First things first. Eric Saade’s album has received some scathing reviews in the mainstream press, so I’ll begin this review with the conclusion: Saade, Vol 1 is OK. It’s just OK.
Some of the antipathy towards Eric may be derived from his attitude – or the perception of that attitude. Apparently, going around saying you’re better than Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake is frowned upon. Who’d have thought? But, when you’re a 20-year-old being told that you’re amazing by a legion of girls, gays, ‘yes’ people, and fawning newspapers and bloggers because you came third at Eurovision, that’s bound to rub off. And I actually think that’s quite healthy in a certain way. If you’re going to be a pop star, you have to believe that you’re amazing, no matter how osvensk – un-Swedish- that may be. But when you tell people you’re amazing, you’ve actually got to be. So, does this album deliver that?
No. I’ve listened to this album all the way through five times before writing this, and I honestly can’t remember a single song (apart from the ubiquitous Popular, of course) after it’s over. And that’s a real shame – mainly because Eric is Swedish, and if you’re reading this on Schlagerfiasko, then you’re more than likely to agree with me that Sweden’s producers and writers are the best in the world. However, that seems to have been forgotten in the rush to get this out while Eric’s Eurovision success was still fresh in everyone’s mind. As a consequence everything’s a bit under-produced (to my ears, at least). Like there’s a layer that was remaining, but time ran out. So the result is a ‘cheap’ sound that would suit a nine-year-old’s tinny speakers in her bedroom. But not something that’s going to set the world on fire, or get people excited.
I’m really interested in Eric’s enthusiasm to emulate Justin Timberlake. They come from similar backgrounds – from kids’ TV and boyband to solo artist. The difference between these two, however, has nothing to do with that. Early on, Justin worked with Timbaland, and they created Cry Me A River. It’s a fantastic pop song that changed Justin’s career completely. With a single track, he positioned himself just far away enought from the *NSYNC bubble to win himself a more mature fanbase, without totally alienating the younger fans he already had. Most of his material since has been in a similar vein, and it’s probably why he’s so successful. Eric needs the same thing to happen to him. He needs a producer who can look past what has arrived already and mould him into the star-with-an-edge that he so clearly wants to be.
With Saade, Vol 1, Eric’s music isn’t leaving the iPods of pre-teenage girls any time soon. It’s listenable, enjoyable pop, but there’s little focus to it. The album seems to promise a lot in the first few bars of the opener, Timeless. But that soon fades away to reveal that there’s not much going on under the surface. And it soon becomes clear that Timeless is one of the stronger tracks. Another track, Me And My Radio actually sounds like something that could be offered to Sweden’s foremost teen, Amy Diamond. Not a good thing when you’re trying to be street.
Made Of Pop should be just that. It should be one of the key tracks on this album – encapsulating everything about Eric’s style in three minutes. However, all we get is, “I can make you hot, hot; I am made of pop, pop”. Really? Is that the best we can do? Girls Aloud are made of pop. This isn’t.
Plonked in the middle is a wholly unnecessary mix of Popular, sounding like some bouncy techno number from the late 90s. Quite why it’s there isn’t clear – if any of Eric’s songs needed work, Popular isn’t one of them. Why mess with something that the fans love already?
Eric’s first ballad is Someone New – straight out of an early Britney album. That’s not a bad thing, of course, but a Britney album is where it should remain. See, I’m just quite confused by this point. I’m not sure what Eric’s trying to do.
That flowery ballad is followed by Killed By A Cop. Now, I accept that this is a metaphor in the best tradition of pop writing. I’m sure I read that on Popjustice once. But nine-year-old girls don’t read Popjustice and discuss such nuances in the playground. If I were a parent, I’d be furious that little Wilma and Ulla were listening to this. And who is Eric kidding anyway? We all know he isn’t from the streets. This just comes across as immature, the complete opposite of what Eric says he wants to achieve.
The best song on the album is still Popular. It’s three minutes of pop excellence. In the hands of Fredrik Kempe, Eric shows us what he may be capable of in the future.
This has been a fairly negative review, which is disappointing. I actually do want Eric to succeed – I don’t want him to change his ambitions. I’d love for him to come out and give us something amazing and memorable. But he isn’t doing that on this album. I’m not sure what he’s doing, actually. As the title suggests, there’s a second part to this album. I hope that Eric and his production team look at what’s being said and consider what to do. None of Eric’s feisty personality comes through in the tracks, and that’s such a shame. All of these songs could be so much better. I really, genuinely hope that I’m praising Saade, Vol 2 to high heaven when it’s released.
In the meantime, Saade, Vol 1 is OK. It’s just OK.