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My ESC 2011 Top 10

It’s been awhile since I last took the time to write a piece of text longer than 140 chars ūüėõ So let’s take the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) 2011 as an occasion to update my blog.

Yah, I know, there’s some controversy around the contest, “European Neighbor Contest” etc, and honestly, I hadn’t even planned watching it this year. But what can I say, it got me again. I guess, being a musician myself, there’s no way around the biggest European music event anyway. So I watched (at least a major part of) it live and got myself the album afterwards.

After listening to it a couple of times, I gotta say there were a whole bunch of great songs in the contest this year. An accurate Top10 list is almost impossible to compile, but since Top10 lists are so popular on the internetz, I made an effort. So here’s my personal ESC 2011 Top10 (based solely on the songs themselves, not the live performances nor the YT-Videos):

  1. Coming Home /¬†Sjonni’s Friends (Iceland) [YT]
  2. In Love For A While / Anna Rossinelli (Switzerland) [YT]
  3. New Tomorrow / A Friend In London (Denmark) [YT]
  4. The Secret Is Love / Nadine Beiler (Austria) [YT]
  5. Running Scared / Nikki & Ell (Azerbaijan) [YT]
  6. Never Alone / 3JS (The Netherlands) [YT]
  7. Change / Hotel FM (Romania) [YT]
  8. Que Me Quiten Lo Bailao  / Lucia Perez (Spain) [YT]
    [Strong contestant for the Summerhit-2011 Title btw!]
  9. One More Day / Eldrine (Georgia) [YT]
  10. Da Da Dam / Paradise Oskar (Finland) [YT]

 

I love new media

Still Alive Remixes album cover

Still Alive Remixes album cover

Those who know me have certainly noticed me talking about my love for new media companies (especially Revision3) all the time. Yep, media is changing, no doubt about that. And to me, the increasing popularity and value of video games is part of it.

Remember the old days when you had your small little NES with shitty monochrome graphics and some quirky music banging from the speaker? Well, in case you didn’t notice, those days are gone.

Fast forward to today… in the BlueRay age, we have high definition handhelds and gaming consoles. On a sidenote, I just attached my 360 to the Surround Decoder I bought 2 weeks ago, and it’s absolutely epic ūüėÄ But not only the playback has been improved, distribution has evolved too.

Nice little example happened toady, and let me highlight the elements that wouldn’t have been 10 years ago:

I was watching trailers and in-game-footage from Mirror’s Edge on YouTube. That game looks amazing and I’m definitely going to get it. I could buy it online right now, but I’ll wait until I’ll be in the shop next time and do it old school ;-). On some of the trailers, they had the “official Mirror’s Edge soundtrack” playing in the background while showing off amazingly realistic over-the-rooftops-action from the game (when did games start to have commercial-grade soundtracks again?). The combination of that song with those high definition video sequences instantly got me. As soon as I got home, I fired up the iTunes store and searched for Mirror’s Edge. NOTE: I was looking for music from Lisa Miskovsky, an artist I never heard about until today! Not only have I found the soundtrack, but a whole album of remixes, done (just for that game) by some of the best DJs around… AMAZING! Instantly bought a couple of DRM-Free versions of that soundtrack. Right now, I’m blogging about it, maybe someone will read this article, go check out the song on iTunes or Amazon and buy it there, who knows…

There are days where all that stuff just overwhelms me and I put on my happy pants ūüôā

Ok, nuff said, here’s the song I’m talking about:

Lisa Miskovsky – Still Alive (The Theme from “Mirror’s Edge”) [Radio Edit]

The iTunes Album “Still Alive (The Theme from “Mirror’s Edge”) [The Remixes]” is here.

Does last.fm steal iTunes Store logins? – Bad coincidence or scary finding?

Some days ago, I decided to give last.fm a try. Since the website itself is pretty much useless without the standalone “scrobbing” app, I downloaded and installed it. I had iTunes running while it was installing and running it for the first time. To my surprise, last.fm’s Mac client closed iTunes without asking. No matter, I restarted iTunes right away and it was OK. A day later, I decided to quit using last.fm and deleted the app. During all that time, I didn’t close iTunes.

Now to the scary part: a few hours later, I wanted to log into my iTunes Store account to redeem a code and here’s what happened:

Obviously the login didn’t work. I tried a wrong password and got a different (more appropriate) error message so it wasn’t an authentication or connectivity issue.

What might not be obvious for everyone is that the red text references a Java exception and a term used in the Java Virtual Machine (the PermGen space). So far so good but the funny thing is that iTunes is not written in Java! Restarting iTunes solved the problem but thinking about it afterwards made me realize what might have been happening here…

I’m not accusing last.fm but looking at the facts, there’s a slight possibility that their client intercepts iTunes Store logins! (well I guess I might be accusing them somehow now…)

  • Having used the iTunes API myself (on windows), I know it’s not necessary to restart iTunes in order to get information about the track that’s currently being played. However, since last.fm isn’t supposed to do more than that, why in god’s name did it restart iTunes? Not asking for it makes it even more suspect…
  • After uninstalling the last.fm software, maybe some of its Java code from within iTunes was trying to gather my login data, throwing an error because it couldn’t reach the last.fm software for submitting it?!

I insist that this is total speculation, I know the last.fm software is open source and that it claims not being spyware but please, explain to me why some java code has something to do with “FieldName” in the iTunes Store login box?! You’ve got to admit that that’s suspect!! At least suspect enough for me to not use it anymore and to write this article.

Besides, -let’s be really paranoid for a second- even though the “good” source code may be available, nothing prevents them from compiling an “altered” version of their client and providing that for binary download. Most (non-geek) people don’t install from source anyway and, since it’s binary, no one might ever notice any difference. Oh, and did I mention this is still speculation?

Anyhow, the observations are all real and no one has proven the contrary so there is a slight chance I might be right. Now, if anyone has an explanation for this, feel free to reply!

The song I couldn’t get: Josh Harris’ “Too little too late” remix

This is totally killing me! I heard that excellent “Jojo – Too little too late” remix on Energy98 ages ago. I immediately fell in love with the remix (I can’t stand Jojo’s original, it’s too R’n’B’ish for me). Since I want to support artists who make good music, I went to iTunes to buy it. Unfortunately, as all too often, that particular remix wasn’t available on the Belgian iTunes Store. A quick international search indicated that it wasn’t available on iTunes at all.

“Too bad for them” I thought and went to see if I could get it on a p2p network. Unfortunately again, the search results for “too little too late josh harris” were blown up with useless crap MediaDefender style, so I gave up.

Today, months later, I refreshed my search checking Google and Amazon. I had no luck on Amazon, but google brought up this imeem.com result

Yesss, this is the song I’m talking about. Now I know I could capture that flash’s output to a file blablabla… hey! I’m an audiophile, so don’t even try to sell me flash quality.

No, seriously, WTF is wrong with media? They’re obviously still not getting it… I’m not a pirate, I want to spend my money on music I like, but they’re still riding their old selective distribution horse “If we don’t think it’s worth it, we won’t distribute it”, well at least not in a way the majority of pepole can benefit from. In today’s petabyte era, why don’t they put everything they can in online stores so people can choose to buy a track even if it’s a couple of years old or if it wasn’t, in their opinion, quite good enough to be put on the physical EP?

I guess I’ll never stop blaming the music industry…