Thomas Anders – Strong (2010-2011)

Music album review: Thomas Anders Strong (Oriflame, 2010 + Amazon MP3, 2011)

  1. TA-StrongWhy Do You Cry? (Strong Version) (03:44)
  2. Stay With Me (04:01)
  3. Make You (03:46)
  4. Stop! (03:14)
  5. You Will Be Mine (04:13)
  6. Suddenly (03:34)
  7. Music, Dance (03:30)
  8. My Angel (03:40)
  9. I’ll Be Strong (03:46)
  10. Clear Sign (03:48)
  11. One More Chance (03:45)
  12. I Wanna (03:03)
  13. Sorry, Baby (03:31)
  14. All You Need (03:20) (I Miss You (03:56) instead & final track on physical album)
  15. Dynamite (03:03)
  16. Right Here, Right Now (Century of Love) (03:11)
  17. Love You A Lifetime (02:59)
  18. The Best of Me (03:22)

After the second split of Modern Talking (2003), Thomas Anders had released two albums: the one I really liked, This Time (2003), and the one I can’t even remember the title of without looking it up, Songs Forever (2006), because I never cared much for it anyway, being full of covers. So when a new album was announced, I was thrilled and couldn’t wait for it to come out. It just never seemed to have a release date for a year or two, and then it came out in 2010 … in Russia, because it’s an album written and produced over there. Herr Anders is very big in Russia, bless him. 🙂

When would Strong be released in Germany so I could actually buy it? And so the waiting game continued … Until I finally had the idea to look for it on eBay in August 2011 … and not long after, it was released as a digital download on Amazon. With bonus tracks not on the disc I had only just received. Gah!!

The second thing that confused me, both in trying to order the physical album and putting together this review was the tracklisting. My edition, according to the back cover, is the Oriflame version:

Alongside the Premium/Basic Edition, a special edition of the “STRONG” album has also been released for the Swedish cosmetics group ORIFLAME. Thomas Anders is the advertising face of ORIFLAME for the year 2010. 100,000 copies of the version of STRONG exclusive to ORIFLAME customers have been sold. This version of the album contains an exclusive extra track entitled “I miss you”. In the wake of the considerable success achieved by this special edition, Oriflame is considering a further pressing of another 100,000 albums. In 2010, Thomas Anders will exclusively present Oriflame’s new male perfume “Giordano – Dolce Vita” as well as promoting other products from the collection. For more information on the group, please visit www.oriflame.com

What’s wrong with that? Nothing. Except according to Wikipedia, the Oriflame version is listed as having nine songs plus the bonus song. The original, or “Premium” version, has 14. So I had ordered the one I could find for a reasonable price on eBay didn’t even have all the songs?! What the hell! Looking at the tracklisting, though, my album definitely says Oriflame on it and it has 14 tracks, just that track 14 is I Miss You and not Why Do You Cry? (Acoustic Piano Version). It also has the same cover as the “Premium” version Wikipedia lists. Well, I’m just glad to have 14 tracks instead of ten, so whatever you want to call it, that’s fine by me!

My version also came with a little DVD containing a trailer for the album or the song or something like that, the video of Why Do You Cry? (shot in a club, how very original) and a five-minute Making Of documentary about the music video. This DVD disc, brief though it is, is still nice to have, and is not included in the MP3 album, so I guess it was worth getting both, especially since the MP3 album comes with five previously unreleased tracks (14-18 on the list above).

The important question, of course, is “well, is it any good?” Yes, yes it is. It’s upbeat, but perhaps not quite as catchy as Two, where I could start singing along on the second listen, and a lot of the beats are the same: a similar sort of handclappy beat that quickly spoiled Hooked on Classics for me when I finally got it (could be down to me getting a compilation as opposed to the original albums, though).

There are a few ballads: Stop!, My Angel, I Miss You, and The Best of Me, and I’ve never been a fan of ballads – on the Modern Talking albums, they were skipped nine times out of ten … but these aren’t bad. I love singing the chorus of My Angel (the verses are a bit meh), and The Best of Me is probably one of the best tracks on the whole album. (Me saying that about a ballad is high praise indeed.)

If you can’t abide songs like King of Love and Juliet, stay clear of Clear Sign. Yeah, I’m not crazy about that particular 70s disco kinda sound either.

Some of the best songs are, strangely, the previously unreleased ones. All You Need is about a star urging a non-famous partner to ignore what the papers say, because they just make stuff up. I’m perhaps not enamoured with the melody, but the lyrics kind of make it worthwhile. “Don’t you listen to that shit they spin you”. Yeah! Dynamite is a catchy dance song, and The Best of Me I’ve already mentioned.

Love You A Lifetime sounds SO MUCH like a Eurovision song. That it clocks in just under three minutes reinforces that impression. Perhaps they made it for that purpose and then thought better of it? Really, you can picture the stage and the background dancers. That being said, it’s a nice pop song, but it does feel like something you’ve heard many times before.

My favourite is Right Here, Right Now (Century of Love). It’s a perfect example of the sort of song that has me squealing with delight. It’s light and bright, sprightly, positive, and has a simple, wonderful, catchy melody. Lyrics-wise … well, c’mon, I’m a Modern Talking fan, for goodness sake! My standards in that department are pretty low. 😉 But so what? Songs about love don’t have to be great works of poetry, they’re just there to put words to a melody. That being said, these are deeper than your average Modern Talking song anyway.

Because I had the album in the car on the way to work, I can still look at the tracklisting and not be sure which song is which, as I didn’t have the tracklisting available to learn the titles that way. There’s also the issue that the songs aren’t necessarily named how you’d expect. Take The Best of Me as an example, where the chorus repeats “I’m mooooooving on” a number of times. Listening to it, I would expect it to be called I’m Moving On or something, but it’s not. Suddenly could just as easily be called Shake Me, or Make Me Feel, or Something Unreal, or a number of other options. I’ll Be Strong could be called just about anything, because the title isn’t easily recognisable within the song.

And that’s what I mean by not being as catchy as Two (the 2011 project with Uwe Fahrenkrog, it’s like having Modern Talking back, only with more grammatically correct lyrics) – the lyrics aren’t as simple and “what you see is what you get”, which means it doesn’t feel as strong as Two, where the songs are instantly recognisable, but Strong is still a good album, and it’s been done very well. Not sure if I prefer Strong or This Time, but I definitely prefer Strong over Songs Forever.

If I may be so bold, I prefer this modern Thomas Anders solo to the 80s-90s solo projects. Those albums were good too, but they lacked the certain something Modern Talking had in the 80s. The modern Thomas Anders songs are closer to Modern Talking in style, which is why I suppose they appeal to me and probably a lot of others who wouldn’t care about his previous solo projects. So his career with Modern  Talking is perhaps both a blessing and a curse for Herr Anders.

Without it, he would not have the career he has today, let’s be honest, but that he “has” to make songs similar to Modern Talking rather than anything else he’d like to do … well, that’s a shame, if he would like to do something radically different but feels he can’t because people expect a certain style from him. If he’s fine with what he’s doing anyway, then that’s peachy, keep it up. I’ll be buying it regardless.

That being said, I hope he does more with Fahrenkrog because DANG, I loved that album. This is a good second to it, though. 4 out of 5 Russian producers.

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