Saturday, February 02, 2008

Number 1s of 2008: January

I wasn't initially planning to carry on these posts into 2008. I had vague plans to do the occasional chart-watch post flagging up particularly unusual or notable entries, but to be honest, the first few weeks of January were dull enough to put me off the idea. (Leon Jackson stayed at number one during the quiet period, as you'd expect.)

And then you get this...

Basshunter, "Now You're Gone" (13 January 2008 to present, 3 weeks and counting).

It's pretty mediocre, and the video does it no favours. It's the sort of dance record that mainland Europe was churning out a few years ago, but it now sounds decidedly dated, and frankly it's surprising to see it in the top 10, let alone doing this well. The genre hasn't been doing all that well in Britain more recently, and this record seems like a weird anachronism. It doesn't even have the benefit of an established fanbase. It's really quite strange.

But the song has a weird genesis, which sheds a bit more light on its success. Basshunter is a Swedish producer, Jonas Altberg.

Basshunter is a Swedish producer, Jonas Altberg. In his own country, he's an internet star. Notionally, "Now You're Gone" is the English language version of his debut single "Boten Anna." Except it isn't. Here's the original, with English subtitles.

"Now You're Gone" isn't even loosely a translation of "Boten Anna" - it's a completely different song set to the same tune. Apparently it originated in the Netherlands with one DJ Mental Theo, who is responsible for the English-language lyrics. The version released in the UK is, apparently, Basshunter's cover version of Theo's rewrite of Basshunter's own song.

The original song is about IRC moderation bots, of all things. To be honest, a literal English translation of the lyrics doesn't make it sound particularly great either, but I'm prepared to give it the benefit of the doubt and assume that it works better in the original language. (Supposedly, there's some sort of convoluted pun about boats/bots and channels which is lost in translation.)

I can just about understand "Boten Anna" doing well in Sweden, as a quirky, tongue-in-cheek, novelty record. But the fact that it then spread to other non-Swedish-speaking countries is a bit of a mystery. And by the time it made it to Britain, the record had become a rather mediocre, if passably catchy, Eurodance track.

According to Wikipedia, Basshunter's other Europe-wide hit was "Vi sitter i Ventrilo och spelar DotA", which is basically more of the same. It concerns the age-old subject of using voice chat while playing Warcraft III map "Death of the Ancients". Something tells me that we can look forward to an Anglophone mangling of that record too.