Gather round dearies as Diary of a Pop Fan’s resident Pop Fortune Teller predicts five brand spanking new pop hits specifically for you lovely readers. I can read your palm afterwards if you want as well (so it’s a win-win situation):
1) Paloma Faith – Only Love Can Hurt Like This
After the Pharrellicious “Can’t Rely On You” Paloma is back with the second single off her album A Perfect Contradiction, which was just confirmed as having gone Gold for sales of over 100,000 copies in the UK alone. “Only Love Can Hurt Like This” is an immediate standout track from the album so it’s no wonder Paloma wanted it as her second single, and to top it off, the single has already entered the charts at No.50 well ahead of release. On “Only Love Can Hurt Like This” Paloma shows us the meaning of subtlety. She does have a tendency to over-sing slightly so it’s nice to see her giving a restrained vocal performance. In fact, it’s only at the two minute mark when Paloma ramps up the volume and shows us what she can do, with her vocals soaring over the brass accompaniment. The production of the song is very throwback, channelling Mowtown classics and making good use of horns and trumpets. Ladies and Gentlemen Miss Paloma has done it again.
2) Ella Henderson – Ghost
Little Ella Henderson has come a long way since she crashed out of the X Factor in the 7th round after losing the sing off to future winner and now-banned-from-Twitter loudmouth James Arthur. For starters she’s taken time to grow up a bit (when we saw her on the X Factor she was but a mere girl of 16) and chosen to take her time over her debut. Now she has matured into a confident 18 year old and has come back all guns blazing. There is a very epic Adele-ish vibe about her single “Ghost”. Perhaps it’s the soulful vocals? The Ryan Tedder production (he also co-wrote Leona’s “Bleeding Love”)? The gospel-inspired sing-a-long chorus? Or maybe it’s just one of the rare times when lightning strikes, everything comes together and an amazing song is born. One listen to that “Give up the ghost/ no more haunting” breakdown is all the confirmation you need! Friggin’ awesome.
3) G.R.L. – Ugly Heart
G.R.L is an American, Canadian, British girlband who are set to be big in 2014 having bagged a guest feature on Pitbull’s new single “Wild Wild Love” (which is also worth a look). I came across this “Ugly Heart” on my beloved PopJustice (which is a great source for any dedicated pop fan) and fell in love with it almost immediately. It’s ever so slightly country tinged, which is perfect in this post Avicii poposphere and it manages to recreate the urgency of the Swedish megastar’s hit “Wake Me Up”. This group is definitely one to watch. “Ugly Heart” is at the top of the Pop Fortune Teller’s playlist at the minute!
4) Lily Allen – Our Time
Lily Allen is back with her third single from her upcoming album Sheezus, which is out 5th May. “Our Time” is certainly a change of tact for the typically outspoken songstress and it’s a gentle reminder of Lily’s softer side, which has been pushed to one side following in-you-face singles “Hard out Here” and “Air Balloon”. It’s a welcome change as Lily has been coming off a bit crass for a while on Twitter and other social media and, as a result, her album campaign was in danger of sinking before it had even begun. Luckily, “Our Time” is just the life preserver she needed. While it’s unlikely to set the charts on fire as its one of her more understated efforts, it probably will be another top 20 for Allen and might give her album the breath of life it needs ahead of release.
5) Sky Ferreira – I Blame Myself
This woman seems to be going from strength to strength and her profile is increasing by the day. For those of you who do not know, Sky Ferreira is an American singer songwriter from Los Angeles, California who just released her debut album Night Time, My Time in the UK a few weeks ago. “I Blame Myself” is the second single off the album and shows off the singer’s best qualities: her knack for a catchy hook, her gritty vocals and self-recognition (on the track she acknowledges that she is responsible for her public image, such as when she was arrested for a drug incident in late 2013). “I Blame Myself” will hopefully manage to give Sky and her music some well-deserved exposure and with tunes of this quality, who could argue with that.
So that’s it for the Pop Fortune Teller’s Weekly Predictions this week. I warn ye to take heed of her words because if you don’t, it may be the last thing you do.
It’s almost Eurovision time again! One of the biggest musical (hilarity) events of the calendar year! In this post I’m going to give you lovely people a run-down of all the contestants you need to know about before the big day on May 10th. The first point to make upon considering the list of candidates is that there are no massive stand outs like last year’s Zlata Ognevich’s “Gravity” and Emmelie de Forest’s “Only Teardrops”, let alone any instant classic like 2012’s “Euphoria” by Loreen. Indeed, the race is a lot more open than it has been in recent years which makes for quite exciting viewing. There are however several acts which are head and shoulders above the rest. Here’s my top ten Eurovision entries this year:
10) Greece – Freaky Fortune Feat. Riskykidd – Rise Up
Greece has taken a risk entering “Rise Up” into Eurovision. As we all know what’s popular in the Eurovision Song Contest doesn’t really represent what’s popular in the actual music charts and, while Greece’s entry this year may end up filling dance floors across Europe, it’s not likely to appeal to Eurovision fans, not to mention the jury. However, it makes up for its lack of lyrical content by its sheer catchiness. This will probably get through to the final but not really bother the top five.
9) Ireland: Can-linn Feat. Kasey Smith – Heartbeat
It’s a surprising coincidence that both the UK and Ireland have started trying again this year. Maybe it was a joint New Year’s resolution. Either way, “Heartbeat” is a most welcome effort from one of Eurovision’s former leading nations. The addition of a prominent fiddle-line during the chorus is a great idea as playing up your ethnicity usually does well in Eurovision. There’s even a bit of river dance. I’ll let you decide whether that’s overkill or not. Though it almost definitely won’t win, this might end up being Ireland’s first top ten-finish since Jedward. What an act to follow.
8) Sweden: Sanna Nielsen – Undo
If at first you don’t succeed try and try again. That has been Sanna Nielsen’s mantra for years and finally her serial Eurovision applications (she has applied to be Sweden’s entry seven times!) bore fruit. “Undo” is without a doubt one of the classier entries this year and is one of the favourites to take home the Eurovision crown, which would be ever so slightly annoying seeing as Sweden last won it in 2012 and we don’t want them dominating the competition. The song also has some fishy lyrics going on: “undo my sad”…Is she trying to tell us that her ex has given her Season Affective Disorder (SAD)? Despite this however, the piano hook is very catchy and Sanna’s vocal performance is of very high quality. This is pretty much nailed on for a top five- finish, if not first.
7) Italy: Emma – La Mia Città
This offering from Italy is without a doubt a grower. A really didn’t like it the first time I heard it because I felt it was a bit shouty and irritating. But actually, after a few listens I realised I had judged it a bit too quickly and that it’s actually one of the best this year. Emma’s vocal performance is unique and ballsy, a fact which makes her stand out in the field. This entry, along with Israel’s are probably the most rocky this year, which might work to their detriment as Eurovision seems to be favouring dubstep inspired ballads this year (Sweden, Armenia) . However, Italy probably will end up top ten anyway as they tend to do well in the contest.
6) Romania: Paula Seling & Ovi – Miracle
This was one of the first songs to be released for submission to Eurovision and was an early leader from the start. Eurovision veterans Paula Seling and Ovi’s dance-infused floor filler “Miracle” is a perfect blend of cheesiness and soaring vocals. The result is rather disposable however, and pales in comparison to the duo’s previous entry “Playing with Fire” which managed to finish third in 2010. The pair need to polish the live vocals as well as previous performances of “Miracle” have been less than joyous to listen to, but if they manage to nail it on the night this could have a chance.
5) Norway: Carl Espen – Silent Storm
Another one of the bookies’ favourites and one of the more understated entries this year. Perhaps too understated for Eurovision. I can see this doing well though but whether it’s enough to win is another question. Espen’s performance leaves a lot to be desired as well, not quite Adele. But the end result is nice enough with the song building throughout into a sweeping crescendo.
4) Denmark: Basim – Cliché Love Song
After the elegant panpipe-lead torch song “Only Teardrops” I expected something slightly classier from last year’s winner Denmark. But then again, it’s Eurovision. Who said anything about being classy and indeed, this year’s entry from Denmark is nothing of the sort. It’ a blatant copy of Bruno Mars for starters and its chorus features the line “scooby dooby doo” (Zoinks!). But it’s a sweet enough song and it’s insanely catchy from the first listen. Maybe this is what Eurovision needs after several years of serious songs winning the competition.
3) Spain: Ruth Lorenzo – Dancing in the Rain
A curveball from the Spanish side this year, sending in a former UK X Factor contestant Ruth Lorenzo who has been under the radar since her top 5 finish in 2008 under the mentorship of Ms. Danni Minogue. Always the rock balladeer Ruth has played to her strengths with her love power ballad “Dancing in the Rain”. Disclaimer. It’s seriously epic. No seriously. From the rain drenched slo-mo video to those drawn out high notes such epic-ness harks back to such 80’s epics like Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” and Bonnie Tyler (name check a former Eurovision contestant) with “Total Eclipse of the Heart”. Of course, this can be only a good thing as a good bombastic performance is usually looked upon favourably in the context of Eurovision. However, Spain has never been a massive player in Eurovision, having only won the contest twice before and even 2012’s majestic Pastora Soler only managed to scrape a top ten finish.
2) Israel: Mei Feingold – Same Heart
People are hailing this woman as Israel’s answer to Lady Gaga. While she’s not quite as gaudy or over the top as Mother Monster, you can detect hints of Gaga-esque showmanship in her guitar-driven break up anthem “Same Heart”. Her performance sometimes goes overboard into slightly aggressive territory, a fact which is perpetuated by the disturbing lyric “I’m skinning you out” (I can only assume this lyric was Hannibal inspired). To add to that, Hebrew is not the prettiest language to sing in (sorry guys!) but Mei makes up for that by throwing some awesome shapes in the video. The song is really catchy too and if she puts in a good performance with a routine like the one in the video she might be in with a shot this year.
1) United Kingdom: Molly Smitten Downes – Children of the Universe
Liverpudlian Molly’s anthemic tune is without a doubt the best entry submitted by the BBC since the last time the UK took home the Eurovision trophy in 1997 with Katrina and the Waves’ anthemic “Love Shine a Light”. Many people believe that UK has a bit too much emotional and political baggage to ever be able to win again, here’s hoping that Molly will be able to dispel the haters. “Children of the Universe” is certainly our classiest entry in ages and the fact that Molly can actually sing is always a good sign. The chorus is a real earworm too. I can’t let my hopes get too high though. Power to the People!!
Armenia: Aram MP3 – Not Alone
I have to include this one as it’s currently the bookies’ favourite for some reason but I think it’s just hideous. Everything is wrong with it: the beginning is boring and the second half is just noisy and messy. Absolute rubbish. Have no clue why it is even a Eurovision entry. Knowing my luck though it’ll probably win.
Hungary: Kallay Saunders – Running
Again I had to include this one because it’s one of the favourites, but it gets boring really quickly. I liked it the first time but it got old after the third listen. The singer isn’t very interesting at all and fails to carry the song, which itself is just average.
Austria: Conchita Wurst – Rise like a Phoenix
Without a doubt ESC 2014’s most controversial entry. This has been doing quite well actually in the Eurovision polls but it’s also been getting a lot of hate for the singer’s image (a transvestite with a beard). There was also some controversy over the Armenian entry criticising Conchita (probably just misinterpreted). The song actually stands on its own merits however as an overblown, Bond-esque theme, which in anyone else’s hands would probably challenge Sanna Nielsen for the Eurovision crown. Either way, this is definitely the wildcard this year.
Ukraine: Maria Yaremchuk – Tick Tock
This enry has been tweaked more times than Cher’s face. First of all it contained the lines “tricky tricky talk talk talk” but then this was deemed too silly (nothing is too silly for Eurovision). Then a hideous broken down ballad version appeared which stripped away the backing beat (and with it all the fun), thereby exposing the embarrassing lyrics. Then finally a new jazzier version was released with the lyrics having been inexplicably changed. Hopefully this will be the final incarnation of this song, but I wouldn’t put it past Ukraine to mess around with “Tick-Tock” before the semis. The song is ok but I still prefer the first version (if it ain’t broke don’t fix it). Im predicting top ten for this, but it won’t be one of Ukraine’s best performers, especially not in the wake of the magnificent Zlata Ognevich last year.
Best of the Worst
France: Twin Twin – Moustache
France seems to have swapped places with the UK this year, opting to send in an ironic parody which mocks the whole concept of Eurovision ( I wouldn’t mind if it were a good song but it’s just rubbish)
Belarus: Teo –Cheesecake
This manages to achieve the perfect mix of parody and awfulness which France was going for this year. Belarus’ answer to Robin Thicke shows off some dodgy hip movements in his performance and what is going on with the facial hair. Now really!
Latvia: Aarzemnieki – Cake to Bake
I secretly like this one. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and is built around a really catchy melody. Sadly it’s predicted to sink like the titanic.
The first third of 2014 is almost over already and to celebrate here’s a list of the best-selling albums of this year in the UK so far:
20)One Direction – Midnight Memories
Oh just go away. Now!
19) Disclosure – Settle
Despite being released last June this album has been selling constantly throughout 2014, mostly on the strength of a revamped version of the single F for You featuring Mary J Blige, which managed to peak at No.22 earlier on in the year.
18) Haim – Days Are Gone
This group have just been going from strength to strength lately and their current single If I Could Change Your Mind has helped keep this album a top 30 mainstay so far this year.
17) John Legend – Love In The Future
This album was actually released in 2013 but only managed to become a hit after the phenomenal success of single All of Me whcih peaked at No.2 several weeks ago.
16) Bruce Springsteen – High Hopes
Springsteen managed to bag himself another UK No.1 album with his 18th studio release High Hopes which sold just under 50,000 copies to top the charts in January.
15) Lorde – Pure Heroine
Lorde has been having an amazing 6 months. After the whirlwind success of Royals her second single Team also managed to go top 30 in the UK and propelled Pure Heroine into the top twenty.
14) Elbow – Take Off & Landing Of Everything
Elbow managed to secure their first UK No.1 album in March with their sixth studio album, whilst garnering rave reviews and keeping Paloma Faith’s new album off the top spot.
13) Paloma Faith – A Perfect Contradiction
Paloma got the last laugh though, after a performance on the Voice gave her a surge in sales sent her back into the top 2 albums. A Perfect Contradiction has now spent 6 consecutive weeks in the top 10 and provided Faith with her second top ten hit Can’t Rely On You.
12) Sam Bailey – Power Of Love
X Factor winner Sam Bailey decided to rush release her first studio album in order to reap the benefits of the high-selling Mother’s Day market and for the most part it seems to have worked, with The Power of Love debuting atop the UK albums charts with 73,000 copies sold.
11) John Newman – Tribute
Mr Newman has been benefiting from a kick-ass dance remix of his single Out of My Head which has given his album a new lease of life.
10) Rudimental – Home
Despite being released almost a year ago, Home has been selling like hot cakes this trimester after sales were boosted on the strength of the band winning Best Single at the Brit Awards with Waiting All Night.
9) George Michael – Symphonica
George Michael managed to secure himself yet another UK number one album when his first album of original material since 2004’s Patience shot straight to No.1 in March selling just under 50,000 copies in the process.
8) Gary Barlow – Since I Saw You Last
Gary’s album has been a constant seller this year and has rarely been seen out of the top 30. It also received a boost after the title track was released a week ago.
7) Avicii – True
This one might come as a surprise as dance albums don’t tend to sell very well, but the truth is that Avicii is an exception to every rule and True has been a massive seller this year.
6) Arctic Monkeys – AM
Despite acting like a douchebag at the Brit Awards Alex Turner’s band has been experiencing something of a career renaissance lately and the fact that AM won a Brit Award for best album didn’t hurt either.
5) London Grammar – If You Wait
I’m extremely glad that London Grammar are finally being recognised for producing this sensational album. I was sure that If You Wait was going to end up as a forgotten classic, overlooked by the charts, but I couldn’t be happier to be wrong.
4) Pharrell Williams – Girl
The honour of having the best selling album released in 2014 so far goes to the man of the moment Pharrell. Girl has been flying off the shelves ever since it was released and it’s all due to the massive chart success of single Happy.
3) Bastille – Bad Blood
Bastille reaped the rewards of winning Best Breakthrough Act at the Brit Awards 2014 with Bad Blood returning to claim the No.1 spot for a further 2 weeks.
2) Beyonce – Beyoncé
Beyoncé has been having a great time recently with single Drunk In Love setting the charts on fire and her eponymous fifth studio album has been hanging around the top of the charts for months on end. May Queen B´s reign continue.
1) Ellie Goulding – Halcyon Days
Ellie Goulding has without a doubt been the woman of 2014 so far, having bagged another top 20 hit with Goodness Gracious and claimed a Brit Award for best female. To top it off, her album Halcyon Days returned to No.1 for 3 weeks in January and has been lingering in the top 20 ever since. Congratulations to Ellie for having the best selling album of 2014 so far!!!
It’s surprising that most of the albums on the list were actually released in 2013, with only Bruce Springsteen, Paloma Faith, Pharrell, George Michael, Sam Bailey, Paloma Faith and Elbow providing 2014 releases. That’s only 7 out of 20. Hopefully the next four months will allow more new and returning artists to shine.
Another noticeable feature is the tangible effect that the Brit Awards has had on the album charts, with Brit Award winners Ellie Goulding, Bastille, Arctic Monkeys, Rudimental, One Direction and Lorde all appearing on the list. This demonstrates the power that the Brits still wields over music buyers.
I would have liked to have seen Shakira, Kylie, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Katy B’s album in the list but it’s only the first trimester of the year and it could all could change still. Here’s to many more great albums coming our way very soon.
2014 is shaping up to be a great year for music with high-profile stars such as Shakira and Kylie Minogue making their triumphant returns, as well as the emergence of new talented artists such as Clean Bandit and Sam Smith. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In this latest blog post I will review 10 of the hottest new tracks which will be released in the coming weeks:
1) Sia – Chandelier
Australian singer Sia is hot property. After her semi-retirement in 2010 she became primarily known for her song writing abilities as well as a for lending her powerhouse vocals to few high profile tunes such as Flo Rida’s Wild Ones and David Guetta’s Titanium. However, unable to resist the lure of the spotlight Sia is back with her sixth studio album, the first single from which is the epic synth rock ballad Chandelier. While it does make an impact on the first listen, the genius of Chandelier becomes clear after you’ve listened to it a few times. Her soulful wailing of I’m gonna swing from the chandelier drills its way into your head and refuses to let go, no wonder she kept this one for herself instead of giving it to Rihanna. Whether she is able to convert this into chart success is questionable, but only time will tell. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for this one to be a massive summer smash.
2) Kelis – Jerk Ribs
Never one to rest on her laurels, Kelis is back with a new sound after the electro experimentation of her David Guetta co-produced previous album Flesh Tone which yielded the US Hot Dance Club Songs number one and top 5 UK hit Acapella. Jerk Ribs swaps EDM synths for brassy instrumentation with a prominent trumpet line and, while it’s unlikely to result in another massive chart success for Kelis, it does gain her a lot of kudos. Kelis has really come into her own with her last two albums and this first single gives the impression that the singer is completely comfortable in her own sound.
3) The Black Keys – Fever
Believe it or not The Black Keys have been around since 2002 when they released their first album The Big Come Up. However, it was not until 2010 with the release of their sixth studio album Brothers, which peaked at number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, that they managed to attain true chart success in the US. This was then followed up by their, in my humble opinion, magnum opus: the glam rock infused El Camino which featured the fiendishly infectious single Lonely Boy and propelled the band into the mainstream. Fever, the first single from their eighth studio album Turn Blue, which will be released May 12th, is another slice of moody, radio friendly rock. The song features a killer synth line and the chorus is pretty catchy too. It’s not quite as good or immediate as Lonely Boy, but it is not a disappointment by any means.
4) Iggy Azalea Feat. Charli XCX– Fancy
Iggy’s career has just been building pace since the release of her first single Work in March of last year, which managed to peak at number 17 in the UK. She soon followed this up with two more hits, Bounce and Change Your Life, the latter managing to become her first top ten hit when it peaked at 10 in September. Iggy has played the game pretty well, allowing the hype around her debut album The New Classic to build and build until it reaches fever pitch at which point she decides to drop Fancy, possibly her best single to date. The single is a rap diva off with Charli XCX but never does it reach the crass levels to which Nicki Minaj frequently stoops. There is nothing we haven’t seen before on this track of course, Iggy hasn’t quite come into her own yet in terms of lyrics but the genius is in the finger snapping simplicity combined with the infectious backing beat.
5) Anastacia – Stupid Little Things
The artist once-dubbed Little Woman with the Big Voice is back. Anastacia’s career has been in the wilderness ever since the commercial failure of her last studio album of original material 2008’s Heavy Rotation. Since then, she has released an album of covers of male songs as well as being diagnosed with cancer again and beating it for a second time. Therefore, it’s appropriate that Anastacia chose to call her sixth studio album Resurrection as it does feel like a new beginning for the singer. Her comeback single Stupid Little Things is typically bombastic and signals a return to her original sound “Sprock”, a hybrid of soul, pop, rock. The song is packed full with hooks and is aimed squarely at radio play. However, the sound has dated slightly and I wouldn’t be surprised if this manages to slip under the radar, which would be a massive shame as it’s great to hear Anastacia doing what she does best again.
6) Rita Ora – I Will Never Let You Down
British songstress Rita Ora is back with what will probably be the smash of the summer. I Will Never Let You Down, which was produced by her current boyfriend Calvin Harris, is probably her best single yet but it unfortunately serves to highlight the singer’s lack of personality and generic qualities. Oddly enough the best part of this song is the summery guitar driven beat playing over the verses which lingers in the brain much longer than generic chorus. Ora sounds like she never even breaks a sweat on the single, which keeps safely in the middle of her range (I counted only one high note in the whole song). But when all is said and done, I Will Never Let You Down is a sure fire hit and it’s great to see a young singer revelling in her youth, rather than wailing about heartbreak (Sorry Lea Michele). What’s more, the sound feels fresh and Ora’s persona is much more likeable than on her previous material.
7) Calvin Harris – Summer
What is there left to say about Calvin Harris. Along with Pharrell he is without a doubt one of the biggest producers of the moment and his cannon of number ones just keeps on growing. Summer is another almighty global smash waiting to happen, but something went wrong for me on this track. I’m usually a fan of Calvin’s vocals, such as on the anthemic Feels So Close, so I welcomed the idea of him singing on this new track. However I really don’t know what Harris was trying to pull on Summer. If it he was trying to sound coy then that’s really not the way to go about it. If he was trying to sound whiny and shrill then he did a great job of it. But I may as well resign myself to hearing this song everywhere for the next couple of months because the sad fact is that Harris could have farted, put it on a loop, given it a dance breakdown and the song would have been the summer hit of 2014.
8) Ed Sheeran – Sing
Instead of channelling the understated, pondering balladry displayed on his more successful singles The A Team and Lego House, Sheeran has chosen to go in the other direction for the first single from his upcoming sophomore album x.Sing actually has a lot in common with previous single You Need Me, I Don’t Need You with Sheeran’s urgent rapping driving the verses. The falsetto present on the bridge of Sing is the big surprise here, as well as the main hook being comprised of woohs. Sheeran is back in style.
9) Justin Timberlake – Not a Bad Thing
Timberlake continues the 20/20 Experience Volume 2 album campaign with the third single Not a Bad Thing, which is actually the best cut from its otherwise patchy parent album. The song could be a N*Sync album track, which shows how the Tennessee-born singer has done full circle in his career, but with his effortless cool Timberlake manages to sell a song which would have sounded corny in anyone else’s hands. Overall Not a Bad Thing, whilst lacking originality, manages to be exactly what it should be: relaxing, mushy and sweet.
10) Clean Bandit – Extraordinary
After bursting onto the charts this January with the infectious Jess Glynne-assisted synth track Rather Be Clean Bandit have a job to do to live up to the hype. Their follow up single Extraordinary start deceptively slow with a minimalistic intro that is almost acapella. However, the song soon breaks down picking up a string infused backing beat on the way and descending into a chorus which, on repeat listening, proves to have staying power. The result is not nearly as infectious as Rather Be, but Extraordinary manages on stand on its own as a euphoric, sunny piece of intelligent dance pop, which should keep the band getting radio spins long enough to release an album.
So that’s a round up of just a few of the big, high-profile new tunes which are set to be the soundtrack of summer 2014. Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed the post. If you want to follow my blog please click on the link at the top of the post. Until next time!!
Hope you enjoyed the first installment of the top 32 of the first quarter of 2014. In part two join me as I count down the all important top 20 best songs of this year so far! Let’s dive straight in:
20) Lily Allen – Air Balloon
Lily Allen’s recent lack of singles chart success has been baffling. Her ass-kicking gender equality tune Hard Out Here only managed to peak at a lowly 9 last year and Air Balloon has suffered a similar fate, with both singles dropping off the charts quickly. I could write a whole blog about this topic (and I might still, depending on the performance of Lily’s album Sheezus) but for now let your mind soar with the happy-clappy Air Balloon.
19) Lorde – Team
Lorde is beyond a shadow of a doubt the woman of the moment, having just bagged herself a Brit for Best International Female and another top 30 smash with Team. This woman can do no wrong at the minute and there’s no wonder with tunes of this calibre.
18) Gorgon City – Ready for Your Love
This year so far has been all about house music and Gorgon City’s No.4 hit is a perfect example of this. The single features MNEK, a London born singer of Nigerian descent, who adds a touch of mystique to this suspenseful club smash.
17) Ellie Goulding – Goodness Gracious
This song is made a thousand times better by the psychedelic video which features Goulding with light up trainers in a dance off, which singlehandedly brightened up our January. The song isn’t half bad either.
16) Katy B – Crying for No Reason
As mentioned in a previous post, this was the single which saved Katy B’s current album campaign and managed to become her third top 5 single. Crying for No Reason is flawlessly produced and Katy B’s brutal honesty would manage to break even the sternest of hearts. Make ‘em weep Katy.
15) Molly – Children of the Universe
Something amazing happened this year. The BBC have actually put in a good song into Eurovision. Not a faded talent with a snoozer ballad, not a cheesy novelty act ridiculing the whole concept of Eurovision, but a young upcoming star with a powerful anthemic tune. Our betting odds haven’t been this low in years and some are even saying we’re in with a chance of winning. I’m keeping my fingers crossed but trying to not get my hopes up. See what you think of the UK’s Eurovision entry this year.
14) Disclosure Feat. Mary J Blige – F For You
Disclosure have managed to have a top 30 hit with F For You on two separate occasions. The original version reached No. 20 last year and was the fourth single off their platinum selling (over 300,000 copies) chart topping album Settle. However, they resurrected the track earlier in 2014 with a feature from diva Mary J Blige who has somehow managed to make a good track even better by infusing it her signature soul drenched vocals. That hook should be illegal.
13) Sam Smith – Money On My Mind
After winning both the BBC Sound of 2014 poll and the 2014 Critic’s Choice award chart earlier this year chart success was not far behind for the Hertfordshire-born singer. Indeed, he soon brought these predictions to life by bagging his first solo number one single Money on My Mind in February. This won’t be the last you hear of him.
12) Pharrell – Happy
Although it originally topped the charts in December I felt this funky retro ditty deserved a place in my top 20 as it managed to return to the top of the charts on two separate occasions this year and has gone on to sell well over a million copies in the UK alone. It’s not quite as good as the hype and the song has been played to death on the radio, but there is something special about this infectious clappy tune. Pharrell is just on fire lately.
11) Pitbull Feat. Ke$ha – Timber
One of 2014’s undeniable monster hits. Ke$ha’s career had been going a bit south recently and she was in need of a good solid hit and relentless chart botherer Pitbull was happy to oblige, being the first to jump on the bandwagon of the new country EDM fusion which Avicii took straight to the top of the charts last year with Wake Me Up. On repeat listen however, the harmonica driven Timber is simply genius and the god-awful lyrics (I’ll have ‘em like Miley Cyrus/clothes off/twerking in their bras and thongs/Timber) just add to the party. Ke$ha’s country twang is perfect on the track as well.
10) Shakira Feat. Rihanna – Can’t Remember to Forget You
Everyone loves a bit of Shak. Fact. Everyone loves a bit of RiRi. Fact. Sex sells. FACT! So when the two divas teamed up earlier this year and filmed a steamy, suggestive video the result was destined to be an absolute smash. When all the blatant commercialism is stripped away however, Can’t Remember to Forget You stands on its own merits. All credit to Shakira for experimenting with new sounds and not resorting to following the EDM trends. Who knew that ska could be in for 2014? Well clearly Shakira did.
9) Kylie Minogue – Into the Blue
Sometimes the world is a cruel place. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. This is exactly what happened to Kylie’s latest majestic offering Into the Blue when it failed to make the top ten and became her one of her lowest peaking lead singles, bowing out at an embarrassing No. 12. Goodbye cruel world. There is no explanation for this harsh treatment either. The single is very straightforward and catchy and it received loads of promotion and airplay. How could it fail? But fail it did. Still, at least it reached top ten on one chart…even if it is just mine. I have high hopes for her next single the Pharrell produced I Was Gonna Cancel though. Never give up hope.
8) Ace Wilder – Busy Doin’ Nothin’
This one probably won’t be familiar but it definitely deserves its place on my chart. It should by all rights be the representative for Sweden for Eurovision this year but, as previously mentioned, the world is a cruel place and it lost out by two points to Sanna Nielsen’s snoozefest Undo. Ace is having the last laugh though as Busy Doin’ Nothin’ is currently on its 4th consecutive week on top of the Swedish singles charts while Undo is floundering at No.8. A slight reversal of the old saying “to the victor go the spoils”.
7) Katy Perry Feat. Juicy J – Dark Horse
After the commercial failure of her last single Unconditionally Katy Perry was in need of another mega hit if she wanted to keep hold of her pop queen throne. Luckily, she still had a trick left up her Prismatic sleeve in the form Dark Horse, which more than lives up to its name. The track itself is a massive curveball by the Teenage Dream singer who isn’t usually one for musical experimentation, especially not with the trap music style found on Dark Horse. The song is all about suspense and mystery as the song builds and builds into the perfect storm. Yes, it doesn’t have a proper chorus, yes Juicy J’s rap is just as laughable as his name, but there is something magical about this inventive offering from Perry and like a true dark horse the track has come out on top, having become a chart smash worldwide.
6) Emmelie de Forest – Rainmaker
Again this will probably be one you’re not familiar with, although the name of the singer might ring a bell. Emmelie de Forest is a Danish singer who rose to fame last year after winning Eurovision 2013 with the haunting wind driven Only Teardrops and she’s back this year with the official Eurovision 2014 song (the song isn’t actually competing but will be performed in the final in Copenhagen). Rainmaker itself could be plucked straight from The Lion King soundtrack, using African chanting and evoking the organic feel of Emmelie’s previous music. Very in keeping with Eurovision’s theme of unity. When asked to comment on the meaning of the song, the singer commented that “it’s about a tribe joining together to call upon the rainmaker to make their land blossom again…it’s about coming together and helping each other out”. (http://www.eurovision.tv/page/news?id=official_joinus_song_launched_penned_by_emmelie)
5) Paloma Faith – Can’t Rely on You
One woman has been kicking serious ass this quarter with her surprisingly sassy Pharrell-produced comeback single Can’t Rely on You which peaked at number ten in February. Mainly a balladeer, it’s rare to see the London born chanteuse singing an upbeat track but boy have we been missing out. Who knew that Paloma could be the queen of vitriol, the sovereign of scorn, the empress of cattiness. Lord save the poor sod who did her wrong. And there’s even a cowbell to boot. Here’s a video of Paloma Faith performing Can’t Rely on You in a kitchen. Someone even plays the saucepan….
4) Beyoncé – Drunk In Love
Beyoncé showcased a new side to her with this trap-influenced depiction of female sexuality which served as the lead single to her self-titled fifth studio album. Queen B has certainly been on fire this year and the crowd is begging for more, with her records selling like nobody’s business. One thing is definitely true, after Drunk in Love nobody will ever look at surfboards in the same way ever again.
3) Sophie Ellis Bextor – Young Blood
As mentioned earlier, the elegant Mademoiselle EB has recently been enjoying renewed success after turning her hand to beautifully crafted piano driven chamber music. It’s mostly due to this beautiful ode to her love for her husband, which serves as an antidote to the over sexualised pop songs which are currently dominating the charts. In this current climate songs like Young Blood are a breath of fresh air and Sophie EB deserves all the success she gets.
2) Idina Menzel – Let It Go
This first quarter of 2014 one song has just been growing and growing in popularity, reaching its peak when it won an Academy Award for Best Original Song. It is of course the wickedly talented Adele Nazim (according to John Travolta https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3ff17im8RQ ) with her empowering anthem Let It Go. The soundtrack to this album has just spent its eighth week on top of the US album charts and has gone on to sell an impressive 1.8 million copies in that market alone. The film Frozen was a massive commercial success as well and several songs off the soundtrack have charted worldwide. There’s no denying this has been one of the runaway successes of 2014.
1) Clean Bandit – Rather Be
However, one song has been dominating the UK charts this year spending 4 week at the top and selling an impressive 163,000 copies to become to fastest selling singles released in January since Babylon Zoo – Spaceman. The band came from nowhere with this quirky string dance number and haven’t looked back since. The song also holds the record for the most streams in one week on Spotify in the UK with 1.09 million plays, surpassing previous record holders Daft Punk with Get Lucky. It just goes to show that you can’t beat a mushy love song.
What a great first quarter it has been, so many great tunes. Here’s to the next 3 months of fantastic music. Hope you enjoyed this post and as always feel free to leave a comment. Thanks for reading.
Can you believe we’re already three months into 2014! It’s gone amazingly quickly and the great God of Pop in the sky has definitely been good to us so far. Join me on a magical journey as I count down my top 32 songs (couldn’t get it any lower than 32) of 2014 so far. In this first post I’ll run down numbers 32-21:
32) John Legend – All of Me
John Legend has found chart euphoria this year with his worldwide smash All of Me. The song has been as surprise hit so far peaking at number 2 on both the US and UK singles charts and transforming the singer into a household name. This song is set to be couples’ mushy love anthem for years to come.
31) Little Mix – Little Me
Like S Club 7 before them, Little Mix saw the pop potential in Gabriel Faure’s orchestral masterpiece Pavane and included a sample in their hit Little Me which became the group’s 7th consecutive top 20 hit. Lyrically, the song is a self-help anthem directed at the younger versions of themselves. Watch out for the group’s trademark killer harmonies.
30) Faul & Wad Ad vs Pnau – Changes
In March the French electronic duo Faul and Wad Ad managed to achieve a massive European hit with a remix of Australian singer Pnau’s song Baby. The song peaked at No.1 in Belgium and Germany and managed to reach No.3 in the UK. Everyone loves a good children’s choir.
29) Chainsmokers – #Selfie
American DJ duo The Chainsmokers just managed to miss out on a top ten in the UK when this electro parody zeitgeist peaked at No.11 in February. The song itself has been a massive worldwide hit, managing to chart in various countries and gaining lots of club airplay along the way.
28) Duke Dumont – I Got U
Duke Dumont managed to equal his chart success last year with Need U (100%) with yet another No.1. I Got U topped the charts in March and has been proclaimed by many as the first summer anthem of 2014. The song contains a sample of Whitney Houston’s My Love Is Your Love.
27) Lea Michele – Cannonball
It was fitting that Glee star Lea Michele chose the tenacious survival anthem Cannonball as her debut single and there is something incredibly pertinent about the song, especially in the wake of long term boyfriend Cory Monteith’s death last year. Lea Michele might have to start taking her own survival advice however, as the single bombed worldwide, bowing at a lowly 75 in the US and 56 in the UK. Chin up Lea. What would Rachel Berry do?
26) A Great Big World – Say Something
When New York-based duo A Great Big World teamed up with serial collaborator Christina Aguilera earlier this year the result was pure gold. Its Aguilera’s most restrained vocal for years and she sounds all the better for it. Say Something is a heartfelt ballad of epic proportions and will no doubt become a Goodbye My Lover-esque funeral staple.
25) Sophie Ellis Bextor – Runaway Daydreamer
Sophie Ellis Bextor has been experiencing something of a career renaissance lately with the release of her fifth studio album Wanderlust and her successful stint on Strictly Come Dancing. This is the second single off her top five album, which shows a dramatic change of direction for the singer. Runaway Daydreamer is a gorgeous string driven track which brings to mind lazy, dreamy days and forgotten grandeur.
24) Ruth Lorenzo – Dancing in the Rain
Former UK X Factor contestant shocked everyone when she announced that she would be the representative for Spain in this year’s Eurovision contest. She was selected for the show on the 22nd of February and ever since I haven’t been able to get her song Dancing in the Rain out of my head. Check out those pipes!
23) Route 94 – My Love
The first quarter of 2014 has undoubtedly belonged to Jess Glynne who managed to achieve the feat of having 2 number ones in 2 months when her collaboration with Clean Bandit Rather Be and this piano driven house track both managed to top the charts. My Love landed at No.1 in spot on the 9th March selling an impressive 120,000 copies in its first week.
22) Foxes – Let Go for Tonight
One of 2014 bright young talents and the voice behind Zedd’s smash hit Clarity managed to bag her first top ten single when Let Go for Tonight peaked at No. 7 in early March. The anthemic sing-a-long chorus and crashing drums made sure that Foxes got a place in my top 30 as well.
21) HAIM – If I Could Change Your Mind
Believe it or not this is the fifth single of HAIM’s number one debut album Days Are Gone and the singles seem to be getting better and better. The video shows the band throwing some serious shapes like never seen before and the song is a wonderful 60’s throwback jam. What’s not to love?
Join me next time for the top 20 songs of 2014! Thanks for reading.
In a world full of heartless, brainless dance tracks whose lyrics were probably first written on the back of a cocktail napkin in the back of a club, Katy B has set herself a hard task of bringing heart back to the dance floor. And she’s managing to do a fine job of it.
Katy B is an enigma. She somehow manages to remain elegant, mysterious and distant on her tracks, cultivating her persona as the hot party girl who all the guys want but will never get, whilst at the same time managing to blend amazingly well produced house, garage and dub step beats with soulful vocals and heartfelt lyrics. Katy B is not your typical pop star either. She never would appear in Heat magazine wearing next to nothing. She’s never seen on the red carpet hobnobbing with celebrities. With Katy it’s all about the music. And it shows.
Katy B burst into public consciousness in late 2010 with the infectious Katy On a Mission, which after doing the rounds in the clubs, managed to transcend musical barriers and scale the pop charts, peaking within the top 5 of the UK single charts. With this, the London-born singer established herself as a trailblazer at the avant-garde of the music scene. She followed this up with two more top ten hits Lights On and Broken Record and on 1st April 2011 she released her Mercury Prize nominated debut album On a Mission, which reached No.2 and was eventually certified Gold for selling over 100,000 copies in the UK alone. Not bad for a beginner.
Then, at the peak of her popularity in 2012, when most artists would have tried to flog a deluxe edition of their album , she released her Danger EP with 5 brand new tracks for free download. The EP actually turned out to be genius and the track Aaliyah received extensive airplay on Radio 1.
However, the path to her second album wasn’t quite as smooth. The original first single What Love is Made Of failed to crack the UK top 20 peaking at a low 21 and was eventually left off Little Red due to the single’s underperformance. This was then followed by 5AM, which despite being absolutely genius, only manage to reach No.14 and dropped off the charts quickly. Things were looking pretty grim for Katy B at this point which prompted her record label to try a different tact for her next single. Crying for No Reason is not an obvious choice for a single, it’s mid tempo, it takes a while to build up, it isn’t particularly attention grabbing, but ironically it became the hit Katy B was desperately in need of, peaking at number 5 and lingering in the top 40 for a decent amount of weeks. When Crying for No Reason was at its peak of popularity, the album Little Red was finally released on February 8th and managed to top the UK album charts, selling a slightly under 23,000 copies in its first week. Pretty good damage control.
The record label also seemed to have adopted an “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” attitude for the next single, choosing another ballad following the success of Crying for No Reason. The video for Still has just been released and it’s oh so artsy, highlighting Katy B’s flame red hair throughout and featuring lots of dramatic turns. This is a probably a smart move as Still is a beautiful soaring ballad with an uplifting chorus reminiscent of 80’s diva powerhouse vocals. Essentially it’s an update of a Celine Dion-esque ballad aimed squarely at a modern audience. Here’s hoping it’ll be another big hit for Katy B.
Little Red itself is another triumph for Katy B, managing the update her previous sound, whilst growing as an artist and still engaging with her original fan base. One of Katy B’s best features is the fact that she’s so relatable for young audiences who will have no doubt experienced the post partying comedown captured perfectly in 5AM and the jealousy described in Aaliyah, which due its popularity managed to make it on to the album proper. These are two of the best tracks from the album, 5AM is intoxicating with its soaring chorus and references to Valium. One of Katy B’s biggest talents is her storytelling, which is demonstrated perfectly in the danger and paranoia of 5AM. The Jessie Ware- assisted Aaliyah is simply brilliant as well, and its infectious hook may require surgery to get out of your brain. The production on these two tracks is simply flawless but their genius lies in the simple and catchy hooks and melodies. The second half of the album, with the exception of Everything, doesn’t quite manage to the reach the heady heights set by the first, whilst still being of much higher quality than most house music around right now. The hooks and melodies are there but such impersonal production and repetitiveness does take its toll over the course of a full album.
However, ultimately Little Red manages to achieve its goal and represents a master class on classy house music, production and soulful vocals. If only all artists put as much thought and love into their music. David Guetta and Flo Rida, I’m looking at you.