Wednesday, 30 December 2009

New Music; Release Me part 2? Go on then

JLS - One Shot

I wouldn't say I was a big fan of JLS in X Factor, particularly not when Louis turned them into a Westlife clone in the later stages of the 2008 contest. Luckily, he didn't prove quite as useless as a manager in the real world and they launched with a very respectable, and incredibly successful debut album, spawning the UK #1 singles Beat Again and Everybody In Love. The third single to be taken from their eponymous debut album is One Shot. Not a drastic departure from Everybody In Love it might seem in the verses - but then the chorus thunders in with some Calvin Harris style trance beats. It's easily my favourite song of theirs to date and could very well win them over some new fans, as if they need any more!!! They clearly left the R&B boyband void left by Another Level and subsequently Blue, and they look as if they could be around for quite a few years - I don't recall such hysteria around a boyband for a very long time, perhaps since Westlife themselves in fact.

Kaskade & Deadmau5 - Move For Me

I Remember by Deadmau5 and Kaskade was a huge success last year - fairly big in the charts but much bigger in the hearts and lives of fans of dance music. Deadmau5 returns the favour on this song as Kaskade take the lead credit here. Move For Me is a gorgeous minimal dance song, not too dissimilar to I Remember and also reminiscent of some of the great dance classics of the noughties, namely As The Rush Comes by Motorcycle. Unfortunately, in the current chart climate, dance songs need to be in your face, memorable and catchy anthems such as Sexy Bitch, Release Me and Riverside. Move For Me is that bit too mellow to do anything spectacular in the charts, but it certainly shouldn't be ignored because it's an absolutely gorgeous, very subtle song that slowly worms its way into your affections, much like I Remember did. Well worth a listen.

Agnes - Secret Love

Every release from the lady that brought Release Me and Love Love Love into my life is hugely anticipated and whilst You Rain and the new remix of Big Blue Wall hardly blew me away, I'm happy to say that Secret Love, the other new track from the UK release of her Dance Love Pop album, is absolutely stunning. The chords used in the verses are, I think, exactly the same ones used in Release Me! But the magical strings of that song have been replaced with a Cascada donk machine. Don't let that put you off though because it works brilliantly. The atmospheric bridge is absolutely excellent, potentially the best bridge that I've heard in a very long time. So good in fact, that it is in danger of putting the chorus to shame. The chorus though is so catchy and fun that the song never steps thankfully crosses the bridge of 'oh, is this it' experienced when I first listened to S Club's Love Ain't Gonna Wait For You - fantastic bridge but a complete letdown of a chorus. Easily her best song since Love Love Love and certainly more marketable to the UK, but all signs point to her releasing an underwhelming remix of On & On here as her third single. Not that I expect Secret Love would do that well anyway, after the #40 SMASH of I Need You Now, I'm not convinced that radio will be brave enough to support the super Swede for a third time.

So say goodbye, but don't you cry...

As the decade draws to a close and with new music in a lull, I've been listening to various older songs for the past few days. I've gone right back in fact and have downloaded all sorts of random songs with the iTunes gift card I got for Christmas. Pachelbel's sensational classical work Canon being one of them - not by him of course, recording equipment didn't exist in those days!!! Probably one of the most famous classical songs, and certainly one of my favourites, it inspired modern pop music in a huge way. The sweeping and gorgeous strings, the sorrow in the piece - it's a song that never gets old, and subsequently one that has been reimagined in many ways by various musicians from all genres. I can think of these songs off the top of my head that have clearly either sampled it or borrowed from it in terms of the chords used;

Pet Shop Boys - Go West
Coolio - C U When U Get There
Scatman John - Scatman's World
The Farm - All Together Now
Oasis - Don't Look Back In Anger

and one I've only very recently discovered which is apparently huge at graduation ceremonies and proms in America (and was a #2 hit in Australia); Graduation (Friends Forever) by Vitamin C;

It's quite clearly no coincidence that I like, well love, all of the songs listed above, Canon has clearly, subconsciously up to now, had a profound effect on my life!!! As far as leaving school songs go, I love the Vitamin C song but having finally left high school for good in May 2003, this song, which reached #2 in the UK at the time, seemed like the most fitting tribute.

Unfortunately it wasn't a very popular choice with the 'cool' 16 year olds in my year, and R Kelly's Ignition (Remix), the song that kept S Club from topping the charts with their final release, ultimately became the final high school anthem.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Top Songs/Albums; WB 28/12/09

Merry xmas all! Although not overly merry for me as Poppy, our Westie dog who we've had since a puppy in May 1999 passed away today very suddenly at nearly 11 years old due to an until now undetected heart condition. So so sad - she seemed absolutely fine up until yesterday, but here is my final top 20 for this year;


1. Alicia Keys - Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart (1)
2. Cheryl Cole feat - 3 Words (4)
3. Lady GaGa - Bad Romance (2)
4. Name The Pet - American Boys (3)
5. Elsiane - Vaporous (Re-entry)
6. Agnes - Secret Love (NEW)
7. Marina And The Diamonds - Hollywood (7)
8. Lady GaGa feat Beyoncé - Telephone (8)
9. Chipmunk feat Talay Riley - Look For Me (6)
10. The Saturdays - Ego (19)
11. Rihanna - Russian Roulette (9)
12. Caroline Jönsson - By My Side (5)
13. Girls Can’t Catch - Echo (NEW)
14. Donkeyboy - Ambitions (20)
15. HURTS - Wonderful Life (10)
16. Anna Abreu - Impatient (13)
17. Alicia Keys - Doesn’t Mean Anything (12)
18. Alexandra Burke - Broken Heels (NEW)
19. Rihanna - Wait Your Turn (16)
20. Ricki-Lee - Hear No, See No, Speak No (11)


1. Lady GaGa - The Fame/The Fame Monster (3)
2. Alicia Keys - The Element Of Freedom (1)
3. Name The Pet - Name The Pet (NEW)
4. Rihanna - Rated R (2)
5. Leona Lewis - Echo (4)
6. Anna Abreu - Just A Pretty Face (5)
7. Pixie Lott - Turn It Up (NEW)
8. Timbaland - Shock Value II (6)
9. Cheryl Cole - 3 Words (8)
10. Take That - The Greatest Day: Take That Present The Circus Live (9)

r.i.p Poppy;

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Disco Defenders never lose it, body and soul...

My final retrospective of the year/decade - I promise :p my top 20 albums of 2009 complete with my top three highlights from each;

20. Kelly Clarkson - All I Ever Wanted

Top 3: My Life Would Suck Without You, Already Gone, Cry

19. Keri Hilson - In A Perfect World

Top 3: Knock You Down, Alienated, Return The Favor

18. The Saturdays - Wordshaker

Top 3: One Shot, Ego, Wordshaker

17. Måns Zelmerlöw - MZW

Top 3: Hope & Glory, Forever, Hold On

16. Rihanna - Rated R

Top 3: Russian Roulette, Fire Bomb, Wait Your Turn

15. Pixie Lott - Turn It Up

Top 3: Boys & Girls, Turn It Up, Here We Go Again

14. Madonna - Celebration

Top 3: Hung Up, Like A Prayer, Ray Of Light

13. Various Artists - Melodi Grand Prix 2009

Top 3: Alexander Rybak - Fairytale, Tone Damli Aaberge - Butterflies, Foxy - Do It Again

12. Agnes - Dance Love Pop

Top 3: Release Me, Don't Pull Your Love Out, I Need You Now

11. Various Artists - Eurovision Song Contest 2009

Top 3: Alexander Rybak - Fairytale, Jade Ewen - It's My Time, Malena Ernman - La Voix

10. Colbie Caillat - Breakthrough

Top 3: Break Through, Droplets, Runnin' Around

9. Cascada - Evacuate The Dancefloor

Top 3: Evacuate The Dancefloor, Hold On, Breathless

8. Leona Lewis - Echo

Top 3: Stop Crying Your Heart Out, Brave, Outta My Head

7. Anna Abreu - Just A Pretty Face

Top 3: Music Everywhere, Impatient, Capital C

6. Various Artists - Melodifestivalen 2009

Top 3: Alcazar - Stay The Night, Malena Ernman - La Voix, Caroline Af Ugglas - Snälla, Snälla

5. Lily Allen - It's Not Me, It's You

Top 3: The Fear, Him, Not Fair

4. Little Boots - Hands

Top 3: Remedy, New In Town, Hands

3. Florence + The Machine - Lungs

Top 3: Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up), You've Got The Love, Hurricane Drunk

2. Lady GaGa - The Fame/The Fame Monster

Top 3: Poker Face, Paparazzi, Just Dance/ Bad Romance, Telephone, Alejandro

1. Alcazar - Disco Defenders

Top 3: Stay The Night, Thank You, We Keep On Rockin'

Sunday, 20 December 2009

The machine finally malfunctions!!!

So, after four years of domination by X Factor, with nobody else getting anything near a look in, the Facebook campaign to send Rage Against The Machine's early 1990's single Killing In The Name to No.1 for Christmas in the UK has worked!!! Rage won comfortably in the end, around 50,000 sales ahead of Joe McElderry, who is nevertheless destined to climb to the top next week now that the aim of the Rage campaign has been achieved. I am absolutely astounded and extremely pleased that this worked. I thought that we wouldn't see anything else at No.1 for xmas until Simon Cowell decided to end The X Factor. But this huge outcry from the masses has shown that whilst most of us have no problem with the show itself, or its victor (I think Joe is an excellent singer and voted for him to win in the final), what we don't appreciate is that the Christmas #1 was taken away from us. To outsiders it may seem stupid - why should we care what song is at the top of the charts over the festive season in the UK? Because these songs are written in history. Tune into any music channel and you are likely to see at some point a rundown of all of the past Christmas No.1's. Usually they are such safe and pedestrian songs that they fit perfectly into the MOR quota that channels such as Bliss have to achieve. I for one can't wait to tune into the 'xmas #1's 1982-2009' show next year and see Killing In The Name, a historic rebellious rock anthem, being played right after a long string of boring karaoke ballads.

This is not the first time that 'the machine' has failed. Let's not forget the hugely hyped cover of John Lennon's Happy Xmas (War Is Over) sung by the Pop Idol 2003 finalists which was similarly released with the aim of getting the 2003 Christmas #1. In fact it stalled at No.5 behind the epic Darkness/Michael Andrews and Gary Jules tussle. This is a great day for the UK charts because it shows that people do care - Why must we endure these identical production line cover versions of already terrible songs year after year. Didn't Girls Aloud's triumphant debut single Sound of the Underground winning out over male equivalent One True Voice's dire Bee Gees cover Sacred Trust teach anyone anything? People will buy the X Factor winner's single regardless - Joe could have released a cover of Mr Blobby and sold over 400,000 copies. But why do the winner's of these shows deserve such attention for bringing absolutely nothing new to the table? Sound of the Underground has rightfully gone down in the Girls Aloud canon of classics and was a decent and respectable Christmas No.1. In contrast the likes of Leona Lewis, Alexandra Burke and Will Young - all top class acts - stick their awful covers at the end of their debut album as a 'bonus track' almost flagging up the point that they don't want them on there in the first place. These songs are AWFUL. The Climb is easily not only my least favourite Miley Cyrus single, but probably the most boring song of the year. So out of however hundreds of millions of songs that exist, why on earth was it chosen?

I am absolutely ecstatic that it won't be joining the Christmas No.1 hall of fame, and of course the X Factor juggernaut won't be stopped until Simon ends it - it's too huge, like that fact or not - but please next year - how about picking a song which isn't a sleep inducing ballad for the winner's single? It might just stand out, and very possibly even attract buyers to it on musical merit! Rage have done the impossible and we can expect another similar Facebook campaign next year. Will it work in the same way? Probably not - the point has been proven - but the theory that X Factor instantly has the right to the Christmas No.1 single has now gone out the window thanks to Rage, and most importantly Facebook. Perhaps next year there won't need to be a campaign because current artists won't be so afraid to release singles on Christmas week for fear of anihilation. We started the decade with a brilliant chart battle - Sophie Ellis Bextor vs. Victoria Beckham's posh vs. posher fight which was won by the underdog, and the underdog has won again this time. More of the same next year please - the charts are finally relevant again!!!

The UK's official Christmas No.1 2009

Rage Against The Machine - Killing In The Name

Saturday, 19 December 2009

A rather good year for music...

My 40 favourite songs of 2009 - if there's any you don't know then youtube them, particularly those in the top 20, yes they really are THAT good - all of the top 20 here would have made my top 10 of 2008 for comparisons sake - so this year was twice as good as the last one musically!!!

1. Agnes - Release Me
2. Alcazar - Stay The Night
3. Anna Abreu - Music Everywhere
4. Lady GaGa - Bad Romance
5. Alexander Rybak - Fairytale
6. Keri Hilson feat Kanye West & Ne-Yo - Knock You Down
7. Jade Ewen - It's My Time
8. Cascada - Evacuate The Dancefloor
9. The Sound of Arrows - M.A.G.I.C.
10. Lady GaGa - Poker Face
11. Little Boots - Remedy
12. Vanessa Amorosi - This Is Who I Am
13. Malena Ernman - La Voix
14. Tone Damli Aaberge - Butterflies
15. Beautiful Small Machines - Robots In Love
16. Hafdis Huld - Kongulo
17. Madonna - Celebration
18. Shakira - She Wolf/Loba
19. Taylor Swift - Love Story
20. Cassandra Steen feat Adel Tawil - Stadt
21. Caroline Af Ugglas - Snälla, Snälla
22. Owl City - Fireflies
23. Agnes - Love Love Love
24. The Saturdays - Issues
25. Michael Bublé - Haven't Met You Yet
26. Florence + The Machine - Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)
27. Cheryl Cole - Fight For This Love
28. Emilia - You're My World
29. Alcazar - Thank You
30. Röyksopp feat Robyn - The Girl And The Robot
31. Caroline Jönsson - By My Side
32. Jody - Wind It
33. Blänk feat Young Ivy - I'm Going For Your Brother
34. Pixie Lott - Boys And Girls
35. Tinchy Stryder feat Amelle - Never Leave You
36. Example - Watch The Sun Come Up
37. The Veronicas - Untouched
38. Cheryl Cole feat - 3 Words
39. Lovebugs - The Highest Heights
40. Kelly Clarkson - My Life Would Suck Without You

Friday, 18 December 2009

My top 50 albums of the noughties

I did the singles countdown in full detail, I won't go into detail with these because I'd be repeating a lot of what I said for the singles but these were the 50 albums that most ruled my decade. Delta Goodrem was the saviour of the noughties!!!

1. Delta Goodrem - Innocent Eyes
2. Delta Goodrem - Mistaken Identity
3. Kelly Clarkson - Breakaway
4. Colbie Caillat - Coco
5. The Corrs - Borrowed Heaven
6. Shakira - Laundry Service
7. Carrie Underwood - Some Hearts
8. Christina Aguilera - Stripped
9. The Veronicas - The Secret Life Of
10. Sarah McLachlan - Afterglow
11. Natasha Bedingfield - Unwritten
12. Alcazar - Disco Defenders
13. Take That - Beautiful World
14. KT Tunstall - Eye To The Telescope
15. The Corrs - In Blue
16. Alice Deejay - Who Needs Guitars Anyway?
17. Vanessa Amorosi - The Power
18. Lady GaGa - The Fame/The Fame Monster
19. Delta Goodrem - Delta
20. Alphabeat - This Is Alphabeat
21. Missy Higgins - The Sound Of White
22. Katy Perry - One Of The Boys
23. Bardot - Bardot
24. Shakira - Oral Fixation Volume 2
25. Eiffel 65 - Europop
26. Florence + The Machine - Lungs
27. Atomic Kitten - Ladies Night
28. Lily Allen - Alright Still
29. Sara Bareilles - Little Voice
30. Mika - Life In Cartoon Motion
31. Cascada - Everytime We Touch
32. Nerina Pallot - Fires
33. Nelly Furtado - Loose
34. Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Read My Lips
35. Mariah Carey - The Emancipation of Mimi
36. Fragma - Toca
37. Gabriella Cilmi - Lessons To Be Learned
38. Atomic Kitten - Right Now
39. Natasha Bedingfield - Pocketful Of Sunshine
40. Take That - The Circus
41. Lucie Silvas - Breathe In
42. The Pipettes - We Are The Pipettes
43. Cascada - Perfect Day
44. Leona Lewis - Spirit
45. Milk Inc - Milk Inc
46. Little Boots - Hands
47. Girls Aloud - Out Of Control
48. Lily Allen - It's Not Me, It's You
49. Kylie Minogue - Fever
50. Robyn – Robyn

Will Joe fans stop the Raging Machine?

The fiercest battle for the UK #1 since 2003's mammoth tussle between The Darkness and Michael Andrews/Gary Jules, which the latter won, rumbles on and X Factor winner Joe McElderry's The Climb is in prime position to be the 5th X Factor winner Christmas #1 in a row with his single The Climb catching up with Rage Against The Machine's Killing In The Name by over 25,000 copies yesterday bringing the gap down to around 9,000 copies now according to media reports. The ballad has been helped by the fact that the physical CD, released on Wednesday has been selling bucketloads, presumably for stocking fillers. If it was a straight download fight, Rage would have won with ease but this is an interesting week not only because of the epic battle for #1 between the two most different songs you could think of but also because of the technology battle going on here. It's new media versus old media; downloads vs. CD singles and TV promotion versus Facebook!!!

Obviously downloads are taking over and if this battle had taken place in say, 3 or 4 years time, there is no doubt that Rage would have trampled all over Joe. But CD's are still a powerful medium. Even though barely anybody buys CD singles anymore, 'event singles' seem to be a different beast; Charity singles, Reality TV singles or even a combination of the two (see X Factor Finalists - You Are Not Alone) still sell in massive quantities as fans of the show seem to want the single as a keepsake or a momentum to remember it by. But whoever wins or loses this battle, Joe will have sold 400k+ singles to an audience of 20 million (1 in 50 conversion rate) whereas Rage will have sold 400k+ singles to a Facebook group of 800,000 (1 in 2 conversion rate), so it's quite clear what the most impressive achievement is here, particularly seeing as Killing in the Name has already smashed the weekly record for total downloads sold in a week with the figure still rapidly rising.

We all lauded Gnarls Barkley's Crazy for going to #1 on downloads alone by shifting 30k but Rage, even if they stall at #2, will have sold over 10 times that amount purely on downloads - and only 30 months have passed since Crazy hit #1. So even if Joe's CD sales pull him through, it's quite clear that downloads are the clear victor here. If the pattern continues then in two or three years these 'event singles' will be selling in far less quantities - remember Shayne Ward's That's My Goal single 4 years ago - over 700k in one week, the majority of which were CD's compared to perhaps 300k CD's for Joe - and as downloads continue to take over CD's, perhaps the X Factor winner's won't be such a dominant force in 2012/2013.

Joe fans will be out in force tomorrow with most schools closing for Christmas today and the only way that Rage fans can ensure their idols the final Christmas #1 slot of the noughties, one which they have occupied throughout every midweek update, is if every member in the Facebook group does what they have committed to do and purchases Killing In The Name, because whilst the Joe juggernaut shows no sign of slowing down, it would be foolish to not expect the Rage fans to give it one final push over the next two days. Whoever wins this battle, it's been the greatest tussle for Christmas #1 that I can remember in years but who will be on the front page of the newspapers on Monday? Joe McElderry or Zac de la Rocha? Whichever fan base proves to be more powerful over the next two days!!! Buy your favourite now and contribute to this historic tussle for victory!!! Who do I want to win? Well I've only bought one of them - the one that doesn't sound like Westlife taking a nap.

Top Songs/Albums; WB 21/12/09 - XMAS!!!


1. Alicia Keys - Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart (2)
2. Lady GaGa - Bad Romance (1)
3. Name The Pet - American Boys (NEW)
4. Cheryl Cole feat - 3 Words (6)
5. Caroline Jönsson - By My Side (3)
6. Chipmunk feat Talay Riley - Look For Me (9)
7. Marina And The Diamonds - Hollywood (10)
8. Lady GaGa feat Beyoncé - Telephone (7)
9. Rihanna - Russian Roulette (4)
10. HURTS - Wonderful Life (5)
11. Ricki-Lee - Hear No, See No, Speak No (NEW)
12. Alicia Keys - Doesn’t Mean Anything (NEW)
13. Anna Abreu - Impatient (17)
14. Rihanna - Firebomb (12)
15. Jennifer Paige & Nick Carter - Beautiful Lie (8)
16. Rihanna - Wait Your Turn (20)
17. Ne-Yo feat Cassandra Steen - Never Knew I Needed (NEW)
18. Leona Lewis - I See You (NEW)
19. The Saturdays - Ego (NEW)
20. Donkeyboy - Ambitions (NEW)


1. Alicia Keys - The Element Of Freedom (7)
2. Rihanna - Rated R (1)
3. Lady GaGa – The Fame/The Fame Monster (3)
4. Leona Lewis - Echo (2)
5. Anna Abreu - Just A Pretty Face (5)
6. Timbaland - Shock Value II (4)
7. Absolute Music 62 (6)
8. Cheryl Cole - 3 Words (Re-entry)
9. Take That - The Greatest Day: Take That Present The Circus Live (8)
10. Robbie Williams - Reality Killed The Video Star (10)

Thursday, 17 December 2009

New Music; Never knew I needed Caesar

Joe McElderry - The Climb

So...the X Factor winner, South Shields finest, has unleashed his debut single - or rather Simon has unleashed his debut single which he had no choice in recording, and it happens, as previously rumoured, to be a cover of Miley Cyrus' #11 hit from the summer, The Climb, taken from the Hannah Montana movie. Joe's angelic vocals make this song slightly better than the original, but it is still one of the least interesting pop songs of the year, and certainly the blandest ballad of 2009. The formula is really starting to wear thin now - the intro to the song sounds exactly like every other X Factor winners's single, every Westlife single, and more hilariously, Geraldine's The Winner's Song, a parody of these awful songs which was a hit for Peter Kay's alter ego last year. Joe is locked in a fierce and hugely publicised battle for the Christmas #1 with Rage Against The Machine's 90's rebellion rock anthem Killing In The Name. As it stands, Rage are slightly ahead but with Joe catching up quickly now that the physical CD has been released. Who will win the battle? probably the X Factor yet again, the unstoppable juggernaut that it is. But it really doesn't deserve to because this single is absolutely mind numbingly boring, utterly generic and sounds like it was produced in 5 minutes with a rent-a-gospel-choir on standby for the key change. I like Joe and voted for him in the final, but I won't be buying this single - Rage for the win!!!

I Blame Coco feat Robyn - Caesar

Sting's daughter unleashes her best single yet, thanks largely to a fantastic chorus delivered by pint sized Swedish popstar Robyn. On first listen I found this incredibly annoying, largely due to Coco's raspy vocals. As soon as Robyn comes in the song suddenly feels like a modern pop masterpiece with a brilliant melody and an energetic bassline, by the third listen I was hooked - as is the case with nearly everything associated with Robyn. A great pop/indie hybrid - it could become a bit of a cult hit with attention in the right places.

Ne-Yo feat Cassandra Steen - Never Knew I Needed

The official single from the new animated Disney film, The Princess and the Frog, the first 2D animation from Disney in ages and #1 at the US box office already, is by Ne-Yo, arguably one of R&B's biggest stars. With his smooth soulful vocals, he is like the unofficial successor to Joe. To market the film in Germany, German star Cassandra Steen, who has had one of the year's biggest hits there with the fantastic Stadt, has been squeezed into the song (and video) for German audiences. I'm a big fan of Cassandra and it's nice to hear her sing in English. She is almost like the female Ne-Yo in fact - calm, smooth, soulful, beautiful vocals without over expressing herself vocally or sounding strained or over the top at any point. Never Knew I Needed is my favourite Disney film song since Carrie Underwood's Ever Ever After from 2006's Enchanted. A brilliant R&B song with a simple piano melody playing over a typically 2009 heavy bassline, Cassandra's vocals complement Ne-Yo's excellently and the melody of the song is lovely - in fact the chorus reminds me a lot of Shakira's power ballad The One so I was bound to love it!!!

Monday, 14 December 2009

Year of the Geordie!

So...Geordie Joe rightfully stormed to victory last night in X Factor polling almost two thirds of the votes in the final. Voting statistics have revealed that for the last four weeks ago he has been well ahead of his competition. I admit to thinking that he looked like a bit of a drip and a weak choice for Cheryl at the start - until week one when I heard him sing. Since that first show he's been my favourite every week bar none so I did my duty and voted for him at the weekend. However, I won't be shelling out any money whatsoever to purchase The Climb, his debut single. Already a #11 hit for Miley Cyrus here this year, it seems a bit too soon to give it another release to say the least!!! It has however been given a nice polished makeover - complete with key change and gospel choir of course - to make it sound like Westlife tackling The Winner's Song by Geraldine McQueen!!! Simon has reportedly picked the song for the US market in the hopes that it will help launch Joe as a teen idol over there to pick up where aging Zac Efron left off. Apparently US girls 'love the English accent' although I'm sure the Geordie accent is not the usual stereotype of how us Brits speak!!! His mentor Cheryl Cole, fellow Geordie is undoubtedly the most famous woman in the country at the moment - Victoria Beckham and Katie Price must be pleased!!! She also plans to launch stateside next year but similar concerns have been raised that her accent might be too hard for the US to understand!!!

It may sound like Byker Grove's taken over, but as Ant & Dec have proved, their's something charming and comforting about the Geordie accent - but will either Joe or Cheryl achieve Simon's dream of them becoming global stars. It seems a bit optimistic to me but then I wouldn't have expected Leona Lewis to have a worldwide #1 single if you'd asked me three years ago. So the future looks bright for the X Factor brand, for Cheryl Cole and for Joe McElderry but what of Olly Murs, the runner up - will he be as successful as JLS? It seems doubtful - he put in some decent performances but some were shambolic and he didn't seem anywhere near as polished as JLS always seemed to be right from the early live shows through to the end. His mauling of Angels with a once again off-form Robbie Williams was a disaster and it did indeed look like two brother's singing together at karaoke. I wouldn't be surprised if he goes down the Will Young 'serious music' route - he certainly has a nice tone to his voice - but if Simon forces a covers album upon him, or chooses the wrong musical genre, it will be over before it's started.

So not a classic year, but we've got a winning artist with potential, a twice in a row winning judge who is so overexposed that her 'too much of anything can make you sick' line in Fight For This Love is the height of irony now, yet still seems to have a huge likeability factor, and a Miley Cyrus cover heading for the final xmas #1 spot of the decade. Super!!! It could be worse - it could be Rage Against The Machine at xmas #1 - the campaign's faltered a tad though and whilst the Facebook hyped group is sure to guarantee the rock act their biggest ever hit and a certain festive #2 - and an oddity to chart fans for years to come - it won't have set out to achieve what the campaign aimed to do - derail the X Factor juggernaut and simulataneously dent Simon Cowell's ego - but who expected any different? The song will fall from #2 out of the top 40 no doubt the following week and Cheryl Cole's unexpectedly brilliant new single 3 Words will climb next to Joe to ensure complete chart domination for a small area of England that seems to be producing one superstar after another at the moment. Geordie Joe and Geordie Cheryl will be flying the British flag stateside in 2010 - and who could think of two nicer people to do it!

Sunday, 13 December 2009

These were rather good;

My top 100 songs of the noughties - recap

1. N-Trance feat Kelly Llorenna - Set You Free 2001 (Rob Searle Remix)
2. Delta Goodrem - Believe Again
3. Shakira feat Wyclef Jean - Hips Don't Lie
4. DJ Sammy & Yanou feat Do - Heaven
5. Agnes - Release Me
6. Delta Goodrem - Extraordinary Day
7. Sara Bareilles - Love Song
8. Delta Goodrem - Innocent Eyes
9. Alcazar - Stay The Night
10. Take That - Rule The World
11. Take That - Shine
12. Caroldene - Time Is A Healer
13. Shakira - Underneath Your Clothes
14. Flip & Fill feat Kelly Llorenna - True Love Never Dies
15. Robyn with Kleerup - With Every Heartbeat
16. Jordin Sparks & Chris Brown - No Air
17. Anna Abreu – Music Everywhere
18. Vanessa Amorosi - Absolutely Everybody
19. Sarah McLachlan - World On Fire
20. Missy Higgins - Ten Days
21. Lady GaGa – Bad Romance
22. Kim Lukas - All I Really Want
23. Shapeshifters - Lola's Theme
24. Maria Haukaas Storeng - Hold On Be Strong
25. Delta Goodrem - Mistaken Identity
26. Delta Goodrem - Born To Try
27. Madonna - Hung Up
28. Delerium feat Sarah McLachlan – Silence
29. Delta Goodrem - A Year Ago Today
30. Shakira - Whenever, Wherever
31. Ian van Dahl - Castles In The Sky
32. Fragma feat Maria Rubia - Everytime You Need Me
33. All Saints - Rock Steady
34. KT Tunstall - Other Side Of The World
35. Fragma feat Coco - Toca's Miracle
36. Girls Aloud - The Promise
37. Ira Losco - 7th Wonder
38. ATC - Around The World (La La La La La)
39. Delta Goodrem - Not Me, Not I
40. Aurora feat Naimee Coleman - Ordinary World
41. Alexander Rybak - Fairytale
42. Thrillseekers feat Sheryl Deane - Synaesthesia (Fly Away)
43. Atomic Kitten - Eternal Flame
44. Mariah Carey feat Joe & 98º - Thank God I Found You
45. The Corrs -Summer Sunshine
46. Natasha Bedingfield - These Words
47. Delta Goodrem - Out Of The Blue
48. Kelly Llorenna - Tell It To My Heart
49. Alice Deejay - The Lonely One
50. Spiller feat Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Groovejet (If This Ain't Love)
51. Groove Armada feat Mutya - Song 4 Mutya
52. Carrie Underwood - Jesus Take The Wheel
53. Kelly Clarkson - Since U Been Gone
54. Nerina Pallot-Everybody's Gone To War
55. Charlotte Perrelli – Hero
56. Daniel Powter - Bad Day
57. Fergie - Big Girls Don't Cry
58. Mariah Carey - We Belong Together
59. Ian van Dahl - Will I?
60. De Nada - Love You Anyway
61. Keri Hilson, Ne-Yo & Kanye West - Knock You Down
62. Rogue Traders - Voodoo Child
63. DHT feat Edmee - Listen To Your Heart
64. Lily Allen - Smile
65. Rihanna - Disturbia
66. Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Murder On The Dancefloor
67. Alice Deejay - Will I Ever
68. The Veronicas - 4Ever
69. Tanel Padar & Dave Benton – Everybody
70. Daz Sampson - Teenage Life
71. Jade Ewen - It's My Time
72. Cascada - Evacuate The Dancefloor
73. Love inc - You're A Superstar
74. Mason vs. Princess Superstar - Perfect Exceeder
75. The Sound Of Arrows - M.A.G.I.C.
76. Natasha Bedingfield - Unwritten
77. Alphabeat - Fascination
78. Delta Goodrem - Electric Storm
79. Leona Lewis – Run
80. Christina Aguilera, Mya, Pink & Lil' Kim - Lady Marmalade
81. Rank 1 - Airwave
82. Cascada - Everytime We Touch
83. Timbaland, Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake - Give It To Me
84. Jo O' Meara - What Hurts The Most
85. Lady GaGa - Poker Face
86. Colbie Caillat – Realize
87. Leona Lewis - Bleeding Love
88. Little Boots – Remedy
89. Zero 7 – Destiny
90. Carola – Invincible
91. Scooch - Flying The Flag (For You)
92. KT Tunstall - Suddenly I See
93. Kelly Llorenna - This Time I Know Its For Real
94. Vanessa Amorosi – This Is Who I Am
95. Dannii Minogue vs. Flower Power - You Won’t Forget About Me
96. Kim Lukas - Let It Be The Night
97. Texas feat Kardinal Offishall - Carnival Girl
98. Puretone - Stuck In A Groove
99. Natalie Imbruglia – Shiver
100. Vanilla Ninja – Cool Vibes

I ain't guilty, it's a musical transaction

The top three of the noughties then;

3. Shakira feat Wyclef Jean - Hips Don't Lie - 2006

Shakira is easily one of my favourite artists of the noughties. I love her quirky nature, shown in her lyrics, her personality and her style. Laundry Service and its singles were all fantastic, absolute classics. I waited and waited for a follow up English album and it finally surfaced right at the end of 2005 in the form of Oral Fixation Volume 2. There was still something missing though - a killer hit single. Fast forward a couple of months and in early 2006 a new song, Hips Don't Lie, a reworking of a 2004 Wyclef Jean single that was featured on the Dirty Dancing 2 soundtrack, surfaced. I was aware of the original because my sister was a fan of the film, but Shakira's new version added something special to the track - a life. The song was bland before, quite good at best, but it was transformed by Shakira and Wyclef who you really could feel the connection between, both being superstars who had come from countries you don't associate with mainstream success - Colombia and Haiti. The song grew and grew on me with each listen and by the time it finally got a UK release I was absolutely obsessed with the thing - it was my big summer anthem of 2006 but I still expected it to flop in the charts. However, it rose slowly to #1 in the UK for a week before being knocked off for three weeks. It then returned to the top for a further month showing how huge the song was - spending an incredible 12 consecutive weeks in the top 3 - unrivalled in the noughties. The song is the biggest single of the decade worldwide, and deservedly so - it's a pop masterpiece that never gets boring for me.

2. Delta Goodrem - Believe Again - 2007

Late 2007 and having loved her two debut albums, I was obviously eagerly awaiting Delta Goodrem's third album - cunningly titled Delta. The album wasn't as strong as the first two in my opinion - certainly happier and more mature, showing musical growth, but had more filler on it than the first two. It was still incredibly good though, better than most albums - it just didn't emotionally affect me as much. It had a great lead single though - In This Life - which could have easily been a big UK hit, but alas nothing from the era was ever released in the UK thanks to Brian/Kerrygate with many people in the UK believing that Delta was solely responsible for breaking up the UK's then favourite couple. First time I listened to the album though, I was amazed at one particular track - the opening song Believe Again. The most glorious pop song I've ever heard - the track was so perfect that i couldn't believe that I was hearing it. A monumental production sounding like something that Disney producers must have been jealous that they didn't get for one of their soundtracks. A beautiful string drenched introduction leads into a gorgeous multi layered song, which gets better and better as it goes along. The epic song is essentially a mid-tempo, somehow even dancy track, disguised as a ballad in places. I can't really describe how brilliant it is - it has to be heard, in all it's near 6 minute glory. To be honest, the song was far too good to be a single, it being butchered down to a 4 minute radio edit for the Australian release - which took the single to an impressive #2 there - but it chopped out a lot of the emotion in the process. It did however have a graphically stunning music video. This is the career high of my favourite artist of the decade. I can't see how she will ever better this but every era she seems to exceed my expectations, so who knows!?!

1. N-Trance feat Kelly Llorenna - Set You Free 2001 (Rob Searle Remix) - 2001

Edging in front of Shakira and Delta to be crowned my favourite single of the noughties then is in fact a remix of a song that was one of the biggest #2 hits of the 1990's!!! I was of course a fan of Set You Free, a fantastic Northern dance song that came out during the height of the 90's dance/rave craze in the early 90's. All Around The World obviously felt that it could be a hit again in the new millennium and commissioned a new set of remixes in 2001. By far and away the best new remix was by trance producer Rob Searle who breathed completely new life into the track, turning it from a techno classic into a magical trance moment - giving a new feeling of sadness to a song which had previously been so uplifting. I still recall the first time I came across the song on a music channel. I just wanted to hear it again - but I had no means of doing so as my internet access was limited. So I put a video tape in the recorder and left the channel on...for hours...after about four hours, it finally came on again and I recorded it. Over the next few weeks I must have watched it hundreds of times. I bought both CD singles - on the day which happened to be September 11th 2001 - linking the song also to those tragic events. The sorrow that had been added in the new remix almost made me link the song to these sad events and it became very hard hitting, moreso than ever. I could not stop listening to the song probably until mid-2002, I have never been so obsessed with a song in my life. It relaunched the careers of both N-Trance and Kelly Llorenna as the song exceeded all expectations thundering back into the UK top five after a six and a half year absence - and all thanks to this magnificent remix, which truly is a life defining song for me.

The top five of the noughties!!!

5. Agnes - Release Me - 2008

I was fully aware of who Agnes was and had been a minor fan of hers for a few years. She was the winner of the 2005 Idols competition in Sweden. Her unique voice and stunning looks made her something of a star there and she had a couple of huge albums. In autum 2008 she returned with the decent, but not spectacular, Europop song On & On. It was announced that the second single would be Release Me. I listened to it as soon as it was announced and was impressed straight away. Second listen I was stunned and on every listen since I have been obsessed. A classic fusion of pop and dance with gorgeous strings, a fantastic dance breakdown, a thundering bassline and typically strong vocals from Agnes. It was easily my favourite song around christmas time 2008. I saw Agnes perform Love Love Love in Sweden earlier in Melodifestivalen, having been anticipating it due to how much I loved Release Me. Just before I went to Sweden I'd heard that the unthinkable had happened - Release Me, shockingly one of her smallest hits in Sweden - had been added to UK music channels. A few weeks later it was added to radio playlists and by May it shockingly became a top three hit in the UK. Just like Sara Bareilles' Love Song the year before, a song that I had fallen in love with but assumed it was just going to be one of those songs that 'should have been a hit' was a hit - everyone was singing it, the song was everywhere, comparisons to our own Leona Lewis were all over the place - and the song later became a huge hit around Europe and even as far as Australia. This is testament to how brilliant the song is. Seeminly so simple, it is incredibly effective - one of the greatest commercial pop/dance songs of all time in my opinion and I'm glad it was the huge smash hit I always thought it could be!!!

4. DJ Sammy & Yanou feat Do - Heaven - 2002

I sound like a broken record, but here's another song that I was well ahead of the (British) crowd with. Summer 2002 and I heard a song on the internet that amazed me. It was a trance cover of Bryan Adams 80's US #1 hit Heaven, a song that was known in the UK but had only ever been a minor hit here. Unlike most 2002 dance reworkings of 80's songs, this cover sounded far from cheap - it added a completely new feel to the song giving it a new lease of life. This was not just down to Spaniard DJ Sammy and German Yanou's excellent production but also to Dutch singer Do's gorgeous soft but powerful vocals. The song had been a US top ten hit surprisingly - seeing as dance never does well there - so I picked up the single on import and was obsessed with it all summer. I raved to everyone about the song to little attention - until I started raving about the now perhaps even more famous Yanou's Candlelight remix - a b-side on my imported CD single, the song was stripped back down with just Do singing over a piano, an even more simple rendition of the song than Bryan Adams original. Where the dance remake impressed me, the ballad version was incredibly beautiful and became something of an anthem to everybody I played it to. I discovered in the autumn that the song was to receive a UK release - I expected that it would be a flop but instead it went straight to #1, beating hugely hyped comebacks from Craig David and Madonna and becoming one of the defining dance anthems of the decade in the process. For a song that had been something that I felt like only I knew, I was incredibly happy - to this day it's my second favourite UK #1 single of all time. I still hear both versions on the radio 7 years later and I hope that they will continue to be played because it is just a sensational version of a brilliant song.

And I'll say da-da-da-da-da-da

8. Delta Goodrem - Innocent Eyes - 2003

Even at 16 years old Delta Goodrem was making incredibly mature music. The title track of her debut album Innocent Eyes was easily the standout on a brilliant collection. Like a young Tori Amos, the jaunty piano track was a lot different to the more downtempo first two singles, Innocent Eyes was a lot more dramatic and showed a different side to Delta. It was refreshing to have a popstar like this back in 2003 - somebody so young with so much talent who had written these songs. An excellent piano breakdown two thirds of the way into the song shows the maturity and talent of Delta even at this age, and the lyrics were a lot darker than you would expect from somebody on their debut album, let alone a song released as a single. The song topped the charts in Australia and gave her a third straight top ten hit in the UK. It's probably a bit forgotten to the general public now in comparison to the likes of Lost Without You but this song and that album absolutely ruled my summer in 2003 - bridging the short gap but big change that was leaving high school and starting my first job and college all within the space of four months.

7. Sara Bareilles - Love Song - 2007

Amidst my obsession in late 2007 with Rule The World, Bleeding Love and one other song yet to come, a promising demo found its way onto my iPod. Love Song by Californian singer Sara Bareilles was an excellent pop song, a tongue in cheek ode to the irony of a record company looking for that 'hit single' to launch an album with - Sara went to write a song about not wanting to be forced into writing an album seller and voila this song was made. About two weeks after listening repeatedly to the demo, I finally heard the proper album version and I was instantly extremely impressed. I began to rave about Sara Bareilles to anyone that would listen from about November 2007 onwards. About two months later I heard that the song had become a hit in the US. However, I was shocked when it entered the UK charts in the summer of 2008 and gradually made its way up to the top five. I was suddenly hearing people in the street singing a song that I was championing as a demo over half a year before. It was odd indeed, but it was well and truly deserved. One hit wonder singer-songwriters come and go into the UK top ten; Vanessa Carlton, Daniel Powter, Sara Bareilles - but none of them had songs quite as joyful and deserving of success than Love Song - which along with being one of my favourites of late 2007, then became my most listened to song of 2008.

6. Delta Goodrem - Extraordinary Day - 2004

By far the highest 'album track' to make this countdown and with good reason - it's the only album track that I can recall hearing in this decade which absolutely blows me away every time I hear it - even five years on. Tucked away towards the end of the Mistaken Identity album, Extraordinary Day is easily the most personal song that Delta had ever written, focusing on the day that she heard that she had cancer - July 8th 2003. A horrible day for all involved, in particular Delta, and it was incredibly brave and surprising that she decided to put it into a song, which is by far and away the darkest song she has ever written. Ridiculously, most Delta fans saw this song as 'album filler', one of the worst on the album etc...So fine, if I'm the only huge fan of this song then that's fine because it is truly beyond stunning melodically. Delta's vocals are on top form, the background harmonies are incredible. Everything about this song reminds me of late 2004 - the second year of college in particular. Never has a non-single affected me so much as this song - describing the cancer as her 'defining story' really got to me. This song truly cemented Delta Goodrem as my favourite artist of the noughties, if not of all time.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Top ten time!!! Classics galore :D

Counting down in two's now - these ten songs in one way or another have absolutely defined the noughties for me. Incredibly, three of these songs were all out at the same time - I hadn't quite realised quite how brilliant late 2007 was until now!!!

10. Take That - Rule The World - 2007

Patience was a brilliant comeback single from Take That - an instant classic. Shine the same for different reasons. Then came third single I'd Wait For Life - which wasn't so great. However like many acts, Take That released a repackaged version of their album a year after the original release featuring three new tracks. One of the new tracks was Rule The World, written specially for the film Stardust. I rarely use the word epic but it can be used in this case. Easily, by a mile, the best song of their career - and one of the greatest original pop songs of the decade, if not of all time. It quickly became a favourite of mine and I still can't stop listening to it two years on, despite how horrendously over exposed it's been in the past 25 months. Unfortunately, it was released on the same week as Leona Lewis' equally decade defining song Bleeding Love and therefore only peaked at #2, albeit for 4 weeks, although it is easily the band's biggest selling single since fellow classic, 1995's Back For Good. It's hard to see how the band can ever better this song, but I would have said the same after Patience and Shine, or even after Back For Good. One of the greatest boybands of the 1990's genuinely are even more popular, and deservedly so, second time around. They put counterparts Westlife to absolute shame. Rule The World will go down as an all time classic - a brilliant melody, breathtaking production, amazing lead vocals from Gary and Howard on the chorus, and brilliant harmonies from Jason and Mark towards the end. Who would have thought that a band would come out with their best single almost 20 years into their career, particularly not one who had broken the hearts of millions of girls after splitting up in 1996!!!

9. Alcazar - Stay The Night - 2009

I'd never been a particular fan of Alcazar's UK hit singles Sexual Guarantee and Crying At The Discotheque but their Melodifestivalen songs, Not A Sinner Nor A Saint and Alcastar were much more to my taste, particularly the latter. I heard that they were returning to Melodifestivalen in 2009 and was looking forward to it but hardly incredibly excited. As always I watched the first semi final online, in which they performed, and the song was the easy standout. An emphatic energetic pop song, far better than anything they'd done before. A colourful, joyful song sung by three of the nicest people. You could tell that it meant everything for them to be there. I went to see the Melodifestivalen final live in Stockholm and was by this point incredibly excited to see them, the song having quickly become a favourite of mine. They exceeded my expectations with a perfect performance which brought great energy after a lacklustre performance from fellow former UK chart star Emilia. The reception in the arena was absolutely amazing - every single person must have loved them. I've been even more addicted to the song ever since - unfortunately they only came 5th in Melodifestivalen but THIS is the best Eurovision related song I have ever heard, and reminds me why I follow the contest. Pop gold.

Friday, 11 December 2009

And it hurts with ev-e-ry heartbeat

15. Robyn with Kleerup - With Every Heartbeat - 2007

The summer of 2007 saw the most surprising #1 single that I can probably recall. Swedish singer Robyn had a top ten hit here in 1998 with the Britney-esque Max Martin penned pop song Show Me Love. She continued releasing music in Sweden but as far as her career in the UK was concerned she was a long gone distant memory. However, in 2007 Robyn finally released her 2005 self titled album in the UK. After a couple of buzz singles she released a glorious song which became one of the year's dance anthems with blanket support from nearly all DJ's due to the nature of Robyn's widespread appeal. Despite being a pop artist, the song was dance and she was written about in indie blogs and publications. I expected the song to be a hit because it's so stunning but I never imagined that it could top the UK charts!!! Beautiful song, easily the classiest noughties dance record to top the charts. It also gave Robyn's career a new lease of life - she has had four further top 40 hits in the two years since!!!

14. Flip 'N' Fill feat Kelly Llorenna - True Love Never Dies - 2001

In late 2001, after her success on the re-released Set You Free, Kelly Llorenna wasted no time in getting onto as many records as possible. The first to surface was True Love Never Dies. A collaboration with then upcoming dance act Flip 'N' Fill, the song seemed to be obviously based on Rank 1's 2000 instrumental trance hit Airwave. Rumours surfaced that Kylie Minogue had done vocals for a mash up of it but they proved to be false and the official version was released in early 2002. The song became a massive top ten hit in the UK, one of the great original pop-trance singles of the early noughties. The melody, as it was on Airwave, was incredible, but Kelly's vocals and Flip 'N' Fill's excellent production added an extra kick to the track. Fantastic - should have been a much bigger hit than it was!!!

13. Shakira - Underneath Your Clothes - 2002

Having heard the fantastic Whenever, Wherever, I decided that I needed to hear more of Shakira. My sister had bought her album on import and gave it to me - first track I listened to was Underneath Your Clothes. I was absolutely blown away. An absolutely gorgeous ballad, complete with Shakira's typically quirky lyrics and unique vocal style. It went top three in the UK, was huge worldwide and really helped to cement the fact that Shakira could be just as big singing in English as in Spanish. Listening back to the song seven years on, it still sounds incredibly good unlike most of the cheap sounding pop productions around in that year - she had always been ahead of her time and this was no exception.

12. Caroldene - Time Is A Healer - 2001

And now for a song that nobody will know!!! Now defunct music website was relatively popular at the beginning of the decade for championing interesting unsigned acts, some of which went one to bigger things. I found a few very good tracks on the free CD's that the company sent me every few months. By far the best song I ever discovered was a pop/gospel/religious song called Time Is A Healer by a British soul singer called Carol Black, known as Caroldene. I found her voice incredibly nice to listen to, the song was amazingly uplifting and positive and was the soundtrack to the first half of 2001 for me personally despite hardly anyone apart from probably me and Caroldene herself probably knowing the song. She had a few other good songs, all unreleased - Dream On, Hold Me Tight - but nothing came close to this. Still never fails to cheer me up when I listen to it.

11. Take That - Shine - 2006

So, onto the song that just missed the top ten of the decade. Take That, a boyband that were extremely popular in the 1990's, had one of the most incredible comebacks ever seen in the noughties. Having got back together in late 2005 after an ITV documentary, Gary Barlow, Mark Owen, Jason Orange and Howard Donald, now in their mid 30's started recording Beautiful World. I bought the album on the day of release out of sheer intrigue and due to the strength of lead single Patience but the album really stunned me. Shine sounded like an ELO-pastiche, completely unlike anything they'd ever done before, an ode to music of the past yet incredibly fresh at the same time. It seemed like the obvious second single and it was - becoming a decade defining song, a UK #1 single and the soundtrack to the Morrisons adverts in one fell swoop. An incredibly strong uptempo pop song with the brilliant Mark Owen on lead vocals, this song proved that their comeback was not a one hit wonder - it couldn't be more different to Patience. The melody was great, the video was excellent and the harmonies were as good as ever. Brilliant.

Into the top 20 of the decade!!!

Nothing in this top 20, in my opinion, is below life alteringly stunning - I have had massive obsessions over every single one of these songs at some point during the decade. Let's start with number 20-16;

20. Missy Higgins - Ten Days - 2005

There have been some great digital TV channels over the last decade, many of which have disappeared. One was B4, which was part of the Channel 4 company. They played only future releases and instantly removed songs from their playlists once they were released. One week in 2005 I was watching and came across a beautiful ballad called Ten Days. I googled the song and discovered it was by Australian singer/songwriter Missy Higgins, whose name I was aware of seeing as I loosely follow the Australian charts and had noticed her name a lot. Indeed, this song had been a top 20 hit here, although the jaunty Scar was her biggest hit there. I fell in love with this straight away and it just grew and grew on me - Missy's Australian accent shining through in her vocals, the gorgeous melody, the biographical music video. Everything about this song is perfect to me and Missy Higgins is a special talent indeed. As for the success of the song in the UK? It got to #134 - I would expect nothing less amongst the musical dross that was early 2005.

19. Sarah McLachlan - World On Fire - 2004

Back to Canadian singer Sarah McLachlan now. I bought her long awaited new album Afterglow in early 2004 because I loved lead single Fallen. The instant album standout to me was the glorious World On Fire. A tale about the trials and tribulations of the modern world, the music somehow seemed bright and uplifting. The music video is probably one of my favourites of the decade - costing only $15 to actually film, it more resembles a high budget Power Point presentation in places, but it really is worth watching because it will definitely make you think. I can't stress how underrated Sarah McLachlan is. With minimal promotion and airplay as expected, the song scraped into the UK charts at #72, 71 places below where it deserved to be :(

18. Vanessa Amorosi - Absolutely Everybody - 2000

2000 was indeed an amazing year for dance music, but my favourite song of the year was an out and out pop song. Australian teenager Vanessa Amorosi emerged out of nowhere just after summer 2000. She had no airplay or particular promotion that I can recall, only fairly regular spins on music video channels. This was enough to launch her into the UK top ten at #7 with her debut single. Absolutely Everybody is probably one of the most uplifting songs of the decade. A feel good singalong chorus with a positive message, brilliant verses but nothing was more incredible than Vanessa's absolutely sensational vocals. For a girl who was that young, the power that she expressed on this song blew me away. It's a real shame that she was a one hit wonder in the UK because she really does have some brilliant music besides this song in her back catalogue that never saw the light of day here.

17. Anna Abreu - Music Everywhere - 2009

Onto something from this year, Finnish Idols winner Anna Abreu has had a couple of songs that impressed me in the past but Music Everywhere completely transformed my opinion of the girl. First time I heard it I knew it was special and with each listen I just loved it more and more, to the point that by the third listen I knew every word. Ridiculously tacky lyrics, it doesn't matter - the pulsating electro pop beat is as fresh as music like this gets - if this song had been given to Miley Cyrus is would be her biggest hit. Yes, it's Disney sounding and immature but it's absolutely one of my favourite uptempo pop songs of the decade. According to iTunes I've listened to it 200 times, and I've definitely listened to it on youtube and on my CD player a further hundred times at least. Yet still I love it as much as I do when I first heard it. She sings with such attitude and power - this song is so unbelievably commercial that it would be hard not to be a smash hit if promoted properly - here's to Anna domination in 2010!!!

16. Jordin Sparks feat Chris Brown - No Air - 2008

I followed American Idol in 2007 but didn't expect very much from eventual winner Jordin Sparks, who seemed to be the best of an average bunch. Still, I enjoyed her proper debut single Tattoo (I ignore the fact that her winner's song This Is My Now is seen as her debut) and bought her album which was also very good. The instant standout was the song that I'd heard was the next confirmed single; No Air. An R&B duet featuring the then incredibly popular Chris Brown (pre Rihanna-gate), the duo's vocals worked incredibly well together making it one of the defining duets of the decade. It had blanket airplay, was all over the place in summer 2008 and deservedly went top three in the UK, spending ages in the top ten too. A very fresh production, a great instrumental breakdown two thirds of the way through and a fantastic refrain and great ad-libs from both singers, it blew me away and still does to be honest. Shocking that the best song ever to come from American Idol alumni is from somebody who I'd rate far below Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood!!!

Top Songs/Albums; WB 14/12/09


1. Lady GaGa - Bad Romance (1)
2. Alicia Keys - Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart (NEW)
3. Caroline Jönsson - By My Side (2)
4. Rihanna - Russian Roulette (3)
5. HURTS - Wonderful Life (4)
6. Cheryl Cole feat - 3 Words (5)
7. Lady GaGa feat Beyoncé - Telephone (6)
8. Jennifer Paige & Nick Carter - Beautiful Lie (20)
9. Chipmunk feat Talay Riley - Look For Me (Re-entry)
10. Marina And The Diamonds - Hollywood (NEW)
11. Florence & The Machine - You’ve Got The Love (19)
12. Rihanna - Firebomb (14)
13. Pet Shop Boys - All Over The World (10)
14. Vanessa Amorosi - This Is Who I Am (9)
15. Leona Lewis - Outta My Head (8)
16. Leona Lewis - Brave (7)
17. Anna Abreu - Impatient (Re-entry)
18. Alcazar - Last Christmas (13)
19. Queensberry - Hello (Turn Your Radio On) (11)
20. Rihanna - Wait Your Turn (NEW)


1. Rihanna - Rated R (1)
2. Leona Lewis - Echo (2)
3 Lady GaGa – The Fame/The Fame Monster (3)
4. Timbaland - Shock Value II (7)
5. Anna Abreu - Just A Pretty Face (5)
6. Absolute Music 62 (NEW)
7. Alicia Keys - The Element Of Freedom (NEW)
8. Take That - The Greatest Day: Take That Present The Circus Live (4)
9. Florence & The Machine - Lungs (6)
10. Robbie Williams - Reality Killed The Video Star (9)

GaGa ooh la la

on with the top 25 of the noughties;

25. Delta Goodrem - Mistaken Identity - 2004

Late November 2004 and I rushed out of college in my lunch break to buy probably my most anticipated album of all time - Delta Goodrem's Mistaken Identity. Promised to be a maturer and darker album, due to her personal life, which indeed it was, I still fell in love with it straight away. No track was more instant for me than the excellent Mistaken Identity. Referring to the Delta of old 'the girl in the chair with the long golden hair', the lyrics were harsh, honest and cutting and the song was seen as a huge risk in Australia where it was released as a single. It reached #7 there, a huge step down after her first six releases had all gone to #1!!! Risk or not, musically the song is one of Delta's finest moments - like Tori Amos at her most emphatic - and it even fits in a brilliantly executed key change and ad libs at the end!!!

24. Maria Haukaas Storeng - Hold On Be Strong - 2008

So onto the highest Eurovision song on the countdown and of course it's back over to Norway who have been on fire the last few years, easily the most dominant Western country. Norway have a way of getting classy pop songs into the top five despite having only one neighbouring country, and the excellent Maria Haukaas Storeng returned the country to the top five in 2008. Instantly a favourite of mine when I first heard it in 2008, the song fit in perfectly with the soul-pop sound of 2008. With the best opening line of any song ever - 'love can be hard sometimes, yes it can catch you off guard like bad crimes'!?! Maria's live vocal was spot on and having been planning to vote for Sweden (Charlotte Perrelli - Hero), my support isntantly went to Norway after her flawless contest closing performance and Maria became one of my favourite artists. Stunning pop song and I still really can't understand why she wasn't launched here in 2008. Hold On Be Strong and Mine All Mine were so accessible and commercial that they would have been easy top ten hits with promotion...

23. Shapeshifters - Lola's Theme - 2004

Quite easily my favourite house song of the decade, dance had been a bit weak throughout 2003 and early 2004 had showed little signs of promise with looped 80's house rubbish starting to become the norm. However, British dance act Shapeshifers, along with vocalist Cookie, changed all that with the brilliantly uplifting dance anthem Lola's Theme, written about Lola, the wife of one of the band members. A powerful vocal by a classic house vocalist, it was like the best song never released in the mid 90's and went straight in at #1 denying Rachel Stevens' electro pop classic Some Girls from the top spot. Great fairground video too - along with Natasha Bedingfield's These Words, this song absolutely ruled summer 2004 for me!!!

22. Kim Lukas - All I Really Want - 2000

The oldest song in the countdown, rewinding right back to early 2000 and I was on holiday in Tenerife. I turned on the radio and British singer Kim Lukas' All I Really Want, something of a Europop hit on the continent, came on - I recorded the song on tape and quickly became obsessed with it listening to the radio non-stop to try and find out what it was. When I got back from holiday I typed some of the lyrics into a search engine and found out, and from that moment on it became one of my favourite pop songs of all time. Nothing groundbreaking, but a cheerful pop song with a very sweet partly animated video, the song was produced by Eiffel 65 and you can hear it, the background of the song is practically identical to Blue (Da Ba Dee). It's a shame that this never got a UK release as it could have done big things.

21. Lady GaGa - Bad Romance - 2009

Onto THE song of the moment, I only first heard it less than three months ago but it's practically ruled my life ever since. To launch The Fame Monster, GaGa's own special way of doing a deluxe album repackage which featured eight brand new songs, she teamed up with RedOne again to make a song that can only be described as absolutely sensational. A killer chorus, the video of the decade, subtle nods to Poker Face throughout, the excellent 'ra ra ah a ah a GaGa ooh la la' singalong elements. The song has already been a huge worldwide hit and is still growing!!! Perfect pop song - this could well end up as one of my favourite songs of all time - but it was released just that tiny bit too late to quite catch up with the top 20 of the decade...

New Music; Would you escape with me?

Kris and Canary - All About You

Well I've been sent this via e-mail to ask to talk about it, so why not. If anyone else fancies sending me music for review and promotional purposes then feel free and I shall try to include them, but don't always expect me to be nice about them!!! This song is actually not bad at all; American's Kris and Canary have produced something quite fresh production wise - Jason DeRulo wouldn't turn his nose up at it, put it that way. It's a bit generic and incredibly repetitive, particularly the 'it's all about you' parts but it sticks in your head after the first listen and could easily be a big hit with promotion. This electro-urban type music is incredibly popular at the moment; Flo Rida, Jason DeRulo, Soulja Boy etc...Kris and Canary doesn't quite sound like the name of a Billboard chart topping act but they've got some potential.

Alicia Keys - Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart

Make no mistake - this is the greatest pop song Alicia Keys has ever recorded. If this doesn't become a worldwide #1 single in 2010, there is something seriously wrong. I really like Alicia Keys as a person and I particularly enjoyed her X Factor medley of Empire State Of Mind, Doesn't Mean Anything and No One, but I've never truly loved a single song by her before, not even classics such as Fallin' and If I Ain't Got You. However, the thundering production on this song sounds like something inbetween a Rihanna's Umbrella and a typical Ryan Tedder production. Add Alicia's unmistakeable vocals, and a frankly stunning melody and voila. 10 years on from the start of her career and it seems that she still hasn't peaked yet - brilliant.

Andreas Johnson - Escape

Andreas Johnson is one of the noughties earliest one hit wonders in the UK, with the pulsating indie-pop anthem Glorious which reached #4 here and still often appears at climatic moments in TV shows such was it's brilliantly over the top production. Since 2000, he has not in fact disappeared but has been one of Sweden's most popular artists, appearing in Melodifestivalen in 2006, coming third with the fantastic Sing For Me, 2nd in 2007 with the even better A Little Bit Of Love, and then failing to reach the final with the great One Love, a collaboration with Eurovision veteran Carola. Escape is the latest chapter in his indie-pop brand with some electro influences now making it that bit more modern - another typically brilliant song with a chorus that won't go away, but still not quite up to the standard of his Melodifestivalen classics. Still, Andreas has been confirmed to return to the competition in 2010 with the apparently 'epic rock ballad' We Can Work It Out, so if it's anything like Glorious it could be something spectacular indeed!!!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Another year older...a little bit stronger

30. Shakira - Whenever, Wherever - 2002

A huge star across the world since the mid 1990's singing in Spanish, Colombian singer Shakira finally launched in the UK in 2002 with her first English album Laundry Service, although it still included a handful of Spanish language tracks. The fantastic Whenever, Wherever was the first taste of the album and the memorable video instantly became a hit making it seem like the song was a shoe-in for #1. Except she released it on the same week as Will Young's Evergreen, the biggest selling single of the decade. Nevertheless it's probably one of the defining #2 singles of the noughties and certainly one of Shakira's most popular singles. I still hear it daily on the radio!!! A fantastic pan-pipe dominated ode to distance in love with the quirky lyrics that we have come to love from the superstar. 'lucky that my breasts are small and humble, so you don't confuse them with mountains' was my favourite line!!!

29. Delta Goodrem - A Year Ago Today - 2003

The second Delta Goodrem album track to make an appearance, this song actually had a video filmed for it when Delta was 15 with her voice sounding incredibly different and a lot more high pitched. The ballad was revamped for the Innocent Eyes album and instantly became a favourite of mine, not least because I bought the album the same week as she was diagnosed with cancer, making this song seem all the more poignant and emotional. I think the lyrics are something that everybody can relate to. A moving ballad that becomes very uplifting in the last minute. I personally think this would have been a fantastic single but many fans criminally saw it as 'filler' so that wouldn't have happened. Beautiful song.

28. Delerium feat Sarah McLachlan - Silence - 2000

Yet ANOTHER dance song from 2000, the peak of commercial dance, Canadian dance act Delerium teamed up with hugely underrated (in the UK at least) and hugely influential singer/songwriter Sarah McLachlan for a bizarre monk's convent sounding song called Silence. A series of remixes were produced including an epic 10 minute Tiesto remix and the UK radio edit, my favourite version, which was done by Airscape. Turning an odd church like song into a defining dance anthem is no mean feat, but this really was the classiest dance song of 2000. Absolutely breathtaking and a deserved UK top three hit!!!

27. Madonna - Hung Up - 2005

After the commercial flop of 2003's American Life era, the queen of pop Madonna returned to dance music, but instead of the funk/house influences of 2000's Music and the chillout influences of Ray Of Light, she went full on trance/techno with the Confessions On A Dancefloor era. First single Hung Up sampled Abba's Gimme Gimme Gimme and was an absolute club stormer, easily her best single since 1998. Adding a pulsating dance beat to the classic, she used the sample brilliantly and layered a fantastic new chorus over the top. Easily my favourite Madonna single of the decade, pop perfection.

26. Delta Goodrem - Born To Try - 2003

The first 3 months of 2003, as I've said, were generally terrible. I genuinely thought that music had died. However, in April 2003 I heard a song that literally took me over - a beautiful piano ballad by somebody with an incredible voice. I found that the song was by a girl called Delta Goodrem who played Nina Tucker in Neighbours. I was astonished - from that point onwards I started watching Neighbours just to see this girl. It wasn't long until she became my favourite singer, and the sole saviour of 2003 musically. Her vocals on this song, considering she was 16 when she recorded it, are sensational, particularly after the key change. The song was a surprise top 3 hit in the UK and launched her as a successful artist for the next couple of years...I only wish that the success had continued...The song was rumoured to be in contention for the X Factor winner's single last year but it never happened...if only Simon had chosen it over The Climb this year instead :(