a small joyful leap!

S: Yeah, but I always get just as happy ...!

And I'm so happy for Salem too :)

"Keep On Walking" all over Swedish radio....

I was listening to a lot of Swedish radio on Saturday - P3, Mix Megapol and Rix FM - and I heard "Keep On Walking" so many times, which made me extremely happy indeed.

And of course I've had "Ignore This" on repeated play at home - review to follow on Planet Salem very soon - I am completely loving this album. Completely.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Salem no.1 on Tracks!

I'm listening right now - "Keep On Walking" is this week's no.1 !

Stort grattis Salem!

And now....keep on voting to keep it at the top! You have until 14:00 on Monday to cast your vote at http://www.sr.se/cgi-bin/p3/tracks/index.asp?taskid=1

Friday, 19 March 2010

Salem and Sami on the breakfast-tv sofa

Question: what's even better than one Al Fakir brother?
Answer: Two!

A delightful double Al Fakir treat on SVT's "Gomorron Sverige" on Friday 19th March: both Salem and Sami were interviewed on today's show.

Who wants some screencaps???





You can also see the two-part interview at SVT's website as follows:

Part 1 : http://svtplay.se/v/1933351/rapport/salem-al-fakir

P.S. Did anyone notice that the piece of music played by Sami in the video clip during the first interview was in fact "Manfreds Dans" which Salem and Sami played at Berwaldhallen in 2009?

Part 2 : http://svtplay.se/v/1933470/gomorron_sverige/mer_al_fakir

Melodifestivalen....that was last week's thing

A nice little interview with Salem at Expressen's website: http://www.expressen.se/noje/musik/1.1924041/jag-ar-inte-schlager-salem-nu

Glad to know he's not schlager-Salem - we all know by now that he's far too unique and special for that :)

Charts Update: Sverige Topplistan

"Ignore This" is a new entry at no. 1 in this week's Sverige Topplistan album chart! This is fantastic news!!

In the almost two and a half years that I've been doing this blog, I've dreamed of the day when Salem would finally get the success that he deserved....and that time has now come. Salem is the most popular artist in Sweden this week, with both CD-buyers and digital downloaders alike.

"Keep On Walking" is at no. 4 in the Sverige Topplistan singles chart too.

I'll also bring some more iTunes chart updates over the weekend.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Salem playing Liseberg, Gothenburg on 1 June!!!

Good news for everyone living in or around Gothenburg. Courtesy of Expressen : http://www.expressen.se/noje/1.1922868/har-ar-alla-sommarens-artister-pa-liseberg - Liseberg's summer concert programme has been announced - and Salem will be playing the Stora Scenen on 1st June!

Prizewinner!


Just found this at Poplight: Salem was one of the three winners of the Marcel Bezencon Award at this year's Melodifestivalen. Salem won the 'Best Composer' prize, whilst the Press prize went to Anna Bergendahl and the Artist prize to Eric "Manboy" Saade.
(Picture above courtesy of Poplight)
More information about the awards at

Roundup - Thursday 18.03.10: reviews and Swedish media appearances

"Keep On Walking" is still at no. 1 in the iTunes chart - and "Ignore This" is still no.2 in the albums list.

Found this Norwegian review of "Ignore This" at the Studvest.no website: http://studvest.no/kultur.php?seksjon=anmeldelser&art_id=12598

An excellent review of "Ignore This" on the always-excellent #1 Hits From Another Planet blog...http://alienhits.blogspot.com/2010/03/track-by-track-salem-al-fakir-ignore.html

Salem appeared on Swedish P3 radio today: http://www.sr.se/webbradio/webbradio.asp?type=db&Id=2264523&BroadcastDate=&IsBlock= (again, would anyone be able to translate?)

Meanwhile Salem will be back on SVT's "Gomorron Sverige" tomorrow at 8.50 am for an interview, along with his brother Sami. Remember to tune in (or catch it later on SVT Play).
http://svt.se/gomorronsverige

Good times! My CD has finally arrived!

Yes, my copy of "Ignore This" finally arrived today! So I am finally getting to hear all the songs in full for the first time - and of course I can't stop playing it. I will post my review on Saturday as I'm going to really get into the songs before writing my review.

What I will say is that from what I've heard so far, it's a stunning and varied collection of songs and from looking at the lyrics, it's very clear that Salem has continued to develop as a very clever lyricist. Apart from the obvious "Keep On Walking" and "Brooklyn Sun", my favourite songs at the moment are "Virgin Mary", "4 O'Clock", and the extremely catchy "I'm So Happy", I can't get that tune out of my head and I think it will be a massive singalong at his concerts this year.

By the way, thanks to everyone who's already voted in my "favourite track" poll. If you haven't voted yet then please do so!!

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Daily round-up, 17.03.2010

Finally....."Keep On Walking" is at no. 1 in the Swedish iTunes singles chart, taking over the top spot from Anna Bergendahl's "This Is My Life". About time too!!

The song actually appears twice in the chart as the album version is at no. 10.

In the album chart, "Ignore This" is still at no. 2 behind the Melodifestivalen CD compilation; whilst "Astronaut" is at no. 29 and "This Is Who I Am" at no. 40.

And yes, you've guessed it, another day has passed and I still don't have my copy of "Ignore This". Has anyone else experienced problems with their delivery from CDON? They are usually much quicker than this - deliveries from Sweden to the UK usually only take 4 days but it has been 8 days now.....

Translation of Salem's interview on SVT's "Gomorron Sverige"

I thought you'd like to read this excellent translation (by Eva Jonson, a good friend of this blog!) of Salem's interview when he appeared on "Gomorron Sverige" on Monday 15th March.

The interview provides a very interesting insight into Salem's views about appearing in Melodifestivalen....


Interviewer (Mikael Leijnegard): Hi Salem!

Salem: Hi, g’day, good morning!

M: No one took great notice when Salem Al Fakir as a teenager toured in Russia as a violinist and was celebrated as a wonder child wherever he went. Here, he later became famous as a pop-singer, you might say, and has in that way over the years proved that whether the auditorium is nobby or folksy, he hits it big! Second place in Melodifestivalen!

S: Right!

M: That’s a success, wouldn’t you say?

S: Yeah, it was quite nice ... Success? Oh yes, a fantastic success! From my point of view; unbelievable success.

M: So, congratulations!

S: Thanks, thanks a lot. It was quite fun, actually.

M: The way you were leading during this dramatic voting procedure; that lead just got bigger and bigger as the international jury points were handed out. We have some pics of this ... Were you starting to think about victory?

S: Not at all, as a matter of fact. I handle things with calm. And I had a feeling the jury would choose me as their winner.

M: Is that so?

S: I have a thing with juries ... and it has always been that way, the times I have ended up in these kinds of situations the jury tends to like ... so yeah, at that point I felt that ’yeah, maybe this could go somewhere’. But then again I felt and I knew that Anna would carry this thing, via ... You know, all this has become such an extended process – I’m in it for the first time, so I haven’t seen what it’s been like before, but now I really got to ... And you know, people make up their minds long in advance, you notice that.

M: You think so? Why?

S: Absolutely, I think so. We are being fed with ... it’s all so very surveiled. And it’s all about this thing during these weeks, the big folk festival. So I believe people are living inside it, thinking about it and have sorted things out quite early on. So I think ... go on.

M: But after all the viewers’ votes, all except the last and biggest mass, had been given out you were still in the lead – quite a big lead.

S: Right.

M: So it wasn’t only the jury that liked you.

S: Exactly, and that was so cool, it was fantastic. For me this is all incredibly exciting! I have a Facebook page, a fan page, which grew by over 5,000 persons in one day. So I have seen the amount of people who support me and who have liked what I do, and have given me so many kind words ... so absolutely, the people wanted me to be there as well! And that makes me very happy.

M: I met Bert Karlsson (Swedish schlager mogul, my comment) right after the final, and he said at once: ’Salem should have won!’ And that says something about this song that maybe, at first listen, was a bit ’special’ in this context ... how popular and block-busting it can become. How does that feel?

S: It feels great. I look at all this as an experiment, in the way that ... I believe that it’s the ones that make music, those who are in my position ... that is to some extent where you can show what people DO want. There has been a bit of a bias there, well, not a bias but at least another angle; that you ’should give the people what they want’. But now, all of a sudden, one can prove that maybe I can give them something they maybe didn’t know they wanted! It works that way, too! And I find that quite interesting, because as long as you have trust in people’s prudence – and not the other way around – I think you can do all sorts of things, and make your music just the way you want it, and still get some people to listen to it. I think it’s all very, very exciting.

M: We have to listen to the song .. Remind ourselves.

S: Yes, you are very welcome to do so.

M: How did you make this song? How ... what inspired you?

S: Inspired? Well ... this one was actually written on a guitar, a three-stringed guitar, so things always spring out of other, different stuff ... [Salem watching tv] Wow, it’s really good-looking with the ... this is fun, I haven’t seen this before!

M: You haven’t?

S: Well, I have seen it from the first time, but not yet from this Saturday.

M: It’s really nice. Good TV!

S: Good that it worked out so well. ..... This one is actually the first song I wrote for my new album. Now I find it more interesting, because it was the first song I wrote for that one, so there is a whole story to look at ... and to listen to. You will get more answers then.

M: It’s exciting that this one – the first track – has become such a ... I mean, you will make money on this song!

S: Well, that’s ... yes. That is how I live. Others live differently. I always have to think very far ahead, too. I might make money on a song now, but that’s because right now things are going well. In half a year, suddenly nothing’s happening. So you always have to think a lot further ahead.

M: Speaking of which; how do you follow up on this enormous attention that Melodifestivalen means? And the fact that you went as far as second place in the final?

S: I don’t have to follow up on anything just for the sake of it. I’ve had a life before Melodifestivalen, a life that has been very good and heading upwards somewhere. This has absolutely been a ’broadening’ thing for me, to be able to reach out to the same people as before but even wider and at the same time bigger. So I really don’t have to do more than play on! And then it’s up to them to come and watch me If you put it that way. So, I don’t really have to do anything more, because what I do there is just me. And I was invited as just myself. So I don’t feel any demands, and I find that rather comfortable. I can continue doing what I should do ...

M: That sounds unbelievably nice.

S: Yes, absolutely. ... Why make things difficult, I think?

M: Certainly. But there are many who have a big entourage just standing there waiting, ’now we’re going on a PR venture’ ...

S: [somewhat confused, not answering the question?:)] Mhm. Yes, definitely.

M: So, when are you heading out on a tour in Russia with the violin, then?

S: Well, this is how it was ... I started touring at 13 years old, around that time it became a bit more professional, and then I ended up in Russia just twice ... so there were no massive touring in Russia, just to clear this up! So I don’t think I’ll be going there, especially not with my violin, maybe I’ll go there playing something else, in that case.

M: I’m sure you’ll have good chances of doing that after this, since Melodifestivalen is gigantic in Russia. So, congrats, and have fun on your tour and playing. See you around.

S: Thank you very much. Yes, absolutely.

Thanks again Eva for the translation. And thanks for the mention on Facebook too. Just one thing though, I'm from Scotland, not England :) but I guess I never mentioned that before !!

It looks as if Salem really enjoyed his Melodifestivalen experience. In my view, he has achieved what he set out to do - to reach a wider audience on his own terms, without compromising his musical talent or artistic credibility. Well done Salem!

Salem at Bengans, Gothenburg on 24th March!

By popular demand, Salem will be doing a signing session (and also playing a couple of songs, no doubt) at Bengans in Gothenburg on Wednesday 24th March - just two days before his Konserthuset show.

(I won't be able to make this one as I won't be in Gothenburg until Thursday 25th, so you will all have to tell me about it!)

Salem in Falkenberg, 17th July

Another day and another live appearance announced: Salem will play at Bullar & Bång in Falkenberg on Saturday 17th July.

Tickets go on sale on 3rd May.

More information at http://hn.se/kulturnoje/scen/1.762338-salem-al-fakir-debuterar-och-eric-gadd-atervander

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Petra Mede Show - TV3

Salem will appear on a forthcoming "Petra Mede Show" on TV3 - check out this photo from the recording which Salem has posted on Facebook tonight!
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=3863196&l=ad3bfafa68&id=50286022803

And by the way, there are now over 20,000 fans on Facebook - keep it going!

Salem returns to Uppsala in August

If you live in or around Uppsala you will be very happy to hear that Salem will be back to play at Katalin in Uppsala on Friday 27th August.

Tickets go on sale on Wednesday 17th March at 09:00 - more information at Ticnet
http://www.ticnet.se/html/evinfo.htmI?CNTX=1967323&l=SE&C=

Chart update...and beware of imitations!

3 albums in the top 20 on the Swedish iTunes album chart!

2. Ignore This
10. This Is Who I Am
12. Astronaut

Salem songs in Swedish iTunes top 200 tracks chart:

2. Keep On Walking (single)
3. Keep On Walking (album version)
30. Backseat
92. Brooklyn Sun
97. I'm So Happy
105. Good Song (single)
115. Astronaut
126. 4 O'Clock
138. Split My Personality
140. Part of It
142. Red Rock
143. Cowboys & Dinosaurs
171. Good Song (album version)
200. Virgin Mary

One more thing - apparently there are other people on Facebook pretending to be Salem so this is a reminder that if you're looking for Salem on Facebook then you should only go to the following link: www.facebook.com/salemalfakir

Great news - Salem now has almost 20,000 fans on Facebook! More great news - a discussion board has also been added to his Facebook site so this will provide even more interaction between Salem and his growing number of fans.

Just one more personal update - another day has gone by and I still don't have my copy of the CD. Maybe tomorrow???

Another couple of live dates announced

It has just been announced today that Salem will play at the KAOS festival which takes place in Mellerud between 30th and 31st July. More information to follow.

Meanwhile if you live in or around Linköping, catch Salem at Platens Bar on Thursday 6th May.

It looks like it's going to be another busy spring and summer for Salem...

Interview at Solo magazine's website

I found a post-Melodifestivalen interview with Salem at the following link: http://solomag.se/2010/03/salem-al-fakir-jag-var-fantastisk/

There is also a very nice picture of Salem in his gorgeous suit which he wore at the final. ;)

He may not have won MF, but if there was a prize for Sweden's best dressed man then he would definitely win it!

Monday, 15 March 2010

Screencaps from SVT's "Gomorron Sverige" today/Translation wanted!








Once again readers, I need your help! Would anyone be able to translate what Salem said in the interview? (It's at SVT Play: http://svtplay.se/v/1927716/gomorron_sverige/melodifestivaltvaan_salem_al_fakir )

Thanks!

It's Salem-mania in Sweden!!!!

Taking a look at the Swedish iTunes album chart tonight - some amazing news too, as all three of Salem's albums are in the top 20!

"Ignore This" is at no.2, "Astronaut" at no.11 and "This Is Who I Am" is at no.12.



I would strongly recommend that if you've just discovered Salem thanks to Melodifestivalen, that you buy "Astronaut" and "This Is Who I Am" along with "Ignore This". Salem's first two albums are timeless classics which belong in everyone's record collection. If you want to find out some more about them, then (quick plug) check out some of my posts on Planet Salem between 2007 and 2009 when I wrote a lot about both albums.

(and by the way, another day has passed and the postman still hasn't delivered my copy of "Ignore This". I'm getting impatient now.)

Salem's going to Finland!

Good news for Salem's fans in Finland!

It has been announced today that Salem will play at the After Eight Musikcafé in Jakobstad, Finland on Thursday 22 July. More info at http://www.aftereight.fi/

Link to Expressen.se chat from Friday 12.03.10

I had previously mentioned on here last Friday that Salem would be doing a webchat on Expressen's website - if you want to find out what happened here is the link :

http://www.expressen.se/noje/melodifestivalen2010/1.1915751/salem-al-fakir-jag-kanner-mig-lugn-faktiskt

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Another record-breaking day!

Remember I said that Planet Salem had the highest number of visitors yesterday since it began?

Well - today that figure has doubled, which makes me feel very happy indeed and encourages me to carry on the good work in promoting Salem Al Fakir's music for a long time to come.

To all first-time visitors: Planet Salem is the first unofficial international fansite for Salem Al Fakir, endorsed and approved by the great man himself. As for me...well, I'm not Swedish and I live in the UK, so I always appreciate any help from my Swedish readers with any translations or news that I may have missed. Whether you are a new fan, or a long-time fan, remember that you are always welcome to leave your comments on any of the posts on this blog - although the main language of the blog is English, comments in Swedish are also very welcome!

One thing is very clear: after Melodifestivalen, everyone loves Salem now!! And now that Melodifestivalen is over, it's time to focus on Salem's new album - "Ignore This". Buy it now!!

P.S. I'm still waiting on the postman delivering my copy....hopefully it should arrive tomorrow :)

A couple more press reviews of "Ignore This"

Jens Höglin in Dagbladet: "the productive multiinstrumentalist is back ...with both feet first into more electronic sound landscapes...it sounds as if electronic instruments and production have been prioritised over songwriting". The reviewer does however praise "Keep On Walking", "Brooklyn Sun" and "Virgin Mary", but on the whole describes this as Salem's weakest collection of songs so far.

http://dagbladet.se/kulturnoje/musik/1.1880139-salem-al-fakir-ignore-this-


Sara Lundvall, Vasterbottens Folkblad awards 4 stars: "Al Fakir has invested in a more electronic sound...probably he will lose some fans used to the more accessible radio pon, but for those of us who appreciate this musical development raises an additional dimension of respect for this talented musician. This new trail is absolutely the way to go for Salem Al Fakir. New "difficult" Salem shows a different depth and an interesting darkness"

http://www.folkbladet.nu/?p=169547

Charts updates

In the SR P3 Digilistan singles chart, "Keep On Walking" is at no.4, whilst in the iTunes singles chart it's no. 2. "Ignore This" is at no.2 in the iTunes album chart - just behind the Melodifestivalen CD compilation.

Over in Norway, "Keep On Walking" is no.101 (!) in their iTunes singles chart and "Ignore This" is no. 82 in the iTunes album chart.

Salem will be on SVT's "Gomorron Sverige" tomorrow morning

Salem will be appearing on "Gomorron Sverige" at approximately 9.43 am tomorrow morning. Remember to tune in then!

Melodifestivalen screencaps!








Tack så mycket!!!!

Just to let you know that Planet Salem had a record number of visitors on Saturday 13th March 2010 - Melodifestivalen day, so thanks to all of you for visiting.

Let's keep it going!

Saturday, 13 March 2010

I never stopped believing....

I watched Melodifestivalen from beginning to end tonight, and (as a fan) I still can't understand why Salem didn't go to Oslo: after the international juries and Swedish juries vote, Salem was in the lead...until the televote overturned the result and sent Anna Bergendahl as this year's Swedish Eurovision entry.

On behalf of Salem, thanks to each and every one of you who voted, both in Sweden and within the international juries - it's good to know that Salem's talent is appreciated both in Sweden and on the European continent - which particularly pleases me as one of the continuing aims of Planet Salem is to publicise Salem's music both in Sweden and beyond Swedish borders....

And finally....thank you Salem and your team for all the work that you put into "Keep On Walking" from the beginning to the end of your Melodifestivalen 2010 journey. It will not be forgotten - you have won so many new fans who will continue to follow your career for a long time to come.
Next stop Gothenburg Konserthuset, 26th March - I'll be there, will you? Get along to http://www.gso.se/ to book your tickets - they're selling fast and it won't be long till the show is sold out!!

Melodifestivalen - what did you think?

Leave your comments here.....

Go Salem Go! Rösta på Salem ikvall!

Det är dags.

In just over one hour, the 2010 Melodifestivalen final in Stockholm will begin.

Good people of Sweden - tonight you are all part of Team Salem. It's in your hands, to select the best possible entry to represent Sweden at this year's Eurovision Song Contest:

Song no. 8 - "Keep On Walking".

So remember - vote for Salem tonight! Here are the numbers you need to call...

Ring 099 202 08 or SMS 08 to number 72 211 (cost 3,60 kr)
Ring 099 902 08 or SMS 08 to number 72 999 (cost 9,90 kr with 8,50 going to Radiohjälpen)

Salem - you are already a winner, and I am so proud of you.
Lycka till!!!!!!

"Keep On Walking" no.1 on Swedish Radio's "Tracks" chart!

This is brilliant news!


Remember to vote at http://www.sr.se/cgi-bin/p3/tracks/index.asp?taskid=1 between now and 14:00 on Monday so that "Keep On Walking" can stay at number one!!

Friday, 12 March 2010

Bjorn Gustafsson...

We didn't expect that, did we???

Roundup - Friday 12.03.10

Good feature in Aftonbladet about Volvo, Salem and his passion for cars and driving....

http://www.aftonbladet.se/kampanj/volvo/article6766203.ab


A very interesting interview with Mihail Kazinik - who mentored and taught Salem as a child violinist:http://www.expressen.se/debatt/1.1915007/michail-kazinik-vi-fick-en-popstjarna-till-priset-av-ett-geni

In other news, it's been the final day of rehearsals at Globen. Expressen reported that the major change in Salem's presentation of "Keep On Walking" is that he will now step out from behind his piano, halfway through the song. http://www.expressen.se/noje/melodifestivalen2010/1.1915054/salem-al-fakir-struntar-i-flygeln-i-finalen

Much, much more information tomorrow - Melodifestivalen final day!

Expressen chat going on right now!

http://www.expressen.se/noje/chatt

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Swedish media roundup, Thursday 11.03.2010

Firstly, an interview which gives a fascinating insight into the business of Salem's music... http://www.e24.se/lifestyle/kultur/salem-al-fakir-berattar-om-ekonomin-kring-sin-musik_1913875.e24

A brief article from Chic magazine (which will be in the shops this week) and some nice pictures from Salem's photoshoot...
http://chic.se/salem-al-fakir-jag-grater-som-ett-barn/

Album Reviews

Erik Süss in Arbetarbladet awards three stars and says that "I'm So Happy" is the album's strongest track. Review at http://arbetarbladet.se/noje/recensioner/paskiva/1.1875724-salem-al-fakir

Anders Tapola in Smålandsposten awards 3 stars and says: "the multi-talented musician has this time literally thrown out all the instruments of the studio...but it is still ultimately a bit too cold and clinical, among all the ones and zeros...clearly the best track is "Keep On Walking". A brain worm impossible to get out of my head right now". http://www.smp.se/noje_o_kultur/skivor/veckans-skivor-(1817073).gm

A Norwegian review now - Rune Slyngstad at fvn.no awards 3 stars: "He has not completely lost his grip on writing and performing delicate and sophisticated pop....but the album is uneven...Salem Al Fakir has lost a bit of freshness, style and elegance and his grip on the good tunes that he had before". Review at http://www.fvn.no/kultur/musikk/musikkanmeldelser/article747370.ece

New poll! What's your favourite track on "Ignore This"?

If you remember, following the release of "Astronaut" last year I ran a poll on this site where you could vote for your favourite track.

Well it's poll time once again! It's time for all you lovely Planet Salem readers to have your say and choose your favourite track on "Ignore This". I'll keep the poll running for the next two months so there's plenty of time to vote.

As usual, you can vote for one track, or more...or all of them if you want! :)))

Lyrics question?

Can anyone tell me if there are any plans to publish the lyrics of all the "Ignore This" songs at www.salemalfakir.com?

Salem's Expressen webchat tomorrow

Salem will be doing a webchat at www.expressen.se tomorrow afternoon at 1.45 pm.

Salem to appear at Popadelica festival in Huskvarna

Salem has been added to the bill of the Popadelica festival which takes place in Huskvarna Folkets Park on Saturday 1st May. Other artists appearing include The Sounds, Timo Räisänen and Hästpojken.

More information at http://popadelica.se/

Bengans signing today!

Don't forget that Salem will be at Bengans record store in Drottninggatan in Stockholm at 4.00 pm today for an album signing session!

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Globen rehearsals are underway

Things are going to get even more busy over the next couple of days: the rehearsals for Saturday's final are now underway. Salem is regularly posting pictures from his Melodifestivalen journey in his Facebook photo albums so keep checking this link over the next couple of days as I'm sure that more will be added: http://www.facebook.com/salemalfakir?v=photos


I liked the above photo which I found on Facebook today in Salem's 'mobile uploads' album.(Hope you don't mind me sharing it here, Salem)

It's good to know that Salem's got his own copy of the CD :)) hopefully it shouldn't be too long until mine arrives through my letterbox!

NUMBER ONE!!! GRATTIS SALEM!!!

"Ignore This" is at no.1 in the Swedish iTunes album chart - congratulations! And Salem's new fans are continue to discover his older music too - "Astronaut" is at no.45 and "This Is Who I Am" at no.64.

"Keep On Walking" remains in the no.2 position in the Swedish iTunes singles chart.

Over in Norway's iTunes chart, "Ignore This" is at no. 35. I know that Salem has lots of Norwegian fans too, so I'm glad the album has been released there........Whilst in Finland, the album is at no. 44 on the Finnish iTunes chart....and it's no. 73 in Denmark.

Whilst we're on numbers and statistics - good news today as the total of Salem's Facebook fans went over the 10,000 mark - and I'm sure the numbers will go much, much higher.

"Ignore This": CD release day round-up!

The big day finally arrived - the "Ignore This" CD is now in the shops and in all good online record stores - of course you can't ignore it, so go out and buy your copy now if you haven't already done so :))

Album Reviews

Anders Jaderup at Sydsvenskan.se awards the album two stars: "...It is not noticeable when he sat at his piano in Melodifestivalen, but "Ignore This" is the disc where Salem Al Fakir discovers electronic pop... his fondness for three decades ago progressive soft rock continues to take place but it's a bit naive to tie the album together with the two predecessors" : http://sydsvenskan.se/kultur-och-nojen/musik/skivrecensioner/article636694/Salem-Al-Fakir-Lekfullheten-overflyglar-allvaret.html

Lisa Appelqvist in Ystads Allehanda awards four stars: "...creates infectious hit songs ... bred with so many incredibly different components, nuances and developments in a single track. In an interview before the Kristianstad gig last winter Salem Al Fakir writes songs that only show up in his head - I would like to sit in there and see it happen....All in all, impossible to ignore".
http://www.ystadsallehanda.se/article/20100310/SKIVOR/703109713/1011/ABONNERA/&/Salem-Al-Fakir--Ignore-this

Uppsala Nya Tidning's Johanna Åberg awards four stars: "...'Ignore This' contains apart from 'Keep on Walking' more cheerful moments such as the almost ridiculously catchy and charming, 'I'm so happy'....but there are more introverted moments... A little of each, or rather a lot of everything is a concept that fits Salem".
http://www2.unt.se/pages/1,1826,MC=5-AV_ID=1024026,00.html

It's four stars from Stefan Thungren in Svenska Dagbladet: "And something has definitely happened...it sounds as if Salem has got his hands on a couple of Giorgio Moroder-soundtracks from the 80s, namely Cat People and Electric Dreams. Adulterated with his great ability for melodies, he manages and updates the genre in an impressive manner.... Although Al Fakir now has the computer as his main instrument, there are a whole series of songs that recalls how he once was. ..the extremely efficient 'Keep on Walking', stands out with its immediacy..'Ignore This' is not Al Fakir's great masterpiece, but it is another piece of the puzzle in place, towards the pop perfection to come."
http://www.svd.se/kulturnoje/musik/ignore-this_4402275.svd

Dagens Nyheter's Johanna Paulsson awards 3 stars: "he has taken steps towards the dance floor.... As a lyricist, he has grown considerably ("Bloody Breakfast") whilst "Keep on Walking" indicates that the drilled classical violinist from Huddinge can still twist up a pop symphony, and "I'm so happy" sounds like an Elton John in disco mood. But in between, he has a bit difficult to decide whether he will be popular or clever inhis new synths sound. Best tracks: "Red Rock", "Split My Personality".
http://www.dn.se/kultur-noje/skivrecensioner/salem-al-fakir-ignore-this-1.1058602

Jessica Rosengren in Norrlandska Socialdemokraten also awards three stars: "The album, which admittedly is both playful and charming, is permeated by a strong electronic sound. Unfortunately, it may dominate too much.. The best tracks are simple and unadorned Brooklyn Sun and Split My Personality that grabs and offers a bit less of the catchy computer sounds".
http://www.nsd.se/noje/nojemusik/artikel.aspx?ArticleId=5232826

Interviews

There's a very entertaining interview with Salem in the lead-up to Melodifestivalen final at QX's website - 19 questions asked, 19 revealing answers! http://www.qx.se/noje/13563/19-fragor-till-salem-al-fakir-infor-helgens-final

Sunday 9th May - Extra concert added at Berns

Salem will play an 'all ages' concert at Berns in Stockholm on 9th May. Doors open at 4.00 pm and the show will begin at 5.00 pm. More details and ticket information at http://www1.ticnet.se/PriceTable?eventId=STH21447BER05092

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Delivery is on its way...

For all you digital-downloaders out there, you will already have your copy of "Ignore This". Whilst I like my digital downloads too, I'm one of those old-school music fans who will always prefer to own a CD (or for many years before that, a vinyl album!). So you won't be surprised to know that I pre-ordered my CD copy of "Ignore This" a couple of weeks ago, as I mentioned in a previous post here.

Anyway I checked my inbox tonight and there was an email from CDON to let me know that delivery is on its way!

It's almost a year since I was saying the same thing on this blog about "Astronaut" - it has been such a quick year, hasn't it! Hopefully I should have my copy of "Ignore This" by the weekend and I'll review it soon after I receive it.

Of course you lucky Swedish people won't have to wait too long: the CD is in the shops tomorrow!

Ö-vik slide show!

I thought I would share this with you - it's an excellent YouTube slide show featuring many excellent behind the scenes photographs of Salem taken by Stefan Segolson during the first week of Melodifestivalen in Örnsköldsvik - this is a must-see for all Salem fans. And of course it's soundtracked by the wonderful "Keep On Walking"!

"Ignore This" album reviews round-up

Nojesguiden gives the album a very positive review at http://nojesguiden.se/recensioner/musik/salem-al-fakir-ignore : I particularly liked this part of the review - "It's probably time to give up the search for logic in this man's career, and instead note that this is by far his best album. But it would feel like he would surpass it in a trice".

Jan Gradvall's review for DI Weekend (http://gradvall.se/artiklar.asp?entry_id=597has mixed feelings: "...Salem Al Fakir's third album is better than his second, the flop "Astronaut", but without being in the vicinity of his first. He demonstrates a temperament he has not shown before: a couple of texts are remarkably violent. But musically, he still sounds like a combination of Stevie Wonder and Professor Balthazar"...."Salem Al Fakir really needs an equal producer who has no respect for "Genius at work" sign outside the studio door, but will step in and force him to kill the darlings and edit and focus."

Eva-Lisa Wallin, for Dalarnas Tidningar likes "Ignore This" very much: "Salem Al Fakir is not playing it safe...'Ignore This' becomes difficult to ignore...this is springy, fresh, and varied...music that demands my ears. I hope that Salem Al Fakir continues to stand out in the crowd". Her favourite tracks are "Virgin Mary" and "Split My Personality" The review is at http://www.dt.se/noje/skivor/article600902.ece

Going on to the subject of "Keep On Walking" - yes of course there is a certain song contest coming up ! - I found this in a feature on the excellent Poplight (Melodifestivalen blog). I thought it was one of the loveliest descriptions that I have read in a long time - the writer Jenny Staaf completely summed up the way I feel about the song.

"I lose time and place when I hear this. I totally sucked in and never want that song to end. I am concerned by all Salem says to me, it feels like every word has been added for an important reason. ...I love this contribution! If the song were a dish, I’d cook it every day. Thousand plus points that Salem’s written his own contribution as well - so it works in my book. Win Salem, win!"

I think we would all agree with that.

So what was Salem up to today?

Well, he was interviewed on Knappen and Hakim's show on NRJ...

(picture courtesy of http://www.nrj.se/)

And he also appeared on Vakna med The Voice - here are some nice screencaps for you...

...and he even managed to fit in an Aftonbladet interview and photoshoot....

(photo courtesy of http://blogg.aftonbladet.se/salemalfakir)

Important news - change of date for Bengans signing session

There has been a change of date and time for Salem's signing session - it was due to take place tomorrow but has now been moved to Thursday at 4.00 pm.

Remember to get along there and show Salem your support!

Monday, 8 March 2010

"Ignore This" digital release day roundup!

Firstly, here's the link to buy "Ignore This" at Swedish iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/se/album/ignore-this-bonus-track-version/id356056140

Media appearances:

Salem had a day of non-stop promotion today, beginning at Rix FM where he appeared on the Rix MorronZoo breakfast show. Go to http://www.rixfm.com/program/rix-morronzoo/2010/03/08/mandagen-den-8-mars then click 'ljudklipp' then a new window will appear on screen. If you then enter 'Salem Al Fakir' into the search box you will find clips from this morning's show.

You can also find a picture of Salem and the MorronZoo presenters at his 'Keep On Walking' blog on Aftonbladet: http://blogg.aftonbladet.se/salemalfakir

Then it was onto Expressen TV's XL Live for a particularly lovely live performance of "Brooklyn Sun". Here it is, courtesy of Expressen TV:



And Salem even had the time to chat on MSN today!

Salem will be on NRJ's breakfast show tomorrow at 07:30 so don't miss it.

Album Reviews:

Poplight has a three-star review of "Ignore This" at http://poplight.zitiz.se/blogg/hofverberg/salem-al-fakir-ignore

News updates:

I'm trying to bring as much news and as many links as I can this week, however I can only apologise if I can't publish all of these until the evening - as I'm not allowed access to Facebook/YouTube/MySpace/any video sites from my computer at work.

In the meantime remember to keep checking Salem's official site, MySpace (which has a nice new redesign), Twitter and Facebook for regular updates on Salem's big week!

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Salem was on Nyhetsmorgon today..

You've probably seen it already (either on TV4's website or Salem's official site) but I thought I would share these with you anyway :)

Firstly, a lively and very entertaining performance of "4 O'Clock" with the keyboard parts programmed meaning there was more time for Salem to sing and dance around :))) And handclaps!



And what more can I say about the now-classic "Brooklyn Sun"? It's one of those songs that stops you in your tracks and demands your full attention from beginning to end...and this was a typically touching performance from Salem:



And of course Salem was looking very good today - I just loved the black shirt, the red tie and that slightly unshaven look....!

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Running order for next Saturday's Melodifestivalen final

1. Darin - You’re Out Of My Life
2. Pernilla Wahlgren - Jag vill om du vågar
3. Andreas Johnson - We Can Work It Out
4. Timoteij - Kom
5 Peter Jöback - Hollow
6. Ola - Unstoppable
7. Jessica Andersson - I Did It For Love
8. Salem Al Fakir - Keep On Walking
9. Anna Bergendahl - This Is My Life
10. Eric Saade - Manboy

OK so now that Andra Chansen is over (I didn't agree with the result as I wanted Alcazar and Pauline or Pain of Salvation to progress to Globen) the final running order for next Saturday's final is now clear.

Looking at the running order, it's a very good draw position for Salem - it would have been nicer if he'd have been drawn last or second from last, but 8th could be a lucky number as he was drawn in 8th position in week one - when he won of course!

I've been a fan and follower of Melodifestivalen for many years and it would be fair to say that there have been better years in the competition: however I also feel that this means that Salem has a better chance than ever of progressing to Oslo, and finally making that big international breakthrough that I have been campaigning for on this blog since it was established at the end of 2007.

EDIT 07.03.10: Last night I posted my comments about the other songs, however I have decided to move this to my other blog EuropeCrazy as I feel this would be more appropriate and would avoid any confusion, in case anyone thought these were Salem's views, when, in fact, they were my own.

Salem at Bengans, Stockholm on Wednesday 10.03.10

As mentioned in a previous post, Salem will be at Bengans in Stockholm this coming Wednesday - I can now confirm that he'll be appearing there at 5.00 pm.

"Ignore This" preview clips and download now available on ICA's download shop

Go to http://ica.shop2download.com/cgi-bin/WebObjects/TShop.woa/wa/PSShop/MusicCollection?id=1783172494 where you can hear some short clips of all the tracks on "Ignore This" and you can also download the tracks in full.

There is also a link on that page to a competition where you can win tickets to Salem's Berns show in Stockholm in May, and a chance to meet Salem - which is a fantastic prize, so good luck to everyone entering this contest!