Some songs are more an electro-pop than an orchestra track
He does it again: after he successful of three 1990’s pop tracks, transformed into orchestral arrangements, Alex Christensen is back with The Berlin Orchestra with a new album on 3rd September 2021. This time, the German producer is stepping back one decade, which is not too hard to guess. The title of the new album is Classical 80s Dance. Again, Christensen is massively supported by well-known artists. After I reviewed the third part of his 1990’s song interpretations, I was rather curious if I rather like the songs from my favorite decade of music.
Alex Christensen – About The Artist
Alex Christensen is a really interesting and widely successful German producer. You also see that by the fact that this collaboration with The Berlin Orchestra is already having its fourth long-play release now. For more details about Christensen, I refer to my review of Classical 90s Dance 3.
Alex Christensen – Classical 80s Dance – Track by Track
The album contains 19 titles and lasts 62 minutes.
1. Smalltown Boy (feat. Ronan Keating)
The first two songs come with global superstar support: in this first track, Ronan Keating is performing Bronski Beat’s Smalltown Boy. The song was also one of the single releases – definitely cool to have this high-quality orchestra version with an artist like him on the vocal side – but I feel that there are better songs on this album.
2. Self Control (feat. Sophie Ellis-Bextor)
One of this “better ones” is definitely Self Control. Sophie Ellis-Bextor is taking over the vocal duties from Laura Branigan in here. The song is not as powerful as the original. But together with drum machine sounds, the track feels like a perfect dancefloor track. Just like Ellis-Bextor’s big songs. Great arrangement.
3. Never Gonna Give You Up (feat. Mike Singer)
Alex Christensen and Mike Singer turn the energetic, powerful Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley into a very emotional, almost intimate experience – at least for the first minute. This song deserves a beat this is incepting right before the first chorus. I have to admit that I love the quiet part better – the rhythmic one feels very close to the original… And Mike Singer’s vocal performance just feels just too outgunned against the 1987 original.
4. Never Ending Story (feat. Ana Kohler)
Ana Kohler is a 23 year old German singer who became huge based on her Tik Tok performances. I was really curious how she be handling the Limahl classic. The answer: it is just beautiful! To me, at least in the top 3 of the guest vocalist performances on this album – but I would also agree of you rate her at the very top. Great arrangement, which gives a majestic, large background – a perfect fit to Kohler’s lovely voice.
5. Don’t Dream It’s Over (feat. Gary Barlow)
I explicitly mentioned that the album starts with two very big names of the music business. Regarding that, the album reaches its climax at Don’t Dream It’s Over. Gary Barlow is just amazing – and he is doing great in the slow interpretation of the 1986 Crowded House song. One of the best tracks of the album.
6. Another Day in Paradise (feat. Glasperlenspiel)
In the sixth song, the Phil Collins success is featured the Glasperlenspiel and The Berlin Orchestra. The song feels to be interpreted as a pop song at the very beginning, but during the chorus, the rhythmic background is significantly reduced and thus gives enough room for the important message of the song. Nonetheless, the original message of the song is likely still the reason, why I struggle with this interpretation.
7. Total Eclipse Of The Heart (feat. Bonnie Tyler)
Imagine you want to interpret 1980’s songs with an orchestra – and you feel Total Eclipse Of The Heart should be on it. Whom would you ask to sing it? Who would take that competition against the raspy super-voice of Bonnie Tyler? Alex Christensen did the easy way… and asked the legendary artist herself. And: even though I love the concept of having new interpretations, new voices – there is nobody who would do better to perform this track while flutes are playing in the background.
8. Blue Monday (feat. Felix Räuber)
New Order originally recorded Blue Monday – 35 years after the original has been released, Alex Christensen went for Felix Räuber (formerly Polarkreis 18). The voice is adding a lot of groove and style to this song – Blue Monday just does not catch me that much as I am also not that much into the original as I am in practically all other songs. Still a good one.
9. Voyage, voyage (feat. Chimene)
For that song, you preferably had to be supported by a French artist – and Chimene does a great job. The song in the Alex Christensen version has so much power. One of the best orchestral presences – the classic instrumentalists just give me a blast in this song. Chimene finishes this song in style. Wow.
10. Hypnotic Tango (feat. Leony)
Leonie Burger (or: Leony, which is her artist name) supports Alex Christensen and his orchestra in the Hypnotic Tango. A bit of sad that there are very limited vocal parts. However, the instrumental performance is great.
Introspective gives us a short instrumental break of some 40 seconds. Relax or skip and look forward for Visage, 2021 style.
12. Fade To Grey (feat. Mandy Capristo)
Mandy Capristo became well-known in Germany after being casted for the band Monrose in a German TV talent show. She is doing a great vocal performance on Fade To Grey, which feels to be a very personal interpretation on the one hand, but is also not too far away from the original by Visage. One of my favorites.
13. Tainted Love (feat. David Garrett)
Tainted Love is a very special song on this album: David is Garrett is doing what he is doing best – he plays the violin. No lead vocals in this version, but a really special touch and welcome alternative to the songs before. Good idea, great recording. And as you the lyrics anyway, just sing with the orchestra and the famous violinist.
14. Killer (feat. Seven)
With that track, Alex Christensen is heading towards the very end of the 1980’s: Adamski & Seal released this song in 1989. I feel it is a really smart move that Christensen is not trying to replace the powerful voice of Seal somehow – the Swiss singer Seven is doing great in giving the song a new touch.
15. Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) (feat. Sophie Ellis-Bextor)
She does it again: Sophie Ellis-Bextor is the only artist who is having two guest performances on Classical 80s Dance. I just feel a Murder On The Dancefloor touch in this song – even though her singing style is so different in the two tracks. Well done.
16. Words (feat. Nima)
This one by F.R. David is definitely one of my favorite 1980’s songs. I could not find too much bio about the artist bio, who is doing the vocal part on this track. I guess she is Swedish. Not my favorite guest performance – the version feels a bit of thin to me as well.
17. Living On Video (feat. Asja Ahatovic)
Asja Ahatovic is an Austrian singer, who made it into the finals of Kiddy Contest in 2010. The talent show was very popular in the Austrian TV. The electronically strongly distorted voice and the drum machine just distorts a bit too much from the orchestral performance to me. Only the purely instrumental parts give sufficient presence. The catching main theme is still very present, but overall, this is the only cover which I would definitely see in the below average range.
18. Fotonovela (feat. Yass)
Juan Carlos Ramos Vaquero – or short: Ivan (Why??) was one a one-hit wonder with Fotonovela. Yass at least had two Top 10 hits in her home market Germany (I better refuse to name and translate them). In this cover, the artist shows that she has a really ncie voice. Very good cover version towards the end of the album.
19. Slave To The 80s
The album closes with a 1:36 minute outro, at which the orchestral background is drowned out by 8-bit alike video game sounds. It’s just an outro.
Alex Christensen – Classical 80s Dance – Spotify
Here is Classical 80s Dance on Spotify:
Alex Christensen – Classical 80s Dance – My View
I do one mistake when listening to Alex Christensen and his classic pop albums: the original songs (almost) all played just such a big role in my life, I just have to compare Christensen’s sound with them all the time. Sometimes, you just miss by that how good they actually are. Some song are too much dominated by electronic sounds and drums added to the recording. Apart from that, it is a cool collection of great songs. Even though it is just a small difference, I prefer this 1980’s collection over Classical 90s Dance 3.