Things are looking positive for hot-tipped Bergen chanteuse Annie whose upcoming international album release of ‘Anniemal’ was spearheaded by an irresistible and totally infectious single, Chewing Gum last autumn. Annie’s first single was produced in companionship with noted studio wiz Richard X of Sugababes and Rachel Stevens fame. Additional production assistance on ‘Anniemal’ has also been supplied by Bergen colleagues Röyksopp, who made headlines with their 2002 Wall of Sound album ‘Melody AM’ that to date has shifted more than 700 000 units.
This week sees the release of Annie’s second single, the infectious Heartbeat co-produced by Röyksopp’s Torbjørn Brundtland. The single also includes additional mixes by Alan Braxe, Maurice Fulton, Phones & Maximo Park. Prior to its official international release Pitchfork already voted it ‘Best of 2004’.
The first UK reviews of Heartbeat have already begun to tick in. Writes Manchesteronline.co.uk: “Heartbeat is a driving and spacious pop record that doesn't push Annie into an awkward or obtuse vocal performance, but allows the gorgeous blonde the opportunity to lend her tender voice to soaring drum beats and crashing electronic beats.”
As mentioned, Pitchforkmedia.com voted Heartbeat ‘Best of 2004’, here’s what Nick Sylvester wrote: “Annie wants us to dance and be happy. She wants us to forget all our shit and laugh and dance and smile. Heartbeat is quite a gift-- it's the best song this year, and probably next year, too-- and I'd be lying if I said there weren't several weeks in a row this summer when it was the only thing I wanted to listen to. The gimmick-free Röyksopp rock beat, the icy Kylie-petite melody, that fluke empty downbeat at the beginning of the second verse-- I mean, yes, the song picks me up, on command and without fail. I've never abused a song like I have Heartbeat".
This week also sees Annie DJing at the grand ‘Sunkissed presents Fresh Air at Fabric’ party in London, an event that’s part of the Centennial Anniversary for Norwegian independence. The Sunkissed club night features concerts and DJs spread all over Fabric’s three stages and an impressive line-up that spans from Satyricon and We to Nils Petter Molvær and Bugge Wesseltoft as well as a long list of some of Norway’s hottest bands and DJs. More info on the event here.
‘Anniemal’ was released domestically last autumn to rave reviews and heavy airplay. The album has earned Annie two Alarm awards as well as a Spellemannspris (the Norwegian equivalent to the Grammy) award in the ‘Newcomer of the year’ category.
‘Anniemal’ will be released in the UK on March 7 and the album’s US release will come later in spring.
“I have had a strong focus on the production bit” says Annie to Norwegian daily Dagbladet, “I think it will turn out to be a challenging pop-album. It’s scary to suddenly be at the centre of all this attention, but I feel that the album is so good that I deserve the attention that is mounting now”. And mounting it is indeed, NME last year highlighted Chewing Gum as single of the week, and also ran a “Radar – Seeking out the best in new music” profile on her. Numerous magazines, journalists, DJs, critics and music industry figures have ranked Annie high on their list of hot acts this spring.
Annie is signed to 679 Recordings in the UK – better know as Mike Skinner aka The Streets parent label. 679 Recordings is a Warner subsidiary
The Greatest Hit
Annie first rose to media attention five years ago when she delivered trademark airy vocals to the Madonna-sampling underground floor filler, the aptly titled The Greatest Hit. The track was produced with her boyfriend at the time, the widely acclaimed DJ Erot who tragically passed away in 2001 due to an inborn organic heart disease. The death of her boyfriend caused a four-year hiatus from the scene, which she gradually returned to by DJing (she’s a highly respected vinyl spinner) and songwriting. Sessions with Richard X, Röyksopp and Finnish DJ and production mate Timo Kaukalamp have finally resulted in the upcoming, and much hyped, album ‘Anniemal’.
Says Annie to NME on her new album: “Many things make me angry. When things are not right I get angry. I’m very much a perfectionist. That’s why the album took so long. But it’s good to be a perfectionist when you make music, because then it’s good music. It’s not healthy to say “I just want to sell a million records”. But I want to sell a million records. The album is good. It should sell. I know what I want, and I will work hard to get it. I want to work hard to get it. Not many pop stars are prepared to work. But I’ve spent my entire life thinking about this album, and now I’ve made it. It’s been really, really worth the wait.”
Strong “Chewing Gum” reception
Last autumn, BBC radio DJ Pete Tong gave high priority to Annie’s latest single and included Chewing Gum” on his list of most essential recent single releases.
NME’s Alex Needham joined in and highlighted ‘Anniemal’s’ first single “Chewing Gum” as single of the week in early September last year. Says Needham on the bubblicious affair:
“We’re slightly premature in reviewing Chewing Gum – it’s out around now as a limited edition seven-inch single but isn’t properly released until September, Even if it was scheduled to be the last single released before the Apocalypse, however, we’d still bend the rules in favour of this, a single that manages to radiate ice-cold Nordic aloofness and yet be so ludicrously chirpy it makes Britney sound like Patti Smith.
The reason lies in the inspired pairing of Annie with Richard X. She’s the Norwegian chanteuse who caused a stir in the danced undergrowth with her Madonna-sampling (and, alas, inaccurately titled) ‘The Greatest Hit’ a few years ago. He’s the former bootleg kink who took the Sugababes and Rachel Stevens to the top end of the charts while retaining a fondness for the kind of Sheffield electro-sleaze sells ten copies in Rough Trade and zero in HMV. Together, they’ve made a record that can hold its own on the coolest dancefloors and in the CD:UK studio alike, that will unite everyone from indie fanboys to Dido fans in appreciation of its bubblicious charms.
The lyrics compare men to confectionery and are sighed in an almost illegally high and breathy voice by Annie, who sounds like she could overdose on oxygen alone. The music is a Day Glo homage to ‘80s punk funk (specifically the Tom Tom club’s much sampled ‘Genius of Love’), with electro pings and whizzes underpinned by clattering percussion and a booty-pinching bassline. If we were more muso we could attempt to explain exactly why this record works – something to do with the way the tune’s laid over the rhythm to make It sound deliciously off-kilter. But that would be like performing vivisection on a butterfly. Better to enjoy the summery splendour of ‘Chewing Gum’ whole.”
Watch the Heartbeat video here(Windows Media Player - high resolution)
- Annie, Artist