Edurne hails from Madrid and came to the attention of the Spanish public as a solo star when she took part in the fourth series of the Spanish version of Pop Idol/Fame Academy. Although Operación Triunfo usually "discovered" and provided a strong launch-pad for many, Edurne had already two albums and a few tours under her belt before entering the TV competition and cutting a deal with Sony. Indeed, some may remember her actual entrance into pop world was as the teeniebopper in the group Trastos. Just as I didn't focus on Marta's years in Olé Olé, attention here lies squarely on Edurne - not Trastos. Edurne has established herself as one of Spain's central pop forces, releasing one bombastic album after another. Whenever she's had a knock-back she's picked herself up, dusted herself down and sparkled brighter than before. Some have described her as Spain's very own Britney Spears, but I wouldn't draw such comparisons. Interestingly however she has shared similar producers as the American pop queen and finds herself in a very fascinating place career-wise after the release of her last album. 

Edurne’s self-titled debut album with Sony featured songs written and produced by British and Scandinavian pop authors, then translated into Spanish. These included submissions by Tord Bäckström, Bengt Girell, Jan Nilsson, Adam Alvermark, Andreas Karlegard, Gustav Efraimsson, Kim-Lian, Anders Bagge, Peer Åström, Marcella Detroit, Alex Parks,  Robert Habolin, Niklas Jarl, Savan Kotecha and David Stenmarck. With the international feel of the album, comparisons were drawn to recent releases by Britney Spears and the album not only went Gold but secured a top 3 position in the Spanish charts. The lead single Despierta (co-written by Gustav Efraimsson of Sweden) also charted well in the southern European radio charts, especially in Greece and Italy. Interestingly, Marta Sanchez would record a Efraimsson song, Get Together, some years later.

Such was the success of the first album that Edurne returned to the studio to produce Ilusion, released a year after the debut. It is very much an extension of her first, understandable considering she teamed-up with her previous executive producers Pleeth & Stern for a number of the sessions. Ilusion is one of my favourite albums by Edurne. Not only is it incredibly cohesive but the album's credits bulge with Swedish songwriters. One could even say Ilusion was one of the best scandipop albums of 2007 to be released outside of Sweden. Writers included George Nakas, Victoria Horn, Klas Wahl, Fredrik Thomander, Anders Wikstrom, Tobias Gustavvsson, Gustav Efraimmsson, Mia Bergstrom, Lisa Lindebergh, Johan Bobak, Hanne Sorvaag, Harry Sommerdahl, Cutfather, Jay Jay, Fredrik Larsson, Johan Fransson, Tim Larsson, Tobias Lundgren, Jesper Jakobson, Patrik Ohlsson, George Samuelsson, Fredrik Rogberg, Sofia Bernson and Jorgen Elloffson. Oh and Phil Thornalley of Torn fame. In many ways her first two albums are perfect examples of Swedish pop music, only sung in Spanish. With its delicious electro pop beats, the lead single Ven Por Mi powered through the Spanish charts sounding like something from Kylie’s Fever album and the 1980s. This despite the fact the song itself had already been released four years earlier as Come With Me by the Flemish singer Sita.

Perhaps as a consequence to its stellar songwriting/production roster, many of the songs from the album could’ve been singles for Edurne. It is overbundled with killer pop tracks. Los Angeles Tambien Pecan sounds a little like Janet Jackson, Britney Spears and Monrose. Its English title is wonderfully called Venus In Your Hand. Another stand-out song is Algo Cambió which had previously been released by MYNT as Still Not Sorry three years before. I much prefer the MYNT original but Edurne gives it good try. Si Me Dejas En Paz is a bombastic slice of Schlager-pop, which is understandable considering the original demo was written by Sofia Bernston as a Melodifestivalen attempt that never came to fruition. One of the slower moments on Ilusion is the album closer Lo Que Siente and is another discreet Swedish cover, this time co-written by the mighty Jorgen Elofsson. Initially released by Bellefire as Perfect Bliss in 2001, Edurne’s version is beautiful, tender and dreamy. As was her cover of Norway's Maria Arrendondo’s Brief and Beautiful (renamed on Ilusion as Fue Para Los Dos) which eventually became the final second single from Ilusion. Which is a shame as songs like No Mirar Atras, Sin Control and Hoy Voy A Estallar screamed out to be released.

While it is clear that Edurne’s second album consisted of quite a few Swedish covers, her follow-up would be nothing but covers. Premiere saw Edurne acknowledge her career in musicals, a path that she’d followed after the immense success she’d experienced during a stint as Sandy in the Spanish run of Grease. There were interesting moments but the release was a set-back for Edurne. The album went to no. 39 and dropped out of the charts a week or so later. While it is sweet, it's not a highly recommended listen. I say that with a massively heavy heart as the first two Edurne albums were such great and sturdy pop productions. Best to overlook it.

It would take two years until Edurne returned to the studio, but when she did it was with an almighty bang. Produced by Oscar Claval, who’d produced some of Edurne’s strongest songs from her first two albums, Nueva Piel was a proper comeback. The first single Soy Como Soy (which translates as I am what I am) was written by Steve Anderson (Kylie Minogue’s Confide In Me and her music director). With its uplifting emancipatory lyrics the song became a massive radio hit and firm club favourite in the discos of Madrid, Barcelona, Ibiza and the Costa Del Sol. Soy Como Soy is an electronic pulsating anthem full of fire – the sort of energy that had fuelled her first single Despierta. It would later be covered by the British girlband Ultra Girls who released it as Girl Will Be Girls.

Nueva Piel remains to be her best album to date. Indeed, I said as much when it was first released (DSTP’s huge review). Its highlights range from Demasiados Besos by Kid Crazy and Sam McCarthy, which sounds like something from Holly Valance’s second album and the Dr.Who Theme, to Te Menti by Patric Sarin (Margaret Berger) which sounds very much like Samantha. One of my favourite tracks was the summery Siempre Sale El Sol by Australian writers Michael Szumowski and Josh Pyke. Michael Szumowski, from the band Indecent Obsession, of course produced Bardot's Poison and Josh Pyke has had massive success in Australia with The Lighthouse Song. Like her first two studio albums, Nueva Piel inevitably included discreet covers that her A&R team loved to select, such as the beautiful cover Lo Siento, Culpable originally by German singer Christine Nouri and Seremos dos o será un adios originally by Susannah Kay. However compared to her three previous albums, which were festooned with covers, this release contains relatively few. Other worthy mentions are the stunning mid-tempo schlagertastic Alguien Como Tú (co-written by Daniel Volpe, Eric Palmqvist and Thomas Lipp) and No Vuelvas A Mí which was written by Par Westerlund and Jorgen Elofsson.

By carving out her position as one of Spains high priestesses of Pop and dance, it was clear Nueva Piel restored Edurne as a name to be reckoned with on the radio charts, establishing a sound crossed between Kylie and Agnes Carlsson of Sweden. She would venture further into the dancefloor realm once album promotion for Nueva Piel wrapped-up by working with DJ Brian Cross on the club track More Than A Lover. So, it seemed unusual when she released her latest album Climax last year, which was a clear attempt to somehow jump on the addictive rock-pop sound of Pink. Indeed, Michael Busbee, who wrote Pink’s smash hit Try, eventually ended up writing a number of songs on the album that its producers Pablo Navarro and Simon Nordberg had textured with a guitar-pop sound, popular in the heady days of Ashley Simpson. However the problem with Climax was that the rocky feel didn’t sit well with Edurne’s vocals. Most of the songs were devoid of quality, while the vocal production was an absolute mess. It is difficult to hear Edurne screech through the album as she tries to rock out like she’s some Guns and Roses tribute act. Unfortunately she not only howls but growls. The rock production and direction of the album did not suit Edurne’s voice in any way, shape or form. 

Despite the mess there are some redeemable moments. The first is written by the Swedish team Dubbelman, Niklas Edberger and Marriette Hansson, who many will know as the popstar Maryjet who recently worked with Ace Wilder. The song in question is Viernes (originally titled Weekend) and seemingly recorded for Marriettes debut album (to hear more from Mariette check out Scandipop here). The second is Me Rompiste El Corazon, co-written by the great singer Marlene (Indian Summer, Bon Voyage, Stay Awake). Lastly, Finish Line by Charlie Mason, who of course wrote the amazing Eurovison winner song of 2014 Rise Like A Phoenix, and Jonas Thander (Zazou, Hansam, Sharon Doorson). Finish Line is the album's best track. The moment the listener hears the opening lyrics by Mason “shivering inside a private December….then the warrior me awoke rising like a phoenix from the smoke”, you know you’re strapped into a ride of an anthem. Sadly, like all the songs on the album, the overlaid rock production is messy and Edurne fails to convey the strength of Masons lyrics. What is key about Finish Line is that such is the level of quality of the song, it survives intact even despite the exec producers' rock antics. This is purely down to its composers. Charlie Mason's lyrics bounce out like one of those amazing Melodifestivalen classics that ended-up becoming a winning Eurovision song for Sweden. Moreover, the tempo and Jonas Thander's melody's highs and lows combined with Charlie’s pentameter reveal it as a marathon of a song. As such it has the kind of electric energy that any sporting event could use as its anthem. A great pop song that shakes off the attempt to laden the track down with messy drums and guitars. How can you deny the lyrics “cutting down through the noise, a familiar voice from the finish line telling me to try!”. Not to forget the glorious crescendo of music which is wrapped around Mason's stunning uplifting couplet “If I’m humbled, If I stumble. Won’t give up again”. Amazing.

Despite those three tracks, on the whole Climax was a complete and utter misfire in A&R and management and it consequently failed to ignite the Spanish charts. The lead single Pretty Boy bombed as well. While it attempts to repeat and convey the same message of Shania Twain's epic hit That Don’t Impress Me Much, the lyrics are offensive and appear to attack boys who wear make-up, eye-liner and “girlie-jeans”. Oh yes. Edurne thinks she’s ever so gritty as she snarls out the line “you get mistaken for a girl” and “you’ve never kissed a girl, you’re just a big talker”. It gets worse. The subject of her song is not only called “prissy” but is chastised for having "perfect little hands that are always kept nice” and bullied for being a "high fashion know-it-all” whose “favourite phrase is "OMG, that’s so Hot" and wears women’s clothes. Pretty awful. 

Now I’m sure offence was not intended but the blunt insults and barbs remain. Interestingly, on the Itunes edition Sony Records decided to include a Spanish version as a bonus track that was re-titled Artificial and which omitted all pretty offensive lyrics. Instead the subject was simply a very superficial and narcissist object of affection. Gone were the sly attacks on a boy who liked to wear girlie clothes, make-up and was interested in fashion. Instead the Spanish version became a carbon copy of Twain’s Don’t Impress Me Much and Carly Simon’s You’re So Vain. Unfortunately though, the better Spanish lyrics do not save the song itself. 

Putting aside the three good songs, Climax was nothing other than a bold move for Edurne and her label. Sadly, a poorly executed one. Spain is a highly competitive pop arena and with Nueva Piel it looked like she had carved out a niche for herself and a successful one too. The misplaced rock production seems to have taken out the steam and direction of Edurne’s development as a pop artist. She changed management in the middle of Climax's release but I’m not sure this will essentially resolve the problems caused by the album. While her fellow Operacion Triunfo contestants such as David Bisbal, Rosa Lopez, Bustamante, Nuria Fergo, Chenoa, Soraya, Gisela, Natalia, Ainhoa, and Veronica Romeo have all developed their sounds, matured and progressed as pop acts, Edurne’s Climax could’ve been released years before her debut album. 

Since the release of Climax Edurne has been pushing herself once again on TV reality shows and featured with Olly Murs on a iTunes bonus track, singing the Spanish lyrics to Hand On Heart. As a big Edurne fan, I can’t wait to see her next move. For sure, Climax was disappointing but overall her body of work reveals outstanding pop music that has utilized some of the best songwriters the US, Scandinavia and the UK have to offer. It would be awesome to see Edurne pick up where she left off with Nueva Piel and sing the songs of Gustav Effraimson, Steve Anderson, Tina Harris, Fredrik Thomander, Sofia Bernston, Savan Kotecha , Par Westerlund, Cutfather and Johan Boback. Ultimately, Edurne has consistently released some of the best European pop in Spain from her very first album to her fourth (probably best to avoid the third and fifth albums). I hope she once again teams up with those writers and producers who not only gave her radio hits and pop anthems but also pushed Edurne in the right direction. All eyes on Edurne! Her future is in her hands now. 

The Definitive Introductory Ten Track Edurne MixTape
(Must-have songs to download by Edurne)
Soy Como Soy
Los Angeles Tambien Pecan
Algo Cambio
Sin Control
Siempre Sale El Sol
Ojos Que No Ven
Entre El Alma y La Piel
Alquien Como Tu


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