Charlotte Perrelli

Hero [Sweden]

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AllMusic Review by

In a lineup that read like a who's who of the Sweden's musical A-list; Carola Häggkvist, BWO, Sanna Nielsen, Christer Sjögren, etc, it was perhaps the reemergence of Charlotte Perrelli which caused the biggest stir at the 2008 Melodifestivalen. Perrelli achieved a unique feat in 1999 when she won the contest and went on to win the Eurovision on her first try at both. Even the legendary ABBA failed to win Melodifestivalen on their debut entry in 1973 with "Ring Ring." For years she resisted entering again, arguing that she had already achieved as much as was possible in the contest. It's a fair point, and although her career never quite reached the heights that ABBA and Carola reached, she still had a great deal to prove by coming back. Thankfully, her concerns proved unfounded as her entry "Hero," penned by Swedish pop maestro Fredrik Kempe, romped to victory with a huge margin over the competition from the Swedish juries. It's not difficult to see why. Hero is a magnificent pop record, with one of the most powerful choruses of the year and an unusual but highly effective key change which was choreographed brilliantly in performance. It stands up outside the context of the Eurovision song contest and could easily become an international hit in its own right. Indeed gay dancefloors worldwide quickly took the song to heart. The aptly titled Hero: The Album is therefore Charlotte's second big chance at grabbing a serious worldwide following, and this time she's got the material to back it up. What first strikes about the record is how diverse it is. With Hero and the similarly styled follow-up single "Bullet," the album puts a 2008 spin on the classic Swedish schlager style, but elsewhere we see hints of Kelly Clarkson-esque pop/rock ("Addicted," "A Lot Like Love"), life-affirming power balladry ("Appreciate," "Show Me a Mountain"), and even a not-entirely embarrassing stab at reggae-lite ("Holy Man"). Fortunately, the hooks are consistently strong and Perrelli's vocals are as strong as ever, lending necessary OTT drama to "Bullet" and genuine sincerity to the wonderful "Addicted." The Hilary Duff-esque "Remedy" is the only bland moment, the lyrics are a little immature for the 34-year-old singer, and the melody is more irritating than infectious. However this is the strongest pop set yet from Perrelli, and an album that any international recording artist could be proud of.

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