From Iceland — PALLI and KALLI: Do they care?

PALLI and KALLI: Do they care?

Published January 14, 2005

PALLI and KALLI: Do they care?

At the bottom with Páll Rósinkrans
With the hunt for a new Idol already underway, it won’t be long until Kalli Bjarni is merely yesterday’s news. Sure, it’s a shame for him, but the record industry is a cruel business and far from as glamorous as it may appear to unsuspecting contenders of the Idol-crown. One would still expect the behind-the-scene virtuosos to dish out some instant pop-hits, ensuring Kalli Bjarni a proper lift-off as he reaches for the stars, but they appear to be not in the mood.
At the bottom of the resulting pile of mess is Kalli Bjarni’s duet with Páll Rósinkrans; not only because of the song itself but the fact that the same exact version appears on the latter’s newly released cd. Of course, both apply the same back-room staff and to me, this factory-like stunt shows how little everyone involved actually cares about the music itself or any potential listeners. Still, the fact they had the sheer audacity to go through with it meant that I could at least have some laughs while listening to these two otherwise forgettable albums.

Neither Fish Nor Flesh
Our protagonists’ sad face on the cover says it all really because the majority of the 10 tracks are neither one thing nor the other. A few of them are decent enough for what they are; mindless yet reasonably catchy and certainly tolerable when compared to over-zealous power-ballads such as ‘Hvert eitt sólarlag’. At times though, Kalli Bjarni himself sounds like he’s got limited faith in what he’s doing, or should I say what he’s being told to do. The title of the album’s feel-good finale, ‘Adeins einu sinni’ (‘Only once’), says it all, since it’s already looking increasingly doubtful that Kalli Bjarni will get an extension of his 15 minutes of fame. Sales have reportedly been disappointing and as previously suggested, the Idol momentum simply doesn’t seem to carry on beyond the TV screen.

The system is crap but it works
An undeniably gifted singer (perhaps in need of money?) enters a studio, sings a handful of carefully selected and unchallenging songs before releasing an album he’s guaranteed to sell shitloads of. Aah, the system works. It’s a crappy system, I know, but does Páll Rósinkrans really care? Does he even care about his own reputation as a serious musician?
As stated earlier, Páll is a talented if unambitious singer who originally made a name for himself with the highly promising rock-outfit Jet Black Joe in the early nineties. Fed up with the rock’ n’ roll lifestyle, he found religion and released a gospel album to somewhat surprising commercial success he’s been milking ever since, playing it safe and making carbon copies of already well-known songs, thus insuring that nothing, and I mean nothing, could possibly upset the listeners or, god forbid, take them by surprise.

In Pro-Tools We Trust
This time around though, all the material is in Icelandic and, in most cases, written especially for the occasion. That may count as an effort to improve but it’s a half-hearted one as most of the songs fail to make a notable impact. As with his contrived “karaoke-albums,” the recordings are top notch (In Pro-Tools we trust), which is hardly surprising given the fact that every position is filled by a industry professional, so the album ends up sounding like the musical equivelant of a Jerry Bruckheimer film.
It’s obviously hard to fault the opener, written in memory of the recently passed Pétur W. Kristjánsson and the song that follow’s, ‘Ad lifa lengi’, is mildly catchy if nothing else. More dramatic are ‘Nóttin er blind’, ‘Mín eina von’ and ‘Eins og gengur’ (a duet with Idol-star Kalli Bjarni) which do have some effect but surely not the intended as I got shivers down my spine rather than goosebumps. Thankfully, the rest of the album seems to float harmlessly away but even Páll’s vocals aren’t as strong as often before, whether it’s down to an off-day or simply lack of general interest. So why does the bandwagon keep on rolling? Is it all really a matter of taste?

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