Living with…Phenomden…for a week

A completely and utterly cliched view of Swiss music

A completely and utterly cliched view of Swiss music

Top of the Swiss Pops

One evening recently I started talking with my cousin about what he would recommend from the Swiss music scene.  It’s difficult sometimes to pick our what’s good out there when mainstream radio and TV does seem to pour out the middlest of the middle of the road.

He suggested Phenomden, a Zurich-based reggae band, of which more below.

That evening we also pored over Diccon Bewes’ excellent Swisscellany book, a book of out and out trivia, and particularly the section on Top Swiss Pop hits.  A big thank you to Diccon who has been covered before in no81bob’s world for Swiss Watching.

The Swiss Hit Parade started in 1968, so interestingly enough missed out on most of the Beatles classic era. Since it’s beginnings the following ten singles are the ones that have spent the most number of weeks in the charts.  I think that’s as good an indicator of a country’s taste for music as anything, so as well as Phenomden I’ve spent a little time with these.

Starting at number one

1. Ein Stern – D J Otzi and Nik P

DJ Otzi’s position at number one came as absolutely no surprise to my cousin although I’ll confess to a big ? expression on my face.  A brief reference to his massive euro hit Hey Baby (trust me, you don’t want to but you do know it) turned my face from ? to oh.  Ein Stern (translated A Star which bears your name) is soppy and romantic and despite persistent attempts to ignore it by many radio stations it spent well over 100 weeks in both the German and Swiss music chants.

I love this video clip of him sporting a trademark white cotton pudding bowl on his head and leading an ecstatic crowd in synchronised arm waving and communal sing-a-long,  Scenes like these are what make Swiss and German television compulsive.  It also takes me back to that Sweet Caroline experience at a Neil Diamond concert.  Unashamed schmaltz.

2. Chasing Cars – Snow Patrol

Moving on…

3. Bring en hei – Baschi

Think Baddiel and Skinner, and then up the good looks a bit, and you have Baschi’s contribution to the Euro 2008 football tournament on behalf of the Swiss nation.  Just to help with understanding the complicated chorus here are the Swiss lyrics with English translation

chum bring en hei chum bring en,
come on, bring it home, come on, bring it home
chum bring en hei chum bring en,
come on, bring it home, come on, bring it home
chum bring en hei, zu mir
come on, bring it home, home to me

Have you got that?  Good.  Now you can join in with this suitably understated performance.

4. Hung Up Madonna

Just a really good song, and probably one of her best so I’m with the Swiss on this!

5. You’re Beautiful – James Blunt

See 1 above.  Unashamed schmaltz.

6. This is the Life – Amy MacDonald

I think we were all a bit surprised to see this here if only why this particular song? But it is brilliant acoustic pop so good one Amy.

7. Ewigi Liabi – Mash

Before I use the sch word again (see 1 and 5 above), I must apologize to Mash.  Their massive hit from 2001 is what we’d come to expect so far based on previous in the top ten.  A gentle but firm piano sequence, an inspiring lifting chorus of “Endless love – that’s what I wish for you”, waving candles in the wind.  This is so big in Switzerland there has been a musical Ewigi Liabi that ran very successfully until a few years back.

So I really should have chosen Mash’s  video to support thus song – after all it features sunsets, gently lapping lakes, beautiful babies being kissed and a gorgeous closing sunset.  But I have to apologize.

I discovered a cover of this song by Simu and Simu – how could I resist?  This is sch… with a capital SCH.  If you do one thing this week watch this video and share some classic scenes.  The ability for the lead singer to persistently sing while the fraulein is scything a field behind him; the slo mo running and spinning scene; the band scene – what actual sound comes from a rotating cheese maker, and possibly the worst game of hide and seek ever.

And I am of course now singing this continuously….

8. Apologize – Timbaland featuring One Republic


9. Rehab – Amy Winehouse

That’ll be needed after all the schnapps that’s consumed to digest all the schmaltz.

10. Rise Up – Yves Larock

I didn’t know this song before but it’s great euro pop so is going on the next P compilation probably along with Hey Baby from DJ Otzi only because like it or not I will end up singing along.

Please don’t get me wrong, I love this collection of songs – they prove that a country will stamp it’s character on the music it consumes.  It doesn’t matter how hard the big music companies push.  Yes, there are some obvious big hitters imported from the US or elsewhere but there are also moments that say We’re Swiss, We’re Sentimental and We’re Proud of it.


Phenomden – Eiland (2011)

eilandI chose Eiland for no other reason than it was his latest, it was easily accessible and looked like it had done well commercially.

First things first, my Schweizerdeutsch is poor stretching really only to meal table basics in the house and when out and about.  I love the music of the language and in context can pick up the gist of what’s going on but have never mastered it! So the lyrics of Eiland are largely an enigma. A quick run through my good friend the Google translator draws a similar blank – translating Hochdeutsch is fine, but there doesn’t appear to be a lot lurking here in the lyrics.

But no matter – I love the sound of the words.  And the music – it’s a fairly mainstream reggae sound with a fair amount of sunshine injected so think UB40, Maxi Priest with Swiss rapping over the top and you have the sound.  Which has been a great companion for a couple of longer car journeys this week.

I just hope I’m OK with what he’s singing…maybe I’ll find out one day?

Below is the video for the title track.  Jamaican Swiss – reggae while travelling on a very clean tram around Zurich.  If nothing else you’ll have a big smile while you join in – from either the music or the sight of a well-run transport system.

Sunshine in your heart.