Anniemal

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Anniemal
The cover of Anniemal featuring the word Annie at the bottom and showing Annie, a twentysomething blonde woman, with her arm covering her mouth
Studio album by Annie
Released 28 September 2004 (2004-09-28)
Recorded 1999, 2001–2004
Genre Electropop
Length 46:06
Label 679
Producer Annie, Svein Berge, Torbjørn Brundtland, Veikka Ercola, Timo Kaukolampi, Yngve Sætre, Richard X
Annie chronology
Anniemal
(2004)
DJ-Kicks: Annie
(2005)
Singles from Anniemal
  1. "The Greatest Hit"
    Released: 1999
  2. "Chewing Gum"
    Released: August 2004
  3. "Heartbeat"
    Released: November 2004
  4. "Happy Without You"
    Released: July 2005
  5. "Always Too Late"
    Released: September 2005

Anniemal is the debut album by Norwegian recording artist Annie. It was first released by 679 Recordings in September 2004. Annie began recording music in 1999 with her boyfriend, Tore Kroknes, who died in 2001. She returned to recording later that year, collaborating with Richard X, Röyksopp, and Timo Kaukolampi.

The album combines Annie's thin, airy vocals with heavily layered beats. It is heavily influenced by 1980s dance-pop. Upon release, the album was successful in Norway. Blogs leaked tracks from Anniemal before it was released internationally, and publications from other countries soon praised the album for its blissful but melancholic sound.

Before releasing the album internationally in 2005, Annie's record label 679 Recordings was not confident in the album's ability to achieve commercial success overseas, so it did not heavily promote Anniemal. The album eventually sold over 100,000 copies worldwide. It yielded four singles: "Chewing Gum", "Heartbeat", "Happy Without You", and "Always Too Late".

Background[edit]

In the late 1990s, Annie held a monthly DJ night called Pop Till You Drop with friend Frøken Blytt in her hometown of Bergen, Norway.[1] There she met producer Tore Kroknes, and the two began dating.[2] Annie and Kroknes borrowed a small studio from downtempo duo Röyksopp to record her debut single "The Greatest Hit". The song, which uses a sample of Madonna's 1982 dance-pop single "Everybody", had a limited edition release in 1999. It became an underground hit at clubs in Norway and Britain, resulting in offers for record deals.[3] The two recorded Annie's second single, titled "I Will Get On". She focused on vocals and melodies in music, and Kroknes concentrated on production, influenced by techno, disco and house music.[4] As Annie began to work on her debut album, Kroknes became ill due to a heart defect. He died eighteen months later, in April 2001.[2]

Half a year passed before Annie returned to music.[2] She asked Timo Kaukolampi from Finnish electronic group Op:l Bastards to DJ in Bergen.[5] Starting with a song titled "Kiss Me", he had Annie contribute vocals to some of his tracks.[5][6] She asked Kaukolampi to work on the album, and he produced nine of its songs for her.[5] Before being signed to 679 Recordings, she could not afford to rent a studio, so Annie recorded demos by asking to use local studios at night or borrowing one owned by her friend.[7][8] Producer Richard X, impressed with "The Greatest Hit", asked Annie to record vocals for his debut album Richard X Presents His X-Factor Vol. 1. In exchange, he contributed "Chewing Gum" and "Me Plus One", both written with Hannah Robinson.[6] Annie also worked with Röyksopp, who co-wrote and produced three songs on the album. She titled the album Anniemal based on a suggestion by Kroknes. The two had planned on writing a song titled "Anniemal", so she chose it as the album's title because to her, "it just made sense. Anniemal is simple and easy and good."[4]

Composition[edit]

When working on songs, Annie was involved with the whole recording and production processes, with a focus on the melodies.[4][5] Annie stated that while promoting the album, she wanted to make sure people knew of her involvement in the album's writing and production.[4] Of its twelve songs, ten were co-written by Annie. She stated that although singing songs written by someone else might not feel less personal, "It's special to be on the stage and actually sing something you had done."[9] With respect to her involvement in the songwriting process, Annie referred to herself as "a bit of a control freak".[4]

The lyrics of Anniemal generally describe falling in or out of love.[6] Annie's vocals are thin and breathy, working within a narrow vocal range.[3] Reviewers noted a sense of melancholy in the vocals,[10] suggesting that it could be attributed to the death of Kroknes.[11] Annie acknowledged that none of the songs "are directly happy" and that some are "happy but still a bit melancholy."[12] She stated that she thought bittersweet melodies "[sound] timeless…Very Scandinavian of me!"[13] She insisted, however, that she tries to write songs that are cheerful:

"For me, it's really easy to write depressive songs and that's why I never do that. I try to do songs that are a bit happier and a bit more complicated. I think there are too many songwriters writing sad, depressive songs, and I find it really boring, listening to music where people are just complaining. People should stop whining! I find it much more challenging to make songs that are pop songs, to make happy songs, and that's why I like to do it. I really like to make quite hopeful, happy music with a little bit of melancholy in it, with a little spice of melancholy."[4]

Anniemal focuses on heavily layered beats, with a strong 1980s influence.[14] Annie was influenced by 1980s dance-pop, and on "No Easy Love", she includes a sample of Shakatak's 1982 song "Easier Said Than Done".[3][15] Unlike many of her contemporaries, Annie avoids using an ironic or kitschy in her take on 1980s music. The songs' styles span genres including bubblegum pop, electro, disco, R&B, dance-pop, and rock.[3] Annie's DJing experiences taught her about sound and production and had an impact on her music. She stated that she wanted to make a pop album that would not quickly become dated, "an album that you could listen to in five years and it wouldn't sound terrible." Annie considered excluding "Greatest Hit" from Anniemal to achieve this but ultimately included it because she felt it did not sound as if it were five years old.[4]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 81/100[16]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[10]
Billboard positive[17]
Blender 4/5 stars[18]
The New York Times positive[3]
Pitchfork Media 8.8/10[11]
PopMatters 8/10[19]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[20]
Slant Magazine 4/5 stars[21]
Stylus Magazine A−[22]
Uncut 5/5 stars[23]

Anniemal received acclaim from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 81, based on 23 reviews, which indicates "universal acclaim".[16] Scott Plagenhoef of Pitchfork Media referred to the songs as a "dozen slices of stylish, sophisticated electro-pop, crisp tracks that move between the fizzy and the woozy, all anchored by Annie's breathy (sometimes almost muted) vocals."[11] In his review for AllMusic, Andy Kellman described Anniemal as "cunning" but also "deeply affecting".[10] Dylan Hicks' review for The Village Voice stated that the blogosphere and British music press overrated Anniemal but that "an overrated good record is still a good record".[24] Jody Rosen wrote for The New York Times that the album "is a true album, strong from top to bottom" and that "there is charm in [Annie's] deadpan delivery, and her songwriting is full of the flair for melody for which Scandinavian pop is famous."[3] Rosen contributed a review to Slate, where she noted that "other singers have made whole careers out of singles less winning than 'Chewing Gum,' but [Anniemal] includes several other superb songs".[25] Kitty Empire's review in The Observer stated that the album's songs "boast a winning combination of innocence and experience, breezy blonde melodies and just-so productions".[26] PopMatters' Pierre Hamilton called Anniemal "riveting" for how "it lacks the waxy sheen" that listeners were used to hearing in manufactured pop music.[19] However, a second PopMatters review, written by Rob Horning, criticised the album for using a similar formula to previous generations of electropop, adding that the result was "exquisitely empty…enough to suck the feelings out of its listeners and leave them happily vacant, blank and unburdened."[27] In his review for Billboard magazine, Michael Paoletta described the album as "slinky and sensual, cool and classy, fun and fiery" and labeled it "one of the best debut albums of 2005."[17]

Several reviewers drew parallels between mainstream pop acts and Annie. Entertainment Weekly's Raymond Fiore called the album an "addictive" debut where Annie "flaunts whispery Kylie cool and old-school-Madonna cheekiness", but added that "this sugar rush of an album proves…candy is best consumed in moderation."[28] Hua Hsu of Blender magazine made a similar comparison, proclaiming Annie the "Kylie Minogue hipsters don't have to feel guilty about liking".[18] Barry Walters of Rolling Stone touted how the album "comes packed with both instant surface fizz and quirky finesse that sustains repeated listenings", and ending his review, "Goodbye, Britney. Hello, Annie."[20]

Pitchfork Media listed Anniemal at number fifteen on its list of the top fifty albums of 2004, stating that its strength was how "its downtime feels so decidedly personal",[29] and the album appeared at number 167 on Pitchfork's list of the top 200 albums of the 2000s.[30] The album was placed on Slant Magazine's list of best albums of the 2000s at number twenty-three.[31] Rolling Stone ranked Anniemal number thirty-nine on its "Top 50 Records of 2005" list, exclaiming, "Hail the Norse goddess."[32]

Release and commercial performance[edit]

Annie performing behind a microphone stand with a keyboardist in the background.
Annie performing at BIT Teatergarasjen for Bergenfest in May 2005

679 Recordings first released Anniemal in Norway on 28 September 2004. The album debuted at its peak of number six on the Norwegian Albums Chart.[33] It won in the pop category at the 2005 Alarm Prizes, and Annie won for newcomer of the year.[34] She again won for Newcomer of the Year at Spellemannprisen 2005, where she was invited to present an award.[35]

Following the album's Norwegian release, the songs were leaked onto the Internet, and some appeared on year-end best-of lists in other countries.[3] Annie stated that she had not expected North American publications to show interest in the album because she thought "the record sounds really European."[36] Through the Internet, the album reached an underground audience, a phenomenon which was at the time far more common for indie rock than European dance-pop.[30] 679 released the album in the rest of Europe during early 2005 but was unsure how to categorise and market Anniemal. It asked Annie about artists like Goldfrapp whose audiences 679 thought it should target. Uncertain that the album's Internet hype would significantly bolster the album's sales, the label did not heavily promote it.[37] In support of the album, Annie opened for English alternative dance band Saint Etienne at several June 2005 gigs in the United Kingdom.[38] Annie had never performed her songs live before the release of Anniemal, so replicating the sound of more electronic songs like "Chewing Gum" became a long process.[12] By September of that year, the album had sold 20,000 copies.[39]

Annie, a drummer, and a keyboardist performing to a crowd at an outdoor festival.
Annie performing at the Intonation Music Festival on 26 June 2005 as part of the Anniemix Tour

For its 7 June 2005 American release, Anniemal was distributed by Big Beat Records. To promote the album, Annie performed a set of DJing gigs in the United States for the Anniemix Tour during late June and early July 2005. She and Kaukolampi spun vinyl, and Annie performed her songs during the tour.[40] Before the tour began, Anniemal was selling over one thousand copies per week in the US,[39] and Nielsen SoundScan tracked 20,000 albums sold.[41] Although it did not chart on the US Billboard 200, Anniemal reached number thirteen on the Top Electronic Albums chart.[42] When released in Australia the following year, the album failed to chart on the ARIA Albums Chart but peaked at number twenty-five on the Dance Albums Chart.[43] Anniemal sold a total of over 100,000 copies worldwide.[44]

Singles[edit]

The lead single, a bubblegum pop song in which gum is used as a metaphor for men.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Chewing Gum" was released as the album's lead single in September 2004. Built around a retro beat by Richard X, the song uses chewing gum as a metaphor for men, with Annie singing "You spit it out when all the flavor has gone/Wrap him round your finger like you're playing with gum".[45] It was the album's most commercially successful single, reaching number eight on the Norwegian Singles Chart and number twenty-five on the UK Singles Chart.[46][47] It was also a critical success, listed thirty-first on the 2004 Pazz & Jop list, a survey of several hundred music critics conducted by Robert Christgau.[48]

"Heartbeat" was the second single released from Anniemal. It narrates a night of going to clubs with friends, using a beat symbolizing a heartbeat, which doubles its tempo when Annie's persona catches the attention of her romantic interest on the dancefloor.[11] Like "Chewing Gum", it received acclaim from music critics. It was one place behind "Chewing Gum" on the Pazz & Jop list,[48] and Pitchfork Media named it the best single of 2004.[49] However, it did not sell as well as "Chewing Gum", reaching number eighteen in Norway and fifty in the United Kingdom.[46][47] "Happy Without You" and "Always Too Late" were released as the third and fourth singles in 2005, but neither charted.

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Intro"   Annie, Richard X, Timo Kaukolampi X, Kaukolampi 0:54
2. "Chewing Gum"   X, Hannah Robinson X 3:56
3. "Always Too Late"   Annie, Kaukolampi, Yngve Sætre Kaukolampi, Sætre (add.) 4:16
4. "Me Plus One"   X, Robinson X 3:38
5. "Heartbeat"   Annie, Svein Berge, Torbjørn Brundtland Berge, Brundtland 3:06
6. "Helpless Fool for Love"   Annie, Kaukolampi Kaukolampi, Sætre (add.) 3:58
7. "Anniemal"   Annie, Kaukolampi, Veikka Ercola Kaukolampi, Ercola 3:35
8. "No Easy Love"   Annie, Brundtland Annie, Brundtland 4:02
9. "Happy Without You"   Annie, Kaukolampi Annie, Kaukolampi 3:16
10. "Greatest Hit"   Annie, Erot in the Sandal Annie, Erot, Brundtland (add.) 3:39
11. "Come Together"   Annie, Kaukolampi Annie, Kaukolampi 7:49
12. "My Best Friend"   Annie, Berge, Brundtland, Kaukolampi Annie, Berge, Brundtland, Kaukolampi 3:57

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from Anniemal album liner notes.[51]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2004–06) Peak
position
Australian Dance Albums Chart[43] 25
Norwegian Albums Chart[33] 6
UK Albums Chart[52] 101
US Top Electronic Albums[42] 13

Release history[edit]

Region Date Label
Norway 28 September 2004[53] 679 Recordings
United Kingdom 7 March 2005[54]
United States 7 June 2005[55] Big Beat Records
Germany 29 August 2005[56] Warner Music
Japan 21 September 2005[50] Pony Canyon
Australia 10 March 2006[57] Hussle Recordings

References[edit]

  1. ^ Slomowicz, DJ Ron. "Annie Interview". About.com. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 22 September 2008. 
  2. ^ a b c Ely, Suzanne (1 June 2005). "Anniemal Magnetism". Baltimore City Paper. Retrieved 26 August 2008. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Rosen, Jody (1 May 2005). "Much Ado About Annie". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 26 August 2008. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Anne Lilia Bergen-Strand – Annie". Scandinavian Press 12 (4): 25. 2005. 
  5. ^ a b c d Carroll, Jim (1 April 2005). "Anniemal Magnetism". The Irish Times. 
  6. ^ a b c Draper, Jimmy. "Norwegian would". San Francisco Bay Guardian. Retrieved 26 August 2008. 
  7. ^ Dugan, John (23–29 June 2005). "Bubble yum". Time Out Chicago (17). Retrieved 7 October 2008. 
  8. ^ Drever, Andrew (2 June 2006). "Dancing to a solo tune". The Age: 8. Retrieved 23 July 2009. 
  9. ^ Katigbak, Raf (22 September 2005). "Annie, get your gum". Montreal Mirror 21 (14). Archived from the original on 2 February 2009. Retrieved 24 September 2008. 
  10. ^ a b c Kellman, Andy. "Anniemal – Annie". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 26 August 2008. 
  11. ^ a b c d Plagenhoef, Scott (7 November 2004). "Annie: Anniemal". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 26 August 2008. 
  12. ^ a b Sylvester, Nick (20 June 2005). "Interviews: Annie". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 27 August 2008. 
  13. ^ Diehl, Matt (August 2005). "Annie". Interview 35 (7): 66. 
  14. ^ Vineyard, Jennifer (12 July 2005). "Annie". MTV News. MTV Networks. Retrieved 26 August 2008. 
  15. ^ Connolly, Paul (5 March 2005). "Annie excels with hook-laden chewing-gum pop". The Times. 
  16. ^ a b "Anniemal – Annie". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  17. ^ a b Paoletta, Michael (11 June 2005). "Anniemal". Billboard 117 (24): 51. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  18. ^ a b Hsu, Hua. "Annie : Anniemal". Blender. Alpha Media Group. Retrieved 26 August 2008. 
  19. ^ a b Hamilton, Pierre (22 June 2005). "Annie: Anniemal". PopMatters. Retrieved 24 September 2008. 
  20. ^ a b Walters, Barry (30 June – 14 July 2005). "Annie: Anniemal". Rolling Stone (977/978): 142. Archived from the original on 1 February 2009. Retrieved 26 August 2008. 
  21. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (13 February 2005). "Annie: Anniemal". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 6 April 2010. 
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  23. ^ Apr 2005, p. 108
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  28. ^ Fiore, Raymond (6 June 2005). "Anniemal (2005): Annie". Entertainment Weekly (824). Retrieved 26 August 2008. 
  29. ^ Sylvester, Nick (31 December 2004). "Top 50 Albums of 2004". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 26 August 2008. 
  30. ^ a b Perpetua, Matthew (28 September 2009). "The Top 200 Albums of the 2000s: 200–151". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 1 October 2009. 
  31. ^ "Best of the Aughts: Albums". Slant Magazine. 1 February 2010. Retrieved 10 February 2010. 
  32. ^ "39. Annie". Rolling Stone (990/991). 15 December 2005. Archived from the original on 1 February 2009. Retrieved 26 August 2008. 
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  34. ^ Pettersen, Tomas Lauvland (8 February 2005). "Alarm winners". Music Information Center Norway. Retrieved 27 August 2008. 
  35. ^ West, Naomi (3 March 2005). "A fjord fiesta with the Norwegian Kylie". The Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 23 September 2008. 
  36. ^ Greenblatt, Leah (3 June 2005). "Getting Her Goat". Entertainment Weekly (823): 84. Retrieved 29 September 2008. 
  37. ^ Macpherson, Alex (4 July 2008). "North star". The Guardian. guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 26 August 2008. 
  38. ^ Pettersen, Tomas Lauvland (14 June 2005). "Annie to play UK live dates". Music Information Center Norway. Retrieved 27 August 2008. 
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  40. ^ Pettersen, Tomas Lauvland (26 May 2005). "Annie Announces US DJ Tour". Music Information Center Norway. Retrieved 27 August 2008. 
  41. ^ Ayers, Michael D (17 January 2009). "Let's Make a Deal". Billboard 121 (2): 36. 
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  43. ^ a b "ARIA Dance – Week Commencing 20th March 2006". Australian Recording Industry Association. Pandora Archive. Retrieved 2 November 2008. 
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  46. ^ a b "Discography Annie". norwegiancharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  47. ^ a b "ANNIE". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  48. ^ a b "The 2004 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll". The Village Voice. robertchristgau.com. 15 February 2005. Retrieved 27 August 2008. 
  49. ^ Plagenhoef, Scott (30 December 2004). "Top 50 Singles of 2004". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 27 August 2008. 
  50. ^ a b "ANNIEMAL ANNIE [CD]". CDJapan. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  51. ^ Anniemal (CD liner notes). Annie. 679 Recordings. 2004. 67472-3. 
  52. ^ "Chart Log UK: 1994–2010". Official Charts Company. The Zobbel Website. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  53. ^ "Release "Anniemal" by Annie". MusicBrainz. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  54. ^ "Annie: Anniemal". HMV. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  55. ^ "Anniemal: Annie". Amazon.com. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
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External links[edit]