Several years ago, Erik Hassle made a spectacular debut onto the music scene with a pop and dance fusion that led to some big hype from the blogosphere. You can include me as one of those fans as well. His smooth vocals combined with some progressive-sounding arrangements was relatively new at the time, and although it garnered mixed reaction on the national surveys, it was very much ahead of its time. Sadly, his career largely dropped off after his first single, but now the performer returns with a track ready to deliver him a second chance at stardom, “Talk About It”, released on his new American home of RCA Records. It’s fresh and a banger ready to smash. First, a bit about Hassle’s story so far in the biz.
Hassle was born in 1988 in Katrineholm, Sweden, originally wanting to get into sports before going to a secondary school primarily focused around music. Taken with this new direction, he signed a deal with the TEN Music Group out of Sweden in his teens. His debut single, “Hurtful”, off of his eventual #2 album in that country, Hassle, was released in the fall of 2008 and went as high as #11 in his native land and to #2 in Denmark. This was followed by “Don’t Bring Flowers”, which went to #25 and #11, respectively, and then a few other minor singles from an EP entitled Taken.
Meanwhile, in the United States, “Hurtful” saw a radio release to the Hot AC format during the spring of 2010 on Universal Republic, landing at #30 on Billboard’s Adult Pop Songs survey at a peak of about 30 radio stations at the format. It initially crossed my radar in October 2009 before making my top 40 in February 2010, climbing as high as #8 for two frames. After a 20-week run on my chart, it ranked on my Top 100 of 2010 at #36, his only charting release to date. An international reworking of his album, Pieces, never made the Billboard 200 but I quite liked it. No followup single was issued in the States; there was no need given how little “Hurtful” actually accumulated both in airplay and sales, which is still a shame to this day.
Since then, Hassle’s continued to record for label Roxy Recordings over in Sweden, and although some his additional EPs and albums have achieved minor chart peaks outside the top ten, no singles from them have charted and these recordings generally aren’t remembered as well as his debut material. He was also featured as a vocalist on an English version of Stromae‘s “Alors On Danse”, which was a hit in its original form internationally, though the remix with Hassle did garner some airplay in various parts of Europe. Again, it never would’ve done well in the U.S. in any form. Otherwise, Hassle’s been on a break, still writing music, but mostly just lying low as he tells blog Pigeons and Planes in a recent chat. That is, until now.
Giving us a little taste of his forthcoming album, title yet to be announced, Hassle’s “About” is a great piece of pop, carefully put together and crafted so beautifully. Lyrically, the song tells of a male’s take on a relationship where he recognizes that he’s not been the only man in the picture and wants out, yet he can’t deny the feelings he once had and wants to carry on in his own ideal situation with his significant other. Hassle sings, “I don’t want to talk about it, no/Then nothing would be beautiful between us/I don’t want to think about it, no/Just let me know what would call this thing between us.” A crisp vocal with a strong lyrical set over a minimalist beat combine perfectly together, making for a rich composition without being overproduced or cluttered in multiple layers. It’s a great comeback for the young singer and one that should get him a lot of notice, especially with a proper backing from RCA. Let’s hope they actually go through with it.
Looking for more information regarding Erik Hassle‘s new album soon, as well as a forthcoming North American tour coming later in 2014. “Talk About It” is available at digital retailers on November 5 and look for it In The Mix for my top 40 this weekend.