b0ka, or etymologically correct, boka, is “the book” in English, my language of choice. I wish I were fluent in Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish. I will use Google Translate instead of learning them at this point in my life. Never mind my rant. This blog is about a band named b0ka and the infectious pop music on their debut album, Forever, My Friend.
Pop music and top ten radio often get a bad rap due to the formulaic nature of the songs. Some websites are devoted to making a pop song, and they walk a person through creating your own top 10 radio hit song.
They start by picking the topic, which usually revolves around three main themes, love found, being in love, and love lost—songs that tug at our heartstrings, which most of us can relate to. The remainder of the process builds on this and adds catchy melodies for the lyrics to be delivered. Most pop music is in the three to three and one half minute range. And with all of that and some good promoters, a hit pop song might emerge.
Is making pop music terrible? Is listening to pop music wrong? Do I have an agenda against pop music?
No, No, No, Norman. No, no, no is an excellent start to your million-dollar hit pop song. A gazillion songs revolve around “no, no, no.” There are a lot fewer when you add Norman. The closest I found was, Oh No, Norman, on Office Politics, the twelfth studio album by Northern Irish chamber pop band the Divine Comedy, released on 7 June 2019 by Divine Comedy Records.
This blog is not about that. This blog is about b0ka, a band that has made an excellent pop album. Sure, they say “Oh No” several times and repeat some choruses, but that is about as close as they get to being a formula band. They also don’t mention Norman, not even once.
The album opens with the tender ballad Oh Baby. Gentle lyrics are more spoken than sung, making for an interesting opener. If I were cruising for songs to play, which I frequently do and sampled Oh Baby, I might have rejected it because it sounded like it would be a soft rock ballad album. It isn’t.
Listening to the next track, Stone Cold Girl, we get an uptempo track with plenty of synths, sampling and digital drums. The vocals are more vigorous, and there are background singers. These assets bring the music to a pleasant pitch contrasting the darker lyrics. Falling apart, rain on holidays, heartbreak, worlds of empty colours, sadness. Yeah, these are not uplifting lyrics, unlike the catchy instruments. There are two parts to Stone Cold Girl; the second is less energetic. Both use repetition extensively.
When You Touch Me repeats, “I said I didn’t like it when you touched me,” 19 times. A bit repetitive, but in the context of an R&B, Soul, Jazz & Funk track, it works. It is also hilarious, and I hope they meant the song to be humorous because that is how I received it. I won’t bother trying to tell you what it is about. Listen to it and draw your conclusion.
The title track, Forever My Friend, alternates between English and Norwegian. I am not fluent in either, but I know significantly more English.
Want Me To has the focal character sitting on the fence and saying, Can’t make up my mind about you. The music don’t feel like it did when I was with you. Music is a powerful medium that can add memories, hold memories associated with certain songs and drag our emotions up or down. Want Me To is neutral.
I will fast-track over a couple of songs and jump into the groove of Fjompin’ 67. I had to look up what Fjompin’ was. It is a jerk, goof, silly or idiotic person. “Do you like the beat?
Yeah, I like the beat.
Drink beer, and listen to house music.”
I don’t drink beer and seldom listen to house music, but I like music with a strong beat. Fjompin’ 67 isn’t heavy on house music, but it is an excellent introduction to the next song, Last Night (On Earth), which does have a strong beat.
The album closes with the song, Life With Me, a softer synth-driven track about falling in love, being in love and the questions.
Is it wonderful?
Can I enjoy it?
Can I control it?
I like the final line that closes the album, “I can’t choose who I love, but I choose you.”
I can see myself looking into my wife’s eyes and telling her, “I choose you.”
Final word? Yeah, this is radio-friendly pop music. It has been an excellent introduction for me to the world of Norwegian pop music. Easy to listen to, soft synth music over the eternal human topic, love.
‘Forever, My Friend’ will be available to stream from the 12th May 2023 via Beatservice Records with vinyl release to follow on 9th June 2023.
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